Mon | Dec 5, 2016

20-y-o battling with brain cancer seeks help

Published:Saturday | January 10, 2015 | 12:00 AM
A frail Reniece Marsh lies in bed almost motionless, hopeful that God will help her fight astrocytoma. Beside her is her mother Sharon Mitchell.-contributed

Tamara Bailey, Gleaner Writer

Berry Hill, Manchester:Vibrant, full of joy and bursting with potential were attributes once used to describe 20-year-old Reniece Marsh before a shattering diagnosis changed both her personality and her physical appearance.

At age 18, Marsh was diagnosed with astrocytoma - a type of cancer of the brain which rises from astrocytes - star-shaped cells that make up the supportive tissue of the brain.

Now, bedridden and totally dependent on her mother, life has become even more unbearable.

"She actually started experiencing symptoms when she was 13 years old; she had severe headaches and pains ... I took her to the doctor but they just could not find out what was wrong. We did CT scans but nothing showed," stated Marsh's mother, Sharon Mitchell.

"It wasn't until she was 18, when she started becoming more and more ill, to the point where she had to stop school, that we were sent to do an MRI and the tumour was shown."

According to Miller, her daughter was admitted at the Mandeville Regional Hospital after three weeks and then later transferred to Kingston Public Hospital where a biopsy was done to determine whether the tumour was cancerous.

"When the doctor confirmed it, our whole worlds came crashing down. I instantly became confused. We kept wondering how and why something like this could happen and where we were going to get the money from to fund treatment," said a heartbroken Mitchell.

The despondence experienced grew even more at the announcement of an inability to operate.

"The doctors said because of where it is, they cannot remove it as they would risk having her die on the table, so our other option was radiotherapy."

After struggling to find the money, Mitchell brought her daughter to Kingston where she completed five weeks of radiotherapy. But little did they know that they were in for another disappointment.

"When we visited the doctor, he told us that there was no change and we had to do other tests to determine what other action to take, but seriously, we have no money left," said Mitchell as she fought back the tears.

Having lost her job as a helper because she had to tend to her daughter, Mitchell says the expenses incurred have drained the family.

"She can no longer move about as she use to. She is stuck in the bed and her limbs are dead. I have to turn her, feed her, change her, everything ... . If there is a doctor's appointment, I have to charter a taxi because she can't sit up. If we are going to Kingston, it costs about $9,000, plus doctor's fee and medication."

hope for better days

Currently on morphine (pain medication), Marsh is hoping her bad days may turn into good days.

"I hardly eat because I always feel nauseous. Sometimes every part of my body hurts and all I can do is cry. Sometimes I have problems breathing. I have lost so much weight and it is just hard. I don't really want people to see me like this, I just want to get better. All I can do is trust God," said the teen who wants to be a doctor.

With several tests outstanding and a lack of money to do them, Mitchell is seeking the help of the public.

"Because she can't breathe properly sometimes, I guess she needs a reclining bed. We have to do another CT scan to see if there is fluid build-up. The cost is $35,000. I received $ 15,000 from the MP but I still can't find the rest. There is another test that we have to do before her appointment in February and we just don't know how it will all work."

"I am appealing to those who are reading this, please help me, and help my daughter. It's hard and frustrating when you look at your child in pain and can't help. Our expenses are piling up and life is just getting harder... she once had a beautiful smile but now it's fading, I just want to help her get better."

With no strength left to hold back the tears, Mitchell expressed that she is grateful for those who will reach out to her and she will continue to exhaust her options.

To help the family, you may contact (876) 297-4442.

rural@gleanerjm.com