Chet Greason email@example.com
The community is rallying around a 15-year-old who’s fighting an exhausting battle with cancer.
Jaime Roth of Stratford took sick last August with what was thought to be crohn’s or colitis. Instead, it turned out to be dysgerminoma, a rare form of ovarian cancer.
What followed was a series of surgeries to have the tumour removed, along with her left ovary, fallopian tube, and appendix. Jaime then began chemotherapy.
Typically, dysgerminoma is very sensitive to chemo, with high rates of recovery. However, Jaime’s body has been consistently rejecting the treatment.
Her first round of chemo caused seizures. She suffered through an average of 70 a day in early January. She was put into an induced coma for a week, and fed through a feeding tube. A second round of chemo meant to curb the seizures instead put her into a state of life-threatening anaphylactic shock.
A third round of chemo, brought in from out of province, has been working, but one of the drugs attacked her lungs, reducing their capacity to 50 per cent. Another drug, a steroid, has been destroying her bone tissue, knees, and ankles.
Jaime is also now a diabetic.
“There’s a lot going on with her,” says Jaime’s cousin, Kathy Bell. “The doctors say they’ve never seen it before. Her body is rejecting every drug they’ve given it.”
The theory, according to Bell, is that Jaime’s autoimmune system is attacking itself due to the cancer.
“Everything that could go wrong is going wrong,” says Bell. “But she’s a tough little girl. She’s teaching the doctors a lot.”
Bell, along with a number of Jaime’s friends and family, has organized a benefit dinner in her cousin’s honour. A three-course meal consisting of Jaime’s favourite foods, including a gourmet spaghetti with three kinds of meatballs, will be served up at the Army, Navy, and Air Force Hall on Sunday, March 22.
The event will feature a silent auction with a Detroit Red Wings hockey jersey autographed by alumni, an electric guitar autographed by the band Journey, and a home furnace, including installation.
Bell says the event is meant to cover the extra costs of Jaime’s treatment. She’s had to buy a wheelchair, will likely need a special medical bed at home, and may be travelling out of province for additional treatments. The metal braces on her teeth had to be replaced with plastic ones due to the chemo, and she’ll be undergoing physiotherapy once she’s able.
Her parents, Tammy and Darcy, are both on leaves of absence, while Jaime, because she was a straight-A student, was able to forgo exams. However, she’ll need a tutor if she’s going to keep up with her education.
Bell says Jaime and her parents are humble people who felt apprehensive about so much being done for them. Bell has been trying to convince them otherwise.
“I’ve been telling them they don’t need to feel bad or guilty,” she says. “They didn’t ask us to do this, we’re just doing it. Nobody ever wants to see this happen to a beautiful young girl.”
She adds that any money raised will not be used to pay rent or car payments either.
“It’s just for her,” she says.
The response, according to Bell, has been incredible. She says she was approached by her boss at Forbes Waterloo Toyota when she was hanging up posters for the event. He wanted to help, and asked if they would like a car?
So now the auction includes a new Toyota Yaris.
Bell says that Jaime, who is a student at Stratford Central, is an extremely popular young person and has friends in all three local high schools, as well as in Mitchell and Goderich who are selling tickets, T-shirts, and bracelets in support of her.
Each area high school has also organized a team that will help to bus and serve at Sunday’s dinner.
“She’s just that kind of girl. Everybody likes her,” says Bell. “She’s got a good heart.”
Reservations for Sunday’s dinner can be made at http://jaimesangels.wix.com/forjaime. There will be four seatings for the dinner at 4, 5, 6, and 7 p.m. Take-out is available as well. Tickets can also be purchased at Herbal One in Stratford at 426 Huron St.
Bidding on reserve auction items, including the car, furnace, and Red Wings jersey, will continue online until midnight on April 30.