Greeting AJCF Supporters and Constituent,
Our first grantee and board member Cristal Rivera-Mitchel has had some setbacks in her health this past holiday. I hope you are all sitting down for this one before you begin to read below. As a result of her current condition, I am going to create a blog page for updates on AJCF website and a separate PayPal account for those seeking to make a donation to help sustain Cristal’s quality of living. Cristal is very strong and an inspiration to everyone who has the divine pleasure of crossing her path.
Here’s an update from Cristal’s partner Amber:
It's been a year since I've sent you an update. So much has happened between then but I just didn't feel like writing about it. Cristal was getting better and we were planning our lives again. She had reconstruction surgery last October where they took the expanders out and put the implants in. It was so much more comfortable for her. They had been in so long to stretch the skin.
It was immediately after that, that Cristal began to feel a deep mid-back pain that radiated to her right side. Massage didn't help and you know I tried. She had chiropractic care, acupuncture which alleviated her pain short term, physical therapy, but the pain returned. She fought with the insurance company to get her an MRI and they denied her. I couldn't believe it. How do they deny someone who has had cancer?
At Christmas, Cristal was at her worst. She couldn't finish participating in the festivities and went to lay down. Two days later, she checked herself into the hospital. We pleaded our case to a doctor and she shared our frustration. She said that Cristal would not leave the hospital until she got all her scans done. We were elated.
We just knew that there was some muscular issue that needed to be addressed. We weren't prepared for what came next. The radiology report saw two tumors in the liver. One was 9.5cm by 3.5 cm. The doctor suggested we see our Oncologist. Of course it was during the holidays so everyone was on vacation either physically or mentally. Fast forward to a week later, we saw our Oncologist. He found another tumor in the pancreas, two more tumors on the outside of her stomach and that pain she had in the back….bone cancer that collasped the vertebral body of her lumbar vertebrae. I lost it. I cried first and Cristal was more worried about me than her diagnosis. Un..fucking..believable. Here we go again, I thought. Why, I thought? We were so careful, we ate right. It just wasn't fair. Cristal and I had taken separate cars that day. I cried all the way home. Thank you mom for being on the other side of the phone to hear me sob and wipe away my tears and for praying out loud with me.
The oncologist told us that he did not believe in telling someone how long they had to live. I was pretty cynical at that moment. He didn't have to say anything. All I heard was Pancreas and Liver. But then something he said, shed a beautiful ray of hope.
Cristal did not have pancreatic cancer or liver cancer; it was still breast cancer that had metastasized into other organs which isn't as bad. It was all I could hang onto and I still hang on. Cristal's cancer is triple negative which is the most aggressive. There have been cases where one of the receptors can be positive which is better because there are surer ways to fight it. Killing triple negative cancer is both and art and a science.
I'm sorry to have to lay this all out to you. I've been waiting for answers and I didn't want all of you to have to worry and wait with me. I found out the biopsy report today and so that is why I'm giving you the news now.
So what's next, right? Dr. Glaspy, our oncologist said that "Cristal will be on chemotherapy for the rest of her life however long or however short that is." Those were his words. She is going to lose her hair and this chemotherapy will be stonger than the time before. Apparently pre-operative chemo is not as strong as other chemotherapy drugs. So this is where we are at.
They are going to radiate the bone cancer in her back and give her bone hardening drugs which doesn't carry side effects. She will have chemo, one day a week through her veins which is worrisome since she has so much scar tissue in her veins from previously. The porticath didn't work last time because her veins are too small so there are some issues that may arise. Next week she will have another MRI for her back. She's had two CT scans, an MRI. X-ray and a liver biopsy.
Cristal is scared but strong. She is still ready to fight. I have my armour on standby for when I need it. There are so many things to take care of and we are trying to sort through her affairs. We don't know what the future holds but we will fight to keep Cristal here.
I am asking for everyone's prayers and if you can afford to help her out financially in any aspect, that would be extremely helpful. We are finding out the costs of living trusts and therapies not covered by insurance. We didn't have to ask last time and I was happy about that. We figured it out, but this time anything would be helpful. We spoke to a CPA to find out if there was a way to make it tax deductible but we are not a foundation. If you are in a certain tax bracket, the government will let you deduct 10 percent of your donation. It will just have to be from the goodness of your heart. Please don't worry if you can't help. Keep the love, hope and light coming our way. We love you and I will keep you updated as soon as I learn more. Thank you.
P.S. Make checks payable to
C/O The Alma J. Cameron Foundation
5424 Laurel Canyon Blvd, Ste F125
Valley Village, Ca 91607