Shakeria (Monique)’s Story

Site created on May 15, 2020

In early March, Monique noticed some changes in her digestion and also found a large lump in her abdomen extending from her belly button. After visiting a doctor and having some scans, they noticed that she had a huge mass (10-12 inches) in her abdomen which seemed to be growing from her ovary. She was sent to a Gynecological Oncologist on a Monday where she had more tests and also ultrasounds. The doctor confirmed the previous findings and  scheduled her for surgery on the following Friday. The doctor shared that because of the placement of the mass, he may have to perform a complete hysterectomy and might potentially have to insert a colostomy bag. Monique went in for surgery on Friday, April 24th. The doctor removed all of her right ovary and a portion of her left. During the surgery, the doctor removed three large tumors from her abdomen as well. When we were updated, the doctor confirmed what we all had feared, cancer. They sent her tumors to pathology and Monique began her stay at the hospital to recover from surgery. She has an incision from the bottom of her chest to the bottom of her belly. It was a hard and painful recovery, but our girl is strong! She was released from the hospital on Tuesday, April 28th. We also got a call from the doctor this day confirming her diagnosis. Monique has Desmoplastic Small Round Cell Tumor (DSRCT). This is a very rare form of cancer that only has 300 reported cases. There are no Oncologists in Savannah (our home) that have ever seen a case, therefore no one to treat her at home. She was referred to an Oncologist in Gainesville, Florida at The University of Florida Health Shands Hospital.  

We have started a fundraising page on Facebook to help Monique financially during this time. 

Newest Update

Journal entry by Allen Cooke

Today is Monday and we are preparing to take Monique to Gainesville on Thursday for her second cycle of chemo.  This will be her five day treatment, so after we admit her to the hospital on Thursday, she will remain there until Tuesday.  Hopefully we will return home that afternoon.  
Her treatments take place at night so that she will hopefully sleep through most of it.  She experienced nausea immediately during her last treatment.  She experienced severe symptoms for the most part for the past two weeks.  Today she is more like herself and is feeling somewhat normal.  Over the weekend, she started to experience hair loss.  That was an emotional moment even though it was expected.  We have scheduled a friend to come to our house in the morning to cut her hair.  She is ready to take care of it and get on with life without hair.  
Early Thursday morning we will leave to travel to Gainesville to check her into to the hospital.  I (Dad), Mom, and Monique will be going this trip.  
Her sense of humor has not waned at all and we spend many of our moments laughing hysterically at her.  I'm sure that we'll laugh less over the days to come, but for now, we are trying to enjoy every moment we have.
We have several people asking how they can help and what we need.  I can only give you suggestions of things that will help.  Over the next several months we will be traveling to Gainesville for treatment.  The American Cancer Society has a lodge in Gainesville but it is closed to guests because of Covid-19 so we are staying at a hotel close to the hospital.  This gets expensive.  The lodge will not allow any of us to stay there unless Monique also stays with us, which is an issue since she is admitted on Thursday and will stay until Tuesday.  The most immediate need is prayer.  We're having to travel a lot so gas is an expense.  Gift cards are also perfect.  We have set up a fundraiser on Facebook for expenses and the trip to New York later in the year. 
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