Through the love and support of those who remember Leigh, we are able to provide help to young women and families fighting rare and aggressive cancer. The Leigh Sakoda Foundation has helped over 50 women own its history across 14 states in partnership with The Family Reach Foundation.
The Leigh Sakoda Foundation celebrated Leigh’s Birthday by making 10 very important grants.
The first is to a 27 year old in California who was diagnosed with acute myeloid leukemia (AML) and had to undergo a stem cell transplant. However, that treatment led to graft versus host disease, which is a medical complication where the transplanted tissue attacks the patient. Her husband lost her job in the middle of this fight and they were forced to look for low-income housing. After attempting to go back to work, she was immediately hospitalized and she now requires additional treatment. This grant will help cover housing and car payments for the couple.
The second is to a 19 year old in Illinois who was diagnosed with Hodgkins Lymphoma, a very rare cancer of the lymph system, and was forced to drop out of school and quit her job. Her mother has been taking care of her treatment which includes twice a week chemotherapy and radiation. Her dad lost his job as a maintenance worker at a local airport. They have not been able to manage their home or care costs during this financial trauma. This grant will allow them to cover rent and utility expenses until they can find unemployment benefits.
The third is to a 28 year old in Kansas who has diagnosed with Cholangio-Carcinoma, a very rare and deadly cancer of the bile duct. She has 6 children all between the ages of 2 and 15, and they have to travel to the MD Anderson cancer center in Texas for treatment. She has not been able to work during this time and has had to go on medical leave. Her disability benefits don’t allow her family to meet their monthly living and medical expenses. Her husband recently lost his job as well, and this gift will allow their family to meet monthly mortgage and utility bills.
The fourth is to a 38 year old in Connecticut who was diagnosed w/ Primary Mediastinal Large B Cell Lymphoma, a very rare disease. She has a two year old daughter and has been the primary breadwinner of her household. Her initial medical challenges required a hysterectomy after a very challenging pregnancy. Her most recent cancer treatment recently included a surgery to remove fluid around her heart and her husband has had to reduce his work hours in order to take care of their family. The family can barely meet their mortgage and this gift will allow they to meet their monthly bills and well as their copays and deductibles.
The fifth is to a 19 year old in Illinois who was diagnosed w/ stage IV Osteosarcoma (bone cancer) that has metastasized to her lungs. She had just graduated from high school and was planning on attending college. She has been experiencing hip pain and most now undergo chemotherapy and will need to remove bones from her pelvic region and also do reconstructive surgery on one limb. Her mother has used up all of her PTO and had to stop working to take care of her daughter. Her father has gone part time to take care of her younger siblings, creating additional financial stress. This grant allows the family to pay for transportation to and from their care facility in Minnesota.
The sixth is to a 35 year old in Caifornia who was diagnosed with stage IV Colon cancer that has metastasized to her liver, abdominal, and lungs. She additionally has uterine cancer, making her treatment incredibly complex. She has undergone surgical options such as a hysterectomy, but has had to travel to get Hyperthermic Intraperitoneal Chemotherapy, which is an very rare form of treatment for advanced abdominal diseases. She has a five-year old son and is a single parent whose initial job was a nurse at a local hospital. This grant allows the family to make mortgage and car payments while taking on such a challenging disease.
The seventh is to a 27 year old in North Carolina who was diagnosed with Pineoblastoma, a very rare and malignant brain tumor. She has undergone several months of radiation, and over a year of chemotherapy in order to treat the disease. Unfortunately, the disease progressed and she has lost function in her lower extremities and she is unable to move around on her own. She has also had to endure lengthy hospitalizations, and her parents are at home with her full time attending to her care. This grant allowed the family to install a stair lift, greatly improving the quality of life for all caregivers.
The eighth is to a 27 year old in Vermont who was diagnosed with Ependymoma, a very rare type of Brain Cancer. This tumor is very difficult to treat, and as such she goes through the repetitive cycle of treatment, remission, followed by new tumor growth, and sadly this cycle has been going on for many years. This past year was a difficult one since she is not able to find a chemotherapy treatment that will stop her tumor’s growth. Her husband has had to go part time to take care of the family, and given the years of hardship they are struggling financially. This grant will allow them to pay for credit card bills and other living expenses.
The ninth is to a 32 year old in Massachusetts who was diagnosed with Non Hodgkins Lymphoma (a cancer of the lymph system). Her daughter was also diagnosed with a Neuroblastoma (a very rare brain cancer) and both were undergoing treatment at the same time. Her daughter passed and she is not homebound and her husband has had difficulty as the primary caregiver. She is unable to work because of weakness and they have been trying to keep their family owned business afloat. This grant gave them the ability to make car payments and credit card bill payments so they can continue service to their much needed healthcare and utilities.
The tenth is to a 26 year old in Pennsylvania who was diagnosed with stage IV Ewing Sarcoma of the lungs. She was working as a teacher but is now unable to work due to her aggressive chemotherapy and radiation regimens. She had to move back to her parent’ house so her mother can be a primary care giver. Her insurance and medical expenses are more than the family can afford, and they have take on incredible credit card debt to pay home expenses. This grant gave them the ability to make car and credit card payments, as well as COBRA coverage until her Medicaid starts.
On February 4, 2010, The Leigh Sakoda Foundation made its first gift to a young woman at Sloan-Kettering in her early 20's fighting cervical cancer (Leigh died of a rare cervical cancer). This patient was initially diagnosed at the age of 18, and the disease continues to be aggressive. Tragically, her mother died of breast cancer when she was only 10 years old, and her single father takes care of her and two siblings. Her father works two jobs but cannot afford to purchase an insurance policy to pay her daughter's balances. The family will be receiving financial support for mounting medical bills and expenses from the Foundation. This gift was made possible through a grant to the Family Reach Foundation and the Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center.
On May 23, 2010, The Leigh Sakoda Foundation made a gift in celebration of Mother's and Father's day to a young woman from New Jersey with stage III ovarian cancer. Her medical coverage has historically been provided by her parent’s insurance plan, which recently stopped paying her bills when she reached the age of 23. The new federal healthcare bill will require her insurance company to resume coverage until she is 26 years old, but this bill will not go into effect until later this year. In the interim her parents face significant medical expenses to treat this very difficult disease. This gift was also made possible through the Family Reach Foundation and Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center.
On August 9, 2010, The Leigh Sakoda Foundation celebrated Leigh’s Mother’s 69th Birthday by making a grant to a 23 year old woman in Boston with late stage Osteosarcoma (a very rare bone cancer). She was originally diagnosed with the disease in 2005, and has fought a very long fight which has included 14 surgeries and 2 amputations (what an incredible woman!). Her cancer recently spread to her lungs and she has been given the news that she likely will live less than one year. Her father was recently laid off and her parents have significant financial need and need help paying her medical bills as well as living expenses for their family. This gift was made possible through the Family Reach Foundation and the Dana Farber Cancer Center.
On December 25, 2010, The Leigh Sakoda Foundation celebrated Christmas Day (and the holiday season!) by making 2 very important grants. The first is to a 30 year old woman in New York who has metastatic synovial sarcoma (rare soft tissue cancer). She has been fighting the disease since 2006, is unable to work, and is in significant financial need. The second is a 26 year old woman (also in New York) who has a metastatic Ewing sarcoma (a very rare bone cancer). She has been fighting the disease since 2005 and currently lives with her parents (who cannot pay for all of her medical bills). Both patients are being treated at the Dana Farber Cancer Center in Boston.
On February 4, 2011, the Leigh Sakoda Foundation celebrated Leigh’s Birthday by making a very important grant to a 29 year old woman in San Francisco who has leiomyosarcoma (a rare cancer that manifests itself in smooth muscle tissue). She has been fighting the disease since 2009, has undergone surgery and extensive chemotherapy, and is carrying a very heavy debt burden. She is being treated at the UCSF Medical Center in San Francisco.
On June 19, 2011, the Leigh Sakoda Foundation celebrated Father’s Day by making a very important grant to a 25 year old woman in New Jersey who has osteosarcoma (a very rare bone cancer). Her mother and father are on social security disability and her mother is also fighting thyroid cancer. She has been fighting the disease since 2008, has her family struggles to meet their monthly medical and living expenses. She has undergone several surgeries including prosthetic replacements and is still fighting hard against this terrible disease.
On October 15, 2011, the Leigh Sakoda Foundation celebrated the 2 year anniversary of Leigh’s death by making 2 very important grants. The first was to a 33 year old woman in Philadelphia who has high grade cervical cancer (very similar to Leigh’s cancer). This patient was identified at the University of Pennsylvania by one of the supporters of The Leigh Sakoda Foundation, making it a very special gift. This patient is a mother of 3 and her family struggles to meet all medical bills. Her cancer has metastasized and she must undergo several chemo and radiation treatments with poor prognosis.
The second grant was to an 18 year old woman in New York who has osteosarcoma (a very rare bone cancer). Her father recently had a very bad accident and has not been able to return to work. As such, her family struggles to meet medical expenses, including basic necessities such as utilities and rent. She has been fighting the disease since 2010 and like similar patients with her disease, has undergone several surgeries to cope with her condition. She is being treated at the Mount Sinai Medical Center.
On February 4, 2012, the Leigh Sakoda Foundation celebrated Leigh’s birthday by making 2 very important grants. The first was to a 19 year-old woman diagnosed with Ewing's sarcoma, a very rare and aggressive bone cancer that affects teenagers and young adults. She lives with her mother and stepfather, and her mom has had to take much time off from work to take her to chemotherapy appointments nearly 100 miles away from her home. She is being treated at the Lucile Packard Children's Hospital at Stanford.
The second grant was to a 23 year old woman recently diagnosed with primitive neuroectodermal brain cancer, a rare disease that often spreads throughout the central nervous system. She was supposed to have completed her senior year of college but had to withdraw from school to fight her disease. She lives in Northern California with her mother (her parents have recently separated), and they face significant medical expenses and co-pays. She is being treated at the Lucile Packard Children's Hospital at Stanford.
One June 17, 2012, The Leigh Sakoda Foundation celebrated Father’s Day by making 2 very important grants. The first was to a 38 year-old woman diagnosed with Thymoma, an extremely rare cancer of the Thymus. She is the mother of a 9 year-old boy and is an unemployed teacher. Her disease progressed to Stage IV and she is undergoing aggressive treatment. Her husband is also out of work and they both had to travel over 2 hours to Boston to get access to appropriate care.
The second grant was to a 26 year old woman diagnosed with Neuroblastoma, a neuroendocrine cancer rarely found in young adults. She is undergoing several forms of treatment but suffered many relapses and faces a long road of therapy ahead. She is commuting from North Carolina to Philadelphia to get treatment and had to drop out of college and work part time to help pay for her care. She is currently living alone.
On October 15, 2012, The Leigh Sakoda Foundation celebrated the 3 year anniversary of Leigh's death by making 2 very important grants. The first was to a 30 year old woman in Northern California who was diagnosed with a very rare sarcoma (Alveolar Rhabdomyosarcoma). This patient had to quit her job when she was diagnosed, and her husband had to reduce his working hours from full-time to part-time in order to help with the treatment regimen. They struggle to pay for household bills and uncovered medical expenses. In particular, they have fallen behind on their rent in order to cover the substantial monthly co-pay for her medication. She is being treated at the Lucile Packard Children’s Hospital.
The second grant was to a 25 year old woman in Rhode Island who has osteosarcoma (a very rare and aggressive bone cancer). In addition to fighting this terrible disease, this mother of 2 had to recently take in her 3 year old twin nieces because their own mother could not care for them (she must care for 4 children under the age of 4 in her house). Her fiancé has had to take a leave of absence from his job in order to provide child care for the children in the family. She is being treated at Rhode Island Hospital.
On December 31, 2012, The Leigh Sakoda Foundation celebrated New Year’s Eve by making 2 very important grants.
The first was to a 32 year old woman in Pennsylvania who fights metastatic cervical cancer and undergoes weekly chemotherapy and radiation. She is the mother of three daughters, aged 11, 6, and 4 with very limited financial support. She has had to quit her job due to the intensity of the treatments and has no accrued vacation of sick days. 5-year survivorship for this type of cancer is less than 20%, and her children require additional support through her treatment period. She is being treated at the University of Pennsylvania.
The second was to a 19 year old woman in Pennsylvania who was diagnosed with metastatic renal cancer. This is a very rare cancer with a very difficult treatment regimen for young women. This patient is covered under her parent’s insurance policy which has significant co-payments for hospital and medical bills. The family faces significant financial stress during these tough times as they struggle to pay for their daughter’s care. She is being treated at the University of Pennsylvania.
On February 4, 2013, the Leigh Sakoda Foundation celebrated Leigh’s birthday by making 2 very important grants.
The first was to a 28 year old woman in Massachusetts who has been fighting ocular melanoma (cancer of the eye) for several years. Initially diagnosed in 2007, she attempted several forms of treatment before ultimately removing her eye. After stabilizing her disease and living several years on various treatment regimens, she and her husband decided to have a son who was born just 10 months ago. She recently learned that her disease has metastasized to her liver. She underwent a major surgery to remove large portions of tumor and will not be able to work for the foreseeable future.
The second was to a 24 year old woman in Massachusetts who was recently diagnosed with Angiosarcoma (cancer in the blood vessels). This is a very rare cancer with very poor prognosis and a difficult treatment regimen. The patient recently graduated from college and was intending to get an advanced degree but has subsequently moved back in with her mother who pays for her medical and living expenses. This grant will cover basic co-pays for medical treatment and assist the family with mortgage and utility bills through this very difficult time.
On June 16, 2013, the Leigh Sakoda Foundation celebrated Father’s Day by making 2 very important grants.
The first was to a 19 year old woman in New Jersey who has had a longstanding fight with Ewing’s Sarcoma (cancer of the bone) for several years. She lives with her parents and neither has employer provided health insurance, resulting in a significant financial burden for a family that must pay a significant amount of her treatment out of pocket. The family’s savings have been fully depleted and everything the family earns must go to covering basic expenses, including transportation to her chemotherapy and radiation appointments. She has earned a full scholarship to college if she can fight and win against this form of cancer.
The second was to a 20 year old woman in New Jersey who was recently diagnosed with acute promyelocytic leukemia (rare cancer of the blood and bone marrow). This type of cancer requires a lengthy chemotherapy treatment, and involves multiple doses of different drugs in combination. Sadly, this family must pay for 50% of the cost under their insurance which has put the family under severe financial stress. The grant provided will help defray the costs of the drugs so that the family can pay for basic rent, transportation, and other expenses during her treatment.
On October 15, 2013, the Leigh Sakoda Foundation celebrated the 4th anniversary of Leigh’s passing by making 2 very important grants.
The first was to a 24 year old woman in San Francisco who has been recently diagnosed with Glioblastoma, a very rare and malignant form of brain cancer. Before discovering the tumor, she lived a very active lifestyle but now faces daily radiation treatments and multiple chemotherapy regimens. She has had to move in with her parents, both of whom have taken time off to assist with her day to day care. The family is facing significant financial stress and the grant will be used to help with daily living expenses, monthly rent, and the medical co-pays required to fight this terrible disease.
The second was to a 25 year old woman in New York who was six days away from becoming a college graduate when she was unfortunately diagnosed with Blastic Plasmacytoid Dentritic Cell cancer, which is a very rare and aggressive form of Leukemia. She is the only child of her single mother, and they currently live with her maternal grandparents because they cannot afford a place of their own. She has had multiple chemotherapy treatments, has endured long hospitalizations through the years, and is on multiple medications. Her mother recently lost her job and the grant will be used to cover medical and transportation expenses for treatments not covered by insurance or Medicaid.
On February 4, 2014, the Leigh Sakoda Foundation celebrated Leigh’s birthday by making 2 very important grants.
The first was to a 21 year old woman diagnosed with Atypical Teratoid Rhabdoid Tumor (ATRT), a very rare and aggressive brain tumor with extremely poor prognosis. She lives in Massachusetts and has had intensive chemotherapy, stem cell transplants, and radiation therapy. Though she had started college prior to her diagnosis, she has not been able to keep up school and has had to live at home with her single mother who must pay her out of pocket medical expenses. The family has tried to raise money to pay all of their living expenses but still struggles to pay for rent, meals, and transportation to the hospital.
The second was to a 38 year old single mother in Maryland who was diagnosed with a very rare abdominal sarcoma (stomach cancer) that has relapsed multiple times over the past 5 years. She is the mother of 3 children, one of whom suffers from a learning disability. She and her family live on social security disability but due to the numerous recurrences of the disease, she faces mounting medical bills after 5 years of treatment and has exhausted all of her family’s financial resources.
On June 15, 2014, the Leigh Sakoda Foundation celebrated Father’s Day by making 2 very important grants.
The first was to a 26 year old woman who has been fighting metastatic synovial sarcoma for the past 2.5 years, a cancer that originates in the soft tissue surrounding her joints. Her disease is recurrent and it is clear that she will require treatment for the remainder of her life without breaks. She is a single mother of a five year-old daughter and has recently separated from her fiancé. She lives far from the hospital in Boston and due to the financial burden of co-pays for treatment has not been able to pay for auto repairs and other living expenses.
The second was to a 34 year old woman who has been fighting a metastasized sacral chordoma, a very rare and hard to treat cancer found in the spinal cord. This patient has been fighting this disease for 5 years, including multiple chemotherapy and radiation treatments. Though she lives in Minnesota, she must travel to the Boston for specialized treatment and is the mother of two young children, ages five and one. She is unable to work due to pain and fatigue and the cost of travel back and forth to treatment has created a significant financial burden.
On December 25, 2014, the Leigh Sakoda foundation celebrated the holidays by making 4 very important grants. The first was to a 19 year old woman with a very rare bone cancer first diagnosed in her upper skull. She has had multiple surgeries as well as radiation therapy over the course of several years. Due to the severity of treatment near her brain, she has had significant neurological disability which has posed challenges to her care. She lives with her mother and older sister, and her father is deceased. Her mother is a nurse and has only been able to work a limited schedule to attend to her care needs.
The second is to a 35 year woman with a very rare ovarian cancer. She is the mother of two boys, ages 13 and 7. She has been battling the disease with chemotherapy and had a recent recurrence after a very long period of remission. Sadly, her husband died from a tragic accident during her care and she is now raising her two children on her own while she battles cancer. She will have to undergo chemotherapy likely for several years while working a full time job, and is in great need of financial assistance.
The third was to a 22 year old woman who was diagnosed with Ewing Sarcoma, a very rare cancer of the bone tissue. She was enrolled in college on a scholarship as a softball player, and sadly her dreams were put on hold while she battled her cancer. Unfortunately, she has not been able to return to playing softball, nor has she been able to return to school. She has undergone intensive chemotherapy and a stem-cell transplant to attempt to treat her disease. She commutes a very long distance to San Francisco for regular treatments, which alone have taken a substantial financial toll.
The fourth is to a 22 year old woman who was diagnosed with a very rare bone tumor earlier this year. She has had to undergo three surgeries and moved to the east coast for several months to seek additional radiation therapy. She works full time in a restaurant and has not been able to work for many months due to the complexity of her care. She has no financial assistance beyond unemployment and she struggles to pay her medical bills in the face of a very difficult prognosis.
On November 27, 2015, the Leigh Sakoda Foundation celebrated Thanksgiving by making 7 very important grants. The first was to a 39 year old woman diagnosed with a very rare cancer of the spinal chord, with the tumor originating at the base of the skull. This is cancer type that is very difficult to treat, with high recurrence even after initial treatment. The patient is a small business owner who has a two year old daughter, and the time and cost of treatment has put a lot of financial pressure on their family and their shop.
The second was to a 25 year old woman diagnosed with diffuse intrinsic pontine glioma (DIPG), a very rare and inoperable brain tumor. She was in college and had a part-time job prior to her diagnosis, but had to drop out of school and move in with her mother and sister for treatment. The patient’s mother has had to decrease her work schedule to help with the difficult treatment regimen for this disease, including traveling to multiple states. In addition to taking care of her daughter, the patient’s mother alone pays for all travel, health, and living expenses as a single mother of two.
The third was to a 18 year old woman diagnosed with synovial sarcoma (cancer of the joints) one year ago. Her treatment protocol is very complex, consisting of multiple rounds of radiation, surgery, and chemotherapy. The patient lives with her mom and step-dad, and her family has struggled financially early on due to both medical and non-medical costs of treatment. The family runs a small business and lives three hours away from primary medical centers, making it both a significant time and financial investment every time she goes through treatment.
The fourth was to a 34 year old woman who has had very few breaks in her treatment since initially being diagnosed with leiomyosarcoma, a very rare form of sarcoma. She travels six hours from her out-of-state home to a specialized hospital for five days of infusion every three weeks, and has additionally undergone surgery for a complete resection of her localized disease. Unfortunately, her cancer has metastasized and she fights the disease with relatively continuous treatment. She has considerable co-pays and deductibles related to her treatment, and struggles to pay her bills.
The fifth was to a 24 year old woman being treated for adenoid cystic carcinoma of the eye. She was told at diagnosis that she would lose her eye and much of the left side of her face due to surgical resection. She persevered and sought out other treatment options, which saved her life and her face but requires recurring medical expense and cost. She has had to defer her graduation and quit both her jobs to access her care. She is in great spirits and will continue to fight, but she will need to pay excessive medical bills for the remainder of her life.
The sixth was to a 30 year old diagnosed with Hodgkin’s lymphoma (a very rare blood cancer). She immediately left her job to begin chemotherapy, and during this time her young daughter was also diagnosed with a neuroblastoma (a cancer on the outside of the skull) and for six months they were in treatment at the same time. Sadly, her daughter passed away later that year. Though she went into remission and has since given birth to a healthy son, she has recurrence of the disease and must undergo lifelong treatment, much of which is not covered by insurance.
The seventh was to a 39 year old diagnosed with a rare sarcoma. This is the second time the Leigh Sakoda Foundation has provided a grant, as this is the patient’s fifth relapse of an intra-abdominal cancer that has required multiple surgeries and rounds of chemotherapy. She is the mother of 3 children, one of whom has a learning disability and one of whom struggles with mental illness. She does everything she can to pay all of her medical expenses while supporting the family.
On June 19, 2016, the Leigh Sakoda Foundation celebrated Father’s Day by making 9 very important grants to young women fighting rare and aggressive cancer.
The first was to a 19 year old woman who was diagnosed with relapsed Ewing’s sarcoma (a very rare bone cancer). She has been fighting the disease since age 16, which has been a 3-year long and at times very challenging road. She had to drop out of high school, but eventually went on to graduate and enrolled in college a few years ago. She unfortunately had to drop out recently to focus on her treatment, and her parents have had to take time off from work to help with her care. This grant will assist with co-payments and growing medical bills.
The second was to a 29 year old woman who was diagnosed with a rare form of cancer, Vaginal Leiomyosarcoma, an extremely rare and aggressive cancer with an unclear treatment regimen. She has been battling the disease for 7 years, and has undergone 8 surgeries (along w/ radiation and other procedures to manage the symptoms of the disease). Because of the intensity of her disease and treatment protocol, she is on permanent disability and cannot work. This grant will help her pursue alternative treatments which insurance does not cover.
The third was to a 33 year old woman who has a very rare desmoid tumor that originally presented in her right arm 5 years ago. She has had to go on short-term disability leave in order to pursue daily radiation treatments and multiple surgeries at a medical facility that is far away from her home. She is the mother of 4 children and had to move into a small two-bedroom apartment in order to meet her monthly bills. This grant will help with medical bills and other living expenses so she may focus on her treatment and put her disease into remission.
The fourth was to a 19 year old woman who has a very rare Neuroblastoma (cancer on the outside of the skull). This cancer in young adults is very aggressive with poor prognosis, and requires a very intense chemotherapy regimen. She had to transfer to a specialty hospital for treatment that was not covered by her insurance. She is a single mother and has taken significant time off from work, and the medical bills have significantly depleted her savings, as well as the financial resources of her mother who has also have to take time off from work to take care of her daughter. This grant will help with medical bills and transportation expenses.
The fifth was to a 19 year old woman who is fighting Pineoblastoma, an aggressive brain tumor that requires a very complicated treatment regimen. The patient had to transfer over 3,000 miles to a specialty hospital in California, requiring her entire family to re-locate to help tend to her care. Due to the rare location of the tumor, it is expected that the family will need to stay at least a year away from home, which will place significant stress on their employment and financial resources. This grant will help with local lodging and uncovered travel expenses for the family.
The sixth was to a 30 year old woman who is fighting a rare, undifferentiated leukemia (cancer in the blood). She is currently hospitalized and will undergo a bone marrow transplant along with at least 2 months of frequent follow-up treatments. She is a stay at home mom with 3 very young children, and her insurance does not cover all of the medical bills nor the increasing expense of regularly traveling back and forth from the hospital which is over 4 hours away. Her husband has additionally had to take time off from work to help with her care. This grant will help them with medical bills and transportation expenses.
The seventh was to a 28 year old woman who was diagnosed with Chordoma-Clivus (an extremely rare bone cancer of the spine). She lived at home with her 5-year old daughter, as well has her mother who is also disabled. She has had to undergo several surgeries, and now must travel 3 hours away to receive a daily radiation therapy. The additional cost of traveling back and forth is not covered by insurance, and in addition to mounting medical expenses, her family has had to scale back work in order to tend to the needs of the family. This grant will help pay for short-term housing, as well as the additional premiums for COBRA coverage.
The eighth was to a 28 year old woman with an extremely rare condition called Familial Adenomatous Polyposis (FAP), which has led to very late stage colon cancer. She is a single mother of two boys, ages 7 and 4, and lives with her mother, her niece, and her nephew. She has had to undergo a colectomy and many rounds of chemotherapy. Her medical bills are not completely covered by Medicaid, and her food and grocery expenses have increased significantly due to her severely restricted diet. This grant will cover rent, ileostomy supplies, and food expenses.
The ninth was to a 34 year old woman with inoperable stage IV pancreatic cancer. This is very rare form of cancer with extremely poor prognosis. She is a self-employed new mother of a 5-month old baby girl, and her husband is a musician who does not have reliable income. Their insurance does not cover all of her medical expenses, and the family struggles to keep up with their regular household bills. This grant will cover their mortgage and other unpaid medical bills.
On December 2, 2016, the Leigh Sakoda Foundation celebrated the Life of Harry Weller, one of the foundation’s significant donors, who passed away at age 46. Harry was inspired by Leigh’s courage and compassion for others, had graciously assisted our family during her treatment and care, and had a personal interest in helping young women fight rare and aggressive cancer. We carried on his spirit and generosity today by making 3 very important grants:
The first was to a 28 year old woman in Arkansas who was diagnosed with Glioblastoma, a very rare and aggressive brain cancer. She has also struggled with a learning disability due to a genetic disorder, and her family has had to pay for her long-term care and treatment with very little financial means. Despite her challenges, she is seen as a source of light and energy for everyone involved in her complex treatment, including multiple surgeries and radiation. Her mother is her full time caregiver and has not been able to keep her job due to her own health complications. They both live on fixed income from social security disability, and this grant will enable them to pay off medical debt as well as ensure safe transportation to and from treatment centers.
The second was to a 26 year old woman in Florida who was diagnosed with Dysgerminoma, an extremely rare ovarian cancer. She had surgery to attempt to remove the tumor and has had to undergo a very long and complex chemotherapy regimen given the rare and aggressive nature of the disease. This has involved going to the hospital every day for two and a half straight weeks to get infusions and injections, for several months ongoing. She lives alone and has recently lost her job and does not have family locally to help her with her medical bills or living expenses. This grant will help with rent, uncovered medical costs, car payments, and insurance to she can focus on her treatment.
The third was to a 34 year old woman in Pennsylvania who was diagnosed with Rhabdomyosarcoma of the cervix, a very rare soft tissue cancer. She has had to do a complete abdominal hysterectomy and is undergoing numerous rounds of chemotherapy. She is a school administrator, and is unable to work and is receiving only a portion of her salary through short-term disability. Her husband continues to work full time, but the medical bills are becoming burdensome due to the increasing load of housing expenses and childcare for their two young children. This grant will help them with mortgage payments as well as utility bills for their small apartment.
On March 19, 2018, the Leigh Sakoda Foundation celebrated the 10th year of Leigh’s battle with cervical cancer by making 9 grants to young women.
The first was to a 19 year old woman in Arizona who was initially diagnosed with osteosarcoma, a very aggressive bone cancer. She had to endure traditional chemotherapy, but also intensive surgery to try to limit damage to her limbs which had become quite weak from the disease. She subsequently was diagnosed with Acute Myelocytic Leukemia, a completely different cancer of the white blood cells, making her one of the few patients to fight two cancers at the same time. She must not only battle her own cancers, but she also provides for her entire family, including her mother and father. This grant will help pay for medical bills and mortgage payments during her treatment.
The second was to a 38 year old woman in Washington who was diagnosed with colon cancer, which is a very rare disease in women of her age. She has been hospitalized several times for septic shock and renal failure which has required invasive surgical procedures to stabilize her condition. She is an elementary school teacher and mother of two children who is currently trying to teach while undergoing chemotherapy. She must not only provide for her own medical bills, but she must also to pay for her son’s medical treatments which also require medical transport and hospitalization. This grant will provide financial relief for her family, including both of her children, for several months while they work through the family’s treatments.
The third was to a 37 year old woman in Texas who was diagnosed with Hodgkins Lymphoma, a cancer of the immune system. She is a single mother of 3 children, and has been working to try and provide for the household. She has had to endure several chemotherapy cycles, and also a stem cell transplant to try and fight the disease. Her insurance co-pays have built up over several months and have caused significant stress financially for the entire family. She has had to quit her job and is not eligible for disability, and as such can only pay for her family’s needs through contributions from others. This grant will help the family cover housing and car payments during her final treatment cycle.
The fourth was to a 35 year old woman in California who was diagnosed with a very rare brain cancer. She is the mother of three children, including two very young ones, ages 1 and 3. She was working three jobs supporting her family prior to the diagnosis, but has had to step back due to the difficulty of working and undergoing chemotherapy during this time. She has limited access to disability and has trouble making household expenses in between payments, and her significant other has had limited options in returning to work due to the increasing needs to stay home with the children. This grant will cover health premiums and car payments during her treatment period.
The fifth was to a 34 year old woman in Florida who was diagnosed with Hodgkin’s Lymphoma, a cancer of the immune system. She is a mother of a one year old baby, and has had to immediately start chemotherapy while trying to care for a newborn. She works as a hairstylist, but is not eligible for disability nor does she have medical coverage to pay for all of her treatments and hospital visits. This grant helps defray the cost of the medical expenses, as well as pay for family needs for her baby during this very difficult time.
The sixth was to a 27 year old woman in New York who was diagnosed with cervical cancer. She has been battling cancer for more than half of her life having been initially diagnosed with Leukemia at age 15. She has had numerous bone marrow transplants through the years and now must fight a very rare and aggressive cancer very similar to the type Leigh faced. Her mother has had to withdraw all of her 401k earnings to help pay for medical and housing expenses, and that has left her without any funds for retirement. Her condition has worsened of late and this grant will help her pay for medical expenses required to make home care a more comfortable option, including a wheelchair, grab bars and railings, and hospital equipment for her bedroom and bathroom.
The seventh was to a 32 year old woman in Massachusetts who was diagnosed with Non Hodgkins Lymphoma, a difficult cancer that affects white blood cells. Sadly, at the same time, her young daughter has also been battling brain cancer, and both were undergoing significant medical treatment including chemotherapy and radiation. Unfortunately her daughter was not able to find an effective treatment and she passed away within a few months of starting her therapy. She continues to endure consistent treatment as her cancer has relapsed since initial remission and will likely endure for several years. This grant will help pay for home and medical expenses as she is the primary caregiver of the family.
The eighth was to a 26 year old woman in Pennsylvania with late stage lung cancer. She is a school teacher who has been trying to continue work in order to pay for her medical and living expenses. Unfortunately, due to the aggressive chemotherapy and radiation regimens, she has had to move back into her parent’s house so that her mother can be the primary caregiver. She sadly does not have the medical insurance nor disability coverage to allow her to cover her health and living expenses. This grant will allow her family to pay for rent and transportation expenses required for her to continue her treatment regimen.
The ninth was to a 25 year old woman in California who was diagnosed with cancer of the uterus. After months of feeling ill, she received a hysterectomy and underwent several months of chemotherapy and radiation. She was the primary caregiver who also took care of her mother, and had to downsize her apartment to accommodate for both while they used most of their savings to pay for medical expenses and rent. Her mother has had to take time off from work to care for her, and has also had to spend her life savings in order to pay for extra medical costs. This grant will cover car payments and utility bills during their treatment, and allow them to continue to live together while during their battle with the disease.