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Calling on Gloria's Angels: Federal Way non-profit rallies around cancer victim and her family
Life has gotten rough for Carie Wescott, 45, but she refuses to give up.
Wescott has cancer. It started as a massive lump in her lung and spread to her lymph nodes and brain before it was diagnosed in April. Doctors told the Wescott family, of Graham, that Carie has a 10 percent chance of survival. Carie, husband Bob and their two boys, ages 11 and 14, were dumbfounded by the news at first.
"Until you live it and it's in your house, you don't realize what cancer does to a family," Bob Wescott said.
Now, they are fighting the disease.
"No more crying. We're just going to wage war against it," he said.
The Wescott's have help from Federal Way non-profit Gloria's Angels. The non-profit was started two years ago after Gloria Strauss, 11, died from a rare children's cancer. Her father, Doug Strauss, retired from his position as a high school teacher and basketball coach and launched Gloria's Angels.
Volunteers with the non-profit form teams. Each team rallies around a sick person in its community. Team members cook meals, clean, do yard work and perform other small duties for the family.
Carie's best friend since sixth grade, Federal Way resident Becky Hell, leads Team Carie.
"She's fighting it," Hell said of Carie. "We're praying for a miracle."
Hell is holding a benefit raffle and auction, called Carie Fight Night, from 6 to 8 p.m. Nov. 6 at the North Lake Improvement Club, 33228 38th Ave. S., Auburn. Goods such as teeth whitening, artwork, hair and skin care, wine baskets, estate planning, condo stays and a packaged gym membership and martial arts lessons valued at $2,000 will be auctioned. Light refreshments and entertainment will be provided. All proceeds go to the Wescott family.
"Anything anybody would like to help us with, we're thankful for," Bob Wescott said.
Swallowing their pride
It's hard admitting they need help, Bob Wescott said. Carie owns Tahiti Tanning in South Hill and Bob owns a business working on heavy machinery. The cancer has pulled each away from their jobs.
Bills are due. Money is owed to surgeons, the hospital and technicians. Bills for chemotherapy, radiation, blood work, cat scans and blood transfusions keep coming in. The family owes at least $15,000 in medical bills, another $5,000 on credit cards used to pay medical deductibles and roughly $3,600 on their home mortgage, Bob Wescott said.
"The bills just come in uncontrollably; we've sold everything we had to pay stuff off," he said.
Keeping Carie alive and a roof over the family's head are the most important things in life, he said.
Path to recovery
The family was not prepared for Carie's cancer. Carie went to the doctor in December for chest pain and was told it was heartburn. In April, she began coughing up blood. Doctors performed a CAT scan.
They found several cancerous lumps and began treatment immediately. Carie underwent chemotherapy and three weeks of brain radiation. Her once long blonde hair fell out. Her eyebrows, eyelashes and other body hair followed suit.
Treatment makes her tired and nauseous. Carie's muscles ache and her chest hurts. Some days she's unable to walk. It's miserable, Carie Wescott said. To say it's been tough is an understatement.
"Watching somebody be sick and keep getting sicker, for us as a family, it's very difficult to watch the change in Carie," Bob Wescott said.
The treatment is expensive and exhausting, but it is working. The lump in Carie's lung is gone and the ones in her lymph nodes are miniscule. Two of the cancerous masses in her brain have disappeared and the last has shrank.
"The treatment is working so far, thank goodness," Carie Wescott said.
Carie said she's grateful to all who have helped her. When she recovers the family plans to "pay it forward," doing good deeds to help others in need.
"I'm going to be just fine; I know I will," she said.
To learn more about the auction or to RSVP, contact Becky Hell at firstname.lastname@example.org or (253) 740-7549. Carie Fight Night runs 6 to 8 p.m. Nov. 6 at the North Lake Improvement Club, 33228 38th Ave. S., Auburn.