Shelly Casement Zolezzi's Stem Cell Transplant Fundraiser

Shelly Casement Zolezzi's Stem Cell Transplant Fundraiser

From Denisa Casement

In January 2021 Shelly was diagnosed with a rare & serious combination of Multiple Myeloma(bone marrow cancer) and Mastocytosis(mast cell disorder). She's currently in chemo treatment preparing for a stem cell transplant

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UPDATE from Jason 3/6/22:

Day 4 of stem cell transplant for Shelly. A little bit of a rough night for her but I stayed at the hospital last night to comfort her. This afternoon I'm able to check into a place and start getting some overdue laundry done. Little R&R and back at it again tomorrow. I hope today goes well for Shelly. This is about the timeline that she starts not feeling so well and it kind of goes downhill for a while for her. I've been still trying to make it to where we can walk the hallways and do a couple flights of stairs per day to keep her moving. She has a stationary bike in her room that helps when she doesn't feel well enough to get out of the room. I worked with the doctors and nurses to make some medication changes and I'm hoping that we see the difference this morning and she's not so nauseated or throwing up. Thank you everyone for following the story and helping us emotionally and financially. Yesterday I broke down, started to cry at Starbucks because of a kind lady. This lady asked me what I was doing in Salt lake and she was from Colorado with her daughters that played volleyball. When she heard what was going on with me she bought me my coffee and an egg sandwich. There are still kind people that pay it forward and has been so amazing to get a hug and a generous contribution to making my life a little easier. Don't forget that life is too short and we all need to be kinder and a little more generous.

Shelly & Jason, Where they love to be!

Hi from Denisa and Valary,

                We’re Shelly’s sisters. And we’re reaching out to you because she needs a little help from her friends right now.

                Knowing how much her friends – like you – care about her, we wanted to let you know what’s going on.

                Shelly is facing some serious health problems right now. She could use your good thoughts, prayers – and your support.

                Here’s the story:

                For 13 years, we thought she had Celiac disease.

                In October 2020, she felt so sick she went to the ER. The doctor urged her to have a colonoscopy and endoscopy to confirm Celiac. It was inconclusive.

                Then in January of 2021, an allergist ordered blood work and a poke test.

                It wasn’t Celiac.

                The tests confirmed Systemic Mastocytosis with Secondary Hematologic Neoplasm.

In simpler language:

                Shelly has a rare condition in which too many mast cells (a type of white blood cell) build up in her body. These mast cells can clump together in bone marrow, lymph nodes, liver, spleen or small intestine and cause damage.

                Mastocytosis is serious on its own but they thought Shelly might also have a kind of bone marrow cancer called Multiple Myeloma.

                A bone biopsy confirmed Shelly has both, along with a lesion in her liver, a pancreatic cyst, and thyroid cancer.

It’s a whole lot of awful happening to a person we all love.

                She’s had her thyroid removed. And then moved onto chemo treatments in preparation for a stem cell transplant.   

                Medical advances are amazing. Basically, once the cancer cells are killed off, they’ll remove Shelly’s stem cells, clear them of any remaining cancer, then transplant them back into her.

                The goal is that this long, quite brutal, process will send the myeloma into remission and hopefully the mastocytosis as well.

                The good news is that Shelly has started her chemo treatments. And even in the midst of grueling treatments… she made us homemade marmalade for Christmas! She’s made of tough stuff!

                As you know, Jason and Shelly live in Eureka, MT, close to the Canadian border. It’s beautiful and they love living there. They’ll often pull on backpacks and spend time hiking through the gorgeous Kootenai National Forest and the Cabinet Mtns.

                She’s been receiving her chemo treatments in Kalispell – an hour and a half away. They do a round trip for each treatment. It makes for a long, hard day but means they don’t have to worry about the expense of a hotel.

                Shelly is immunocompromised and high-risk. She hasn’t been able to work for some time and both she and Jason have to be very careful… at all times. She’s hasn’t been physically able to take any real hikes for over a year now.

                Her myeloma could become aggressive at any time, so it’s important that the treatments continue on schedule.

                After her last treatment in Kalispell, they’ll head 12 hours away to the Huntsman Cancer Institute for a stem cell transplant in Salt Lake City.

                The Huntsman is THE place for her to be for this procedure. We know they’ll take great care of her.

 But as you can imagine, it won’t be easy.

 Through all of this, Jason has been her rock. You know Jason. He’s always taken care of everyone. Getting her to the treatments, caring for her afterwards, seeing to everything at home – it’s a lot.

                What you might not know is that Jason is also the family caregiver for his parents, helping them with medical appointments and other tasks.

                We’re so glad Shelly has his constant help and support. But we’re worried, too, about the huge load on his shoulders.

                And that’s why we’re asking for any help you can offer to take some of the pressure off Jason while he sees Shelly through all this.

                They haven’t wanted to ask. But we know these three months will be critical. Shelly is high risk and hasn’t been able to work since Spring and  her treatment schedule means Jason can’t work either.

               They’ll need to spend much of their time in Salt Lake City. They’ll have housing there at Hope Lodge. But in order to keep Shelly safe, Jason also needs to isolate while she’s going through the most critical part of the transplant.

               And while their insurance will cover her treatments and their housing… basic household expenses and travel expenses will still add up.

                If you could chip in a bit, together with her other friends and family we can cover their living expenses for the three months she’ll be going through her chemo and stem cell transplant process.

                One less worry for Jason and Shelly right now would mean the world to them. Would you be able to help?

                Thank you for your care and support. Whether you can send a small gift or good thoughts, we know Shelly and Jason are thankful for friends like you.      

                We’ll be updating friends on Facebook throughout this critical time in her treatment. You can make a gift quickly and securely through this fundraising page. 

         With so much hope and love for our sister,

          Denisa   &   Valary

P.S. Every prayer, every good thought matters. And if you can join us in helping them make it through this next, challenging phase of her treatment, we’d be so grateful. Thank you and stay well!

We're looking forward to Shelly & Jason getting back out on the trail!

Update 1/30/22:

Shelly finished her last chemo treatment in Kalispell, on Friday. She's feeling pretty good for the road trip. They are headed to Salt Lake today - 700 miles, by way of Idaho Falls. It's cold & snowing lightly. Looks like clear sailing with no big storms.

Please know they feel your love and encouragement with them all the way. 

Update 2/2/2022: Shelly and Jason are in Salt Lake. She is doing testing and prep for stem cell collection in 2 weeks.

Update from Jason Feb 5th:

More updates to come. We are trying hard to find a way to stay in salt lake so we don't have to drive back and forth while Shelly could be sick between harvest and transplant. Also trying to find a way to stay in salt lake City and have a place for me to get ready for her after her isolation in the hospital as well as somewhere that I can get some rest and not sleep on the couch in the hospital the entire time. But making sure that I'm close by and available at any moment.

Update from Jason Feb 15th:

Well Valentine's day went well with Shelly Zolezzi . Growth hormones and stabilizer injections did their job properly. They were able to harvest 10 million stem cells in one day which is enough for transplant. We did not need to return for two more days of harvest. It was a long hard day for her, with side effects lasting into today and beyond. We are trying to get her feeling well enough this morning to make the long journey back home to Montana. we will be turning back around and making the long journey back into salt lake City on March 1st to admit her into the hospital, which at that point the fun really starts. Transplant will be done in the hospital and we will be keeping you up to date as things move along. We cannot thank everyone enough for all of the prayers, Good vibes and most important financial support. Anything and everything that people can do to help financially will be greatly appreciated. Don't forget to visit my page for the fundraiser if you're able to spare a little extra.

Update from Jason Feb 16th:

Shelly and I made it home safely, always fun driving in the snow at night. We stopped in Missoula Montana last night and made it to our house by the Canadian border today. More updates will follow. Thank you everyone for your generous contributions prayers and good thoughts.

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