‘Fight for Maria’ fundraiser aims to give a young Quebecer one last chance at treatment – Montreal | Globalnews.ca

A family in Chambly, Que., south of Montreal, is in a race against time.

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One of its members, Maria Muscari, 22, has stage 4 Hodgkin’s lymphoma, a type of blood cancer, and after years of unsuccessfully fighting the disease in Canada, they may have found a treatment potentially useful in the United States.

Although it is expensive, without it they fear the worst.

“There is no option for failure because if we do it, she dies,” Muscari’s stepfather, Rick Kidder, emphasized.

Muscari was diagnosed four years ago, when she was 19 years old. Since then, she has undergone more than 60 rounds of treatment.

“Chemotherapy, immunotherapy, they froze my eggs and they did my own stem cell transplant,” she told Global News.

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Now, he said, the cancer that started in his lymph nodes has spread to his lungs and his life is on hold. The former nursing student cannot study or work because she is immunocompromised.

He said there was hope of getting treatment in Florida last May, “but unfortunately they didn’t have trials available there,” he explained.

She was referred to a refractory Hodgkin lymphoma cell-mediated immunotherapy trial program at a clinic in Texas, where she was accepted.

In an email provided to Global News, Dr. Yago Nieto of the University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center, to whom Muscari was referred, wrote: “The response rate is 94%, and the 24 patients who received the same dose that Maria will receive have responded. It is important to note that the complete remission rate is 69%”.

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While Muscari is optimistic, his stepfather noted that there is only one problem.

“The estimated cost, due to the time we are going to spend in the hospital, will be about C$325,000,” he said.

He says the treatment isn’t yet available in Canada and Medicare won’t cover the cost.

“It hasn’t been a good year to start with,” Muscar said, “but with this test I feel much more hopeful, less stressed. I really feel like this is going to save my life for sure.”

The treatments begin in September and they must raise the money before that date, so they have started a fundraising campaign.

Kidder also believes that the tests will be successful.

While he is disappointed, the treatments are not available in Canada and he understands that it takes time.

“Now, if that happens and the results are positive, then she will be the person to open the door,” he argued.

For now, they keep their fingers crossed: for funding, for treatment, for success.

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