DirectlyTo: Tavi’s Smile

By DirectlyTo, Inc

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Demicka Gilmore had to make an impossible choice three years ago: stay home and care for her daughter after a painful bone cancer diagnosis and subsequent leg amputation, or continue to work and leave her teen housebound, afraid and alone. It’s no choice a mother should ever have to make.

Like many others would, Demicka chose to put her daughter’s well-being ahead of her job, a choice that created a traumatic ripple effect for the family. Within months she’d lost that job along with her home, forcing the family to turn to Washington State for critical assistance. The family -- including her daughter Tavi and her 21-year-old son -- found themselves living in a hotel then a church shelter for months before landing a small Section 8 apartment. But Demicka never complains -- she’s grateful to have a clean, relatively safe place to stay for now.

In an effort to help pull her family out of these circumstances, Demicka started a GoFundMe page while staying in the church shelter. The results were staggering: 314 donations totaling nearly $16,000 poured in, mostly from friends and strangers. But after mentioning this campaign to a local case worker, Demicka was threatened with a loss of state and federal benefits, including vital food assistance and access to her daughter’s chemotherapy treatments.

Afraid to lose these essential benefits, Demicka returned the GoFundMe donations -- and DirectlyTo launched this initiative to help get the family back on their feet. By working through us, a 501c3 organization, we can help provide much needed supplies Demicka and her family will need through out this journey.

Additionally, we’re pushing to raise enough money to support two personal goals. First goal is to help this deserving mother throw her brave teen a surprise Sweet 16 party. Second, we want to do our part in making Tavi’s Make-A-Wish trip this summer extra special. It’s the first time the family will be away from the doctors, the chemotherapy treatments and the stresses that have become their everyday reality for the last few years -- and we want to see them enjoy every moment of it.

tavi4Read More about Tavi's Medical Journey

Tavi was diagnosed at the tender age of 12 years old on her mother’s birthday in 2012 with Osteosarcoma in her lower left leg. It is a rare bone cancer that affects kids and young adults. She went through 18 rounds of chemotherapy over a 7 month period with a 2 month rest in an effort to prepare for her knee replacement.  However the tumor was very aggressive, majority of it was still live and it had wrapped around her leg.  

So instead of a knee replacement it turned into a left leg above the knee amputation which occurred shortly after her 13th birthday. On June 11, 2013 she went into remission and stayed that way a little over a year. On July 28, 2014 she was struck with the 1st recurrence by having a very small tumor showing up in both lungs. That brought about her second major surgery on September 11, 2014 Bilateral thoracotomies with wedge resections (lung surgery through her upper sides). After that she was considered in remission again. On March 31, 2015 she faced her 2nd recurrence this time it was a new tumor the size of a kiwi fruit in the right upper lung in the location of the first recurrence. On April 14, 2015 she had the same type of surgery except it was done on the right side only.

tavi3After experiencing some pain she had to have a revision on her stump on July 29, 2015 which lead to the discovery of the muscle haven shriveled up to nothing and leaving her with no padding at the end of the bone in her stump. September 11, 2015 she had her 3rd recurrence. This time there were 3 tumors present. The major tumor was the size of a baseball and was located between the right lung and the breastbone, the smaller one was behind her windpipe and she had one located in her diaphragm. This particular surgery was more complicated and took a serious toll on Tavi. Not only did she have the tumors removed they had to repair her phrenic nerve (nerve that connects to the diaphragm) and for a few days after surgery she had to stay connected to the life support machine to help assist her in breathing.



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