The 2018 Winter Ball Recipients
Annie Luscko is first and foremost a mother to her three amazing children Bella (age 12), Joseph (age 9) and Anthony (age 5). Born and raised in Historical Plymouth Annie is one of sixchildren. She taught preschool for ten years at Pilgrim Childcare and Preschool in Duxbury and at South Shore Head Start. She is working toward her Bachelor’s degree in Psychology and Social Work.
In November 2016 Annie was feeling very tired and sluggish and went to see her doctor. Initially she was treated for gastrointestinal issues, but after finding a lump above her left breast she was correctly diagnosed with stage 3, grade 3 breast cancer in March, 2017. Aggressive chemo treatments began immediately with surgeries to place a port as well as a double mastectomy followed by an eight week recovery. Since her diagnosis, Annie has faced hair loss, various illnesses, complications, hospital stays, blood draws, IV fluids given, random rashes and fevers, and MRIs and scans.
Currently, Annie’s treatment includes a less strong medicine which will be administered every three weeks until May 2018 and her hair is now beginning to come back in a bit. Come May, Annie will be reevaluated. For now, Annie’s main focus is giving her children the best possible life she can and teaching them to lead with kindness and to go out of their way to help others. She feels very lucky to be surrounded by her amazing family and friends who have stepped forward to help with so much including new friend and former Winter Ball recipient Kerri Nangle Lydon who have given her lots of advice on their Duxbury beach walks!
Single mom Erin Collyer has faced some very dark days since summer of 2015, when she had to move from her beloved south shore to Fall River in order to afford an apartment for herself and her two young daughters, Alexis and Mya (now 6 and 4). At the time, she was working at a job she loved in loss prevention, which she had been doing for fifteen years. A few months later on May 25, 2016, just ten days after her 36th birthday, Erin learned she had breast cancer. Within weeks she began chemotherapy in Boston, which she is still undergoing today. Erin knew that she had to move closer to the city but sadly could not find anything affordable, and so she and the girls ended up living in a shelter for the first six months of her intense treatment. Eventually they were able to move to Rockland just one week before Erin had to undergo surgery. One month later Erin found herself back on the operating table for additional unexpected surgery followed by four months of an extremely difficult recovery. Now out of work, despite the tremendous support from her loving parents, Erin was physically, mentally and financially exhausted and living in fear of being homeless again.
Today, Erin is still in the thick of her ongoing battle to survive. She has many cardiac health issues due to her ongoing chemo treatment, constant nausea from the medicines she needs to take to help with said issues and several more surgeries in her future. Sadly, she has been unable to return to work yet and is doing everything she can to stay strong for her two beautiful girls, which is extremely stressful as their only provider. She is so grateful for the love and empathy from her girls who know when to grab the saltines and even helped shave her head when Erin began losing her hair. Erin’s journey is an ongoing challenge but she believes that if you “Always Keep the Prayers Going Up, Blessings DO Come Down”!
For Kyler Cooney the start of 2017 should have come with much celebration, as he was about to welcome a new baby brother into the world. Little did the Cooney Family know, the unimaginable was about to become reality.
Typically energetic Kyler was exhausted and due to his mother’s persistence and several tests, it was discovered that Kyler (then three years old) had leukemia (ALL) with an extremely rare genetic mutation, Philadelphia chromosome positive, moving him from a standard risk treatment, to a high risk protocol. One year later the Cooney’s lives have been changed forever by many chemo treatments, LPs, hospital stays, and sleepless nights full of anxiety and fear.
Kyler is a bubbly, happy four year old who no matter what life throws his way, always lives to the fullest. He tells his family every single day, “today is a beautiful day.” What he has been through will shape him as a person throughout the rest of his long, healthy life. The Cooney
Family is so thankful for the how far medicine has come, and to live in the backyards of some of the best hospitals in the country. This terrible illness has taught them that there are so many wonderful people in the world who want to help during some of the hardest times of your life, to not sweat the small stuff and that life is truly a gift.
THE COOSE FAMILY
In June 2017, the Coose Family, from Hanson, received life shattering news. Kristine Coose went to her annual mammogram appointment, where her doctors found a lump and, in her words, “…everything moved so fast.” Kristine was diagnosed with Triple Negative Breast Cancer, a very aggressive form of cancer. Before starting chemo she had many scans, which unfortunately showed lesions on her liver. The lesions were too small to biopsy, and therefore the plan was to immediately begin a chemo regimen and maintain careful watch on the liver lesions.
Chemo started in July. Kristine was diagnosed on the last day of school so needless to say summer “went to the dumps immediately.” Her family had to cancel vacations, and the Bucket List they had created the week before her diagnosis was put on the back burner.
According to Kristine, chemo was not so bad physically but “…boy did it do a job on me mentally.” “I went to many dark places and besides having severe fatigue I was very depressed. I was so afraid of leaving my kids. They are ages 10 and 11 and I need to be here for them.”
Halfway through chemo a scan was done again and showed no change on the liver. Since the tumor in the breast was shrinking, the thought was if the liver lesions were signs of metastasized cancer they would shrink along with the tumor. Her doctors made the decision to perform a scan at the end of chemo.
Chemo ended in November 2017 and Kristine had a lumpectomy one week later. The pathology report came back that one out of the six markers did not come back "clean". So back to the operating room she went. The great news was her lymph nodes were clean! Radiation was supposed to begin at the end of December.
She says she was feeling great, thinking the worst was behind them and they were even getting into the holiday spirit. Little did they know, shortly after that, Bob (her husband ) went for his routine yearly physical; the doctor asked if he had a sore throat because his neck glands were swollen. He didn't. He asked if he smoked. Never. They did an ultrasound on his neck and discovered a mass. Things moved fast after that. Bob met with an ENT specialist the next day, who was certain it was cancer. They scheduled a biopsy at South Shore Hospital 2 days later.
During the biopsy there was a complication and Bob had to have a tracheotomy. He was in the ICU for 3 days and in the hospital for a week. While there, they also performed surgery, putting in both a port for chemo and a feeding tube.
During his stay in the ICU, once her chemo had ended, Kristine had more scans to check the liver. She was feeling well and did not expect any more bad news.
As she was sitting with Bob she received the call that her breast cancer had indeed metastasized to her liver. She is now Stage 4 and will not be "cured". Radiation was canceled; Dana Farber in Weymouth suggested she transfer to their facilities in Boston to try and get in to trial treatments, with hope to keep the cancer at bay.
Within this timeframe, Bob started his 7 weeks of daily radiation and received 3 rounds of chemotherapy. He is doing as well as he can, although eating is too painful, so he is now on the feeding tube fulltime.
Kristine has met with her new oncologist at Dana Farber in Boston and is currently on a new trial regimen where she takes 2 chemo pills every day. She also receives chemo once a month. She is scheduled for a liver biopsy in March and is praying that it the treatment is working and keeping her cancer at bay.
All she wants is to be here for her kids.