Marsha Fuller said it took a little badgering, but she was finally able to convince her lifelong friend Larry Ann Evans to consent to a GoFundMe page to help with cancer treatment expenses.
Evans, 59, of Lyons, underwent surgery in August after being diagnosed in July with adenoid cystic carcinoma with extensive neural involvement. She had a tumor removed from her salivary gland after suffering symptoms since May. The cancer has now spread to her shoulder and because it is not treatable with chemotherapy and in her case radiation (because of its close location to her brain) Evans has been advised to seek proton beam radiation therapy at Sloan Kettering Memorial Hospital in New York City.
Evans has been mostly private about her illness, but that all changed a week ago Friday when the GoFundMe page went live. She has been bowled over by the outpouring of support, which in just four days had generated almost $15,000 from more than 132 donors by Thursday.
The establishment of the GoFundMe page was not a surprise, but her reaction to it was, Evans said. In an email, she wrote how seeing donations from first-year college students that she had directed in the Geneva High School musical last spring brought tears to her eyes, as did gifts from grade-school friends she hasn’t seen in 40 years.
Evans, the executive director of the Museum of Wayne County History, has been a longtime contributor to these pages with her Looking Back history columns. She was willing to share her story publicly after being reluctant to do so for months because … “it might encourage other people in the same situation to not be afraid to stuff their pride and self-sufficiency away in the bottom drawer and accept the help that people who care about you are offering. Hopefully when all this is over, I can do something equally wonderful for all of them,” Evans wrote.
Fuller, of Ontario, grew up around the corner from Evans and both graduated from Lyons High School in 1978. She said someone contacted her saying they had to establish a GoFundMe page for Evans.
“I told her I know how private you are but this is going to be hard [financially],” Fuller said. “It’s not charity. People want to help and they need a route. ... This is just love coming at ‘ya.’”
Fuller said she has been amazed at the level of generosity, but not how loved Evans is.
“She has her fingers in so much,” Fuller said, noting not only through her job but also in her scholastic and community theater work in Lyons and Geneva.
“She’s just inserted herself into the community, given to the community in every aspect of her life,” Fuller said.
When Evans finally consented to the fund-raiser, she and Fuller met to craft its message. Evans said it was important to her that the information being shared was correct.
Because the proton beam therapy is offered at a hospital outside her insurance network, it will not be covered. Evans expects she will need four to eight weeks of treatment which alone can run up to $130,000, she said. She is currently working on getting insurance coverage approval for the out-of-network treatment and once received will begin as soon as she can.
Evans lives in her grandmother’s home with her son Alexander Calvo, who works at Lyons National Bank. She also has a half-sister in Switzerland with whom she is close and who has been extremely supportive, she said.
Fuller said she is writing thank you responses to each donor and joked that because of the campaign’s success “this girl has been keeping me busy. I would do anything for her. Anybody would.”