Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

THE HOPE FUND; 'To the Point Where It's Life or Death' Mom, 19-Year-Old Daughter Face Serious Health Issues

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

THE HOPE FUND; 'To the Point Where It's Life or Death' Mom, 19-Year-Old Daughter Face Serious Health Issues

Article excerpt

Byline: Danielle Day & S. Carson Howell

A month ago, Shiana Lee of Atlantic Beach faced herself in the mirror, running a trimmer over her head, removing all her hair: The cancer wasn't going to take anything else from her.

The 19-year-old had already given up enough.

While others her age are going on dates and studying for college finals, Lee is going from hospital to hospital trying to get better. Now, just a few months after nearly losing her mother, Lee faces the prospect of her own death.

She suffers from rhabdomyosarcoma, a rare form of cancer that hasn't responded to torturous weeks of chemotherapy.

Although the family doesn't have insurance, two Jacksonville hospitals - Mayo Clinic and Nemours Children's Clinic - are helping the family, with Nemours administering chemotherapy and Mayo planning to operate on her.

"It's gotten to the point where it's life or death," said Lee's mother, Danna Brown.

Brown, 49, has been there for her daughter every step of the way. She knows what it's like.

Brown has Crohn's disease, in which the body's immune system attacks the gastrointestinal tract, as well as adenomyosis, a medical condition involving the uterus that can cause severe, debilitating symptoms.

Brown's medical issues brought the family to Jacksonville from California seven months ago. She and her two daughters - Shiana and 8-year-old Katie Bain - moved here so Brown could be treated by the Mayo Clinic in Jacksonville.

Brown worked in mortgage banking back in California and after receiving a clean bill of health, she tried to get into the business here in Jacksonville so she could start paying back the medical bills she had amassed.

But her plans changed one night at the end of September, when Brown woke to screaming and found Shiana on the floor of the bathroom bleeding profusely.

As Brown took her daughter to the hospital, the two scrambled to come up with a diagnosis.

"We weren't thinking that at 19 this could be cancer," Brown said. …

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