MCCALLA... I was fine. I was enjoying my life, preparing to travel to just live my life and then I took the vaccine and I found out the worse news of my life. But, I’m actually thankful I took the vaccine because if I didn’t I would’ve found out when it’s way to late, at least now I have a fighting chance.
Labelled as a medical mystery after being diagnosed with stage four lung cancer, 26-year-old Kimberley McCalla is hoping the GoFundMe account she launched will give her the US$16,000 needed to start targeted therapy, the ideal treatment for her illness, her doctors have advised.
“For the treatment, they want to do targeted therapy, and it is very expensive — 30 tablets is US$16,000. The US$16,000 is just to start me off to see how far I can get on it in terms of sourcing the medication and starting. My aim is to reach my goal on the GoFundMe so that I can get started with that treatment as soon as possible,” she said, suggesting that to date she has raised over US$5,000.
At first, blaming her symptoms on the COVID-19 AstraZeneca vaccine she took last year August, McCalla now strongly believes that if she did not take the vaccine she would have found out about her diagnosis when it was way too late.
“I took my first dose on August 3 and then I got sick. I had a prolonged fever and I had shortness of breath and some back pain. I noticed that it wasn’t going away so I went to my private doctor and she gave me an asthma pump and that did help with the shortness of breath but it was still progressing. I noticed that something was wrong. I was wondering if it was the vaccine because of all the rumours going around with the vaccine,” McCalla told the Jamaica Observer.
Noting that she had no prior symptoms before taking the vaccine, McCalla said she was still a bit “delusional” that it was the cause of her illness, but when she was told the hard truth about her terminal illness, she knew she had to face the facts.
“I was fine. I was enjoying my life, preparing to travel to just live my life and then I took the vaccine and I found out the worse news of my life. But, I’m actually thankful I took the vaccine because if I didn’t I would’ve found out when it’s way to late, at least now I have a fighting chance,” McCalla stated.
However, after her symptoms would not subside, she recalled seeking additional medical help and an X-ray of her chest was done. A mass was discovered on her chest, and her doctor referred her to the University Hospital of the West Indies where a series of tests were completed, including a biopsy. Then, on September 16 she was told that the mass was cancerous and it had already spread to her back, explaining her persistent back pain.
In addition to the back pain, McCalla said she had difficulty breathing, resulting in her needing a wheelchair because she could not walk or do any activity for an extended time. The shortness of breath, McCalla said, was due to fluid build-up in her lungs, another sure sign that the cancer was aggressive.
“They were rushing to get me on chemotherapy because not only was I sick with the cancer, but there’s fluid on my chest, which prevents me from walking long distances and basically doing anything in terms of exhaustion,” she said, confirming that she was unable to do the chemotherapy until December because of financial constraints.
In the meantime, McCalla said her doctors managed her symptoms with medication and periodically drained the fluid from her lungs to aid in her breathing.
“I started chemotherapy in December, but then I got COVID and I was hospitalised. I was even placed on oxygen and I swear I didn’t know I was going to make it, being that I had such a terminal illness and then I had COVID. They kept me there until everything was okay enough for me to go home. So, from December until now I’ve been on chemotherapy. I had not made much progression in terms of the fluid on the chest because I still can’t walk long distances,” the fashion entrepreneur said, adding that due to her illness she had to put her business, Gormc Designs, on hold because she’s unable to manage it.
In an attempt to discover the cause of her lung cancer, McCalla said the doctors conducted a number of tests, but to no avail.
“The term that they are using is that it’s a medical mystery because they did several tests, they even did a genetic test to see if it can skip like a thousand generations and then it come to me, it showed that there’s nothing there that would be conclusive of what's happening now,” she said, adding that she is not a smoker and she has never been around smokers for long periods of time.
“Doing this GoFundMe and putting myself out there, I just want to be a source of inspiration to use my story to highlight many things, not just God and how great he is, but as well as lung cancer and how smoking is dangerous. I see it every day where persons smoke around their kids, with no regard for their health or anything and then when it reach to a stage where you have something like this everyone is regretful but no one is taking responsibility for the initial action,” McCalla continued, while expressing her gratitude to her family for their support.
Persons interested in assisting McCalla may visit her GoFundMe account using the following link: gofund.me/cd17851e or by visiting the website and search for Help Kimberly Cancer Treatment.