When Williamstown resident Lenore Griffin was diagnosed with a rare brain cancer, there was no time for worrying. Stopping was never a choice.
“I just had to keep on,” she recalled. ‘There was no other option.”
Now with Christmas around the corner, Griffin is trying to navigate paying hospital bills and buying Christmas gifts for her four children while doing her best to keep her spirits up.
Griffin was born and raised in Williamstown and spent only a short time away while serving in the U.S. Army. She is currently living with her boyfriend, Chris Sheridan, and her four children: Brynn Buz, 13; Julian Sheridan, 4; Nina Griffin, 23; and Sami Griffin, 16.
Around six months ago, she started suffering from severe head, neck and back pain. Finally, the pain was so severe she rushed to the emergency room. After discovering spinal fluid on the brain and multiple tumors on her spine, doctors diagnosed Griffin with Adult Medulloblastoma. This cancer is commonly found in pediatric patients, but can make a rare appearance in an adult.
“When we first found out it was really hard … When you hear brain cancer, you automatically think the worst. It’s your brain,” said Griffin’s younger sister, Maria Sebastiano. “To know that she had a pediatric brain cancer, it just didn’t make sense.”
Griffin has now been through multiple brain surgeries and her current treatment plan is to receive radiation five days a week for six weeks.
Despite the hard diagnosis, a piece of good news helped brighten the family’s spirits: Griffin’s insurance company approved her for proton radiation therapy, designed to only attack diseased cells and not the healthy ones, to prevent further cancers from developing later in her life.
“I just started the radiation last week and you aren’t supposed to get any side effects until a few weeks in,” Griffin noted. “So after one week, I am just now starting to have a sore throat. I haven’t lost any hair yet.”
According to Sebastiano, Griffin’s main concern has not been fighting her disease, but showing strength: Christmas certainly won’t be stopping in the Griffin household. But due to COVID-19, and with daily trips to the hospital, both Griffin and Sheridan are out of work. Sebastiano is hoping the family’s GoFundMe page will draw funds to help with medical bills and gifts for the children.
“She was talking to me about all her brain surgeries, and I told her I wanted to do a GoFundMe because it was going to be a lot of money,” Sebastiano remembered. “I know that is what she is worried about, but I don’t want her to have to worry about that on top of what she is going through.”
The goal of the page is to reach $50,000 to help pay for medical bills Griffin has already received for her emergency hospital visits as well as some surgeries. So far, the community has raised over $12,000.
“It’s amazing, because so many people from my past and my present and people I don’t even know have contributed. It’s pretty awesome,” Griffin said.
The community has also come together to start a meal train for the family. Considering Griffin starts her treatments every day around 5:30 p.m., making dinner has become difficult. So Sebastiano has encouraged friends and family to visit the meal-train calendar and choose a day to make the family a home-cooked meal.
“My sister wrote down foods that the kids like, and then you sign up for a day, make a food and drop it at their doorstep,” Sebastiano explained. “If you don’t want to cook, you can send them gift cards to places around Pitman. Someone did a burger and hot dog bar, which was really nice, and a taco bar with all the fixings. So every day they have something and they don’t have to worry about cooking.”
Although Sebastiano has created many ways to help her sister, she mostly asks the community for their prayers.
“Of course, donating to the meal train or the GoFundMe (page) is amazing, but we appreciate the prayers,” Sebastiano said. “Nothing stops my sister: Brain cancer is not going to stop her, and I think she is strong for everybody else, too.
“For me, the hardest part of every day is waking up hoping my sister is still gonna be here.”
To donate to the GoFundMe page, visit https://www.gofundme.com/f/show-the-love-for-lenore-griffin?utm_source=customer&utm_campaign=p_cp+share-sheet&utm_medium=copy_link_all
The meal train calendar can be found at https://www.mealtrain.com/trains/g47onm.