More than $180K raised for 'selfless' Regina social worker after unexpected cancer diagnosis

·3 min read

More than $180,000 was raised in five days to help treat a Regina social worker's cancer.

Katie Daschuk was diagnosed with cervical cancer in July last year.

"She had normal pap smears in the past. So we weren't really even expecting anything like that to happen," said Jordan Marit, Daschuk's brother.

"Then to find out that she had such a large cervical lesion with some lymph nodes positive at the time was quite scary."

At the time, the cancer had not yet metastasized. Marit said he and the family were hopeful with the news.

Daschuk is a mother to three children, nine-year-old Lily, four-year-old Olivia and two-year-old Jack.

Marit said Daschuk is a passionate social worker who just completed her master's of social work before the diagnosis.

She works for Ranch Ehrlo Society as a caseworker, where she helps vulnerable children and families.

"She is extremely selfless and gives of herself probably more than anyone I know," said Marit.

"This reflects on her everyday life, with her everyday interactions with individuals, as well as with her interactions with her kids who are just the shining example of what a great mom she is."

Marit said Daschuk underwent intensive radiation therapy and chemotherapy.

"She was very strong. She did get sick during the treatment, but kept on with them and recovered quite well after them. And then we were expecting, I think, good news in December when she had her follow up imaging and her follow up appointment," Marit said.

Unfortunately, a scan revealed that while the primary tumour had shrunk, the cancer had spread throughout her body to her liver, lungs, lymph nodes in her abdomen, and some bone and muscles.

New drug therapy

Photo by Jenna Kozan Photography
Photo by Jenna Kozan Photography

With Daschuk now at Stage 4, Marit said her oncologists recommended she take the immunotherapy drug Pembrolizumab.

Marit said the drug is covered for Hopkins Lymphoma, melanoma, lung cancer and bladder cancer in Saskatchewan, but is not covered for cervical cancer specifically.

Health Canada approved it for squamous cell carcinoma of the head and neck, which like cervical cancer can be linked to human papillomavirus.

The drug helps the immune system's ability to attack cancer cells and tumours.

Treatments costs a total of $120,000, with 12 injections costing $10,000 each.

Marit and Erin Werner, a friend of Daschuk's, started a GoFundMe to help raise the money. In five days, more than $186,000 has been raised to help support Daschuk, $76,000 of which in the first 24 hours.

"We're all very humbled by this outpouring of support and generosity from everyone. It's not even just about the money. It's just about everyone sharing Katie's story," said Marit.

"We have nothing but gratitude for everyone who's helping out. And, you know, I'm humbled. Am I surprised? No, because Katie's an amazing person and I would expect a whole mountain of people to be moving behind her and helping her as well."

Daschuk is expected to get her first injection this week.