FORT ST. JOHN, B.C. — A Fort St. John healthcare worker was recently diagnosed with a rare brain condition which requires surgery that costs approximately $150,000, not including travel and accommodation costs.
Shondra White started raising funds for Michelle Worton after her diagnosis of a symptomatic pineal gland cyst in August.
Worton requires surgery to remove a pineal cyst that is not cancerous or malignant. However, the symptoms associated with pineal cysts require removal in only two per cent of cases.
Once the cyst is removed, they can determine if it is a pineaocytoma. Pineocytoma is one of several different types of tumours that arise in the area of the pineal gland, according to UCLA Health.
White says Worton has a tentative surgery date of November 20th, 2023, in South Carolina with Dr. Sunil J. Patel.
Since December 2021, Worton has been dealing with sudden-onset health issues.
White says Worton has non-MS specific brain lesions as well as the pineal cyst, which was discovered in 2022 but dismissed until August 2023.
Every day, Worton experiences severe headaches, cranial pressure, insomnia, cognitive deficits such as speech or mental processing, blurred, double, and tunnel vision, sound sensitivity, short-term memory lapses, balance problems and dizziness, said White. More recently, she has had intermittent loss of sight in her right eye.
Last month, Worton met with Dr. Sunil J. Patel, a neurosurgeon at the Medical University of South Carolina, who recommended the surgery.
The surgery will require at least two days in the hospital and seven to ten additional days in South Carolina.
The surgery is estimated to cost $150,000 Canadian, according to White, with additional travel and accommodation costs bringing the total closer to $200,000.
White says Worton was a thriving and independent woman, had a “zest for life,” and was energetic.
She says Worton could be found in the backcountry, hiking or skiing in the mountains with her family.
“You would find her living every minute of every day. Truly living life,” White said. “This is no longer the case and hasn’t been for almost two years.”
White set up a GoFundMe for Worton, with $19,110 of the $150,000 goal raised in four days.