Pasadena resident Judy Marsh, the cancer victim receiving treatment in North Carolina although her insurance company refuses to pay for it, completed her final day of intense chemotherapy treatment yesterday.
Marsh's husband, Roland, said his 49-year-old wife is "having a rough time of it" but is hanging in.
"She's doing pretty good," he said. "She is going to make it. It's every bit as rough as they make it out to be."
Marsh received five months of chemotherapy in just three days as part of an autologous bone marrow transplant, in which some of her bone marrow is removed, frozen and returned after the chemotherapy is given.
The chemotherapy will burn up the remaining bone marrow in her body, along with, doctors hope, the remaining cancer cells. The frozen marrow is then injected back into Marsh's body so it can regenerate.
Her insurance company, Blue Cross/Blue Shield, first said it would pay for the treatment, but then company officials refused, saying the procedure is experimental. Doctors at Duke say about 25 percent of the patients who receive this treatment for breast cancer remain free of the disease for seven years.
Marsh's file is being reviewed by the Federal Employment Program, which sets insurance policy for federal employees and retirees covered by Blue Cross/Blue Shield. Roland Marsh retired this year from the Social Security Administration.
Friends, neighbors and others have donated $100,000, $80,000 of which was used to help Marsh get into Duke University Medical Center last week.
She still needs at least $50,000 more.
Marsh's sister, Carol Pratesi, said a dance last Friday raised $10,000 and plans are under way for another dance and a skate-a-thon. Pratesi said many of the same people keep coming to each fund-raiser. "We want to give them a break," she said.
Meanwhile, Judy Marsh will spend this week recovering from the chemotherapy. This weekend, doctors will inject her frozen bone marrow back into her body -- a critical time in the procedure.
Yesterday, Roland Marsh said his wife is not very responsive.
"Last night, she was very conscious. She was doing really well. But you don't really communicate with her. She's up 30 seconds and then she's out again," he said.