Courtney Yakimetz (GoFundMe/Contributed).

Kelowna residents rally for mom in Alberta battling stage-4 cancer

Mother-of-three fights for her life after second cancer diagnosis

Two Kelowna residents are rallying for their beloved friend in Alberta, a mother who has been fighting cancer since the birth of her third child just five months ago.

Referred to as a ‘warrior queen’ by her friends and family, Courtney Yakimetz was diagnosed with breast cancer at the young age of 29. At the time, she already had her two sons, Drayson, six, and Dallin, four. She had a lumpectomy, went through chemotherapy and was able to put her initial diagnosis behind her.

Sadly, 15 months later, Yakimetz found out her breast cancer had returned. At the time, she was already 28 weeks pregnant with her daughter. At 32 weeks pregnant, she had another lumpectomy, and on November 25, 2020, she gave birth to Genevieve, who has been by her mom through everything. Only seven weeks after her baby was born, Yakimetz got bad news.

The 31-year-old now has stage four cancer, which has spread to other parts of her body.

Now, two Kelowna residents are helping the family raise money for unexpected costs that have come with Yakimetz’s battle. Her best friend, Katrina Mickiewicz has created a GoFundMe page which she updates about Yakimetz’s journey.

Joining the cause is Katie Smith, owner of Urban Jars Kelowna, who is donating $1 of her proceeds made the week before Mother’s Day to Yakimetz’ healthcare costs. She will also be donating the $3.50 she normally charges for delivery fees.

“As a mom, you just couldn’t imagine going through something like that. So I just feel for her because I’m connected to a lot of her friends and I just wanted to support her family,” Smith told the Capital News.

Yakimetz carries the breast cancer gene called BRCA. However, since she has stage four cancer, she is no longer eligible for a double mastectomy or a hysterectomy.

“I truly cannot even imagine the stress, the anxiety and the fear that Mike [Yakimetz’ husband] and Courtney are going through. The battle has just begun,” Mickiewicz said in her GoFundMe update.

Yakimetz lives in Vegreville, Alberta and has to drive over an hour to Edmonton for all of her appointments. She also has gone to Mexico for treatment which Mickiewicz said offers more options for treatment than Canada. Recently, her Edmonton oncologist went over treatment options in Canada.

Mickiewicz says Yakimetz will have to pay out-of-pocket for a multitude of expensive treatments to battle her cancer. She needs a special type of blood work to find identify a specific marker that will react to the immunotherapy, which will cost her $4,000. If she has it, it’s recommended that she does chemotherapy with immunotherapy, which will cost an additional $9,000 a month. Another option is for her to take a PARP blocker; which will hopefully repair broken BRCA1+ DNA and it costs $7,000 a month.

“That does not include any medication or injections she needs daily that she’s currently on or will need in the future,” Mickiewicz explained.

Three weeks ago, Yakimetz’s lung collapsed and she now needs 24/7 oxygen support. CT scans showed that her cancer has spread further.

“We also found out Courtney has declined immunotherapy in Canada because she did not qualify. She is still planning on going to Mexico in June for two weeks for immunotherapy and treatment,” said Mickiewicz. In Canada, her two options now are chemotherapy or a $7,000/a month drug called parp inhibitor.

“Courtney is my best friend. She is someone I refuse to ever learn to live without,” she added.

Mickiewicz’s GoFundMe aims to hit $500,000. Currently, it sits at around $159,000 from 1300 donors who have shared messages of love and support.

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