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Benefit Sunday to help Morris mom fight leukemia

MORRIS – Angela Bartholomew is a 33-year-old wife and mother in Morris who is fighting acute promyelocytic leukemia, a subtype of acute myelogenous leukemia.

“It’s a lot of stress all the way around,” said her husband, Dave Bartholomew. “We’re into our fourth year of the battle and we are making it through with the support of friends and family.”

Bartholomew, a 1998 graduate of Minooka Community High School, was diagnosed at 30, after her daughter Bella was born. APL is a cancer of the white blood cells.

“After Bella was born she was watching a movie that discussed symptoms of leukemia in the movie,” said her friend, Bethany Nicola. “She woke up her husband, and he said, ‘Don’t be crazy. You don’t have it,’ but she went to a doctor and found out she did.”

Bartholomew got treatment right away for the APL and the doctors were hopeful as she went into remission, but after eight months of remission, the cancer returned.

Her husband said she has undergone a stem cell transplant using her own stem cells that has turned out well, as her cells are increasing, but her immune system is taking time to respond.

Nicola said the family now has $7 million in medical debt that is affecting their lives.

Dave is a part-time firefighter at Braceville Fire Department with Nicola’s husband. The fire department recently went from all volunteer to six paid part-time positions.

“Thankfully the fire department went to a paid position,” Dave said. “It helps, and the firefighters have stood behind me.”

In addition to being a firefighter, Dave works other jobs trying to make ends meet, pay household bills, and make payments to medical professionals so his wife’s treatments can continue.

“Work keeps me going, I have good in-laws and family who help take the stress off,” he said. “I’m trying to pay toward her medical expenses, so it doesn’t affect her treatment.”

Nicola held a fundraiser for the family last year that raised several thousand dollars, but that money has been used and she has planned a second fundraiser for Sunday, “Fight Like a Girl for Angela.”

The event will be held from 1 to 6 p.m. at the Braceville Community Hall from where they will serve spaghetti and pizza, and hold an auction to help the family.

“Most of the time I’ve known Angela she’s been sick,” Nicola said. “I can’t describe how positive she is, she’s always bright, upbeat, willing to listen and offer advice. I’ve never heard her talk about being sick.”

Dave said any money raised will help pay medical bills as well as daily living expenses while Angela continues to battle APL.

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