Late last year, Farmington Hills resident Debby Pothoff started feeling sick.
She had trouble breathing, lost energy and her skin seemed more pale than it should be, her daughter Monique remembers. By Christmas Eve, Debby "could barely walk up the stairs to her bedroom and almost passed out in the process."
When she finally saw her family physician, he recommended an emergency trip to the hospital, and a battery of tests revealed Debby was fighting AML (acute myeloid leukemia), a deadly blood disease.
It was an unexpected blow for a woman whose life was filled with music and a deep Christian faith. The Pothoffs have been Farmington Hills residents since 1976. Monique said Debby, who is a Berkley High graduate, was working with the Spotlight on Youth Theater group in Canton from August of last year, until she first became ill. For 10 years, she served as children's choir and contemporary music director at .
Since January, Debby has endured chemotherapy, grueling side effects and trips to the hospital. Monique is documenting her mother's progress with a blog, debbycancerfund.wordpress.com, where she has set up an online fundraising drive to cover the approximately $500,000 cost of treatment. The family had no insurance, and while Debby is waiting for a determination as to whether she qualifies for Medicaid, the bills continue to pile up.
Through individual donations and fundraisers held at in Farmington and Corsi's Banquet Center in Livonia, supporters have raised about $20,000, Monique said. In a blog post dated March 30, she wrote:
For those of you who have helped or supported in any way (financially, emotionally, or otherwise) – we appreciate your generosity and kindness. Any bit makes a difference to us. Now, more than ever, we need you to think and pray for Debby – this will be our biggest tool in getting her cured.
Another fundraiser is being planned for sometime in June. If you're interested in helping with it or in making a donation, contact the family through debbycancerfund.wordpress.com.