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Benefit started for woman on liver transplant list

Long-time Harrison County resident Michelle Brewster is waiting on a liver transplant after being diagnosed with cholangiocarcinomia. She was diagnosed Nov. 14 with the rare and hard to treat cancer, also known as bile duct cancer, after experiencing abdominal pain and nausea.

Living her best life with her husband of seven years, David, and sons Mason (a May graduate of Indiana University Southeast), Connor Keeling (a senior at North Harrison High School) and Brandon Brewster, along with her 8-year-old granddaughter Brailee, Brewster said she was shocked to hear that she had a mass in her liver after Connor took her to the emergency room in New Albany on Friday, Nov. 13.

After CT scans, an ultrasound, blood work and MRI, the diagnosis came to life.

“Michelle got on the phone with the Mayo Clinic and her reports were sent immediately,” said friend Lee King. “The Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minn., has the best team of doctors in the United States for this type of cancer. Michelle knew immediately that’s where she needed to be for any chance of survival.”

Brewster and her son Connor went to the Mayo Clinic for further in-depth testing. She was scheduled to have a partial liver removal, King said, but the day before surgery she was informed she would not live through the surgery or would die shortly thereafter.

Brewster, a former employee of the North Harrison Community School Corp. and the former suspension coordinator and case manager at the Harrison County Alternative School, was then informed she would be a possible candidate for a liver transplant.

“She was first told that she could do a live liver donor but later was informed that was not a option and would need a liver transplant from a death donor,” King said.

Brewster and her son returned home Christmas night then one week later she, along with her husband, returned to the Mayo Clinic.

“Michelle has since undergone five surgeries, three weeks of chemotherapy 24 hours/seven days a week and three weeks of intense radiation two times daily,” King said. “She will undergo one more surgery before she’ll be listed on the liver transplant recipient list.”

Brewster, who had become “extremely home sick,” is home until March 1, King said.

“She is thrilled to be with her family and that will surely lift her spirits,” she said. “She will need your prayers to continue as she begins another journey while she is home. She will receive fluids every day at the cancer center and started daily chemo pills, which have brutal side effects.”

When Brewster goes back to the Mayo Clinic, she will remain there until she has a transplant.

A GoFundMe has been set up to help the Brewster family with the cost of transportation, lodging and medical expenses. Also, there is an account at First Harrison Bank under the name of Lee King or Michelle Ayres for the benefit Michelle Brewster.

T-shirts are being sold, and a fundraiser, which runs through March 15, offers chances for two one-day park passes at Disney World and $500 in Disney merchandise. For more information, search Characters for A Cause, a private Facebook group that King said others can ask to join. King said all raffle chance purchases can be paid via Venmo, PayPal, cash app or Apple Pay, and QR code’s are posted to the page for easy access.

“Michelle is remaining very optimistic and has held strong on her faith to carry her through,” King said. “The prayers, words of encouragement and kind gestures has helped make her days better. Michelle extends her appreciation to each of you.”