Rare form of cancer leads mother to experimental treatment

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wwltv.com

Posted on February 3, 2011 at 11:33 PM

Updated Friday, Feb 4 at 8:23 AM

Dennis Woltering / Eyewitness News

Crystal Slaughter looks like the typical mother of a newborn as she fawns over her 4-month-old baby, Elliott.

But Crystal has overcome devastating loss in her life.

And now doctors are telling her that her baby boy could suffer the same kind of loss.

“I’m worried about that, because I lost my father at a young age,” she said. “I just don’t want my baby to not have his mom.”

Crystal was just two years old in October 1980 when two gunmen barged into her family’s home on Cadiz Street Uptown, shot her mother in the jaw in front of her, and shot and killed her father in the front room.

“I still remember to this day, I was sleeping and I would be banging on my closet door, having bad dreams and stuff.”

“She used to tell me, ‘Momma, I love you all the way to the sky,’” recalled Carol Raines, Crystal’s mom. “To her, the sky is where her daddy was at.”

But now Crystal and her family are afraid that another killer could take her life, a rare form of cancer.

“It’s very rare,” said Crystal. “They said there have only been like two other cases like it. My doctor said one person had one tumor and the other person had two tumors. They’ve never seen a case like mine that had that many tumors.”

Crystal has more than 20 tumors.

A doctor told her a biopsy of the first growth, years ago, was not cancerous and he removed it.

But then she says she got three more including one on her head and more developed after she became pregnant.

She said her doctor was concerned and asked if she wanted to consider an abortion.

“We had prayed to have this baby, so that was not an option,” said Crystal.

About a month after having Elliott and several more biopsies on the tumors doctors concluded they were indeed cancerous.

“I have them on my neck, and on my chest, my head, my arm,” she said.

The strain of cancer is very rare - malignant chondroid syrin-goma/myo-epi-thelial carcinoma.

She says her local doctors said her best hope was to see the cancer specialists at M.D. Anderson in Houston for treatment.

But she says the specialists there said they couldn’t help either.

“They had a counselor in there with me,” she recalled. “They were about to cry. They were hugging me and rubbing my arm. They said they were sorry, but the cancer was going to kill me or complications from the cancer was going to kill me.”

“They really didn’t give us no hope,” added Raines.

“The hardest thing is they’re pretty much saying it’s not curable,” said her husband Elliott.

Crystal says some of the tumors hurt and the one on her throat makes it hard to swallow. She said the doctors could not identify the stage of cancer but told her to enjoy the time she has left.

“The doctor sent me home to be with my family cause she said it could be my last Christmas,” recalled Crystal. “But, she couldn’t give me an actual time on my life.”

Crystal’s mother says she pleaded with the doctor, asking if there were some kind of experimental treatment.

“I said, ‘Please don’t just send us home.’”

She said there must be some kind of experimental treatment. Carol Raines says she can’t accept the idea of losing her daughter, can’t accept the idea that her grandson could lose his mother before he gets to know her – just as her daughter lost her father.

“It’s like life repeating itself,” she said. “If she goes and they don’t save her, her baby’s going to be in the same position she was in. I know God can’t do this twice to one family.”

The day after the Eyewitness News interview, Crystal, Elliott and her Mom headed back to M.D. Anderson for an extended stay. They say specialists there have agreed to try a treatment that doesn’t have government approval yet.

It’s experimental. But it’s also a cause for hope.

“I’m 32 years old. I’ve waited all this time to have a baby and to have a family, and I just, I’m not ready to die,” she said.

Crystal’s medical bills are huge.

Friends and family are holding a Saints memorabilia raffle and a car show to benefit the family.

The car show will be held Sunday, Feb. 20, from noon to 6 p.m., at Mudbugs, 2504 Old Spanish Trail, Slidell.

You can buy raffle tickets there for a Drew Brees Jersey and other Saints memorabilia.

A Donation account has been established for Crystal Slaughter at Capital One Bank.

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