A young terminally ill Slidell mother is searching for hope this Easter. Crystal Slaughter is looking for an experimental cancer treatment that could give her hope of surviving long enough to raise her two-year old son.
You won't find a stronger example of a mother's love for her child than Crystal Slaughter's love for her two-year-old son Elliott Jr. She calls him Dooda.
And it is hard to imagine that a 34-year-old mother is lucky to be alive to show her love for her little boy like this. But two years ago, Crystal says doctors told her to go home and try to enjoy what could be her last Christmas.
“They gave me four to five months to live,” said Crystal, “and that was really hard.” Slaughter is fighting a very rare form of cancer called myoepithelial carcinoma.
“They say it is a very aggressive form of cancer,” said Crystal.
The tumors start out as little knots. Some turn into hard lumps under her skin.
“I have one right here you can probably see good,” said Crystal, pointing to her an area near her collarbone. “I had a huge one right here,” pointing to her chest.
She says some of the tumors cause a dull pain, but she says others seem to be on her nerves and the pain is much sharper.
“The one on my throat, it hurts when I swallow, and I notice it is growing,” she said.
Two years ago, she spent a little over a year going to the M.D. Anderson Cancer Treatment Center in Houston.
“I lost my hair, my eyebrows, my eyelashes. I was so so sick, so weak, and I just said, ‘I'm not giving up. I'll keep going.’”
She submitted to every kind of experimental treatment that doctors thought might help kill the cancer.
She says one chemo treatment did seem to reduce the size of the tumors a little, but her body couldn't tolerate it.
“I started getting spasms and then my whole body started seizing to they had to stop me on that.”
Another chemo treatment caused her skin to break out really badly. Doctors had to stop yet another treatment that seemed to stabilize the tumors because it caused her to lose feeling in her fingers and toes.
“And I still to this day, I have no feeling in the tip of my fingers. It feels like it is sleeping, like tingling.”
But now Crystal says she has about 30 tumors - some on her internal organs - including her heart and lungs, and she is scared. Those treatments offered hope, and now that hope is just about gone.
“I just dont want my son to think I left him. If I was to pass away, He is going to still be looking for me, and he is not going to know where mama is and that so upsets me. That’s what worries me. I'm sorry.”
In a cruel irony Crystal lost her father when a gunman broke into their home shot and killed him when she was just two.
“That's why I try, and I'm fighting as hard as I can, cause I want him, I just want to raise him, and I pray to God all the time. I ask god I dont care how bad I have to suffer. If I have to suffer, so be it. Just please just keep me alive so I can raise my son.”
She prays for a treatment that offers hope, and prepares for the worst.
“I just dont want him to forget me.”
Recording videos for her son, keeping a journal about things do together and writing poems for him.
“I will never say goodbye. I will be the angel the one that keeps a close eye.”
Her husband Elliott says he tries to give comfort and subdue stress. “I'm just trying to get her to relax you know, keep calm and try to get as much rest as possible.:
“And know one more thing,” said Crystal. “God is real. So we will be reunited and be together again. That’s why I say I will never say goodbye. There is no goodbye when it comes to us.”
After her latest pet scan, Crystal says her doctor put her back on Tarceva -- the chemo medication that caused her face to break out. She says she hopes someone who sees her story will know about an experimental treatment that will help her beat this cancer.