This week, caring friends posted on North Fork Patch's boards about the challenges Elizabeth Toy, 29, is facing.
On her Go Fund Me page, where Toy has posted an online plea for donations to help as she faces a life-threatening illness, Toy has kept friends and loved ones updated.
This week, Toy said she continues to recover at the Stony Brook University Cancer Center, where she had a bone marrow stem cell transplant to help treat Hodgkin's lymphoma.
Toy reported that the donor cells are beginning to graft, but with "painful complications," and a forecast of at least two to three weeks before she can return home to her son, Matthew, 11.
On her page, Toy said she is frantic with worry about having a home to return to — a safe place for herself and her son.
"We are going to need as much help for rent and after care as possible," she said.
With a goal of $15,000 listed, Toy has raised $4,875 so far.
Toy said all funds are transferred into a fund set up to pay bills.
Of her ordeal, Toy wrote, "It's really the hardest thing I've done. There are nights where I haven't been sure I'd even see the next day, but I pray and think of home. Please help us to keep that home."
She added, "It's going to be a long recovery, with many setbacks along the way. I want to thank you all again, and remind you to not take people for granted. Appreciate them while they are here. Set aside differences, strive to lift people up, not hold them down. But most of all, love and be loved."
In April, Toy shared her story with Patch. Only 29 years old, Cutchogue resident and single mom Toy described facing the most terrifying specter a parent can imagine: The fear that she might not live to see her son.Toy, who has Hodgkin's lymphoma, a cancer that spreads through the lymph nodes, was first diagnosed in 2010.
Good news came when a donor match for her bone marrow stem cell transplant was found.
But despite the positive, Toy was burdened with worry and buried beneath financial woes. Fighting illness, Toy had to continue to work to pay her rent and provide for her son.
To that end, she turned to Go Fund Me, an online website for raising funds through donations.
"I am struggling against all odds," she wrote on the Go Fund Me website. "I am a single parent who lost my fiance, our only son's father, to deportation in 2009. I was diagnosed with cancer just a year later."
According to her plea, Toy does not receive rental assistance due to the fact "waiting lists are always full or closed."
Toy said along with limited disability benefits of $427 per month, she continued to work at East End Nephrology in Greenport, against doctor's orders.
"I am forced to work sick, oftentimes running to the bathroom to vomit, fighting off shakes and barreling through fatigue against doctor's orders, and putting myself in danger . . . just to make rent, which is $1000 a month, utilities not included," she wrote.
Throughout her struggle, Toy said, she remains focused on staying alive for her son. "My son is so important to me," she said. "I truly am all he has."
In the past, friends raised funds locally in a trust set up at Suffolk County National Bank in Cutchogue through an account called the "Support Elizabeth Toy Fund" which is still in place, she said.
Funds, however, Toy said, have been depleted. "I cannot come so far and go through all this to lose everything when I come home," she wrote on the Go Fund Me site.
"I will be out of work and in need of help to supplement my rent, utilities and transportation, and child care for six months total, including the transplant itself," she said. "I promised my son Matthew I would never give up, that I would work as hard as I could to push through this and come out on top. Please help me keep my promise to my little boy. He, too, has lost so much, and I don't want him to lose the stability of the home we have built together."
After the transplant, she said, the possibility of graft versus host disease exists, she said, which will mean even further hospitalization.
Over the past months, Toy has endured six different courses of chemotherapy, radiation, a bone procedure where cancer was removed and replaced with cement, and an auto stem cell transplant, which failed.
Even more frightening than facing cancer, Toy said, is the thought of leaving her son without his mother. "It's the worst nightmare a parent can ever think of," she said.
Toy said she was livid when she read about another woman claiming to have had cancer and trying to raise funds online; the plea was a scam and the woman, addicted to heroin. "When people are out there scamming, it takes credibility away from people like me, people who are sick and can use help," she said.
Even if the transplant doesn't work, she prays for the hope of another trial drug.
"Maybe it will buy me a little more time," she said. "Precious time, that I can have with my son, to teach him all I want to teach him in an entire lifetime. I have to pack it all in."
Toy's primary care doctor, Blaise Napolitano of Hudson River Healthcare, Inc. in Greenport, said she has had multiple rounds of chemotherapy and radiation, but her body hasn't responded. The bone marrow transplant, he said, was critical.
"She's very nice," he said. "So very young -- a very nice young woman. It's a really sad story. A really sad case."
Toy added, "I'm literally fighting for my life."