By RICARDO WELLS
Tribune Staff Reporter
THE family of Monique Woods, a 43-year-old Bahamian left bedridden by cancer in a Chicago area hospital, is seeking the public’s assistance in raising $20,000 to airlift her back to Nassau, allowing her to die “at home surrounded by those she loves.”
Mrs Woods was diagnosed with a severe case of colon cancer in 2013 following months of intense stomach pains.
According to her younger sister Beverley Turnquest, Mrs Woods originally went to the United States to seek further consultation after local physicians were unable to find the source of her increasing discomfort.
In mid-2013, American physicians diagnosed Mrs Woods with the disease and informed her that her late diagnosis made fighting the ailment “next to impossible.”
“Her diagnosis was something no one expected, making it worse was the news on how serious it was. A double blow, it honestly felt like two direct punches to the stomach, we were all devastated by the news,” Ms Turnquest told The Tribune.
Since her diagnosis, Mrs Woods has routinely travelled from Nassau to Chicago where her husband is from, working with doctors there to monitor the developments associated with her ailment. During one of these routine visits, doctors discovered that the cancer had spread to sections of her stomach and chest cavity.
Doctors admitted her to hospital and informed her the cancer had run its course, leaving her unable to travel back to The Bahamas.
“(Doctors) called us, we were told that she couldn’t make the flight back,” her sister said. “The cancer had spread to the point where they couldn’t do anything to help her. Before she went to Chicago she told us that if things took a turn for the worse, ensure that she was able to come. She told us she wanted to die home. She wanted to be here for Christmas because it was always her favourite time of the year.”
According to family members, the initial cost to transport Mrs Woods from Chicago to Nassau by air ambulance was pegged at $32,000. Late last week, officials were able to offer the family a discounted rate of $21,000.
Up to press time, the family has successfully raised a total of $14,000 - $7,000 short of their goal.
“We can’t cure her cancer but, with the help of everyone out there, the people who know (her), we can raise enough money to get her home and grant her this final wish.”
“My sister was more than just a sister to me, she was like a second mother to me. No matter the time or the matter she was always there for me and did what she had to make sure all was all right with me. This is my chance to do that for my big sister,” said Ms Turnquest, as she fought back tears.
“Looking at her, lying there, she is fighting to breathe, fighting to stay alive. I know deep down she is fighting to get back home, to get back to Nassau near the rest of the family and all of her friends.”
The family has set up a GoFundMe account at www/gofundme.com/tonyaandmonique.
The family can also be contacted at 242-448-3264 for more information on donations.