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Community help comes through for Pa. cancer victim

December 20, 2002|by RICHARD BELISLE

waynesboro@herald-mail.com

MERCERSBURG, Pa. - Jill Sipes, a single mother of three diagnosed with terminal cancer, left Wednesday for treatments in a clinic in Mexico after more than $20,000 in donations came in this week, her mother, Lois Lynch, said Thursday.

Sipes, of Mercersburg, has been trying to raise the money for the experimental treatments since doctors in Baltimore told her her condition was hopeless after three months of chemotherapy failed to reduce the tumors that have spread through her upper body.

Laken, Sipes' 8-year-old daughter and the oldest of her three girls, has been making candy canes from pipe cleaners and beads and selling them for 50 cents to help her mother raise the money.

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So far she's sold enough to make more than $1,000, her grandmother said Thursday.

Sipes was diagnosed with the disease in July, a day after her daughter, Lexi, was born. Her middle child, Mallory, is 4.

She will begin the controversial treatments today at the Oasis of Hope clinic in Mexico, her mother said.

The treatments involve injecting each tumor with medication followed by the removal and cleansing of her blood, which is supposed to kill the tumors, Sipes said in an interview earlier this week.

"I spoke with her tonight," Lynch said Thursday. "She said she's all settled in and is ready to begin the treatments."

Sipes is expected to remain in Mexico for at least two weeks, her mother said.

She will need money to go back for checkups and follow-up treatments, she said.

"This is only the first of many trips for her so we have to continue to try to raise money," Lynch said. "Her life is worth it."

She said her family feels blessed that people have reached out to help her daughter.

Laken is running out of the red plastic beads she uses to make the candy canes, Lynch said. She only has enough red beads for a couple more days. Family members are trying to find more, she said.

Lynch said the family is still taking orders for the canes. The phone number is 717-328-5531.

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