When Lexi Thomas went on vacation with her family in Ocean City, Maryland, she wasn’t planning on having appendicitis. Which was good, because she didn’t have appendicitis.
But she did have debilitating pain that landed her in the hospital—a few different hospitals, that is—for the next three months. Three months, y’all.
She was 20.
Fast forward four years, through multiple doctors, nurses, tests, procedures and a dizzying schedule of chemotherapy and dialysis. Instead of purchasing a new home or preparing a nursery for the start of a family or going on epic road trips like many other 24-year-olds, Lexi Thomas is waging war on an unprecedented disease. Its baffling symptoms combine attributes of cancer, an allergy, and an auto-immune disorder, and it randomly attacks her organs.
Just a Girl From College
I went to college with Lexi, and though I didn’t know her very well, I knew of her. That’s how it works on a campus of less than a thousand students. I knew that she was cool and beautiful. And that she played on the basketball team, which basically makes you royalty at any college, I think. But definitely at ours. She was Lexi Thomas. Even her name was cute.
Our paths didn’t cross very often around campus and after I graduated, I went on my merry way figuring out post-college life. Meanwhile, Lexi was getting to know the inside of hospitals in the worst way.
But five days ago, Lexi popped up on my Facebook newsfeed via about ten of my college friends. So I clicked on it and the link took me to a GoFundMe page. Lexi is sick. Real sick.
The GoFundMe campaign was asking for $35,000 to fund a clinical trial that could give Lexi a fighting chance. The study is described as “high-risk, high-reward” and has a 60% cure rate in earlier trials. If it works like it’s supposed to, it will train Lexi’s body to kill the cancer, and Lexi could be cancer-free in a matter of weeks. But it’s also a possibility that Lexi’s body won’t respond the way they want it to and shut down altogether. But since Lexi’s disease had never been seen before and there’s no tried-and-true treatment, this clinical trial is all Lexi has at this point.
“It would not be an exaggeration to say that this is likely her last chance at life,” says Dan Goldsmith, Lexi’s brother-in-law.
Because Lexi’s disease is so rare and confounding to the medical community, effective treatments have been elusive, and she’s taken part in many trial studies. Some of them have helped, while some of them have, well, not helped. And what’s more frustrating is that these trial studies—and their side effects—are often not covered by insurance because they’re not yet approved by the FDA; seriously ill people like Lexi have to pay out of their own pocket for what could be their last chance at life. They carry heavy medical bill burdens, adding mental and emotional weight to their physical maladies.
Lexi’s GoFundMe Campaign will bring the money she needs to participate in the clinical trial and provide for ongoing care costs related to the trial. But it is in addition to the nearly $75,000 of already standing medical bills.
Needless to say, it’s is a whole lot for 24-year-old shoulders to wear.
So I clicked to donate what I could, and became part of Lexi’s community, fighting in her corner for her life. And for the next five days, I watched the GoFundMe Campaign explode to bring in over $40,000; their goal was met in a little over two days. I saw many college friends giving to Lexi’s cause, many of them only giving the little they could. I saw Lexi’s friends and family donate, and I saw what seemed to be complete strangers from all over the nation give big and small to Lexi’s life.
I literally have never seen a community with that level of diversity come together so quickly. Over 400 people have donated to Lexi’s treatment, which puts the average donation at about $100.
IN FIVE DAYS.
Some of the stories you read on GoFundMe or CrowdRise or IndieGoGo or any other crowdfunding website are for fun things like weddings and honeymoons and registries and whatnot. Some campaigns are for exciting visions and big ideas. And others are what we would call life-or-death. Like Lexi’s. Let’s be honest, the #LexiStrong GoFundMe Campaign isn’t for anything fun. It is for life.
Lexi shares her story on her blog, LexThomas11, which prominently features Romans 8:28 — “And we know that for those love God, all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose.”
Though it’s not an easy calling for Lexi—or anyone—she rests in God’s goodness. Some days are easier than others, but all days He is good, and so is His purpose.