Residents can help an Oak Harbor mom fight stage 4 breast cancer.
Tasha Ellis started a GoFundMe for her beloved sister-in-law Lisa Sparks about two months ago to help with general living expenses, as well as a family trip for her children.
Sparks moved to Whidbey Island from Oregon in 2006. She lives outside of Oak Harbor with her husband and their four children. In 2019, at the age of 33, she was diagnosed with breast cancer.
“It’s really hard to process when it happens,” Sparks said of her initial diagnosis.
Sparks underwent 16 rounds of chemo and a double mastectomy. In 2020, the cancer went into remission.
“They decided that I did the max course of treatment that it was considered being in remission,” Sparks said. “So I was working and doing everything like a normal person would for that year.”
She still had to have hormone therapy and blood work, which was how doctors discovered her tumor markers had been going up. In February of 2021, she found out she had stage 4 breast cancer and it had spread to her bones. There were cancer lesions on her spine and hips.
“I have significant back pain and it comes and goes,” she said. “It’s pretty consistent, for the most part now.”
She can no longer stand for long periods of time or lift things and had to quit her job as a manager at Wendy’s.
Her kids, ages 6, 9, 11 and 15, have had to step up and help more with household chores. Her husband works full time, but the family is struggling with only one income.
Spark wants to be able to take her kids to Harry Potter World at Universal Studios in Orlando. She grew up with Harry Potter and has always been a fan.
“I thought it’d be fun,” she said. “We never really get to go on vacations like that. It would be one big memory for them.”
Ellis doesn’t get to see Sparks very often because Ellis lives in Colorado.
“I’ve only actually met her in person about three times,” Ellis said. “But we definitely stay connected through calls, Facebook, different things like that where I’ve really been able to get to know her quite well.”
She decided to make the GoFundMe because it was the best way Ellis could help from so far away.
“Lisa is just an amazing person,” she said. “She really takes you into her family no matter who you are. She’s always willing to help.”
The GoFundMe is to help with living expenses and to fund the trip. Sparks doesn’t qualify for disability until October of this year. She doesn’t have enough work history due to the time off she took to raise her children. She was able to receive state paid leave, but that only lasts for 12 weeks; this week is the 12th week.
“With a family of six and then with gas prices and the food, and all that stuff that’s going up, it’s eating away at everything,” she said.