A couple in Boston are praying for a miracle as they try to find a way to be admitted to the Dana-Farber Institute.
A musical love story
Ronny Monroe has lived quite the life as a musician, one that many others aspire to. He was coached by the same singing instructor as Chris Cornell, he has been a vocalist in multiple bands including Metal Church, Zero Discipline, and Presto Ballet. He has loads of fans, largely due to live shows where people fall in love with him and his appearances on MTV. He is very used to standing ovations and screams of his name, especially as a member of the Trans-Siberian Orchestra, but something was still missing.
Ronny had just gotten off plane in Hartford and was picking up his bags when he was suddenly confronted with his missing piece. He looked up to see the most beautiful woman he had ever laid eyes on, and he knew she had to be his. He remembers the moment now, "we took one look at each other and it was love at first sight. Near the elevator, our hands touched. And then we just held hands."
They both realized it seemed crazy, but they knew something far more important - that they were soulmates.
They got to know each other as time went on, and were in awe of how much they respected and admired one another. J. Von Hughes was a renowned interior designer in Manhattan, with significant experience designing homes for the city's most elite inhabitants. She loved to hear stories of Ronny's life on tour, and adored his music. Finally, they had found the love they waited for their entire lives.
Unfortunately, their romantic bliss hit a bump in the road on January 27, 2017. J. Von explains what happened, "I got a horrible pain in my abdomen. I called Ronny and said something's wrong. I have a very high pain threshold but within an hour I was screaming."
She had never experienced such intense pain and was extremely frightened. She immediately went to South County Hospital, where she spent the next twelve hours going through many tests. Unfortunately, they were not positive. She was diagnosed with stage 3 Mullerian ovarian cancer.
She commented on how blindsided she was by the news, "I couldn't believe the size of the mass. I had no prior symptoms ... It's a very rare form of aggressive cancer."
In order to treat the cancer, she was transferred to Women & Infants Hospital, where she was told that she had to have chemotherapy, followed by surgery, and then more chemotherapy.
Unfortunately, the plan did not go quite so smoothly. After she had completed her first round, she developed pneumonia, which stopped her from being able to breathe for an entire month. There were two times where she nearly died.
After she defeated her pneumonia, she had surgery and a second round of chemotherapy, and went into remission. However, her emotional turmoil did not stop there. She explained how difficult the experience was for her, "my hair was falling out in clumps. I looked in the mirror and cried at what was looking back at me."
A supportive love
J. Von was distressed about losing her hair, and felt void of the beauty she had possessed throughout her life. However, Ronny did not see it that way. To him, she was still the most beautiful woman he had ever laid eyes on.
One day, J. Von was sitting in the living room when Ronny walked in, just like any other time. However, now she did not recognize him - he had shaved his head. She started crying immediately and could hardly believe how supportive and loving he was. She explains, "his trademark was his hair, and he'd shaved his head. He did it for me."
Ronny was adamant that it was only hair, and wiped away her tears as he held her.
The couple had trouble deciding whether or not they wanted to expose their situation to the world. Ronny thought that it might be best to keep the matter private and not tell anyone. However, J. Von says, "I wanted to. Because I thought it would help someone else. The message I wanted to get out there is that all post-menopausal women need to get checked."
Unfortunately, when J. Von went back in for tests recently, tests showed what she dreaded - that her cancer had returned. What was worse is that it is now at stage 4. Unfortunately, there is no facility in Rhode Island that is capable of properly treating her. She explains, "they do not have the equipment or diagnostics for this. They are using a standard treatment for a rare form of cancer."
As a result, her only option for treatment is to be admitted to the Dana Farber Institute. However, even if she is admitted, there is still a struggle. She voices her problem, "insurance won't pay for it because it's out of network. If I don't get into Dana Farber, I'm going to die. They've given me one to five years to live."
Unfortunately, they cannot afford to pay the cost out of pocket either. J. Von says "we've depleted all of our savings. I lost my business. I had to sell my house. Ronny's had to turn down tours because he's my caretaker. He can't leave me ... I need someone to advocate for me. I can't afford to hire an attorney. We don't even have the funds to pay our utility bills. Our cries for help just fall on deaf ears. If anyone has a loophole and I can get over the damn border into Massachusetts..."
Inevitably, the situation feels unfair. She is faced to fight for her life, but not only that, she also has bills to pay all the while - and is not even guaranteed to get into the only place that can possibly prolong her life.
J. Von says that she does not understand why this is happening to her, and does not believe she has put bad karma into the universe to have this come back to her. She says, "I've always taken a portion of my income and given it back to the community. I could have lived quite lavishly but I didn't. I believe in karma. You do the right things and good things happen. I've kept my faith."
J. Von has had a hysterectomy, and a heart attack that followed an allergic reaction to scanning dye. Her only hope left is to attempt to convince her insurance company to cover her out of state treatment, but despite her and Ronny's appeals, the company is showing no signs of budging.
Ronny says how important it is for people to help their cause, "this is an incredible person. She can captain a boat. She can fly a plane. She can paint. She can sculpt. She has helped homeless people. She has put people through college. She's donated money to no-kill shelters. And now we need some help."
If you would like to help the couple, you can visit http://www.gofundme.com/j-vons-fight-against-cancer-pt-2.
Photo: Chariho Times