For New York City teacher Kristen McRedmond, social media wasn’t just a way to distract herself from cancer treatment — it may have saved her life.
McRedmond, who works at Avenues, the elite Chelsea private school, was diagnosed with stage 4 colorectal cancer in 2012.
“I was under the impression I had one tumor, and that was it,” McRedmond, a 37-year-old Meatpacking District resident, tells The Post. “They wound up finding spots all over.”
She spent four years in and out of remission before things got worse in August.
“I got out of bed and fell to my side — my toes were numb, and fluid wasn’t moving through my body. My legs were five times their normal size,” she says. At that point, she’d exhausted her treatment options — chemo was no longer effective; her cancer didn’t respond to the drugs she tried.
Her only hope was to get her hands on an IV medication being tested at some hospitals on breast-cancer patients that her doctors hoped could treat her rare type of cancer.
The only problem: Her insurance wouldn’t cover the treatment, and getting on a clinical trial would take more time than she had.
She estimates the medication itself would cost $50,000; any scans, bloodwork and additional treatment required would be extra.
“I said, ‘My cancer is not going to bankrupt my family,’ ” says McRedmond, who’s single but close with her parents. “My first roommate at [Memorial] Sloan [Kettering Cancer Center] died in June, and she left behind a 4-year-old and husband, and he’s drowning.”
Stacey Bendet, a parent of two Avenues students and the designer behind Alice + Olivia, told friends about McRedmond’s plight to help raise money for her treatment. One pal was Claudine De Niro, real-estate maven and daughter-in-law of Robert De Niro.Instead, she launched a YouCaring account, and things soon took a celebrity-fueled serendipitous turn.
Claudine then told her buddy Alison Brettschneider, former owner of the now-defunct Upper East Side and Hamptons boutique 25 Park and inspirational Instagrammer, who informed her 234,000 followers about McRedmond’s condition through Instagram videos pleading for donations. One of her followers works at Genentech, which manufactures the drugs McRedmond was trying to get. The employee petitioned her company to work out a deal with McRedmond so she could access the medication and pay at a later date.
McRedmond began treatment in October and hopes her experience will advance doctors’ understanding of how to treat colorectal cancer.
“I go into conversations with the humble opinion of, ‘Listen, I know you’re saving a thousand lives, but I’m working on one so I can help you save more.’ ”
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