Woman celebrates Christmas, birthday and engagement after terminal cancer diagnosis
Published Saturday, April 1, 2017 1:39PM EDT
Last Updated Sunday, April 2, 2017 11:30AM EDT
A young Calgary woman who may have only weeks left to live had the chance to celebrate her birthday, engagement and an early Christmas this week, all thanks to a local non-profit group.
Micah Repato is only 25 but in late 2016, after suffering from severe abdominal pain for a month, she learned she had colon cancer.
Doctors were able to remove a tumour in Repato’s intestine and had hoped she would make a recovery.
“I was a candidate for a second surgery for a chemo path which gives me (a chance) to be cancer-free in the future,” said Repato. “They gave me a 60 per cent to 80 per cent chance of survival.”
But soon after the surgery, the pain returned. After a visit to the emergency room, Repato received a devastating diagnosis: the cancer was stage 4 and inoperable.
“They found my intestine was twisted,” said Repato. “They wanted me to go for surgery right away and untwist it but they found a tumour inside as well.”
She added, “That’s when they told me you’re not passing any bowel movements and you only have a few weeks to live.”
Doctors told Repato she could be admitted into palliative care, but she asked instead to be discharged so she could spend her remaining days at home.
Repato went home on Monday and, thanks to help from a Calgary non-profit organization, began her first week there by celebrating.
On Friday, the Wishing Well Event Foundation helped her mark her June birthday early, with a Greek-themed party to commemorate the trip she took to the Mediterranean country last year.
They also helped her celebrate Christmas, transforming her home into a festive split between a Winter Wonderland and a Greek village.
Repato’s loved ones came from all around, including Quebec, Texas and California, to enjoy the catered food, decorations and live music.
It’s just the kind of work the foundation does, says its fundraising chair Olivia Kennedy
“We grant wishes to people who are facing terminal illness,” she told CTV Calgary.
“When somebody is in a position where they don’t know how much longer they’re going to be living, it’s nice to give them something to look forward to, a moment to celebrate and have fun.”
The birthday-slash-Christmas party had one more surprise element: Repato became engaged to her boyfriend of two years, Peter Studnicka, just two days before.
The couple met two years ago when Repato walked into the car dealership Studnicka was working in to buy a car.
Studnicka says he is inspired by Repato’s strength and her faith.
“Micah is a very strong person,” he said. “I think all her friends and family will attest to that. At the same time, she can’t be strong all the time. She’s dealing with something that she didn’t ask for.”
The couple plans to marry next week in a private ceremony at a local church, again with the help of the foundation.
“The Wishing Well Foundation, again, has come through,” said Studnicka. “They’ve offered to really organize the wedding. It’s a huge thing for us.”
Repato says she’s so grateful to have the time to celebrate with friends.
“Having all these people surrounding me,” said Repato through tears. “It’s been great.”
But she also says she’s still hoping from a miracle from God.
“I’m fighting until the end,” she says.
Repato has created a blog to share her experience and started a GoFundMe page to help cover the cost of naturopathy treatments she's decided to try. Any excess funds will be donated to Young Adult Cancer Canada.
With files from CTV Calgary's Jaclyn Brown