CHAPIN, S.C. (WIS) - A Chapin woman fears she may be down to her last chance at life.
She's been on a six-year journey of fighting cancer. Her possible cure just came from a family friend. It's an act of grace that not only may be her last hope, it's also making history.
Scarlet Kasperbauer is no stranger at Lexington Oncology and Dr. Steven Madden has become more than a friend.
"Really been praying for you every day,” the doctor told her.
Scarlet is 35 years old. Every year is beyond precious after being diagnosed with stage-four colon cancer in 2014 when she was only 29. The cancer already had spread to her liver.
"We've tried different things. Of course, over time stuff stops working. Your body builds up an immunity to it. So, we've done radiation, microwave ablation, several different forms of chemo, different chemo cocktails,” said Scarlet.
"They have a great deal of toxicity associated with it. And over the course of having it over the years it can basically wear the body down,” said Dr. Madden.
Physicians had exhausted the standard options to fight Scarlet's cancer.
"We didn't think that her liver reserve was enough to continue those types of treatments such as radiation or radiofrequency ablation or anything like that," said Dr. Madden.
She needed a more radical approach -- a transplant -- but Scarlet was running out of time, so she put out a desperate plea on social media for a new liver.
"This is more than just giving blood. Not going to give you a Coke and a cookie. And say thank you for today,” said Scarlet.
The donor would have to know how to sacrifice to save others.
Fire Station 20 in Ballentine, like any fire station, is full of first responders considered heroes. Two of Scarlet's brothers are firemen in this location and they're close friends with fellow fireman, Chastain Cannon.
"They can take a piece of me to save somebody else, you know. I feel anybody, everybody should do that," said Chastain.
Chastain told his wife he felt led to be the donor to rescue Scarlet.
"We prayed about it and trusted God and He took care of everything else," he said.
After an arduous screening and preparation process, the two families traveled to the University of Rochester Medical Center in New York where doctors removed 70% of Chastain's liver and put it in Scarlet.
"Short of Jesus, I don't know of anyone who would go on the operating table and have a 12-, 13-hour operation for somebody else. I'm not your sister, I'm not your wife, I'm not your mother, I'm your buddy's sister,” cried Scarlet.
The surgery is making history and now is in the record books. Scarlet is only the fourth patient in the U.S. to successfully receive, from a living donor, a liver transplant for a cancer that started in the colon. She's only the second case on the East Coast.
"God's fingerprints, you can see His fingerprints over this whole, miracle is what it is," Chastain said proudly.
Though hanging out at his fire station, Chastain is under doctor's orders to not actually work for a total of six months. So how does he make a living for his family? Scarlet's brothers and other fellow firemen, many of whom greeted Chastain at the airport when he returned from surgery, are heroes, too. They're working Chastain's shifts but allowing him to get the salary.
"He put his life on the line for me,” said Scarlet.
And it's that life that is saving her life.
Chastain just made a trip back up to Rochester to be checked. He’s doing well and will return to being a full-time fireman in three months. Scarlet also is doing well as her body is adjusting to a new liver. This link is to a GoFundMe page that will help pay the remaining medical expenses.