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Become Lisa Cater's Angel!

When Mimi Publishing Inc. read about Lisa's story and her fundraising efforts, we immediately knew we wanted to help out with our Mimi books.

You can help Lisa by ordering some Mimi books via our website. For every book we sell with the unique fundraising code "Lisa", Mimi Publishing Inc. will donate $4.00 to Lisa's family.

All you need to do is enter the word "Lisa" under the Organizational Code for Fundraising on the order form. All books will be autographed.

If you would like to be An Angel in Action and help Lisa, click here to order!

Lisa Cater's Story

Posted on September 14th, 2009

Lisa Cater My name is Debra Dowding and my daughter Lisa has a brain tumor. Having exhausted all avenues in Canada, our only option is to seek medical treatment in the United States. Although we were reluctant to the idea, our friends have convinced us to share Lisa’s story in hopes of raising funds to help cover some of the expenses this option demands. This is our story.

Lisa has always been a happy go lucky girl who tries to look on the bright side of life. In recent years however, she has had to face many challenges. 5 years ago, she enjoyed school, cheerleading, and hanging out with her friends. Since then, things have changed significantly for her. In November 2004, at the very young age of 12, Lisa was suddenly diagnosed with a brain tumor.

The tumor was identified as type 1 (which usually means slow growing and a small chance of re-growth), yet 6 months later Lisa had to undergo surgery again because the tumor had grown back aggressively. Before the second surgery, Lisa was advised she would have radiation and/or chemo treatments to supplement the surgery to help ensure the tumor would not grow back. All but 2 small nodes of the tumor were safely removed and, at that time, it was felt the nodes left behind would be absorbed by the body and not cause any further issues. A decision was made to hold off on any treatments and reassess her condition after a few months.

Lisa experienced several side effects as a result of these surgeries; including double vision, slurred speech, balance problems, and the inability to process information quickly. Fortunately, through rehabilitation, Lisa overcame 90% of her side effects and was back in school quickly.

You can read more about this story in an article that was published in early September in the Orléans Star.

In the fall of 2007, Lisa was again experiencing headaches, double vision and balance issues. The Children’s Hospital of Eastern Ontario (CHEO) operated on her again, this time, to place a shunt to drain fluid that was putting pressure on her brain. Unfortunately, this did not resolve the issues and CHEO felt that although they could not see growth within the tumor, Lisa was being affected by the nodes that were left behind.

Lisa underwent 30 radiation treatments in Jan of 2008 in an effort to remove the residual nodes. Following this treatment, Lisa once again underwent rehabilitation to address side effects. However, this time her progress was slower and the results less effective.

In March of 2008, Lisa was not feeling well. A battery of tests was performed and she was observed in hospital for a few days. After many consultations with her doctors, it was believed that Lisa’s shunt was over-draining and Lisa underwent surgery to have the shunt replaced. Unfortunately, shunt surgeries are very sensitive and Lisa had to endure 4 surgeries in six days before the shunt functioned properly.

Since August of 2008, Lisa has experienced constant double vision and headaches, with pain ranging from tolerable to excruciating. We have not been able to find any natural method nor medicine to help her.

In October of 2008, in an effort to determine the cause of the constant headaches, an IPP test was performed (an orthostatic hypotension probe was placed in the front of her brain to monitor the fluid flow for a 24 hour period). The results of this invasive test were inconclusive.

In February 2009, Lisa’s side effects had greatly intensified. We brought her to the hospital again where, this time, they found a very large cyst pressing on her brainstem with enough pressure for it to be fatal. The doctor was amazed that Lisa was able to walk into the emergency. She was immediately admitted to the ICU at 9 PM and underwent surgery first thing the next morning.

Lisa’s issues were always expected to be acute but she has not followed the typical path for this condition. Recently, a decision was made to continue her rehabilitative care under Dr. McCormick’s guidance through the Ottawa Children’s Treatment Center. Their programs are suited for children who are facing long term challenges, much like Lisa is.

Unfortunately, for the moment things are at a standstill and little improvement has been made with Lisa’s condition despite the continuous efforts of the medical team at CHEO.

We have recently come to the realization that we have received all of the help that is available through the Canadian health care system. We came to the conclusion that it was time to make a decision concerning future treatment options. Extensive research brought us a glimmer of hope when we learned that the MAYO Clinic in the United States offers specialized medical care that is not available in Canada.

We contacted them and after reviewing Lisa’s medical records, they informed us that they believed they were in a position to help Lisa. We have applied to the pediatric division of Mayo Clinic in Rochester Minnesota. Although we’re preparing for little change, we are hoping for the best.

The Clinic has requested 4 ½ days of testing/consultation, which are scheduled from September 28th to October 2nd. We have been told to prepare for 8 days and the testing schedule is subject to change once the schedule is underway. Lisa will be seen by 8 clinics/doctors for their input and recommendations.

Medical care obtained in the United States, even though referred by a Canadian doctor, must be approved by OHIP. Generally these services are not covered. A preliminary estimate, based on the testing schedule indicates that the cost of the initial 4 ½ days of testing/consultation will be over 10,000 US dollars, plus our flights and hotels.

We are hoping to raise some of the funds to help with this expense. If you would like to help Lisa and our family, you can go to any Scotiabank and make a deposit to bank account 611760032719. The account is under the name, Lisa Cater In Trust. Deposits can also be made at any Canadian banking institution. The institution code for Scotiabank is 002, Transit code is 61176. REGRETABLY TAX RECEIPTS CAN NOT BE PROVIDED.

To ensure accountability, we have also placed a respected friend, Sue van Berkel, on the account as signing authority. Sue will be monitoring the deposits and expenses for tracking purposes. If you would like to contact Sue, you can reach her at 613-204-2421 or via email at suevanberkel@rogers.com.

Any funds raised that are not used for Mayo clinic consultations, flights, hotel and any recommended treatment will be donated after 6 months to CHEO’s 5th floor for medical equipment, such as thermometers, blood pressure machines, wheelchairs etc.

Dr. Keene has followed Lisa, from a neuro-oncology perspective, making sure we have all the information we need and he supports our recent decision to look for healthcare consultations outside of Canada.

Any treatment recommendations made by the MAYO Clinic that can be carried out in Ottawa will be done locally. We are hoping that this initial visit will lead us to a new approach to treatment.

Thank you for taking the time to read our story, we will post updates on Lisa’s condition on our web site on a regular basis.


Debra Dowding, Lisa Cater, Mike Dowding and Laura Cater

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