For over a year, Stacy Erholtz has been known as a medical miracle – and now she’s paying it forward with a new fund at the Brainerd Lakes Area Community Foundation.
In May 2004, Stacy learned she had cancer. Doctors at Essentia Health in Brainerd diagnosed Stacy with multiple myeloma, a cancer of the blood plasma residing in bone marrow, as well as a rare protein disorder called amyloidosis.
After undergoing a series of treatments, including two stem cell transplants, Stacy asked doctors at Mayo Clinic if she could participate in a measles trial that she and her husband, Mike, had learned about on a news program.
On June 5, 2013, Stacy became Patient 11.2 and only the second person in the world to receive a massive infusion of the live measles virus. In a half-hour sitting, 100 billion live measles cells went into her blood stream – enough to vaccinate 10 million people.
Her body succumbed to the virus and she blacked out until the following day when she awoke, fever and pain free and was able to walk out of the hospital, across the street to her hotel.
For several weeks to follow, she was poked and prodded – a literal science experiment. Test results, analyzed by a number of doctors, researchers and scientists confirmed a breakthrough Stacy was cancer free. She was whisked to the 18th floor to meet the many doctors and researchers who had been working on the treatment.
As she walked for a photo in front of a plaque, she saw the names “Al and Mary Agnes McQuinn” recognized as donors. They were the parents of one of Stacy’s dear friends who had been killed in a car crash nearly one year prior. The very next day, Stacy called Mary Agnes McQuinn and introduced herself as patient 11.2.
“They never expected to see tangible fruits of their giving, not to mention someone who knew their son, Charles,” Stacy said. “Our paths had crossed time and again. What an amazing gift. Everything had come full circle.”
Grateful for the time on earth she has been provided because of the generosity of a family, the intelligence and dedication of scientists, and the grace of God, Stacy wanted to step forward and do something to expedite the production of the measles virus so others could experience the same miracle of medicine.
In June 2014, Stacy started a fund with the Brainerd Lakes Area Community Foundation to serve as a catalyst to raise the necessary funds to remove the bottleneck that exists in manufacturing.
“This could potentially be the cure to cancer. And it’s not just about me,” she said. “If we can start treating cancer with measles, let’s do it and remove all barriers in the process. I want a whole community of friends who have experienced what I have.
Since Stacy’s story went viral, she has received international notoriety. According to the Mayo Clinic, there are currently 350 individuals on the waiting list to participate in the measles virus treatment, with thousands more inquiries withstanding.
“This has been a situation where time, talent and treasure have collided. The doctors and researchers shared their talent. The McQuinn family had the treasure. And because of that, God has gifted me so much extra time here on earth. And that is nothing short of a miracle.” Read the full story of her journey.
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