Above all, Krista Clark is a fighter.
Friends say the single mother is doing everything in her power to slow the progress of an aggressive cancer so she can spend more time with her three young boys.
“I always describe Krista as the strongest person I know,” says Angela Magliaro, one of three friends who have organized a GoFundMe campaign to ease the family’s financial stress.
“Krista is our rock. She keeps us steady,” said Magliaro. “But now it’s time for us to be her rock.”
Clark is a 37-year-old personal support worker at Marshall Gowland Manor in Sarnia.
A year ago, her 10-year-old daughter Jaylyn Eastman died of a rare cancer of the sympathetic nerve system. Jaylyn fought the cancer for seven years and Clark took leaves from work during that time to be by her daughter’s side.
She returned to work soon after Jaylyn’s devastating death last November to support herself, her eight-year-old twins and a six-year-old. But a few months later severe lower back pain forced her to take time off again.
“She thought she’d injured herself at work,” said Brianne Duffy who, like Magliaro, was Clark’s co-worker the past 10 years and is co-organizer of the online fundraiser.
Weeks later, doctors told Clark she had Stage 4 Squamous cell carcinoma that metastasized to her liver, lung, colon, uterus and lymph nodes.
Surgery was ruled out, and chemotherapy delayed due to the pandemic, according to Magliaro.
After four rounds of chemo, doctors confirmed last week it has not been effective.
“Things are looking grim,” said Magliaro. “We’d been thinking about helping for a while and now is the time.”
The women created the GoFundMe page called Support for Krista Clark and Family and were astonished by the response.
In just 24-hours, the $10,000 goal was eclipsed by hundreds of donors giving more than $23,000.
Other friends mobilized last week to help Clark and are equally in awe of the community response.
“We’re stepping up the game to ensure she has a really good Christmas with the boys,” said Dr. Cassandra Taylor, a family friend.
She is working with Lindsay Corbett and Dawn Cote to hold an online auction and possibly a raffle for Clark in early December.
Once Clark’s story was posted on social media support began pouring in, said Dr. Taylor.
“The response has been unreal,” she said. “We’ve had hundreds of donations of both money and auction items.
“Patients were coming into my office today to donate. One gave $300.”
The Sarnia community is rallying around the family, proving how much it cares, said Corbett. “We live in such a generous place.”
People who don’t know the Clarks are asking for the boys’ Christmas wish lists, said Dr. Taylor.
“We’ve also had offers to help her with free services like a photo session with the boys or housecleaning.”
“Krista has always made sure Jaylyn and the boys were living the best life she could give them,” said Corbett.
She cried when she saw the outpouring last week, said Magliaro.
Magliaro, Duffy and Krista’s high school friend Rochelle Michienzi intend to keep collecting on the GoFundMe page so Clark’s future expenses can be covered. Anything left over will be put in a fund for the children.
Corbett and Dr. Taylor ask anyone who wants to donate to the online auction or otherwise to reach them by email at [email protected].