GEMS community rallies to help teacher’s daughter fight cancer

By: Cheri March The News Messenger
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Chemotherapy can’t cure Amy Lantz’s cancer, but her mother isn’t giving up hope. Karen Villa, a teacher at Glen Edwards Middle School, believes her 22-year-old daughter would benefit from therapy at Issels Medical Center, an alternative treatment center in Santa Barbara. But because the family’s insurance doesn’t cover alternative medicine, they are faced with a $30,000 bill. Lantz, who is fighting a form of bone cancer known as osteosarcoma, has been given less than a year to live by her doctors. “Basically, the doctors told her chemotherapy and radiation will not prolong her life,” said Debbie Robles, a Glen Edwards staff member who has been organizing fundraising efforts for the family. “This holistic treatment is the very last thing they can do for her.” Though young, Lantz is no newcomer to cancer. She was diagnosed with bilateral retinal blastoma when she was just 2 months old, resulting in the loss of her left eye. After receiving cryotherapy and a prosthetic eye, her cancer went into remission for nearly two decades. But two years ago, it returned, this time in her sinus cavity and left cheek. Lantz spent a year receiving high doses of chemo as doctors cut back the aggressive tumors. After spending her 21st birthday in the hospital, she was released at Christmas. But her family’s relief was short-lived. By January, the cancer was back. Because chemotherapy had already proved ineffective, doctors this time tried radiation. The new treatment worked for eight months, but as Lantz and her family prepared to leave on a mission trip to Mexico, the cancer again returned. Lantz currently has four tumors: one in her brain, two in her neck and one on her spine, Robles said. Despite the pain, Lantz still managed to trek to Mexico with her family. Lantz’s parents strongly believe Issels would enhance their daughter’s chances of surviving and allow her to help other families going through the same struggle, Robles said. Glen Edwards staff members recently held a bake sale and continue to look for ways to raise funds. “Karen is an amazing teacher and an amazing person – I don’t know how she holds up, but she does,” Robles said. “And Amy is the sweetest girl. We’ll do anything we can to help make this possible.” Donations can be sent to Karen Villa, 1160 Willow Glen Dr., Yuba City, CA 95991 or call Glen Edwards Middle School at 645-6370.