A GoFundMe campaign was started March 7, 2020, for 36-year-old Vernon woman, Crystal Rocan, while she battles tongue cancer. (Contributed)

Fundraiser kick-started for Vernon woman battling tongue cancer

Woman’s four-year-old twins are the driving force behind her fight

Her four-year-old twin girls are the driving force behind a woman’s battle with tongue cancer, her fiancé said.

Crystal Rocan, 36, was first diagnosed Jan. 22, 2020, and a PET scan the following month confirmed a 3.2 centimetre by 2.8 cm growth in her tongue which had metastasized to her lymph nodes.

Tilo Faget, Crystal’s fiancé, said she has since started radiation and although her cancer isn’t responding to chemotherapy, it helps with the radiation.

“We’re hoping for the best,” Faget said. “It’s a little tough with how aggressive this cancer really is.”

He said there is a chance the entire tongue may have to be removed, but he prays it doesn’t come to this point as her quality of life would be dramatically affected.

Faget, the owner of Vernon Tech Solutions, started a GoFundMe campaign in March to help make ends meet while he’s had to put his business on hold to care for Faye and Sienna, the twins.

“Anyone that knows Crystal knows how kind, gentle and amazing she is,” Faget wrote on the campaign. “She doesn’t have a single bad bone in her body.”

“She fought so hard for seven years to have kids and now they finally came and for her to have this threat looming on her like this, it’s excruciating to witness,” the campaign reads.

As of July 14, more than $7,800 has been raised of the couple’s $9,000 goal. Most of the support coming from close friends and family — as far away as Romania.

“The support feels fantastic,” Faget said. “It’s only our family, really. They’ve rallied behind us. In Romania, they’re doing so bad over there, the minimum wage is like $1.50 an hour and they’re sending a lot of support which is really humbling.”

The pair, who met online and had their first date at a Coldstream lookout more than a decade ago, is eager to get things back to normal in a time where nothing is normal.

Faget said the COVID-19 pandemic has been especially hard on his family as Crystal has had to spend a total of five weeks in the Kelowna General Hospital alone.

“The hardest part is us not being able to be with her,” he said. “She loves to be around people and spending those five weeks in the hospital was devastating.”

Faget was initially granted an essential visitor pass but it was pulled after four short days.

“The girls don’t know what’s going on,” Faget said. “They just tell me they wish their mom would be healed so she didn’t have to go to the hospital.”

“They woke up and mommy was already gone,” he said, noting he told the girls “mommy is in the hospital.”

The young girls suggested they “break her out.”

Faye, described by her father as gentle and kind, even used her birthday wish to see her mother cured.

“We pray for the best,” Faget said. “These kids deserve their mom.”

Faget said the staff, especially the nurses, at KGH have been incredible.

“Everyone has been so supportive and helpful,” he said. “The nurses are sacrificing their lives every day and they still manage to make Crystal feel happy and welcome.”

Crystal even had Faget coming equipped during hospital visits with loads of “COVID-friendly” chocolates and baked goods to celebrate the frontline workers who have gone above and beyond for his future wife.

“She’s always trying to repay them for their kindness with lots and lots of chocolates.”

READ MORE: Comet caught in Lumby skies by local photographer

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@caitleerach
Caitlin.clow@vernonmorningstar.com

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