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Teen battles rare illness.
Chelsea, 15, is currently studying at home because she
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Date published: 4/9/2012
CHELSEA HILL had battled stomach pain all of her life, but
A CT scan showed that the teen's appendix was fine. Her stomach, however, was four times its normal size.
Further testing showed that Chelsea had a relatively rare condition in which the duodenum--part of
"The surgeon came to us and said, 'I'm sorry to have to tell you this, but your daughter has a very, very serious condition called superior mesenteric artery syndrome,'" recalled Catherine Dziok, Chelsea's mother.
Since birth, Chelsea, now 15, had struggled to keep food down. And when she did, she often complained of stomach pain.
For years, the family endured vague diagnoses. She has "abdominal migraines," one doctor told them. It's all in her head, said another.
At least one doctor suggested Dziok was purposely making her daughter sick.
So the diagnosis that evening at Children's Hospital of Richmond at VCU was, in some ways, a relief. They finally knew what they were dealing with.
Still, these past few months haven't been easy. Chelsea can't eat much, so she gets nourishment from a 3-foot feeding tube that snakes up her nose, down her throat and past the collapsed intestine.
The arrangement leaves her at increased risk of respiratory infection, so the high school freshman has been homebound since January.
The best chance for a cure is an experimental surgery in Germany, but it's out-of-network so her health insurance won't pay for it.
So Chelsea's family and friends are on a mission to raise $200,000 to pay for the procedure, which is tentatively scheduled for mid-May. They hope a charity golf tournament next Monday at Lee's Hill Golf Club will help with that effort.
"Since June, this has been our life. We do think this is the best shot for
A FIRST DIAGNOSIS
Though the family now lives in Henrico County, Dziok was raised in Spotsylvania--she attended Courtland High School and ultimately graduated from James Monroe--and Chelsea was born at Mary Washington Hospital.
Several events will raise money to support lifesaving surgery for 15-year-old Chelsea Hill. April 16, 9 a.m.: United Behind Chelsea Benefit Golf Tournament at Lee's Hill Golf Club, 10200 Old Dominion Parkway. Cost is $80/player or $300/four-person team. Sponsorships range from $100 to $1,500. Includes food, prizes and raffles. April 21, 7 p.m.: Chips for Chelsea Texas Hold 'Em tournament at Christ Episcopal Church, 8951 Courthouse Road in Spotsylvania. $50 buy-in.
For information about those two events, contact Catherine Dziok at 804/264-8805 or united
For more information about Chelsea's condition or to donate, visit united-behind-chelsea.de/en on the Web or visit United Behind Chelsea on Facebook. You can also watch a video created by her classmates at youtube.com/watch?v=msS7mSSxmqE.