(CBC News/CNN) – A Canadian woman battling a potentially fatal disease says she has received a donation that could save her life.
The Ottawa mother says the money from an anonymous donor will allow her to get stem cell therapy in Chicago to treat a deadly autoimmune disease.
Just moving, breathing and talking is very difficult for Stephanie Headley. She suffers from systemic scleroderma.
"It literally turns your skin on the exterior to stone,” Headley said. “It hardens all your skin so hard you couldn't get a needle through it."
It causes the organs to eventually fail. She was originally diagnosed in 2002 and doctors told her she’d eventually die. But she didn't want to leave her four children without a mother.
"This loud voice kept telling me, 'there's something out there, there's something out there,'” Headley said. “You're not meant to die."
Headley researched and found a doctor in Chicago who treats autoimmune diseases like hers with stem cell therapy.
But it costs $125,000 and isn't covered by OHIP insurance, so she and her kids started an online fundraising campaign. After two months, they only raised about $13,000. That’s when her daughter Skylar posted a heartfelt appeal to the fundraising website.
"We were trying to figure out different ways to appeal to people, because it is such a rare disease, and people don't really understand it at first," Skylar Headley-Skinkle said.
On July 3, Headley got a call from a man who wanted to drop off a donation. She says he came by 10 minutes later wearing a disguise.
He said nothing, and handed her an envelope. She went inside and opened it, and found a money order for $128,000.
"I fell to the ground,” Headley said. “I cried and screamed. I yelled. I just kept saying 'Thank you, God, thank you, God, I'm going to live! I'm going to live!'"
Headley is scheduled to being treatments in September. She hopes to one day meet the anonymous donor
"Thank God, thank this man, whoever you are out there, from the bottom of our hearts for saving my life and sparing my children the pain of losing their mother," Headley said.
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