What started as a sore back has turned into a lengthy, high-expense set of treatments for life-threatening illnesses for a Havre resident, and her friends and family are continuing to help her with costs by holding a benefit dinner March 2.
Stacey Gonsalez, multicultural coordinator for Montana State University-Northern, found out last fall the underlying cause of her back pain was a rare form of cancer. While undergoing treatment for that, Gonsalez suffered a stroke, and then was told other problems — now seemingly in remission — could lead to open-heart surgery, her cousin Lori Osgood said.
Gonsalez, a single mother of two children, Kassala and Thurman Holdsclaw, has been maintaining two residences, her Havre home and an apartment in Billings where she stays while receiving treatment.
She was back in Havre over the weekend, attending senior night at the Blue Pony basketball game against the Browning High School Indians, in which her son was honored. Friends report she is back in Billings today for continued medical treatment.
Her family and friends also have set up two Facebook pages, "Prayers for Stacey Gonsazez" and "Stacey Gonsalez Medical Benefit," with more information and where people are invited to submit words of encouragement.
Gonsalez still is an employee of Northern, but is now on unpaid medical leave, having used up all of her time and numerous hours donated for her use by her coworkers.
Her family and friends have held numerous fundraisers so far to help Gonsalez with her bills, but Osgood said they are trying to find her more help for the costs.
The planned sloppy Joe fundraiser dinner, proceeds from which will include matching funds by Thrivent Financial for Lutherans, will run from 4 to 8 p.m. Saturday, March 2, at the Havre Eagles Club.
The night will include a live and silent auction. Rose Kretchmer of Budget Rent-A-Car said she is accepting items to be donated at the auction at Budget Rent-A-Car, currently at the Tilleman Motor Co. temporary location at the east end of the Holiday Village Mall.