23 Aug 2014
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Grandmother, a 'Beloved' College Student, Battles Brain Cancer With No Insurance

College of St. Elizabeth classmates rally around Clare Baier, a 53-year-old mother of seven who remains positive and keeps fighting.

Grandmother, a 'Beloved' College Student, Battles Brain Cancer With No Insurance Grandmother, a 'Beloved' College Student, Battles Brain Cancer With No Insurance Grandmother, a 'Beloved' College Student, Battles Brain Cancer With No Insurance

Clare Baier wears a lot of hats.

She is the mother of seven, grandmother of four, college student at the College of St. Elizabeth, diet aid at the Morristown Medical Center as well as a competitive triathlete.

But less than a month ago, Baier added “cancer patient” to the list.

“On Oct. 25, Clare experienced seizures while at dinner and went to the hospital where a brain scan showed a large mass in her frontal lobe,” said classmate and Madison resident Mallory Bryant. “A subsequent biopsy declared it as cancerous. She was diagnosed with stage IV glioblastoma multiforme, which is advanced brain cancer.”

According to Bryant, there is very little that can knock Baier off her stride. In fact, Baier doesn’t leave tasks unfinished. Bryant said that 30 years ago, Baier took a break from pursuing her degree in nutrition to raise her family. Now the 53-year-old grandmother and Newton resident is back on campus to achieve her goal and this cancer diagnosis is not standing in her way.

“I can’t emphasize enough that Clare is truly a fighter,” Bryant said. “She is one strong and brave woman and has taken this on with a positive attitude and commitment to recovery.”

Surgical Intervention

A surgeon at Johns Hopkins Hospital in Baltimore agreed to take Baier’s case soon after the diagnosis and she underwent surgery last week to reduce the size of the tumor before chemotherapy and radiation begins. Bryant said she received a message from Baier the night before her surgery and she reiterated how great her surgeon was and how optimistic she was about the results.

Her feelings, it seems, were not misplaced.

“Like the champion she is, Clare made it through the surgery with flying colors and has returned to New Jersey to rest until chemotherapy begins,” Bryant said. “She has been surrounded by her children and good friends, which has contributed to her good spirits. She was even on Facebook the night after her surgery.”

Bryant said when her classmates found out via email what Baier was going through, they wanted to help support her and didn’t know how.

“Clare is a beloved member of our class and clearly, we were heartbroken and felt tremendous sadness and fear for her and her family,” Bryant said. “We wanted to do something to support her, and after she confided in a classmate that she does not have health insurance, we knew a fundraiser was in order.

Hoping to Make a "Dent"

Because Baier was an athlete, the original thought was to do a 5K fundraiser, but wanting to pitch quickly, the college colleagues decided to put together a donation campaign on the website GoFundMe.

“GoFundMe is user-friendly and allows donors to make payments easily,” Bryant said. “Within three hours, we had over $500 and knew it had potential to grow quickly. In under a week, we have raised about $4600. The amazing thing is the majority of donors do not know Clare personally and have made contributions based solely on generosity. People’s kindness and willingness to help has been overwhelming and truly appreciated.”

Bryant said the goal is $10,000 for the campaign, but the hope is they can collect more.

“The goal is $10,000, but we recognize that that is merely a dent in Clare’s needs. Ultimately reaching above and beyond would be incredible, and the ability to help her tremendously in a financial way would be gesture that would change Clare’s life,” Bryant said.

Remaining Positive

Despite all of the challenges, physical and financial, Bryant said Baier’s attitude remains positive.

“Looking forward to a good day—maybe coordinating getting some school assignments done so I can finish the semester,” Baier posted on Facebook.

Bryant said that type of messaging is consistent with the Clare her class has come to know and love.

“Her social media posts are positive, happy and reflect her strong character. Until recently, Clare also continued to be concerned about school, despite all of this,” Bryant said. “This is why I reached out to Patch. Patch reflects what is going on in our community and seeing as Clare is a member of our community and student at a Morristown college, I believe it is important for people to know her story. I believe in this community of people and have experienced such kindness so far, that I know with some help and publicity, we can get Cash for Clare.”

Beyond paying for her medical expenses, Bryant said she is hoping that the support allows Baier to resume her life sooner rather than later, like making a scheduled triathlon in June.

“Lets get her out there,” Bryant said.

To donate to the Cash for Clare movement simply follow the links in the story or go directly to http://www.gofundme.com/588t6s

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