A Venezuelan soloist needs cancer aid

A Venezuelan soloist needs cancer aid


norman lebrecht

February 25, 2019

We have been asked by trusted sources to help with a crowdfunder for the principal flute of the  Orquesta Sinfónica de Venezuela, Maria Gabriela Rodriguez.

She writes:

My name is Maria Gabriela Rodriguez, I’m 42 years old and I live in Caracas, Venezuela. In December, 2017 I noticed a small lump in my left breast and my doctor referred me urgently to the mastologist. He then ordered a series of tests (mammogram and a breast puncture). On February 15th, 2018 I was diagnosed with breast cancer (ductal carcinoma).  

Despite of being a working professional since I was 15 years old, I am forced to ask for help and the collaboration of all of you because no medical insurance will cover my operation and treatment for this illness. The coverage is barely enough for one or two blood tests. Due to the terrible financial situation happening in Venezuela at this time, it is impossible for me to assume the costs that come with cancer, which turns my condition, and not only mine but that of many people, into a humanitarian drama. 

You can read on and donate here.

Yo soy licenciada en Música. Soy flautista solista de la Orquesta Sinfónica de Venezuela, la orquesta más antigua de Venezuela y la única mujer que ha ocupado el cargo de principal desde su fundación, hace 87años. Soy profesora de flauta en la Escuela de Música “Mozarteum de Caracas” y en el Sistema Nacional de Orquestas y dirijo la Orquesta Nacional de Flautas de Venezuela. Soy una una aprendiz de proteccionista de animales y lucho para alimentar a los que están en situación de calle. 

No estoy lista para irme. Tengo demasiadas cosas por hacer y a pesar de que me siento muy consternada quiero ganar esta batalla para seguir tocando, para seguir mostrándole el camino de la música a mis alumnos y por sobre todo trabajar en la reconstrucción de mi país.
Cuento con el amor y el apoyo de mi familia y de mis maravillosos amigos y por eso quisiera contar con ustedes también para recolectar $ 51000 para cubrir los gastos de mi operación, radiación y la medicación necesaria y poder así alcanzar mi total recuperación. Quiero ser un testimonio de vida y poder ayudar a los demás mientras dure mi lucha contra el cáncer.  


  • me! says:

    This makes no sense. Ductal carcinoma is best left alone (research mammographies etc), but if you wish to overtreat (which I wouldn’t recommend but people can) isn’t Venezuela a socialist country – it already gave her a mammography and biopsy, just from what she wrote decided she didn’t need treatment – one year ago, unless all her dates are off. SHe has full time job, with benefits, and wants $51,000 (US?) for overtreatment against her doctor’s advice. Hmm. HOnestly seems like a scam regardless of how trustworthy the fact it is her is. And the attitude that everyone needs to help her raise all that money – ouch. Venezuela is hurting now but this is not necessary treatment, give to their “NHS” instead (versus from US as aid is political issue). At least there’s no go fund me page yet (imagine what $51,000 would buy in Venezuela (or Mexico)

    • MJ says:

      Agree there is something odd here – the crowdfunding page has a photo of the specialists letter, dated Feb 2018 (ie a year ago) and the text written by her friend seeking funds to help her says the operation will take place in 2 weeks time, on 6 March 2018.

      • Sam McElroy says:

        Please first see my broader comment to ME! below. I only need to add here that the treatment process is long. First surgery, then months of phase one chemotherapy, then localized radiation, then (in HER2+ cases) Herceptin therapy. My mother (HER2+) was in treatment for well over a year, and Maria Gabriela would have started Herceptin sooner had she not had to fundraise to get it.

    • Mr. Knowitall says:

      Your comment is idiotic on so many levels. 1. Venezuela’s health services are in crisis: https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/global-opinions/wp/2018/11/26/venezuelas-health-crisis-demands-an-urgent-regional-response/?utm_term=.263e08461e4e

      2. Five-year survival rate for ductal carcinoma is about 90 percent WHEN TREATED. Untreated it is far lower.

      3. She does not say that her doctor recommended no treatment.

      4. Here is the fundraising page you say doesn’t exist: https://www.gofundme.com/maria-gabriela-rodriguez

      5. According to the fundraising page, this is what is needed: ” an oncological partial mastectomy, axillary dissection of lymph nodes, resection of fibroadenoma with a definitive histopathological study and radiotherapy and chemotherapy treatments.”

    • Bill says:

      Are you a Doctor? Because if you aren’t, then your opinion basically amounts to nothing as far as what her treatment needs are. And if you are, any Doctor worth their salt will have no business diagnosing a patient just from a posting on the internet.

  • los angeles musician says:

    where is the crowdfunding link? i would like to share this …

  • los angeles musician says:

    i would like to share this, but where is the.crowdfunding link? thank you

  • Minutewaltz says:

    How do I go about donating? I can’t see a link in the above text.

  • Sam McElroy says:

    The comments from ME! above are disgraceful and loaded with totally inappropriate political overtones. These are the facts:

    – Maria Gabriela’s malignancy is HER2+, which, until the discovery of the “miracle drug” Herceptin, was more or less fatal for breast cancer sufferers.

    – Herceptin specifically targets the HER2+ cell, a cell that resists other chemotherapies, and comes at a cost of about USD40,000 for a complete treatment, depending on who the supplier is and what extra costs are involved in finding the drug. The fundraiser target covers treatment from diagnosis to completion of all phases of treatment.

    – Maria Gabriela’s suppliers are abroad, hence the added cost of organizing, sourcing, delivery and application.

    – Maria Gabriela earns about $6 per month in her current El Sistema job, with no private medical benefits.

    – The suggestion that Venezuela’s social medicine could provide Herceptin treatment shows complete ignorance, or willful obfuscation of the facts on the ground in Venezuela. People are dying every day from treatable illnesses, hence the need for aid on a massive scale, and on an individual basis like this. Not even basic medicines are available, let alone ighly specialized treatments.

    We are closely involved in Maria Gabriela’s case, and, as with all the other cases we have been involved in, it is urgent and desperate. It is NOT a scam. The scam is the perpetual lie of Chavismo / Madurismo that the revolution leads the world in health services, when the population is starving and dying of treatable diseases.

    On a further note, my mother Dr. Mary McElroy, a breast cancer specialist (and one of the founders of the Breast Unit at the RVI in Newcastle) was almost single-handedly responsible for the licensing of Herceptin on the NHS, after developing a HER2+ malignancy herself a decade ago and finding it unethical that it was only available for private purchase. Goggle the story. She was a powerful and successful advocate for the drug to be made available as a primary treatment, given its extraordinary success rate in clinical trials, and is the first to advocate for Maria Gabriela to receive the treatment immediately. Happily, she is alive and well and we have been able to discus Maria Gabriela’s case In detail. Maria Gabriela needs Herceptin, and now.

    To avoid further accusations, we will instruct those administering the GoFundMe page to modify it, specifying that the money is being raised primarily to purchase Herceptin.

    Meanwhile, please give generously to this brave young lady. Thank you!


    • Me! says:

      No, what you wrote is disgraceful in its tone. I was responding to the write up as it was when I commented — the information was vastly different than what is up there now, including the link to a go fund me that wasn’t there before. Stop being an XXX (whatever word you want to use) and try thinking why I wrote what I did and if you don’t know don’t wildly flip around assumptions.

  • Sue Sonata Form says:

    I’ve had this illness myself in the last few months; lumpectomy, radiotheraphy and some prophylactic drugs. Ductal carcinoma (DCIS); very treatable if caught early. The ‘best’ one to get if you have breast cancer. I had a different type of cancer. Best of luck!