Friday, September 13, 2013

"Cancer is an epidemic in this country and I'm confused as to why people aren't freaking out more than they are. Probably because they don't have it... yet" 

I read this in a blog post today from a mother who lost her daughter to cancer.  It's true...why are people still tanning?  Why do I see posts in my Facebook news feed of friends who are talking about "getting their tan on" or "going to the tanning bed"??  Didn't they see our videos?  Didn't they see our posts?  Don't they know that it's not worth it?  So many thoughts and questions go through my mind.  Sometimes I get angry and sometimes I just get really sad.  It's something I guess I have to work through.  I see people who take for granted that their husband is alive and well and those feelings well up in me how if they only knew what it was like to watch someone you love lose their battle to cancer especially to something that could have been prevented.

Why isn't everyone freaking out about cancer?  Why do we have this feeling of being invincible or "it's not going to happen to me"?  It's something I've pondered often since Eric lost his battle to cancer.  Most people live in the moment and just don't think about death especially young adults.  Sadly, it's something I think about everyday...  Sure, when you see a friend or a family member struggling with a terminal illness you may think about how awful that would be but then you lose sight of that and move on with your life.  

Just this week my heart has been heavy for two people who lost their lives too young in my community and the cancer battles of three people I've become to know (two with melanoma and the other colon cancer) and a friend's 11 year old son battling brain cancer.  More and more people are being diagnosed with cancer each year.  Let me share with you a few facts from the American Cancer Society: 
  • About 1,660,290 new cancer cases are expected to be diagnosed in 2013. This estimate does not include carcinoma in situ (non-invasive cancer) of any site except urinary bladder, and does not include basal cell and squamous cell skin cancers, which are not required to be reported to cancer registries. 
  • In 2013, about 580,350 Americans are expected to die of cancer, almost 1,600 people per day. Cancer is the second most common cause of death in the US, exceeded only by heart disease,accounting for nearly 1 of every 4 deaths. 
These numbers are staggering, so why do we still put ourselves at risk?  Why aren't we educating ourselves more about our bodies?  Eric was diagnosed in October, 2008.  Before then, Eric was never sick and looked and felt great.  We had no idea the beast was ravaging his body day by day.  How can something that started out to be a tiny mole end up engulfing his leg in tumors, covering his brain in hemorrhaging tumors, make him paralyzed from the waist down and then taking his life from us.  Just because you look and feel great today, doesn't mean that you are healthy.

So what's my point, right?  My point is that you are NOT invincible.  That YOU have a family that loves and needs you.  Do you know what Eric would have given to see his granddaughter graduate from school, get married or to be a great grandfather to her children?  You may think that by tanning now you will look good when you die right?  Hell no, if you think that then you need to watch our videos.  www.youtube.com/ericnjill  Not only will you regret your tan, but you will suffer greatly and fight for your life.  I guarantee you won't say, "I don't regret tanning."  Those words have never been spoken by someone who battled melanoma.  

Nothing matters to us most but our family right?  Think of the pain your family will feel during your battle to survive.  Think of how your family will suffer when they lose you...  Melanoma took away my husband, my girls step-father, his parents son, his son's father, and his granddaughter's papaw.  We lost a great man.  We still struggle with the pain of that loss two years later.  It's changed us forever.  Don't take your life for granted.  Live everyday like it's your last.  Pay attention to your body and get regular check ups.  You may be okay with your unhealthy habits, but is it worth the risk and the pain it will cause your family?  I hope that I have left you something to think about and I also hope that you never have to lose someone you love to cancer.
 

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Resources for Cancer Patients


So many people who are diagnosed with a serious illness struggle with the financial hardships associated with medical expenses and travel for treatments.  Here are some numbers and websites that I have compiled that may help alleviate some of that burden:

Travel:
  • Angel Airlines For Cancer Patients - The mission and purpose of Angel Airlines For Cancer Patients’ is to ensure that no cancer patient is denied access to distant specialized medical evaluation, diagnosis or treatment for lack of a means of long-distance commercial airline transportation.  (800)296-1217
  • Mercy Medical Airlift - Arranges free transportation on commercial airlines, 14 day notice - (888)675-1405  http://www.mercymedical.org
  • Patient Airlift Central - Patient AirLift Services covers flights in the entire northeast United States as far west as Ohio and as far south as Virginia. http://www.palservices.org
  • American Cancer Society Air Miles Program – Frequent flyer miles are donated for patients and family to travel to treatment (800) 227-2345
  • National Patient Travel Center - The National Patient Travel HELPLINE provides information about all forms of charitable, long-distance medical air transportation and provides referrals to all appropriate sources of help available in the national charitable medical air transportation network.  http://www.patienttravel.org/

Lodging Accommodations:

ACS Hope Lodge - Each Hope Lodge offers cancer patients and their caregivers a free, temporary place to stay when their best hope for effective treatment may be in another city.   www.cancer.org/treatment/supportprogramsservices/hopelodge/index

Sometimes the hospital where you are receiving treatment will have their own resources for local accommodations, be sure to get connected with a Patient Resource Advocate at that hospital and ask if they have local resources for lodging.

Financial Resources: 
  • www.cancer.org -  click on "In your area" and enter your zip code.  This website has lots of information on help.  (800)ACS-2345
  • www.patientadvocate.org - this website provides effective mediation and arbitration services to patients to remove obstacles to healthcare including medical debt crisis, insurance access issues and employment issues for patients with chronic, debilitating and life-threatening illnesses.
  • www.netwish.org -  Netwish provides assistance, up to $500 for those who are able to demonstrate a financial need.
  • www.modestneeds.org - provides help with bills.
  • Hope Cancer Fund - www.hopecancerfund.com/client/
  • www.crossingthefinishline.org - helps families and loved ones by offering travel for a vacation.  Must be diagnosed with Cancer, be between 24-50, and reside in Pennsylvania, New Jersey, or Delaware.
  • Co-Pay Relief - www.copays.org or (866)612-3861
  • www.panfoundation.org - helps thousands of underinsured patients afford the copayments for their cancer or chronic disease medications.
  • www.healthwellfoundation.orgnon-profit organization established in 2003 that is committed to addressing the needs of individuals with insurance who cannot afford their copayments, coinsurance, and premiums for important medical treatments.
Your local American Cancer Society may have their own programs to help.  Our local ACS had gas cards that they distributed for patients going through chemotherapy.  Be sure to contact your local ACS, they have multiple resources to assist you.  I also recommend searching for foundations that are directly related to your type of cancer because they may have specific resources for your cancer.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

A Message From Beyond...

While searching the internet, I found this poem.  Eric always wrote me the most beautiful poems and letters.  As I read this, I couldn't help but think he guided me to it...

“You can shed tears that he is gone,
or you can smile because he has lived.
You can close your eyes and pray that he'll come back,
or you can open your eyes and see all he's left.
Your heart can be empty because you can't see him,
or you can be full of the love you shared.
You can turn your back on tomorrow and live yesterday,
or you can be happy for tomorrow because of yesterday.
You can remember only that he is gone,
or you can cherish his memory and let it live on.
You can cry and close your mind,
be empty and turn your back.
Or you can do what he'd want:
smile, open your eyes, love and go on.”

Sunday, August 7, 2011

Eric is now an angel in heaven. 9/17/1963 - 8/3/2011

It is with great sadness that the family of Eric Jerome Sizemore announces his passing after a battle with Melanoma, on Wednesday, August 3, 2011, at the age of 47. . Eric passed away at his home surrounded by friends and family. Eric will be forever remembered by his wife and best friend Jill, and their precious children, Ricky (Vanessa) Vidal, Samantha Cox and Madison Cox, by his granddaughter Felicity Vidal, by his parents Bonnie and Jim Sizemore, and by his brother and sister Troy (Angie) and Jamie Roy. Eric will also be forever remembered by his numerous nieces, nephews and extended family and dear friends.
Eric was born and raised in Dayton and graduated from Dayton Christian. He was a member of the US Air Force as a Security Specialist. He also was a service manager at Northridge Goodyear. Eric served his Lord by being a volunteer at the ...Saint Patrick’s Soup Kitchen in Troy. He loved his Lord and Savior and touched many lives by sharing his message. Eric cared so much about saving lives that he donated his body to Wright State University for research.

Monday, July 25, 2011

The man I thought I'd never meet...

Our love story:  In March, 2003 I called my friend, Kathy Cline, and asked her if we could go out for a night of fun.  I was going through a difficult time and just wanted to go out and have a good time.  She suggested that we go out for Karaoke at Boltz on Tuesday and I thought that sounded like a great idea (although I wasn't going to sing!).  Later she asked if I minded if she asked some friends (male) to join us and I said that was fine but "Do not set me up!".  I was not looking for a relationship and she said she wouldn't.  So that evening I was drinking Ice Tea the entire night and in walks this really GOOD looking guy and he sits at our table!  We talked a lot that night and I thought he was a really great guy but again I wasn't in that place so I said goodbye around 11 p.m. and went home.  No information was exchanged.  A couple of days later he showed up at a Texas Holdem dealing class I was taking and then I was invited to go out with Kathy and Eric and a group of their friends the following night.  That following night he asked me to dance and as we were dancing I knew I was in trouble...

We talked every day and spent time together when the girls were with their dad and as the weeks passed we knew that we were falling in love.  It was crazy, how could that happen so soon?  We were both so surprised at how close we were so early in our relationship.  We knew that we had something very special.  I was in the middle of what was a long divorce battle and he was there for me every step of the way.  I struggled with depression and he showed me how God could take that all away from me.  I was so torn down and Eric helped me pull the pieces together.  He was my rock and still is to this day.

A Man of Love:  Eric is an incredible man.  Growing up in East Dayton his parents sent him to Dayton Christian.  After graduation he served in the Air Force as a Security Specialist at Eielson Air Force base in Alaska.  When he came back to Ohio he started working for Richie's Sunoco and worked for Bryan for more than 20 years.  Eric would give you the shirt off his back if you asked him and I'm sure he did many times.  He ran many of Bryan's garages/stores and he would see people who were going through some very rough times and give them money or rides.  He would do anything for anyone.  If we would drive by someone that was stranded on the side of the road he would stop and try to help them or give them a ride.  He has a heart of gold. 

When Ricky was young (about 9 I believe), Eric's friends lived next to Ricky's mom.  Eric saw the environment Ricky was living in which was awful and decided that if Ricky's mom would allow him, he would like to take Ricky into his home and raise him.  From that day forward, Ricky became Eric's son and even after Eric's ex-wife left he still continued to raise Ricky.  He would tell me how difficult that was because he didn't make a lot of money.  He would go down to the blood bank and give blood so that he would have extra money for him and Ricky to do things.  Eventually Ricky's sister also moved in with Ricky & Eric for a while too.

Eric and I were in church one day and the sermon was about serving God through ministries and it was mentioned that there was a soup kitchen ministry in Troy so I contacted them and we began serving the ministry as often as we could, sometimes weekly.  It took us way out of our comfort zone because I wasn't used to cooking meals for so many people and praying with strangers.  We learned so much through the people who we volunteered with and the people who came to the soup kitchen in need of a meal or just some company.  We did that for many years and made lasting friendships.  We always thought that God brought us together and this was our way of serving Him.

A Man of Strength:  Eric would always say he was the optimist and I was the pessimist!  I would say that I was the realist.  He always had a positive attitude about everything.  When we got the news that Eric had melanoma it was the first time I saw fear in Eric's eyes.  It broke my heart.  He was always my rock, my strength... He went through two grueling surgeries.  The first to remove more tissue around the mole that could be cancerous and to test one of the lymph nodes to see if the cancer has spread.  Due to the location of Eric's mole, he had to have a skin graft.  That would mean he would be bed ridden for several weeks.  Anyone that knows Eric knows that he's not the type to lie in bed for weeks!  We got the news that Eric's lymph node was positive for Melanoma so he went back into the hospital for a lymph node dissection in which they removed 10 more lymph nodes.

We had to attend a class on chemotherapy.  Eric was so sick that morning.  I wheeled him into the class and the sweat was pouring off of him and we had to leave early because he became very ill.  When we got home I noticed his incision looked awful and was bulging open.  I took him to the ER and he was admitted for a staph infection which would prolong his recovery process.  Before Eric's diagnosis, he rarely missed work for being sick.  Working for Bryan in the 20 plus years he never missed more than a week of work for the entire time.  So as soon as he got out of the hospital and got the okay on the skin graft he had to get back to work!  He went to work with a drain that was coming out of the incision in his groin.

A couple of weeks later Eric began a chemotherapy treatment that was a daily treatment for 30 days.  He would go to the chemo room every day at 2 p.m. for a 3 hour infusion.  During that entire month, he never missed a day of work.  He would go to work in the morning and leave around 1 - 1:30 p.m. and go straight to chemo.  After those 30 days Eric had to have injections of the chemo 3 days a week and endured those until October, 2009 when we found out the cancer had spread. 

We had no idea how that transition from Stage 3 Melanoma to Stage 4 Melanoma would change our lives.  Eric endured treatment after treatment with NO response, but his positive attitude never wavered nor did his commitment to his job or our family.  Eric was very ill in the ICU in April, 2010 with a platelet level of 16 and he was arguing with the critical care doctor that he needed to go to work the following day!  Everyone was shocked by his strength and will to go on.

In November, 2010 we found out the cancer spread to Eric's brain and he had to be careflighted to Pittsburgh, PA for an emergency craniotomy.  The surgeon tells me not to be shocked because when he comes out of surgery he will be on a ventilator and will have several tubes coming out of his body.  The wait for that surgery to end was the longest wait!  Finally I was told that I needed to go to the ICU because Eric and the surgeon was there to speak to me.  When I walked in the room I about fell over.  He was sitting up in bed talking to the nurse getting him settled!  I was in complete shock and cried tears of joy.  The picture is Day 3 after the brain surgery.

His Gift to Us:  On June 14, 2011, we got the news that Eric's cancer has spread to his brain, spinal cord, spinal vertebrae and many other places.  Eric has several tumors in the brain and there is no more treatments that he can do.  Since that time he has been paralyzed from the armpits down.  That has been very hard for him.  Eric was always full of life and now he's dependent on being cared for.  He has never given up and still to this day he says he is fighting.  Without a miracle from God, I know that our time is short and that the day will come when Eric will leave me and go on to be with God.  He knows that too, but yet he wants to leave us all with a gift.  His gift to us is his message of love, strength and courage.  Never give up, no matter how hard the fight because it's always worth the fight. 

For those who don't know Eric, the gift he leaves you is the gift of life.  Eric is donating his body to Wright State for medical research in hopes that they can learn from his cancer.  He will also leave behind his message through volumes of pictures and videos about the dangers of tanning and detecting Melanoma.

His Gift to Me:  I never knew true love until I met Eric.  He loved me unconditionally every day.  He kissed me and told me he loved me every morning.  He would always say "I love you forever".  When he's gone I know he will still love me and I have had the gift of true love even if it wasn't for the lifetime we dreamed of...

Monday, April 18, 2011

The Big Picture

A friend took me to see Soul Surfer this weekend.  There was a scene in the movie where Carrie Underwood is showing slides to a group of teens and they had to guess what the picture was magnified.  Of course you couldn't tell but when she zoomed out you could see exactly what the image was because you had the "whole picture".  She talks about how when we are faced with challenges we can't really see the "whole picture" but God knows knows the "whole picture" and he has a plan for us.  This scene in the movie really hit home for me.  It's hard to understand what could possibly be the "whole picture" for us. 

Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding.  In all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight.  Proverbs 3: 5-6

As I look back over the past 6 months, I wonder how in the world were we able to pay all our bills.  We lost Eric's income due to his disability and my wages were greatly reduced.  If I put it all on paper, we shouldn't have made it financially, but we did.  How is that possible?  It is truly by the grace of God that we were able to do so.

This past week we had new challenges arise, Eric's cancer has returned with a vengeance and I am no longer employed.  I became overwhelmed, depressed and wondering how are we going to get through this...  I felt as if I had lost hope and faith and became broken and had myself a pitty party, then I realized the next day that wasn't going to get us anywhere and I remember a post that a friend put on Facebook, "If God brings you to it, He will bring you through it.". 

Before I understood God and His grace, I was a very broken person.  Several years ago before I met Eric I went through one of the most difficult times in my life.  I was very depressed and feeling suicidal.  I felt like I had no hope and I was lost.  I didn't know that I could ask God for help and the peace that I could feel knowing he was there to carry me.  I was weak...  Then I met Eric and he told me about God's grace.  I can't tell you the feeling that came over me when I learned that I could ask for God's help and the peace I felt as He took my worries from me. 

So I may not understand what the big picture is for us, but I rest in peace knowing that God will get me through it.  If you are going through turmoil in your life and feel hopeless, ask God to take that worry from you and to give you a feeling of peace.  

Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you.  Matthew 7:7

This doesn't mean that I still don't have difficult times.  I still cry, but in the end I know that I can make it through this because God is there to carry me.  He will carry you too.  All you have to do is ask.

For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.  Then you will call upon me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you. You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart.  Jeremiah 29:11-13

Saturday, March 5, 2011

Melanoma Road Trip USA Visits Us!

Jay Allen and Clint Heal from Australia came to visit us as a part of their Melanoma Road Trip to the USA. We were the 2nd stop on their 18 day tour. Our local news, WDTN Channel 2, covered the story. We talked much more about Melanoma Awareness, but hopefully someone got the message that it's deadly.  They also have three videos on their video blog that talk about our journey over the years with Jay and our daughter, Samantha, discusses teens and tanning.

 You can visit their website at www.melanomaroadtripusa.com


Local cancer patient gets help from down under: wdtn.com

Our interview with Clint Heal about how we met Jay Allen in December, 2008.

Samantha talks about teens and tanning.

Eric says goodbye to Clint & Jay and sends out all Melanoma Fighters well wishes.

Friday, February 11, 2011

Thank God for Unanswered Prayers...

When the cancer spread to Eric's brain we were so devastated.  It was days before he was to begin a new promising treatment.  We prayed for Eric to get into this treatment and now he would no longer be able to participate until 2 months after the brain tumor was removed and he had radiation.  It was the longest two months...but God had a plan.

Just two weeks ago, Eric began a new clinical trial in Nashville, TN that consists of BRAF and a MEK inhibitor.  These are the changes we are seeing in just two weeks!
click on photos to enlarge them

Eric and I are so thrilled and filled  with hope that we wanted to share these amazing changes with you!  Thank you for praying for us.  We are truly blessed!

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

A visit from a friend and a survivor...

In December, 2008, a month after Eric was first diagnosed with Melanoma we got the news that the Sentinel Node Biopsy (the closest lymph node to the mole) came back positive.  Eric's Melanoma had spread to his lymph system.  I was sitting beside Eric's hospital bed after he had his lymph node dissection and came across his video when searching for Melanoma.  It brought tears to my eyes to watch someone go through the exact same thing we were going through.  It also gave us hope that Eric could survive Melanoma. There were so many similarities. Eric had the mole near his ankle and after the Sentinel Node Biopsy we also got the news that the Lymph Node contained Melanoma. Since then we've kept in contact with Jay. I really admire how he has devoted his life to bringing about awareness.  

Jay contacted me not long ago that he will be coming to New York to do media events.  One of the shows Jay will be on is the Stupid Cancer Show.  Jay asked if he could come see Eric!  We are so thrilled that Jay will be coming to visit and staying with us.  Jay is very involved with campaigning in Australia against Tanning Beds.  Please take the time to watch this video.

 
Visit Jay's Website at www.sunbedban.com

Monday, December 20, 2010

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Resources for Melanoma Fighters

So many people who are diagnosed with a serious illness struggle with the financial hardships associated with medical expenses and travel for treatments.  Thankfully, I found this list through the Melanoma Research Foundations forum board.  It's a list that I can not take credit for, but it has been a help to us and to many I have forwarded it on too.  I thought I'd post it here in hopes that it will help others.

Travel:
  • Southwest Arlines - Charitable Giving, free commercial airline ticket, 30 days notice - (214)792-1300 
  • Mercy Medical Airlift - Arranges free transportation on commercial airlines, 14 day notice - (888)675-1405
  • Miracle Flight - Transportation on private aircrafts, 10 days notice (800)359-1711
  • Continental Care Force - Transportation on private aircrafts, 2 wks notice (281)261-6626
  • Midwest Airlines - Miracle Miles Program, free commercial tickets, 10 days notice (414)570-4118
  • Northwest Airlines - Reduced fare coupon books for Clinical Trial Patients (800)328-1111

Lodging Accommodations:

Joe's House -Joe's House is a nonprofit organization providing a nation-wide online service that helps cancer patients and their families find lodging near treatment centers. (877) JOESHOU www.joeshouse.org

Financial Resources: 
  •  www.cancercare.org - click on "I'm a cancer patient" or "I'm a loved one", then click on "Assistance", then click "Financial Assistance", then download the financial assistance form.  (800)813-HOPE
  • www.cancer.org -  click on "In your area" and enter your zip code.  This website has lots of information on help.  (800)ACS-2345
  • www.patientadvocate.org - this website provides effective mediation and arbitration services to patients to remove obstacles to healthcare including medical debt crisis, insurance access issues and employment issues for patients with chronic, debilitating and life-threatening illnesses.
  • www.netwish.org -  Netwish provides assistance, up to $500 for those who are able to demonstrate a financial need.
  • www.modestneeds.org - provides help with bills.
  • Hope Cancer Fund - Provides a one time financial assistance of $150 to families. (866)334HOPE
  • www.vickiesangelwalk.org - provides financial assistance for people who can not pay bills due to loss of income. 
  • www.crossingthefinishline.org - helps families and loved ones by offering travel for a vacation.  Must be diagnosed with Cancer, be between 24-50, and reside in Pennsylvania, New Jersey, or Delaware.
  • Co-Pay Relief - www.copays.org or (866)612-3861
  • www.panfoundation.org - helps thousands of underinsured patients afford the copayments for their cancer or chronic disease medications.
  • www.healthwellfoundation.orgnon-profit organization established in 2003 that is committed to addressing the needs of individuals with insurance who cannot afford their copayments, coinsurance, and premiums for important medical treatments.
  • beyondtherainbow.org/forms.html - provides financial assistance to qualified individuals who have suffered serious injury, illness or disability that has resulted in a hardship of a long term nature.
I hope that these resources can help you.  We have used Angel Flight for Eric's travel to treatments out of state.  It has been a wonderful blessing to us.  The pilot not only flies us to and from his treatments, but he also gets us a Crew Car from the airport and drives us to the hospital 30 minutes from the airport. We also found out from our local American Cancer Society that Eric was eligible to receive a $75 gas card since he is currently receiving treatments.  Be sure to contact your local ACS, they may have additional resources for you.


Monday, April 5, 2010

Dieing to have that beautiful tan?

In 6 weeks the changes in his leg have been devastating.  We watch as new tumors pop up and existing tumors grow.  His leg is very swollen and inflamed.  It is so hot from the activity of tumor growth that he keeps ice packs on it.
If you ever said or thought "I may get Skin Cancer but at least I'll look good!" then you are wrong. (Trust me I'm not judging you, I actually said those words to my mother when I was younger and tanning in a tanning bed.)  You may think you look good now, but you could be damaging your skin's DNA and your future may look like this.  Eric's mole was on his ankle so this is what his leg looks like.  He can hide the tumors by wearing pants, but imagine if his mole was on his face...

Since Eric was diagnosed with Melanoma in October, 2008 he has been in the fight of his life.  He's has been through several surgeries including an emergency crainotomy and gamma knife radiation to the brain and has been on chemo non-stop since February, 2009 due to progression of the cancer.  To this day, he is still on chemo because the other treatments have failed to stop his cancer from spreading.  As Eric does experimental treatment after treatment his options get more limited because there aren't many treatments for Melanoma.

Nov 2, 2010 it was discovered that the Melanoma had spread to his brain.  Melanoma loves to travel to the brain, liver and lungs.

Do we know for a fact that a tanning bed caused his cancer?  No, but what we do know is that it increases your chance of developing skin cancer and that's enough for us.
This is the entire leg on November 13, 2010.  Some of the tumors are on the skin and you can see some of them are internal.  The internal tumors put pressure on the nerves and muscle.
Don't become a victim of Skin Cancer.  Early detection is so important.  If you think you have a suspicious mole, see a Dermatologist right away.  If your mole is caught in the early stage, your cure rate is 95%.  If you catch a mole in Stage 4, the average survival rate drops to 11% for 5 years.

Download this Body Mole Map to do a Skin Self Examination.  Your life could depend on it.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

A Beautiful Day


January 23, 2010

Finally after almost 7 years committed to each other, we decided to exchange vows.  It was a beautiful day and beautiful ceremony.  I will never forget this day.



 



Sunday, January 17, 2010

A Mole Can Change Your Life...


Eric's story begins February 2006.  We noticed an unusual looking mole that developed pretty quickly so he saw our Family Physician for a biopsy.  A week later he received a call from the nurse stating that the biopsy was negative.

In Spring 2008 we noticed that the mole had grown back and was looking a bit "uglier", but he had already had a biopsy so we thought it was ok but it still seemed to concern us.  Toward the end of the summer a friend (who had melanoma before) saw the mole and stressed to us that it needed another biopsy.  Eric saw the doctor (our family doctor) and she took another biopsy and we got the call a week later it was Melanoma...Cancer.

Eric was then referred on to a specialist.  After reviewing the biopsy the specialist was disgusted at the first biopsy.  He said that it was grossly done, in fact two layers of the skin were not included in the biopsy so the results were only the result of testing one layer of the skin.

So the next step was to see a Skin Cancer Reconstructive Surgeon for the Wide Local Excision and an Oncology Surgeon for a Sentinel Node Biopsy to see if the cancer had spread. This would all be done on December 4th.  (Picture above is after the skin graft from removing mole on his ankle.)

So December 4th they do the SNB and the WLE and a week later we get the results...the Lymph Node contained Melanoma. No one can prepare you for that...

He then had a PET Scan to look and see if the cancer had spread to other organs.  So our next step was a Lymph Node Dissection in his groin and a visit with a Medical Oncologist to discuss treatments. Surgery scheduled for December 23rd.

We met with the Medical Oncologist and he recommends 12 months of Interferon. The first four weeks Eric will have a PIC Line through which they will infuse Interferon for approximately an hour 5 days a week. After the four weeks are done he will get injections three days a week for the next 11 months.

On December 23rd, Eric had the LND and a week later we got the results that none of them contained any Melanoma (thank you Jesus). He is considered Stage 3C. He was released a couple of days later. We attended a Chemotherapy Training Class on Tuesday December 30th and Eric became very sick...vomiting and his incision was bulging and beat red. We called the surgeons office and they had him go to the ER. They admitted him on the 30th for infection.  He was hospitalized for almost a week.

In February 2009, Eric began his daily chemo for the next 4 weeks.   Then he did chemo injections for 8 months until we discovered his leg was inflamed with bumps.  He showed them to his oncologist and they did a biopsy.  The news again, the cancer had spread.  He has vascular tumors, tumors in his muscle and lymph nodes.  His tumors have multiplied so fast that he now has over 100 tumors.

The next phase of treatment was to try a new clinical trial that consisted of Abraxane, Avastin and Carboplatin weekly.  After two months of treatment they did scans and the news again was that the cancer has continued to progress.  This treatment has been discontinued and Eric will begin a course of High Dose Interleukin - 2 in February 2010.  This type of chemo is very aggressive and he can become very ill so he will be hospitalized for this treatment.  Before he can begin they need to perform tests on his heart and lungs to make sure he can handle the treatment.

Friday, January 15, 2010

Facts About Skin Cancer You Should Know!

  • Skin cancer is the most common form of cancer in the United States. More than one million skin cancers are diagnosed annually.
  • Each year there are more new cases of skin cancer than the combined incidence of cancers of the breast, prostate, lung and colon.
  • One in five Americans will develop skin cancer in the course of a lifetime.
  • The incidence of many common cancers is falling, but the incidence of melanoma continues to rise significantly, at a rate faster than that of any of the seven most common cancers.
  • More than 20 Americans die each day from skin cancer, primarily melanoma. One person dies of melanoma almost every hour (every 62 minutes).
  • The survival rate for patients whose melanoma is detected early, before the tumor has penetrated the epidermis, is about 99 percent. The survival rate falls to 15 percent for those with advanced disease.
  • Melanoma is the most common form of cancer for young adults 25-29 years old and the second most common form of cancer for adolescents and young adults 15-29 years old.
  • One blistering sunburn in childhood or adolescence more than doubles a person's chances of developing melanoma later in life.
  • A person's risk for melanoma doubles if he or she has had five or more sunburns at any age.
  • Frequent tanners using new high-pressure sunlamps may receive as much as 12 times the annual UVA dose compared to the dose they receive from sun exposure.