Chris, the eldest of our two sons, was a quiet, kind-hearted, thoughtful, loving husband, father, brother and son, a gifted athlete, a loyal friend and teammate who celebrated each and every day of his short life. He was diagnosed on December 8, 2000. Chris was completing his degree in Geography at UNT and while studying for a test one night, the inside peripheral vision in his left eye "went black". His wife, Lauri, a practicing optometrist in Keller, Texas, immediately took him to her office for an examination. Lauri could tell that the retina in his left eye had detached and decided to consult with several of her colleagues the next morning. The diagnosis was as bad as it could have been, Amelanotic Choroidal Melanoma, a rare form of ocular cancer. Chris was never a quitter and fought for six and a half years, enduring a myriad of experimental and cutting-edge procedures, drugs, protocols and immune therapies.
January 08, 2001, Chris and Lauri flew to Houston where radiation plaque surgery was performed at Hermann Eye Hospital. The tumor continued to shrink over a period of the next two years. In May, 2003, Chris noticed a change in his vision. Diagnosis: tumor hemorrhaged and his eye had to be removed. May 9, this surgery occurred at Wills Eye Hospital in Philadelphia. Over the next two years, Chris continued with quarterly scans and all seemed well. On February 19, 2005, Chris went in for his routine scans; once again, more bad news. The radiologist found two "lesions" on his liver. Chris saw two oncologists and was diagnosed with Stage IV melanoma. Chris was referred for evaluation for a trial at the National Institute of Health in Bethesda, Maryland and qualified. On March 27th, Chris became only the ninth patient in the U.S. to undergo an experimental treatment...an Isolated Hepatic Profusion where, in an eleven and one-half hour procedure, the surgeons removed his liver, placed it on a heart/lung machine and pumped hot chemo (104°) through it for an hour; the theory being that this chemo treatment was much less invasive to his other major organs.
One month later and 45 pounds thinner, Chris was released and Lauri, Chris and I flew back to Dallas. Chris continued to heal and regain his strength. In June, Chris and Lauri traveled back to Bethesda for the first of his 11 follow-ups. Although Chris looked as healthy as ever, his scans revealed that the melanoma had now spread to his bones and later, eventually to his lungs, kidneys and six brain tumors. Over the next two years, more radiation occurred, embolization of the two largest liver tumors, at least six different types of chemo, immune therapy drugs (Avastin was the nastiest of those), skin rashes from head-to-toe, broken ribs, nausea, vomiting, ulcers, chills, insomnia, MRSA infection from his ports, Gamma Knifes, etc. and yet, Chris continued his fight.
For Chris, NOT beating cancer was NEVER an option. He had Lauri and Ethan, and all he wanted was to be able to take care of his loving family, watch Ethan grow and become a fine, young man and grow old with the love of his life and his true soulmate, Lauri.
Chris fought as hard as he could but finally, his body said...enough. On Saturday, June 2, 2007 at 9:52 p.m., 9 days before his 37th birthday, our beloved son, Chris, lost his long and tenaciously fought battle with melanoma, but he has now gained a life in Heaven, and is finally free of any more pain and suffering. By the grace of God, his loving family was blessed to have Chris with us until God called him.
Our solace is knowing Chris is now well, walking with his Lord and Savior and that we will all be together again!
Mom & Dad