05/18/1972 — 10/22/2009
In January 2003, I had noticed that my fiancee Mike had a mole on his face that was becoming more prominent so I pushed him to get it looked at. He gave in and had it shaved and tested. They found it was melanoma. The Army sent him to Walter Reed to have it removed. After three days of surgeries where they took it out until they thought the margins were clear, they sent him home with instructions to have his skin checked on a regular basis. And, he did with the results always being that there were no malignancies.
In March 2009, Michael got very sick. He was having difficulty breathing so when he came in off the road that Friday (he was a truck driver) we went to the ER where they determined that he had pneumonia. They gave him antibiotics and sent him home with an “oh by the way…there’s a small spot on your lung showing in the x-ray that you should probably have looked at.” He followed-up with the family doctor, as instructed, who merely read the x-ray report and agreed he had pneumonia and told him to keep taking his antibiotics.
He worked that week and the next weekend he was even sicker…having more difficulty breathing. Back to the ER! He was admitted this time and a chest tube was put in where they drained a total of 4 liters of fluid from his right chest cavity. We waited 3 days for the pathology report of the fluid. He kept bugging the doctor that was assigned to him asking if the results were in yet. That doctor never gave him the results. Instead, on the 3rd day, in walked a new doctor to his room who started out by immediately saying, “Let’s talk about your cancer.” SHOCK!!!
So, he was discharged from the hospital and he started seeing this new doctor who was an oncologist. He was put on Temador for three months. After three months they did a scan. Not only had it not helped shrink the tumor on his lung, the melanoma had also spread to his liver, spleen, and adrenal glands. At this point, the oncologist said there was nothing further he could do for him and that he should get into clinical trials. We were scared and lost.
Michael’s parents live in Washington state and his mother had heard of some melanoma specialists in Portland, OR. I did some reading about this doctor and saw he was having some great results, so I packed up Mike and put him on a plane to Portland. He stayed with his parents while he got treatment from the specialists in Portland. During this time period, I was driving a semi myself to try to bring in the money that he had brought in as a truck driver. I got to stop in to see him twice while I was on the road. But, come October, the money still was not coming in as hoped and Mike was getting sicker. The melanoma had spread to his brain and spine by this time. On October 20th, I turned in my truck and went home with hopes to find a way to bring Mike home because he had always said he wanted to be back when he died. But it was all in vain. On October 22nd, he was rushed to the ER where he was admitted so they could make him comfortable and he spent his last hours there while I was sitting in Ohio. He had fought hard up to that point but he had gotten tired of being in pain and had decided to just let go.
We miss him so much! He was my husband, my best friend, and my hero!