03/26/1969 — 07/31/2011
Sean is a very caring, loving, and sharing person. He has the greatest sense of humor. Everyone always wanted to be around him.
Sean had a mole removed from behind his left ear in 2003, and it came back as melanoma. We were told that they got it all, and it did not even penetrate the second layer of skin, so his chances of ever developing melanoma were less than 5%. In 2010, Sean started having pain in his left knee. Finally the doctors performed an MRI of his knee and saw a 5-inch lesion on his femur bone. They did more testing and found that it was in two spots on his femur and in his lung and adrenal gland. They put a rod in his femur to strengthen it in November 2011. He recovered remarkably from the surgery.
We returned to the oncologist in Salt Lake City to start a plan for chemo or radiation in January 2011. When we got there, we were told that Sean developed a brain tumor sometime in the past 6 weeks. We had that radiated and returned to Nevada.
Throughout the month of January, Sean went to radiation on his femur bone 5 days a week for 3 weeks. In February 2011 we took a trip to Tacoma, WA (Sean’s home town) to start a clinical trial. We spent the month in Tacoma with Sean in the hospital (I was allowed to stay the entire time with him) going through testing for the new drug. We returned to Nevada the end of February with the new drug. Sean was feeling so good. The drug seemed to be really attacking the cancer.
In March 2011, we went to SLC to rescan and were told that ALL Sean’s tumors had shrunk by half and the one in the lung was completely gone!!! We were so thankful. In April 2011, we returned to SLC for more scanning to be sure the drug was still working. This is when we got horrible news that Sean had developed three new brain tumors. They would not let him continue on the drug because they said his cancer had progression and he was denied any more clinical drugs.
We returned to Nevada to find and start another treatment. Yervoy was just accepted by the FDA, so the oncologist said let’s do it. The beginning of May 2011, Sean received his first injection of Yervoy. The middle of May Sean was feeling so well still that we decided to go on vacation to the Colorado River. We spent 10 days there, and Sean was a bit tired but he was feeling well. The day after we arrived home, Sean started getting really dizzy. We went to the local oncologist in Reno, and they saw that the Yervoy had caused his blood work to go out of normal so they hospitalized Sean for 6 days. When we returned home the beginning on June 2011, Sean still was not feeling all that well. By the middle of June 2011, he had to be hospitalized again in Reno because the Yervoy caused his liver enzymes to be off the chart. They had to give Sean anti-rejection drugs to get his numbers back to normal. The beginning of July they wanted to rescan and see if the Yervoy did anything. This is when we found out that Sean had developed 10 more brain tumors. Well, six new and the previous four had regrown!
We went through full brain radiation to try to get these under control again. By the middle of July 2011, Sean was not doing well at all. I decided that we needed to take another trip to SLC to see the chief oncologist. This is when we were told that the full brain radiation and the Yervoy did nothing for Sean. The cancer was rearing its ugly head. They also rescanned and found that now the melanoma had spread to his spinal fluid.
We lost Sean the last day of July 2011. I just don’t understand how this disease can spread so fast. Sean was never a sun worshiper. We are outdoor people, but Sean always put on sunscreen and covered up. To be a very healthy, active 41-year-old man, I never thought that this would take his life.
He is the most amazing husband and father we could ever ask for! We love you so much, honey!!
Heather Kelley, wife