It was just an ordinary day in late June 2014. I was coming home from serving a client with my husband, Ira, who sometimes worked with me on his day off; when I hear him say “ I have a heaviness in my arm.” Well, I thought he was having a stroke so I took him to an offshoot of our local hospital. They told me that they were not set up for urgent care they only do testing and to go to the ER. Well, Ira had enough he said let’s go home. When we rolled into our parking spot he again said “I have a heaviness again in my arm.” I immediately took him to the ER. At the ER, the doctor there checked him out and said, “Just to be sure, let’s do a head CAT scan and see if anything is going on.” Off Ira went. After what seemed like days, the doctor came into the room and told us that he has a mass in his head near the skull. He thought it was probably benign.
To be sure he was sending us to a Neurosurgeon. Our life as we knew it on that day in late June ended forever. We started our journey into doctors, treatments, medicines and most of all life survival.
We got into see the surgeon in two days thanks to the ER doctor. He also told us that the mass looked benign but it most definitely had to come out. We scheduled the surgery for two weeks later due to the surgeon’s vacation and Ira’s Medicare and supplement kicking in on July 1st.
Talk about stress! The not knowing was the worst period of time for the family as a whole. Two weeks went by in a flash and it was surgery day. The operation was really quick and then the surgeon came over to us with not a happy face. The words we feared and no one talked about were coming out of his mouth, “Ira has stage 4 melanoma that has metastasized to his brain.” Needless to say, we were all stunned. A hospital oncologist came in to see Ira my younger son was with him. That doctor told Ira and my son that he had nine 9 months to live and he better get his affairs in order, handed him his card and left. We could not believe that anyone could be so heartless and stupid to tell someone that because while there is life there is hope and he was most certainly fired.
After Ira left the hospital,a few days later, we had an appointment with the Neuro-surgeon and he told us that Duke had an excellent melanoma department and with our permission he would start the process. He still had the four radiation treatments to go through. Meanwhile, we got a phone call from Duke and we immediately made an appointment. That is how Ira’s treatments started at Duke and we met the fabulous Dr. Brent Allan Hanks. Dr. Hanks is a melanoma ocologist, researcher and a PHD who teaches.
Ira started off with Yervoy. Yervoy, which, is the protocol and does wonders for some people did not with Ira. The Yervoy destroyed Ira’s pituitary glands, thyroid and his testosterone, which, he now has to supplement with pills and injections. Then he went onto the miracle drug Keytruda
Now, almost two years later the only evidence of disease is in his liver. Dr. Hanks NEVER let us lose hope. I want to add that Ira had the melanoma not only in his brain but also in the liver, rectum, pelvis and the Lymph nodes in the center of his chest near his lungs.
We are towards the end of this terrible journey and God willing the next set of tests will be the ones to add to his file NED…..no evidence of disease. Ira and I started out having no hope and now we have a future together along with our growing family. Blessings to all who are going through this and might you come through the looking glass right side up!
For health of body and spirit, I thank You, my God. I was broken and now am whole; weary, but now am rested; anxious, but now am reassured.
Teach me to show my thankfulness to all who helped me in my need, who heartened me when I was afraid, and who visited me when I was lonely. For strength You created within me, O God, I give thanks to You.
Ba-ruch a-ta Adonai, ro-fei ha-cho-lim.
I praise you, O God, the Source of healing.