Current Diagnosis and Stage
Jennifer was diagnosed with Metastasized Melanoma in August of 2016. She was responding well to the immunotherapy/chemo combo her Dr’s started her on, until April of this year. In April, we learned the immunotherapy was no longer working. Her Dr’s immediately started a new immunotherapy. This therapy is very slow working. It takes 3-4 months to work. Now, she has been taking this for 6 weeks. She was brought to the ER on Wednesday the 7th because Jennifer was not acting normal. She was sleeping for 12-14 hours a day, feeling weak, and very monotone. Once we got to the ER an MRI was ordered. Jennifer had a massive seizure in the Emergency Room. It was traumatic and difficult for all of us. Natalie and Olivia were both in the room when it happened. I quickly got Olivia out of the room and yelled for a nurse. That was by far the scariest and most difficult time for all of us. In my heart I know her kids will always remember that fear, helplessness, and sadness. If there was any way I could take that feeling away from them I would. We were not expecting this because she was on a high dose of anti-seizure medication. All of her symptoms made us believe something was wrong, but we did not know the problem was this bad.
Jennifer proceeded to sleep for 3 days. For the first two days we were not sure she would wake up. There was a likelihood she would just keep sleeping. When she woke up, her cognitive process are slowed. She has extreme weakness in the left size of her body. She will slowly regain better cognitive function, over time.
The MRI shows growth in the tumors she has been fighting and new tumors. The immunotherapy she is taking may be working, but it is working slower than the cancer is growing. We are now on our last option, continuing the immunotherapy and start a new round of 10 full brain radiation treatments. There are a lot of risks with starting another 10 rounds of full brain radiation. There could be an increase in swelling, tissue damage around the tumors, and cognitive imparements.
The deck is obviously stacked against us. The odds of making it through this are small, but people have made it through worse, we less of a chance.
After the initial diagnosis, Jennifer and the kids moved in with me. Luckily, Jennifer and the kids are still living with me. Trying to manage the hard road ahead of us is harder than anything, any of us have ever done.
Below is the Original post from August 2016
Jennifer first found a spot of Melanoma on her lower back in 2007. Tom noticed a mole that looked like it was getting large and odd shaped. She made an appoint with her doctor and they determined it was melanoma and needed to be removed. We were all nervous then but it was a simple procedure and removed quickly. The second time, she found a spot on her shoulder. Again, it was quickly found and removed. At the time, we did not think this would become a long term issue. We felt blessed and so thankful that we found these two spots and quickly had them removed.
This time has been different. This time there wasn’t a skin melanoma spot that we could quickly find and remove. This time, Jennifer felt a bump in her breast. We were not sure how long it had been there before it became large enough to notice. She had just had a baby, a short 6 months earlier. She focus was completely on the baby. She made an appointment with her doctor. It took almost a month to see the doctor. The doctor quickly determined a mammogram, ultrasound, and biopsy was needed. We all had to wait two painstaking weeks for the test to be done and results to come back. On Friday, July 29th, Jennifer received a call saying the bump was benign. We were all so happy, we decided it was the best birthday gift our mother, Sharon, could have ever received. That following Tuesday, at a follow up appointment with the doctor. Jennifer was told that no it was not benign, it was malignant and he was not sure why she was told otherwise. Our world was changed from that moment on.
As fate would have it, that day, about an hour after receiving the news, Jennifer began to feel numbness in her left arm and leg. She became very lightheaded and dizzy. We brought her to the ER thinking maybe she was going into some kind of shock, because of the news. The ER doctor quickly determined she was not having a stroke and admitted her because the location of the previous biopsy looked infected and sore. When he was admitted tests showed she had cellulitis in the skin around the biopsy spot. The following day she had a MRI, CAT Scan and CT scan. The doctor was worried the cancer may have spread, because the cancer in her breast was large.
After all the results came back, we received the news that would change our family forever. There are very few moments in life when you know your entire existence has forever been altered. Before receiving the test results we were very confused on how melanoma could only show under the skin. There wasn’t a skin cancer spot, like every other time. We couldn’t understand how melanoma could happen in the breast. Dr. Jones came in the room and told Jennifer the cancer has spread to her brain. Mom was on speaker phone so she could talk to Jennifer and the doctor, each time the doctor came in. I thank God every day I was sitting with Jennifer the moment she realized how serious this is. All she could do is cry, ask me what she did to deserve this and repeat over and over how she did not want to die. There was nothing I could do, besides hold her, cry with her, tell her she did nothing to deserve this and we WILL fight this together.
Since that time, all over lives are different. Jennifer is in the fight of her life. I have declined my offer to go to Jerusalem for a year. My dads house now has 7 people live there. My mom has become the spiritual adviser for the entire family, or as I like to call it “tribe.”
A few days after the diagnosis of metastasized melanoma that has spread to the brain, Jennifer began radiation treatment. After 10 treatment the doctors will determine if targeted radiation or chemo is the appropriate next step.