About

In March 2016, at the age of 35, I was diagnosed with Stage IV stomach cancer. Only 3% of patients live 5 years or longer after receiving this diagnosis. Most die within the first year. I have a beautiful wife and two young children. This blog chronicles my experiences with cancer and the lessons I learn along the way.

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Recap of Round 1.

An airport layover visit from my good friend Holly

The last full week of October was a hectic week of appointments and planning. However, I am thankful that there was speediness in the process. I had a follow-up with my oncologist on the 24th and nothing was in place for my port placement, PET scan, or chemotherapy approval. My oncologist, Dr. Juvvadi, was still optimistic to schedule my first treatment for Friday, October 27th. On Wednesday, the 25th, I had my port placement procedure. Thursday, the 26th, I had my PET scan and received a phone call that my chemotherapy treatments had all been approved and I was set to start treatment on Friday as scheduled. 

The results of the breast MRI showed more clearly that there was one large mass (6.5x3.8x6.2) in my breast instead of two smaller ones. A PET scan is necessary to monitor the spread of the cancer to other lymphatic areas or organs. The scan showed two small nodules in my lungs but they were too small to biopsy. Therefore, the oncologist went forward with the assumption that the cancer has not spread beyond my left breast and left axillary lymph nodes. 

My treatment regimen is shortened to TCHP. It is a combination of two targeted therapies, Perjeta and Herceptin, and two traditional chemotherapy, Carboplatin and Taxotere. The schedule for TCHP is one treatment day every three weeks and I will have six rounds. I am praying that this treatment is found to be 100% effective on the cancer. After the six rounds, I will be evaluated for surgery and radiation treatment. I will also continue with Herceptin for an additional 12 rounds (occurring every three weeks). 

The side effects are varied but the most likely are fatigue, weakness, diarrhea, nausea/vomiting, and hair loss. The side effects do not normally hit until day 3 or 4 of the cycle/round and last for 5-6 days. On day 8 and 9, I was on track with this normal progression, I had the full list of side effects, but nothing had been too extreme. I had still been able to be with my children for the important parts of the day. After a relatively positive 24 hours, I began to lose my voice, followed by intense abdominal cramping, unable to eat, and other side effects. I went back to the doctor's office on Monday, under the assumption that I had caught a virus. However, all of my symptoms aligned with another chemo-related side effect called mucositis. It normally occurs in the mouth but can occur anywhere there are mucous membranes along the digestive tract. For me, they presented in my throat and intestines. Fortunately, the doctor ordered me to hydration for two days and gave me some extra medications to help with the abdmoinal cramping. Although, I am still feeling some side effects, the mucositis is calming and I have more energy every day. 

My next treatment is scheduled for November 17th.

I am so thankful for friends and neighbors to quickly step in and help me take care of Matthew and Raegann especially these last few days. Matthew and Raegann are doing relatively well with the changes, although I know deep inside, especially for Matthew, he is scared and does not understand all that is happening. I have been surrounded with support in caring for my children, meals, and housework. Although I do not desire this journey, God has made it very clear that I am not walking it alone. I am very grateful for each kind comment, letter, gift, and prayer being sent our way. Thank you.

 

Prayer Requests:

-          Beyond belief effectiveness of TCHP with minimal side effects in the coming rounds

-          My family and friends who are sharing so willingly in this fight

 

Reader Comments (22)

Prayers are coming your way. So glad to hear you have friends and neighbors to help. Hang in there, Melissa!

November 8, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterColleen Fehl

Continuing our prayers for you!

November 8, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterNatalie Finkbonner

Melissa. We are praying that the muscosist is relieved and that you will be able to eat and that the other side effects will
Ease. I am so greatfull for your friends and neighbors who are there to help you. We are continuing to pray that the chemo therapy is 100% effective.love to you all.

November 8, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterAunt Kathie

Hi Melissa,
You don't know me but I knew Rob in high school. I was so saddened by this new news of cancer in your family. I just want you to know that you have people like me who you don't know and I don't know you, praying for you. Your family seems like a strong one. Thankfully we all have God in our corner during times of trials and joys to keep us going. I pray for strength and peace during this difficult time. Thank you for keeping everyone updated on this hard stuff. You've got this!

November 8, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterBrenda Walbrun

Prayers from Mississippi!! You are a true inspiration!

November 8, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterValeria Johnson

Hugs and prayers from North Dakota!

November 8, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterBianca

Prayers from Tulsa. Big prayers!

November 8, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterLindsey Madden

It is hard reading your report knowing what you are going thru. Will be praying for you. Glad have people close to you who can help you. But best of all you have God with you. I don't know how people do it with out God. My Church is praying for you.

November 8, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterClaudia Weekley

It is hard reading your report knowing what you are going thru. Will be praying for you. Glad have people close to you who can help you. But best of all you have God with you. I don't know how people do it with out God. My Church is praying for you.

November 8, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterClaudia Weekley

Praying for you from northern Idaho! Sending love to you and your family and thankfulness for your supporting friends. God is in control and has you in His hand.

November 9, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterRonda

You are so precious Melissa! I still recall from the years at Higher Ground what a sweet, lovely person you were even as a high schooler. God had your heart then as He has it now. Praying for you and your sweet children!
Love Susan

November 9, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterSusan Pfaffe

Dear Melissa,
We still remember the day when we were on furlough living in Cedarville and we looked out and saw Rob chasing you by the stream in front of our house. We thought that day - he is going to marry that girl. Our hearts continue to ache with you and just wanted you to know you are prayed for here in Japan.
Love,
Bill and Becky Petite

November 9, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterBill and Becky Petite

I cannot imagine what you are going through. You and your children are in my prayers every day.

November 9, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterErin Doss

Sending you love and hugs and wrapping you tight in prayer.

November 9, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterKatie Bowers

Thank you for this update. We pray for you & the kids daily that He will walk with you through the day. We pray for strenghth, energy & wisdom as you help the children walk through this with you. We pray for the kids that through all they have dealt with & are dealing with at this very young age that they would see Jesus. We thank the Lord for all those who are there to help you. Please know your family is so loved & prayed for. We love you LOTS!

November 9, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterRoseann & CJ Faust

Melissa, I graduated high school with Rob's dad and we are "friends" on F/B. I followed Rob's blog as did so many and was often brought to tears by his words. Although we've never met I felt I got to know y'all as he shared his journey. I am once again humbled by your strength and character. I know the support of a loving family is paramount but be assured you and your beautiful children are always in our prayers. We live in Huntington, W.V. but still have family in Ohio so we visit frequently. Our route takes us through Cedarville, Ohio and I always think of y'all as we pass through town. Stay strong and prayers for your ultimate recovery!!

November 10, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterWilliam Hemphill

Melissa,
Love and prayers for you, Matthew and Raegann. More strength to you.

November 11, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterLala

Melissa, you don’t know me, and I have never met you but I want you to know I am praying for you. I am believing the Lord will meet every need that you have, and you and He are the only ones who truly know what those needs are. He is faithful to provide! So thankful you are already seeing those provisions through family and friends. Hang in there girl!

November 12, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterKathy Beck

Hello Melissa, it has been awhile, since our Cedarville Days! Thinking and praying for your treatment today! Alison Shared your story on Facebook and your family has been on our minds and in our prayers. Praying for healing and strengthen during this time. Love Heather Zehr

November 17, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterHeather Smith Zehr

Melissa - continued prayers for strength and healing!

November 28, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterSusan Rhame

I pray that you come out on the other side cancer free. You have amazing strength and courage. I can't believe this is happening again to your family. May God comfort you and your family.

December 4, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterBree Burrows

Melissa,

Keep on praying for you!

December 9, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterJenny Gu

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