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Joe’s Story

I had noticed and began watching a small lump on my left shoulder blade area during the summer months of 2008.  I was under the impression that the lump was only an innocent lipoma.  Later in the year, while getting some Christmas decorations out of the attic the weekend after Thanksgiving, I scraped the lump on the attic floor, sending what felt like electric shocks through my back.  After the "attic bump," the lump began to grow and became painful.  On January 8, 2009, I saw an Internist who told me I indeed did have a lipoma that was beginning to show infection and needed immediate surgery.  My wife and I consulted a local surgeon that afternoon who, after a thorough examination, CT scans and a biopsy, diagnosed Merkel Cell Carcinoma, a very rare and aggressive cancer.  A few days later the diagnosis was confirmed and, because of the rarity of the disease,  the referral process to M.D. Anderson began.  My case was accepted and we made our first trip to Houston on February 2, 2009.  The two oncologists we saw that first day both diagnosed our case as Advanced Stage 3.  I began chemotherapy the next evening in an effort to shrink the tumor for surgical removel.  The original measurement of the tumor inside my shoulder was 17.5 cm from side to side. 

Joe took his last breath on earth and his first in heaven on October 8th of 2009........9 months after his diagnoses.  His life affected many and he will be missed.....but we feel he accomplished his mission on earth and many came to know the goodness and faithfulness of God because of his story.
You may still contact the family via or visit  Thanks to the many that prayed and upheld us in our battle.
Kathleen Maxwell