Brandon Brunet

First post: Aug 7, 2020 Latest post: Aug 12, 2020
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I’d like to first say that we’ve kept this semi-private due to our boys. We’ve always  been open with them but didn’t want it to be more of a  distraction with surgery, COVID & Collin  graduating high school It’s been a very hard year for everyone. 

Brandon was first diagnosed with Nodular Melanoma in March 2019. He had a surgery  to remove the small spot from his calf and test the connected lymph nodes . They were involved but everyone was confident it had been contained. We had  appointments for a  2nd opinion from the Mayo right away to assure us they would recommend the same treatment. They did put our minds at ease and told us to do the treatment locally since there were  no additional concerns at that time. He was started on a drug called Opdivo once a month by infusion.  Until October everything was fine he was very lucky with no real side effects at all. Then we noticed some suspicious spots on his leg, luckily the next appointment was just a few days away. The doctor was concerned but they were still very small so we agreed to watch them.  During the next 3 weeks we knew it was back with the spots growing and more popping up. So the doctor started requesting some biopsies. By this time it was already into November we had a few different biopsies scheduled and a new scan and decided we were going back to Mayo to figure out a plan. It is now mid December.  Long story short  lots of cancer grew and the surgeon that was best for his surgery had to wait for an operating room and coordinate with bypass team for the procedure so surgery wasn't able to take place until Feb 6 this year.
More lymph nodes needed to be removed and they would be putting his leg on bypass while running chemo through it. We were told it was risky but it was the most aggressive option to get rid of everything so we took the chance.  Recovery would probably be  4-6 weeks.  I think that we both agree the Mayo clinic made the experience absolutely amazing and beyond anything we thought was possible. The surgery was supposed to take just 5 hours and it ended up being over 12 hours. They kept me updated via text messages assuring me he was ok. There were a few complications and they ran into much more than they bargained for. When the head surgeon came out he actually apologized to me for taking so long. He explained there was much more cancer than originally thought and he almost quit more than once and just closed Brandon. He said he just didn't feel that was the right thing to do so he kept going to clear out as much as he possibly could. The dedication this Dr. has to his patients still just amazes me! Everyone we have seen is absolutely top notch and so very helpful.  Fast forward to the next day and more complications requiring a 2nd surgery. Same surgeon was called from Methodist hospital back to St Marys to fix the issues. So that was another 5 hours and he again was so personal and amazing. He visited Brandon every day he was in the hospital even the weekend!
After looking at the file the Oncology team decided it was time to switch treatments to another immunotherapy , which is can be a lethal combo to some. 4 rounds of Ipi/Nivo Brandon started 2 days after leaving the hospital. The rash and itching was unlike anything we have ever seen along with chills and a fever eventually it subsided and he made it through 4 rounds. We heard the side effects meant it was working and I think it made us feel better for the first few rounds. The some more tumors started  rapidly growing we could visibly see them on his scar and on his lower abdomen. All the numbers were good so we kept going. Meanwhile progress was going backwards yet we didn't realize it yet. We canceled our family Spring Break trip due to surgery . I took our 18 year old to Mexico with some friends for 5 days which was much needed after the past month.
Brandon started having some extreme pains in his leg after a few visits and ultrasound they figured out he had a clot and a seroma in his leg basically a cavity that was collecting fluid so the drain had to get out back in. This by the way was just removed Monday July 6th so it has been an extremely LONG road.  Next up was scan day in Mid May we were not expecting a miracle after this but the scan was 100% opposite of what everyone expected. Basically the treatment made the cancer grow very fast everywhere in his abdomen and chest cavities even into his pelvic bone. The option was to start Chemo or be done with all treatment. We didn't have much time to wait either because the rate of growth was fast so we had to start chemo ASAP. That meant the next day if we agreed. Those of you who know us well know his mom Barb died of Leukemia 10 years ago in June and it was after she agreed to a very aggressive Chemo protocol. I had my doubts that he would agree but there was not any hesitation when he found out it would only be a few hours every 3 weeks. Our next appointment was with the Palliative Care Team. Amazing people who know exactly what meds he will need and will do whatever is needed to make sure you are comfortable- they are very good at listening! Next stop is Home  to tell the kids and parents what was next! Not fun at all! Then drive back again early in the am for an infusion that lasts approximately 6 hours.
Infusion 1 pretty uneventful he slept alot of the time. The next day he was pretty sick.

The journal continues the story——

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