Jun 18, 2021 Latest post:
Jul 31, 2021
No one imagines they’ll wake up one day to discover out of the blue that they have cancer, especially a 46-year-old, otherwise healthy guy.
But that’s what happened to David Brackin. What he thought was a pulled muscle turned out to be a tumor. After a month and a half of biopsies, blood tests, CT scans and two hospital stays, David’s doctors have diagnosed him with Epithelioid sarcoma.
According to the Mayo Clinic, Epithelioid sarcoma is a rare, slow-growing type of soft tissue cancer. Most cases begin in the soft tissue under the skin of a finger, hand, forearm, lower leg or foot, though it can start in other areas of the body. David’s first appeared in his upper thigh, at the base of his abdomen.
But David’s form of the cancer is extremely aggressive and quickly growing. By the time the tumor was identified as such, the cancer had already spread to his pelvis and lungs. Mere weeks later, it was showing up in his head, causing bumps on his scalp and numbness in his jaw and lower face.
Before cancer In early February, David had hernia surgery. In preparation for the procedure, in December and January, his surgical team ordered scans of his abdomen and upper legs, and these showed no signs of anything of concern – other than the hernia needingrepair. While the rest of Texas tried to keep from freezing in mid-February, David recovered from the uncomplicated surgery.
He was cleared to return to his job of 21 years as an HVAC tech in early March. A couple of weeks later, when he and some co-workers lifted a heavy piece of equipment, he thought he pulled a muscle. He noticed some swelling in the lower right part of his abdomen and thigh, but assumed it would heal and disappear with time. But instead of shrinking, the swelling grew from the size of a golf ball to the size of a large lemon and becameincreasingly painful.
Something is wrong Thinking perhaps the situation was somehow associated with his surgery, David returned to his surgeon for an exam. The surgeon didn’t believe the swelling was connected to the previous procedure, but was concerned about what it might be and ordered a CT scan – which David’s insurance refused to cover. So, the surgeon suggested he go to a local emergency room, explaining that an ER facility can code the test as emergent, compelling insurance to cover it.
That scan showed the alarming size of the mass growing in David’s body. Suspecting a malignant tumor, the ER doctors and radiology team recommended his transfer to a larger hospital, so David was transferred to Medical City in Fort Worth where he was admitted.
He spent about a week there – undergoing bloodwork, a biopsyand more scans. Those scans indicated there were already lesions growing in his lungs and on the bones of his pelvis. Whatever it was, it was definitely behaving like cancer. And it was aggressively attacking his body. He was discharged to go home and wait for the results of the biopsy.
A weeks-long mystery At home with his wife, Martha, and daughters, Gillian and Hannah, David waited for a diagnosis. The tumor’s position and the pain it caused made walking difficult, so he began using crutches and a walker. He had been home only about a week when he noticed the lumps on his scalp and numbness in his face.
When the initial biopsy results finally arrived, they were inconclusive. The tissue collected was inadequate to determine the kind of cancer he has. Another biopsy was ordered, with a plan to implant a chemotherapy port at the same time, but again, insurance was an obstacle, refusing to cover the cost of the second biopsy.
After exhaustive negotiations, the second biopsy and port placement were scheduled for May 28. In the meantime, David and Martha began the qualification process for MD AndersonCancer Center in Houston to consider taking his case.
At this point, they were just one month into the fight of their lives.
The day of the second biopsy arrived and a larger, deeper tissue sample was collected, the chemotherapy port was placed and David was released to recover at home. A day later, he was back in the hospital with a pulmonary embolism and elevated heart rate. This hospital stay lasted another week while the medicalteam struggled to stabilize his heart rate. He was diagnosed with a serious infection in addition to the PE. He was released June 4, this time with an oxygen tank in tow.
While waiting for biopsy results, David received his first chemotherapy treatment on June 8. Though the cancer type had not been confirmed, at the rate it was spreading, his oncology team believed delaying treatment was a risk, so they began with a general chemotherapy course to combat the most common,aggressive forms of the disease.
Finally, on June 14, conclusive results of the second biopsy arrived, confirming that the tumor is a malignant form of sarcoma, an epithelioid neoplasm. Finally, the mystery had beensolved and the beast to be fought was known.
Moving forward Now the battle truly begins. Because this form of sarcoma is so rare and so aggressive, David is working with MD Anderson, hoping to be admitted into their trial therapies. He’s scheduled to travel to Houston on June 30 to meet with a team from the hospital on July 1 – which happens to be his 47th birthday. After that, the hope is that he can begin treatment right away.
Through it all David’s faith has been strong and unwavering. Throughout the pain and suffering, he gives God the glory, believing that his suffering is miniscule compared to the suffering Jesus endured on the cross for our sins. He testifies consistently that his situation is no surprise to God, and that his future is in God’s hands. Indeed, God’s got this. And he will see David and Martha and the girls through this crisis.