Erika Holt

First post: Sep 19, 2021 Latest post: Nov 21, 2022
Welcome to Erika's CaringBridge site. We are using it to keep family and friends updated in one place. We appreciate your support and words of hope and encouragement. Thank you for visiting.

Erika was originally diagnosed with Melanoma in 2014.  There was a strange looking spot on her skin and when they did the biopsy, it was confirmed Melanoma.  They immediately took larger and deeper sections around that spot, as well as part of her lymph nodes.  Although the part on her skin was deep (borderline stage 2), they got it all and her lymph nodes were clear.

Fast forward to 2019.  Erika had clear scans for 5 years and started running again.  She lost some weight and was feeling really healthy, except for a nagging cough.  After a while, the cough wasn't going away and something didn't seem right.  She had a scan and it showed a large mass in her left lung.  Upon doing a biopsy, it was once again confirmed Melanoma.  The mass was removed with surgery and Erika began Immunotherapy.

Over the past two years,  Erika's fight has continued.  The cancer spread to her bone in June of 2020, presenting as a small tumor on her spine.  This was obliterated with radiation.  Then additional tumors showed up in her lung  and near her lymph nodes in early 2021.  She attacked these with more radiation and was seeing great results, however, more tumors were popping up in both her lung and now on her pelvic bone.  In late summer of 2021, the plan became more aggressive immunotherapy.  As Erika started this next round of immunotherapy, she developed pneumonia, which lasted for several weeks.  During this time she was incredibly uncomfortable and very lethargic.  After trying multiple antibiotics and seeing no improvement, she started getting a fever and it was clear things were not heading in the right direction, so she was admitted to the hospital.  While in the hospital, they did another scan and found the cancer had spread to her liver.

Moving forward, we’re looking at changing Erika’s treatment from immunotherapy to a BRAF targeted therapy. Melanoma tumors are either BRAF positive or BRAF negative.  There is targeted therapy available for BRAF positive tumors, which is what Erika has.  If you are wondering "is it better to be BRAF positive or negative?"  BRAF positive tumors are more aggressive, but have the targeted therapy available to use to fight them.  BRAF negative tumors are slower growing, but there is no targeted therapy at this time to fight them.  In a nutshell, half of melanomas have changes in the BRAF gene causing a mutation. Melanoma cells with these changes (mutations) make an altered BRAF protein that helps them grow. Thankfully, there are treatments that target the BRAF protein and can shrink or slow the growth of tumors in some people whose melanoma has spread or can’t be removed completely. We are hopeful this will take care of the tumors, but are unsure of the side effects it will bring or the long term effects on the melanoma itself. Nicole will be creating a Meal Train for any of you who would like to help support Erika and her family during this time. As I’m sure we can all agree, dinners are those annoyances at the end of the night where most of us don’t plan for. We’re hoping to alleviate that from The Holt family a few nights/week and allow them to focus on being more present with each other or just to relax without another form of stress. Thank you all in advance if you will consider supporting this initiative.

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