In July, 2016, Jack noticed a funny little mole or wart on his left thigh. It was identified as soft tissue sarcoma. He immediately began a round of chemo and a round of radiation before two major surgeries that November at UC Davis Medical Center in Sacramento. The first removed the tumor (by then the size of a pancake) and affected lymph nodes. The second surgery skin grafted over the tumor site and removed lymph nodes in his pelvic area, none of which tested positive. After that, he endured six months of very aggressive chemo. We thought he'd beaten it! He developed lymphodema in his left leg, but we were still optimistic.
But the following October, 2017, a PET scan revealed a tumor in his left lung. Soft tissue sarcoma loves the lungs! We caught that early and it was removed arthroscopically. The next scan revealed something in the frontal lobe of his brain. While we were awaiting insurance authorization for an MRI, Jack was evacuated in a blizzard via snowmobile and 4WD ambulance to undergo emergency brain surgery. The tumor was the size of an orange. The big shocker: it was melanoma. He underwent a five day course in brain radiation.
The next scans looked good, and Jack was just starting to feel like himself again last June. Suddenly, he was unable to move due to excruciating pain in his lower back. More tests revealed no new tumors, but degeneration in his spine and a herniated disc. As of late August 2018, he is on several pain drugs and awaiting insurance authorization for physical therapy. The immediate goal is to get him strong enough to drive to see his oncology team in Sacramento. Since he is now Stage IV sarcoma AND melanoma, there is some urgency.
Due to the recovery process of Jack's brain, his increasing risk of falling, and the extent of medication he's on, it's better Jack is not left alone too long. This makes it difficult for his spouse and caregiver, Carolyn Crane, to do simple things like run errands and engage in any healthy social activity or break. Carolyn's son Jesse has moved next door to her and Jack, and he is a great help maintaining their off-grid land and animals. A hard-working, middle-class family, they do not qualify for government assistance. Insurance is decent, but they are still paying out over a thousand a month for the monthly premium and the payments on the $5000 deductible. Who knows what surprises insurance has in store for them in 2019.