Dec 16, 2021 Latest post:
Oct 28, 2022
My name is Joshua Rast and I have Stage IV Melanoma cancer.
For those unfamiliar with my story, here is a summary:
I am 33 years old, married to my amazing wife, Lindsay, and we have three beautiful kids: Oliver - age 6, Katelyn - age 3, and Emmett - 7 weeks. We live in the Bozeman, MT area.
I was originally diagnosed with stage 1B melanoma in January of 2014, just two and a half years into our marriage. I had surgery to remove a mole on my neck and then another to remove a large margin around the mole, a sentinel lymph node biopsy, and a skin graft. After surgery, we were told there was only about a 2% chance it would come back.
In April of 2016, it appeared again in a lymph node. We began to do a bunch of research into fighting melanoma and cancer in general. We adopted a vegan diet (even though I am very much a meat and potatoes guy at heart) in order to boost my immune system the best we could. Melanoma does not respond well to conventional treatment methods so we were looking for every alternative option possible.
In October of 2016, I travelled with my dad to the Global Virotherapy Cancer Clinic in Jurmala, Latvia to receive a Rigvir treatment, which is a virus that hunts down cancer cells. We are still so thankful to our community for coming alongside us during that time to raise all the funds needed for that trip and for covering us in prayer. We very much believe that the combination of our radical diet change and these other alternative treatments are largely to thank for slowing down the progression of the cancer so significantly.
In 2018, there were numerous tumors in my liver, porta-hepatis region, and spleen. I was put on immunotherapy treatments that I am continuing presently. Initially, I had a great response while on the immunotherapy. The tumors in my liver disappeared in the first six months. The two larger tumors in the porta-hepatis area have remained stable and at a similar size.
The tumor in my spleen, however, has continued to grow slowly.
Getting More Serious
The 5 year survival rate for Stage IV Melanoma with modern immunotherapies that I have been on is about 42%.
I have been extremely grateful that for the last 7 years since my initial diagnosis, I have been largely symptom free and have continued to work and live life normally despite a couple uncomfortable side effects from the immunotherapy.
Unfortunately, now the tumor in my spleen is about the size of a softball.
It has begun causing some serious pain in my abdomen recently that has severely impacted my quality of life when it flares up. My oncologists have indicated the conventional standards of treatment are not adequately addressing the spleen tumor and we need to look at other options. While removing my whole spleen is possible, that is what we want to reserve for our last option. Without a spleen I would still have a large amount of cancer in my body but no longer have one the most important immune organs in my body to fight that cancer or any other infection or illness that may come my way.
We have looked at some clinical trials, but none of them seem very compelling. There is very little data on whether a drug trial will be effective, and (like any treatment) they come with a long list of side effects. That is why we recently decided to look into Hope for Cancer Clinics in Mexico. This is a treatment option we've been aware of for several years, but have been avoiding due to cost and logistics.
Hope for Cancer
In September of 2021 I did 3 weeks of cancer therapy at Hope for Cancer, a treatment center in Mexico. Hope for Cancer specializes in non-toxic therapies. I received over a dozen treatments and evaluations. These treatments not only kill the cancer cells, but optimize the immune system and overall health so one's own immune system can better kill and clear out the cancer cells. Speaking to one of the doctors about treatment at the clinic, he shared that their Stage IV Melanoma survival rates are 82%, which is nearly double that of conventional treatment in the USA.
Many of these treatments I have continued to do at home. I will have a 3 month follow up appointment in January 2022, and then another appointment 3- months later.
I have a lot to live for and hope and pray that I will still be around for all three of my children as they grow up. While we hope and pray that this treatment will help kill my cancer and increase my quality of life, we recognize that healing can only come from God. We continue to pray that God will heal my body and use my story for His glory.
We are so thankful for our community spread throughout the country and the world. We have been blessed in many different ways throughout this journey and we know God has been and will continue to be faithful.