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My cancer journey began almost a year ago when I was diagnosed with a rare form of cancer called mucosal melanoma. Most people are familiar with cutaneous melanoma - skin cancer. I eventually had surgery at Mayo on August 1, 2019 where they were able to remove all of the cancer during a 7 hour surgery. By the middle of September, I was still cancer free and so was allowed to be part of a clinical trial at Mayo involving immunotherapy. We made weekly trips to Mayo for treatment through the end of November. In early December, another PET scan indicated the cancer had recurred at the surgical site, had spread to other areas and was now also in some lymph nodes. At that time I was taken off of immunotherapy and chemotherapy was begun. We were a bit surprised as we had been told from the start that this type of cancer does not respond to chemo and in fact there is no set protocol for treatment as they have yet to find anything that is effective. A PET scan in early February indicated positive results with the main tumor having shrunk along with many others areas and there was no new cancer growth. I was able to get my chemo treatments moved to Duluth in January so I was no longer having to run to Rochester every week.
The end of January, Neil brought me into the ER as I was very ill and not very coherent. My blood glucose was 675 and I was diagnosed with Type I insulin dependent diabetes which was caused by the immunotherapy drugs I had been given at Mayo. There is less then a 1% chance of this side effect happening from these drugs. Just this past week, I got my insulin pump up and running and what a gift that has been as my blood sugars have been very difficult to regulate due to the chemotherapy and the pump keeps me on a much more even keel.
A PET scan last week indicates the cancer has grown once again. This did not come as a surprise to either Neil or I as the amount of pain I had been having had increased greatly to the point where I was now taking morphine. The options I was given by the oncologist at Mayo on Friday during a phone consult were to try an oral chemo, which has a 10-20% chance of being effective or to stop all treatment at this time. I told him that I'm not quite ready to give up on everything yet and would like to consider the oral chemo. During the phone call, I did ask about radiation and whether that would ever be a possibility. He stated that because of where my cancer is located, the radiation would damage too many other organs and systems in the body. He will consult with my oncologist here in Duluth whom I expect to see this next week on Tuesday to discuss and to see if he has any other thoughts or ideas.
I continue to ask for prayers for my caregivers as being in that role is not the easiest place to be. Neil, Krissy and my Mom have been there with me every step of the way and have provided the support and encouragement so desperately needed at times. And goodness knows that my dear mother has already been down this road when she was the primary support to our brother before he died of cancer in 1977 at the age of 24. I have been amazed at times with the support I have received from so many of you. For this I thank the Lord for family and friends. My faith and trust in God has never failed me in the past and I continue to rely on it now as my main stabilizer.