Kerry Severson

First post: Jul 10, 2020 Latest post: May 6, 2021
Welcome to our CaringBridge website. 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. 

Our purpose in sharing this site with you is for those who love and care for Kerry to be able to keep up on what is happening with him. We know some people feel uncomfortable asking so here is his story.  You can check updates as you like. 

Kerry found a lump on the right side of his neck in June of 2019 while on a work trip.  After it did not go away for over the weekend  we got it checked out since it seemed suspicious. Through diagnostic testing, then biopsy we found out the lump was metastatic cancer to the lymph nodes in his neck.  He was diagnosed with Oropharyngeal Squamous Cell Carcinoma (OPSCC) on July 1, 2019.  His PET scan showed that the original cancer site may be his tonsils. He underwent a tonsillectomy which was very painful as an adult.  The biopsy of the removed tonsils did not reveal cancer so "of unknown primary origin" was added to the long OPSCC diagnosis. He was given a treatment plan of 6 weeks of radiation and chemo. Kerry  planned to continue working through his treatment and had 2 trips back to back of travel to do in the upcoming weeks. The doctors felt it was fine for him to wait to start chemo and radiation for those 2 weeks while he completed his travel and could be working from home for 6 weeks. Unfortunately, the affected lymph nodes grew larger with each flight. What started out as a quarter-sized lump, ended up the size of a large avocado on his neck. 

 We started treatment at our local hospital St. Jude but then decided to get a second opinion given the size of the tumor. We chose City of Hope (COH) which is the highest ranked cancer hospital in the west and only about 40 minutes away.  We felt instantly confident in their approach and doctors and transferred care there. Kerry  was told surgery was not an option due to the size of the tumor. We were told the success rate with chemo and radiation was very high, up to 95% effective.  Surgery may not be needed at any point.  Kerry went through the daily radiation and the 3 double-dosed chemo sessions for 6-weeks like a champ and completed his treatment.  His strong body withstood it well, although he had plenty of side effects from the chemo that still linger. The mass on his neck shrank day by day after radiation finished....until it stopped shrinking.  It reached a point in December that Kerry could feel it was slowly growing again. The ENT surgeon at COH decided that there was no time to wait to see if the radiation would continue to work. It was a small window to get the cancer out, so he was scheduled for surgery to remove the remaining mass. 

Two weeks before Christmas 12/12 2019, Kerry underwent a radical neck dissection to remove the mass/ lymph nodes in the neck with chest flap. The surgeon obtained clean margins but had to cut the spinal accessory nerve that controls his trapezius muscle. It left Kerry with limitations to the use of his right arm, like raising it up over his head laterally, or throwing overhead. The cancer had spread into the muscle in his neck along with peri-neural invasion which means the cancer surrounded the area around the nerves. The surgeon did a wonderful job with creating a muscle flap from Kerry's pectoral muscle to create protection for his carotid artery. Outside of a fainting spell or two in the hospital, his surgery and recovery went well. He again showed his mental and physical strength in overcoming this awful disease. Kerry did all his physical therapy and transitioned to home exercise to get his arm, neck and trapezius muscle strong again.   

In late February, Kerry felt pain in his left groin. He thought he may have pulled a groin muscle. With all he had been through, we called the doctors to run it by them just in case. He had his 3 month PET scan already scheduled, so the doctor moved it up a few weeks just to be sure all was good.   We were shocked and saddened to hear Kerry 's pain in his groin was referred pain from bone metastasis. The PET scan also revealed right lung metastasis. His cancer is very aggressive. He had a short course of radiation for pain relief to the left hip area for the bone cancer and was enrolled in a 2 year clinical trial of immunotherapy and a trial drug as compassionate care.  Per the doctors, since he previoulsy failed chemotherapy,  this was the treatment of choice. Kerry had a very negative reaction to the trial drug injections. He had 2 rounds of treatment, then by protocol had repeat CT scan. The CT scan  showed the cancer growing and spreading with metastasis to the left lung,  adrenal gland and kidneys, liver, lymph nodes in the chest and the bone around his left hip. The clinical trial was discontinued.

Within a year. Kerry is now battling stage IV cancer. He fights wholeheartedly daily for his life, and our family with a positive attitude, prayer and compliance to his treatment plan. Kerry is now undergoing chemotherapy with 2 drugs,  as well as immunotherapy every 3 weeks  for 6 rounds. 

Your prayers are welcome for his complete healing and decreased pain! Kerry is a proud, gentle, strong and amazing man. He doesn't complain and pushes through to do his best daily to be there for others, including his job. 

We are Christians and put our full faith in Jesus Christ to help us fight this battle.  God is our way maker, miracle worker, promise keeper and light in the darkness! 

Kerry loves catching up with people when he is up to it, so please don't be shy to leave a message or give him a call. 

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