Lisa Backman

First post: Jan 22, 2017 Latest post: Nov 29, 2018

In October of 2014, Lisa had a malignant mole removed that proved to be melanoma.  At the time, the closest lymph nodes were biopsied and showed no sign of any melanoma.  In Early October of 2016,  Lisa came down with the seasonal flu/cough that lasted an abnormally long time.  After antibiotics for both pneumonia and bronchitis were unsuccessful, she insisted on an x-ray of her lungs, which led to more CT scans.  Those scans came back showing a mass in the middle lobe of her right lung.  Subsequent scans the next day showed a mass above her kidneys in her retro peritoneal space (the area behind her abdominal cavity).  By mid November,  each mass had been needle biopsied but neither of the pathology reports showed conclusive results.  This was a difficult period filled with uncertainty and pain from the mass in her abdomen that had been steadily getting larger.  In early December, the mass from her lungs was removed and biopsied, confirming our suspicions that we were dealing with Stage IV Metastatic Melanoma.  Immunotherapy treatments were started  Late December and every two weeks after.  After the first few treatments, the abdominal tumor showed signs "flaring," something which is common.  Lisa started to increase her pain medications, switching from one narcotic to another, trying to manage the pain and nausea.  This continued until the end of January, when the decision was made to remove the tumor.  The surgeon prepared everyone before hand with the possibility that organs might have to be removed as part of the procedure, including the spleen, part of the pancreas, part of the colon and kidney.  Fortunately, the surgery went smoothly and no organs had to be removed.  

Around May of 2017, Lisa switched to a oral chemotherapy treatment called BRAF inhibitors.  Specifically, Mekenist and Taflinar.   These treatments worked wonderfully and gave her a good 4 months of relief before they lost effectiveness.   Around September of 2017, Lisa switched to Yervoy paired with Optivio.   Lisa responded well to the 4 Yervoy treatments and we got some good tumor shrinkage!  Lisa  continuing Optivio treatments through the summer, lasting until September of 2018.   With the effectiveness of Optivo at an end, we started looking at trial treatments at the Providence Cancer Clinic in North Portland.  Luckily, we found they had a standard treatment that looking like a good fit, radiation paired with, IL-2.  It was a very involved and intense treatment that started with two sessions of radiation and then six weeks of IL-2 infusions spread out over the next 2-3 months.  Unfortunately, after two courses, the tumor in her pelvis started to grow very quickly.   After getting a CT scan, our doctor confirmed our worst fears.  The tumor was growing too fast.  The only treatment that could work quickly enough on such a fast moving melanoma was Chemotherapy, and the odds of it working were less than 1%.  Our choice was between a half year filled with nasty side effects and treatments with a slim chance of shrinkage (not a cure, just shrinkage), or a few months of more quality time with no treatments.  We opted for quality of time and not quantity.  Ryan is now on FMLA leave from work and caring for Lisa now that she is in hospice.   

We are beyond the medical industries abilities, but not beyond God's!  We know that God can and wants to heal Lisa, and we hold onto hope that he will.  With that in mind, we travelled down to Bethel Church in Redding, CA for their Healing Room Ministry.  We received much encouragement, along with a sense of peace and a hope that healing will come.  

Thank you to everyone who has walked beside us and prayed for us!  Please continue to pray as we wait upon the Lord for healing.

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