This time last year, November 20, 2011 to be exact, my little girl Livi had been sick for over a week with a Strep/Mono combo. For several days in a row she had fevers reaching above 105... It was very scary! Since my family lives four hours away, my hubby and I have to arrange our work schedules during times like these to be able to care for our kids. I remember like it was yesterday calling my friend Brittany, who worked midnights, to see if we could trade days so I could be home during the day to take care of my sick little Livi while my hubby was at work. Thankfully she traded with me and I was set to work Sunday and Monday midnights in the ultrasound department.
I clocked into work at 6pm and began taking care of my patients. During my lunch break I received a text from my friend Joe, who is an ER nurse friend of mine also battling Melanoma. For those who don't know about Joe, let me give you a little history---Joe was diagnosed with stage 3a melanoma on his upper back with positive sentinel lymph node under his arm. Joe did the full lymph node dissection and all other nodes came back clean. In June 2011 Joe's scans revealed a lung mass and surgery confirmed it was metastatic melanoma. Joe went on to have half of his lung removed and was told he had clear scans in October 2011. Since there was no evidence of measurable disease his Dr's said there was no adjuvent chemo he could do other than interferon since his scans were clean. Now fast forward to November 20, 2011 when I received the text message from my friends Joe. The text read: "Alicia, I think it's back." I responded with "Where are you?". He responded with "The ER room 22". I responded with "I'll be right there".
When I got down to Joe's room I could see he was lethargic, sweating, and his urinal was black. He looked at me and said "I think I'm dying" "I know it's back". The next day scans confirmed our worse fears that the melanoma had invaded Joe's liver, bones, spleen, lung, and brain. Joe tested positive for the BRAF mutation and began the treatment Zelboraf. I tried to be there with my friend every day to support him, encourage him, and to just listen when he needed someone to talk to. My friend Jennifer Christie, was also on Zelboraf at the time helped us more than she will ever know while Joe was battling. My friend Joe passed away at the young age of 33 on Feb 13, 2012. Before Joe passed away I told him about the AIM at Melanoma 5K that was held Nov 17, 2012 in Charlotte NC. Joe said, "I won't make it that long, but Run for Me."
Friends as we gather together this Thanksgiving please remember Joe and pray for his family. He is missed tremendously!!! I still have his voicemails on my cell phone and I listen to them whenever I need a boost of encouragement. Please don't forget to check your skin for anything that seems new or out of the ordinary. Joe's melanoma was on his upper back and his momma told him over and over to get it checked. My first Melanoma was on my left hip during pregnancy and had I not waited over a year to get it checked mine might have been caught earlier than stage 3. Melanoma is not just skin cancer! It can and will Kill no matter what color or how old you are! Please make the call to get your skin checked with a dermatologist! Don't forget to share the love and spread the (chemical-free) lotion! Much love and God Bless Each of you!!!!
|Joe and his precious Momma|