Austin Ellerbusch is my oldest grandson (27). In 2006, Austin had a mole removed that turned out to be Malignant Melanoma. Austin had a follow up surgery to remove a larger area around the site and a Sentinel Lymph Biopsy as well as a CAT scan. He was declared cancer free!!
Almost 10 years later in July of 2016 Austin discovered an enlarged lymph node under his right arm. After a biopsy and MRI the results came back that Austin had Metastatic Melanoma. (Stage III) In September Austin had all the lymph nodes under his right arm removed to combat this diagnosis. At the follow up with the Surgeon it was discovered that the Melanoma had spread at the surgical site. A follow up surgery removed a larger area and the results from the next PET scan showed that there was no evidence of disease. Because of Austin's history with Melanoma his Doctors at Mayo decided that a daily course of Radiation, for 4 weeks was recommended. Radiation caused burns and extreme fatigue, but he finished his 4 week course and successfully rang the bell.
February 2017 he started Immunotherapy called Yervoy which was supposed to continue monthly for a year. In the following weeks Austin developed a chronic cough, fever, night sweats and fatigue. Tests confirmed that the Melanoma had spread to his lungs and liver and he is now Stage IV. Because the cancer had spread so quickly the Doctors decided to stop the Immunotherapy and start a more aggressive treatment using a combination of daily drugs (Zelbroaf and Cotellic).
Every 3 months Austin would have lab work and either a PET scan or CAT scan and a consult with his Oncologist. For almost 2 years this daily chemo treatment schedule had kept Austin's cancer under control. Austin's scans in November 2018 showed that once again Melanoma had reared it's ugly head and had mutated and chemo was no longer effective. His Oncologist suggested a new infusion treatment (Yervoy/Ipilimumab and Opdivo/Nivolumab) every 3 weeks for 3 months. These infusions started the end of December 2018. The goal was that these infusions would get Austin into remission, but instead his cancer had spread.
He will continue the Yervoy/Ipilimumab infusions every 4 weeks while his Doctors look into other treatment options and/or clinical trials. Under the advice of his Doctors Austin has quit his job and is focusing on his health. Austin has applied for disability benefits. Unfortunately, he will not be eligible for 6 months. Even though Austin lives a pretty humble life style his living expenses added to his insurance and medical costs are overwhelming!!