James and Michelle will celebrate 13 beautiful years of marriage this October.
"Our love is strong and unwavering, and although this is the biggest test anyone could ever imagine, we will overcome this ugly thing called cancer. We are resilient but now more than ever we need help."
Here is their story....
James was first diagnosed with Leukemia in 2008. He received chemotherapy and in 2010 he was officially in remission.
In 2014 his remission ended, they learned that the cancer had mutated into a more aggressive form of leukemia. In addition, he was diagnosed with bone marrow cancer. When these two cancers surface it is called Multiple Myeloma.
Unfortunately, the chemo treatment that worked so well the first time could not be used again, which left him with two options… a bone marrow transplant or a new drug that had just been approved by the FDA. Although it had very little trial history, it was the least invasive treatment.
He was on this medicine for a year and was working, but the side effects took a toll on him; extreme bone pain, fatigue, swelling of joints, muscle failure, sleep issues, frequent infections and fevers, and the list goes on. Through all this, he stayed strong and had a positive attitude.. always pushing himself to go to work, even when the pain was debilitating.
A new medicine, still in experimental stage, was the next thing to try. It worked for alittle while, but it also had harsh side effects.
The missed work days, trips to the hospital, multiple doctors he has had to see, and the added stress and expense of another condition being caused by the drug had us at the end of our rope.
In December of 2016, after much discussion with his doctors, the only remaining option was a bone marrow transplant.
The search for a donor was on, and a few months later a match was found. They learned that he would need to live in Denver within a few miles from the hospital, for a few months after he was released from the hospital. The transplant date was set, but just before he was to be admitted to the hospital, the doctors found a large mass in his abdomen… more tests, more waiting… the mass would create some challenges, but again the team of doctors decided to only delay for a few weeks. On June 1st james was admitted to St. Lukes in Denver and began the process… chemo and radiation then the transplant. He was in the hospital for over a month as he experienced a few set backs.
"We expected this to be a difficult and long process, but have always had faith and hope that the transplant would work… however neither of us could have ever imagined just how hard it would be in every possible aspect of our lives… physically, mentally and financially.
We took a big hit financially as he stopped working and then I took an extended leave of absence to care for James in Denver and our life in Colorado Springs. So we went from two incomes to almost no income in a very short period of time, but the medical expenses, prescriptions, living in two cities, and other bills have continued.
We are fortunate to have a great support system through family and friends… very grateful, very appreciative and know we are blessed to have them.
But the struggle is very real, very scary, and is going to continue for a long time… we have exhausted all financial resources and really don’t know how we are going to get through this other than sheer faith!"
- Clifford Fraipont
- Shannon Lasco
- MATES#64 DD/GT/BC
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