Our amazing friend Cameron, after returning from an adventurous family vacation in November of 2016, began experiencing abdominal pain. As the pain became more pronounced and his concern grew, Cameron ultimately sought medical care. Following an ultrasound and an immediate CT scan, it was clear that Cam had cancer. Initially diagnosed as stage 4 colon cancer that had metastasized to the liver and possibly the surrounding lymph nodes, Cameron, Lisa and family were absolutely blown away with this news. Those of us who know Cam and Lisa weren't at all surprised to see them jump into "charge it" mode ready to fight it out with this cancer.
As news traveled and friends and family became aware, the outpouring of love and support for Cameron, Lisa and their children was tremendous. To hear it from them, "it was the positive vibes and support of loved ones and the success stories shared that buoyed us and we felt some hope that we could make it to the other side of this disease.... that we would buckle down, one step at a time to get through an expected hellish year." But within days, Cameron spiked a fever bringing him urgently to the ER at Cottage Hospital. He was admitted for several tests, including another round of ultrasound, CT, and PET scans. They were also trying to determine the origin of the infection. In the meantime, the liver biopsy results came in and revealed that Cam has a rare neuroendocrine cancer (Stage 4, Grade 3). Hit with this latest news, Cam and Lisa were rocked with shock and fear as they found themselves facing much more of an unknown.
Neuroendocrine is an aggressive form of cancer that is much less understood. As such, a new strategy was required and it was decided that a more intensive and primitive chemotherapy that zaps the whole system instead of the specific cancer cells would be used. Beginning just before Christmas of 2016 and for several months into 2017, Cameron underwent chemo treatments. We saw his hair go as expected, his weight, appetite and energy levels decrease and his fair Scottish/Irish complexion become even paler. Yet through all this, Cameron experienced positive results and the tumors in his colon and liver decreased in size until scan after scan led to the ultimate shout of "Remission" just before summer kicked off! Energy levels rose, hikes through the hills of Santa Barbara that Cam so treasured became easier and summer adventures with Lisa, Josh and Ella happened.
But then in October the news came that Cam and all of us supporting him dreaded, the cancer had returned and now appeared to be in his skin. It was determined that the chemo cocktail used previously would not be effective and a search for alternative approaches began. Cam and Lisa travelled and met with specialists in San Francisco and Los Angeles in hopes of finding a new way to do battle, whether through drug trials, immunotherapy or some other approach. After initial frustrations, Dr. Gupta, Cameron's amazing Oncologist in Santa Barbara, was able to overcome his insurance companies refusal to cover immunotherapy and get the drug company to agree to provide a year's worth. Encouraged by this development, Cam subsequently was approved to be a participant in a UCLA drug trial and decided to hold off on the immunotherapy and proceed with the trial. After much testing and regular trips down to UCLA, Cam completed round one of the trial in December and initial results were very positive. Round two was set for just after the first of the year, but unfortunate bouts with a chest cold and shortness of breath have led to delays.
So this brings us to the present, and the reality that we are now in a new year and that Cam and Lisa are facing a prolonged fight. All of us who know and love Cameron are aware of the pride, determination, selflessness and compassion he so embodies. Whether for his family, friends, community or planet, Cameron's love, support and wisdom are endless.
As some of his long time college buddies fortunate to remain close friends over the years, we feel compelled to do all we can to support Cameron and Lisa in their fight against this disease. Their out-of-pocket health insurance deductible for 2018 was increased to $7500. Our aim with this campaign is to raise the money to relieve them of this burden, giving them one less hurdle to overcome. Consequently, it will provide Cam piece of mind to incorporate more of the acupuncture, massage and holistic services he's benefitting from, but are typically out-of-pocket expenses not covered by health insurance. Please join us by contributing anything you can towards this goal. Peace.
- Diane Murphy
- Nancy Samson
- Tanya Gulesserian
- Alan and Karen Dixon
- Mary Beth DeNiro
Organizer and beneficiary
San Clemente, CA