Rest in peace, Jimmy Dean Graham
September 8, 1960 - August 13, 2017
After 3 very long years of chemotherapy, radiation, and 4 surgeries, Jimmy Graham passed peacefully in his sleep on Sunday, August 13, 2017. Unfortunately Jimmy did not have any prearrangements or funding for these unforseen upcoming expenses, and any/all help is most graciously appreciated. If you are unable to give online, please contact the family directly for cash or check donations.
Even if you are unable to help financially, that is okay. Hopefully you have time to read this story in it's entirety. If you have already read Jimmy's story from the previous Go-Fund Me to help with his medical expenses, please skip to the bottom of this story, as new information has been added.
This is Katie Doebler, sister to Kristi Graham, and step-daughter to Jimmy Graham. I have created this account to help with the memorial service and cremation of Jimmy Graham, who unexpectedly passed away Sunday, August 13th, the day before his final reconstructive surgery at MD Anderson.
In August of 2014, Kristi received numerous phone calls from her dad's friends saying that he wasn't doing well. Jimmy lived in Riverside, TX and Kristi lived in Webster, TX. After a day of these phone calls, Kristi prepared for the worst, grabbed some boxes, and drove to Riverside to see her dad. Seeing him was shocking. It was obvious that Jimmy had skin cancer to the face, starting on his nose. There was already a small hole forming on his nose and she told him it was time for him to get some help. He finally agreed and they packed some of his necessities and drove back to Webster. Kristi took him to the hospital she worked at and in the ER is where her good friend, Dr. White examined him. He knew right away that Jimmy needed to see an ENT specialist which the hospital did not have. He was also diagnosed with Diabetes during this time. Jimmy was transfered by ambulance to UTMB where they began his diagnostic treatment. After numerous biopsies, scans, and blood work, our worst nightmare became a reality. Dad had 2 types of skin cancer, basal and sqamous cell carcinoma of the face. He needed surgery and treatment desperately but he did not have insurance. After a couple weeks of being in the hospital he was discharged home with little help as to assistance or what to do next. He went to live with his sister, Angie, and she was able to help get him medicaid. Once he recieved that, we filed paperwork to get him to the wonderful MD Anderson, where our mom was a patient at for more than 10 years prior. A year after his diagnosis he was finally approved to be seen and in August 2015 he had his first visit. They did more scans and more bloodwork and took their own biopsies which was extremely painful for him. Jimmy was started on chemotherapy which helped the drainage from the wound and haulted the cancer formation. We met a surgeon who said he could help us, but after more scans, a mass was found on Jimmy's right parotid gland. The surgeon gave Jimmy the option to have surgery or not due to the fact that he could have METS. After thinking about it, Jimmy said he wanted to fight. To NOT give up. He was too young (about to be 55 at the time) and so Kristi made the appointment to tell the Dr. that he wanted to move forward with the surgery. Unfortunately, that was when the bad news came. As Jimmy, Kristi, and 2 of his sisters were waiting, the doctor came in and basically said that he and "the board" decided that his surgery would not change his prognosis and that he could no longer help him. He then had a social worker come in and discuss options for hospice. We could not believe it. Jimmy and his family left there feeling devestated and hopeless.
In those next few months, Jimmy underwent some palliative surgeries to help with pain. He had all his teeth removed since they were broken and decayed and he also had the left eye removed because at this point the cancer had spread over to his left eye and cheek area, causing the eye to no longer function.
After months of researching and debating on going to another state for a second opinion, there was another Head and Neck Surgeon at MD Anderson that was willing to meet with Jimmy and give us a second opinion, Dr. Hessel, a wonderful, beautiful soul and person she is! She looked at EVERYTHING that had been done so far. She was given all the information up front. She was not worried about the other masses and came up with a surgical plan. She wanted to split the surgies up to cut down on the amount of time spent in the OR. The first surgery was scheduled to remove the right parotid mass and get better biopsies of this. This was completed without complications in early 2016. Biopsies were negative. The major surgery was hen scheduled for June 2016. A total of 4 surgeons were in on this surgery. Dr. Hessel (Head and Neck), Dr. Raza (neurosurgeon)- as the tumor eroded down to the lining of the brain behind the old eye... Dr. Hanasono (Plastic surgeon)- who would perform the skin flap portion, and Dr. Allen (optics)- to be there to make sure the only good eye was not compromised. After almost 18 hours of surgery, Jimmy was taken to the ICU where he would stay overnight, on a ventilator. Kristi was the first one out of numerous family members, to see him. The ugly cancer was no longer visable. There was now healthy skin over the huge hole that took over his face! After a couple weeks in the ICU, Jimmy was moved to the regular head and neck floor, and after a couple more weeks, he started doing more PT and was able to walk around the unit. (He had a hard time since they took a lot of muscle and tissue off of the right leg).
He was sent home soon after that and had some stuggles along the way. He fell about 3 times within 2 weeks of being discharged. After healing, we were back at MD Anderson for follow ups and next course of action. Radiation was next, 6 weeks straight, Monday through Friday. This was extremely difficult for him and his family, as he could no longer drive. But with much help he never missed an appointment! He rang the bell on September 8th (his birthday) after completing his last session of radiation.
Unfortunately, the radiation took a toll on the beautiful flap that once covered the hole in his face. The flap completely disintegrated. The hole returned, larger this time and took half of the upper lip and also part of his upper palate. Jimmy needed surgery to fix this defect so he can live as close to a normal life as possible without people starring. He could not receive a prosthetic nose or his dentures until this surgery is complete.
***The surgery was set for August 14, 2017 and everyone was more than excited, including Jimmy. Many people had made plans to be up at MD Anderson through all or part of the surgery, to support both Jimmy and Kristi, who had been his primary caretaker through all of this.
While checking up on Jimmy the day before his surgery, Kristi became worried that he was not returning her text messages or phone calls. She went to physcially check on him Sunday evening and found him sleeping in the hands of the ultimate healer. With a beautiful new face, we know he is pain free in Heaven with a fishing pole in one hand and a Mountain Dew in the other.
If you are still reading, first of all, thank you. As of today, August 19th, Kristi and her family are making arrangements for a memorial service, based on Jimmy's wishes before his untimely death. Any and all help is most graciously appreciated, as Jimmy did not have any prearrangements or funding for these unforseen upcoming expenses.
It is with great sorrow and gratitude that we accept your donations. God bless and best wishes,
The family of Jimmy Dean Graham
- Janice Faulk
- Patricia Nolley
- Michael and Brenda Helton
- Rosa Perkins
- Betty and Nathan Timm