Put a Cork in Cancer for Corcorans

"No significant learning comes without a significant relationship." -Dr. James Corner

On April 10, 2017 changes began to happen in Chris and Carin's lives. Chris was sent for a CAT scan and a mass was found on his kidney.  After a few different visits they met with an urologist at Miriam hospital.  He was amazing and able to walk them through many pieces.  There is no cure for kidney cancer.  Even before the surgery was done they knew this was kidney cancer.  Chris had a PET Scan done and this showed that there were also nodes on his lungs.  They were not sure if these were cancerous, but wanted him to go for treatment after the kidney was removed.

On May 4, 2017, Chris under went surgery and had his kidney removed.  When they removed the kidney and tumor it was over 7 pounds and was as hard as a rock.  The surgeon noted that if they had waited any longer that he would not have been able to do the surgery.  They had to call in a few different doctors because it was hitting against the aorta.  After surgery he had many issues with IV’s and also had a pulmonary embolism. 

When he was discharged they were told that he needed to walk a lot and to be sure to exercise daily.  While going through the healing process Carin and Chris met with an oncologist at Miriam who went through their options.  A few weeks later during one of their walks, Chris' knee was bothering him and they thought it was just that he overextended himself.  The next day he went to the doctor to get checked.  There was a lesion on his tibia. They casted his leg from hip to toe and told him no weight bearing on that leg.  

The Corcorans went to an orthopedic oncologist at RIH and had a horrible experience.  They then decided to go up to Dana Farber and Brigham and Women’s to see what they could do.  After going there, they felt so much better about things.  The biggest thing was the cancer in his leg was so far along that the best choice was amputation.  Of course, they were told to try the medication regimen that was put in place for him at Miriam because they could not do a trial with him until the leg was all set and he was six months clear of the pulmonary embolism.  

Chris started the Cabometyx medication to help with the cancer and to try to confine it.  While on the medication there have been many side effects.  The Corcorans adapted their home to the best of their ability.  Considering he would never have two fully functioning legs again a few things like a shower seat and railings that were a bit permanent had to be put in place.  While undergoing this medication the CAT scans showed some improvements, which was great.  They did notice another lesion on his hip and he had 10 days of radiation to encapsulate the tumor.  Since this impacted his right leg, he was not able to drive. Thankfully family and friends were able to help so that Carin could work and Chris could make appointments.  

Chris stayed on the medication up until 2 weeks before the amputation surgery in November.  The medication did it’s job and 2 nodes are now gone.  One node is still there.  He had a filter put in to avoid any other blood clots.  He had amputation surgery and then went to rehab.  Overall it was about 3 ½ weeks of being in Boston for the both of them to get Chris the best treatment possible.  Upon coming home Chris had therapy services at home for physical and occupational therapy as well as a home nurse.  Many appointments with prosthetists, physiatrists, oncologists, general practitioners, and so on have him on a plan to move forward.  He received his prosthesis on January 3 and has been working through it. Things have gone very smoothly.  He is a rockstar!

On top of all of this physical and emotional disruption , what they did not know was the extreme costs that this would entail. Out of pocket expense for this is $3,500 for the preparatory prosthesis (which is for 4-6 months) and $12000-$16000 for the definitive prosthesis (which lasts 3-5 years). Bills are really beginning to pile up. 

Progress is being made for Chris physically in so many ways.  He has started up the Cabometyx again, he is learning to walk again, he is setting up lessons to learn to drive again, and so many firsts are coming forward. These all come at a cost, but no cost can be put on the life that he has right now thanks to amazing doctors.  He is out of work until May or June.  His TDI payments have stopped.  Modifications need to be made to the vehicles and to their home.  Chris has physical therapy 2x a week and the medication is costly. 

If you are lucky enough to know Carin Corcoran, you know just how significant your relationship is. An invested teacher and coach who gives her all to every student. The most amazing and thoughtful friend. A sister, aunt and daughter who loves her memories with her awesome family. And a wife who is part of a Superhero Duo, with her husband Chris, facing it all head on right now, yet never losing her smile and optimism. One time Carin made a joke saying that my daughter, one of her past students, will not even remember her when she is in high school. I don't think Carin realizes the monumental impact she has on people and that these relationships are unforgettable.

The Corcorans are so thankful for all that has been done to support them so far and feel blessed to have so many caring people around them. They have many medical bills to pay and more coming in as this road is going to be happening for the rest of Chris' life. Let us help them continue their journey to health and happiness without financial burden!
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Erin McKeen 
Exeter, RI

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