Here’s a condensed overview of what the last two years has been like for this family.
In August 2015, just as their son Jackson was turning 1, Josh was diagnosed with head & neck cancer, impacting the tongue. He had a surgery in September 2015, to remove the tumor on his tongue, as they tried to reconstruct the tongue, Josh had a blood clot which put him back into surgery, and was only able to keep about 1/3 of his tongue. A few weeks after surgery he began a series of radiation treatments.
In February 2016, as Josh was getting ready for his 6 month check-up he felt a lump on the left side of his neck. After the CT scans, it showed that his cancer had spread. This time on the left side down to his collar bone. This sent him in for another surgery, where they removed an excessive amount of tumors. Following the surgery, more radiation treatments were done.
Another 6 months later, we are at August 2016, when Josh went in for his follow up they found that his cancer has spread to his left lung. After undergoing all this, Josh had no choice but to retire from the U.S. Army after serving for 14 years. They moved to Tucson in October 2016 to be closer to family and to start additional treatments.
In February 2017, he had undergone some treatment that was working and he started feeling well again, however after a few months that drug stopped reacting to his current treatment and he was on the search for another clinical trial.
In July 2017, Josh began a clinical trial that needed to be taken orally, however it came to a point that Josh was having more difficulty swallowing. He saved his swallows for his pills only, which caused him to drop down to 100 pounds. He knew he was getting weaker and if he kept this up, he would die for sure.
In August 2017, he went into the hospital to have a peg tube placed. During this procedure, which seemed routine, Josh went into respiratory arrest and coded on the table, which he responded to treatment and was placed in ICU. During his stay, he had other obstacles to overcome, the Peg tube was placed, however he has had so much radiation and chemo damage to his airway, he needed to have a tracheostomy placed, then the left lung had developed so much fluid, he had to have a pleural catheter placed to remove the fluid as it built up. After 4 weeks in the hospital, he was sent home. Since his oxygen level was high, he had to be medically transported but that didn’t impact Josh’s attitude and personality, he texted me that night and said “he was taking the ‘red eye’ out of Banner”, because he finally arrived at home about 11:00 pm. He was so happy to be home with his family, however a week later, he was back into the emergency room.
Here we are now in September 2017, Josh has been in the hospital for a week now, dealing with his compromised lungs. After the readings of the CT’s and MRIs, we learned that the tumor on his T-6 vertebrae has caused a compression fracture to his spine, which is protruding close to his spinal cord. If not fixed, Josh could be paralyzed. After weighing his options, he will go forward with this high risk surgery. However, after surgery, there is a plan for more radiation treatments to the spine followed by more chemo treatments and hopefully, if God willing a new drug.
This young family has gone through so much while keeping a positive attitude through the entire journey of this ugly disease. Even in his hardest moments, he will always make you feel important and loved. Cancer may have turned our lives upside down, but we persevere because for now, having the opportunity to live each day with him is one way to beat cancer.
- Diversified Design & Construction
- Carmen Copp
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