As most of you know, our family is in the midst of a very difficult time right now. We have come to a place where we realize we will be needing a little more help than we had anticipated when Rich was first diagnosed with cancer last year. For those of you who don’t know our story, we’ve outlined it a bit below.
In October 2019, Rich was diagnosed with Stage 3b Merkel Cell Carcinoma. It is a very rare and aggressive form of skin cancer. We soon found that most of the hospitals in our area have barely treated it because it is so rare. This combined with the lack of scientific research available on this type of cancer has created its own complications in getting the right care for it.
As you can imagine, the diagnosis alone shook our family to the core. After all, we are only in our 30s and recently started a family. Needless to say, we have spent much of the last year learning as much as we possibly can about this disease and traveling to seek the best care in an effort to save his life.
Those efforts have taken us down some long and scary roads of treatments and side-effects. That said, we’ve tried to claim as many great days on this journey as we can and we are so grateful for the access to care and support we’ve been given along the way.
After his initial treatments, Rich had some scans that showed no evidence of cancer. We celebrated. Unfortunately, our celebration was short-lived because, in July of this year, we got confirmation the cancer had not only returned but also progressed rapidly and spread throughout his body. According to his last scans, his cancer had spread throughout his leg and was now also on his spine, liver, and hip bone. He is now Stage 4.
This required emergency treatment to his spine to prevent imminent paralysis along with multiple systemic treatments to try and slow the cancer’s progress while we searched for more clinical options. It has been a long, bumpy road but we believe that miracles can happen.
So we reached out to the most well-known Merkel Cell Carcinoma specialist in the U.S. who agreed to partner with our team at Dana Farber. This connection opened the door to a potential clinical trial in Washington.
While this opportunity is very exciting, we have a lot to do before this can happen. He has already completed phase 1 of testing and will need to fly out to Seattle again next week for phase 2. If that goes well and he is accepted into the trial, he must return to Seattle by November 8th with a caregiver and stay there until mid-December. We can't do it alone between flights, housing, medical, and living expenses for him and a caregiver.
It adds to an already tremendous financial stress on our family and is where we can use more help. For those who can and choose to give financially, we are so grateful. But please know, we are also grateful for those who choose to pray for and love up on our family.
Throughout this journey, we’ve been blessed with so much love, support, prayers, time, thoughts, meals, calls, texts, mysterious drop-offs, cards, and gifts of all kinds. This has meant the world to our family and has carried us through each day.
We love your love! ❤️
The Christian Family
Merkel Cell Information:
- Veaceslav/Inna Falceanu
- Frank Bogdanovich
- Alla Jawarish
- Candice Coleridge