Beating Cancer Is Expensive!!

Beating Extramedullary Plasmacytoma is an expensive, stressful and tough thing to do!

My name is Mark Pennington and I was diagnosed with Cancer in December 2013 after I had a surgery to remove what I thought to be sinus polyps to free up my breathing but actually ended up being extrameduallary plasmacytoma tumors.  I found out just 3 days after turning 43, bummer.  I went through a very difficult 5 weeks at 5 days a week of tomotherapy for a total of 25 treatments.  The picture you see was before the radiation therapy.  I lost all my facial and neck hair.  Boy did I look funny with no eyebrows.  I lost some of the hair on my lower back scalp but my ponytail covers it.  I have had long hair for 25 years now and it is a part of me so I am super glad I get to keep for now.

I just had a PET scan the end of July and it still showed some activity so I plan to go in for surgery and biopsy in October. The hypermetabolic activity could be from active tumors, the tumor dying, inflammation or infection.  It is not conclusive but this type of cancer responds very well to radiation therapy and should be dead. I have a wonderful wife of two years named Lisa who has been helping me through this.  We call ourselves Team Pennington.  I am very lucky to have great friends, a wonderful family (including the in-laws) and glad they are there to help Lisa.  Cancer care givers have a difficult job.  I had and still have so many side effects from the tomotherapy just because the area being treated in my sinus is so close to things like my eyes, salivary glands, teeth, tongue, palate, thyroid, pituitary gland, lymph nodes etc.  I lost weight but gained some of it back.  Sucked living on vitamin protein shakes.  I am looking forward to the surgery because it will not only remove the tumors and confirm their state (which should be dead from tomotherapy) but I will be able to breathe, sleep, taste and smell better.  I am lucky that the plasmacytoma was caught early and had not developed into multiple myeloma.  Plasmacytoma is not very common in a guy my age and pretty rare.  An uncommon and rare cancer for an uncommon and rare guy, I say!

I have insurance through my employer but have to pay over $6000 in co-insurance and deductibles.  The medical bill collectors want their money but this was not an event we had planned for and we are still in debt from living life and our wonderful wedding.  I am worried my credit will be affected and want to pay the money owed but have been strapped with other medical financial issues beyond the co-insurance and deductibles.  I so greatful for my insurance and do not want to walk away from my medical bills like so many do.  My job has been very understanding but I am now out of sick time which makes it hard to get to all my appointments and cannot afford to leave work without pay.

I am new to this site and really not sure how this works but I looking to alleviate some of the financial stress from our life so we can better deal with the emotional and physical stress of cancer in our lives.  I have the emotional support and a wonderful group of Drs but unfortunately I do not have the finances needed to get through this and back to our normal life.  I am lucky to have the most amazing Wife but I think she and my family are more stressed and worried than I am so I would like to do something to help out with that which is why I started a GoFundMe! 

I promise that every penny received on this site will go to the debt I owe Moffitt Cancer Center. They probably saved my life and I want them to get their money. I will be the half-million dollar man by the end of this year with all the medical bills that my medical insurance covered so the $5000 I owe is a fair amount on my part. Thank you USF College of Pharmacy for a great job and Blue Cross Blue Shield of Florida for spending a half-million dollars to get me better!

Thanks for taking the time to read this.  Mark Pennington aka Team Pennington!
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Mark Pennington 
St. Petersburg, FL
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