The particular form of GIST that I have is from a mutated gene and not caused by any outside forces, so there is nothing that I could have done to prevent it. Luckily, it is a form of cancer that does not react to regular chemotherapy. The treatment for my cancer is a pill that I take daily. I have to go to the oncologist every month for a routine check-up and to have blood drawn and a CT scan every 3 months to make sure that the medicine is working.
During my last set of scans in August 2017, it was discovered that the cancer was growing. I had multiple new tumors in my liver with the largest being 2.1 x 2.1 cm (approx. the size of a quarter). I also have two tumors that they have been watching for 3 years that both increased in size. Because of the results of those scans, I have been switched to a new chemotherapy pill. This is the 4th one that I have been on since my diagnosis. The new chemotherapy costs around $17,000 per month. Luckily, my insurance covers the cost of the pills and I only have a $35 copay for the medicine itself.
Unfortunately, GIST is a very rare type of cancer. There are 6 million cancers diagnosed every year and only 5000 of those are GIST (0.00083%). GIST is a form of Sarcoma that is a cancer that forms in the tissue and not a Carcinoma which forms in the organs (lung cancer, pancreatic cancer, etc.). Because of the rarity of the disease, there are no Susan G. Komen type of organizations for it. Here's where you come in.
Over the course of the last 3 years, the treatments and scans for my diagnosis have been adding up. With all 3 surgeries, 15 CT scans, lab costs and the co-pay at the doctor, the total cost of my medical expenses for just my cancer treatment is around $12,000 (after insurance). This does not include regular medical expenses that we have. We have been paying what we can towards these expenses, but it is getting overwhelming because everytime I have to have a scan or some extra treatment, it adds back on to what we have paid.
So I am asking you to please help if you can. You can help by donating or by sharing my page on your social media platforms (and asking your friends to share my page). Anything that we raise will go towards medical expenses (treatments, transportation to the doctors, any additional surgeries, etc.) and maintaining my health.
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- Joseph Huddleston
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