In October of 2013, my mom, Melanie Cox, was diagnosed with Papillary Serous Carcinoma, an aggressive, less common endometrial cancer. In the following months, she went through a total hysterectomy and six rounds of chemo, completing the final round the day after her 60th birthday. For three and a half years, she has had negative CT scans with the only indication that anything was amiss from a blood test, called the Oncoblot, that her integrative physicians had her do. The Oncoblot reveals malignant cells that have a specific protein on their surface. Unfortunately, it has been positive for three years, so even though conventional medicine said she was fine and had no clinical signs, the possibility of this disease returning has been a looming gray cloud over her initial triumph.
After almost three months of research, phone consultations, numerous physicals and blood work, and appointments with four different oncologists in Austin, Dallas, MD Anderson in Houston, and St. Paul, MN, she chose her course of action. The three conservative doctors advised she have surgery to remove the cyst and undergo the same chemotherapy as before. My mom is not interested in doing the same plan as before since she has lost faith in that combination. Each physician told my mom that she did "very well" considering she made it this long without recurrence. She doesn’t care to do this again.
Melanie will travel to MD Anderson in Houston and stay with assorted friends and family for six weeks, only coming home on weekends, to receive IMRT five days a week and low-dose chemo once a week. IMRT stands for Intensity Modulated Radiation Therapy and it is a much more targeted, less immune destroying type of therapy. She had to self-advocate for this type of radiation, but it is an easy choice for her as it involves much less collateral damage, will be done by a team of gynecological oncology radiologists who do this every day, and the chances are much greater that this therapy will kill the cancer cells, instead of merely delaying the next time she has to have treatment.
My mom, a massage therapist, and my father, an army veteran and residential contractor, have both been successfully self-employed for thirty years. Since 2013, not only has my mom undergone her own treatments and regimens to remain healthy, she has been a supportive and loving wife as my dad has managed four long years of pain that began with a fracture to his heel on a jobsite in early 2013, followed by two surgeries, dermatitis, three angioplasties, weekly debridements, and a stroke that put him in the ICU. As he continues to rely on crutches for mobility and daily dressing and care for his heel wound, she assists him throughout his morning and evening routine, as well as joining him for most of his weekly Thursday appointments at the VA as his pain level after debridement is typically too high to safely drive alone.
Between the two them, out-of-pocket medical expenses have surpassed $100,000 and is on it’s way to $125,000-150,000. Through this rough patch in life, they have both held their heads high and pushed on through work, weddings, loss of her own mother, and the birth of their first grandbaby (and soon a second). We all know that time doesn’t stop for anyone. Life continues through the good and the bad. I desperately want my mom to still be around for not only my twelve-month-old son’s preschool graduation in three years, but his college graduation in twenty-one.
Any size donation would be a huge help to the financial burden my parents continue to endure from medical treatments, travel expenses, and wage loss. A monetary contribution is only one of several ways my folks could use some support. I’ve set up a Care Calendar for dinner delivery once a week during chemo so she doesn’t have to cook on the only two days she’ll be home, and then twice weekly for about a month after as she regains her energy and routine. If you’d like to participate, click here and use the security code 2273.
Additionally, if you’d like to follow her journey, she will be setting up a blog. I will update with a link as soon as it’s up and running.
Thank you to everyone for supporting this campaign whether through donation, shares on social media, or sending prayers and kind words. We appreciate it all!
“You may have to fight a battle more than once to win it.” - Margaret Thatcher
Arielle Ties and the rest of Team Melanie
- Sally Gravenor
- Melinda Winn
- Eric Broberg
- Susan Richardson
Organizer and beneficiary
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