Joe Howard

It all began the week of Thanksgiving 2018. Joe was having pains and was uncomfortable from them. Which is a lot for him to say something because he has a high pain tolerance. He went to the walk-in clinic where they thought he may be having a heart attack and was told to go to the hospital. The hospital found nothing wrong with his heart and sent him on his way. For months the pain continued and continued to get worse to the point of bringing him to tears. Joe and I have been married 14 years and I have only seen him cry maybe twice up until now, due to the severe pain. I knew something was wrong but no doctors could tell anything more then back issues. He tried physical therapy which made the pain worse, so he stopped going. We have visited the ER more times then I can count. Joe received horrible treatment at a local hospital by our house so we decided to venture to another hospital hoping to get a diagnosis.
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The diagnosis Joe received on March 1, 2019 would change our family’s lives forever. He was diagnosed with Acute Lymphoblastic Lymphoma. He would receive a month’s worth of induction chemo when yet another diagnosis was received. The last chemo treatment Joe received out of his 31 day induction chemo had given him hepatitis. How could this be possible, yet it was one of the rare side effects of the chemo. It took him a month to recover from the hepatitis and repair his liver. Joe went into remission and at this point he was able to start his consolidation chemo to make sure the cancer stayed away. Unfortunately Joe started to have worse pains just like when he was first diagnosed with cancer. Since the consolidation chemo was delayed due to the hepatitis he received from the chemo he was no longer in remission.

Joe was diagnosed again with Acute Lymphoblastic Lymphoma on June 21, 2019. It was devastating to tell him twice in a short 4 months that he had cancer. It had been the hardest times of our lives. He has had many, many, many hospital stays which usually lasted at least a week each time. Joe started induction chemo again on June 29, 2019, he received 3 days of chemo and then was released on July 2, 2019. He was fine for a couple of days but on July 6, 2019 the pain returned. Joe was admitted again to the hospital on July 8, 2019. Little did we know that the lymphoma would be put on the back burner in 5 days due to a life threatening illness.

Joe was set to be released from the hospital on Friday July 12, 2019 but right before he was released he spiked a fever. This fever continued over the weekend and into Monday July 15, 2019. The oncology doctor was worried about the fever and that no antibiotics were helping him. They consulted with the ICU ARNP and doctor to see if it was necessary to transport him there for closer evaluation. The ICU team decided it was best for him to move floors to be closer watched. Joe was put on oxygen while in ICU. Unfortunately his fever and breathing did not improve. The ICU doctor advised Joe and I on July 16, 2019 (our 14 year wedding anniversary) that he would need to be put on a ventilator to help him breath better for a couple of days. During the ventilator procedure things went wrong and they could not get him on the ventilator machine because it was not giving him all the oxygen he required.

The doctors quickly found out Joe had contracted Legionnaires' disease. He required emergency surgery to be put on life support via ECMO. This was the most devastating news our family had received. I called Joe’s mother and sister to let them know what was going on and did not know if Joe would make it out of surgery. By the grace of God Joe made it out of surgery and has been on life support since July 16, 2019. When Joe was diagnosed with cancer we thought this would be the toughest times in our lives, but were we wrong. Joe has had many scares while on ECMO, the nurses and the doctors in ICU have been nothing short of amazing. They are doing everything they can to keep Joe alive and help him heal his body. They are telling us it will be a long slow road to recovery. They are not able to tell us if he will make a full recovery or not. Only time will tell, he has been having to have a bronchoscopy procedure almost every other day to remove blood clots from his lungs.

I have been at his bed side every day along with his mother. Unfortunately due to being at Joe’s bedside, I am unable to work and it is unpaid leave from my job.  It has been a roller coaster of emotions for everyone in the family. We have received an out pouring of love and support from family and friends, it is greatly appreciated. Our children Connor (13) and Avery (7) have been put through so much in the past 7 months because of their father’s health. They have a superficial understand of what is going on with their father right now. Any help is appreciated to help with all expenses that are piling up.
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  • Alma Gonzalez 
    • $50 
    • 3 mos
  • Linda and ray Spolarich  
    • $100 
    • 3 mos
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    • 3 mos
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    • 3 mos
  • FRANK LACEY 
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Organizer

Erin Howard 
Organizer
Wesley Chapel, FL
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