Mike's Stage IV Cancer Battle

On September 3, 2015, Mike was taken to the ER with severe abdominal pain. He had an acute appendicitis. Surgery was scheduled, his appendix was removed and he was sent home to heal from what we thought was a routine medical diagnosis. 


Mike had been home for just over two weeks when he received a phone call from the surgeon who had removed his appendix. They had gotten the results from the pathology test and needed Mike to come in to the office so we could discuss it. 
We waited a long and tense weekend and on Tuesday, September 22nd at 10am we found ourselves sitting in a room with the surgeon as he told us that they found a small mass at the staple line but that the results weren't conclusive so the sample had been sent to John's Hopkins for a second opinion.  
It was one of two things; it was either a carcinoid which could be relatively easily removed and was sometimes even harmless or it was a mucinous carcinoma, which was an entirely different ballgame. 
The latter type of cancer spreads quickly and does not respond well to chemotherapy or radiation. If it can be surgically removed in the colon, there is a chance but if it spreads into surrounding tissue, options become very limited.
On September 28th, the surgeon called to give us news we never wanted to hear. At the age of 35, Mike had Stage III Mucinous Adinocarcinoma, a very rare form of colon cancer.
This was an incredibly hard moment for a father of five in the prime of his life to face. Everything that was normal for our family changed in that one single moment. 
Surgery needed to be done immediately so on October 23, 2015 Mike was once again in an operating room having the right and top halves of his colon removed but we were very optimistic because the cancer was small, found by pure dumb luck, and Mike having an appendicitis might have just saved his life. 
The next step was chemo, which took a toll on Mike's physical and emotional health. The chemo drugs made him miserably sick and the side effects made it hard for him to function well on a day to day basis. But when that was finished, Mike believed he had a clean bill of health. He had a CT scan every three months and a colonoscopy every six months and everything continued to come back normal.
For two years, Mike was able to live life normally again. He put his life back together and focused on taking care of his family. 
Then, on March 3, 2018, Mike was once again in the ER, this time diagnosed with a partial bowel obstruction. On March 5th, exploratory surgery was done to pinpoint the location of the blockage and when the surgeon got in there, he was confronted with several large masses of tiny cancerous nodules and a larger tumor further in the bowel. They were removed and sent to the pathologist and Mike was told that his cancer had returned. 
Mike's cancer is now Stage IV and terminal and it is a terrifying prospect for our family that we will have to find a way to live without a beloved father, husband, brother and son. 

Mike's cancer re-diagnosis has been especially hard for our youngest daughter Alecia, who at the age of five, was diagnosed with Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia.  She won her fight against cancer and completed a two and half year treatment in 2012. Mike and Alecia are "cancer buddies" and they stood together as cancer survivors at our local relay for life in 2017. Cancer has touched our family more than seems fair and it is painful reminder that cancer doesn't care and it's only mission is to destroy. 
28454094_15212572110_r.jpegMike is unable to work now and the bills are piling up. We want to stay in our home and hold onto as much of the normality of life for our children as we can for as long as Mike is able to fight this disease but with only one income, this is becoming increasingly difficult. We offer our sincerest thanks that you took the time to read Mike's story and if you feel compelled in your heart to donate to help Mike and our family during this difficult time, we want you to know that it means everything to us. Peace and love be with you all and F you cancer. 


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Jennifer Saunders Burnside 
Caldwell, ID
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