In early March 2017, Mike Clay, a husband and father, was diagnosed with Multiple Myeloma after several doctor visits and six emergency room visits (some requiring ambulance services). After many exams and appointments with a slew of doctors, Mike and Shellee, his wife, finally had a name for what was making him sick and weak. And, the diagnoses was devastating.
There is no cure, but delaying the cancer’s effects through a combination treatment of chemo and stem cells, will help to keep this disease in-check giving Mike a chance to see his children, Morgan (age 8) and Marshall (age 4), grow up.
The Short Story...
Multiple Myeloma is a killer. Plan and simple. Nothing less 100% commitment to treatment will allow Mike to see his children grow up - graduate - maybe even get married or become parents. Everyone in the family has pulled together. There has been tremendous support from family and friends alike to get Mike to his appointments and treatments. The same folks have stepped up to care for the children while Shellee and Mike negotiate this life-threatening disease.
Unfortunately, Mike is unable to work, and the reduced income with ever increasing medicals bills, has created an extremely dire financial situation. This fund has been started to help defer the cost of this marathon fight. No one can fight for Mike, but together we can ease the financial burden his fight to live has placed on his wife and children.
The Whole Story...
Since the onset of the symptoms in February, Mike has struggled with the debilitating pain and weakness. He has been unable to work since March - his diagnosis followed an emergency visit where it was determined that he had several fractured vertebrate and bone lesions. At the time, he was unable to walk without the aid of a walker. Sometimes even with the aid of the walker, he struggled to move around the house. He struggled to getting around the 1st floor of the house due to the pain. Normal things, like showering and getting to bed on your own, required assistance.
Further testing and scans revealed that his condition had progressed to the point of causing significant bone damage. Bone lesions where found from head to legs, not just on the spine as first thought.
The most significant bone damage was the compression fractures of the T6 and L4 spine vertebra. The compression of these vertebra caused nerve pain in his back and down his legs. Over time, other fractures were found including fractures of other vertebra, his ribs, and scapula.
In mid-March, Mike underwent spot-radiation on his L4 vertebra to help alleviate nerve pain associated with the compressed vertebra. Unfortunately, this procedure needed to be discontinued after extreme pain from new fracture of the sternum that was discovered on March 21st during an emergency room visit which led to another hospital admission.
Mike stayed in the hospital from March 21 through April 5. During this time, he received high doses of chemo to try to stop the progression of the multiple myeloma and minimize any further bone damage. During this stay in the hospital, he developed pneumonia and a life-threatening blood infection which required constant monitoring and high doses of antibiotics.
While in the hospital, on March 31, he started the VRD regimen of chemo therapy. This was his first cycle.
Mike was eventually allowed to return home, but this required a significant change in the living quarters. He needed to live on the first floor of the home because he was unable to negotiate the steps. In addition, a hospital bed was required, along with visiting nurses (needed to continue to administer IV antibiotics), and visiting physical therapists to help to get him on his feet again.
Mike returned to the hospital after only a few days at home, staying there from April 8-11. He had a fever and there was concern of returning infection, so IV antibiotics were administered and the infection was stopped.
To date, Mike has had 4 cycles of chemo (3 weeks per cycle). The long-term plan is for Mike to undergo stem cell replacement when his body is ready to handle the procedure. There may need to be more chemo, to get his body ready for the stem cell replacement. Stem cell replacement is the best treatment to allow for a more positive prognosis.
On June 14, Mike went to the ER for leg pain which turned out to be cellulitis (a soft tissue infection) which required a hospital stay from June 14 – 17. Though this infection can happen to anyone, Mike is more prone to any type of infection due to his condition. And, in this case, a small infection turned into something very serious! After he was released from the hospital he required follow up visits by nurses and physical therapist, he had to continue with antibiotics, and will have ongoing visits to wound care center. Cellulitis may take a couple months to heal, especially given Mike’s condition. Unfortunately, his cellulitis must be healed to perform the stem cell transplant.
Then Mike returned to the ER on July 7 because of severe back pain and shortness of breath. The ER doctors determined that he was retaining fluid in his chest which resulted in a collapsed lung. He was admitted to the hospital and underwent a procedure that removed 2 liters of fluid from the area surround his right lung. Mike is still in the hospital following this event and procedure. Though the procedure alleviated the pain and shortness of breath and allowed the lung to start to expand on its own, they are not sure what caused the situation.
During this visit, the doctors are trying to address the ongoing issues with pain management and working to heal the cellulitis.
Tests have been done to see if he is ready for the stem cell replacement, and things look promising. Shellee and Mike are learning more about the stem cell transplant this month and hope to do the transplant by the end of August, if all goes well. After the transplant, there will be a 4-6 week hospital stay followed by many visits to the cancer center treatments to help him recover as soon as possible. Mike is expected to be on disability through the end of August, which will help to carry the family through the stem-cell transplant. Unfortunately, Mike and Shellee have been told that this transplant has a 6-12 month recover time. Mike will not be able to work during this time, and he will no longer be eligible for disability insurance payments leaving them with just Shellee's income and enormous medical bills.
Mike Then and Now...
Mike 6 Months Before Symptoms Started
July 17, 2016
Mike 2 Months After Diagnosis - Mike's 49th Birthday
May 2, 2017
PS...In case you are wondering, I'm Kristin and I set this fundraiser up to help out my big-sis Shellee. Mike is my brother-in-law. He is a great husband to her and an amazing father to my fabulous niece and nephew. Please help us help them.
- Bri Aiken
- Joe Wise
- Brian Hoffman
- Jocelyn Stumbaugh
- Greg Bender
Organizer and beneficiary
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