JANUARY 5, 2018
Temperatures in the mid-50’s and mostly sunny in Central Texas, according to the National Weather Service, but that sunshine wouldn’t last long that day – at least not at the home of Ricky and Melissa Mauney, who were just hours away from the darkest day imaginable.
DOCTORS AND DIAGNOSIS
Beginning in mid-November 2017, Ricky started running on-again, off-again high fevers which persisted into the Christmas holidays. Even though something seemed to be going on that doctors needed to address, Ricky had an electrical job and water line he had to finish, so he didn’t get to his possible medical needs right away. When he did seek medical attention, doctors immediately ordered labs to determine the cause of the fever. On Christmas Eve, while awaiting the results of those labs, Ricky’s fever spiked again, and Melissa took him to the ER in Hamilton. The CT scan that night revealed a large mass in his lower pelvic area, so doctors were quick to get him transferred to Providence Hospital in Waco, where he spent most of the holidays. Ricky’s medical team initially believed they were dealing with an internal abscess or infection due to the high fevers; but unfortunately, after additional testing, a biopsy revealed the real problem: Soft Tissue Sarcoma in the pelvis, a very rare type of cancer.
A WHIRLWIND OF ACTIVITY
Melissa and Ricky entered full-blown research mode to learn as much as they could about this cancer and potential treatment options. January through March brought a whirlwind of travel and medical consults, back and forth to MD Anderson and Baylor College of Medicine in Houston for additional diagnostic scans, MRI’s and bone scans. Ricky was also hospitalized on several occasions due to spikes in fever and infection. However, he still made time to visit Harrington's to hear the local gossip and get his coastal Bermuda field plowed and sprigged on the better days. Thank God for those moments of relief from fever and pain! At the end of February, Ricky and Melissa learned that there wasn't a significant change in the tumor size since December, even though MD Anderson reported this to be fast-growing tumor. In reading the reports from late December and January and comparing those to the late February scan, the cells were actually slightly smaller on that MRI (by just a few millimeters), although radiologists didn't seem to want to admit this. Melissa and Ricky praised God for this news and continued clinging to His promises. In early March 2018, Ricky was admitted back to the hospital for pneumonia and a very low white blood count following his first round of chemo.
THE TREATMENT PLAN
Ricky will undergo six rounds of chemo (each round being three weeks long) at Scott & White Temple, for a total of 18 weeks. He is being hospitalized for the actual chemo infusion, which lasts five days each time, until he is then released home for the remaining two weeks. Once the chemo is complete, Ricky will be undergoing six weeks of radiation (five days per week) with a six-week resting period, before surgery is performed in Houston at Baylor College of Medicine.
EXTREME MEDICAL COSTS
The costs associated with the treatment needed for this very rare form of cancer is staggering. Private pay patients must pay up front for everything. Even though Ricky and Melissa have some assistance through Christian Healthcare Ministry, a Christian based medical sharing program, the reimbursement won’t offset all the expenses. The initial chemotherapy estimates were approximately $300,000 for the six three-week cycles—and this doesn’t include hospitalizations or complications that could arise. The first chemo round ended up totaling $120,000 due to the complications and hospitalizations that resulted. Radiation and surgery cost estimates are close to $800,000 without any complications.
RICKY, THE MAN
Ricky has been fortunate to spend most of his life doing exactly what he loves, which is living rurally and working as a farmer and rancher. There is nothing he loves more than smelling the freshly turned soil, waiting for a seed to be planted and nurtured, rolling up a perfect bale of freshly cut hay, or seeing a wobbly newborn calf take its first stance to face the world. He is the first to load his fishing pole on Sunday afternoons and head to the pond; he can impress you with the bass or crappie fish he catches before you get your hook baited. He is someone who loves the simple things in life despite the complicated world we live in. Most importantly, he thanks God every day for another day and the opportunity to enjoy His gifts.
Many words are used to describe Ricky by family, friends, and employees of Mauney & Associates: upbeat, positive, optimistic, funny, hardworking, strong, man of integrity, honorable, and faithful, just to name a few. As individuals shared these character traits, the stories that followed added splashes of color to these words.
-"Oh my...where to start with Ricky!!!! He comes in the office all the time and is always so happy. He says, 'Good morning, Little Troopers!’ He is so upbeat and keeps us laughing! You just never know what he is going to say. He has faith in God and said recently that this is not his permanent home. He has had us tearing up a time or two. I admire the faith he has in Christ. Not only Ricky, but Melissa has really been strong. It is amazing the team they are together."
-"I admire how positive he is, even when most people wouldn’t be. He is definitely a strong, hardworking, good man. When I worked at our local liquor store (haha!), he always made me laugh, even when he pulled up on his tractor. Hehe! He is definitely one of kind."
-"Oh my, I cry just thinking about what Ricky is going through...he and Melissa. They are strong. His faith in God is strong, and he is ALWAYS positive about everything, (I wish I was more like him!). He is so FUNNY and SILLY. He will crack you up, even now going through all of this! He is truly a man of integrity! I always value his opinion. He has to be scared but doesn’t show it!! He is more concerned about all of us than even himself! He continues to find peace in simple everyday life...checking his cows and crops. He loves to plant and see what God will provide. He has a lot of friends and you can't help but love him. He's one of my FAVORITES!"
-"Ricky is very kind and funny. I love when he calls us the ‘Little Troopers’.”
-Ricky has maintained a good positive attitude, and he is so strong in his faith, which is really our only comfort. Just looking to God for comfort and healing..."
A BURDEN TO SHARE
Ricky has brought so much life, laughter and love to everyone who knows him and has observed his strong faith firsthand. Ricky and Melissa now have a tremendous burden to bear with this cancer diagnosis and the treatment ahead. We trust that you will agree that they are not to carry the weight of this heavy burden alone. We are called to "carry each other's burdens" (Galatians 6:2) and walk alongside Ricky and Melissa during this storm. We invite you to offer your support, prayers, love, and generosity throughout the months ahead. All of us can make a TREMENDOUS difference in both their faith and the way they respond to this great challenge.
Please rally together with us, the “Little Troopers,” as we join hearts, hands and pocketbooks to carry this burden and lighten their load. Ricky and Melissa will be blessed to know how much you care for them, and you will be blessed because you are giving to a most honorable and worthy cause. . . and a precious family with mounting medical bills. All contributions will be put towards medication and treatment costs, travel expenses, and other needs, as they arise.
We thank you as you consider how you will help in this time of great need.
Ricky, Melissa, and just a "few" of the grandkids
Ricky and Melissa
- Leila Simunek
- Linda McCarver
- Adria Gonzales
- Adria Gonzales
Organizer and beneficiary
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