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#PleasantLife: Husband and Wife Team Up to Battle Cancer!
Where does one begin when telling the story of our family? Cancer is no stranger to the Pleasant Family. In 2005, Jerome was diagnosed with Osteosarcoma of the jaw; at the age of 26. The tumor inside his mouth had grown so large that the doctors decided that chemotherapy was needed before surgery. And so began his first battle with cancer. Jerome would go on to have skin grafts, bone grafts, removal of his teeth, removal of his cheek bone, removal of his jaw bone, his palate, reconstruction surgery that failed, and more chemo and radiation. The doctors removed a section of bone from his leg to reconstruct his face, only to have it fail and have to be removed. Radiation to the face damaged his right eye and he now is completely blind on that side. A tracheotomy had to be put in place for the surgery which damaged his vocal chords and his voice never recovered. The doctors worked hard to save his life and they did. Until 2010, when the cancer returned; this time has a Glioblastoma of his brain. And so this time, brain surgery was required to remove the lesions. They removed a section of his skull and replaced it with a metal plate. To this day, his hair has never grown back in that spot. Things were looking up until in 2012 when another Glioblastoma was discovered. Another brain surgery was performed but this time chemo and radiation were not needed. In total, Jerome has had over 22 surgeries in his battles with cancer that have left him disabled. In 2016, Jerome began having seizures that were not able to be controlled despite being put on medication. The doctors think this is a result of the damage done to his brain and this will be an ongoing condition for the rest of his life. In 2018, he was diagnosed with Epilepsy and told he would never be able to work, etc again. Despite all of this, Jerome remains a positive outlook on life and his spirit touches all that he comes across. Cancer may have took a lot of things from him but never his heart.
If only that is where the story ended but unfortunately it’s not. The same year that Jerome was diagnosedin 2005, his daughter, Talia, was also diagnosed with cancer at the age of 1. Father and daughter would battle cancer together. Talia was diagnosed with a choroid plexus carcinoma of the brain, which is a rare form of cancer that only represents 3% of brain tumors in children. She would go on to have brain surgery as well and Talia was cancer free until 2006. The cancer returned as an adrenal cortical carcinoma, which is a rare tumor, with incidence of 1–2 per million population annually. Talia would also have to have chemotherapy just like her father. And through out it all, she always had a big smile on her face. She loved to watch Dora and play with her friends. She lit up every room she was in and carried the same spirit as her daddy did. Talia endured many different types of therapies and clinical trials but unfortunately they did not work. God called Talia home on May 24, 2008 at the age of 4. You can find more of Talia and Jerome’s story on this Caring Bridge Site: http://caringbridgeclassic.org/md/taliapleasant/
Their journey took another turn in June 2018 when Jerome’s wife, Amber, discovered a lump under her left arm while feeding their son. She was 36 years old. Breast Cancer runs strong in her family as her great-grandmother, grandmother, mother, aunt, great-aunt and half-sister have all had Breast Cancer. Amber immediately called her OB/GYN who ordered a mammogram and sonogram to be completed. The sonogram revealed a tumor and 3 lymph nodes affected. A needle biopsy was completed by a breast surgeon who confirmed a diagnosis of Stage 2 Invasive Ductal Carcinoma. Amber began chemotherapy on July 16, 2018 and completed 18 rounds of Chemotherapy. Her Bi-Lateral Mastectomy surgery was on Thursday, December 6, 2018. Radiation began in January of 2019 and ended in February of 2019. She also had her Fallopian Tubes & Ovaries removed in August of 2019. Her end of treatment PET scan in September of 2019 shows that Amber is cancer free but it does show lung damage from Radiation. And while Amber’s genetic testing was negative; the doctors feel there must be some genetic mutation in this family that has yet to be discovered.
In January of 2019, the entire family underwent Genetic Testing at TheUniversity of Maryland. The test results concluded that Jerome and 2 of the couples children, Amaya (age 4) & August (age 1) had a genetic mutation of theTP-53 gene; named Li-Fraumeni Syndrome. This syndrome is very rare and because the gene is mutated, it causes tumors to grow in the body. The tumors can be benign or cancerous. Genetic counselors confirm that Jerome’s oldest daughter, Talia, must have had the mutation as well. Because tumors can form at any time and can grow quickly, routine testing must be done to stay on top of the Syndrome. Testing includes bloodwork, MRI’s of the Brain, and Abdominal Sonograms to be completed every 3 months. Once a year, a full body MRI has to be done.
In March of 2019, Amaya & August underwent their first full body MRI to begin the screening process. August MRI was clear but Amaya’s showed a well developed tumor in her pelvis. She had surgery and spent a week in the hospital. Pathology showed the tumor as a benign ganglioneuroma, a rare tumor of the nervous system. Also in March, Jerome’s MRI showed a Lesion in his skull. He also had surgery and pathology showed the tumor as a benign tumor as well.
In October of 2019, routine scans show that Amaya and August had clear scans. However, Jerome’s MRI shows a new tumor in his brain. He has been referred back to his Neurosurgeon and the family will update when they know more.
The Pleasant Family has a lot on their plate. Amber has 3 children from a previous marriage, ages 17, 15 and 11. The couple has 3 children together, ages 4, 3 and 1. Because of Jerome’s Epilepsy diagnosis, he is not allowed to work. Amber was working full time to provide for the family before her diagnoses but has not been able to work since then.
This GoFundMe has been set up to help alleviate the financial burden this family has and will continue to endure. Medical expenses are a big concern for the family as both husband and wife try to beat the odds. Jerome, Amaya, and August medical team is at the University of Maryland in Baltimore and Amber’s medical team is at University of Maryland Upper Chesapeake. Gas, tolls, and parking will be something the family will need help with as well.
Thank you for supporting the Pleasant Family during this difficult time!
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