The urgency to come along side the Versola's is real. When you hear terms like, “there’s no cure for what you have,” “The condition you have is beyond stage 3.” “This is something that you will live with for the rest of your life," those type of sentences, naturally, give you a verbal and emotional gut-check. Walking through this is giving Daniel, Tiffnie, and their three children, a new perspective on things urgent and meaningful. If we can help lessen the burden of excess finances during this uncertain time, let's do that. It will be one less urgent thing that they have to think about.
From Daniel's wife Tiffnie:
Some of you know us personally, know Daniel personally. But for some reading this, this may be the first encounter you have with our family. We are a tight-knit family of five, that love and depend on each other every day. Parenting has been our greatest challenge as well as our greatest blessing. Our children, Ian (12), Joy (7), Eli (4), are fun, loving, intelligent and cool tiny humans.
I’d like to give you all a glimpse into the depth of my husbands heart and spirit. Daniel is a husband, father, son, friend; a true example of godly humility, integrity and love. He is the most giving, loving, selfless, dedicated and hardworking person I know. He will amaze you with his Christ-centered mind, steadfast heart, easy-going spirit, and never-ending smile.
On January 10, Daniel was diagnosed with a rare form of thyroid cancer, Medullary Thyroid Carcinoma (MTC). This form is so rare that of all the people that get thyroid cancer, only 1-3% get MTC and in most cases it is a genetic disease. Based on the results of his neck biopsy, Daniel’s illness was already at Stage 3. Due to the rarity his condition, we were immediately referred to a specialist at UCSF. Daniel was sent for additional scans to see if the disease had spread to other areas of his body. Those scans showed that the disease had spread from his thyroid, to lymph nodes and liver. In the meantime, UCSF informed us the soonest they could see him would be late February, early March; which, seemed like too long to wait and too much of a risk. So we decided to look for other facilities with experience and knowledge of MTC, enter MD Anderson Cancer Center. Within 48-hours, we had appointments scheduled with both UCSF and MD Anderson. The Lord clearly opened a door and expedited the process for him to be seen at the best facility close to home as well as one of the top hospitals in our nation.
We attended the initial appointment with UCSF on January 26 and left that appointment with basic information about what treatment would look like. UCSF was still in the process of reviewing his file and a projected start date for treatment was still unknown. January 31 was our first appointment at MD Anderson. Over the course of the next three days, Daniel went through a series of blood tests, MRI’s, CT scans, ultrasounds, doctor consultations. MD Anderson was focused on gathering their own data for review. During our time in Houston, MD Anderson discovered infected lymph nodes in other parts of his body, as well as additional masses on his liver that were not in previous scans. The team of doctors also discovered that Daniel has a secondary disease, Cushings disease, caused from the MTC. A very small population of people who have MTC, 1% to be exact, develop Cushing’s during the course of their illness.
MD Anderson presented us with all their findings and a treatment plan. The soonest available surgery date was February 14. Due to the new information, the finding of more disease in multiple parts of his body, and the development of the Cushings disease, we decided to move forward with treatment at MD Anderson. Daniel and I discussed waiting to hear back from UCSF to hear how they would proceed. But, honestly, that would be gambling with his life and that was a risk I was not willing to take. Given the fact that the MTC had invaded more areas of his body within one week, who knows what his prognosis would be if we waited for UCSF. We had left California with a stage 3 diagnosis and we were returning back home with a stage 4 diagnosis.
What makes this form of cancer so unique is the fact that modern medical forms of chemotherapy and radiation are ineffective in the fight against MTC. The first step in the treatment plan for MTC is always surgery. The team of doctors at MD Anderson will completely remove his thyroid and all affected lymph nodes in his neck and chest area. Once the procedure has been complete, they will closely monitor his liver, blood work, and Cushings. Post-surgery, Daniel will have to travel to MD Anderson in Houston every 3-6 months for the next two years for regular check-ins with the specialists.
We have already been blessed greatly by those around us. It has helped tremendously as we travel for his upcoming surgery.
Funds raised will be used to help the family with travel expenses to and from MD Anderson in Texas, living expenses while staying there, continued treatment travel, as there is no cure for MTC the timeline of funds needed is unknown. Anything helps carry the burden.
Other ways to help:
Prayer. Pray for peace, wisdom and healing. Pray for comfort during a time of uncertainly. Daniel and Tiff are seeing the Lord show up in the details of this story. Pray for Daniel and Tiff's sweet kids. Love on them any chance you get.
Daniel's diagnosis/treatment timeline:
1/3/18 - Ultrasound
1/5/18 - Biopsy
1/10/18 - Biopsy results received - confirmed cancer
1/11/18 - Review biopsy results with local endocrinologist
1/18/18 - CT scan, results received the same day; UCSF calls to schedule consult for 1/26/18;
1/19/18 - Ultrasound of liver; MD Anderson calls to schedule consult for 1/31/18
1/26/18 - UCSF consultation
1/31-2/2 - MD Anderson consultation, discovery & treatment plan
2/14 - Surgery date at MD Anderson