Mike and Kim live in Aurora, their beloved state of Colorado, with their two children and matching dogs. They met on the job. Kim was a court reporter. She loves ballet, riding her bike, and running. Mike has been a sheriff for the Jefferson County Sheriff's Office for the past 37 years. They married, had two children of their own and raised Mike's older son as well. Their life story could have been a typical American Dream except for the turn of fate that it took two years ago.
It all started with a funny pain on Kim’s upper back, a pain which would not go away, no matter what she did. When the pain became too much, she went to see her doctor. Within the matter of a couple of days, in August 2015, Kim went from being an otherwise healthy individual to being a cancer patient with a diagnosis of Stage 4 lung cancer that had metastasized to her spine. Needless to say it was a shock, but that is the case for most cancer patients and there was no time for feeling sorry. Kim underwent a first round of radiations on her spine, which helped shrink the tumors. Due to a gene mutation, she found out that she qualified for a pill form of a targeted therapy versus chemotherapy. A blessing in itself which allowed her to enjoy a better quality of life for the next few months. She outlived her treatment by all standards, but sadly found out in February of this year that the pill did not cross the blood-brain barrier, and thus the cancer had spread to her brain. So the fight was back and more complicated, as she embarked on a new clinical trial with a new targeted pill which will hopefully attack not only the tumors in her brain, but throughout her body.
The story could stop here for now... Sadly, it does not. While Kim had to step down from her job, Mike stepped up working extra hours and extra days to afford Kim’s treatment and to keep the family’s finances afloat. Considering the extra time he was spending on the job nobody thought much of his lingering fatigue – not even himself. Until one day, three weeks ago, he could not ignore his symptoms any longer. He was rushed to the ER, and within the same day, he also went from being a “tired,” but otherwise healthy man to a cancer patient with a diagnosis of AML, acute myeloid leukemia. As of today Mike has not been able to leave the hospital since the day he entered. He is undergoing intense chemotherapy treatment to deplete his white blood cells, then rejuvenate them, in the hope to push him into remission. Kim is there every day by his side, though she just found out that her brain tumors have started growing again, giving way to more treatment and uncertainty.
Cancer is scary enough as it is, but what keeps Mike and Kim awake at night is providing a future for their children. Thomas just graduated from Grandview High School and is planning on attending Metro State University in the fall. Keira is an avid ballet dance (just like her mom!!) and she will be entering 8th grade at Falcon Creek Middle School. The financial aspect of two parents battling the same devastating disease is daunting, but even more daunting is the emotional aspect of their children’s future.
Please, share Mike and Kim’s story and if you find it in your heart to help, it would be much appreciated. Two cancer diagnoses and treatments should not be faced alone.
Katherine Gaston & Regine Kuttner
- Jim Barrett
- Will Jette
- Barbara Horan
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