Help Brendan Beat Cancer!

$17,343 of $50,000 goal

Raised by 156 people in 5 months
Created January 20, 2019
Fundraising Team
on behalf of Bryan Martin
Those who know Brendan Martin, know that he is a highly intelligent, hard working, funny, optimistic, and caring young man that loves God and his country.  He is only 17 years old, but he is an Eagle Scout, has graduated high school, started college, and has been pursuing his goal to get into West Point for many years.  And now he has cancer.

Brendan has been diagnosed with aggressive testicular cancer (stage 2b).   In just a two week span he has gone to the doctor because of a large and painful lump, had the tumor surgically removed, and started an intense regimen of chemo because the cancer has spread to a lymph node.  Brendan is on three different chemos. He will be in the hospital for five days and nights every three weeks for a total of three cycles. Because the chemo treatment is so harsh, he needs to be on fluids 24/7 for the 5 days of infusions.   The good news is that with the chemo treatments, the doctors are hoping for a cure!

Going through cancer treatment is very costly.  The average cost is $50K or more. Unfortunately, Brendan’s medical insurance does NOT cover cancer treatment.  He had obtained a new insurance last year, and cancer coverage would not begin until April of 2019. It did not even cross the Martin’s mind that Brendan would need any medical coverage for cancer!  They are doing all they can to try to get some financial aid help, but because their income level is not at the “poverty” level, financial aid is hard to come by.

The medical bills have already started piling up for the Martin family.  Go Fund Me is a positive means to help alleviate those bills, so that they can concentrate on Brendan fighting this horrible disease and not on finances.  If you would be so kind as to donate anything, I know it would be very helpful and meaningful to the Martins. Any and all funds will go directly to Brendan’s medical bills at Kalispell Regional Medical Center.

Brendan is remaining positive throughout this whole ordeal.  He has faith that God is with him and will bring him through this painful time in his life.  He just wants to put this all behind him so that he can get on with his life’s dream of joining the military!  

Thank you for your support, prayers, and positive thoughts for Brendan.
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Last week, Brendan and I flew to Denver to meet with the surgeon regarding the RPLND surgery. Brendan’s oncologist, here in Kalispell, is running his treatment by the cancer board at Denver Children’s Hospital. Dr. Cost is a leading surgeon and urologist who specializes in the treatment of testicular cancer and, specifically, RPLND surgery. Our oncologist here has been saying that the cancer board wants to do surgery, because Brendan’s lymph node was over 1cm in size. It is 1.1cm. For us, it was too close to call.
On Monday, as we were flying to Denver, we received word that Brendan’s blood work came back looking good. YAY!
On Tuesday, we met with the doctor. After our oncologist had said that Dr. Cost had wanted to do the surgery, I was prepared to fight! The risks are too high for a “maybe cancer”. Brendan and I prayed for wisdom and clarity before we went into the office. The doctor walked in saying that he had just reviewed Brendan’s chard and didn’t feel that surgery was necessary at this time. He suggests watching and waiting! Hallelujah!!!
There are two kinds of cancer, one that is treatable with chemo and one that is not. The treatable one should be gone at this point. It is the one that would show up in his bloodwork. The non treatable one is the one they are worried about. It is possible that the lymph node is slightly enlarged due to the non treatable one, which is why surgery would be required. It is also just as possible that the lymph node is enlarged, ever so slightly, due to scar tissue and dead tissue from the cancer. There is no way to know until it is removed. But, we will leave it where it is and watch. If there is a spike in the bloodwork, that would mean chemo or surgery. If there is any growth at his next CT scan at the end of July, that would indicate surgery, but probably not until September at the earliest.
Now, for the fun stuff!
We were blessed by an organization called Angel Wings. They have pilots who volunteer their time, fuel and planes to fly pediatric patients where they need to go to receive medical care! Brendan and I were treated to a flight from Kalispell, MT to Wyoming, on a private jet. How cool is that? From there, we were met by a super nice couple who own a small 4 seater piper. The longer leg of the journey was done in the jet, but it was only a little over an hour in time. The shorter mileage leg was done in the piper and took about 2 ½ hours. It was fun to ride in the front. I got to fly a little bit on the way to Denver, but it really isn’t my thing. On the way back, Brendan sat in the front and flew us most of the way from Denver to Wyoming. In Wyoming, our jet was waiting to shuttle us back to Kalispell. Brendan sat in the back and worked on an upcoming speech he will be giving for the Civil Air Patrol. It was fun to see him looking all fancy back there. Lol

Another blessing was with our rental car. Bryan had arranged for a rental for us from Budget. Because we weren’t landing at Denver International, we had to rent a car from a place 6 miles away. It was also double the price of the airport rental. When we arrived in Denver, we were exhausted. Our pilot asked about our rental and I told her we would have to call an Uber. She asked why we didn’t rent there at the little airport. Well, because they cater to executives with executive budgets! Lol Bryan had handled the rental and done the best he could. I didn’t even know they had rentals at this airport. Oh, but they do! We went to the counter to ask about a rental, and the next thing I knew our pilot was handing over her own personal credit card to secure the new rental! I was blown away! We quickly canceled with Budget and walked out to our top of the line new Camry. It was pristine with little water bottles in the cup holders and not a scratch or a fleck of dust to be found. Wow!
Also, while in Denver, we were able to meet up with old friends that had moved there years ago! Brendan’s dear childhood friend, Isaiah, and his mom joined us for lunch and hanging out in the afternoon. We were also able to meet up with our former neighbor, Stephanie, who now works at Denver Children’s Hospital! In the evening, we had dinner with Janice, my former cycling buddy. So much fun! Oh, and we managed a quick stop at the Goodwill Outlet to pick up a couple of fun clothes for pennies.
We came home feeling blessed beyond measure. God is so good and is so faithful. He provided for our financial needs, physical needs and emotional needs and sprinkled it with some fun!
Today, Brendan started his first day at his new job. He will be a zip line tour guide at the local resort. He is excited to be spending his summer outdoors, hiking the mountain and playing on zip lines with tourists! If you know him, you know this is right up his ally.
In other news, his hair is growing in blond. No, it isn’t curly at this point, but it is back to the blond he had when he was little. I think it’s cute! He isn’t amused. Lol
Thank you for your continued prayers and support. The bills are still coming in, but thanks to the generosity of everyone, they are being paid. We could not have done this without each and every one of you. Thank you.
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Quick update on finances. As you know, Kalispell Regional Medical Center generously wrote off $100K of Brendan's $130K hospital bill. We were ecstatic to receive this news, as that left us with a much smaller amount to pay back to the hospital. Of the remaining $30K, we will receive another 15% discount if we pay the bill in full by June 1 (1 week away), bringing the total we owe the hospital to $26,288.11. Thanks to your generous donations, we have received almost enough to cover that bill, but we're still shy by about $5,000. That includes bills we received independent of the hospital - the urologist and anesthesiologist. If anyone feels moved to help us bridge that gap, we would be very grateful. We are trusting the Lord to provide one way or another.

We now have Medicaid, so future bills should be covered. We just need to get out from under the previous debt. The road ahead is a bit murky, as we still don't know if Brendan will need RPLND surgery or not. We're praying for God's wisdom and guidance in that area. We'll keep you posted.

One more thing: I accepted a job offer at a local company recently! I start on June 10. The pay is great for the Flathead Valley, but still only about 2/3 what I was making before my contract ended. I praise Him for that job, and trust that He will stretch that income to meet our daily needs.

Thank you all again for your love, support, and generosity. We couldn't have gotten this far without you.

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Update on Brendan:

I have been getting texts and questions from many of you, so I thought I should probably do an update. :) Unfortunately, there isn't much new.

I spoke with his oncologist on Monday, at my request. I have been concerned that Brendan's lymph node is marginal, and yet we are supposed to go ahead with surgery. She heard and understood my concerns. She said that doing surgery is protocol in this situation but that we make the final decision. She is 100% okay with watching and waiting. We are currently scheduled to meet with the surgeon on June 4, in Colorado. She would like for us to keep that appointment, so that we can get all of the information. The surgeon is an expert in this field and thinks we should move forward. He also knows we are hesitant. I fully expect a big song and dance sales pitch, but we will go and we will listen and ask questions.

On the other end of the spectrum, we contacted Dr Einhorn in Indiana. He is the one who wrote these protocols that the doctors today use. He reviewed Brendan's case (at a high level) and recommended we just monitor it and hold off on surgery.

The RPLND surgery is extremely specialized and highly invasive. The potential side effects would be devastating. While the overall outcome would be a cure, we are proceeding with caution.

Brendan has follow up blood work happening on May 29. They will be checking his tumor markers. If his lymph node is acting up, it should show elevated markers. We will be watching that monthly with a CT every 3 months, unless otherwise needed.

Then long and short of it is that we still don't know. There hasn't been enough evidence of need for a tip of the scales into needing the surgery, at this point. (At least for us) We are moving forward, one day at a time. For those of you who pray, please pray for guidance and clarity for us as we make this huge decision.

For those who would like to show their support, Brendan's favorite saying is available on t-shirts and hoodies! It's a fun way to help his cancer fund and raise awareness of this way too common disease. Oh, and please please PLEASE tell the men and boys in your life to check themselves monthly!!!

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Today we had a surprise appointment with Brendan's oncologist. She had just met with the Cancer Board of Children's Hospital Colorado, to discuss Brendan's case. We all know doctors love to give good news over the phone, so the call yesterday saying that she would like to talk to us in person made us understandably nervous.

Before chemo, Brendan's lymph node was 3cm. When we had the CT 2 weeks after his last chemo treatment, the lymph node had shrunk to 1.5cm. That means the chemo did it's job and the lymph node shrunk! We knew, though, that anything over 1cm was cause for concern. Still, it was early and everything looked good, so we were guardedly optimistic. The Cancer Board disagrees. His AFP is borderline at 5.9 and his lymph node size is just across the boarder of 1cm. They are recommending surgery to remove the lymph node.

The surgery is RPLND and is quite invasive with potential long term nerve damage in areas where you don't want nerve damage, especially as a 17 year old guy. It will also involve cutting him open from sternum to below the belly button, removing his intestines to get to everything in his back. (retroperitoneal area) You can read more about it here: https://www.hopkinsmedicine.org/health/conditions-and-diseases/testicular-cancer/retroperitoneal-lymph-node-dissection

So, what's the plan? Our local doctor agreed that the CT scan was done early. We will be re-doing the scan on April 29th. If the lymph node is still enlarged, we will proceed with the surgery. This is a highly specialized surgery done by only a few doctors around the country. We will most likely be traveling to Denver to have this done sometime in May, if we choose to do it.

On the upside, Brendan is officially on Medicaid! Praise the Lord! Everything from here on out should be covered (minus travel expenses). This will not be an inexpensive surgery so we are thankful for the coverage. We don't yet know if there is a deductible or what our part will be, but knowing that the whole bill won't be on us is an amazing feeling.

Thank you so much for your prayers and support. You will never know just how much they mean to us.

(here is a fun picture of us getting free ice cream at Sweet Peaks after the doctor appointment today. Thank you, Naomi, for joining us for the appointment and for ice cream. Happy birthday Sweet Peaks!)
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$17,343 of $50,000 goal

Raised by 156 people in 5 months
Created January 20, 2019
Fundraising Team
on behalf of Bryan Martin
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