In 2011 at the age of 43 Marci went in for her first mammogram. It was discovered she had an fairly large mass, later a biopsy revealed it was DCIS breast cancer. The prognosis was it is 100% curable. Marci moved forward with a double mastectomy with the belief this would take care of the cancer and she would live a full life raising her children.
Post surgery pathology reviled the tumor was larger than had been projected, a clear margin was positive, and furthermore cancer cells where discovered in a lymph node. More bad news, it is HER2 positive.
After partial healing from the mastectomy and reconstruction it was recommended the best course of action would be radiation treatment in order to eradicate any cancer cells left behind. Not great for the reconstructive surgery as we found out later.
Over time Marci's positive attitude drove her to a fantastic recovery and positive out look. She continued working full time in her law enforcement carer, participated in cross fit, and explored Colorado with her husband and three children.
It wasn't too long before she developed a cough, thinking it was just a cold she didn't worry about it much. Well the cough got worse, it became taxing to breath and fatigue began taking hold. She made a trip to the little clinic on a regular trip to the grocery store. It was recommend she go to an urgent care for an x-ray, may be pneumonia. A trip to the urgent care, an x-ray, and visit with a Doc left us with a mystery. The x-ray did not show pneumonia, Doctor was puzzled "haven't seen that before, better go to the E.R.".
The E.R. decided to go with a CAT scan, which showed a large amount of fluid surrounding the lungs but no positive diagnosis. The next step was to remove the fluid using a needle and syringe, and have it analyzed. Sadly cancer had returned with a vengeance.
The full body scan that followed was not good, cancer had spread not only in the lining of the lungs but also in the bones, liver, and lymph nodes.
Next step was aggressive chemo therapy before it spread more. After completion of a really nasty chemo cycle Marci went on a maintenance regimen that appeared to be working. Months later a routine scan relieved a cancer tumor developed in the brain.
Treatment options in the brain are very limited Marci ended up on a trial treatment for metastatic cancer in the brain. The usual chemo side effects where secondary, the new drug was working the tumor stopped growing. Unfortunately this was only temporary, the tumor began to increase in size. With few options focused radiation to the brain was the least evasive option, so much fun it sent Marci to the emergency room, morphine for the pain and a week in bed.
Next set of scans look good, well until the brain tumor started acting up again. Only one option left, remove it. So we discovered brain surgery is is no picnic (but you get to spend time in the ICU). Marci's pain was severe but worse was the loss of balance and motor function, she needed a walker to get around.
Over time she recovered, continued with her law enforcement carer, caring for her family, and tried to get her life back on track.
That is until the next brain tumor. Oh joy more focused radiation to the brain. The last tumor was in an area that controls motor skills, this time short term memory, numbers, sequencing (nothing important). A few weeks off from work and some time in bed, back on her feet back to work.
Meanwhile the side effects from the continuous chemo have been taking its toll. The stuff you've heard about, hair, nauseous, nails and skin. These are the lesser effects of continuous chemo; weakened heart, constant tendinitis, and brain fog are the real fun ones.
Being so strong Marci sucked it up as usual continued working, being a tireless mom, and wife.
Soon breathing became a struggle, cancer returned in the lining of the lungs, and hey why not a new spot the lining of the heart.
Lung and heart linings filling with fluid, the fluid must be drained or it will be strangle the organs with the increasing fluid. Ouch she had the most pain yet from this procedure and more time in the ICU. Ever wanted a window into your heart, well Marci has one. Wasn't long before the fluid returned. In order to keep her heart form being strangled by the fluid, a permanent window was made in the lining of the heart so the fluid can drain into the abdomen. Oh well that was only a couple of weeks in the hospital, and as a bonus permanently on oxygen.
What made the situation even better (if you can imagine that), in December not too long after heart surgery on her way to work one morning someone ran a red light and t-boned her car. Marci's vehicle was reparable however the the tear in her chest the impact caused is not. Too weak and needing too much oxygen surgeons wont risk going back in to fix it. So now Marci is left with a large painful bulge in her chest that she needs to support every time she sneezes or coughs (which happens a lot when there is cancer in your lungs).
Back on her feet back to work and motherhood. Not so fast this time, things are catching up. October 2017 was the last time she was able to get away for a couple days with the family, no more trips through the mountains can't take the altitude, and not able to work any more. Needs a motorized cart to make limited trips to the store, and got fitted for a wheel chair. Needing assistance with most things now I put my career on the back burner in order to be available both physically and mentally for Marci and our kids.
Good news (not) her oncologist gave her a disabled status, good she can use her disability insurance (she ran out of paid time off some time ago) then when she gets better she can return to work. Nope after 16 years in law enforcement the city fired her the moment she filed her disability claim. No more career, no more benefits, this is how you add insult to injury (in case you where wondering).
Here we are six years of surgery's, chemo, hospitals, life has become some what of a struggle. Raising three kids 9, 11, 14, being a wife, and maintaining a home presents its own struggles. Add medical bills in the tens of thousands, wheel chair, oxygen, constant pain, losing your career, children gowning up only knowing their mom as being sick, and looking forward to full time care makes life infinitely more challenging.
Our wonderful children keeping it together (often help mom & dad keep it together). I can not imagine what it would be like as a child coping with this situation, going to school, movie and pizza night in moms hospital room, family activities scheduled or canceled to accommodate cancer.
Yes we have made it this far with help from family, friends, and above, however the obstacles before us have be come exponentially greater.
June 22, 2018 Marci's latest scan divulged why breathing is becoming more difficult and pain is increasing. The cancer is increasing in the lungs slowly causing asphyxiation, chemo options have been extinguished, surgery and radiation are not options (it is wide spread inside the vessels AKA lymphangioma). With treatment she is expected to get 10-11 more months with out who knows, although we have not given up and continue praying and hoping for a miracle.
So the point of all this, quality of life. Marci and family wants her to remain comfortably at home, we all want to stay in our home and take good care of Marci. We want to make the time we have together focused on each other, not looking for living arrangements, trying to figure out how to pay bills, and take care of our beloved wife and mother.
Marci, Zach, Luke, Lindsey, and I have experienced things in the last six years we would not wish on anyone. We want the next chapter of this story as painless as possible. Please help us do so. Unfortunately nothing can change the devastation cancer has done, but at least with funding we need not face financial devastation.
Thank you, Marci, John, Zach, Luke, Lindsey