Thank you and much love! ❤
Hi! My name is Marisha Dotson, and this is part of my story.
The last three years have been the most challenging, amazing, harrowing, and terrifying moments of my life. I really have had to come to terms with things and discover what I am made of. There have been so many changes on the outside and inside from having cancer and losing half of my nose. It almost doesn't seem like real life sometimes. I lost over half of my nose, and am still struggling with acceptance and the life long issues I will have because it won't ever function the same way again. I have literally put blood, sweat, tears, lots of prayers and faith into making it to where I am today. Now I am looking at another fight with this horrible disease, and I am terrified. To be honest, it has been lots of ups and downs. While this year has been pain ridden, I have also seen awesome miracles and met amazing souls. However, I was making great progress and finally felt like I was getting somewhere, and now I have to go through this battle all over again. I have an amazing Dr. and trust things will work out in the end, whenever that may be.
November 24, 2015 I recieved words that sucked the air from my lungs. The cancer is back, and in mulptile places. I don't really know how badly or what this means, but I will update as I find out more details. I lost so much last time, I am afraid to ask what the cost will be this time. I want to beat this cancer this time once and for all.
I can only pray it hasn't spread yet.
I spent much of 2014 being ill from one sickness right after the other. End of June 2014, I noticed a red spot on my nose. This red spot then turned into a pimple like form. I went to the health clinic as I did not have insurance and was told it was just an infection. However, in under a month the growth had changed and became extremely painful.
I finally got in with a dermatologist to look at my nose. I used what would be my last paycheck along with borrowed money from a friend to cover the visit and in-house biopsy fees. July 2014, I was officially diagnosed with an extremely aggressive squamous cell carcinoma on my nose. The tumor was growing at an alarming rate. Being young and skin care conscious the last few years, I never considered that this could have developed into cancer. Apparently, it is a genetic marker that got triggered.
The 15 months I have now undergone seven major surgeries. The tumor was removed on August 7, 2014, taking a total of 15 gruesome hours of surgery while I was completely awake. Because I am resistant to anesthetic, I felt more than I should have. Over half of my nose, cartilage, and nasal tissues were removed. On August 21, 2014 (9 hours of surgery) I had my first skin flap surgery to fix the defect. Cartilage was removed from my ear and the skin from my scalp was flapped down to recreate nasal tissues. I have had five other revision surgeries on the skin graft tissue. In October my graft became infected and developed an abscess cavity. I was bedridden a lot and extremely sick for three months. The cavity had to be carefully packed until it healed from the bottom up. This damaged the graft, but hopefully not beyond repair. I am still learning how to deal with how people react to my face and its changes. Grieving my lost nose has been harder than it sounds. It wasn't just a nose. It was cancer and so many other things at the same time. Acceptance and going with the flow have been a huge part of this journey. It is amazing the things my nose has been through this year! It is amazing the things I have been able to overcome with faith and love. I hope that this will happen again for me.
I went through 14 weeks of intense radiation treatment on my nose, nasal cavity, and face. I found out I was claustrophobic in the process, as the treatment requires a hard plastic mask over the entire face and neck screwed into the treatment table. Treatment was everyday at high intensity radiation dosages. The treatment side effects were extremely painful. It is truly awful. I finshed my last session at the beginning of August, and I am still healing from it. Radiation damages cells, and right my poor face was blistered for 2 months! Once I healed, I had a skin graft revision surgery on the outside flap in September 2015.
The skin graft swells and the nasal cavities become inflamed on a regular basis, causing extreme pain on the inside. I am very sensitive to allergies, temperature changes, and humidity changes. I have spent this year sick a lot due to these in combination with nasal reconstruction surgeries.
I was feeling really guilty the last few months not feeling well and telling myself I SHOULD be this and I SHOULD feel this, but the entire time my body was feeling bad because I was fighting cancer again and didn't know it until now.
My brother and I have been extremely blessed to have some support and help through this experience. I thought I would be almost done by now. This is not hte direction I wanted to go in and this is not what I planned for. Cancer has it's own agenda, and there isn't anythign I can do about that. It is a marathon that continues. We have no family that checks in on us and no key support system to fall back on. My church family has kind of stepped in, but there are many gaps that need to be filled as we need lots of help. My mother passed away after struggling with life long illnesses and a chemical imbalance. I have been on my own since I was sixteen, taking care of my brother along with the responsibilities of adulthood. I often feel very alone in this experience, as such have decided to be transparent about my experience to help others. This has been an extremely isolating experience. Accepting and dealing with the changes cancer has left is not easy. It is still a work in progress that may never go away. My face is changed forever, and I am no longer the person I was a year ago. I am stronger, but I miss my face and not having to worry about cancer eating at my defenses. I can only hope that I am getting out all of the horrible things young in life so that the rest of my life may be happy. I hope to have a long healthy life in the future!
It is and has always been extremely difficult to ask for help. I have worked hard my entire life to be self sufficient and rely only on myself. This has been for survival reasons. As a result, I have a unique life experience from most of my peer group. However, I know that I would jump in less than a heart beat to help others, so I need to be open enough to give others this same opportunity.
Before cancer, I was working two jobs and putting myself through school. I finally graduated with a triple major this May while still trying to go though this nasal reconstruction and cancer treatment process. My brother is recovering from a serious bout of depression from which he lost his job a few months back. He is currently seeking employment. Because of recurrence of cancer, I don't know about my future or how I will pay for necessary things. While I have been fortunate enough to get by, the funds that have been raised so far have been spent on keeping my medical insurance and rent.
My insurance does not cover all of my treatment costs. This adds up to be very expensive on top of the hefty premium I am charged. It cost more a month to keep up with my medical costs than it does anything else. TN Cancer, one of my treatment facilities, is out of network. In addition to this, I have several doctors I must see, each requiring a copay.
I find myself yet again in a predicament where I am physically in need of help while in treatment for cancer. I can't earn money, and yet life still goes on. Bills must still be paid, health insurance must be kept, and there is not a thing I can do about it. I must once again ask for help in anyway I can find it. I don't want to lose everything I have fought so hard this year to maintain.
I have survived so many awful and painful experiences in my young life, most people will never have to experience such in a given lifetime. These experiences have taught me so much about life, love, and perseverance. The cancer, along with the multiple surgeries and subsequent consequences, has been such a wild experience. I have to take each day at time. It is difficult, but I trust in my faith and know that no matter what happens things will always be okay. Even if things are not okay. Most of all, I truly want to reach out and help others who have and will go through similar experiences as well as be a voice of prevention. I wish I had someone to help me navigate through some of these things I have had to figure out alone, so I want to help others with what I have learned.
Please know that asking for help is not something I take lightly or ever will. It has become necessary as well as giving me a platform to share my story to help others. I do need help with covering medical treatments/medical bills for both my brother and myself. I am also in desperate need of help with covering the daily costs of living. These everyday costs unfortunately do not stop for cancer. I have put a tough road behind me, but I still have a long road ahead of me once more. We are in for the long haul, so the more support we can gather the better our chances of actually making it are. We will need continual support to see us through the next difficult months ahead.
Please know any help at all will be greatly appreciated on this journey, even if it is only in prayers and thoughts. I am so grateful to be alive, and I really hope to stay that way. I can only hope Heavenly Father will open doors when I need them open and help me finish this journey.
I will spend the rest of my life paying the great kindness I have been shown forward. I have so much love in my heart to give. I am working on several skin cancer awareness campaign projects. Skin cancer can happen to young people; it can happen to anyone. If my story can bless someone's life, save someone 's life, influence someone, or prevent someone from having to go through what I am going through, then this will all be worth it in the end. If you would like to be a part of this skin cancer awareness campaign with me, please feel free. We all can make more time for others in our lives everyday and be better off for it. Even if I do not know you, I do love you. Thank you for taking the time to read part of my story. May God bless you!
My pain has been more extreme than usual, and I have been having progressively worsened migraines so I will be having full CT scans here in a few weeks, middle or late September. Say a few prayers those still come back okay.
Once again, from the bottom of me heart, I am grateful to you, love you, and thank you so much!! <3
I will be having a huge aggressive surgery to remove the entire nasal region all the way back to the throat, all bones, roof of mouth, upper jaw, and upper teeth. This is an all- in kind of aggressive surgery that is my only chance now of increasing my survival prognosis. Of course I'll be left with a huge defect hole that won't be reconstructed, but it's worth it to me to have a chance. Later on when it heals I will need a nose prosthesis.
In order to have the surgery, I need to raise the amount for the temporary dental prosthesis that will fill in the gap between the throat and roof of mouth so that I will be able to eat and speak immediately after surgery.
The costs of the dental prosthesis piece is $1162.00 and must be paid in full before I can undergo the surgery. My circumstances are still that I have no way of this without help. If any organizations help with things like this or if any help can be given, my dream at this moment now is surviving and hopefully moving on one day in the future. Direct donations to the prosthodontics office (see attached pic for info) would also be greatly appreciated if that is more preferable. I want to keep fighting and take this surgery as an optimistic opportunity to be healthy again one day as this is the last chance I have. I will give my all in hopes that this will be finally successful. Thanks for the love and encouragement. ❤️
I love you all endearingly. Greetings from my hospital as I can't sleep. I have a fashionable hole in my left nasal quadrant now, and a hole in my upper jaw. Stitches both outside and inside my gums and roof of mouth. Blessed to get through surgery, but I'm in loads of pain as the numbing has worn off. Cancer is not a choice nor is how my entire life being affected by it a choice. Getting help is not a choice because I need help to make it through to the other end. I'll begin by saying I understand the value of hardwork and sacrifice. I've been working since 14. I worked three jobs for many years supporting my brother and I while also simultaneously earning three ( plus another one from RSCC) degrees from UTK. I worked hard and made sure I never asked anyone for anything. I have was about to move out state for a scholarship for law school. Then last year I unexpectedly got a rare cancer and found myself neededing to ask for help with no support system and no no family support. Just because you really need medical attention, does not mean you get it here in teb states. Even more out of luck when you have a crazy and rare cancer only few specialists can treat. I value your help and sacrifice immensely in my heart. My heart is full and grateful for the help I've received. Because I have a rare cancer, there is no funding and aid. This means my cancer is extremely difficult to treat and extremely expensive. I fall through the cracks. Obamacare is expenisve. I need shelter, health insurance, surgery fees, medicines, medical supplies, and more. I now believe in asking for help when it's truly needed. I believe on reoaying that help in unique ways that I can help others with. I may not be able to repay financially, but I find other ways to contribute back into the universe. Everyone should feel it is okay to ask for help if she or he needs. Love and help should come freely and without manipulation or strings attached. You guys have helped me fight all year and survive this long battle with aggressive stage 3 cancer. To get the care I need I must continue to ask for help. I have many reasons to live and fight through any hell I have to endure. I'm applying for disability, but I've been told it takes over a year to see results. Even then, I know the only way I'm going to survive this is based on the support and financial help I can gather. My care plan is very costly and literally life and death. I'd rather not be homeless and have food too :). I know many cannot contribute financially, and I don't expect that. I have never expected anything like that. It's not who I am. What I am hoping for is that by sharing my story others will share, and it will fall on the ears of those with the power and means to help me get remission and keep my basic living needs. I want to raise lots of awareness to help future generations get the funding and research benefits I never had. Words of encouragement and positive wishes going up are just as valuable and powerful to me. Please keep supporting me as I fight this battle. In need of help to keep fighting and not stress over how my next surgery or medicine will be payed for. I appreciate all that is done to help me to my very soul. I feel optimistic the care and treatment I'm getting now will have results, I just need help funding it throughout. Let's work together on a plan to get remission. If you know of any fundraising ideas , benefits, or networking contacts that could help me, please let me know or share to those contacts. Your love does not go wasted on me. I love with all my heart and pray for those remission goals. I want nothing more than to achieve remission and be able to live. Love you guys SO MUCH.Thank you so much!
Looking at these videos and the updates breaks my heart. Marisha has an incredible, optimistic spirit, a rare beauty I would be overjoyed to have in a daughter in law. This is a terrible thing to happen to someone who definitely doesn't deserve it. I pray hard for her recovery.
Another thing I forgot to mention to you, the treatment in the clinical trial is at NO COST and they are still accepting patients. Please please look in to it, at least go there and talk to them. My heart breaks for you and if this can help it would be so amazing for you. My husband has been in the trial since May 2017 and he goes every two weeks for the iv infusion and then goes home. He has suffered absolutely no side affects.
The clinical trial I commented on is called REGN 2810 and the lead doctor is Dr Michael Migden at MD Anderson in Houston. The tumor he had on the right area was huge and deforming, once it fell off the skin underneath was perfect. Please contact them, I truly believe they can help you.
My husband had squamous cell cancer on his left temple and left ear. They did surgery and radiation but it returned and invaded his nerves going in to his brain. It also spread to the right side temple. He is now in a clinical trial using IV Immunotherapy at MD Anderson in Houston Texas. Within three months the huge tumor on the right temple area is now completely GONE and the cancer in his nerves is shrinking. I'm telling you this because this is I believe going to be the future for fighting squamous cell cancer without the need surgery and radiation. It really has been miraculous for my husband. They are in Phase 2 of the clinical trial and the FDA has just given it a Breakthrough Therapy designation. Please look in to it.
Marisha, Like you I had a spot a little smaller than a dime on the end of my nose. It would scab heal , look fine and scab again. I had a biopsy and it came back basil cancer. I had some chemo crème, had to clear the scab every night and put on the crème. I have a indent on the tip of my nose that is hard to fill with make up, I realized how important the nose is to a person. I spent most of my life in the sun at the beach so I deserve this, you don't. I will pray for you and I will send some money. Stay strong, you obviously can do it!!!
I'm so inspired by your courage and strength. My sister suffered from the same thing for 10 years. She was as strong as you. She suffered her cancer from anti-rejection drugs from a double lung transplant. It went from scalp removal to an arm removal and everything in between. She had her moments like I'm sure you do but never lost hope or her will to live. I pray for your full recovery from this. Your wonderful strength and courage make you one beautiful person who will continue to inspire those who know you and those of us who don't. God Bless you Marisha.
Your tenacity during this ordeal is inspiring. Nobody should have to worry about finances due to a life-threatening illness. Your story is just one more reason why we need universal healthcare. Until it becomes a reality, you and others in a similar position will have to deal with worrying about financial difficulties when your only concern should be your health and healing. I hope your recovery will become easier to handle as time passes and that your strength and determination will help you to get through this along with the love of family and friends. I'm happy to share this on FB and Twitter in the hope that others will be able to donate to ease your financial difficulties.
From Cristy Castleberry on your video Marisha.. She shared, had this to say Thank you Cristy, even tho you are going thru major medical things you take the time out to Be such a blessing to others.. Love you so much "Ok, it's time to pay it forward...we never think this will happen to us or our family members until the day it does. Imagine if this was your daughter, sister, best friend etc. would you extend your wallet, prayers, time etc to save her life? This is very real and she needs her brothers and sisters in Christ to help her, friends, anyone who can extend their love to her. Remember every little bit helps. This video takes you from the beginning to current and it is heart breaking to see but it is the reality she is living. This should prompt us into action coming together as a community. I pray that we have the heart of Jesus and Help her as he calls us to do. ~God Bless each and everyone of you~and Remember it's a Blessing to be a Blessing"