Sunday, July 16, 2006

I'm sort of a big deal.

As is the routine, and, at the risk of being a little corny, I like to post some encouraging stories I read on occasion. This one really caught my attention; more than anything, I'm touched by this man's tenacity, high spirits in the face of unbelievable circumstances, and the will to keep up the good fight. I did do a little editing just for brevity's sake, and the piece includes several updates posted by Charles over time (as marked by *). Feel free to check it out on the bulletin board at MPIP if you're interested in reading it in its entirity (with dates listed), as I encourage you to do. I think, and hope, that you'll find this story as amazing as I did. It's a real testiment to not giving up hope and to fighting to the dirty, ruthless, bitter end without relent.
Thanks, Charles, for the inspiration and you'll continue to be in my thoughts.
*In 1997 I was diagnosed with malignant melanoma. I have had nine surgeries in the past eight years. A few weeks after I had one of my adrenal glands removed, last August, the cancer was found in both chest cavities and was determined to be inoperable. On January 17th, 2005 I entered the Ohio State University's James Cancer Hospital to begin five days of chemotherapy...

The chemo (IL-2) was administered with Demerol. After eight doses over three days my neurological system crashed. I was removed from the treatment and I barely recall the next 3 days. The Demerol (discovered from others on this BB that it was the IL-2, not Demerol) caused horrible hallucinations and I was told that my behavior was rather bizarre, an example being that somehow I made my way out of my room, naked, in a wheelchair and was carrying on a conversation with the wall, believing it was my brother.
A week after entering the hospital I bottomed out, having lost all motor functions and feelings in my arms and legs, I lost my voice and speaking was almost impossible. That afternoon I was given IVIG... was not able to take steroids because they would have destroyed any good the chemo might have had... On January 28th, after numerous tests, I was taken via a gurney into the underground tunnel complex under the University's Hospital system and transferred to Dodd Hall, which is a rehabilitation hospital.

At Dodd I continued to receive weekly IVIG and after each infusion I was feeling a little stronger. This may sound like a horror story to you but I want you to know that I was one of the lucky and fortunate patients. My fellow patients included recent amputees, stroke victims, severe brain damage caused by automobile collisions and spinal cord injuries I have regained my voice and ability to speak and to swallow without choking. I walk with the aid of a walker with wheels and I continue with physical and occupational therapy on an outpatient basis. I'm working on regaining my sense of balance, strengthening my limbs and improving my dexterity.

*My doctors and I both agree that I am on the road to recovery. The progress I have made would not have been possible without the love and help that Ludmila and my family have given me over the past weeks.

*I am home and slowly getting stronger, my walking is unsure and my balance needs some work. I go to OSU East Hospital twice a week for physical & occupational therapy. Last week I found out that the cancer in my chest cavity has been reduced by about 60%. I continue to work hard at regaining my strength and dexterity in all limbs.

*Earlier this week I underwent another CT scan and blood work to determine the status of my melanoma which, after nine surgeries, had lodged in my chest cavity and was inoperable. Most of you know... [the chemo, b/c of previous conditions, at one point] paralyzed me from head to foot. Through continuing rehabilitation I am slowly getting stronger. Yesterday I met with my oncologist and was informed that I am melanoma free, cancer free for the first time in nine years. She advised me that if this cancer does not reappear in the next nine to twelve months my chances of total remission are greatly increased. I am convinced that your collective prayers and support, along with my decision to change oncologists, and the love and compassion of my wife has seen me this far in our battle for my improved health.

*A few weeks ago I had another CT scan and it was negative and my blood work was normal. I encourage anyone fighting this disease to work with an oncologist that you are comfortable with. Don’t give up hope and accept all the love, help and prayers from your friends and family. In closing, God bless all of you on this BB for your kind words and support. -Charles

[update: Charles has been cancer-free for more than 8 months.]

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