An online friend of mine, Melanie Kabo, is being nominated in the Yahoo Women Who Shine contest. The winner of this contest will receive $10,000, which would greatly help her with her medical bills. You are invited to hear her story, and if it touches you, please consider voting for her by clicking on the link above. ~ Stacey Ross, SDBM
Melanie’s Story (written by her):
On November 20, 2011, I had a seizure in the early morning and was rushed by ambulance to the ER where after a cat scan the doctor told us that I have a mass in my brain. Then an MRI confirmed a 5cm mass in my brain. The next morning I had surgery to do a biopsy, which came back inconclusive. A neurologist from the hospital came into my room and said I have a Glioblastoma (stage 4 brain cancer), which would give me 14 months to live. That gave us a good scare, but thank God, that doctor was wrong! From there my husband sent my MRI images all over the United States and started researching for a doctor. We found one at UCLA and had a surgery on December 14, 2011, which much to our disappointment only removed half of the tumor, but this time we got an accurate pathology report. I had a stage 2 mixed Oligoastrocytoma…Brain Cancer and was told I have about 3 to 8 years to live, but that is based on a bell curve.
On the drive home from the hospital, I looked around and said we could get into a car accident and die right now, no one knows the number of their days.
Since only 50 percent was removed, we started to look into our options and did some doctor shopping. We had the choice between 2 years of chemo and radiation (but had heard so many bad things about radiation that we we scared of it). Back at UCLA with a Neuro-Oncologist, we were told that another surgery would be the best option. When we went to see the surgeon, we knew that she helped invent a vaccine against brain cancer . When we asked her about it she said it just became available for my grade of tumor (previously it was only for higher grade tumors). We were so happy after the disappointment of only half being removed before, and we were very hopeful with this surgeon as she only does surgery on tumors like mine.
My third surgery on March 1, 2012 was successful and the doctor thought that everything visible on the MRI was removed. There was also enough tumor left to make a vaccine out of. Then the vaccine process began. I had to give blood for a transfusion where they filtered my white blood cells out and converted them to dendritic cells to use for the vaccine. I received the experimental vaccine through a clinical trial throughout the month of May and June.
I am having MRIs every 3 months and the latest one reveals two globs the oncologist was curious about. Last week I had a PET scan which confirmed the globs are areas of tumor matter in my brain, now I’m just waiting on my doctors to decide the best treatment for me.
Brain cancer is tricky as it is not curable (although my bio on Yahoo Women Who Shine states that I am cancer-free, I am not and never will be). It is difficult to get treatments to go through the blood-brain barrier. With my life expectancy of 3 to 8 years, I plan on trying everything that could possibly help me in my treatment as my hope and focus is to get to see my 4 children grow up, with my youngest being only 2 when I was diagnosed, I’m praying for many more years. I’m sure it sounds silly, but since being diagnosed I have truly seen the world and my family in a new light. I enjoy so much more of the “little things” in life, I hear every word on songs, and find that I am enjoying life.
My sister-in-law, a Seattle area blogger, blogged about me and her blog nominated me in the Yahoo Women Who Shine contest. The winner of this contest will receive $10,000, which would greatly help us with all of our medical bills. The link to the contest is here.
Thanks you for taking your time,