Contacted the University of Iowa

After speaking with my cousin Annette last night I felt so much better. Kevin, however, is still trying to get his mind around everything – it’s all happening so fast. He keeps saying “But I don’t feel any different!” – (meaning, he never felt bad in the first place, and that the cancer had no symptoms). However, he’s a great patient, and willing to try everything he’s asked, even my dumb ideas, like drinking water only from water jugs I labelled with positive words like “PERFECT HEALTH”, LOL! I’ll drink to that!

A note on statistics

I learned not to be fooled by statistics. You read these depressing statistics online about the minimal chance of surviving melanoma – they seem hopeless. It’s still a deadly disease, but Annette helped define what these studies actually include. (Annette is my cousin, former Barbie buddy and paper doll maker when we were kids. She’s now an oncologist.)

For one, when you read that someone has a lacerated, deep (4.00 mm or more), and large lesion (as Kevin has), the prognosis is only 50% will live 5 years. Annette explained this group includes people who simply have it removed and do nothing else – no treatments, no meds. She said that means if he had it removed and did nothing he’d still have a 50/50 shot.

The survivability jumps up to 67%-70% with traditional meds, like Intereferon (which actually isn’t that helpful in many cases since it doesn’t target cancer, it only boosts immunity).

It’s important to note that these statistics do not include meds that directly target the melanoma, since those drugs were only recently approved by the FDA for advanced stage cancer where it has metastized, like Stage VI. Taking part in clinical trials allows Kevin to use these powerful, melanoma-targeting meds, while in a less advanced stage. In some cases, the trials include a “cocktail” of meds which target melanoma. These are extremely promising drugs, and are already clearly effective with more advanced stages. Annette said we have every reason to be optimistic that the melanoma will be taken care of, and possibly even cured altogether!

What’s next?

Step 1 is underway – contacted the University of Iowa to meet with Dr. Milhem to see if Kevin and I can meet with him to review various clinical trials going on now for melanoma. Ideally Kevin will be able to participate using better, more effective meds that target melanoma, and still use the team here in Cedar Rapids, whom he likes and feels comfortable with.

He meets with the plastic surgeon tomorrow. While Dr. Reid will do the melanoma removal, Dr. Grado will do the skin grafting. I learned from my cousin that there is only about 1 plastic surgeon specializing in melanoma per state! This is why two surgeons will be present during the surgery: one for the melanoma, the other for the graft.

GOOD NEWS! Business is ramping up!

Slowly but surely, some bids are coming through. YIPPEE and HALLELUJAH! Kevin has a project which must be completed asap. He told them he will have to have surgery mid-way. According to the doc, if he allows a few days for recovery, he should be fine. Actually the exercise will probably do him good & help with circulation if he can tolerate it well. He needs to pay close attention to his body, and not to overdo it.

Keep those prayers coming!

Kevin had a bid come in, and I just got a new client today! Still no word on a pending job offer, or other places I’ve interviewed, but something’s got to give soon! I still need my unemployment, however. I learned my former employer is disputing it, and this is our only way of being sure our health insurance (through COBRA) is paid. This is C R I T I C AL! Without it, Kevin has no care and cannot be insured for this preexisting condition. Hopefully something wonderful will happen very soon. 🙂


3 thoughts on “Contacted the University of Iowa

  1. She’s an oncologist – she’s been such a great resource for info about how trials work, and the prognosis for scalp melanoma, and how some of her patients did after the surgeries. One of her main concerns was to be certain the surgeon was and ENT & melanoma specialist (which they are). This is because of the delicate node surgery, if Kevin ends up needing. Hopefully he won’t!


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