Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Phil's Battle with Multiple Myeloma

Where do I begin?  I have known Phil since the 7th grade.  All through out high school he was a constant presence in my life.  He is the brother that I never had, and because he is family to me, I am going to do whatever it takes to help him.
His wife, Jen, wrote an account of what Phil has had to endure and what he still is facing. 

"Phil was diagnosed in January of 2005 with Multiple Myeloma. He had a tumor in his sacral bone (see diagram below). He received chemo and radiation at that time. The radiation expanded the tumor in his sacrum and cracked the left side of that bone. So they went in and did a sacral (the bone at the end of your spine/ass) reconstruction. He has a titanium rod, nuts, and bolts. The also took one of his ribs and put it there. He had kyphoplasty to vertebrae T12 (middle of back) because the cancer ate away at that bone and it collapsed. So they filled it with cement. C2 on the spine at the bottom of skull also was eaten by cancer and collapsed so he had a spine fusion surgery. They took titanium and a part of his rib again and fused C1 to C3 in which he cannot look to the left to far.
He has had radiation to C2, T10, T12, Sacral, Femur, Foot. He had a bone marrow transplant in November of 2009. Which he spent a month in hospital for, and the transplant was suppose to last a few years. It lasted one year. Then the cancer came back. He has several "spots" all over. During this time he has taken dexamethasone (a steroid) in combination with the chemo meds. A side effect of it is called avascular necrosis. Which means dead bone. So the balls of the hips and shoulders have dead bone on top. This causes him terrible pain, inability to walk distance, which he will need bilateral hips and shoulder replacements. At this time they are stable, but in the future it will require surgery.He has tried injections there but with little relief. He has had numerous MRI's, Xrays, bone marrow biopsies, PET scans, lab work, and medications he takes. He lives in constant pain, and suffers with depression. He has been unable to work for the last 3 years. He was without a pay check for a year and a few months before disability approved him. I work weekends but take time off to care for him sometimes. He has a spine surgeon, orthopedic Dr, neuro surgeon, pain management Dr, oncologist Dr, and oncologist nurse practitioner. He can't sit, stand, walk or stay in one position for very long due to pain. He currently is on Revlimid and Cytotoxin chemotherapy medications."

Post Surgery for Sacral Reconstruction

If I am correct, this is after his bone marrow transplant

What is Multiple Myeloma? 
Multiple myeloma is a cancer of the plasma cells, a type of white blood cell present in your bone marrow. Plasma cells normally make proteins called antibodies to help you fight infections. In multiple myeloma, a group of abnormal plasma cells (myeloma cells) multiplies, raising the number of plasma cells to a higher than normal level. Since these cells normally make proteins, the level of abnormal proteins in your blood also may go up. Health problems caused by multiple myeloma can affect your bones, immune system, kidneys and red blood cell count.

Phil is going on his sixth year (including his short time in remission) in battling this cancer. He is considered terminal because as of yet, there is no cure. He was 33 years old when he was diagnosed.  He will turn 40 in June. He is a rare cancer patient for this type of disease being one of the youngest diagnosed with it.
Phil has not been able to work for three years.  Phil has worked since he was 15 and through out most of his adult life he has held down two jobs at the same time to support his family. He has always prided himself in being the provider for his family. His generosity has known no bounds. He has helped people around him by being Mr. fix-it and in general would help out anyone in need. Now HE is the one with the greatest need. It hurts me to know that he is so frustrated and depressed because he HATES not being the one to support his family. 

He has an amazing family.  A nurturing and kind hearted wife, that has done everything within her power for him. Jen is a registered nurse and only works on the weekends because, during the week she is busy with taking him to his chemo treatments and doctors appointments and taking care of him. He does receive disability but most, if not all, of that money goes towards his medical care. Jen's paychecks go towards everything else. There is simply not enough each month.

He has two amazing and beautiful daughters, Heather is in her last year of college and will soon be a teacher, Given her generosity and gentle quality much like her mother, I am confident any school will be lucky to have her on board. Megan is in her junior year of high school. She is a lot like her dad. She was just a little younger than my own Katie when her dad was diagnosed with this horrible cancer.  That breaks my heart. No child should have to witness such cruelty. I know from experience, my own father was battling cancer (Hodgkin's) when I was five.  Even being that young, I have vivid memories of watching him struggle.

Receiving Chemo - On Megan's 16th Birthday

Which is why I am making a plea on their behalf.  I have had Jen set up a paypal donation account so that anyone can help them out.  I know that Phil is in need of a lift chair, because his hips make it difficult for him to be able to get up from a sitting position, and that is not covered under their insurance.  They have to come up with $1000.00 out of pocket for this chair.  Those funds are just not accessible to them.  This chair is a must!

I am asking you for help.  If you are able to, please donate to Phil's battle with Multiple Myeloma.  Whatever you can spare will help. Anyone willing to donate financially is just the first step.  I am also in need of businesses and/or individuals willing to donate their services or products for a silent auction fundraiser.  If you are interested please contact me at mnetsrek@yahoo.com .  Please put fundraiser in the subject line.

If you live in Ohio, preferably in or near Medina, Cuyahoga or Geauga County and would like to donate your product or services for more fundraising events being planned in the near future, please do not hesitate to contact me.  My goal is to make 2011 an easier year financially for my brother and his family. Reducing the stress for him is a priority so that he only has to concentrate on beating this cancer and not stress about his family needs financially.

**** If inclinded to donate. Please use the donation button on the top right hand side of tool bar.*** Thank you so much!


Anonymous said...

Once in a while, you meet a person who you just instantly like. I met Phil in November of 2009 when he joined our Texas Hold'em Poker game. I love his humor and his bravery. I hate his cancer with a passion and feel so helpless in the face of it. I am happy to give what little help I can to Phil and his lovely family. I still look forward to the day when I can bluff him off another big pot.

Tony Corsi said...

I worked with Phil for many years and I am honored to call him a great friend! He is a hero to me and to many others due to his bravery and the fighting spirit in the face of so many hardships. Jen is his angel here on earth, she is an amazing woman who exhibits what true love really means. Phil and Jen, you two are an inspitation to me.......I love you both and will do what I can to try and help> Tony Corsi

greg said...

p;ease find it in your heart to make a donation to this wonderful family. If you were to meet Phil, you would find out what a truely good man he is, and really hasnt complained to anyone what hes going through and has a very lovely family. Not only would the money you donate help him and his family but would be a big blessing to you at this time of year