Monday, January 24, 2011

A letter by Trenton's Aunt Kelli

In June 2007, my 17-year-old nephew was diagnosed with malignant melanoma (a form of skin cancer).    Melanoma is the most serious form of skin cancer; it develops in the cells that produce melanin.  While it is not the most common of the skin cancers, it causes the most deaths.  The American Cancer Society estimates that at present, about 120,000 new cases of melanoma in the US are diagnosed each year.  More than one person dies each hour from melanoma and advanced stages of melanoma have no effective treatment.
Trenton is an only child that has spent the last 3 ½ years battling this horrible disease, a disease that no young adult deserves to deal with.  Trenton has hopes and dreams similar to every other kid his age, such as, beginning a life of adulthood, going to college, joining the service, and starting a career.  He loves to fish, camp, ride dirt bikes and hang with friends just like any other young man does, but having melanoma in his leg and abdomen has put a halt on his life.  Trenton has spent long days and weeks in the hospitals, endured surgeries that caused every complication and side effect known and nearly lost his leg.  He has been unable to do the things he enjoys most because of the constant pain and treatments that make him so ill he does not want to get out of bed.   
When melanoma cancer has spread beyond the original tumor site, such as, Trenton’s, it becomes hard to treat and can be fatal.  Trenton is doing everything possible to fight this.
He has had surgery to remove the affected lymph nodes.  He has had Chemotherapy that was administered into a vein in his leg to destroy the cancer cells.  It is a procedure called isolated limb perfusion.  During the procedure, blood in his leg is not allowed to travel to other areas of the body for a short time, so that the chemotherapy drugs travel directly to the area around the melanoma and won’t affect other parts of the body.  He has gone through biological therapy (immunotherapy).  This helps boost the immune system by using a drug called Alpha-interferon.  It is the only drug currently approved by the FDA for melanoma patients.  (The side effects are awful).  He currently just finished his final round of another clinical trial drug for immunotherapy.  Unfortunately, these treatments have not worked as we all hoped they would. 
Melanoma/skin cancer is the most underfunded and least screened cancer.  People find their own melanomas more frequently than doctors do, just as Trenton did.  The emotional and physical costs are incalculable.  Trenton wishes to go to Disneyland this spring with all his family, to have fun and forget about this cancer for a few days.  We want to help raise money to pay for Trenton and his parents so his wish will come true.  It is the very least we can do for such an awesome, deserving kid.

 SOURCE:  National Cancer Institute
American Cancer Society's Facts and Figures, The Skin Cancer Foundation, The American Academy of Dermatology

No comments:

Post a Comment