"Whatever You Do, Don't Google It"

"Through sickness and in health" By Kevin & Meredith Minor (Click to Follow Their Cancer Journey Blog)

Kevin and I got married February 16, 2019 in a beautiful Southern wedding. We couldn't have asked for a more perfect day and it was easily the best day of my life. We had an amazing honeymoon in St. Lucia and we talked about where we wanted to travel before we have kids, home projects we would tackle when we got back home and how we would start planning our budget so we could build our dream home in the next 5-10 years.

Things have changed since then.

I brought Kevin to the ER on April 11 (almost 2 months of being married) after he coughed up blood which capped off a month of several other symptoms. We soon found out he had multiple pulmonary emboli on both lungs. The doctors said he was lucky to be alive and if we would have waited any longer, he would have died from the pulmonary embolism. Little did we know, this would soon be the least of our worries. Looking back at this period of time seems like a dream, or more like a nightmare. While in the hospital, we learned Kevin had a tumor on his left upper lobe and several nodules on the right lower lobe along with about a liter of fluid around his heart. He underwent surgery to put a pericardial window in place to drain the fluid and since he is "so young and healthy" the surgeons decided to do a wedge biopsy and completely remove the largest tumor. The snowball of terrifying information continued to grow and peaked when we learned the results of the biopsy.  Non-Small adenocarcinoma cells were in the tumor, pericardial fluid and wall. Stage IV Lung Cancer.

The doctor who broke the news immediately told us, "whatever you do, don't google it." It was too late and I was already scrolling through the devastating results and unimaginable prognosis statistics. How could this happen? Kevin is only 32, we just got married. We were supposed to have kids and grow old together. How is it possible that I could lose the love of my life in just 6 months? The next few days were a blur. We broke the news to family and friends and tried our best to put on a brave face. Everyone was in just as much shock as we were. Somewhere during this time though, I made the decision that Kevin would be a part of the 1% of patients with this that lived longer than everyone else. He had to.

We were lucky enough to get an appointment at MD Anderson within a few days after I filled out a new patient form online. Looking back, I think Dr. Lam hand picked us because he knew something about Kevin that we didn't. When we were told about a possible "genetic mutation" that caused the cancer, we thought that this was just more bad news and a heavier burden we would have to carry. We soon found out it was quite the opposite.

It took another week to get more test results, but there is was in black and white ink: ALK Positive. As we were told, this means his ALK gene is broken or mutated allowing uncontrolled cell replication: cancer. Since we found out this news and Dr. Lam told us about the ALK Positive support group, which finally gave us real hope for our future.  The amazing people with this crazy diagnosis and their caregivers are so knowledgeable and have created a path for everyone to follow. 

The last 3 months have been a rollercoaster of ups and downs but here we are. We're ready to fight this and break the stigma of lung cancer. One day at a time, through sickness and in health.

Rhonda Meckstroth