Jennifer Gratz was just learning how to be a mom of twin girls when her husband was diagnosed with cancer. Michael is a police officer and went at the cancer hard, losing part of his foot in the process.
Five years of remission later, Michael was fulfilling his dream to become a member of the FBI when a screening showed his cancer was back. Now this couple is facing cancer together. We were honored to send Jennifer a Cocktails & Chemo care package this month and even more lucky to get to know her and call her part of our family. Jennifer’s husband Michael is sharing their story in a blog you can READ HERE.
Here is their story in Jennifer’s words. She is truly an awesome person!
My husband Michael was diagnosed with Clear Cell Sarcoma in the Fall of 2009. Our twin girls were just 5 months old. Clear Cell Sarcoma is one of the rarest forms of cancer, and is diagnosed on average about 6 times per year worldwide. There is not much information on CCS, but we were told this type of cancer is very aggressive, and does not respond to chemo or radiation. The best way to fight CCS is with radical resection (amputation). The original tumor site was on Mike’s left foot. Michael is an active Police Officer and member of the SWAT team. When Michael went in for his initial surgery, we did not know if he would be losing his entire leg, a portion of his leg, foot, ETC… We were so lucky that they found clear margins after they completed a first ray amputation. Michael, now missing a portion of his foot, passed physical therapy almost immediately! Michael was back to work as a full time Police/SWAT Officer soon after the New Year in 2010. Life was good…
Michael celebrated 5 years with having no evidence of disease in December of 2014. Life was moving along beautifully, and Michael was far into the hiring process with the FBI. There was one last pre-employment physical screen to be completed before he could be officially hired. In June of last year, a local health facility took a routine chest x-ray which reviled fluid on his lungs. Within days we quickly learned Michaels cancer had returned to the plural area surrounding his lungs. Soon after, the cancer also spread to his liver, lymph nodes, and bones. Michael has tried several treatment options over the last few months, and so far, all have been unsuccessful. His tumors have continued to grow and rapidly spread. He is currently taking a new chemo pill, and we will get the results at the end of this month.
Trying to balance life as a caregiver, fulltime worker, and Mother of twins has definitely been an adjustment. The days for Mike are now full of pills, monitoring his heart rate, and rest. Holding Mikes hand through the pain and comforting him through this has been heartbreaking for both of us. I often dream of having our old life back. I miss the simple things like watching Mike play with the twins, going out on a dinner date, or just being our silly family of four together. Still… there is not a single day that goes by that I am not thankful for my life. Our home is filled with so much love, strength, and support. I’m thankful for the help and support of our families. We could not do this without them. They are caregivers also. Michael and I will celebrate 12 years of marriage this June. He is such a blessing to me and our girls. Mike always reminds me in my moments of weakness to be strong and that I must remain in BEAST mode. I know he is right, and I will. We’re actually both taking care of each other.