Amy Dean is a fighter, and she’s had enough of this cancer business. Her son Eric, almost 18, has faced Osteosarcoma since he was 14. He has dealt with everything from “operation salvage limb” in 2015 which resulted in what they call Eric’s “bionic leg,” to being injected with “blue goo” this fall after an allergic reaction to his chemo treatment was so severe that he coded. This fall, her husband Curtis was diagnosed with Stage III rectal colon cancer. So when people share their cancer journeys with her, she knows distinctly what they’re facing. “We’re cancer veterans, we got this,” she explains with a confidence and sense of humor that keep her going.
Before Curtis’s diagnosis, the family was just making it on his income. However, two months of chemo, which included a pump 24 hours/7 days week, and 5 ½ weeks of radiation have left him unable to work and the family without his income to rely on. Amy has tried to go back to work, but the response she gets repeatedly from employers who know her family situation is ‘We want you BUT…how can we count on you to be here?’ Her reply? “Because I need the bills paid!”
In December, New Day stepped in to help the family with outstanding water and electric bills, as well as housing costs. “It meant it a lot,” said Amy. “It helped so much, it was so nice and so encouraging. We got hit with a double whammy.”
Meanwhile, Eric is still recovering at home and has a homebound teacher. For nearly a year straight, he was in the hospital for treatment, Amy explains. Quickly tallying the nights he spent at home, she totals just six nights out of the first eight months of his most recent chemo treatment. Today, Eric has damaged but stable kidneys, which she says is a good sign, and continues treatment for cancerous spots on his lungs. He looks forward to getting back to his building maintenance program, where his classmates don’t look at him as though he has a disability , but treat him normally, she adds.
Meanwhile, her husband Curtis is on hold from chemo and may be a candidate for surgery. Looking back at the long journey that has been her family’s cancer story, she remembers Eric’s pediatrician looking at her three years ago with tears in her eyes and saying, “Your life is about to go upside down in three seconds. Your son has cancer.”
“He took cancer very well,” Amy states, then reflecting on her own journey, adds, “There’s always a shower to cry in.”
For more on Eric’s cancer journey, visit Erics Troopers on facebook.