June 27, 2012: from Holly:
Good morning everybody. Here is the post from Holly last night...I don't know how to re-post it so I've just cut and pasted it. Send all your positive thoughts!
Holly VanDerbeck wrote: Hi All, really sorry to add to the crappy year Saugerties is having but.... Just found out yesterday morning that my lymph node that was removed came back as a Metastatic melanoma. We are moving really fast but it is very serious and I am going to have a very complicated summer. I am going to Dyson Cancer Center at Vassar and tomorrow I have a blood test and a MRI and a PET scan ...They have to find out what and where it all is to make a plan. I found the right drs at Dyson center. They are all working really fast and together so thats good. I think I will have to get surgery to remove the rest of the lymph nodes but no idea when til next week. I am going to make a group page so I can update friends and family. I will be around when not being scanned and poked so I will see you! I feel great right now so it’s kind of weird. hoping to wake up soon lol, I will be happy to chat and update when I see you!
July 2012: from Holly
Hi guys! So went to see Dr today a week early. I thought I over did it on friday as I had some swelling that made me nervous. I laid low this weekend and kept my leg up. The good news is dr said it all looks great! Still pretty sore but the staples( that's right I said STAPLES! Holy crap like from a staple gun ) the staples are perfect and clean and healing beautifully - although I will have them for a while! The port should come out next week (yeah!) the pathology report on the lymph nodes taken from my right leg is good but further testing for microscopic bits of the cancer is still being done. Treatment starts after this is fully healed. I get to go on vacation to Rockport MA in August if all keeps going so well! I cannot swim or go on massive treks but the ocean and my family makes it perfect! The highlight of the day was seeing my good friend and now fellow surgery partner Heather Johansen at cvs while we both waited for pain meds lol! Came home and Heidi and Lily dropped off amazing pasta and fruit! On that note no more baked goods please, my kids ate about 30+ chocolate chip cookies while I laid on my back grurrrr...so annoying lol! I welcome all health food with 1 legged jumping jacks lol.. Much love!!!!
August 2012: from Rob
A Reflection. A Thank you. A Deep Breath: Just 10 short weeks ago our home was added to the list of millions that have been invaded by cancer when Holly was told she had what ended up being stage 3 Skin Cancer that had gotten into her Lymph Nodes. 10 weeks that could have been 10 years or 10 minutes…..so much has happened since then. Doctors call this time the “Mad Rush”. No kiddin! Just two weeks later after dozens of appointments, additional scares, tests and scans, the tumor and likely trouble spots were removed and her recovery began. Dr. James Nitzkorski is part wizard, part scientist and all human…thank you for making everything happen just as you predicted and being on the front line of saving my wife, I can never repay what you have done for us. Our family: immediate, extended, close, distant…you’ve all been incredible in somehow knowing what we needed and when we needed it….priceless. Friends: You moved furniture, you did “drive by fruitings”(with a side of beer), you cleaned and shopped and made dinner and drove the kids, you listened to details you never wanted know, you offered hugs, prayers and support…..we needed you and you were there…Thank You! Medical Friends: Sandy…you made all the right introductions and knocked down the doors to get us started…..Julie…our inside champion who kept it all organized so we knew if we were coming or going. Every Doctor, Assistant and Nurse was friendly, professional and AWESOME! For every little kindness and especially those who have been in our shoes themselves and simply took action beyond the awkward offer to help when we have no idea what to do…you’ve shown me how to pay that on to others…thank you. Lastly and most important for us……My sons. It’s a special relationship a guy has with his mom and especially after the year our town had with losing moms, this was tough news for them. They handled it better than me. My boys are keeping themselves together and doing anything and everything to help…growing up a bit faster in some respects than we have the right to ask them to. The past couple of weeks have been as “normal” as we could make them and it’s been thankfully quiet. School has started and fall sports are underway. And Holly is getting to know “compression stocking fashion” as she works with her physical therapist to keep the threatening Lymphodema(chronic swelling) in her leg at bay. ……and now we go on to the part the doctors call the “marathon”. Monday, Holly begins 4 weeks of everyday at the hospital for intravenous Interferon followed by 11 months of me administering this stuff at home 3 days a week. She may have no side effects…or this drug may test her beyond anything she’s experienced so far….we won’t know until she begins. So this weekend we move more furniture, bar-b-que, go to Little League awards, do laundry and the lawn, go to fall baseball and live one more weekend of “normal” before the marathon begins. As each of you reading this does your “normal” this weekend, please take a little, extra deep breath to store up the energy to be there for Holly over this Marathon. --Rob
Christmas 2012 from Holly:
This year I am thankful for all the people in my life...I have never felt so loved or lucky...I have the best parents, brothers and sisters, nieces and nephew...my in-laws are awesome and I love my sister in law like a sister...I am also grateful for John who always brings twisted humor into the day...and fixed my tv when I couldnt see over my leg lol... Aunts and Uncles, and cousins...Samantha, I adore you! I am very excited for the holidays this year! I am so grateful for all the meals, rides for kids and tons of love I got this year. I has made the craziness much easier! I am also thanking Heidi Gramlich-Leong and Heather Dederick Johansen for truly being the best friends in a crisis! I love you both! Also Deanna Marelli Costello for helping set up thanksgiving, and the amazing cheesecake which leads me to the next thing I am grateful for ..AG and Goldsign jeans! They fit no matter how much weight I gain! Last but not least, my boys and Rob VanDerbeck who handled this years cancer diagnosis with more strength than fear and really gave me so much comfort and safety...the boys hung out with me ( and some of their friends who I love) when I couldn't move and Rob was so quick and organized sorting all of the changes we had to make in 2 weeks...I love him so....Happy Thanksgiving...
June 2013 from a close family friends:
A year ago my girlfriend Holly VanDerbeck called me and told me that she had metastatic melanoma...stage 3 skin cancer. I cried on the phone and tried not to let her hear me. I have said countless prayers over this past year that my dear friend would beat this wretched beast, Cancer. Yesterday her PetScan (Pets Can! Rob VanDerbeck lol) came back CLEAR!!!! SO TAKE THAT CANCER...HOLLY KICKED YOUR ASS!!! Since I don't know how to get on the roof at my job (which is a good thing on every other day!) I am screaming out how happy I am right here on FB! Thank You God for this Great News!!! When I look at Holly I see Strength of a million men, the Love every mother has for her child and friendship that could move mountains. I am grateful for this news, her strength, her support in Rob VanDerbeck, Seth VanDerbeck, and Noah VanDerbeck. I Love You All!
July 25th 2013: from Rob:
Best place and time to smooch with my wife?????? In the kitchen, right after her final shot of Interferon!!!! That's right, Holly is done with these hideous shots!!!!!!! A few more days of side effects and we're back to all Holly, all the time! No long story or tearful essay tonight....just a great big sloppy kiss for every friend, family member, doctor, helper and random stranger who has been there over the past 13 plus months to help my fragile bad-ass wife kick cancers ass!!!!!! Good night everybody!