Voelker-Wesley struggles for skin cancer that spreads to her breasts, lungs and lives after being in remission for five years. The disease has robbed her of her livelihood and independence, but not her hopes.
Kim Voelker-Wesley, 41
, of Montrose hugs his son Cameron Wesley, 3, as her mother Terrie Gronau from Montrose watches while sitting in the dining room of his home in Montrose on Thursday, January 3, 2019. Voelker-Wesley struggles for skin cancer that spreads to her breasts, lungs and lives after being in remission for five years. The disease has robbed her of her livelihood and independence, but not her hopes. She has a New Year’s resolution: to live.
DETROIT – Kim Wesley’s New Year’s resolution is quite simple: She wants to live.
She spent New Year’s Eve on chemo, her light blue eyes fixed on the hanging plastic bag filled with poisonous liquid hope.
The Swartz Creek woman, who was in remission for five years after a 2012 melanoma diagnosis, learned last year that the disease was back and spread to her breast, abdomen, lungs and liver.
She blindsided by the relapse: Two months earlier, a CT scan showed no disease, she said, noting that her doctor said she was in the clear. But a routine mammogram in January 2018 revealed that cancer was back.
Wesley would lose her red hair, her energy, her livelihood, her car – fallout from two potent chemo threads landing her in the hospital for more than a month last summer, vomiting to a point that would die and praying to die.
But she doesn’t remember that part. The soft-spoken woman who smiles at the nurses during chemo treatments will only remember to survive the sacred nightmare and want to live.
The single workaholic who worked full time through chemo wants his old life back. She has always worked and taken care of her children. She wants to be independent again, pursue meetings and take her children bowling and in the cinema she used to.
She needs chemo to work. She needs to be strong and positive.
She needs a miracle – and a car.
After the cancer came back Wesley became ill to work and had to give up his full-time job as a certified nurse at an orphanage in Grand Blanc where she made about $ 52,000 a year. She worked overtime and double shifts to cover her bills, which included a $ 750 monthly loan and a $ 400 month car payment for her 2012 Dodge Journey, she said.
Her parents helped save her four-bedroom home. the car was taken back after she fell behind the payments. She is now disabled: $ 1,053 per month.
Cancer has taken its toll, she admits.
Kim Voelker-Wesley, 41, of Montrose listens to test results before the start of her chemotherapy at the Rose Cancer Center in the Royal Oak on Monday, December 31, 2018. Voelker-Wesley fights skin cancer that spread to her breasts, lungs and liver after being in remission for five years. The disease has robbed her of her livelihood and independence, but not her hopes. She has a New Year’s resolution: to live. (Photo: Ryan Garza, Detroit Free Press)
“I’ve heard you have to be positive … you don’t sit down to die,” she said just a few days before her New Year’s Eve treatment at Beaumont Hospital Rose Cancer Center in the Royal Oak. “I’ve always been a strong person. I’m not one of those people to say,” I don’t have this. “
And so she’s struggling with nausea, fatigue, money
Because she really says it not an option to make caves to despair. “” I really struggle not only cancer – but to get my life back, “she said.” Sometimes it’s too much and I’m getting depressed and just crying. But then I remember that if I just keep myself positive and struggle – that’s how you beat cancer. “
Above all, she said,” My children need me. “
An unusual mole
It was during the 2012 carnival trip when Wesley’s mother saw a raised, dark mole on her daughter’s back. It had been a while. It started to get flat, but over time it started to rise and darken and
When her mother saw it, Wesley said that the mullet had turned black and started to itch and bleed, her mother told her to have it checked out, she did.
It was melanoma. Her lymph nodes, so Wesley had two operations that removed cancer and remitted her, she said, for five years she believed she was cancer-free and even had two children after her cancer surgery.
Wesley’s child is between the ages of 1 and 13. She is foreign to her father – they split up in 2014 – and she has taken care of the children to a great extent with the help of her parents and three sisters.
In November 2017, Wesley had what she thought was her final routine CT scan. There was no cancer and her doctor told her she would not need routine readings anymore, she was done, she said.
Then, two months later, she was blindsided. Wesley went to routine mammograms in January 2018 when lumps were discovered. A biopsy followed.
Cancer was back.
“When I read the results it said it was melanoma and I was just in tears,” reminded Wesley, who was sitting in a car with her mother as she learned the news. “I started to cry.” She began to cry. “
The mother and daughter then went to the doctor, who gave more bad news.
” He said this time surgery wasn’t an option because it was in my blood and spreading to my organs, “Wesley said.” He just said that I had to start on chemo. “The news also closed his mother Terri Gronau, 60, who has been Wesley’s head support system, drove her to meetings, looks at her children, and feeds them every night while her daughter fight for his life.
“We were just shocked … I thought she was in remission,” Gronau said. “Thinking everything started from a small spot on the back … It’s scary and it’s stressful and stressful It makes me sick sometimes. I would rather be me than her. “
Fighting the Unthinkable
Gronau has seen her daughter through some dark days. It has been gut-cutting for the supportive mother sitting on the hospital parking with her grandchildren while their mother gets chemo. Wesley gets chemo every other week.
“She has a good heart. She loves everyone, “said Gronau about Wesley, her oldest child.” To see her this is hard for everyone. I think it’s hard for her because she used to be the strong one … She’s used to being the one that others can trust. “
But she’s watching her daughter knock it through. A strong mother who supports the other , both hide their fears and pain for their children.
“I see her worry about the children … She tries to stay positive and she doesn’t really owe anyone. part of her personality and spirit, “Gronau said, smiling in the same way her daughter does when she talks about the disease.
It is too rare that the words "exercise" and "snacking" occur nearby (unless accompanied by…
But the dark days have been tough. Gronau almost lost her daughter in July, when her potassium levels fell to dangerously low levels from the two chemo threads she took at the same time: Opdivo and Yervoy, the latter she could not tolerate.
“There are not many who can take them together, but they must try. Cancer came back as aggressively as they needed to strike it aggressively. It was rough, “Gronau said that recalling nausea and vomiting was nonstop.” 19659006] Wesley reached a breakpoint.
“She just looked at me one night … she turned her head and said,” Mom, I have to go to the hospital, because I’m in the dying stages, “Gronau recalled.
Wesley spent all of June and July in the hospital. The Yervoy drug was stopped. The aggressive treatment did it.
“Since then, they have scanned me again. It’s out of my lungs, Wesley said. “I have a few spots on my liver but they have become smaller. Right now I react positively to the medicine.”
And that’s what she’s doing.
She said her doctor told her that she had to stay on the chemo drug until it stopped working. And when and if she says, the doctor told her “he has two other medals in his pocket.”
Wesley does not give up.
She is in healthcare from work. And her employer, she said, has told her she can come back to work when she is stronger.
Suzette Harrison, staff coordinator at Wellbridge in the Grand Blanc nursing home where Wesley worked, describes Wesley as a reliable and hard worker who picked up shifts all the time, even when she went through chemo.
“You could always count on her. So when it hit her, it hit her hard,” says Harrison, referring to Wesley’s fight against cancer. “She was always at work … She is a very hard worker who supported her family and herself.”
According to Harrison, Wesley’s employees often tried to persuade Wesley to stay home to get better. But Wesley would not hear about it.
“I think it was more of her drive to continue driving forward,” Harrison says. “It was her strength, she would not just lie down and die. She wanted to live.”
It wasn’t until the aggressive chemo treatment started that Wesley finally had to give up the job.
When it came to me it had already hit her harder. I knew she was going through it. I was like, “Kim, you really should rest,” says Harrison, noting that Wesley’s job is open and that she can come back to it when she feels better.
So Wesley pray for that day, every day.
“I pray for my health to be better so that my children can have their mother. I ask for my children to take care of. I pray for other people. I pray for my family,” she said
When she was sitting in the hospital lobby on New Year’s Eve waiting for her name to be called her chemo treatment, Wesley ventured back and forth in the chair and rubbed her hands on her thighs. She logged through anxiety, talked about missing work and joking about not enjoying her new white hair or her pixie cut.
When her name finally rang, she said, “I am.” And stood up and went to the chemo center with a T-shirt she bought for herself. It read, “You got this.”