In October 2011, Melanie Saccaro, age 32, was enjoying her time with her firstborn, her brand new son Tate Alexander Saccaro. She and husband of six years, Mark, had recently bought their first home, were on track with great careers, and building their family and future. But Melanie hadn�t felt right the last few months and symptoms of anemia, diarrhea and weight loss were attributed to pregnancy, stress, "hormones," everything but the real problem. As she prepared for return to work a blood clot developed in her leg which ultimately led her to the doctor who diagnosed her with advanced colon cancer.
The day was October 11, 2011. The doctor, near tears, expressed deep emotion as he laid out the facts: there was a large tumor in the low colon causing major blockage, there were tumors throughout the liver, her tumor "burden" and counts were very high, this was stage IV disease - as bad as it gets. The liver tumors were inoperable. She didn�t return to her career as interior design project manager. Instead she began her journey into the realities of stage IV cancer. Life for Melanie and her family would never be the same. Melanie was very gravely ill. Those who love her were devastated.
After surgery to temporarily address the blockage, multiple blood transfusions and an IVC filter to prevent clots from reaching her lungs, she began grueling treatment with one of the standard chemo protocols, Folfox, and then daily radiation to her colorectal tumor. There were setbacks - horrible chemo side effects, more blood clots and hospitalizations, struggles to stop the weight loss. As February approached, the planned time for her colon resection, her tumor count stopped dropping. The treatment had lost its effectiveness. Following surgery to remove the colon tumor she started a new regimen in hopes of holding the liver tumors at bay - Folfiri. During all this her mother became acquainted with stage IV colon cancer survivor Suzanne Lindley of "YES! Beat Liver Tumors" and learned about liver targeted treatments and pursued this with Melanie�s oncologist. He referred her to a liver surgeon who agreed the tumors were inoperable, but felt they might be better treated with SIRT (Selective Internal Radiation Therapy) - Y90 spheres, tiny beads that deliver radiation directly to the tumors through the liver�s blood supply.
Melanie had the mapping of her liver circulation and insertion of Theraspheres into the right side of her liver in May, 2011. The left side followed in June. These were outpatient procedures with side effects easily treated with medications. She continued on Folfiri chemotherapy with the addition of Erbitux in August. Over the next few months, her condition improved by leaps and bounds. Her anemia resolved. She regained all the lost weight. The liver tumors showed "calcification" on scans. Her strength returned. She continued living and enjoying her family and raising her son. Today she continues celebrating life and planning her future with a remarkable attitude and abundant joy!