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August 28, 2018
Meet Sharon Harbin. Sharon is a wife and mom of 2 teen boys in Alabama. She was working as a dental hygienist when she bumped a mole on her back with the exam light and coworkers thought she needed to get it checked out because it continued to bleed and did not heal. She was just 24 years old and uninsured when she received the news that the mole was melanoma, the most dangerous type of skin cancer. She had numerous atypical moles removed and biopsied, 40-60 at a time, approximately 300 in all. Only the original mole was melanoma and the lymph nodes were clear so no further treatment was recommended.
Eleven years later, in 2016, Sharon developed a cough she couldn’t shake and a pain in her right shoulder that she thought was due to her profession as a hygienist. A trip to the local urgent care on a Sunday afternoon the day before Halloween showed a large mass in her right lung. She was referred to an oncologist and scheduled for biopsy of the knot in her shoulder. We received the news we thought we had done everything possible to avoid. Metastasized Melanoma Stage 4. Scans showed numerous tumors throughout her body and a mass in her lung. Initial immunotherapy did not work followed by a severe reaction and sepsis from a second therapy on New Year’s. Thanks to the calls and concern of a dear friend, Deann Herberholz, who is our Magnolia connection, she survived the sepsis, by the grace of God, and started on a second targeted therapy. This one worked for a while, but not without side effects. She was unable to return to work and in March of 2017 her colon perforated due to the treatment requiring an emergency surgery. The cancer rebounded during the time without chemo, but when therapy was restarted it kept the tumor growth under control for a time.
In August of 2017, scans showed the melanoma had metastasized to her brain. Rounds of radiation and a different immunotherapy in combination with chemotherapy were given. She was hospitalized in October due to dehydration and had surgery to remove 3 inflamed tumors. The follow-up MRI showed that the treated brain tumors were shrinking or gone. This was great news, but the body tumors continued to grow and spread. She prepared to begin a clinical trial in May of this year, but the required MRI showed 4 new brain mets that had to be treated first. She received radiation treatment again at the beginning of summer break. She was able to celebrate her youngest son’s 14th birthday, then brain swelling led to excruciating pain and nausea that caused her to be hospitalized for dehydration and pain control for most of June and July.
On July 5th, she had 2 brain tumors removed to relieve the pressure that high dose IV steroids had failed to correct, all in hopes to speed the recovery to get into the clinical trial. Today, she is recovering from the surgery at home. She is currently taking a newly approved oral chemo/targeted therapy because the most recent MRI results ruled out the clinical trial at this time. We are hopeful that this treatment will work. Sharon has come through so much, but through it all she has remained hopeful and strong #Harbinstrong. #FaithOverFear #Phil.4:13 which have been our battle cry. She appreciates the love and faith of her family, friends, church, and community that have been so good to her and our family. We still believe and have hope for a miracle.
You can read more on her Facebook Page Harbinstrong Sharon’s Journey
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