Man With Skin Cancer Chronicles His Journey In This Heart-Wrenching Photo Journal

Producer’s Note: This piece is a photo journal made by Steve Hock to chronicle his two-year fight against cancer. The journal was run by him personally until he became too ill to maintain it, and the work was taken over my family members. Steve hoped that his story would help spread awareness of melanoma, and encourage everyone to get tested frequently so that nobody had to go through what he did. Images are taken from the image sharing site, Imgur. More information about Steve can be found on his facebook page.

beetlejuice

It started a bump the size of a marble. Six months later it was about the size of a baseball.

Source: Imgur
I ended up getting coverage under Medi-cal it was better than what I had, which was nothing. This was night before my first surgery, I was told there was nothing to worry about, it was just a fatty tumor.

The tumor was removed, and i was relieved! No more fatty bump under my arm!

Source: Imgur
A week later, I had a followup appointment with the surgeon. I was told they did a biopsy and it showed up as a cancer called melanoma. They would have to go back into my side and remove tissue, muscle and 18 lymph nodes.

This was what i woke up with after the second surgery which was two months later. Drain tube sticking out my side.

Source: Imgur

The second night I wasn’t feeling right.

Source: Imgur
I had the hiccups for hours from the morphine. I felt a big Pop! in my side in the middle of the hiccups. My chest started flooding with blood. I was able to take this pic with my phone while my chest was expanding like a balloon. I was scared to death. I was suffocating because the pressure pushing down on my lungs. They rushed me back into surgery while I bled to death internally.

Woke up in ICU that night, so thankful I was still alive.

Source: Imgur
I guess i lost a lot of blood, but they didn’t end up having to do a transfusion. All I could do was smile and be grateful for this life, I was saved again. I felt very lucky!

Home with my new scars, tubes, and missing muscle, my side drained constantly, I would wake up covered in fluid every night.

Source: Imgur

Inspecting the damage to my side.

Source: Imgur

I started Interferon treatment to try and make sure the cancer was gone.

Source: Imgur
I drove to Ventura every morning to get injected it took about a hour and a half. I wanted to show myself i could do it alone, I didn’t want to burden my family or friends. I fell asleep in the chair every time. Then i drove myself home and was very sick.

After a month on injections at the hospital, they lowered my dose of interferon and it was only 3 times a week.

Source: Imgur
But strange things were happening. I was mixing up words, I was switching up numbers with letters. I knew something was wrong. I started stuttering bad, it came and went for a week. I woke from a nap, my right side had stopped moving and I couldn’t talk. My mom rushed me to the VCMC Emergency room. They did an MRI and discovered a 4.2 cm Tumor in my brain.

I took this pic in the bathroom alone after I heard the news.

Source: Imgur

The next day in ICU i was starting to be able to write and spell again.

Source: Imgur
Not being able to communicate is the hardest thing i have ever had to do, its so easy to forget how hard others have it. It took me about 5 minutes to write one sentence. I thought long about a friend of mine Jeremy Balkan who’s deaf and it hit me so hard how lucky i have had it my whole life. What a humbling experience.

The next week I went down fast.

Source: Imgur
They were trying to get a view of attack for the tumor, but there was too much blood blocking the view. I was rushed into the ER Monday morning the pain was unbearable. I was told i started vomiting all over everyone including my mom. The tumor was hemorrhaging there was no waiting for a clear shot. They were going in blind.

They were able to remove the tumor in a 6 hour surgery.

Source: Imgur
They went in blind and saved my life. When I woke up I saw my mom and tried to say I love you. I still had a tube in my throat and was being restrained, but shortly after I was freed, I waved my hand that had been dead just before surgery, and told my mom I loved her.

I had to go stay in the hospital for and infection that started in my arm.

Source: Imgur
I thought it would b okay but at 12:30am I woke up and was in the worst pain I can ever remember. It was like my legs were being crushed. They checked for clots in my legs and they were clear. So now I’m being treated for a nasty staph infection.

This is my arm still growing…

Source: Imgur
They are trying to get the infection under control still. My skin infection was from the steroids they have me on. It wasn’t the hospitals fault. There wasn’t even an IV in that arm. My right side had the lymph nodes removed after my second surgery. So we don’t even use that arm to check my blood pressure. My skin just broke open.

Source: Imgur
My arm just kept swelling, so finally they poked a big hole. I just had over 50ml of puss pumped out of my arm. This is because of my lymph nodes under my right arm being removed. My body couldn’t drain the fluid. Melanoma is no joke kids. I can move my arm again, and it feels a few pounds lighter!

Now they have to pack the opening with gauze.

Source: Imgur
The black spot is where the infection started. It was just like an ingrown hair and it turned into that black hole within two days. The bacteria was identified as MRSA. It’s just another hurdle in this fight with cancer.

My veins in my left arm are all collapsed.

Source: Imgur

Finally got an IV in my foot.

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I kinda like it. it doesn’t get in the way so much and it makes my arms feel free.

Leaving the hospital!!!

Source: Imgur
Mom brought my babies I haven’t seen them for over a week.

I got a fancy mask for my radiation treatment.

Source: Imgur

Confused, unable to talk, and cannot hear, in the hospital after a seizure after radiation.

Source: Imgur
It happened within 5 minutes after someone upset me. Please be nice to me even if I’m not nice to you, I don’t understand what’s going on all the time anymore.

Getting my brain fried.

Source: Imgur

Not sure about this diploma they gave me.

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The whole clipart beach scene? I do have “skin cancer” – I get to keep the mask though, it will look cool on my wall.

That indent I’m pushing on is swelling in my head,

Source: Imgur
and I have white pus filled boils all over body. I’m ready to break. The steroids are tearing me to pieces. I’m watching everything/everyone I love fall away or pushing them away myself. That’s where I am, and I’m trying to tell myself I can do this, but the truth is it’s only a matter of time before it takes me. How long would you want to hurt? Don’t need or want generic crap messages please. Just go go get your skin checked. I don’t want anyone to have to go through this.

Head is still swelling, I had blood seeping out my ear this morning.

Source: Imgur
My eye is starting to swell shut, so I’m gonna go to the the hospital if this ice pack thing doesn’t work.

Going to have my head drainedand a skull flap removed.

Source: Imgur

Theres a tube coming out of my head now.

Source: Imgur
There’s a chunk of my skull missing. I have to wear helmet unless I’m Laying in bed. It’s all very humiliating. The infection is in my head under the skin but has not gone under my skull, if it does it’s going to be the the end. I am very thankful I have my speech and got another day at this life. Hopefully I get out here a while and get to hang out with my kids very soon it’s all I want right now.

Drain tube pulled out.

Source: Imgur
I have a PICC line my arm now, and my helmet is being made.

Seriously?

Source: Imgur
I have to wear this if I get out of bed? It’s going to be a month till they make the plate that’s going to surgically implanted.

Just saw my head for the first time.

Source: Imgur
This is not an illusion. I didn’t realize so much was missing…. Pretty hard to take in…

Shaved up a little, trying to make myself feel better. This is my good side

Source: Imgur

This is my not so good side.

Source: Imgur
I think the pain killers are working cause I’m laughing at my head. It looks ridiculous.

New helmet!

Source: Imgur

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Steven back for yet another brain surgery.

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Steven wanted me to post a picture of him waving goodbye to everyone. He said I love you all and please don’t be sad, he doesn’t want to hurt anyone.

Zoe’s 2nd birthday!

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Steven Made it to Zoey’s birthday!! He set a goal and he made it!

Getting ready for brain surgery #4

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About to remove drain tube.

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In a lot of pain, but still hanging’ tough.

Source: Imgur

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Steven with his new dome, after brain surgery #4

Source: Imgur

They implanted his new bone flap, but it was reomved days later when another infection was discovered in his brain.

Source: Imgur

Walking for the first time in a month.

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Home at last.

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Spending time with his kids.

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Steven wanted to get married to Tami before his last surgery.

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Time didn’t allow it, but the man had goals and he pursued them until the end.

Visits from family and friends I know my brother loved more than anything in his last days

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especially when he was stir crazy from not being able to walk or leave the house.

Steven just stood up and down 6 times on his own!

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I told him I was taking a photo and posting it on his fb for him, he smiled.

Steven’s First Car ride in over a month, and last car ride with his kids

Source: Imgur

Saying goodbye to Steven at home

Source: Imgur
…with family & friends, the suffering is over for Steven, but the rest of us will continue to suffer the loss of this GREAT MAN forever. We love you, we miss you, & we will NEVER forget you!

Your health is priceless. Get tested. TC mark

Jacob Geers

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  • http://moonjami.wordpress.com JaimeLeeper

    Reblogged this on Miles Against Melanoma South Texas and commented:
    This is heartbreaking. My husband didn’t have the brain tumor, but I know staph and drains well at this point. Be proactive and protect your skin.

  • http://www.itchinsince87.com/uncategorized/russian-roulette-and-skin-cancer Russian Roulette And Skin Cancer?

    […] reading, something I enjoy very much. One day, I happened to see the title of this story called, “Man With Skin Cancer Chronicles His Journey In This Heart-Wrenching Photo Journal.” At first I skipped over it. My natural instinct was to avoid reading a sob story. I’ll be […]

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