Mary's story

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Paul Michael Sherksnis, an extraordinarily kind, intelligent, strong man, was diagnosed with melanoma in 1997. We'd never heard the word before. Paul had surgery on his left forearm in the fall of 1997 in the hospital in Elmhurst, Ill. He recovered well and saw his dermatologist every three months for the first few years, then twice a year. The year he was going to be allowed to have check-ups once a year was 2005. "A beautiful, loving man gone much too soon. I miss terribly my best friend — my buddy — the love of my life."

That's when the melanoma reared its ugly head again. We were sent to Northwestern Memorial Hospital in Chicago where we met Paul's wonderful oncologist. The melanoma had come back at the periphery of the scar on Paul's forearm. He had to have surgery at Northwestern with a skin graft this time. Paul continued to see Dr. Kuzel at Northwestern. In 2008 Paul felt a small lump on his left bicep. Melanoma had moved up his arm. 

He proceeded to have surgery at Northwestern Memorial again and then again in 2009 having left lung VAT wedge performed. In 2010 Paul received Interluken 2 at Northwestern. In December of 2010 he had surgery at Northwestern to remove enlarged lymph node from mesentery tissue. In May 2011 at Northwestern he had a right suboccipital craniotomy with resection of cerebellar tumor. Two tumors had been found in Paul's brain. A month later, he had Gammaknife radiation. 

In August, in Danville, Ill., at Provena United Samaritan Cancer Center Paul began receiving daily radiation for three weeks. In the fall a power port was implanted in Paul's chest. Eventually Paul began receiving ipilimumab. He continued to get weaker. He went into the hospital late in the afternoon on Dec. 20. Paul passed away Dec. 26, 2011.

A beautiful, loving man gone much too soon. I miss terribly my best friend — my buddy — the love of my life. I miss his wisdom, his strength, his witty sense of humor. I miss his patience and his common sense. He took such pleasure in sharing a rainbow and the fragrance of home-grown herbs. He loved to check on his baby bluebirds, and hummingbirds would perch on his fingers when he fed them. He enjoyed working on an engine, 777 aircraft, or lawnmower, until it purred. Paul made this world a beautiful place. His garden was bountiful. Flowers sprang up in his footsteps. Everyone loved Paul. I have a hole in my heart without him.

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