A Letter to Vice President Biden

Today’s post comes to us from Brendan Locke.  Brendan’s wife Melissa was diagnosed with sarcoma in January 2016.  Since that time, her disease has been at the forefront of their lives. As you might imagine, Brendan has made it his mission to see that she receives the best treatment possible.  He has also made advocacy and sarcoma awareness a significant priority, working not only to improve things for Melissa, but also to serve as a voice for the greater good.  Brendan recently wrote to Vice President Joe Biden, the force behind the Cancer Moonshot initiative, to share Melissa’s story and bring attention to the needs of all sarcoma patients.

Mr. Vice President,

My name is Brendan Locke.  January 14, 2016, was the worst day of my life.  My wife who otherwise is and was very healthy was diagnosed with stage 4 synovial sarcoma.  This cancer only touches 1 out of 1 to 2 million people per year and hers is even more rare.  Supposedly, there are only 200-300 cases like hers in the world.

melissa and brendanSynovial fluid is found in the joints, however, it is also found in the pleural lining of your lungs.  That is where hers is…nowhere else.

In this infant stage, we have gone through the questions of why, how, and what now?  She is 37 and a terrific mother to a 3-year-old and 6-year-old (both boys).  My wife and best friend for almost 15 years is now terrified that her kids won’t remember her or even see them grow up and reach life’s many milestones.

We are blessed by a terrific team of advocates and have reasons to be hopeful.  Even though we live in Wisconsin we commute every two weeks to MD Anderson (MDA) in Houston, Texas.  We are fortunate to do this when many others cannot….it is motivating to me when we are at MD Anderson and can see the thousands of patients fighting this same disease….by motivating I mean as a team, we aren’t alone and everyone is in the fight together every patient there roots for each other and has a common bond….that is powerful and yet very sad at the same time.

It wasn’t until I walked into MDA for the first time a realized how many people this affects and how something has to change.

Next week she will have completed round six of chemotherapy and will begin t-cell immune therapy in June…we hope.

My wife needs to enjoy life now more than ever and our kids need their mother….we hit a wall where we feel more vulnerable by life’s scary moments than we ever had before.  Melissa brendan and kids

My wife is tough and we know we have a long road ahead.  But as a team and as her care giver I will leave no stone unturned to give her what she deserves.  As a caregiver people say that is difficult, what I now know is that watching this unfold is more difficult than anything I can imagine.

We went through two months of 4am wake ups saying how she doesn’t want to leave me or the kids and I have now promised her that that won’t happen.

This moonshot has provided a spark to in the hope that while her cancer may never completely go away, we believe that it can be managed and every day we become more and more removed from January 14, 2016….we are on the road to her recovery.

I thank you for your passion and service to this great cause and hope one day some how I can make a mark on this mission myself….I realize that now and forever, myself, our kids, my wife and our families will be forever affected by this disease.

I am fully aware of the common cancers and what research can be done to cure them…..sarcoma is a rare disease and those to need exposure.  You cannot overlook the tragic stories that are not covered in mainstream media like stories about sarcoma…there are few walks, fundraisers, and events that help fund a cure to a type of cancer that has no structure for curing.

I am an advocate for this for the rest of my life and will do everything I can to create more awareness….for now, my wife and our kids is my most important mission.

Best Regards,


Brendan Locke
Father of 2
Husband to one awesome wife!