Sunday, June 20, 2010


I am posting this here on his blog in the hopes that it will remain online a little longer than the 30 days that the paper allows. Just in case anyone missed it in the Tribune.


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Sean Martella 1985 ~ 2010 Our beloved Sean, loving husband, father, son, and brother, passed away in the arms of his devoted wife on May 31, 2010.Born in Cedar City, UT on March 3, 1985, Sean fought a heroic battle against testicular cancer for two and a half years along with complications from leukemia. He was well and kindly cared for at Utah Cancer Specialists, the Simon Cancer Center in Indianapolis, IN and by the staff of the Neuro ICU unit at IMC. Sean was loved for his inspiring spirit, gentle and loving heart, and determination to succeed in life. He loved all sports, reading, music, and family time. He is survived by his wife Karen, their unborn twins, his parents Jeff and Kathy Martella, his sisters Natalie and Stephanie, many members of his extended family, and countless friends. Funeral services will be held on Saturday, June 5, 2010 at Southside Church of Christ, 3138 West 7000 South, West Jordan, UT, 84084 with a viewing beginning at 9:30 a.m. and a memorial service at 11:00 a.m. In lieu of flowers, donations to defray funeral costs may be made to a fund in Sean's name at Zions Bank. We love you so much Sean, and look forward to being with you soon. Directors Independent Funeral Service

Published in Salt Lake Tribune on June 3, 2010

Thursday, June 3, 2010

Sean's Obituary

Sean's obituary is running today in the Salt Lake Tribune, our local newspaper. It is also available online at this link:

The online obituary will be available for 1 month.

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Funeral Arrangements

A funeral will be held for Sean this Saturday, June 5, 2010 at:

Southside Church of Christ
3138 West 7000 South
West Jordan, UT 84084

A viewing will be held beginning at 9:30 am with a memorial service beginning at 11:00 am. In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to a fund set up in Sean's name (Sean Martella) at Zion's Bank.

For those of you who follow this blog, please pass this information onto others who may miss it here. His obituary will run in the Salt Lake Tribune by this Thursday and will be available to be viewed online as well. I will post a link to that once it is available.

Monday, May 31, 2010

I love you, Sean


This morning at 12:51 am, my beloved Sean passed away from complications due to testicular cancer and leukemia. At the hospital, he received a brain CT scan that showed numerous and wide-spread lesions throughout his brain (mets from his testicular cancer) that had bled
(an issue that can be caused by low platelet counts-a symptom of leukemia) into his brain causing swelling. This came as a sudden and great shock to me and the rest of our families as we were only beginning to prepare ourselves to deal with the news he had just received on Friday. We truly thought we had more time.

Because of the bleeding that was going on in his brain, Sean's consciousness and coherency declined rapidly between late Saturday night and early Sunday morning. He wasn't making much sense when he would give me answers to the questions I would ask, but one thing amazes me. I was able to tell Sean that I love him once during the chaos of Sunday morning, and he looked at me with his bright blue eyes and I knew that he fully understood what that meant, and he was able to tell me that he loves me too. I'm so grateful that this was the last thing he was able to say to me.

The morning was extremely traumatic and he declined extremely fast. He was given a room in the Neuro ICU unit at IMC and had to be intubated in order to keep him breathing. He went from showing slight to sluggish responsiveness, to being completely unresponsive. The doctors told me that the swelling and bleeding in his brain was too devastating and he would not recover. They said that while he was not able to communicate to us, he could still hear us and they encouraged us to speak to him, even while he was in his coma.

We were very blessed to be visited in the hospital by Sean's family, and many many friends. After everyone had left late into the night, each of us in his family took at turn alone with him telling him our goodbyes, and early Monday morning, we took Sean off life support. He was so ready to go back home to our Lord in Heaven, and he died quickly, peacefully and pain-free after such a painful yet heroic battle with testicular cancer, surrounded by his family, and in my arms.

Our family takes peace in knowing that Sean is at peace now and is no longer in any pain. We are extremely saddened at the way this ended and wish we had just one more day with him. We know that he is in Heaven with our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ and is waiting to meet us all there someday.

There is an enormous hole in my soul that can only be filled by Sean. He is the love of my life, my best friend, my darling husband, and the father of my children. I will always love him--more and more each day. He is my soul-mate and perfect match, and I will love him in this life until the day I die and see him again in Heaven. His children will know what an amazing man their father was, and even though he never got to meet them in this life, we know that the power of God is endless and that all of his dreams are being fulfilled.

Please, when you remember Sean, remember his amazing strength of character, his loving and giving heart, and his adorably charismatic smile. Remember his sense of humor, and the love that flowed from him. Don't remember the pain that he went through for so long because that is no longer a part of who he is. Our families and I will miss him immensely, and will try each day to live for him. Please check back here by tomorrow for details on his funeral services. Thanks to everyone who followed him here on this blog. Everyone meant so much to him and he loved all of you.

I love you so much Honey, and I can't wait until we can be together again.

I love you

I love you

I love you


Friday, May 28, 2010

Kind of a Tragic Day For Us......

Well, I don't fully know what to say to you all right now. Thanks for how supportive and loving you have all been. My time may be coming to an end, but I want everybody to know how much your kindness has meant to me.

I do actually have Leukemia. No lab errors this time. My doctors said that I've got 2 to 3 months to live. Believe me, I'm gonna fight like hell for a couple extra months so that I can hold my babies. That's all I'm asking for. Sometimes it feels like it's too much that I'm asking for. Nevertheless, it remains my goal.

They are discontinuing all treatments. They say that my body cannot handle anymore and that the leukemia will likely be what kills me. I guess it completely destroys your immune system and infections eventually get you. I've got a painful few months ahead of me, but I'll face them with as much courage as I can muster.

Dr. Chandramouli e-mailed Dr. Einhorn (for those who don't know, the world's leading TC doctor) to see if he has any advice to offer and he agrees with my local doctors. This is what he said, "I am currently in AZ and I do not have his E-mail address. This is very tragic. He has fought a long and courageous battle, but in my opinion, with the acute leukemia, there would be more harm than benefit in any further type of therapy. I am truly sorry."

My doctor said that there is around a 1 to 2% chance that a patient who has received Etoposide will develop leukemia around 10 years after treatments. He can't even begin to calculate the odds of me getting it while still on treatments. Neither can any doctor who has heard of this situation. Never in my whole career, they say. That's always been me, creating new boundaries I guess. :(

Sorry to be the bearer of bad news. I wish it wasn't always bad news that I had. I hope I can feel good enough to do some of the things that I've always wanted to do with my last months. Holding my babies being the #1 priority. I know I can outlast the time frame that these doctors have given me. Wish me luck, pray, send good vibes, or whatever it is that you do that I'll be able to hold and kiss my little children. I could rest in peace if I have that moment.

Karen and I will most likely get a second opinion on this. We want to see if maybe there is someone out there that thinks they can do something to slow down these cancers. Again, thank you everybody.

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

ER and Latest News

So in Sean's last post he mentioned that he was going to the ER for a bloody nose that wouldn't stop bleeding. We got to the ER at about 2 pm on Sunday and they drew some blood to run some tests to check his platelets. As we suspected, they were low and they decided that his red blood cell count was pretty low too so they decided to give him infusions of both. The ER doctor packed Sean's nose with something that can really only be best described as a nose-tampon. It was a thin tube of cotton that expands when it absorbs the blood and the idea is for it to put pressure on the vessels in the nose to stop the bleeding. The catch, of course, was that they wanted to admit Sean to give him the transfusion and keep him overnight because the process of ordering the blood, typing it, and making sure it had been checked for antibodies and all of that can take a long time and they didn't want him to keep taking up space in the ER. So he was admitted.

When we got up to the room, the on-call doctor, Dr. Samuelson who is one of Dr. Chandramouli's partners came in to see him. He told us that the pathologist who had looked at his cell counts had also noticed some abnormalities among the blood cells that looked very suspiciously like leukemia. He told us about a specific test they can run on the blood to determine whether or not the leukemia exists but that it would take a couple of days to get the results because they have to send the sample to another facility with the University of Utah to have it processed. He told us about the possibility of this occurring because of some of the chemotherapy drugs that Sean has had in the past, and didn't want us to worry yet because the suspicion of leukemia hadn't been confirmed in any way. So, after a good long scare, we got a phone call from Dr. Samuelson later that evening who told Sean that the test was an error and that the nurse from the ER had drawn his blood from his port which had been flushed with heparin the day before. Heparin is a blood-thinning agent so that explained why the pathologist saw cells that looked like they had clotting issues.

So we put that out of our minds and got on with the hospital stay. On Sunday evening, they gave Sean 2 units of platelets which took about an hour and a half to infuse, and 2 units of red blood cells which took 3 hours each to infuse. The infusions went on into the middle of the night and were finally over at about 3:30 am.

Early Monday morning at about 5:30 am Sean woke up suddenly and immediately paged his nurse to come in because he was having tightness in his chest and difficulty breathing. This turned into a huge ordeal for him. The chest pains/tightness and shortness of breath lasted for about 2 hours before they were able to get things under control. He said it was like someone was sitting on his chest and squeezing it making it hard to breathe, and that it came in waves. The waves lasted about 10-15 seconds each time and he went maybe 20-45 seconds in between each episode. The nurse and aid were great about staying in the room with him to make sure he didn't code, and Dr. Samuelson was paged immediately. Sean had a chest x-ray and an EKG done during all of this as well. The chest x-ray was to check to see if there was any fluid in his lungs, and the EKG monitors the heart. Both tests came back normal. Sean was being given IV morphine to help with the pain during all of this and once he had enough in his system the episodes eased up and became much less severe and much less frequent. They hooked him up to oxygen and monitored his vitals very consistently.

We were very stumped and confused as to why this had happened, as were his doctors. The oncology doctors ordered a cardiology consult, and the cardiologist looked at the results from his x-ray and EKG and ordered a cardiac sonogram which was also normal, and therefore ruled out that there was any connection between the chest pains/tightness and his heart. Sean also had another test to check to see if he had a blood clot in his lungs (pulmonary embolism), which he didn't. The only thing left that the doctors could think of was that it was a GI issue and so they started him on IV protonix and carafate which coats the lining of his esophagus and stomach to help prevent damage from acid reflux. With these medications, and his pain medications, he was able to make it through the rest of Monday and Tuesday. Wednesday Sean had a consult from the GI doctor on call which was Dr. Batista who works for the group that I am employed with -Mountain West Gastroenterology. It was nice having him be able to come by the room and go over the symptoms Sean was having with us. His recommendation was to increase his PPI medications (acid reflux meds) to twice a day and to take the carafate 4 times a day. He told Sean that if he was still experiencing problems, to let him know as an EGD, which is a scope that goes down your throat, might be necessary. He didn't see any reason for him to stay in the hospital for this since his medications seemed to have everything under control but said that he'd be happy to do the scope as an outpatient procedure if that's what Sean needed. So, happily, on Wednesday, the packing in his nose was removed and he was discharged and we went home.

So the good news with all of this is that the platelet infusion seemed to work well enough to get Sean's nose bleed under control, his chest pain/tightness was resolved with pain medications and acid reflux medications, and he is home and resting now until his next oxaliplatin treatment which is scheduled for this coming Friday with Dr. Chandramouli. Of course, they will check his blood counts to make sure he can receive treatment on Friday before they give him any chemo, but he also gets to meet with Dr. Chandramouli Friday morning before treatment begins.

The bad news is this: when we got home from the hospital, Sean got a call from Anne, who is a nurse practitioner who was working on the oncology floor at the hospital and is with Utah Cancer Specialists. She told Sean that the blood work that they drew today has them concerned again about the possibility of leukemia being present in his blood. She told him that his white blood cell counts are rising out of control to extremely high levels. She didn't say anything about the clotting factors of his blood. She told Sean to follow up with Dr. Chandramouli on Friday about the results, but wasn't extremely specific. The best we can tell is that they are going to send Sean's blood work to the University of Utah to be processed and that Dr. Chandramouli will be able to speak about the results at his appointment later this week. So, we're back to square one....wherever/whatever that is. It's not unheard of for patients in Sean's situation to develop leukemia from the treatments he's had, but this usually doesn't happen until years and years and years down the road so it's a bit startling that this could be happening to him so soon. We weren't ready for this, but we'll deal with it like we've dealt with everything else. If the tests confirm that he has leukemia, he will have to begin treatments for that cancer as well as continue to fight off his testicular cancer. We're not going to assume things yet, we're just going to wait to hear back on the blood test. Hopefully Dr. Chandramouli will have information to give Sean on Friday.

We'll update the blog again after his appointments on Friday and we'll let everyone know if we've heard anything and what we found out.


Sunday, May 23, 2010

The Unstoppable Bloody Nose

Well, I'm heading to the ER in a few minutes. I'm finally giving in to it. I've had a bloody nose for several days now that just won't quit. Every time I lay down to sleep or something it gets out of control. My platelets are dangerously low and that's probably the cause. They told me that they are at 10, while the average person is anywhere between 150 and 300. So, pretty bad....

My doctor ordered me a platelet infusion and I got 1 pack yesterday, but I guess it wasn't enough. The on-call doctor at UCS says I should go to the ER and get some more because they are probably still too low. I hate the ER, but you've gotta do what you've gotta do I guess.