Shutdown shuts out man's chance at life-saving cancer treatment

Shutdown shuts out Brighton father's chance at life-saving cancer treatment

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Mark Howell, 31 Mark Howell, 31
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BRIGHTON, Mich. (WJBK) -

Each day the government remains shutdown limits the number of days a Brighton father could have left to live.

Mark Howell, 31, was diagnosed with stage-four melanoma just two weeks after his son was born about a year ago. The cancer has continued to grow and spread, and Howell's body is not responding to chemotherapy. Doctors are recommending an aggressive procedure to attack the cancer.

But that procedure is only available at the National Institute of Cancer, a facility now closed off to new patients as a result of the government shutdown.  

"The number of new patients that are now shut out from being accepted are about 200 patients, I think it was a week. And about 30 of those are children," said Howell. "And that's the one that I really struggled with is ... you know, we have children that are much worse off than our situation. And they're not going to have an opportunity to get treatment, perhaps at all, and it might be their very last chance to survive."

The family does have a Plan B: A treatment center in Houston that offers a similar procedure, but it is one that is not quite as aggressive.

"With the type of cancer and growth we've seen in my body, we kind of need to be as aggressive as possible," Howell adds.

"I don't know if there's an option to do it again if it doesn't work the first time, to do it again somewhere else. I don't think that's an option. So, we kind of have one shot at it, and, you know it's our life."

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