Man Shares Reality Of Melanoma From His Diagnosis To His Death, In Hopes That His Story Will Inspire Others To Get Checked — PHOTOS

Steve Hock was only 31 when he died from melanoma in 2012. Before his death, he documented his battle with this very serious disease with a series of photographs that portray a harrowing journey with cancer, from his diagnosis, through multiple surgeries and radiation, to his death less than two years after being diagnosed. Yesterday a user who goes by “notsincebreakfast” posted the images on Imgur, explaining that Hock was a friend of a friend. According to nonsincebreakfast, Hock’s sister, who took over documenting Hock’s cancer battle when her brother was no longer able, explained that

she wanted others to see it because “so many people have or will be affected by this aggressive deadly disease in one way or another… it is imperative that people know just how nasty and devastating the naive use of TANNING BEDS & long term sun exposure can be. Don't be ignorant, protect your skin, This CAN happen to you!”

Seeing Steve Hock, a young father of two small children, becoming increasingly ill from photograph to photograph is a heartbreaking look at the devastating affects of cancer. Hock’s journey is a powerful lesson in strength through adversity, but be warned — in case it’s not already obvious — some of these images are graphic and deeply upsetting.

Hock first realized something was wrong when he developed a small tumor on his left side. Within half a year, the marble-sized lump had grown to the size of a baseball. Hock went to have the tumor removed; He wrote, “I was told there was nothing to worry about, it was just a fatty tumor.” (Captions are by Hock and his sister.)

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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.
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This was what i woke up with after the second surgery which was two months later. Drain tube sticking out my side.
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The second night I wasn't feeling right. ... 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.
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Woke up in ICU that night, so thankful I was still alive. ... 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!
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I started Interferon treatment to try and make sure the cancer was gone. ... 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.
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After a month on injections at the hospital, they lowered my dose of interferon and it was only 3 times a week. ...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.
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I took this pic in the bathroom alone after I heard the news. ... I knew it was going to be okay, God would take care of me. He is in control, always has been, always will be.
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The next week I went down fast. ... 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.
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They were able to remove the tumor in a 6 hour surgery. ... 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.
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I had to go stay in the hospital for and infection that started in my arm. ... I thought it would b okay but at 12:30am I woke up and was in the worst pain I can ever remember. ... So now I'm being treated for a nasty staph infection. ... They are trying to get the infection under control still. My skin infection was from the steroids they have me on.
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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.
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I got a fancy mask for my radiation treatment.
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Confused, unable to talk, and cannot hear, in the hospital after a seizure after radiation. ... 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.
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That indent I'm pushing on is swelling in my head, ... 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.
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Theres a tube coming out of my head now. ... here's a chunk of my skull missing. I have to wear helmet unless I'm Laying in bed. It's all very humiliating. ... 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.
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Just saw my head for the first time. ... This is not an illusion. I didn't realize so much was missing.... Pretty hard to take in...

This is when Hock's sister takes over the narrative:

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Steven back for yet another brain surgery. ... 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.
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Steven with his new dome, after brain surgery #4 ... They implanted his new bone flap, but it was reomved days later when another infection was discovered in his brain.
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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. ... Time didn't allow it, but the man had goals and he pursued them until the end.
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Saying goodbye to Steven at home ... 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!

When you're done sobbing, take a moment to read this: According to the American Academy of Dermatology (AAD), melanoma will kill 9,940 people this year. Fortunately, there is a high success rate of curing the disease when diagnosed in its early stages, which is why it is so important for people to be aware of the signs of skin cancer and to check their skin for irregularities and changes. The AAD recommends that people inspect their skin regularly (after all, you are the person most able to notice if moles change shape or color), and look for these signs of skin cancer, or “ABCDE”:

Asymmetry: One half does not match the other half.

Border irregularity: The edges are ragged, notched or blurred.

Color: The pigmentation is not uniform. Different shades of tan, brown or black are often present. Dashes of red, white, and blue can add to the mottled appearance.

Diameter: While melanomas are usually greater than 6mm in diameter when diagnosed, they can be smaller.

Evolving: A mole or skin lesion that looks different from the rest or is changing in size, shape or color.

There are simple, preventative measures you can take to decrease you risk of skin cancer: Wear broad spectrum sunscreen of SPF 30 or higher on skin that is exposed to the sun; Wear protective clothing; and stay away from tanning beds. No tan is worth risking your life. (Also: Faux tanners exist! Lots of them!)

Images: Pixabay; Imgur (23)