For Mack and Rochelle Saucier of St. Rose, it hasn’t been simply a battle against cancer, but a series of battles against the illness — and that constitutes a war, one that the two find a way to get through each and every day.
Mack overcame a battle with cancer when he was 19 years old. Not only did he survive, but he went on to marry his love, Rochelle Rebowe, at the age of 24. Doctors told him he’d never have children after his lengthy treatments, including chemotherapy, but the couple raises two daughters together, ages 16 and 6, respectively.
But starting in 2012, Rochelle battled her own thyroid cancer. After two surgeries and radiation treatment, things have improved; she said that while the cancer is gone, officially she cannot be classified as “in remission” until it has disappeared for five years.
That should have been enough for any two people to endure. But after 20 years, Mack must take on the disease again. In 2014, he discovered a lump in his throat; doctors identified it as metastatic andenocarcinoma, which meant not only was the growth in his throat cancerous, but it was likely it stemmed from cancer in another part of the body. Since then, it’s been determined he has stage four colon cancer, and is once again undergoing chemotherapy in an attempt to get better.
“It’s been very difficult,” Rochelle Saucier said. “We try not to use the negative words the doctors sometimes use. Mack has been told he’ll never be completely disease free. We’ve been told he needs alternative treatments to prolongue his life. It’s very expensive, but we feel like we have to try anything we can to fight this disease. You miss a lot of work and bills just pile up.”
Mack said this fight is much different from the one he dealt with at 19.
“Honestly, the first time seemed so much easier,” he said. “Part of that was I was a single guy at the time. I felt impervious. I’ve tried to take that outlook this time around. I’ve got a wonderful wife and two beautiful little girls now.”
Back-to-back battles with cancer has drained the couple of their financial bearings, with the two already dealing with debt dating from Rochelle’s battle, which concluded less than a year ago. That drain ultimately led to the Sauciers having to leave their home; since May, the four have lived with Mack’s mother and father in a two-bedroom home, taking turns sleeping on the floor.
Coping, Rochelle says, has centered around the couple’s faith.
“From battling so many diseases at a young age, we’ve come to accept fully that nobody is in full control of how long they’re here,” she said. “We believe God wants to heal Mack.”
A GoFundMe.com page (gofundme.com/saucier) has been set up for those seeking to help the family. Over the past eight months, $6,565 has been donated to helping their cause. There’s also a website set up in support, “webackmack.org.” Likewise, a fundraiser is ongoing with a helping hand from the New Orleans Saints.
A football signed by Saints quarterback Drew Brees and head coach Sean Payton and an autographed Brees jersey will be raffled off. Tickets are $5, and the raffle will take place Sept. 30. Those who would like to enter the raffle may e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org or call Rochelle Saucier at (504) 982-4010. The couple is also planning a silent auction fundraiser in late-October, with the venue to be determined.
Rochelle Saucier noted food donations and donating items for auction are among the best ways people can help. There will also be a fundraiser on Sept. 24 at The Italian Pie in Harahan.
“I could never thank these people enough,” Mack said. “I’d like to think I’m a nice guy, and people who have known us have been so supportive. Even strangers. It means the world me and to us.”