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Keith’s Story

I was diagnosed on June 18, '08 with Stage 4 colon cancer with mets to the liver and lymph.  Since then, I've had 7 surgeries, 10 bouts of radiation and more than 125 rounds of chemo.  It's been quite a ride and we are still going!

We have been amazed by the love and support from our friends and family. We could not do this without you!

I hope to use my experiences to help others going through similar challenges. Please let me know how I can help.  Call or write anytime

(214) 793-0519 Cell
keith@friendfamily.net

Click 'Read Story' below for more.

I have been asked many times how all this started. I thought I would include as much as I can for those interested. I've joked before that this isn't the "Fun" type of cancer to talk about because you have to use words like Colon/>/>, Rectum, and Bowel Movement etc. Therefore, I apologize in advance for the bio references below.

Around September-October 2007, I had noticed a little bit of, what looked to me to be, blood when having a bowel movement. Now, I know what you’re thinking. "Why didn't you RUN to a doctor right away?" In hind-sight, you're right. However, during that time, your mind rationalizes things. "I just rubbed too hard. It's probably just a hemorrhoid" or something like that. I also have to add that this one and only symptom came and went. I might go weeks between seeing or noticing the blood. I finally went in for a physical around December and mentioned the blood. They gave me a take home test to perform and return. Of course, I lost the first test and had to get a new one. I finally turned that one it and it tested positive for blood. After another exam from my primary doctor, he suggested that I go see a GI specialist. Not being overly excited to have another doctor examining me in my least favorite place, it took me a few weeks to schedule that appointment.

I had my examination with Dr. Cox in Grapevine at the end of May or first of June. He did another exam and said that he did see some hemorrhoids but could not tell where the bleeding was coming from and that he would like to perform a colonoscopy to check me out. The colonoscopy was performed on June 18th. Dr. Cox discovered the tumor in addition to a couple of polyps during that exam. He removed the polyps with no trouble. The tumor was right at the point where the colon attaches to the rectum therefore I had "Colorectal Cancer". The tumor was about 8cm long (almost 3 inches) by his measurements. About 5 inches of the colon and rectum had to be removed from the surgery.

Dr. Cox estimated that this cancer could have been growing in me for as long as 5 - 7 years! This is pretty amazing. Who would have thought...? I am now the self appointed "Poster Child" for getting a colonoscopy. Had I had one back when I was 35, this would have been a simple procedure of removing a polyp and that would be it. So, to all my friends or to anyone reading this.... go schedule a colonoscopy NOW! A prostate exam will NOT cut it. I had two prostate exams before this diagnosis and they did not catch it. The colonoscopy is really no big deal. You sleep through the whole thing. It's really worth the peace of mind.

That's about it. That brings me to June 18th when I had my colonoscopy that I wrote about in my journal.

It is my hope that those reading this will be motivated to have a colonoscopy soon. It would be very gratifying to me to know that someone caught a pre-cancerous polyp via a colonoscopy that I helped encourage thereby saving that person from what I am now going through. Please prayerfully consider my suggestion and take action.

With love,

Keith

Latest Journal Update

One last journal update...

Before I get into the details, I wanted to thank my friend, Tom, for the last journal entry.  I was still in the hospital and I asked Tom to write an update for me.  He wrote it as if it was me writing which was fine but it might have confused some.  

For the past few weeks, we have been battling lots of complications like throat ulcers, drainage tubes, feeding tubes, dead stomachs and so on.  As a matter of fact, I'm off to the hospital first thing tomorrow to get my feeding tube replaced as it is totally clogged and I can't get any food or water in me.  It will be good to make it work again.  I don't know how you long term feeding tube people do it.  I am craving food like crazy.  I see some thing on TV and instantly want that taste and texture in my mouth.  Ugh!  Heck, I even want things that I don't like.  It's been hard making all these adjustments but we are getting along.

I go in for supplemental fluids at Texas Oncology every other day and today was on of those days.  Like most days when I do this, I give blood and we monitor all my numbers.  Today was no different but was different is that we received some rather bad news.  My Tumor markers are just sky-rocketing.  My liver numbers are off the chart.  I'm starting to accumulate ammonia in my system and this is not a good thing at all.  Long story short, my liver is starting to fail.  My oncologist spoke with us quite a while tonight.  Based on her experience with other patients in a similar condition, I might only have matter of weeks left.  It could be as little as two.  When the liver fails, things happen pretty fast.  We are doing our best to prepare.  We had a very difficult conversation with our kids tonight but they are doing okay.  Lori is being amazingly strong throughout this whole process.

Our next step is to activate a "Home Health Nurse" to come out and help day to day.  She can help with my meds, feeding tube and get us the type of equipment that we might need.  We will probably have a hospital type bed delivered soon as I'm having trouble sleeping lately.  That should make things a bit more comfortable.  

I'm doing fine.  I'm not in any pain right now.  As things progress, it's possible that I will start to lose some mental faculties and become somewhat loopy....even more so than normal.  I'll start to be more tired and probably sleep more and more.  As to visitors, please give us this weekend as Amber is coming back in town and we are looking forward to having this special time together.  After that, I would love a short visit from whoever would like to come by.  Please call first just to make sure things are okay.  

Many have asked how they can help.  We have a "Mail Train" established that has been a huge help to Lori by providing a dinner for she and Andrew on Mondays, Wednesdays and Thursdays.  If you are local and would like to help, just send Lori a quick email or phone call and she can give you the instructions to participate.  lori@friendfamily.net - 214-793-5934.  As always, your prayers are appreciated.  Please pray for peace and especially for my family.  This is obviously very hard on them and they could use the help.  I'm sure Lori will be calling on many to help out with some things after everything has settled down.  

I would like to publicly thank Dr. Heidi Jordan for being such a good friend these 6 1/2 years and for leading the best medical team that anyone could ask for.  She is one of the main reasons that I had these wonderful 6+ years to share with my family and make memories.  Thank you to my immediate and extended family for the unwavering support that you have given us during this journey.  I could not have done this without you.  Thank you to our friends both old and new for always being there when we needed you and helping out in too many ways to mention.  Thank you to all of you who have followed this journey and offered kind words, phone calls, hugs and more.  You are a special part of our support group and I can't imagine going this far without you.  

I have been so blessed to be as healthy as I have been for so long to appreciate vacations, camp outs, trips, football games, band, scouts etc.  There are so many who aren't give such a chance and I am beyond grateful for every single day that I had.  

I'm still getting my brain around all this but I'm really doing okay.  I'm not afraid of dying.  I know where I'm going and it's going to be quite an adventure.  I do, however, regret that my family will have to go through this process but I'm thankful that we at least have the opportunity to prepare for this and make arrangements.

There will be other posts to inform about services and such.

As I write this, it's hard to figure out a way to end it.  It's such a surreal position to be put in.  I guess I'll end the same way I always do.  

Take care and God Bless you.  

With all my love, 

Keith
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Comments

54 Comments

sharon russell
By Sharon Russell
Keith, I will try to keep this short. I have known you and your family for almost 40 years. You have been A tremendous inspiration for so many. Your strength, courage and humor has been incredible. You have fought a great fight such a great inspiration. As I sit here with tears rolling down my cheeks I know how tough that it will be for all of you. I will keep all of you in my prayers and Know how much you are loved by so many and countless lives you have inspired and touched in such a positive loving way. With great love and respect I will keep you all in my prayers. Love you darlin.
Alex Fleming
By Alex J. Fleming
Keith,
Thank you for being you! Thank you for investing your life into the next generation. Thank you for always being patient, kind, and selfless. Thank you for teaching me how to play the guitar. We had many great times together leading worship, serving on mission, and just being goofy. I will never forget you. Most importantly, thank you for being faithful to Jesus no matter what life has brought. You are an example to all. Save me a spot in your band when you get to Heaven.

Love always,
Alex
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1 person hearted this
Karen  Ferguson
By Karen Ferguson
Keith, as I sit here with tears running down my face in reading your post, I think about how lucky I was to have found a friend in you years ago. I think back to the times we spent together traveling around doing our half time High Flyin' Frisbee Dogs shows. What a different place and time. I have been following your journey from day 1 and you have made me laugh and cry (mostly laugh). It is obvious that your humor, courage and faith have gotten you this far and will continue as you end this journey. I pray for your peace as well as the peace for your family. You are truly and inspiration to all of the people you have touched along the way. You have made a difference in so many people's lives. You are in our hearts and prayers.
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1 person hearted this
Erica  Nordick
By Erica Nordic James
As my Mom said almost 6 years ago when she was dying from cancer..."I have the easy part..." as she knew where she was going....and I will say that is the truth....I feel for your family and will pray for them as they go through this time with you. I always treasured and still do the last two weeks my mom was at home on hospice. God Bless you Keith..you have touched so many...I will always remember you.
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Bart Boren
By Bart and Gina
Keith
Of course like all we are devastated at the news. Dr. Jordan was doing such a great job and your attitude and strength are unimaginable. We all thought it would go on forever because of your strength and determination. Your such a great and positive person. You have touched deeply all the people you have met. I know these next days we be so hard on everyone touched by you but as I have told Dad we all will have learned from you about living and loving. It is living and loving I will always think of when I think of you. I wanted to share this story that Gina sent to Lori with everyone on this Caring Bridge because it is so you.

Lori, you asked for a story of some kind about Keith. I hesitated because there are way too many, but I always came back to the first time you and Keith visited Bart and me in Edmond. We were newly married, and you had no Amber, no Andrew just you and Keith. Both Bart and I have a sense of humor and I especially, like
to play jokes on people. Love to see their reactions! So, on your visit, we had you stay in Lindsay’s room which was quite big with a large closet and numerous doors. The many doors that hmmmm make you think, now where does this lead to?
One such door in Lindsay’s bathroom area was a bit larger than a normal closet or room door. This door lead to a nice size storage closet, but for some reason, people were always so curious and nosey. Therefore, I wrote on a large piece of
paper, “Gotcha, nosey body, mind you own business!!” and placed it inside this storage room, hoping you or Keith would open it. After you arrived and we visited for a while, we showed you to Lindsay’s room for the basic tour and as we let you get settled for the night, Bart and I had a good little giggle as we closed Lindsay’s bedroom door for the night. I so wanted to hear a shout or scream and slammed door from my little note and I was not disappointed.
The next morning, we asked if all was good with the sleeping arrangements and Keith fessed up about being a nosey guest. The expression on his face of being caught
being was adorable. His face got a bit red and he tried to find the words to explain why he was snooping or both of your were snoopers. Of course, you just stood there and laughed, letting him take the heat. I discovered that Keith has a way with words that somehow leads you down a path that makes you forget what initiated the conversation. Anyway, I knew from that point forward, that Keith
was the guy. He would be my “in-law” comrade. Anytime, at an in-law family gathering, I could count on him to be my go-to ally for family humor. This was a good thing.

Whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable - if anything is excellent or praiseworthy - think about such things.
Philippians 4:8

The other morning as I read and journaled, I saw this bible verse and
immediately thought of Keith. It was a full body moment that I know was meant to be. Keith is true and genuine, Keith is noble, Keith is so pure, Keith is lovely, Keith is very admirable, Keith is excellent and praiseworthy, Keith is undeniable all of these things and more. We are all blessed to have Keith in our lives and
family. We love him.
Teresa Minix
By
Oh dear Keith, you are such an inspiration to me and hundreds of others. You are a special light that God uses; no telling how many people you have touched during your journey. No matter what happens, God has you in His arms, as well as your family. I count it a blessing to know you. Thank you for updating your journal; I can't imagine how hard that was to do. May God bless you and your family, give Lori, Amber, and Andrew, and your mom the strength and the comfort they surely need. Love you always, Teresa Minix
Penny Lang
By Penny
I will continue my prayers. You are an amazing person and have inspired so many. You are a true soldier and have never waivered in your service of the Lord. I pray you, Lori, Amber and Andrew can have a fabulous weekend.

I know your mom and dad are proud of you. I know you're doing okay. It's just that everyone will miss you so much, you're such a wonderful person to have around!

When we all finally meet up, I sure hope you will still have your marvelous sense of humor. Maybe you can start a comedy club for us.

Hugs and always prayers,
Penny
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Beth Johnson
By Beth Johnson
Keith, when I was diagnosed with colon cancer in December 2011, you contacted me after hearing about it from Lynda Schraub. You and I had several conversations and I decided that you were an angel sent from God to help calm my fears about my journey. Your strong faith and strength has shown so many others that their faith and strength is what will take them through all things. You have made a difference in so many peoples lives. Blessings to you!
Valerie Lande
By Valerie Lande
I've been followng your story for awhile now...my husband's best friend was diagnosed with stage 4 colon cancer 4 years ago. You are an inspiration and your last post brought tears to my eyes.. I'm so happy you have made some amazing memories with your family. May peace be with you and you're family..Thank you for your positive energy..even though I don't know you, I will always remember you.
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Barbara Eidemanis
By Barb Eidemanis
Keith, you contacted me in 2008/2009 shortly after my husband was diagnosed with stage 4 colon cancer. You have always been positive. You have truly been an inspiration to me. I loved reading your posts and seeing that you were doing okay. My prayers have been and still are with you and your family.

You're awesome! God Bless!