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Welcome to our CaringBridge site. It has been created to keep friends and family updated about Vada.
Son, husband, father, brother, friend, football hero, community servant and police officer, cancer survivor.
On the morning of October 23rd, 2008, Vada was scheduled to have a minimally invasive robotic surgical procedure to remove a small mass from the outside muscle around his heart. Thirty minutes into the scheduled 3 hour surgery, the doctors saw that Vada had cancer in his left lung and chest cavity. They took several samples of tissue to biopsy and ended the surgery without removing the small mass on the outside of his heart. The doctors confirmed later that morning that Vada has adenocarcinoma, the most common type of non-smoking lung cancer. After further testing (brain MRI and PET scan), it was determined that the cancer has not spread to other organs, and is considered stage 3b.
Vada was released from the hospital on Monday, October 27th. He has recovered well from surgery. The small mass that was initially thought to be attached to his pericardium (the lining of his heart) was not removed during surgery. However, the surgeons applied a talc-like substance in order to essentially "glue" his left lung against his chest cavity in order to prevent fluid accumulation in his lung (a common occurance for those with lung cancer). This procedure created inflammation and significant pain.
It has been 9 days since his cancer diagnosis and it has been an emotional roller coaster. For those of you that have not seen Vada in a while: he has never smoked. After finishing his playing career at Michigan he continued to run 8-10 miles per week and lifted weights 3 days per week. He was and still is in top shape. His job as an Ann Arbor Police Officer is very physical. Vada having lung cancer was a shock to everyone, including his doctors.
With that being said, we have chosen NOT TO WASTE TIME ASKING HOW DID/ WHY DID THIS HAPPEN. We need to expend every ounce of our energy thinking positively. Vada is committed to placing all of his energy towards beating cancer and is looking forward to getting back to normal activities in the near future.
With help from a psycho therapist, Vada, myself and Laura (Deric's Mom) had a discussion with our children Deric, Kendall, and Harper. They know that Daddy had surgery and may be sick moving forward. We plan to talk openly, honestly, and proactively with our children. However, we would like to remind everyone that as you discuss this around your own children, or if you happen to be around our children, please be mindful of your tone. ALSO, PLEASE DO NOT APPROACH OUR CHILDREN TO DISCUSS VADA'S HEALTH SITUATION. Asking our children questions or even providing them with what you think is reassurance could scare them.
Vada received excellent care at St. Joseph Mercy Hospital in Ann Arbor. We have received a second opinion and moving forward have chosen to receive his care at the University of Michigan Cancer Center. His cancer is inoperable, and radiation is not an option. We hope to start chemotherapy the week of November 10th. I will communicate more about this process when I have more detailed information.
The love and support we have received in the past week has been healing and overwhelming. Basically, it has been absolutely incredible. I continue to remind Vada about the amount of people who love and care for him and for our family. He has many brotherhoods - the police department, high school classmates, friends from Cincinnati, friends from college, local friends, our neighborhood and our families. A special thank you to the Ann Arbor Police Department for the wonderful meals and your love and support. Another special thank you to my Mom (Prudy) and sister (Sally). So many of you have asked what you can do further to help. I don't know yet. I will ask for help and take so many of you up on your offers when I know what we need.
Vada's cancer diagnosis was a huge blow to us. We went into his surgery on October 23rd expecting the best. Getting through this will be the most difficult thing we have ever done. I am strong, and so is Vada. I heard him telling a former college friend who was a wrestler at Michigan, "Just because I have cancer, don't think that I still can't kick your ass!" Vada has a strong spirit, and on the days when he can't find it I will help him. For those of you that know Vada, he is physically tough and stubborn. Those traits will serve him well as we begin the fight. And this is a battle that we will win.
Thank you for your continued love and support.