Andy Altenburg | CaringBridge

Andy Altenburg

First post: 3/7/2017 Latest post: 4/4/2017
Andy has suffered a life of chronic illnesses so when he began to not feel well last November he knew he needed to go to the doctor for some answers. He went to Mayo in Rochester for his yearly visit in November and everything checked out. He continued to not feel well throughout November and into December. So he contacted his regular doctor( Dr. Bruining) at Mayo looking for answers to why he wasn't feeling well. His lab results showed his liver enzymes were elevated so his regular doctor referred him to Dr. Simonetto a liver specialist.  Dr. Simonetto  ordered more lab work and and an MRI of the abdomen. Nothing remarkable was found on the MRI scan however the lab values were concerning for cancer. So on January 27th, 2017 Andy underwent an ERCP (Endoscopic Retrograde Cholangio-pancreatography) procedure where they took biopsies and scrapings of the inner linings of his bile ducts in his liver and used angioplasty to open his bile ducts. After this procedure Andy began to feel better and his slight jaundice went away. However on Thursday, February 7th Dr. Simonetto delivered the news that he did in fact have Hilar cholangiocarcinoma or cancer of the bile ducts in the liver. The biopsies they took in the ERCP came back negative for cancer but the scrapings came back positive for Hilar cholangiocarcinoma. With this news also came the fact that in order to rid his body of this cancer and the other chronic liver illnesses he has he will have to undergo a liver transplant. The cancer has been found very early and has not spread to any other parts of his body. He will begin 3 weeks of radiation with chemotherapy on March 13th. He will have two sessions of radiation a day. After the treatment he will have one session of brachytherapy radiation to really target the cancer. After these radiation treatments he will have a break and they will do another ERCP to check that the cancer is gone. He will continue to take chemotherapy pills to maintain the cancer until he is able to receive a liver transplant. He has two options for a liver: one it can come from a living donor or two he can receive one from a deceased donor. If he is able to receive a living donor his transplant will happen much sooner than if he has to wait for a deceased donor. He currently is on the organ transplant list as of Wednesday, March 1st 2017, but with his blood type of O he will have to wait a year or more for a deceased donor liver. Andy is in great spirits and has a positive attitude that he will indeed beat this obstacle in life just like the other obstacles he has faced in life. He is a strong willed individual with a lot of fight in him. 

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