Welcome to the updated Caringbridge site for my Mom and Dad - Barb and Dale Shaw. For those of you who have followed along with us, prayed for us, and helped us so much in our journey with Mom this last year, you most likely know that now we begin this battle with my Dad. Mom and Dad celebrated their 46th Wedding Anniversary this April, so naturally, they are battling this awful disease together. For those of you who are just joining with us, here is a brief synopsis.
Last Feb, Mom had a hysterectomy to remove a very fast growing, aggressive, and rare form of endometrial/uterine cancer. The cancer had moved into her lymph nodes and so we went through a very long, aggressive treatment plan of 6 rounds of chemo, every three weeks and then 7 weeks of internal and external radiation each week day. Mom had a rough time getting through chemo and had almost every bad side effect you can have, but she handled it like a champ (along with an arsenal of drugs from her amazing oncologist, Dr. Carolyn McCourt). She rang the bell at Siteman for her radiation coming to an end last Friday, 9/27. She is still very weak and her immune system is very low, but she is slowly regaining her strength. Mom will now have follow up appointments with her oncologist every 3 months for the next 5 years. Even though the odds are not great for this Grade 3 / Stage IIIC to return, we are determined to remain positive that Mom WILL beat this cancer. Throughout Mom's treatment, she has stayed with Mike, Sophie and I in St. Louis for the majority of time. My employer has been beyond supportive for me to take time off and be her primary caregiver. I will never be able to put into words how much this time has meant to Mom and me, Mike, Sophie, and little fur baby Maisie (Mom's resident therapy dog : ) Now on to the second part of our story...my Dad.
I had been taking Mom back and forth during chemo (10 days here, 11 days in Elkville), and would usually meet Dad in Nashville, IL so I didn't have to drive the entire way to their house. As the months went by, I would tease Dad that he was turning into a rack of bones and that without my Aunt Linda and Toolie taking him food, he would waste away. Little did we know that Dad had been keeping something huge from us. For many months, he had been having horrible bleeding and pain dealing with his urinary tract and bowels. For those of you who know my Dad, this will not surprise you at all. He was so concerned about my Mom focusing on and getting through her treatment, that he never told us a thing. (In fact, he lied about it - but of course it was a lie based completely out of love.) 3 weeks before Mom's radiation was supposed to be completed, Justin called me to let me know that Dad had been admitted into to the hospital in Carbondale. Thank God Justin was home from his deployment and in Elkville with my Dad, or chances are high that he would not be here today. Dad had gotten so bad that his urine looked like old motor oil and he was in excruciating pain. I had to do one of the hardest things in my life that morning...walk into the radiation waiting room and tell my Mom that Dad was in the hospital. She was immediately sick and I drove us to Carbondale as soon as her treatment was finished. After 4 days with a large catheter flushing his urine, he finally had clear urine and they scheduled scopes for both areas of concern. The colonoscopy found a large tumor that was almost completely obstructing his colon and he was transferred to Siteman via ambulance. He was met with Dr. Steven Hunt and his colorectal surgical team and a CT was done that showed not only the tumor in the colon, but that it had also grown into the first part of his colon as well as through his right ureter. They let Dad go back home, on a strict diet of liquids and chicken noodle soup, until they could schedule the urology surgeon at the same time as Dr. Hunt. His surgery will be an open procedure that will take several hours to complete. We will not know if the cancer has spread to the bladder, lymph nodes, etc. until after the pathology report gets back, so again...the waiting. Mom and I are planning on being at the hospital each day (she actually has an appointment with her oncologist on Thurs so we will be able to walk over and back easily), and will keep you all updated on how he is doing.
This has been almost too much for me to bear and has really pushed the limit of the strength I found throughout Mom's treatment. Please pray for my Dad and my Mom. Please pray for all of us to continue to have strength, optimism, and fight each day. Kate, Adam, and Rachel (Downs) grew up as part of my family and wanted to do something to help our family in a time when everyone just feels helpless. They started a Go Fund Me to help my family since I have been unable to work, except for a day or two here and there, since April. Dad made me promise not to do one for him, (of course he did ; ), so please visit this site if you are interested. All of the funds go to overall caregiving of my parents NOTE: Please do not donate if you gave to our fund for Mom. I agreed to this as a way for all of our friends and family to have the ability to directly help our family and so many of you have already done that and more. Link: https://www.gofundme.com/f/shaw-lesser-family
Thank you all so much for all of your support and I will keep you posted as things progress. I love you all so much!
Angie (Shaw) Lesser and family