Welcome to our CaringBridge website. We are using it to keep family and friends updated in one place. We appreciate your support and words of hope and encouragement. Thank you for visiting.
Meg here, writing on behalf of my family.
My dad’s battle began when he was first diagnosed with Crohn’s disease in his twenties. Crohn’s disease is a chronic, or long lasting, disease that causes inflammation and irritation in your digestive tract. Then, in 2016, he was also diagnosed with Primary Sclerosing Cholangitis (PSC). PSC is a chronic disease in which the bile ducts inside and outside the liver become inflamed and scarred, and eventually narrowed or blocked. When this happens, bile builds up in the liver and causes liver damage.
Each disease required regular tests and doctors’ visits in order to monitor and treat symptoms. In August 2018, my dad’s overall health seemed to take a more pronounced decline, but after years of living with chronic illnesses, it was not uncommon for dad to go through “low” periods. As November approached, however, without improvement, my parents began to seek more urgent help. It was during this search that doctors in San Antonio discovered a “tomato-sized” mass in his liver.
This is where the story becomes a bit confusing. You see, the doctors in San Antonio sent biopsies from the mass to labs for further testing, and the results of that turned up negative for cancer (benign). This was fantastic news; however, about a month later, we still were not seeing an improvement in my dad’s health, despite prescribed treatment.
On January 28th, my parents flew to the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota in order to seek further support. It was there that he was tested for, and diagnosed with, bile duct cancer (cholangiocarcinoma). The mass was a tumor that had now doubled in size. The doctors there were not very hopeful, saying it had spread to a lymph node in the liver and probably the rest of the lymphatic system. The doctors also discovered a severe infection throughout the liver and surrounding the tumor. The prognosis was a 6 to 12 months life expectancy. Well, anyone who knows Billy Blake, knows he is a fighter; so, upon returning from Mayo and after a few days of rest in San Antonio, he and my mom went to seek out a team willing to fight with him.
On February 13th, my parents arrived at MD Anderson in Houston, where they were given hope for a potential treatment plan. First, the doctors would try to help his liver function by placing stints in the “good” side, as the tumor and underlying disease (PSC) had caused severe damage. While continuing on IV antibiotics, my parents returned home to wait for his bilirubin levels to decrease to a number acceptable for the initiation of chemotherapy.
Today is March 5th, and my parents and I are heading to MD Anderson. During their time home, the bilirubin has been slowly trending downward; but, admittedly, the infection (and possibly the cancer) has taken its toll. Dad is very weak and fatigued, physically and emotionally. We are all ready for a plan of action and pray the doctors at MD Anderson can give us a more distinct opportunity for treatment.
That being said, we created this group to help us reach all of you, our prayer warriors, as my dad fights on. Even though it’s been tough for all of us to keep up with your sweet texts and calls, your support continues to give us strength. We hope this page provides us a better, more consistent method of communicating. We love you all so much!