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Brad's Adventure Begins At a young and active 63 years of age I suffered what we thought was a gallbladder attack or perhaps pancreatitis on the evening of December 16, 2016. A trip to the emergency room at St. Francis, Sat. Dec. 17, at the direction of my PCP, was meant to confirm that diagnosis and attain some relief. Instead, after an analysis of a blood sample, a CT scan, and a chest x ray, the ER doctor told Kathy and me that my gallbladder and pancreas were fine; he did not know the source of my pain at the time (since disappeared); and that there were cancerous lesions on my liver. He showed comparison CT scans from that day and from 2 years ago when I had my heart valve replaced. We could see on the new CT scan the spots on the liver and no spots on the 2 year old CT. The doctor did not know the nature of the cancer and immediately set up an appointments for further investivation.
December 22 I had a CT guided liver biopsy at St. Mary's aimed at determining the nature of the cancer affecting the liver.
December 29 Kathy and I met with Dr. Steven Duffy, oncologist at St. Mary's Hospital. He informed us the results of blood testing and liver biopsy showed Stage 4 liver cancer (meaning the cancer originated elsewhere and could not be treated by addressing the liver sites alone). The cells in the liver biopsy additionally told us the cancer most likely originated in the alimentary canal and that he would set up an appointment for an endoscopy and colonoscopy to verify the cell test results. There is a significant difference between cancers orginating in the upper gastrointestinal tract and lower. Upper is generally much more aggressive with shorter life expectancies. Regardless of the nature of the cancer, chemotherapy would be called for so an appointment was made to have a port placed on my chest for direct access to the jugular vein. Chemotherapy is very tough on blood vessel linings and the port in a large vein going directly to the heart would facilitate a large volume of blood for a then diluted treatment to be quickly sent over the entire body.
January 4,2017 the chemotherapy port was installed.
January 5, Dr Haverty, of Richmond Gastrointestial performed an upper and lower GI scoping. Many thanks to my driver, Will Hill, brother-in-law, who with my pror permission, obtained information that day that the upper appeared normal and the lower showed a cancerous tumor (later confirmedby biopsy) at the site where my appendix was removed back in the 1960s. The irony here was that I have had regular colonoscopies, never had any symptons, and was due for a colonoscopy this year. The good news is there appeared to be just the one lesion.
Jan 10 with Dr. Duffy oncologist who confirms findings from colonoscopy and sets in motion arrangements for chemotherapy
Jan 12 met with cardiologist (I do this every 6 months after the heart valve replacement two years ago) who says heart is fine, that I should still take my cholesterol med to prevent blood vessel blockage and hardening of the arteries. and that I should continue to lose weight (lost 10 lb in last 6 months). Some things never change.
Jan 17 met with part of oncology team from St Mary's. They indicated that with proper treatment, me taking good care of myself, and maintianing a positive attitude, I would likely be in the long survivor group as far as the cancer was concerned. It was emphasized that there were many steps between here and there, not the least of which was how the cancer responded to the chemotherapy.
Jan 19 was the first chemotherapy infusion. Thank you Jackie Wade for the ride to the hospitial. Having a driver made Kathy feel better and having someone to talk to on the way made me feel better. Thank you! Infusion starts with a blood test in the infusion center, followed by a checkup with the oncologist team and then back to the infusion center. Based on the blood test a chemo cocktail is developed specific to my needs. Infusion started about 11 and finished at 12:30. I read most of the time and had no immediate reaction to the drugs part of which supress nausea. Kathy brought a favorite sub and rootbeer around 12 and chatted for a few minutes before going back to work there in the hospital (speaking about rootbeer - no alcoholic beverages for as long as I am on chemo - that will mean years).
So the journal of the journey begins. According to our doctors this journey could be six years or longer. Kathy and I will do our best to keep you updated with the latest developments via this site. Feel free to use and share the site. Call or text if you want. Many of you have volunteered your help and prayers. Please know that I am welcome to all offers.
Please remember in your prayers Kathy, Erin, Becky, Evelyn, David, Sabrina, Will, Joyce. These are the family members that I see often and who will help me deal with day to day issues as they arise. Please also remember my medical care givers. They are a consumate, caring, listening, team dedicated to my best care. Please pray for our church members, already offering prayers and help. They form a network of community care givers without which this ordeal would be infinitely harder. Thank you Becky Lang for leading me to this site. It has led to much introspection and provided a good avenue for sharing the day to day happenings with those that want to keep up with me.
Many you have offered to help. Please know I will ask as necessary, sensitive to what I think you can do. I do know that we all have a life to live so never fear saying that you can't help that day. I am most fortunate to be in a church and greater community full of helpers.
Lastly, please know this about me. I am very comfortable talking about the biology of this and spirtually am at peace knowing that God's grace will conquer all. I have the most difficulty talking with others about personal relationships. I don't want them to end and neither do you. That is tough but inevitable for both of us. I know you need our conversatons and truthfully so do I; so please bear with me if I cry, offer a tissue, wait, be there, and know that I will shortly pull my self together so that we may continue our conversations for years