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.
I will start at the beginning, so you know what's happened in the last year.
It was a year and a half ago in June that Bruce went in for a colonoscopy, and the Doctor told us that they found a good sized tumor. From her experience, she knew this was cancer. She then sent us to get a scan done to see how extensive this tumor was--if it had spread to any other organs. During this scan, they found an unrelated 10 cm tumor on one of his kidneys. The rectal tumor was put "on the back burner", to deal with this much more silent, deadly cancer. He had no symptoms for the kidney cancer. It was advanced. We know that if he did not have rectal cancer, that he wouldn't have gotten the scan, and he very well could have died from the kidney cancer. We believe that God saved his life through having rectal cancer. Unfortunately, it was cancer that had to get our attention...
We were in shock at this news. The reality of having two different cancers thrown at us? And the thought of the possibility that this could actually kill him? The thought of cancer never entered our minds before this. We were very quickly thrown into the world of having cancer, and all that goes with it. Talk of immediate surgery to remove Bruce's kidney, and the large tumor attached to it, recovery from the surgery, radiation and chemo, another major surgery to remove the rectal cancer, and the necessity to add an illiostomy/colostomy, while the intestines healed. More Chemo...A lot of information to take in in a very short time.
It was then my time to quickly start letting everyone know what was happening. I posted on Facebook for prayer, alerted family and friends, told my Bible Study group from Eagle Brook Church, who started praying right away. I emailed our former pastor at First Covenant Church, who then asked the congregation there to pray. My brother, Scott, who is the pastor of a Covenant Church in Belvedere, IL, had his congregation praying. We knew that so many people were covering Bruce and our family in prayer.
Bruce, at some point in the beginning of this journey, started his mantra of "God's Got This". And he knew it for sure, when at the very next service we attended at Eagle Brook, the new message series was titled "God's Got This"! He knew that was no coincidence. We knew that God was going to bring him through this.
That same week we found out about the cancers (they did not waste any time) he was in the hospital having major surgery to have his kidney removed, along with the tumor (which the surgeon said was too big to fit in the bag they use) and surrounding lymph nodes. Although the cancer was very serious, it had not spread.
He then started treatment for the rectal cancer. He had 28 sessions of radiation, and 168 Xoloda Chemo pills to bring down the size of the tumor. One year ago Tuesday, he had major surgery to remove this tumor, and surrounding lymph nodes, and given a temporary illiostomy. He was in the hospital for 22 days.
The major colorectal surgery was a success, the surgeon said that the margins were great and she was happy with the results. The illiostomy was difficult to come to terms with for the both of us at first. It was definitely a learning experience! But, together, we manged to learn how to take care of it, with the help of home health care nurses. Eventually, Bruce took over total care of his ostomy and got used to emptying and changing the bag himself. It soon just became just another part of his life. He just was always saying "It is what it is", and was able to just deal with whatever came up.
He continued treatments. He had 8 rounds of IV chemo. On one week, off for three. Unfortunately, one of the chemo drugs was responsible for causing severe neuropathy in both feet and in his fingers and hands. They pulled that drug from the regimen, but it was too late. The damage had been done. Bruce doesn't give up, though. He continues to drive despite the numbness in his feet. He continues to go to work. He hunts despite having to navigate uneven terrain. He makes sure to go out and deal with whatever yard work needs to be done. But, every night he comes home from work, and he tells me that his feet are "screaming" (the sharp pins and needles pain that comes with the numbness). It's so hard to see him in pain, and there is nothing I can do...but pray it eases up. or just goes away. But, it hasn't. Nothing, including acupuncture helps.
During all this time, again, Bruce kept active. He has a very hard time sitting around to relax. After his surgeries, he stayed home as long as he could to recover, but VERY soon (like right away!) was going in to work. He is co-owner of Schreiber Mullaney Construction Company--general contractors--but is usually in his office at a desk, so at least I knew he wasn't out running around!) When he was having his treatments, he would make his radiation appointments early, so he could get his radiation and then go right to work from the hospital. He did the same thing when he was getting his IV Chemo--he would go right to work after he was done each time. When he was home on the weekends (he usually spends a few hours at work on Saturdays catching up on paperwork and emails), he would be outside dealing with yard work. Cancer was not going to interrupt his life. He refused to allow it to. Bruce is very strong willed and determined to do what needs to be done.
Also during this time of fighting cancer, he was invited to join a Cancer Care support group, which meets at First Covenant Church in St. Paul...which is where I grew up, and I invited Bruce to come to church with me while we were teenagers, and dating. He finally said yes, and First Covenant became his home church too in the early 1980's, and I believe, through a work camp experience, accepted Christ. We were there till maybe 2008, but were still attending once a month for awhile, while also attended Eagle Brook Church in Lino Lakes, which is down the road from our house. It was hard to let go of First Covenant, but because of circumstances in our family, we felt we needed to. We have been attending Eagle Brook for about 11 -12 years now, and love worshiping with the music, and listening to Pastor Bob and Pastor Jason's messages. Even though we have moved on to a different church, First Covenant and it's people and Pastor Anne mean a lot to us and still feel like a part of our family.
Anyway, Bruce started attending this Cancer Care group, and made some good friends, and got reacquainted with old friends. Sad to see so much suffering with Cancer, but it was good for him to have the support he needed and to be able to support others. Sadly, they have lost a couple of members during the time he's been a part of this group, but he is still attending the group and wants to be a support to those still in the midst of their Cancer journey.
On August 28th, we were given the long awaited news that Bruce was Cancer-Free!! That was a very long 14 months of treatments and surgeries, and we were full of joy to hear those words, and grateful to God for healing him, and for creating the people who created the science behind what helped to heal his cancer. That was a very scary time for us and our family, but we had faith that he would make it through, and be okay, thanks to God for hearing everyone's prayers going out for Bruce's healing.
One more thing to still have done...the reversal surgery.
Bruce is an avid outdoors man and hunter. When trying to decide when to have the reversal surgery (in which the surgeon reconnects the intestines back to where they belong and reverse the illiostomy), Bruce had to think of hunting season and that he did not want recovery from this surgery to interfere with his favorite time of the year. So, he decided that January would be a good time. After the holidays, and after things settle down. So, that was our last big thing on the docket of this Cancer journey.
Everything was fine, we thought...until the unimaginable happened...