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8/17/2016 Latest post:
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I remember as if it were yesterday.... It was January 2010 and Mom and I were sitting in the surgical waiting room at Swedish hospital. Dad was undergoing a lung biopsy to check for cancer. I can still see Dr Kessler entering the room after a long surgery still dressed in his surgical scrubs, hat, and booties. He knelt down next to mom and told us it was cancer. He had removed the upper lobe of dads lung to create clear margins and was very confident in the prognosis. We had caught it early..Stage 1. Not many people are as lucky due to lung cancer often being difficult to detect until later on. We felt so blessed and relieved. Yet...how could this be? Cancer? My dad never smoked and lived a very active lifestyle. How could this happen and why? Dad would go in every 6 months for scans and testing. Each time we received the news that all was clear. Of course leading up to the results each time was enough to make anyone's stomach churn. It is always the unknown. Then in the fall of 2013 dad went in for his check. The news came back that the cancer had returned. Not only had it returned...but it had spread to several places including his bone. I think we all dropped to our knees at the unexpected news. How could this possibly be? He had been cancer free for over 3 years. I was feeling defeated. I had lost a close friend a couple months earlier and now dads cancer was back and there was no cure. Dad said to keep my head up...we were going to fight this one. Dads lung cancer was on the rare side. It was ALK positive and lucky for us they were developing new ALK inhibiting drugs. Dr. Kenney his oncologist was going to start dad on crizotinib. We were told the drug had a life-span or around 9 months before the cancer genes got "smart" and started mutating. Well...the drug proved successful for about a year and half. Dad then moved onto the second generation crizotinib. It proved successful for about 6 months. During this time he also underwent several radiation treatments. Our next line of defense was traditional Chemo. After several months the scans showed it was not effective. Dr Kenney was ready to pull out the big guns..... Time for the new "miracle" drug Opdivo. It had just been approved for lung cancer in January. We all had high hopes but the side effects gave indication it was probably not working. Scans proved this to be true. With spirits and hopes crushed....dad was not ready to give up. Dr Kenney was ready to try the 3rd generation ALK inhibitor as a last hope. After just a short time on Alecensa, dad started having brutal side effects. It was unknow if it was due to the meds or the cancer. Dad ended up in the Hospital at the end of June with pneumonia that had gone septic. He fought hard, rallied and was home again in a week. He ended up back in the hospital again a couple weeks later. With a third admission to the ER at the end of July we found out dad had a blood clot in his lung and things were starting to deteriorate. His double vision had become almost unbearable and he was suffering cognitively. He was having balance issues, loss of appettite, severe weight loss and we found out later had become pretty depressed. All of this was so hard to witness and hear. If you know my dad...he is such a proud man and tried to hide this from so many of you for so long. I think pride is a Meyer trait. With a visit to Dr. Kenney and a little heart to heart.....dad made the decision he was done. He was going off his cancer meds and the Denver Hospice palative team would take over August 5th. And so here our updates will begin........