Nov 28, 2021 Latest post:
May 27, 2023
Welcome to our CaringBridge website for Dave Allen's journey to defeat colorectal cancer. We're using this site to keep family and friends updated in one place. We appreciate your support and words of hope and encouragement. Love, Dave, Kathy, Monique & Bennett
I am blessed. I have much to be thankful for. I have two amazing kids, Bennett (17) and Monique (20) and a wonderful partner Kathy. I have a roof over my head and the love and support of friends and family. I have good health insurance and I live in region with expertise treating cancer.
And a have a journey ahead of me.
BACKGROUND In mid Oct 2021, I had a colonoscopy because I had some abdominal discomfort and blood in my stools. The colonoscopy identified a 4 cm cancer tumor in my rectum. A subsequent MRI and CT scan showed that the cancer had spread beyond my GI tract to some nearby lymph nodes and to my liver.
My GP doctor referred me to Swedish Hospital Cancer Institute as well as to the Seattle Cancer Care Alliance for a second opinion for good measure. Both hospitals were excellent and provided the same assessment and general strategy to deal with the cancer. I had two good choices, and I chose Swedish.
My treatment plan: - My treatment starts with ~4 months of a round of chemo every other week, with a scan after every 4th round to assess how well the chemo is working. I spend all day in the hospital for infusion every other Wed, and return to the hospital on Friday for a few hours. (More details below.) - The vision is that the chemo will shrink the tumors, and then surgery will remove any remaining cancer from the liver. Recovery will follow. - An additional ~2 months of chemo and possibly radiation in the rectal area. - Rectal surgery to remove any remaining cancer. This is just one possible pathway, because depending on how my body responds, the plan may change.
My first round of chemo started Wed. Nov 24. I spent about 8 hrs in the infusion center basically hanging out while nurses administered a sequence of meds via IV. Then they send me home for two days with a stylish "fanny pack" with a chemo device which I wear for 48 hrs. On Friday I returned to Swedish for 2 hours of hydration and removal of the fanny pack. For the next 11 days I had some nausea and a lot of fatigue, but it was manageable.
HOW YOU CAN HELP SUPPORT US Thanks to everyone who has asked how they can help. As noted above, it's hard to predict how my body will respond to the chemo, so our needs may change as time goes on.
- WELL WISHES. I'm very moved and buoyed when folks reach out with a message here on caring bridge, a text, an email, voicemail, etc. Even just one line saying that you're thinking of has an impact. Please know that often I won't have the bandwidth to respond to your message, but your impact is there. I'll try to provide updates on this site to keep folks updated on how I'm doing. If there's a lag between entries, don't panic! It's probably just that I'm tired. :-)
- POSITIVE THOUGHTS AND PRAYERS. I love any way you wish to send me positive energy. I believe it makes a difference.
- MEALS. Meals make our life easier, especially on those long "chemo" days. Go to "planner" on the purple menu bar for dates & details. If you live too far to bring a meal, a gift card is great too.
- ERRANDS. Taking tasks off our household list helps a lot. Go to "planner" on the purple menu bar for dates & details
- VISITS. A great time to visit is the afternoon of my infusion day (usually on Wed.) or the Friday afternoon following the infusion. Both are at Swedish Cancer Institute 1221 Madison St, SEA. (Fl 2 on infusion day and fl 3 two days later.) Go to "planner" on the purple menu bar for dates & details.
- SUPPORT FOR MY FAMILY. Cancer affects the whole family, so one of the most important ways to support me is to support my family. Reaching out to them through this site, a text, an email, etc. will go a long way.
- NORMALCY. Days after my diagnosis I learned that I can't be thinking about this situation 24/7. I need to continue to have normalcy in my life - celebrate birthdays, enjoy the holidays, catch up with friends about regular stuff, take trips with my family, go on hikes and walks, give my little dog Snoo all the belly rubs he needs, etc. Sometimes when we connect I'll be ready to talk about my situation, while other times, all I'll want to do is talk about anything else.
- LAUGHTER. You know I love to laugh, and my current situation doesn't change that. In fact, I deal with things a lot better if I can laugh at the craziness of a situation, or make a joke to release the tension, so you might come across a joke here and there on this CaringBridge site. (No promises on joke quality.) While I'm giving 100% in my battle to defeat cancer, jokes and laughter will help me get through. '
- RECOMMENDATIONS OF JOY. Bring on the funny videos, inspiring podcasts suggestions, great books, etc. I'm pulling back on a steady diet of political media (which only raises my blood pressure) and add more doses of joy at this time in my life.
Now let's kick this cancer's $@%!!!
Thank you! Love, Dave, Kathy, Monique, and Bennett