Dave’s journey with cancer started in January of 2019. He hadn’t been feeling well and on Saturday, January 19, he said we should probably go in. We went to Fairview Wyoming ER. They did some tests and discovered he had cancer. He was going to be transported to M Health Fairview at the U of M for emergency surgery. We called the kids-Laura and Lacey came down to Wyoming and James met us at the U from St Peter, where he was attending Gustavus at the time.
As soon as the ambulance arrived, Dave was taken right up to surgery. He ended up having his entire large intestine removed, resulting in an ileostomy. He had stage 4 colon cancer, and if he hadn’t come in, he wouldn’t have made it another day.
Dave had a fantastic care team for his surgery, and his oncologist was fantastic too. Dr. Omer had a plan ready for him and as soon as Dave was healed from his surgery, he began chemotherapy. Chemo can take a toll on your body, but Dave, being Dave, was strong through all of it. We were still able to do lots of our usual things, just with a few precautions. (We even planned a wedding for James and Bekah!)
Just like everyone else, we had no idea what 2020 would bring. We did know we were expecting a new grandson in January. We were able to spend time with Scarlett, Sawyer, Lenore, Marshall and Brooks (as well as Laura, Ryan, Lacey, Sean, James and Bekah) prior to the pandemic. Once the lockdown started, we had to take extra precautions. Laura and Lacey are both stay-at-home moms and their husbands were both able to work exclusively from home. Because of that, we were able to visit them with extra precautions. It was trickier with James and Bekah as Bekah is a nurse, but lots of pictures and videos were exchanged and visits when we could do so safely. So many people say 2020 was such a bad year. For us, being able to spend the extra time together and with the kids and grandkids that we otherwise may not have gotten meant the world to us. Dave’s chemo treatments were different-I wasn’t able to go with him anymore-but he was able to go safely, which was the most important thing.
2021 started with a big change to Dave’s chemo treatments. He would now be able to use an oral form, a pill that he would be able to take at home. We had to wait for him to heal from another surgery first. He had a pleural effusion, so a tube was placed in the area between his lung and chest cavity to help keep fluid from accumulating there. Once he was healed, he began his treatments at home. We didn’t have to go to Minneapolis for the most part anymore. Scans were completed in Wyoming, and the oncology visits with Dr. Omer were done virtually.
One scan did discover some issues with his kidney, so a tube, called a nephrostomy tube, was placed to help prevent any further problems.
As the year went on, the chemo treatments and the cancer started taking more of a toll on him. In July, he wasn’t able to keep anything down, so we went to Wyoming ER. They did a scan and saw a blockage in his small intestine, so he was admitted. Unfortunately, all of the beds at both the Wyoming hospital and at the U were full, so Dave was transferred up to Northland hospital in Princeton until a bed became available. After 11 days, a bed became available and he was able to see his care team. After multiple tests, scans, etc., it was determined by everyone the best plan for Dave was to have a venting G-tube placed and to be home with his family. The hospice team met us at home the day of discharge and has been helping us provide great care to keep Dave comfortable on this final stage of his journey.
Overall, Dave’s journey included lots of time with the kids and grandkids, day trips to state parks together, lunches at Kaffe Stuga and the Park Café, time woodworking and finishing projects, tinkering with his ’71 Skidoo Olympic, spending time outdoors , almost 60 chemotherapy treatments, at least six surgeries, and lots of love and memories created.