During the month of May 2017 (possibly even in April), Dave began having pains/discomfort after eating. We both checked WebMD and thought it might be his gallbladder. He saw our family doctor about it, and in the morning on May 17, 2017 had an ultrasound. The results came back and our doctor said there was something on his liver, so ordered him to get a CT scan that day. We were told that, as the test was done in the afternoon, we probably wouldn't receive the results until the following afternoon.
We received a call at 7am the next morning, from our doctor, asking us to both come in as soon as possible. We went in, and the first thing she said was, "It's not good". She said that it looks like lung cancer, and immediately referred us to an oncologist right down the road. We met with him the following day, and he confirmed her diagnosis. A liver biopsy was done that Friday, the 19th, which showed both small cell and non-small cell lung cancer. Small cell cancer is not treatable, and only 3% of patients live 5 years beyond their diagnosis. Non-small cell is the one you see commercials for, where there is treatment (to some extent), and which receives research money for cures. The money goes where the cures are. Not to the untreatable cancers, unfortunately.
We then met with the oncologist on May 25th, and due to it being a holiday weekend, he sent us straight over to St. Pete's to start chemo. We spent the entire Memorial Day holiday weekend in the hospital. On a side note, we also found out that the hospital we went to was NOT in-network and we received a bill for $14k the following month (after disputing it, and multiple conversations with the hospital, they ended up forgiving it all - thank you, St. Pete's!). We know now where we can go, and where we can't. And, we're changing insurance effective January.
He received chemo from May through September, three days a week every three weeks (with the occasional IV hydration thrown in). The first appointment in the set of three would normally last 5 hours, then the other two lasted about 3 hours. He actually did better than we'd thought - no nausea, no real weakness, just hair loss. Looking back to that time period, he's indicated that he really wishes he'd done more traveling, etc. He's told me that he wishes he would have drawn out his retirement and done a LOT more than he'd done. Hindsight and all. So a lesson to anyone out there - don't wait to go out and enjoy yourself and live your life. You may not get another chance.
That chemotherapy stopped in September, and he was told by his doctor "you'll start feeling much better without the chemo, go and do your bucketlist items". He did end up driving to Nevada with friends - hunting for ghost towns and Uranium (yep, that's Dave for ya.) Unfortunately, he DIDN'T feel better, and we were in the ER 3 or 4 times during October. Thankfully, we were able to take a family trip to Hawaii in September, right after the chemo stopped and before Jake left for college. He had an upper body CT on 9/23/17 which showed that the tumors were either shrinking, or stable - this was great news!
On October 23rd we went to the ER again, with Dave complaining of major pain in his right side. His veins were so bad at that point that they needed an ultrasound to find a vein. They ordered a full upper body CT - it came back showing the tumors were back, and stronger than ever. So, in less than a month, the cancer had returned with a vengance - and this is what the pain was from. He was in the hospital for 3 days, in which he learned he would need more chemo. At that point, we asked that he receive a port for easier access for his chemo and any blood draws needed. He had that port put in on 10/25/17. We went home for one day, started chemo (for one day), then found ourselves back in the hospital for 5 days (which meant no Halloween for us this year - sorry kids!).
Since then, he's had a few more ER visits, mainly for IV hydration and pain medication. I believe we know the folks at the Capital Medical Center ER by name, or at least sight. Thankfully, even though this cancer easily spreads to the brain, all of his brain MRI's have been clear so far.
This leads us up to this most recent hospital admission on November 29th, due to an infection in his port (which they've now removed). Once the infection is gone from his blood, he'll receive a picc line for further chemo treatments.
I'll try to keep this site up-to-date as much as possible. Thanks to everyone for everything - the shared leave at work so I can help Dave, the food made for us, the AWESOME hugs from folks, and the prayers, well wishes and good thoughts. We love each and every one of you - so much. More than you know.