We created this page to keep our friends and family updated on Dean’s status, to include his diagnosis, treatment, progress and how you can help. Dean is loved by so many people and we want to thank everyone for your support and prayers while we navigate through these uncharted waters. We now have a diagnosis and are starting the care plan and will give updates on this page only. Feel free to post comments on this page. Please do not post anything from this page on social media. This is going to be a marathon, not a sprint. Dean keeps saying this is the one and only marathon he will ever complete lol!
As some of you know, Dean was diagnosed with prostate cancer in September and had a successful prostatectomy in November. He is now cancer free! In early January he developed a cough and was diagnosed with bronchitis. His symptoms worsened quickly and he was admitted to Banner University January 23rd, where he stayed for 9 days. During this time he underwent numerous tests to include a bronchoscopy and lung biopsy surgery. He was released on the 1st and has been home since.
We have the utmost confidence in our care team and have been waiting for the 2nd and 3rd opinions from Mayo and Dean’s team of pulmonologists and pathologists on his diagnosis, which we received yesterday. Dean has been diagnosed with UIP (Usual Interstitial Pneumonia). This is the general diagnosis. There are many subsets and unknowns with this diagnosis that we are just beginning to understand. Unfortunately the fibrosis in Dean’s lungs is not reversible. But, we are hopeful the specialized medication that was just ordered will stop the progression of the fibrosis (we are waiting on insurance - this is a very expensive specialized drug). He has been on a high dose of steroids, which unfortunately has not helped as of yet, and other medications to keep him from contracting any bacterial and fungal infections. To be clear, UIP is not caused by an organism like bacteria, a virus or fungal infection. He is only on these drugs to try and stop the progression and prevent any further complications.
Currently we are on lockdown due to the fact we cannot risk Dean getting COVID. Due to the fast progression of this disease (which the doctor is confident was an undiagnosed underlying condition that was flared up from undergoing anesthesia for his prostate surgery) he is on constant oxygen. Dean starts pulmonary therapy on Tuesday and we meet back with the pulmonologist in two weeks. Our pulmonologist has already been in contact with the top lung transplant doctor in the state to review Dean’s case. Interestingly enough and unfortunately, Dean’s brother Dan who is 6 years older is in his 4th year of but just recently diagnosed with IPAF (Interstitial pneumonia with autoimmune features). He is on medication and in the beginning stages of the lung transplant process. Dan lives in Michigan and his doctor and Dean’s doctor will be comparing cases to see if there is a familial aspect to their lung diseases.
We are so fortunate that Dean’s employer is going to hold his position on a long-term unpaid medical leave. And fortunately I have been off for the last 6 months on furlough which has allowed me to be home and care for Dean. I am scheduled to return to work in March, but as a flight attendant my job is very flexible and I am confident I will be able to give my trips away. Southwest Airlines is an outstanding company and we are beyond blessed as we have the best medical insurance there is. And thankfully we have the most amazing close friends, family and neighbors who have kept us well fed and fully stocked with food, supplies and even momma’s wine lol!
What can you do? PRAY PRAY PRAY! Please pray for healing first and foremost. And pray for Dean physically and emotionally. As you all know he is the most positive person out there, and he is hopeful. But in saying that, this has been very hard on him emotionally. Please pray Dean’s mobility improves as he goes through the pulmonary therapy process (twice a week at this point). Please pray for Dean’s brother Dan and his family. Please pray for their doctors. Please pray for the lung transplant process and specifically that Dean’s cancer diagnosis 3 months ago does not hinder him too much in this process. Please pray for our family and friends, and throw an extra prayer out there for our kids, Kyle and Sarah, as this has been very hard on them emotionally.
Thank you all for your love, prayers and support. Love Dean and Debi
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