Gene Hayertz Gene Hayertz CaringBridge

First post: Jun 29, 2021 Latest post: Apr 13, 2022
     Welcome family and friends to Gene's Caring Bridge.  One month ago we didn't have an inkling that this journey was about to begin.  On May 24th we received  a call from Ben Roling with the results of Gene's colonoscopy and stomach scope.  The stomach scope had revealed four ulcers and now we heard that the biopsies showed diffuse large B cell lymphoma and he needed to be seen by an oncologist and have chemo very soon.  Immediately we requested Dr Eric Engelman and by noon we had a phone call with an appointment for a PET scan the next day, our 53rd wedding anniversary, and  an appointment with Dr Engelman the day following that.   Wednesday, May 26th  Gene, our son, Matt who had come from Ankeny, and I found out that this was a highly aggressive stage 4 Non-Hodgkin's Lymphoma and we needed to move very quickly.  Gene was scheduled to have Dr. Roling put in a port and Dr. Roewe would put a stent in his left kidney on the 28th.  The stent was to be placed because one of the tumors was so large that it had blocked off the ureter and the kidney.   June 1st he had an echocardiogram.  June 2nd we went to the beautiful new Mercy and Medical Associates Cancer Center for his first chemotherapy.  The plan was for him to start a regime called R-CHOP and repeat it every 21 days for a total of 6 cycles.  That same day we learned that one of lab tests had an additional marker which meant that the cancer was even more aggressive than previously thought.

      Dr. Engelman wanted Gene to been seen by one of his colleagues in Iowa City.  The doctor in Iowa City, in consultation with Dr. Engelman,  recommended to add an additional drug top the R-CHOP regimen due to the aggressive nature of this cancer.   This "new" treatment would require 4-5 days of hospitalization for continuous IV therapy for each of the 5 chemo treatments remaining every 21 days.  In addition, the last 4 treatments will add a seventh chemo drug which will be injected directly into the spinal column.  Yep, we are hitting it the BIG GUNS!!  The best news we have heard yet is that this type of cancer in highly sensitive the  chemotherapy treatment.  Prayers were answered the following day when Dr. Engelman informed us that Gene could receive this treatment at home in Dubuque.  what a relief.  So the plans were put in place for this new treatment.  

      On June 22nd Gene had labs drawn, another appointment with Dr. Engelman, and then was admitted for the first round of this new chemotherapy.  The treatment, which the nurses call the "Kool-Aid" due to its pinkish color, would be delivered via his port for 4 days straight.  The afternoon of the 22nd our daughter, Becky, arrived from Georgia.  We were glad to have her here with us.  The three of us spent the day chatting and catching up.  Gene tolerated the first day of treatment like the CHAMP he is,  boredom and fatigue were his biggest hurdles.  We were thankful that it went so smoothly, but apprehension continues to hang in the background.  Gene had a visitor, Dr. Brock, endocrinologist, after Becky and I went home for the evening.  He sat down and talked with Gene for about 30 minutes regarding the plans for diabetes management.  

     We feel so blessed with this "team" that has come together to give Gene the best of care.  This leads us to today, day two of "drinking the Kool-Aid".   Dr. Engelman visited earlier this morning before Beck and I arrived for the day.  Gene had some questions about when the stent would be replaced because it was scheduled for during his next round of chemotherapy.  Dr. Engleman said "Chemo is King", meaning that chemotherapy treatments take priority over replacing the stent.  A few calls later , arrangements  for the stent replacement were made.  Day two continues to go well and we are so grateful.  

     Thank you for keeping Gene, and our entire family in your thoughts and prayers.  We will take as many as we can to help us fight this!!  We appreciate the numerous calls, texts, cards, and more.  Every single one reminds us of how blessed we are by all the wonderful people in our lives and reminds us that God is there by our sides, holding us up and giving us strength  as we continue the fight.  

Please stop back to this Caring Bridge site for updates as the journey continues.

-- Jan

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