On Christmas Eve of 2016, Grant received news that sent a chill through the family, gathered in Richland, OR for the holiday. The discomfort Grant was having in his abdomen, his doctor advised, was pancreatic cancer that had metastasized to his liver and other areas, and spread throughout his abdomen. A very unexpected Christmas missive. Grant was advised to get his affairs in order, no biopsy would be necessary, and a visit to an oncologist was not required. The family revolted. We all thought that knowing exactly who the enemy was could give us a chance to confront it. We finally got Grant's buy-in and they set about finding an oncologist. The New Year's holiday slowed the search as no one was working. On January 3rd, Wife Carol and Sister Bonnie, were on the phone all day. A doc in Portland was selected, with the help of our Aunt Helen. The normal wait time for an appointment was 2-3 weeks. That wasn't going to work given Grant's condition; his discomfort was rapidly increasing, and his skin had started to turn yellow from compromised liver function. A plan was hatched to get Grant in the care system by going direct to the OHSU emergency room and get admitted that way. It was time for action. Grant and Carol skirted a snowstorm and drove to Portland on January 4, where they met cousin/nurse practitioner, and incredible patient advocate, Amy. With Amy, they drove to the OHSU ER, and he was admitted to the hospital early the next morning. A biopsy was performed. Measures to keep Grant more comfortable were taken, and family from near and far across the state and Seattle visited many times to buoy his spirits. After many trials and some mis-steps, an appointment with the desired oncologist was arranged on January 11th. Dr Lopez was a kind and knowledgeable man that Grant respected, and a plan was formulated to treat the cancer (Cholangiocarcinoma - bile duct cancer- not Pancreatic, as originally thought) with chemotherapy. The cancer won't go away, but they hope to help control it for a period of one or two years. The goal, at present, is to slow the growth and improve Grant's quality of life.
With a plan in place, Grant and Carol drove home to La Grande on January 12th, to an appointment with the selected local oncologist. The next move is to get a port placed in Grant's chest to deliver the chemotherapy, and to start the chemotherapy regimen; the anticipated start for chemo is Tuesday, Jan 17.
Aunt Carolyn has graciously offered to house visitors who want to come by and need a place to stay. This is being offered with the intent of giving Carol a little breathing room to perform her work and her other job of taking care of Grant. The logistics of arranging this are tbd.
No one chooses to have cancer, but many have been there. We know Grant and Carol have a large, wonderful, caring community of support, and we hope you all will send love, prayers, humor, photos, and words of encouragement to support them throughout this journey. We will continue to give regular updates as time goes on.