Welcome to Greg’s CaringBridge website. We are using it to keep family and friends updated all in one place during this challenging time. Before I begin sharing Greg’s story back where it all began and his current health battle, I think it is important to introduce myself to those of you who may not know me. My name is Betsy Nelson and I am Greg and Karla’s daughter in law, married to their youngest son Braeden. I am writing this with Greg and Karla’s permission to help inform loved ones and ask for your prayers during this challenging time.
Greg’s journey with cancer began back in 1980 at the age of 27. He was newly engaged making forever plans with the love of his life when he was first diagnosed with Hodgkin’s Lymphoma. The prognosis they gave him back then was not good, but God had so much more in store for him and his life ahead. With Greg and Karla’s love for one another and Greg’s fighting spirit, he persevered through his many radiation treatments (45 to be exact) and was able to get into remission. Over the past 10 years, Greg and his family have now been able to see the long term damage those previous radiation treatments have caused for him. The first thing that they found was impacted was his lungs. Due to his right diaphragm being paralyzed, his lung on the right side does not function at all. His left lung has severe scar tissue caused by the radiation and he has less than 40% lung capacity on that side. In addition to his lungs, the radiation has caused heart valve problems and hardening of the pericardium surrounding the heart, making his heart function less than ideal.
Because of the pandemic and all of Greg’s underlying health concerns caused by his previous radiation, he and Karla were at home for the year to avoid illness and were anxious and excited to finally get out and do some traveling again this summer after they returned to West Fargo, ND this spring. After they returned, Greg started having some problems with swallowing that continued to persist. At his first visit on June 2, they looked into the possibility of an ulcer and treated it as such; however, it did not improve or get any better after they treated it. On June 10, he went to see a gastroenterologist who did a scope procedure where they discovered a mass in his esophagus and they biopsied it. On June 14 we found out that the mass was in fact esophageal cancer, specifically stage four squamous cell carcinoma. From there the next steps were to order a PET scan to gather information to inform his medical team on how to proceed. The PET scan on June 23 showed that the cancer had spread to his breast bone, lymph nodes, and a small spot on his liver. On June 24 he had another scope procedure to try to get a better look at the mass further down in his esophagus; however they were unable to get a better look as the mass was too large and hard to get the scope past it. At this time Greg was referred to the Roger Maris Cancer Center to discuss next steps and treatment options and also had a second opinion from the Mayo Clinic in the meantime. On June 28 the family met with his oncologist to discuss test results and treatment options, which the Mayo Clinic also agreed with as far as the course of action related to his treatments. Then on July 9 Greg had a port put in for his intravenous chemotherapy treatments. He began his first treatment on July 14 at the Roger Maris Cancer Center and completed the remainder of it at home over the course of a 46 hour period. His scheduled chemo will be once every two weeks for 3 months. Upon completion of his chemotherapy treatments, they will complete another PET scan to check the success of his chemo treatments. If all is successful and doctors are happy with the progress, they will then begin targeted radiation treatments to treat the known cancer spots in his body.
At this time we are asking for prayers and encouragement, as the battle ahead is definitely not going to be an easy one.