Feb 11, 2018 Latest post:
Oct 28, 2019
Friends and families of Greg: this is Greg's friend, Gil Barrera II, sharing his story and recovery updates on his behalf.
I have known Greg since 2006 and since then he has become my best friend and is completely integrated into my family. My niece Preslee calls him "Uncle Greg" and really knows no difference between that at "Uncle Gil."
Greg texted me very early on 12/27/2017 indicating that he had a sharp pain in his upper right abdomen. He decided to go ER. We all thought it was just a gallstone, so I fell asleep and went to bed.
The ER personnel also thought it was a gallstone, but they didn't find one. The next morning, Greg mentioned that the ER had found a small lesion on his liver during an ultrasound. The hospital told him that it was "probably nothing" after Greg affirmed that he had no family history of liver cancer and no other risk factors.
In any case, the ER recommended that he contact his GP to help get the mass diagnosed. His GP, Dr. Hiegel, first had Greg undergo MRI imaging. The results came back inconclusive (the radiologist couldn't see anything to suggest the lesion was benign or malignant). Greg then had nuclear medicine scan and similar results came back.
Dr. Hiegel then asked Greg to heed the radiologists' advice and undergo a needle biopsy. We all expected the results to clear up any doubt that the lesion was benign. Greg was ready to get back to the business of normal living.
On January 15, 2018, Dr. Hiegel called Greg and told him that his pathology report found adenocarcinoma (cancer) in his liver.
The first day we learned that he had cancer, but adenocarcinoma typically starts elsewhere. Since then, his oncologist (Dr. Beck) has tried very hard to identify where his cancer may have originated. Greg had a PET scan and the radiologist wasn't able to find any other cancer. Because of this, and because we have been having trouble determining whether the cancer originated in his liver, Dr. Beck decided it was time to move forward with removing the tumor if possible. Luckily, he said it was towards the front and it looked straightforward to remove.
Dr. Beck referred Greg to Dr. John Broadwater, Chief of the Division of Surgical Oncology and Dr. Lyle Burdine, liver and kidney surgeon and transplant specialist at the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences (UAMS). After consulting with them, they confirmed that his surgery should be straightforward, but that they would have to remove half of his liver. They also stated that they believe his liver tumor to be the primary. This is unusual but not unheard of. In any case, they agreed with Dr. Beck's recommendation to move forward with removing the tumor and performing a liver resection. This is a major procedure, which the doctors compared to open heart surgery.
However, this means Drs. Broadwater and Burdine have a high degree of confidence that they can remove the entire tumor. This will also give them a much bigger sample to try to identify his cancer type. If they can determine that his cancer originated elsewhere they can figure out if they need to target and treat another area. We are all encouraged by the facts that his surgeons believe this tumor to be the primary and that nothing else was found on this initial PET scan.
Greg's liver resection is on Wednesday, February 14. Afterwards, he will be in the hospital for about a week. Then, he will finish his recovery at home. All in all, it will take about a month for his liver to regenerate (it's amazing that it can do this) and he will be very weak for a while afterward. We are hopeful that this will cure his cancer!
In the coming weeks, Greg will need your help. He will tire easily and will need assistance with food, cleaning house, entertainment, and simply knowing that we all love and support him. Greg is ever an optimist, which is one of his greatest traits. Let's show him the reasons why he should be!
I and others will post updates about his condition on this site. Please feel free to share this site-- Greg gave me the okay to make it public.
And so begins a hard journey for the best man I have ever known. Let's get off our butts and show him how much he means to us!