From Greg (known to many as Woody and to some as Lucky)
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Here is my story …
At the end of September, Val and I went to the Notre Dame football game. Then, the first week of October we went camping to Devil's Lake State Park. We hiked around the lake along with what seemed to be thousands of other people as it was a beautiful fall day. We finished out the weekend by joining friends Don and Skibby on Sunday for Bloody Mary's and the Packer Game. All was well.
It wasn't until about mid-October, that I noticed I wasn't feeling well. But that also coincided with the fact that my dad had passed, and so I thought maybe that was part of it too. I had lost some weight, but I had been working on that since the start of 2021 (you know one of those New Year's goals). So, I chalked it up to finally being successful!! After returning from my dad's celebration of life at the end of October, I went into the doctor the first week of November. Blood tests were normal, and they modified a few meds. But I just couldn't kick the nausea and heartburn. Of course, my back hurt, but that's been most of my life after playing college football. And, I hadn't been exercising, blah, blah, blah. You know, as you get older you have more aches and pains and that just kind of goes with the territory.
Then, after a trip to the ER on November 11, our world got rocked. If you know Val, she was closely watching the doctors -- asking lots of questions and looking up MyChart results as fast as they were posted. By the way, she was convinced it was a parasite -- how I now wish that was the case.
Instead, the doctor came in that evening and told us that they had discovered a mass but that more tests would need to be done to reach any conclusions. After a two-night stay in the hospital, a biopsy of two parts of the liver, two CT scans, and an abdominal ultrasound (of which I told Val I thought it was a boy) -- our worst fears become real. While no one really told us the diagnosis at that time, we could tell it wasn't good. The "C" word didn't necessarily get tossed out just yet, but there was a lot of insinuations that is what we were facing.
Then the waiting begins as you await the biopsy results. We officially received the diagnosis on November 22 -- Stage IV Pancreatic Cancer that spread to the liver. While we were braced for bad news, hearing it made it real. We were shocked -- other than nausea, heartburn, and backache, there were really no other flag-raising symptoms. We could no longer hope that the doctors got it wrong -- it was real -- it was surreal.
Since surgery is not an option at this time, I was given two chemotherapy choices. I chose the Folfirinox regimen -- the toughest, but the most successful at stopping the cancer from growing and hopefully proceed with shrinking it as well. It is going to be hard and tough road. I started chemo on December 3rd and have it every-other Friday. Chemo lasts around 3 hours and then I get to sport a 'man-purse' for the next 46 hours as chemo continues to pump into my system. Everything gets disconnected from the port on Sunday mid-day-- clearly, oncology people aren't Packer fans.
Unfortunately, there are no pre-screening tests for pancreatic cancer like there are for many other types of cancer. So, I urge you to not procrastinate on getting those routine tests done.
We're still trying to manage through all the side effects. Today, Val took me to acupuncture -- never thought I'd do that, but she said what do you have to lose -- let's give it a shot. And I agreed because she was relentless.
We are so BLESSED! We have terrific family and friends reaching out to us. We appreciate it probably far more than you can even realize.
We want to share our journey, but we don't want to relive the days leading up to the diagnosis. We'd rather focus on today, tomorrow, and next year -- rather than last week or last month.
So, we're asking you to adopt the TRIPLE P (of course, Val came up with that).
PLEASE don't ask me how I'm feeling. The reality is that I'm not likely to feel great most days. Just knowing you're thinking of our family and holding us in your prayers is what I really want.
Feel free to call or text or simply leave a post on this website along with some pictures and thoughts that will bring a smile to our faces or words of encouragement that are simply going to give us some renewed strength. But, remember if you post a picture -- others will be able to see them and I do still have a job at Exact Sciences that I plan to keep.
And, if we don't answer or return a call, don't take it personal. Sometimes, we just don't want to talk and sometimes we are just too tired.
I (or most likely Val) will provide updates of our journey via this site.
Val, Sam, and I are so thankful and blessed to be surrounded by so much strength. This is no doubt going to be a hard and long journey -- but friends, family, and God will get us through it. It is just ONE day at a time.
THANK YOU FOR ALL SUPPORT AND PRAYERS! PLEASE KEEP THEM COMING!
Isaiah 40:31 "But those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint."