Welcome to our CaringBridge website. We are using it to keep family and friends updated in one place. We appreciate your support and words of hope and encouragement. Thank you for visiting.
As some of you know, Jack has dealt with digestive issues for his entire life. In 2009, he underwent gastro intestinal surgery to repair a bile duct that was congenitally deformed. As a result, his health improved and life went on until recently when he began having “digestive episodes” (similar to having the flu) which occurred more and more frequently.
In August 2017, the duration of his episode didn’t subside and he subsequently ended up in the emergency room at the University of Colorado Hospital (UCH) for evaluation. They determined that he would need surgery to "re plumb" his stomach, bile duct and duodenum to the small intestines as a result of genetic deformities identified a decade ago. A few days after his surgery, the surgeon told us that they discovered cancer cells near both the bile duct and duodenum and that his treatment would include 6 months of chemo/radiation (8 sessions in their protocol) and an additional surgery called the whipple procedure (i.e. whipple procedure is performed for all types of cancer in this area). We were devastated as we thought he would heal and life would be good again.
After a total 13 days, he was a patient on 4 floors and referred to UCH as the “hotel” …it was clearly time to go home! Jack began the chemo/radiation cocktail in September 2017…14 days on and 7 days off. To date, he’s completed 2 of the 8 sessions of the protocol. The Cancer Pavilion has been a whole new learning experience for us both. He’s tolerated the cocktail fairly well and has learned to pace himself regarding energy but eating has remained a challenge. He continues to eat half portions and has lost 40#. Being the “son of a tailor” this has required a whole new wardrobe! As always, he looks dapper just a lot thinner.
Moving Forward…Jack’s next surgery (whipple procedure) is scheduled on November 14. The surgeon stated that this surgery is more complex and more difficult to recover from as it involves “taking down and rebuilding” the pancreas, bile duct, duodenum, intestine, and possibly the stomach. Jack is expected to be in UCH for 2 weeks to recover from it and ensure he is healing properly before coming home. If all goes well during his 6-week healing time, the remaining 4 months of chemo/radiation will start up in January 2018. We hope and pray that this “speed bump in the road” will be behind us in June. The surgeon and oncologist have encouraged us that while the surgery and chemo treatments are aggressive, they have hundreds of cases where patients returned to normal life.
As for me, I retired from the National Park Service on September 30, 2017. The timing was good as I transitioned into my new career as caregiver. It has proven to be a full time job! Many of you have reached out and supported us in the past few months. We are grateful and thankful that we have such loving friends and family. It would be difficult to go through this without your thoughts and prayers. We are preparing for the challenge…and together, we'll get through this and get on with our lives. After all, we need to go skiing, scuba diving, hiking and RVing...! Let's do this!