Jack Manley

First post: Apr 10, 2008 Latest post: May 5, 2009
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After six months of privately walking on this unexpected path with my husband of 24 years, Jack, I have finally decided that openly sharing our situation with people that we love and who love Jack is a good idea. In October of 2007 Jack was diagnosed with inoperable late stage pancreatic cancer. Everything happened over the course of three days. Although Jack had been suffering from nagging symptoms for a year, we never imagined his back aches or upset stomach problems were a sign of anything serious. The diagnosis came as a complete shock and still at times seem unreal. A CT scan and an endoscopy revealed the heartbreaking news that Jack's cancer was of a rare cell type and terminal. The initial prognosis of survival was 3 to 6 months but we are at 6 months now and Jack is hanging in there with grace and courage. We immediately began strong chemotherapy, two kinds at once, for four months but the cancer continued to grow from a tumor size of 10 cm to nearly 12cm and spread to the lymph nodes and liver. After we exhausted the chemo options we tried six weeks of the maximum amount of radiation Jack could have on his pancreas which proved to temporarily halt the growth during that time. That was probably the hardest challenge Jack has had to face. He lost nearly 40 lbs and was knocked flat most of the time. Now we are preparing for radiation of his liver tumors in order to give us some more time. Jack had the radiation markers implanted earlier in the week and will be ready for treatment in another week. We have been promised that the side effects of liver radiation are much less than with the pancreas. While we are well aware of what is to come for us we still have faith that God will give us the time that we need to do and say all that we must. It is hard to write about what the last six months has been like for us. Every week has been a challenge and full of so many fears and tears. We have focused on making special memories for our three teenage children by taking some amazing trips together and spending as much time loving and laughing as we can. Our oldest daughter, Emily, came home from her freshman year of college in Richmond to be near her dad and our youngest son, 14 year old Miles, stands by his dad with unbelievable strength and courage. Lillie,our 15 year old, quietly watches over him as well. Jack is a rock, as anyone who knows him would expect him to be. He never complains even when he feels horrible and finds something positive about every single issue that arises. He gives me the strength and support that I should be giving him. That is the kind of person my husband is. We rely heavily on our faith and the support and love of our friends and family as we anxiously await the inevitable. It's like traveling to the Twilight Zone at times. I have been reading the journals of classmates of Jack's from VMI who also have been fighting cancer. Their openess has inspired me to share our story as well. My greatest sadness is that there is nothing other than a miracle that can be done to give us "Jack" for a long time which doesn't mean I am not so grateful for the time we have now. After the liver radiation is completed we are not aware of any other treatments that are not experimental. Please know that we have researched so many options so we are not expecting lots of suggestions for treatment. We have heard it all over the last six months. Trust me. We are learning to stay in the moment and be thankful for every minute together. I hope starting this journal will give our friends and family a chance to follow Jack and offer support and love to him. It is often difficult to communicate with everyone that we know and we sometimes forget to share news when we are stressed and focused on the task at hand. Hopefully, having one spot to write about our circumstances will help us and the ones we love. So here we begin...a little late...but still in the game. I will write a note as often as I can during my late night insomnia so all can keep up. We love you.

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