Aug 29, 2019 Latest post:
Feb 22, 2021
Welcome to our CaringBridge website. We are using it to keep family and friends updated in one place. Here is my story.
It was November 2018 and I was fresh off my second hip replacement surgery. I've played sports most of my life so I deal with the bone creaking of osteoarthritis on the daily. My hip had healed to the point where I was only using a cane and my formal physical therapy was more than half complete. I had been taking some pretty heavy opioids and I was transitioning to over-the-counter pain meds. It was time to come off leave and go back to work; however, I just was not feeling it! Anyone who knows me, knows that I can be a workaholic, so me not wanting to go back into the office was very uncharacteristic. There was this 'hard to describe' abdominal discomfort and I had no appetite. As a result of the hip surgery and pain in my stomach, I lost about 50 lbs. So, I decided take some vacation time to find out what was going on. I talked to my Orthopedic surgeon and he was sure the discomfort was an after effect of the oxycodone which I stopped taking. After a week of being off the opioids, the pain was getting worse, so I went to see my primary care physician who first told me to try Prilosec since he thought is was excessive acid reflux. After a week, that had little effect and the pain was even worse so he prescribed Baclofen as he thought it might be intestinal cramping. That did not work either, the pain was getting worse, so he referred me to a gastroenterologist. It was difficult to find someone on short notice, but my wife located one nearby who saw me the next day. I was in a lot of pain when I saw him and he thought I might be having an aortic aneurism which took me straight to the emergency room. After several tests and being bounced around to different doctors, I was admitted to the hospital. The scans showed there was an indeterminate mass on my abdomen and the doctors told me it had all of the characteristics of a malignant tumor, but we would not know for sure until a biopsy is completed. The growth was also blocking the duct from my pancreas to my small intestine which was causing all the pain and the onset of jaundice. I was released from the hospital and came back the next week to have a biopsy as well as a stent placed in the pancreatic duct to release the bile flow. Three days later was the onset of very painful pancreatitis where I was hospitalized for nearly a week in excruciating pain. I eventually was sent home with some strong pain killing drugs awaiting the biopsy results.
On December 12, 2019, the doctor called with the results. He told me I have Stage 3 Pancreatic Cancer... I could not believe it!
I was immediately scheduled to have an infusion port placed in my chest, whereby my first Chemotherapy infusion treatment was on December 28th. My diagnosis was at Stage 3 which means it had not spread, a good thing, however, it is considered 'locally advanced'. This means the tumor is encompassing two separate arteries that go from my pancreas to my liver and from my pancreas to my lower intestine. My doctors here in the Maryland/Virginia/DC area said there was not much they could do for me, just chemo and radiation. The focus was to prolong my life as much as possible. He even told me that he didn't expect for me to be doing very well about two years from now. Hope was fading and depression was starting to set in. I could not simply wait for this to spread and the end to shortly follow. After all, my buddy John was diagnosed at Stage 4 just before I was diagnosed. He passed away relatively quickly which had been devastating for his family.
My wife Karen is amazing. I can't emphasize this enough. We have three small children Reed 7, Cole 5, Elle 2 and she has been holding all of us down. Karen researched and found the leading doctor in the world who specializes in my type of cancer. We flew out to the Rochester MN Mayo Clinic in February 2019. It was ridiculously cold and snowy that week. The Mayo Clinic has a PET MRI machine, one of only a few in the world, that took detailed images of the tumor. Once the Dr reviewed the images, he came up with a plan for curative surgery and presented it to us. This gave us the hope we needed. We followed the regiment he prescribed by continuing chemotherapy followed by radiation in order to kill as much of cancer cells, so there is no micro metastasis and spread.
I have completed 15 chemotherapy infusions and three weeks of radiation. On Sept 18, after months of preparation, I was allowed to undergo the curative surgery called a full pancreatectomy with an arterial reconstruction. Most people refer to it as a Whipple but since it involves the arterial reconstruction, which is what most doctors and surgeons don’t do, its more of a Whipple Plus Plus. They removed my pancreas and I became an instant diabetic. They also removed my spleen and needed to create a viable blood supply to keep all remaining organs functioning properly. I had to undergo three major surgeries and was in the hospital for 22 days; I was discharged on October 10 seemingly cancer free with no metabolic activity.
10 months later during a routine quarterly CT scan, very small nodules that were previously detracted in my lung had grown and my liver numbers had increased. We had them excised and biopsied. Unfortunately, they came back positive for pancreatic cancer. Its not that the cancer spread, it had always been there. The good news is that is appears to be a non aggressive form of the cancer and its localized to ny lungs with is very manageable. The fight continues...
Thanks for visiting this page and reading through my story. I will be using this website as a means to provide updates. Selfishly, I do want to control the communication of information and details of my health to avoid any misunderstandings of what might be going on. I didn't want to post this to Facebook since I don't think that is the appropriate forum for something as personal as this. If you provide your email here and follow me, you will be notified when Karen or I post updates.
We are accepting all thoughts and prayers! WE ARE ALREADY BEATING THIS AND WITH YOUR HELP, I KNOW WE WILL PREVAIL!