Can you support CaringBridge during our Fall giving campaign? Generous donors like you ensure that CaringBridge remains ad-free, private and protected.
Oct 31, 2016 Latest post:
Feb 19, 2018
This story starts a few months before the time we are sharing with you here, the day before Halloween 2016. During this summer, Jean started to have trouble with her stomach. She was having some pain that usually came shortly after eating. Sometimes the food stayed down and sometimes it didn't. As a result, she wasn't getting the energy she needed, started to lose stamina and had to take frequent rests throughout the day. Of course, this contributed to some weight loss and this cycle continued as Frank and Jean tried to find a treatment that would make her feel better.
After multiple visits to many different doctors and numerous tests, there were still no definitive answers. Just a myriad of different drugs meant to address the symptoms but no idea as to what was wrong. Shortly after Frank and Jean's 50th anniversary, our whole family took a celebratory trip to Estes Park, Colorado for some fun and relaxation. Unfortunately, Jean's condition worsened daily and we made the decision to take her to Regions hospital in St. Paul on Sunday, Oct 23. I think Frank said it best at this point, "She's not leaving until you tell me what's wrong with her." The doctors obliged.
After even MORE tests, including a procedure (endoscopy) that Jean's doctor said she had never known any patient to have go through three times, they finally found a small tumor on her liver. We have been told it is very small, so small it was not measurable, which is why it was consistently missed each and every time they went in for these procedures.
Back to the stomach pain issues. Because of this tumor, and the previous attempts to treat the symptoms it was causing, some other issues arrived. First, because of the pain medicine she had been taking, her pancreas developed ulcers that, in turn, caused more pain. As well, her liver was not effectively draining fluids & solids through her system, so she couldn't eat easily. On Friday the 28th, she underwent an important procedure in which stents were placed near her pancreas and her liver that we expect to allow her to be able to fully digest solid food and get her liver back to full functionality. That is where we are today, and we are optimistic that we will see success in this area as early as today (Sunday, 10/30). When she begins eating and experiencing proper liver function again (which will reduce her pain hopefully), we get to address the tumor. She hasn't eaten, quite literally, for over a week, so we're excited to see her getting nutrients again!
You've seen the word pancreas here a few times. We were very relieved to know that (except for the ulcers which are being treated and will go away in a couple of weeks) there are no concerns at this time about issues there, which is a very very good thing. A tumor on the liver is much more treatable than one on the pancreas.
About the tumor - that's a scary word obviously. They were able obtain cells from this tumor for tests - we will know the official results in the next week or so. While we would love to believe that this is not cancer, and there is a chance that it's not, we are preparing for that inevitability. And while it's scary, we are relieved to have answers - not knowing what is wrong and not being able to put together a plan to help her feel better has been exhausting for her. You can't fix something if you don't know what to fix - but you can fix cancer. If that proves to be the case, we are all ready, willing and able to help her get through this journey. There will be some tough days and there will be a lot of happy days too - up to and including the best day; the day in which we can say she is cured and feeling healthy again.
If everything goes as we hope it will with her digestion concerns, she may very well be able to go home as early as Monday (10/31) to continue her recovery and await the test results of the tumor. You'll be glad to know that her liver test results since her procedure Friday indicate that the procedure appears to have been a success - all of her 'levels' are coming back closer to normal and we are mostly on track. Again, the plan is for Jean to go home sometime during the day on Monday, but she has to pass all of the tests her doctors have given her: Eating, bowel movements, manageable and lessening pain and mobility. Once she sees that, she will be released to recover at home.
Over the past few days we have heard from many of you (and thank you SO much for your concern), and depending on who you talk to, you may be getting similar but possibly different stories based on the perspective of who you talk to. Please know we are sending your love and best wishes to Jean (and she is reading your messages!) Because she needs a lot of her day to rest and heal, she can't always take your call or respond quickly to your text or voicemail. We would encourage you to check here first to find out how she is doing. We will update it at any time we have news to share. We will start posting some pictures soon and will love to see your comments about this awesome lady that has hit a short bump in the road. We can't wait to start sharing the great news about her recovery. Thanks for stopping by!