Jeffrey Fleming

First post: Jan 18, 2021 Latest post: May 7, 2021
On Sunday, January 3rd Jeff had a frightening episode of vertigo, a severe headache and disorientation and confusion which lasted about an hour. A similar episode had happened about a month prior in the middle of the night. While Jeff felt okay the next day, we were all pretty concerned. Thankfully, Sue was able to get him an appointment at his primary care clinic (Park Nicollet) on Tuesday, January 5th. They thought it may have been a mini-stroke or just vertigo. They ordered blood work and an MRI. He was able to get the MRI that same evening. After the radiologist looked at the imaging, Jeff was informed he would not be allowed to drive home and that he was to immediately go to the nearest hospital. Sue swiftly picked him up and took him to Methodist Hospital in Saint Louis Park. At the hospital, Jeff learned that the MRI showed a brain mass the size of a “squished ping pong ball.” The doctor at the hospital had a CT scan done of his head and upper body. From that we learned he likely had lung cancer with metastasis to the brain. They wanted to admit him and start treatment right away, but he felt strongly that he wanted to go home and be with his wife and talk to her and his children before making any decisions. After going through what we went through with my mom (Jeff’s late wife Kay), we know that we want to approach things a little differently. Quality of life will be at the fore front of all decisions moving forward. They sent him home with a prescription for steroids to reduce any swelling and hopefully prevent more episodes or issues related to the brain mass.

On Friday, January 8th, he had a radiology consult. They seemed confident that radiation therapy would be successful in reducing the size of the brain mass. Thankfully, they were able to get him fitted for a radiation mask at that same appointment. Also on Friday, he had a full-body PET scan done. 

On Tuesday, January 12th, they took a bone biopsy which they will use to determine all the specifics of the cancer and be able to tell us what treatment options we have.

Thursday, January 14th was the “big” appointment with Dr. Bryan J. Trottier where we heard the dreaded news. Jeff has officially been diagnosed with stage IV squamous cell carcinoma (non-small-cell lung cancer). He will likely never be cured. Future treatment will be to try to control the cancer and attempt to extend his life for as long as is practical. This was almost certainly caused by smoking. We still need to wait for the results from the bone biopsy to know what treatment(s) will be available. It’s hard at this point to say what his life expectancy might be. Dr. Trottier did give us some rough estimates. Worst case scenario would be 6 months. Average life expectancy for this stage and type of lung cancer with treatment could be 18 months. Best case scenario would be a few more years.  While we wait for the bone biopsy results, the only thing that is going to help with the brain metastasis is radiation, so he will start getting radiation on Monday, January 18th. He will receive stereotactic radiation therapy once a day for five days (1/18 - 1/22).

We have all received so much information in the last week and a half and we are feeling a bit overwhelmed. We ask that you please pray for Jeff. Pray for peace and comfort for him and for his family and loved ones. Pray for his care team. I will continue to update this site with new information as often as I can. Please feel free to reach out to me directly.