The photo of Jerry on this site was taken on the 4th of July 2016.
On August 24, 2016 Jerry had his gall bladder removed. The surgeon said she looked over at his liver and noticed that it looked "all jacked up" I thought that was rather unprofessional language. She did a liver biopsy that showed he has cirrhosis of the liver - the beginning of Stage 4. In the next 2 months he had 3 kidney procedures to remove kidney stones.
In February of this year he developed atrial fib in his heart. So we added another medication to his daily routine.
On April 3rd I took him to ER for an infection and they told us that Jerry had lost 25 pounds since October. They could not admit him to the hospital because losing that much weight that quickly did not meet the criteria for admission to the hospital. We would need to see his primary care doctor at the VA. So we went to see Dr. Busch at the VA. He ordered a CT Scan with barium. The scan showed possible cancer. The doctor said sometimes cirrhosis leads to cancer. He referred us to Jerry's GI doctor at CentraCare. She ordered another CT Scan at the St. Cloud Hospital without barium. The scan also showed possible cancer. She ordered a liver biopsy. The doctor preforming the biopsy said that the mass on his liver was so close to his lung that he would have to go through the lung to get the sample. He consulted with the GI doctor and they decided against it because of his age. The only other option was to set up a surgery date and open him up to do the liver biopsy. I asked if they could do a lymph node biopsy and that is what they ended up doing. That biopsy confirmed cancer.
So they set us up with an appointment at the Coborn Cancer Center with Oncologist Dr. Lemma.
On April 25th I called 911 because I thought Jerry was having a heart attack. We stayed overnight in the hospital and after testing they said his heart was fine. His pacemaker is working 63% of the time. They did a chest x-ray and said the air sacs in the bottom of his left lung are deflated and that must have caused the pain and shortness of breath.
We saw Dr. Lemma on May 23rd and he ordered a PET Scan (May 24th) to see if there is cancer anywhere else in his body. He told us that the liver and lymph node cancer are Stage 4 and can't be cured. With chemo the progression may be slowed down. However he explained to us that with Jerry's other health concerns and his age that the side affects of the chemo could be very uncomfortable for him. Infections requiring hospitalization, nausea, and feeling very tired. He said the phrase "quality of life rather than quantity of life" a couple times.
Dr. Lemma gave us a prognosis of 6 months to a year and that is in the best of circumstances - someone younger and in otherwise good health. He was quick to add that he has had patients prove him wrong and that the 6 months to a year is a standard prognosis for this type of cancer.
So basically only the Good Lord knows for sure when he will decide to call Jerry Home.
On Friday June 2nd we saw Dr. Lemma for the results of the PET Scan. There is not cancer anywhere else in his body. Just in his liver and lymph nodes. The PET Scan did however show that Jerry now has Pneumonia. So he is on an antibiotic. The doctor said if Jerry should choose to do chemo he has to wait until the pneumonia is gone. Jerry is leaning toward no chemo. It is a lot for him to think about.
I then asked what we should expect. The Dr. said he will sleep more, eat less and lose more weight. To date Jerry has lost a total of 37 pounds since October. He said that this cancer is not a painful cancer and that the Palliative Care team will be able to manage any discomfort he has. In the end Jerry will simply sleep his way to Heaven.
In August of last year we started having a home health aide come in once a week to help with Jerry's bath. An RN comes in twice a month to check his vitals and see how he is doing. That has put my mind at ease and been very helpful. My children and sisters have been a lot of help in getting Jerry to appointments.
Jerry's appetite is poor. Some days the only thing I can get him to eat is a small jar of organic baby food (vegetables with meat). He adds a little salt and says it is not bad at all. Once in a while he gets a DQ banana split blizzard but most days he wants two poached eggs(good eggs from the farm) with a piece of corn bread. Most other foods he will take a couple bites and tell me to save the rest in the fridge. He does drink a bottle of Boost every day.
Jerry still loves to go outside when he feels up to it. He smokes 2 or 3 cigars and listens to either Polka/Waltz cd's or old time Gospel music. He is hoping to feel well enough to attend our granddaughter Clara's birthday party out at the farm this month. And also wants to make it to Colin Stellmach's graduation party this month.
Well there you have it - Jerry's story.
My loving soulmate needs some prayers to help him through this...please. In the 10 years that I have been with Jerry he has repeatedly told me that he wants to die at home. I plan to do everything I can to honor that wish.
God Bless you all and thank you for your prayers. Jerry & Kathy Surma