Jim Massingill

First post: Feb 15, 2018 Latest post: Mar 18, 2018
Welcome to our CaringBridge website. We are using it to keep family and friends updated in one place. We appreciate your support and words of hope and encouragement.

Most of you know my dad has been the picture of health for most of his life.  Even at age 73, he enjoyed playing racquetball for three hours every Monday, Wednesday and Friday and was difficult to beat.  He participated in the Texas Senior Olympics for the past 10 years and brought home a medal almost every time.

So it was unusual when Dad began experiencing intense stomach pain, nausea and loss of appetite in mid-January 2018.  After multiple visits with his primary physician, where the theories of reflux and kidney problem were ruled out, the cause of the pain was still a mystery and he continued to suffer.  Dad was then referred to a gastroenterologist who felt confident the problem was an ulcer.  We were all disappointed again when the scope procedure also ruled out that diagnosis.  The gastroenterologist then scheduled Dad for a MRCP scan but it was over a week away.  Four days prior to the scheduled scan, on Friday, February 9th, after Dad could not stop vomiting, Mom took him to the hospital.  At this point he had been in pain for almost a month.  The hospital completed several tests, including the MRCP scan, which showed serious concerns and multiple tumors on Dad's liver and one on the spleen.  That evening, a doctor gave my parents the sobering news that it appeared the problem was cancer.  It would take a biopsy of the liver to confirm what type of cancer and that the tumors were malignant (although the doctors already seemed certain).  Dad remained in the hospital for several days as they worked to manage his pain and completed more testing such a brain MRI, a bone scan and the liver biopsy.   

On Tuesday,  February 13th, Dad received the official diagnosis of melanoma (skin cancer) that has metastasized and spread to the liver and spleen.  Dad has had pre-cancerous moles removed in the past, but it is unknown where this malignancy started.  At this point it doesn't matter. The most pressing concern is Dad's liver functioning.  The doctor stated that the best treatment for his melanoma is not chemotherapy but immunotherapy with the two drugs Opdivo and Yervoy.  These drugs do not typically have the intense side affects of chemo, so for that we are glad.   The doctor said there is a 50/50 chance that this drug will help to decrease the tumors and improve liver functioning, the main goal.  

Mom and Dad feel so thankful and blessed by the outpouring of support from friends and family as they learn of this news.  We are grateful for our medical friends and family, including close friends who are nurses, as well as doctors, Vinnie and Jo Choudhry, who are personal friends with Dr. Kocs, reportedly one of the best Oncologists around.  Vinnie and Jo contacted him directly and expedited the process for Dr. Kocs to establish Dad as a patient, obtain the biopsy results quickly, and begin treatment.  It was only six days after hearing "it looks like cancer", and two days after the official diagnosis, before Dad was receiving his first immunotherapy treatment.  For this we are very grateful.  

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