Dec 28, 2018 Latest post:
Jan 29, 2020
Welcome to our CaringBridge website. A very dear friend reminded me about this site. As many of you can imagine, it’s difficult to keep everyone informed and on the same page when a loved one becomes ill. I know that many of you have called me because Joe has not responded to your phone calls. Honestly he would love nothing more than to hear from you. Kind words and words of encouragement are always welcome. However, it becomes daunting explaining the same test results over and over again. Joe is also still working full time at this time, and when he’s not working we are going to appointments. And when we’re not at an appointment he is spending time with family, or just plain tired. However, feel free to leave a message for him on this site. As I stated, your words of encouragement and prayers are so very welcome.
Because we have a very large family I realize that this site will be shared with others that do not know Joe. Joe is my older brother, although he continually attempts to convince people that I am older. Joe moved to N.C. at the age of 18 and spent many years in law enforcement, starting his career as a Deputy Sheriff and ending his career as a N.C. State Trooper. Joe returned home to Ohio after his two sons were born so that they would know the joys of growing up around cousins. And after becoming a single dad, raising two young sons, he went back to school to study physical therapy and graduated the PTA program at Stark State. He truly loved law enforcement, but realized that his need to be present for his sons was not compatible with the dangers associated with law enforcement. Joe now works as an independent contractor in physical therapy doing home health visits and spends almost every weekend working in countless nursing homes and rehab centers. He loves the interaction with his patients and co-workers to the point that his schedule is always full. His older son recently moved to N.C. His younger son is still living at home and attending college at Stark State pursuing the same career as his dad.
In mid November Joe went to the ER thinking that the excruciating back pain that he was experiencing may be kidney stones. After blood work, CT scans and physical exams, they confirmed that there was a tumor in his pancreas. He was scheduled for an MRI on November 29th. The MRI showed pancreatic cancer. How did they know it was cancer? Because the tests confirmed that the cancer had already metastasized to his lymph nodes, and his liver was sprinkled with the same. During his follow up appointment he was told to get his affairs in order. The tumor is inoperable because it had already spread. Also the pancreatic tumor was pressing against a spinal nerve bundle and the ascending aorta. That was why his pain was so severe. We met with an oncologist December 14th at Cleveland Clinic. He explained that there are two types of pancreatic cancer. The most common type is adenocarcinoma. This accounts for 85-90% of pancreatic cancers, and generally is fast growing. The other type is neuro endocrine. This type is slow moving. They needed to know which type he had prior to setting up a treatment plan. A scope was scheduled for December 21st. On the 14th we were also able to meet with a doctor from palliative care. The pain at this point was unbearable and he had already lost 20lbs in two weeks. Even a sip of water caused severe abdominal pain. This appointment was vital in getting the pain somewhat under control. Throughout all of this Joe has maintained his sense of humor. He has a wicked sense of humor as many of you know. Our niece called while we were at Cleveland Clinic to receive an update on his condition. Joe wanted to know who I was talking to on the phone. After I told him, his response was, ‘Tell her that the doctor said not to bother paying next months cable bill.’ As I said...wicked sense of humor. He has also continued to work throughout all of this due to his loyalty to the patients he treats and hoping he can make a difference in someones life. As A single dad, he is instilling the value of hard work in the minds of two young men. He has stated to his son, ‘It’s business, as usual. I’m not just going to throw in the towel and give up; so neither can you.’ For those of you that know Joe, this is typical.
I think at this point we were all holding out hope that the cancer would turn out to be the slower growing type. After all, we thought, this is the guy with nine lives. The nieces and nephews refer to him as Superman. He’s been severely electrocuted, causing him to lose several toes; he’s been hit by a car a as a child; and then hit by a truck as an adult while out jogging; had to have his eyeball reattached due to a freak accident as a child, etc. etc. He really does have nine lives! He’s also the guy that works out daily, doesn’t drink excessively, doesn’t smoke, eats clean, takes a multitude of natural supplements, and is known to ride his bike 40 miles on a nice sunny day. None of this recent news made sense to any of us.
On December 21st we went back to Cleveland Clinic for the EGD scope. Prior to leaving the oncologist switched his pain medication in hopes of giving him longer lasting relief. Now we wait for the results! And wait some more! By December 23rd we realized that the switch in pain medication was not working and we were back at Cleveland Clinic On Christmas Eve for an appointment with palliative care. We still returned home in time enough for our annual Christmas Eve celebration. The entire family got together for some good food, laughs, card playing, a visit from Santa, and as always the nativity play featuring Baby Jesus’ birth.
December 27th we received a call from the oncologist at Cleveland Clinic. The cancer is adenocarcinoma. Not what we were hoping for! They want to begin chemotherapy on January 7th, 2019. The chemotherapy is intended to shrink what is already there, and hopefully keep the cancer from spreading further. Joe will go once each week for three hours. He will have 3 weeks on, then one week off. This will continue for three months. At that time he will have scans done to see if the cancer is responding to treatment. If not, they will attempt another type of chemo. This is not a cure. There is no cure. This is only to support longevity. Without the treatments he will have 2-3 months. We asked whether or not he is a candidate for CAR T Cell therapy. From what we’ve read there have been some great success with this type of treatment. Unfortunately they are only using this currently on leukemia patients. But we were told that there is a version of this type of treatment still in trials. We will pursue this further with the oncologist. The oncologist is also very supportive of a second opinion, which we will pursue with Johns Hopkins. Joe is still hopeful, but also realistic. We have an appointment on January 3rd with an attorney to get his affairs in order. On a good note, Joe’s older son came in town this morning for the weekend. The family got together to make this happen. Joe and the boys are looking forward to a fun filled weekend.
Today, December 28th, we were back at Cleveland Clinic for another appointment with palliative care, and another change to his medications. We also requested an appointment today with a dietitian. We will meet with someone on January 7th during the chemo appointment.
As I stated, we are setting this website up so that everyone is aware and up to date. Feel free to leave messages! I’m certain that he would love to hear from family and friends. Keep praying! I will update the site as news comes available.