Ken Cottrell | CaringBridge

Ken Cottrell

First post: Dec 31, 2017 Latest post: 2 hours ago
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. Here is a synopsis of Ken's Story:

Ken was diagnosed with colorectal cancer after a routine, first colonoscopy on November 18, 2014, at the age of 52. He underwent surgery (a low anterior resection) to remove the tumor on December 5, 2014. After 4 days of intense pain, a leak was discovered, requiring an emergency second surgery on December 9, 2014. The surgeon was unable to repair the leak, so Ken required a colostomy. Following these surgeries, Ken developed multiple infections and abscesses requiring the placement of drainage tubes. The second surgery left Ken with a wide, open incision, which required the use of a wound vac to help it close. On December 11, we received the results of the pathology report. We were devastated to learn that cancer cells were found in Ken's lymph nodes and in the close margin (the tissue surrounding the tumor) of the tumor. This information placed the cancer at Stage IIIb, with a 5-year survival rate of 50%.

On January 27, 2015, Ken began 4 months of IV chemotherapy, followed by 6 weeks of radiation and oral chemotherapy, He suffered many side effects of the chemotherapy, but never complained, and forged ahead with a deep conviction that the treatment was doing its job. Ken finished treatment in July, 2015, hopeful that treatment had put his cancer in remission. By the end of summer, Ken had started to regain his strength and energy. 

On October 1, 2015, Ken underwent surgery to reverse his colostomy. Ken was very eager to have this surgery and truly believed that it would be his first step in regaining/resuming a normal life. His colostomy was temporarily diverted to an ileostomy in preparation for a full reversal and return to normal bowel function. Ken joked that his first time to sit on a toilet again was going to be quite the celebration! 

We were stunned to learn on October 6th, the day of his discharge, that a CT scan of his thorax, taken that day, revealed that the cancer had metasticized to his lungs and liver. When cancer metastasizes to an organ, the staging advances to Stage IV and is considered terminal. We met with the oncologist on October 9th, but he did not want to speculate on Ken's prognosis until he gathered more information. He ordered a full body PET scan, an MRI of Ken's liver, and a lung biopsy. While he agreed that the CT scan results looked like the cancer has spread to Ken's lungs, he would not confirm that the cancer had metastasized to Ken's liver until it was proven by an MRI. We were relieved to hear that chemotherapy was a viable option in extending Ken's life.

So we had hope... hope that the cancer had not spread to his liver, and hope that another round of chemotherapy would prolong Ken's life. As it turned out, the cancer had not spread to the liver, but Ken had tumors in both lungs, ruling out surgery as a possible treatment. In November, 2015, Ken started back on chemotherapy, and returned to the life of a chemotherapy patient - sickly and fatigued.  We were thrilled when the results of a  CT scan in January, 2016, showed a favorable response to the chemotherapy. Although Ken felt lousy from the side effects, he continued with the chemotherapy since it was yielding the desired results. Another CT scan in March, 2016, yielded less positive results. 

After researching alternative treatment methods, we decided to make a trip to Reno, Nevada for a consultation with Dr. Forsythe of the Century Wellness Clinic. His clinic offers an integrative approach to cancer treatment, utilizing low-dose chemotherapy as well as holistic therapies. Ken made the decision to discontinue traditional cancer treatment in favor of alternative/holistic treatment methods. In June, 2016, Ken and I traveled to Reno where Ken embarked on  3 weeks of integrated treatment at the Century Wellness Clinic. After the 3 week stay in Reno, Ken continued on the integrated program for 6 months. The program consisted of oral chemotherapy, multiple supplements, and a 100% organic diet. Unfortunately, a CT scan at the end of November, 2016, revealed that Ken's tumors had more than doubled in size while on the holistic program. 

From January through August of 2017, Ken participated in 2 clinical trials, neither of which were effective in shrinking his tumors. In September, 2017,  we were devastated to learn that Ken has 25-30 tumors in his lungs, all about 1 inch in size.  Based on the recommendation of his oncologist, Ken started back on chemotherapy - the same type he was on before he pursued holistic treatment. Ken receives chemotherapy every other Tuesday at the Lemmen-Holton Cancer Pavilion.  He comes home on a pump which delivers chemotherapy over the next 48 hours. He recently completed one cycle (6 treatments). A post-cycle CT scan on December 8, 2017, showed that the chemotherapy was minimally effective, resulting in very little reduction in the size of his tumors. However, with no other treatment options available, the decision was made to move forward with another cycle of chemotherapy.

Friends, Ken is slowing down. He used to put on such a brave face for everyone he came into contact with throughout his day. Then he would come home and collapse in his chair, often too tired to even speak. Now, he sits in his chair on the bad days for a little while, but before long, he withdraws to his bed. He sleeps much of the time. The reality that he is not going to beat this horrific illness is finally sinking in - for both of us. We are so grateful that he has had the strength to fight this disease for the past three years. And he wants to continue the fight and live as long as possible.  He is not ready to give up, especially because of his girls. But he is so very weak and tired. It is not a fair fight. He has predicted he will be gone by the 4th of July. Please, join me in praying that that will not be the case. PLEASE.

I continue to pray for a miracle healing of Ken's body, but more often I pray for his peace and comfort, and for the children. I find myself pleading for more time with him here on Earth, and for different kinds of healing. Throughout this trial, Ken has handled his illness and treatment with courage, grace, and dignity. He has never complained, or asked, "Why me?" Despite the recurrent pain associated with his colostomy/ileostomy and the many side effects of chemotherapy - intense fatigue and nausea; extreme cold sensitivity; severe neuropathy in his hands and feet - he is so grateful to still be able to work, though that, too, is slowing down.  Ken and I are grateful beyond measure to The Lowery Family and all the wonderful people at Applied Imaging. The support we have received from Ken's work family is one example of the incredible culture John Lowery has cultivated within his company and a testament to the kind of man he is.  

Dear friends and family, please keep praying for Ken's physical health to be restored, and for the emotional, mental and spiritual well-being of our children, Kyle, Connor, Cole, Clay, Carly, and Courtney.

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