Welcome to our CaringBridge website. We are using it to keep family and friends updated about Ken's journey with metatistic melanoma. Please know how much we have and continue to appreciate your love, prayers, phone calls, visits, support (suppers, electric blanket, prayer shawl, etc) and words of hope and encouragement. Thank you for visiting and please feel free to share your prayers and thoughts. Ken has felt heartening peace and encouragement that goes beyond expression through your demonstration of love.
Ken's cancer was discovered last summer. An odd shaped mole that was kind of itchy appeared on his back. After some investigation and a biopsy it was found to be cancerous. Ok - let's get rid of this thing - we thought it was as simple as that. As you recall Ken went through a major surgery removing this tumour off his mid back section. The incision was nearly a foot long in order to cut out the depth of the tumour. More investigation took place and it was discovered the cancer had gone to his lymph glands, 11 of them were removed September 29th.
We want to take a pause here in this story and thank Warren and Jeremy for jumping in and packing up our wharf the weekend before the September surgery.
That fall, winter and spring Ken and I enjoyed skiing at Whistler, visiting cousins in Squamish and seeing our dear Sue for the last time before we lost her to cancer in May. So sad. We grieved and prayed for Tom and Kirsten, as this was too close on the heals of loosing our Alysson to cancer too.
Ken also had the thrill of his life catskiing in the Monashee's with Don Caverley. If you are a good skiier - you really have to make it one of your bucket list activities.
Later in April, we flew down to Costa Rica with our dear friends Warren and Sheila. Wow, it was hot! Ken was careful to stay out of the sun :) But, poor Ken, his back ached and Warren, Sheila and I secretly feared the cancer had come back. We made the best of our journey though and ate, drank, swam and explored.
As suspected, upon our return and after a PET scan, the cancer was confirmed to be active and found in several spots in Ken's abdomen, T7, adrenal, etc. The doctors got him tested to find out if he was one of the 50% of the population that can take a marvelous new BRAF gene inhibitor drug, that turns "off" the "on" switch on the cancer cell. Well, it worked like you wouldnt believe. In one week, all of the 20 odd visible tumours on Ken's body just melted away. We knew the ones inside must be melting too! We were overjoyed! and promptly went out and bought a spanking new trailer!!!
We enjoyed a great summer of exploring BC, visiting our friends in Kamloops and celebrating dear Susanne's birthday and retirement celebration in Kamloops. Andrea drove up from Vancouver and visited us in Lac Le Jeune and we cooked breakfast and dinner using only the fire pit. We headed back to the island with more camping plans with our lovely cousin Tina, who was coming all the way from Bradford, Yorkshire, England. We had a grand time showing Tina the island, with Sandy my sister, her dog Zoey, Zachery our great nephew, and our new son, Haiku the 2 month old rescue kitty - complements of Keira and Tegan Shumuk.
But, Ken's body had a hard time managing the BRAF gene drug. On several occasions we rushed him to either hospital, or got doctors on the phone to figure out weird reactions including high temperatures, rashes etc. I must say the BCCancer Agency were exemplery - giving us first rate attention and care, and even phoning in prescriptions so we could keep caravaning.
By the fall, Ken's PET scan, revealed the cancer was still growing and his bloodwork showed a very unhappy liver. So, sadly he was taken off the BRAF gene inhibitor. A big disappointment. He recieved radiation on his T7 tumour in the spine and started immunotherapy (Keytruda) on October 21st. There is a lot of promise with immunotherapy we are told, and we pray to our Divine Lord that immunotherapy will slow the progression of the cancer as it is designed to do. We are told it is not a cure, but hey, with God on our side, who can be against us!
But again, these wonder drugs have their downsides. Currently, Ken's voice has been reduced to a whisper and his breathing is limited as a side effect - but we will pursue specialists and therapies to correct. We are told that things will likely worsen before they get better. The Keytruda is designed to boost the immune system so that it can actually see the cancer, which would otherwise, be unrecognized by the immune system. Once the immune system sees the cancer, it attacks and destroys cancer cells. He is given an injection once very 3 weeks, for a course of about 3 months (but we are checking on that). Ken will be getting his second injection this Thursday, November 10th.
My dear family and friends, we are ready for a difficult ride, in terms of managing through unexpected side effects. But the good news is that we have a fighting chance. We pray, we eat organic food, no sugar, try to walk and get fresh air. But most importantly of all we want to and try to see and hug as many of you dear ones we possibly can - and enjoy a good laugh to lift all of our spirits! God is Love. Love is Power.