Jan 11, 2020 Latest post:
Jan 31, 2020
Mark's journey with cancer started in September 2015 with a diagnosis of stage 4 rectal cancer with metastisis to the liver. A shock for both of us. We had a second opinion about the course of treatment and decided to stay with the team through Piper Cancer Institute at Abbott. Cheryl, on the other hand worked her best to support Mark from the naturopathic route with organic clean eating and suppliments (Mark's favorite part). Cheryl made him all kinds of smoothies, which at times got a little weird and weren't the best tasting as she tried to pack more good things into them. Mark was a trooper and tried to drink them all and follow the suppliment regime. He had a port put in for chemo and responded really well after the diet change and the first 3 rounds of chemo (shrinking the tumors in half). We were very encouraged. Next stop on the journey was a portal vein embolization to block off the right lobe of his liver (which had all the tumors) and grow his puny left lobe. We found out the liver can regenerate. Who knew. Mark had more chemo, then the resection of the right lobe of his liver. All was going as planned. He followed up with radiation and oral chemo, then on to surgery to remove the rectal tumor. Dr Spencer was the best! He was just amazing with the way he connected with Mark and his skills as a surgeon. Mark had an ileostomy while his rectom healed. Both the liver surgeon Dr Hill and Dr Spencer were confident they got it all. We were so relieved. Mark followed up with more chemo. After 4 months, they were, thankfully, able to reverse the the ileostomy so he didn't have to deal with that anymore. We were warrily out of the woods for about 6 months. Follow up scans showed shadows in the liver that they were watching. They didn't know if it was cancer or just scar tissue. We followed that for another 6 months and then started more chemo. It seemed to keep it at bay, but then Mark fell last March 15th on ice. We had been held up at the house for 4 days with all the thaw and refreeze. Our driveway was a river of ice. Mark ordered a sand truck and had just paid the driver, started his car to go visit his dad in the nursing home, then as he was walking back to the garage to get more sand to put between the house and the car, he fell and broke his right hip. Yes, Mark was a hockey player. Hmmm, go figure. He's a little embarrassed about that. He was trying to get that hip back in shape and was still limping (which was aggrivating his chronic back pain from years of sports and childhood falls with lots of back stories related to those injuries). He had more scans in June. Then this July he was coughing up blood, so after an appointment with the liver specialist to talk about more liver surgery, we went to the ER. It turned out he had significant bilateral pulmonary embolisms in all the major trunks of his lungs. He was hospitolized and put on blood thinners. While we were in the hospital the liver surgeon called to say he wanted to do surgery. We had to put that on hold while Mark was on getting the clots under control. He did another round of chemo while we waited for the clots to clear. When he was done at the end of October they did another scan and the tumor had grown significantly and had spread from the right lobe to the left lobe. We went for a radiological consult and they were going to do some proceedures to reduce the size and number of tumors. At the same time we looked into doing a trial/study with a chemo med. Over the next 2 months the tumors had grown and spread again and were in the lungs and lumph nodes. Radiation therapy was no longer an option and neither was the trial. Mark was to start another round of chemo on Tues Jan 7th. When we got there his bilirubin had sky rocketed and he was unable to have the chemo. They did another CAT scan and saw that the Biliary duct was blocked. The oncologist talked with Abbot and they thought they could do surgery to put in a stent to drain the bile out of his liver and bring his numbers down so he could have more chemo. He was admitted that night and found out the next day (on his birthday) that they would be unable to do the proceedure due to where the tumors were. There was no safe way to get a stent in to drain the bile safely. He is not a canditate for a liver transplant because of the cancer and cannot tolerate chemo since the liver cannot expell the toxins, and he can't tolerate any radiaion. Game over. At least as far as the medical treatments were concerned. We are home now with support from hospice. Mark is quite jaundice and has back pain and belly pressure. He is in good spirits and we are not giving up. We are strong in our faith and trust in God and spending this time praying and meditating on God's promises and healing of his body. If you are not already, please join the army of prayer warriors that are interceding on Mark's behalf. God has had angels watching over him his whole life with several near death experiences that God has brought him through. This is just another hurdle in life's bumpy road. Please see our updates in the journal. Hoping that you all share your prayers and stories on this platform in the comments or the well wishes section instead of trying to call Mark or visit. He is not tolerating talking on the phone a lot and repeating things. We would love to read your stories of Mark and he can respond as he feels up to it.