Nov 14, 2019 Latest post:
Feb 17, 2020
Our brother, Paul, was recently diagnosed with Stage 4 colon cancer with a bleak diagnosis. We have opened this Caring Bridge site to keep our loved ones informed about this unfolding tragedy.
In September, Paul was in the hospital twice after experiencing loss of balance and paralysis. Each time he was in the hospital, the medical staff was unable to identify the root cause of the problem. In early October, he couldn’t keep food down and had extreme pain in his abdominal area. He lost a lot of weight during this time. Finally, on October 14 he again checked himself into the hospital insisting to the staff that nothing was passing through his bowels. He was right. An x-ray identified a mass in his intestinal track. He had surgery the next day.
The surgeon removed a softball-sized cancerous tumor on his small intestine near the cecum (considered the beginning of the large intestine). She also remove a 3” section of his small intestine. They also removed a section of his colon that would soon have been blocked. Dreadfully, the cancer has spread through his abdominal cavity (omentum) and his lymph nodes.
The pathology report identified the colon cancer to be Stage 4, poorly differentiated (aggressive), Signet Ring Cell carcinoma of the colon.
The doctors in Cortez believe this to be a terminal form of cancer. They encouraged Paul to see an oncologist. As for a time-frame, we heard mixed messages in Cortez. One doc suggested Paul has less than 6 months to live while the surgeon tossed us this riddle: “Will we be having this conversation in 10 years—probably not. Will we be having this conversation in 1 year – maaaaaybe.” One doctor said that it is an aggressive form of cancer and recommended that Paul get his affairs in order and settle into a comfortable place as soon as possible.
Paul will fly to Denver with Sharon on 11/09. Kim, too, will spend the week in Denver. Lori and her family are joining us on 11/10 to support Paul as well.
Paul will see an oncologist in the Denver area on 11/11. We hope the doc will take a courageous position and be more specific about life expectancy to help us understand what medical options, if any, are available to Paul.
How is Paul doing?
Paul is currently in his home in Cortez, CO. He has his good days and his bad days. On the good days, he eats well and enjoys company. On the bad days, he seems confused and unable to handle a lot of input.
Paul is emaciated. He has lost so much weight that it is startling. He has been using a walker since September and is terribly frail. He often has blurred vision and falls most days. It’s heartbreaking. We have been trying to set up care for Paul, but he is resistant to assisted living arrangements. Who wouldn’t be? It’s hard to give up our independence. Paul is unable to care for himself (cook, clean, bathe, etc.), so caregivers come in twice a day to assist him. A friend of a friend from church is cooking for him every day, running errands, doing laundry, and keeping us informed about him. He is beginning to realize that he needs full-time care.
We are trying to arrange for Paul’s care. It is mind boggling how complex the support systems and medical systems are to navigate. The biggest question rests with Paul: Does he want to stay in Cortez or come to Denver? Hospice in Cortez is ready to admit him into their program if he returns to Cortez. While Paul is with Sharon in Lakewood, the local hospice organization will evaluate him.
What can I do?
Please keep Paul in your thoughts and prayers. We ask that you post messages to him and to us on this one central website instead of contacting him or us directly on the phone. It is very hard to understand him on the phone and again, he gets frustrated very easily and overwhelmed. However, I know he would love to hear from you.
Paul’s mail is currently being forwarded to Sharon’s address. Reach out to us if you’d like it. After his evaluation on 11/11, we will keep you posted about the prognosis, what the next steps are, and where Paul will be residing. This is all happening so quickly and we’re wading through the Medicaid/Medicare system to establish comprehensive care for Paul.
Let us know what questions you have and we’ll try to respond quickly with answers.