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Sep 28, 2018 Latest post:
Oct 13, 2018
Most of you know that Rick was originally diagnosed with bladder cancer in 2010. It was surgically removed and he had a couple rounds of BCG treatments. The urologist warned us he couldn't guarantee no cells escaped and there was an 80% chance of reoccurrence but we went in for every follow up cystoscopy and even in October of 2015 his bladder looked good.
In the spring of 2015 Rick's right foot started to swell. By summer his whole leg was swollen and after much nagging he finally went in to see a vascular surgeon (since his bladder looked good we figured it had something to do with his peripheral vascular disease). The surgeon did an MRI and found many suspicious "hot spots". He sent us to an oncologist who ordered a PET scan and a biopsy of his lymph nodes and made the diagnosis. The bladder cancer had metastasized to his lymphatic system. This meant it was stage 4 and terminal. She said it was treatable for awhile and there were new treatments just over the horizon but bladder cancer is a really nasty cancer and will keep returning. He asked how long he had. Her answer was, "hopefully years". We decided, right there in the doctor's office, to finally get married.
Rick has been through multiple rounds of chemo, participated in a clinical trial of an immunotherapy drug, and even had a course of radiation last year. He tolerated his treatments pretty well but this year has been very hard on him.
We agreed to suspend chemo in July so he would be feeling well enough to travel to Florida in August to see his son, Jason, retire from the Air Force. We did the same thing last year to take our trip to South Dakota. The cancer appeared to be slow growing and the break allowed his body to recover a little.
This time we started to notice strange patches on his skin. When we got back from our wonderful trip, we went in to touch base with his oncologist. We showed her the areas and while we all wondered if it could be shingles, we all agreed it really didn't look like shingles. She sent his to a dermatologist who did biopsies. It wasn't shingles. It was more cancer, metastasized from his bladder.
Last Friday, September 21, we went to see his oncologist to make a plan. She suggested it may be time to stop treatment and just try to keep Rick comfortable. He didn't like that suggestion so we decided he would start Keytruda (an immunotherapy drug, you may have seen advertised on TV).
I work 12 hour nights and, so that I am able to fully function at work, I sleep during the day and stay up at night, even on my days off. On Saturday afternoon, I was awakened by a phone call. It was Rick. He was in the living room, on the floor, and he couldn't get up. I rushed out and helped him up into his chair. He said his legs just gave out. He didn't seem to be hurt. He wanted to empty his nephrostomy bags (bilateral nephrostomy tubes, installed last year due to the cancer returning to his bladder and blocking the openings from his ureters into his bladder). I told him to stay in the chair and I grabbed a basin. The urine looked funky so on Monday we went in for a UA/UC. By Monday night Rick was having episodes of confusion. On Tuesday morning the clinic suggested I take him into the ED. They x-rayed his hip and did a CT of his head. Both were fine but he was septic. He was admitted and is still here.
He will not be able to return home unless he gets stronger but in his depleted state it's unlikely. We are looking at nursing home placement.
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