Roger Cottew

First post: 8/8/2016
Friends and Family,

Welcome to our CaringBridge site. We've created it to keep friends and family updated. We appreciate your support and words of hope and encouragement during this time when it matters most. There are many people who care so much about Roger and want to know how he is doing.  As of today, August 6, 2016, he has been at Abbott Northwestern Hospital in Minneapolis in the oncology department for 20 days. Here is his story:

Roger started experiencing back pain in May of this year. In June he made his first visit to Minnesota Spine Clinic and his diagnosis was degenerative disk damage due to aging. Physical Therapy was recommended as well as strengthening his core. After not being able to get in the car after the 4th of July weekend at Pelican Lake he went back to his doctor to see what else he could do for him. He ordered an x-ray which showed shadowing in his lungs,spine and liver. He immediately scheduled an MRI which confirmed their findings. Fluid was drawn from his lungs to see if there were cancer cells.While waiting for the results his back pain was so severe he ended up in the emergency room at Abbott. While in the ER the results of his fluid confirmed cancer. He was admitted to the hospital that day for back pain.

The following days were very challenging. Roger is extremely claustrophobic and was not able to go through with the many tests they wanted to run unless he was heavily sedated or knocked out. The biggest obstacle was that he could not lie on his back for the procedures due to his extreme back pain. Eventually all tests were run and the complete diagnosis was in. Roger has stage 4 non-small cell, non-smokers lung cancer that has spread to his liver, spine, he has 3 lesions on his brain and there are lymph nodes near his lungs with cancer.

In the last 20 days there have been many meetings with multiple doctors. Roger’s oncologist, Dr.K, is from MN Oncology. In our first meeting we were told that his cancer is not curable but it is treatable. The first step was radiation on his spine. Ideally he would have gone home and drove in every day for his treatments but since he could not lie flat on his back without heavy sedation he ended up having to stay in the hospital until his 10 sessions were complete. His last session was on Thurs., Aug. 4. His next step is chemotherapy. Luckily the mutation of his cancer was identified, which only happens in 15% of cancer patients. This is ideal because now instead of having chemotherapy administered intravenously Roger can instead take a pill every day. The hope is that the side effects won’t be as severe.  As soon as the prescription arrives in the mail on Tuesday Roger will begin his treatment.

In the meantime, the hope is that due to the radiation, his spine will begin to repair itself within 2-3 weeks and he will find some comfort. Once he can lie on his back for 1-2 hours he will complete a onetime radiation on his brain.

Another challenge for Roger has been transitioning him off of IV medication and onto oral medications over the last few days so he can leave the hospital. His pain has been higher but he is hoping to leave the hospital today with a good pain management plan.

As you can imagine Roger and our family are in shock, it still seems unbelievable. Every day we cry but every day we also find a way to smile and laugh and tell each other how much we love one another. We want to thank the many friends and family who have come to the hospital to visit Roger, sent flowers, cookies, cards, etc. He appreciates all of these things so much and they have helped lift his spirits.

More to come… 


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