February 13, 2020 Rowe was diagnosed with lung cancer. 5 days later he was sent in for a routine heart cath to evaluate the condition of his heart. It was expected to be an in and out procedure. He ended up having major blockage on both sides of the heart and staying in the hospital for two days and had 5 stents put in place. Due to the nature of his heart, he was set back for 30 days on having a biopsy of the tumor that was wrapped around his left bronchial tube. He needed to be on Plavix for at least that long for fear of bleeding out or clotting.
This was a silver lining to the cancer diagnosis. He had no obvious signs of heart issues and was a ticking time bomb.
He was able to have a PET scan to see if the cancer has spread. Unfortunately it has spread to his hips and lower spine. These spots do cause him some severe pain from time to time.
After the 30 days were up he was able to go in and have the biopsy done. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the doctors were concerned that hospitals might shut down surgeries. They decided to place a chemotherapy port in his chest before the biopsy procedure. This was done with no complications, and the next day he had his long awaited biopsy. The biopsy went well, they were able to go in with a needle and extract enough cells to determine what cancer he was facing.
The Cancer The next week March 24th he finally was able to get a diagnosis. Extensive Small Cell Carcinoma. This is the most aggressive type of lung cancer, but is known to have the best response to chemotherapy. It’s a double edged sword. The doctor mentioned that he probably had this cancer since October of 2019 (can’t be certain, but that is an idea of just how aggressive it is).
Another silver lining- he had another CT scan on his brain and the cancer has not spread there. Small cell does have a tendency to spread to the brain. We are hoping that with the start of treatment we can prevent this.
The Prognosis With this type of aggressive cancer, if he elected to have NO treatment he is looking at 2-3 months life expectancy. If he has treatment (which is the road he chose), 10+ months. With treatment it is uncertain how long that could extend his life. The downside of the chemo is that with his severe heart condition, and how hard chemo is on the body, it has as much uncertainty on his life as the cancer does. In other words the cancer could get to him before the cancer does.
Rowe has had a great attitude through this entire thing. It is such a hard pill to swallow, but he has accepted it and knows it is all in God’s will. He has every intention in fighting this until the end. Hopefully that is when he is cancer free (or NED, no evidence of disease). He has been dealing with some pretty bad pain spells. As expected, it’s a lot of good and bad days.
As you all know he is a fighter and plans to do whatever is needed to beat this thing. We are hoping that through this site we can keep everyone up to date. It’s pretty hard to keep track of all the messages and calls, so please do not take it personally. We love you all and are so happy to have such a great support system through this journey.