My brother, Thad, has been suffering from debilitating pain in and around his back, stomach, sides and chest for several months. There were days when he couldn't even stand or walk. He had been seeing his doctor and chiropractor and his pains were thought to be musculoskeletal and he had been treating with muscle relaxers, pain medication and light stretching.
Things just kept getting worse so he followed up with his doctor on Monday, February 19. He was sent to Mankato that same day for a CT scan and as my dad was driving them home from his scan, the doctor called him and asked him to return immediately to her office. What she told him next will forever change our lives.
The CT scan showed that he has cancer at the beginning of his colon that has metastasized to his liver and to his spine. He had an MRI of his spine on February 26 and met with cardiology on February 27 as he also suffers from A-fib. As soon as he was finished meeting with his cardiologist, his oncologist cancelled the PET scan that was also scheduled for that day and sent him right away to Mayo Clinic in Rochester because the MRI showed that the mass was closer to his spine than they originally thought and they needed to get Thad's pain under control immediately.
Thad was admitted to Mayo in Rochester on Tuesday where he was to stay until they could get a plan in order. Between Tuesday and Friday he met with several teams of doctors and underwent numerous tests. They did a biopsy of the spinal mass and took 6 samples. We now know that there are actually 3 tumors on or near his spine, 2 lesions on his liver in addition to the cancer on his colon. They are not 100% sure exactly what kind of cancer he has as the "kind" is determined based upon where the cancer originates and they are still making that determination. Initial belief is colon cancer.
He met with the doctors again on Friday (yesterday) and was allowed to go home late afternoon. My parents, my husband and one of my daughters were meeting my parents in Mankato to celebrate mom's birthday and they surprised us all by bringing Thad with them! I thought he was going to have to stay through the weekend and had no idea they had released him!
Right now they are going to focus first on the spinal tumors as they are causing the most immediate problems. He has been given, among other things, high powered pain medications and a steroid mediation that will hopefully stop the spinal tumors from growing any bigger. The plan, at least for now, is that he will return to Rochester (as early as this coming week) for spinal surgery to carve out parts of the spinal masses so they don't grow any further and compress his spinal chord which would paralyze him. This is a major surgery that will have a lengthy recovery time. Once he has recovered from the spinal surgery, he will have radiation to shrink the remaining spinal masses. The radiation could be done in Mankato and may be as frequent as daily, but we won't know that for sure until he is recovering from the spinal surgery. There will also be chemotherapy to treat the cancer on his liver and colon but we don't know yet if that will be at the same time as the radiation therapy or afterwards. It will be a long road regardless.
So for now he's at home in Lewisville waiting for the call from Rochester with the date and time for him to return for the surgery to get this show on the road. I know my big brother is scared - we all are. But I also know that you can't get through something until you get started and he will not be walking even one step of his journey on his own. If there's one thing we have been taught as Firchau's, it's how to be tough. We're a strong family. The outpouring of love and kindness that has been showered on my brother so far has been heartwarming and humbling. Your concern and prayers are being felt by us all but please keep them coming! Prayer is a powerful thing. If you reach out to Thad whether it's on here, Facebook, text, phone or in person, even if he doesn't have a chance to hit you back, know that he is thankful and truly appreciates everyone's support. And although they'll probably never see this because they refuse to leave the dark ages and get computers and smart phones :-), my parents could use some prayers and support too. My dad is a man of few words and my mom always tries to put on her strong mom face, but I can see how hard this is on them too. As a mom myself I can't imagine watching your baby go through something as scary as cancer. I don't think it matters if that "baby" is 2 or 47. Keep Thad in your prayers and I will try to keep you updated as best as I can.
"If you're going through hell, keep going." Winston Churchill