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Todd was diagnosed on Dec 27 with adenocarcinoma of the stomach and metastasis to the liver. His first symptoms were in September after Labor Day when he thought he had eaten too much fried food. He lost weight from what he thought was indigestion, but slowly recovered with awareness that his stomach remained sensitive at times. After a big Thanksgiving dinner with family, he felt something tear in his stomach as he got up from the table. Over the next week he worsened to the point that he couldn't work because of the pain in his stomach and abdomen. A CT scan revealed enlarged lymph nodes in the liver and a thickening of the stomach lining. An endoscopy was ordered then, and a large ulcer in the stomach lining was found, at which time a biopsy also was taken. The doctor initially thought it didn't feel like a tumor, but the pathology report returned poorly differentiated adenocarcinoma, which begins outside the stomach and penetrates through the stomach lining.
In early January Todd saw an oncologist at Siteman and one at SLU, both who suggested an aggressive chemotherapy regimen to buy time, 12-18 months. Todd began to search for alternative therapies, something that wouldn't make him so sick as chemotherapy, and was intrigued by the immunotherapy approach to cancer treatment. Most immunotherapy studies for stomach cancer are in Asia or Africa where this type of cancer is more prevalent. As he was considering a couple treatment sites, he began to develop fluid in his abdomen and then became dehydrated. A trip to the ER on January 30 for fluids, an abdominal tap, and a series of tests confirmed progression of the cancer in both the stomach and the liver. He decided at that time to pursue treatment at Hope4Cancer Institute in Mexico.
We quickly made plans to depart Feb 7, but the abdominal fluid returned rapidly, as well as the extreme discomfort of the distention. Two different diuretics did not help, and he was in constant pain as the fluid pushed up on his diaphragm and made it difficult to breathe, eat, drink, cough, etc. Todd had to return to the ER on Feb 5 for more abdominal fluid retention and dehydration. The morning of Feb 6 he had an abdominal tap and 5.5L of fluid was removed. His goal was to be comfortable enough to catch the plane to San Diego the next day. The toll on his body of not eating anything for days left him weak and with even more weight loss. All total he has lost more than 40 pounds.
We are so grateful for the tremendous outpouring of support from family, friends, neighbors, co-workers, etc. who have assisted in so many ways already. Thank you from all of us.