Our journey began on December 3, 2010. Vinny was not feeling well the night before and he thought he had the flu. All of sudden in the morning he told me to take him to the ER. My response was that we should just go to the Quick Care, but he was adamant about going to the ER. After about 10 minutes at the ER the doctors told me that Vinny had a hole in his colon and needed emergency surgery. I tried to compose myself after hearing this shocking news and went in to the bathroom and called the pastor of our church. He immediately came to the hospital and was able to pray with Vinny and I before he had the surgery. Vinny was on heavy duty pain killers and doesn't really remember what happened the next 4 days. At this point I knew that the situation was in God's hands. I remember feeling a calmness come over me while I was waiting to hear from the surgeon. After a few hours the surgeon came out and said they removed a baseball size mass in his colon and that he had a ileostomy bag. At that point I really had no idea what that meant, but God is my refuge in times of trouble so I continued to trust in him. Don't get me wrong. There have been many ups and downs and I am not perfect at all, but God is the only reason I am able to still function, some what take care of my family, go to work and handle all the other crazy things that happen in life.
Vinny was in the hospital for 2 weeks and got out on December 17. He had lost 40 pounds during this time and was a shadow of himself. I witnessed the power of God while Vinny realized he had a gigantic hole in his stomach. I almost tossed my cookies the first time I saw it. He had to heal from the inside out because of the infection he had. He then had a wound vac which was traumatizing for me, but Sierra seemed to be fine with it. She was 5 years old and would assist him with changing it out. What a crazy kid! She would say, " ok dad, do you need scissors now or what?" I am amazed, by her strength and believe that God has given her a heart and mind to do something where she helps people in the future.
One of the most horrifying experiences was when Vinny found out the mass the surgeon removed was cancerous. I also believe that this was the start of a battle of good and evil that we experienced. In the middle of the night, this crazy doctor came in to Vinny's room and handed him his card and said, "You have cancer. Come see me when you get out of the hospital." What a horrible bed side manner! We did see him when he got out of the hospital which was a really bad decision. He used cuss words and went on a tangent about breast cancer. Another thing I have learned it is that there are very wonderful people in the medical field and then there are people who need to change professions. I am thankful for the wonderful people we come across and pray that the others will find a career more suitable for them or change the way they approach there current jobs.
After a long recovery, Vinny went back to work while he was on chemo and had the ileostomy. There were many challenges that came along with that. I have learned that many times patients are sent home without the knowledge, supplies and training needed in order to function at home. I had been laid off from my job in June 2010 which was also God at work. I know that sounds strange, but I was able to be home and take care of Vinny and help him with his recovery during this time. Having to try to juggle work would be a challenge I would face in later years.
Vinny endured 6 months of precautionary chemo and then received a clean bill of health. He was then able to have surgery to reverse the ileostomy on September 2, 2011. He says this surgery was more painful than the first. He was told by the nurse that they were going to send him to rehab and he asked me what that meant. I said basically it is a facility where you do rehab and get your strength back. The stubborn Missick side of him came out and he asked the nurse how far he needed to walk in order to go home. She told him to the nurses station and back. He then proceeded to walk down the hall and around the nurses station and back to his room. He was able to go home that very day. Sometimes being stubborn is definitely a benefit.
After about 4 years of mostly being healthy he went to the Quick Care in October 2015 because he had a respiratory infection. The doctor took a chest x-ray and noticed a couple spots in his lungs. He then went to his oncologist who confirmed the cancer had metastasized in his lungs. He then went through hard core chemo treatments from October 2015 through August 2016. These treatment were every other week and made him extremely sick. He had every side effect that seemed to exist. After the oncologist told him he had 4 months to live with out treatment we decided to regroup and get a second opinion in Pheonix at the Cancer Treatment Center of America. We had seen commercials on TV and heard good things about the place. Everything you hear is true. The doctors and staff are so helpful and caring. They actually follow through and do what they say they are going to do. They spend more than 5 minutes in the room with you and answer your questions the very best they can. The place has a feeling of hope that is really unbelievable. They even have pastoral care and people who will pray with you anytime.
I can tell you the oncologist that told Vinny he had 4 months was wrong. One of the doctors at CTCA said, "You are not milk. You do not have a expiration date. " For some reason that comment has really stuck with me. I think it is because I really believe God has a plan and we need to trust in him. I struggle to understand what that plan is most of the time, but I do know that every experience we go through will help us be stronger people and there are lessons to be learned from each experience.
Our journey is long and I really can't begin to explain it all right here so I will just highlight a few key points I have learned over the last 6 years and hopefully be able to keep people informed of how to pray for us. I decided to share our story in the hopes that maybe we could help someone else who is experiencing a difficult situation. After many life lessons I have learned that we are not meant to go through this journey alone. God puts us with certain people in order to teach us something or help us in some way.