Chris’s Story

Site created on March 31, 2018

My name is Chris Gallagher... This is my story.
Some of you know me, some of you don't. If I don't know you and you are reading this, God bless you! Thank you for taking the time out of your day to care and even read this.
I live in Remington, Va. I have a BEAUTIFUL wife Crystal, and 3 AMAZING kids...Declan(15), Brady(13), and Molly(2). Seriously... I know everybody says that about their wife and kids (or at least I hope they do LOL)...but if you've met my mine, you know I'm not even making it up LOL... I mean, seriously... they're beautiful and cool and smart and funny and awesome and everything I could have ever asked for! I am more blessed than I deserve...



I was diagnosed with Stage 4 lung cancer just this year on March 8th...


Check out the journal entries below to read about what a journey it has been for us to get to this point... my story didn't start in a typical way, and it sure isn't going to end in the typical way either!!!!

This is real... we understand
There is no Stage 5. We get that.

BUT

With the help of Jesus Christ and lots of prayer...
I plan on Surviving.
I plan on living with stage 4 for a loong time to come
I plan on walking my gorgeous daughter down the aisle on her wedding day
I plan on celebrating the birth of my grandkids
I plan on taking my wife wherever she wants to go for our 50th wedding anniversary
I plan beating this shitty disease into submission!!!
I plan on being a testament to what God can do when you fully trust in him and have faith in him
I plan on being one they talk about

Thank you so much for everyone who has joined #TeamGallagher, and who is helping us #DonkeyKickCancer!!
You guys rock, your prayers and support mean the world to me, they help keep me going, and you help make all the difference in the world!

God bless,

Newest Update

Journal entry by Chris Gallagher

Hey everyone!
Well... it's been a reeeally long time since I have done any kind of update on my CaringBridge site. Lots of people ask me how I'm doing, so I wanted to post an update for those who are interested in reading about it and hearing the latest on me...
Sorry for the length of this post, but I think there's a lot to cover
 
As you know, on March 8, 2018, I was diagnosed with stage 4 lung cancer.
A disease that kills more men and women than any other cancer.
A disease that kills >50% of patients within 1 yr of being diagnosed.
 
A disease with a 5 year survival rate of 5% when diagnosed in stage 4.
Basically a death sentence.
But sometimes God likes to show off what he can do...
 
I had been getting Keytruda (immunotherapy) infusions every 3 weeks basically since April 2018... this has done great things for my body in helping me fight the Lung Cancer! I started with 6 tumors total (2-adrenal glands/2-lungs/1-lymph nodes/1-spleen), but now I am down to only 2 left! They are the 2 tumors in the adrenal glands that remain, and they cause me a good deal of problems, but overall, Keytruda has been an amazing blessing for me and helped my body completely eradicate 4 of the tumors!!
 
Unfortunately, there are some side effects to go along with the immunotherapy...It completely cranks up your immune system, and it can get a little overactive. While it does help your body attack the cancer cells, it also begins to attack some of the good cells too. I have had some pretty severe skin rashes, painful swelling and wounds over the course of the first year. Then beginning in about December 2018 I also started having some other immune system related side affects like colitis...
 
These symptoms were initially treated by steroids. This worked well for the skin issues, and the first round of colitis. The second time the colitis came back was about 6 months ago...it gets worse every time it comes back, and it was not at all responsive to the steroid treatment this second time around. I had these symptoms for roughly for 5 months straight with no relief. I ended up in the hospital for 5 days in October from it as they continually increased my steroids to try and get a handle on it. At one point they had me on 240 mg of Prednisone per day... Of course that wreaked havoc on my system...my sleeping, my eating, my weight, my mood, and all kinds of other things that I'm sure you all are well aware of if any of you have taken prednisone or any other kind of steroids for any extended period.
 
At any rate, the ultimate decision was that I had to go off of the Keytruda to stop the side effects. If the symptoms were to return, I have been warned that it would most likely be extremely severe symptoms with the possibility of longer hospitalization/perforated bowel/surgery. Not interested, thanks...Lol
 
The Keytruda stays in your system for roughly 4-5 months. Unfortunately, it took about that long for my side effects to completely go away also. The doctors started me on Remicade infusions to try and help battle some of these immune system issues that resulted from the immunotherapy. Between the Remicade and the Ketruda working it's way out of my system, my symptoms finally went away around the new year.
 
The next thing to do was to get a new scan and see if there has been any change to the cancer with no immunotherapy in my system. That scan was scheduled for today- February 26th.
If I'm being completely honest, I really was worried and concerned about what these results were going to show... Starting about 2-3 weeks ago I began having a lot more pain in my abdomen, right in the areas that I always had pain before, where the adrenal tumors are. Because of this, I was nervous about my scan today.
I prayed (a lot), gave it over to God, and trusted him completely with the results either way...willing to accept any outcome.
I got my scan done, and then I met with my oncologist to discuss it. The tumors are exactly the same size as they were before! They are not growing! They are staying completely stable at the moment, even without treatment!
My oncologist and palliative care doctor were talking, and they both commented on how rare it is to have someone who is forced to go off of cancer treatment to not have their cancer come back like gangbusters... It normally comes back with a vengeance once treatment is stopped. But not this time! Thank You God!
 
Don't get me wrong, I know that a few things are still true:
-I still have cancer.
-I still have adrenal insufficiency.
-I still have pain.
-Fear, anxiety and depression are real things that have to be battled regularly.
-I still have 2 tumors inside me that are the size of an orange (instead of a thumbnail, like they're supposed to be).

...BUT GOD!
But God has worked a miracle in me, so far healing me as much as he has! Thank you God for the doctors, for the medicine, for all the prayers that are sent up on my and Crystal's behalf. 
 
From the first day that I heard that I had cancer, I was angry. Angry because lung cancer had just taken my dad 2 years prior to that. Angry that there was a chance I wasn't going to get to walk my daughter down the aisle at her wedding, or watch any of my kids graduate high school, or hold any of my grandbabies, or any of that stuff you get to do if you're lucky to live to be an old man. I was pissed... But I directed all my anger at the cancer... Almost immediately I said something to the effect of "I'm going to donkey kick this right in the balls!" ... and that is how 'Donkey Kickin Cancer' stuck lol
So I asked God to help me take it out on my cancer, and from the very beginning... we have prayed like we never have before, we have fought like we never have before, and we have trusted like we never have before...
I still have quite a road ahead of me, and none of us know how long that road is for any of us. I mean, we're all terminal. But as long as I'm on this road and still fighting, I'm going to try and find a way to live. Not just survive, but live. We're still trying to figure out what God's plan is for our next chapter, and what our new normal looks like.
 
I've tried to thank each and everyone of you along the way... But I wanted to take one more chance to do that right now.
Thank you all so much!
Thank you to everyone who has prayed for me ... who has tried to help my family whether it be with dinners, rides, emotional support, greeting cards, encouraging gifts, masses offered for us, etc... There's a countless number of ways you all have helped Crystal and I battle this cancer! Thank you to each and every one of you from the bottom of our hearts! We truly love you, and we know that were having success in this fight because you all have been flooding the heavens with prayers on our behalf.
I could never repay all of you what you have given us and helped me with. So I say Thank you, and I hope that you know that I love you all!!
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