Fr. Dave | CaringBridge

Fr. Dave’s Story
1.       I have been diagnosed with cancer of the bile duct.

2.       On April 16 I met with Dr. James Ouellette, who will perform the Whipple surgery on me May 15 at Miami Valley Hospital.  The surgery normally takes 5-6 hours.  It involves the removal of my gall bladder, bile duct, parts of my pancreas, duodenum and colon, and then the restructuring of these parts. It will not be robotic surgery.

3.       After the surgery, I will stay in the hospital c. 7-10 days, followed by 2-3 months of recuperation.

4.       What happens after surgery will depend on what they find during the surgery.  If there is involvement of the cancer in any location beyond the bile duct (e.g., pancreas, lymph nodes, etc.), chemo and/or other therapies may be required. But there are no indications that this will be necessary.  One of the first things during surgery will be to examine the liver to make double certain that no cancer is there.  If, in fact, the cancer is found in the liver, the surgery will be ended and other strategies adopted.

5.       I should plan for no visitors other than family during my stay in the hospital.

6.       I look forward to the anointing service at St. Helen on Tuesday, April 24 at 6:30 p.m.

7.       If you are curious about the whole story, here it is (probably way more than you want to know…):   I had only minimal awareness of something wrong beginning Sunday March 4, when I noticed a slight queasiness in my stomach. On Sunday March 18 someone noticed that I was a bit jaundiced, so I met with my doctor, Dr. Matthew O’Connell, on the next day. (I have the best doc!) He took a blood sample which raised some concern, so he sent me for a sonogram of my gall bladder and related areas. That same day my doc arranged for me to meet with a GI specialist, Dr. Saxe – another gift from God for me; this was the first time that the word “possible large mass” was presented to me as the likely cause for a blockage of my bile duct. Later that day I had a CT scan, which ruled out the possible “large mass” but affirmed that something important was going on. On Friday March 23 I had an outpatient procedure at Kettering Hosp to open the blockage and drain the bile from me. This procedure was unsuccessful, so I was admitted to the hospital. On Sunday they did a surgery to go through my liver to insert a drain of my bile duct (my liver is still angry with them for that procedure!), and then on the following Wednesday another procedure was done to insert a sonogram near the blockage, to insert a stent to keep the drainage open and to take a few biopsies of the area. These are the procedures that confirmed the cancer on my bile duct.

8.       I was so naïve to what was happening that even as late as Thursday morning of that week (Holy Week) I was hoping to do the Holy Thursday Service! As things turned out, I was not able to do any of the wonderful Holy Week services, nor Easter Mass. What a terrible loss this was for me, as those services put a perspective on all of life. I did, however, have quite a unique experience of Holy Week because of all that happened to me during those 9 days in the hospital. What a blessing it is for us to know that Christ is walking with us! During the 9 days I was in the hospital, for example, I lost 16 pounds. Yikes! I am still weak and am frequently short of breath, but gradually bouncing back.

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Newest Update

Journal entry by Fr. Dave Brinkmoeller

On Thursday of this week I started to feel okay and then pretty good. So I had a fun weekend – at a beautiful wedding yesterday and at Carroll High School today.  Carroll has an annual Mass for alums who have died, and this has been on my calendar for almost a year. I’m so surprised that I was able to do it – the first Mass at which I have presided since May.  It was so fun to be able to do it! I even preached a homily. Lucky me (sorry for those poor folks who had to put up with me…).

Tomorrow is Chemo #5.  If I am able to stay on schedule #6 will be on October 2, almost 2 full weeks prior to departure for the Holy Land (October 15-25).  

Last week was a tougher time for me.  My stinking thinking clicked in, and I forgot about taking one day at a time.  I started thinking about how long of a trudge it will be to get to Chemo #12 in January.  I was thinking a lot about how tired I am of feeling kinda lousy and fatigued.  Then I had some good prayer time last Sunday morning.  Being consciously with God reminded me to take one day at a time, to go with the flow and let God be the God of my cancer and my life.  ‘Twas a gift to be reminded!

I continue to receive so many cards and notes and kindnesses.  You are all a blessing to me.  Thanks.

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Thoughts & Well Wishes

Cassandra DeSalvo | Sep 10, 2018
I just want to thank God for your commitment and your strength. You were the one who gave me my first communion about 11 years ago, and I still hear your voice in my head as I finally begin my RCIA classes for confirmation. Your story is inspiring, Father Dave. I will continue to pray for you.
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Jan Herrelko | Aug 23, 2018
Hi Fr Dave,
So glad you were able to minister at the weekend wedding!  You are the best at celebrating God's love among us.  We moved to Ohio from Massachusetts 25 years ago and you were the pastor at Ascension.  Never had my family experienced homilies about God's love.  You have been blessed with that gift of knowing God's love and the ability to shine God's love out to the rest of us.  Thank you!

P.S Our daughter Emily (who is 40 and living in NY) will have her first child in December.  She shared with us that when you administered the Anointing of the Sick sacrament to her prior to her open heart surgery when she was 23, it did help her get through that whole experience.  Quite the admission from a very strong Irish girl who powers her life.  Prayers flowing your way!
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Vera Stewart | Jul 31, 2018
Even though I don’t write often, you are at the top of my prayer list every morning.  Violent words and images really are too present in this time.  May replacing them with peaceful ones be good medicine for all of us.  You are truly an inspiration to me, as you always have been.  ❤️🙏❤️
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Mike Mueller | Apr 22, 2018
Fr. Dave,  it was great seeing you at Ascension Church this morning.  As a cancer patient myself, I know some of what you must be going through.  I have added you to my daily prayers and those of my Cocker Spaniel, Freckles.  Yes, she actually prays with me every day.  I am convinced that her prayers are quite powerful because, after all, dog is God spelled backwards.  Wishing you all the best, Mike and Freckles
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