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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Yesterday's curve ball continues to have its effects. I feel lousy and have little appetite. My surgeon wants me to try Ensure or one of the other supplemental foods, but to avoid forcing it. Forcing it, I'm afraid, would be the only way it will get done this morning, so I'm going to proceed slowly, allowing nature to take its course. All will be well.
After all this, however, came the high heater. Labs have established that the cancer began not in the bile duct, as originally thought, but in the pancreas. They know that they have removed all the visible cancer. But with pancreatic cancer there is to possibility that microscopic cancer cells remain in the pancreas. So they recommend chemo as an adjuctive (??) treatment.This treatment is designed to significantly lessen the possibility that the cancer return. It is a preventative treatment that will begin 4-6 weeks after surgery. Because I had been pretty well assured at KMC that this would not be needed, it's like a high hard one buzzing past my ear. Again, however, I have tons of reason for gratitude and confidence. And wonderful support.
My surgeon said this morning he can't believe how wide is my network of support. He is amazed how often someone stops him to thank him for "taking care of Frm Dave." I smiled broadly, and added my thanks to that of all of you. He is a,wonderful doctor.
Praying for a good day for you. Also that pain is under control. Tonight is our annual senior dinner for those 80 and over . Our theme is the 50'same. Around 70 coming. Looking forward to having a very good time. Set up only took 2 and 1/2 hrs. ,as we had lots of good help. Will have a few teens helping tonight with greeting, serving, cleanup.deacon Susanne will say blessing and we will include prayer for you. Hope today finds you feeling a bit better physically and emotionally. Love and prayers. Lin
Dear Dave, I'm glad to hear the good news regarding your surgery. That is awesome! May the next weeks and months be filled with healing, peace and God's love surrounding you. Prayers are with you each day! Peace, Ruth Kettman
Fr Dave, hoping you are still doing very well considering what you've been through. many prayers blessings and good energy coming your way! Hoping and praying each day will become a little easier and more bareable for you! I'm glad you're not pregnant too! Push that button when you need it and have a restful nights sleep! You're in my thoughts and prayers! God Bless!:) Mary Havens
So glad for the great care that you are receiving and so far for the good report. Continued thoughts, prayers, blessings and support. I hope you can keep pushing a pain button as you need it! and I am grateful that you aren't pregnant!!! Much peace.
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