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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I'm home and happy after today's first chemo treatment. No side effects - yet. Nurses say that if they are coming they'll probably come tomorrow or Thursday. I'm wearing a pump on my belt hat will put additional chemo into my system for 46 hours.
I feel blessed to be able to have the chemo and all that it can do for me. But not quite as blessed if the side effects are tough. What will be will be, and ultimately all will be well.tomorrow will likely be a quiet birthday. If I feel well enough I hope to participate in the Miami Valley Catholic Social Services Board tomorrow night.
One of the messages I received today includes a YouTube of a prayer service at IC's sister parish in Paraguay. They had a prayer service in their church the same night as the anointing service that was held for me back in April. It was wonderful to listen to them pray for "Padre Dave"! I am surely one of the luckiest guys in the world.
My thoughts were with you yesterday and heartfelt wishes for a happy birthday! You are in my prayers and also those of Carol Popp. "Jesus Christ will conquer all." is your daily mantra during this battle! Pax et Bonum,
Hello Father Dave, I was just reading through your health news and it looks like you were having your first chemo treatment today. I definitely hope that your treatments are your friend and will help you beat this cancer! I have heard many wonderful things about the surgeon that did your procedure and thus I am sure you are well under way to a healthy life without cancer. My prayers include you, praying for you strength and that the medicine does it's job!
My prayers go with you as you start your chemo journey know that God is by your side and that you will come thru a healed man Don't forget how important our faith is and to have complete trust in him our Heavenly Father. Miss you and can't wait to see you soon Take care and God Bless your friend Georgie
Fr Dave As I read your journal today I had a thought that I want to share. It is very normal to be afraid... especially of the unknown. No one wants to be in pain or contemplate their death. Even Jesus was afraid when he prayed in the Garden. All of us are praying for the easiest and most effective results for you. But remember that you are in good company with the Master. Hugs 💕💕
Dear Father Dave, In the last nine months Owen and I have "thought out loud" many times about the realities of our lives. We have found St Peregrine to be a support as we journey through this medical maze! "O God who gave to St Peregrine an angel for his companion, the Mother of God for his teacher and Jesus for the physician of his malady, grant we beseech thee through his merits, that we may on earth intensely love our holy angel, the Blessed Virgin and our Savior and in heaven bless them forever. Grant we receive the favor for which we now petition, through the same Christ our Lord. Amen" As you prepare to start treatment, know we pray for your well-being and send love and hugs always!
Hi Duff, You have been in my thoughts and prayers every day. (No kidding. I might look like I'm talking to myself in the car every morning driving to work, but I am actually having a deep conversation with God!) The girls have been asking me about you too. It sounds like you are progressing towards a good recovery. I'm really very sorry you have had to go through all of this! I love you Duff! I know its not easy, but keep up the hard work and get better quick and I'll keep praying!
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