Oliver’s Story

Site created on August 31, 2018

Welcome to our CaringBridge website. You can share this easy address to get to this page:  http://oliver.habichts.net/. We appreciate your support and words of hope and encouragement left here. And please refrain from sending Oliver email, texting, or calling him at this time.  Amelia is committed to taking things a day at a time and may be delayed or non-responsive to any message she receives. Our more frequent updates are available at http://twitter.com/habichthealth

Summary and current status: Oliver was increasingly ill in August 2018 and late that month he went to his doctor. He was quickly diagnosed with pancreatic cancer within a couple of days. Oliver subsequently completed 6 months of chemotherapy every-other-week in Ithaca, for a total of 12 sessions. About a month later he had almost daily radiation treatments in New York City for three weeks. Finally, Oliver had significant abdominal surgery performed June 17, 2019, in Milwaukee, a procedure which removed about 45% of his pancreas along with other components. As of July 11, 2019, he continues to get stronger as he recovers from surgery. We can now all hope he will remain cancer-free.

The story begins when Oliver had not felt well for more than a week, with fatigue and increasingly yellow skin and eyes, along with other symptoms but no pains.
On Monday, August  27, 2018, he arranged to see his doctor during work hours. Tests were conducted and imaging was ordered for the next day. He then biked back up the hill to finish out the workday.
Tuesday (8/28) was picture day: An abdominal ultrasound detected a mass pressing closed the common bile duct, followed by a CT scan later that day to better characterize the 3 cm (1.1 inches) mass in the head of the pancreas. Such growths are 95% cancerous.
Wednesday (8/29) was fix-the-blocked-bile-duct day (ERCP), in which a plastic stent enabled the bile to again flow, with an overnight stay at the hospital in case of blood clots and for general post-op monitoring.
On Thursday (8/30), Oliver was discharged in the morning in time to go home and then attend a working lunch. And he felt well enough to work for a few hours before going home.
Friday morning (8/31) was spent preparing for a long holiday weekend departure that afternoon to the Adirondacks with family and friends. We returned Monday late afternoon, after much fun and joy. 
By Wednesday (9/5) we received results from various clinical tests and it was confirmed the mass was indeed cancer. We knew at the time that the road ahead was going to be uncertain and rough. With that in mind, we thank you so very much for visiting this site to keep up with the rest of Oliver's story within this site's Journal entries and for repeatedly leaving your kind and generous messages of support.

Newest Update

Journal entry by Oliver Habicht

It is very good news that I have now entered into a "monitoring" mode regarding my cancer treatment. With no cancer currently detected, I am expected to live my life "normally", keeping in mind that my survival odds remain as described in my last post. Because of those odds, I will get tested every 4 months to catch any evidence of the cancer returning. And I will also be alert to any related symptoms.
In the short-term, once my incisions from the surgery completely heal and I'm off my pain medications, the on-going main change to my daily lifestyle is minor, which is to always have enzyme pills with my food. And I can always hope that the chemotherapy's nerve damage to my fingers and feet recovers more fully.
The tests to be done every four months include blood work which can show elevated cancer marker numbers. The blood testing can also indicate any problems with how well the remaining 55% of my pancreas is managing my glucose levels. If that capability deteriorates sufficiently, I will become diabetic and I will need to explicitly manage it. The other significant part of testing will be getting CT scans to compare with my baseline, post-surgery scans from Monday, July 22nd. The blood testing and CT scans can both be done in Ithaca. However, I plan to do every-other-one of these in Milwaukee in order to also confer with my surgeon, Dr. Evans, every 8 months, at least initially.
I must now work to build up my physical and mental energy and stamina levels beyond just the capacity to go on long walks. I found I needed lots of down-time for more than a week following a fun-filled and energetic time at EAA's AirVenture's fly-in at Oshkosh a few weeks ago, during which I was grateful to be joined by my brother Chris (from Anchorage, Alaska) and good friend Ken (from Denver, CO). For the week, we slept in tents and during the day we were super-saturated with all things aviation. We all had a wonderful time during which we had great weather after a soggy start.
The love and support you have extended to me and my family, both in-person and here on this site, have been invaluable towards my healing and comfort. I am so very, very grateful to each and every one of you!
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