Oliver | CaringBridge

Oliver’s Story
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. Her more frequent updates are available at http://twitter.com/habichthealth

Summary: Oliver has pancreatic cancer. As of 9/17/2018, Oliver has few, if any, symptoms.

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  27th, arranged to see his doctor during work hours. Tests conducted and imaging were 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 inch) 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 know the road ahead will be uncertain and rough, so thank you for visiting and keeping up with the rest of Oliver's story through this site. Significant updates will be listed within this site's Journal entries.

Newest Update

Journal entry by Oliver Habicht

If success can be measured by the absence of any unexpected bad news, our trip to Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center's (MSK) in New York City (NYC) this week was indeed successful.
Amelia, my father, and I met with MSK doctors yesterday (Wednesday, January 16), following me getting MSK's high quality, detailed, thin-section CT scans (3-D) the day before. The good news from those scans includes the fact that the tumor has reduced in size, a demonstration that the aggressive chemo regime I am on is working. Continuing with the good news is that there has been no spread of this cancer detected visually in other areas shown in the scan, including the liver, lungs, and lymph nodes.
Thus, since the chemo is producing the desired results, we will continue with them. In anticipation of this potential recommendation, we had already scheduled my next treatment for this coming Friday. If you are keeping score, this upcoming treatment will be number 9. And we can expect a maximum of 12 treatments, with the hoped-for every-other-week frequency. Then back to MSK in NYC for another CT scan and consultation in the first half of March, if no unexpected delays or other setbacks.
The surgical oncologist at MSK reported that the tumor is still involving the blood vessels called the superior mesenteric artery (SMA) and vein so surgery is not considered a good option at this time, especially with the chemo yielding results. An extract from a website created by other experts at the Pancreas Multidisciplinary Cancer Clinic at Johns Hopkins explains that, similar to my case, "[a] pancreatic cancer in the head of the pancreas is usually unresectable when the tumor has invaded [the SMA and vein]." If the tumor shrinks sufficiently, that can dramatically change the equation. The hope is this will happen with further chemo, and potentially may also require other treatments first, such as radiation.
The general oncologist at MSK reported that I'm tolerating the chemo regime better than 85% of patients, even though the treatments (poisons) still knock me on my *ss for days. And each treatment further damages my peripheral nerves, causing me pain and other issues (called neuropathy) in my fingers and (much less) in my toes. And even my nose starts hurting when it's unprotected in temperatures less than about 35*F. Let's hope I don't get to the point where my dexterity is affected such that typing, smartphone manipulation, buttoning, or zippering become challenging because that kind of reaction represents nerve damage that can be long-term or permanent and thus they may have to stop or reduce the level of treatment. As I try to remind myself regularly, the situation can always be worse. :-)

We really appreciated the private jet flight (and associated ground transportation) to and from NYC as arranged by the Corporate Angel Network (CAN). Especially since both Amelia and I have hundreds of hours each piloting small planes, the smaller the plane, the more fun it can be, even as a passenger. Thank you CAN!
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