Oliver’s Story

Site created on August 31, 2018

Welcome to our CaringBridge website and please share the following web address to this page to inform others of Oliver's illness:


We appreciate your support and the words of hope and encouragement you leave 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 might be delayed or non-responsive to any message she receives. Our more frequent updates are available at the website http://twitter.com/habichthealth

Current status
Oliver has terminal cancer and on March 16, 2020 was advised he could expect to live another four to six months. At home, on hospice, he and his family are also managing around the coronavirus pandemic which everyone else is dealing with, too.

Summary of events
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 that removed about 45% of his pancreas along with other components. He recovered well from that and subsequently was able to work a few months part-time starting in December 2029, enjoyed multiple trips through the country with family, and got back to flying small planes for fun.

Details on how this journey started
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

I happily turned 53 today and I am very pleased to report that I remain largely asymptomatic two months after my terminal diagnosis (see prior post for those details). It is, of course, sobering to know this will be my last birthday. Since my last post, I have written my obituary and arranged for my body to be available for anatomy study by students and health professionals. Not to worry because over the past two months I have also made plenty of time for some fun!

In April, I enjoyed flying our Flying Club's Cessna 172s eight times and I posted a picture I took of me flying. I took Cady up twice, including a visit to another airport, and Amelia once. One of my flights involved climbing to 14,000' and although the plane could go a bit higher, I did not exceed this altitude since I didn't have supplemental oxygen. That limit is not only a good idea, it's also an FAA regulation. My most recent flight a few days ago was with my brother, Christopher, who is visiting again from Alaska for 2.5 weeks. During that flight, at about 2,500' above the ground, we were briefly accompanied by a majestic bald eagle flying below our right wing, flying in our direction of flight as we passed it not 50 feet away. We got a great view of it in the high-wing plane, and it was truly a magical moment!

About once a week I've enjoyed multi-hour hikes in the woods with a few friends at a time. I have liked going alone on some shorter neighborhood walks and runs, too. And I have almost completed my multi-month home workout program and thus looking forward to starting the next level. So, all in all, doing my best to stack things in my favor fitness-wise. Amelia says I'm "not acting like someone dying of cancer and that's the way we should all live, every day."

With Cady, and now Chris, we've been enjoying Rummikub and watching late-night movies and Netflix together, after Amelia's bedtime. And Chris's arrival means significant house projects are again underway, and he's very efficient so as not to waste any time "burning daylight", as he likes to say. I do my best to help and keep up!
Peter is joining us for a family dinner tonight, and he's coming back for tomorrow's dinner when we'll celebrate my birthday with a proper family party and cake. I am looking forward to being surprised by Amelia's Top Secret, goofy-fun party she's cooked up with my family for tomorrow, especially since I do know there is cake involved.
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