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

"You have four to six months to live." I received this news on Monday and I am still processing this information. My cancer is back, with two tumors in the liver and one in the pancreas, thus far.

I have since discussed my prognosis and options with my local oncologist, the oncologists in Sloan Memorial (NYC) where I did my radiation treatment, and with experts at Froedtert Hospital (Milwaukee, WI), where I got my surgery performed.

Not that trials would have helped, but due to the coronavirus most places are not enrolling new participants for trials. In fact, the coronavirus threat impacts every single one of my available options.

Weighing all my options, the best option for me currently is not to endure more treatment, which perhaps could have extended my life for several months. Instead, I choose to live out the few months of my life as fully as I can, entering it with the health I currently have. For example, I had a lovely three-hour walk yesterday. I understand my choice may be hard for some of you to understand, but for me, the quality of life is more important than extra months lived.
Although not unexpected news due to my increasing "bad" blood marker numbers reported earlier, this terminal prognosis was, of course, unwelcome news. And what an "interesting" time to be getting this news and navigating a course through my final months as the world becomes further restricted in so many ways due to the coronavirus. And that many restrictions likely will be active for what may literally be the rest of my life.

In other family news, here is what else has been going on the past two weeks:

1) Wednesday, March 11th: My father fell and broke his hip (femoral break). He was taken to the hospital where they did an MRI of his brain and that imaging indicated he had had a small stroke. He was therefore immediately transported to another hospital an hour away, in Pennsylvania, where I stayed with him Thursday through Sunday.
Good news: My brother Chris came down from Alaska to help my father. And now Chris is here to also spend time with me.

2) We learned last night that our son Peter's new job starting in about a week is now not scheduled to start for another month due to the coronavirus. And he had since put in his 2-week notice at his other job, working through this past week. And that employer does not need him back nor is even open the hours he had been working there, again due to the coronavirus. So the anticipated gap of a one-week, well-deserved break between jobs has now turned into longer-term unemployment.

3) Good news: My daughter Cady has a flight scheduled home, from France, on March 28th.

Yeah, although I am feeling a bit sorry for myself right now, I also have lots to be grateful for.

With the emerging coronavirus crisis, it has been, and will be, a bumpy road for all of us. Stay well!
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