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. 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

Last week, in a swift turn of logistics and the good fortune of having new options, I met with an oncology surgeon who has a very good track record for managing vein occlusions due to pancreatic tumors like mine.
I quickly arranged for commercial travel so that I could complete blood tests and CT scans on Monday 4/22 at the Froedtert Hospital in Milwaukee, WI, which is part of the Medical College of Wisconsin (MCW). On Tuesday morning, 4/23, I met with the surgeon there to discuss my situation and options. I then flew commercially that day to NYC for my radiation treatment that evening, and the rest of the week.
I was then back in Ithaca this past weekend (plus Monday, as an extra recovery day I requested), and I am now back again in NYC for more daily radiations. I am so very grateful to the Corporate Angel Network (CAN) for free flights and for Cornell's generosity via the Cancer Resource Center of the Finger Lakes for free Cornell Campus-to-Campus bus service, all of which make the weekly Ithaca to/from NYC commutes manageable!
As you may recall, the plan with Memorial Sloan Kettering's (MSK) had been for me to pursue a 5-week ablative radiation course (25 daily sessions), likely in lieu of surgery. However, after meeting last week with the specialist surgeon at MCW, and with MSK's support, I have instead elected to go for surgery. Surgery of this tumor benefits from some radiation, but less than originally scheduled. I will thus complete a total lower "pre-operative" radiation dose in just 3 weeks (15 daily sessions) which means expecting to complete my radiation treatments next week, on Wednesday, May 8th.
Happily, this means I no longer have medical stuff or related travel planned for the week of my birthday, May 15th. :-)
The surgery will likely be scheduled about 5-6 weeks from May 8th, and I will head to Milwaukee, Wisconsin a few days beforehand, in addition to the surgery date & short-term recovery. If all goes well, I remain in the hospital (in-patient) for 1 week after surgery. Then I shift to being out-patient but must remain on a short leash, near the hospital, for typically up to 3 weeks depending on recovery and complications. So in summary, if all goes well, I will be away from Ithaca for about a month, starting in just over one month.
I find myself being very tired, and I'm told this is likely due to the chemotherapy I am taking every 12 hours, most weekdays. And the extra travel last week didn't help! The chemo helps magnify the effect of radiation and provides systemic protection. It is very similar to one of the three chemo drugs I was on before, but this one is taken orally, not via infusion. And I only take it on days I have radiation so the weekends allow for some recovery. The effects from the radiation itself take 3 or so weeks, so symptoms from that don't typically appear immediately. Something to keep an eye on during the next month, however.
Last week I noticed that it was slightly more painful to type due to the nerve damage to my fingers following the original chemo. I am hoping those nerves will recover in about 3 months, along with those in my toes and soles of my feet. These issues are of course small potatoes in the context of what is at stake and how things could be much worse. :-)
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