Sam’s Story

Site created on May 6, 2017

Welcome to our CaringBridge website. We are using it to keep family and friends updated in one place. We appreciate your support and words of hope and encouragement. Thank you for visiting.

As almost all of you who are reading this know, Sam likes to work. He likes a project. Actually, he likes several projects, all going on at the same time. He doesn't like to sit still, doesn't know how to relax, and he is most comfortable with some sort of tool in his hand. He likes to say, "These projects are my 'golf.'" 

He also likes to say,  "Life is too short..." 

Too short to hold grudges, too short to let the little things bother you, too short to let time pass without telling those you love, "I love you," and often.  

We understand that little phrase even better now.

A cancerous tumor was discovered after a routine colonoscopy, Sam's first one at age 67, and surgery was performed on Wednesday, May 17, 2017, to remove the tumor. Pathology results indicated that the cancer had spread to surrounding lymph nodes, so Sam went through six months of chemotherapy from late June-December and was given the "all clear" in January.

2017 was going to be a transition year for us, since Sam took a new job in north central Kansas, five hours from Kansas City. After purchasing a new home and making plans to make the slow move west permanent, this health adventure was not on the books. Transition year it was...

2018 went smoothly and return check-ups were just routine and cause for counting our blessings. That is, until September 21.  A follow-up visit revealed a new growth along the colon that was cancerous. So, colon cancer 2.0 began.

A second surgery took place in October 2018 to remove the growth much lower in the colon, which resulted in an ostomy and 12 more rounds of chemotherapy.  More cancer was discovered in Sam's liver and lungs, so a third surgery was performed in March 2019 to remove the cancer from his liver and reverse the ostomy, and chemotherapy was put on hold until he recovered. 

He completed the last six chemotherapy treatments in June 2019,  and at the completion, more pockets of cancer were discovered in lymph nodes and next to a posterior rib. 

Fall 2019 held unknowns after Sam went to The Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota for a second opinion. The result of those appointments were "keep on keeping on," along with a 3D CT that showed cancer that is "peppering" his lungs, suspicious spots on his spleen, 4 ribs, and another enlarged lymph node in his groin.  He resumed chemotherapy treatment with a stronger drug added in September 2019. He also underwent a prostate biopsy and is now dealing with aggressive prostate cancer that has metastasized to the bones alongside the metastasized colon cancer. Treatment now includes conventional chemotherapy, hormone therapy, and alternative therapy with a change in diet and lifestyle.

Sam is staged as 3b with recurring and metastasized colon cancer. Prostate cancer is stage 4 after an MRI and bone scan was done. His colon cancer had not cooperated up to this point, and as the oncologist explained to us, “It keeps popping up in random places throughout your body, and if you do not continue chemotherapy, we will not be able to keep it contained.” Both of his oncologists shared that 2 1/2 years later, “the chemotherapy is no longer eradicating the cancer, but the goal now is to extend his life." Sam is now over 3 years on this journey...we are trusting that God has the best plan and every day is a gift and an opportunity to do better. 

Thank you for taking the time to pray for Sam and let him know you're thinking of him as he continues this monumental personal "project."

Newest Update

Journal entry by Rhonda Scofield

2020 is quite the rollercoaster, isn't it? 

Once upon a time, Sam's cancer journey was foremost in our minds here at the Scofield house. We changed our lives, or our lives were changed, because of his diagnosis. The sky was bluer, the air was fresher, the days were more important to recognize - life was too short to be focused on the petty things.

But these days, cancer is just life as we know it.

Part of that outlook happens because God is in control, and we have learned to let the panic go. It took time, but we've slowly recognized that fact. Part of that outlook happens because Sam never quits, Sam isn't going to let cancer slow him down if he can help it, and Sam isn't going to give up and let cancer be the description of his year.

Besides, 2020 has other descriptors.

COVID happened, although, fortunately so far, it has remained at bay in our town, with less than five diagnoses here as of this journal post. That isn't to say we've dismissed it - we have a "self quarantine" sign at each of our doors to let potential guests know we are distancing ourselves. We have a stack of masks and a supply of Lysol/hand sanitizer/disinfecting wipes at the ready. In the first weeks of the pandemic, we were very vigilant - not fearful - just trying to be as careful as we could possibly be... Our wonderful neighbors helped us out by going to the grocery store for us, we left delivery packages outside or thoroughly wiped them down before bringing them inside, and we did not see anyone face-to-face other than Sam's oncologist and team.

But as the weeks rolled into months, our guard has waned a little, and we've relaxed our virus standards. However, if things continue on the path they are on right now, it looks like we will have to reconstruct the wall and return to stringent living.

In the midst of all that has taken our focus off Sam's cancer journey, the journey continues. There really have not been any drastic changes. Sam is still full of superpowers every two weeks, battling with chemo treatments every other Wednesday for half a day. He still takes a huge hand full of pills and supplements, morning and evening. He still takes the dog de-wormer in a spoonful of yogurt every morning, 6 days a week. We do not see an end in sight for this whole routine. The oncologists continue to tell Sam that this will be his routine for as long as he is strong enough to handle it. They discourage him from stopping chemo treatments with his track record of metastasis.

His hair is now wavy/curly and his eyelashes are freakishly long, thank you panitumumab. His face tends to break out in a rash, especially around his mouth and under his nose - wearing a mask in hot weather certainly doesn't help that side effect. He continues to deal with diarrhea - it is just part of the deal with irinotecan chemo. His magnesium level has dropped, and that required a 4 hour magnesium infusion last week prior to having chemo. As the chemo takes a more permanent residence in his body, he has found that some weeks, his body requires a little more rest and recovery. It used to be that Sam bounced back to Sam-ness in less than 24 hours post chemo. Now, it can be 48 hours or longer. We just never know how treatment will go from week to week.

One thing we DO know - he always bounces back.

Another thing we DO know? His latest CT scans last week were REMARKABLE, and his blood work continues to compete with any healthy person without cancer.
  1. His CEA (a blood test/cancer marker) is 1.5 - normal is 2.5, so once again...Sam-ness.
  2. One of the nodules in the lower right lobe is now undetectable.
  3. There is no evidence of popcorn nodules in the lungs.
  4. There is still no evidence of the cancerous lymph node under his clavicle.
  5. Everything else in the lower abdomen is stable and unchanged.
  6. His liver looks good.
  7. No new cancer can be seen.
Regarding his prostate cancer and metastases to the bones: his PSA continues to be fantastic with .013 as the current number. The CT does not show bone changes, but there is no reason at this time to order a bone scan - Sam has not complained at all about bone pain, and Dr. Rodriguez seems very pleased with the treatment plan right now. Sam has lost muscle mass, deals with some hot flashes on occasion, but you know Sam - nothing slows him down, not even the loss of testosterone from the every-three-months Lupron injection and the daily bicalutamide.

He is keeping his weight steady, currently in the range of 165-170 pounds. He makes a game of trying to guess his weight each time he steps on the scale at appointments - and he is usually within a 1/2 pound. His appetite is mostly good, except for chemo day and post chemo day. Those days, he doesn't eat much at all.

It is life as we know it, that's all. I say it is pretty miraculous. I look at Sam every day and see God's blessing in the form of a walking miracle.

We'd like to keep Sam healthy and continuing on this path, so thank you, all of you who read this, for wearing a mask in public while on this 2020 rollercoaster. There are a lot of Sams out there who stand by you at the store or pass you in a hallway or ride with you on an elevator or sit next to you in an office or at church. We don't know if masks help or not - the experts are still trying to figure out the best plan for defeating this virus. But, wearing a mask certainly won't hurt, and it just might keep Sam and all the other Sams from contracting a disease that could be even more devastating than cancer.

Wearing a mask isn't for your safety - it is for the safety of everyone around you. It's such a small act of kindness and compassion, and in the midst of it all, it means a lot to us.

 


    
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