RIP Earl Duane DevaultPosted: 09/24/2014 Filed under: Uncategorized 4 Comments
I’m now 4 days since FOLFOXIRI/bev treatment two of six (treatment #25 overall). This round was a lot better managed. I am now eating more and fatigue is waning. Diarrhea was not as bad and although nausea was an issue I seem to be beyond this as well. And as I previously reported, CEA dropped from 18 to 11, giving us encouragement that the poison is killing the cancer.
So, while things were looking up, well… On Monday we received word that my father-in-law passed away. Luckily we managed to squeeze several visits into the last couple months so at least we had a chance to spend some time with him before he passed. He was on hospice care for pancreatic cancer and we knew time with him was precious. Good-byes on each visit proved to be progressively harder to do. Although my father-in-law was 81 he was a very active person, up until his final days. And it was very sad to lose him at this time. He did live a wonderful life and his legacy will most certainly live on — through his children, grandchildren, great grandchildren… He will be dearly missed by many!
My first reaction to the news of his passing was to plan our trip for the funeral (which is on Friday). We discussed when to go with each child and we planned for how to best deal with my condition along the way. I was even considering “depends” as a precautionary measure given the symptoms I’ve been dealing with…
However my wife was concerned about me making the trip. Given low immunity, a ten hour road trip from Michigan to Tennessee, stopping at unknown gas stations along the way, with four kids, my wife, and me packed like sardines inside my truck… Then sleeping in an unfamiliar location, being so far away from home, trying to eat smart in restaurants… Adding to that the emotional stress of the funeral, and being around many family and friends… All that while trying to recover from the chemo fatigue, diarrhea, and other symptoms.
The last words I heard from my father-in-law seemed to give perspective to the decision. As labor-day weekend came to a close it was time for us to return home. My wife, fourteen year old step son, and I said our final good-byes in the garage and then proceeded to walk to my truck. We paused in the street to wave good-bye one more time while choking back tears… Then we just stood there in the street with tears in our eyes while we watched Duane come down the driveway. He was rapidly pushing his walker over the cement cracks, over the curb, coming right up to us. He hugged us one more time. And as he hugs me, he told me in no uncertain terms “You get better!”
He made his point. And my wife made her point. And now my family is there and I’m here.
I’m so sad that I’m not with them during this celebration of life and love. Even though I know it was the right decision I am still sad that I’m missing this time with my family.
Cancer has once again succeeded in steeling from me. Cancer seems to do that every chance it gets. Taking time away from watching my children in plays or sporting events, hanging out with friends at football or baseball games, productivity at work, home chores, playing golf, etc…. The collateral damage from battling cancer truly sucks!
So here I am feeling sad… For my wife who lost her father. For my mother-in-law who lost her husband of 50+ years. For my step children who lost their Grandpa (he loved them so much). For me who can’t be with my family during this occasion…
I guess I will simply wipe away my tears and focus on resting, walking, recovering, working… So I can be as ready as possible for round three next Thursday.
I will do a lot of praying and a little crying and suck-it-up as I focus on “getting better!”
Thank you all in advance for your support. Please send up prayers for my wife, children, and all of us as we grieve the loss of Duane.
Duane, I know you are now in a glorious place! Celebrating with the King of kings and all the angels in heaven! Praise be to God!
Love, light, hugs to you all!
Treatment 2 (09/19/2014 Update)Posted: 09/19/2014 Filed under: Uncategorized 3 Comments
One two buckle my shoe!
Well I started treatment two of six yesterday. And it was a long day. We left the house at 6am and didn’t return to the house until 5:40pm. And I think I laid down and fell fast asleep and didn’t wake up until a short time ago.
We are hoping to do better at managing symptoms this round. The doctor modified the anti-nausea medication I received during the infusion. I also received a shot of another anti-nausea medication shortly before leaving the infusion chair. That medication was more effective; however it causes drowsiness which partly explains the long sleep.
Because of that medication we chose (for the first time) to use a wheel chair to leave the hospital. However, the chair was only used to wheel out our computer bags (which each weigh over 30 lbs). I still managed to walk myself out of that place. 🙂
Treatment two will continue through Saturday (I will disconnect myself from the portable pump on Saturday). And this Monday I will inject myself for the first time at home with a post treatment shot. Last Monday we had to drive back into Ann Arbor to receive this injection. The excellent nurse practitioner at UMHS was able to work with the insurance company and get the prescription approved for a home injection (Thank you Kim). Saving us this trip is very appreciated.
So far, so good. I had to force myself to eat some breakfast today. Usually eating is not a problem for me but this chemo has robbed me of all appetite. And I have to force myself to drink liquids as well. I’m just hoping the anti-nausea medication helps me keep it down.
And the best news of all for me was the CEA level. Two weeks ago my CEA level had climbed to 18. We suspected it would continue to rise given the recurrent disease. However, the important news was that the CEA had dropped from 18 to 11 after treatment one. While this is not definitive it is an indicator that this regimen is working.
Also, the doctor reported that we will do four treatments (two more after this one) and then do a round of scans. We are hoping that the scans will give us more evidence that the treatment is succeeding. If things continue according to Dr. Krauss’ plan, I will likely have surgery sometime after treatment six.
And today I pray…
Thank you Lord for giving me this time on this great Earth. Thank you for giving me so many beautiful people to share my life with. Thank you for my wife and five beautiful children. Thank you my father and mother, and six siblings. Thank you for my wonderful extended family. Thank you for my career and so many supportive colleagues. Especially thank you for the Love you continue to bring into my amazing life.
Thank you for the giving us this wonderful sunny day today. Guide my decisions and actions today so that they may be pleasing to you. Teach me how to share the Love you have put into my heart so that others will experience what I have been lucky to know for so long.
This I ask through Jesus Christ, our Living Lord, King of kings.
Hugs to you all today! And thank you again for your warm wishes, positive thoughts, and countless prayers for my family and myself.
Chemo IIIPosted: 09/04/2014 Filed under: Uncategorized 7 Comments
We met with the surgeon at UMHS on 8/28. After a lengthy discussion with the surgeon we agreed with the recommendation to start chemotherapy and reassess surgery after treatment. The chemo will be used to kill/stop the cancer. After verifying that the treatments have been successful we will then do another liver resection. However, at this point the liver resection will be completed with a higher degree of confidence that the cancer is truly in remission!
So here we go again. Like a bad sequel I am here at UMHS once again receiving chemotherapy. We are hoping and praying that this will be THE episode where the antagonist is defeated! Where the opponent is knocked out for good!
I once read that insanity is doing the same thing and expecting different results. Well, luckily this chemo will be a little different than the first two cocktails. The first eleven chemotherapy treatments were labeled as FOLFOX. That regimen included 5-FU, leucovorin, and oxaliplatin. The next twelve treatments were FOLIRI + Erbitux. That regimen included 5-FU, leucovorin, irinotecan, and Erbitux. This cocktail will include 5-FU, leucovorin, irinotecan, oxaliplatin, and avastin. This is nearly all the drugs previously received plus avastin. The latest studies have shown that adding avastin (aka bevacizumab) can increase the effectiveness of the other drugs. And we are hoping and praying that is precisely what will play out in my case.
Side effects. Of course there are side effects. You know the part of the commercial where they talk very fast? Or the very fine fine fine fine print? That is the downside of chemo. It comes along with baggage. And there lies the “battle.”
So, yes, I’m ready for the battle. I’ll surely endure these side effects. I say bring them on! I’ll fight with every ounce of energy I have.
To see the smile on a future grand-child’s face.
To walk my daughters down the aisle and give them to their future husbands.
To see my talented older son in his first Broadway performance.
To watch my younger son play sports, graduate, and grow.
To rock in a rocking chair with my wife.
I will fight!
Father in Heaven, King of Kings,
Thank you for today. For a chance to fight. For the energy to fight. Thank you for the love you have surrounded me with. Thank you for all my beautiful family and friends. Thank you for the countless blessings you have bestowed on me. Thank you for giving me peace and strength and endurance. Amen.
And thank YOU for your continued support. And for your countless prayers for my family and me. Please know that I truly appreciate each of you.