- I was diagnosed with rectal cancer in Dec 5, 2014.
- By mid-December 2014, I was a patient with MD Anderson Cancer Center in Houston, TX.
- For all of 2015 - I had a 6 week course of radiation & chemo, followed by a major surgery, followed by 6 more months of chemo, and a little more surgery. This completed my initial treatment.
- Sept 2016 - a metastasis to the right lung was found & removed surgically.
- March 2017 - a metastasis to the liver & bile duct was found & removed surgically.
The lung & liver metastases I experienced gave me an automatic upgrade to Stage IV. If you're fluent in cancer-speak, this is as bad as it gets. I of course knew all the stats and let me tell you, they weren't good. In short, the chances that I would still be on this earth 5 years hence were maybe 5% at best. For several years, I reported to MDA every 3 months for scans & tests due to the high probability of more mets. After 3 years on that schedule (man, I racked up some frequent flier miles!), they had me come every 6 months. These last 2 years, I have been on a 1x/year interval. Until last week, when I had a checkup at MDA...
Don't Come Around Here No More
On a very sad note, and one that confounded me when contemplating what I would say in this post, 2 weeks before my MDA appointment, we buried my little brother, John. He died of an adenocarcinoma (my type) that most likely started in his pancreas. He'd been diagnosed 18 months prior and it broke my heart. The capriciousness of who makes it and who doesn't. Why? Why me and why not my brother, Lord? I have no answer, but pray for all the broken hearts left in cancer's wake. He was a good man.
In what might be a coincidence or might have some divine-intervention aspect, on the day of my last MDA appointment, I was sitting in the airport waiting for my flight home when I got a text from a friend who was introducing me to a person who had just been diagnosed with (wait for it) RECTAL CANCER. That person had read at least some of my blog and the factual, irreverent tone I took was helping alleviate at least some of the fear they were feeling. In addition, the choices I made along the way were helping them to discern their path too. I always said if my story helped at least one person, then the whole saga would have been worth it. Looking at it through both that person's eyes and mine, I reread my whole blog later that night. What a long, strange trip it has been. But the best part? I was reminded that it was YOU, the people following along, praying for me, cooking meals, breeding cows, helping Joe, taking care of our daughters, raising CRC funds (remember the "Save the Anus" t-shirts?) sending cards & notes, and in general being fine human beings that made me feel loved and not alone. The kind of human beings that in this day and age when it's so easy to think "People are no danged good." make you realize instead that the world is full of amazing people. Kind people. People who take it upon themselves to make sure their fellow humans are loved & cared for. And I am immensely blessed to know you all.
In signing off, I am again saying what through the last 10 years has felt so inadequate: from the bottom of my heart,