Help My Angel, Lois, Beat Cancer!
My Angel and Life-Love, Lois, and I have been together for 40 years, and have always been completely and totally inseparable. In late February 2017, Lois was diagnosed with Stage 4 Colon Cancer, after she started experiencing what we first thought was appendicitis. A CT scan revealed a large (3 inch) mass where the small intestine joins the large intestine (and right next to the appendix).
Subsequent scans have confirmed that there are additional tumors lining the abdominal cavity, but gratefully, not affecting any of the other major organs (liver, kidneys, lungs are clean).
Lois is now undergoing her first chemotherapy treatment. Our oncologist anticipates a 4 month chemo program, with treatment every other week to shrink the cancer as much as possible. After that, major surgery (HIPAC) to clear out the abdominal cavity (removing the colon, appendix, and other linings), recovery, and then another 2 months of a different chemo. In all, we are anticipating between 8 to 10 months for this to take place.
There is strong belief from the oncology team that a cure is possible, and is what we're aimed at. With guidance from her team, we also hope to augment this with holistic and naturopath approaches to help boost her immune system as it will be weakened by the chemo.
As an independent, self-employed photography team, we will not be able to work, or only do so at a minimum as we direct our energy and efforts toward Lois' healing. We are asking for support during this difficult time of transition to cover our basic life necessities and restore Lois' health. When possible, we hope to take on commercial assignments (product shots, architectural, branding, etc.) as time and energy allow.
As her husband and life-love, my immediate and ongoing focus is to provide as much of a positive and healing environment as I possibly can, so that Lois can focus on what it takes to beat this. Lois is extremely strong, upbeat and indomitable, and believes that we will overcome this. I continue to build and nurture her in all ways, physically, mentally, and spiritually, and we both are extremely appreciative of the help, love, and encouragement from the dear people in our lives.
Thank you all for your support.
Some dates are just impossible to forget, and some deserve to be remembered clearly. Exactly two years ago, the bombshell hit us with those never-to-be forgotten words, “We found a mass.”
Even after everything we’ve gone through, and everything we still face, that sentence sends my heart plummeting, racing all the way down.
My most wonderful darling (no secret how I feel about my Angel) had had some Mac ‘n Cheese which didn’t sit well with her. She wanted to chalk it up to her typical lactose intolerance. I said nuh uh – we’re playing with fire here (knowing her long and deep family history with stomach cancer) – we need to find out what’s going on.
Fast forward a little bit, to where we’re in the doctor’s office, waiting to hear results from the CTSCAN. And waiting. And waiting. It seems they always take a lot longer to tell you when it’s bad news.
What we had expected to be appendicitis (symptoms were almost identical), was the discovery of a 3-inch mass in the space where the small intestine, large intestine and appendix all contend for the same real estate.
You know how things have gone since then.
CRITICAL WARNING – PLEASE PAY ATTENTION.
Pay attention to how you’re feeling. Pay attention to the recommendations to get checked out. Don’t wait. This could have been avoided, or at least greatly reduced in scope (since the discover was Stage 4, meaning it’s spread – a lot). Even if you don’t “feel” anything, but are at that age – do the proactive move and get that colonoscopy they’re talking about. Get the skin checked. Whatever. The reasons we don’t do this are (a) we’re afraid of what they might find, (b) financial (e.g. no insurance coverage), (c) it won’t happen to me. Sorry, but any and all of those reasons are lame and can have fatal consequences. And the likelihood is you’re not a professional medical expert, so you’re not qualified to make life-risk assessments here.
Please please please take the time for yourselves and those who love you. Get checked, even if it’s simply one of those “I’m such and such an age, and it’s just time to do it”.
TWO YEARS. Two days before my birthday (no, not seeking birthday greetings, OK?), but just such a sharply defined fulcrum in our lives.
STAR WARS – how could this possibly be relevant?
Remember in the very first movie, there’s the scene where Han Solo and friends are in the giant trash compactor and the walls are closing in?
We’re in a place that feels similar somehow. What are the walls? The obvious – trying, hoping, praying, asking, requesting, begging, claiming a victory against cancer. In particular, we NEED the current chemo to be strongly effective against the tumors in my darling’s liver. The previous chemo cocktail was completely ineffective – the two tumors continued to grow and a 3rd one has now shown up, i.e. become large enough to be detected.
We just started infusion #2 of this 4-part series and won’t know until after the next scan – 2 weeks after the 4th infusion, where every treatment is 2 weeks apart. I admit, I don’t even want to look at the intermediate lab results, in particular – the cancer markers. I can’t handle this very well emotionally, as I was watching the numbers continue to increase since last September.
Some of the other walls we’re dealing with. The cancer world imposes some hard boundaries, and one of them is the contradictions between needing to make income for ourselves, not being able to, and the ongoing moving target of when we possibly can return to work. Right now, IF the current chemo works, we then have the green light for local critical surgery to remove the tumors in the liver. It will be major surgery again, not arthroscopic. It can’t happen until at least a month after chemo has stopped, and then we have months of recovery time again. So in the best case scenario, we’re still at least 6 months before resuming our creative efforts, let alone the heavy lifting of getting our business out of limbo. There are things we (and especially I) can do to prepare for this, and am working on that fervently so when things are ready, we’ll be also.
We’ve also looking into a number of other options: Social Security, a reverse mortgage, selling personal items, etc. The first two are almost completely a NOPE. If we receive more than a certain dollar amount, then Lois is disqualified from Medicaid. I’ve researched the RM scenario carefully, and it’s a bad story financially for a variety of reasons. Given that she’s probably already a $2 million patient, we can’t put insurance at risk. If we were to make enough $$ to void out Medicaid, then the cost of insurance through “the Network” is prohibitive for us.
As I’ve said before, cancer is not for the faint-hearted.
The continued good news: the protein shake that some very dear friends turned us on to – THEY WORK!!! Lois (and I) start each morning with this, and her system tolerates it completely. Given that she can’t handle dairy, fruits and vege’s, is seemingly gluten intolerant now – especially since she lost half of her large intestine from the first surgery – this drink is a protein miracle. And she likes the taste, which is also amazing, given how badly her taste buds have been destroyed by chemo. Even better, I have been adding in spinach and blue-berries daily (but not enough to trigger her system reactions).
If anyone wants info on this vegan, non-GMO and delicious product, PM me.
I know this was a really long post, and believe it or not, there’s a lot more I need to discuss. But – will get to that in the next post a few days from now.
In the meantime:
GET YOURSELVES CHECKED OUT
PRAY PRAY PRAY please that this chemo works for Lois. We all need this. She’s tough and strong and beautiful and wonderful, and overwhelmingly amazing. But she needs help.
Thank you again. You are loved far more than you will ever know.
Well, today is my darling’s birthday!!!! We celebrated a bit early as some extremely dear friends gave us a critically needed gift: time in their condo on the Oregon Coast. We were able to spend 4 days in Depoe Bay, and a 5th day in Cannon Beach! Both are places we’ve spent a lot of time at in the past, and are pretty familiar with every beach, turn-out, and especially the places to find cool agates and more!! And the agates showed up, we have some pretty large goodies that decided to come home with us, along with some petrified wood, and a few clam fossils as well. Rock hunting was GREAT motivation for Lois to just get out, catch some air, and use her vast treasure hunting skills. Most importantly, we were able to just have FUN!!!!! We have the photos to prove it (and were given a stunning sunset to capture on our last night). You’ll see that very soon…
This was some seriously needed R&R time, the last time we had any kind of vacation was just under 2 years ago, where we needed to just process the Cancer diagnosis. While this went by way too fast, it at least helped us regroup before jumping back down into the chemo tunnel – which starts tomorrow very very early.
WE ARE PRAYING and asking like crazy for this chemo to work. It’s the same drug combo we had for 4 months a year ago, as well as at the beginning of the diagnosis, and is different from what we just spent the last 6 months receiving.
So while we’re going back to infusion, one of the fundamental things we’ve been asking for seems to have shown up: A way to get better nutrition into Lois’ system. Being able to tolerate (both palate and digestive) nutrition/protein shakes off the shelf just hasn’t worked. The taste (even “Ensure”) makes my sweetie gag, it just tastes to “chemical”.
Another dear friend brought by a protein powder that seems to work!!! Tastes GREAT, is completely vegan (no dairy, no GMO, no gluten), and designed for maximum absorption. We’re able to add in spinach, blueberries, avocado, turmeric, honey, and other super-healthy items, mix it all together in a blender and enjoy. Lois popped up immediately after tasting this, had a huge smile, and was in heaven. She was energized for hours after this, and it was obvious that something great had been found.
It’ll be tricky – typically this is best served cold as a shake, but we can’t. This version of chemo is the one that has severe neuropathy and vicious cold sensitivity as side-effects. For the latter, drinking anything that’s even slightly colder than room temp is like swallowing razor blades. Breathing cold air – having your throat jammed with thousands of needles. And the neuropathy – serious numbing of fingers and toes will happen almost immediately. But as we have said so often – the alternatives are far worse.
But – we’re thrilled to finally have found something that is good for us (I’m on this path too!), allows for healthy additives to blend in without degradation of their value, and tastes great. Breakfasts solved for the first time in 2 years!!!!!
If anyone wants more info on what we’re taking, please message us and we can tell you lots more.
We have quite a few medical appointments tomorrow; it will be a very full, long day jumping back in. But a GIANT THANK YOU to the dear people in our lives who gave us time at the Beach, and a Nutritional answer we’ve been desperately searching for.
For those of you who asked and sent me private messages/suggestions, we’re still waiting to hear where things are at on our car. The engine replacement is still ongoing (it’ll be some 20 hours of labor for this!!!), and we’re hoping that the original cost estimates will be higher than the final bill. But – we’ll have a new heartbeat in our trusty Jeep, and a 3-year, 100,000 mile warranty.
As always, we’re so appreciative of your love and all the deep support. My Sweetie is so worth it.
And now, to enjoy a quiet Birthday dinner at home tonight, and gear up for tomorrow.
Blessings to you all from us both!!!!
Hello everyone. THANK YOU for all the kind words and support. Just don’t know how to thank you all enough!!!
I’ll cut right to the chase: It’s a Good News and Bad News result. I’ll also touch on what’s next for us.
The bad news: The chemo was not effective. In fact, the two tumors in the liver have continued to grow. The cancer has figured out this chemo pure and simple. And – a new (3rd) spot has appeared. [Reminder: we don’t know how much is actually present in the liver, tumors need to be at least a centimeter before they can stand out against the “fabric” of the liver]. When first discovered in October, the original two tumors were each about 1.4 cm. Now they’re about 3 cm.
The good news: No new growth was detected anywhere else in her body. How do you say THANK YOU for that?
More good news: The area of concern down near the sigmoid colon/rectal area shrank slightly in size. This adds another data point to the working theory that this is scar tissue, or more importantly, is not cancer. We still have no way of confirming this absolutely without major surgery (it’s very difficult to reach, even for a biopsy), so watching what it does is our best 2nd option.
So what’s next?
Back to chemo, but a different cocktail. It’s one that Lois had for a 4 month (8 treatments) that concluded a year ago, and a 2-month run 2 years ago when we were first diagnosed. This one has the side effects of neuropathy and extreme cold sensitivity. Not fun, but as we have said many many times, the alternatives are worse. And, Lois gets to keep her hair!!! We have to hope and pray that the cancer hasn’t adapted to this also.
The new infusion program starts on Jan 29 (the day after my sweetie’s birthday).
Additional considerations: The Seattle Tumor Review Board will look at our case next Tuesday for recommendations. In addition to chemo, there’s a slight possibility of surgery (implanted radioactive “seeds” similar to what’s used for prostate cancer). The challenge with this, is that this is just whack-a-mole. If we don’t have chemo that can reduce all the cancer in the liver (and elsewhere), then we’re facing one surgery after another on an endless loop as new stuff bubbles up.
There’s also the possibility down the road of another kind of drug called Avastin, which helps to cutoff the blood supply to cancer by reducing the capillaries (for more info, google anti-angiogenesis). The problem with this is that is also makes people ineligible for surgery for 3 to 6 months.
We also need to widen our scope in another sense. Up to now, we’ve followed the guidance of our doctors, and we trust them completely. But, we also feel it’s time to go to full-court press, and get seriously after the bigger picture: Alternative supplements, CBD (medical cannabis), meditation, quietude, better food, targeting known super-foods to augment treatment, better treatment for the biome, trying to get regular exercise, etc. More research on alternative info. The challenge with the last item – it can get really expensive (both in terms of both time and money), with no guarantee if anything will work. Finding time for exercise – easily said, but discipline is a tough thing to instill into a lifestyle when you’re feeling so sick you don’t want to move.
And, time-management can be a challenge here as well. Things that cured one person have no certainty of helping anyone else. And there are zillions of stories like this, so with limited resources it’s hard to find what might help us specifically.
A few folks wanted to know the story on the car, so here’s the short version: At 170,000 miles we have a blown engine. Either head gasket or cracked heads or both. It turns out that this is a fairly common history with our model (Jeep Cherokee 4.7L V8). We’re still sorting out our options, and are waiting for reliable numbers to come in for those.
Health-wise: we continue to continue and will keep you up to date of course.
Much love to you all!
Wishing Happy New Year to everyone!!! It’s my joy to report that Lois is recovering from the last infusion, is looking stronger, and has her Happy Attitude coming back (she was getting pretty worn down by the hammering, her most recent lab numbers were pretty scary…).
Tomorrow is a pivotal day for us, health-wise. After getting labs and CTSCAN, we’ll be meeting with our oncologist to find out IF the chemo has done what we so critically need. This will be a very very long 6 hours for us (me especially).
To summarize from the last few updates: if the chemo has worked, the tumors in Lois’ liver will have shrunk. That in turns opens the door to allow us to have local (Seattle area) surgery, which we are hoping and praying for (surgery is needed, no matter).
If it hasn’t, then we have to find a different kind of chemo or start looking at other kinds of drugs that bring their own new issues to the world. It would mean that the cancer has started building its defenses, another part of what makes cancer so horribly insidious.
With that, we also are hoping and praying that the mass found last June near the rectum has remained completely unchanged. Smaller means the chemo affected it, which means cancer. Larger means it’s probably cancerous also.
Of course I will let you know what we find out.
In the meantime, an unpleasant, additional stress has managed to jump into our lives.
I’m constantly reading new info about all things cancer-related. New techniques, drugs, discoveries, along with insights into the bigger picture. One statistic that shows up regularly has to do with the sad fact that 42% of cancer-stricken families declare bankruptcy.
It’s not hard to understand, the double-whammy is someone’s rendered incapable of working, someone else is now the caregiver. So, in addition to the terror of losing someone, the family income either zeros out or is greatly reduced, depending on the hard choices people have to make. Just. Not. Easy.
One of the many many reasons we appreciate you so much is that you’ve continued to help us so very much, and we look forward to when we can start giving back.
But – things show up. Our only car (long out of warranty) was just discovered to have a major issue. Without going into all the details and economics, we’re looking at a new financial hit of somewhere between $2K and $8K (this will resolve into a firm figure tomorrow).. We’ll figure this out, but that stress along with the REAL priority of caring for my Sweetheart – this cancer stuff isn’t for the faint of heart.
REQUESTING: PRAYERS THAT THE CHEMO HAS WORKED FOR LOIS, AND WORKED WELL!!!!
REQUESTING: PRAYERS THAT HER LAB NUMBERS HAVE STARTED TO COME BACK TO NORMAL AND HEALTHY!!!!
Sending you all our love. Thank you again (and again)!!!
My heart goes out to you Lois and Jerry; this is a hard battle, but you two have the kind of teamwork to really do everything you can to get through this and to continue to enjoy the fun lifestyle you have known together for so many years. My love and prayers are with you; this is such a difficult time for you both. Having been through this with Dick, the memories of it all are very close to my heart. You have many folks supporting you and that has got to be very heartwarming for you, as well as many people praying for you. Wishing you only life's very best. Love, Kay
Well, I'm going to focus on the good news, and keep sending thoughts re: the Review Board of having an "ah ha!" moment.
I honestly can't thank YOU enough for keeping us so informed Jerry. It makes knowing what to pray about, ask for, and identify the specific kind of pure energy thoughts that should be sent your way. I love you guys so much and I love this picture of Lois. You two are such incredible gifts and I am praying that your greatest gift in return is on the way! Complete and total healing and restoration. Much love!
Love your story. Would love it even more if you could post some photos from those early days 42 years ago. Sending my love and good wishes.
Hi Lois and Jerry - love to you both. I found that taking Claritin prior to the Neulasta shot [immune booster], cut down on my aching bones... if you can stomach it or your oncologist allows. Best.
Thank you for the update Jerry. I keep you both on my heart and in my prayers always! I want to be of use in some way. Is there anything I can do to help??? Run errands, clean at your house, anything? Anything?! I will try to come up with ways to help you too but please, please know that I am a phone call away if you come up with any need. Love you both so much!
Hey you guys. Just think of the fun we are going to have after we beat this together. Our journeys have crossed paths again and the very minute I beat my stuff I am down to you guys for our happy dance!!i admire you two so much, and Lois is the toughest person I know in a streamline package
thinking of you both nd sending hugs. XXXX
Sending our prayers and continued love.
Hello Jerry & Lois, Thank you for the update. We are sending love and prayers your way always. As for your PTSD statement Jerry, I am no doctor, but many people who are not vets deal with it. I know I have my own, so you may have it on some level. I would think after all you both deal with on a daily basis, the unknown has to effect you. It is after all a stress disorder. Sending you both much love and hugs and just wanted to say hello! Thinking of you! Lana & Patric
I am chanting for the two of you. And sending intense love and light ...love Kelbi
Thank you for continuing to share your journey. It takes great courage, and love, to continue on a path of so much pain, uncertainty and yet joy. The two of you are like a finely honed violin. Such beautiful sounds. My thoughts and wishes for healing go with you both.
Jerry and Lois, this obviously isn't what either of you wanted to hear and certainly not what we wanted to hear either. We remain in your 'corner' and are here for whatever you need...and we'll be happy to throw in some 'green' support as well. Our prayers are with you, we will add those of our prayer group tomorrow...
Way to go Lois! You are amazing! You both are amazing! What a team. So happy for you. Cheers! Hugs! Love!
My favorite lovebirds!! Every single fiber in my being is sending love, light and healing to Lois. xoxoxo Aaron and Caspian too. xoxox
You are in our prayers! Much love to you both!
This update has left a smile on my heart. The trials and tribulations of all of this seem overwhelming, yet the love you both hold for one another is so beautiful and amazing. I love your strength, love and dedication. I am so thankful to hear this update and the progress. You both have always gone the extra mile for others which has been a gift and a blessing you so unselfishly give. Lois, you are absolutely beautiful and I love your new hair, glasses and flowers! Jerry, thank you so much for keeping us in your thoughts and sharing this today. You are both always on Patric's and my mind and in our prayers. Sending you both tons of love on this day and always. Much love, hugs & prayers! ♥ u
I have been thinking about the two of you, and wishing that I wasn't sick with this nasty influenza, as I so wanted to go to the shoot on the 10th. Knowing full well it would not be good for Lois to be exposed, we did not come. Lois, you look gorgeous with your adorable hairdo, and glasses. Dan and I will be keeping you both in our thoughts and prayers. I know there are many Angels looking over Lois, and I am praying for even more to be with her on March 1st. Stay strong, lots of love to you both
Looking fabulous as always, Lois. Love you both so very much. Always in my heart and prayers.