Ralph's symptoms improved and he returned to work in November. The week before Thanksgiving, his skin started to itch intensely again. He saw his doctor who was concerned that his gallbladder might be blocked with gallstones. She ordered an Ultrasound that showed no stones but an enlarged gallbladder. Since he did not have medical insurance (he is signed up for medical insurance under Obamacare, but it doesn't start until January, 1 2014) his doctor agreed to wait until January to remove the gallbladder.
On Dec 7, 2013, Ralph's symptoms became worse, so much so that he agreed to go to the Emergency Room at St. Anthony's Hospital that evening. A very smart ER Doctor convinced us to have a Cat Scan, which revealed a tumor in the pancreas. Ralph was referred to a GI specialist to have a biopsy performed. On Dec 13, 2013, the biopsy revealed that Ralph had an aggressive form of pancreatic cancer.
On Dec 17 we met with an oncology surgeon at the UW Hospital who spotted a possible 2nd tumor in Ralph's liver. The doctor ordered and MRI which will be carried out in the morning to determine if the pancreatic cancer has spread to the liver. If the cancer has spread, he will not be able to have surgery to remove the tumor, but will only be offered palliative care or chemotherapy. If the spot in the liver is determined NOT to be cancerous, he will undergo surgery at the UW in early January 2014 to remove the tumor.
The MRI scan revealed there was more than one tumor in Ralph's liver, which means that his cancer has spread, and he is no longer a candidate for surgery. He will undergo an endoscopy to place a stint in his bile duct which will allow his gallbladder to drain, and hopefully relieve his jaundice symptoms.
Since Ralph's cancer is in stage 4 and inoperable, he will meet with an oncologist in January when his Obamacare insurance benefits will begin.
Ralph's doctor placed a stint in an outpatient operation at St. Joseph's hospital in 12-26-13 to alleviate the jaundice symptoms of extremely itchy and burning skin with yellow glowing skin and eyes. He came out the the surgery still feeling bad, and after another blood test, the doctor decided to place another stint in his liver duct area to increase the flow of built-up bile in his gallbladder. This second stint will be placed surgically on 1-2-14 at 8:30am at St. Joseph Hospital. We hope that this second stint will open the area that the tumor is blocking enough to allow Ralph to feel better and more like a human being. On Friday we go to consult with the oncologist in Seattle to see about chemo treatments.
More to follow, and thank you all for your very generous donations to our family. The medical bills are starting to arrive and any help is most appreciated.
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