In August 2008 everything changed, a Cancer diagnosis will do that. In October 2008, Leonard V. Griffiths III underwent his first operation. The Doctors removed 40-50% of his tongue to get the Squamous Cell Carcinoma out of his non-smoking, non-dipping mouth. Then they cut him from ear to ear under his jaw to remove and test over 100 cells to see if they were cancerous as well. Two weeks later, with staples still in his neck, Lenny and Alycia took off for the Appaloosa World Championship in Fort Worth, Texas for work. He ended up 3rd in the Open Poles on a young 4-year-old with staples in his neck and no pain meds in his system. Being self-employed, with two daughters in college, and one in high school, you do what you have to do for your family to eat. This is why he will forever wear a superhero cape in the eyes of his family.
After the Worlds he went home and began Chemo and Radiation. The after effects of what it does to your body and how it hardens your throat overtime and your swallowing mechanism goes to crap. But it is part of it, so you put in a feeding tube and go on training horses like it is no big deal. After a while they removed his feeding tube because he could eat pancakes, mashed potatoes and potato soup like a beast… so they thought
Fast forward to November 2013, Lenny felt terrible and couldn’t regulate his body temperature. He went for chest x-ray after chest x-ray and so many Emergency Room Visits because he couldn’t breath and no one could tell him what was going on or would treat him aggressively enough until one night he codes in the E.R. and spends the next eight days in the ICU after a major surgery. They removed 4 liters of infection off of his left lung because a large portion of his food for the last four years had been going to his lung instead of his stomach. So a feeding tube was put back in, a few days rest and back to work he goes. He has been working and eating with a feeding tube for the last five years.
Since then he has dealt with pneumonia every year, dehydration, weight loss, the return of cancer more than once, more ICU visits, Staph, Bed Sores, loss of a farm, loss of family members and he continues to reinvent himself. He judged two major horse shows last summer while dealing with some new health issue almost every day.
For him to eat it has been roughly $500 per month for 4-5 years, not covered by insurance until earlier this year when he was finally approved for certain aid and assistance. We tell you all of this to finally say our cancer is back. On Monday, October 8, 2018, he had a major surgery where they removed and replaced a portion of his jaw bone. This will be a lengthy and difficult road to recovery. Probably 7-8 days in ICU, plus a possible 18-20 day stay in a rehab facility and then a bone graft from his leg and another hospital stay. Then he start Chemo and Radiation all over for the third time. Insurance is a great thing, but there is roughly a $10,000 hole in our coverage that won’t be covered, plus miscellaneous fees that we can’t even begin to predict.
It has taken us 10 years to do something like this and to truly ask for our peers and loved ones to help this family out. However, we come now knowing this 10 year journey they have been on is nowhere near over and for that they are forever grateful!
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