UPDATE: It is my sad duty to inform everyone who has donated or will donate to this cause that Patrick Roper, at the entirely too young age of 43, has passed on. He died peacefully in his home on December 28th, 2017 around 11 AM. He would have celebrated his 44th birthday on January 12th. He is survived by his two young sons and his widow, Elizabeth, with whom he would have celebrated his 19th wedding anniversary on January 9th. We mourn his passing with heavy hearts, and keep his wife and children in our thoughts.
Further funds donated to this cause will be used to defray lingering medical bills and the loss of income for the family.
For information about the memorial, please visit https://www.caringbridge.org/visit/nevertellmetheodds
It is difficult for me, an outsider looking in, to put into words the difficulties Pat and his family are facing and give it any significant meaning. This is a post Pat's wife, Elizabeth, posted shortly after Pat was diagnosed. I asked her permission to use it, and she agreed. So, in her own words:
"So. Here we are. If you are here, then you know that Pat has been diagnosed with stage 3 pancreatic cancer. How did we get here? Well, Pat has had persistent back pain for the last month or so. With his family history, his doctor decided to do an ultrasound and they found a mass. A CT scan and biopsy later we got the diagnosis on my 42nd birthday. It was cancer.
"This wasn't supposed to happen to us. We were college sweethearts and married soon after graduation. We were meant to grow old together. This was the wrong end to the story.
"We have two boys, Duncan is 10 and Connor is 6. Duncan is our quiet, thoughtful one. He took his daddy’s diagnosis hard. Telling him his daddy was sick may have been the hardest thing I have ever done. Now he's throwing his energy into finding a cure for cancer. Connor is more rambunctious. His family nickname is The Hurricane. He doesn't quite understand what cancer is just that daddy is sick and needs lots of hugs to get better. Both boys think the sun rises and sets on their daddy and Pat loves them with all his heart. Despite being wiped from chemo, he's still trying to be there for them as a dad.
"Where do we go from here? We met with the excellent team at Siteman Cancer center, and are in three months of chemotherapy with the hopes of shrinking the tumor so that the removal will be easier. Then removal of most if not all of the pancreas. It's a tricky surgery and Pat will be bedridden for at least two months afterwards. Then a possible three more months of chemotherapy.
"How are we doing? Well, that's hard to say. We're all a bit numb. I wore my 'Never Tell Me the Odds' t-shirt to all the doctors appointments to set the tone. If anyone doesn't know this scene from Star Wars, firstly shame on you, and secondly it is C-3PO telling Han Solo the impossible odds of the maneuver he is about to perform. He then exclaims 'Never tell me the odds' then does the impossible thing. That's where we are. The odds aren't exactly pretty, but don't tell me them. We aren't odds. We are going to do the impossible, and look good doing it. Cancer picked the wrong family."
As you can see from the above, the family is hopeful and fiercely dedicated to fighting and fighting hard. Elizabeth doesn't want to know the odds, but that doesn't mean she isn't aware of them. Elizabeth, if you're reading this, I'm about to drop some truth, so please... avert your eyes.
Stage 3 Pancreatic cancer's overall survival rate over the course of 5 years is 3%. That means of all the recorded cases of Pancreatic cancer, 3% of the patients lived for 5 years after the diagnosis. However, the survival rate of those treated with (successful) surgery is 41% -- a full 38 percentage point jump.
Cancer isn't cheap. Surviving cancer is, as they say, a rich man's game. In Pat's case, each chemotherapy visit is ~$4000 AFTER insurance. The surgery itself costs ~$85,000, fortunately insurances covers all but 10% of that... which is still $8,500. Pat is receiving 6 chemo treatments before surgery, and 6 after, as well as the cost of the surgery itself totaling ~$56,500. This does not even account for wages lost by Pat's inability to work during this time. And all of that for a 41% chance of living for five additional years.
Would you do it? Would you ask your family to go through that? Not on purposes, no doubt, but if you HAD to. OF COURSE YOU WOULD. Because every life is worth fighting for and statistics are just representative of the things that have been, not what they could be.
We're asking for help raising $20,000 to assist the family in their time of struggle. I'd like to ask for $58,000 and if we get there, fantastic, but one has to be realistic. Please -- donate to assist Pat and Elizabeth, and their boys. It is just money and what it might mean to them is another chance at life.