In January of 2017 Mark started having trouble swallowing. He would come home after work (driving a school bus route), go to bed, get up, and go back to work. This continued for weeks. He was finally seen by his primary doctor, and was told he needed an endoscopy and a colonoscopy. Due to his schedule, he waited until the end of the School year. So the beginning of June 2017 both procedures were performed. The results were devastating. A tumor was found. Mark was referred to Texas Oncology. June 28, 2017, the diagnosis came back positive for Esophageal Cancer, stage 4. This prognosis was also followed by “he might not live till Christmas”. The doctor told us that she was going to present his case to the tumor council but it would take a week. The following Thursday morning we got a phone call at 6 am, informing us that he was approved for treatment and the tumor was not a stage 4 but a 3 B. They also felt he would be able to fight this. God always has other plans.
So off we go! First multiple scans, then a feeding tube. Mark had lost so much weight from being unable to swallow, so they had to inserted a feeding tube which Mark Hated!!!!!!! (For those of you that know Mark, he LOVES to eat.) So his feeding tube was a hard hill to climb.
Mark began chemo & radiation August 2017; 25 radiation treatments (4 days a week) 5 chemo treatments, which took close to 6 hours each time. Mark took it like a trooper. Darla never missed a Chemo or radiation treatment. They were a strong team. Those days were so hard. Mark rang the finish bell on Sept 28, 2017.
Next step surgery, which was schedule November 1, 2017. The surgery,The IVER LEWIS, took 7 +hours. Mark had over 1000 staples on the inside, 114 on the outside. He was released from the hospital January 25th, 2018.
Mark and Darla learned very fast that he could not eat a large meal, do too the surgery. (half his stomach and most of his esophagus was removed) His stomach now sits above his heart.
Mark has been in tremendous pain since the surgery. He is scanned every 3 months to monitor his progress. On one of the scans it showed a suspicious lymph node close to his left kidney. December 31, 2018 he had another bioscopy. His cancer was back.
Marks oncologist asked do you have any goals. Mark said watching his daughter graduate high school. So a plan was made. Jan 15, 2019 we got the news he would receive another round of chemo. On His Birthday he wanted Chinese food. Bless his heart he has missed food. Well then later that night he started vomiting. And it has not completely stopped. Mark’s large/small intestine was impacted from a twist/ or kinked. It is suspected this happened when he had surgery. That’s why he had been is so much pain, and unable to eat.
After 4 days of intense therapy, he started a very soft diet. Unfortunately, he began vomiting again. The drs have decided he needs to be in a skilled care nursing. But they have him on a very special diet, being fed by IV. The only facility at the time was in Athens Texas, however being 55/60 miles away Darla just couldn’t do that. So currently Mark is still in the hospital. Darla has moved into the hospital and not leaving until they find the right place.
On top of all that has happened with Mark’s cancer, Darla has been trying to work, take care of her parents, (who have lived with her since May 2009) and her high school daughter. Her parents were in a near fatal car wreck September 28, 2018. Darla’s mom is back at home with Darla, but is unable to drive, and has difficulty taking care of herself. Darla’s dad is still in a nursing home due to dementia/Alzheimer’s. Darla’s son was also diagnosed with eye cancer January 15, 2019, Darla’s birthday. To say this woman is walking through fire is an understatement. Darla was also in an automobile wreck, hit by an uninsured driver. Her car was totaled. She has taken a second mortgage to help her stay afloat financially, but all $ has been exhausted. Please prayerfully support this family. They are in great need. Blessings to all!