Our family has been hit with some hard times, and after a lot of debate on whether we wanted to post a gofundme or not, it's become clear that something is going to have to happen. June 21st, Terry was diagnosed with Gastric Cancer. His condition has rapidly changed in a short span of time and we've been having a hard time keeping up.
Where does one begin?
In mid March 2018 Terry started experiencing acid stomach type symptoms. Terry started seeing our family doctor and was being treated for stomach ulcers.
The symptoms continued to get worse to the point he couldn't lay down to sleep any more and had to try and sleep sitting upright. The pain continued to get worse and sleeping became much more difficult.
The doctor sent him for an ultrasound on June 18th which showed something abnormal in his stomach. On June 19th he was sent for a upper GI. Which confirmed something in the stomach.
On June 21 he went in for in for an endoscope test. When meeting with the doctor at that appointment, she said "Well, we just need to figure out what kind of cancer it is."
Up to this point, our concern was only stomach ulcers as the symptoms for them were very consistent with what Terry's symptoms had been. So to hear the cancer word, that was quite a shock.
Over the next week and a half the pain continued to get worse. Terry slept less and couldn't hardly eat. On June 30th at 5 p.m. we went into Foothills Emergency room. They got his pain under control and decided to do a CT scan. The results were not what we expected. They said that it was extensive and had gone through the stomach wall and had restricted blood flow on an artery that went to his spleen, it was affecting his pancreas and he had a blood clot in his liver.
They decided to call in a surgical team, so at this point we thought he my be having surgery right away to remove the mass. At about 2 or 3 a.m. she met with us and said at that time, it was too extensive to surgically remove at that time. She recommended shrinking it, then he might be a candidate for surgery. She sent Terry for another CT scan of his chest and told us after, we were free to go home. They sent him with some strong pain medication to help to try and keep his pain under control. We got home about 5:30 Canada Day morning.
Over the next couple days many calls were made to get Terry in for the necessary tests (a PT Scan) and into see an oncologist, and into the Tom Baker Cancer Center.
Terry got in through the cancellation list for his PET scan on July 6th. Additional calls were made to move up his oncologist and Tom Baker appointments once the can was done.
We met with his oncologist on July 10th. They gave us two options. He said because it was so extensive, he wanted to meet with a panel of surgeons to discuss Terry's case and depending on the outcome. They would either start him right away on a very aggressive chemotherapy. The hopes would be that the cancer would shrink enough that it could be removed. However, if they felt he wasn't a candidate for surgery, they would do a different type of chemo that would prolong his life 6 to 10 months and he said they would contact us that Friday to let us know the outcome of the meeting.
Friday came and went and we didn't hear anything. So Monday, July 16th we once again started phoning to try and find out how they had decided to continue going forward.
Terry got a call that afternoon that they were sending him to have a port-a-cath put in and then he would start with aggressive treatments.
We met with his surgeon on July 17th, a very nice doctor who had a wonderful bedside manner comforted Terry and family, saying he would do the surgery and do the best he could to help him. He said it's a big surgery and would likely mean removing his stomach. He said while it's a big surgery, it's not uncommon and patients can do very well without having a stomach.
On July 22 we were gain back in emergency at Foothills. Pain continued to get worse and they again helped to relieve it for him, also giving him some fluids, which seemed to make him feel much better and he was sent home.
Again on July 24th, Terry was back in to emergency for more pain relief and fluids and gain, sent home.
On July 25th Terry met with his oncologist and he explained the procedure of putting in the port-a-cath the next day and gave more information on his first treatment of chemo.
On July 26th we arrived at the South Health Campus for the port-a-cath. They explained the procedure and said that he would be there for about 3 hours as he had to go into recovery after. We finally left about 12:30 and had to make our way across town to the Tom Baker Cancer Center for his 1:00 appointment for his chemo. Once there, we thought it would be a short visit and they would put on the treatment bottle and we would be on our way home. Unfortunately that visit took longer and into about a 5 hour visit. Then told us that each treatment would be approximately 3 hours. From the time we left that morning until finally getting back home that evening was 11 hours and Terry was completely wiped out, unable to eat and vomiting.
He wore the infusion bottle for 24 hours and we returned to Tom Baker the next afternoon to have it disconnected. It was a pretty rough time for him and he wasn't able to eat and barely able to take and keep down his medication from being sick. He was very happy having the bottle removed and said he felt very happy to have it off.
Going forward, the hope is that the chemo treatments every 2 weeks for 4 treatments, will shrink the mass enough that it can be removed. The best case is that in 2 months he will be able to have the surgery. If not, more treatments will be needed.
We can not even begin to express how all this has suddenly impacted our family and why we are now asking for help going forward.
Terry's last day of work was June 27th, at that time his doctor prescribed stronger medications. With that also came with the realizationthat he would no longer be able to drive. His mobility has also been greatly impacted. Going from a normal day to day life to needing someone with him at all times. He needs help with tasks that normally he wouldn't even think twice about. But now, needing help getting to the bathroom, showers, going up and down the stairs, keeping track of all his medication and giving them to him at the times he needs them as well as being available to drive him to appointments that come up sometimes without much notice.
Because of these sudden changes to our families lives, he and his wife are unable to work as he needs full time care.
The unexpected costs of all the medications and not having a plan to help cover those costs, has been more than we could have ever expected.
The funds we are requesting help with are to help us cover all his care, medications, special dietary needs, bills, rent, gas so we can go to all his appointments, etc.
The hope would be that this money will help our family for the upcoming months and into the new year when Terry will be recovering from his surgery and finishing his chemo treatments.
While it is very difficult for us to ask for help, we also have come to realize that we can't do it alone.
This all came on so suddenly and have completely changed our lives. Please know how much we appreciate the support and well wishes from family and friends from all over.
Please pray for Terry and for a fast recovery from this terrible disease. Terry and family know it will be a fight and that is just what we plan to do. To fight to get back to normal...
Photo below was taken July 26th. Terry just had his port-a-cath put in this morning and going going in for his 1st chemo treatment.
Photo below taken July 27th at the Tom Baker Cancer Center after 1st chemo treatment.
- Mary Johnson
- Jody Wolfe