The doctor, who also performed surgery for his thyroid cancer 14 years ago, asked if Greg had any family history of colorectal cancer. The doctor felt a lump in his rectum.
He wanted to do a colonoscopy before Greg and Vicki went on an upcoming vacation the following week. Greg and Vicki found out the unfortunate news while on vacation that he had rectal cancer, and the tumor was at the base of his rectum. This meant that there was a chance he would need a permanent colostomy bag as a result of the location of the tumor, since there always is a safety zone that needs to be cut around the tumor.
He underwent an endoscopy to stage the tumor and cancer. It was diagnosed as a stage 3 tumor, since it went through the muscle wall. He then had to undergo not only a CT scan to see exactly the size of the tumor, but he had an additional scare and needed a PET scan to determine if the cancer had spread. The spreading of cancer would have changed the treatment completely. Thankfully, the PET scan came back that the cancer was only in the rectum.
After the official diagnosis, Greg started to get set up for the treament plan. It was 5 weeks of radiation and chemotherapy every day, Monday through Friday. This treatment was first instead of surgery because there isn't a lot of room to work with in the rectum, so the plan was to shrink the tumor as much as possible, then surgery to remove.
Since Greg was so young to have two different types of cancers that are unrelated, his doctors recommended getting genetic testing done. This could help even determine what would need to be done during surgery, let alone future testing to stay ahead of any other linked cancers to test for those. He also did this to help his family understand that they could get certain testing done to better understand their family health. The testing came back that the cancers that Greg had are unrelated.
Radiation and chemo started the Tuesday after Memorial Day, and ended on July 3rd. As expected, Greg experienced side effects from radiation and chemo. His butt was very raw and had a sunburn sensation from the radiation, plus it had an effect on his bladder. Quite painful for a few weeks but focused on the long term results.
At that point, it became a waiting game of 8 weeks before surgery. This was done to maximize the radiation treatment, which stays in your system that long. Waiting longer than 8 weeks could allow the cancer to start growing again.
The CT scan after treatment showed that the scan was normal, tumor shrunk to less than 3 millimeters. This was good and the hope was to still have a temporary bag instead of permanent one, as there could be room under the tumor to save the rectum.
Surgery was September 7th, and was successful. Unfortunately, the tumor flattened but didn't allow enough room to save the rectum. So the entire rectum was removed, along with the surrounding lymph nodes.
The final step for treatment and ultimately being cured is chemotherapy. This will start in October and will last 4 months, with Greg going to the doctor's office every other week for 2-3 hours. Then he has to wear a pump for 48 hours to extend the chemo treatment. The process repeats every other week for 8 sessions.
We anticipate the final total medical bills to be well over $500,000.
While Greg and Vicki have insurance through Greg's employer, the out of pocket expenses are piling up beyond what they planned going into the next year.
This Go Fund Me page was set up to help minimize out of pocket expenses for Greg and Vicki, not only for this year, but for next year as well. Greg will need to continue chemo treatment into January 2018, plus there will be follow up scans to ensure that he stays ahead of his cancer and health.
Your generosity and support is very much appreciated!
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- Joshua Gordon
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