After the neck fusion surgery, which was successful in getting the vertebrae lined back up and relieving the pressure on his spinal cord, he started noticing a pain in his upper stomach, rib/back area. They chalked it up to arthritis that was also found in the area and the healing of the first surgery. He was able to return to work for a short period of time until November when he had his second surgery-- a lumbar fusion on his lower back on 3 vertebrae to help with the numbness and pain in his legs, often caused by years of truck driving.
Even after the second successful surgery, the pain in his stomach/rib area seemed to continue to get worse. After numerous trips to the ER, trying to find a cause and alleviate the pain, his family doctor ordered a CT scan in December. This test detected a mass in the pancreas and a biopsy was ordered in Evansville. On December 21st , he was diagnosed with inoperable Stage III Pancreatic Cancer. The mass is too close to the 2 main arteries which is what deems it inoperable. The good news is there is no evidence of it spreading to other organs or lymph nodes at this time. He is currently looking at treatment options, including clinical trials.
For those who know Joe, he knows no stranger, loves the outdoors, and is used to being active, having fun, working outdoors and taking care of things around the house. Joe has a very positive attitude and also wants to share the awareness of this awful disease with others.
Pancreatic cancer is often difficult to diagnose. This is because there are no specific, cost-effective screening tests that can easily and reliably find early-stage pancreatic cancer in people who have no symptoms. This means it is often not found until later stages when the cancer can no longer be removed with surgery and has spread from the pancreas to other parts of the body. Pancreatic cancer is often referred to the worlds toughest cancer. There are groups out there determined to improve patient outcomes today and to double survival by 2020.
Joe is unable to return to work at this time and having been off work ½ of 2017 and with the expense of tests, medications, doctor appointments, and a new deductible for 2018 to meet—it has been difficult to keep ahead of his bills.
Besides being cured, Joe would only desire more time--more time with family, more time with friends. As his supporters, we feel helpless in this diagnosis, but we can help ease the financial burden of bills and give him opportunities to spend more quality time with family and friends.
If you cannot make a contribution to help Joe with medical needs, please feel free to share this post to also raise awareness of Pancreatic Cancer. Get screened early and regularly. Do your research-- Do not ignore symptoms or suspicions pains you might be feeling. Demand more tests from your doctors when you know something isn’t right with your body.
More info can be found here... https://www.pancan.org/">https://www.pancan.org/wage-hope/https://www.pancan.org/
Joe's Caring Bridge Site:
- Kurt Heise
- Pam Bickerest
- Dave Bratcher
Organizer and beneficiary
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