Why we are here
Those of you that know our parents, Rocky and Lisa Arnold, know that they recently began a long battle with cancer. Many of you have reached out in support and have offered to help in various ways. Some of you have recommended this platform as a convenient way to contribute and provide updates to all of our friends and family so we are setting this campaign up to do so. For those of you that have contributed to their well-being or taken the time to visit them thus far, we are all eternally grateful for the kindnesses you have shown. For those of you who are just now learning about their story, you can get a glimpse of their experiences below.
Getting the news
In August of 2018 Lisa went in for a routine checkup that had an abnormal outcome. A CT and PET scan later confirmed that she had Stage 2 cervical cancer. A scary finding, with a treatment plan full of optimism. Her chemotherapy and radiation could begin right away and was expected to eliminate the tumor completely in 12 to 15 weeks, which it did! Right around the beginning of her treatments Rocky went to the doctor for some urinary and intestinal issues that he had been experiencing that was inhibiting his inability to work. Tests revealed a UTI (bladder and kidney infections) and he was placed on a round of antibiotics.
After it was confirmed that the antibiotics eliminated the infection he was still experiencing pain and continued to have issues. A CT scan in mid-September revealed a mass on his bladder. After a PET scan and visit with an oncologist Rocky was diagnosed with Stage 4 bladder cancer, the PET scan also revealed lesions on his liver, kidneys, and concerning nodules in his lungs. It was also determined that he had more than a 70% blockage from both kidneys causing retention of urine, the source of his UTI.
Starting the battle
While Lisa's treatment was straight forward, Rocky's was a little more complex. His diagnosis was not an easy one to make, and for the doctors to have a chance of resection he would need to go through chemotherapy treatments to shrink the tumor. During his treatments he would be unable to work, and the doctors mentioned that depending on how things went he may never work again. Before he could start chemotherapy, the doctors needed to unblock his kidneys as they were overfilling by as much as 60%. They attempted simple catheters to no avail and ultimately had to install nephrostomy tubes to relieve the blockage, one in each kidney. Once his kidneys were emptying regularly Rocky began his chemotherapy the second week of October, while Lisa was in the middle of hers. They were able to attend these treatments together which was nice. Rocky's initial treatment plan called for four three week cycles of a Chemotherapy drug know as Cisplatin and a bone marrow stimulant called Granix.
On his 10th week of treatment he had a check-in with Dr. Andrew C. James in Lexington, KY, a Surgical Oncologist specializing in urological oncology. After reviewing the progress scans Dr. James deemed that the treatment should continue for as many as 18 weeks to reduce the size of the tumor. He would be the surgeon to perform the resection when the time came and stated that due to the tumor growing through multiple layers of tissue and into the pelvic wall, resection would not be possible without a large reduction in tumor size. At this point, Dr. James stated that Cisplatin/Granix were the best option for resection, but there was a chance that it may never be resectable due to the amount of compromised tissue.
What to do with naught to do
With at least 8 weeks of down time to go and running out of things to keep himself busy at home, Rocky started doing what Rocky does best, create art! Through his treatments and recovery weeks he carved, painted, wrote songs, and drew; anything that allowed him to create and share while taking his mind off the pains and nausea that comes with chemotherapy. During this time, family and friends from far and near have come to visit during the treatments, kids, grandkids, brothers, sisters, cousins, nieces, nephews, and last but not least his mother, Gladys. Many family members were even able to make it out for Thanksgiving to share one his favorite holidays with him. ￼
At the beginning of December, towards the end of the treatments, Rocky had a complication with one of the nephrostomy tubes. It had become blocked and his kidney filled fast. A visit to the ER in Lexington resulted in a 4 day stay to replace nephrostomy tubes, recover from vitamin deficiencies, and ensure a healthier ride home. After things settled down from the blockage, treatments continued as normal.
Towards the end of the treatments in January another appointment was scheduled with the surgeon Dr. James in Lexington. After an early morning CT and a long wait in the waiting rooms of UK we received some disappointing news. Dr. James stated that from the scans it was clear that the tumor on the bladder had not reduced in size and that more nodules had appeared in the lungs, likelihood of a resection had been reduced to none. A discussion with the oncologists back home was in order to find another treatment plan, the chemotherapy treatments were stopped that day.
The New Treatment Plan
After reviewing the results the oncologists determined that immunotherapy was the next best course of action. While not without it's own side-effects, the doctors were clear in stating that immunotherapy was the next best option after the failed chemotherapy and that all common side-effects were manageable. According to the oncologists, the goal of immunotherapy will not be to reduce the size of the tumor, but rather to prevent additional growth. This treatment was planned to begin in late February.
Towards the middle of February, after the effects of the chemotherapy had finally seemed to fade another issue arose. Rocky encountered an intense bout of constipation that could not be managed with laxatives and put him in the ER. After the initial ER doctors sent him home without a fix an appointment was scheduled with the oncologists. It was determined that he had a complete bowel obstruction caused by the tumor and that the best course of action was a colostomy. After nearly 10 days of pain and discomfort a colostomy procedure was performed and Rocky was able to feel some form of comfort again.
As of the first week of March, Rocky is allowing his body to heal from the colostomy procedure before beginning immunotherapy. His next appointment will take place on March 15th and immunotherapy should begin the next week. The immunotherapy will consist of taking fluids, similar to chemotherapy application, but with much less frequency. No radiation is expected at this time.
Rocky has adapted well to the various obstacles that have been added to his life with the nephrostomy and colostomy procedures and continues to maintain a very positive outlook on his entire situation. He continues to paint and create gifts for visiting family and friends. He isn't able to play his guitar as often as he'd like to, but when he does his music is full of life, love, and meaning.
Where Contributions Will Go
Going into the new year Rocky and Lisa are looking at a maximum out of pocket expense of $4000 thanks to Lisa's insurance through work. We would be ecstatic if this effort could provide that deductible, but have set a higher goal to also provide for the plethora of expenses coming their way:
- uncovered medical supplies
- general home upkeep
- fuel costs for appointments
- travel expenses for Rocky's mother who lives in AZ
Over the past 7 months Rocky and Lisa have also dealt with numerous additional expenses for medical equipment, medical bills, and travel expenses to and from appointments. With Rocky's condition he is unable to work and he has applied for disability which should take effect in April, but with the frequency of appointments and time off that Lisa will need to take they are looking at a substantial reduction in income compared to last year, so a portion of the funds will go towards filling that gap. Any remaining funds raised will be used to support Rocky and Lisa's daily costs and enable them to do the things they love and see the people they love.
Other ways to help
If you do not wish to contribute financially or want to help in other ways Rocky appreciates any thoughtful acts. Things as simple as letters, messages, or prayers mean the world to Rocky. For those talented or capable individuals, nothing can put a smile on his face like a song or piece of art. If you want to contribute to his pastimes, art supplies will not go unused, he has recently expressed an interest in getting back into oil painting. If you have other ideas feel free to reach out!
A word from Rocky
"Lisa and i appreciate the compassion and help forward more than word's can describe, from the inner most depths of our heart's we are truly grateful and most thankful, what else could we say but that we love you all for caring. May God our heavenly father bless every charitable heart with the outpouring of his holy spirit, in the name of his beloved son Jesus Christ Amen."
- Rocky Del and Lisa Lynn Arnold
If you want to hear the story directly from Rocky's perspective, he has recently shared his account on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/photo.php?fbid=1177620332407772&set=a.141864002650082&type=3
Dad would also appreciate anyone who has time to check out his songs on Soundclick , he loves to share his music with anyone willing to listen!