On July 6th, Rich began his 7-week treatment plan, including both chemotherapy and radiation. Treatment appeared to be going well. Rich was considerably comfortable, moving well, sleeping, eating, and drinking as normal, and doing the things he enjoys most. Additionally, the tumors in his throat (as the cancer originated in the tonsils) were responding exactly as the doctors had hoped.
On August 24th, Rich's treatment came to a halt when he was hospitalized for 10 days at Johns Hopkins Hospital. While it was initially believed that Rich was presenting with Pneumonia symptoms, Pulmonary Embolisms were discovered and new challenges were introduced.
Discharged on September 6th, Rich returned home to soon begin what would be weeks of excruciating and uncontrollable pain. To everyone’s ease, multiple doctors assessed the symptoms at play and told Rich and his loved ones that he was facing an orthopedic issue, which was claimed to be unrelated to the cancer and/or treatment. It was deemed that Rich would need a shoulder replacement in the future but until then, physical therapy was the best option. The pain worsened.
On October 11th, Rich was admitted to Lancaster General Hospital, in an attempt to have his pain managed and his shoulder further assessed. After numerous examinations, it was determined that Rich’s symptoms were more indicative of nerve damage. In an attempt to regain strength and help get Rich more comfortable, he remained in the hospital where he received physical therapy. On the morning of October 17th, while still at Lancaster General Hospital, Rich woke unable to move his limbs. With no sensation below the neck, further testing was immediately ordered and everyone’s worst nightmare came to life. A malignant tumor was found in Rich’s cervical spine. The cancer had metastisized.
Within the next few hours, Rich was transferred via helicopter to Johns Hopkins Bayview Medical Center. Admitted to the Neurosciences Critical Care Unit, Rich soon underwent a 6-hour emergency surgery to remove the tumor and alleviate the pressure on his cervical spinal cord, in hopes of regaining mobility. The operation was seemingly successful. While the surgeons could not remove the tumor, they were able to relieve the pressure caused by the tumor and provide support for the now eroded discs with metal rods and pins traveling from C2-C6.
Since October 17th, Rich has faced the unimaginable. Whether it be the daily fight against his paralysis, exhausting physical therapy sessions, difficulty with day-to-day functions such as swallowing, or the ever-changing updates that come with deciding the best plan of action for attacking the growth of his cancer. Treatment for the cancer in Rich’s spine will start within the next few days once he is transferred back to Johns Hopkins Hospital, where he previously received treatment for his throat. We will be sure to post updates as we begin that journey.
For those who have the pleasure of knowing Rich personally - we feel blessed to report that the contagious Rich smile we all know and adore, has not gone anywhere. He continues to coach the Penn State football team from his new sideline seat, sneak his favorite one-liners into conversation whenever and with whomever he can (this includes the medical staff), share his most prized jokes, and have a love for life that has given “perspective” a whole new meaning to each of us.
Please consider donating to the family during this extremely trying time.
If you are unable to donate monetarily, we ask that you please share this fundraiser and PRAY. To whichever capacity you can extend your support – we thank you. The love, well wishes, and prayers we have and continue to receive overwhelm us in the best possible way. No one fights alone and we feel so fortunate to have so many help us as we #RallyforRich.
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