Over the course of my life, the letter “C” has become synonymous with who I am....many consider me a fairly passionate Cubs fan for some reason.
Unfortunately, another “C” has entered my life. It’s a pathetic and cowardly disease that I will fight and refuse to ever let define who I am. I truly hope my story can help others who may be going through something similar.
On the evening of Thursday March 1st, I began to have a pain in the right side of my body, just below my chest yet above my appendix. This pain gradually got worse as I laid there wondering what it could be. It eventually got so bad that I could barely gasp for a breath. Between this and the pain, I truly felt that my time had come. I’m still surprised I didn’t call 911 as I fought for air and through unbearable pain all night.
The next day I scheduled an appointment with my Dr. for routine blood work and more importantly, to find out what the previous night was all about. A couple of days after visiting my Dr. I received the first bit of alarming news. While my routine blood work came back fine, my liver was showing severely elevated numbers. Referrals were quickly in order and an ultra sound was scheduled shortly after.
With my first ultra sound completed a few days later, more alarming news came my way. Multiple tumors were located within my liver. A strong sense of urgency became very prevalent with my Dr. and the diagnostic office. More referrals and required approvals from my insurance for chest and abdominal CT scans were on the horizon.
The results from these provided additional alarming news, possibly involving lymph nodes and an area in my stomach. The liver remained concern #1. For the first time in my life, the word oncologist became part of my personal vocabulary.
Erin, my significant other, as I like to playfully call her was ensuring that I wouldn’t be going through this alone. My Brother (Robbie) joined me in Texas the very next day following my conversation with him about everything. Additionally, my Sister-in-Law and her husband (Shannon and Eric) offered me every single aspect of support imaginable to make sure I would not be alone.
The oncologist visit initially provided hope as he and I had the same idea....a liver biopsy to find out for sure whether the tumors were cancerous or not. Logistics got in the way with my upcoming relocation to Ohio which delayed this biopsy. Additionally, it meant I would be losing this compassionate oncologist who seemed to take a true interest in my condition. In Texas, I was feeling mostly pain.
Oddly enough, this seemed to subside for awhile once in Ohio but it was replaced with nausea, dizziness and very little energy. I likened it to feeling hungover everyday. I was introduced to a new Dr. that Erin and her family see. More referrals for the liver biopsy, liver specialists and an Ohio oncologist quickly took over the excitement of my relocation.
After a bit of a delay, I was finally having the liver biopsy. The hope was for fatty tumors instead of anything cancerous of course. I experienced the worst pain since this all started (on March 1st) a few hours after getting home from the liver biopsy. From this point forward, pain has re-joined the feeling of constantly being hungover.
Alarming news was replaced with shocking news as the diagnosis of cancerous tumors were provided to me about a week after the liver biopsy was performed.
A few days later, shocking news was replaced with the feeling of numbness when the OH oncologist delivered his assessment stating that the liver cancer was non retractable (in-operable). His plan was to find a treatment that will give me the best quality of life for the time that I am still alive.
Erin, Robbie, Shannon and Eric visited with me about the importance of being as close as possible to my family and friends for the best opportunity of fighting this. They reiterated how it would be good for me to be around Hagan and for him to be around me. It’s an absolute blessing that I will have this opportunity to spend quality time with him. I also had an amazing conversation with JR Sheffer who offered incredible support as a cancer survivor himself. I will be relocating to Iowa the first weekend in June and have already scheduled an appointment for a second opinion with the amazing oncologist who JR had.
This past Friday I had an endoscopy with a very caring and thorough gastroenterologist. He had my results by the time I woke from the anesthesia. While more cancer was found, he stated we can now be sure of where it’s coming from (another tumor located at the bottom of my esophagus which extends into the top of my stomach) and offered better ideas on how to fight and possibly beat this.
I want to thank everyone who has reached out to me and kept me smiling despite the news I’ve been receiving for nearly 2 months now. In addition, a huge thank you in advance to anyone who offers their kindness, love, prayers, support during this surreal time.
Lastly, I wanted to end My Story with 3 things that have always been paramount to me. I think of these all the time now....
Always live, never exist. Live life with absolute integrity. Show compassion to everyone and everything that life offers.