We Win These: Dennis Stacey's Battle for Life

My beloved brother, Dennis Stacey, went into the ER on Sunday, October 9th, a bit breathless after a hike up Mount Doug in Victoria, B.C. where he lives. Pretty standard stuff. At first, when they discovered a massive block near his pulmonary artery and lungs, doctors thought it must be a giant blood clot. They rushed him to Jubilee Hospital to see if they could treat it, but after more scans, they found the mass was inside the artery and blocking it by 98%, leaving only a narrow space for blood to flow through. How wasn't he already dead from a cardiac arrest? Nobody knows. The plan on the 10th was to medi-jet him asap to Toronto for surgery as the mass could cause a fatal heart attack at any moment.

On the 11th, Dennis had another series of MRIs, which were sent to the top cardiac teams across the country. This surgical council decided that the mass was most likely a primary angio sarcoma tumour, almost wholly blocking his pulmonary artery, with a secondary mass on his lung. These signs indicate the most aggressive form of cancer. No tissue samples are able to be retrieved, as the instruments required to get those samples are larger than the current opening left in his artery. The surgical council's verdict was that surgery would be too risky. They said Dennis would likely die on the table and, even if he survived, he would gain only a little time as a result. They believed Dennis would not leave the hospital. He was placed in palliative care.

If you know Dennis and Nicala and the rest of the Stacey family, then you know their children Max, 17, Madi, 17, River-Remus, 15, and Ella, 13. With the possibility of surgery unlikely and their father living on borrowed time, the kids said their goodbyes.

Then on the 12th, the PET scans came back, confirming cancer in both the artery and the lung. Dr. Thomas, the most incredible doctor and Den and Cala's "quarterback," devised a plan for surgery to remove as much of the sarcoma as possible and give Dennis a few more months with his family. Dennis and Cala welcomed this plan, refusing to give up and working hard to convince the rest of his doctors that he must survive to see his four children through to adulthood. Still, nothing is clear: we might have moments left with Dennis, we might have months. We choose to believe we might have a miracle.

Last night, Thursday, October 13th, in a grove of magnolia trees in the historic Zen garden outside Jubilee Hospital, Nicala and Dennis finally married after 14 years together. A small gathering of their friends and family and their amazing children watched as "for better or for worse" was front and centre. It was the most beautiful and romantic wedding I have ever witnessed. Dr. Thomas decided that his wedding gift would be to schedule the surgery for next week, and attempt to give Den, Nicala, their children, and the rest of his friends and family, more time.

Today, Dennis and Cala celebrate their honeymoon in the CCU, preparing for a high- risk open heart surgery. On Monday, here in Victoria, a team of highly skilled specialists will attempt to remove the mass from the pulmonary artery.

If this hazardous procedure is successful, Dennis will live to face the next stage in his battle against cancer. My magnificent, brave, beautiful brother is determined to fight and so is his magnificent, brave and beautiful wife. But they need your help. Cala has not left Den's side since Sunday, and neither of them will be able to work for the foreseeable future.

Your donation will help this precious family confront what is said to be an incurable cancer. With the help of a few key people, we all believe it can be beaten. Please help the Stacey family fight.

Organizer and beneficiary

Stephany Aulenback
Fall River, NS
Nicala Hicks

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