We met with the surgeon on June 20 2014 that was going to put in the Port-A-Cath on the following Monday.  He explained to us that it will sit in the front of his shoulder, just under the skin.  It can stay there for as long as we need it and then removed when we are done.  He will receive his chemo through the port and have all his blood work drawn from it.  This way they don’t have to poke him each time.  Of course there are things that can complicate this but those things are rare and probably won’t happen.  We are pretty confident that getting the Port is the best way to do it.

The surgery was outpatient and pretty simple and quick and then he just rested the rest of the day.

We both really liked the surgeon we met.  For anyone local his name is Dr. Issac.   He was informative and friendly but he also gave us a little pep talk.  He reminded us how much a positive attitude will help. He told us 3 stories of 3 different people he helped and how a positive attitude really helped them all.  They were very inspiring stories and we left there with a lot of hope.

One story he told us of was a man who was full of this disease.  “Just full of it” he said.  He just removed his colon this week and the disease is gone after all of his treatments.  If that can be us, then I’m okay with that.  I’d rather have my husband – the man I love and father of my children – than his colon.  That we can live with!

To be very honest, it’s very hard to stay positive.  It’s much easier when you are on the outside looking in.  I’ve always tried to be positive for others but when it’s happening to you, and affecting your life the way this is affecting our life, it’s very hard.   We have been trying our best.  Steve and I were both anxious to get his treatments started,  because we thought then we may be able to be even more positive once we know how he’s going to handle the treatments.  The oncologist said the medication he’s going to use, is know for NOT making people very sick.  That will definitely help our attitudes to stay positive.  And if not, then once we go through it a few times, and know what will happen, it will probably (Hopefully) be easier.

But we both agree, we just want to get started.

So that Monday began the beginning of “fixing” my husband.   And then the Thursday after we “fixed” the dog.  Steve is thankful that they aren’t getting “Fixed” the same way.  (We actually had a good laugh about that!).

Bone Scan is Clean!

by Karen on September 10, 2014

in Steve's Cancer Updates

On June 18th, we saw the Oncologist and he told us the bone scan was clean and there is no cancer in his bones.  First good news we had received!  I thought for sure it would be so I was pretty happy to hear that.

The plan was to start chemo on Wednesday, June 25, 2014 and the doctor planned for the first scans to be done probably in September to see it’s working.   They will be doing blood work weekly or biweekly to make sure the chemo isn’t affecting his white/red blood cells and platelets.  If it does, the doctor will readjust.

Really hoping we can put this in remission for a long time.  Only time will tell.

Lemonade Stand for Colon Cancer

by Karen on September 9, 2014

in Steve's Cancer Updates

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My daughter’s and their friends spent their day off from school today selling lemonade to raise money for Colon Cancer. I’ve never been more proud of them. Not once did they ask if they could keep any of the money. Instead they went inside and got their money they have in a donation jar of their own, and poured it into the bucket. We’ve raised $245.21 so far and still have some donations coming in. Being a parent is hard, but seeing these kids do things like this reminds me it’s all worth it and I am doing a good job. And so are my friends who’s kids joined my girls today to help out. It was a great day and my heart feels good.

On June 17, 2014  Steve had his first Colonoscopy.   Thankfully the prep for it wasn’t too bad on him.  The doctor wasn’t expecting to find the tumor because he looked at all the scans beforehand and even he saw nothing in the colon.  So he was pretty curious as to what he’d see.  And so were we.  I was actually wondering if there might not even be a tumor and this would be a rare type of colon cancer.   My husband would be the one to not have something easily found.   Because he likes to be ‘different’.

Well, that wasn’t the case.  The doctor did find the tumor and it’s big.  The mass is in the sigmoid colon.  He said it’s pretty much the entire width of the colon and he couldn’t even get by it.   He tried to push by the tumor so he could see what was on the other side of it, but he couldn’t.  He said that at some point, he may have to have it removed because it will eventually case problems.

He also said he can’t believe Steve had no symptoms of it because of the size.  But again, he would have had pretty bad symptoms for them to be noticeable since he wasn’t expecting this to happen.

I asked him how long he thought the tumor may have been there and growing and he said years.  It’s hard to give an exact time because when they find a pre-cancer polyp, they remove them.  So they don’t know how long one grows.  But he said from research his best guess  would be about 10-12 years!!!

The reason that is something that concerns me is the oncologist said we’d have to have the girls screened 10 years before the diagnosis.  Well if this polyp was there for 10 years then really that’s not going to help my kids.  The doctor agreed we need to have them scanned in their 20’s not their 30’s.  :-(  I’ll be all over that when the time comes.

So that means the polyp was probably there when Steve was in his early 30’s.  Without any reason to have a colonoscopy, and no visible symptoms, there really isn’t anything we could have done.

Tomorrow we see the Oncologist again and will get the results of the bone scan and talk about moving forward.  We also have a 2nd opinion scheduled for next Tuesday.

Steve is still feeling fine.  He’s a little high today from the anesthesia.   I tried to get him to stop at a jewelry store after his procedure so he could buy me something that was, of course, non-returnable, while under the ‘influence’.  But he didn’t fall for it.  LOL  We are trying to keep things lighthearted and laugh through things.  This is what is happening to us so we have to accept it someway.

I want to believe that there is a reason for us finding the tumor so late.  I’m not sure what that reason is yet, but I firmly believe everything – good and bad – happens for a reason.

We’ve been asked over and over if there were any signs or symptoms of Colon Cancer that we could have noticed?

I asked the doctor how long this has been going on, for it to be at Stage 4 without really any warnings.  He said the polyp could have been there for years.  SCARY.

A lot of people have asked us if Steve had any signs or symptoms.  According to Cancer.org the signs and symptoms of Colon Cancer are:

  • A change in bowel habits, such as diarrhea, constipation, or narrowing of the stool, that lasts for more than a few days
  • A feeling that you need to have a bowel movement that is not relieved by doing so
  • Rectal bleeding, dark stools, or blood in the stool (often, though, the stool will look normal)
  • Cramping or abdominal (belly) pain
  • Weakness and fatigue
  • Unintended weight loss

He has lost weight but he was trying to, so we can’t really say that was a sign.  He doesn’t have the best diet so he doesn’t always have normal bowel movements so he didn’t notice anything out of the ordinary.  And he’s never noticed any bleeding in his stools.  Though now we understand bleeding in the stools just looks dark.

Besides the pain that brought him to the ER, he’s never had any abdominal pain.   He doesn’t feel weak nor fatigued.  He is having night sweats and hasn’t sleep good in a while but again, nothing that we would have thought anything of.

And I forgot to mention that his blood work at the hospital was all fine as far as his white blood cell count was fine, his platelets were fine and his red count was slightly off, due to him having slightly low iron.   And all his blood work from the doctor done in March was also fine.  So no warnings there.

That is what makes this even harder to understand because he feels fine and looks fine yet this cancer is taking over his body.  How does that even happen?

We are going to do the best we can to fight this for as long as we can.  And hope that something new will come along to help us.

I say ‘we’ because I’ve told Steve this is happening to both of us, not just him.  ‘We’ will go to all his appointments together, ‘We’ will work together to get him the best care ‘we’ can and ‘we’ will work hard at getting him as close to cancer free as ‘we’ can.

On Tuesday, June 10, 2014, we saw the oncologist from the hospital to get the final results from the biopsy.  We knew Steve had cancer but we didn’t know what kind so we weren’t sure what we were dealing with, yet.

That was when we found out it was Colon Cancer.  And since it’s spread to 2 other organs (liver and lung), it’s Stage 4.  Colon cancer is not curable once it’s spread to other organs.  Therefore, Steve will never be cancer free.  :-(

The doctor said there really is no reason to operate since there was no large obstruction in the colon (since they didn’t see anything on the CT Scan) nor is there a lot of bleeding (since Steve has never noticed any) so at this point we would start Chemo in a matter of a couple of weeks.

He does want to do a colonoscopy just so he knows where the polyp is, in case he needs to know someday down the line.  He also wants to do a bone scan to see if it’s in his bones.  He doesn’t feel that it’s in his brain or he’d have some problems that they would be aware of so we aren’t checking his brain.

After both of those tests are done, he’ll see a surgeon to get a port put in for chemo.  This doctor would like to do chemo every 2 weeks for 6 months.  The chemo would be administered over 2 days with a portable unit.  Someone would come to the house to hook him up and then come back 2 days later to get everything.  Steve would be able to move around freely and even leave the house while getting chemo.  He said we’d talk more about that at the next visit.

The doctor said every couple of months he’ll do a scan to see how the chemo is working and if it’s shrinking the cancer.

We asked him what the long term prognosis was and he said at this point he doesn’t know.  He has to see what the chemo does.  But the chemo will never be able to kill the cancer completely.  It’s just not possible with this type of cancer.

We are trying not to read too much online because otherwise it really depresses us.

We are trying to stay as positive as we can.  We also have an appointment with a 2nd oncologist, the best in the state, to see what he thinks about a treatment plan.

He had his bone scan on Thursday, but we don’t have any results.  His colonoscopy is scheduled for next week and his consult with the surgeon for the port is scheduled for next week as well.

Steve feels fine and hasn’t had the pain since he was in the hospital.  The worst part is that he feels fine.  :-(

The Accidental Diagnosis: Cancer

by Karen on September 4, 2014

in Steve's Cancer Updates

My families world was turned upside down in June 2014.  I’ve decided to share it here on our family blog to possibly help someone going through the same thing.  I’ve searched high and low for months for support groups and finally found one online.  I have so many questions and concerns that really only someone who’s gone through this, can help with.

Steve and Karen

Here is our story:

On Friday May 30, 2014 my husband Steve came home complaining of chest pains.  He was thinking he had gas and then ate dinner.  After dinner it didn’t get any better so he stayed home while I took Holly to her softball game.  I made him promise me that if it got worse, he’d take an aspirin.  He assured me he wasn’t having a heart attack.

Later that night he still had the pain so we starting thinking more about what it could be from.  Since Tums didn’t seem to make a difference but did make him burp, we knew it wasn’t gas.  At this point we started talking about how it could be his gallbladder.  Having had mine out before, the area of the pain he was having, seemed to be about right for what I experienced.  He took some pain medicine and tried to sleep.  By about 1 AM it seemed to go away.

He had a doctor’s appointment on June 3, 2014 with his regular doctor so he was going to ask her about getting an ultrasound to see if it was indeed his gallbladder.  He was hoping that wasn’t the case because he didn’t want to have to have surgery at the beginning of the summer so his recovery didn’t get in the way of swimming in the pool with the girls.

Saturday, Sunday and Monday he felt fine.  We had dinner at my parent’s house to celebrate my birthday one day early since Tuesday was a very busy day for us with the girl’s activities.  After dinner we came home, he gave them showers and was then on the couch playing with Max (our 14lb Boston Terrier).  Max stepped on Steve right in the area where the pain had been a few days earlier and he was immediately in a LOT of pain.  It took his breath away it was so painful.  After a few minutes of it not letting up, I suggested he take some ibuprofen, which he did.  The pain continued so I finally suggested we just go to the hospital.  My thinking was if it was his gallbladder than there was obviously a problem if our little dog could cause it to hurt that much.  Steve didn’t disagree and I called my mom to come stay with the girls.  This was about 7pm on 6/2/14.

The ER was pretty quiet at our local hospital so they saw us immediately.  They took his vitals and then ordered a chest x-ray, ekg and an ultrasound of his gallbladder.  While the doctor (PA) was examining Steve, he noticed he was sweating a lot so he asked him about that.  Steve told him that he was a little nervous so that probably was causing the sweating.  I took this opportunity to speak up and point out that he’s had really bad night sweats for a while now, to the point he has to change out his pillow quite often.  That lead to us talking about his most recent trip overseas which he head returned from 10 days ago.   The doctor asked him where he went (Dubai) and asked how long the flight was (12 hours).  He asked more about Steve’s travel history and his line of work.  Steve filled him in on all the places he travels to for work.  He then asked him about how he had been sleeping (terrible!) and if he had lost any weight recently.  Steve lost almost 40lbs since right before Christmas.  However, he had been cutting down and trying to balance out his meals better to control his Diabetes he recently discovered he had.

The doctor then ordered some blood work as well.

The EKG was fine (I was so happy to hear that his heart was healthy!).  The x-ray of his chest showed nothing.  The ultrasound of his gallbladder was unsuccessful since he had eaten just a few hours before.  Then we just had to wait for his blood work.

At this point it was about 10pm and the doctor said all his blood work looked great except for one.  He ran a D Dimer test since Steve had been traveling on a long distance flight recently.  The D Dimer can detect if there have been any blood clots. The test came back high.  The pain in his chest and test being high told them he could have a blood clot in his lungs so now they have to do a CT Scan.  Of course he also told us that sometimes it’s a bad test because it can also mean other things.  But they couldn’t let him leave without the CT Scan.

So now we waited about another 2 hours to get the CT scan.  Sometime after midnight, Steve wished me a happy birthday.  He was happy to be able to be the first one to do it. :-)  Then they finally came to take him for his CT Scan.

Around 130 – 2 AM the doctor came into the area were were in, grabbed a chair for himself to sit in, closed the curtain and looked like death.  We both knew that, that wasn’t good.  And then the doctor went on to tell us that “it wasn’t good”.  There was no sign of a blood clot, however there were masses of tumors in his lungs and liver.  MASSES of them.

Steve and I froze.  We didn’t know what to think.  We never expected to hear this… EVER.

The doctor went on to say it could be a number of things but they didn’t know what.  But he also said it isn’t good and we needed to find out what is causes these like yesterday.  He suggested that we admit him in the hospital right away so they can begin testing the next day.  He said if we left and tried to make appointments with doctors, it would take weeks or even months and he didn’t think we should wait that long to find out what was happening.

Steve didn’t want to stay.  When he left the house he told the girls he’d see them in the morning.  He didn’t want to not be there and break his promise.  I told him I would take the girls to see him first thing in the morning but he needed to stay here and find out what is going on.  After a little while he knew that was the right thing to do so he agreed.  The doctor we were dealing with was only a PA so he was now going to talk to the doctor in the ER to see about getting Steve admitted.

Once the doctor looked over everything and read the report on Steve’s travels, he suspected that he could possibly have TB.  So now they have to keep him and they also have to isolate him.

By 6am on 6/3/14 they moved him to a private isolation room and when I arrived at the hospital I was told I had to wear a gown, mask and gloves.  I opted to not wear the gloves.  If Steve had TB then so did I.  I wasn’t going to catch anything more than I probably already had.

They ordered tons and tons of blood work.
They ordered an ultrasound of his testicles to rule out testicular cancer.
They ordered a PSA test to rule out prostate cancer.
They ordered a CEA test to see if there were any tumor makers.
They ordered a CT Scan of his abdomen to see if there were any tumors visible.
They ordered a biopsy of his liver, unless something else showed up in is CT scan that was easier to biopsy.
They ordered a TON of blood work to test for infectious diseases.

That afternoon, on June 3, 2014 the oncologist stopped in to talk with us.  He told us the biopsy will tell us everything.  I asked him if he saw the ct scan himself or if he read the report about it.  He said he saw it himself.  I asked him to the best of his knowledge, what did it look like to him.  He told me that to him it suspiciously looked like Cancer.  But a Biopsy was needed to know for sure.   He also told us if it was cancer, it did not start in either the lungs or the liver, it’s spread to both those areas.

That was when Steve and I accepted the fact that he had cancer.

Later that night they did the ultrasound of his testicles and drew more blood for the PSA and Tumor marker test.

The next morning, 6/4/14 they told us his testicles looked fine and his PSA was 1.1.  The tumor marker test came back high but they said that just shows there are tumors, but they could be benign.

Then they did another CT Scan of his abdomen before the biopsy was done.  They were hoping to find a mass somewhere else that they could biopsy instead of the liver.  The 2nd CT scan verified what they saw on the original one, that there were spots/lesions/masses/tumors on his liver and lungs, but nothing in his colon.  They said his pancreas looked good and his lympnodes were swollen.  They expected to see swollen lympnodes since there was obviously something going on.  Now they were going to do the biopsy the next morning.

The infectious disease doctor still hadn’t ruled out everything but at the end of the day 6/4/14, they were able to rule out TB.

The next morning 6/5/14 they did a liver biopsy.  It was a simple needle biopsy and Steve said it didn’t really hurt too much and he was feeling fine.  Shortly after that biopsy the doctor in charge of the case came in to tell us that they did a quick look under the scope and it was indeed cancer, now they needed to put the sample through all sorts of tests to see where the cancer started since there is no obvious starting point.

At this point Steve and I had already accepted the cancer diagnosis so nothing really changed, it was just verified at this point.

They then discharged him and told him to make a follow up appointment with the oncologist to get the final results of the biopsy, next week.  So we went home.

Today was day 5 of the girl’s spring break and the last day (not counting the weekend).   To end the week we had a birthday party for Allison at AC Moore.  She had her party there last year and loved it so much she asked to go there again.  I don’t mind because not only is it affordable, but the staff is great and she can pick her own craft.

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Before we began, she had them write their name on the table (which was covered with kraft paper) and also to draw a picture.   A lot of her friends drew pictures of zebras which I thought was adorable!

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Finally it was time to start the craft.  She choose to make a parachord bracelet but I had no idea how hard it would be.  I figured that since they are so good with the Loom Bracelets it would be a breeze.  No, I was completely WRONG.   There were a lot of tears and even more whining from most of the kids but the adults were great and once a few of them figured out how to do it, they all helped and things were fine.

Then we went onto lunch and we had Subway for the kids.  And then it was cake time!  Allison requested that everyone sing Happy Birthday Zebra Allison instead of just Allison.  They were more than happy to do so and she loved every single minute of it!

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Of course we did a Zebra theme and there were a lot of Zebra gifts too.  She was in heaven!

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When her friends left she gave them Zebra Cakes on lollipop sticks as a thank you for coming to her party.

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Allison loves Zebra Cakes and one of her best friends even gave her a box for her birthday!

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They all know how much Allison is crazy about Zebra’s and they always think of her when they see anything Zebra.

It was a fun party even with the craziness of making the bracelets and Allison loved it.

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It was a great way to end the week off from school!



Today was day 4 of the girls Spring Break.   It was so cold and windy today….. not crazy about this weather but it’s better than the rain we had yesterday!  At least the sun was out today.

Today was Allison’s 7th birthday and she woke up very excited about the day.  But not just because it was her birthday but because we were going to Empire Beauty School for a day of Princess makeovers!!!  Holly and Allison were 2 of 8 girls, I mean princesses, that were going to get their hair, makeup and nails done!

It went very well….

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Allison ready to go!

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Holly started with her nails….

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Allison got her hair curled….

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Holly choose blue nail polish (of course, it’s her favorite color!)

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Holly got the bottom of her hair curled and the top put into a flipped bun.  She was getting it all curled and then the girl accidentally burned her ear slightly and she was afraid of the curling iron, which I couldn’t blame her so she decided she was done with the curls.  It worked out fine because it looked really nice.  Her ear is okay, by the way.

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Allison loved getting her makeup done…  I think it was her favorite part!

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She looked beautiful with her red lips and pink eyes!

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And Holly choose some blue eye shadow and also red lips.   So beautiful!

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And all the princesses!

After their makeovers, we headed to Orange Leaf for a yummy treat.  The girls filled their buckets .. I mean bowls with ice cream.  It was crazy how much they put in there and they charge by the ounce.  Next time I’m filling up the bowls!  But it was delicious.

And to end the day, Holly had her first softball game and she did great!  Her first time up to bat and she hit the ball, not too far but enough to make it to first base.

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And then to second base….  then to third base and then home!

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And then she did the same thing the second time she was up to bat…….. and scored again.  She did a great job!

It was a great day and the birthday girl approved it with 2 thumbs up!

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The day did end with some sad news of someone that I knew passing away.  She lived a beautiful and long life well into her 90’s and it was her time.  But it still saddens my heart to know she is no longer on this earth with her family.

Tomorrow is another day…. and the last day of our Spring Break vacation.  I think the girls will be happy to go back to school on Monday and back to their ‘normal’ schedule.  I’ll be happy to have my routine back but I do enjoy spending time with them.

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Today was day 3 of the girl’s spring break.  It rained all day!  I hate rain on days I have lots of errands to run but it couldn’t stop me because things needed to be done.

We began our day with a play date with one of Holly’s friends from school and our neighbor’s daughter.  The 5 kids had a great time while the mom’s discussed how delicious Herbal Life shakes are!  I’m going to start drinking them at least in the morning to get a good boost of protein.  But anyways, the girls had a great time then we had to head home to have a quick-lunch and let Max out.  Max is our puppy Boston Terrier.

Allison’s birthday is tomorrow and she’s having a friend party at ACMoore on Friday and then a family party at home on Saturday.   So we needed to do some shopping at Sam’s Club and ACMoore for both of those parties.

For the craft at ACMoore, the kids are making bracelets with Parachute Cord – Paracord.  If you aren’t familiar with this you can see a video here.  I have a feeling that we will be making more Paracord bracelets after the party.  Needless to say, Allison is really excited about her party and can’t wait until Friday.

Then we headed to Sam’s Club where we picked up some cupcakes for her friend party and ordered a cake for her family party.  Holly has been dying to walk around Sam’s Club and ‘check it out’… she loves to window shop.   So we spent some time there as well.  This may not seem like ‘fun’ to some of you but you have to understand my kids love doing things like this with mommy.  They’d come on all my errands all week-long if they didn’t have to go to school.  Especially Holly.   Allison I have to bribe at times but today was all about getting things for her so it was all good.

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We also stopped at Saver’s to pick up some books.  The girls love books and can’t ever have enough.  Savers has chapter books for $.99 each and when you buy 4 you get one free!  So I let them each pick out 5 books.  They were pretty happy.

When we got home they did some things around the house for me and then settled down to watch a movie we picked up at Sam’s Club – a Monster High movie!   While they did that I planted some seeds which I’ll share about another time.

It was a busy day but we got a lot done.    The pictures I took of us in the car today (at the drive through of the bank, no I wasn’t driving at the time).  The first picture I changed to a sketch with a program on my phone  I thought it was pretty cool!

Tomorrow is another day….