My Dad's Journey with Cancer

Jan. 3, 2019

Success. There are many synonyms for it including: triumph, victory, positive outcome, or even the good life. It is difficult to decide which word or phrase to use right now as my dad moves forward with his battle of cancer. It has been a long time since I have posted an update on my dad but have no fear, it is not because he has been receiving bad news.

 

Today, my dad went in for the results of his blood work and 3-month MRI. My dad continues to have positive outcomes with his battle. The MRI showed that there has been no growth or spreading of his cancer. It remains small (er) in the pancreas and liver. In addition to this, his one kidney is showing positive results. It actually shows that it is in the NORMAL range. My dad told me that the normal range is anywhere from 0.9-1.5. The higher the more it is struggling. My dad's is functioning at 1.4! It is the first time in 10 years that it has been in the normal range. The cancer treatments that my dad has tried, the chemo pill, the Whipple surgery and PRRT has helped him in many ways. These treatments are very difficult on your body and unfortunately cause every day side effects but I am so thankful that my dad continues to fight.

 

My dad's oncologist told them today that his cancer has stayed stable for 1 YEAR! In his professional opinion, he feels that because of those results my dad does not need to come in for his MRI scans every 3 months but now every 4 months. I feel that is both exciting and scary. So much can happen in 4 months. However, for an oncologist specializing in nueroendrocine cancer to say there is no need for it is very exciting! It will also be less stress on his kidney.

 

I count my blessing that he continues to get good news! It looks like it is going to be a great New Year!

 

Success, triumph, victory, positive outcome, or the good life, whichever you want to use, explains the way the family is feeling!

 

As always, thank you for being our community in supporting and praying for him! We definitely feel the love!

Sep. 3, 2018

My dad got his monthly shot and is waiting until his 3-month checkup for the scan and bloodwork. If you read my write-up then you know we learned that his cancer is still small (no growth) and has not spread. His one kidney is working hard. Go, the MOST!  So why the write-up?

My dad handed me a short little article a few days back about how John McCain’s daughter felt about her dad. To sum it up, there is a special bond between father and daughter from the moment the daughter is born which, in my case and the cases of many I know, is accurate. They look up to their father as if they were a knight wearing armor, leading them through life, sympathizing through heartbreak, challenging times, supporting them, etc. Then, as you keep reading it talks about how when John McCain got sick the daughter took over his role and guided him and supported him while he fought cancer. It said that she no longer looked at him as a strong knight in armor but weaker.

When my dad handed me the article he simply smiled and walked away. We did not talk about it but rather just said it was sweet.

Dad,

After reflecting and thinking about the article you had me read about John McCain and his daughter…I thought you should know you are still the knight. When I look at you, you are still wearing that armor. You are still the knight that I have always thought you were through life. Even as an adult, you give me your advice and help me think about things in different ways. A different perspective. We have always looked at things differently and I thought that was perfect. You are very logical and look at the numbers. I am the emotional, understand the logic, but more emotional than logical.

Dad don’t think for one minute, currently in your battle, that I look at you as weaker and that I need to take care of you. Don’t get me wrong, I will call a few times a day to ask how you are doing and would do anything you need but not because it is my turn to take care of you. It is because, as a knight, you go out and fight. You fight until you have won and you come back tired (which any knight would..watch the movies) and focus on the win until you are physically ready to fight again.

You are strong. You are brave. You are a fighter. You are still a knight.

Today is not the day that I look at you and think it is my turn to take care of you. I do not feel that today, and I don’t think that day will come anytime soon.

 

Keep fighting dad. You are winning the battles and will eventually win the war.

 

Love you more.

Aug. 6, 2018

My dad is at it again! He is that miracle man walking the streets. He looks ordinary on the outside, except for his huge biceps and rock-hard abs (haha), but on the inside his body is a fighting machine! He is continuing to beat the odds. He went in for his 3-month check-up on Friday and got the typical bloodwood and scan. When meeting with his oncologist they explained that the cancer has not grown or spread at all. It is holding stable, having a few measuring at the size of a pencil eraser on the pancreas. Currently, no treatment is necessary, but he needs to continue being the miracle man.

He has some follow up appointments with other specialists to make sure his body stays strong. He needs to see a neurologist and a kidney specialist. His body is working hard to beat this crap called cancer, so all hands need to be on deck, so he continues to stay as strong as possible.

According to the bloodwork, his one and only kidney is chugging along at 47% filtration. Supposedly, I am not a doctor, but my dad says, this is good for only having one kidney. Hopefully the kidney specialist can give some tips on how to increase the filtration percent.

Until the next doctor’s appointments, my dad will continue to sell packages and enjoy life. Oh, and may be bombarded with kids and grandkids running through his house. And fighting off the grandkids as they raid his candy stash in his office. But until the next post…

Dad, we want to remind you, we love you more than anything in this world, you have been and are the most amazing father and papa, and we believe in you. In case we have never told you, thank you for continuing to fight. We know it isn’t easy.

 

Love you more.

May. 11, 2018

My dad has been diagnosed with cancer for 3 years now. He has a scary cancer that goes undetected because of minimal side-effects. He was lucky to catch it at all and he is extremely lucky to be here 3 years later. He was given 3-6 months to live and has been an over-achiever as always! Thank goodness!!

We recently went to MX on vacation and he got very sick. It was like he was in the beginning. Of course, we were all freaking out and assuming the worse. Was it another infection? Is it spreading and causing new side effects? Is his one and only kidney failing? He had to go to the ER because he just wasn’t getting better after 4 days. When my mom called me to tell me that CTCA told him to go to the hospital I was in tears.

My mom and dad acted strong saying it was probably an infection that would be easily treated with antibiotics. I was not convinced.

You know how long it takes to get admitted into the hospital and then you have to get tests done, wait for the docs and be discharged? Best case scenario, you will be out within 3 hours. The anxiety of waiting is unbearable. Hoping and waiting. We would get small updates from my mom while he was in there but they didn’t know anything.

After looking at the scan they could tell him it was mostly likely something he picked up in MX. My dad being who he is, the jokester, he told the doc that he just couldn’t resist the pico de gallo. Which is true. He ate the pico de gallo…they rinse their fruits and veggies in the water. So he received antibiotics and instantly got better! Phew!

Today, he had his 3 month check-up. He was scanned and poked and prodded last Friday and today he was getting the results. He met with the doc and the results were absolutely amazing! I hope you are sitting down for this because I almost fell over when hearing the news…

THE TUMORS HAVE SHRUNK AND CAN NO LONGER BE SEEN ON THE SCAN! NOT ONE OF THEM CAN BE SEEN!!!

However, they do know that they are there because of his hormone levels but they have shrunk so much they have cannot be seen. In addition to this, his kidney function is staying stable. It continues to be a little high which is normal for him. His liver function looks good too.

Going back to the beginning, we were told there was no cure and people do not go into remission with pancreatic cancer. Don’t get me wrong I am SO EXCITED but the likelihood of remission has been told to be very very very unlikely. Obviously, we wish for remission everyday.

After saying that, the doc told him today (which he has never mentioned before) that 1 patient about 10-15 years ago received a radiation treatment (which is like PRRT) and all the tumors disappeared. They just went away. Now for a doc to say this to a patient not only means the patient and family are excited and thinking positively but so is the doc!!

He did say not to get his hopes up but he also did tell him about the patient where the tumors disappeared.

It being Friday and most do not work tomorrow…I give you my permission to celebrate this news! Go wild! Because let’s face it, this is news that needs to be celebrated!!

Keep up the prayers, support and love you have given my dad during this time. It has truly made a difference and continues to provided amazing news for our family!

 

I knew my dad was amazing and ‘da most’ but this. THIS! He is my hero and he is now a miracle walking this Earth.

 

Love you more dad. :D

 

 

Jan. 30, 2018

1000 days = 33 months

1000 days= 143 weeks

1000 days -24,000 hours

1000 days -1,440,000 minutes

1000 days = 86,400,000 seconds

 

A thousand days. It goes by so quickly. People say you blink and time just flies by. I have found that this is true watching my niece, nephews, and kids grow so quickly.

A thousand days. Think about what you have done the past thousand days of your life. Anything extraordinary? My dad has. He has done a lot in the last one thousand days.

He has..

   Spent time with his brothers and dad,  his mom, his sons, wife, kids, his grandkids: Hensley, Autumn, Ashlyn, Cain, Avery and Gage.

                                                                                      

He has survived a very intense surgery.

 

He has been poked, prodded, operated on, had numerous doctor appointments, travelled to Houston for a clinical treatment of radiation and so much more. I don’ think anyone, except for others that are fighting against cancer, can ever really understand the kind of pain they suffer through.

You many think these memories are minor. That they are just normal everyday events but to us they are extraordinary memories.

1,000 days ago my dad was diagnosed with Stage 4 Pancreatic cancer. The doctors thought he did not have much longer to live. So these minor events were not supposed to happen. They would have been wishes in my family’s mind rather than memories that will be held in our hearts forever.

1,000 days ago was the scariest and most heartbreaking day my family had (and has) ever dealt with before. We thought we were going to lose our dad. My mom was going to lose her husband. My grandparents were going to lose their son. My uncles were going to lose their brother.

But 1,000 days ago my dad decided he wasn’t going to give up. He decided to be poked, prodded, operated on, endure pain, travel to doctors and have radiation pumped into his body because he was not ready to go. And thank goodness because I could not imagine my kids, my mom, my grandparents, my uncles, my brothers and me not having this amazing man in our lives. He brings so much joy and happiness into life. Into my family’s life. Into his work life (Ask him about his skit as “Da Most”). Into my life. I could not even fathom not having these days with him.

Recently, my parents and I were talking about how our family has a difficult time hugging (except you Nicole :D ) and saying, I love you. We never heard “I love you” much while growing up. We didn’t give hugs. It was just understood that we knew how we felt about each other. I never thought it was strange.

When I joined the Altenburg clan, it was weird. Not weird because I was a new person coming into the family but weird in the sense that they do hug ( a lot) and say I love you. So when someone like me comes into a family that is the opposite of mine…it is weird.

My brother-in-law, Derek, likes to make people feel awkward. (haha) So he decided that he was going to hug me every time I saw him until it felt normal. It still doesn’t feel normal but when you get a scare of the lifetime you go outside your comfort zone and hug, say I love you, and make sure others know exactly how you feel about them. In my family, it is still understood, but now it also expressed.

According to my dad, he is a very hug friendly guy ever since he was diagnosed. Events can change your life. They push you in ways that you never thought possible.

However, a few things have not changed. I love my dad so very much. I could not imagine having anyone else for a father. I am a daddy’s girl. I still rely on my dad. I like calling him to tell him random things that he probably did even need to know. I like hearing his opinion on things happening in my life. He is my hero. He has made my life so much better than it ever could have been.

1,000 days. It goes by quick but the memories and love shared will stick around forever.

 

Congratulations on fighting and winning these 1,000 days! Here is to many, many more celebrations of beating pancreatic cancer!