My Dad's Journey with Cancer

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!

Jan. 18, 2018

I am always late these days. Always. Even if I plan ahead and try and leave early it never works out. That is the story of my life right now. That being said, I am late on writing this post. My dad went in for his monthly blood work and shot. The usual happened, it started with his bloodwork, followed by the shot, then the meeting with the doc. Unfortunately, not everything that happened was the normal routine check-up. My dad’s blood work came back a little concerning but an organ showing distress is concerning. His kidney is working overtime and not functioning as well as it should be. The doc would not do the MRI to check the progress of the tumors. Every 3 months, we wait for these scans. We hold our breath hoping that results continue to amaze us. 3 months feels like a very long time to wait to find out the status of the tumors. Now, we need to wait awhile longer. He has to wait until his kidney function looks better. This journey is incredibly lame. I do not know how fighters, survivors and family members hold together during times like these. My dad has been fortune and I am so incredibly thankful for that. But even when little bumps in the road come along it can be really scary.

My dad is strong. Incredible. Funny. The most interesting man in the world. 😊 He has come across little hurtles and big ones always getting to the other side. This is another hurtle that I have no doubt he will jump over quickly and without much effort. I will post again when he gets his MRI and new bloodwork. It may be a little late…but I will let you know.

 

Thank u for your continued prayers. I truly believe they are working!

Oct. 11, 2017

Life is a journey. It is filled with insignificant events that you forget, events that are unforgettable and events that you remember but wish you didn’t.

I obviously cannot speak to any insignificant events my dad has had because he could never share them with me as they have been forgotten.

If I had to guess on events that my dad will never forget would be his “glory days.” These days were in his 20’s. He talks about how he always went to the lake with his buddies and picked up women.

When he met my mother, a waitress at the time, through a working relationship where they always went to the same restaurant and sat in her section.

Their wedding day. There was a blizzard and all guests were crammed into this little chapel.

His work life- Airborne, Stamps.com and FedEx. He met so many amazing people through work that he still has now. Some of his best friends. Friends that are always there for each other.

His older son, Brad. Let’s just say he remembers a lot about Brad because Brad was an unforgettable kid throughout his teen years. He is so proud on how far he has gone in life.

Scott, his youngest son, who he loves listening about Scott’s golf game and how they can talk numbers. Anyone that knows my dad knows he is all about the numbers.

And of course, me, his favorite (and only) daughter. I do not know what he says about me but I imagine it is how I played soccer and he tried to trade me to another team when I was probably 7 or 8. And how I was the easiest kiddo out of all 3 of us.

I bet he remembers all 3 of our weddings and the birth of his grandkids.

These are all the good memories he has about life and stories he tells often.

One that I know he wished never happened and wish he could forget was the day he was diagnosed with cancer. We all wish we could forget that day. His journey has been rough. Really rough. He has literally been fighting for his life. Everyday. Over the last 2 years, he has received good news more often than bad news. (Super lucky guy!)

Well, he is continuing the streak of good news! He got his normal 3 month checkup at CTCA which consists of bloodwork and MRI. The bloodwork was not the best. It shows his kidney and liver are struggling. This is not too surprising as he only has one kidney and it is working overtime. The liver is the only place in his body that has tumors. So it is struggling too.

 There is no cancer anywhere else in his body! That is a major win! The cancer has not spread anywhere and is being contained to the liver.

Today, the radiologist told my dad that he only has a dime size of cancer in his liver. He does have many spots but they only had up to a dime size. Remember, he had it on his pancreas, lymph nodes, and all over his liver.

Let me explain this more clearly. They have been tracking two specific tumors. They were the 2 biggest prior to the PRRT.

Tumor #1 has gone from 0.8cm to 0.4cm since March 2017. That is a 50% reduction!

Tumor #2 has gone from 0.9cm to 0.5cm since March 2017! That is almost a 50% reduction as well.

I know being diagnosed with cancer and fighting it is something that he wishes never happened and could forget it all but today is an unforgettable day. An event that I hope he remembers when he is having a rough day. An event that makes fighting cancer a little easier. An event that brings him some relief that all these treatments are making a difference.

Although we wish that only good things happen, like hitting on women on the lake or getting married during a blizzard or his 3 kids that have kept him busy since the day they were born, we all have things in our lives we want to forget.

For me, this is something I will not forget. This is the day that I smiled and said my dad is not going anywhere. My dad will watch his grandkids grow up. My dad will teach me how to be an amazing parent like has always been. Today, is a great day.

 

I love you dad. I’m so thankful for you. I have to tell you that you are in most of the events that are unforgettable. In most of the events I will never forget.

Aug. 15, 2017

Autumn enjoyed the news about grandpa too! Her happy dance while listening to the video. What does your happy dance look like? :)

Aug. 15, 2017

Oh Happy Day! Today has been a fabulous day! My dad went to Louisiana to see his oncologist yesterday to get some testing done to see how the last (and final for now) PRRT treatment did. And…we continue to have good news!
The cancer has shrunk again! And we get to continue to say that the cancer is ‘stable.’ We do not know exactly how much it has shrunk but should find out next week. The cancer that showed back up on the tail on the pancreas is now GONE! How is that not a miracle??
The tumors now take over about 10% of his liver. I will take that 90%. If we were in school that would be an A.
My dad didn’t want me to mention this because he only likes to share the good but I believe this is good. In June, he got some scary blood work back about his liver enzymes and (one) kidney that he has. The blood work showed that they were struggling to bounce back after the PRRT treatment. Based on the bloodwork taken yesterday and today, they have now bounced back and looking better.
In addition to all this good news, my dad is no longer going to be taking treatment for at least 6 months (if he chooses which it sounds like that is what he is choosing). Chemo is also an option right not if he wanted but he deserves a ‘vacation’ from this (crap) medicine. However, he will continue to get his yucky monthly shot as it does help stop the tumors from creating hormones.
The oncologist continues to make it clear that the tumors will start growing again. Based on a 0-10 scale about how fast growing his tumors are he is a 3. I like that! Of course, I’d prefer a 0 but a 3 is for much better than 4+.
My family and I moved down here to be close to him during this stressful journey. I have to say it’s been amazing to be able to call each other to hang out and can hang out as quick as 15 minutes. I don’t think my whole family has been together since high school…I graduated in 2003. We are together again and I cannot describe how lucky I feel. I do really miss WA since the weather here is not pleasant for an 8 month pregnant lady. But to be close to my dad, my hero, my friend, my inspiration and my whole famly makes that disappear.
My daughter fell asleep in my arms as I read this to her. I hope it doesn’t have the same effect on you 😊
I’ve attached two videos. One because I’m happy and the other because..well…it’s adorable! :D