My Dad's Journey with Cancer

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!

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.