June 9, 2013
Having just received the results on last Monday's scans I wanted to take the opportunity to update this site with the latest. These were my regular, periodic (every three months) scans which include CT scans of the chest, abdomen, and pelvis.
As a side note it is perversely interesting to me to actually see the scans themselves as they have occurred over time. In each successive scan it is odd to see the pics side by side and see less and less lung present. It looks like some twisted magic act involving the disappearing lungs.
Anyways 2 of the 3 scans, the abdomen and pelvic scans, showed no new cancer. There are 2 kidney stones, a missing appendix, a hiatal hernia, 2 herniated discs, and degeneration of the lower spine...BUT..no Cancer in these areas so that's all good.
As for the chest CT scan, well that's a different story. It looks like the surgical site is healing up normally and continues to improve. Any one reading this who has kept up to date with my updates (first of all if this statement fits you, I say...thank you for caring enough to keep up to date. Secondly...get a hobby would ya?) you may recall that previous scans showed a few spots (2) on my LEFT lung that were suspicious but possibly just scar tissue formed after a previous surgery. Given their location, appearance, and lack of growth at the time, it was our hope that they were just benign scarring. Unfortunately, on this scan it became evident that this was NOT the case and that these spots (now 3 in number) are in fact more metastesised cancer. On the positive side, the right lung, and site of the most recent lobe removal looked good and no new cancer there. The negative side is the presence of this "new" Cancer.
So, what to do? What's the plan? Well, given the overall state of my lungs at present (reminiscent of Swiss cheese at this point), surgery is NOT an option. As it is, this last surgery has led to the need for me to need an oxygen machine for continual oxygen AT NIGHT ONLY. During the day (unless I have trouble catching my breath (twice since the surgery)) I am ok to function without the need for oxygen, but at night time I need the boost. Given this, further surgery would mean the need for continuous oxygen and is not a step we want to take until and unless absolutely necessary. So surgery...not an option. Radiation...while it would mean much less direct loss of lung tissue, still requires SOME loss. Radiation, even though directed straight at the cancerous cells, does also end up killing some if the surrounding tissue. So, for all of the reasons relevant to surgery, radiation is also not an optimal treatment at present. Radiation...not an option... So, that leaves more chemotherapy. As you may recall, I had a particularly difficult experience during my first round of chemo. In addition to most of the "common" side effects of treatment, it also effected my liver and threw my liver function tests all out of whack. That being said...while chemo effects the entire "system" it does NOT cause direct death of lung function and therefore it seems to be my best first option.
None of this is to say that surgery or radiation may not ultimately be necessary. It may very well be that one or both of these treatments may be necessary in the future and it MAY be that continuous oxygen becomes a necessary reality. BUT, given this possible outcome it seems prudent to keep those as "last options", and turn towards the less long term problem of chemo as the first go.
So for now it's back to a familiar process of repeating scans every three months to track the process of the tumors and waiting until the optimal time for treatment. When the time comes, it looks likely that we will start with more chemo and then we'll take it as it comes.
For now, we'll plan to put things on hold and spend the next 3 months enjoying the summertime with Tara and the girls. On this front things couldn't be better. School is winding down and Abby and Ally are starting to get excited for the summer. We have no definite plans at this point but I am sure that we will find ways to have fun and enjoy being together. I cannot believe that in only 1 year Abby will be graduating. We went to visit a couple of colleges last month and it still seems like it was all a dream. It's just not possible that they grew up that quickly. I SWEAR it was just recently that we were celebrating Abby's birth and even sooner, Ally was born. Can it really be 14 and 16 years ago? My God where did it go? What happened? All I know is I couldn't be more proud of my wife or my girls for who they are and what they have become. I am truly blessed.
Despite Cancer, despite having to relocate back "home", despite my being home every day and not being able to work like most Dads, despite all of the changes, sacrifices, money problems, health problems, stress, etc. they just wake up every morning, put on their smiles, and go about their day's making me more and more proud to be their Daddy.
And as for Tara...what can I say. Talk about being dealt a bad hand. 14 years ago she was diagnosed with a HORRIBLE illness. Every day she battles, with good days following bad ones and vice versa. Then, just when she starts feeling a bit better. Just when she learned how to cope with her own medical issues, just when life seems to be returning to some level of normalcy...BANG...her husband is diagnosed with stage 4 cancer. Talk about strength. This woman has more inner strength than any 10 people together. Yet, being who she is, she has been there every step of the way. Holding us all together, keeping me going even on days where I just want to roll over and go back to bed. Even on her "bad" days, feeling terrible, lacking energy, feeling helpless herself...she finds a way to remind me how lucky we are, and how blessed we are. She is my beacon of hope when I'm close to feeling hopeless. She NEVER let's me even consider giving up. She is BY FAR the strongest person I know. So what's next? That's easy. We will move forward, enjoy the summer, laugh, smile, have fun, and see what the next set of scans bring. Until then I will keep you all updated regarding any new info or any changes to the plan as they occur. Once again I want to thank all of you who have prayed for us and kept us in your thoughts. Thanks also for the donations. Unfortunately we just couldn't make it without your continued help and support. I can NEVER truly thank you properly but please know that not a day goes by that I am not eternally grateful for this. Thanks to all of you also who email, call, or text me on occasion if I haven't updated this site for a bit. I try to update you all when I have something to update you about. Sometimes this is frequent and sometimes not so much. It is a great feeling though during some of these "quiet" times to hear from you wondering how we're doing. It's awesome to know that there are so many family and friends out there who care enough to want to be sure that everything is ok, or who want to offer their support, or who just want to say HI. Thank you all so much.
May 14, 2013
I know that it's been a while since my last update but things have been a bit busy as I'm sure you can imagine. So...where to begin?...On Monday, April 22, 2013 I had my third lung surgery to remove yet more cancer. This time the targets were two growing tumors on my right lung. As you may recall, the initial lung surgery (last February), removed two lesions on my LEFT lung. In hindsight this was relatively simple and straight forward. They were able to go in laproscopically and "wedge out" the spots. The following month, they attacked the right lung. In this surgery, given the number of tumors needing removal (7) they were unable to use the laproscope and needed to open me up in the more traditional sense. Still however, they were able to use a technique called a "wedge resection" to again, cut out just the affected areas. This most recent surgery was to be a bit different. Given the nature and location of these current tumors, a wedge resection was simply not possible. This surgery would require the complete removal of the lower lobe of my right lung. The good news however, was that they were hopeful to be able to use the existing scar tissue around the lung (and skin), from the previous surgery, to gain access to the site. This plan would allow for a quicker, less painful operation. That was the plan anyway.
The week prior to surgery I went for lung function testing to make sure that I had enough function left in my surgically altered lungs to withstand the effect of this lobe removal. Heading into surgery all looked good. Upon waking after surgery I was told that unfortunately the surgery was a lot more involved and extensive than previously thought. First of all, they were unable to utilize the same surgical site as previously hoped. Apparently there was too much scar tissue to use this site and have enough room to do what they needed. So, instead of ending up with one slightly larger scar on the right side, they had to completely open me up to access the lung from the back, leaving me with a LONG (about 12-14 inches) "U" shaped scar from my side, all the way up to the top of my shoulder blade. Oh well...there goes my shot at nude modeling!
Unfortunately the incision wasn't the only surprise. Apparently, there were also problems with accessing the lung once inside. Various portions of the lung were adhered to sections of my diaphragm and other areas. It took them about an hour to simply pull away the lung tissue to even begin the removal. This led to various tears and holes that had to be sutured back together. Finally, they needed to end up breaking (and ultimately removing) a portion of my 6th rib to ultimately get in, cut out the lobe, and close things up. What was supposed to be a relatively straightforward surgery turned out to be anything but.
Now the good news...even given all of this, the surgery was successful. The lobe was removed. The pathology report showed exactly what we expected it to...the portion removed was cancerous and was consistent with the colon cancer originally identified. It was NOT a new cancer but rather a metastases of the original cancer. Now it's recovery time. I'd be lying to say that the recovery has been easy. At first, given the extent of the surgery, it was quite painful, but that has subsided quite a bit. It seems that lung functioning is going to be what takes the most time and getting used to. I find myself VERY short of breath and get winded with very little exertion. It is still too early to know just what the permanent effects will be. I am scheduled for my post surgical visit with the surgeon tomorrow and will learn more then. I DO know that things will get better, the question is just how much better it will get. On a positive note I am able to breath on my own without the need for continuous oxygen which was initially stated as a possibility. This is a huge relief.
SO...I guess to sum it all up...The surgery was a huge bummer, recovery is going to be long and difficult, BUT...it was a complete success, and while I will have some permanent effects, they will NOT be anything that will negatively effect my ability to function in daily life.
Now to the future. I am scheduled for the next set of scans for the first week of June. You may recall that there were still 2 spots on my left lung that bear particularly close attention. We are not sure whether these are more cancer, or simply scarring from the original left lung surgery. These next set of scans should help us to figure out more about just what these spots are. In addition, we will look to see if there are any new spots popping up anywhere else. We'll see and we have our finger's crossed. Until then, it's life as we know it.
Now on to happy times and thoughts. Despite all that has happened over the past month, I was extremely happy and excited to join my brother Larry and his family as they celebrated the Bar Mitzvah of their youngest son Aidan last weekend. Aidan did an amazing job and made us all extremely proud. It was a great celebration and an excellent opportunity to get together with lots of family and friends to celebrate this wonderful occasion. We had a a blast. In addition, my parents came up from Florida to join in the celebration. It was great to see them and spend some time with all of us together. Of note we managed to slip in a little get together to commemorate their 50th wedding anniversary which will occur this coming weekend. Please join me in congratulating them on such a wonderful milestone. We are proud of them and love them very much!
So I guess that's about it for now. I will try to update you all again within the next month as I learn more about how recovery will proceed as well as how the next set of scans look. Thanks you so much for all of the well wishes, thoughts, prayers, and donations to the Band Together For Gary fund. I was humbly shocked by all of the calls, emails, texts, and messages I got kindly "reminding" me that I haven't updated this site in a while. I didn't realize just how many people were following along. it is truly VERY touching and I thank you all for that.April 8, 2012
Just a quick update to let you all know that I am scheduled for surgery at 2 pm, Monday April 22. It's only 2 weeks away. In meeting with the surgeon, we were all in agreement that "the sooner the better". These tumors have been there, and growing, for a year already, and it is time to get them out before they have a chance to spread or do more harm. As you know this surgery will involve removing one complete lobe of my right lung. I am scheduled to undergo lung function testing next week to try to get an understanding of how much actual lung functioning will be lost by this surgery. It'll help predict what life will be like post surgery. We'll see... So that's it for now. Most likely I will update everyone again soon after the surgery. Thank you again to all who have sent well wishes, prayers, and donations to the Band Together For Gary Fund. Your generosity continues to amaze us and has made a huge difference in our lives. Thank you
March 19, 2013
I am sorry for the delay in getting this update added to the website. Happily I was in Florida with Abby, visiting my parents and Abby's boyfriend, Rob, but more on that in a bit.
So, as most of you know I went to the Oncologist on March 7th to hear the results of the latest CT scans. On the positive side, there were no NEW lesions found. We are cautiously optimistic about this. Obviously it is always good to hear that nothing new was found, however we have had this experience in the past only to have the subsequent scan show "new" spots that were there all along but apparently were still too small to show up previously. This is quite possibly the case here. Nonetheless we will happily take nothing NEW being seen at any point in time.
Now unfortunately, the bad news...There are still 4 spots seen on the scans. 2 on each lung. The location of the spots on the left lung are curious in their proximity to the surgical path of the surgical tools. These two spots, while still present have not grown, and for now they are considering the possibility of them being non malignant by products of a previous surgery. Given this they are thinking it best at this point to leave them alone and see what happens. As long as they don't grow and remain just as they are we have plenty of time to figure out just what they are.
The same cannot unfortunately be said of the spots in the right lung. Those spots are definitely malignant and definitely still growing. At this point it's been over a year (I can't believe it's been that long) since they were discovered and while they are still there AND still growing, they MUST be dealt with before they get into the lymph system and spread to other organs. Unfortunately, given the current state of that lung (described by the doc as "Swiss cheese" given the previous surgeries), AND the location of the lesions on the lung, this surgery will be more involved and will necessitate the removal of a COMPLETE lobe of that lung. This means a more detailed procedure requiring more time in surgery and more time in recovery. At this point we are not sure what amount of function I will be left with in this lung, nor how it may effect post surgical life. For now, I am scheduled to meet with my Thoracic Surgeon (I can't even believe that I HAVE my own Thoracic Surgeon) on April 3 and this will be followed closely by the scheduling of lung function testing (which should help define post surgical functioning), and finally the scheduling of the surgery itself. Of course I will update this site with all of the info/dates as we go. So there it is...more cancer equals more surgery. Unfortunately that seems to be the one "given" in the battle. However, luckily we are still happy that this can be done. As much as I am dreading the surgery and recovery, we have yet to reach a point where they say that there is more cancer we can see BUT surgery is not an option. This news will certainly be the REALLY bad news. Thankfully we are NOT there yet. As to the rest of the scan results...other than the Hiatal Hernia (result if surgery), "degenerative disc/skeletal disease" (the reason for my back problems), a fatty liver (likely a long term side effect of chemotherapy), neuropathy in hands and feet (also, thank you Chemo), and 2, as of now still non obstructive, kidney stones (hopefully to remain non obstructive)...there were no other remarkable findings. As sarcastic as this all may sound, things could always be worse. Overall I am lucky and grateful that despite all of these issues, none are life threatening, and none require any immediate intervention. In the grand scheme if things they are all simply nuisances and we can deal with nuisances.
Ok..on to "other things". First of all, a Huge THANK YOU to all who have generously donated to the Band Together For Gary fund (info on the home page of this site). Your generosity continues to help us meet our bills during this struggle. As you may remember from my last posting, the blizzard we suffered through last month left us in a pretty precarious situation. With your help we have made it through to the other side relatively intact. You may recall our transportation issues...here is the happy update. Our original car ("my" GMC Envoy) which was suffering some sort of mechanical issues which left the car undriveable AND unable to pass state inspection is up and running. Our neighbor "Buddy" has a mechanic friend. He came by, tightened a few things, reattached a belt, and VROOM! Car is running. We still need a few things taken care of to get us past the inspection process but we are on the way.
As for the Chevy Equinox, the car donated by my parents which ended up a a landing zone for a 70 ft. pine tree...thankfully, once the tree was finally removed, we were ecstatic to find that what I was convinced would uncover a completely totaled automobile, ended up badly damaged BUT fixable. It needs a completely new hood, sunroof, windshield, mirrors, etc...But luckily there is no frame damage. We brought it to yet another friend in town, who owns a repair shop. While the car will never look like new it CAN be fixed. It will likely look like "Frankencar", the hood color will not match "perfectly", the mirror may not fit exactly, a few dents and dings here and there, etc..but it'll be legal and driveable which is all we can ask. Thanks to my mother-in-law, who is helping out on this front.
And finally, my brother Larry and his family have graciously purchased a used SUV from a friend and are donating that to us. I cannot find the words to thank them and everyone else who jumped in to help out YET AGAIN, to save us from further headaches. With all of this help, we went from having no transportation whatsoever to having all of our transportation needs met. Most of all I am grateful that this means that Abby will have her "own" designated car. As you know, one of my greatest regrets was having my family suffer as a result of my illness. It is hard enough for them all to deal with the realities/hardships that accompany a cancer diagnosis but further sacrifices, as a result of my inability to work right now, is just something I find very hard to swallow. It has always been our intention/goal to be able to provide Abby a car once she obtained her license. It was just one of those things that we wanted to do. Were I still working we would have purchased her a new car. Obviously that is simply out if the question. But thanks to those mentioned above, AND the generosity of all if you, we can at least provide her with her own car. Needless to say, Abby is very happy about this and equally thankful to all of you.
The girls continue to thrive. BOTH girls made honor role for the semester. Abby continues to work 3 days a week at a day care center. She gets out of school tues-thurs and goes directly to work until 6:30. After work she comes home to face homework, dinner and bed. I know it's exhausting but NEVER do we hear a complaint. She continues to amaze/impress us and we are very proud.
As for Ally, she continues to excel in all Honors classes (pretty much all A's (please forgive this tiny bit of fatherly prideful gloating)), she also recently learned that she will have one of the major roles in her upcoming school play and recently was chosen for a quartet song in her choir's latest concert.
I truly don't know how they do it with all that is going in but they are two extraordinary young women who make us very proud.
As for Tara, while not quite there yet, she is back in treatment (after having had to forego such treatment for a while due to our lack of health insurance) and is slowly stabilizing her side effects of the Cushing's Disease and the uncertainties of hormone replacement therapy. Her bloodwork is still showing some concerns and her sleeping and appetite remain problematic, BUT the doctors are on top of it and continue to make medication adjustments to try to get her back on track. We are feeling like we are "getting there" and that she should start feeling back to herself pretty soon.
As alluded to earlier, with the financial help from my parents, Abby and I were able to travel down to Florida last week. It was a much needed and very enjoyable break. For Abby, it was a chance to see Rob (her boyfriend) and spend a little time together. While there, Rob asked Abby to her upcoming Jr. Prom. Needless to say, she was very happy about it and we will look forward to Rob joining us up here in Mass. in a couple of weeks for that. And as for me, well the timing couldn't have been better. Having left just 5 days after getting the CT scan results, it was an opportunity to try to forget everything and just relax for the week before returning back home to the stress of scheduling/undergoing this next surgery. It was a nice way to "decompress" after the appointment. It was also nice to see my parents and to know that they are happy and doing well down there. We also had the chance to meet some of their new friends, see some "old" friends, and shared a nice breakfast with my Uncle Sam and Aunt Sandy. Of course it just wouldn't be possible for me to enjoy a nice vacation week without SOME type of glitch. This glitch consisted of our return flight being cancelled due to another winter storm in Boston. However, after all was said and done, it was not too bad. We were able to fairly easily reschedule to another flight a few hours later and thankfully that flight made it in on time. So all in all, it was a great time and a very enjoyable week.
So I think that's about it to report for now. As stated earlier, April 3rd is my appointment with the Thoracic Surgeon followed by the lung function test. Barring anything as yet unforeseen, I will plan to update this site sometime in mid-April to inform you of the date for surgery and the results of the tests. Thank you all yet again for keeping updated through this site. Thank you all also for your very thoughtful comments in the guest book link on this site. I check it regularly and read each and every comment. It keeps my spirits up when times get tough to go back and read the kind words/thoughts expressed on this site. To realize that you folks care enough to take the time to not just read the updates, but to make the effort to write me a quick note really means a lot. Thanks again!
December 5, 2012
So, three months have passed and thankfully it seems like its been much longer than that. The past three months have included a wonderful trip down to Florida with my brother Neil to visit my parents and pick up a new (used) car that they graciously gave to us. In addition the time has included Thanksgiving, Tara's birthday, Ally's play, a Patriot's game with brother Larry and 2 great friends, and many other memorable events. It's funny how much more memorable and important these things become when your future is so unknown. I no longer take for granted the opportunity to spend time with people I love and care about. As cliche as it may sound, I really am learning to slow down and smell the roses. As you may recall from my previous update, the last scans, in September showed 2 new lung lesions. The plan, at the time, was to wait 3 months and scan again. We KNOW that at some point, something has to be done. If we did nothing and just left those lesions alone, they would likely continue to grow and spread and ultimately lead to my demise. The problem however is when and how to deal with them. The dilemma being the likelihood that we move forward with further lung surgery, remove those 2 lesions via surgery, only to then discover additional metasteses show up again later and place us back in the same position. I have been VERY lucky that the previous surgeries have been relatively complication free. The chances of remaining complication free however, diminishes exponentially with each of these surgeries. In addition, there are only a limited number of times they can remove lung tissue before there becomes no more tissue to remove. For obvious reasons this becomes a major concern. I have already been told by the surgeon that the next surgery WILL require the removal of complete LOBES of the lung. It is no longer possible to "wedge" out the affected areas. This means that we have to be very careful about making every surgery count. They do not want me to have more surgery until they are confident that they can get the most out of it as possible. Finally, any surgical option needs the sign off of the surgeon and not simply the oncologist. You may recall that I was told before the last surgery that I was very lucky that the surgeon agreed to such a complicated surgery. I was told that most surgeons would have refused to do it. My oncologist said that at present the surgeon is still on board but there is always the chance that this will change. So...option 2 is more chemotherapy. The problem here is that I became very sick undergoing previous chemotherapy, and, chemo is unlikely to be curative. If it were to be completely successful it likely would have been so the first time around. Chemo for me is more a way to buy time rather than a cure. Given this, it too is really more of a last resort to help buy time, and given how sick it makes me it too is not something to jump into lightly. Like surgery, chemo is a procedure to be utilized only when it is absolutely necessary and timing is everything. So...the plan was to wait three months, scan again and only then make treatment decisions. Well here we are, three months later. I am thankful that my brother Neil was kind enough to come with me yesterday to get the latest scan results. Unfortunately, my wonderful wife Tara is not feeling well herself right now and is confined to bed until she regains her strength. So, Neil and I went yesterday for the results...The scan showed FOUR lesions (2 more growths since the last scans) which are unfortunately spread out among different lobes and in both lungs. In addition, the growths that WERE present on the last scans have grown in size (in fact they have nearly doubled in size). The good news is that although they have grown, they are still relatively small in size. This is important because it means that while they are growing, they are growing slowly. So what's the plan? Given all of the above information about the need to chose our treatments wisely and to make sure that the timing of the treatment allows for the greatest "bang for the buck", the doctors feel that we should give things another three months. As we did before, we will wait three more months, scan again, and then make our decisions from there. Again, we know that something must be done. There are currently AT LEAST 4 malignant tumors in my lungs that are alive, growing, and spreading and we need to do something about them. However, given everything, they cannot simply go in, open me up, and cut them out. First of all there is the real potential of irreversible complications. Secondly, there is the high likelihood that the amount of lung that would need to be removed would leave me with functional defects likely requiring life long dependence on external oxygen. And lastly, it too is highly unlikely to be curative. Despite going through the necessary surgery, it would not lead to the complete destruction of every cancer cell in my body (hence the stage 4 designation). So there is no benefit to jumping in to surgery immediately. With the relatively small size of the lesions at present, the doctor feels that waiting a bit longer to gain more information regarding what is/will happen is the way to go at present. As for the rest of the scans...let's see... They found a good size umbilical hernia, a kidney stone, and the continuing degeneration of vertebrae caused by 2 herniated discs and "degenerative disc disease". Funny how in the past, I would have any one of these results and they would have been fairly serious things. I mean there are plenty of people out there on any given day diagnosed with a hernia, or a kidney stone, or bone degeneration, or herniated discs, for whom such a diagnosis would be a fairly big ordeal leading to the need for some type of fairly significant treatment. But for me they become simply a footnote on a CT scan report. Once this horrible disease called Cancer shows up in your life, everything else becomes about as significant as a hangnail. In the past, I would be concerned about any/all of these diagnoses but now...I truly don't care about them. I don't feel the need to do anything about them and, in fact, they weren't really even discussed with the doctor other than to report their existence. I figure IF they start to bother me, we'll deal with it then. For now...there's much bigger fish to fry". Just an interesting observation about the all encompassing life effects of Cancer. So we wait. Another three months to sit back and enjoy the time I have with family and friends. I'm torn today. On one hand I am VERY relieved that I have don't need to imminently face another surgery and all that comes with the surgery and recovery. Despite the fact that I do feel a sense of inevitability that such a surgery is in my future, it is a relief to know its not coming that soon. Secondly, I am happy that despite the additional lesions and growth of the cancer, they are still relatively small. Again, the growth and spreading of this disease is inevitable. It will grow and it will spread. But...it's nature is such that it still buys me more time. I was told early on that there will be no cure. There will only be methods to buy additional time. So...this is another opportunity to buy time. At lest 3 more months. And for this I am grateful and elated. That being said, the mind is a powerful thing. I would be lying if I didn't say that a small part of me is disappointed. If I were being completely honest I would admit that part of me has a hard time coping with the fact that there are living, growing, replicating, spreading cancer cells in my body that I just want out! Just sitting here typing this update, I am aware that in my lungs, right now, there are cancer cells and tumors that are slowly growing and spreading. While I can consciously understand and agree that in the long run it is in my best interest to leave them alone for 3 months so we can see what they do and implement the best treatment plan possible, the irrational part of me says...let's kill them and get them out of me as quickly as possible before they have the chance to grow and spread. That's my current dilemma. Ultimately I understand that getting "these ones" out of me won't mean that I am cured. It won't mean that there aren't other ones just ready to take their place. I get that, but it doesn't make it any easier. So there you have it...3 more months. Chanukah, birthdays, Christmas, New Year's, the Superbowl (go Pats)... All things that I no longer take for granted...All things I wasn't sure I'd see...All things I get to enjoy over the next three months...After that, well, will see, but for now, let's all enjoy the next three months. Finally I would be remiss if I didn't again take this opportunity (and every opportunity for that matter) to once again thank all of you who have contributed to the Band Together For Gary Fund (information can be found on the home page of this web site). We LITERALLY couldn't make it without you. Your donations continue to provide us the necessary means to pay our bills and keep a roof over our heads. I can't emphasize enough how helpful your donations continue to be. Last month it was an alternator. I was marooned at the Silver Lake High School, while there to pick up Ally. The car (proud to say it is still running after 170K miles), decided to die on me in the parking lot. Nothing major but another unforeseen $400 that doesn't fit into the budget. These are the types of things that the donations are used for. We can live month to month. We scrape by. We've learned where and how to pinch pennies and cut corners. We are surviving. The girls have all learned to live within our pitiful means and get by. But it's the unforeseen, unplanned for things that threaten to tear us down. But with your help we survive. This time of year is difficult. The holidays have always been a time where our spoiled girls got even more spoiled. They always got what they wanted and wanted for nothing. Last year was the first time where that just couldn't happen. Presents became more about what they "needed" and no longer what they "wanted". But in the true spirit of the holidays they jumped on board. There was no complaint, no crying. There were smiles and happiness for what they DID have. It was so heartwarming to see the change in them. At the same time, it was heartbreaking for me. Who doesn't want to spoil their wife and kids? Who doesn't want to buy them everything they want? Despite their understanding it still broke my heart. But it is what it is. Cancer steals all of that from you as well. But...with your donations and your love we got through and had a great holiday. Sure the car broke down last month, and yes, it will eat into our ability to buy gifts for this year. But...we'll make it. With the 3 best women I know by my side, we'll make it. This disease won't win! The present piles may be a bit smaller, the gifts a bit cheaper but we'll all still be together and spend the day together enjoying what we have. Grateful and blessed for the family and friends that have taken this horrible ride by our sides. Who have been there for us from the initial diagnosis. Grateful and blessed that the car is fixed and running and that despite the cost and size, there are still gifts to open. That's all thanks to you and thanks to your donations. We are well aware that there are MANY people out there who have no car and who can afford no gifts at all. There are people out there who will spend the holidays alone, hungry, and sick. Thanks to you and your kindness we have so much. We are the lucky ones. Thank you all so much for continuing to think of us and continuing to donate to this fund. Please know that not a single cent is spent on anything that is "wanted". 100% goes to what is "needed". And not a single cent is spent that is taken for granted. Each and every dollar is appreciated and the sacrifice is always understood. Thank you all and Happy Holidays and Happy New Year. Please check back periodically for updates as I will continue to keep you posted on any changes and updates along the way. At the least I will update you in 3 months after the next scans as we figure out the next steps in treatment. Thank you all again.
Dec 10, 2012
I just wanted to take a second to update and apologize for a mistake in my previous entry. I mentioned that my brother Neil was kind enough to attend my recent doctors appointment because Tara was sick and "bedridden". Since that post I have received concerned feedback in regards to Tara's well being. While I appreciate the concern please note that Tara is doing quite well. In hind site the word "bedridden" was perhaps a poor choice on my part. The fact is that Tara was Ill with some sort of intestinal bug. Given her medical history and her long struggle with Cushing's disease, people understandably read this and feared for her well being. While ANY such sickness can be serious for Tara, fortunately this was just a passing thing. Within a couple of days the bug passed and Tara was back to her usual self. If I gave the wrong impression or led anyone to believe that her illness was more serious than it was...I apologize for that and again, thank you for your caring and your concern.
GarySeptember 13, 2012Hi all. I hope everyone enjoyed their summer and had some fun. I know I did. Tried to spend as much time with my girls as possible and even managed a few awesome (inexpensive) few days away as a family up in New Hampshire.As most of you know, last week I was due for my 3 month scans to check in on where things are at. These scans are often quite nerve wracking both physically and emotionally. Physically, although not the most painful of procedures, I seem to have a bad reaction to the contrast and dye they use in the process. It just runs through my system and leaves a mess in its wake. Unfortunately it really is a necessary evil to allow for the success of the scans. So it was last Wednesday. A couple of days of grin and bear it and get it over with. After the scans it was a week of waiting for the oncology appointment to get the results. I try to keep as busy a possible to keep my mind off things, with mixed results. Finally yesterday Tara and I headed to Mass General for the results.I have a little skit that takes place whenever i am getting results We have learned by now that if the news is good, my oncologist will come in, shake my hand, and ask how I've been. I usually give some response along the lines of "well Doc that depends upon the results I'm here to get.". Now...if the results are good, he will immediately say something like, "oh they're fine". If, on the other hand, there's an issue, he will say something like, "we'll get to that" and then he proceeds to ask all kinds of questions about how I've been feeling. Then, after he updates his notes he will turn to face me and get into the results. Given this little skit, I can usually know pretty quickly where things stand. So, when he came in yesterday for our appointment and gave me the "will get to that", Tara and I both looked at each other and braced ourselves for the news to come.Apparently there are 2 new lung lesions that, in retrospect (now that they know exactly where to look and what to look for) it seems like these lesions were there on the last scan 3 months ago. They were missed on the last scan due to their small size and their relatively hidden location. They are clearly evident now and have grown since the last scans. Unfortunately there is one on each lung. So...back in the battle again. At this point the oncologist, after having consulted with my surgeon, feels that it is not wise to simply jump in to another lung surgery (this would make number 3). The concern is subjecting me to another major surgery (again having to take care of both lungs), only to have the next scans show additional lesions. As it is, this 3rd thoracic surgery would result in loss of more lung on the left side but the loss of a complete LOBE on the right. They can no longer just take out wedges or chunks on the right side. It would mean the loss of the entire lobe. Eventually if they need to keep doing this there is only so much lung tissue you can lose and the more procedures they need to do the higher the chance of running into complications. There is potentially another option which to be honest I don't yet understand a lot about. It's some type of new, targeted radiation. Will look it up and speak to the docs to learn more about it. Apparently this becomes a better possible alternative IF the lesions stay relatively stable over time.So for now the plan is to wait. There is a fine line between waiting too long versus wanting to give as much totime to see what happens and what they do. If they continue to grow, shrink, multiply, etc.. Seeing what happens with them will allow us to make the best decisions. The doc is comfortable with waiting for 3 months, scanning again, measuring any changes, then making treatment decisions from there. I tend to agree with him. It's a bit difficult as my gut reaction is that I just want the tumors out of me and quickly. I don't really want to give them time to do anything else...but... The reality is that the pros of waiting a bit and not jumping in to another major surgery only to be in the same position with NEW lesions again in 3 months seem to outweigh the cons involved. According to the Doc it is highly unlikely that anything (radiation, surgery, more chemo, etc..) will be curative at this point. Even immediate surgery, even if fully successful, would not likely be curative. Let's face it, it's called stage 4 for a reason. It helps nothing to be unrealistic about things. As much as I like to dream about the chances of removing these tumors and being "cured", I need to be realistic and honest about this. Neither chemo, chemo plus radiation, nor 3 surgeries (with the promise of more to come), although all procedures were considered successful, have proven curative. The doc told me a long time ago that to be realistic I had to look at things as a means to prolong life and quality of life rather than as a means to a cure.That's ok...I can handle that. I know that I will not be cured of this (barring the divine answer to my prayers for technological advancements and finding a new cure of course). But, as long as each step works to prolong life, I will take that. The goal is to stay ahead of the cancer for as long as possible until I grow very old or a cure is found. This is chronic for me...this is my life going forward... I will NOT be cured, but hopefully with good treatment, and a little luck, I can deal with issues as they arise and stay ahead.So, the new is not great, and certainly could have been better, this is just the next hurdle to get through and simply the next battle in the war.Again, thank you to all of my friends and family. If you are reading this it must mean you. The outpouring of support, physically, emotionally, financially, has just blown me over. Without all of the support I just couldn't put up the fight. I have too much going for me and too many people supporting me to not do my part. I won't let you all down. We will continue to fight with all we have and we WILL beat this. Thank you again. I will be sure to update you all again in about 3 months to keep you up to date on how things progress and what we decide to do.In the mean time Tara is hanging in there, Abby has been working as a helper in a day care center (which she loves. Like her mom, she was certainly put on this earth to care for young children. She loves it and is a natural), and Ally is keeping busy taking part in her school play. The new school year has started off great and both girls continue to amaze me and make me so proud. Again, thank you to all who have made donations to the band together for Gary fund. I assure you that every cent you have donated has gone to helping us make ends meet and paying our bills. It remains a struggle to do so given my inability to work. I just don't know how we would get by without you all. Times have been lean and remain a huge source of stress and struggle but thanks to you all we have a roof over our heads, food on the table, and bills get paid. On this front I want to take a few words to thank my mom and dad. They have been extremely helpful and generous enough to offer us their old car (I am excited for them as they recently purchased a new care for themselves). Even with these latest results I am going through with my plans to fly down to Florida (again thanks to mom and dad) in 2 weeks, with my brother Neil, an we will drive the car back up to Mass. Although timing could be better and it will be a short trip I am very excited about both getting the car and the trip itself. A big thank to Neil for agreeing to accompany me. I just don't know how I would be able to do it without him. The drive back up would just be way too grueling on me and would necessitate many stops and staying nights in hotels costing additional money. With Neil alongside we can take turns driving and just push through it non stop. I'm looking forward to seeing mom and dad, and spending time with Neil. We leave on Sept. 25 and hope to be home 5-6 days later. Should be a nice little trip. Thank you all!!!July 29, 2012Wow, the end of July already, where's the summer gone? I really want to start off this entry with a few thank you's. There is NO way to even begin to think it possible to thank everyone individually who has helped us along the way as we continue our struggle. I mean, that alone would probably require hours of typing. Truly, how do you thank so many people one by one in a forum such as this? From cousins and family friends who have donated thousand of their hard earned dollars to help us pay our bills while at the same time paying their own during these difficult times, to an old college roommate who I haven't seen for years donating his hard earned money, to my in-laws, (all of them) donating money, food, time, and support. How do you properly thank someone like Helene and Morris Schachne (friends of my parents) who have made multiple donations despite never even having met us, to my parents and brothers who have given and /or lent money, a car, love and support, arranged a fund raiser...heck, my brother Neil even set up this very website to keep people informed of our battle. I mean really, how does one truly thank people for generosity like this? Obviously the biggest thank you has to be saved for Tara, Abby, and Ally without whom I don't know if I would have the fight in me to get through this. These are just some of the MANY folks to whom I will forever be indebted. There's just no way to single out every person but please don't think for a second that we have forgotten anyone in our hearts and prayers. From the bottom of our hearts...thank you all.Now for the update...in the big picture, not much has changed since my last entry. I have not been back to my oncologist yet nor have I undergone more scans. This will take place the first week of September and I will update you all around that time regarding those results and visits. As for day to day life...some ups and downs (thankfully more ups than downs). As many of you know, we had a couple of VERY warm weeks here in Boston with very high humidity. I learned early on during that period that the loss of lung tissue I endured from the removal of the cancerous tumors and the subsequent loss of lung function has a huge effect on my ability to breathe. I found it very difficult to be outside during the heatwave and just could not regulate my breathing. This was very scary for me, but I learned quickly and just made sure that I stayed close to home and inside the air conditioned house. Unfortunately this is not likely to improve over time...on the bright side, we live in Massachusetts where we really only suffer these conditions for a few weeks out of the year. So overall it's not too bad. I will simply adjust to this new reality and simply know that for the few weeks during the year that we suffer a heatwave I will plan to stay put and not venture out. The only other "bad news" to report is that the hernia I suffered as a result of the Colon surgery, seems to be growing. It has been a bit more tender lately and my primary care doc has instructed me to bring it up to the oncologist when we meet next. I think this is something that I will just "live with" for now. I know the only true remedy is surgery to close it up. At this point, despite the mild discomfort, I'm just not ready for another surgery. I'm told that as long as there is no signs of it being "strangulated" or affecting bodily functions, there is no actual need to fix it unless it becomes too painful. I don't think that at this point the discomfort is enough for me to act upon. So, for now it's just something to keep an eye on.Thankfully that's it...that's the only bad news right now. Otherwise things have been awesome. Abby passed her driving learner's permit test and has been doing a great job driving. I was proud and delighted to take her for the test AND to have her drive me around. I have learned the importance of enjoying and appreciating every little milestone in the lives of Tara, the girls, and myself. As is true for everyone, I just don't know how many of these special events I'll be able to be a part of. If cancer has taught me anything it's to really soak up the good times. A milestone like driving and getting a learners permit is one such example. I don't know how much/which milestones in my girls' lives I may miss but I plan to cherish and enjoy everyone I am lucky enough to be present for. Abby has also gotten a job and is loving it. Both girls are keeping busy this summer and remain happy and healthy. We had a few house guests as Abby's boyfriend Rob came to visit from Florida and her friend Maddie from Colorado. It was nice to have all of the youthful excitement running around the house. A bit hectic perhaps as "rides" we're needed at all times of the day, every day, but well worth it. Abby celebrated her 16th birthday in July and Ally will celebrate her 14th in August. Tara is also doing well and is staying busy as a chauffeur.As I wrote about in my last update, I have been thinking about trying to find some sort of work to do to find a way to increase our income a little. As I also informed you all, I'm not sure just how to go about such a thing and still remain healthy. The stress, physically, emotionally, and psychologically is something I'm just not sure makes working feasible. Unfortunately..financially I'm not sure how much longer we can afford for me not to. I won't repeat all of the struggles (physical and logistic) I would face in finding/holding down a job. For that please reread my last entry. Nor will I repeat all of the financial hardships that force me to need to try...again, see last month. What I will say here is that I think/worry about it everyday. It's something that has been hanging over my head really since I was diagnosed and had to leave my last job to start treatment. On a positive note, I've taken an initial step. It's FAR too early to know any of the who, what, where, why, or when's and it's probably even way to early to even mention it here. In fact, I wouldn't if it weren't such a big step for me in this whole battle. For now all I can really say is I met with an ex-colleague of mine who is doing some interesting things and we discussed a few ways in which my experience and knowledge could be beneficial in what she wants to do. That was it. We're nowhere near yet thinking about how or where I could fit in. Haven't discussed specifics, hours, reimbursement, limitations, etc. we just had lunch and talked. We agreed to both think about things and agreed to get back together next month. So...we'll see. We'll see how I am feeling and where I'm at. I'll think about what I would need to make it worth both of our while, what I can offer, what I CAN'T offer, etc. It was a nice meeting that was great for me psychologically. I will fill you all in when there is more to fill in.I guess that's about it for now (your probably thinking..."more than enough"). Thank you again for keeping up with me and my family as we continue to survive our own battle with cancer. I have had the opportunity to speak with other cancer survivors lately and have learned that while each fight their own battle each also face different challenges and struggles unique to them and their disease. At the same time there are many similarities as well. Each seem to face similar obstacles but with different emphasis on their importance. For example, while we all struggle medically/physically, some like myself suffer the most financially, while I am blessed with excellent medical providers. Other survivors tell me that conversely, they are financially stable but VERY unhappy with their care and treatment. That's what I mean by all of us face the same obstacles it's just that each obstacle takes in its own importance. That being said, I have also learned one other thing. The value of support and love of family and friends is THE single most important need that we all share. Each patient/survivor that I've spoken to spoke about how much that support means to them and how much they've found they need that love and support to carry on. I know that for me it's what keeps me going. So, thank you all for keeping me going. Will update again next month. Enjoy part 2 of your summer.Gary KaneJune 6, 2012The latest update...FINALLY some good news. First of all we wanted to once again just say thanks to everyone for the thoughts, prayers, and donations to our cause. It's truly amazing how much a cancer diagnosis takes over your life and affects EVERY aspect. It's not just the physical effects, it's also the emotional ride. The ups and downs, the fear, humility, pain, and occasionally...joy. Not being able to work has been one of the biggest blows. It is truly a life changing experience. Being home leaves nothing but free time to constantly think about the how's, why's, and perhaps worst, is the what ifs. Aside from the physical pain is the emotional and psychological pain that comes along with feeling like you've failed your wife and kids as far as being the "strong provider" that we all long to be. To have to worry about money, paying bills, having to rely on the generosity of others...while heartwarming and truly touching, it is also heartbreaking and VERY difficult. To think about others having to donate their hard earned money just to help you pay bills and put food on your table is humbling at best. Words could never truly express our gratitude to all who have donated NOT just their money, but their prayers, thoughts, and in some cases their time (to visit, call, read this website, etc). From the bottom of my (our) heart...THANK YOU. We couldn't possibly ask for better family or friends.Now...on to the update...as many of you know, 2 weeks ago I had my first annual colonoscopy. As the cancer was originally discovered after this procedure one and a half years ago, I'm sure most of you could imagine the anxiety leading up to that day. Thankfully, after surgery to remove part of my colon, chemotherapy, and directed radiation, the colonoscopy was clear with no new lesions. Hooray. But that was just the start. Last Friday I was scheduled for my 3 month scans. This involves CT scans of my chest, abdomen, and pelvis. I have this done every 3 months to look for any newly developed metasteses. Today was "D day". RESULTS. Thankfully the results were good. No new lesions or tumors!!!So what's next? This may be the hardest part of all. Please don't get me wrong, I am obviously ECSTATIC! about all of the positive results but at least when they see something it becomes very simply. There becomes a plan put into place to deal with it. It becomes very obvious what has to be done and you just settle in and get through it. Now, it's the "not knowing", the "wait and see". In many ways it is more difficult. According to my oncologist, it's continued scans every 3 months until something new is seen. I guess I am not/will never be, "cured" as this just doesn't happen with my type, degree of cancer. We know that the chances of there being no more cancer cells in my body is infinitesimal. Given the amount of cancer in my system, and the places affected (the Colon, lymphatic system, and 9 total lung tumors) it's just not possible. BUT for now they are just too small to see (which is obviously a very good thing). so...the plan is to scan every 3 months and deal with anything that shows up, when it shows up. This could be 3 months from now or (hopefully) 3 years from now. The idea is to keep buying me time. Every clean scan or surgery or chemo treatment, etc...that I have in the future are aimed at buying me time. For now though, thankfully everything I've gone through over the past 1 1/2 years has bought me a lot of time. The original prognosis for me was 2 1/2 years. This was already 1 1/2 years ago and with this clean scan it looks like I'll easily (I guess it hasn't been THAT easy) pass that date, and hopefully pass it by a lot!! After today's news I've begun to think about the possibility of returning to some sort of work. It may be a bit early to start thinking about this but I can't help it. I'm thinking about all of the free time I have, all of the bills to pay and again all of the money that you all have donated, and can't help but think about the possibility of a return. Unfortunately this will not be such an easy proposition as there are many obstacles to making it happen. For instance, I know that despite feeling better, I am physically unable to commit to a full time position. Between the long term effects still lingering from chemotherapy, the chronic decrease in stamina from the partial lung removal (both lungs),etc., I know I would have real troubles working a full 40 hour work week. In addition, I know I am not the "ideal" candidate for an employer. Given my situation, as stated, I will be scanned every 3 months and will never know if/when something will show up. In addition, I then will not know if I will need to quit, take a leave, etc and whether it will be in 3 months or 3 years, if the leave will be temporary or permanent, etc. my employer would have to understand the situation and that there WILL be days where I just physically wouldn't be able to come in. So, while I AM hopeful to be able to get back to work, it'd have to be the right opportunity for the right employer. We would have to both be appreciative of the situation and I would have to commit and be as flexible as they would. Who knows if the right fit is even out there but I'm gonna look for it. Just the simple fact that I can even think about a return to work is amazing and it's just awesome to even be able to consider it. God knows the money would be helpful, not to mention the psychological benefit of being able to do it. So...there you have it. While the overall prognosis remains unchanged, it has been an awesome couple of weeks filled with good news. Again thank you all for everything including taking the time to read these updates. I will provide another entry hopefully updating you all on the job hunt, as soon as I have any updates to provide. It will be no more than 3 months from now as that's the date of the next round of scans. Thanks again.Wednesday April 18, 2012Just wanted to take a moment to update you all on our ongoing battle with Colon Cancer. As many of you know, on March 27th I went in for the last of two lung surgeries (surgery on the left lung in February successfully removed 2 lesions which positively turned out to be metastasized colon cancer which spread through the lymph system into my lungs). This latest surgery was to remove any lesions from the right lung. A couple of days prior to surgery I received a call from the surgeon to inform me that this surgery was going to be more invasive and they were NOT going to be able to use the microscopic equipment but rather were going to need to do a complete open thoracotomy and fully open up the chest cavity, spread the ribs. Deflate the lung and perform the surgery this way. The surgery is now complete and I am happy to say that it appears to have been successful. In the process of surgery they ended up having to break a rib to allow access and ended up having to remove approximately 50% of the right lung (far more than originally expected) en route to removing 7 cancerous lesions. Again I consider myself lucky to have been in the hands of Dr. Lanuti at Mass General Hospital as I am told that most thoracic surgeons would have refused to do this surgery given the amount of disease in a stage IV patient. Dr. Lanuti felt that given my RELATIVELY young age he was willing to try. So here we are, still recovering as it continues to be a slow steady progression, but moving forward nonetheless. The pathology results confirm that these lesions too were NOT a new, secondary cancer but rather a metastesis of the "original" colon cancer. We are now in a wait and see pattern. According to the doctors it is highly unlikely that these "spots" were all that was/is there and it is highly probable that there is still more cancer that is just currently still to small to see. After all it is stage IV. The choices now are to sit tight and wait continuing a plan of periodic scans (every three months or so) and reacting appropriately when and where new cancer shows up, OR another round of chemotherapy to try to kill off as much as possible even though we can't yet see it. This is a decision that we will make next month when I meet back with the oncologist. In the meantime we are working to set up a date for a repeat colonoscopy as it's already been a year, to make sure that there is no more growth in the colon. I will update folks again after the colonoscopy to let you know what, if anything, is found from that. Otherwise it's life as we know it, continuing to recover, spend time with Tara and our girls and enjoy the beginning of what we hope will be a fun summer. Hope you all are doing well and enjoy YOUR summer. Bye for now.GaryMarch 17, 2012I just wanted to take a moment to update you all on what's been going on with my battle. On February 7 I underwent the first of two surgeries on my lungs to remove cancerous spots from the original colon cancer that had metastasized into my lungs. On the first surgery they successfully removed two spots from my left lung. The surgery itself went fairly smoothly. The recovery, went well also. Then, about two weeks ago I had scans done to check on progress of the cancer and the success of the surgery. The good news is that the left lung looks good and clear. The bad news is they see approximately 7 spots on the right lung and at least one of those spots is in a place that will make the surgery a bit more involved and will need to take a larger section of the long. The second surgery is scheduled for March 27. They are still hopeful that they will be able to go in and get all of the spots out. Apparently, according to the oncologist, we are quite lucky to have the surgeon that we do. The oncologist says that most thoracic surgeons would not agree to do this surgery given the amount of spots on the lung and the complexity of the surgery. If this were to happen it would basically mean that there were no hope and I would basically just undergo chemotherapy on and off for the foreseeable future. However, our surgeon is willing to try the surgery and this is obviously good news. Otherwise I just want to thank Everybody who has donated to the bandtogetherforgary fund. Obviously with neither Tara nor I able to work, every little bit counts and your donations have made a huge difference. I know I will never be able to repay everybody or to thank you enough for donating the funds for us, but I just want everyone to know how much we truly appreciate it and could not do this without your support and prayers. Thank you all so much and I will update this website again after the surgery and to update everybody on the progress at that point thank you again.
Saturday January 28, 2012Had a little scare yesterday. After not quite feeling myself for the last couple of days I started experiencing horrible pain yesterday and it wouldn't let up. Tara finally convinced me to head to the hospital last evening to get it checked out. After a few hours, a few tests, and thankfully a few shots of IV pain meds they found the culprit...a kidney stone. As if the cancer and the upcoming surgery weren't enough for Tara, the girls, and I to deal with, I guess someone thought a kidney stone would be a good idea. anyways..I've never been so happy to learn I have a stone (unfortunately not my first), as the alternative diagnosis being considered was some sort of complication/metasteses of the cancer. Luckily, this was not the case. So..after being given the choice of being admitted to the hospital to continue IV pain meds OR go home to grin andbear it until passing the stone, I just wanted to get home. After a fairly uncomfortable night and day (today) I'm still waiting. Despite Tara almost literally continuing to pour anything liquid down my throat in an effort to flush it out of me, we are still awaiting the damn thing to finish it's tortuous route out. I am hopeful it works quickly and we can put this unwanted nightmare behind. Like with my last kidney stone, I have gained yet a whole new respect for any mother and what they must go through "pushing out" a baby. God bless all of you moms, I don't know how you deal with it. Ha..thank God for pain meds!!1/20/2012Well it's been a long few months of wait and see. After finishing chemotherapy and radiation in late November the plan was to wait about 6 weeks and then follow up with scans to see how the colon and lungs looked. I was glad for the time off and the chance to "heal up" a bit from all of the poisons put in my body from the chemo/radiation treatments. It was particularly nice to have the break during the holidays. Scans happened in early January and we were expecting things to look about the same as previous scans given that only about 6 weeks had passed. Unfortunately that was not the case. The cancerous nodules on my lungs grewsince finishing the treatments. The good news is that they are still VERY small. The bad news is that there's about 8 of them, they are spread out in both lungs,and they seem to be growing. In addition, I've still been having some negative symptoms in the colon although we are still hopeful that the previous surgerygot all of the cancer there. So, the plan seems to be a repeat colonoscopy since it's been a year already since the last one (and diagnosis) to be followed bysurgery to remove the lung nodules before they grow more and/or spread (if it hasn't happened already).February 2, I am scheduled for the colonoscopy and Feb 7 will have surgery on one lung. The options are to operate on both lungs at once which is a majorsurgery involving opening up the whole chest OR 2 surgeries (each lung separately with a month or two between to allow the first surgery to heal up).this second option means smaller incisions and basically going in to one lung and "wedging" out the cancerous nodules one at a time. It is a much easiersurgery with a much easier recovery. Option 1 means just one surgery and getting as much of the cancer out as possible, as quickly as possible before it can growor spread. We decided to go with option 2 and the two separate surgeries. While we run the risk of the cancer growing or spreading, the nodules, thoughnumerous, are still quite small and the doctors feel that two smaller surgeries are the better way to go. So, after the colonoscopy and surgery on Feb 7 we'llheal up from things, scan again (to make sure nothing changes) then schedule the second procedure on the other lung.That's the plans for now. It looks like an uphill battle. The doctors are making no promises that they can/will be able to "get it all". They say its possible that there's more already there just too small to see at this point, or that it can continue to spread, etc..BUT, they are also comfortable with the possibilityof improving things with the surgical procedures. Either way, we'll continue the fight and the plans to beat this.Tara and the girls continue to hang in and battle on with me. The girls are doing great in their new schools and continue to impress me with how they'rehandling everything and Tara remains my rock continuing to motivate me to keep fighting. I WAS hoping to get back to work (at least part time) after finishing the treatments but it looks like that will have to wait a while longer until we get through these surgeries. We'll see! Thank you all for your support, thoughts and prayers. We'll take all we can getas we move into this next portion of the battle. We'll try to get an update out after the first surgery to keep you posted on how it goes and where we head next.9/15/2011I just wanted to once again thank everyone who has taken the time to check this website to follow my battle with Colon Cancer and a special thanks to all of youwho have contributed to the "Band Together for Gary" fund. Your donations have truly helped Tara, Abby, Ally, and I get by during this difficult stretch in our lives. I wanted to take a minute and update you all regarding my current treatment plan. As of about September first I finally completed my first course of chemotherapyand let me say, I wouldn't wish that on my worst enemy. It was a long, difficult 16 infusion course of chemo administered for 3 day every other week. The fatigue, nausea, etc. Were challenging to say the least. Unfortunately about 3/4 of the way through they had to change the chemo drugs up a bit since at leastone of them had seriously begun to effect my liver resulting essentially in giving me mono every other week. I spent most of the past 6 months sick and inbed. Thank God for Tara, Abby and Ally who, along with both sides of the family, really "sucked it up" and helped get me through. The good news is that's now behind us. I had a round of MRI's last week which showed very little change, from the chemo, in the presence of 6 nodules in my lungs. Unfortunately, with the lack of real change it's still not fully possible to know the nature of the nodules. The doctors are still very concerned that they have all of the characteristics of being cancerous metasteses from the colon cancer, however they cannot confirm this completely without removing them and biopsying. The good news is that they are very small and have NOT grown at all. We met with the doctors today and they don't feel it worth it at this point to open me up to go after them given the immensity of the surgery for the sizeof the nodules. For now I think we're just going to keep a CLOSE eye on them and repeat MRI's every couple of months to see what they do. On Oct. 3 I will begina month of chemotherapy AND radiation to more fully treat the "original" Colon Cancer. This consists of being "hooked up" to portable chemo every monday. Daily(mon-fri) I need to go to the hospital for radiation treatment. On friday's visit, after the radiation, they will "unhook" the chemo for the weekend andthen come back on monday to repeat the whole process. One month of basically nonstop chemo and daily trips to the hospital for radiation for a month...YIPPEE! Really not looking forward to the treatments OR the likely/possible side effectsbut we'll get through this too. So...for now, that's the update. So far so good I guess. Other than that...thank God all are coping as best they can and doing well. Thegirls are finally settling in to the new place in Kingston, Mass. as well as their new schools. They, and Tara have dug in deep to keep things going and to pick up my "slack". They have truly been my heroes and have gotten me through the difficult times. I will update you all again as treatment progresses and I learn of any changes to treatment plan or any other changes worth noting. Again,thank you all for your prayers, well wishes, donations, etc. They ALL really domake a difference.5/02/2011Well, so far things are going mostly according to plan. Abby and Ally are scheduled to get out of school for the summer this week. That's the goodnews...the bad news is that we have no where to live once they get to Massachusetts. We're currently in process of rental hunting. If anyone knows of a rental property available for a year or two please let us know. Healthwise the chemo continues. There's been a few side effects evident in the bloodwork leading to a few changes in medications and dosages but all in allthings are going ok. The doctor's scheduled a round of CT scans in 2 weeks to check on the chemo's effectiveness. This will be the first check of this nature. Will be sure to update all once the CT results are in. Otherwise life goes on and movesforward.4/21/2011It's been almost 2 month's since I've been able to see/hold my girls. Poor Tara's racking up frequentflier miles traveling back and forth to care for me and be there for Abby and Ally. For nowthe plan is for 6 months of chemotherapy (1 and 1/2 months already under the belt), followed by 1 to 1 1/2 months of chemoradiation, followed by likely more surgery to deal with spots on the lungs. This is the plan IF all goes well andaccordingly. If I am sure of anything else its this...nothing medically EVER goes "according to plan". So for now it's sit back, try to relax, and prepare for the unexpected.