1998 a month after Ally was born Tara got sick. Her BP was sky high. In and out of the hospital getting sicker and sicker and not sure why. Her labs were all WAY off, BP uncontrolled, diagnosed with uncontrolled diabetes, legs began to waste away and torso ballooned. Test after test was negative but she got weaker and weaker. Ended up with 4 compression fractures in the spine and bed ridden in a full body brace. Legs couldn't support her. Needed to rent a hospital bed and walker for her to move. Needed complete care by me and family members. Finally diagnosed with Cushing's disease which is caused by a tumour somewhere. They never found the tumour (to this day). The tumour pumps stuff into the adrenal glands which then makes u sick. Finally she was so sick and close to death they decided to remove 1 adrenal gland to try to buu time. Didn't help. Just got sicker. They then found a small tumour in a kidney but turned out not to be the Cushing's cause, rather it was a cancer. Thankfully they removed that and it hadn't spread so cancer cured. Finally, after years of treatment, numerous hospitalizations and 3 near death experiences they removed the 2nd adrenal. Symptoms have mostly reversed but u need adrenals to live so she is forever on life sustaining medications. Problem is her body can't adjust/adapt to stress, illness, etc. She only gets what she takes by pill. If she is sick and can't keep her pills down she needs hospitalization. In addition, the compression fractures, periods of fatigue, etc. Will never heal. It is impossible for her to commit to an employer not knowing day to day how she will be feeling.
Saturday February 12 I was at work working the night shift at the hospital and early in the morning started to have some internal bleeding. Went on monday to the ER to get checked out. CT scan showed some internal inflammation that had them concerned but wasn't considered emergent. LUCKILY they weren't able to control my heartrate and decided upon keeping me inpatient. A colonoscopy was
scheduled for 2 days later. The interim was spent as an inpatient and filled with bloodtests and other scans. Upon awakening from the colonoscopy I was informed that I had colorectal cancer and surgery was scheduled to remove the cancerous mass for the next day. So it began. A two hour surgery turned in to 5 hours to remove the mass, lymph nodes and my appendix, and again upon awakening
came the news. I did, in deed, have rectal cancer and it looked pretty bad. The tumour was sent off to pathology. By the time I left the hospital I was diagnosed and preparing for a battle. The original diagnosis was Stage 3 rectal cancer with involvement of at least 2 lymph nodes and some suspicious looking spots on my lungs. It was then that we decided to seek a second opinion. Coming from such a medically dynamic city such as Boston there was little questioning the wisdom of returning home for this
opinion. Our hope/expectation was a quick doctor's visit to simply verify all that we'd been told. But if we've learned anything dealing with medical issues over the years, its that seldom are things so easy and rarely do they go
according to plan. Lo and behold, the 2 opinions couldn't have been more different. Our second opinion was much less optomistic than the first. The fine doctors at Mass General are far more concerned about the cancer having
metastasized to the lungs. Concerned enough to have downgraded the diagnosis to stage 4 rectal cancer with "mets" to the lungs. Implementing the philosophy of
"I'd rather use a hammer to crack a nut because at least it is well and truly cracked" we decided to put our trust in the doctors in Boston. So I came for a second opinion in early March and have been here since.
On behalf of Tara and our beautiful daughters, Abby and Ally, I would like to thank you for visiting this website. Originally, with the help of my brother Neil, we created this site as a means for me to communicate with all of our loving friends and family as we battle forward in our struggle again stage 4 Colon Cancer. We are blessed enough to have many caring people supporting us, all who were interested in knowing how the struggle was going. By creating this site it allowed us to keep everyone up to date on any information, as we got it. Rather than trying to contact everyone, answer the dozens of questions, and try to keep track of just who already knew what, this website allowed us to send out periodic updates as information became available. In addition, early on it also became a fairly cathartic way for me to be able to discuss my thoughts and feelings about this disease and the struggles it causes. I found that I could use the periodic updates as a means to also explore how I was feeling at various times throughout this battle. Using the website as part information sharing and part blogging has provided me a healthy, beneficial way to help cope with everything going on. Whether it was during happier times such as 6 months ago when I had, what we thought at the time, was a "clean" CT scan, or more trying times, such as the most recent scan showing 2 "new" tumors, I could rely in this site to let folks know AND as a way to help "deal" with whatever comes our way. So...for anyone taking the time and caring enough about us to read this site.. I THANK YOU for allowing me the opportunity to use your kindness as a means to be part of our team in our battle against this disease. I don't know what the future holds for me but I DO know that with your continued support I will keep fighting through whatever comes my way. I feel like I am not in this alone, and I have whole lot of people depending on me, and caring about us. That gives me all the strength in the world to fight on.I would also like to thank each of you who have continued to help us out in an even more thoughtful way. My brother not only set up this website but he also created the "Band Together For Gary" fund. This is a fund he graciously created as a means for folks to donate their hard earned money to help us out during this horrible time. I don't, not even for a second, take for granted the huge sacrifice many of you have made to help us out. The doctors are quick to point out all of the terrible effects this disease will have on your body; the surgeries, the injection of poisonous chemicals they subject your body to in chemotherapy, the ravages caused by radiation, etc. what they can't prepare you for is the effects that Cancer has on your loved ones. The necessary changes in the very nature of your being in regards to how you live your lives. They don't tell you that Cancer, and even the effects of treatment alone, incapacitate you to the point where you are unable I hold down a job. In my case. The diagnosis led to our having to pack up and relocate back to Mass. In the end it seems like this move was absolutely necessary as the difference in opinions between the doctors in Colorado and Massachusetts could have been catastrophic. The doctors in Mass. turned out to be right on, and those in Colorado, who saw things differently were dead wrong (no pun intended). Had we NOT moved back for treatment there is no doubt in my mind that I wouldn't be here right now. Anyway, the diagnosis, loss of employment, relocation, chemotherapy, radiation, numerous surgeries, etc, to date, have made it virtually impossible to maintain our lifestyle. We trimmed down; used, gifted cars, rental rather than ownership of our home, pinching pennies, etc. these are all side effects of a Cancer diagnosis that you won't find in medical books or on websites regarding Cancer. These are the things that keep me awake at night. Finally, with any last crumb of pride long ago swallowed, we got some relief from Medicare and Disability. At least we are able to exist and not have to worry about a roof over our heads and food on our table. I write this NOT as a means of garnering sympathy, but as a prelude to our deepest, most earnest THANK YOU to any/all of you who have donated to this fund. I tell you this to let you know that your donations have not been frivolously squandered foolishly. Your hard earned dollars have gone directly to allowing us to pay our bills, and to be able to continue with this battle and feel confident that we will be able to keep the heat in in the house as a cold winter approaches, or assure that we have gas in the car to bring the girls to school. Please know that we couldn't do these things without your continued help and support. Please also know that we don't take this for granted, not for one second. We have come to appreciate family and friendship like never before and that we understand just how blessed we truly are. We could never thank you enough for your continued assistance and I believe that the best way to repay you for your sacrifice is to continue the fight. Because of all of you, I will continue to battle this disease with everything I have. With all you have given me, it is the least I can give back to you. So I thank you for everything. I will continue to use this website as we move forward. In a couple of weeks (December 3, 2012) I am scheduled for a repeat CT scan. Based upon the results of this scan we will make decisions on what course to take regarding these "new" tumours. Later that week I will get the results of the scans. When I do I will put together the next update to le you all know the plan. Thanks again also to my brother Neil for creating this website and for creating the fund (information for which is located on the homepage of this site) which continues to truly provide more help and support than mere words could ever define. Thank You All!!
PLEASE BE SURE TO VISIT THE HOME PAGE TO PURCHASE ANY OF THE AMAZING ITEMS DONATED BY RED SOX GREAT CURT SCHILLING