Chris is now resting comfortably in his room. They put an epidural in before his surgery to help manage pain…they will leave this in for a few days, so Karen says Chris is not feeling any pain right now. Chris is quite groggy, but was asking questions about his surgery. The doctors say that tomorrow he’ll be extremely exhausted and will need a lot of rest. Chris will start a clear liquid diet tomorrow and they will get him up and moving. Mom and Karen said it was a long day…they are home to get a few hours of sleep. Brenden told Karen that he’d like to go see daddy with her.
Karen just called and Chris is now in recovery. The doctor said the surgery went well. They ended up taking out a little more than the planned 12 inches of colon. When they looked at the liver, the doctor said they saw what he described as a “classic tumor”, so they didn’t biopsy it as it would have extended the surgery another hour, so they now know the cancer has spread without needing the biopsy.
Karen will try to give another update once Chris is out of recovery and she’s able to see him. On a lighter note, Brenden’s t-ball skills are improving by the week, and Coach Grandpa Stratton is tired from chasing kids around all night on the t-ball field. Brenden even took a ball to the head and toughed it out…no tears! When Coach Stratton asked Brenden who is a better coach, Grandpa or Dad, Brenden was quick to answer “both”. I think we have a politician on our hands. As for Jaxson, well, I spent my night “encouraging” him to stay out of the dirt…unfortunately it didn’t work and he has pebbles stuck in both his hair and his underwear. Needless to say, it’s bath time.
Karen just called. Chris is just going into surgery now (about 3 pm) and they’ve been told to expect that surgery will take 5.5 hrs. So the next update will likely be late tonight.
Hello everyone, Sarah (Chris’s sister-in-law) here. Karen called me today and told me that a lot of you have been calling and generously offering to prepare/deliver meals for the Batys over the next few weeks. Since Karen and Chris are going to be a little busy and may be a bit difficult to reach, Chris’s brother Dave has volunteered to coordinate with everyone who wants to provide food. So please contact Dave at 952.855.4641. And thank you for your generosity, prayers, and kind words…I’m amazed at all of the wonderful people Chris has in his life.
As Chris mentioned in his last post, I will be updating the blog tonight as soon as we get an update from family at the hospital.
They say time flies when you are having fun, I’m not sure I would define this as fun-but time has flown. I have had a great time visiting with everyone, being uplifted by all your comments, emails and sharing in prayer. I have already met some very remarkable people along the way, made new friends and renewed old acquaintances. Just a brief update since my last post…
A week ago I attended another cancer support group, this one sponsored by my church called Pray for the Cure. Its creation was inspired by Race for the Cure. At this session there was close to 30 people in attendance. Our room was filled with some who had been cured and others who are battling the worst of what this disease has to offer. There was one other person in attendance that has the same diagnosis as me and we just happened to sit next to each other. Charlie has 22 spots around his liver along with the cancer in his colon. For the rest of the night Charlie and I were matched up, in fact we were two of the last people to leave the church. I pretty much talked his ear off and he was nice enough to answer any and all of my questions. We still communicate every few days. He is a real inspiration.
I had two more doctors’ appointments and they all agree that this is the right course of action. I met with Dr. Sielaff and a general MD for my pre-op physical. Dad and I talked to Dr. Sielaff who explained that his first option is always surgery. If surgery is not an option due the amount of cancer tumors, he named off 2-3 other procedures he will use. The general MD reviewed my most recent blood work and said that all levels were in the normal range, including the bilirubin that was slightly higher two weeks prior.
I headed North for the weekend to spend time with old friends that I haven’t seen for awhile. There was a surprise Birthday party planned for one of them(Kent Bahr) and we ended that with an intimate prayer session. I tell you with all these prayers everything should be a breeze! I left Bemidji with some new good memories, a full stomach and a cooler full of food. In fact I just finished my last piece of solid food for the next two days and it was Kelli’s Wild Blueberry pie-what a treat to end on.
Of course I have coached a couple more soccer games and one more T-Ball game. Brenden has turned into our best scorer in soccer. Remember this is the kid who cried through ½ the games last year and most of the time didn’t really want to go. Can we say coach of the year? Oh, you want to know about Jaxson? Well he and his cousin Caden are the biggest challenges on the team. They both got into minor skirmishes with the opposing team, Jaxson throwing some small fists and Caden getting pulled to the ground. Maybe I better wait on my coaches award speech. Coach Dave (my brother) will take the full reigns of the team next week.
Tomorrow is the big day. Methodist Hospital in St. Louis Park is where the battle begins at 1 p.m. The surgery is set for 3-4 hours. I then will be in the hospital for 4 days, probably getting released on Sunday night or Monday morning. Karen, Mom, Dad, Dianne(Mother-in-law) and maybe others will be waiting in the recovery area for me. Sarah and Grandpa Stratton will be leading the charge on the T-Ball field. Sarah will have to do double-duty as we will leave it to her to post on the blog late Thursday night.
Talk to you all on the other side-this cancer thing doesn’t stand a chance.
Here is a quick update for the past week. I scheduled an appointment to see a liver cancer specialist. His name is Dr. Sielaff and he is the head of the Virginia Parker Cancer Institute in Minneapolis. I felt it would be helpful and re-assuring to see him sooner rather than later. He was supposed to see me after my colon surgery but I thought it would be great to see him as soon as possible and let him look at my blood work and CT scans. I think this is a sure indication that I really am sick, I am excited to see another Dr. to talk about cancer. I see him next Monday morning.
This past Tuesday Karen, Dad and I went to my Pre-Op.appointment with Dr. Belzer, the colorectal surgeon. He confirmed the location of the tumor. At that time we also decided to take the lymph nodes out as well as the tumor. The thinking here is that we don’t want the lymph nodes to be the location where cancer could manifest itself in the future. So along with 1 foot of my colon, they will take out the lymph nodes and biopsy one or two of the mystery spots on the Liver. All that leads up to one heck of an incision across my abdomen.
On Wednesday I attended a colon cancer support session. It is a new group that is led by nurse Jessy. There were 8 attendees and all were friendly and helpful. I was the youngest of the bunch. I wasn’t sure what to expect but I didn’t think the group would look so “normal”/healthy. They were all at various spots in their journey, although most had already been through surgery and were doing various types of chemo/radiation. It was very informative. I learned more about all of my doctors. I also learned that the cancer developed over 10 years vs. 3 or 5 like I had heard previously. One lady had a very similar prognosis to me. She has already had the surgery and at the time of surgery they took a biopsy of one of her 7 liver spots. They confirmed that it was cancerous and staged her at 4. Since then they have ran 4 other tests that can’t confirm that they are all cancerous so they just continue to monitor her 7 spots ad keep her on a maintenance chemo schedule. One lighthearted note, the group meets next to a Breast Cancer support group. The BC’s, as I will call them, don’t like us CC’s as we are too loud, talkative and even laugh every now and then so we are kicked out before they start. I think we need to start a support group for animosity in between cancer support groups. CC’s Rule!
Thursday night we had a group session led by my brother. He organized a meeting for some family and friends to help us get ready for the next few months. I think we got the first two weeks figured out for help not just for me but the guys and Karen too. We are truly blessed. I don’t think it was just a coincidence that brought Dave and Jill back from Atlanta last year. At this session we determined the best way to communicate going forward would be to create a blog (so this is the one Sarah created for me). Sarah, Karen and I will author and maintain it.
A couple last things: I am feeling physically good right now, mentally I am coming around. I still have a lot to learn but I do feel I am ready for this challenge; after all it wouldn’t have been handed to me if I couldn’t handle it.
I learned my grandfather had colon cancer surgery at age 45 and decided to get rip roaring drunk the night before his surgery. I guess that was his way with dealing with it. He was tough. He survived his surgery and chemo treatments and lived for another 21 years. He survived being shot down by the Germans in WWII, a mine caving in on him, falling asleep at the wheel and running off the road and open heart surgery at 39. A little stage 4 cancer should be nothing for me. As my Aunt said I have “Sisu”, not to mention a whole lot of loving friends and family to see me/us through this.
Thanks for listening. I will update the blog next week.
Today was another tough day-not all bad, but not all good.
My Dad, Dianne(Mother-in-law) and myself met with my Colorectal Surgeon(Dr. Belzer). We were told that Dr. Belzer is the surgeon we would want to have, so I was glad he was assigned to me. He looked at the Colonoscopy results, reviewed current health, family history(My grandfather had Colon Cancer at age 48 and was cured), blood work and my CT Scans from last week. Most of the results were positive but they did see some spots in the liver. This is the first organ that Colon cancer spreads to. He counted as many as 12 spots. These spots may not be cancer but we won’t know the results until the biopsy them. They will do the biopsy at the same time they do the surgery to remove the tumor in my colon. The surgery is scheduled for noon on July 31st. The procedure will be performed at Methodist in St. Louis Park. It will take 3-4 days for me to recover and get out of the hospital. Then the Dr. said it takes anywhere between 2-6 weeks before I can get back to work.
During those recovery weeks I will get the results of the Liver Biopsy. Whether they find cancer or not they are scheduling me for 6 weeks of Chemo treatments. Sometime prior to the beginning of those treatments they will attach a semi-permanent port into my chest for Chemo treatments and IV’s.
I seem to get lucky with all my appointments, just not always with the results. Dr. Belzer called a Oncologist that he really liked and as luck would have it, they just had a cancellation and could see me at 10:30 this morning(this is literally the 4th time I have gotten right in to see the person I needed to see). My Oncologist’s name is Dr. Duane and seems to be a real optimist. Dr. Duane did a brief examination and talked about how we would go for a complete cure, no matter what they found in the Liver. He explained how I will tolerate the chemo and explained good days and bad days. After each treatment I go home with a pump that continues to feed me chemo for the next couple days. After the first round of Chemo. they will do all the blood work and CT Scans again to see how both the Colon and Liver are doing. At that point they will make a determination whether or not to do another round of Chemo or try to operate on the Liver. For consultation and potential surgery on the Liver, we will move on to Dr. Timothy Sieloff. He again comes highly recommended. A surgeon who doesn’t know me but is the brother of a guy I work with called me tonight and said to go to him, so again I am lucky that I am already set to work with him once I get past this first surgery.
I told both Dr.’s that I wanted to be as aggressive as possible with the treatments. Both agreed that, that was the way to approach it especially since I am still relatively young and relatively in good shape.
Between now and the 31st it is preparation time-mentally, physically and spiritually. I really appreciate all the love, support and prayers for Karen, I and the boys. We will probably be calling on all of you for help at some point.
Thanks for listening-I’m sure I will be emailing again once I hit recovery the first week of August.
P.S. In a side note-I think we won our 1st soccer game of the year. The reason I say “think” is one kid on my team decided to kick the ball in his own net twice, so if I don’t count those goals-we won! Brenden got his first goal ever, so he was excited. His brother and cousin(who were playing) just couldn’t get enough of making sand castles in the dirt in front of our goal.