Two Weeks and Counting

Hey all,

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.




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10 responses to “Two Weeks and Counting

  1. Loren Schomaker

    Good Mornin Chris
    Thank you for the update and the blog address. I will check in from time to time. If I can be of any help please let me know. My prayers go with you. Your friend and ex-coworker.

  2. Michael Manor


    I was sorry to hear of your condition, but very enlightened to see that you are so optimistic. We had a friend that had gastric cancer at 42 and lost a battle after about 2 years and we have seen first-hand the struggles. He was given 2 months to live and through miraculous medicine and being optimistic, he was able to have two more good years! In fact, the treatment he had went so well and the tumor shrunk so fast in the beginning that it actually opened up a hole in his stomach he had to have surgery to close! We will be proying for you and if you or Karen and the boys need anything, PLEASE call! Best wishes and keep us updated!

    The Manors

  3. Julia

    Hi Chris,
    you dont know me but i am one of Strats teammates. I just wanted to tell you that my mom and i have each had our battles with cancer, and we are pulling for you. One day at a time and as you said, you are ready to fight this battle!
    Take care,

  4. Hey Chris and Karen,
    I’m so glad Sarah sent us the link to your blog so we can keep up with you and pray specifically for your needs. I LOVE your attitude…it will take you a very long way. You’re going to beat this stinking cancer into the ground!

    Whatever we can do, let us know.
    Missy and Scott Schwake

  5. Dawn Heller

    Don’t know if you remember me but I am Brian and Joans sister (inlaw). I am very happy you are seeing Dr Belzer -he is the one of the best surgeons I work with. If you would like me to choose staff for your OR next week let me know. Anyone will take good care of you but we all have our favorites. And let your family know that I am at Methodist at least three days/week and I would be glad to help with transportation and anything else you guys need. Will be thinking and praying for you.
    Dawn Heller

  6. Ken Reis


    You will be in the prayers of all the folks at Varsity Photos — so be tough.

    I like the tone of your last posting — with your voice and a little fun, no wonder they threw you out.

    Ken Reis

  7. Michelle Holle

    Hey hang in there you’ll be fine,and ohh yeah if you do need to get rip roaring drunk it is softball season I have been practicing. Love Michelle Holle

  8. LeAnn Steffl

    Hi Chris,
    Just heard from Michelle about the blog. Wanted to let you know you and your family are in our prayers! I am sure you will do great.

    And, if that drunk thing with Michelle happens, I want in!!!
    LeAnn Steffl and Caitlyn too!
    Varsity Photo Alum

  9. Bill LaVanier

    Heard from Larry G. you were facing some interesting times ahead. A friend of mine in MO had the CC thing discovered late last year. Had the resection and whatnot done.He finished his Chemo in May and is doing great so far. With that good attitude and the support of your family and friends everything will go better. Kathy and I will keep you in our thoughts and prayers.


  10. The Banick


    We think about you a ton, but don’t know what you need right now. Please let us know if there is anything that you need. You know that we’ll be there. Ditto for you Karen. We are headed out on vacation for a week, but we’ll be thinking of you during your surgery and hoping for the best possible outcome. You have the spirit and attitude to do this. Remember through this whole thing no matter what happens I’ll still think the Lumberjacks stink! 😉 (That’s one of the first things I ever said to you.)

    Stay strong and positive.

    The Banicks

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