In December of 2015 Gary was diagnosed with esophageal adenocarcinoma (Cancer of the esophagus). In April of 2016 he had an esophagectomy. Fast forward two months of recuperation and going stir crazy, he gets himself back to work as sitting home and being idle as anyone who knows Gary, knows is not his cup of coffee. Gary went for the next five years in remission receiving CT scans, maintaining his check-ups, and waiting for the day most Cancer patients want to hear…CANCER FREE. February of 2021, he received his 5-year scan and was considered cancer free.
You could never imagine after 6 years that a doctor would bring you a diagnosis of a brain tumor when you went in for a broken leg from a slip and fall at work, A fib and a few headaches. Gary was admitted into the hospital on January 13th. By this time, he was now having some issues seeing his phone, concentrating and at times exhibiting unusual mood swings. Munson was only allowing one visitor a day for 2 hours. With as short staffed as they are, there were many times we can be thankful the 2 hours was not always observed as Pam was able to stay up there and help take care of his needs and keep him company. One night around 6pm I was asked if I could take his phone up to him. I said I would if I did not have to see him because I did not know if I was strong enough to walk in there and keep a brave face. He had already had his visitor for the day, so I was just supposed to drop it at the door. When I took the phone in, I said “he has already had his visitor, but I was told to drop this off and it would be delivered to his room.” The receptionist said, “well actually he does not have it marked down so you are able to go up if you would like.” I went up…I remember him ‘watching tv’ on volume 0 with no hearing aids in. He was just sitting there by himself in his room trying to distract his thoughts thinking about 7am when he would be able to order his breakfast. I remember him saying he was scared this time. Of course, as most children would, I tried to stay optimistic and remind him he was strong, and everything would be ok. It is difficult to see someone you love and look up to scared. One of the strongest figures in your life go through something that they have no control over.
The tumor, the size of a grape was removed on January 19, 2022. Gary was able to leave the hospital with his new hair cut on January 22nd and come home. As we awaited pathology results, we were on an emotional rollercoaster. We tried to think positive with the knowledge that he has beat Cancer before, was strong enough to overcome some tough life obstacles, and is fairly young and healthy. The 3 days between the surgery and pathology were some tough days. Emotions were high and intense at times. Each person was trying to deal with their emotions the only way they knew how and sometimes this could be challenging.
January 25th, 2022, pathology came back as stage 4 metastatic adenocarcinoma/ high-grade neoplasm brain cancer. Pam received a call from the doctor as she was on her way with Gary Jr. to have surgery on her shoulder. She cancelled surgery and headed home to take Gary to the hospital to talk with the doctor. His doctor was called into an emergency surgery, so Gary received the news from the ER doctor whose only information was what his diagnosis was, and he was sent home.
Another 3 days of uncertainty and emotions as we awaited the appointment with the radiation oncologist on January 28th. How do you talk about Cancer? How does the one with Cancer relate to the others without? How do the people without understand the one who does? These are not conversations or feelings anyone should have to go through though most of us have. In this family alone cancer has taken both paternal and maternal grandmothers.
On January 28th, 2022, we met with the Radiation Oncologist Dr. Forster at Cowell Cancer Center. The doctor explained that his esophageal cancer had come back and metastasized to his brain, he could not ethically guarantee a specified time, as we all know there is only one person who can do that, but he had a treatment plan. The treatment would consist of 3-5 days in a row of radiosurgery which is targeted radiation therapy.
The first step in the process was his MRI which was done yesterday 2/6/22. On 2/9/22 the doctor will take his results pending and do a radiation simulation and create a mask for him to wear. He will then get a schedule to start radiation within the next 5 days. The plan after radiation would be MRI’s every 2-3 months to ensure there are no other tumors growing.
Again, as we are getting the news and the results, Gary is asking will I be able to go back to work!? If will is enough Gary will beat this again and be back to work as soon as possible, however as of right now, he is just not able to physically and Pam is his full-time caregiver. With him being off work, the bills are still coming in and the insurance wants theirs too.
Primarily, please continue to pray for our family during this challenging time. Gary would also love the support from his friends and family whether it is on the phone, Facebook, or if he can make it up to the restaurant for some roundtable therapy. If you are in the position to help financially, the money would be used to pay his medical benefits, co-insurance, deductibles, transportation to and from appointments, prescriptions, and time off work. We love and appreciate everyone who has reached out so far and that continue to keep us in your thoughts. We will update this page as he continues through his journey. Thanks