Friends, I am writing you today with a heavy, hope-filled heart. We’ve had a lot going on these last few weeks, and I believe it’s time for me to fill our family and friends in on details.
Two weeks ago, my husband Nick was diagnosed with liver cancer. It’s still difficult to say those words without feeling like every ounce of my insides are being crushed into a million pieces. Nick went into the ER with stomach pains…which led to tests, hospital stays, procedures and scans that detected the tumors. Just to go back a little bit, when Nick was 18 he was diagnosed with a cryptogenic cirrhosis, basically a form of liver cirrhosis that they cant tie reasoning to as this wasn’t due to hepatitis or alcohol use. He was getting a physical to play hockey when they discovered his spleen was enlarged and this is what led to his diagnosis. Aside from regular bloodwork and checkups, Nicks condition has been very simple to manage; he put it on the backburner for years and tried to just live his life.
Now, to get you up to speed on where things are currently. Two weeks ago when Nick was diagnosed with cancer we started testing and care at the University of Minnesota, where Nick has been in the care of liver specialists for years. After receiving his cancer diagnosis we met with GI/Liver Specialists and Oncologists in an effort to see what options Nick has for treatment. Now, in a perfect world, Nick would be eligible for a liver transplant here in the US, but unfortunately he is not because of the sizes of his tumors; they are covering over 50% of his liver. We also learned that surgery, radiation and chemotherapy would not be of options to him as his liver is too damaged from the cirrhosis to be able to handle those treatments. They talked to us about one option in immunotherapy that Nick could try with caution as they told us it may cause more harm than benefit to him. We were discouraged in every way.
We came down to Mayo in Rochester, MN on Tuesday to meet with a GI Specialist/Hepatologist for a second opinion. They, too, agreed that Nicks liver could not handle surgery, radiation or chemotherapy at this point. They felt that the immunotherapy would at least be worth a shot, though. But they also opened up a new path of hope for us: a possible transplant in Canada. What we’ve learned is that the US has very different guidelines for eligibility of a transplant than Canada does. The University of Toronto is a very well respected institution that is willing to do more “high risk” transplants; the prerequisites being that (1) the patient needs to be fairly asymptomatic and in otherwise good health and (2) the tumors need to fit within a certain criteria, mainly with regard to their aggression of growth. I am currently sitting in the waiting room down at Mayo while Nick is in for a biopsy to determine if these tumors are something that would allow us to be considered by the U of T for a transplant. I can not put into words the amount of care and interest Mayo has given Nick thus far. We feel we are in the right place right now, and we know these medical providers will do everything in their power to lead us in the right direction with the right people. The knowledge, innovation and continuity of care here is truly unparallel, and we are so grateful to only be an hour and a half drive away.
In the midst of all of this darkness, we have been brought such light by our amazing family and friends. As Nick said the other night, “I don’t cry anymore out of fear and sadness, I cry out of gratitude for the people around us”. It is absolutely paralyzing to feel this kind of support and through all of this uncertainty, we feel so certain that we have the greatest army in the universe helping us walk through this. You know who you are, army, and we feel you carrying us. Nick is the most brave, strong person I have ever known, he can do this….and I will be advocating for him and holding his hand every single step of the way. When we sat Georgia and Jude down to talk to them about all of this Georgias response was “my teacher tells us that when people are sick the best things we can do are pray, be patient and be kind”. And bless her beautiful heart, thats exactly what we will do.
So now, we ask for prayers. Prayers for Nick, for healing, comfort and strength. Prayers for our children, that they will continue to feel constant light and love and that worry not be in their hearts. Prayers for the doctors and medical teams, that they will be filled with wisdom and knowledge so that they can continue to guide us to the best of their ability. And prayers for a sense of peace and contentment in our hearts, so that we are able to face each day and decision with trust, clarity and unwavering hope.
This website is where I will continue to share updates on Nick. For those of you that are here strictly for recipes, my deepest apologies as you may want to unsubscribe…we are shifting gears. To those friends and family that are already following along, we felt this was a safe, simple place to keep you updated as many of you are already following along. I’ve set this page to private and welcome anyone and everyone to “follow” this page who would like to walk through this journey with us; just scroll to the bottom of this page and click “follow” to get my updates on Nick sent directly to your email box. Feel free to share this website with other family and friends that would like to stay informed and have them request to follow along as well.
All the love,