Team Druffel Shuffle
Donate or Join our team and help us support Heat It To Beat It!
Dear Family & Friends,
Today, John got his CT scan done, and it came back clean, yay!!! What wonderful news.
Just over a year ago, our counter of clean CT scans got a shocking reset (should I say “his” counter or is it fair to say “our” counter…?). We didn’t participate in the Heat It to Beat It event last year because we were focused on John's recovery from his second HIPEC. He’d had three years of clean CT scans, but then it was back. Tumors above his liver, and in his lower pelvic region.
Dr. Sardi did his amazing cytoreductive surgery and HIPEC, and John pulled through, albeit not easy. Fingers crossed that it was the last HIPEC on John’s time line.
So today is a good day. Good news, bright sunshine, and Ryan and Kyle both home with us.
On September 22nd, we will be walking in the 10th Annual “Heat It To Beat It” fundraiser. I hope you will support team Druffel Shuffle in our efforts to raise money to continue the research into this rare cancer and education about it.
I’m hoping to make up for last year’s absence and really make a difference in the money we raise to continue advancing medicine through research and promoting this life saving treatment.
Thank you for your support, in so many ways,
It's hard to believe it has been over two years since John's diagnosis - in some ways it seems like decades ago and we happily move forward with each day intentionally pretending like it never happened... and at other moments cancer chooses to remind you boldly that it is never really behind you.
We planned a fun family trip this year - we visited the Netherlands (picture above - a beautiful sunset near Emmeloord). We had a wonderful time visiting our Dutch friends and their families who had visited here in the US. Generous kindness and great memories!
Often, and especially as we near this event, I think how appreciative and thankful I am for all of the support you have all given to us through the donations to this Heat It to Beat It event. I think about this often as I look at the stack of Thank You cards I have sitting in front of me on my desk (yes, they are visible through all my stacks of papers!). I bought them two years ago right after the first event to write each of you a personal THANK YOU for letting me know you were thinking about us, through your donation and your kind words. I wanted to write a personal note, not an email, because it means that much to me. Each and everyone one of you touched my heart and made me think of you and smile. So I have to ask myself "Why are the cards still sitting there?". I've carried them with me many days on road trips to work on them and I've sat down to write them many times. And I realized this week why... each time I sit down to put words down on paper, like I am now, the emotions come flooding out of me that I work so hard every day to keep suppressed and hidden away. Before you know it, I'm a blubbering mess, emotionally exhausted, and can't get the words down on paper. So I set them aside for another day. And so it cycles. But please know your donation means a lot and is very emotionally supporting. Thank you!
Wishing the best to everyone in 2017-
A year ago was a very different time in the life of our family. John was finishing healing from the surgeries to remove the cancer tumors and had undergone the hi-temperature internal chemo treatment. We were one month into his 6-month systemic chemo treatment, wondering what was ahead for us in this journey we were being take on. John pushed strongly through what became an 8-month treatment of taking the oral chemo drugs, happy to put 2015 behind us and welcome April with a new focus.
As I was writing this, I realized that John and I started dating 30 years ago, this past spring, after meeting at a college party. I was 18 years old, almost 19 :}, a freshman in college meeting a "senior". Little did I know what an amazing time I would have with this "cute boy from school". As you can see in the photo above, John pulled through the treatments to enjoy a wonderful family trip to the Serengeti in Tanzania, Africa in July.
I hope that you can celebrate with me a wonderful time together by supporting the amazing medical intervention that keeps John close to my side...30 years later.
Lastly, I'd be remiss if I forgot to say THANK YOU so VERY much for the donations last year. You kindness and donations brought strength to us, in addition to supporting the research efforts!!
Here's to a wonderful 2016!
A few months ago, my husband John was diagnosed with Stage-4 Appendiceal Cancer, a rare cancer of the appendix. It has been a roller-coaster of a summer with multiple surgeries and chemo treatments which we hope will wrap up in the next six months.
On Oct 4th, we have a chance to raise money to help in the research and public education for a groundbreaking therapy to treat late stage, complex cancers of the abdominal region. John was fortunate to be able to receive this treatment on May 11th. Please help me raise money for team Druffel Shuffle as we participate in the Heat It to Beat It event. Contributions are tax deductible. Here is the link to visit our team web page:
In late March, John had his appendix removed, a case of chronic appendicitis, not acute appendicitis, which had been going on for three or four weeks, a bit of pain here and there, he thought it was a pulled muscle from cycling. His type of cancer usually goes undiagnosed for many years. Thanks to top notch doctors at Charter Internal Medicine, Dr. Randall Riesett and surgeon Dr. Steven Cunningham, John was correctly diagnosed on his first visit and surgery performed that evening.
A few weeks later we heard that the pathology report came back with two types of cancerous growths inside the appendix - cancer cells and mucinous cells - “Invasive Mucinous Adenocarcinoma”. With the appendix already removed and believed to be contained, we needed to find out if the cancer had spread to his lymph nodes.
We are very fortunate to have the many amazing medical institutions located here in Baltimore, especially Mercy Medical Center where Dr. Armando Sardi serves as Medical Director of The Institute for Cancer Care at Mercy and as Chief of Division of Surgical Oncology at Mercy Medical Center.
In early May, after healing from the appendix removal, Dr. Sardi performed surgery on John. It was intended to be a “simple” colectomy to remove lymph nodes for testing, which meant they would also take out a third of his colon. Once Dr. Sardi got into John’s abdomen, he saw that the cancer and mucinous tumors had gotten out of the appendix and spread into John’s perineal cavity, it had spread to his gut.
This was the news we did not want to hear - John had Stage-4 cancer. Dr. Sardi proceeded to perform a very extensive and invasive procedure to remove the cancer and mucinous tumors and treat his gut with chemotherapy. After seven hours of surgery, another three hour surgery the next day, and many days of recovery in the ICU, John is on the path to healing, with a chance of being cured of this cancer. When John woke from his “simple” colectomy surgery, it was a difficult moment when I had to tell him that the cancer had spread and what had happened.
This amazing surgical procedure is called “HIPEC” - Hyperthermic Intraperitoneal Chemotherapy - below is more information on the procedure. A few days later, we found out that John’s cancer had also spread into his lymph nodes. In late May, after a few bumps in the road, John came home, actually on the day our 25th Wedding Anniversary, to start his healing process. Having him home, our family back together, was a wonderful anniversary gift.
In August, he started being treated with systemic chemotherapy drugs that are designed to search out and kill any cancer cells that might be hiding elsewhere in John’s body. This will continue for about six months.
Now it is September, and I am getting ready to be a part of the Heat It to Beat it event on Oct 4th to raise money for additional research and public education of perotineal cancers.
John’s surgery was a combination of two procedures: cytoreductive surgery which is the aggressive removal of tumors in the abdomen (which took close to 5 hours to perform), followed by heated chemotherapy, Hyperthermic Intraperitoneal Chemotherapy (HIPEC), to prevent new cancerous cells from developing. The heated chemotherapy bathes the abdominal non-visible or microscopic tumor cells. Heat helps kill the cancer cells and also enhances the effect of chemotherapy. To treat the entire abdominal cavity, the heated chemotherapy solution, at 107.5 degrees, is pumped in a constant flow through tubes in the abdomen for 90 minutes. This allows the heated chemotherapy to reach the cancer cells that could potentially form.
If you would like to see what the HIPEC procedure is like, here is good (don’t worry, it is animated) video of the procedure. It is really amazing to me that someone thought this up, and actually decided to try it on a person.
I’m glad they did so I can keep John next to me for another 30 years or more together!!!
Watch the video, it is amazing… at least to me it is :}
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