In March 2016, at the age of 35, I was diagnosed with Stage IV stomach cancer. Only 3% of patients live 5 years or longer after receiving this diagnosis. Most die within the first year. I have a beautiful wife and two young children. This blog chronicles my experiences with cancer and the lessons I learn along the way.


It begins

The last few weeks have been a bit of a blur. In early February, I had an episode of acute pancreatitis - an extremely painful condition created when the digestive enzymes from your pancreas fail to make their way into your stomach (sometimes caused by blockages, infections, injuries, etc.) and instead begin to digest your pancreas.

The treatment for pancreatitis is to stop eating food for 48-72 hours to allow the bowels to rest and keep the pancreas from producing any further digestive enzymes. This was successful for me, and after a few weeks eating a bland food diet, the pancreatitis symptoms were largely gone. However, my primary care physician was uncomfortable with no known cause for the pancreatitis, so he sent me in for a CT scan of my lower abdomen.

The CT scan showed mild inflammation of the pancreas (to be expected after pancreatitis), but it also showed that my nearby lymph nodes were about 3 times their normal size. A second CT scan was ordered for later that day which showed that the lymph nodes in my upper chest cavity were normal size.

A lymph node biopsy on Wednesday of last week detected adenocarcinoma - a cancer that originates from glandular structures in the body. This finding indicated that the cancer originated elsewhere in my body, but had spread to the lymph nodes.

Yesterday, my doctors performed an endoscopy and a colonoscopy to try and locate the primary cancer. The 3cm tumor in my stomach was fairly easy to spot. Multiple biopsies were taken of the tumor, and we should know more once the pathology reports come back.

Today, I had a PET scan to try and determine whether or not the cancer has spread to any other adjacent organs. On Monday, I'll meet with my oncologist to discuss the results of these diagnostic procedures and begin to make decisions about treatment.

Thank you to all of you who have reached out by email, Facebook, telephone calls, and in person. I feel truly blessed to have the best friends, students, former students, family, and colleagues that anyone could hope for. Melissa and I feel surrounded by love and support from all sides.

Thank you for your continued support and prayers.

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