Happy Christmas

We hope you all had a great Christmas and enjoyed your family and friends. 

We had a quiet Christmas and enjoyed our time together. James has felt good and the kids had a scaled back, happy day! 

James had his blood work today for his CK levels (Creatine levels). Last week his levels increased to 750 today they jacked up above 1000. 

This is off week from chemo, so theoretically his CK levels should drop this week. 

Honestly, we don’t know what this means. We do know that the chemo is causing this creatine level to increase and they have already dropped his dosage from 60mg to 40mg per day. I am not sure if protocol will allow them to drop to 20mg per day. 

So, once again, the Richters have a prayer request.  Please pray for James to continue to feel well and once again his numbers drop and stay dropped. Also, please pray for his upcoming scan and his echocardiogram (especially with these high numbers) next Tuesday.

As always, thank you for your prayers and groovy vibes! xo

7 years and counting…

Today marks the day that our journey with cancer began. ½ of Carlie’s life and the majority of Luke’s life has been spent watching their dad fight a disease that is sneaky and most likely devasting. They have been brave and make sure that they keep the faith that their dad will be A-OK. 

7 years ago, this all started with a sharp pain, which we thought was a ruptured or inflamed appendix or related to the ribeye sandwich the night before. He went to the ER, had a CT scan that lit up like a Christmas tree and was then referred to North Memorial Hospital for what we were told was likely stomach cancer. At the time, we thought our time together was short. There was silence. 

You are kidding, right? James doesn’t drink, smoke, he was in great shape and eating healthy. How could he have cancer, let alone stomach cancer? He has no trouble eating. He is fine except for this pain in his side. 

The next 3 days were awful. My grandpa was home with my kids, my parents were trying to get to MN, and every day James deteriorated before my eyes. They were running test after test, all normal – all benign. He wasn’t able to eat, or drink. He was fading away and it was happening fast. On 12/23/10, he gladly jumped onto a surgical gurney, for emergency exploratory surgery. The surgery lasted 3 hours and well into the early morning, and he was sent to recovery not really knowing much more than we did before he went in. His appendix was unrecognizable, they did a right hemicolectomy and told us he had a jelly like substance all over his abdomen. 

The good thing was he was able to start eating and drinking and my husband started to rebound. The bad news is we would likely wait a week for pathology because of Christmas. We did receive a preliminary result of Appendix Cancer and the surgeon said his life expectancy would be about 5 years!! Well, that was 7 years ago..

My real life Superman has undergone two cytoreduction surgeries since then, with one of them including HIPEC. He has surpassed the 5 year mark and continues to fight this nemesis every day. 

He is now in a trial and seems to be doing well with relatively good results so far but it is cumbersome and tiring. 

Life has gone on. Not always easy and not, at all, how we thought our life would be, but we continue to be blessed. Our life is good and my little family has come so far. 

We wouldn’t be here today without the love and support of our family and friends. We wouldn’t be here without your prayers and help, financially, when needed. 

We are forever grateful to every doctor and surgeon that we have crossed paths with, as they are the reason we are where we are today. We are grateful for medical and science advances that have progressed to the point this trial could not only extend James’ life, but also the ever growing number of Appendix Cancer patients. 

We are forever grateful for everyday that we are still on this side of heaven with James. 

Hug your loved ones, tell them how you feel because, as the Richter’s know, life comes at you fast and can change in a blink of an eye. 

Day 99

Look at my handsome, fierce fighter, cool as a cucumber husband. He takes this cancer thing and its treatment in stride. He is never down, never complains. Today was no different than the 99 days before. James had blood work, a doctors visit and then his infusion. It seems as though all his numbers are sufficient, although his CK level remains high. 
Given he is not having muscular pain, they remain unconcerned and treatment went on as planned. He will continue on the lower dose of chemo and will again have bloodwork next week to continue to monitor his levels. 

His next set of appointments are January 3-4 and will consist of an echocardiogram, ophthalmology appointment, labs and treatment. He will have a busy 2 days which will hopefully reveal a stable scan or some reduction in disease, a strong heart and healthy eyes. 

Today, I find myself singing 99 bottles of beer on the wall and wish this milestone – for lack of a better term – was actually the beginning of a countdown to completion of this treatment versus the beginning of what could be another 99 days. 

This holiday season, I wish for our family to have normalcy and healing. This version of normal has become quite old and exhausting. I wish for a cure, treatment that could be had closer to home and just peace for the other families who spend every day fighting Appendix Cancer or missing a loved one whom they have lost. Perhaps some day, my Christmas wish will come true. 

We wish you all a Happy and Healthy Christmas and a wonderful New Year. xo

Keep on Keepin’ on…

We are 3.5 months into this trial and things seem to be going well. James feels good on most days, just a little fatigue and upset stomach the day after his immunotherapy infusion. He has been breaking out from the chemo a bit more recently, but it’s nothing he can’t handle. 

He will have his end of the 4th cycle scan on 1/3/18. If we base it on the scans PRIOR to the trial starting, which were every 4-5 months, we would expect some minimal growth on this scan, as all previous scans have shown some growth along with an increase in his tumor markers. 

However, those tumor markers are falling so we are hopeful this scan will show no growth or even better a decrease in the size of the existing tumors. 

We have made a decision to do everything we can to not leave Minnesota, even though this treatment will continue as long as there is no progression. This decision was made for lots of reasons, but mainly financial. We can’t afford for James to quit his job and expect him to find another in Texas that would be so accommodating to his need for a day or two off every other week. His current employer is being absolutely AMAZING!! So we are going to try to make the commuting life work. 

Please pray for us and that this is the right decision. It seems to be at the moment. 

Financially, this will be tough so we still have a GoFundMe and will be planning a fundraiser in April or May, up here in MN. So please pray He continues to provide for us too. 🤗

He will have his CPK checked at home, on Tuesday, and then back to Houston on the 18th. Prayers are always appreciated!! 

P.s – please remember you can sign up for emails to be notified when I update this blog or feel free to join his Team James Facebook page or the @MNTeamJames Twitter page. 

Week 120, oh I mean 12

All is good with Mr. Richter today. His CPK levels continue to trend down, but not enough to avoid a blood draw next week to check it. His magnesium level was up, which was good. So he was cleared for his infusion.

James has had some gastrointestinal issues the past few weeks, just heartburn and some stomach upset, so they prescribed Nexium. We will see if he takes it or continues with his Apple Cider vinegar.

He did hit the doctor up on some of the questions we had and he was told that it could take up to 5 years for FDA approval of this treatment regimen. So the answer to duration was “you will receive this treatment as long as it is working.” So there you have it…

Prayer requests for going into week 13 and 14:

1) numbers continue to trend down                                         2) GI issues resolve                                                                                                       3) Our insurance company reverses their denial of some of James’ tests (which are part of the trial they approved) as unrelated.                                  4) Our minions…