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 6

Day 6 of chemo – not sure what any of us think of it, but we are grateful that James seems to be tolerating it well. Apart from remembering not to share drinks or other little things, I think we have all managed ok.

So far the only noticeable side effect is fatigue. His energy level seems to come and go but he claims it is nothing he can not tolerate. He has had a few other minor things, but they seem to be improving. As of today, no terrible rash, but being me, I have him using cleansers, creams and lotions!

He was over joyed today when Carlie asked him to go fishing. He quickly plugged in the boat, let her finish her homework and off they went. Normalcy can be a good thing and our home has been anything but normal over the past several weeks. But this week can be normal, both parents home, meals are prepped and nothing out of the ordinary is scheduled. Next week, that all changes… But that will be our new normal.

I want to thank you all for praying for James. Holy mackerel, we have all needed them these past 6 days. You know it is needed when even Luke tells you he “is nervous for his dad.”

Thank you for those who talked me off ledges this week and for those that have checked in on James. Your support means more than we will ever be able to tell you. Special thanks to both of our employers who are being extremely understanding and working with us on our new crazy schedule.

I don’t have a day 6 picture of James, but you will get a Day 15 next Tuesday when he is scheduled to be in Houston for his second infusion. So I picked this one. I think this was this Spring on Mille Lacs (James’ happy place). 

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I also want to thank the Thiede’s who God has blessed us with! Not only are they totally cool (They have Prince on vinyl and LOVE Chicago sports) but they are kind and have opened their home up to strangers. As a result, we don’t have to worry about housing/hotel while in Houston. This is HUGE and saying “Thank You” doesn’t seem adequate.  We are beyond blessed to call them friends. Keep them in your prayers too, as Kathleen also battles the PMP beast.

Also, for next week, thank you to the Tatro’s. They are opening their home to our minions, while we are in Houston. Adding our two to their three is a big sacrifice, especially on a school night. We love you all very much.  Also, thank you to Mary and Dain for taking Finley — I am not sure what we would do with out you!

Have a great week and love one another! 🙂

Friends in Low Places

I saw a very excited husband tonight when he received his confirmation voice mail for his upcoming appointments. Some of our PMP friends have not been so lucky and have had their appointments cancelled and rescheduled as a result of Harvey and were scheduled the day before us. Even though I received the go ahead on Friday and an email yesterday, he was still excited.

Anyway, this is a thankful post. James and I have had many people come and go into our lives as we have ventured on this journey. It has not always been easy to like us. We have had ups and downs throughout this nearly 7 year walk of uncertainty. Emotions have been unpredictable, sometimes good but mostly not so much.

But this group, right here (below) have been with us every step of the way. It always seems before any big medical event, we spend an evening with them and just have fun, laugh and some of us drink (while James acts as our sober cab). This upcoming trip to Houston is no different! We spent Friday night with them in doing our traditional Nordeast tour.

While we see them throughout the year, they always seem to be the ones that send us off to the unknown (and probably don’t even realize it), feeling a bit more loved. We are eternally grateful to this group of friends. (These pictures represent three separate outings over the past 2 years, before a trip to Houston)

In addition, to Jeff, Tracey, Mary and Dain – we have been blessed to have Mark, Melissa & Mike, Michael & Julie and Karen (I couldn’t find any pictures to post of them) weather the storm with us, since the beginning.  They are what we call our “MN family”. They have been here in our lowest moments and for that we are eternally grateful! 

We are also very thankful to those who have joined the ride and continue to ride it with us!

James and I have always said we are stronger together but this group definitely contribute to our strength and bring us a whole lot of joy.