I realize it has been quite awhile since my last post. The last 4 months for my family have been extraordinarily difficult. While each day during my father's battle felt like an eternity, it also seems like only yesterday that we received the diagnosis. His diagnosis led me to this website and all of the wonderful people who share their successes and failures regarding this terrible and devastating disease. My father's battle ended on Saturday at Johns Hopkins University Hospital. He was 70 years old and leaves behind a loving family, a thriving business, and many friends. My father battled to the very end, and unfortunately, his body could not respond to the will of his mind. My father underwent successful liver resection surgery last Tuesday. The surgery lasted in excess of 12 hours, but by the end, the tumor was removed in its entirety. The days after the surgery were painful and in the end heartbreaking. My father was originally scheduled to undergo the surgery at the beginning of May. Unfortunately, blood infections continuously delayed it as each setback required longer doses of IV antibiotics that sapped his energy level to the point that it appeared as though surgery was no longer an option. Each setback was followed by the replacement of the biliary stents, a procedure that itself is not very simple. In the simplest of terms, the resection surgery stirred up the residual infection, and my father's life became dependent on his liver's ability to regenerate itself before infection ravaged it and his other organs. For a period of time last Friday, it appeared as though he was heading in the right direction. That being said, I was not surprised when the call came from the hospital at 4:00 AM on Saturday that his condition deteriorated to the point where he would likely become unsupportable at some point on Saturday. By 4:00 PM, the fight was over.
While the loss of my father has been devastating as we were so optimistic that he would beat this, I want to share some of my thoughts on his experience at Hopkins. Because his case ended in death, it is hard to call his experience a success, but I cannot speak more glowingly about the level of care he received. Firstly, Dr. Timothy Pawlik, the man who performed the surgery on my father, is incredible. My father and mother lived at Hopkins for 7 weeks before the surgery and during that time, Dr. Pawlik and my father formed a special bond. In his own words, he loved my father and tearfully explained that he wished he could have done more. Furthermore, his nurse practitioner, Tam, provided daily reassurance to my parents throughout this process, one that had more ups and downs than your favorite roller coaster. Dr. Pawlik is extraordinarily busy, and for him to take such special interest in my father illustrates the quality of people you meet at Hopkins. In the end, Dr. Pawlik did everything he could for my father. Perhaps, proceeding with the surgery in light how sick my father was before it could be questioned, but if my father were told last Monday that the surgery could not be performed, he would have died from heartbreak. The preoperative procedures and the resulting setbacks were hard on my father so hard that he was close to death at least once before surgery. The hope of recovery allowed him to persevere. An extra 3-6 months of life where the quality of that time would continue to diminish was not the way my father wanted his life to end.
In closing, I want to thank all of you who shared information with me that gave my father a fighting chance. I want to extend a special thank you to Jim Wilde, who spoke to my father and me on several occasions. The world needs more people like Jim. Nothing will bring my father back and I expect that I will be thinking of him everyday for the remainder of my life. My sincerest hope is that people will be saved from what was learned from my father's case. Cancer is nasty and this cancer is especially nasty, and I hope that you do not have to read this because it will likely only be read by those of us touched by it. I also make myself available as a resource to anyone seeking more information for themselves or a loved one.