Around this time, about 4 years ago my family received the devastating news that our dad had Stage 4 Colon Cancer with Peritoneal Carcinomatosis. Prognosis, with medicine was about 6-9 months but without hesitation my dad began chemo because he had to try. Chemo made him so so so so so sick. In a 3-month time period he had 3 ICU stays and quality of life was at an all-time low. Something just didn’t seem right, my mom knew that she had to get a second opinion. Changing from a local oncologist to Fox Chase Cancer Center was the best decision my family ever made. Within minutes of the team talking with my dad and reading his files they tested him for an allergy to chemo. Yes, that’s right you can actually be allergic to chemo which really means your body doesn’t expel the toxins. Turns out 18% of people are allergic to Irinotecan, the main chemo drug used for patients with Stage 4 Colon Cancer. (That test was made possible because of cancer research) Immediately, Dr. Denlinger and her team took my dad off Irinotecan, and designed a chemo concoction called the 5-FU. (This was made possible because of cancer research) My dad’s health changed almost overnight. He was able to actually LIVE. Everyone’s definition for living is different. Although my dad loved going on Carnival Cruises with my mom and their best friends, he was essentially a simple man. He loved being able to drive again. He enjoyed going to McDonalds (coffee only of course ), the Post Office (no one has that much mail ), dropping his envelope off at church (never missed a week), eating at the Mugrack (his local breakfast joint ), trips to Shoprite (because my mom hates food shopping ) going to Monmouth Park (his favorite place on Earth ) and just doing your everyday errands that you take for granted as soon as you can’t do them anymore. My dad defied the odds of his cancer, received nearly 85 + rounds of chemo and lived for 3 years and 9 months with his diagnosis. (This was made possible because of cancer research.) Almost unheard of, he is superman. Although I’d like to think that my dad’s positive outlook on life, my mom’s amazing care giver skills, our family and friend support, and the hand of God had a play in his success I can’t deny that medical advancements made possible by cancer research didn’t play a HUGE part.
In October of 2016 the 5-FU wasn’t working for my dad any longer. He was offered the opportunity to be a part of a clinical trial for a new cancer treatment called, Immunotherapy. It is already a successful alternative to chemo for Lung Cancer. A particular drug company wanted to see if it had the same positive effects on Colon Cancer. Only 66 people would be chosen nationwide, Fox Chase had 1 seat and gave it to my dad. The risks to be on this trial were scary, and the testing to qualify was rigorous. I said to my dad, “Do you really want to be a part of this trial, the pre- testing is a lot of work and you could die on this drug?” He said, “Megan, many people risked their lives to be on the trials for the drugs that kept me alive. I have to pay it forward.” My dad was simply amazing, and I hope to be as half as brave as he ever was in my lifetime. Three days before my dad was suppose to start the clinical trial the drug was pulled due to complications an another pateint was having. (Why donations are so important, because of all the trial and error.)
So on December 29, 2016 at 1:38am my dad passed and life as my family knew it would never be the same. These past 6 months have been nothing shy of difficult to say the least for my mom, brothers and I. We hope that one day there can be a cure for all types of cancer. But for now, I hope that the money raised can help at least one family avoid losing a loved one.
My family and I can't thank the doctors at Fox Chase Cancer Center and the Colon Cancer Alliance for their continued dedication, research and support. The last 4 years of memories would not have been possible without them. So on September 17, 2017 (would have been my parents 40th wedding Anniversary) my brothers and I will be running the Philly Rock and Roll Half Marathon, for the Colon Cancer Alliance in my dads name. Every dollar counts and can make a huge difference in someone's life.