--LIFE Asking for prayers for a younger brother


Bamabww

Bench Warmer
HARRY'S
#1
Gary's 55 now and had a cancer spot on his tongue 33 years ago. Surgery removed a spot about the size of a quarter and 3 months of radiation before they were finsihed with him. It left him unable to produce salvia and a turkey neck. He has to constantly drink water to keep his mouth moist but has adapted and operates a successful lawn care business.

A couple of months ago he started losing weight and after all kinds of test they finally found his thyroid was out of whack and started treating that condition. One of the things they had him doing to help with the weight loss was to drink 8 Ensures a day besides his regular meals. After a week, I asked him how the Ensures were tasting and he said terrible. I gave him some honey to maybe improve the taste but it got to where he just couldn't drink them because they burned his tongue.

His doctor sent him to an ENT who did a biopsy of a suspicious spot on his tongue and as Gary feared, it was cancer. I spent all day with him yesterday at the Kirkland Center in B'ham talking with doctors. He has two options: First option is to remove the cancer which will get over half his tongue, part of his jaw bone and maybe lymph nodes on that side. The doctor said he would just have to see how bad it was once he got in there to know exactly how extensive the surgery would actually be. He would have to have a feeding tube until the mouth and throat healed and maybe even for the rest of his life.

He told Gary the surgery would affect his ability to talk and swallow but through rehab that might be overcomed. It all depends on just how extensive the surgery has to be. Since Gary had 3 months of radiation last time the doctor doesn't think he'll be able to have any this time.

Second option is to treat the pain the growing cancer will cause and have maybe a year to live.

He goes back next week to discuss the options with the surgeons.

Gary is depressed as anyone would be and needs your thoughts and prayers. I would appreciate it very much.
 

sk33tr

el jefe
HARRY'S
#6
i don't know what to say other than...i'm so sorry to hear (read) about your brother.

cancer is one of those things that when you hear the word, you automatically think the absolute worst.

i really hope everything goes as good as it possibly can for your brother and he continues to be with your for many more years.
 

planomateo

Ready to put Tejas in the rear view, hello Montana
ADMINISTRATION
HARRY'S
#7
Sorry to hear this Wayne.

My grandfather (mom's father) had mouth, throat, and tongue cancer back in the late 70s from drinking/smoking. He had most of his tongue removed and the remaining portion of the tongue was tied to the side of his mouth. He had a tube in his stomach where he poured his food into via a syringe and a pint sized measuring cup. All his meals were liquefied in a food processor for ~20 years by my grandmother. I can only imagine the toll this took on her.

He also ended up having part of his jaw removed at some point.

Hope your brother keeps a positive outlook, will definitely help his recovery and help loved ones deal with this.
 

Bamabww

Bench Warmer
HARRY'S
#8
Update 10-26-18
Gary talked with the 3 surgeons who will be doing the surgery on him on November 6th and the news he got wasn't any better than the preview but he wasn't expecting it to be.

An oral surgeon will remove his teeth and sew up his gums, the cancer surgeon will remove whatever is necessary to get all the tumor that is on his tongue, and a reconstructive surgeon will remove a patch of skin from his chest to patch his jaw and a piece of bone from his leg to replace his jaw bone that will be removed. They told hm to expect the entire surgery to take 6 to 8 hours with the only unknown being how deep the cancer has penterated. He will probably be in the hospital at UAB for 4 weeks mainly to watch for complications that may arise and to help with pain management. The 4 to 6 week of rehab will be to help him learn to swallow, talk and walk again.

Apparently the little bone in your leg is very important because they said most of the rehab would be dealing with the walking process.

If he heals as they hope, next summer they will begin fitting him with a new set of teeth and hopefully remove the feeding tube.

I have been helping him this week get his affairs in order and will probably finish all of that next week hopefully. Gary is staying positive and still has a good attitude about it considering what he's facing. With his first cancer happening in his early 20's and the disfigurement the treatment caused, Gary has avoided any social life except for close family so he never married. We have two other brothers and a sister and speaking for them all we appreciate your thoughts and prayers for Gary.
 

sk33tr

el jefe
HARRY'S
#9
Update 10-26-18
Gary talked with the 3 surgeons who will be doing the surgery on him on November 6th and the news he got wasn't any better than the preview but he wasn't expecting it to be.

An oral surgeon will remove his teeth and sew up his gums, the cancer surgeon will remove whatever is necessary to get all the tumor that is on his tongue, and a reconstructive surgeon will remove a patch of skin from his chest to patch his jaw and a piece of bone from his leg to replace his jaw bone that will be removed. They told hm to expect the entire surgery to take 6 to 8 hours with the only unknown being how deep the cancer has penterated. He will probably be in the hospital at UAB for 4 weeks mainly to watch for complications that may arise and to help with pain management. The 4 to 6 week of rehab will be to help him learn to swallow, talk and walk again.

Apparently the little bone in your leg is very important because they said most of the rehab would be dealing with the walking process.

If he heals as they hope, next summer they will begin fitting him with a new set of teeth and hopefully remove the feeding tube.

I have been helping him this week get his affairs in order and will probably finish all of that next week hopefully. Gary is staying positive and still has a good attitude about it considering what he's facing. With his first cancer happening in his early 20's and the disfigurement the treatment caused, Gary has avoided any social life except for close family so he never married. We have two other brothers and a sister and speaking for them all we appreciate your thoughts and prayers for Gary.
here's to a swift and full recovery. good thoughts headed his and your family's way.
 

Bamabww

Bench Warmer
HARRY'S
#11
Update November 8, 2018:

Gary came through his surgery ok. A team of 3 doctors worked a little over 8 1/2 hours this past Tuesday and were able to do what they had hoped to do. We were told they felt very confident all the cancer was removed but need the pathology report to be sure. Their main concern going forward is healing. They are concerned the radiation he had 30 years ago may have damaged the tissue around the tumor area so much that it won't heal.

So things turned out as good as they could under the circumstances but he has a long recovery period ahead. I appreciate very much all your thoughts and prayers for him and his situation. Please continue to remember him. Thanks.

And a side note, we have been very impressed with the UAB hospital surgeons and staff. Excellent pre and post surgery care and a geniuine concern for the patient has been very evident.
 

It Takes Eleven

Quoth the Raven...
HARRY'S
#12
Glad to hear the procedure went okay. I'll keep him in my prayers for healing and recovery.

My Dad was in and out of UAB a good bit earlier this year, and we were very impressed with the care and overall demeanor of the staff.
 

Bamabww

Bench Warmer
HARRY'S
#14
Update November 27, 2018

I carried Gary back to the Kirkland Clinic for his first checkup after being released from the hospital on November 16. He got a very good report. The pathology report showed all clear margins and the lymph nodes were as well so he was pronounced cancer free. No further cancer treatment will be necessary and the focus will be on the healing of the surgery sites. I still have to change a bandage on his leg 4 days a week and he's almost strong enough now to feed, hydrate and medicate himself via the feeding tube. We go back December 6 for another follow up visit and a swallowing test with a therapist. If he's able to swallow there's a chance he'll be able to blend his food and take his meds by mouth which would be a tremendous help to him (and me).

The doctors were really pleased with his progress and said he was ahead of schedule. Hopefully he'll be able to swallow and eat real food again soon. I had no idea what a job it was to prepare everything that would normally go in your mouth for a feeding tube especially medicine.

I appreciate each prayer or positive thought you've had on Gary's behalf. Thanks very much.
 

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