Larry Fischer vs. The Bastard
The War Continues (8/30/13)
Battle Is On The Offense (9/11/13)
Fighting From the Kitchen (9/25/13)
Round Three (10/11/13)
Four and Out! (10/29/13)
Drawing New Battle Lines (11/1/13)
Return to the Battlefield (11/22/13)
Merry Christmas from the Battlefield (12/23/13)
Battlefront or Beachfront (1/17/14)
Deep Tanned and Deep Fried (2/17/14)
Houston, We Have a Problem (4/10/14)
Fighting and Living! (5/13/14)
Tactics Change--The Battle Continues! (6/27/14)
The War Continues August 30, 2013
First I want to thank each and every one of you who responded via e-mail, phone calls, cards and letters. Your support was both heartfelt and reassuring.
When I last contacted you about my pancreas, Belinda and I had just returned from SLC on the evening of the 20th with my son-in-law Hans as chauffeur, daughter Diana as medical consultant and granddaughter Oakley as nursemaid. The rest of the week was to be spent recuperating from the biopsy and strategizing on how we are going to beat this Bastard while waiting on results from the biopsy from the Salt Lake City hospital.
But The Bastard was not going to play fair!
Before we could meet with the pancreatic specialist on the 27th, he, The Bastard, decided to turn me a bright banana yellow. So, Saturday the 24th found us once again in the hospital having a stint put into my bile duct. Thankfully, my color has now returned to normal and my bile is moving through the system.
The news on the 27th was not what we were all hoping for, The Bastard (tumor) is malignant and, because of his moving and pushing against my bile duct and portal vein, the Doctor declared him at stage 3.
The positive is that he is a run-of-the-mill, street punk, pancreatic tumor (adenocarcinoma), so the oncologist can mix a special cocktail--Oxaliplatin, Irinotecan, and Fluorouracil for those who want to know--to shrink his ass and the pancreatic specialist can then jerk him out. Then I plan on using him for catfish bait.
So this week the battle lines were drawn.
I will have the port placed in my chest on September 3rd, and then we will start chemo on the 5th. Chemo will run for approximately four months then the surgeon will rip him out!
Then the healing will begin.
So we planned.
I had never heard the following words spoken to me. On Thursday, Dr. Zuckerman the Oncologist said to me, "You need to gain some weight. Start eating as much as possible to get ready for the chemo treatments."
It seems that one of The Bastard's tools is to speed up my metabolism, which I thought was the results of the amazing effort I had put into my diet the last six months. I have had to buy clothes so often the past month, that I am starting to employ the Jack Reacher method--buy one shirt and pant for the week, then a new set next week, discarding the dirty clothes in the trash at the store.
But, the good news was to start eating a lot of carbs! Thursday evening at the grocery store was pure bliss.
But The Bastard had other plans, and weapons.
Thursday, late evening, I receive a call from my primary physician regarding a routine blood test I had received earlier in the day. It seems my blood glucose level was at 530, and I was in need of insulin. So I was instructed to go immediately to the emergency room at the hospital and begin treatment to bring my blood sugar down to a manageable level or we could not have the port placed on Tuesday or start chemo on the 5th.
Belinda and I just returned from my overnight stay, where I learned all about insulin and how to be a diabetic. Now I am the proud owner of a blood glucose machine that I test my sugar levels three times a day, and give myself shots up to seven times daily. It seems this Bastard has used all of his tricks to try and break me and mine.
Well let me tell you, he has not seen anything yet! The poison cocktail we are going to feed him is something even the UN might question, and I and mine are not going to back down one bit. So please keep us in your thoughts and prayers and remember to wear a little purple. Purple is the pancreatic cancer color, pink was already taken.
Larry, Belinda and family
Battle is on the Offense September 11, 2013
Once again we want to thank all who have reached out via cards, letters, e-mails and phone calls. Your support is pure adrenaline. I'm harvesting your strength and in turn this bastard has begun to feel our wrath!
Last week was a whirlwind. Started Tuesday when I entered the hospital and had the Port put in place. For those who do not know, the port is where I receive my chemo injections. Instead of trying to stick me in the vein they implant this device, run a tube over the top of my collarbone then insert the tube into my heart vein. Thus the medicine is pumped directly into my system.
Wednesday found me at the barber getting my chemo cut. No one wants to wake up with clumps on their pillow. Now I won't know if it's me or the dog!
Thursday found us bright and early at Mountain States Tumor Institute for the first of eight chemo sessions. The three drug combination that I'm receiving is called folfirinox. I like to refer to it as FU. Each session lasts about 8 hours then I carry a ball of chemo home while it is slowly pumped into my body for the next 48 hours.
I know that all of you have heard the horror stories like I have of chemo and the side effects. Well I'm sure they are all true from extreme nausea, diarrhea, mouth sores and worse. But thank God I was spared all of that. The only side effect I experienced was the feeling that the Bastard was curled up in a little ball crying like a baby as we rained terror upon him. What a satisfying feeling to finally be on offense instead of defense.
Now after recovering from a little fatigue, I'm getting stronger and readying for the next treatment come on the 18th of September.
We got this Bastard's attention, now it is time to kick his ass and prepare to get him ready for catfish bait.
Larry, Belinda and family
Fighting From the Kitchen September 25, 2013
Well, we finished round two of Chemo and now we have fallen back to regroup. That does not mean we are not fighting, just healing up from the chemo and its side effects and learning how we can fight using the kitchen. Yes, we are throwing everything at the Bastard including the kitchen--sink and all!
New developments from chemotherapy included some stomach pain that lasted for a couple of days. I'm sure it was just the cells reacting to the chemo. It was uncomfortable, but I've had worse pain from too much ice cream.
The neuropathy, described by the doctors as sensitivity in the hands, feet and throat to cold, has now showed up as well. The doctors don't know exactly what sensitivity is; how about your hands feeling like someone is jabbing ice knives into your fingers when you touch something in the freezer or fridge. A pair of thin leather gloves helps and not touching or drinking anything cold! Minor inconveniences.
On to the next battlefront, the kitchen. I'm reading a book called Anti-Cancer by Dr. David Servan-Schreiber, which he explores and then verifies how changing our diets and adding certain foods actually combat the cancer cells and more importantly keeps them from obtaining new blood supplies which is needed for growth.
So we have started a regiment of three cups of Japanese green tea, small amounts of dark chocolate over 85% cocoa, and lots of turmeric in our cooking. We also have modified some of my vegetable intake, like Brussels sprouts. If I can undergo Chemotherapy, I can eat my vegetables!
So keep the prayers coming and please send me photos of your hunts. Remember purple is the lucky color this season!
I've attached a photo of Nurse Kratchet playing with my ball for your enjoyment. The nurses have all noticed that I have a big ball.
Thanks again for all the support and keep thinking positive for us and negative for the Bastard!
Round Three October 11, 2013
First off I cannot thank all of you enough who have reached out to Belinda and me - from Dave Golden having the Crush the Bastard bracelets printed, to the hundreds of you that purchased them and are wearing them proudly, to Bill and Tracy Dunn at Zipper Bows/Grizzly Broadheads who have contracted with their broadhead coater to apply purple Teflon to anyone who sends their broadheads to Bill, to my business partner who had shirts printed with the TBM logo and purple ribbon and surprised me. Thank you from the bottom of my heart. As my daughter Becky said to me from Sicily, "Dad, I did not know you had so many friends." Neither did I!
As I finished round three of my chemo I was struggling to find something interesting to write. Round three started out predictable like the first two, three days of chemo, then a couple of uncomfortable days, then rehabilitate and renew my energy for the next round.
So with that as a model, friends Rod and Peggy Bremer of CRKT, planned to arrive on Monday and spend a couple of days with Belinda and me.
Monday found me feeling a little puny, but nothing to worry about. Tuesday morning was worse and by mid morning I was back in bed with some Oxycontin as company. Well it seems the Bastard doesn't have any new tricks, just back to his one-dimensional playbook. He decided to plug up my bile duct again. Now, if you recall, less then 60 days ago we had to have a stint put in place to open this duct and return my color back to normal. No, I hate chaquita banana yellow. So Wednesday found us back in the hospital where my doctor replaced the "less expensive" temporary stint with a new high tech metal permanent one. Take that you Bastard!
He is starting to remind me of the little brother that would never really hurt you when he hit you, but he just continues to hit you in the same place time after time and pretty soon you have a sore spot.
As of today, Friday, I'm feeling much better and am making my run to get renewed and energized for round four of chemo. We have a CT scan scheduled for the 29th of October to see how much we have shrunk the Bastard. So I ask that everyone think shrinkage for the rest of October and the chant will be "4 and Out!"
Larry and Belinda
Four and Out! October 29, 2013
Today, as most of you know, was the scheduled CT scan to see if and how much we shrunk The Bastard. Eight A.M. found me under the scope so to speak, with a follow up with my pancreatic surgeon Dr. Barton to follow.
As we, Belinda, Blake, my mother Pat, and I sat in the examining room waiting you could have heard a mouse fart.
Dr. Barton walked in and I jokingly asked him if he had his knives sharpened, meaning was he ready for surgery, he replied, "How about this Friday?" Nobody responded. He couldn't be serious.
Dr. Barton went on to say, "I do not know what you and Dr. Zuckerman, the Oncologist, did, but I have never seen anything like this. The tumor has shrunk significantly!"
At that point emotions overcame me, because I knew it was nothing that I or the Oncologist did, it was all of you collectively with your prayers and positive thoughts that shrunk The Bastard! Thank you!
Four and out!
Friday the battle for supremacy takes place. At noon Dr. Barton will begin surgery, known as the Whipple method, to remove the tumor as well as the head of my pancreas, part of my small intestine, a section of my stomach, gall bladder and various other parts and pieces. After jerking the bastard and my infected parts out, relegating them to fish bait, he will then spend the rest of the time reconstructing, after gutting me like a fish!
The whole procedure will take approximately six hours and will require a hospital stay of 7-10 days. I told Dr. Barton I will be out in four days, one has to set some goals!
Now comes the most important part of the equation. We need you now more than ever to ask the Lord to guide Dr. Barton's hands as he works and to be with Belinda, myself, and our family as we face the most difficult part of the battle with The Bastard.
With your help I know we will "Crush the Bastard."
Thanks again for all of your support and if possible reach out to Belinda during this difficult time. Hey I'll have all of those good-looking nurses taking care of me!
Drawing New Battle Lines November 1, 2013
This isn't an easy update to write. It's not what anyone was expecting.
Short version: They went in, couldn't get it out, grabbed Larry's gall bladder, and closed him up. The battle will continue.
Long version: The Bastard has an alias: Deception
Larry was in surgery for 4 hours. They cut him open and moved everything to get down in there, but when they got there things were not as they appeared on the CT scan. It was like The Bastard was all puffed up when the first CT scan was taken. The last CT scan looked like he was all curled up, but it didn't show that his claws didn't come back in, they are still stretched out and deep into the portal vein. They tried to retract those claws, but were not able. They can cut and replace part of the portal vein, but too much was involved. So, they were not able to remove the bastard. They did remove Larry's gall bladder; one less thing The Bastard can use for ammo.
Larry's estimated stay in surgery recovery was 1 to 1-1/2 hours, but he was in recovery for almost 3 hours. Seems the epidural they put in did not work. But instead of a 7 to 10 day stay in the hospital it will only be a 3 to 5 day stay. He's on the 6th floor, Room 6028, St. Lukes, Boise. He still has a lot of healing to do because of the nature of the surgery. They still cut him open from one side to the other, moved everything out of the way and "played" around in there. Read as: Larry is NOT feeling very good and is NOT happy.
New battle plans: More chemo, if The Bastard didn't like it the first go round, then he isn't going to like it the second round either. Hopefully, we will get him shrunk even more.
While we are doing this, we are calling on more expert help. They have some doctors in Houston, Texas that, according to our doctor, are just as aggressive as Larry and specialize in "portal vein replacement" (and I may have all the terminology wrong, but I think you get the idea). So we are going to work on getting a consult to see if they want to try to remove The Bastard.
TEXAS HERE WE COME!
The BATTLE continues!!!
Return to the Battlefield November 22, 2013
Well, it has been three weeks to the day since Dr. "Big Hands" Barton spent the better part of Friday morning wrestling with The Bastard inside my gut. Big Hands realized that The Bastard was not going to let him peel him off my portal vein without killing me, so he had to submit, but not before he gave The Bastard a couple of nookies! Since then I've heard a few rumors, but as Mark Twain once said, "The report of my death was an exaggeration."
I am here to tell you that getting almost cut in half, then having the WWE hold one of its main events inside you, was no picnic, but that was three weeks ago.
The cut has healed nicely and I have another scar that will make most women melt! I'm eating well and my weight is holding at a respectable 203 pounds. Additionally, I'm walking two miles a day and we are scheduled to start chemo again on November 29th, although, I was ready and willing to start this week. One should not dally, but get back into the battle as soon as possible.
Other good news from the battlefront is that we are scheduled for a consultation at MD Anderson in Houston on the 16th of December. Consultation is hospital code for we need to bill him and see just what shape he is in for the next round. Kind of like getting recruited for college football at an NAIA school, where they want you to play, but you got to pay!
Dr Barton recommended that we head to MD Anderson, telling Belinda, "The doctors down there are as aggressive as Larry." And that's just what I need, an ex-bull riding surgeon with little hands. NO FEAR!
So, The Bastard may have thought he bought some time, but the results are still the same, with your continued thoughts and prayers we are going to "Crush the Bastard!"
Larry, Belinda and Family
Merry Christmas from the Battlefield December 23, 2013
We just wanted to update everyone on our successful trip to Houston. On the 16th we met with Dr. Katz at M.D. Anderson. He is just the surgeon we were hoping for: east coast born and reared but has been in Houston long enough to develop that Texas swag. He exudes confidence and, most importantly, he has small hands. So, after a long day of tests including another CT scan, Dr. Katz informed us that he can get The Bastard out, but it won't be easy. Hey, what else is new?!
So, as it now stands I am through with my current regiment of chemotherapy, and am beginning a six week round of radiation. I just love the thought of frying The Bastard's ass. The only caveat to the radiation equation is that Dr. Katz wants me to spend six weeks in Houston. He feels that their radiation department is better. Everything is better and bigger in Texas, don't you know! My Oncologist, Dr. Zuckerman here in Boise, dismisses that theory saying it is just big hospital mentality; they think our radiation department is a wooden shack with a 60-watt light bulb.
So we are having a bit of a Texas standoff. I am willing to do whatever Dr. Katz wants in order to have the most successful outcome, but I am trying to negotiate having the treatment done either here in Boise, or in Salt Lake. Hopefully this will allow us to continue living and working as normally as possible.
So the decision will be made this Friday, after we meet with the Radiation Oncologist, Dr. Kuhn, and discuss her technique and expertise using that 60-watt light bulb! So, until then, we wish all of you a very Merry Christmas and here's to a very successful new year!
Thanks for all of your support and prayers,
Larry, Belinda and family
Battlefront or Beachfront January 17, 2014
I just finished my first full week of radiation, here in Boise. Yes, it seems that the "wooden shack" was able to procure a pre-banned 250 watt incandescent bulb so we were good to go!
Radiation is a process. First we met with Dr. Kuhn the Radiation Oncologist and she had to develop a map of The Bastard and my other organs that might be effected by the radiation. Then I was informed that I was to receive five tattoos. I asked Dr. Kuhn if I could pick out the designs and she replied, "Yes, as long as they are a black dot." Damn, I had arrowheads in mind. The tattoos are placed along the centerline of my body starting at my breast bone, then diaphragm, then just above my belly button, and one on each of my sides. This way the laser can line the machine up perfectly each time, and the ones on the sides level me out. After getting my tattoos, I'm glad I'm not receiving radiation for prostate cancer!
Once tattooed and the map completed, I head to the radiation lab every day, five days a week for my "treatment," which consists of laying very still on a rock hard board with my hands above my head. The machine moves around me shooting radiation from various angles. Reminds me of a modern day version of the game Battleship. Ten minutes later the procedure is finished and I head home.
The good part of this treatment is that The Bastard is laying on his pancreatic beach soaking up rays while pole dancing on my portal vein. Little does he know we are frying his ass! No SPF50 for that bastard!
Other advantages to radiation: I no longer have to turn on the light when I have to get up and pee...Glowsticks comes to mind! Cold food becomes hot, like having a built in microwave in my belly!
So this is my routine for the next six weeks, then they allow me to "heal up" for four weeks. So we should be headed to Houston sometime around the 10th of March. Then The Bastard and I are going catfishing!
P.S. Here's a tip for any medical professional who might be reading this: If you are going to cook breakfast in the break room next to the radiation lab, skip the bacon! Makes one wonder if they "overcooked" the patient preceeding you.
Deep Tanned and Deep Fried February 17, 2014
We are within a couple of days of finishing the radiation treatments--twenty-seven deep tanning sessions along with oral chemo, or as "The Bastard" has found out, deep fried with a batter of Xeloda (oral chemo).
Many of you have asked if radiation hurts, or do I feel burning or any other sensations. No, in fact I sometimes feel like the cat in the microwave, the only difference is the turntable spins around me and they pull me out just before I explode!
Belinda took a few photos, and as they say a photo is worth a thousand words so we are including a few to help explain the process.
Lining and leveling me with the laser, using my tattoos.
Don't move or it will fry your gizzard!
The final date is set, we will be home healing from the radiation/chemo until the 6th of April. At that time we will travel to Houston, have a CAT scan on the 7th, and surgery is scheduled for the 10th.
At times it is easy to slip into a depressed state and wonder why me, but I look at the little boy with a brain tumor in his father's arms, who follows me into the radiation lab and I can't help but wonder why him!
God bless and keep all of us that are suffering from this terrible disease in your prayers.
Thanks again for all of your prayers, support, calls, letters and well wishes.
Larry and Belinda
P.S. If any of you want to go catfishing just let me know! I'll supply the bait!
Houston, We Have a Problem April 10, 2014
Greetings from Houston!
Well today, April 10th, was to be the day: the epic battle between Dr. Katz and The Bastard over my pancreas. However, after a CT scan on Monday and a subsequent meeting on Tuesday with the good Doctor, shit changed. It seems The Bastard once again has shown his resistance to becoming fish bait. The CT scan revealed The Bastard has decided to send out a raiding party and is now trying to colonize my liver, thus nullifying the opportunity to cut and dice him.
We met with the oncologist yesterday and it seems for every move The Bastard tries we have a counter move. So we will return to Boise and start a new regiment (four rounds) of chemotherapy--I think it's an evil plot to knock out my hair--then return mid-June and see how he likes those apples! In the meantime Belinda, our daughter Diana, and I are going to spend a couple of days checking out Houston and eating some more seafood and Texas bar-b-que.
So please don't weep for me, I still have hope, faith, strength, humor and most of all love. Love from not only my Belinda--my rock--and my immediate family--my foundation--but from each and everyone of you who's calls, letters, prayers and well wishes propel me forward and give me strength to keep fighting The Bastard!
In with both feet and still swinging,
Larry, Belinda and Family
Fighting and Living! May 13, 2014
Well it's been exactly one month since we returned from Houston and the disappointing news from Dr. Katz. Since then we have had two chemo therapy sessions and will continue this protocol every two weeks.
A couple of interesting facts about the cocktail that they are now feeding The Bastard: it is a two component mixture featuring Pacitaxel and Gemcitabine. Pacitaxel is the chemical synthesis of the the compound Taxol which was derived from the bark of the Pacific yew tree, a preferred bow wood for centuries. In the late eighties and early nineties it was discovered that Taxol was effective in fighting certain type of "bastard" cancers. The race was on to see if we could cut the yew tree to extinction before a laboratory could synthesize the compound. In fact the U.S Forest Service estimated at the rate we were cutting the yew tree we were within a couple of years of placing the tree upon the endangered list! As many of you know, yew billets were darn near impossible to obtain in the early nineties. I'm sure many of you wonder where I am going with this, well this is big medicine as far as I concerned!
The other component, Gemcitabine, I don't know a damn thing about, but it rhymes with Jim Beam, so it must be big medicine as well!
Dr. Zuckerman, my Oncologist who is overseeing this chemo protocol, put it bluntly when I asked what was the prognosis. He said there is no cure, which I already knew, but miracles do happen! He said what we are trying to do is change months to years!
We'll fight on, I'm not giving in to The Bastard any time soon! My next CT scan is scheduled in Houston for the 24th of June to see just how hard we are fighting and how much harder we need to fight.
I know more than a few have inquired how I'm doing physically so I want to update you on how I have been living. It has now been nine months of my survivorship of The Bastard. Survivorship is calculated from the day you were diagnosed, in my case August 9th. According to the statistics, average survivorship is 11 months. Now those of you who know me know there is nothing average about me.
So how did I spend my anniversary? Bear hunting with my good friend John "JT" Turner! It was good to feel the cold biting wind in my face, spend long numbing hours on stand, turn in the hubs and get a little mud on the tires, watch the woods turn green almost before my eyes, keeping vigil knowing that the swirling winds have stacked the deck against me and finish the evening shivering in the pickup with the heater running full blast reminiscing about hunts long past! Damn it is good to be alive!
Did we get a bear? Not yet!
Tactics Change--The Battle Continues! June 27, 2014
If hair loss is any indication, the special cocktail of Pacitaxel and Gemcitabine that I have been taking the last couple of months should have worked. There are places on my body that have not been hair free since kindergarten, and to make matters worse I am now beardless… something my children have never experienced in their life times! I don't even recognize the man in the mirror.
If I get any sleeker, I'm putting on a speedo and heading for the olympic pool!
We just returned from Houston and another CT scan to monitor the progress. Except for the hair loss, The Bastard just keeps marching along, with another couple of small spots showing up on my liver and some growth of the tumor on my pancreas. In other words, the last cocktail did not work.
So we have returned to a tried and true formula, the first cocktail that I received which we fondly referred to as "FU." This mixture seemed to have the most desired effect on The Bastard and helped to shrink his ass before, so we start again on Monday. This cocktail also requires that I wear a "ball" of chemo for a couple of days after the initial treatment, and I know more than a few nurses who are drawing straws as you read this in anticipation of playing with my "ball."
Belinda and I have had a couple of bad weeks, culminating with this visit to Houston. It all started with me blowing the engine in my pickup, my partner leaving the ranch, and then having to endure the loss of our beloved dog, Buddy. If I did not know any better, I would bet we could write the perfect Country and Western song!
So now is the time for me to pull up my big boy pants, double my efforts in lifting and walking and spend a little more time asking the good Lord for some help. If you can spare a minute, and you have a direct line to God's ear, any effort would be appreciated!
Love and Thanks to all,
Larry, Belinda, and family