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Larry Byers says “Every Day is a Gift”

July 31, 2014

Larry and Gail 
 Submitted
Submitted
Larry and Gail
Relay For Life
One thing that I have learned to appreciate with my Cancer Journey is that every day is a gift. Thankfully there are more good days than bad days at this point in my journey, but the journey continues.

My story started back on May 29, 2013. I had been experiencing pain whenever I ate along with other symptoms. I made an appointment for Friday May 31, in Slayton. I had blood work and a CAT scan done which revealed a blockage in the bile ducts between the liver and pancreas. After an overnight stay in Slayton, I was transferred to Sanford in Sioux Falls on June 1. More tests were done that showed my liver enzymes were highly elevated. An ultrasound and MRI were ordered and on June 2nd the results of the MRI showed a cancerous tumor called a “Klatskin Tumor” of the bile ducts. The doctor wrote the words “Klatskin Tumor” on the message board in my room and I can remember staring at those words for a long time while I was in the hospital.

One June 3 I had a Endoscopic Retrograde Cholangiopancreatography (ERCP) procedure in which stents were inserted into the bile ducts to try to open up the passages blocked by the tumor. On June 5th we met with an Oncologist and a team of Gastroenterologists at Sanford. Their official diagnosis was Cholangiocarcinoma or Bile duct Cancer. It was decided that I would go to Mayo Clinic in Rochester for a second opinion. On June 17th my appointment with the doctors at the Mayo Clinic confirmed the diagnosis of Cholangiocarcinoma. I also learned that treatment options for this type of cancer are limited and the only known successful treatment is surgery to remove the tumor or a liver transplant. A specialized MRI was needed to determine if either of these would be possible. On July 2 I had the MRI and it was determined that neither surgery nor a transplant were options.

With that news, we were told that we could try Chemotherapy and Radiation to try to slow the growth of the tumor. It was determined that this could be done closer to home and we were referred back to Sioux Falls and then to Worthington for treatment. I had a Power port catheter inserted on July 12 and started chemo and radiation on July 29. The chemo was administered through the pump and I went to Worthington five days a week for six weeks for radiation.

The treatment did help as the tumor has not grown since the initial diagnosis. I follow up with an MRI every three months for a recheck. I do have problems with the stents being blocked and have been hospitalized twice since then to have them cleared. The journey continues and we don't know what each new day will bring. We need to be thankful for today and enjoy all the good we have been given. Our family and friends have been very supportive in our journey thus far.

As a one-year cancer survivor, I am excited to be an honorary chair for the Murray County Relay for Life. I look forward to sharing the evening with other cancer survivors and my family and friends.





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