Honor Your Loved Ones

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My husband, Larry Cathey

husband's 08/28/1979 - 10/19/13

My husband is a true fighter and the bravest man I know. I am writing in honor of Larry Cathey, who passed away at age 34 on October 19, 2013 from colon cancer that metastasized to his liver. We set up our lives in a small town in Southern Oregon where we both had jobs, bought a house and got a puppy, a beagle named Jasper. After the trial with the pup, we decided we were ready for a baby and months later, we found out we were expecting a baby girl. While I was 24 weeks pregnant, my husband was feeling ill. He had pain in his back and abdomen. We first thought it was a pulled muscle since it hurt when he coughed and laughed but when the pain continued to worsen and he started feeling weak, he decided it was time to go to the emergency room. There, after an ultrasound and CT scan, a teary-eyed doctor came in and shared the news. He had a mass in his colon and a hundred small tumors covering his liver. It looked like cancer. He was admitted and a colonoscopy was ordered. He couldn't pass the liquid they ordered him to drink for the colonoscopy prep so plans changed. Immediate surgery for an ileostomy to bypass the tumor blockage in his colon, a liver biopsy, and to place a port in his chest for his upcoming chemotherapy treatments. Doctors gave him weeks to two years and said the cancer had been growing for five years. He was only 33 when diagnosed. The fight was on. He never got angry. He got sad, occasionally, but his focus was to do what he could to see his daughter be born and be around for her life. Surgery to remove the colon tumor or liver tumors was off the table since his liver was so compromised. The goal was to stabilize the liver before any surgery could be done to remove the colon mass and reverse the ileostomy. Aggressive chemotherapy started within two weeks from his diagnosis. Larry did well on the first line of treatment, FOLFOX. It was hard, very hard, as he continued to be ill from the treatments. After a few, he started bouncing back and feeling better quicker after each treatment. We were optimistic that something was working. He was by my side for the birth of our daughter in August. The best coach and father I could ask for. Shortly after, he went in for a treatment and had a reaction to it, bringing his experience with FOLFOX to an abrupt stop. He had a scan that showed the cancer wasn't getting any better but it wasn't worse. A silver lining. He was switched to another treatment - FOLFIRI - that was harder on him. After two of those and rapid weight loss, his doctor moved him to Erbitux, without chemo combination, to allow him time for weight gain. At that point, his health continued to decline and he showed signs of liver failure. Nothing could be done. Six short months after the diagnosis, he was gone. I commend him every day for his strength and bravery to allow his body to shut down on him. He fought to the very end. He wanted nothing more than to continue hiking with his pup, kayaking the local rivers and to coach his daughter's sports teams when she was old enough. In retrospect, we would've never considered the idea of him calling a doctor and asking for a colonoscopy. People aren't required to get those until they are 50. There are more and more stories out there of people being diagnosed at young ages with colon cancer. This needs to change. I'm committed to spreading awareness and encouraging changes in the health care field. Preventing the horrible disease through earlier colonoscopies is key to ensuring the life of a young father, mother, brother, sister, son or daughter isn't cut short by colon cancer.

Are you at Risk For Colorectal Cancer?

  • 2nd leading cause of cancer deaths for men and women combined
  • Colonoscopies not only discover cancer, but can also stop cancer
  • 50% of Americans still do not get colonoscopy reimbursement
  • Colon cancer research is still vastly under-funded

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