Briefly, I went to the emergency room on my birthday last year. I was dealing with persistent pain issues relating to two previous benign cancer surgeries because during those surgeries I had somehow picked up an infection. For fifteen years afterwards it has been a battle using oral antibiotics to try to kill that infection with limited positive results. Mostly all it did was tear up my digestive system, killing all my helpful ecoli stomach bacteria and leading to other related digestive issues. On my birthday I had taken probably far too many ibuprofen and was bleeding rectally every time I sat down to go poop. So off I went to Providence.
I stayed a total of eight days and found out I had five infected abcessess in a very uncomfortable place. They treated them with Vancomycin, one of the most powerful infusion antibiotics and by draining them. It was nasty, but that brought much needed relief. Then about three days into my stay (my body was more messed up than I realized) my current oncologist visited me and informed me that I had some form of cancer but they couldn't pinpoint where it was coming from. I then went through just about every cancer screening test known to man -- blood, bones, brain, vital organs, lymphatic system... virtually everything was clean and clear. After another day or two and after a colonoscopy they discovered the source of the cancer cells. My colon. Some of the cancer cells had also migrated to my lymph symptom but had not caused lymphoma. Those cells were colorectal cancer cells hiding elsewhere.
A month or two after discussing my options with a gastrointerologist and my oncologist, I began my first series of chemotherapy. I made it through almost the whole course until on one visit I somehow became violently allergic to one of the anti-cancer drugs and almost died because of the bad reaction to it WHILE being infused. I was lucky to survive that day.
So we moved on to a different chemotherapy with another newer drug said to specifically target colorectal cancer. I went through about half of that treatment until finally my bloodwork demonstrated to both myself and my oncologist that it was ineffective. It kept me stable, but wasnt killing cancer cells as well as it should have been doing. So the oncologist came up with yet a third way, an oral anti-cancer drug named 'Stivarga', also fairly new and specific to colorectal treatment.
Side effects have been brutal. Loss of hair, rashes, intense gas and cramping, the gamut of the usual bad side effects of chemotherapy. During this time I've been on pain management opiates and with the approval of my oncologist, medical marijuana to stimulate my appetite and to deal with any breakthrough pain. They wanted to prescribe another opiate for that, but opiates contribute to the gas, cramping, and worst of all constipation. I'd rather take my chances with marijuana than compound a potential future opiate addiction, but without dispensaries or the legal mechanism for them within the medical marijuana laws in Alaska. But that is a tale for a different blog post.
At this point I am unable to work and have signed up for SNAP, SSI disability and other support services, including help from a friend or two at an independent living center who are skilled in filing for these types of necessary support during times of health crisis. The SNAP has already kicked in, as well as expedited medical support from the state of Alaska, a program called CAMA. Alaska also has a program that will pay your SS disability payments now as long as you agree to repay the state once SS disability kicks in. I'm hoping that starts this month because I am at the edge of any finances being available with bills past due.
Last month I was given an eviction notice. I was barely able to scrape together enough cash via gifts and donations from family members and a few friends, but that was last month. My family has no wealth to continue to help. We are and always have been lower middle class. My Dad did have quite a nice nestegg after selling off his businesses nd retiring, but he to is going through his own medical issues, having to deal with a rather large skin cancer.
So instead I have had to rely on pleading for help from friends, many of whom have gratefully donated money, food, medical marijuana (unfortunately never enough to supply more than a few weeks or a month worth), and moral support. For this I am eternally humbled, and thankful. Without this loving support from friends and family, I'd probably be starving nd homeless, if not dead already and frankly I've never felt I was ready to go yet. I still don't. I have an idea I have more important things that I need to do on this planet before I leave, so I'm continuing this fight until I'm in remission.
Many of my friends suggested that I set up a PayPal account as a cancer treatment support fund, so I did. As stated previously, many friends and even some people I didn't even know before stepped up by donating whatever they could afford. Many of my Buddhist friends have been at the forefront of making sure I'm taken care of and not suffering too badly, and for that I am deeply thankful.
So that's pretty much my story up to this point. I'm posting this so I can refer to it in social media and people can get a better understanding of my plight and so that I have a single anchor point to refer to for people who ask me how they can donate to the fund.
To donate, log into PayPal (or create an account, then login) and select Send Money to:
In addition, a friend of mine, Bill Fikes has created a convenient quick pay link to PayPal at:
Either way works and that IS a legitimate web page and my real main email address, so if you can, please consider donating whatever you can. Even with medical insurance, I am still already into five figures of medical debt, and those bills like rent keep on coming... so any any all help and compassionate support is deeply and most humbly appreciated. Hopefully the SS disability will begin on July 1st, 2013 and I won't have to scramble for rent or deal with nother eviction notice. But since I cannot be sure yet that this support from the state and Feds will come through, donations are still appreciated.
Thank you for taking the time to read this, and again as always, supporting my struggle to overcome this cancer. If you have any questions or comments, please feel free to leave them here or contact me through the link to my Facebook account.
Randall Warner (aka Lazarhat)