Another of our fantastic grant recipients is willing to share their story… Read, learn, and cherish the the story of Parmesh Mudaliar as told by his wife, Kelly Mudaliar in a letter she sent to us on November 17, 2013.
It began January 4th, 2011, when I took Parmesh to the emergency room at our local hospital. He was suffering from severe lower back pain that had not been able to be resolved by the clinic he was going to. After the initial CT was done in the ER we were told that he was either fighting one heck of an infection or that he had some type of lymphoma and he was immediately admitted to the hospital. Days later, at the age of 35, Parmesh was diagnosed with Stage IV Colon Cancer. Having always been a healthy individual and with no cancer history in his family this came as quite a shock to us, as you can imagine.
We spent the next several days in a fog of tests and tests and more tests, trying to determine how far it had spread and what our options were. At the time our children were ages two and four and being away from them was beginning to take its toll on us. After many tests and consults with various Dr’s, we were blessed to be connected with Dr. James O. Park, a liver tumor specialist at the University of Washington, who performed the initial surgery in May of 2011. He partnered with a wonderful oncologist named Dr. Sam Whiting, at Seattle Cancer Care Alliance, who literally threw everything but the kitchen sink at Parmesh in terms of chemotherapy. He had a Fulfoxiri regimen for six rounds of chemo prior to the surgery. Results of the surgery were promising although it had been a difficult one and there was no way to get all of the cancer out of his body.
We have been extremely fortunate to spend the next two years after the surgery continuing chemotherapy every other week and living our “new normal” life. Although Parmesh hasn’t worked since his diagnosis, on his off chemo weeks he was able to take the kids to school and pick them up, do grocery shopping and cook dinner (he is a fantastic cook!) while I was working full time. That is, up until May of this year. In April we received the glorious news from our new oncologist that Parmesh was being allowed a two month chemo break. In May, about a month into the break, our nightmare began all over again when it was discovered (after going to the ER for severe abdominal pain) that the primary tumor in his colon had come back and come back full force. After nearly two months in the hospital and no luck with radiation shrinking the tumor and thus, the blockage, he had another surgery to give him a colostomy. This was the only chance we had at diverting away from the tumor that was growing in his colon.
After his recovery, we went back to chemotherapy, only a different regimen this time as he was much weaker than he was two months before. Unfortunately, this regimen wasn’t able to keep the cancer from growing and we are now in the hospital again with another tumor causing a partial bowel obstruction and our only option is to have a tube inserted through the abdomen to his stomach which we will use to release gases and liquids that build up due to the blockage. This we will be able to do from home where we will keep him comfortable and he can spend time with our entire family. At this point we are not sure if he will be able to continue chemotherapy or not. It’s a waiting game.
In the almost 3 long years and counting, we have battled: hospital rooms, medications, doctors, nurses, emergency rooms, infusions, surgeries, insurance, imaging machines, hair loss, nausea, mental and physical exhaustion, unimaginable pain, group therapy, individual therapy, kid counseling, good news, bad news, medical terminology and lingo, and mounting medical bills. The list goes on. This battle is daunting and scary.
All the while on the battle field, scattered in between, we have regular, “normal” every day family life. Losing job, changing job, kids starting school, daycare, commuting, getting a puppy dog that outgrew us so we had to give him up, family events, birthdays, trying to stay connected with friends, maintain sanity, eat, drink, sleep, go to the bathroom, clean house, rearrange house to accommodate all the changes, deal with family deaths/births and everything in between, pay bills, modified vacations, preventative doctors and dentist appointments, get a new cat, broken down car, new used car, participate in Colon Cancer walks, stay healthy, get fit, celebrate the usual Hallmark holidays like Father’s Day as normal as can be, get up and go to work even though I’m sick, remain calm when your kids are acting up, volunteer at the kids school to show them we care and want to be supportive of their school activities, parent teacher conferences, and trying to give enough attention to everyone in the family.
Juggling the battle and regular, everyday life is so overwhelming but I would not do anything different. We have two beautiful children, Sami and Seta who are now 7 and 5 years old, respectively. I have a cranky husband – with good reason! – who is the love of my life and made me more happy then I could have ever dreamed of being. I have a supportive family: Mom, sister, and Parmesh’s fantastic family. I have friends that refuse to let me go this road alone, who step up with more things than I even realize or think I need. I have an employer that is very understanding and supportive.
This fight has made us a stronger family and we will stand together against this disease and its indiscriminate nature. Thank you to all who help us fight the battle and help keep the wheels turning on everyday life! Without you we would be devastated. Without you we would not be able to continue this fight. Included in that group is Meredith’s Miracles, who has helped us tremendously by paying our utility bills for a few months so that we can have heat and get our garbage picked up. It sounds small but it means everything to us.
This journey is the hardest thing I’ve ever experienced in my life. Nobody prepared me for this and I don’t think that anyone could ever be fully ready anyway. We are not infallible! We must live, love and be happy for everything we have – even the bad, even opposition, even what you think you can never handle – because it’s what teaches us and makes us who we are today.
I read this somewhere once: “You never know how STRONG you can be until being STRONG is the only choice you have”. This is the truest statement I have ever read. Life is not a given. At any moment, it can be taken or altered for good. Appreciate, enjoy, cherish, revel in and remember every moment. As minute as it may seem it is important and has meaning.