Wednesday, November 28, 2018

Widow Wednesday--What I wish Ray knew before he died

I left this for my last post for stomach cancer awareness month because it is still the part of the story for our family that isn't finished. This is something that causes anxiety for me everyday. People ask why I let my kids each so much junk? Why I don't do things for myself more often? A lot of it all has to do with this very thing...they may also carry the gene. I fear everyday that they could get sick. That they may not be able to eat certain things. I never want to see them go through what their Dad went through. I know he would have done anything for his girls, including get cancer and die so that they could have the chance to survive. If he had to be the one to die for the family to find out they carried the gene he would have volunteered. I am a little ahead of myself so I am going to start back at the beginning.

When Ray was diagnosed all the doctors said the same thing, he was young and healthy and stomach cancer was never even a thought. Stomach cancer had been on the rise though in young, Italian males. A genetic doctor came in and asked if Ray wanted to be part of a study to see if he carried the gene for stomach cancer. His Grandfather had died of cancer, as well as his Grandfather's brother but both were in their 80's. The doctor didn't think that there was going to be a link and he just was "unlucky". There was never even a thought not to do the testing if we could find out the why he got sick we would do it. A neighbor had told us that some other neighbors were also going through cancer treatments too. I was an anxious mess thinking it was in the soil or in something where we lived. I wanted to move. The testing would answer some questions.

The testing would be done and sent to Canada and would take quite a while for results we were told. Unfortunately, it took almost a year for results and in that time Ray had already died. He never found out that he carried the gene for stomach cancer. It wasn't a matter of if he was going to get it just when. Since he had to get the gene from a parent and his grandfather had died from a similar cancer we knew his mom must also be carrying the gene. She was tested, as well as her sister, her sister's daughter, and all Ray's siblings. His mom was sure to be positive since he had to get the gene from someone, but the rest had 50/50 chance. As I said earlier if you have the gene it isn't whether or not you will get it, but when. With the gene there is also a higher incidence of a few other cancers occurring.

Of the tested his mom, aunt, and oldest brother all carried the gene. The recommendation if you carry the gene is to remove the stomach. Since the cancer starts in the inside layers it is usually silent until it is too late and progressed. All opted to have their stomachs removed quite quickly. It was scary and we didn't know what to expect. His mom has done the best of the three with very little obstacles. They do have things that make them sick and they can't tolerate. Not having a stomach can also cause some deficiencies and shots are needed. All in all they are all doing well. Adjusting to the new lifestyle and learning what they can and can't tolerate seems to have been the hardest for them all.

My girls can't be tested until they are 18. Most people are thinking about what their kids will be doing when they graduate school at 18 all I can think about is whether they will have to have this major surgery. I also worry if they get the cancer before they have the surgery. Statistics have shown that it rarely occurs before the age of 18, but what if they get it? The one true positive is that at least we know that they have this chance and hopefully it can be prevented. I know their Dad would have died for everyone like he did, for them to all have a chance at life.


  1. Autumn, I'm so sorry that you have to carry this anxiety with you. I can't believe how you must feel. I'll be praying for your girls and you. Ray was such a wonderful guy, and he truly made the ultimate sacrifice to save his family. Sending lots of love and light