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Posted 2018-05-18T15:07:00Z

The Journey Thus Far

MD Anderson Cancer Center, Holcombe Boulevard, Houston, TX, USA

Click here for driving directions.

 

Hello everyone!
I have created this support page because my dad, Jerry Craft, has been through so much for the past 3 years; and not only him, but Denita and Cameron. It is my hope that we can join together to give what ever we can to help them out on this journey.

I asked Denita for the full history of everything that's happened these past 3 years, and here is what she said:
Jerry was diagnosed with liver cancer in April 2015, which changed our lives forever.
He was referred to University Hospital in San Antonio as a transplant candidate.
We spent 8 months traveling back and forth from Corpus Christi to San Antonio for all the testing required for transplant eligibility.
In the meantime, the tumor was treated with chemo embolization in Corpus.
There was a 50% chance the cancer could come back within 5 years, though he had 2 more tumors develop within 2 years.
Each time, more treatment was done with chemo embolization and ablation in San Antonio.
He was finally placed on the transplant list in February of 2016.

In November 2016, Jerry's knee became swollen and painful.  It had to be drained. Then in December, a blood clot was discovered in his leg.  Injections of blood thinners were given. 

In January 2017, he was called to standby for a transplant in San Antonio. We actually stood-by for 2 different livers that night, but neither of those worked out.  He was called several more times to standby over the next 5 months, none of which worked out.

In June 2017, he started vomiting blood from developing esophageal varices, bleeding of the esophagus caused by back pressure from his liver. Blood transfusions and a procedure were done to tie off six bleeding vessels.
Then he developed an umbilical hernia caused by a distended abdomen (another symptom from the liver).

Then finally, on July 15th 2017 with God's perfect timing, he was called in for the real deal. After a 10-hour surgery, Jerry was doing well with the new liver! We are sooo thankful for the donor's gracious consideration of others in dire need, and so sad at the same time for their family's loss. (Please consider registering to be an organ donor!)
Soon Jerry was having a lot of abdominal pain, and a week later his team decided to re-open the huge Mercedes-shaped incision to stop bleeding and clean out the cavity. 
In the next few days his heart rate would start racing to almost 200 beats per minute; one more thing for them to test and try to treat. His transplant team was amazing!  Right on top of any issue that arose. Very impressive!  He spent 3 weeks in the hospital, and after 3 months recovery time, he was back to work.  After each procedure he lost more weight. He started at 230 lbs and has gotten as low as 160 lbs. 

In October 2017, he was diagnosed with a broken vertebra, causing a lot of pain and a long recovery.
In December, a knot came up on his neck, which was removed in January. The pathology on that showed HPV-Positive Metastatic Squamous Cell Cancer. The reason this happened is because Jerry has had to take anti-rejection drugs for his liver transplant which allowed the HPV to become cancer. (About 80% of sexually active people contract the HPV virus. Please get your young female AND male teens vaccinated before it's too late; BEFORE exposure.) 
A day and a half after that surgery, he started bleeding from the incision. We couldn't get the bleeding to stop, so it was off to the emergency room. After 2 days and transfusions of blood products, it finally stopped bleeding. 
Then we started on our current journey... 

Jerry was referred to MD Anderson in Houston. They did a lot of testing for a week. 
On April 5, 2018, biopsy surgery was done on his tonsil in an effort to determine where the primary cancer was located. The diagnosis was that he has tonsil cancer which spread to the lymph nodes in his neck.
So then, all the logistics had to be figured out:  for our jobs (thanks to Chris), our son in high school (thanks to Mom), lodging in Houston (thanks to Charlie and Wendy), etc. 
Thirty sessions of radiation therapy are scheduled, along with Oncologist appointments, dental checks, physical therapy for nerve damage during neck surgery, yoga study sessions, jaw MRI study appointments, speech pathologist appointments, etc.

As of May 18th, Jerry has had 15 radiation treatments, with 15 more to go.
He just started feeling pretty miserable a few days ago: dry mouth with sores on tongue, roof of mouth, gums swollen and bleeding, sore throat, diarrhea, nausea, vomiting, fatigue, eating is painful, and it's hard to swallow; however, he has to maintain his weight or they will put in a feeding tube.

We cherish all your loving prayers.  And praise God for ALL His blessings!

I will post photos periodically for updates.  Go to the bottom of this page and click "view more" under recent photos, then choose the album "Jerry's Journey" to see all photos in order and scroll over to see labels. We'd love to see posts from friends who visit here.  Thanks!
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To leave a donation, scroll down to the bottom of this page and click / tap on the "Donate Now" button. 

Thank you for any and all of your support!

With love,
Virginia

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Comments (3)

  • Elvia Vidaurri
    Elvia Vidaurri

    Dear Jerry and Denita, thank you for sharing your journey with others, it is a great testimony of how God in his devine mercy is a very present source of strength and love in your life. He is our sovereign Lord and all we can do is keep our eyes of faith on Him because while we may not know why He allows suffering and pain, you are not going through this alone because he is lifting you up and carrying you. Peace Brother and Sister. GOD LOVES YOU. Stay focused on Him and because He is bigger than cancer. God bless you and keep you. I christening Blessings, Elvia qq

    one year ago · Reply
    • Virginia Craft
      Virginia Craft

      Thank you Elvia we are on the way home after 6 weeks of radiation with Jesus at the helm

      one year ago · Reply
  • Karyl & David Loux
    Karyl & David Loux

    Jerry & Denita (and Virginia) our hearts and prayers are with you as you make this journey. We hold all of you and especially Jerry in our prayers daily. The ability to see these pictures reminds us of how long it has been since we have seen you. Especially when we see how big Cameron has grown, and what a handsome young man he is. We are very far away, or we would have stepped up to help. Please feel our big virtual hugs and wishes for the best possible outcome, as you kick cancer to the curb. Love you guys. Karyl & Dave

    one year ago · Reply