Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Life Can Be Many Shades of Gray

I promised to use this outlet as a way to keep everyone informed, so here is a rundown of our new life since craniotomy surgery two weeks ago. Everyday has been busy, but everyday has also been a gift.  From the moment we arrived home, Dow has been not only in "survival mode" but "change my life-change the world mode."  We weren't home even 30 minutes before we were on the go for knowledge the local bookstore had to offer on diet, yoga, meditation, and cancer.  Then  it was a trip to Whole Foods to scour the aisles for healthy, organic, non-processed nutrition for his healing body.  With an  outpouring of support and information from friends and family we spent the weekend sifting through mountains of data for what we felt would be the best plan of attack.  Though the first weekend home was trying, with new medications to manage, a toddler to love, and a roller coaster of emotions to deal with, we survived.

 By Monday we had contacted  a therapeutic yoga instructor, an integrative medical physician with a specialty in oncology nutrition, and Dr. Tran-a great researching mind in glioblastoma trials at Siteman Cancer Center in St Louis. With a great day trip to the Gateway City we found promising clinical trials to keep in our back pocket for plausible battles later on down the road. For now, we plan to continue on with the "standard of care" practices which include chemotherapy and radiation in tandem with the DCVAX trial at KU and the most intriguing element, a ketogenic cancer diet.  This diet operates under the premise that cancer cells need sugar and carbohydrates to function and grow, therefore if you starve them of these things, they will not function and grow.  On the days he went to work, Dow's stellar diet previously consisted of Dr. Pepper, a Snickers Bar, 2 bottles of 5-Hour Energy, and a package of gummy bears...if he was lucky.  So the new found passion for clean eating, low carb-no sugar diet is nothing short of a miracle!  Including yoga, meditation and visualization has also become a piece of this very complex puzzle.

Dow is hoping to do some positive work in the medical field while he undergoes treatment.  Realizing his current work situation of 12-14 hour night shifts is no longer an option, he plans to do some administrative work for the critical access hospital that currently employs him.  Having been on the other side for so long and now being thrust into the patient aspect his eyes have been opened to the flaws of the way healthcare is being provided and has many ideas and processes running through his busy mind to better patient care and healthcare worker environment.   He is literally chomping at the bit to build a great medical team and practice at Cass Regional Medical Center that provides top level doctors and nurses with a great environment to provide cutting edge Emergency Medicine to the deserving people of Cass County.

Today we had a two week check-up with the neurosurgeon, who Dow affectionately refers to as "The Wizard" and our first meeting with his oncologist.  Sutures came out and he was cleared to take Sloane to the pool.  We will return in another two weeks for a final surgical check.  The oncologist says chemo and radiation will begin August 5th.  As she gave us the rundown of the ins and outs of glioblastoma multiform treatment I found myself overwhelmed with emotions because it was like getting hit with the diagnosis all over again.  The best analogy I can give everyone is that GBM is like the glitter of diseases. You can clean the pile of glitter up (tumor resection), but there will always be specs left behind (cells) and these specs are what the chemo, radiation, and clinical trials try to pick up from his brain.

For those of you who know Dow personally, things have always been very black and white for him. You never have to guess his opinions, moods, emotions, or where you stand with him.  With diagnosis has come self-introspection, intellectual and emotional clarity, prioritizing, and a new found passion for work and all paths to healing. Suddenly life has become several shades of gray.


  1. Dow...or as I know you, Dr Richards. I am keeping you and your beautiful family close to my heart. I know your determined spirit will be a strength to you right now and will keep you in your recovery. Sending nothing but positive prayers and heart felt wishes your way.
    Nikki Renshaw RN
    RPC Call Center,mobile crisis team
    Hope to see you soon!

  2. Keep it up Dow! Lots of love and positive energy flowing to you.

  3. Love to hear of your positive energy and outlook!! Cant wait to have an "all clear" diagnosis...lots of love to ur fam!!

  4. Dr have a whole lot if prayers going out to you from registration cause you know we know how to pray. Keeping you and your family prayed up!!