Update Sunday Jan. 23, 2022
Hello. I first want to thank everyone for the support and well wishes on this journey of mine. If it wasn’t for my friends family and those I consider family, I may not be here to write this.
I have had a tough few months with ups and downs. The first 6 weeks I had some very good days, that allowed me to enjoy the beautiful sunrises and sunsets in Arizona. Just prior to Christmas, the doctors decided I needed an additional chemo added to my protocol as the first set wasn’t doing the whole job (even though I felt pretty well all things considered). After the new chemo was added I started feeling the old symptoms of stomach pain similar to in the beginning when I was diagnosed. Last Thursday, I met with the executive medical team to discuss my Big Blood Draw that reports the cancer markers amongst other significant impacts to my body. The Dr.’s were happy to share that my CA 19-9 cancer antigen marker has gone down by 20%. Unfortunately my inflammation marker has gone up. Their interpretation is that this is evidence of cancer die off and has increased inflammation and causing me pain. So all in all, it is good news. I will be getting anther Big Blood Draw mid February and also a PET CT scan on February 23. Remember the Mayo Clinic forecasted my demise by end of 2021. Regardless of their prognosis, I do keep my relationship with the Mayo and have been seeing an oncologist there as well to keep in my back pocket.
I still expect to be here getting treatment through February, and am really hoping I get a new prognosis after my PET scan that will allow me to go on maintenance treatment.
The picture above is of me and Cassie celebrating her birthday on Jan. 16. As you can see I an in good spirits and look forward to enjoying more days. I really look forward to coming home when I can be in my own bed and visit with my friends and family. Please know that at this time I am available to talk and answer phone calls and feel free to call or email me. Thanks and love to you all!
Hi I am Richard Copeland and first I want to share that I appreciate having had a very successful and fulfilling life and as retirement was fast approaching I anxiously looked forward to volunteering, relaxing and spending time with my 8 kids and 6 grandkids. In June, just prior to turning 66, I was rushed to the emergency department at the Mayo Clinic due to unbearable abdomen pain. Within 2 hours, I was shockingly diagnosed with stage 4 terminal cholangiocarcinoma with peritoneal carcinomatosis. This means that an undetected mass in my bile duct had become cancerous and spread into my abdomen. This type of cancer metastasizes, forming microscopic nodules that rapidly reproduce. Worst part is that it is impossible to remove them all so surgery is out of the question. The resident Oncologist sat with me and my wife as we tearfully asked the question. How long do I have? We were told that 3-6 months is an average lifespan for my situation and only with hardcore chemo I could possibly live a couple extra months. I was gently told to get my affairs in order and spend as much time with my loved ones as I was physically able. Unfortunately at this time even that seemed like an impossible task. My pain was so excruciating that I was subsequently put on heavy doses of pain meds and morphine. I could barely walk without support and was sleeping for hours on end. This is not a way anyone should have to say goodbye to your family and friends, especially me, a businessman, community leader and family man to my core. If you know me, I have always been a go-getter, worked hard, driven by personal accomplishments and giving what I can to help, teach and see others succeed. To be in a place where I was chair bound and now relied on everyone around me to do even simple daily things was soul shattering. Not that I was too proud to accept help but that I could no longer share in fellowship or do for others as I used to. This is the very part of my being that made me who I am. After 4 grueling months I suffered through the typical horrible terminal cancer patient life. Driving hours for chemo, wheelchair bound, nights in hotels for two day treatments, sick for days after chemo – all with the hope to gain a couple extra months to live. It was hard, but I still maintained hope for some form of miracle. During the course of the 4 months, people try to be helpful by sharing their stories of secret formulas, healing practices where someone they know was “cured” and I would listen, research a little and actually try a few. One special day, I was sitting next to a woman while getting a Vitamin C treatment (to help my immune system). She shared her story of celebrating 10 years in remission thanks to a special integrative clinic in Phoenix. Here it was, I believe this was the miracle that I was hoping for. She forewarned me that it was very costly, but if afforded, obviously worth the additional 9+ years past her original life expectancy. Ecstatically I shared this with my wife and we researched the clinic and found a bedroom for rent in Phoenix at $65.00 per night. We talked it over on how we will finance the first month and said let’s surrender much of our retirement money and give it a try for a month. Not knowing if this treatment would be better than the life-sucking chemo I was getting from the Mayo, I went into the idea with 40% hope, 40% doubt and 20% of feeling vulnerable in the hands of the unknown – something I wasn’t used to. I left Minnesota on Friday headed for Phoenix for my Monday morning appointment. My condition upon arrival was very poor as the chemo from the Mayo had me in a very weak condition. I was down 60 lbs, had no appetite, energy level of 2, brain fog, nauseous and very nervous. Fast forward to 4 weeks later after treatment at my new clinic in phoenix. Upon 8 treatments (2 per week) I had my first comparison meeting with the doctor team consisting of 8 medical professionals and based on their review of my scans and blood work I couldn’t be doing better. The cancer is showing signs of decline, my blood tests are all showing the progress and success of the protocol I am on and- best of all – I feel great. I am up 20 lbs, am now able to exercise a little, and I had the chance to play with my grandkids for the first time in 10 months and owe it all to my new treatment center. More importantly for my mental state, they have never once said to me “get your affairs in order” or “you have 3-6 months to live”. They recommend the same protocol for the next 4 weeks and after that time, the doctors expect to see continued improvement such that I will be able to spread out my treatments to hopefully a couple times a month for ongoing maintenance. Reality now hits hard. How do I continue to pay for this treatment? In total, between the treatment, housing, food, travel and still maintaining my home in Minnesota, the costs are immense. Unfortunately, this amazing clinic is not covered by Medicare due to its unique protocol and whole-body approach to cancer treatment. It is an integrative program that utilizes clinically approved chemotherapy administered in low doses while incorporating holistic and specialized therapies that fight cancer growth and help strengthen the body and the immune system. This approach creates an environment in the body to best receive all the benefits of chemotherapy, build resistance to cancerous growth and minimize the negative effects of chemo that can ultimately kill a person – which is why it is working for my 66 year old body. I wish I could say that I could find a way to sustain the heavy expense/cost of the treatment and living expenses out of state – even with cashing out all resources I have, but I simply can’t. Currently the treatment alone comes in close to $30,000 per month and with the rent, maintaining our Minneapolis home, food and a little travel back to Minnesota it is very difficult to manage. With a little help from a few people, I hope to be able to pay for the treatment for the next couple months and buy me enough time to get to the point where all I need is to maintain. The way I feel today compared to just one month ago is truly a miracle and I do believe that a hand from god has blessed me to get me here to this point. I also have to give thanks to many of my friends who have blessed me with their belief in my survival, giving me strength when I didn’t have it, and sharing all the love and care they have for me. I am so very thankful. In a very humbling manner, I am asking for your help in supporting me to help me buy more time on earth with my friends and family. I am living the results of the treatment and see the dramatic difference from what the typical cancer treatment is. I believe 100% in this clinic and know the expense is worth the results. I am happy to answer any questions anyone has and share my journey and treatment information in depth upon request. I sincerely thank you for your time in reading this, and wish you and your families the best.