Written by Therese Surges
It was October, 2010 and time for annual physicals and bloodwork. Keith’s CEA was elevated and set off alarms to his primary doctor. We had no idea she had been testing this over the years as this was before online records were so readily available. Three years prior, Keith had an aggressive high-grade adenocarcinoma polyp removed and thought to just be a surface malignancy. Original biopsy in November, 2010 of his cecum/appendix suggested that his was appendix in origin, well to moderately differentiated adenocarcinoma. Because of this, Keith underwent chemotherapy for 7 months prior to meeting with his surgical oncologist, George Salti, MD, who is now at Edward Hospital, Naperville, IL.
In July, 2011, Keith had cytoreduction and HIPEC achieving a cc-1 surgery. “CC-1 score indicates that tumor nodules persisting after cytoreduction are <2.5 mm, which is a nodule size thought to be penetrable by intracavity chemotherapy and would, therefore, be designated a complete cytoreduction.”
The cancer turned out to be more of a hybrid disease, showing colonic and mucinous adenocarcinomas, so more aggressive than originally thought. By three months the cancer had returned so he tried chemo and targeted therapies again. Because of mesentery disease and the quick return in many areas, Keith was not eligible for another surgery which would have rendered him unable to absorb enough nutrients. Unfortunately, the chemo proved to not slow the progression so the decision was made to stop all treatment in April of 2012 as there were no benefits and it was affecting his quality of life. At this point we focused on living life every day with laughter, love, faith and hope until his would end prematurely.
Beginning in June of 2012 to October, 2013, we traveled extensively. We visited Hawaii 3 times, Puerto Rico, Bahamas, NY, NJ, PA, MD, VA, NC, SC, TN, MI and Canada. The goal was to fit in all of the things we wanted to do when we were older. There was no time like the present to pack 75 years of living into what time was left. Though there were some blips during this time, he woke up every day thankful to be as he said “on this side of the grass”. Cytoreduction and HIPEC by his surgeon provided him an exceptional quality of life post-surgery until the cancer caused complications.
In 2013 we also held our first fundraiser, raising awareness of this disease and held them annually through (skipping 2016) 2017 and raising well over $50,000 over those years for critical research into this disease. Keith was the star attraction in 2013 and 2014, his last “crawl”. He made it a good one and it was held on his 59th birthday.
Keith’s condition changed drastically in November, 2013 just a day after our final vacation to the Bahamas. On January 31, 2014 Keith entered hospice – no food, only high calorie clear liquids, soups and occasional sherbet, kept him thriving. His will, desire to live and the love that circled him provided an amazing 10+ months of life with his amazing hospice team visiting him at home.
On December 9, 2014 I said my last I love you in his ear. Keith Surges left his mark in this world as a human being that was well loved and well respected by all that knew him.
If you would like to make a difference and donate in memory of Keith, please click here to donate.