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Monday, June 21, 2010

A week has passed and I feel obliged to enter another post.

There was a great article in today's London Free Press about Dave. (Click here to read the article.) I wasn't aware this was being done but am really touched and amazed at how far reaching an effect Dave had in others lives.

The visitation on Wednesday evening was supposed to go from 5-9, but people were lined up early, so we started at 4:45 and they didn't stop until 9:45. (5 hours non-stop) The line up to get in went out the door and was almost an hour long wait at times. We had a lot of photo collage boards set up and a photo slide show on a big screen while people were waiting during the visitations. I had also made a music CD for Dave for our anniversary 3 years ago, so I had them play that during both visitations.

The 2nd visitation on Thursday had to be stopped short to start the service. The service was beautiful. One of the teachers had written a song for him that a few of them sang, and the school choir sang amazingly. (A few of the kids were crying so hard they couldn't sing.) Another friend who is a pianist played the piano immediately before and after the service. 5 friends spoke as well as one of Dave's uncles and the pastor. The speeches were touching and all gave different glimpses into the man Dave was. (If I'm able I'll try to get copies of the speeches to post here sometime in the near future.) There was a reception afterward that friends organized and I am still amazed at how quickly it was pulled together and how so many people helped out to bring food and at how much food there was. (I'm guessing at numbers here, but I think there were about 500 people through on Wednesday evening, and 900 people at the service on Thursday.) I can't even begin to thank everybody that helped out with this.

I haven't been able to read the posts on all the facebook pages for Dave yet..., but I know that at this point he seems larger than life. You know Dave was a pretty simple guy. He loved sports, was very sociable, and lived to play baseball! He also had issues and struggles, just like the rest of us, however, he felt strongly compelled to help a lot of the youth around him that he saw struggling. Even after bad first impressions, he was always willing to give kids a second chance. He liked making kids smile and feel good, because it made him feel good. Dave had a rough childhood but was given a second chance. His foster parents invested in his life and helped shape the man he became. He wanted to pay it forward. We've had a few foster sons of our own and hope we've made an impact in their lives. When visiting friends and family, Dave would always make an effort to connect with the kids - whether it be to just make them laugh, teach them how to swim, or help them get over their fear of dogs. Dave was truly a kid at heart, the biggest kid I knew. He was just as happy hanging around kids as adults. When our son Cale was a teenager, he would load up our van full of family & friends teens and take them to Galilean Bible Camp - 10 hours north, for a few weeks each summer. Dave would help out with maintenance around the camp then drive them all home. He also loaded up the van in the winter to take the family teens on ski trips to Vermont. He managed to keep them all in control and still have a great time that they still laugh about.

Dave and I, have had our struggles over the years but always planned on growing old together. Even while fighting cancer, we still dreamed about our future. Cale & I are heartbroken and will be struggling to come to terms with the loss for a long time. The reality is that we have been mourning 'healthy' Dave for months now. I'm still waiting for him to run in the door, grab his ball bag, give me a quick kiss, and run out the door because he's late for a game. I try not to question, but it's hard to comprehend the loss.

I do know that our lives are inextricably knit together. God has a plan - I just don't fully see it yet.
Thank you for being a part of our journey and cheering us on. I hope this blog has helped you as much as it helped us.


Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Obituary Information

Richards, David

June 14th, 2010

RICHARDS, David – Peacefully at LHSC Victoria Hospital on Monday, June 14th, 2010, David Richards of London at the age of 45. Beloved husband of Valerie Richards. Dearest father of Cale Richards. Beloved son of Diane McKillop. Will be missed by his sister Cairine Domzella (Perry) and by his brothers: Sean McKillop (Kathryn), Daniel McKillop and A.J. McKillop (Michelle). Survived by his uncles George Richards (Janet) and Paul Richards. Also, survived by many cousins, nieces and nephews from the Richards, McKillop and Abusow families.

Visitation is on Wednesday, June 16th from 5:00 - 9:00 p.m. at the Westview Funeral Chapel, 709 Wonderland Road North.

Visitation is on Thursday, June 17th from 1:00 – 3:00 p.m. at Forest City Community Church, 3725 Bostwick Road.

The Funeral Service is Thursday, June 17th from 3:30 p.m. at Forest City Community Church, 3725 Bostwick Road.  A reception wil follow at the Church.

The Interment is Friday, June 18th, at 11am at St. James Cemetery, Watford for family and friends.
In lieu of flowers, donations to London Abused Women's Centre would be appreciated.

E-mail condolences accepted at westview@execulink.com

Monday, June 14, 2010


Posting again on Val's behalf. Dave passed away about 3 this morning and went home to be with  his Lord and Saviour.

"I have fought the good fight, I have finished the course, I have kept the faith. Henceforth there is laid up for me a crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge, shall give me at that day." (2 Timothy 4:7-8).

Please keep Val, Cale and the family in your prayers.


Mark Walker doing a brief update at Val's request. Dave has had a difficult day. He went to the washroom earlier in the evening with assistance, then passed out in his seat coming back. When they got him back in his bed, he did quit breathing briefly, but came to on his own. The hospital felt it best to get him his own room, so later this evening he was moved to the oncology section on C 7th floor. He is receiving oxygen and a low dose of pain medication to keep him comfortable.
Val has been at the hospital since Saturday other than a very brief trip home late this evening. She does not have the internet access at this time as she did when Dave was on the fifth floor.

Sunday, June 13, 2010

Sunday Afternoon

So, they hooked Dave's pain pump back up this morning at about 8am. They were going to cut the dosage in half. I thought about the amount he was initially receiving Monday and Tuesday and went and asked the doctor to use 1/4 the amount as a baseline. (This is what he was originally receiving on Monday & Tuesday and was much better. He had pain relief that he was happy about and he was lucid.) He can always push the 'dose' button for a hit if he needs more.

He hasn't been in any pain but was still not waking up. At about 1pm the doctor came back to check. I already thought about asking them to stop the pump altogether again and then the doctor mentioned that as an option and I agreed. (He can get a needle for instant pain relief when it's required.) I just wanted him to wake back up again. The doctor said I was free to stay or take him home - whatever I wanted at this point. I said that I can't take him home like this as he's not moving. I would like to wait for him to wake up and ask to go home, and then take him home. The doctor also thought that it was progression of the disease more than the narcotics. I said that I'd like to get the narcotics out of his system and then determine that. So the pump was removed again at 1:00 pm.

It's 4:30ish now and he's just starting to be a little more responsive.

So, it looks like we'll be staying another night unless Dave suddenly becomes a little more mobile very shortly.


Sunday am

I'm still at the hospital and Dave is resting now. (They're still letting me use the computer in the hall outside Dave's room.) He started to move around in the middle of the night and was restless. The nurse came in to give him on pain shot at 5:30 am and when she told me the amount she was about to inject I told her to cut the dose in half. I spoke with the doctor at 7:30 this morning and discussed my concerns that I feel he is being over-medicated and was stoned last night. I explained that Dave was mobile and pretty much taking care of himself until I brought him into Emerg on Monday am. On Wednesday evening he still walked a fair distance and now he can't even walk to the bathroom. I explained that his pain med dose was increased on Thursday and I'm not sure why. After talking it through a little more the doctor realized that the pain meds they were giving him Tuesday pm til Thursday am were being crushed and put through his feeding tube. He said they likely weren't being absorbed properly. This messed up their dosing amount and they were using that information to calculate the dose. (So the problem occurred because the dosing calculations were based on the amount of pain pills he requested - but wasn't absorbing. And when he received it in the pure form through the pump it's a much stronger amount.) I suggested they use the amounts he was receiving on Monday & Tuesday via needle as a better guide.

Dave is resting well now with very little pain meds. I'm hoping that the rest of the day goes well and we're still able to take him home this afternoon. (It's not ideal that he leave in this state, but he really wants to go home, and I don't want to be here either.)


Saturday, June 12, 2010


Still here in the hospital.

This morning we had a new doctor. He said Dave could go home tomorrow (Sunday) and they would contact CCAC to arrange for a bed to be delivered. He also suggested Dave be put on a Pain Pump instead of the patch + pills at home. The patch maintains a steady dose, and the pills would be for breakthrough pain. The problem is that the pills are not fast acting and might be a problem at home if Dave needs instant relief. The pump would do the some thing - maintain a steady dose, and then you can self medicate for immediate relief if necessary - but you can't overdose because of it's programming. I think this makes more sense. Dave prefers to be in control and if he knows he can get almost instant relief, he won't overmedicate because he thinks he 'might' be in pain in half an hour.

I went home this afternoon to clear out our bedroom to make room for the hospital bed. Friends were doing gardening in the back yard (which looks awesome!) and they came in to move out some furniture for me. Cale stuck around and CCAC apparently delivered the bed at 7pm. So, we're set there.

It was almost 5pm before they hooked Dave up to the pain pump and removed the pain patch at the same time. By 7pm I was concerned, because Dave was non-responsive and I couldn't wake him up for more than 10 seconds. After discussing it with a few nurses, they agreed that he didn't seem right. (Part of the problem is that he's in the cardiac unit, because there are no beds available in the oncology unit. So they're unfamiliar with the pump and cancer patients in general.) After contacting the on-call doctor that prescribed it this morning, he told her to take him off the pump entirely, and to just give meds as needed. Dave is still heavily sedated - too sedated. I believe they should have removed the patch 12 hours before starting him on the pump. He is stoned and now needs to come down. I am staying in his room overnight as I'm worried about him waking up totally confused and in pain and not knowing what to do. The nurses have let me use a staff computer in the hall right outside his room so that's where I'm posting this blog. I'm hoping that this doesn't affect him coming home tomorrow, but as it stands right now, in the state he is in at this moment, there is no way I could take him home.

Pray that the rest of Dave's evening goes well.


Another tough day with a twist

Hi all.

Dave is still in the hospital. Although they're happy that they think the blockage has cleared, they would still like his pain situation to be better under control. (He had 2 episodes today where he was in excruciating back pain while laying out flat and needed the almost instant pain relief from you get through a needle. If he were at home and that happened, we would be unable to get his pain under control fast enough with pills.)

Also, Dave does seem to be a little worse and less mobile each day I come in. At this point I think I'll need to bring in a hospital bed etc.. to bring him home safely. (Laying on a flat bed or couch will only make his back feel worse.) There will be more discussion tomorrow but it's difficult to get anything done over the weekend because of staff changes.

This afternoon we met with his radiation oncologist again regarding some spot radiation on his spine to alleviate some of his main causes of back pain. (This is different than the radiation we rejected for his esophagus, which was 6 weeks of radiation, another minimum 6 weeks of recovery, guaranteed pain and discomfort from side effects for the full 3 months, no guarantee of any substantial tumor shrinkage, and real risk of serious complications because they would be radiating around vital organs.) This would be a much shorter dose for pain management, few side effects, and little risk. If his pain meds can be reduced because of it, he will be much more like himself as well. 

So, he had an additional catscan this afternoon for radiation purposes as well as 3 radiation tattoo's. (They tattoo their pinpoint targets on him for accuracy purposes.) The radiation will start Monday. If he's at home by then, I'll be bringing him back and forth for short sessions for about 5 days.

On a different note, I have to share something that is a little confusing and can't be explained.
A few weeks ago Dave strongly felt that something was changing with the main tumor in his esophagus. He tried to drink a little water, but it didn't go down past the tumor, and it came back up. On Tuesday morning in his room in Emerg, he tried again, but the same thing happened. On Wednesday he kept telling me that he was close and that he would be drinking on Friday. He was insistent actually and I thought it was just the pain meds talking. On Wednesday he asked everybody to pray that he could drink some water. On Thursday he told me that he would drink tomorrow (Friday). Again, I'm thinking to myself - "pain meds talking...". 

Dave's mom is down for a few days, and this morning (Friday) we both walked into the room and he wanted to show us something. He picked up his glass of water, and took a few big gulps and he drank it! (It was followed by a somewhat amusing little burp, but he drank it and it stayed down no problem.) I was, and still am, in a bit of shock. He insisted for 2 days that he was going to drink on Friday and he did. I'm confused that this good news is happening in conjunction with such dire news that we just received. I don't get it.

That being said... I don't understand how God works. I'm just glad He's working! I'm going to go out on a limb and share some more stuff. (This is me stepping out of the boat.) Despite being so hopped on on serious pain meds and irrational most of the time this week, when Dave talks about God and Jesus Christ this week, he's calm, and the things he's saying are clear. I don't remember what day it was, or if it was before or after we got our bad news on Wednesday, but he said that is between him alone and God now and that traditional (chemo) and alternative therapies had failed so that when he was healed, it could only be attributed to God. I feel a need to share this.

I won't kid you. Dave isn't well this week. He has a lot of fluids accumulating throughout his body and it's worse each day. He's lost a lot of weight, even more so this week after no food for 4 days (doctors orders) and does not look good. His body is fighting hard but right now the cancer seems to be winning. I have been going through a lot of turmoil this week (every week actually), but am pretty calm right now. This blog has become more for me than you guys anymore.

I don't really know what else to say. That's a lot of personal info out there online - I know. But that didn't seem to bother Dave from the start of this blog. All I can say, is keep praying. Praise God, that he can drink as that has boosted Dave's spirits tremendously!

Good night.


Friday, June 11, 2010

Hospital Day 4

Just a quick update as it's late and I'm finding myself falling asleep at this computer.

Dave is still in the hospital but it's looking like they might discharge him tomorrow (Friday). (He really wants to get home.) He's comfortable, but still really loopy from the pain meds. (He hates it when I say that, but he is.) They started him on a pain patch this evening, but I guess it takes a few days to fully kick in, and so he gets other pain meds as needed for now. 

Thanks everybody for your prayers and encouragement. Although we have our moments, we are still hanging in there and are praying strong along with you guys.


Thursday, June 10, 2010


Hi All.

I just wanted to give an update, even though it's not an update I like. Dave had a lower abdominal catscan yesterday and the doctor gave us the results today. Dave's cancer is still spreading. Since the last scan in February, the spot on his liver has gone from 3 cm to 11 cm. There is further spread in the lymph nodes, and other spots within his abdomen, including near the pancreas. There is also a spot on his lower spine which is likely the cause of his back pain. (Which is why he started on the T3's a few weeks ago, which bunged him up so much that he's in the hospital now.) They didn't do a scan of his chest, so we don't know what exactly is going on up there, although I guess they made note of his esophagus and that part of the middle of that tumor is necrotic - meaning that there is some die-off in it. The doctor said that this can happen with recent chemo that might kill it off (which Dave hasn't had for 4 months) or just naturally with older tumors. There are no measurements etc regarding the main tumor growth - just a comment by the catscan 'operator' I guess.

This is obviously crushing to us right now, as we felt so positive.

Dave will still be coming home soon (in the next day or two), as soon as they're happy that the blockage in his bowels has cleared. (It's coming slowly.) I believe they're planning on doing another Xray in the morning.

The pain med that Dave is on, is making him pretty loopy, drowsy, as well as severely drying out his mouth. He is very parched, which just exacerbates the problem that he can't drink because of the main tumor. He is asking for everybody to pray that he can somehow be able to drink again. He just wants to drink a refreshing glass of water, which is just breaking my heart.

There is also a small problem with the pain med they initially intended to put him on. Because it's time release - it won't work by going through a feeding tube. (It needs to be whole - not crushed and mixed in water.) That might delay him coming home as well. We had briefly discussed different pain meds last week with his family doctor. He actually suggested the same med that they've put him on this week. I asked about a patch, and he said that they're heavier duty, and people usually work their way up to that. I'll ask the doctor tomorrow about it, but regardless I'm sure they'll come up with something.

This evening we went for a walk down to the front of the hospital to sit outside. Dave was too tired to walk back, so I grabbed a wheelchair and wheeled him back. We stopped briefly in the waiting room to see what was going on in the game tonight. Dave was tired and was overdue for meds so we went back to his room. He'll be sad in the morning to hear that the Hawks beat Philly.

Also, I apologize to those of you that have emailed me or left messages on our machine recently and I haven't replied. I'm only checking messages on the machine, and emails on the computer very briefly in the late evening (early morning) right now. However, I do read them and they're really positive, and uplifting, and I thank you for them. I obviously won't be giving the # out online, but for those of you that have my cell #, there is cell service in Dave's room, and you can call me or text me if you like. I'm more likely to reply as I'm sitting around in there.

And I just want to thank everybody that's been doing so much yardwork and clean up around our house. I haven't had a chance to thank everybody properly, but I just want to let you know that it's very appreciated and just feels better to look around and not feel overwhelmed by everything that should be done. It's looking great! Some of you have still offered to do some work and asked what's left. I haven't forgotten and will let you know.

Please pray for us. To keep our minds focused on Jesus Christ and not dwell in self pity. We know that He can still turn this around if that is His will.


Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Hospital Day 2

Good evening (or morning).

Today was a long, but fairly uneventful day in the hospital. Dave spent most of the day in the ER, until a room opened up at around 5pm. It was a beautiful day, and so in the afternoon we walked out of emerg to sit outside in the sun. Dave is feeling much better. It's obvious that the T3's weren't working well at all, and they gave him a different pain med which gave him so much better relief. He was feeling much better today than he has for many weeks. He said he got a great night's sleep last night, even though he was sleeping on a stretcher in emerg.

So, basically they have him on a saline IV for fluids and don't want him to have any food or liquids for now. They're giving him heavy duty stool softeners and once he's 'cleared' the blockage, they should send him home. He's a little loopy on this new pain med and so very entertaining. He told the first friend that showed up this morning to visit, that 'Basically, I'm full of shit.' Hahaha! (Sorry. That may not be blog appropriate, but it was pretty funny.)
Dave had a steady stream of visitors throughout the day, and they were all great visits and always uplifting

A friend has taken Brady for a day, so things were pretty quiet when I got home this evening.

That's the short version, and hopefully Dave is back home tomorrow (Wednesday) or Thursday morning.

Good night and thanks to all you friends and family that have been praying for us!

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Emerg again

Hi all.

I know some of you know that I was taking Dave to emerg this afternoon, so I feel obliged to give a quick update.

Dave has had a lot of abdominal fluid. I noticed it starting last weekend and pointed it out to the doctor during his transfusion a week ago. This weekend it was looking much worse. (He gained 10 lbs in a week, and it certainly wasn't from eating more - it was all fluid in his abdomen.) I called at the cancer clinic first this morning and the oncologist called me in the afternoon and said that they wouldn't be able to see him until Wednesday at the earliest - maybe later. I told her I was taking him to emerg and wasn't willing to wait that long. He was uncomfortable, and I don't know if it was OK to wait or not.

So they did an ultrasound and xray and said that he had fluid buildup but not enough that they would drain it. However his bowels were becoming impacted - and they agreed that it was likely from the T3's. (He started taking them about 3 weeks ago - mainly for back pain. In the last 4 or 5 days he was taking a lot more.) They said there are a number of meds he would need to take to clear it. He could do it at home if he preferred but he would have to keep in daily contact, and the doctor said he would prefer it if he was admitted for a few days. The risk of bowel perforation, if it didn't resolve, is a serious and deadly complication. Dave decided he wanted to stay in and make sure things were cleared.

So, Dave will be in the hospital for about 48 hours. It's possible that if they don't locate a room for him, that he will stay in Emerg the whole time. At least he was in a private room.

Friends came in to visit this evening. (I didn't know they let visitors into Emerg.) We felt calm despite being in there. The doctors and nurses were all great in the ER.

That's where we're at today. I've gone home to sleep and will be back there tomorrow morning.


Sunday, June 6, 2010

Hi everyone.

Just wanted to check in.

I'd like to thank everybody that's been coming around to do yard work for us. It's really touching. It's overwhelming actually the way so many people have jumped in to help out. Thanks so much.

This weekend is the Stephanie & Ashley Daub's Memorial 3on3 Basketball Tournament. Dave has always been a supporter of this event. The proceeds from this event go to the London Abused Women's Centre. This morning London West MPP Chris Bentley presented Dave with the 2010 Frances Marion Beyon Award for Strength and Courage at the opening ceremonies for the tournament. Dave was really tired, but he really wanted to be there. He couldn't stay long, but I'm really happy we could make it.

Right now, Dave's not feeling well at all. I'm sure the blood transfusion has helped somewhat, but he still has a lot going on. He hasn't slept much at all overnight for the past few days. He seems to have back pain all the time now, but it's worse in the evenings.

We're trying hard to stay positive, and are hanging in right now!
Thanks everybody for your prayers and words of encouragement. You don't know how much they're appreciated.


Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Thank you!

Yesterday Dave still wasn't feeling well. (Exhaustion, back pain, & abdominal pain.) He was feeling well in the morning, but when he 'ate' late morning he said the wheels fell off and the rest of the day got no better. He had a rough evening and wasn't able to sleep all night. He also had a pretty rough morning and was pretty upset.

Today he had a massage mid-afternoon, and by this evening was feeling pretty good. Some friends dropped by this evening, and he was fine. On another positive note, his feeding tube pain that started bothering him a few weeks ago seems to be OK today. (It was really painful when he changes the dressing and moved the tube around.)

So, we're obviously hoping that this blood transfusion has kicked in and he keeps feeling well!

Two different groups of people came yesterday & today to do yardwork for us. Things are shaping up and looking good. Thanks everybody that has come by and expressed a desire to help out. It removes a big burden from our shoulders! There is still plenty to do and I apologize for not getting back to a few of you that have offered as well. I will re-assess and let you know.

I also want to thank everybody that has been praying for us. It helped today!

Tomorrow morning we have an appointment with our GP. I'm hoping to discuss some of Dave's digestive problems and other concerns. (We haven't been to see him since March.) I'm hoping he can shed some light on Dave's digestive problem. Although the oncologist prescribed a motility drug last week, it worked for only a few days and made no difference yesterday. Here's hoping we're pleasantly surprised tomorrow and he can see past the cancer and look at the patient.

Take care!