Unless you are on Facebook or know someone who knows me well, you may think I just dropped off the edge of the earth. I haven't.

Dear Readers,
Unless you are on Facebook or know someone who knows me well, you may think I just dropped off the edge of the earth. I haven't.
I was diagnosed with stage-3 esophageal cancer on Dec. 17, 2016 and began a chemo and radiation regimen in January, culminating with an esophagectomy on March 28. That's where they take out your esophagus and cut into your stomach, turning a portion of it into a new esophagus. It didn't work as planned as I can barely swallow anything, and will go at least a couple of weeks on my new chemo regimen without eating anything, and only sipping something to down a pill. Almost all food and drink comes through my feeding tube.
It especially didn't work as planned as I sprung such a body cavity leak that I filled up several terrariums a day from tubes they cut into my sides. After a week and a half and unable to fix it, they flew me to Barnes-Jewish in St. Louis, who finally got me figured out and stopped the flow after another two weeks. They abruptly released me and made me figure out how to get all the way across the state on what turned into a statewide stormy Wednesday, April 26, like now! I was two days short of a month in a hospital.
I was provided a few materials and instruction to have my wife or son replace the bandage over my still not healed back incision from the March 28 surgery.
I had a nurse friend look at it that Friday, I couldn't get ahold of her the day before, and she was aghast that I was not provided home care for the wound. She called in a home nurse, who determined I needed to be a client of the Wound Clinic, a relationship that continues today. He tried to discharge me twice but setbacks keep bringing me back. The home nurse continued to see me twice weekly until about two months ago.
My surgical front incision then decided to get infected and re-open five times in five different places, and when both incisions were finally re-healed and the Wound Dr. released me, the area around the stitch that held in my feeding tube boiled up super sore and then produced a mass of infection. Wound Dr. then stabbed a new wound to release a volcano of gunk and we renewed our relationship while that wound slowly healed.
Had a series of feeding tubes clogging, twice just falling out because the area around the stitch is so raw and painful that it spit the stitch. I'm now on feeding tube #6 since getting out of the hospital. I've gotten real good at putting it back in me.
To hopefully get that area to heal, it is a large portion of the reason I'm on a pretty heavy regimen of multiple opioids, I refused to allow a stitch in that area. My surgeon's stitches are poison to me, so it is held in only by tape. It is a challenge because it naturally wants to push out, and I must tape up real good to take a shower, and be real careful when just changing the bandage around it twice daily.
As stated, we killed the esophageal cancer but while doing so it worked its way in the back door so now I have stage-4 cancer in five places. A new, monthly chemo regimen began in June, which makes me useless for about two weeks, and the final of six treatments is set for Dec. 26. We'll then get a PET scan to see where we are, but I know I will not be cancer free. The scan after 3 treatments showed 20-30% improvement in 2 places, but just minimal improvement in the other 3. So I know we have a 3rd round of treatment coming in early 2018. We're not done fighting yet. I have a couple of hedge apples in my freezer to possible use as a natural treatment. I've heard about several non-drug/non-medical cancer treatments and we may have to end up going that route.

And we will continue that fight, fueled by the prayers of so many. People have come out of the woodwork to pray for me. I've received cards of prayers, with gifts from people several states away whom I have never heard of, and many have put me on their prayer lists at their particular church or a certain prayer group. Some have sponsored prayers and/or masses for me at religiously significant sites or from particular orders. A sister and her family spent 2 months visiting internationally significant sites in Europe and Asia, and sponsoring prayers for me there.

And then there are those who have sent or dropped off financial gifts for my family while Deb and I raise 2 Daughters-grand with me now not working and her on disability for about 6 years now.

I worked through the original radiation and chemo, though it finally got to me and put me in bed for the Presidents Day 3-day weekend in late February. I tried to work that Tuesday, but was wore out after an hour and 45 minutes. After a several hours nap I came back to work on my final project, struggling hard to finish it, finally completing it after another 105 minutes. That was it. I haven't worked since.

I am so humbled and grateful for the many contributions, of $5, $10, $20, $40, $50, $100, even multiple $100s; and Rebecca Williams started a GoFundMe page for me where even $5 donations are greatly appreciated. An old childhood friend from the St. Louis, Scott Newton, pushed that hard on FB from his home now in Florida, and then Deb Baker, a member of our Affton, Mo. Class of '76 held a raffle for her health & and beauty projects that raised more than $500 for me.  Deb was one of about 325 in my class. We were never close, but here she is across the state and over 40 years coming to my aid.

I could write a book about all the "stupid stuff" I have had to endure during this now year-old and continuing saga, but ultimately, I am Blessed!

The love that has come my way is truly humbling. Some people have just blown my doors off by their thoughtfulness and generosity.

Kevin Wilson wrote a column in this paper last week requesting that people come to our aid financially, and boy have they. I am truly humbled and grateful beyond words for that column; it brought tears to my eyes, and for the response to it, especially from those who don't even know me personally.

I am so humbled that this community which I adopted more than 17 years ago and served here at the paper for a few years and for almost 10 at KBTN radio thinks that highly of me that so many would go way out of their way to ensure my family can stay above water while I continue this battle for my life.

God has His hand in all of this, moving certain individuals - some whom wish to remain anonymous -
to come to our aid to ensure our precious girls get what they need during this trying time. God Bless all. God is Good!

And I can't wait to kick this this plague called cancer and get back to serving you through the Neosho Daily News.

Dave Horvath writes a column for the Neosho Daily News.