Rev. Wayne Meisel has been diagnosed with bile duct cancer. Below is a letter he wrote. He asked me to share it:
September 25, 2017
Dear Family, Friends and Colleagues,
As some of you may already know, these past six weeks have been one surprise after another regarding my personal health and well being.
I was recently diagnosed with bile duct cancer, also known as Cholangiocarcinoma. I had surgery on September 14th at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, MN and was released from the hospital last Wednesday. I will stay in Minnesota for the initial stage of my healing and recovery. Then I will make my way to Chicago and eventually back home with a target date of some time in November.
My surgery went well. Once I am healed and regain my strength, I will return to Mayo and meet with my gastroenterologist and oncologists to do a series of tests and scans which will inform us about my next steps.
Despite the obvious challenges, I am hopeful, determined and confident. This morning I feel well enough to write this message, which is a good sign. Over the next few weeks I will ease into a routine of exercise, work and rest. When I have my next White Castle, it will be a sign that I am back to my old self.
Several people have asked if it is OK to share my news with others. The answer is yes. For those who wanted to share with their broader networks, my hope is that this correspondence will provide you with some more information and context as you go about telling others. If you want to know more, keep reading. This is too big of a job to do on my own, so I looking forward to walking with you.
How did I get here?
On August 20
th,I woke up early in the morning feeling run down and not like myself. My self-diagnosis was that I’d had “one too many beers and slices.” When I didn’t feel better by the afternoon, I figured I had the flu. Just before I was to leave on a seventeen-day trip, I went to the doctor’s office to have a test for Lyme’s disease. It wasn’t Lyme’s disease. The results showed elevated enzyme levels in my liver. The initial diagnosis was hepatitis, but an ultrasound discovered a mass near my liver and later an MRI identified a tumor. The final diagnosis was bile duct cancer. Game on.
The Mayo Clinic
I wish I could say this was my first rodeo, but this is my third bout with cancer. In 2010 I had colon cancer and in 2014 I had bladder cancer. As I have said in the past, being a cancer survivor is like being part of a club you never want to join. But you don’t want to lose your membership either.
As soon as I was diagnosed, I made a beeline to the Mayo Clinic in Rochester Minnesota. KP and I arrived on the evening of Labor Day and I checked in at 6:00 am the following day. Although my appointment was not until September 12
th, I knew from past experience that if you showed up in person, you could get on a wait list. It’s kind of like getting in line to buy Hamilton tickets. By Wednesday afternoon I was meeting with physicians and scheduled for a biopsy the following Monday, the 11th. Later that morning I met with my surgeon Dr. Nagorney who is one of the leading surgeons for dealing with what I have. The “catch” was that he had to determine if I was a “candidate ” for surgery. Once it was decided that I was, surgery was scheduled for that Thursday morning (the 14th).
Surgery and the Hospital
I was admitted to Methodist Hospital at 5:45 AM, and wheeled into surgery a little after 8:00. The anesthesiologist asked me to count to five. I got to two. The next thing I remember was “coming to” in the post op recovery room, which marked the beginning of a seven-day stay in the hospital.
My surgeon was pleased with how the operation went. Everything seemed to go in my favor: early detection, a relative small tumor, a location that was operable and perhaps the best news of all, no apparent spreading to the lymph system or other nearby organs.
Late Wednesday afternoon, I sprung the joint. At the request of my doctors, for the time being I am staying in/around the Rochester area.
I am especially grateful to all those who have supported my family and me and who have been both physically and spiritually present with me during these challenging days. My friends and neighbors in Princeton, the Twin Cities and Rochester, MN have all stepped up to help out. Congregations including Trinity, Nassau, and Westminster and St Marks have held me in the light through prayers of intersession. Jewish friends have included me in their prayers during Rosh Hashanah. I have gained strength from the directors, coordinators and students that are part of the Bonner network and from Rider University (where I serve as Coordinating Chaplain). And I remain inspired by the faith based service organizations, seminaries and divinity school that I work with through the Center for Faith and Service, especially my friends and colleagues at McCormick . I am grateful for the ways many have stepped up in my absence to move our important agenda forward. My high school and college classmates have been particular encouraging and faithful to my family and me at this time.
Please feel free to reach back to me. Given the volume of emails and my ability to stay on top of much of anything, KP and I have established a new email address, firstname.lastname@example.org. I appreciate your messages but please understand it might be a while before I am able to reach back to you.
I am looking forward to getting back on my feet so that we can do the good work together and enjoy the life along the way.
Please pray for Wayne and his wife and family as Wayne heals and recovers.