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St. Louis’ “Team Ervin”

May 12, 2011

Disclaimer: The video you are about to watch/are watching/just watched may make you dizzy – it was 32 degrees outside and my body was involuntarily shaking. Forgive me!

The gentleman in the video above is Greg Ervin. He is the inspiration behind Team Ervin, now the largest team in Undy existence. With 105 members, the team led the pack at the 2011 St. Louis Undy 5000, and also raised just over $4,000! Despite sub-freezing temperatures and the threat of up to 5″ of snow (I know, right? In March?), Team Ervin showed up on March 26 with smiles on their faces and ERVIN on their T-shirts!

Most of Team Ervin

Greg was diagnosed with colon cancer one year ago on May 6, 2010.  Here is a March 2011 excerpt from Team Ervin’s blog about Greg and his diagnosis.

“His symptoms started to appear in late March and early April. It began with Greg having severe fatigue, abdominal pains and loss of appetite. If you know Greg very well, this is not him. He loves his food and an 8:30 bedtime is not anything he ever does. After a couple of weeks he went to the doctor and he was given medication for his stomach and some tests were run. The tests showed nothing, the meds really did not help much, and the symptoms continued to worsen.

Then, on Monday the 3rd of May the roller coaster ride began. Greg got up that morning with more severe symptoms and thus he called the doctor. He went in that day to the doctor and he sent him for a CT scan of his abdomen. Tuesday the CT scan results came back and showed that there was a large dark area in his upper colon. The doctor gave some suggestions on what it could be but cancer was not likely. The doctor said we needed to see a specialist. The specialist squeezed Greg in at the end of the day on Wednesday. He said he needed a colonoscopy and that he wanted it done the next morning. It was already almost 5:00 so Greg had to do a crash prep for the procedure since you usually need about 36 hours to do the prep and we only had 12 hours. (The medicine was like chalk and he was to take about a half gallon of the stuff. Yuck does not describe the taste, Greg said. Greg recommends the Gatorade method, which he has used every time since then.)

Thursday morning Greg went in for the colonoscopy and it showed a large mass in the upper left portion of his colon. The mass was so large that it was basically shutting off Greg’s colon. The doctor was unable to get the scope thru the mass and thus unable to determine the exact size of the tumor and whether it had gone through the colon wall. He was surprised that Greg was not having  more severe symptoms and that they had not been going on longer.  The doctor came in and the diagnosis was that Greg had COLON CANCER.  A biopsy was sent off to get official results and to determine that it was actually colon cancer and not cancer that had spread from another area.  That day we started making phone calls to decide on a surgeon. God was so in charge because we checked with several sources and they all lead us to Dr. Arends at St. Lukes who specializes in colon resections. He too squeezed us into his busy schedule and saw him the next Wednesday. The scans and colonoscopy caused him to recommend a resection of the left upper portion of Greg’s colon.  This would mean the removal of between 12 to 15 inches of his colon. The surgery was scheduled for 2 weeks later.

Yes, within 9 days Greg had been to 7 doctors, had multiple tests and scans and was headed to surgery in just 2 weeks. They would have done surgery the following day, but he had to be taken off some medications for 10 days before surgery. What a whirl wind.

On May 21, Greg had surgery and had over a foot of colon removed from his upper right side. All went very well. The surgery showed that the tumor was bigger than a baseball and had erupted through the colon wall into the abdominal area.  Along with the removal of the section of the colon, Dr. Arends took 27 lymph nodes to be sent away and biopsied.

The biopsy of the large tumor and of the lymph nodes showed that Greg had stage 3 colon cancer, and that only one of the nodes had cancer. These findings, along with Greg being so young and because of the location of the cancer, the surgeon recommended that Greg undergo chemotherapy. Two weeks after surgery we met with the oncologist, and then one month after surgery Greg began six months of intense chemotherapy.”

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