Michael J. Hunsaker was diagnosed with Cholangiocarcinoma (Intrahepatic Bile Duct Carcinoma) in December of 2018. Prior to Mike's diagnosis, he was pretty healthy. No high blood pressure, no diabetes, never smoked, never did drugs, wasn't a drinker outside the occasional beer once every couple of months, never exposed to hepatitis. His only risk factor was being overweight. The only surgery he ever had throughout his life prior to his diagnosis was gallbladder removal back in 2011.
Due to the location of his Cholangiocarcinoma, Mike was not eligible for a liver transplant and they were unable to perform a resection. His only alternative for treatment was chemotherapy and radiation treatment. He beat the cancer initially. After 6 weeks of radiation and chemo treatments, he was declared cancer free.
Unfortunately, the weight of the dead tumor remained and being inoperable, they had to continue with internal plastic stents to keep his bile ducts open and flowing. These stents had to be replaced every 3 months when they would become clogged. He experienced his first bout of sepsis due to the bile ducts clogging in October of 2019. He recovered from this bout of sepsis and continued to be cancer-free until June of 2020 when another nodule started to form below the dead tumor. He had completed 3 weeks of chemotherapy when his stents became clogged again and he developed his second bout of sepsis. From July of 2020 to October of 2020 Mike spent 22 days in the hospital fighting 3 bouts of sepsis in all. Two ascites had developed in his liver and they had to place 3 external biliary catheters to help with his bile duct drainage. He experienced debilitating Intercostal Nerve Pain from the external biliary catheters. His left ureter closed off from outside pressure from a newly formed abdominal ascites as well and they had to place a stent. They performed a paracentesis to drain the abdominal ascites in November of 2020.
In January of 2021 the ascites had reformed in his abdomen causing pressure on his right ureter this time and he experienced his first bout of acute kidney failure and hepatic encephalopathy. They drained the abdominal ascites again. They also placed a stent in his right ureter and replaced the stent in his left ureter to help with kidney function. By March of 2021 he was no longer able to keep any food or drink down. The malignant ascites had reformed again causing pressure on his duodenum this time. He experienced another bout of hepatic encephalopathy due to acute kidney failure from severe dehydration as he was unable to keep food and drink down without throwing it back up. He spent two weeks in the hospital this time. By the time the gastroenterologist got in there, his duodenum had completely closed off from the pressure of the abdominal ascites. They placed a stent in the second section of his duodenum so that he could eat and drink again. Mike lost 50 pounds between January and March. They removed the biliary catheters and went to internalized metallic Y-Stents which was great but he didn't really get to enjoy this minor victory.
Mike ended up back in the hospital a week after being discharged with hepatic encephalopathy again. Mike just wasn't wanting to eat or drink anything at this point. The malignant ascites kept reforming after each draining within 24 hours so they placed a PleurX Catheter in his abdomen so we could drain the ascites from home. The damage to his body was just too much for him to overcome. After being somewhat stabilized, they transported Mike home to be under Hospice Home Care. He came home on April 2nd, 2021 and on April 19th, 2021, Mike lost his battle with Cholangiocarcinoma. Despite all the trauma his body had gone through, he transitioned very peacefully at home surrounded by his family.
This is a terrible disease that is unfortunately on the rise and we are seeing it affect more people at a younger age. Mike was only 53 years old, leaving behind his loving wife of 27 years and three sons ages 18, 19, and 21. We thank you for your time reading this post to learn about this type of cancer. Any help that you can provide to support the Cholangiocarcinoma Foundation in it's fight to find a cure is greatly appreciated.
If you wish to donate by phone, please call (888) 936-6731 and speak with Laurie Kikel. If you wish to donate by mail, send check to:
CCF – In honor of Michael J. Hunsaker
5526 West 13400 South, #510
Herriman, Utah 84096, USA