Since Andy’s diagnosis, he’s met with a lot of doctors—a nephrologist, two urologists, two oncologists, and an interventional radiologist. He’s decided to work with the kidney cancer team at Fred Hutchinson Cancer Center (Fred Hutch) in Seattle to treat his cancer.
Starting July 15, Andy has the first part of his treatment, an immunotherapy drug through a 90-minute infusion, which he’ll have every two weeks ($14,800/month). At the same time, he starts a daily chemotherapy drug in pill form ($24,000/month). After three months of these treatments, Andy will again go through extensive tests and scans to determine if the drugs are working to shrink some of or all his tumors.
Deb’s mom lives near Seattle, so they stay with her during their trips to Fred Hutch. That minimizes their travel costs to gas (and possible flight costs), plus kenneling their dog. Although they have medical insurance that (so far) covers most of the bloodwork, appointments, and recurring scans, their prescription insurance will not cover all the drug costs. They are working with Fred Hutch, their insurance company, and the pharmaceutical companies to apply for grants and other programs to minimize their out-of-pocket burden.
Andy has no major pain, but suffers from anemia, dizziness, headaches, and fatigue. Four years is a guesstimate by the oncologists on how long the drugs may give Andy if he responds to the treatment. If he doesn’t, it’s on to a different “cocktail” that may work better. And there’s always the hope that a clinical trial over the next couple of years may offer new treatment options. Time to work on that bucket list … visiting out-of-state family is first on the list, in-between treatments.
Our friend and IHC brother, Andy Parker (aka Andy Gay), has been diagnosed with an aggressive kidney cancer that’s spread to his lungs, liver, and spine. Andy lives with his wife, Deb, in Redmond, OR. Their daughter, Tai, is a mental health counselor in the Humboldt County, CA area. They have established this CaringBridge site to keep in touch (www.caringbridge.org/visit/andyparker72).
Andy started as an engine crew member on the San Bernardino NF (1973-78) and was a member of the 1977 Redding Hotshot Crew. On the Plumas NF (1978-83), he moved up to engine captain. Andy became a full-time hotshot as superintendent of the Winema (1984-85), Baker River (1986), and Redmond (1987-96) Interagency Hotshot Crews. He left the hotshot life in 1997, taking the Division Chief position on the Coconino NF in Flagstaff, AZ (1997-2001).
On an international detail, Andy was project leader of training development for the Federal Forest Service of Russia and Avialesookhrana, making multiple trips to Moscow and Vladivostok. He finished his career as the Colorado State B.L.M. Operations Specialist and retired in 2007.
Andy is a strong advocate for the hotshot program and the importance of thorough training and safety. He put taking care of firefighters at the forefront, while dedicated to safe and efficient operations. Now, it is time for us to lend him a hand at a difficult time. To show our support for the family, the US Hotshot Association is sponsoring a raffle to raise money that will assist with expenses. We are planning to raffle a Stihl 362 chainsaw. Consider backing up Andy as he climbs the steep slope ahead. And as he’s always encouraged his crews, he’ll keep working the hill … two more chains.
“The truth be told I’ve never left the hotshot community!” (ABP)
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