Dennis Stacey’s life changed forever when he went for a casual walk on October 9th up PKOLS (Mount Douglas) and ended up in the hospital with devastating news.
Stacey’s sister, Stephany Aulenback, started a GoFundMe to help her brother after he was given a diagnosis for incredibly aggressive, terminal cancer.
It all started when Stacey felt breathless from his PKOLS hike and decided it warranted a trip to the Royal Jubilee Hospital. There, doctors discovered a massive blockage near his pulmonary artery which they thought must be an immense blood clot.
Surgeons determined there was a mass inside the artery blocking 98% of the blood flow. Doctors were astounded to find this out and it left them wondering how he had not suffered a cardiac arrest.
The initial plan was to put him on a medi-jet that was Toronto bound so he could receive surgery on October 10th. Stacey was made a priority, as his heart could give out at any moment. He opted to remain in Victoria at the Royal Jubilee.
After a series of tests were sent to the best cardiac teams in Canada, it was determined that the mass was most likely a primary angiosarcoma tumour. The tumour was responsible for the artery blockage but also had a secondary mass on one of his lungs.
Stacey’s medical team decided that surgery would be too risky and would most likely result in his demise on the operating table, so he was placed in palliative care.
At this time Stacey and his partner Nicala decided it best that Stacey’s four children say their goodbyes.
On October 12th, more scan results came back and they determined that the doctors were right in their diagnosis of angiosarcoma cancer.
Stacey’s doctor worked on a plan to extend his life as long as possible with a risky surgery that would clear out most of the tumour.
With a newfound opportunity to see his children grow into adults, Stacey accepted the risk of surgery.
The next day, Stacey and his partner Nicala married one another after 14 years together in a grove of magnolia’s located at the Royal Jubilee Hospital.
The newly married couple found out soon after their impromptu wedding that Stacey’s surgery would be on Thursday, October 20th.
In a Facebook post made on Thursday morning, Stacey’s sister Stephany said, “Dr. Thomas just came out to tell us that we are halfway through surgery. They’ve removed the tumour! Dennis is stable and the amazing surgical team is working tirelessly to put the pieces back together!”
“We are hugely grateful to these incredibly talented and capable people. Please keep the prayers, positive thoughts, and good vibes coming for Den and the rockstar surgical team.”
A GoFundMe page was started on the families behalf because Stacey and his wife Nicala will be unable to return to work for the foreseeable future following this surgery.
At the time of this publication, the campaign has raised over $25,000 of their $50,000 goal. There have been 200 donors to the campaign.
“He says that for him this experience is perfectly distilling the one lesson we are all here on this planet to learn: nothing really matters but love and relationships,” said Stephany on her Facebook page while calling for positive stories to lift her brother’s spirits.
“Of course he would never choose to go through this. But he says, while the past week has been terrifying for him as he must confront the void, it has also been a week of overwhelming beauty and love.”