Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Chemo Day Eight 03/24/09

Another day behind us, that much closer to being done!

Today, was very long! We arrived at 10:30 and left at 5:45; something ran through Bryan's port into his veins the entire time. He held his own on his weight and his RBC's, hematocrit and hemoglobin continue to descend. Another med has been added to the arsenal-- anabolic steroids--no spring training for Bryan! Actually, the doctors are hoping it will stimulate his appetite and beef him up a bit.

His mother continues to be on our minds. She is in a care facility for rehab after breaking her hip. We got the report today she may have to be there four to six more weeks. Once she is released, she will need 24 hour nursing care. Please pray for Bryan and his brother as they determine the best way to provide this care for her.

Quick Request

We are getting ready to head out to Renton--Bryan slept very well last night. Thank you, Lord! But, he awoke with nausea. It is called anticipatory nausea. It is very physical, yet triggered by the mind anticipating the chemotherapy. Please pray it will dissipate and that his anti-nausea medications today will help keep it at bay this evening and tomorrow. Also, he will have the Avastin today and we are a bit leary due to the possible side effects. Please pray he will be able to tolerate it without any internal bleeding!

Saturday, March 21, 2009

An Unexpected Bonus, Times Two!

Today was a great day! I had plenty of energy and even took a fairly lengthy walk as we had an unexpected day of sunshine after several weeks of dreary showers. I was on my feet for the majority of the day and even found time to clean up the kitchen after the mid-day meal.

The Lord planned an unexpected bonus in this day as well! My naturopath at the Seattle Cancer Treatment and Wellness Center in Renton, Dr. Paul Reilly, was the special guest on a call-in talk show on health-related matters on radio station KVI. Susan and I listened for a time, then I phoned in to express my thanks to Dr. Reilly for his skill and expertise in naturopathic oncology and for his seven years of competent care of me in my cancer journey. One thing Dr. Reilly said during the program was that "cancer is a word and not a sentence." Amen! Too many people view a cancer diagnosis as a death sentence, rather than a new beginning, a new chapter in one's life. And for the Christian, it is a journey of hope and faith! How encouraging it was for us to hear the familiar voice of Dr. Reilly over the air waves today, another token of God's great mercy to us in our journey of hope and faith!

The second bonus came with a phone call from Costco pharmacy informing us the Emend anti-nausea medicine has been approved!

Thank you for your continual prayers; they are such an encouragement to us.

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Chemo Day 7

Tuesday marked the completion of seven infusions. Dr. Chen was ready to begin the Avastin again, but Bryan chose to wait one more week in order to get relief from his cold, in case he has complications and would need to return to the hospital because of internal bleeding. This is a side effect of the Avastin and could possibly be what happened in early February. Dr. Chen has given Bryan several weeks to heal before trying the Avastin again and we chose one more week, which he was willing to grant us.

The cold lingers, please pray that it ends soon. Bryan had a one pound weight loss, after the two pound gain of the previous week. Please pray he will resume his weight gain. We also are awaiting insurance approval of his very successful nausea medication. It is very expensive, would you believe $100 per pill! Thankfully, he only takes two per week. The insurance will cover 50% if approved. Please pray the approval comes before next week.

On a side note, Bryan's mother fell last Thursday and suffered a hairline fracture of her hip. She is currently in rehabilitation. Please pray she will be able to walk on her own again.

Monday, March 16, 2009

Treasures From the Darkness

Bryan wrote this very early Friday morning~

Once again, sleep has left me in the night watches as I find myself awake in the darkness that has descended seemingly without quarter. I find I fear the night with its sleeplessness, its incessant tossing and turning, its constant clock watching, but to no avail. The night creeps along and I lie helplessly awake, a tickle cough contributing to my dilemma, for whenever it appears sleep is nigh, I'm awakened by another spasm that awakens me afresh! Or if its not the cold rearing its ugly head, its my stomach with its churning and reflux that keeps sleep at bay. I know eating too late at night, particularly carbohydrates, contributes to this, but our schedule sometimes dictates the meals be eaten later than most of us would like. So here I am, sleepless in Seattle, or at least in Tacoma! But there's more to the darkness I'm learning!

I find I've made an idol out of sleep. That's right, an idol out of a good snooze! I find I'm yearning for those halcyon days when sleep was a given, put the head on the pillow and sleep automatically came no questions asked! But those days and nights are no longer. God has sovereignly brought to me a season of sleeplessness and I must mine the treasures from this darkness!

Secondly, it is true I'm learning that God delights in communing with sleepless souls on the night watches! He delights to impart truths and insights that can only be seen when the lights are out! He wants His children to pay special attention to Him when the darkness descends and sleep flees; He wants us to light a candle of communion with Him rather than to curse the darkness, to talk to Him, have it out with Him and to otherwise wrestle with Him as Jacob did under the stars in Genesis. Jacob found both blessing and humbling after the night time encounter, he went away blessed by God and limping on a divinely dislocated hip. In other words, God did a multifaceted work in Jacob while the patriarch wrestled the night way. We must be ready to wrest blessing from a sleepless night as Jacob did by wrestling with God in prayer!

And we mustn't fear the sleepless night! We must never forget that the darkness and the light are alike to God, and that to fear the night is to set one's soul to reaping the wild wind of that very fear! Fear is a self-fulfilling prophecy as Job discovered. Nor must we fail to thank God for the night which seemingly has no end in sight. Every night ends. and the day itself will offer opportunities to recoup the losses of a night that passed seemingly without rest.

Thursday, March 12, 2009

A New Day

Though I am low on energy and creativity tonight, I had a fairly energetic day earlier. I walked the block today in gorgeous sunshine, did 25 push-ups, numerous knee bends, and even attempted a couple of pull-ups. I am so atrophied, especially in my upper body, that I look like a WWII death camp survivor. I realize this can come back quickly with good eating and consistent exercise. I am battling a new phenomenon, hypersalivation. Please pray we can solve this dilemma. I am sure learning alot about how the human body works and I have to exclaim with the Scriptures that we are "fearfully and wonderfully made" (Psalm 139).

We Shall Grow Stronger

Yesterday, as I was reading Streams in the Desert, I was struck by this, shared it with Bryan, and he asked me to post it.

Sorrow came to you yesterday, and emptied your home. Your first impulse now is to give up, and sit down in despair amid the wrecks of your hopes. But you dare not do it. You are in the line of battle, and the crisis is at hand. To falter a moment would be to imperil some holy interest. Other lives would be harmed by your pausing, holy interest would suffer, should your hands be folded. You must not linger even to indulge your grief.

A distinguished general related this pathetic incident of his own experience in time of war. The general's son was a lieutenant of battery. An assault was in progress. The father was leading his division in a charge; as he pressed on in the field, suddenly his eye was caught by the sight of a dead battery-officer lying just before him. One glance showed him it was his own son. His fatherly impulse was to stop beside the loved form and give vent to his grief, but the duty of the moment demanded that he should press on in the charge; so, quickly snatching one hot kiss from the dead lips, he hastened away, leading his command in the assault.

Weeping inconsolably beside a grave can never give back love's banished treasure, nor can any blessing come out of such sadness. Sorrow makes deep scars; it writes its record ineffaceably on the heart which suffers. We really never get over our great griefs; we are never altogether the same after we have passed through them as we were before. Yet there is a humanizing and fertilizing influence in sorrow which has been rightly accepted and cheerfully borne. Indeed, they are poor who have never suffered, and have none of sorrow's marks upon them. The joy set before us should shine upon our griefs as the sun shines through the clouds glorifying them. God has so ordered, that in pressing on in duty we shall find the truest, richest comfort for ourselves. Sitting down to brood over our sorrows, the darkness deepens about us and creeps into our heart, and our strength changes to weakness. But if we turn away from the gloom, and take up the tasks and duties to which God call us, the light will come again, and we shall grow stronger.

J.R. Miller (1840-1912)

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Chemo Day Six 03/10/09

Today was chemo infusion day number six in this latest installment in my battle with metastatic colon cancer. Today, we received welcome news that I'd gained, what is, for me, at least, a whopping two pounds in body weight. This, coming as it did on the heels of a disappointing 2 1/2 lb. loss last week, prompted a fist pump from me even as the check-in nurse, Heather, was checking my blood pressure, pulse rate and oxygen saturation levels! But Heather shared our joy and couldn't wait to have me share it with our nurse for the day, Corey. Corey, in turn was equally as overjoyed at our good news, so much so that when my naturopath, Dr. Paul Reilly, came into our infusion suite for a consult, Corey appeared and said: "Have you shared your good news with Dr. Reilly yet?"

This, in a nutshell, is why we are sold on the Seattle Cancer Treatment and Wellness Center (SCTWC). Each doctor and nurse is a team member along with you; they're pulling for you with eagerness and enthusiasm and with a healthy dose of optimism and hope. People who come here find an oasis of hope in what for many has been a battle for their lives that others have dismissed as hopeless. But as a radio commercial has it: "At the Seattle Cancer Treatment and Wellness Center, we never give up hope!" How true. Hope is a powerful medicine indeed in any fight with a potentially terminal illness. But even terminal patients have seen their cancers defeated.

A newspaper article http://www.pnwlocalnews.com/south_king/fwm/lifestyle/34284489.html
posted on the bulletin board at the Center today told of the story of a woman diagnosed with terminal lung cancer even though she had never smoked or been subjected to second hand smoke nor was any hereditary linkage to the disease apparent. The first doctor she visited basically gave the woman nine months to live and urged her to get her financial house in order. Not wanting to give up without a fight, this woman contacted SCTWC and found hope for her future. Now her cancer is in remission and the woman has a new lease on life quite literally! Though not every story ends this way, enough do to prove the power of hope conveyed by every doctor, nurse, lab tech and support staff who comprise SCTWC!

Susan and I sense much hope for my future even though the pathway ahead may be strewn with ups and downs, peaks and valleys and reversals alongside advances! With my weight up and the CEA (tumor marker) blood test down from 17.1 to an 8.2, there's cause for hope! And thanks to all of you who through your diligent love and prayers for us are, in your own way, an unseen though no less real part of our team of hopeful and hope-inducing care givers! Thanks for the significant role you play every time you pray for us. Your love and prayers are indeed sustaining and encouraging us in this daily battle!

Wednesday, March 4, 2009


Thank you for your continual prayers and encouragements.

Bryan slept better last night! I never thought snoring would sound so good!! Most of the day he was nausea free, which allowed for a good day of caloric consumption. Although, in the early evening his nausea returned. Hopefully, it will not interfere with his sleep tonight.

Updates on last weeks events:

Grace's stitches were removed Monday. A small area was not healed yet, so it was "superglued". She even impressed the doctor with her ability to count to 20 while he held the wound for the glue to adhere.

The police activity continues in our neighborhood. It has a few of my children on edge, others very excited with the drama. Who needs big screen TV when we can look out our front room window?

As the mountains surround Jerusalem, So the Lord surrounds His people From this time forth and forever. Psalm 125:2

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Bad News -- Good News

Bad News first:

We are very sad to report Bryan had a 2-1/2 pound weight loss this week. With all the nausea, he had very little appetite. Also, his hematocrit dropped to 28; the lowest since leaving the hospital. He was given IV iron today to help jump start some red cell production. The doctors weren't that concerned and decided to go ahead with his regular chemo for the week.

Now for the Good News:

Last week, Bryan had a CEA tumor marker drawn. According to WEBMD, "The carcinoembryonic antigen (CEA) test measures the amount of this protein that may appear in the blood of some people who have certain kinds of cancers, especially colon cancer...
The CEA test is used to:
*Find how widespread is the cancer
*Check the success of treatment for colon cancer.
*CEA levels may be measured both before and after surgery to evaluate both the success of the surgery and the person's chances of recovery.
*CEA levels may be measured during chemotherapy. This provides information about how well the treatment is working.
*Check to see if cancer has returned after treatment.

All week, I have been praying that we would receive good news. Last night, I specifically asked God to give us a reading of 9.0, this would be a significant drop from 17.1 four weeks ago. At the same time, I was bracing myself for the worst. "...oh ye of little faith..." We were brought to tears over God's answer beyond my request--Bryan's CEA was 8.2. The chemotherapy is doing what it is supposed to be doing and Bryan says it's all worth it!

Now to Him who is able to do far more abundantly beyond all that we ask or think, according to the power that works within us... Ephesians 3:20

This test will be measured every 4 weeks. Praise God we are heading in the right direction!

Prayer for this week: limited nausea (we have another new med), increased appetite to produce a weight gain, and restful sleep at night. For those who weren't in church on Sunday--he's still preaching through it all--may God continue to give him strength and power.