Wednesday, April 29, 2009

A Difficult Day

The results of the CT scan were not the best. It appears that the lesions have spread further around the lungs, but the liver tumor appears to have stabalized. The cancer doc believes my inability to take Avastin has contributed to the spread of the lesions in the lungs, but Avastin caused internal bleeding so it was deemed unfit for me to take any longer.

In light of the scan findings, they've changed my medications to Erbitux which causes facial and scalp skin sores, and they've added a new drug to the fight something called CBT 11 I believe, a drug I've never had before. Yesterday, during my first infusion of CBT 11, I broke out in itchy red hives which necessitated an additional IV dose of Benadryl which took the hives away almost immediately! It appears that this new drug will cause me to lose my hair, a small price to pay when trying to stay alive! Additionally, I'll be taking home the pump for 48 hours instead of just 24, but only every other week. This pump administers dosages of 5FU over an extended period of time. The other weeks I'll be receiving only Erbitux and CBT 11 which means our visit at the cancer institute will be dramatically shortened on those days, and I will not be taking home any pump on those weeks as well!

There was some more disappointing news yesterday when the scales revealed a three pound weight loss, a loss attributable to a bout with diarrhea on Monday. We're controlling the diarrhea with a new battery of options including portions of the BRAT diet, immodium and possibly other medicines if necessary. The Monday bout may have been precipitated by the barium I had to drink for the CT scan, but who knows. So far, yesterday and today have been much better in this way, praise the Lord!

More bad news came in the blood work which showed my white counts were extremely low. Chemo is notorious for whacking the white cells along with cancer cells. So to counter this, they sent us home with five syringes filled with a drug to boost the production of the white blood cell. I will have to self-administer these shots in the fatty tissues in the stomach area, what fatty tissue I still have! I'll begin the shots on Friday evening. Please pray I'll be able to do this and not chicken out!

The good news in the blood work is that my hematocrit continues to hang in there at a pretty solid (for me) 34 reading! Praise be to God!

How have we been handling all of this? I can only say God has been gracious. I've had my moments of doubt and fear, but the Lord dispells them as I repair to Him in prayer. I read John Owen's great work The Glory of Christ this week and found it to be a balm to my storm-tossed soul. I discovered that I've allowed the trifles of life to cloud out the beauties of Christ as portrayed in the Scriptures. I'm meditating more on passages which reveal His beauty, might, meekness and willingness to suffer for the sake of His people on the cross, passages like Psalm 2:7-9; 45:2-6; 68:17-18; 72; Isa. 6:1-4; John 1:1-3; Phil. 2:6-8; Heb. 1:1-3; 2:14-16 and Rev. 17:16. I commend them to you for your own meditation and growth in the grace and knowledge of the Lord! The only way we will truly be fit for heavenly glory is by a deliberate preparation here and now. There will be no vain worldly trifles or pleasing earthly diversions awaiting us in heaven, only the blessedness of being forever with the Lord! Make sure you truly know Him now lest you be shocked and surprised in the coming day of judgment. Heaven will only truly be enjoyed by those who daily and diligently prepare for it here and now. Don't waste a single day in such preparation. Meditate on the above texts and cry out to Him that He may draw you closer to Himself!

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

A New Approach

Today we had a marathon session at the cancer institute because of a new drug the oncologist added to my fight. The drug is called Erbitux, and the initial infusion which they call a "loading dose," takes two hours to infuse. The future infusions will require only one hour which is good news. It was a long and arduous day.

I will be no longer taking the Avastin since one of its possible effects is internal bleeding, and we suspect it contributed to my most recent bleed. Erbitux is somewhat gentler and effective against tumor growth in other ways, although chills and fever are a possible side effect. I experienced severe chills at the infusion today, and tonight, I have spiked a fever of 101.8. We called the hospital suspecting a blood reaction, but the nurse Susan spoke with said such a reaction would have been within 24 hours! Whew! No trip to the ER, praise God. I'm treating the fever with Tylenol, and hope to bring the fever down so as to sleep well tonight.

Due to a mistake in planning Susan had to make two trips to the center, returning home to fetch a house key and to get it to our children who were at the Young's house for the day. Our very late infusion (we got home at 6:30) meant that our children needed to return at 5:00 since a very generous meal was on its way for our enjoyment at about that time. Susan is exhausted, so please pray for her as well that she sleeps soundly and nourishingly after a long day of driving!

Also, plans are underway for a CT Scan on Monday of next week, time to be determined. We'll keep you posted as details emerge. Pray we'll get some good news through the scan!

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Metastatic Colon Cancer

There seems to be some confusion about the name and location of Bryan's cancer. In 2002, his cancer originated in the colon and was confined to the colon. In 2007, the cancer reappeared in the colon, but upon removing the polyp, the gastroenterologist punctured a microscopic hole into the colon wall allowing cancer cells to escape. When his surgery was performed, the surgeon took shaved biopsies of the pancreas to see if cancer cells had landed there and they did! Thus, the stage IV metastatic cancer--cancer which had traveled from the original site to other organs in the body. Although he has tumors on his liver, lungs, small bowel, etc, it is still colon cancer because that is where the cancer originated and the cells are the same.

One amazing thing about cancer is the personal nature of it. Each cell is just that, a cell, and each cell contains DNA. Thus, Bryan's colon cancer is unique unto him because no other colon cancer patient in the world has his DNA. This is why some treatments work for some people and not others. It just depends on how the DNA responds and mutates. It really is fascinating--part of the Creation and yet the Fall!

If anyone has any other questions, please ask and we will be happy to attempt to clarify!

Sunday Evening

I came home from the hospital last night following an endoscopy and colonoscopy. Both scopes were done within 20 minutes. Talk about efficiency! The result is that the bleeding is likely due to a duodenal ulcer which we knew about before. It appears to be a chronic situation and the ulcer may bleed without warning. I am on a prescription which should heal the ulcer, but with ulcers, I guess you never know.

In addition, they found a narrowing (stenosis) in the second part of the duodenum related to a tumor. This explains the slow digestion of food and my inability to eat more. Although I have an appetite, the slow processing keeps me feeling full, thus I am not able to consume the number of calories I need to gain weight. There is a solution to this problem! In a few weeks, I will have another endoscopy and the doctor will place a stent across the narrowing in order to keep it open. The procedure should only take 20 minutes! The doctors surmise, without the stent, a complete obstruction might arise, if the tumor continues to grow. On this note, Tuesday is the final infusion for this round and then a CT scan will be taken the following week to see how the chemo is doing. Please pray we get good news on this scan.

A piece of irony, for your enjoyment: the scope showed my colon is cancer free. Funny, I have colon cancer everywhere else, except the colon! Go figure! The scan also showed the esophagus and the stomach were normal, praise the Lord!

Again, thank you for your ongoing love and prayers for us! We could not walk this path without your ongoing support. Thanks so much again!

Saturday, April 18, 2009

Saturday Morning

Good Morning!

Yesterday's red cell tag scan was negative. This means there is no longer any active bleeding. This afternoon, Bryan will be scoped to determine what may have been the cause of bleeding. We are hoping for good news. If it is nothing too serious, then he will come home this evening and, hopefully, get some good food (green jello and broth isn't that great!) and rest (poking and prodding all night didn't allow him to sleep well). His hematocrit is up, but the doctor has ordered another unit of blood to keep it there. Bryan is in good spirits and he looks great. I would love to be able to administer a bag or two of fluid on a daily basis. Hydration makes a big difference!

I slept well with James and Grace to keep me warm. Someday we'll post James's experience with Bryan at chemo last Tuesday. He had a blast!

Thanks for your continual prayers!

Friday, April 17, 2009

The Current Plan

Upon arrival in the ER, Dad's hematocrit was 25 and blood pressure was 80/59. He is currently receiving two units of blood and will undergo a scope later on to check everything out. They will also do a red cell tag scan where they mark a cell and watch it to see where it goes. This usually shows them where the bleed is located. Besides all this, he is doing great! Mom says he has great color and is in no pain. Please pray that we will have some answers by the end of the day!

~ Sarah


The move went very well yesterday, thank you for your prayers. Grandma liked her room and the other residents. It was a long day for Mom and Dad but they came home grateful that it had gone so smoothly. Dad actually had a lot of energy last night and was feeling quite good. However, that was not the case this morning. He began passing blood this morning at 2:00 and again at 9:00. He has since been taken to the ER and we are praying that the source of the blood and the cause will be discovered. Please pray that he hasn't lost enough blood to require a transfusion, which would mean an overnight stay and also that we can deal with this problem once and for all.

I will update as soon as I hear anything new.


Thursday, April 16, 2009

Prayer Request

Today, Mom and Dad are in Oregon bringing Lucie, Dad's mother, to Washington. She will be living in a care facility in Sumner. Please pray that the trip won't be too hard on Dad and the move will go well for Grandma.

Sarah, for the Pollock Clan

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

A Small Miracle

After a discouraging chemo day last week, followed by a week of diarrhea leading to dehydration, we expected either a significant weight loss or at best no gain or loss. However, much to our surprise, when I mounted the scales, they indicated a one pound weight gain!! God be praised for His mercy! After spending nearly a week on the BRAT (bananas, rice, applesauce, and toast) diet, hardly a weight gainers diet, a one pound weight gain was manna from heaven. In addition to this "miracle," my hematocrit registered a 31.1, one of my highest readings since last year. All told, these two pieces of news were most encouraging.

In retrospect, we now see that our failure to report last week's findings in a timely manner was wrong. We should have let you know immediately so you could help pray us through our discouragement. Please accept our sincerest apologies for suffering in silence and not letting you know the discouraging details. Scripture calls us to bear one another's burdens, and we chose to bear them alone.

Sunday, April 5, 2009


As many of you know, I did not attend church this morning due to dehydration and fatigue. I spent the day worshipping the Lord here at home with Josiah, as we studied Psalm 15 together. I kept a low profile eating bland foods and taking a walk in the warm spring weather. I am feeling better, and Susan says I am looking better. Please pray I will not have lost too much weight when I visit the cancer center on Tuesday.

Thursday, April 2, 2009

A Rough Day

This past Tuesday was infusion day number nine!! And it was a most disappointing and discouraging day. First, we learned at the weigh in that I'd dropped three pounds, and then, we learned that the most recent CEA tumor marker blood test indicated a level of 17!! The previous test had registered an 8.2, so this spike was a real shocker. What this means is any one's guess. Either the cancer has regrouped in the face of the infusions to attack afresh, or else, as one oncologist explained it to us, this is an anomaly like "background noise." At any rate, Susan and I were most discouraged and cried out to the Lord for His great mercies. He soon supplied me a measure of hope from His Word, specifically in Proverbs 18:14 - "The spirit of a man can endure his sickness, but as for a broken spirit who can bear it?" This was my regular Tuesday morning Scripture read in the McCheyne Plan, a Bible reading program I've been on for several years now, and it couldn't have been more appropriate or timely. The spirit of a man has been empowered by God to endure, but when broken it can bear nothing and burdens the very soul in which it resides! On Wednesday as I scoured Proverbs 19 I found no such words of hope or encouragement, but God sovereignly arranged my week so as to give me a special text at the exact time I needed it most! Praise be to His holy name!

I know I'm in for a battle, but battle on I will as long as God gives me strength to go on. I have so much to live for, and so many co-battlers willing to go the extra mile and battle with us in prayer and extraordinary intercession even through the tough miles when hopes would appear to be dashed. With renewed hope even as I write this to you, I pledge to battle on through whatever lies ahead in the pathway to healing.