Wednesday, June 27, 2007

June 27

I had a good visit with family. Came home in time to have treatment #8 this week.

Just before I left for Calif. we heard from Seattle (actually Doug called them). They had scheduled a pre-op appointment for July 10 and surgery for July 16! But hadn't called us yet! That was kind of annoying, considering I'd left two messages the week prior.

So, I ran this all by my family. With the exception of my dad (who didn't know what to think) they all think I should have it. (Confirmation?) So, I thought I had made my mind up about having it, I come home and now I'm waffling again. I'm just not convinced that this is the right path. There is not a settled-ness in my spirit. I think this goes beyond the general fear factor. There just is not enough significant positive data. From all I read, this COULD double my life expectancy (in 1/3 of patients) should I not suffer from complications (infections, fissures, pulmonary problems, needing subsequent surgeries), or even death from the surgery itself. Of course, these are always risks with any surgery, but the percentages I'm reading, in my opinion, are pretty high, particularly since these studies are based on a group of 40 patients, the other on a group of 60. (Not a large data base). The latest data I'm reading is from 2004, since this is relatively new, particularly with colon cancers. They've chosen me as a good candidate because of age, state of disease at this point, etc. This is 'cutting edge' stuff, and I would be a good one to add to the data, I suppose.

On the other hand, I am responding really well to the chemo I am now receiving. My CEA level (3 and below is normal) has gone down even more in the last two weeks and is now at 2.1. My oncologist is not completely convinced of the surgery either. He seems 50/50 on it. Also, we have not exhausted our resources in terms of treatment options for me at this time. At some point, the chemo will stop working (in terms of data), but no one can say when that will be. I could live just as long with what I'm doing now and not have the surgery. But, of course, no one knows for sure.

So, it's a gamble either way. I'm thinking I'll take my chances and just stay with what I'm doing now and see where this leads. In the meantime, if anyone out there can read the future, please let me know!! :o)

Again, please continue to pray for wisdom, mainly peace in my spirit. We are facing many challenges within the family right now too (kids, we have to put our dog down, finances, etc.) In any event, this time of our life seem to be posing some of the biggest challenges we have yet to face. Please also pray for my daughter Amy, as she's very worried about me lately. I am very spent this week (emotionally and energy wise).

I rest on the faith that God is bigger than all this and He knows all our needs. None of this is a surprise to Him.

I can say am convinced of one thing, and one thing only; that He will take care of us NO MATTER WHAT happens.

I am open to your input at any time. I treasure our relationships!


Wednesday, June 20, 2007

June 21

Taken from the Purpose Driven Life:

"Your spiritual family is even more important than your physical family because it will last forever... our relationship to other believers will continue throughout eternity. It is a much stronger union, a more permanent bond, than blood relationships. When Paul would stop to consider God's eternal purpose for us together, he would break out into praise: "When I think of the wisdom and scope of his plan I fall down on my knees and pray to the Father of all the great family of God, some of them already in heaven and some down here on earth."

I have family members and friends already in heaven. I have many more down here on earth. Your love and support have humbled me beyond words. I often feel undeserving. As we received from you this past weekend in particular, I knew that, no matter what, my family would be taken care of. I believe God wants to pour out his blessings on us all. But we must be willing to first make ourselves vulnerable to both Him and one another. I believe the more we surrender, the more we can receive (on all levels), otherwise we experience God and His power in trickles, not torrents.

I am going to see my dad and my family (all 30+ of them!) this weekend. I'm leaving tomorrow after work and driving to Redding to my sister Terry's first. My dad needs to see me as much as I need to see him, maybe more. He's been through this cancer thing with me once when I was 20. That was one of two times I saw him cry. The second time was when my sister Laurie died of cancer at the age of 42 after a long, strenuous battle. I'm not sure of his spiritual status, he doesn't like to talk about it. But, he has been amazed at the outpouring from all of you as I have shared things with him. This speaks volumes.

I have not heard back from Seattle yet! I will have treatment #8 next Tuesday...

I would appreciate your prayers for stamina these next 6 days, and to have the opportunity to show God's light and hope to my family in San Jose.

Thanks once again to all. Your love has touched me deeply.


Saturday, June 16, 2007

June 16

I started round 7 of chemotherapy on Monday. Side effects haven't been too bad this time since I had 5 weeks off prior to that.

After much hemming and hawing, searching the web, asking lots of questions, waiting for 3 angelic visits (ha ha)... I've decided to have the surgery. (no, the angels didn't quite appear).

Now, I'm waiting to hear back from the scheduler person in Seattle. First, we'll need to go back up there for another consultation, meet the GI oncologist, then hope to get on the surgery schedule as soon as possible. (See, now that I've made up my mind, I just want to get it over with!) Plus, we do have some time restraints, such as, Doug starting full-time school in September, his health insurance going away at that point, stuff like that....

Depending on when I get on the schedule, I'm probably looking at 2 months healing time. So, hopes is that I can get in as soon as possible and be back on my feet by then.

Now, this is not to say that should God decide to close this door, I will certainly listen. But (to the wise counsel of a friend), we make decisions to the best of our abililty and then trust God to continue to lead and direct. I think it's kind of hard for Him to guide us when we're not moving! Like trying to steer a parked car, or sail a ship that's anchored in the harbor.

I would ask for prayer for wisdom, timing, positive outcome of surgery, finances, etc. I'm also wanting to get down to San Jose to see my dad before I have surgery.

Thanks to all for the many prayers, thoughts, and kind gestures that have come our way. This truly is love in action.

Til later,

Thursday, June 7, 2007

June 7, evening

Decisions, decisions, decisions...

Heard back via email from Seattle doctor this afternoon. A bit of conflicting info as far as the scan, although his report sounds better or maybe clearer than the scan we had here. Here are his words:

"I have personally reviewed your scans. There are 3 small nodules in the right lung, and 1 small one in the left lung. They are really too small to call metastasis right now. At this point they are "indeterminate", but it is posssible they could represent colorectal mets. The liver mass is a cyst, not a metastasis. There is not that much disease visible in the abdomen. At this point I think you are a reasonable candidate for an aggressive approach to your peritoneal carcinomatosis, ie debulking/ IPHC, since there is no clear evidence of extra-peritoneal metastatic disease. If you are interested in this, then I'd like to see you back to discuss, and have you see our GI med onc to help w/ the intraperitoneal chemo." Dr. Gary Mann

So, good news is that he doesn't really see it anywhere else, at least through the scans, which makes me a 'candidate' for the surgery. "There is not that much disease visible in the abdomen." I'm not exactly sure what that means. The looming question now is, do I do it or not?

I spoke to Dr. Neville this afternoon after he also read the email, and he will be receiving the full report in a few days. Being true to his profession, (and after I pressed him a bit!) he's not leaning too far on the surgery side, though he says this is the 'cutting edge' for now in terms of this type of surgery. He's not had a patient with colorectal cancer that has gone through this surgery yet, since it's a relatively new procedure. He said he's had patients with stage 4 colorectal cancer who have done well with just the chemo.

Since the chemotherapy is systemic (goes through the whole system), it is also reaching the peritoneal cavity. On the other hand, one advantage of surgery is that they can actually see what perhaps could not be evident on the scans. If there is more disease in there, they can cut it out. As he said, this would be an aggresive approach.

I need real clarity right now! I want to make a wise decision, but there are variables on either side. I feel secure with Dr. Neville. He said there have been many advances in this area, ones that they didn't even have two years ago. If this current 'cocktail' of chemo doesn't keep it at bay, there are other ones we can try. And in another two years or more, who's to know what other advances in medicine will have been made...and maybe not such aggressive measures.

Do I just stay on the course I'm on now (6 more cycles of chemo) and hope the odds are in my favor? Or do I do everything that is available to me now while I am still relatively healthy and can handle a surgery like this, thinking that, in the long run, this will significantly increase my chances of survival? Decisions, decisions, decisions...

In any event, I am starting back up on chemo Monday. I feel much better emotionally today than I have the last few days. Thanks for holding me up in prayer!! I can feel the difference.

I welcome your thoughts and insights,


June 7

Waiting, waiting, waiting...

We finally heard from Seattle Monday around 1:00pm. He wanted to see us. So we high-tailed it up there, spent the night and went to our 11:15am appointment. What was supposed to take 45 minutes, took about 4 hours.

After he reviewed the scans done here in Corvallis, he said they weren't clear enough. So, he had me do a CT Scan there. (got to drink two bottles of gross stuff, IV, etc...)

He said he would email us yesterday with the results.... but he got called into surgery Monday afternoon and was still there as of yesterday afternoon. As of this morning, still no word.

He will only do the surgery if he does not see the cancer anywhere else but in the abdominal cavity. Since I was diagnosed with stage 4 cancer, he recommends doing it even if he can't see any cancer in that area. He said this will 'never go completely away'.

The surgery takes at least 6 hours, 3 hours of which I lay on the table while they flush heated chemotherapy through the peritonium (sp?) cavity. The incision will be big, about 11 inches, stem to stern. During surgery, he would remove any organs, or parts of them, that he thought needed to be removed (i.e. colon, stomach, pancreas, etc.) I'd sign a waiver going into the surgery, not knowing what I'm going to come out with (or without, as the case might be). Oh goody. I'd spend two weeks in the hospital up there, then 4 to 6 more recovering at home.

In a third of patients who have this, this doubles the life expectancy to 5 years. Of course, there are always the two ends of the spectrum. Those who don't make it, and those who live beyond 5 years. I have to say, after describing all the facts and data to me, I left there very depressed and discouraged. Not the encouragement I hoped to hear.

Now, as I wait and consider the 'facts', I am working to rally my spirits back up. I won't get into it here how these stages of news has me on an emotional roller coaster. As much as I tell myself to trust God and not think too far ahead, next thing you know, I'm on the coaster again.

Waiting to hear from doctors. Waiting to hear from God.

I'd appreciate prayers for clarity for all involved (me, my family, and the doctors). There are still question marks in my mind that I guess will only be answered in time, as I go through this process step by step.

I will let you know what's decided... as soon as we know.

Thanks again. I am blessed to have so many kind-hearted friends as you.

Monday, June 4, 2007

June 4

May 25

"There are no shortcuts to any place worth going." (forgot author)

"Optimism is the faith that leads to achievement. Nothing can be done without hope and confidence."
- Helen Keller

I just love simple quotes. They can say so much.

We'll as of this morning, 11:00am, the Seattle doctor hasn't seen the scans. I'm going to work. If he sees them today and he's very clear on surgery, we'll take the trip tomorrow, up and back.
I'm starting treatment next Monday, the 11th.

I'll keep you posted. I'm going to work. :o)