03/21/2014 Update

PrayerWe went to see Dr. Krauss and Dr. Knol yesterday to address three topics. 1) CEA level, 2) Chemo, and 3) Surgery recovery status.

We arrived at 7:30am, fifteen minutes before the scheduled blood draw. The lab was very busy but managed to get me in and out in a short time. We then had to wait until 8:45am for my first appointment with Dr. Krauss.

Dr. Krauss was pretty much on time.  The first thing he reported is that the CEA results were not back.  He then explained that he would not recommend more chemotherapy at this time. If I am faced with a reoccurrence a year from now, he will consider using chemo again. However, the side-effects of the harsher chemo treatments he could consider using now do not out-way potential benefits. Therefore, we are NOT doing chemo in the near term.

The plan is to monitor my CEA level monthly and perform full scans every three months.  And pray that the cancer stays away. He checked a couple more times and the CEA results were still not in. We thanked Dr. Krauss for his time and proceeded to the check-out area.

While in check-out Dr. Krauss came out with a smile on his face and reported the good news.  The CEA results just came in and my CEA was under 1.

We then had to wait until 11am for the appointment with Dr. Knol (my surgeon). Dr. Knol reviewed the incision and did his usual pushing and poking on my abdomen. He was pleased with the healing and closed my case; telling me he didn’t want to see me anymore. 

So the answers we were praying for were received… CEA is low (no sign of cancer), no chemo needed for now, and surgery recovery was excellent. Praise be to God. Thank you Jesus.

The next CEA test will be on April 10.  The next scans will be May 1.

Thank all of you for your continued prayers and support. God is good.

Love and Light to you all today.

Sincerely,

Philip


World’s Best Seller

In the words of Billy Gram:  “It is small wonder. The Bible has always been the world’s best seller! No other book can touch its profound wisdom, its poetic beauty, or the accuracy of its history and prophecy.”

In the words of Abraham Lincoln: “I believe the Bible is the best gift God has ever given to man. All the good from The Savior of the world is communicated to us through this Book.”

My favorite App – YouVersion Bible:  I posted this a while back, but I wanted to do a re-post on this because I really think this App is awesome!YouVersion Pic

If you are interested in a handy way of reading a book full of Life lessons I STRONGLY recommend trying out the YouVersion Bible! This is a free app that you can install on your smart phone, iPad, Amazon Kindle, Laptop/Desktop. My wife introduced me to this app quite a while ago and it quickly became my favorite and it is (by far) the single App I use the most.

I enjoy following the daily reading “plans.” These plans vary from 3 days up to 366 days. A plan is essentially a guided tour through the scriptures (by very knowledgeable theologians and pastors).

Examples of reading plans include Parenting by Design, The Christmas Story, The Easter Story, Relationships, Love and Marriage.

My favorite part of a plan is the devotional writings (the picture is from my smart phone, listing some of the Plans I am reading). The quote from Billy Graham is taken from a devotional writing in a reading plan I am currently doing. The devotional writings tend to add important context and insight to various Bible passages. For me these writings provoke more in depth thinking about the passage at hand.

I also love that you can easily switch between different Bible translations and sometimes find myself comparing and contrasting between them.

For me reading the plans are like reading a good book that you simply can’t put down. Let me know if you try it out, or if you are using a different electronic Bible, or if you subscribe to the good old fashioned printed form.

If you aren’t currently reading the Bible, why not check it out?  Click this link to read more about the YouVersion Bible.

Daily Prayer: Almighty God, I praise You for the authority of Your Word, which speaks to me of my redemption, life as it should be lived, peace and eternal life with You.

A verse to ponder: For the Lord gives wisdom; from his mouth come knowledge and understanding. (Proverbs 2:6 NIV)

Medical Update: I’m still at home recovering. And I’m feeling pretty good. I see the surgeon next Wednesday. And I’m hoping he will clear the way to return to work on Monday March 3. We shall see how it goes.

I will see my medical oncologist (Dr. Kraus) on Thursday, March 20. The big question that we will discuss then is if I will need to restart chemo or not.

I’ll surely keep you all posted.

THANK YOU! For the hundreds of prayers offered up on my behalf. I know it makes a huge difference. Recovery from these last two surgeries (with your prayers) have been nothing short of amazing! Pain was essentially absent and my body has seemed to rebound so quickly. These two trips under the knife were NOTHING like the previous surgeries I have had. And I truly believe that this is a result of your prayers.

And so, I pray to our Lord above today… Thank you Father, for your grace and guidance. I know that you are always with us as we take each step along life’s paths. And I am so grateful to you for guiding us and keeping us from harm. All Glory and Honor to you almighty Father. Amen.

Sincerely,

Phil

Holy Bible


Whacked! (02/13/2014 Update)

Dr. Knol successfully whacks another mole!

Thank you Dr. Knol and UMHS team, for being one of the best facilities in the country and for taking such good care of me. Thank you Jesus for Dr. Knol and for UMHS. Thank you family (especially Connie, Mary & Jim, George) for spending too many hours with me throughout this process. Thank you Cancer Survivor Network forum members, for being so supportive and informative throughout this most recent battle AND since the beginning of this war. And thank you for calling and checking up on me, for your countless prayers and support!!!

This surgery, like the last, was amazingly near-painless. Having a half-Mercedes incision (pretty big cut across the abdomen) was a scary prospect, but the epidural once again negated the pain. The doctors and nurses made sure I understood that I was lucky; not all epidurals do such an amazing job.

This past week was very similar to previous experiences. My wife Connie and I left our house around 9am. We arrived at UMHS around 10:30am. We met up with my sister Mary and her husband Jim on the way to checking in.

They were supporting me as I was wheeled away on the gurney. The surgery team were reassuring as they transferred me to the operating table and administered the anesthesia.

Connie, Mary, and Jim patiently waited as the four hour surgery was executed. And then they waited longer as I was revived back into consciousness. As soon as I could remember Connie was there with me, at my side. And reporting on the success of the surgery.

A little while later (I had no concept of time at this point in the process) I was wheeled up into a hospital room. Mary, Jim, and Connie stayed with me until we were all assured that I was comfortable and ready to rest.

Since I sleep through more than half of this day I really have to step back and appreciate their commitment in this process.

And if that wasn’t enough Connie, Mary, and my brother George spent countless boring hours with me, throughout the week, as I slowly progressed.

Thank you Connie, Mary & Jim, and George from the bottom of my heart. I love you and am forever indebted to you.

The Ice-Chip Debacle

I remember having an extremely dry mouth in the surgery-recovery room this time round. I somehow used my persuasive powers to connect with some ice chips. You can’t imagine how delicious these ice-chips tasted at that moment in time.

I continued to negotiate with relatives, nurse-aids, and nurses. And successfully used the ice-chips to help ease the irritation of having an “NG” tube through my nose, throat, into my stomach.

And as the doctors reported that my stomach was producing too much digestive fluids I attempted to attribute the excessive fluid to the ice chips that I was taking in…HomeSweetHome

On Sunday morning (when it was time to take the NG tube out) the doctor held my ice-chip cup three feet over the garbage can and firmly stated “No More Ice Chips” as she dropped the cup into the trash. She went on to explain that the ice chips were stimulating my stomach and it was pre-maturely “waking up” ahead of the rest of my digestive system. And she clearly stated the consequences – the NG tube was staying in until my stomach calmed down to more expected levels of fluid production.

The bottom line was that the ice chips cost me two additional days with that nasty NG tube. And that irritated the heck out of my throat. But on the good side, my family and the nurses were blessed with a very quiet me for a couple days. 

Other than this one set-back my recovery went amazingly well and I was released from the hospital today! And I am home sweet home, in time for Valentines day tomorrow.

I will see the surgeon at the end of February. My doctor appointment with Dr. Kraus (my oncologist) is scheduled in the latter part of March. I’ll keep you all posted as I learn more about next steps in this war. At this particular point in time we will all rest, knowing that the one and only tumor detected on scans was successfully removed with clear margins! Praise God!

Thank you all for your continued prayers and support. And may God bless you on this joyous day!

Sincerely,
Philip


Post Surgery (02/08/2014 Update)

Well I’m typing in this update from my I Phone. The surgery was a success. The doctor told me he looked all through my abdomen and did an ultrasound of the liver. Only the single tumor was found and removed. No need to remove my gallbladder either.

Once again the epidural is working some magic — no pain. I have been extremely tired and still haven’t walked yet. I did get up and out of bed for a bit. And that felt good to do.

My wife Connie and brother George went to eat lunch so I thought I would use this quiet time to post this quick update.

Thank you all for the power prayers and positive energy. Please keep the prayer power flowing, it truly does make a difference.

I really want them to remove the drain from my stomach. It is very uncomfortable and it’s hurting my throat but I know they will do what’s best.

All the nurses and aids are awesome and we are being treated very nicely. And I think I received a frequent flyer perk – I’m in my own room.

God bless you all.

Your brother in Christ.

Philip

20140208-121602.jpg


Surgery Tomorrow, 1PM (02/07/2014 Update)

TakeTimeToSmellTheFlowers

I didn’t sleep as long as I would have hoped for. Woke up around 3am and laid in bed with visions of surgery dancing in my head. I worked a long day yesterday trying to prepare for another absence from work. And on my drive home yesterday and again this morning my thoughts were taking me to some slippery slopes.

As I was reflecting I couldn’t help but wonder how fast this surgery has come up. They say “time flies by when you are having fun.” Well I must be having a lot of fun because the time seems to be rolling by too quickly.

When I was young, a year seemed sooo long. Now the years seem to go by in the blink of an eye. And I think that fighting cancer may actually increase this perceived acceleration of time — exponentially.

I celebrated fifty years at the end of January and now I’m wondering how long I have left. Am I living the final chapters of my life? And on the day before another surgery I worry it could be the final paragraph of the last chapter.

But then comes the morning light. The realization. None of us know when the end will come. And ultimately it’s not about me. It’s about Jesus and his plan.

The Lord does have a plan for each of us. And while we may not know how the plan will unfold we can be sure of one thing. It is a perfect plan.

In my career I’ve done a fair share of planning. And I have to admit that the execution rarely unfolded as envisioned. If I could be sure of one thing it was that the actual would NOT go according to plan.

But I know that Jesus’ plan is perfect. More perfect than we could ever imagine it to be. I know that the Lord will guide me as I walk through this valley. I may not see the extents of our Lord’s master plan but one day, when I meet him face to face, I will surely marvel in the beauty and magnificence of it.

For now I simply have to trust in the Lord and take life one day at a time. To focus on the here and now (as an angel pointed out to me not too long ago). To keep a good perspective. And to love and cherish each soul that I meet along the way.

Isn’t that the point of life? To enjoy our time together now. Enjoy today. While we are here together. Cherish each other.

The song Today comes to mind. This was a very powerful song in my younger days and it is equally powerful “today.”  The lyric I love best is:

“A million tomorrows shall all pass away, ere I forget all the joy that is mine today

So once again, I request your prayers for my family and me. As we go into another battle with this cancer. Please pray for Dr. Knol and his team, that our Lord may guide him in his work. And for my wife, that she may continue to find strength and peace throughout this journey. And for my children, that they may continue to grow in faith and love, knowing Jesus is here for them.

And please be assured that I too will pray for you.

May God bless you and keep you! And may his light shine down upon you and overflow your heart with love, life, and happiness.

Sincerely,
Philip


Surgery Number 6 (01/30/2014 Update)

“For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” Jeremiah 29:11

As many of you know, Monday was my 50th birthday. I received a multitude of calls, text messages, and Facebook posts, and cards. Thank you for the well wishes! I am truly grateful for having so many family and friends in my life.

One of the calls I received on Monday was not a birthday call. I didn’t expect to hear from Dr. Krauss until our scheduled appointment later in the week. So I was caught off-guard when he called to discuss the scan results with me. He was quick and to the point. The scans did reveal another tumor in my liver. The good news is that there was no other sign of cancer in any other organs and the tumor is near the surface of the liver and operable. He explained that he was referring me to Dr. Knoll, a liver surgeon at UMHS.

Today we met with Dr. Knoll to discuss liver surgery. He explained the procedure and left us feeling comfortable that we are in good hands. Surgery is scheduled for Friday Feb 7.

The hospital stay is expected to be six days. And, if all goes well I should be able to work from home couple weeks thereafter.

The Lord does have a plan for me and for each of us. And it is the very best plan there is. And therefore I am at peace with these challenges.

And once again I request that you please keep me and my family in your prayers. And I pledge to keep you ALL in my prayers as well.

Sincerely,
Phil

I don’t worry o’er the future,
For I know what Jesus said;
And today I’ll walk beside Him,
For He knows what is ahead.
—Stanphil

 

surgery cartoon2


#Fifty (01/19/2014 Update)

It’s been a little while since my last update. And since I’ve had a few people ask how things are going I thought I should take a moment to provide you all with a quick post.

I am feeling Excellent!

The colon resection surgery on 12/2 was a success! I’m back to work full time and haven’t felt this good in quite a while. Not having chemo since September 26, 2013 certainly has a lot to do with this. A very successful surgery was also key. And spending time with my family and friends over a very beautiful Christmas and New Years was just the right medicine! Even the neuropathy in my feet (which I thought might be permanent) seems to be fading.

Dr. Regenbogen reported that the surgery was complicated. And he appeared exhausted as he gave my wife and sister a post-op update. And what an update. No ileostomy bag was needed. The tumor was removed with clear margins. The pain was very well managed. And the recovery was smooth sailing. The hundreds of prayers from all of you were definitely answered!

THANK YOU Jesus! THANK YOU Dr. Regenbogen and UMHS Staff! Praise be to God!

 And now my hope is that the Lord heal me completely from this cancer.

Whack-a-moleDr. Krauss, my oncologist at UMHS, described my case as analogous to playing a game of whack-a-mole. That every time we whack a mole another one seems to pop up. That is every time we surgically remove a tumor another tumor is found. And now that we’ve completed “level 5” with this fifth surgery we are hoping/praying that we have whacked the last mole. However, if another mole does pop up, well we’ll whack away again. We will continue fighting because that is what we do!

The last CEA test, done on January 2, was 3.0. As you all may recall, CEA is a protein that is in our blood.  Increasing CEA levels is commonly associated with colon cancer activity, so this is something we watch very closely from month to month.

While a CEA of 3.0 is within the normal range we were hoping that it would have been lower. The fact that it was up from the previous tests is somewhat concerning. Raises in CEA could indicate more tumor activity. And so we have scans scheduled for January 24, 2014. And the scan results will be reviewed on Thursday, January 30, 2014.

In addition to the follow-up on the colorectal cancer we also had follow-up completed for testicular cancer. Per an ultrasound done on December 12 a cystic focus was discovered on my left testicle. This could be nothing but this will need to be monitored. Another ultrasound will also be done on January 24 to check on this concern as well.

As I have reported in the past. One of the biggest issues with fighting cancer is the anxiety roller coaster. Anxiety slowly increasing as tests approach. Anxiety peaking as we wait to hear results from tests. And the lows if the results are not what we were hoping for…

My fiftieth birthday is on January 27 and I’m hoping for the best birthday present in my life… E.g. a lower than 3.0 CEA (go down NOT up) and CLEAR scans! When I arrive at my January 30th appointment I hope Dr. Krauss will have a package of good news wrapped in green ribbon with a beautiful bow. Lord, please give me some good news this year.

The bottom line is that God has a plan and I must trust in this plan. And I am so very grateful that all of you are part of this plan as well.

THANK YOU for your continued prayers and support. You are all amazing and beautiful people and I am so very lucky to have you in my life.

May the risen Lord bless you all and fill your hearts with his immeasurable Love!

Sincerely your brother in Christ,

Philip

50 Years Old

 


Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 309 other followers