Chemo III

Knockout CancerWe met with the surgeon at UMHS on 8/28. After a lengthy discussion with the surgeon we agreed with the recommendation to start chemotherapy and reassess surgery after treatment. The chemo will be used to kill/stop the cancer. After verifying that the treatments have been successful we will then do another liver resection. However, at this point the liver resection will be completed with a higher degree of confidence that the cancer is truly in remission!

So here we go again. Like a bad sequel I am here at UMHS once again receiving chemotherapy. We are hoping and praying that this will be THE episode where the antagonist is defeated! Where the opponent is knocked out for good!

I once read that insanity is doing the same thing and expecting different results. Well, luckily this chemo will be a little different than the first two cocktails. The first eleven chemotherapy treatments were labeled as FOLFOX. That regimen included 5-FU, leucovorin, and oxaliplatin. The next twelve treatments were FOLIRI + Erbitux. That regimen included 5-FU, leucovorin, irinotecan, and Erbitux.  This cocktail will include 5-FU, leucovorin, irinotecan, oxaliplatin, and avastin. This is nearly all the drugs previously received plus avastin. The latest studies have shown that adding avastin (aka bevacizumab) can increase the effectiveness of the other drugs. And we are hoping and praying that is precisely what will play out in my case.

Side effects. Of course there are side effects. You know the part of the commercial where they talk very fast? Or the very fine fine fine fine print? That is the downside of chemo. It comes along with baggage. And there lies the “battle.”

So, yes, I’m ready for the battle. I’ll surely endure these side effects. I say bring them on! I’ll fight with every ounce of energy I have.

To see the smile on a future grand-child’s face.

To walk my daughters down the aisle and give them to their future husbands.

To see my talented older son in his first Broadway performance.

To watch my younger son play sports, graduate, and grow.

To rock in a rocking chair with my wife.

 I will fight!

 

Father in Heaven, King of Kings,

Thank you for today. For a chance to fight. For the energy to fight. Thank you for the love you have surrounded me with. Thank you for all my beautiful family and friends. Thank you for the countless blessings you have bestowed on me. Thank you for giving me peace and strength and endurance. Amen.

And thank YOU for your continued support. And for your countless prayers for my family and me. Please know that I truly appreciate each of you.

Sincerely,

Philip

 


Sometimes you just have faith (08/18/2014 Update)

Sometimes

When I was first diagnosed with stage IV colon cancer a friend told me that I was now in a marathon. He advised me that there would be many challenges and I had to prepare for the long run. After six surgeries, 23 chemo treatments, countless tests, scans, and doctor visits (in a two year span)… Yes, it is a marathon! We were hoping I had crossed the finish line. But the race continues.

The scan results found three suspicious masses on my liver. I am now facing another reoccurrence of the cancer. The doctors are determining the best approach for this next battle. We are weighing pros and cons between a couple options. The first option (which we are leaning towards) will be surgery followed by intense chemo therapy. I will be undergoing a PET scan on Wednesday this week to determine if the three lesions found on the MRI are the only signs of cancer. Assuming the PET scan does not show any other evidence of cancer I will likely do the surgery soon and then follow-up with six treatments of intense chemotherapy. If the PET scan shows additional signs of cancer we will likely adjust the approach. In that case we would start with intense chemotherapy and reassess surgery after three treatments.

Both options will require intense chemotherapy. This chemo will include all the previous drugs, plus a new drug. It will be a double whammy. The hope is that this will make the difference in this war…

The good news is that there is still a chance for a complete remission! So once again we are asking for your prayers. For my family and me, my doctors, and all struggling with cancer (patients and support).

Father in Heaven, Thank you for gift of today on this great earth. And thank you for the gift of each other. Continue to teach us Father. Show us how to Love as you Love us. Give us strength to overcome the challenges in life. Guide is to increase our Faith so that we will always remain in you. Send us healing Lord so our ailments are removed. This we ask through Jesus Christ. Amen

I will keep my focus on Jesus. And ask him for the strength I need to continue this marathon. And I will remind myself that there is a plan. Albeit, one that we don’t understand right now. And sometimes, this time, I will simply keep the faith!

 11 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 (NIV)

“For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways,” declares the Lord. “As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts. Isaiah 55:8-9 (NIV)

13 “I can do all this through him who gives me strength.” Philippians 4:13 (NIV)

Thank you in advance for all your prayers and support during these challenging days.

Sincerely,

Philip


July Update (07/15/2014)

20140715 CEA ClipMonitoring Update…

July 7 has come and passed and unfortunately my test has detected yet another increase in CEA level. The July 7 test shows CEA climbing from 2.0 to 3.0.

3.0 is still within normal range (0 to 3) however, two increases likely constitutes a trend. We are now officially concerned that this may be the beginning of a new metastasis – e.g. new tumor(s). Keep in mind that my CEA has been as high as 40 in the past so an upward trend to 3.0 may not be good but I have survived worse.

I will undergo three different scans in early August, including a CT, MRI, and PET scan. We will review the results of these scans with the doctor on Thursday, August 14.

What we are hoping for is:

  • Best case scenario: CEA drops and scans are all clear – E.g. no evidence of disease.
  • Second best scenario: If there is cancer we hope it will be isolated, detected via the scans, and be easily removed via surgery.

We won’t talk about other scenarios for now. Instead we will focus on praying for one of the above.

Until then your prayers are very much appreciated.

Love to you all!

Philip


06/05/2014 Update

Monitoring for cancer…

As you all may know, I’ve been in a remission since my last surgery on February 7. What that means is that there has been no evidence of cancer since this date.

What the doctor has done is monitor CEA levels monthly and perform scans every three months. I had a stretch of CEA results “under 1.0” and one set of scans with no evidence of disease.

I went in for the monthly CEA test today. And I was hoping to add one more “under 1.0” result to the list. Unfortunately the test came back as 2.0. While 2.0 is well within the normal range (0 to 3) it is actually the rising levels that is most concerning. The only thing to do for now is wait until next month and test the CEA once again. If the CEA rises a second time we will begin to do more aggressive scanning to see if there is evidence of cancer activity. A CEA lower than 2.0 is the result we are praying for.

My next CEA test is scheduled for July 7.

Your continued prayers for a sustained remission are appreciated.

Blessings to you all on this beautiful summer day.

Sincerely,

Philip


05/08/2014 Update

Today I went in for another CEA blood test and to hear the results of the CT scan that was done last week. The waiting and anxiety build-up is now over. The CT scan was clear and my CEA level continues to be normal (under 1.0). No evidence of disease! Praise be to the Lord!

In addition to the anxiety that comes along with these sorts of tests; this week was also stressful for other reasons. Cancer Survivor Network (CSN) is an online support forum that I have used over the past two years. I have gotten to know quite a few people through their posts and through email. It has proven to be a very useful place where people help each other with understanding and managing through the cancer battle.

I connected to one person in particular on this site. We exchanged several emails and frequently posted replies on each other’s questions and comments. We were both stage IV colon cancer and our cases and treatments were similar so we had a lot to share.

In hind-sight the connection with Joe was predictable. We were both born in 1964. We lived within 1 ½ hours from each other. We are both married with children and engaged in children-related activities. Working professional we were both determined to not let cancer treatments derail our careers. We were both Christian men. Add we were both engaged in a battle against a common enemy, with common experiences.

Joe died this past Monday.

He was a kind and gentle person. He was supportive and encouraging to me and everyone on the CSN forum. Joe was a husband, father, employer, employee, coach, and Christian man who truly loved and was loved. There is no doubt that he will be deeply missed by many. A man like Joe makes more of an impact on the people in his life than he could imagine. And I consider myself lucky to have known him.

I feel loss and sadness with Joe’s passing but I know that he is shining bright in paradise today.

Thank you Lord for today. This is truly a beautiful day on this good earth. And thank you Lord for Joe. He was a kind and gentle servant and I know he is now with you in heaven. Shower Joe’s family and friends with Love and Light. Bring them to peace. Restore their souls. This I ask in the holy name of Jesus Christ. Amen.

Today the sun is shining. Warm weather has prevailed. And I can breathe easier and relax with the good news from the doctor. God is good.

Thank you all for your continued prayers and support. And know that I am praying for each of you daily.

God bless and keep you all.

Sincerely,

Philip

Please get a colonoscopy if you are 50 or over!!! It could just save your life!!!

Colon Cancer Awareness

 


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


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