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


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

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