2015 Reflection (12/17/2015 Update)

“God is our refuge and strength, a help always near in times of great trouble. That’s why we won’t be afraid when the world falls apart, when the mountains crumble into the center of the sea, when its waters roar and rage, when the mountains shake because of its surging waves. Selah”  Psalms 46:1-3 CEB

Year four of my fight with stage IV colon cancer is quickly coming to an end. As I look back on the numbers and reflect on the times I realize it has been quite a fight with several highs and lows. A marathon for sure.

My daughter Anna married CJ on July 4, 2015. That was definitely the high for the past year. My daughter Sarah announced her engagement to Matt this past year. They will be married on April 16, 2016. My daughter Alexis also announced her engagement to Evan. They will married on October 1, 2016.

When talking about the weddings with someone recently they mentioned the movie “Three Weddings and a Funeral.”

And I quickly responded “Yes, except the title has to be more like Three Weddings and NO Funeral.”

Three Weddings and No Funeral

Today is chemo treatment number 48 since beginning this battle. I have received seven different chemo drugs in differing mixes and concoctions along the way. I have endured seven surgeries. And have had countless doctor visits and procedures; including four colonoscopies, numerous CT, MRI, and PET Scans.

It has been an emotional roller coaster. There were very gloomy days. More than one “I-have-bad-news” phone calls from my doctor. Non-operable tumor diagnoses on two different occasions. An emergency room visit running a 103˚ fever. Even this year an unexpected spike in CEA causing a spike in anxiety as well.

There have been sad days. My father-in-law lost his battle with cancer. My Aunt Sonia dying from colon cancer. My cousin Taylor dying at age 14 from cancer. Countless people I have met in the Cancer Survivor Network (online support forum) losing their battles with cancer. Far too many people die from this terrible disease!

There have been highs as well. Non-operable tumors that became operable with chemo treatment. Successful surgeries. Successful chemo. REMISSION status! Many people in the online forum reporting long-term remission after a stage IV cancer diagnosis.

I couldn’t have endured this time without your support!

My wife Connie has been unbelievable; walking every step of this journey right by my side. She has lifted me up on more than one occasion. And her confidence and positive outlook has not waivered. She has assured me on more than one occasion that she knows I will survive this cancer. God has revealed his plan to her. And she won’t ever let me forget that the plan is for me to grow old with her.

My sister Mary has been with me every step of the way as well. She is the most amazing sister in the entire world. Her positive outlook has also lifted me up and given me strength on some very low days. She doesn’t think twice about giving her time to help. On many occasion she has picked me up at 6am to take me to UMHS for chemo. That may sound like a sacrifice but you need to know that she lives over two hours away from me. Yes, she leaves her house at 4am to drive to my house, only to continue the drive to Ann Arbor (another 1-1/2 hour ride), sit with me all day during chemo, and then drive me home.

My colleagues at work have proven more than amazing throughout this ordeal. They have raised up numerous prayers for my healing. And their understanding and generosity has been overwhelming. The day they brought boxes of delicious prepared meals warmed my heart more than they could know. And their hugs and kind and encouraging words have been well received.

My medical support team at UMHS are truly amazing.  Especially Dr. Krauss.  He has set a plan and we are working the plan.  And the plan is WORKING! God Bless UMHS medical team members. They are all dedicated and caring. I am truly grateful to have them helping me.

Many others have also supported me along this journey. And your kindness and support is truly appreciated. You have touched my heart!

Today I received another CEA of under 1.0. And looking back on the numbers we have definitely made progress in this fight:

2012 2013 2014 2015
Number of Surgeries 3 2 2 0
Number of Chemo Drugs 4 5 6 1
Number of Chemo Treatments 11 12 6 20
Average CEA 11.9 7.8 5.7 0.4
Work Days Missed 51 64 60 34

This past year bearing the best numbers!

  • No Surgeries in 2015!
  • Only one drug used!
  • Average CEA of Under 1.0!

When you factor life into the equation:

  • One daughter getting married this past July
  • One daughter completing her bachelor’s degree
  • Two daughter’s getting engaged
  • Two weddings being planned for April and October
  • Older son moving to Chicago
  • Younger son successfully completing his freshmen year and moving into sophomore status; along with playing football, baseball, basketball…

Well, we have had a one heck of a year; filled with love, life, and countless blessings! And we look forward to 2016 with hope and thankfulness overflowing in our hearts.

From the bottom of my heart.

THANK YOU for your prayers and support throughout this past year and prior years.

And thank you in advance for your continued prayers for a long remission and for a wonderful 2016.

May the good Lord shower you all with Love throughout this magical Christmas season. And May he lift your spirits and fill your hearts with joy. And may he bless you and your families with the most wonderful 2016.

Sincerely,

Philip


5 Comments on “2015 Reflection (12/17/2015 Update)”

  1. Krea Gregory says:

    Phil: What a blessing to read about your journey, the faith you have in Jesus, and the wonderful support you have received from family and friends!
    Thanks for sharing!

  2. Carole MacKay says:

    This was a joy to read, and it looks like 2016 will be even better!

  3. Tim Dechant says:

    Phil:

    What a journey! I am so glad you share this journey through these postings…inspirational for us!!! Thank you! Our prayers continue daily for you.

    And of course, what is an update to the journey from a Database Architect without data in an awesome table!!! I expect a visualization to better see the trends in a future post (especially the downward CEA and surgery trends!!!).

    God Bless you in 2016 and WELL BEYOND.

    Tim

  4. Mike Farmer says:

    Phil, glad to see things are going well for you, it’s been a long and hard journey. Still sending prayers your way that things continue in the right direction.

    God bless, Mike & Elizabeth Farmer

  5. Little brother says:

    I hardly go online, so seldom get to read you good reports. I did get to read this one, and I’m very blest to read it!!! And blest to be there to help put up your Christmas tree, see you all at the family get-together. I’m looking forward to 2016 and know in advance that we shall receive blessing constantly and more numerous than drops of rain. Talk with you soon…


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