Monday, August 31, 2009

August 31, 2009

Well, as usual, it's been a while since I last wrote. Again, that's a good thing, since Anne continues to do incredibly well. God is taking care of her as only He can. Her labs continue to be normal. Where we used to be facing low neutrophil counts, today's was again within normal range. She's continued to have no side effects from the chemotherapy. Even her hair has stopped falling out! If you didn't know she had cancer, you'd never guess. She actually has even worked a couple of days in the office in the last couple of weeks--not putting patients in rooms like she used to, but scheduling surgeries, answering phones, editing dictation, etc.

She even felt good enough to go away this past weekend. I had taken Friday off (a rare event, but I was supposed to go to a meeting in Memphis that was cancelled at the last minute) so I took the opportunity to spend some more time with my "lovely bride" (an inside joke if you've ever listened to Christian radio). We wound up going to the Leelanau Peninsula with our friends Andy and Sharon. We had never been there before, even though we have lived in Michigan for 20 years now. To think it's only 2 1/2 hours away or so. And talk about beautiful. It reminded me a lot of New England, especially when we visited a couple of lighthouses, and "Fishtown" in Leland, near where we stayed. Although it rained all Friday and Saturday, we had a great time. We rested a lot, and visited a bunch of wineries the area is famous for. The wine's not nearly as good as from California (they can't grow the variety of grapes because of the short growing season), but really they weren't that bad--so I had to buy some, of course. We also had some excellent meals (mostly fresh fish from Lake Michigan), and did a bit of shopping in some of the little shops in Empire, Leland, Sutton's Bay and Traverse City. Overall, I'd say we had a fantastic time. I can't wait to go back already.

My verse for today is: "But joyful are those who have the God of Israel as their helper, whose hope is in the Lord their God." Psalm 146:5, NLT

How true that is! Anne and I are so incredibly joyful to be coming out of this experience. Of course it's not over yet, but the end is in sight, and God has provided us with miracle after miracle. Anne had chemo treatment number 9 today--only 3 more after this one. We'll be hoping for surgery after that to remove the colon mass--hopefully the liver tumors will have shrunk so much that they don't need to do anything about them. I'm expecting them to necrose and die completely--and I'm convinced it will happen. Her latest liver function studies are normal--mine aren't even normal (and it doesn't have anything to do with how much alcohol I drink, thank you--it's genetic).

Well, enough for now. I better hit the sack so I can function in the office tomorrow (yuk--I hate office hours).

God Bless,

Monday, August 17, 2009

August 17, 2009

Halleluia, Halleluia, Halleluia!!! If you have any question about how awesome our God is, read this: Anne had chemo treatment number 8 today (actually she's still getting it--the 5-FU is pumped in over 46 hours, so she technically isn't done until Wednesday morning). Before they started the chemo they did some bloodwork to check her white blood cell count, neutrophil count, and this time her CEA level. The CEA is a tumor marker that may or may not be elevated in some cancers. It just happened to be elevated in her--almost a level of 3700 (normal is 0-5!!), and was first measured after we came home from her first chemo treatment at Mayo Clinic. It had dropped to somewhere in the 200-something range after her 4th treatment. Well, today it was 7--that's right--basically normal. I can only think her tumors are basically gone--or at least they aren't working like tumors any more. They certainly aren't growing (last week her liver enzymes were normal), and they aren't producing CEA any more. PRAISE GOD! Like I've said before, we've been praying for a cure, and I know that's what we're getting, thanks be to God (and all of you for praying for her).

I know I've used this verse before, but it's worth repeating:

The Lord is good to those who depend on him, to those who search for him.

~ Lamentations 3:25, NLT

I can think of others, like "Ask and you shall receive", but right now I'm a bit too excited. It is all I've been thinking about since Anne called me this afternoon. I also said I would shout it from the mountain top, so I have had this blog connected to Facebook, not quite a mountain top, but at least it will reach a lot of people! Please pass the info on to your friends, especially those who have been praying so they can see how their prayers have been working. And keep them coming! I'm assuming we'll be headed to Mayo Clinic again probably in early December to have the colon tumor removed, or at least that may be the plan (God willing). The doctors there said they didn't need us to come back a couple of weeks ago just for a consultation/update, because they could do what they needed with the CD of the CT scan of Anne's abdomen, but would be willing to see us back in the future if need be. Sounds like "they need be" to me!!!!!!!!

God Bless (and thank you all!)

Sunday, August 9, 2009

August 9, 2009

There now, I didn't take as long to write this time. Anne has done incredibley well this week. She recovered from the chemo in what seems like record time--I think this time she was tired for only about 3 days. I think her body has adjusted to the chemo. The Neulasta seems to be helping as well--since her white cells and neutrophils are staying in a more normal range, it must have something to do with her ability to fight the effects of the chemo on her system.

Speaking of effects on her system, the chemo seems to be doing the job not only on the liver metastases, but on the colon tumor itself. She will undoubtably be embarrased by this tidbit, and mad at me too, but on Friday she passed her bowel stent. I got a frantic call from her while I was operating on Friday. During the morning, she noted something a bit wrong, and found the stent making it's way out! I won't go over details (for fear of reprisals), but apparently her tumor has shrunk enough that the stent fell out!!!! I think that is a fantastic bit of news. Praise God. Obviously, her colon has opened up enough that the stent is no longer necessary. The stent looks like a metal Chinese finger trap--In it's opened state, it pushes against the bowel wall (or in her case the tumor) to open the inside of the intestine so she doesn't get impacted (I know she's going to kill me for going into this!). Her's was a 30mm stent. Well, apparently her canal is now greater than 30mm wide, so it just fell out. I'm excited about that. Just one more small miracle that has been happening. There are now quite a number of things that have happened to show all of us that God is working on her--either directly through His love for her, or indirectly through the medical care she has been given.

Now how's this for a Bible verse:

The Lord is good to those who depend on him, to those who search for him.

~ Lamentations 3:25, NLT

I'd say He is! He has heard all of our (and your) prayers and is acting upon them. We have definitely been seeking God more for help in this trying time, and He is comforting us, as are all of you. She has 5 more sessions of chemo to go through, and the end of the tunnel is in sight. The past few months have indeed gone by quickly. Thanks to global warming (not) we have had a beautiful summer here in Michigan--not too hot, and fairly wet, but not too humid either. I'm not so sure the farmers have been happy, but I have been. As much as I miss going to Nigeria (another team from HELP goes over in a few weeks) I must admit, I don't miss the heat over there. There are 2 seasons in Nigeria---Hot and Wet, and Hot and Dry! I've never been one for really hot (75-80 degrees is fine by me) which is probably why we wound up here in Michigan anyway. Mind you, I'd be happy if it were 75 degrees all year round, which I can't say we have here, but it's easier to get warm than it is to get cool, so I'll put up with it.

God Bless,

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

August 4, 2009

Well, here I am again, late to the post! I guess I don't realize how I am not writing in to this thing that frequently, until someone brings it up to me. Well, no news is good news. There really isn't much to report on again. Anne has been doing incredibly well. She has passed the half-way point of her chemo and in fact yesterday had number 7, without any glitches whatsoever. Her white blood cell count and neutrophil counts are within normal range, thank God. She was also started on a new drug, Neulasta, which is apparently better than Neupogen to keep her WBCs and neutrophils up. It seems to be working. Thank you God for giving man the ability to research and come up with new drugs to help people. The Neulasta costs something like $4000 per shot (she'll get one every other week), but thankfully it is covered by my insurance, so I only have a $60 copay. I also thank God I have insurance that has covered a lot of these costs.

I guess I can't go on without commenting about what is going on with our healthcare debates (debacle would be a better word). The plan currently before Congress is a bad one. It is over 1100 pages, and there are a lot of problems with it, not least of which would be a true rationing of care to elderly patients, but I also believe to cancer patients. There is no question that in order for this plan to work, rationing will happen. The plan will look at not only your age, but also your prognosis, and decide if you deserve treatment or not. They will look at "the number of years the treatment will benefit you". If indeed your prognosis is poor, or you're old enough, you will not get the treatment if it "costs too much". They are concerned that most of the health care dollar spent in Medicare is spent in the last 2 months of life, for instance. Well, duh, most people with Medicare (insurance for those over 65) are a lot closer to the end of life than say a 30 year old with private insurance. But should we deny say a total hip to a vibrant 85 year old just becaus they don't have that many years left? Or chemotherapy to a cancer patient who has a not-so-good prognosis? Well, according to Obama, the answer is yes. He has stated that there should be counsellors who will help you make a decision to enter hospice, for example, rather than take treatments that "cost too much". Sorry, I don't buy that. According to my God, all human life is sacred, we are made in "the image of God". We all have value in the eyes of God, irrespective of our age or health or "social status" for instance. A decision to not be treated should be the individual's not society's. I don't want some counsellor telling me that I'm too old or too "expensive" to be treated. That's why I have private insurance, so I can make the choice, along with my insurance company, of course. But I can also choose to pay out of pocket if the insurance company won't pay. That would not be possible with a government-run insurance company, as happens in Canada, where it is illegal to go outside the national health plan (unless you can afford to come to the US).

And don't think Obama doesn't want a national health, single payor system. He has stated it a number of times, and it is preferred by a lot of Democrats in Congress. There are a lot of other issues that I am against with this health plan but this is not the place to talk about them. I just wanted to mention one that is near and dear to my heart.

I'll leave you with this passage:

He will cover you with his feathers. He will shelter you with his wings. His faithful promises are your armor and protection.

~ Psalm 91:4, NLT

God bless,