My mom is starting her first round of chemotherapy treatment today. She and my step-dad arrived back at the Cancer Treatment Centers of America (CTCA) this past Sunday (July 5th), and after repeating some lab work to evaluate her current bilirubin levels (among other things) it was determined that she is now a candidate for chemo. My mom sounded very “up” on the phone this afternoon when we spoke. She said that she is at peace with her decision to begin both chemo and radiation therapy (as many of you know, this was not an easy decision). The chemo treatment will begin at 5 pm (CST) today. Please pray!! Pray that my mom (and step-dad) would be encouraged as this treatment begins, that she would tolerate the treatment very well and that she would be healed…completely healed!
What’s happening next? My mom and step-dad are scheduled to return home this Saturday (July 11th). On July 27th they will return to CTCA where my mom will have a CT and PET Scan performed. The results from these tests will be used in establishing the proper radiation therapy treatment for her. She will then spend eight weeks beginning on August 3rd undergoing chemo and radiation therapy.
Below, I’ve included two e-mail updates sent out by my step-dad over the past month. I thought it would be helpful in bringing you all up to speed.
E-mail update dated 6/30/09:
Dear Family and Friends,
The Lord continues to sustain us each day with His amazing and transforming grace. One of His greatest gifts to us is each of you. What a blessing you’ve been to us on our journey. We can’t express how much your prayers and your quiet behind-the-scenes kindnesses have meant to Judy and me.
Since last writing we have been to the Midwest Regional Medical Center in Zion, Illinois…where the Cancer Treatment Centers of America is located. Without a doubt, we had an action packed week. But, we have nothing but positive comments regarding our experience there. Not a moment was wasted. Their holistic approach to cancer treatment was quite impressive. We had consults with our nurse navigator (who served as our liaison), a nutritionist, mind and body therapist, a naturopath, and our team internist and gastroenterologist. Besides having a bone scan, PET scan, and a CT of the chest, abdomen, and pelvis, Judy also had numerous blood tests the first three days. Because of a blocked biliary duct and aberrant lab values, Judy had a procedure under managed anesthesia care called an “ERCP with stent placement” on day four. Day five was a well-needed day of recuperation back in the motel room before our flight home the next day. Since then, we’ve been regrouping and running up to the VA for follow-up lab work.
Cutting through all the medical jargon, Judy’s pancreatic tumor is now 4 x 4 centimeters. When first discovered, it was 3 x 3 centimeters. She is still a bit jaundiced (yellow), although her lab values look considerably better after the stent(a small tubular drain) was placed. Unfortunately, the tumor presently involves more vascular structures. Judy is now taking pancreatic enzymes to help withdigestion, but is still dealing with the frequent lower GI distress. She has a reasonably good appetite, but is still losing weight…nearly 40 pounds now. On the bright side, however, her pain is pretty well controlled and she tolerates “I love you” hugs very well. 🙂
We are planning on a return trip to CTCA this coming Sunday. I believe we’ll be there for a week, but that’s somewhat up-in-the-air right now. Chemotherapy is probably next. Judy really doesn’t want radiation, and is quite frankly, reluctant to begin chemo. But, we’ll see what the game plan is after we consult with the oncologist on Monday. Then, Judy can make her determination regarding future treatment based on all the +’s and -‘s.
On a final note, let me share a quick praise. God blessed our lives by allowing us to meet a really neat couple from Oklahoma City…John and Debbie. We met them on our trip from O’Hare to the motel. John was there for treatment of kidney cancer. Throughout the week we had the opportunity to compare notes and pray for one another. Wednesday we found out, after all his testing, that John did not have kidney cancer. Hallelujah! We thank you Lord for your mercy and grace on this wonderful couple!!!
Again, we bless each of you for your continued prayers for Judy.
With love and deepest appreciation…
E-mail update dated 6/06/09:
Dear Family and Friends,
We send our deepest thanks once again for your continued prayers and loving interventions. I’ll do my best to fill you in on the most significant happenings since about a month ago. To begin with, the nerve block that was done on May 7th up in St. Louis was essentially ineffective. However, about three weeks ago Judy met with a pain management specialist associated with the oncology group here at the VA. She started Judy on Prednisone in hopes of helping with visceral pain. Actually, it has offered several benefits. Not only has it helped decrease the pain and reduce the narcotic intake, but it has also kept Judy from being so somnolent from the opiates. In addition, it has stimulated her appetite. That has been a real plus since Judy has lost 30 pounds as of last weigh-in. Now she is actually wanting to eat. So, her weight has been stable for the past week or so. Thank you Lord!
Generally speaking, Judy is up-and-around every day and has more of those beautiful smiles on her face. The things that keep her closest to home, at present, are occasional severe abdominal pain and frequent lower GI distress with all the imaginable symptoms.
Just about a week ago, out of curiosity, Judy contacted the The Cancer Treatment Centers of America. To abbreviate a lengthy story, we are scheduled to fly to the one in Chicago (actually, Zion, Illinois) on Father’s Day. We will be staying there for a week. The testing and treatment regimen is completely personalized and holistic. There will be a personal team of health care professionals assigned to Judy. Already, through follow-up phone interviews, it appears that a primary focus will be nutrition. We are both so thankful for this find.
At the same time we were considering the Chicago trip, God provided us with an incredibly large anonymous gift through our church (New Heights Church). We were totally humbled and nearly speechless after opening the envelope Brian handed us. We pray that this person(s) generosity be multiplied back to them. Of course, that is our prayer for all of you who have been so generous with your prayers, cards, visits, meals, and other acts of love toward us. Richest blessings to you!
With love and appreciation,
Bill & Judy