Friday, February 27, 2009

Wounded but Alive

Blind in my right eye since radiation surgery in 2000, life forced adjustments. Gone was softball and my love-basketball; those sports call for depth perception and a one eyed man struggles with that. But Golf is God's gift to us! But everything took getting used to: driving, walking in a crowd, literally things you think are no brainers became Oh Crap! But the years came and went to September of 2008. Again having headaches and pressure in that right eye and again a good friend, Dr. Shachar Tauber, another tops in his field doc, did the exam that showed something growing, but not BEHIND the eyeball. Confirmation came from Dr. Augsburger, cancer had returned and was growing..the plan became get the eye out and all attached to it before it could spread. The plan with cancer is always to run tests-CT scans, MRI's, PET scans, and blood work to make sure the cancer has not metastisized (spread) to other areas. The next week became a mental battle for sure...Why me AGAIN? Could it be more that just the eye? Surgery was scheduled with another friend (Favor of God) Dr. Matthew Kienstra to remove the eye. Literally 2 days before scheduled surgery the tests all came back: the cancer had in fact spread- to the liver. One of just a few incurable locations in the body! Suddenly the eye was not an issue. Leaving Shach's office that Friday was just crazy, Terri and I had been living in the "we've been wounded but we have survived and are alive" mindset, but now is was fight for your life. It was an incredibly long weekend, I literally searched for everything I could find about liver cancer, sobering for sure. With the help of great doctors, who are also friends, we decided that standard cancer treatment was not going to do anything (for liver cancer) meaningful, so an alternative was needed. Dr. Tauber called in the favors and it was determined that NIH/NCI, The National Institutes of Health/ National Cancer Institute in Bethesda, MD had the greatest chance of medical hope. At NIH, they do literally hundreds of clinical trials on cancers. Getting in is no easy task for sure, your disease has to match exactly what the are looking for in the specific trials, you literally make application with 3 doctors referals! After more tests and weeks of waiting word came that I was "invited" to come to NIH and be examined to see if I would be accepted into the particular phase 3 trial we identified. I believe in the Favor of God, I know he showed me favor in getting accepted at NIH, but you only get accepted if it is a bad deal. I started treatment at NIH in November of 2008. The regiment consists of CT scans, MRI's, bloodwork and exams, literally spending 10-12 hours in the hospital. That is done every 30 days with bloodwork done everyweek. I should mention my doctor at NIH/NCI is Dr. Mary Beth Hughes, she is good. Our ways are not His ways, and our thoughts are not His thoughts!

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