Here is the latest update on Scott. It is an e-mail I received from Joanne which she said I could post here:
Dear People Who Are So Blessing our Lives–
It’s an amazing short journey that Scott and I have been on so far with this cancer thing, but we’ve seen God’s hand on, and in, each step of the way. What an incredible experience; very humbling seeing God’s grace poured out on us through continuing offers of places to stay up in Denver (I’ve found that I like coming home to my own home, where there’s a sense of normalcy), offers of every kind from driving me up there, to hugs of comfort, to getting a few groceries when I need them, along with continued assurances of prayer, even through the nights, at times. We are so grateful and this has been such a practical way of showing love, that it’s given me an example of how I want to show His compassion to others in the future. Again, may God bless each of you who has taken time in whatever way to bless and encourage us, and bring us before our precious God! Tears fill my eyes in thankfulness and appreciation.
Dr McCarter came by yesterday afternoon to tell Scott and I the results of a further nuclear scan that was done yesterday morning, and to also share the final results of the pathology done on the lymph nodes (about 20) in the surrounding area of the pancreatic tumor. The nuclear scan did show that the bile from the liver was finally flowing into the bowel. Yea!!! Praise God! Scott’s bilirubin count had also dropped down to 14, so that’s a much better direction. Dr. McC thought that there might have been a small infection in that area, that he’s been treating with a 7 day course of antibiotics, though it was undetectable by any other signs, i.e., fever or whatevcer. He also said that Scott was pretty much on course for when everybody’s body starts “moving anything” again, post-op. Anyway, that’s good. Dr McC also had the epidural removed yesterday morning, so Scott had to switch over to the pain-button. I made a few quick phone calls on the way up yesterday asking for prayer that Scott (who almost never takes any medication, and then, only if it’s really bad, i.e. a head-ache or whatever) would be more willing to be his own advocate, and ask for what he needs before he’s desperate. He was in a lot of discomfort yesterday with the bloating situation, again caused by the needed gas for the surgery, and in using the pain-button, ended up feeling pretty light–headed. Hard to know how much you need when you don’t usually take anything! When I talked to him last night after getting home he said they’d switched his pain med to one we know has worked for him in the past, a non-narcotic (which will also help with other problems of things moving in his system) called Toradol, so that’s good!
Back to the lymph nodes. It turns out that there were 5 other lymph nodes right next to the original tumor that had cancer in them, including that small one that had already been noted. But (you never want to hear that word), there were also 4 lymph nodes that were outside that area that were cancerous. So, we’ve moved into another category. In human terms, Scott’s now considered a “high-risk for return”. For those that understand the cancer staging stuff, he’s at T1 (for tumor) N1 (for lymph nodes), M0 (that’s a zero for non-metastasized), or Stage 2b. Doctor McCarter pointed out that Scott is not in Stage 3 or 4, in which there wouldn’t be any other options using treatments or “trials”, as far as pancreatic cancer goes. He then went on to give us 5 different options, the last two of which he recommended we think about. One of those is a trial (being run in Denver, among other locations) using a chemo drug called “Gemzar” (or Gemcitabine) + a pancreatic vaccine. This one is fairly well-tolerated, meaning you don’t get super sick. The 2nd recommendation was for an unconventional trial that’s between phases 2&3 (ok, this is all new info/terminology for me, so I doubt that I’m going to get it all right in trying to convey what was told to us). It includes radiation + Interferon 5FU + Sysplatin ( I should have called my sister Jan who’s in her 9th year of “fighting” metastasized breast cancer–she would know all about this stuff). This “trial” is a very tough one, one that Dr Mc Carter described as “beating you up”. He said that 50% of the people in it have ended up in the hospital, 3/4’s have quit, but that if you can endure, there’s a very high percentage (50%) of having your life extended beyond 5 years (I believe I got that right), which he said is remarkable.
We asked Dr Mc Carter which of those two options he’d choose, if it were him, and he said he didn’t know. But no trials can start before Scott’s had time to heal from this surgery, as they don’t even consider entering you in a trial from 4 weeks post-op to 8 weeks post-op, so he said we had time to think about it. Well, as you can imagine, I’d started crying by the time all of this was told to us. As Dr McCarter started to leave, he came over and gave me a hug. (I’d asked him if I could give him a hug after he’d come and told us that the surgery had gone well on Monday–he let me! BTW [by the way], I’d also told him and all the O.R. nurses, anesthesiologists, etc, that we had a lot of people praying for them throughout surgery, and they were very appreciative). So, Scott and I hugged a bit ourselves, as we could, and I cried, and then we eventually came back to the place of remembering: this came as no surprise to God! He’s obviously been watching over us and guiding our path from too much hamburger until now! And we’re confident that He’s not through with us yet. He still knows the numbers of each of our days! So, He has once again granted and blessed us with HIS peace, which is beyond our understanding. We reminded each other of what we sensed the Lord telling us when we were prayed for, the day before Scott’s biopsy (which turned out to be 1 week before surgery): God gave me a picture of Jesus standing with His hand on each of our shoulders, (we are not alone, HE is with us, and is standing and walking with us) and Scott, he heard “I’ve given you the Spirit of Life, in Christ Jesus”! You know, it doesn’t get much better than that, does it!!!
So, we are good.
~ Joanne, for Scott, too