Scott is looking amazingly well. I had a lovely time over at his and Joanne’s house Friday night with good conversation and laughter (and catching up on a Survivor episode we all missed this past Thursday!).
Here is the latest update on how he and Joanne are doing, in his words this time:
Dear Loving Friends,
Thankyou AGAIN for all your prayers especially as we face the question of how God would have us fight the cancer. We want to listen and hear what He is giving us next. Last Tuesday we went for our first follow up visit with our competent and caring surgeon. We are so grateful for your prayers because our Holy Father blessed us yet again with specific answers.
First, with regard to the surgery. Dr McCarter took one look and declared the initial healing complete after only three weeks– one week ahead of the usual minimum (4 to 8 weeks) ! FULL recovery from the surgery will still take around six months. He pulled the precautionary feeding tube out, told me I could remove the remaining wound tapes, said I could do anything I can stand, and released me to seek medical treatment of the cancer now! Throughout the surgery and initial recovery I have been riding on the fingertips of God’s grace and YOUR prayers. We asked you to pray against PAIN and against the high rate of COMPLICATIONS for this surgery. I EXPERIENCED ALMOST NO PAIN FROM THE SURGERY AND NO COMPLICATIONS. (I went off all pain relievers two days after coming home from the hospital.) The struggle to adjust to and retrain the digestive system has been uncomfortable but is completely normal and expected.
Second, we asked for guidance to a good oncologist as we need to explore cancer treatment options. Again, our surgeon arranged for us to see an encologist at the University of Colorado Cancer Clinic who specializes in GI cancers and has a lot of experience with pancreatic cancer. We see her Tuesday.
Third, we asked prayer for what GOd wanted in terms of cancer treatment (given the lack of successful options and the plethora of “unproven” options). The surgery removed all the cancer that could be seen with margins tested as clear. But the finding of cancer in 9 of the 20 lymph nodes removed–including 4 distal nodes–means that micrometastases (sp?) had access to the lymph node sytem/blood supply and the cancer is highly likely to return. Here’s my take so far (and I think Joanne mostly agrees.) We believe God can destroy all those micro-enemies and that is our highest request. So please continue to pray for COMPLETE HEALING CANCER AND ALL. What we don’t know yet is how God intends to do that… miraculous healing?… medical treatments?… the final resurection?… all of the above? So far we have not received a promise of miraculous healing without medical treatment, so we think it unwise to presume upon God by eliminating God’s providence in medical trials (which has the added benefit of contributing to medical knowledge even if God chooses to heal me of this only at the final resurrection).
We asked the surgeon to sincerely tell us what he would do if he were me. He said he would do the “horrendous” option. This is how we refer to the trial that throws high levels of everything at this cancer that is so resistant to treatment. This trial is NOT well tolerated. Forty percent of the participants wind up in the hospital and MOST of the rest elect leave the trial because they can’t endure the extreme sickness and side affects. HOWEVER, this is the only treatment for pancreatic cancer that shows a significant increase in survivability (up to 50 percent five-year survivability for the few who make it through). Furthermore for wimps like me, there is some lesser but still significant statistical benefit corresponding to how long one is able to last in the trial. People have not generally given us direct advice on treatment, leaving it for us to decide. Yet after we requested prayer for guidance, two doctors, a nurse, and a dear friend with medical background personally felt that I was relatively strong and healthy and should take a shot at this horrendous trial. So we are now considering if God is giving us this “opportunity’ and may continue to heal thourgh His medical providence as He has already started in the miraculous surgery. It would be another miracle either way. The horrendous trial has some very specific qualifications. I already meet the first qualification that I must have had all known pancreatic cancer surgically resected. I must then enter the trial within 12 weeks of the surgery. We are doing blood tests and a CT scan to see if I meet the other requirements. So PLEASE continue to pray.
Time recovering in the night watches afforded me the opportunity to read a small book I have had for too long called “Diary of a Country Priest.” In it Georges Bernaros says this: “A worlding can think out the pros and cons and sum up his chances. No doubt. But what are OUR chances worth…we who have admitted once and for all into each moment of our puny lives the terrifing [and wonderful?] presence of God?… WHAT IS THE USE OF WORKING OUT CHANCES? THERE ARE NO CHANCES AGAINST GOD.”
I have been encouraged in meditation on the following words from the Psalms: I WILL PRAISE THE LORD AS LONG AS I LIVE. I WILL PRAISE THE LORD WHILE I HAVE MY BEING.
For all of you who have prayed and/or cared so diligently for us,
thank you from the bottom of our hearts (see current picture attached for how happy you’ve made us),
The journey is really only now beginning…