Hi everyone it's me, the blogger formerly known as the Jollyblogger. Just thought I'd pop in to say hi and see what it's like to blog again.
Over the last few months chemo really got to me so I didn't do much of anything, but I'm kind of coming out of the fog now and thought I'd go ahead and give you an update.
I had a CT scan a couple of weeks ago and the results are good. I found out that I actually have 5 or 6 tumors in my lungs, so that wasn't a happy thing. But they have been there all along and the reason nobody made a big deal of it apparently was that there were only two that were big enough to be of any concern.
The good news is that, in the 18 months or so that I have been on chemo all of the tumors have shrunk significantly. The biggest tumor was obviously in my colon, hence the surgery in December of 08 and the next biggest one was about 2.5 inches in my life. There was another one in my liver almost that big. The good news is that both of those tumors have shrunk till they are only about a centimeter now and all of the tumors in my lungs are a centimeter or less. There was no dramatic change in size in any of them since my last CT scan in April, but there were a couple that may have shrunk a millimeter or so.
The best news is that I am getting a break from chemotherapy. It was getting me down and I was getting to the point where I feared having to continue with chemo almost as much as I feared getting a bad report on the CT scan. So I have the month of September completely off with no chemo at all. Then in October I'll go on a maintenance regimen with a medicine called Avastin. Technically, the medical personnel don't put this one in the same category as "chemo" drugs. It's what they call a "biologic" (I think that's the word) and it works by cutting off blood supply to tumors. This has been a part of the cocktail I have been getting all of this time and come October it will be the only thing I'll get. The only real side effects it has is that it increases blood pressure and it can cause bleeding. So I do have to watch out for bleeding but over the whole of my treatment I have had only minimal bleeding in my mouth and nose and it's been much less over the last few months. My BP has gone up a bit but I have some medicine.
So the bottom line is that I expect minimal if any side effects. I'll see the doc again in November and I suppose we'll schedule another CT scan at that time. If there is no growth in tumors I'll get to stay on this maintenance regimen. But needless to say I am very happy that I can look forward to almost three months without chemo.
Right now I've been sick all week and I don't know if I'm still just recovering from the chemo or if I have come down with something, but I do expect to get better and start enjoying life.
Again, please accept my sincere thanks for all of the prayers and kind words. I came across a poem on Tim Ferris's website on called "Discovering Kindness in the Storm" which perfectly describes my experience. It is not Christian in origin but it is wise, and where the author says "kindness" I hear the words "the kindness of God and His people," or the "grace of God and His people. It is a wonderful description of my own experience and I have to say that as much as I hate chemo and all of the things associated with cancer, that I don't think I would ever have awakened to the grace and kindness of God that surrounds me without going through all of this.
Before you know what kindness really is
you must lose things,
feel the future dissolve in a moment
like salt in a weakened broth.
What you held in your hand,
what you counted and carefully saved,
all this must go so you know
how desolate the landscape can be
between the regions of kindness.
How you ride and ride
thinking the bus will never stop,
the passengers eating maize and chicken
will stare out the window forever.
Before you learn the tender gravity of kindness,
you must travel where the Indian in a white poncho
lies dead by the side of the road.
You must see how this could be you,
how he too was someone
who journeyed through the night with plans
and the simple breath that kept him alive.
Before you know kindness as the deepest thing inside,
you must know sorrow as the other deepest thing.
You must wake up with sorrow.
You must speak to it till your voice
catches the thread of all sorrows
and you see the size of the cloth.
Then it is only kindness that makes sense anymore,
only kindness that ties your shoes
and sends you out into the day to mail letters and
only kindness that raises its head
from the crowd of the world to say
it is I you have been looking for,
and then goes with you every where
like a shadow or a friend.
So again, to everyone who has prayed even the smallest prayer or offered any kind words on my behalf, please accept my deepest appreciation and gratitude.
And, since I am a preacher after all, may I offer one brief word of exhortation. I meet so many, too many, Christians who are discontent and dissatisfied with life. I suppose in many ways I was one before my battle with cancer and I would gladly pray for all of you that you don't have to go through something commensurate to cancer to learn contentment. But if you find the seeds of discontent in your life would you pray that God opens your eyes to the grace and kindness that surrounds you. It's there, trust me, you are just blinded to it. God has given Christ as an atonement for sin, God does love His children with an indescribable love. And He is busy in His providence pouring out His love and kindness to us in innumerable ways every day. Would you pray and ask God to open your eyes to His kindness and grace that envelops you!