Cancer Update August 2016

colonoscopy-s2-why-is-colonoscopy-doneHello faithful followers of this blog. I apologize that it has been a while since my last post.

I recently had a CT scan at Cancer Treatment Centers of America (CTCA) in Phoenix. Again, I have been treating at CTCA for two and half years for stage 4 kidney cancer that has spread to both lungs.I am currently being treated with an immunotherapy drug called Opdivo.

The scan showed that the tumors in both lungs are fairly stable. There has been some growth but it is not significant enough for my oncology team to state that it is growing. That’s good news! Yet, the scan also showed that the mass that is where my right kidney used to be is growing. My team thought that it might be pressing against my colon and intestines. I had a colonoscopy last week. Fortunately for me the colonoscopy showed that the mass is not invading that area. On a side note, the procedure was very easy, but prepping for it was not. I had to drink this solution called Moviprep on two separate occasions. It tasted like a thousand lemon flavored sweet tarts in water. Needless to say I had to stay close to the bathroom after drinking this stuff.

The next step in this process of determing what to do about this mass will be a CT guided biopsy of the tissue. I am having this procedure this week. From my own observations of previous scans of this mass I am pretty sure it is cancer. It responded to treatment with the drug Votrient and was shrinking along with the other tumors.  So far some of the options to removed this tumor include possible surgery or radiation therapy. But, I will leave the final determination up to the experts and my wife and I will determine what treatment option will will take.

More updates soon.

 

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Chosen in Christ

chosen_in_christRecently, my wife shared with me how she was realizing that we as believers in Christ did not choose Him.  Rather, Christ chose us. My wife is quite right in this revelation. Ephesians 1:4-6 states,

In the Messiah he chose us in love before the creation of the universe to be holy and without defect in his presence. He determined in advance that through Yeshua the Messiah we would be his sons — in keeping with his pleasure and purpose — so that we would bring him praise commensurate with the glory of the grace he gave us through the Beloved One.” (CJB)

Wow! The Father chose us in Christ before the universe even existed. What a glorious thought. He chose us, we did not choose Him. He didn’t choose us because we were anything special or from some random selection. He chose us in Christ for His ‘pleasure and purpose’. Now some would argue from a theological point of view that there is no predestination. I would have to disagree with this viewpoint from what the text plainly states in Ephesians 1.

Jesus told his disciples in John 15:6,

“You did not choose me, I chose you; and I have commissioned you to go and bear fruit, fruit that will last; so that whatever you ask from the Father in my name he may give you.” (CJB)

The same is also true for all of us who have trusted in Christ for life and salvation. What a great Christ we have. I would encourage all of you who are reading this to mediate on these verses and realize how loved and blessed you are in Christ Jesus.

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Cancer Update March 2017

photofrinI just had a CT scan a few weeks ago to check on the state of things in my lungs. The scan had some good news and some bad news. The good news is that the pneumonia I was dealing with has finally cleared up.  The bad news is that the tumors in both lungs are growing not shrinking after 2 months of treatment using Opdivo. Again, I am being treated for stage 4 kidney cancer that has metastasized to both lungs at Cancer Treatment Centers of America in Phoenix.

My pulmunoligist has recently begun treating one of my symptoms with something called Photo Dynamic Therapy. The drug used is called Photofrin. So, the upper part of my right lung in not only partially collapsed, but it is also blocked by the tumors. This new treatment is designed to open that part of the airway up by burning away the tumors using the drug Photofrin. 

I had the drug injected into my body on Monday.  On Wednesday I had a bronchoscopy procedure where a cool laser was placed into my airway and turned on to activate the drug internally. Basically, the tumors are now light sensitive and by using the laser it will destroy the tumors by burning them and flooding them with oxygen.  Oxygen is a natural enemy to cancer cells. I will have up to four more procedures in the next week or so to clean up the dead tissue from the soon to be dead cancer cells.

While this will help to improve my breathing and overall quality of life, it is limited to only clearing up this one particular symptom. The remaining cancer cells in my lungs will have to be dealt with in other ways by my oncologist. I am hopeful that I will be cancer free soon.

 

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Cancer Update March 2016

 

blood

Well it has been a while since my last update post.  In January I began my fourth treatment for stage 4 kidney cancer in my lungs. I am now on an immunotherapy drug called Opdivo. It was recently approved by the FDA for treating advance stage kidney cancer. I just had my third dose this week. I have also had two bouts of post obstructive pneumonia which put me in the hospital twice. I am now having to have two antibiotics through an IV at home. My wife Tanisha is a good nurse/caregiver for administering these medications. I am due for a CT scan in a few weeks to see if the tumors are shrinking and if the pneumonia is completely cleared.

Yesterday, I had a blood transfusion with 2 units of blood. My last few blood tests have shown a steady decrease in my red blood cell count and hemoglobin. So my oncologist ordered the transfusion. I found out that my blood type is B Positive. I was given 1 unit of O negative and 1 unit of B Negative. This should help some of the symptoms I’ve been having to disappear I hope. I have already noticed that my oxygen saturation has improved and I need less of the oxygen at home. Other symptoms I  have experienced have been fatigue, rapid heartbeat, and swelling in the feet and ankles. I am thankful for my team of doctors and care managers at Cancer Treatment Centers of America.

I will hopefully keep up to date on my journey with battling cancer.

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Cancer Update December

No-CancerI had yet another CT scan to check on the progress of the stage 4 kidney cancer in both lungs.  The scan showed no new growth in the tumors.  That’s great news.

Now my pulmonary doctor wants to go in and look around with another bronchoscopy procedure.  This is scheduled for next Tuesday. I take this news as my Christmas present.  The cancer will not beat me.

Thank you for your prayers.

 

Categories: Cancer, Health, Personal | 1 Comment

Forgiven Much

forgiven

How much have you been forgiven for? I can say of myself I have been forgiven by the Lord Jesus for a lot. I have recently been reading a book by Frank Viola entitled, “From Eternity to Here”. Last night I read a chapter dealing with the account of Jesus and a woman named Mary Magdalene in the Gospel of Luke chapter 7.  

Mary became an uninvited guest at a dinner given by Simon the pharisee for Jesus. She spent all day trying to find Jesus after He had freed her from the many demons that had tormented her. The verse that truly got my attention in this account is found in verse 47. It says, Therefore, I tell you, her many sins have been forgiven—as her great love has shown. But whoever has been forgiven little loves little.”

In the past I have not expressed my love for the Lord very often. This verse may explain the reason for this. I have been a Christian for over 30 years, yet I have struggled with believing all that the Lord has done for me. I have spent years living in guilt and shame over my behavior towards myself and others. In reality I had been committing the sin of unbelief in during these years. I could not bring myself to tell the Lord of my love and devotion to Him because I was putting up a wall of unbelief and a lack of forgiving myself and was shutting Him out.

Now in the past year the Lord has been revealing to me who He is in me and who I am in Him. What a wonderful change in perspective. I used to believe that because of my behavior that I was unable to please the Lord.  This is simply not true. I am pleasing to Him always simply because of my faith in Him. He has chosen me to be in Him before the foundation of the world according to Ephesians 1:4.  This is also true of all those who have put their trust in Christ and received His forgiveness of all their sins. What a wonderful Christ!

I love my Lord and I am grateful for all He has forgiven me for. I have made so many mistakes and sins in my life, but He has forgiven them all. When you realize just how much He has done for you, I believe you will love Him even more than you do today.

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Cancer Update October

Well last week I had yet another CT scan to check on the status of the tumors in both lungs. The scan showed that the No-Cancertumors are stable. My oncologist at Cancer Treatment Centers of America is going to continue my treatment using the oral medication Votrient. He has a couple of other treatment options ready to go in the event the Votrient ceases to be effective. Votrient is a targeted therapy rather than a form of chemotherapy. This means my healthy cells won’t be damaged by the treatment.

I have been learning quite a lot from a 9 part internet documentary series from www.thetruthaboutcancer.com. ICancer does not mean a death sentence any longer.  It can be cured. In the last week I have been making the transition to a more plant based eating plan. I am using my Nutribullet quite a lot these days.

Since I am being treated for stage 4 kidney cancer that has spread to my lungs I also found out that my one remaining kidney has begun to lose quite a bit of its filtering ability. I met with my kidney doctor and he has made some changes to my blood pressure medications. He told me that he is making these changes to “buy me time”.  I am not accepting this statement and I am believing the Lord Jesus to restore my kidney as I make the necessary dietary and lifestyle changes.  Thank you all for your prayers and support.

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A Second Opinion

A cancer diagnosis no matter what stage is an alarming news to hear.  After hearing the news all kinds of questions begin tophoto2 swirl around in a person’s mind.  What are my options? Where will I get treatment? What is the prognosis?  In my experience dealing with stage 4 kidney cancer that spread to both lungs I had to get these questions answered.  The one big question that I had to get answered was where can I get a second opinion. A friend of mine had told me about a place that sounded great, but also expensive.  That place was Cancer Treatments Centers of America (CTCA).  Let me share with you my top reasons to seek a second opinion at CTCA.

The center will pay for your travel to CTCA for your second opinion.

Once you decide to check out CTCA for a second opinion and call to speak to representative things are set in motion including your travel to CTCA.  The travel department of the center books a flight for you and a caregiver to generally the closest regional medical center. Once you and your caregiver arrive at the airport you will be greeted by a limousine driver who will drive you to the center.  Upon arrival to the center you will be given a quick tour of the center.  Then you will be driven to the hotel that you have been booked into.

The center provides discounted lodging at local area hotels.

Another advantage to seeking out a second opinion at CTCA is that they provide discounted lodging a local area hotels.  The lodging isn’t the Motel 6 no frills style.  They are various Marriott properties, Homewood Suites, and Holiday Inn.  The rates are highly discounted for CTCA patients and caregivers. The average cost for the evaluation week is under $100 for the entire week.  After that, the average rate is around $40 per night.  Each of these hotels also provides free breakfast meals.

The center provides very low cost dining at their cafe.

CTCA has its’ own fully staffed cafe on site.  They use only certified organic products for its menu.  In fact, much of the produce used in the cafe is grown on site at their organic farm called the Hope Springs Farm.  For patients and caregivers this is a large discount on meals.  Two people can eat most meals for under $10.  They have both prepared hot meals as well as a grill for made to order breakfast meals and sandwiches.  There is a full soup and salad bar as wells as a  juice and smoothie bar.

The center provides with you an entire team to look over your options.

Unlike many other hospitals, CTCA provides and entire team of doctors and clinicians to treat cancer.  During the initial week of evaluation patients will meet with a medical oncologist that specializes in a particular type of cancer.  Patients will also be assigned a naturopathic doctor who will assist with possible side effects to treatment with different vitamins and supplements.  Patients also are assigned a nutritionist to help with dietary choices to boost the immune system and help with any negative taste changes due to treatment.  If radiation is needed as part of fighting the cancer a radiation oncologist will be assigned and will work with the primary oncologist.

The center provides and encourages patients to be in community with other patients through the program Cancer Fighters.

CTCA believes in treating the whole person battling cancer.  One of the ways that they help with this is to encourage patients to be in community with each other for support.  The primary avenue for CTCA to accomplish this is through the program called Cancer Fighters.  This group is comprised of many volunteers who themselves are cancer survivors.  This group facilitates weekly meals in the cafe for patients to get to know one another as well as providing various outings to local restaurants and sporting events.   According to their website, Cancer Fighters® was created for and by our patients, their families and friends to support one another to win the fight against cancer. It is a community of inspiration for people who have been touched by cancer.”

Treatment and services are all done under one roof.

Have you ever been frustrated having to travel from one location to another to see a specialist or to have a scan performed?  This doesn’t happen at CTCA.  All of the doctors, clinicians, surgery, treatment, scans, and lab work is done under one roof. For a patient of CTCA everything is under one roof.  Whether you have an appointment, need a massage, need a hot meal, or even a pedicure, everything is in the same building.

The center provides both psychological and spiritual support to patients.

Battling cancer is more than just a physical battle. It can take a toll on a person’s emotional and spiritual condition as well. Having a positive mental and spiritual outlook goes a long way in fighting this disease.  CTCA has a team of licensed psychiatrists who can help patients with the psychological components of battling cancer.  CTCA also provides a team of trained non denominational  chaplains to help with patients spiritual needs.  They provide weekly worship services, communion, and prayer support.

The center provides the latest technology and treatments to fight cancer.

CTCA uses the latest technology and treatment options available to treat cancer. They do not use a cookie cutter approach to cancer treatment. Each patient is unique and it takes an individualized approach to battle the cancer. They use the latest approved medications and chemotherapies to treat patients. Some examples of these treatments include diagnostic imaging using PET scans, MRI, and CT scans.  They also can perform genomic testing to find what is driving the tumor growth and treat it more specifically.  There are over 50 different methods used in cancer diagnostics at CTCA.

Today treating cancer has improved greatly with new technology and therapies.  It is no longer a death sentence to hear the news of having cancer.  When a new patient walks through the doors of Cancer Treatment Centers of America they won’t even feel that they’re in a hospital.  Patients are treated like family and greeted by staff with hugs and support.  If you’ve been diagnosed with cancer, don’t fret.  Rather, make a simple phone call to CTCA for a valuable second opinion and the best care.

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Who Am I?

a6586d6ca2096149168d2ab5ae8362b7“What is man that You are mindful of him, And the son of man that You visit him?”  Psalm 8:4 NKJV

Who am I Lord Jesus that You were mindful of me?  You put my cancer case on the heart of my pulmonologist.  She went to a conference in Maryland and asked all the experts about my case involving a stent that moved from my right lung to my left lung.  She found some great answers and told me she wanted to try again to remove that stent causing my breathing difficulties.  Then one week ago You gave her skill and favor to remove that troublesome stent without any complications to the amazement of myself and my care team.  Now in spite of still having tumors on both lungs, I am breathing better now than in the past year.

I thank You Lord Jesus for Your presence, Your love, and Your healing touch on me.  I am so glad that You are in me and I am in You.  That is why You are mindful of me.

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Do You Love the Lord?

Do-You-Love-Jesus-101If you love Me, keep My commandments. 16 And I will pray the Father, and He will give you another Helper, that He may
abide with you forever—
17 the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it neither sees Him nor knows Him; but you know Him, for He dwells with you and will be in you. 18 I will not leave you orphans; I will come to you.”  

John 14:15-18 NKJV

I don’t know about you, but I have for the longest time had difficulty with verse 14 of this passage.  I have interpreted this verse to say, “If you don’t keep my commands then you really don’t love Me.”  This filled me with so much guilt and condemnation that it stifled my growth in Christ.  I have sang songs in church about loving the Lord but never really felt like I did.  

But recently Jesus has given me a revelation of this verse that I hadn’t realized before.  He revealed to me the truth of this verse and the passage.  He showed me that if I love Him first, then I will obey His commands.  It all starts with loving Christ. Once I began to understand that He is in me and loves me and that I am in Him, it changed everything.  I love Him because He has done everything for me that I could never do on my own.  

In verses 16-18 of this passage Jesus tells us that He will give us the Holy Spirit to indwell us and to help us.  The indwelling life of Christ through the Holy Spirit is the source of us being able to obey Him.  We cannot please the Lord or live the Christian life on our own. It is impossible.  He is pleased with us because we have yielded to Him and put our trust in Christ alone.  This truth has set me free to love Christ and trust that He will move me to obey Him out of my love for Him.  I hope you will receive such a revelation from Christ that will set you free as well.

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