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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Cancer Update August

I had a CT scan today.  My oncologist Dr. Quan told me that the kidney cancer in my lungs is stable.  That means the cancer isn’t growing.  Thank You Jesus!
I will have another scan in 2 months.  I will also have an echocardiogram test next week to check blood flow.  Thanks for your prayers.

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Reflecting on Cancer Journey

Man-man-thinkingIt has been one year since I was in ICU after a bronchoscopy procedure at Cancer Treatment Centers of America that did not go as planned. I  had just had a CT scan that showed that the mass in my right lung had grown around a stent and crushed it.  My pulmunoligist said he needed to go in and removed the stent.  I thought it would be a routine procedure.  It was not.  The procedure was on a Tuesday, and I woke up on Thursday. I had been on a ventilator for a couple of days since I was unable to breathe on my own.  My oncology team and my wife were not sure I was going to live through this ordeal.  But I did by the healing hand of Christ.

The Lord brought me through that particular trial.  It was not easy to recover and I had to go through several weeks of physical therapy and had to stay in Arizona for 3 weeks.  Today, I am in a much better place in my battle with stage 4 kidney cancer. The tumors in my lungs are now half the size they were at this time last year.  I can say that I do not want to have any cancer in my body.  Yet, this whole cancer journey has caused me to truly come to know Christ in a real and tangible way.  He continues to give me revelation of Himself.  He continues to remind me that I am in Him and that He is in me.  I would not trade this relationship to Christ for anything.

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Cancer Update June

Well I met with my oncologist at Cancer Treatment Centers of America, Dr. Walter Quan, and my latest CT scan shows that the kidney cancer tumors in my lungs is continuing to shrink.  They are now half of their original size when I began treatment over a year ago.  I thank the Father of my Lord Jesus Christ for his healing.  Thank you for your prayers and encouragement.

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The NBA Isn’t For Me

52f8e345b00851e05460ea193922c110I’m not a fan of the NBA (National Basketball Association).  I watched game 2 of the Western Conference Finals last night.  A matchup consisting of the Golden State Warriors vs. the Houston Rockets.  This matchup features the MVP, Stephen Curry and the runner-up MVP, James Harden.  Now, being from the Bay Area of California I am rooting on the Warriors.  Yet, after watching game 2 I realized why I enjoy hockey more than basketball.  In hockey, while you cannot interfere with a player without the puck, you can body check or hit a player with the puck or the last one to touch the puck.  Yet, in basketball you cannot make contact with another player regardless.  I saw the Rockets players routinely going hard towards the basket and running over the defending Warriors player and the Warriors player was called for a foul.  Now, this happened on both sides, but the Warriors were called on fouls more often.  A defending player cannot apparently simply stand his ground and impede a player going for the net.  This is supposed to result in a charging call, but it doesn’t seem to be called that way.

Players are also not supposed to take more than two steps after they have stopped dribbling the ball.  This rule of the NBA doesn’t seem to be called anymore either.  I saw players from both teams taking as many as 5 and 6 steps without dribbling the ball.  So, I can now understand why that NBA head coaches are routinely fined for complaining about the officiating in the league.  So, I am not going to waste any further time watching the NBA playoffs this year or any other year.  I will stick to watching the NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs this time of year.  This is just my personal opinion and choice.

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The Journey Takes Me to a New Home

20131223 PHX_BL32479 727-7H4 N707SA Southwest right side take-off lSo my cancer journey continued with my moving in with my dad.  After a week of living with my dad, I began to search online for apartments in the area close to the cancer center.  I knew that I could not afford to find my own place in California due to the high cost of rent.  I checked with a fellow cancer patient who has lived in the Goodyear area all her life on the apartments I was looking at.  She pointed me to the apartment that was in a good area to live.  On my next trip out for treatment, I visited the apartment complex closest to the center and filled out an application.  A one bedroom unit was available and I put down a deposit to hold it for me.   So, finally in late October I moved into my new home in Arizona.  The staff of nurses in the infusion department began to donate stuff that I needed for my new place.  I had moved here with a couple of suitcases of clothes and an air mattress.  Everything else I needed was given to me by my friends and care team from the cancer center.

Over the past several months I have become more familiar with the area and it is beginning to feel more like home. I had to have a new stent placed in my right bronchial tube in December, and it has helped to keep my airways open to breathe more freely. I am a regular fixture at the cancer center each weekday, even when I don’t have appointments.  I have breakfast with the Cancer Fighters group 3 days a week and I have the opportunity to meet new patients and friends. Dr. Quan has had me taking an oral medication called Votrient that I take on a daily basis.  This medication is working at shrinking the tumors in both my lungs.  Most of my hair has turned white, but that’s fine with me if it gets rid of the cancer.  I am hopeful that I will be declared cancer free in the coming months.

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Celebrate Life 2015

logoEach year at each of the Cancer Treatment Centers of America hospitals, they host a Celebrate Life event.  This is an event to celebrate with those patients who have survived their cancer diagnosis for 5 years.  Each year a new tree is planted in the garden to honor these 5 year survivors.  I missed this event last year, and I am looking forward to attending this year’s event that is happening this week. The 5 year survivors also receive a gold leaf with their name on the Tree of Life display in the front lobby of the hospital.  I am due to receive my 5 year leaf in 2019.  I am confident in the Lord healing me of all the cancer in my body so that I can get my 5 year leaf.

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Cancer Update: April

e6595e_417817903c5941cba3902324160d47d1I just met with my oncology team at Cancer Treatment Centers of America  today.  My CT scan showed that the tumors in my lungs are continuing to shrink. Praise Jesus my healer.

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