Posts Tagged With: Cancer Journey

Cancer Journey Update March 2017

Houston. We have shrinkage. hqdefault

My wife Tanisha and I received some great news last week concerning my treatment for stage 4 kidney cancer. The tumors are shrinking. I have been on my 5th line of treatment in the past 3 years. I am now on a targeted oral therapy called Cabometyx. I have been on this drug for 3 months now. I started off at a low dose of 40 mg and am now tolerating 60 mg dose. The scans showed that many of the tumors that are spread to my lungs, liver, and lymph nodes have shrunk by almost half of their size from a scan 3 months ago.

They also did some lab work and an echocardiogram. The test showed my heart is still healthy and functioning well. The labs showed my thyroid has a low function. They have put me on a low dose thyroid medicine for now. The next CT scan is scheduled for late June.

We are so thankful for this wonderful, encouraging news. The Lord Jesus has been faithful throughout this journey of battling cancer. I thank Him for sustaining me through all the procedures, treatments, and side effects. Thank you all for your prayers.

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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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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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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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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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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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Battling Cancer Takes it’s Toll

The next step of my cancer journey involved having to stay in Arizona for 3 weeks at the cancer center. During this stay, I had 2 infusions of Torisel, and afterwards, I was allowed to fly home to San Jose. It was so good to be back at home with my family and sleep in my own bed. I would return to the center every 2 weeks for treatment for the next several months.  The tumors in my left lung continued to shrink, but the mass in my right lung remained unchanged.

7957914_f496My near death experience in July and the continuing battle with cancer, as well as other issues began to take its toll on my marriage. I knew something was wrong, but I guess I try to convince myself that we were doing fine. I began to move towards a depression state during this time. I began to have thoughts that everyone would be better off without me. I began to consider stopping my cancer treatment and just see what would happen.  After all, I wasn’t working and was on disability so I thought I didn’t have anything else to offer.  Fortunately, I have some really good friends that I could share these things with.  They allowed me to vent my feelings and then they encouraged me that I have a great deal to offer to others.

In October, things in my marriage came to a screeching halt. My wife and I separated, and this was a month of unexpected and undesired changes for me.  I was devastated by this whole thing.  I didn’t know what I was going to do or where I was going to go.  I asked my Dad if I could move in with him temporarily while I sort things out.  He lived 80 miles away on the Monterey Peninsula.  He agreed and I packed up what I could, and donated or threw out what I couldn’t bring with me.  I had lost my family and I was still battling cancer.  I felt so defeated and alone.  I was going to have to start over somehow.

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Near Death’s Door

medstaffmainAs my cancer treatment journey continues, I would continue to receive treatment with Interleukin-2 every 3 weeks, that would include 4 days of infusion at the cancer center.  However, in April I began to have trouble breathing.  I could barely walk very far before feeling short of breath.  I had to make an early trip out to Phoenix.  My oncologist ordered a CT scan when I arrived at CTCA.  They discovered that the tumor mass in my right lung had begun to invade the main right bronchial tube.  It was determined that I would need another bronchoscopy procedure to place a stent in the bronchial tube to keep my airway open.  After this procedure I was able to breathe normally again. However, my cancer treatment journey would take a frightening turn at the end of June.

My wife and I traveled to Phoenix in late June for what we thought would be a routine week of treatment.  It was anything but routine. I was scheduled to have a CT scan at the start of my week to check on the progress of treatment.  The CT scan showed that the tumor mass in my right lung was continuing to grow and was very aggressive.  I met with my pulmonologist, Dr. Turner, and he informed me that he would have to perform another bronchoscopy procedure to open up my airways again.  The scan showed that the tumors had begun to crush the stent and had moved into my main airway.  The next day, Tuesday,  I went in for the bronchoscopy procedure.  I can recall falling asleep in the operating room.  The next thing I remember was the horrible feeling of something being removed from my throat.  It felt very uncomfortable and I wanted it to stop.  I looked at my wife and said, “Help!” I could barely even hear myself say that word.  My voice seemed to be almost gone.  My wife told me to just hang in there for a little while so they could pull out the incubation tube from my throat.  This incident happened on Thursday.  I had lost 2 days.

I was told that I had been in ICU for the past 2 days.  The original procedure did not go well.  My right lung had collapsed during the procedure and there was a lot of bleeding.  I was put on a ventilator and was kept sedated.  Dr. Turner also had to perform 2 additional procedures to remove the crushed stent and to clear away what he could of the tumor mass.  The staff had told my wife that I may not survive.  The staff at CTCA supported my wife with a lot of hugs and prayers while she waited for me to finally wake up.  Finally, I did wake up as they removed the incubation tube from my throat.  My wife explained to me all that had happened as she wiped away her tears.  By the grace of the Lord I was still alive and breathing. I would have to remain in Arizona for 3 weeks to recover from all of the procedures.  My oncology team would now have to come up with a new treatment method to battle the cancer.

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