Recent photo of my parents in my office

Recent photo of my parents in my office

July 23, 2007

Medical Report

Many of you are interested in a simple report rather than a long historical narrative (my profound apologies for the verbosity of some of my autobiography!), so here is a recent update.

Thursday, July 19th, Margie and I saw Dr. Jeff Raizer at Northwestern in Chicago for his proposal for the next step to be considered. As I assumed, he saw chemotherapy as the option, and he had very little to say about prognosis. The reality is, hemangiopericytoma of the brain is so rare that he and others simply don't know what TO say. He offered the option of a combination of IV meds, to be delivered 3 days per month, with the normal side-effects -- loss of energy, hair, diarrhea, liver problems, and on and on. Sounds like just what one would choose for a relaxing vacation (NOT). The other option was a to participate in a study using an oral tablet, but so far, this program has little results to report. Either way, he recommended the more aggressive approach, and it seemed to me that his prediction was an under 10% level of recovery (Margie may have heard it differently, but he threw out the number of 5%, so I think my estimate is fair).

We went to the meeting knowing we would hear this kind of report, but it is still hard to listen. What is the benefit of listening at all? The next step was to schedule another MRI, and then a CT and Bone Scan to observe the effectiveness of the lst round of radiation. Before we left the hospital, they took a blood test focused on the kidneys.

Friday morning, Margie and I both received calls and e-mails from Dr. Raizer's nurse saying I needed to go to the ER, due to the elevated calcium and creatinine in my blood. These could put me at risk of seizures, kidney malfunction, and various other problems. In many ways, this helped to explain my condition over the last few weeks, resulting from a combination of the cleansing of the bone material that was destroyed by radiation, as well as by the continued assault on the bone by the cancer itself. They put me on an IV with a drug called Aredia that has already helped to reduce some of my fatigue and to (hopefully) readjust the calcium in my blood, though I haven't seen a test on that yet.

The ER ended up disrupting the plans Margie and I had to attend a wedding of a couple for whom we had done pre-marital counseling, and following that, an evening retreat in which we planned to pray and rest together in discernment concerning future treatment! Given that that was not what happened, it was easy to feel depressed, but we had some more opportunities to learn to yield our weakness and complaining to the Lord, and to focus on His continuous presence with us. It may sound saintly, but I can assure you how much it is not. At bottom, I am more often brought to realize what an immature sinner I am. The thing that moves me so greatly, though, is the mercy and simple reminders of God's love.

Saturday, Margie and I went to breakfast together, and then invited a couple from church over to pray for us. What a blessing to remain in stillness and peace after having read the scriptures and then sharing in the reserved communion together. By the end, Margie and I had decided to go ahead with the MRI today and the CT/Bone Scan on Wednesday.

I'm finishing the day at my office a little late, just to get out this news. I was able to lie more peacefully than before during this MRI (takes nearly 3 hours, and is very loud), during which I dozed some, and prayed as much as I could focus! But I know the Lord was with me through the entire event. Thanks to all those who helped with the children so that Margie could come with me. She is so humble and real -- read her blog, those of you who haven't:

I continue to pursue getting a few links to music on this blog. Some of the songs I've heard from the past (or present) have remained mainstays, and I'd love to share them.

Finally, I can't post it all here, but look at one of the readings in the Psalms for the day: Psalm 31 for an amazing encouragement.

God bless you,