The Struggle Has Ended

Greg Hewlett passed away on January 17th after nearly eight years of battling colon cancer. While we grieve his loss, we are comforted to know that he is with his Lord.

If you would like to leave your thoughts on Greg, please see this thread.

If you would like to make a charitable donation in Greg's honor, please see this thread.

Saturday, May 31, 2003

The original bad news

I received some very bad news this week. It came in waves. My doctor, Dr. Oeffinger, who I hope to tell you more about, set me up with a GI doctor to do a series of tests to determine the source of bleeding �somewhere between my nose and my rear.� I had low blood counts indicating loss of blood somewhere. Thursday, I had a colonoscopy and a esophagogastroduodectoscopy (a new word I learned this week!) to investigate. It turned out to be a relatively easy procedure and there was no pain involved. The process was simply to put me to sleep then insert a probe into my digestive tract from both ends to look around. We were expecting to find a polyp or two in the colon, as this is a genetic condition and has occurred in my father and his brother. The doctor would remove it and that would be the end of this episode.

We did find a few polyps, but also a horrible looking mass that is cancerous. It is in the part of the colon just next to the liver. My mother, who was with us, and Christine found out first, as I was still in recovery from the anesthesia. Mom and Christine listened quietly as the doctor told me when I woke up. The rest of the day, Christine and I were shocked. But surprisingly (at least to me) we were really taking it in stride. After all, there was a good possibility that it could be removed with no necessary follow-up chemotherapy. This was the exact path my uncle had taken several years ago.

Incidentally, as far as anyone knows, this cancer has absolutely no relation to the bone cancer I had in 1982-1985. The only relation is that we discovered the low blood counts during my yearly check-up, which I have been somewhat faithfully having since the first fight with cancer.

The next day (Friday) we visited the surgeon. The surgery to remove the tumor is quite major. He told me to expect not to work or drive for four weeks. The reason is that they must go through the stomach muscles, which are used in just about every physical activity. After visiting the surgeon and beginning the process of preparing emotionally for the four week ordeal, I had a CT Scan.

We returned to Dr. Oeffinger�s office, not really expecting to hear anything new. We had completed a full day of tests, thought everything was under control, and were ready to call it a day. The short visit turned out to be a major visit. Dr Oeffinger told us the crushing news. The CT revealed that the cancer was not localized in the colon but had spread to �many places� on the liver. This moved the cancer from what he thought was a level B to �at least� level C, and possibly D. I�m not that familiar with the scale. Perhaps some of you are. I only know that all cancers are categorized as A,B,C, or D, depending upon their aggressiveness and the amount they have invaded other parts of the body.

He was realistic in communicating that my prognosis is not good. But he does not consider the situation even near hopeless. We�re going to get that mass out of there, then turn our attention to the liver. One day at a time, one obstacle at a time. The lesions on the liver can be treated, and some patients see success, especially in recent years. He told me I had four strong things going for me � my youth (I�m 35), my health, my personal support network, and the power of prayer. The last two are the reasons I ask you to join me in this fight.


Judy Kovacs said...

Dear Greg and Christine,
I will praying for God's peace for strength and ultimate victory for you both!!
In Christ's love,

Robert Nichols said...

Greg & Christine:
For many years the first thing we sought on our return voyages was the beacon from the light house letting us know we were close to safe harbor. You have been, for me, a Light House with your beacon of faith and strength. Whenever questions of faith, or physical challenges have appeared, you have come to mind, giving that spark for extra effort. You are with us daily in prayer and thought. We send you God's grace and peace as you meet these new challenges. Keep a smile on your heart and remember we are but a phone call away if you have need of us.
God Bless,
BoB E., Sandra & the Three Musketeers

Anupama Iyengar said...

Dear Greg,
I am hurt beyond words after reading what you went through. My family back home in India and I will definitely keep you in our prayers. Please do have faith in God and His powers and everything would turn out just fine. We will pray that He give you and your loved ones the strength and determination you need, to fight through all this.
Please let me know if I can be of any help whatsoever to you and your family.
Take care and God bless,

Richard Sherard said...

Dear Greg, Wow does this bring back some memories. I am so sorry I have not kept up with you and the family. I have thought about you many times over the years. I remember so well what an incredible inspiration you were to me and so many others back in the 80's. One of the hardest trips I ever made was to MD Anderson with you for your operation when you were I think 14. But from all of that you taught me so much about trusting God. Please contact me through my e-mail. I know you are busy but I would so love to see you. Please know that I will be praying for you and the family and I look foward to seeing you. You are a great person Greg and I know that you are trusting in God all the way!! Praise Him that you are His!!!
Your brother in Him,

steve butler said...

I am a crohn's patient of 20 years and a friend of Cody Ray. I sat under his ministry while he was an intern in Atlanta, Georgia. I am reading this early morning after preping for a colonoscopy later today.
I have been in prayer for you, being very personally effected by similar pains and misgivings. I am painfully aware of the affects of sin that entered the world through Adam. I can not say that I am surprised at my own mortality or anyone else's for that matter. When I hear of disheartening news such as you have had I do not ask "Why?" I do ask "Why not me?".