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.

Friday, October 24, 2003

DLP award

caution - this is a shameless ad

nav_logo_dlp.gifFor those who don't know what I do for a living (when I'm not fighting to live), I design digital video projection systems at TI. Our brand is called DLP and we are celebrating today for receiving our second Technology Emmy last night. This is the nerd version of the regular Emmy. So if you've got $3000 to blow on watching television (an activity Frank Lloyd Wright once called "bubble gum for the brain"), then you won't find a better television to buy than ours. Right now, Samsung is our leading producer for television sets.

If you like going out to the movies instead, you may be able to watch our technology at work at a local theater that supports our digital projection. To find out, enter your zip code at our DLP Cinema web site.

Thursday, October 23, 2003

Stan' Up and Get Hit

Few of my entries have generated as much response as Cool Hand Luke. My Uncle Ron sent me an item he ran across in the 1966 Farmer's Almanac by a fellow named Sam Foss. I found it pertinent and amusing:

Luck loves the hard hitter and glorifies grit.
An' smiles on the man who stan's up an' gets hit;
Though fate strikes out strong, with a blow 'twixt the eyes.
It loves the stout soul who still fights and defies.
The fight is not gained by the strong or the fleet,
But by the grim chap who don't know he is beat.
This life is a fight that has got to be fit,
The best thing you can do is stan'd up and git hit.

Also, here is a text on the same theme from 2 Corinthians:

But we have this treasure in jars of clay to show that this all-surpassing power is from God and not from us. We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed. We always carry around in our body the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be revealed in our body. For we who are alive are always being given over to death for Jesus' sake, so that his life may be revealed in our mortal body.

Saturday, October 18, 2003

Returning to Dallas

Our Houston hosts, Pete and Sally Rasmussen

It is hard to believe it has been over a month since I came to Houston. At the same time, it seems like so long ago.

On September 8, I came down for observation after a temporary obstruction of my digestive system. Many things were uncertain at the time and the doctors were worried about emergency surgery. Now after a successful surgery, recovery, and a round of I.V. chemo, we're headed back to Dallas under far less serious conditions.

This week my surgeon worked on a pain problem I have been having for over a week at the base of my right rib cage. An x-ray showed some fluid in the lung at that spot, but he said that was not uncommon after my surgery and was probably not the source of the pain. The pain is also near the liver tumor, but that is probably not the source of pain as it has shrunk, not enlarged over the past few months. He was concerned it could be a pulmonary embolism (clot) in the lung, so I had a CT Scan, but that turned out to be negative. Bottom line is that the pain remains a mystery, but considering how much my body has been through, they think we should just wait, watch, and hope it goes away. Pretty high tech, huh? Not too far from the two-cent assessment of a non-medical friend of mine - "they opened up your gut and cut a bunch of stuff out, what do you expect?"

Our survival over the past month was made possible by the service of our dear friends, Sally, Pete and Chris Rasmussen. I was deeply moved at how they modeled Christ in sacrificing their lives on our behalf. We invaded their home and life and they were nothing but gracious. Sally became my personal nurse, changing wound dressings, planning meals according to my diet, and shuttling me back and forth from MDACC. Pete and Chris were also always there to help and are driving us back to Dallas today. Since being diagnosed, I have found it to be very difficult to be vulnerable enough to receive help. They made us feel safe doing so.

Monday, October 13, 2003

Cool Hand Luke

Well, I'm back on the chemo track. In fact, I'm taking it as I write...

I'm in a private mini hospital room with Christine - they use these rooms to administer outpatient chemo. They've hooked me up and the chemo is just beginning. Soon, I'll feel sick, but right now I'm feeling fine. In fact, I�ve been feeling steadily stronger day by day.

Last week, I spent a lot of time resting in between eating and trying to keep up with work. While watching TV, I caught a favorite old movie of mine, Cool Hand Luke. It has a classic scene that I find fascinating. Paul Newman plays Luke, who is sent to a low-security prison for sawing the tops off parking meters. Shortly after arriving, out on the grounds of the prison, Luke gets caught in a boxing-style fight with Dragline, the local prison bully. It is not much of a contest. With the other prisoners gathered around in a circle watching, Dragline hits Luke again and again without much resistance. The pounding continues to the point where every blow causes Luke to fall to the ground. Again and again he is knocked down, yet he always manages to stand up again, against the advice of the sympathizing observers and even Dragline. �Stay down, you�re beat,� utters Dragline. �You�re gonna have to kill me�, Luke replies. The remarkable outcome is that Luke has such an iron will that the bully finally just walks away. While the technical "loser", Luke comes away the psychological winner.

Later, Luke wins with a bad hand in a poker game and Dragline says it was just like the fight. "He kept comin' back at me with nothin'." Luke's response results in his new nickname, "Yeah, well sometimes nothin' can be a real cool hand."

I think fighting cancer is a lot like that fight scene. The cancer-chemo bully hits you every time you get enough energy to stand up. Again and again this continues. Here I am just getting to my feet after the surgery and I'm about to get hit by the bully again. The goal of the process is to be like Luke - keep getting up until the bully gives up, even if you got nothin'.

Monday, October 6, 2003

Date for restarting chemo

I met with Dr. Hoff this afternoon. He thinks I have recovered well and decided I am ready to begin chemo again on Monday (9/13). It will be the same 21-day cycle as I did before, with the IV chemo (irinotecan) on day 1 and the oral chemo (xeloda) twice daily for days 1-14. This cycle will continue as long as the chemo is continuing to shrink the liver tumor. At the point when it seems to be no longer shrinking, we'll do the liver surgery.

Friday, October 3, 2003


My life seems to revolve around the issue of poop lately. The doctors and nurses are all quite interested in it. They anticipate it, analyze it, measure it, time it, and are even willing to clean up accidents with it. At first I was even embarrassed to speak of it with them. I have now become somewhat desensitized to the existence of poop. Yet I still have concluded that dealing with poop is near the bottom of human existence.

As a Christian, I naturally ask if Scripture has anything to say about poop. Some might laugh at such a thought, but remarkably the Bible does address the topic. While the majority of clean-cut Christians would not mention such topics, the Bible indeed deals at this level of reality without such avoidance.

Of the many places where the Bible addresses the topic of poop, one particularly interesting place is in the New Testament book of Philipians, where Paul writes,

What is more, I consider everything a loss compared to the surpassing greatness of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whose sake I have lost all things. I consider them rubbish [may be trans. "poop"], that I may gain Christ� I want to know Christ and the power of his resurrection and the fellowship of sharing in his sufferings�

I really admire the Apostle Paul. He likes to tell things how they are. Direct. No candy-coating. I think he came from Philadelphia. The word that he uses here is only found in this verse in the whole of the New Testament. It is likely an expletive, but is rendered by the euphemistic �dung� or �rubbish� in English translations. Paul says, in effect, �Look, everything I have in life I consider to be at the level of poop compared with knowing Christ and his resurrection.� He puts it on the line. Life ain�t worth poop without knowing Christ and his resurrection. The more I personally have to deal with poop, the more clearly I understand this passage - an unexpected advantage to having colon cancer.
When the church has strayed from its fundamental elements -- Christ and his resurrection -- it has by definition ceased being the church. Sometimes it has become oppressive, sometimes it gets caught up in endless political battles, and sometimes it has become simply a bland institution of nothingness with marshmallow smiles pasted on the faces of its members.
It has become commonplace in segments of mainstream Protestantism and elsewhere to push aside the person of Christ and particularly the event of his resurrection. Now, mind you, such leaders are usually careful enough not to outright deny it. But they will at least discount it as irrelevant in practice. As long as you find community, as long as your kids have a place to learn right from wrong, as long as you have a support structure to help you through suffering, as long as you are nice to everybody and they are nice to you, as long as you have faith (no matter who or what it is in), then the church is considered a good thing. It doesn�t matter whether or not God revealed himself in Christ or whether or not he raised him from the dead. I like to imagine Paul�s response to such lines of thinking. I think it is safe to make an educated guess as to what he might say: �that�s a bunch of poop�. It may be appealing to the masses, but it is not historic Christianity. Call it �religion� if you want. Call it �country club living� if you want. Call it �hypocrisy� if you want. But don�t call it authentic Christianity.
As I continue to have areas of my life stripped away during this time of suffering, I am afforded the opportunity to observe my life more clearly. Things around me become less and less important in the final perspective: my dreams, my finances, my career, the consumer goods I�ve collected, my house, my reputation. Most all that is left is the reality of my Creator and his revelation to humankind in the person of Jesus. Aside from this, I have concluded that my life has little meaning. Aside from Christ, my life really is a pile of poop.