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.

Sunday, May 2, 2004

A "regressive" state

This week went quite well at MDACC. On the cancer recurrence issue, my CEA was down to 7.5 from the 9.5&10.0 it was three weeks earlier. (The 6.4 level in Dallas in between was measured on a different kind of machine, so they don't take it as a precise comparison) In addition, there is a liver enzyme level that also tends to be high with metastatic cancer in the liver and it was down this week for the first time since the surgery. CEA levels above 10.0 "almost always" indicate that a recurrence will show itself in something like 6-8 months. Levels between 5 and 10 can be due to other things besides cancer. In summary, Dr. Vauthey said that we indeed might not be seeing recurrence here. He is considering the disease right now as being in a regressive, rather than progressive, state. I'm liking the sound of that word - regressive. The PET scan matched the CT scan three weeks ago in revealing there are no measurable tumors in my body right now. After consulting with Dr. Hoff, they decided we would wait another three weeks before retesting the CEA and making treatment decisions. So no more chemo for now.

On the dilated veins, it was described to me in laymen's terms. There is an interstate vein going through the liver. It has a traffic jam on it, the cause of which they think is a clot from the surgery or healing process, and the blood is taking back roads to get to the heart. These back road veins are thus overcrowded and have expanded. This can be dangerous, but not at the level they are seeing in me. This was all confirmed by the endoscopy on Monday. By the way, that procedure caught me and Christine by surprise because there was significantly more risk than the other time I had this done. In the procedure, the doctor could accidentally pop one of these veins, causing all sorts of serious problems. We had to sign some extra release forms due to possibility of emergency surgery, receiving blood transfusion, etc. One form had a list of the possible side effects of the endoscopy. He was crossing out the lines with side effects that could not happen with this procedure. I asked him if he would cross out the line that said "death." We smiled at each other, but he did not cross it off. In the end, the procedure went very smoothly. Dr. Vauthey believes that we can address this vein problem with drugs and that the body figures out a way to heal itself by repairing and increasing the number of back road veins. He also said there was nearly no risk of that clot moving to the heart or brain. He told me that of all my problems right now, the vein thing in his mind was pretty far down the list now.

bluebonnet2.jpg We enjoyed our drive back, and with the extra time took the long way home to enjoy the blue bonnets that are in full bloom here in Texas right now. Only now as I write am I realizing the irony of taking the back roads back home.


Adam Kunzman said...

Greg and Christine,
I am glad you where able to have a enjoyable trip back and that things appear to be getting better, albeit slower than desired.
I hope this next few weeks will find both of you regaining your strength and continue to touch the lives of those around you.
- Adam

Shannon Geiger said...

Here's a toast to "back roads" and the life we lead on them -
Thanks so very much for the news, Greg. Lots of love to you and Christine,
Shannon and Josh

Craig & Maria said...

Greg & Christine,
You will have some great sermon illustrations on the wonders of God's creation, we truly are "fearfully and wonderfully made."
We pray for you regularly,
In Him,
Craig & Maria

Madeleine said...

Praise the Lord!

Mike Kelly said...

I'm a fellow c-legger who found you site via Scott Roger's site. Please know you are in my prayers. I'll pray for you continued steps towards remission, for strength, for hope and for acceptance.

Carl said...

If "regression" is how doctors charactize the miracle we've seen, than that's just fine