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, April 9, 2005

Post-surgery treatment plan

The Plan
I struggled to pack for the first trip to Houston after surgery. The struggle was not physical, although I was still hobbling around. Rather, it was due to that voice in my mind that protested vigourously, "no, you really don't want to go down there". Only four weeks had passed from the extensive surgery and the chemo guns were already loaded and aimed with me in the crosshairs.

The plan is to continue treatment for 4-6 more months. First, I'll take four rounds of chemotherapy - two months - followed by reevaluation by CT scans. If the scans are clean, they want to follow with a month or so of radiation in the area around my most recent surgery. The good news from the surgery was that they got all they could see and there was healthy tissue margin around the removed mass. The concerning news was that this margin was "less than 1mm". So just to make sure there are no hold-out cancerous cells in the vicinity, they want to blast the whole area. Dr. Hoff says that radiation in that area will be rougher than the chemo. I'll cross that bridge when I get to it.

rockyIV_sm.jpgAfter the radiation, they may do some more chemo for good measure. The doctors' relentless pursuit of this disease makes me wonder if their philosophy is to keep hitting me with this treatment as long as I keep showing up again on my feet. If that's the case, here I stand. I remember the image of Rocky bouncing around the ring with Ivan Drago. Rocky taunted him, taking unguarded blows while continuing to point at his chin as if to say, "go ahead, give me another, you got nothin'."

I have now completed two of these first four rounds. I'm getting the chemo now in Dallas, because it is standard treatment. The stuff is hitting me pretty hard. From whom can I draw strength to continue? It is for this strength I pray because I believe it comes from my Creator, who is my shield. Seems he always provides me with just enough, just in time.

CEA.jpgSome encouraging news
A little over a week ago, I received the news that my post-surgery CEA level (the blood marker that correlates with cancerous activity) is lower than it has ever been measured - 2.3! Go ahead and chuckle at my nerd tendencies, but I believe nothing communicates progress like a good Excel chart.

Surgery recovery
carlsue.jpgfirst_bloom.jpgAfter arriving in Dallas after the surgery, I was not able to do much of anything, including move around. So Christine's parents stayed with us for another couple of weeks in Dallas. I'm not sure how we would have made it without them. Beyond assistance with daily activities, they helped me catch up on my household to-do list. "OK, what next", Carl kept asking. The picture of them here is in our backyard, which they helped us landscape. At the time, we were getting our fence replaced. The rose is my first of the season. It bloomed last week. I go out every day to consider our rose bushes, even on chemo weeks - make that especially on chemo weeks.

chris_bishops.jpgchris_greg.jpgChristine and I knew that the weekend before my first post-surgery chemo would be the best I would feel for several months. So we spent a couple days at a B&B in Galveston. The weather was gorgeous and we chose to drive around the old town and go on several house tours. Here's Christine in front of the Bishop's Palace, a late 19th century house that survived the 1900 hurricane. And here we are eating seafood on an outside deck overlooking the bay. Enjoying good local food is always a top priority when we go out of town. pelicans.jpg

Procedure Monday Morning
Early Monday morning I will report to St. Paul Hospital for a procedure to drain a large pocket of fluid that has accumulated near the incision. They call it a seroma - I had never heard of such a thing. My doctor does not see it as dangerous, but would like it removed. Sounds good to me. I don't like how the thing shakes around annoyingly like a water balloon. And frankly, it's downright ugly. I'll count myself fortunate - not everyone can get two inches taken off the waist line in five minutes. And get this - the name of the interventional radiologist who will do the procedure? Dr. Trimmer.


Jeni & Dick Wiggers said...

Greg & Christine - Jeni & I continue to keep you in prayer every day.
Just before Easter I read again an e-mail that you sent on Easter day, 2004, and quoted you in this year's Easter sermon: "...Since the day I was first diagnosed with cancer, I have found that my world has been overturned. I race through thought after thought that seems to slip away through my fingers. I come rest, however, when thinking about Christ and his resurrection. Finding solace is not the reason I believe, but the result of believing."
May the peace of God that surpasses all understanding, continue to surround you and uphold you each and every day.
Love, Jeni & Dick

Willeyne Berger said...

I was so glad to hear from you again as I was just going to call your folks to see how you were doing. I think of you all the time and I keep praying that you will be finished with the treatments very soon. Love to you and Christine.

Jim Williams said...

Tell Carl I missed him at the annual Reserve Party. Tell him the oysters were great! I was also told that he and Sue were visiting with you and Christine and that is certainly a higher calling.
As Paul once said of the Church at Rome, Romans 1:8, "First, I thank my God through Jesus Christ for you, that your faith is spoken of throughout the whole world." Keep on living by faith and in and through the Spirit and our Lord will continue to provide you the strength and the peace that passeth all understanding.
Jim Williams

dirty dave said...

greg, you and christine make a beautiful couple. more pictures! having just had hemorrhoid surgery, for once i can say with about .00001 percent accuracy, "i feel your pain." it will give me a lasting impression of the battles you fight daily. by the way, just saw sin city. gives a whole new dimension to law two. might not wanna bring christine. or any snacks.

sonya hove said...

Greg, thanks so much for the update. God is good! LOVE the doctor's name. One of my kids had to see a urologist whose name is, and I'm NOT kidding, Dr. Weiner. Very difficult to keep a straight face when you meet that poor man!
Love you! Rick and Sonya

Judy Kovacs said...

Greg, you and Christine are such a testimony to the grace that comes only from our Lord! I thought of Christine when I read an article about migraines in the April 11 issue of US News & World Report. There's a promising new therapy in studies. Hope it would be helpful to Christine. My prayers are with you both and your families who provide so much support. Love, Judy

Cody and Julie said...

Greg and Christine,
We praise the Lord for the good bits of news about your recovery. We love you two and miss you.
Cody and Julie

Willeyne Berger said...

Greg, We have been trying to get ahold of your parents by email and the messages have been returned. Can you help us? Thanks. Willeyne

Chuck said...

It's so good to get an update from you. I will be praying for you and Christine. I read a book several years ago that you might enjoy. It's called "Holding Heaven and Earth In One Hand" by Nancy Cobble and Joy Sawyer. Your website reminds me of the book in ways.
Hang in there!

Kathie Pagan said...

Greg, your postings bring tears, smiles, and laughter, along with thankfulness and prayers. May God continue to carry you and Christine through this time with His strength, power, peace, and grace. We love you.
Kathie & Pete