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.

Thursday, June 30, 2005

Radation home stretch

bell.jpghall.jpg24 treatments down, 6 to go.

Once a day I've made the trip to the hospital to for treatment. I park the car, journey down the long hall, get lined up like a sack of potatoes, receive three 30-second zaps by a big gamma gun, then head back home. Every one of these treatments marks one day closer to the day when I get to ring the celebrated bell on the wall. It's a little tradition they have here at MD Anderson.

janjan.jpgAccording to my radiation oncologist Dr. Janjan (shown here with me), my reaction to the treatments has gone very well. That is not to say there has been no pain - to be frank, there has been a lot. It seems to get a little worse every day. So why am I smiling next to this woman who has inflicted such pain on me? Because she is also the one feeding me plenty of narcotics to keep the pain under control. I take oxycodone around the clock (a.k.a. oxycontin, a.k.a. "hillbilly heroin"). It is pretty good stuff. Rush Limbaugh thought so, too. That's the drug he was addicted to. On top of this drug, I now have a supply of fentanyl "lollipops." Fentanyl is one of the meds they use in general surgery to knock you out. The lollipops are smaller doses that give immediate relief from strong pain. When my pain begins to slip out of the control of the oxycodone, I stick one of these lollipops between my cheek and gum, sit back, and smile like Kojak.

Seriously though, the pain has not always been under control, but these meds do help quite a bit. Enough that I've been able to work from home, where Christine and I hang around all day. It helps that I really enjoy the challenging problem I've been working on these days for TI. It is both an escape and something that keeps me focused.

Every once in a while, I ask Dr. Janjan to remind me, "why again I am doing all this?" After all, no cancer shows up on the CT scans. Well, the chances are pretty good that there is still microscopic stuff around where they took out the tumor in February. Radiation reduces the chance that this cancer will mount a new assault. So underneath all the symptoms, I pray a simple bold prayer that this process is doing what it is supposed to do - getting rid of this horrible disease. As long as it is doing that, the process is tolerable.

target.JPGThey've begun to double up the treatments to two per day. One at 8 and one at 2:30. This protocol is more aggressive and apparently is a bit more effective in killing cancer cells. The total number of treatments remain the same at 30. This moved the completion date back to next Tuesday, the day I plan to ring the bell.

The effects of a radiation treatment are felt 1-2 weeks after the actual treatment. Because of this, they say, the week after the last treatment is the worst. So I may stick here in Houston a little while before I'm up for traveling back to Dallas. While I am mentally able to keep going pretty well, physically I am exhausted and have a hard time doing anything without getting winded and needing a rest.


john and debbie ciavola said...

As always, our prayers are with you and Christine, and now, we ask that your prayers and the prayers of everyone reading your messages will be with our family. We recently found out that Debbie's Father, Robert Zajdel, has been diagnosed with esophoceal cancer. He should be starting the radiation and chemo next week and a late Sept./early Oct. surgery is planned to remove what is left of the tumor. Your story is an amazing inspiration and a true testament to the power of Prayer and Faith, we are praying for similar results for Robert. Thank you ahaed of time for your prayers and we'll be thinking of you when you ring that bell on Tuesday!!

Jim and Coco said...

God bless you and keep you, may His face shine upon you and my you know and feel His peace.

Anne Murray said...

Greg and Christine:
You could teach us all a thing or two about the value of keeping a sense of humor. I marvel everyday at how you have stepped up to the plate, accepted your roles in this feature-length film, and learned everything you can about this journey you are on. We miss your company and your play-by-play commentary.
Just yesterday I was reading the Chowhound's Food Guide to New York and found a restaurant that serves fried grasshoppers 3/$10. It reminded me how plentiful they were at your friend's ranch outside of Houston. Now it seems only proper that we sample this place on your next trip north!
John and Deb--We are praying for Deb's father's successful treatment. If you need somebody to come keep the boys company while you are helping out we would love to be there for you. We really are not so far away. All of our love,
the Murrays

Dan And Syd Christen said...

Greg--you are an amazing child of God.
We will hear that bell ring here in Dallas !!!!!
And continue to pray for you.

Dan And Syd Christen said...

Greg--you are an amazing child of God.
We will hear that bell ring here in Dallas !!!!!
And continue to pray for you.

jacobs said...

We'll have those steamed crabs ready for ya when you get back in town.

KC said...

On Tuesday, I will celebrate that you have become a "Ding a ling"! Love to you and Christine.

John Slaughter said...

We are all looking forward to having you back at the office.   We all keep pulling hard for you!

Carl said...

Greg and Christine
I can think of a million trite metaphors for that bell, but we'll just be thanking God for answered prayer when it rings.

Richard said...

Even though I have known you since you were eight years old and keenly know the kind of person that you have always been, you amaze me with your character and your steadfast focus on God and His purpose for your life. God's purpose for your life may not be clear to you but clearly His work in you will be complete because you are willing to rest in HIs arms.
I continue to pray for you and Christine. I hope she is doing better with the migraines.
Your brother in His forgiving blood,