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, September 29, 2005

Avastin news

Avastin may be more dangerous than previously thought. A study of the use of Avastin to treat ovarian cancer has been discontinued due to a higher rate of intestinal perforation than previously seen. This Genentech press release gives details.

I tried to get on an Avastin study in June 2003, but could not because I have a history of allergic reaction to a drug related to Oxaliplatin, one of the drugs they gave with Avastin for the study. In 2004, Avastin was approved by the FDA for the treatment of colon cancer, so I began taking it as part of my treatment plan. It turned out that with anti-allergy precautions, I did not have a reaction to the Oxalyplatin. And I never experienced bowel perforations, although we knew this was a risk. They just told me to stay reasonably close to hospital care while taking chemo in case it happened. It never did. I escaped.
Approval of new medications is a tricky business. On one hand, the FDA has a fast track attitude for advanced cancer treatment drugs like Avastin. On the other, drug approval in the US is tougher than many other countries, which gives patients in the US more confidence in what they are taking. It's a tough policy decision, but I think they strike a good balance for cancer treatment medications.

Tuesday, September 27, 2005

A sweet day

Today I should be hooked up to a chemo pump -- that is, if I were continuing on the schedule I have been on for a couple months now. Yesterday morning I awoke and briefly got that sinking feeling that it was chemo day. But it wasn't. Instead, it was another day of healing. Today I awake to the same feeling of liberation. Could it be that after over two years, I actually might have become accustomed to the ever-looming treatments?

Life is not fair. We often compare ourselves with someone who has it better or to a better situation and conclude this. But we rarely compare down. We don't look to those who have less and complain that life is unfair.

In Christian theology, we look at passages like 1 Cor 15:22 and think that "in Adam all sin" is not fair. But then we realize "unfairness" is not so bad... "in Christ all will be made alive". The beauty of grace is that it is not fair.

With "chemo days", I tend to think of those who unfairly experience "well days", and conclude that it's not fair. But today, I am comparing my well day with a chemo day - and I'm liking the inequality. It gives me a sweet feeling. A thankful feeling.

Friday, September 16, 2005

Jeremy's birthday

My good pal and nephew, Jeremy Peck, invited me to his birthday party at Chuck-E-Cheese a few weeks ago. In the midst of trials, it's always refreshing to hang out with folks I can relate to.

click to enlarge

Wednesday, September 14, 2005


Yesterday, I got unhooked from my last planned chemo treatment. Thus ends the grand plan for surgeries, radiation, and chemo.

Next month I go to MD Anderson for a week and a half of extensive tests and consultations to find out "what now?".

But today my heart is filled with thanksgiving to my Lord - who has answered our prayers by bringing us to this day that was so hard to imagine back in June of '03.

greg_and_dr_juvvadi_sm.jpgIncidentally, my CEA has been creeping up a bit - from 1.8 to 2.6 to 3.9. Still under the 4-4.5 range of concern. Dr. Perkins has been telling me me not to interpret too much from that - "it's just bumping around in normal range". Well, I've been ready for a bump down. Here is me with Dr. Juvvadi, my other oncologist here in Dallas. Our smile is the result of having found out that my CEA this week was 3.4. That was a nice little cherry on top of getting unhooked.

Wednesday, September 7, 2005

Hill of beans

I'm emerging from the third of four rounds of chemo before my reassessment tests in October. My body is protesting. But I continue. The fact that I have not written anything in a while reflects my level of existence somewhere not far above, well, existing.

sos.jpgrick_and_ilsa.jpegLike everyone else, I've been trying to comprehend Katrina. The endless stream of images reminds me of something Rick said to Ilsa: "it doesn't take much to see that the problems of three little people don't amount to a hill of beans in this crazy world." My problems seem like a hill of beans these days. The immensity of suffering and loss of life in New Orleans dwarf my own self-important battle with cancer.

James, the brother of Jesus, reminds us, "What is your life? You are a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes." He gives this comment in the context of considering the "one Lawgiver and Judge, the one who is able to save and destroy." And for me, it is only in my connection to this one who is able to save that I find anything to grasp beyond the thought of merely being a mist.

So I rest in these rough times by praying with the Psalmist:
My heart grew hot within me,
and as I meditated, the fire burned;
then I spoke with my tongue:
"Show me, O LORD, my life's end and the number of my days;
let me know how fleeting is my life.
You have made my days a mere handbreadth;
the span of my years is as nothing before you.
Each man's life is but a breath.
Man is a mere phantom as he goes to and fro:
He bustles about, but only in vain;
he heaps up wealth, not knowing who will get it.
But now, Lord, what do I look for?
My hope is in you."

(Psalm 39:3-7)