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.

Wednesday, March 29, 2006

Biopsy schedule

Lung biopsy is tomorrow morning at 7:30am. We meet for pre-procedure consult this afternoon. This will all be done at MD Anderson. Meeting for results with Dr. Eng is scheduled for next Thursday, April 6.

Your many notes and prayers are an encouragement to us. I have been surprised to be so full of hope. I am praying with the Psalmist: " The LORD will fulfill his purpose for me; your love, O LORD, endures forever- do not abandon the works of your hands. (Ps 138)"

Sunday, March 26, 2006

Colorectal cancer awareness month (get a colonoscopy!)

March is colorectal cancer awareness month. I am doing my part by being very aware of the disease right now.

You, on the other hand, can go to all sorts of web sites like this one to get info, prevention stuff, statistics, run in 5k's, download posters, read White House proclamations, blah blah blah.

But if you want the bottom line, here it is - if you're over 50, you ought to have had a colonoscopy by now. If you're not yet 50, then start planning now. It takes years for a polyp to develop into cancer. Detect and cut it out early - then you have a 90% chance of survival. If you don't, then it will be detected late like mine. Then you'll be all regretful, they'll feed you chemo, they'll start sticking tubes in your rear on a regular basis, you'll have to send your paychecks to the hospital, and all sorts of ugly things will happen. You really don't want that.

Do me a favor - if you're older than 50, go get the colonoscopy. Wives, nag your husbands. Husbands, nag your wives. Bug your parents about it. Ask your friends. Trust me. It's not that bad. Really. I actually look forward to the drugs they give before it.

I'd love to hear that my cancer scared somebody into doing something they ought to have done already and saved their life. Email me the good news when you do it.

And for a relevant laugh, read this. It's a column by Dave Barry that I ironically read a few weeks before I was diagnosed.

Saturday, March 25, 2006

Al's blog

When I drove back alone Thursday night after hearing the news, I spent a lot of time on the cell phone. I thought my heart had been completely ripped out that afternoon, but apparently there was some remaining because more was ripped out when my friend Bill told me that Al Groves had recently been told that his melanoma had spread to his lungs and that the doctors said it was incurable. Al got his news just two months before I got mine.

Al was a professor of mine at WTS. We have grown to be friends as he suffers from fibromyalgia, which drains him of energy as it does Christine, and he has been a faithful supporter of mine in prayer over my trial with cancer. Now we have more in common than either of us had hoped. I cannot tell you how encouraging it was today to talk with this brother who, due to his own trial, personally understands my situation and speaks with such wisdom to my situation as a friend.
He has a great balance of heart and mind in his service to the church. He has been a pastor as well as teacher and theologian. I had sometimes entertained the idea that I wanted to follow in his footsteps. Now he is applying his theology to suffering with cancer. Following him there wasn't what I had in mind!
Like me, Al has been keeping a blog. ( I love one of the stories on the blog: Al is surrounded by a wonderful circle of friends and family. So when he was unable to walk due to chemo symptoms, the call went out for wheelchairs. This was the result.

Friday, March 24, 2006

Not what we expected

The nodules have grown. Still small, but significant growth. My new oncologist, Dr. Cathy Eng, tells me the cancer has spread to the lungs. One of the nodules is just big enough to biopsy -- 11mm. We could wait some more to observe, but she wants to stay aggressive and get right to finding out exactly what we are dealing with. Lung biopsies can be tricky, but she assured me that young healthy people - I guess that's me(?) - usually tolerate them with not much problem.

The biopsy will be in 1-2 weeks. We're probably looking at more chemo soon after that. But that's getting a little ahead of ourselves. In one of the many lighter moments we had during the day, Christine reminded me how to eat an elephant - one bite at a time.

I had stayed with the Rasmussens Wed night and Sally came with me for the appointment. It has been great spending time with them at this time. Christine has been right there with me - she teleconferenced in for the appointment, and talked me through the landing as I drove back from Houston last night.

Yes, quite the bummer.

There have been some exceptional cases where such nodules hold steady for a long time. In at least one of Dr Eng's cases, she saw them go away completely with chemo - three years out now. We hope that will be the case for me and look forward to that. But regardless, Christine and I have been having a good time reminding each other of the plan...

I will extol the LORD at all times;
his praise will always be on my lips.
My soul will boast in the LORD; let the afflicted hear and rejoice.
Glorify the LORD with me; let us exalt his name together.
(Ps 34:1-3)

Wednesday, March 22, 2006

Berry or banana?

When I reported Monday morning for the CT scan, I was looking forward to the question "Do you like berry or banana flavor for your barium drink?" I'm always ready with one of the bad jokes from my hospital repertoire. I usually go with "Neither" or "Do you have the chalky one that tastes like antifreeze." One of those will usually get a chuckle from the nurse. Then I get to do one of my favorites. When I'm on the table they always intercom to me from the radition-free control room, "Is everything ok, Mr Hewlett?" To which I like to respond, "About as ok as a guy can be with a needle in his arm and a tube up his rear."

But Monday, I was pleasantly surprised to find out, there was no barium or tube -- only to be reminded that they just wanted to look at my lungs.

If you recall, I am coming for my three-month checkup a month earlier because they were concerned about something they saw in my lungs in the last CT scan. They hoped it was nothing, said it usually turns out to be nothing, but here I am to find out.

I find out tomorrow. Please pray with me for some good news. Also, remember Christine - I left her in Dallas today (I drove down twice this week) because she had another bad migraine - really the same one she had on Monday that kept her from coming down then, too.