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, October 28, 2009

A Miserable Day

Yesterday, I had a very bad day. The previous day I had felt quite well, enjoying a mind-cleaning drive down to Houston for my round of tests and meetings at MD Anderson. But when I awoke, I was achy, shivering, and increadibly fatigued. It is not a trivial matter changing an appointment at MDA Anderson. You just go. So I went over to the hospital anyway for my appointment with Dr. Manzullo of the fatigue clinic.

When they realized my temperature was over 102, and my blood work showed that I was "neutropenic" (low white blood cells), I became high prority. Turns out that neutropenia is not uncommon for chemo cancer patients. Nor is fever. I've had plenty of both. But when you have both, it can be dangerous. Without enough white blood cells, you cannot hold off whatever is causing the fever. Since I was already lying down in one of her waiting rooms, the doctor let me stay and worked the phones with my different doctors so I could avoid the standard response - send patient to the MDACC ER. "Bless you," I said to her. "Take however long you must, just don't send me there."

They decided to put me on the MDACC protocol for neutropenic fever, which is a 7-day outpatient deal. The standard treatment for this in most hospitals in America, one doctor told me, is to admit you in the hospital for treatment. But since they have great outpatient infrastruture and resources, because the various doctors are in close communication about your case here, and because over 90% of cases end up not being dangerous, they have designed an outpatient protocol that works well.

My day was not over. The next step was to go to the blood center and get more taken. Then to the pharmacy for antibiotics. Shuffling around the campus, wrapped in blankets, and shivering, I proceeded step by step, minute by minute. I finally made it home, took a nap, only to return a few hours later for the 5-hour CT Scan/barium enima test. Since cancer doesn't take breaks, neither does MD Anderson. So what if you've got a fever and feel miserable. You still need those pictures.

I am so thankful that my friends Belle and Peter have a place for me to stay only about 5 minutes from the hospital. That will make this outpatient process so much easier.

Today I went in for day two of the protocol. They took more blood and examined me. I also saw the blood doctor - I'm not sure what to call him - he's an internist who specializes in this stuff. (it seems appropriate I will be seeing a blood doctor over the Halloween weekend!) No conclusions yet. He said they'll probably know which direction things are going tomorrow - it takes three samples to establish a trend, right?

All this fever stuff is just a bump in the road. The big reason I'm here was and remains to figure out if the cancer is stable or advancing. I still find that out with an appointment with Dr. Eng tomorrow.

Meanwhile, they tell me lots of rest and drink liquids. I guess that's instead of the solids I usually drink.


Don and Joyce Campbell said...

We are still praying for you and your doctors, Greg. Hang in, yet again.

Josh Geiger said...

Dear Greg - Our family is praying for you, brother. We love you! Josh, for the Geigers

John Tripp said...

I have to say, based upon the title, I was worried that you would be describing an even "badder" day than this.
We will pray that the information you receive in your meeting tomorrow with Dr. Eng will make tomorrow a "good" day.
I hope you get to feeling better soon.

Robert Black said...

Greg, I'm praying for you. Keep us posted!

kelli said...

Hope you feel better soon and will be prayin for you - keep the faith :)

Supriya said...

my family and i are praying for you, as always-

Alan Hunt said...

Re. J Tripp: I, too, was a bit anxious as I started reading your post. All things considered (including Woody Allen), I'm glad to know your day was only "miserable." I'll pray for you, if you'll please be good and quit drinking those solids!

Annette Yudizky said...

Greg, my heart aches for you. I know you have been miserable. I pray you are over the the bump in the road and more than that, the cancer is stable. I will keep you in my prayers.
Your "favorite chemo nurse" !!

Deb Peck said...

When I read the title of your email, Greg, I said aloud, Oh, no! Know that we will continue our prayers that your results show the cancer to be remaining stable and that you will recover quickly from this fever so you can get up to St. Louis and spend some quality time with that lovely saint of a sister of yours and her beautiful family. What an amazing work of the Lord that you found a doctor friend of theirs familiar with your protocol and able to shepherd you the next round! As should we all, enjoy one day at a time in the Lord. He truly is good.

The Lindh's said...

As always We think and pray for some relief for you both. If its any help just know that the golfing season wasn't so hot this year - you're not missing much! We in Philadelphia will be as miserable as you feel now if we don't repeat in World Series. Actually we will be more miserable if we win since the way for the City of Brotherly Love to celebrate is to reign terror and mayham in streets, on buildings, and persons. Bash in a head or two to demonstrate how GOOD we are! Love isn't what it used to be I guess.

maria & Craig said...

Hi Greg, I'm sorry you are feeling so bad. May God have mercy on you and give you a good day tomorrow.
In Christ, Maria

Sarah said...

Sorry to hear about such a dreadful day but I am glad that you felt energized enough to post - that is always a good sign! Hope you feel better and get some good news tomorrow. We are thinking about you.

Greg Hagerman said...

I'm praying for you, Greg.

John & Ruth said...

Greg, we're praying for you with all your other sisters & brothers. Love you!

Dave Belichick said...

Like another writer/reader says, if you're strong enough to write, that's a good thing. Among my friends in high school was "Bad Day Davidson." It's been so long ago I don't even remember his first name! He was always having a bad day as you might guess. It's funny, but given your sense of humor, I think of you as "Good Day Greg." Hang in there partner.
Last night's Roundtable was on "The Painful Riddle of Death." The time was led by a Dana-Farber Clinic Psychiatrist John Peteet, who just found out he has cancer. And who just lost his dad - but still has his mom who's 99 and in full control. It was a great Roundtable. The the night felt much prayed for.

dave said...

"I guess that's instead of the solids I usually drink."

Tricia said...

oh Greg, I am sorry to hear of this "bump". We will be praying you get some rest in between the pokes and tests. And definitely praying and hoping for good news tomorrow from Dr. Eng!

Kristi said...

Greg, we are sorry to hear that you're feeling so bad, again.
We've been encouraged lately thinking how our suffering can be the place where God shows his glory by working in our lives -- the man born blind, Lazarus, and we can add you to that list.
We are blessed to pray for and with you.
In Christ, Michael and Kristi

Andrea Marshall said...

Hi Greg,
So sorry to hear about your awful day. I hope there will be few of these as time goes on.
I really admire you for being so strong despite everything you are going through. Even now, 23 years after graduation from Berkner (wow has it really been that long?) I wish we could have known each other better.
I'm not sure if you know this but my mom (Nancy Hines) told me that she's met your mom. She mentioned that they met when your mom was doing some substitute teaching at Big Springs Elementary,which is where my mom taught for about 15 years.
Anyway, just wanted to let you know that I was thinking about you. I was disappointed that I wasn't able to make it to our 20th reunion but I'm already looking foreword to our 30th in 2016! Hope to see you there!
Take care and I hope that things will get better soon!
Andrea (Hines) Marshall
Seattle, Washington

Doug said...

Thanks to God for your (attempt at) humor in the midst of pain. Thanks to God for your example to others and your perseverance in times of trouble. We will continue to pray as you continue the battle.

Chuck said...

I am saddened by the visual of you shuffling around campus wrapped in blankets, feeling awful, but facing this on your own. Once again, I'm touched by your incredible will to live, and I enjoy your sense of humor even in a tough time. I do have to say, though, that my coffee has often been accused of being a solid.

Bud & Suzanne Hopkins said...

Bud and I are praying for you and that the fever will go down and you will return to less than miserable!
Suzanne Hopkins

James Williams said...

Isn't it great to know that His grace is sufficient for whatever the situation. May His grace continue to keep you, as you are going through.