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.

Monday, February 1, 2010

FOLFIRI losing it's oomph

Last week I went to MD Anderson for my three-month tests and assessment.

Looks like the run of stable scans has ended for the current chemo ("FOLFIRI"). There was about 15-25% growth in the three tumors (one lung, two lymph nodes).

Dr. Eng says its time to move to the next chemo recipe ("Erbitux + Irinotecan"). This is the last FDA-approved chemo available for me. The last trick in the bag of tricks would be chest radiation, which causes a lot of damage, but can stunt the cancer for significant time (like a year or two). So the Erbitux is recommended next.

BTW, Erbitux is the drug, of which the original FDA rejection was known by Martha Stewart who dumped her stock and ended up in jail.

The bummer about this chemo is that it has a rough side-effect. One I've never had before. It causes a bad rash, much like acne. Pretty ugly and painful. The rash continues as long as I'm on it. Plus it has much of the other bad effects digestive, fatigue, etc.

Also it causes fingernail and fingertip problems, even losing fingernails in some cases. I asked, "What about playing guitar?". "Probably shouldn't", she said. ugh. That was something I was not prepared for.

It is disappointing to move to this last chemo. The one I've been on has worked as I've taken it off and on for six years - way longer than just about anybody they've treated. Me and FOLFIRI had a very long love-hate relationship, but its over. Certainly a bummer.

Please pray the Erbitux will have as long and succesful of a run as the FOLFIRI. Dr. Eng says one man has been on it for four years. Also, my prayer is that there would be new chemos. There is one that just closed (ugh-missed the window) in phase 1 trial. Perhaps it will work well and be available when I'm through with Erbitux.

There is a DNA test you can take to see if your cancer is likely to respond well (shrink) to Erbitux. They don't bother giving it if this test predicts it will not. I took the test about a year ago. My cancer is predicted to respond. It is good I am even in this group at all.

Dr. Eng wants a break from chemo first. She recommends two weeks off chemo altogether. I begin Erbitux Feb 16. So I get a bit of a health-building break.

Ecclesiastes says, "No man has power over the wind to contain it ; so no one has power over the day of his death." I'm not going to get anywhere worrying or trying to change the way things are. Nor trying to speculate what this means for the future - there is no way I could have seen the things I have been given since 2003. I'm going to continue living as I have with hope and cherishing and using each day as best I can. I've had lots of ups and downs. This is one of those downs.

On top of all this, Dolce died on Jan 30. She was a wonderful dog to me and Christine for 18 years - and we got her grown. So she was about 19 years old. She stayed snuggly with her luxurious coat until the end. She was such a wonderful companion to Christine all these years of laying in pain. She was one of a kind. Here's a couple posts with her pics - here and here.


Dan & Syd Christen said...

Greg--We have follow your progress on this "trip" of yours and have always been amazed at you strength and sense of humor.
It is very touching and we pray for you all the time.
today--I am most touched by your loss of Dolce:(
We lost two of our old boys (cats) Fuzz ( 19 years old) and Bear (17 ) within 3 weeks last month. We have grieved so--they were our babies and we are sad; so I know what a loss you feel.
Our only consolulation is that we had two more in the wings--young! They can never take the place of Bear and fuzz--but they are there for us.
I hope you consider getting another --they need your love.
praying for you Sweetie!!!!

matt boulter said...

You are in my prayers today, brother. Sorry about the end of your love / hate relationship. And sorry about the death of Dolce.
Deep Peace,

J. R. Daniel Kirk said...

Greg, I echo Matt. You're in my prayers. It seems like a cruel twist to have the beloved dog die as well.
May you know the presence of the God of all Comfort this week.

Kristi said...

Greg, Michael and I are very sad to hear your news. We do pray that the new chemo will have a long effectiveness and that the side effects won't be that bad. We are sorry to hear that you won't be able to play guitar anymore. And Dolce's death . . . so much taken away . . . I pray that Jesus' sufficiency will be tangible to you in this valley, i.e. not just something you know but something you can stand on.
with love, Michael and Kristi

Alan Hunt said...

Thanks for the update. I'm very sorry about the discouraging news, but I'm all the more encouraged to see the fruit of strength, wisdom, patience, and trust that you are bearing as He produces it in you. Enjoy your break, then "Go Erbitux!" "Therefore humble yourselves under the mighty hand of God, that He may exalt you in due time, casting all your care upon Him, for He cares for you." I Pet.5:6-7

Annette said...

Hi Greg, so sorry to hear about the progression. In my experience the worst side effect from Erbitux is the rash. I can be held in check with tetracycline and topical ointment. I know they talk about all of the other SE, but really I have not seen them and I gave it while it was still a study drug. No nausea at least. You have had the irinotecan with the FOLFIRI so you know about it (usually just diarrhea). I wish you all the best (you have always been one of my favorite patients).
Annette (TCA RN)

Mary M said...

Dolce will also live on in my memories as a special dog. I can't look at the Grinch's dog without a smile on my face thinking of her. I am glad you have a new pup to bring laughter to your days.

Tom said...

Greg - thanks for the update. We will keep you in our prayers.

Miriam Patterson said...

Hi Greg,
We haven't stopped praying for you! Our girls still pray for you nearly every night. We will continue to entrust you to our God who is in charge of all things and knows the plan that He has for you.
Love from Miriam & Andrew

Kim said...

Hi Greg,
I am so sorry that you lost your doggy! Sounds like he was so loved and lived a very long life for a pup!
As for you. You continue to inspire me with your courage and determination.
I am hoping and praying that the side effects from this new chemo will be minimal. A lot of times you might not get some of them.
What about playing your guitar with a pick?
My prayers are with you and Christine.

Susan Peck said...

Greg, it was an absolute joy having you stay with us the past 2 1/2 months! We are looking forward to you coming back, hopefully soon:)
I'm so sorry that you have to move on to this new chemo that has some other unpleasant side effects. We will pray that they are as mild as possible and that you will continue to find strength and encouragement daily.
I was so sad to hear about Dolce, too! She was such a precious dog and I know you have so many great memories. I am glad that you have sweet little Bella to give you lots of snuggle therapy!
Love, Susan

Dave Belichick said...

Greg, That's a bummer. But thanks for sharing. Does God have a word on anything lately? I'm glad you don't get flamboyant visions, but on the other-hand, if anyone did, if you did, I'd believe anything you told me. You're locked in. Glad you're in my life when you surface.

Jim Williams said...

I pray that the Lord has at least one more miracle for you!

Colleen Blickensderfer said...

So sorry to hear about all of this. There will be renewed stregth in all of our prayers for you. You continue to show such a strong case against giving in to cancer.

John & Debbie Ciavola said...

We hope you plan to find another pet companion to love since it would be so good for you. So sorry about the bad news but when one door is closed another will open! This might be an even better one! As always, our prayers and thoughts are with you and most importantly, God is with you. Our thoughts always turn to our great visit with you over the summer at Anne & Michael's and John's fantastic time spent at the Phillies game with you. You keep inspiring us as well as others to keep on fighting. Please keep in touch!

Mike said...

Thank you for continuing to communicate, even when things are as discouraging as they are ... especially when things are as discouraging as they are. Your posts are getting lots and lots of circulation, and doing lots and lots of good, Greg. I feel like I am watching a contemporary version of the Job saga: God permitting Satan to afflict a faithful man to see if he will curse God, but the upshot being that the man continues to say, in so many words, "Blessed be the name of the LORD." I'd wager you are driving Satan bonkers. What a privilege to be permitted to witness your struggle, Greg, your being led in triumphant procession (II Cor. 2:14).

Judy Dominick said...

Greg, so sorry to hear the news, both about the need to change chemo regimens and about Dolce's passing. We appreciate your ongoing updates that reflect your wonderful spirit. I pray that the Lord renew your strength physically and emotionally over the next 2 weeks in particular.

Madeleine said...

Thanks for keeping us posted, Greg. Sorry to hear that you're having to change drugs to something known to have unpleasant side effects. We'll pray for minimized effects and maximized reduction of tumors. Departure of a dear pet at a time of other stress is something I can identify with. Glad you have someone new (Bella, according to Susan.) Do post a picture when you can. Love and prayers for you and Christine,

Paulia said...

I think of you often knowing you are in the best of hands with Donna and the Presby crew! Erbitux will be some new challenges, but you will overcome doubt. Pets are precious gifts from God and I am sorry that you are dealing with the loss of a beloved.
My thoughts and prayers are with you,

Henry Chu said...

Dear Greg,
May the Lord our God instill in you, hearty doses of joy that only He can provide, and hope that surpasses reasons; and laughters that fill your heart with joy.
Eat His flesh and drink His blood, remain in His love and remain in Him, and He be in You. As I stare at the pictures of loved ones who are far away, how I yearn to be close to them...May be that is why our Lord Jesus Christ wants so much to be within us and we in Him.
We know in Him, there is peace and all is well. The storm of life will blow, but in Jesus, all is still and well. I was inspried by the courage of Jonathan, the courage of David. May their coruage and faith take roots in our hearts as we face to giant of challenge.....
For those who overcome, the Lord stands ready to grant ........all those as stated in the Book of revelation. So let us forget about the past, and go foward towards the goal of living for what He has called us to.......
Your brother in Christ..Henry

martha gessick said...

Hi Greg and Christine. So many of your friends have said it so well - especially Henry Chu and to trust God always and remain courageous and keep your great sense of humor and your JOY in the Lord. Greg, I will continue prayers for effective chemo therapy and few side affects. May your new dog comfort you also as you grieve the loss of Dolce. Much love from martha gessick and children

Bob Lozano said...

I am very sorry to hear this, very sorry. Definitely enjoyed hanging out with you those couple of times in StL ... thanks for taking the time!

You have been, and remain in our prayers. Look forward to getting together sometime, when that time comes.

Deeper and deeper into the mystery...