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.

Friday, April 9, 2010

Erbitux not very effective

Today I met with Dr. Eng. She was as surprised as I was disappointed. The cancerous lymph nodes in my chest grew slightly, as did the lung nodule. It was a small amount - like about 10%. But the hope and expectation was that there would be a great reduction. Every chemotherapy drug I have taken - both for colon cancer since 2003 and for bone cancer when I was young - has had immediate remarkable response. Erbitux was the first to not.

Dr. Eng said this leaves us on the fence between continuing it or moving on to an experimental chemo. Since my CEA blood level, which marks the level of cancer activity, was down 4.9 to 3.5, she decided I should continue on this chemo, but I should be tested after six weeks instead of twelve. She has seen a few cases of delayed response, giving some hope the Erbitux can have some good effect yet. But never has she seen tumor shrinkage after initial response of growth. So we are hoping and praying for a stable result at the end of May.

Meanwhile, I continue taking this poison. Chemotherapy is really beginning to take a toll on me after seven years of the stuff. ("It's about time!"). My body is feeling quite beat down these days and my intestines are constantly irritated. I also visited the fatigue doctor this week and she increased my anti-fatigue medication. We'll see how that fares.

My thoughts are identical to those I had three months ago: 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.

Saturday, April 3, 2010

Check-up coming. Lots going on.

Hi everyone. Long time no write.

I have been busy for a guy who has no energy. And thus not catching up on emails and updating the blog as I'd like.

Christine and I decided to sell our house. This was not an emotionally enjoyable decision, but I think a good one. It is part of an overall strategy to simplify life to the essentials and prioritize the best things in life. I just have so little energy with the continued treatment that little chores around the house can dominate a day. Also, I wanted to do everything necessary to sell while I am feeling relatively well in case my health gets worse. The house has been on the market about a month now. Lots of showings, but not offers. We got close on one buyer, but nothing pending right now. I am living at a new place - the Venue Apartments, by the Eisemann Center on Central in Richardson. I am not strong enough to be bouncing in and out when the house shows, so I risked going ahead and moving. Christine is back in Delaware with her parents (they spent a couple months in Florida). Her migraines have been very bad and she is requiring continual care from them.

The chemo has been rough, although different than the FOLFIRI of last year. The Erbitux really messes with the skin. I got bad acne for a while and now it seems to be going through a stage of extreme dryness. The skin problems cause discomfort and make sleeping difficult. I take it with Irinotecan, which was part of FOLFIRI, but in this scheme, I take more of the irinotecan at a time. That's the drug that causes intestinal and immune problems. Every seven days I take Erbitux and every 21 days Irinotecan. So one week out of three I get bad intestinal problems and have mouth sores (I finding those correlate with low white blood count).

Sorry I missed the NCAA tournament for those of you who enjoyed the bracket challenge in years past. I think we had done it every year of my cancer blog (since 2003!).

I have been enjoying close fellowship with friends here in Dallas involved in a new church, St. Thomas the Doubter. My long time pastor, Saji George, is the one leading the new church. This is something to which I can contribute on my sporadic schedule and from my computer through writing and reading, which are two things I can do.

Next week it is already time for the check-up at MD Anderson to see if the new chemo is effective. If so, they'll keep me on it with another three month ticket-for-life. If not, I'm not sure what approach will be next. I'll head to Houston Monday, probably returning Friday. I hope to make Sarah Hazel's art show Thurs night, so maybe I'll see some of you Houston friends there.