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, September 1, 2010

Breathing easy for a while

I am back in Dallas resting and recovering with no treatment of any kind - the first such break in I don't know how many years.

The radiation seems to have done good work - the largest lymph node tumor, for example, reduced since the last scan from 4.4x2.5cm to 3.3x2.5cm.  (My own guess based on airways symptoms is that it had actually grown bigger since the first scan before it got smaller).  The question remains just how dead they are.  Size is not everything.  Some of you may remember  a couple years ago, when these nodes were called "stable" as their size remained unchanged, but a biopsy then revealed they were 99.9% dead.  ("nearly dead" - name the movie)  So at this point, time will tell how dead they are.

As for my breathing, it has improved as the left lung has indeed opened back up.  This is remarkable.  My pulmonologist had all but told me that it was not going to open again ever.  And that is how it felt.  My internal, instinctual approach to life is quite skeptical, even cynical.  But I have a hard time not using the word miraculous here.  I decided to take a simple step of faith to follow a procedure - I guess you could call it that - in the Bible where you go to the elders of the church for prayer when you are sick.  I did that and it seemed my breathing improved almost immediately.  Must be placebo or something psychological, I thought, even as I disallowed my mind to go that way.  But the improved breathing continued and now has been confirmed by the tests.  My lung is back in business.  With breathing exercises, it is supposed to improve even more.  I'm not joining any gym, but if you saw me creeping around with that cane and gasping for air, you know how much better things are now.  God gave me a break this time around, and I'm going to give him thanks.  I know there are no promises for health indefinitely, at least this side of heaven, but I'm going to take this one as a gift.
So both lungs are working, albeit not at full capacity as I've had surgery in the past on both of them and the radiation damaged them somewhat, as expected.  (that's the trade-off with radiation)  One of the tests I took at MD Anderson was a brisk six-minute walk back and forth down a hall while they watched the oxygen level in my blood.  The percentage saturation hung on in the mid-90's until the final minute when it sank to 82%.  This means if I exert myself, my body does not get the oxygen it needs for muscles, brain, everything.   So they put me on home supplemental oxygen for use at night while I sleep.  Also, I have a portable pack I may use when I feel I need it upon exertion during the day.  This oxygen has helped a great deal in overall vigor.  Oxygen is amazing.  It's better than the Cheerios in that commercial that is in my head when I reach for the oxygen.

One issue in the bigger story here is that now having used the nuclear option of radiation, I have officially used up all the FDA approved treatments for this cancer.  The weapons cache is empty.  If the cancer starts growing again, I'm looking at clinical trials for new chemotherapy.  They have a big clinic for that at MD Anderson.  Trials are just that - unproven.

Meanwhile, what do you do if you have six free weeks, with about six hours of energy a day, if you do not know if that's all the energy you'll ever be given?  The first thing I'll do is pray that this will be a very long break and that the tumors will stay very dead for much longer than six weeks.  Beyond that, I think it's actually a nice problem for the soul to have and good thing to consider.


todd said...

Thanks for the update...excellent news!!!

DWMC said...

Praise GOD!!!!!!!!
Not much else you can say.

Alan Hunt said...

Fantastic. I'm really happy for you. Enjoy the break. Keep the faith. Thanks for the encouragement of your thoughtful notes.

Madeleine Rosemond said...

Wonderful to be with you Sunday, Greg, at church! What a great post about your progress. Yes, let's basque in God's goodness to you. Only He knows just what He's up to in the trials He's ordered for you, but we know it's for His glory and your good! "Every joy or trial falleth from above, traced upon our dial by the Son of Love. We may trust Him fully, all for us to do. They who trust him fully, find him wholely true." (Love the Cheerios commercial.)

Unknown said...!!! That is great Greg!! Praise God!!! I have been praying for you and it has paid off!!! I'm so glad that your breathing is getting better and continues to get better!! I hope and pray that the cancer stays dead for longer than 6 weeks....forever is more like it!!! I will continue to pray for you my dear friend!!! You are an amazing and strong person!! God Bless!

GTT said...

what great news, Greg. It does indeed sound like a miracle (as much I as want to avoid throwing around that big word). Praise God!

We would love to get some of your feeling-good time! The other day, John said, "Don't call me John." I asked, "What's your name?" He said, "Greg." I said, "Do you want me to call you Mr. Hewlett?" He thought about it and said, "You can call me John." And his white dog is still Bella. So you're in our thoughts, prayers, and conversations!
blessings, Kristi

Unknown said...

Praise God! I'll be praying that the cancer is "all dead" this time.

Anonymous said...

Great news. God is good and prayer is powerful.
Veta and Dallas Taylor

Thorulf said...

thank you for sharing the wonderful news

Anonymous said...

Praise God for the great update! We are rejoicing with you at God's goodness and grace to you. What to do with those six hours? Call Saji...anybody in the throes of a new church plant will probably have 347 answers to that question :)

We love you and continue to pray for you! The Geigers

GL said...

Great news, Greg!

Anonymous said...

Great news! You are in our thoughts and prayers.

Chelsea and Jason Pinnix

Unknown said...

Happy Thursday Greg,

So good to hear you are doing better. We were elated to see you in Tyler even though it was for less joyous reasons. I am most thankful for every day. But most thankful that you are in our life. Will check during the month as I am told we will have connections in Spain. You are so appreciated.

God Bless,
BoB E. & Sandra

Unknown said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Henry Chu said...

Greg and Christine,

Thank you for the update. This is indeed remarkable, and we agree with you, this is a miracle. We are so happy to learn of the outcome, for it was Mid August since we last hear from you.

My spirit is uplifted because of this good news, and my faith uplifted as well. I am sure glad that the Book of James speak about laying of hand in prayer by the elders and the effectiveness of the prayers of the righteos...

The good news of the success in your radiation treatment has made me very very happy. May the Lord completely annihilate the cancerous cells, so that they are dead 100%.

May your days be filled with the singing and reflections on old and new hymns and spiritual songs, and enjoy the sweet fellowship with God and with brothers and sisters.

God Bless,
Henry and Jui-Ying Chu

Anonymous said...

It encouraged me when you, a faithful believer, talked about your cynicism. I have that attitude a lot also; I struggle with my faith quite a bit. Indeed, this has to be God working. I'm so happy for you; enjoy your "time off".

Dave Thom said...

Well, dog-diggidy-dog! Nice. I think with that much strength & energy you should see if the 'Boys need you on special teams or sumthin.

dyk49264 said...

Indeed, it is miracle and of course a gift of God! Hallelujah!

Sarah Hazel said...

"mostly dead" -- The Princess Bride -- Miricle Max says to Inigo Montoya and Fezzik: "See, there's a big difference between mostly dead, and all dead. Now, mostly dead: he's slightly alive...." And later, after Miricle Max's pill works, Fezzik says to Westley: "You've been mostly dead all day."

Jim Williams said...

Praise God from Whom all blessings flow. You are a testimony to the power and grace of God. May the Lord continue to use you for His work!