Holistic Medicine


Folks, the link below is to an article in the NYTimes today about a cancer conference taking place in Chicago that is touting the importance of the immune system in fighting cancer and some breakthroughs that are happening. This appears to give strong credence to the statement that the immune system can play an important role in fighting cancer. This is what I have been doing for the last 32 months.

A LITTLE BACKGROUND: I was diagnosed with stage 4 pancreatic cancer on September 20, 2010 in Chicago. The very next day, at an appointment with a Chicago oncologist, the doctor told me that if I didn’t start his suggested cocktail of chemo drugs that day, I would be dead by Christmas. Well, it’s June 2013, and I am writing this, not some impersonator.

I got a second opinion from MDAnderson, a cancer center of excellence in Houston shortly thereafter. MDAnderson was not as adamant about the speed for starting the chemo as they were certain that neither surgery nor radiation would help me. Chemo would extend my life perhaps a couple of months or so.

Over the course of the next few weeks or so, Patti and I met with five oncologists. We were living in Dallas by then (having left Chicago behind to be closer to family). Every oncologist recommended chemo, but every one differed on what the chemo drugs should be used. Gemzar was somewhat universal.

My brother-in-law, Bill, suggested that I meet with a holistic practitioner to supplement whatever decision I made about pursuing chemo. Bill was fighting melanoma, using Julia, the holistic practitioner, to supplement his periodic visits to MDAnderson to monitor his fight. Julia said to me after a few initial visits: “If you are so committed to going the chemo route, can you at least give me three months to build up your immune system before you start the process of introducing chemo poisons to your system?” As a holistic provider, Julia was certainly no fan of chemo drugs.

Something about what she asked and the following conversations just made sense to me. I put off the chemo and began pursuing the building up of my immune system and following my faith. This involved quite a variety of vitamin and nutritional supplements, changing nutritional habits (swearing off red meat and carbonated beverages), experiencing a variety of light therapies designed to disrupt cancer cell duplication. Sometimes this meant 4-5 trips to visit Julia a week, some visits lasting from 30 minutes to a few hours. And, absolutely none of this was covered by any insurance.

But, Patti and I were fortunate to have enough to pay for these treatments. We are blessed.

THIS ARTICLE TODAY: At the conference in Chicago, various doctors and researchers are saying that it could be the immune system is more important than originally thought in fighting carcinogenic cell reproduction in the body. Of course, the article mentions that a few of the most powerful drug companies are working on clinical trials with a variety of immuno-related drugs that could replace chemo drugs. One researcher even went so far to mention that immune-related therapies could even replace chemo — certainly not without major pharmaceutical help.

When I read this article, I was near tears. When I was going through the immune build-up with Julia, it just seemed obscene that I could not get any of her treatments approved by insurance. Don’t get me wrong, I believe there is a role for the drug companies, but there are roles for a variety of different approaches. I am just ecstatic that these clinical trials, while self-promoting drug company solutions, may soon find a place nestled comfortably among cancer-ridding solutions. Thank you, Lord!

I am also including here some links to some other recent articles about this latest development,

If you read the NYTimes article below, be sure to read the comments about “cancer tails.” God bless you all and your families

Promising New Cancer Drugs Empower the Body’s Own Defense System

By ANDREW POLLACK

The drugs work by unleashing the immune system to attack cancer cells, much as it attacks bacteria or other foreign invaders in the human body

Related articles

Routinely, after I have an appointment with my oncologist, I send out a routine message to family members. It is usually short, sweet and to the point. Something like this:

“Just had a meeting with the oncologist after a CT scan and blood work. Still no pain; no discomfort; no symptoms. Oncologist says keep doing what you’re doing.”

So, for family and friends who read this, they will reach out to either me or Patti and ask: “So, what is he doing? How come he’s still so healthy after more than a year since the stage 4 pancreatic cancer diagnosis?”

"Who are those guys?"

Every time Patti tells me a friend or family member has asked her these questions, it makes me think of one thing: the scene from Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid where Butch and Sundance have blown up the safe in the train and are being chased by the railroad detectives. Butch and Sundance keep running over hill and canyon, prairie and forest, and still the detectives keep coming after them. At one point up on a mesa, Butch looks out and sees the posse still coming after them full force. He looks at Sundance and says, “Who are those guys?”

In my case, I know who “those guys” are — little “bad juju cells” as Johnny Weissmuller would say in his role as Jungle Jim.

Outside of the praise I give to the Almighty for his constant protection, I think there are some basics that I have learned over the past year.

1) Keep your immune system strong. When I was first diagnosed, I started a routine of building up my immune system. This included laser light treatments, detoxification of the immune system, and strengthening the immune system through appropriate holistic nutrients and supplements. I think that helped me tremendously. The Center for Holistic Healing here in Dallas helped.

2) Know what to eat and what to skip. Among the most dramatic things that I did was to change my diet. Well, let’s say I’m TRYING to change my diet. At times, it’s hit and miss. What I mean by changing my diet is that I used to eat quite a bit of red meat. And, as anyone who has worked with me at my various places of employment will attest, I am a 1000% sucker for sugar. Chocolate, really. I used to spend afternoons at the office walking around, grazing for sugar. And, when Patti and I were researching pancreatic cancer, we discovered there were certain foods that PROMOTE growth of the cancerous cells. BAD JUJU. These include red meat and sugar and some processed foods with ingredients you can’t pronounce. I try to stay away from these with various levels of success … and failure.

And, as you may imagine, there are foods you can eat that will retard or slow the growth of these bad juju cells. Those foods include beau coups of veggies, such as broccoli, cabbage, turnips, Brussel sprouts. It’s a good thing that I love all these guys.

The ideal diet for me will have loads of these veggies, and no meat or sugar. We’ve given up soft drinks for tea and water and some coffee. But, I occasionally still have a glass of wine. Don’t drink much beer any more, and I used to have my fair share. I realize that with the wine comes sugar, so I keep that in mind when I DO choose to have a glass.

By the way, please don’t infer I am “preaching” about this. I’m certainly not one to tell others what to do, but since people have asked what I do, this pretty much sums it up. I still have those cravings for a scintillating Fuddrucker’s burger, but I now ask for a vegan version. And, I am trying to dramatically reduce my intake of chicken and fish.

Powerful content

Recently, my sister-in-law, Nina, showed Patti and me a video titled “Forks over Knives.” It was truly amazing and a life changer. The video explains the value of adopting a plant-based diet. Much like other diet and nutrition vehicles, this doesn’t attempt to “sell” you anything but a healthy lifestyle. The businesslike making of points in this video really appealed to me. I don’t like preaching, and this did not come off that way to me at all.

I am not trying to sell anything here at all, but if you want to know more, check out: forksoverknives.com.

3) Exercise some. Yeah, I know this just makes sense. But, for me, it’s easier said than done. I love to sit in front of my computer and write. Things like this fightingdamien blog, or the novel I’m crafting. But that is very sedentary. Do I like treadmills? No, but I know exercise is important. I know there are benefits from hitting the gym, I’m just plain lazy, most of the time. So, do I do well at exercise? No, but I’m trying to do better.

4) Get rid of stress. Ironically, I think this has had a tremendous amount to do with my emotional and physical states. Before cancer, I was a consultant. Lots of travel, loads of pressing deadlines, quick turnarounds, long hours, unruly schedules. At times, that work environment was very rewarding. I like being busy. I like being part of success. I went from work weeks that were routinely 60+ hours with loads of travel, to 0+ hours of work and no travel. It was a very dramatic drop in stress — from bunches to none. Health is my primary concern now, so I do what it takes to stay healthy. Like Martha says, “That’s a good thing.”

I no longer work, except take out the trash, routine chores and mow the lawn. And, occasionally when there is something I know I need to do, but don’t want to do, I pull out the “cancer cough.”  Right in front of Patti, I will show my sad eyes, put my hand near my mouth and cough a very faint, weak, barely audible or even noticeable cough that is designed to elicit her sympathy. It doesn’t work, but it does generate a laugh or two between the two of us and we have heard that laughing causes cancer cells to die. Don’t know if it’s true, but it sounds like it COULD BE true.

I know that getting rid of stress is easier said than done. But there are ways (see number 3 above) to rise above the stress. Making sure you take time for yourself during the day is important. There are loads of stats about the importance of taking time for “you” during your busy day. Sometimes, it’s just a few moments, but having the feeling that you are in control of your day rather than an employer, is a tremendously gratifying and rewarding feeling. Whether it is just going outside for a walk around the block at work or at home, for just a few moments, that helps to ease the stress and help you feel in control.

Contentment: a lab in his pool

Frankly, I think this item has had more impact on my health than just about all of the above combined. A friend told me the other day that he thought I looked very content. I’ve thought about that a lot since then. I am content, very content. I don’t worry like I used to — about everything. Years ago, when I was putting in those long weeks at work, and fitting family around work, I never felt like I knew how the world worked, or how I fit into it. It was a huge foreboding feeling.

Today, I am thankful for this cancer. Yep, I sure am. This past year has helped me become content. I am very content. For the first time in my life, I DO feel like I know how the world works, and I feel like I know how I fit in it. Content feels really, really good! And that, my friends, is worth all the gold in Fort Knox. God bless you all!

This is not an easy one to write.

Tonight, Patti and I are spending our New Year’s Eve with her brother, Bill, in a Dallas hospital.

He is nearing the end of a 15-year struggle with melanoma. His fight has been valiant. When Bill first discovered he had melanoma, he followed professional counsel and earnestly began treatment. Along the way over the past 15 years, he has had surgeries to remove malignant tumors. He recovered well from these surgeries, certainly enough to resume steady work, steady play, and enjoy his other roles of committed husband, father, son, brother and friend. Bill understood that melanoma is hellishly aggressive and damnably uncompromising. So far, he has fought this onslaught with fierce determination, tenacious courage and an unwavering commitment to beat this beast.

In late summer, at a routine regular visit with MDAnderson, doctors noticed a nine centimeter tumor — one they should have seen during his previous checkup in October 2010, when it was five centimeters. Somehow this bugger escaped detection at that visit and grew. By the time the doctors saw it this past summer, it had grown and become affixed to his spine and a kidney. This time, because of metastasis, doctors could not operate.

The Wanderer Above the Sea of Fog

While balancing his responsibilities, he began increasing his homeopathic regimen. This served him well during the years when the melanoma was somewhat inactive. He also sought out experts across the country to help.  At one point this past September, he told me he was seeing seven doctors to try to fight the disease. He had heard about an experimental stem cell treatment program in South Korea that was experiencing good results.

It was a two-month commitment. After undergoing a couple of radiation treatments here, Bill and wife, Lisa, flew to Seoul for the experimental treatment. Unfortunately, after the 22-hour flight to Korea, Bill caught a bug, which led to pneumonia. So, he began a grueling treatment for both pneumonia and the melanoma. All this, and the two of them were in a foreign country, hearing a foreign language, and nothing was familiar to them. Bill gained strength and began the stem cell treatments, which included a cyber knife radiation treatment and chemotherapy.

Bill and Lisa returned in late November and he was admitted to the hospital here in Dallas, fighting severe lung and chest infections, or sepsis. The doctors monitored the cancer, but the sepsis was of a very immediate concern. In the ICU, Bill was heavily sedated, on a ventilator, and underwent strong antibiotic treatment to quell the sepsis as quickly as possible. He was in ICU from November 23rd through December 26th. During this period family members gathered to support Bill and Lisa in any way possible. His friends from childhood, Steve and Paul, were in constant contact with Lisa while they were in Korea and since.

Currently, Bill is on morphine to minimize the pain. The cancer has spread to other organs.

I share this with you not to add Bill’s struggle to the countless others who have fought so tirelessly to beat cancer, but to paint a picture of pure raw courage.

Bill is the most courageous man I know.

As I sit here in the hospital room with Bill lying quietly in bed behind me, he reminds me of an 1818 painting by the German Romanticist, Caspar David Friedrich.  The painting is The Wanderer Above the Sea of Fog. For me, this painting represents the summation of 27 years of knowing and enjoying the friendship of this energetic figure.

A writer describing this masterpiece of German Romanticism said “it demonstrates mastery over a landscape and the insignificance of the individual within it. We see no face, so it’s impossible to know whether the prospect facing the young man is exhilarating, or terrifying, or both. Friedrich was a 19th-century painter, generally considered the most important German artist of his generation. His primary interest as an artist was the contemplation of nature, and his often symbolic and anti-classical work seeks to convey a subjective, emotional response to the natural world.”

The connection between Bill and Friedrich was nature. Bill loved hiking in Telluride, as well as the Andes. I camped with him once in the Adirondacks on a snowy Thanksgiving when the temps at the summit of the peak we climbed were calculated to be -21 degrees. Paul and Bill’s brother, Jim, can relate many, many more stories than I about Bill’s love of nature.

When I look at this painting, I always think of Bill. The defiant stance of the figure, standing solidly on the precipitous jagged rock balanced nimbly by a slim cane, looking outward as the sea and fog combine seamlessly to present an undefined horizon that appears to encroach upon the figure from all sides. There is something purely enigmatic that we don’t manage to see the face of the defiant figure. I imagine it is Bill’s face and he is smiling; smiling as if he is determined to find the perfect way to move from his perch toward the far mountain and not suffer the perils presented by the fog (no clear path) and the sea (swirling eddies that engulfed many a less-experienced adventurer).

Yep, that’s Bill.

Bro, shortly it will be a new year. If I could ask you, I’m sure you would tell me with that welcoming smile that the fog is clearing, the sea is calming, and that far mountain is not nearly the challenge I think it is.

Go with God, Bill, and smile to be in His company.

Yesterday, as the world knows, Apple founder Steve Jobs died.

He died of complications of pancreatic cancer. He and I have this devastating disease in common.

If you have been following my treatment patterns for pancreatic cancer, you know that, for me, everything is stable right now. That is good and to God be the glory.

What follows is a CNN article that examines Jobs’ history of his treatment for pancreatic cancer. If you are even slightly interested in his kind of pancreatic cancer (very rare), his treatment patterns and his history of dealing with the disease, please read on. The more we all know about the difficulties of pancreatic cancer, the more we can take a step to fight it and overcome it for others. Rest in peace, Mr. Jobs.

Editor’s Note: The report was originally published August 25, 2011, the day after Steve Jobs stepped down as Apple CEO.

(CNN) — Steve Jobs has been notoriously private about his health, but as he steps down as CEO of the company he helped invent and re-invent, speculation abounds that he has gotten very sick.

In his resignation statement, he alludes to his inability to continue in his role at the company.

“I have always said if there ever came a day when I could no longer meet my duties and expectations as Apple’s CEO, I would be the first to let you know. Unfortunately, that day has come,” Jobs wrote in a letter addressed to the Apple Board of Directors and the Apple Community.

Neither Jobs nor the company has revealed concrete details of his condition. Based on the public information about his health history, there are many possibilities, including cancer recurrence and liver transplant rejection.

Steve Jobs: From college dropout to tech visionary

Jobs revealed in 2004 that he had a pancreatic neuroendocrine tumor, kind of pancreatic cancer that tends to grow slowly. It’s relatively uncommon, representing only 5% of all pancreatic tumors. Diagnosis usually happens when the cancer has advanced; tumors are often detected after the cancer has spread to the liver, said Dr. Craig Devoe, pancreatic cancer specialist at the North Shore-LIJ Health System in New Hyde Park, New York, who did not treat Jobs.

Treatment options include surgery, hormone replacement, chemotherapy and radiation.

A closer look at Steve Jobs’ health

In a rare moment of openness about his condition, Jobs revealed a few details of his diagnosis in a 2005 speech at Stanford University’s commencement ceremony.

Jobs recalled having a scan one morning in 2003 that showed a tumor in his pancreas and doctors telling him “this was almost certainly a type of cancer that is incurable and that I should expect to live no longer than three to six months.”

“Later that evening, I had a biopsy, where they stuck an endoscope down my throat, through my stomach and into my intestines, put a needle into my pancreas and got a few cells from the tumor. I was sedated, but my wife, who was there, told me that when they viewed the cells under a microscope, the doctors started crying because it turned out to be a very rare form of pancreatic cancer that is curable with surgery. I had the surgery, and I’m fine now.”

But the timing wasn’t that clear-cut. In between diagnosis and surgery, he pursued an alternative therapy approach for nine months, hoping a special diet would allow him to avoid surgery, according to a 2008 Fortune magazine article.

On July 31, 2004, at the Stanford University Medical Clinic in Palo Alto, California, Jobs underwent surgery to remove his tumor.

“This weekend I underwent a successful surgery to remove a cancerous tumor from my pancreas,” Jobs wrote in an e-mail to Apple’s staff the next week. “I will be recuperating during the month of August, and expect to return to work in September.”

Reports have suggested that this surgery was a Whipple procedure, a complex operation that involves removing the “head” of the pancreas in addition to the gallbladder and parts of the stomach, bile duct and small intestine. This can result in digestive problems and weight loss.

“The hope is that you remove all visible disease,” Devoe said.

A timeline of Steve Jobs’ career

Steve Jobs resigns as CEO of Apple

Tim Cook new Apple CEO

Apple’s future without Steve Jobs

Jobs said in January 2009 that doctors said he dropped so much weight because of “a hormone imbalance that has been ‘robbing’ me of the proteins my body needs to be healthy. Sophisticated blood tests have confirmed this diagnosis.”

The former CEO never disclosed any more details; doctors unaffiliated with his care said a variety of conditions could have caused the weight loss, including cancer and diabetes.

If related to his a recurrence of his cancer, a pancreatic tumor would typically lead to an overproduction of hormones including glucagon, which results in weight loss if produced in excess, Dr. Jeffrey Mechanick said in 2009. Mechanick, a clinical professor at Mount Sinai Medical Center in New York, was not involved in Jobs’ care.

That same year, Jobs underwent a liver transplant in Tennessee. Dr. James D. Eason of Methodist University Hospital Transplant Institute announced in June 2009 that “Mr. Jobs is now recovering well and has an excellent prognosis.”

The odds are against the pancreatic neuroendocrine tumor cancer patient who has a liver transplant, but close to half of the patients may be free of cancer four to five years after the transplantation, said Dr. Simon Lo, director of the Pancreatic and Biliary Diseases Program at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles, who did not treat Jobs.

Still, relatively few liver transplants have been performed as a treatment for neuroendocrine tumors, making it a somewhat experimental option, Devoe said. If the patient has a lot of disease in the liver, it can extend life, but there’s no guarantee that this will remove all of the cancer remaining in the body.

And immunosupression drugs required after a liver transplant could allow any remaining cancer to grow faster, Devoe said.

In rare cases, immune suppression itself can also cause cancer, said Dr. James Yao, oncologist at the University of Texas M.D. Anderson Cancer Center in Houston, who has not treated Jobs.

On the bright side, there are two new cancer drugs that have been approved this year that may apply to someone in Jobs’ situation, experts say.

Everolimus is available to treat pancreatic neuroendocrine tumors and prevents transplant rejection. But there are serious potential side effects, which may include lung or breathing problems, infections and renal failure, which may lead to death.

Sunitinib malate is prescribed for the treatment of pancreatic neuroendocrine tumors, kidney cancer and GIST, a rare cancer of the bowel, esophagus or stomach. This too carries its risks; it can cause liver problems and death.

“The good news that this is an area where there are a lot of advances,” Yao said.

After 11 years, I finally have a “real’ dog.

Most of you who know me, know that for the past 11 years, we have had Macy, a cockapoo.  She is a lapdog. Even though she is Macy, I call her DeeDee, which is short for damn dog.  Sometimes I call her Moose, kind of an oxymoron. She has no teeth and is blind in one eye. Occasionally it is funny watching her bump into furniture.

Macy or "DeeDee"

About 11 years ago at Christmastime, when we lived in Ohio, Casey was 13 and told us that she wanted a kitty for Christmas. Patti and I got her the kitty toys, a litter holder, etc. Then, the day after Christmas we went to the Geauga County rescue center to look for a kitty cat. After just a few minutes there, we noticed that Casey was spending more time with the pups/dogs than the kitties/cats.

Timeout. Patti, Casey and I left the center, went to lunch to discuss this observation. “But I really want a dog,” she said, confessing that she wanted a lapdog because for many years we had black labs. Even though our labs would have been lapdogs if they could have gotten away with it, they weren’t. They were happy to run around outside, chasing chipmunks, possums, squirrels, neighbors’ pets. The labs were “real dogs,” in my vernacular. They chased thrown toys/balls, they ran unceasingly and jumped into the lake and swam to their hearts’ content. They fell asleep at my feet or in front of the fireplace. Yep, real dogs. As I write this, I feel like springing into song, “I am a lumberjack and I’m OK…”

She said that she wanted a cuddle dog, a dog that would curl up in her lap and watch TV with her. She wanted a sissy dog. While any dog is better than a cat (sorry, Kim), we were glad that instead of a cat we were looking at another dog. At the time, we had a black lab named Morgan. Casey did her research and built a spreadsheet (wow, was I impressed), showing the different sissy dog breeds and where we could shop for a lapdog. After some back and forth, she landed on a cockapoo, we found a source and the next thing we knew, we were a two-dog family. I had my “real” dog and Casey had her sissy dog. She named her Macy after the store.

Now, an important part of this story is the fact that small dogs live for quite some time. Another important part of this story is the following: Remember how old I said Casey was at the time we landed Macy? 13. So, if I had had any foresight at all, I would have known that sooner or later, Casey would go to college and she would not be able to take DeeDee (the damn dog Macy) with her.

I used to like syllogisms when I was younger, so knowing that sooner or later, Casey would head off to college, one plus one would mean that the damn dog would be staying home with us. And, THAT is what happened.

Over time, whenever I would come home from work, I would bark out, “where’s that damn dog?” Then, this little waif of a dog would come bouncing out of the woodwork, or out from under a bed, twisting her little tail and jump in my lap. Seems that dogs can sense who in the family is “not a fan.” Then, they work their little demonic doggie  charms and the next thing you know, the dog appears to be “mine.”

To this day, when Casey is visiting and Macy jumps in her lap, if I should enter a room and take a seat, the damn dog will immediately leave Casey’s lap and come to mine. Really ticks Casey off quite a bit, and I can understand, but Casey doesn’t feed her these days. It’s just a simple survival of the fittest thing and Macy knows who in the family is the food distributor.

Well, after 11 years of Macy, I have been yearning for a real dog — a dog I can take on walks, a dog I can sit with outside and read (I’ll read, the real dog will just sit there and look majestic, just like Elsa the lioness in the years ago movie “Born Free”).

So, Patti and I have been doing some research. We loved the labs, so we knew they were in the mix. But we knew they shed, and we had also had a labradoodle in the past (Marty) and Marty was the absolute smartest dog we ever had. And, labradoodles don’t shed. So we started researching the labradoodles. Well, upon a visit to the vet for Macy, the groomer there said she had a labradoodle puppy that was a rescue and he  was free to a good home. At the time, she had named him Sarge.

So, we brought Sarge home and introduced him to the ranch house here in Murphy … and to Macy. This is the first male dog we’ve had in quite some time and occasionally I still don’t get the gender right. “Where is she? What’s she chewing on?” He will probably need therapy by the time we’re finished with him. He’ll have to get over it, I don’t pay for freakin’ dog therapy.

New family member Gillis

Oh, and names. Sarge just wasn’t going to cut it at all. Casey wanted to name him Harper, after Harper Lee, the author of “To Kill a Mockingbird.” So for awhile he was Harper. Then, that just didn’t seem to fit, for one reason or another, and I decided to name him Faith. Yeah, I know it’s a female name, but really true faith knows no gender and that was my reasoning for naming HIM Faith even though Faith is a he and not a she. Well, after that didn’t work, Patti and I went through some names again, and we settled on Angus, because I thought the dog looked a bit like an Irish wolfhound instead of a labradoodle. Then,  I found out Angus is Scottish and not Irish, much to my chagrin. I really liked Angus.

We looked at names again and settled on Gillis because it is Gaelic (Irish) for “servant of Jesus.”  Now, his behavior would not lead anyone to believe that he is a servant of Jesus. In just two weeks, he has already killed a rabbit in the yard,  chewed his crate into raw, unfettered plastic, put his mouth completely around Macy several times. Only by the grace of God, has Gillis not killed the damn dog.

He has found all sorts of items in the house to chew into smithereens. At five months old (and weighing 57 pounds), he has the chewing tendencies. In another week or two when the he becomes an it, the vet has assured us some of the stored energy will subside a bit. Let’s hope!

But he is taking housebreaking very well and is starting to warm up a bit to Macy. The rabbits have gotten much faster in the back yard. We haven’t sprung Gillis on the horses in the barn yet — no sense in rushing that pending apocalypse.

And, I have a partner to take on walks. He is starting to better understand heel, and we walk to the nearest hike/bike trail which goes by a small park. I will stop and read on a bench while he regroups, then after a bit of rest, we will walk further or back home. He is becoming a good walking companion — and I can use the exercise.

Much has been written about the therapeutic value of dogs and pets with people. Yeah, I know that a lot of that has to do with patients in the hospital, or the elderly in nursing homes.  Well, cancer-boy here reminds Patti after Gillis has chewed on something she values that I need Gillis for “therapeutic reasons.” Then, I’ll give her that faint, weak fake cough and say that Gillis is good therapy and the real dog has a home for yet another day.

I think Gillis has found a home.

When I was a child, my sister and I were raised as Methodists. Part of every service the pastor read the Doxology and the congregation repeated it aloud. Below is the Doxology, as I remember it:

Praise God, from Whom all blessings flow;
Praise Him, all creatures here below;
Praise Him above, ye heavenly host;
Praise Father, Son, and Holy Ghost.

Today, I had a meeting with my oncologist to go over some blood tests I had run on Monday in advance of the meeting today.

As I walked out of his office after the meeting, and after his nurses flushed the port I had installed in my upper right chest in November, all I could hear in my head was the Doxology.

The blood tests showed that my tumors are stable and even shrinking. The one tumor marker C-19 showed that the main tumor of concern had dropped from 212 to 184. I’m not entirely sure how these measurements are determined, but even the oncologist said that he was impressed to see the  numbers shrinking.

The last meeting with him was in early January and we had been meeting with him every two weeks. At the January meeting, he said things were going well and he didn’t need to see me for a month. We were so happy with that good news.

Today, he said we don’t need to confer again for six weeks.

Praise God, from Whom all blessings flow;
Praise Him, all creatures here below;
Praise Him above, ye heavenly host;
Praise Father, Son, and Holy Ghost.

 


Today, I had my 3-month checkup at MD Anderson.

If you recall from an earlier post, I met with the docs on October 14th and they recommended I begin chemotherapy within a week to 10 days. They wanted to mix a cocktail of gemcitabin and oxalyplatin, two rather common chemo drugs. They mentioned that this would not be a cure, but palliative care designed to give me an extra month or maybe two.

At the time, I had begun holistic therapies that revolved around building up my immune system through nutrients, supplements and various light therapies, including frequency, laser detox and evox light therapies. I’ve been maintaining a rigorous attention to these treatments since then.

My oncologist here in Dallas has been a great partner. He takes the blood tests and the CT scans and has a rather fresh outlook that I heartily endorse. “You look well. You say you are not in any pain. You are showing no symptoms, so let’s put off making you sick with chemo until absolutely necessary.” So, no chemo as of this date.

I checked in with the nurse at MDA and gave her my blood test results and CT scans from my tests on January 3rd.

A few minutes later the doctor came in and asked how the chemo has been going. “I dunno. I haven’t started.”

She just looked at me and her jaw dropped. “Well, I looked at the markers and the scans. It looks like your tumors in the pancreas and liver are stable or shrinking. What are you doing?”

I explained about the holistic treatments and she smiled. “Why are you here? This is great news.”

I mentioned what she already knew: that MDA is a center of excellence and to fight that bastard damien I needed the best team with the best weapons with the best attitudes.

She said she didn’t need to see me unless I had a problem that warranted her attention. “You just keep doing what you’re doing.” With that, Patti and I left MD Anderson.

Do I believe this is all over? No, far from it. This is a momentary skirmish and damien has lost only the first round. Will he win some battles? Perhaps, but with God‘s help, no, he won’t win a one.

So, for a few glorious moments, as other cancer patients briskly walked by to appointments, surrounded by their own worries, thoughts, fears, successes and apprehensions, I did a brief two-step in the lobby of MD Anderson, humming under my breath to George Strait singing “Amarillo by Morning.” I didn’t care who was watching; the music was playing in my head only. I smiled, said a prayer of thanksgiving and walked out for a breath of fresh air in the bright sunshine. It felt just wonderful! God granted me a blessing.

For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” — Jeremiah 29:11

I say all or a portion of this verse in my daily prayers. For today, I cling tightly and steadfastly to hope and hold great thoughts for the future. Back to the daily fight. Thank you, Lord.

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