Folks, the Chemosabe gang is at it again.

I started chemo again today. You may recall that I had chemo with the very popular pancreatic cancer drug, Gemcitabine, back in November. At the same time docs put a stent in my bile duct. Since the two chemo doses came so close to when I had the stent placed, it was hard at the time to tell whether the side effects I was feeling at the time were from the stent placement, or the chemo.

So, I stopped the chemo at the time to see if I could improve my strength, which I have.

I went off hospice on Friday. The people at Hospice Austin could not have been any better. But since hospice is designed to help the patient who has less than six months to live, the hospice doctors said that I no longer fit into that category.

Carlos Santana

Carlos Santana (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Coincidental with all this is that during 2012 there was a long of talk in the pancreatic support groups about some great results coming from clinical trials with a drug called Abraxane. When I first heard the name, I thought it was the name of an album by Carlos Santana. I was slightly off; it’s called “Abraxas.”

Abraxane is very popular with breast cancer patients because it has helped those patients for their treatment and recovery. Fourth quarter 2012 I started hearing much more buzz about how Abraxane was showing strong results in clinical trials for pancreatic cancer treatment. It was not yet approved for pancreatic cancer patients, though. Then shortly after dawn of 2013, it was approved by FDA for treatment for pancreatic cancer patients after years of developing good results for breast cancer patients.

Meanwhile, after the stent placement I started getting stronger and putting some weight back on. I was feeling stronger.

So, the first three Tuesdays of every month going forward I will be getting chemo with Gencitabine and Abraxane. The only pain associated with the chemo is that applying the needle to my port hurts for that quick moment of insertion, but the chemicals don’t hurt during infusion. But, as we go forward and I get more doses under my belt, who knows what effect the chemo will have. Every treatment is different for every patient.

A special note: Those of you who have been following this fight with damien know that Patti and I have forged through this fight with a lot of logical thinking but a larger part of faith and prayers. I know there are family and friends who pray for us, and I made the decision to try again after a lot of prayer. This does not in any way mean that I have lost my faith. After considerable thought and prayer, I felt like this was an answer to prayer.

It wasn’t an easy decision. The sheet the doctor gave us about Abraxane shows about a 10:1 side effect ratio. Potentially, lots of the suckers. Things like appetite loss (who cares about that, I never have had one any way?), nausea, lose my hair (you can use this space to enter your joke about my potential hair loss), and others. I don’t want to bore you with other potential things we’ll be looking for.

As always, thank you all for your prayers and well wishes. We really do appreciate them. God bless you all.

Three 'gingers' -- JD, Casey and Patti -- say the pledge of allegiance before the walk.

Two weeks ago, Patti, Casey, JD and I participated in the Pancreatic Cancer Fun Run/Walk on a Saturday morning in downtown Austin. We were joined by friends Mike, Jess, Kaedon, Brady, Mason and Mary.

We were also joined by a the spirits of a number of contributors. When we announced that we were going to participate in the fun run/walk, we gathered contributions and raised just about $1,000 for the walk and pancreatic cancer research. God bless you all for your generous contributions.

It was a real blast to do this. For participating, everyone got a dark purple Purple Stride T-shirt and a number. But not me. I got a light lavender “Survivor” shirt and a number. I wore the shirt proudly that day and I wear it now. There is something about “survivor” that is really comforting. They even took a photo. There were 7-8 of us that were survivors of the 600 that gathered for the walk.

And, as you might imagine, it was a very emotional walk. Walking along the 3-mile course, I noticed that many of the folks who were walking with purple shirts, had special paper placards pinned to their shirts. “I am walking/running for …” Then, the individual used a Sharpie to write in the name of the person, past or present, for whom they are walking.

Just about every walker had a placard. Most were walking for close friends or relatives who were presently undergoing treatment or had died from the disease. Frankly, it was a little disturbing to see people walk by enjoying the cool Fall weather, chatting with friends, walking with pets, but doing so with the name of a loved one attached to them. These folks have a common purpose. They will do what they can to rid the world of this terrible disease.

I am a very lucky man. I know it. To have been diagnosed with stage 4 pancreatic cancer over a year ago, been told that I had less than 3-months to live, I thank God every day for each day. But on this walk, I saw reminders all around me of those for whom “every day” has run out. But there were definite bright spots.

This is the main one. The fact that there were 7-8 survivors in this group is amazing. A year ago, three years ago, there wouldn’t have been 7-8 folks in that category. There would have been fewer.

And, today, the world is a much smaller place. Our FDA is not the be-all and end-all for treatment regulation. Some here will argue that we will see cures when  the drug companies want there to be a cure.  Maybe.

There are treatments occurring in other countries that are recording amazing results. And, remarkable activities are taking place here in the U.S. that are seeing real results — many of a homeopathic nature. So

Casey and Kaedon are getting ready for the walk

far, I have been fortunate not to have radiation or chemotherapy.

I celebrate every day with faith and laughter. Patti and I joke that laughing kills cancer cells. She gives me something to cause laughter every day. So, together we’re killing the cancer cells, slowly but surely. And, I absolutely believe that every day I am here is a blessing from God.

But enough about philosophy, here are some photos from the fun run/walk in Austin. God bless you all and your loved ones.

Kaedon and Casey lasso a colorful steer along the route

I just wanted to thank the important people

I left a memory note, along with many other walkers

Mason and Jess finished with great vigor

Kaedon and Patti walk through the finish line

JD and I cross the finish line

Brady, Jess, Kaedon, Casey, Mary and Patti take to the streets

Mary and Casey were happy to walk

Brady shares a secret with Dad along the course

Mike, Brady, Jess, Kaedon and Mason are ready to walk

Mason is just ready for someone to push him along the course.