“When the world says, ‘Give up’, Hope whispers, ‘Try it one more time.'” — Anonymous

Today, the family and I learned how quickly despair can turn to hope.

We were a bit despondent when we left the hospital on Sunday. It appeared that all the doctors at the hospital wanted us to meet with an oncologist to decide next steps. While they did try to give us choices, there weren’t many. Frankly, we thought the docs at the hospital just wanted to put the burden on the oncologist to tell us that we’ve pretty much done what there is to do.

So, we met Dr. Jerry at 8:45 am at Texas Oncology. If you are not from Austin, Texas, Texas Oncology is a very large organization that focuses specifically on oncology and nothing else. They have a whole slough of offices here. My friend, Bryan, who is recovering very well from throat cancer, recommended Dr. Jerry, so we made an appointment with him before last week’s hospital visit, just in case.

So, when we arrived, we had mixed feelings. We were expecting bad news.

After I filled out papers that seemed to want to know everything about me except my underwear size, we were shepherded into an office.

Dr. Jerry came in and introduced himself. From that moment on, we were just overwhelmed. Never have I seen such an optimistic, caring, confident, energetic individual with such enthusiasm and love for the work he does.

He was completely up to date on all the scans and MRI. He knew the outcomes from the hospital stay. When we had questions about chemo, or any of the next steps we may have, he let us know that hope was on the horizon and there were numerous options, BUT there were some priorities.

While we were in the room, he got on the phone to make appointments with his most trusted gastrointerologist. He was confident that the ERCP procedure that was not successful Sunday, was a temporary setback. “We can turn that around, I know,” he said.

Gemcitabine

Gemcitabine

We had discussions about chemo and the effects of gemcitabine on quality of life. He was straightforward and gave us straight answers to all our questions. Plus, from some recent research we had heard that there was a report coming out in January that claims that gemcitabine combined with another drug, Abraxane, had been experiencing some remarkable results in treatment of pancreatic cancer. He knew all about that and shared information with us about that combination.

So, after our visit with Dr. Jerry, we had appointments to meet the new gastro guy and to start the next step on removing the bile obstruction. We also had an appointment to learn more about gemcitabine and begin chemo treatment.

So, yes, chemo is on the near horizon, but we are strengthened by our faith and we know that we have not run out of hope.

“Hope is like a road in the country; there was never a road, but when many people walk on it, the road comes into existence.” Lin Yutang

Digestive system diagram showing bile duct loc...

Digestive system diagram showing bile duct location

Here’s an update from the recent hospital visit last Thursday through Sunday:

  • The procedure to remove a bile obstruction Sunday did not work — the pancreatic tumor had so encapsulated the bile duct that the doc could not get past the obstruction to remedy the blockage
  • The doc did offer a couple of alternatives, but suggested that we talk with the oncologist first
  • We have an appointment with a highly recommended oncologist tomorrow morning

The procedure would have made it easier for me to digest food and eliminate the food in a normal fashion. It would have also given me a few more choices if and when possible chemotherapy comes into play.

I want to thank all of you for your prayers and best wishes that have come in over the past few days. God is great!

Stay tuned and I will share with you the next steps after tomorrow’s visit with the oncologist.

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There are some things I learned during this past four days in the hospital:

  • When I am lying in the hospital bed, there is no better feeling than when a family member comes into the room
  • If you feel WELL going to the hospital, all it takes is one night when nurses come in the room at 10:30 pm, 11;30 pm, 3:30 am, 4:30 am, 5:30 am, 6:30 am and 7:30 am to make you FEEL sick
  • If you are swearing off watching news programs, as I am, it helps to have an iPod or iPad to wile away the hours listening to music that entertains you and gives you some rest
  • I find I say a few more prayers when I am in the hospital than when I am not
  • One night I turned out all the lights in the room and stood before the mirror — I was sure I was glowing in the dark after all the CT scans and MRIs that I had had so far
  • When the nurse was hooking me up to an IV fluid line, I asked her if I could have the sack that when it is administering the fluids, the process would leave a “steak and potatoes and Shiner Bock” taste in my mouth. Sadly, she said they don’t make IV fluid sacks like that yet
  • All it takes is a stay in a hospital room to help you remember all the vacations and trips you have taken to ANY place that does not resemble a small room with a bed in it
  • At the end of the day, I felt fully confident that the docs and nurses I met, and who provided me with care, truly had my best interests, as a patient of theirs, at heart.

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As a patient in the hospital, when the doc comes in and gives me the bad news that he could not successfully perform the procedure, I immediately recall a poster somewhere that said, ” When life gives you lemons, make lemonade.” Well, here is a picture of me with some lemons. I really don’t care for lemonade at all, and, as a diabetic, it’s not good for me.

Tomorrow, I will show you something you can do with the lemons.

Stay tuned to tomorrow to see what else you can do with lemons.

Greetings from a hospital room in Austin, with a beautiful view of downtown the weekend that Formula One racing comes speeding through the Texas Capital.

I am here to try to iron out some digestive issues. It could be that my nemesis, damien, has decided to give me long-deserved attention. And, when he chooses to give me some attention, he can be a very focused little fellow.

I will try to spare you the gory details, but I have been losing a little weight here and there the past six months or so. When I started the cancer fight, I was a little hefty at 187 lbs. At the weigh-in when i came to the hospital, I loaded up that scale with a hearty 149 lb. girth.

I have a bile obstruction that is not uncommon to pancreatic cancer patients. I need to have a stent inserted to clear that pathway. After numerous CT scans and an MRI, my gastro guy is ready to do the work in the morning. He will insert a camera and take a look down my esophagus and into my digestive system. Once the stent is inserted, then my urine, which now looks like a bright California sunset (red not yellow) will return to normal. And, it will have a pathway as clear as our F1 racetrack.

And, having this procedure will give me additional choices for chemo,which appears to be a potential next step.

Stay tuned for further notice. I just remember that “with God all things are possible.”

By the way, here is a photo from the hospital room of that doctor who is assisting tomorrow and her meal prep. God bless you all and your prayers.

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