I met with Dr. Alex Read late yesterday. I had been looking forward to this meeting for over a week. Dr Read actually diagnosed my cancer during a colonoscopy last October and has been an amazing advocate for me ever since (Dr. Read Oct 06). She introduced me to Dr Jorge Reyes last October 24th 2006 because he is one of the best liver surgeons in the country. We met with him and he presented my case to a large liver panel at the UW. It was after that meeting that he advised me to undergo chemo to shrink the tumors before we considered surgery.

Dr Reyes called me last Friday and wants to see me again soon. From my meeting yesterday with Dr Read, the major concerns are the gram negative rods (nasty bacteria) that were found growing in my port-a-cath a few weeks ago. The port-a-cath is a plastic device that is surgically implanted deep in the chest muscle and is connected with a tube to the superior vena cava (the major vein that enters the heart). It is used when frequent access to veins for chemo is required and is usually very convenient. Having the bacteria inside this plastic device spilling off into my heart is what was responsible for the night sweats and elevated temperatures as well as the bulk of my weakness that went on for many weeks. The gram negative bacteria that infected this device came from the fistula that links my colon and liver tumor.

I told Dr Read I had a fishing trip planned in a couple weeks. Dan Jessup, his dad, Skip Li and me- flying to a remote area on the inland passage in Canada called Sunds Lodge- be sure and look at the photo gallery and video. Dr Reed said “forget it- your fishing trip is off, don’t even think about it! If you get another gram negative bacterial infection you will end up dying before you can get to a hospital.” OK- I get the point- the area is far too remote to get me out in an emergency.

I asked Dr Read what she felt the surgery would be. She said the colon would be resected and the amount of the colon removed would depend on whether they find any tumors on the surface of the colon. If too much is removed I could be trading a liver-206.jpeg liver bag for a colostomy bag–ugh! On the liver side she felt Dr Reyes would remove all the tumor he can and also remove the liver tube. This is major surgery, not without risk, will take several hours, and I will be in the hospital for 3-4 weeks in recovery. Believe it or not this is music to my ears- Heather and I both feel like now is the time for the surgery. I have included a Feb 4th picture of my liver tumor on the left. This picture of the liver is the approximate size of the tumor today since my last chemo did not shrink the tumor any further.

There is a risk that they will find cancer spread throughout my abdomen and there is also a chance they will find nothing. CT and PET scans do not show everything. I have had no metastasis of my tumors- the logical next area for metastasis from this kind of tumor is the brain and the bones- no thanks!

So the next steps are to meet with Dr Reyes on Tuesday May 29th after the weekly liver panel has reviewed my case. This is a group of some of the finest surgeons at the UW that will all review my case and give their recommendations. Heather and I will meet with Dr Reyes at 11AM and learn the next steps for surgery.

Heather and I are really energized. We know we are completely out of control and have been for a long time. It really feels like God is on the move with my cancer. We continue to pray for healing if that is God’s will.

God is truly Good all the Time, God is Good!

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4 Comments so far

  1. David Carlson on May 22, 2007 5:23 pm

    This news, tho’ attendant with risk & prolonged recovery, is good to read, and as always, the faith with which you and Heather are embracing it, inspiring.

    Sean & I look forward to seeing you tomorrow and I’ll bring you greetings from folks I met @ Malibu this last weekend who inquired about you!


  2. gregu on May 22, 2007 9:16 pm

    Don – As always you are in our daily prayers and little 4 yr old Ava sounds the cutest of us all praying for “no more cancer”. Sorry I didn’t get to see you for Tool group, but I had a great time down the street at the Homeless Teen Feed. Off to Europe for the start of sabbatical on June 1 – looking forward to seeing you in July when I’m off!

  3. dustin on May 23, 2007 1:18 pm

    Will be praying for the meeting w/ Dr. Reyes on the 29th. Great getting to spend some time with you at Tool Group Sunday.

  4. paul goeller on May 23, 2007 2:31 pm

    hey my brother…Don: Viv and i are in Austin, Texas visiting very dear friends…i’ve been keeping up on your progress…wow, what you and Heather and the boys are enduring pretty much fills me with awe–and humbles my heart…our friends the Brahces here have been the key couple in support of my ministry since its inception and they are faithful! we are joining with them to keep you in our prayers…Carl and Diane are some of the true gems in Christ’s Kingdom….love you Bro!


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