Friday, on my way to Whidbey, I got a call from Dr Alex Read, my gastroenterologist and guardian angel. You might recall from my blog about a year ago that she actually diagnosed my cancer and was the one to tell me the bad news. Since that day she has always stayed in touch, working behind the scenes to make sure I am getting the best medical care. She has been very instrumental in selecting my entire medical team.

Alex called me to let me know she had talked with Dr. Darlene Barr. Dr. Barr’s mentor at the Mayo Clinic, Dr Nagomey, has agreed to review my case and review the CT scans. This is great news because he is somewhat of a legend in liver surgery. We talked a bit about quality of life and her opinion that if Dr Reyes and Dr Barr both were uncomfortable with the surgery then it would be best not to operate or look elsewhere. She now felt it was worth having Dr. Nagomey review the case as well as her colleague at UCSF. What we are looking at is options- can the colon be resected without a liver resection? She said ” Don, to be very open, you know you are on the far end of the bell curve for this cancer. The prognosis on diagnosis of stage IV squamous cell carcinoma of the lung is not good. The fact that you are still here is very, very unusual- you are the exception and I attribute this to your chemo and your attitude. We don’t know how much attitude contributes to fighting disease but we know it’s significant.”

The one question we need to answer is the extension of the liver tumor into the colon. Is this resistant to the chemo or is it something that grew while I was off chemo for 7 weeks? Alex feels this would take months to grow and will take months to know if the Tarceva is killing the tumor. Since we are not certain and it is difficult to determine she would like to see us consider the colon resection. The challenge is the fistula that connects between the colon and liver- once the surgery starts it may not be possible to stop until the cancer has also been removed from the liver. She also mentioned that we don’t know if the cancer we see in the liver is dead or alive- this can only be determined by biopsy or surgery.

I am at a point where I feel very good and have a real peace that God has us on the right path. As long as the chemo can continue to reduce the size of the tumors or even hold them in check, I can really look at chemo every 3 weeks as my vitamins that give me ongoing remission. We can certainly travel and accomplish a lot between these chemo sessions- living a pretty normal life while at the same time taking more trips and being more intentional in spending time with friends. Idon-skip-whidbey.jpg really look forward to getting back to work on a regular schedule when we return from Hawaii.

We spent this past weekend at Whidbey with Skip, Cyd, Zack and Sarah . It was beautiful and sunny, in the mid to high 70’s- like summer finally arrived! The fishing was a little slow. As you can see by the salmon in the right, Skip did at least catch us dinner!skip-don-safe-salmon.jpg

We received our first e-mail from Johnny on Saturday. He arrived safely and really likes his host family. He has already met some friends and went to a medieval fair and church with his host sister Brita and her boyfriend.

I have a PET CT scan this afternoon. It is the most sensitive CT scan there is and tells you wherever there is high metabolism occuring in your body. It is a great way to look for metastasis. I had a PET scan about 10 months ago so it will be helful to compare the two.

Thank you for your ongoing prayers. God is good, all the time, God is good!

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4 Comments so far

  1. kls80 on September 10, 2007 11:24 am

    Don- I love those pictures of you and Skip on the boat. Sam and I were thinking of you up at Whidbey this weekend with the weather so beautiful. We actually cleaned our pool for the first time this weekend and turned up the heat so it is quite nice! So glad to hear Johnny has arrived safely and that his host sister has a boyfriend. We continue to pray for you daily for guidance and energy!

    Love you,

  2. lethink on September 10, 2007 2:14 pm


    Great picture of you and Peter; I mean Skip! I have never seen Skip look more like his son than when he was holding up that fish. I always thought fishing was a dirty job but when you are sharing dinner with fishers of men; I suppose it can make you young again.



  3. stan on September 10, 2007 9:06 pm

    Way to go, Skipper and Skip…..
    quality of life is the finest gift, enjoy.
    I am positive that the blessings will be multiple, starting now and forever, as your faith and loyalty to the Lord have shown…..
    thanks for the enlightening messages in the past few days, they are climatic. Keep up with you spirit.


  4. Larisa Kaukonen on September 12, 2007 9:43 pm

    Dear Don and Heather,

    So happy to hear that you two are off to Kauai! I’m sure the Lord will be smiling down upon you. Have a wonderful trip.

    Que Dios les bendiga,


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