Me and Lump

Health Update

I’ll discuss my overall state in this writing piece, but of immediate significance was my recent MRI scan which showed no new significant tumor progression (read:current infusion of the $10,000/bag stuff + chemo; looks like it’s at least keeping things from getting worse, which is about the best we can realistically hope for after the aggression this tumor’s been showing).

Next up is just staying the course on treatments, continuing to back off the steroid that reduces swelling inside my head, but increase it on the outside (it’s ok if you’ve seen me in recent months and noted how chubby my face was getting).  My next scan is the day before Thanksgiving.

And again, if you don’t see updates on here, that generally means there’s nothing new to report, or that I don’t have the ability to do regular writing.



It has occurred to me lately that even should I ever walk away from this current health ordeal of mine; I should never expect to return to what could be considered 100% of physical form (there’s just been too much damage done to the wiring up there). As such, I’m setting some realistic expectations for the rest of my life (in delusionally optimistic anticipation of a long one: which includes, among other things taking my solo Italy trip off the bucket list (as well as all other solo travel). In the shorter term this has involved needing to let others make decisions regarding my future independence abilities (tough to stomach when I’m doing just fine, and perhaps well above expectations right now. However it still stinks to watch friends & family living their lives, hiking hikes, running races, traveling on trips, even just driving around (which I have no guarantee of being able to do again anytime soon), all at 100%.

This past week my church looked at Ps.63 where David longs for water in the midst of his desert; the speaker (a good friend who teaches education students) made a point about walking w/ others in their deserts, and called me out by name (the one week where I wasn’t feeling up to making it in – I wasn’t there, but listened online later) as someone who has a unique desert experience that always leaves him laughing when he encounters me in it – I’ve had others share similar sentiments, and take that as one of the greatest compliments I could get; being able to uplift in the midst of a struggle…

But just the same I was reminded recently that while I haven’t been 100%  at any time in the past 3 yrs, the diminished percent (let’s say 70% I’ve been at has been  a greater 70% than if I had remained at that previous 100%, and that, if I could, I wouldn’t trade the two.  Having seen what I’ve seen in God’s guiding hand, in my support system, and in myself, I have little choice but to remain thankful for not being 100% (“…for my strength is made perfect in  weakness (I Cor 12:9).”), or become miserable and ungrateful for the 70% – thus robbing me of whatever time I’ve got left here. As sick as it sounds, cancer has significantly improved my life in many ways.

Many times in life, it seems you’ve got the map in hand, with a few select destinations in mind.  Then, on occasion, by intent or by adjusting to new circumstances, that map gets tossed out the window, leading to an entirely different journey than you would have ever planned for yourself. Better or worse is moot in the midst of that wind of adventure blowing in your face, knowing you’ve strayed far off the path of predictability…perhaps never to return.

This Sunday (Aug. 14) marks the three year point from my first tumor surgery ; the diagnosis date was back in July;  but my July was a little too chaotic for me to have caught that one. I thought it was high time to outline for the purpose of bringing latecomers up to speed. Further deep analysis contained within the larger blog; as much as I’d like to provide a poignant, well-written summation of my personal growth journey held within this timeline of events; the internet is not that big, nor is my mental & physical energy reserve.  Enjoy this virtual walk/click down memory lane, and thank you for having joined me along the journey; it means more than a little blog post could possibly express. (more…)

Hi everyone-

I apologize if you’ve been checking back here for updates lately, only to walk away empty handed.  Posting anything of length is now a multiple step process.

This is just going to be a little snack today; not a whole meal, but just a few nuggets of info and some scattered thoughts as garnish.

In short I’ve had a rollercoaster month.  Got a whole lot worse fast (lots of symptoms of
tumor progression), then a whole lot better (walking around, when I was
basically wheelchairinging it for a week or two).  In the meantime, I was
expecting to have several miserable weeks, but have been blown away by random
encouragements.  All this after I had just journaled that God was going to
give me just enough daily bread to get me by. He’s pretty good. (more…)


Confession: I am a chronic over thinker

It’s been a pathetically long time since my last update here. I hope you understand: no news means either no change, or I’m tired of talking / thinking about it for the time, but will come around and let my prayer & encouragement partners know how they best pray for and support me. Even longer ago was my last submission to the confessional section of this site (where I’ve disclosed such scandolous objects of desire as Sno-Cones and Corn Dogs). So, in the spirit of intentional laziness, let’s hit them both at the same time. (more…)

Having just completed a couple weeks of prep for speaking at my church on the topic of the Book of Job (the audio for which can be found below), I’m realizing how long ago it was that I actually gave any kind of update on things.

Sermon audio for Victory Christisan Fellowship can be accessed by clicking here, where you can either stream the audio, or download the mp3, which can be listened to directly or burned to a CD (please let me know if you are uncertain about how to do these things; I’ll make fun of you for being old, then try my best to help you).  The audio comes in two parts, both the message and the audiobook reading of the entire Book of Job.  (more…)

When the easy part of your day involves getting the results of your brain scan, you know that there’s something wrong with the modern medical system.  Oh, sure, I had to go through multiple offices, each creating their own set of drama.  But at the end of the day, I’ve still got ready access to the best care in the world.

OK, so as you’ve gathered, this was a really long day; my agenda was MRI in Bellingham, then scoot down to UW to find out what my images are revealing about that wacky tumor of mine, then head upstairs to poison the thing with some chemo.  After a bit of a hassle getting the first part out of the way (after some last minute kinks in the line), we were all set. and there I sat in the familiar exam room, going through the usual steps, wondering what this visit would reveal.

Getting the results themselves was quite an ordeal, as several hospital staff members could not get the imaging software to work (Windows issues pop up at the most inopportune times, don’t they?)

 Here are the basic findings: it’s not good, but it’s not necessarily all that bad.  My tumor is starting to grow again, despite several chemo treatments, indicating that my current regimen of carboplatin (chemo) isn’t working.  However, that opens the door for Plan B, Avastin, which is an alternate means of treatment that usually defers to the carboplatin regimen, based on the sheer numbers regarding effectiveness.  It’s not technically a chemo at all, but more works with the body to cut off the blood supply to the tumor, potentially keeping it from growing, and thus helping the body fight it off on its own.  Think cutting off the enemy’s supply line, rather than showering them with napalm.  This tactic is more along the lines that I was wanting to take my treatment anyway, so I’m not looking at it as a lost battle.  Rather, I’m seeing a welcomed redirection.

While it remains to be seen whether or not this new treatment, which I began today in lieu of the poisonous chemo, I’m seeing this as giving my body more of a fighting chance to take this darned thing down on its own, without having to rely on some toxic invading substance to do its fighting for it.  Will it be the best move?  Time, and more every-other-week-treatments, plus periodic scans, will be the judge.  But, really, was I ever in control of this carnival ride to start with?  I’m learning more and more about how God would have this story unfold with each non-devastating doctor appt., each encouraging conversation with loved ones, each burrito brought to the hospital by amazing friends (like Matt & Cori), and each day that goes by where I’m basically feeling good, and in control of most of my faculties.  So far, if one must have such a story at all, it’s an OK story

 Thanks all for your continued prayers, encouragement, practical support, telling me I look great when I really don’t want to hear one more person ask “how you doin’, Phil?”, and all the other ways you’re keeping me afloat during a tough time.  Some more specific prayer & support requests forthcoming.  But, for right now, it’s been a really long day…

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