// you’re reading...

Devotion

Cancer treatments: what works and what’s crazy?

Update (June 18, 2015) 

Summary of the latest Hospital Saga

Briefly: Jan’s left arm and shoulder have been very painful – for over a month. Precursor to angina or other heart troubles or what?

Saw a GP last Thursday, 4th – a stand-in for ours who wasn’t on duty that day – and when he got Jan’s medical/surgical history his eyes opened wider…

Sent us immediately to Radiology for an ultrasound (‘and if they ask cat scan? I’ll be saying “yes”‘). Result: new clot living with an older one in her right calf.

Sent to hospital emergency (that’ll be $300 plus $4 surcharge for credit card thanks). Next day or so – catscans. Heart OK except for an irregular beat. Left arm maybe muscular-skeletal, ie. perhaps arthritic.

Haemotologist took her off xarelto (‘I never combine xarelto or warfarin with chemotherapy’) and now she injects clexane twice a day into her tummy.  (She doesn’t like it).

Special stockings prescribed: that’ll be $240 plus pharmacist’s consultancy fee of $80 (for 15 minutes) thank you.

Discharged from hospital Sunday 7th. Saw our oncologist Wed. 10th. He said perhaps stay on clexane for a while, and maybe revert back to xaralto in a couple of months if the clots behave themselves…

The 3-times-a-month chemo regimen has now finished (whoopee!) —> now once-every-three weeks avastin at Cabrini Hospital until the end of the year.

Surgery for cataracts is bookending all this – the second eye will be done in a week’s time.

Phew!

Thanks for your prayers!

Best way to contact Jan is via this email address: [email protected] / or message me via FB. While she’s so weak and often exhausted she keeps her iPad for Freecell!

4/6/15, 7 pm: Before you read on: Jan’s tonight in hospital again – via a GP who examined her for various things, but sent her to get an ultrasound. The technician found an ‘old clot’ in her calf, and also a new one!

Straight to hospital: she’s now in the emergency department. More tomorrow…

Now read on:

Yesterday we celebrated Jan’s 78th birthday, and again thanked our Lord and Healing God for all the blessings of our lives. What began as an aggressive form of uterine cancer two years ago was ‘treated’ with chemotherapy and radiotherapy – both leaving permanent scars on Jan’s body.
She’s now taking about a dozen pills each day – including most recently panadeine forte for the sometimes excruciating pain in her left arm, especially at nights. Left arm? some of you are asking wisely… Yes, we’re getting that checked out, as research connects severe left-arm pain with heart problems.
Jan also has other physical issues – annoying pain in feet, and sometimes
severe cramps in one of her legs. All by-products of chemo!
Hopefully the full regimen of chemotherapy treatment will soon give way to a once a month dose of avastin.
On top of all that Jan’s having cataract surgery: her vision has disintegrated significantly making driving-at-night and reading problematical. One eye’s been done successfully: the other ‘goes under the knife’ in a couple of weeks.
Thanks for your loving, healing prayers, dear friends. And occasional phone calls (though email and FB messages are less likely to wake Jan up (!), as she retires early – 8 pm-ish – and also naps afternoons. 10am-1pm or 4-5.30pm are good times to chat – and Jan loves those). Thanks too to those who’ve contributed to our significant medical and pharmaceutical expenses.
But most of all, let us thank our God for the privilege of living in this ‘lucky country’ Australia. We are also grateful these days for the experience of visiting charity/op shops to lighten our collection of possessions!
Our love to you all.
Jan and Rowland Croucher
~~~

(March 12, 2015)

Jan’s doing a lot of resting these days. She gets very tired…

She needs to do more exercise, but doesn’t have the ‘get up and go’ to do it often…

She’s eating smaller meals, more often.

She’s currently on 3 chemotherapy sessions a month – until July…

But it has given her an opportunity to write some of her (quite amazing) story…

Read it here

~~~

Dear family and special friends

21 January 2015

First, the briefest summary of Jan’s saga: Jan was diagnosed with an aggressive form of uterine cancer in May 2013. After surgery, chemotherapy and radiotherapy, she’s had an uncomfortable year-and-a-half, but has survived.

Today (21/1/2015) Bad News: Jan has cancer secondaries in her peritoneum – the cause of serious bloating during the last few weeks, maybe months. Last Friday 4.2 litres of brownish fluid were drained from her stomach area, and she needs to have another session to release more… Update 12/3/15:  another four litres were drained, then the problem lessened with the chemo treatments…

Her appetite is low; she’s weak, breathless and tired a lot of the time, and unsteady on her feet. She has ongoing issues also as a result of the chemo- and radiotherapy.

The oncologist today has urged more chemotherapy, but with a new rare chemical added – evastin. A ‘portacath’ has be inserted into her shoulder to receive various medications. She has to go off xarelto, a blood-thinning agent, while the new procedures do their work.

Obvious question: ‘What if we decided not to proceed with chemo?’ Oncologist: ‘You’d have about 3-6 months to live.’ ‘And the likely benefits of treatment?’ Maybe, five years.’ And the chance the cancer would have moved from uteris to peritaneal area? 40%.

We’re doing the treatment!

Thanks for your love, support, concern and prayers!

More… http://www.jmm.org.au/articles/32166.htm

10 August 2014

Well, two months have flown since the last update, and there’s nothing major to report, which is a very good thing! Jan continues to pace herself carefully, resting as much as she ‘labours’ ministering to the family and others. The ‘rats’ still bite her heels (some concomitants of chemotherapy are strange!); she gets very tired most days – and has trouble sleeping every second or third night; a visit to the hairdresser last week was pleasurable; as was a weekend away at our daughter’s rural property last weekend.

But we have to be careful not to overdo it, so we’re both still saying ‘no’ to many interesting options. Thanks for your understanding everyone.

Some good news about my life-as-her-carer: the book/blog I’m writing has now taken a new twist owing to the liquidation of the publisher – Mosaic Press – with whom I had a contract. The manuscript was supposed to have been submitted this October, 2014. I’m now writing at a more leisurely pace, which means I wake less often in the middle of the night with lots of ideas. This also means I can say ‘yes’ to more events Jan wants to attend – like last night’s terrific concert at East Doncaster Baptist Church (our ecclesial community), supporting local LinC (Love in the name of Christ) ministries…

Thanks for your support and prayers everyone.

More - http://www.jmm.org.au/articles/32166.htm

17 June 2014

After five days in hospital (two clots in Jan’s lungs: see below), this morning came the phone call I was eagerly awaiting:  ‘I’m dressed and ready to come home.’  She’s very tired (sometimes hospitals aren’t easy places to enjoy peace and quiet, especially with four people in a room!).  The cardiologist listened carefully to Jan’s irregular heart-beat, but still doesn’t know why she fainted twice, so more explorations to come – next a ’tilt test’.

Wikipedia: ‘A tilt table test is a medical procedure often used to diagnose dysautonomia or syncope. Patients with symptoms of dizziness or lightheadedness, with or without a loss of consciousness (fainting), suspected to be associated with a drop in blood pressure 

At least she’s given the OK to drive. The cardiologist made an interesting comment about dairy products: ‘we have *none* in our home.’  So back to soy milk on our muesli, and Jan’s switching to herbal teas…

14 June 2014

June 12th Jan went back into hospital;  the cat scan revealed two large clots in her lungs. Her cardiologist is consulting with the haematologist who has treated her previously, and it’s been decided that today is the last time she’ll have a clexane injection. Tomorrow – and for the rest of her life, she’ll imbibe xarelto.

More on xarelto:

  • People with atrial fibrillation (an irregular heart beat) are at an increased risk of forming a blood clot in the heart, which can travel to the brain, causing a stroke, or to other parts of the body. XARELTO® lowers your chance of having a stroke by helping to prevent clots from forming. If you stop taking XARELTO®, you may have increased risk of forming a clot in your blood.
  • If you have to stop taking XARELTO®, your doctor may prescribe another blood thinner medicine to prevent a blood clot from forming.
  • XARELTO® can cause bleeding, which can be serious, and rarely may lead to death. This is because XARELTO® is a blood thinner medicine that reduces blood clotting. While you take XARELTO® you are likely to bruise more easily and it may take longer for bleeding to stop…

Thanks for your support and prayers!

4 June 2014

Jan has survived into her 78th year (she turned 77 yesterday).

We’re still learning. For example: it’s understandable that doctors won’t tell you everything. They’ll give you the headlines, then you have to ask about other stuff.

On the Oroxine box (for thyroxine tablets, which she must take daily for the rest of her life after the removal of her thyroid in 2010) there are two stickers. (1) Do not take dairy products, antacids, iron or calcium supplements within two hours of each dose of this medicine. And (2) Take on an empty stomach [capitalized] at least half an hour before food or two hours after food.

My ageing friends: remember that (1) instructions might be in ultra-small print but you’d better still read them, and (2) you’re never too old to learn something!

26 May, 2014 

Because of a blackout  (the second one) Jan’s GP insisted she have a blood test and an ultrasound to check out her carotid arteries. All OK, but the blood test revealed problems associated with her previous thyroidectomy – as well as an erratic heartbeat. She went to get hooked to with a 24-hour heart monitor which, yes, confirmed the scary pauses in her heart-beat.

So the GP sent her to a (new) endocrinologist: the former one was ‘perplexed’ about the thyroxin levels. This new lady told her something she never knew: you shouldn’t take thyroxin with other tablets, especially calcium (even with milk in tea!). So a new regimen: thyroxin with water first thing each day (forever!) with breakfast and other tablets an hour later. Question: why didn’t we learn that from the previous specialist???

Another thing was intriguing: two of the associate professors disagreed about whether she should go on injecting clexane (blood-thinner) into her stomach. One said ‘Yes you should’ the other ‘No you don’t need to!’ We’re following the latter (!), and hopefully Jan’s patchwork of bruises on her tummy will disappear…

Meanwhile, a referral to a gynaecologist to deal with the ‘vaulted vagina’ issue resulted in ‘No I wouldn’t suggest an operation: it could create more problems than it solves: live with it!’ ($200 – and see him again in six months!).

Another ‘meanwhile’: in a positive visit to our oncological gynaecologist we heard this intriguing/serious comment: ‘I think we’ve conquered your cancer!’ (‘PTL!’ etc. etc.)…

A future visit – in about a month’s time – to a cardiologist completes – we hope – the ‘saga with the heart’. Meanwhile Jan isn’t allowed to drive, which means I’m both her carer and chauffeur: when she has about six or seven medical appointments all over the suburbs in two weeks, it gives us some quality time together!

She’s grateful to be alive, though she’s weak: the chemo and radiotherapy have really knocked her around. (Ever felt as if rats were biting your toes?)

Thanks for your interest and your prayers.

Rowland and Jan

May 5, 2014

A few developments:

Last week Jan fainted again (second time), and two medicos (her surgeon for melanoma and a few other issues, and her GP) are a bit worried. So to explore the reason/s she has to get a carotid artery ultrasound; back to the GP for results of an ECG; and an echo cardiogram 24-hour heart monitor. We visit two of her cancer specialists – oncologist, and radiotherapist. And also she’s been referred to another specialist who’s going to tell us what to do with her ‘vault prolapse’.

Six different medical visits to six different places in the next nine days!

Watch this space!

April 28, 2014

1. Jan is suffering intermittent, though serious, back pain. If she balances sitting/feet up with standing, she’s generally OK. She’s learned that sitting/standing and turning sharply to her left to reach for something may cause the pain. Yesterday she did something very unusual for ‘independent’ her: I was home writing, and she called me from the supermarket and asked me to come and help her with the shopping! It’s serious when she does that sort of thing.

2. Yesterday she fainted: found herself on the bathroom floor. Very brief, and fortunately no bruises/injuries. Yesterday also she dropped a glass storage jar and smashed it: that’s unusual for her too. Although she has been saying to herself: ‘I’m so clumsy lately…’

3. Ativan is an interesting drug: usually prescribed for anxiety etc. it was given to Jan by her oncologist for its sedative effect. I borrowed a few of them to get me off to sleep occasionally when too stimulated at night by research/writing. Very effective: but I did some research: it’s not to be  used by anyone except the one it’s prescribed for; it’s associated with short-term memory loss and dampens sexual libido; you shouldn’t usually take it for more than 3-4 weeks, and not with other sleeping tablets (that’s associated in the literature with the ‘Heath Ledger effect’) and don’t go off it ‘cold turkey’. Our oncological prof. didn’t tell us any of this: only ‘I want you to get your sleep’.

4. Jan’s enjoying being with her friends at East Doncaster Baptist Church: I go with her when I can. As a pastoral counselor/writer, my best ‘sabbath’ is another day of the week.

Thanks for your support and prayers, everyone!

Rowland.

 

April 5, 2014

Jan is still weak, tired, but generally well. The side-effects of the radical chemo- and radiotherapy are still with her: for example, she has sharp pains in her feet which come and go – as painful as a bull-ant biting her.

Fortunately she’s surrendering a little of her independence, and letting me wait on her, rather than getting up from her comfortable lounge-chair for this and that.

There were two interesting happenings medically yesterday. She had a lump removed from her head – been there for a couple of years. Procedure took about 45 minutes. In conversation the surgeon asked whether anyone had linked her Hormone Replacement Therapy regimen (ten straight years two decades ago) with the development of the clear-cell uterine carcinoma – and no, they hadn’t. This surgeon has a view that there could be a connection.

(See http://www.patient.co.uk/doctor/endometrial-cancer ).

Thanks for your prayers and support everyone…

More… http://www.jmm.org.au/articles/32166.htm

February 20, 2014

Jan and I thank all the wonderful nurses who have been our faithful servants over the last nine months.

She’s off to the Haematologist this morning for a check-up on her blood situation – it was a pulmonary embolism which kicked off this whole saga.

Then to a local hospital to arrange for a colonoscopy. More soon…

Thanks for prayers everyone… And please include nurses –

nurses

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

February 16, 2014

Thanks everyone for your support and prayers over the holiday-period. ‘No news is OK news’ eh?

We’ve just returned home from a great week away – on a cruise-ship from Sydney to Tasmania, and back to Melbourne. It was wonderful being waited on – a chocolate in a nicely-made bed each day; wonderful restaurant food; very relaxing sitting on a comfortable couch on Deck 7 watching dolphins and sea-birds… The week was too short!

Jan is still weak: I’m getting plenty of exercise running errands for her: and we’re still holding hands a lot.

She goes this week to our leading gynoncol – Assoc. Prof. Tom Jobling – and I’ll have more news after that interview…

More below, if you haven’t caught up with the news of her cancer scare…

December 16, 2013

[In lieu of sending a Christmas email/card – thanks for yours!] 

Thanks for all your support, concern and love expressed to us in this strange year.

Headline: Jan is very gradually getting stronger, but the cancer nurse says it could be another year before her legs and feet regain their strength, after the battering of the chemo and radiation sessions.

Jan has to spend equal time with feet up and down, and to rest a sore back when she’s been cooking etc. for too long.

She’s in good spirits: we’re enjoying worshipping at St. Martins’ Collingwood each Sunday. What we don’t enjoy is when she trips over. Fortunately no serious damage to anything except pride (it’s been onto the carpet so far)!

I finish up my one-day-a-week pastoral role at St. Martins at the end of January, after an eventful 2o months. Next year 2014 will see me continuing counseling/mentoring, doing some preaching, and especially writing ‘the book of my life’ (the hardest questions I’ve ever been asked. For Foreword, Contents and first chapter on Good and Evil see the rough draft developing here: http://www.jmm.org.au/articles/32689.htm  ).

Jan’s looking forward to linking up again with her friends at East Doncaster Baptist Church from February.

Family headlines:  Paul’s bookshop is running OK. Drop in some time and buy a couple – Red Wheelbarrow Books, 105 Lygon St, East Brunswick. Will and Jay will have some news for us soon about future tertiary studies. Karen is enjoying her work as a high-flier at CareSuper; Ross continues teaching; Abbie’s still in England; Coralie’s working as a landscape architect in Newcastle, NSW. Amanda and John provide two grand-daughters who are the light of our life; they all live downstairs (and Jay has a room with us too while he’s studying at Monash University). John’s a geotechnical engineer; Amanda’s doing well with her MA in World Development studies. Lindy’s 3 1/2 acre property at Heathcote, near Bendigo, is a wonderful R&R location for us all from time to time – lots of work for her and volunteers – oh, in addition to her full-time work as a facilitator with GROW (Mental Health self-help).

Happy Christmas to you all…

Something to think about: The clue to Nelson Mandela’s greatness? ‘Resentment is like drinking poison and hoping it will kill your enemies’.

Love and peace from Jan and Rowland

More… http://www.jmm.org.au/articles/32166.htm

21 November, 2013

Jan got three frights at once over the last couple of days (I have her OK to share this, in case some of you might think I’m offering TMI 🙂 ) :

1. Her right calf where the DVT pain last April/May kicked off this whole saga got painful again. Off to Cabrini Hospital (our favorite of the six or so we’ve attended recently) first to Emergency on Tuesday, then for an ultrasound yesterday. It revealed no clotting, fortunately. She’s taking xaralto tablets for blood thinning… Why the pain? She’s been on her feet a bit too much (waiting on too many interesting visitors), given her weak muscles following the chemo regimen.

2.  Following the hysterectomy last May she thought prolapses didn’t happen any more. Wrong. So off yesterday as well to the Gynoncol (Assoc. Prof. Tom Jobling: you may have read a very interesting article about him and his higher-profile patient socialite Susan Renouf a few days ago). His advice? ‘Live with it’. Summary after inspection? ‘Everything else looks good’. Phew!

3. She’s had a bit of bleeding. Jobling: ‘Not serious’.

Overall recommendation: ‘Be horizontal (feet up) in your waking hours more often than you’re vertical!’

Thanks again for all your support and prayers!

5th November, 2013. 

Jan had her final chemotherapy session (for the time being) yesterday. Only nine hours door-to-door…

She slept well – or better – last night.

‘For the time being’?  It pays to ask questions. We thought the radiotherapy oncologist said there’d be ‘no more treatment, ever, for Jan’. Yes, she did say that, and we took it to mean radiotherapy and chemotherapy, but she was only speaking about her specialty. Our chemotherapy oncologist told us yesterday that no, she’s had all the radiotherapy she should ever have, but yes, if the cancer flares up again she’ll have to undergo more chemotherapy…

Next appointment: February 2014 with the gynoncologist.

Appreciate all the love, prayers, cards, good wishes. As a result of this whole ‘turn of events’ I’ve just resigned from my part-time pastoral position with St. Martins’ Community Church Collingwood (from the end of January 2014). It’s been a good year-and-a-half with this unique community…

And it’s possibly the last stipended pastoral position for me now, ever (of eleven, full-time and part-time, since 1964).

Now back to John Mark Ministries: walking’ntalking with anyone who wants physical and spiritual exercise at the same time  (I have a few vacancies in my current schedule).

Oh, and writing a book in 2014 on the ’31 most common/difficult questions I’ve been asked in 25,000 hours of pastoral counseling…’ (Feel free to email me your ‘top ten’ – [email protected] ).

Fun!

15th October, 2013. 

Dear friends,

‘What’s next Doc?’

‘We’ve done all we can for your type of cancer…’

Many sufferers hearing these words get a deep sinking feeling in their stomach. They may portend disaster…

However, it’s hopefully not quite that bad in our case.

Yes, Jan has an ‘aggressive’ form of uterine cancer (‘clear-cell carcinoma’), but there’s a chance that the surgeon removed it all with the hysterectomy. Jan could live to a ripe old age (she’s a 76-year-old youngster right now)… And with all the prayers of our friends, and the skill of three oncological specialists, who knows?

Yesterday Jan underwent her second-last chemotherapy (paclitaxel and carboplatin – by a drip into a vein). It took just an hour into the procedure for her to get an itchy reaction in her hands and feet, so they added phenergan to the drip regime.

Home-to-home: eleven hours.

Our oncologist endorsed using aloe vera for rashes, so thanks to a couple of good friends, we have a nice little supply on our balcony.

Today: back on the road to another consultation: a wrap-up with our radiation oncologist. She gave Jan a pretty thorough examination and told us it’s all looking good…

Here’s her Summary of future medical consultations:

1. One consultation with an oncologist (radiation, chemotherapy, gynaecological) every 3-4 months for two years.

2. Then every six months for the following three years.

3. No specific tests/treatments unless unwell: questions about ‘how you feel’ plus uterine examinations…

So now, one last chemotherapy session on Nov. 4th, then catch-ups with our three oncological specialists – each three months. And we’ll see what happens.

Thanks again everyone for all your support.

~~~

Now, why not stop what you’re doing and listen deeply to this:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PO17DIeI7Ec

A pastoral friend/colleague texted this blessing, just when I needed it most:

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Numbers 6:24-26 The Lord bless you and keep you; the Lord make his face to shine upon you, and be gracious to you; the Lord lift up his countenance upon you, and give you peace.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

I passed this blessing in prayer to the Jewish mother and son (she looked very ill) at the hospital’s emergency ward…

~~~

As many who follow my Facebook page and this website know, my wife Jan has a serious case of ‘clear-cell endometrial carcinoma‘ [CCE] – a form of uterine cancer which is ‘aggressive’.

This diary-article will summarize our responses, some medical stuff (for a good article visit here ), and friends’ helpful ideas – for us and others who might also have to travel this way sometime. I’ll jot down notes in chronological order, and those interested in more detail can read down the page… 

October 13.  Back to chemotherapy – all day – tomorrow. Appreciate your prayers for minimal awful side-effects and maximum healing side-effects! Thanks everyone!

October 4.  Jan is feeling ‘almost normal’. Still gets tired, and sometimes feels nauseous, and her tummy has strong tastes for certain foods and aversions to other foods (and drinks – no tea or coffee at present)…

She’s getting stronger by the day… however still has to take six medications… And is not looking forward to the next chemotherapy session October 14. (But she is  looking forward to her hair growing again! Thanks for all your support, encouragement and prayers, everyone! 

September 23 (pm). Jan now doesn’t like Sustagen: and lots of foods which might otherwise be helpful turn her off. She has a heightened sense of smell. Is that common?

Just back from a week with our daughter Lindy on her beautiful rural property. Very restful.

Here’s something encouraging and beautiful for carers like myself…

September 14 (pm). I don’t know where the expression ‘sick as a dog’ comes from, but Jan’s nausea brought the phrase to mind. Her appetite has gone and she’s feeling nauseous but knows she has to eat small meals including a lot of protein. Fortunately she likes Sustagen…

Everyone ‘in the know’ said the week after the cessation of the main chemo-radiotherapy – this week – might be her worst…

My prayer for her is followed by a prayer for the medical/research fraternity: ‘Lord, thanks for the great progress being made on the healing front, but please let those good people look back from the vantage-point of better healing methods to see these days as quite primitive in terms of the torture inflicted on already-sick people!’

We took the cards down from the mantlepiece today. It’s looking quite bare. Jan is hoping for a quiet week to savour – again – the beautiful sentiments and good wishes in those precious communications.

September 11 (pm). Today, home-to-home, was another 12-hour day – Jan’s last chemo+radiotherapy event. There’ll be two more radiotherapy sessions – today and tomorrow (thanks to our daughter Lindy for driving her there) – then a three-week break before the next chemotherapy sessions (October 14 and November 4).

Interesting opening discussion with senior specialist chemo nurses: ‘Did your doctor discuss your blood test results?’ ‘No, and we forgot to ask him.’ ‘Your magnesium and calcium levels are way down. Have you lost weight?’ ‘Yes, four kilos: that’s good isn’t it?’ ‘No, it’s definitely not. You’re not losing fat but healthy cells. How’s your strength and appetite?’ ‘Oh, I’m now feeling very weak, and also nauseous when I eat, especially when I eat a full meal.’

Later, the nutritionist (earnestly): ‘You must switch your diet to animal products – milk, cheese, meat, chicken, fish, yoghurt etc. – also mix in plenty of butter with mashed potato, and add some nutritional top-ups like Sustagen… And eat maybe six or seven smaller meals a day if you’re feeling weak or nauseous.Yes, this goes against all your dieting norms, but we need you to put on weight in the next three months, not lose it. Also do your exercise…’ Etc. Etc.

Phew! We were well educated and severely chastened…

So tonight it’s minced meat, potato (and a few other vegatables) in shepherd’s pie…

September 5 (pm). From a dear friend:

When diagnosed with cancer, it can feel like you have little control over your life. Surgery, Chemotherapy and/or Radiotherapy is quickly prescribed and away you go.

You do however have control over your physical fitness.

By exercising on a regular basis, you gain the power to enhance your treatment outcomes, minimise the side effects and reduce the rate of recurrence. 

Aerobic exercise strengthens the heart, minimises weight gain and muscle loss, and supports blood flow to the extremities that may be at risk of numbness and stiffness during chemotherapy.

So what are you waiting for, take back control of your health and work up a sweat today!

(The article went on to explain/sell something called ‘ketogenic diet’ (look it up if interested)…

August 30 (pm).  Well, if I (still) have any enemies out there I’m gonna disappoint you. At least the colonoscopy/biopsy report says I’m not going to die of bowel cancer – not just yet anyway. No carcinoma… no evidence of invasive malignancy. Mind you, nine ‘recto-sigmoid’ polyps were removed; I have ‘moderate sigmoid diverticular disease’, and ‘two moderate sized internal haemorrhoids (not bleeding at the time of examination)’. My good friend and GP says I can’t do much about all that: but more fibre in my diet might help.

So I’m here still to gently annoy-y’all-with-more-hopefully-helpful-provocations.

Jan? Same as before, though a little more tired today. (And also relieved that her carer will continue his ministry for a while yet).

August 26 (pm). Hi friends. Jan’s regimen continues: three words describe her physicality these days – she’s tired, weak, and nauseous. She’s halfway through this six-week period of chemo and radio-therapy: apparently she’ll feel worse towards the end of the process. Appreciate all your support, love and prayers.

Meanwhile, about Jan’s ‘other half’: 

I got a letter from ‘Insure’ , the Bowel Cancer Screening Service, telling me:

‘There could be several reasons why blood was found in your samples and most are not related to cancer. It is now VERY (sic.) important that you visit your doctor to find out what has caused the bleeding and what action, if any, should be taken.’

Update: Today I had a colonoscopy, before which I asked the doctor: ‘What are the possible percentage diagnoses?’

Response (as I remember): ‘30% nothing; 50% haemorroids; 9% polyps; 2-3% colitis; 1% cancer’. Not bad odds.

After the operation: ‘Mr. Croucher, I removed nine polyps, and we’ve sent them away for a biopsy. Your doctor will get the results Thursday or Friday. And you have some diverticulitis – with about half of the population your age (ie. over 60)’.

Stay tuned!

August 21 (pm).  We learned something important today: It’s OK to ask questions. Our problem last Wed. was that we waited for over two hours for blood test results to come through before Jan could do her chemo. The day lasted longer than 12 hours, home-to-home. So: why not do the blood test the day before, and we can land running into a full day’s chemo/radiotherapy? The Dr. and nurses said ‘Hey that’s a good idea’ so that’s how we did it this week: blood test yesterday (Tuesday), ready to go today… And it worked! Three hours saved (including peak-hour traffic: got home at 3.15, vs. after 7 pm last Wednesday!).

Which raises another question: why didn’t anyone think of that and guide us? Never assume anything, eh?

And this afternoon I asked the radiotherapy people if I could observe the process. ‘Sure,’ they said. ‘We encourage that!’ So in another room, with two technicians, I saw my wife’s lower-back bone structure on the x-ray thingo – first time ever. Amazing technology: millimetre precision!

On another medical note: the Insure people who test for bowel cancer have sent me a letter saying there was some blood where it shouldn’t have been and I ought to get a colonoscopy. Happening next Monday. I’ll keep you posted.

August 12 (pm). Jan’s now settled into a rhythm of five weekdays radiotherapy, plus Wednesdays chemotherapy – for six weeks. Last Wednesday all this took up 12 hours, including travel – 7am to 7 pm. I sat in a chair next to Jan as she had drips attached to her (to ‘cleanse your kidneys’ she was told) and for the first time in 30 years  I fell asleep sitting upright in that chair. (The last time I did this was on a ferry after a seven-day-hike along the West Coast Trail, Vancouver Island!).

Fortunately Jan is now taking clexane via a tablet rather than self-injecting; and her skin has pretty-well healed of the almost total (and terrible) rash the early chemo produced. But she’s constantly drowsy and weak.

I’m being encouraged by several in-the-know friends to grow some aloe vera plants: and harvest them for Jan’s tender and still-sensitive skin. She’s enjoying the non-oily hemp-seed oil I’m putting on her…

Thanks for offers to help and prayers everyone…

August 6 (am). Jan drives herself to radiotheraphy today (for the first time in about three months). I’m ‘praying without ceasing’ as she travels into Melbourne-town this morning… I’ll go with her tomorrow – radio-+ chemotherapy will take all day. Anyone from St Martins’ want a chat tomorrow? We can arrange that in one of the city hospital cafe’s. Email me – [email protected]

And here’s a documentary about how ‘poisons’ are used in chemotherapy – http://www.sbs.com.au/ondemand/video/38172739916/Pain-Pus-And-Poison-Ep3-Poison

August 2 (am). Jan certainly is weak: she fell on the stairs this morning, as her knees gave way. Fortunately she didn’t fall far, the stairs were covered with carpet, and she wasn’t injured (except for a fright!).

Some of my American friends who are dealing with the ‘Obamacare’ debate in their country are wondering how we in Australia cope with unforeseen medical expenses. I think we’re better off than most countries (except perhaps the Nordic ones, but then they pay higher taxes than we do). Jan’s treatment will cost, all-up that we know about, roughly $40,000 – $50,000. We’ll be out-of-pocket probably less than $10,000. As we’re on a full aged pension (which means we have few savings, and we’re not saving anything at the moment), that’s a cause for great relief. A friend posted on Facebook this morning about parking fees when he visits medical establishments. Jan has been a patient at five hospitals in the last few months. My solution to the parking situation is to drop Jan off, drive several blocks until I find a free 2-hour-plus parking regimen, and say my prayers and get some exercise as I walk back to the hospital…

August 1 (am). Jan is weak (she’s trying to live for 24 hours without a pain patch), but her itches are healing with the hemp-seed oil and sorbolene cream. I could only find about a dozen red patches on her this morning…

She starts radiotherapy week-days for six weeks on Monday, plus a ‘milder’ chemo on Wednesdays.

Re radiotherapy: One friend’s advice – ‘Don’t go into the radiation room with an empty bladder. It is best to be at least partially full. Check it out with Jan’s rad/onc and see what he/she says about it.’ Problem: what if there’s only about one minute’s notice of the need to empty one’s bladder?

July 30 (pm). Here’s the kind of helpfulness which lands in my inbox each day from kind friends:

Hi Rowland,

Thought the attached information re Olive Leaf Extract might be helpful with Jan’s experience of rashes.    You will ask your specialist for his confirmation that it won’t cause any problems with Jan’s other medication but usually herbs are quite compatible – and harmless.

Also, you might like to take a look at http://www.benitec.com/ to see what Peter French and his team at Benitec Biopharma Ltd.  are doing in the field of modern medicine.    Could be worth exploring for Jan??      Gotta keep searching.    There’s probably many things to help but one will jump out at you one day.

~~~

A cure for cancer may be a step closer. Tuesday, July 16, 2013. Cancer immunotherapy — using the body’s own immune system to fight tumor cells — may be a major part in a cure for cancer, researchers in Britain say.

Bent Jakobsen, the Danish-born chief scientific officer of Immunocore who started to study T-cells 20 years ago while working at the Medical Research Council’s Laboratory of Molecular Biology in Cambridge, England, says cancer has been largely treated by slicing (surgery), poisoning (chemotherapy) or burning (radiation). All try to spare healthy tissue from irreparable damage while attempting to kill every cancer cell.

July 29 (pm). ‘They’ say colliding with a more imminent death – of oneself or one’s spouse – ‘concentrates the mind’ but also may lead to distractedness and forgetfulness. I’m a classic case of the latter. I’m forgetting more things than ever before (lost my gardening gloves about a dozen times in three days when we were away) – anything not fixed in terms of routine or geography, time or space,  will be a casualty of forgetfulness these days. And as for distractedness, today I decided on a treat for both of us – a honey oat footlong Subway salad/seafood sandwich, toasted, which comes to $6.70 with a senior’s discount (best value goodness-for-dollar meal I know).  So clever me paid with lots of coins: I gave her $8-70 in loose change and said, cleverly, ‘You can give me a two-dollar coin in the change’.

So she gave me one of my own two dollars back. Doh!…

July 28 (pm). Jan and I have enjoyed a few days away this week, at our daughter Lindy’s rural property just outside Melbourne. Watching a flock of about 50 yellow-tailed black cockatoos in her front yard was enchanting – they scared away the half-dozen kangaroos feeding there…

Last Tuesday we visited the Radiology Dept of a large hospital to get Jan’s  ‘tattoos’ ready for radiotherapy to start tomorrow week. (Do you know what the Bible says about tattoos? ‘Do not mark your skin with tattoos. I am the Lord.’ (Lev. 19:28). Google Bible + tattoos: half the articles on the first page warn us against them; others are offering Bible texts/quotes for tattoos!!!

Anyone know about hemp-seed oil? See here for an extravagant list of ailments it will help heal: http://belizehemp.com/ . Again, Google articles provide mixed reviews. A good friend gave us some, and swears by it for itchiness; so we’re conducting a ‘controlled experiment’ on a four-square-inch area of Jan’s shoulder. We’ll provide results in due course…

On another note: how to people who don’t have a carer put ointment on their backs for itch or whatever?

July 19 (am). Jan and I have a special request: a friend has encouraged us to attend a prayer-for-healing group in a nearby church tomorrow, so if you believe in God/prayer/healing could you focus your prayerful faith/hope/love on Jan’s body/mind/spirit tomorrow (Saturday, 20 July) at 10.30 am Australian Eastern Standard Time. Of course, you could include our relationship (we’ve fallen in love again in a very special way), and our extended family etc.

Which all raises lots of questions…

Like:

* Do we really believe in an ‘interventionist God’ who still performs miracles?’ Yes, because Jesus did. (And was it Archbishop William Temple who said ‘When I pray, coincidences increase!’?).

*What do we do with the advice others offer us? We listen – especially when they agree with the best medical findings (like ‘drink a quart of pure water every day’ – Jan’s doing that). We get lots of ideas via emails, cards and Facebook comments (the phone’s relatively quiet – thanks!), and we are prayerfully discerning about them all. Jan’s more tired and weak than she’s ever been in her life – since she was a baby 76 years ago. She’s dozing for much of the day. Some want to visit/talk: sometimes there are too many good people who want to do this. (But we take with a grain of salt C S Lewis’ negativity: ‘She went around doing good; you could tell the people she did good to by their hunted look!’).

* We believe scientists/medicos are ‘discovering God’s truth after Him’, so yesterday when Jan’s legs became weak and painful again three days after her second ‘chemo’ experience we took their advice and she’s wearing a ‘pain patch’ (Durogesic/ fentanyl) plus if necessary a teaspoonful of Ordine 5 (Morphine; three times yesterday) – which gave her a good night’s sleep.

* I (Rowland) have pretty-well said ‘no’ to all Christian ‘ministry’ commitments to be Jan’s carer, except a day a week pastoring at St. Martin’s Collingwood (last week 2 1/2 days; this week a little less than one day: it’s averaging out OK); a handful of counseling appointments, and a bit of preaching/speaking  (limit: about one per month).

July 17 (pm).  Jan is very tired: snoozes most of each day. It seems the itch was a false alarm (or – medical people? – perhaps it’s the fentanyl pain patch working for her)?

July 17 (am). Last night we got a bit of a fright: we thought that terrible whole-body itch was back. Jan’s feeling a bit better this morning.

July 15 (pm). Today 6 1/2 hours in the hospital for Jan’s second chemo experience (and about 1 1/2 hours travel). Funny: patients are asked if they’re allergic to anything (and it happens each visit – presumably for that day’s lunch-order). Jan: ‘Only prawns!’ Funnyman opposite: ‘Yes, I’m allergic to chemotherapy!’

Maybe good news: perhaps Jan’s terrible itch has suddenly gone.

July 11 (am). Now it’s happened: Jan’s hair is starting to fall out and rather than have it clog up drains, and falling into food, she’s made an appointment with the hairdresser this afternoon to have it all shaved off. Who’s got some wisdom about coping with this? ([email protected], or a FB message). Her itchiness is very bad, and getting worse… Any wisdom here too (besides what’s in the paragraph I posted yesterday)? Thanks everyone!

Helpful memo from a Registered Psychologist friend about dealing with itchy rashes: Where a rash does occur in a stressful situation, sometimes one of the older anti-depressants used sub-efficaciously can help to take the edge off, reduce physical irritability and thereby decrease the amount of scratching. Amitriptylene for example (brand name – Endep) starts working as an anti-depressant at 75mg dosage, but can be used at lower doses at say 15 mg (ie., off label) for cases like Jan’s. It can reduce anxiety and physical reactivity and can often be a help with these rash things. The person feels a little more relaxed, doesn’t scratch as often and is not so focused on the rash. This decreases their suffering….  No guarantees, just a thought…  My thoughts and prayers continue to be with you both… Take care and give my best to Jan. 

July 10 (pm). Thanks for all the good wishes via email, Facebook, letters etc. (Those media are preferable to phone calls, as Jan sleeps a bit more than usual during the day and we both go to bed earlier than usual: thanks). Her whole-body rash is worse, especially front and back. Legs for some reason are exempt except for a few patches here and there. I gently massage her back each morning and night, with the specially-prescribed steroid (!) – based Aristocort Triamcinolone Cream. Anyone used this? In between she might apply some Sorbolene Moisturiser if the itch is unbearable. Please pray that the neighbour’s dog will let us sleep until we wake naturally!

July 6 (am). Jan and I resumed our regular Saturday morning ‘picnic’  today (at a cafe whose name/address will remain a secret, sorry). Jan’s feeling ‘weak and well’ – but is very itchy all over; she’s gotta talk herself out of scratching the itches!

July 4 (pm). Beautiful experience: brought Jan home again. Pain is being managed (a patch behind her shoulder). The surgeon in charge of chemo apologized for the pain she’d experienced: ‘I could have managed that better’. How often do you hear something like that?

July 3 (am). Cardiac surgeon fairly happy with Jan, but wants her to stay another 24 hours…

July 2 (pm). Jan has been moved to the cardiac unit for the next 24 hours. She’s had an ectopic heart-beat for years, but they’re now concerned about her low pulse-rate and a ‘blood count’ problem. She’s hooked up to a 24-hour heart monitor. Pain management is working ok but she’s tired all the time (by-product probably of the pain killers). Visited early this evening by a cardiac specialist: he was intrigued about why she woke up on the floor the other night, not knowing how she got there…

Wonder what’s next????

July 1 : Jan had a fairly comfortable night in hospital. Her chemotherapy specialist saw her this morning, and is pretty certain the severe pain in her legs/ankles is, yes, associated with the chemo, not a problem with clots…

He’s begun a proper pain management regimen (injection this morning).

30 June (pm): Jan is tonight in a major Melbourne hospital* ‘for observation’. We spent the afternoon in the emergency department, as two ‘blue alerts’ took all available doctors and nurses from attending to her for long periods. (We prayed for those affected, and their families, and for the professionals who cared for them). The ’emergency physician’ was sceptical about the severe pain in her legs (at present confined to her ankles and feet) having anything to do with after-effects of the chemotherapy regime. One of the scans showed a small abnormality in her spine, and this may have something to do with it. Her scalp-wound received four stitches.  More – jmm.org.au/articles/32166.htm

* I’d better not name the hospital: it’s pretty strict about phone calls (they wouldn’t put me through to Jan at 8.10 pm tonight). Email me ([email protected]) and I’ll pass messages on to Jan. ​Thanks for your understanding…

If you’ve joined this story here, let me summarize: Jan’s recent medical saga began with a uterine prolapse; the gynaecologist took a pap smear and discovered some nasties. About this time Jan was due to have a radiology exam – and they promptly put her into an ambulance to go straight to hospital when they discovered she had DVT and the clots had migrated causing a pulmonary embolism. The haemotologist said you can’t operate for cancer just yet; the ‘gynoncol’ said yes you can/must, and a filter was inserted into her via her groin (and later after the hysterectomy removed via her neck)…. Read below for more…

Back to today: Fortunately, thanks to the Endone, she was drowsy all day, but had had nothing to eat when I left her at about 6.30 pm (she didn’t feel like eating all day).

All very frustrating – but we are thankful for receiving the world’s best medical care.

Thanks for your prayers… More tomorrow

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

–> From a friend: I was reading a post in the Cancer Concerns forum on Hystersisters, and thought of you and Jan. The thread is entitled post-chemo leg knee pain, and a couple of the ladies talked of what helped with their bone/joint/muscle pain.Here’s a couple of responses in the thread….

….I have terrible muscle and joint pain with chemo. My dr suggested i try OTC 12 hour claritin. I start taking it about 3 days before chemo and continue taking it for about a week. Seriously works better than any of the pain meds I have. Ask your Dr if this is something you could try. Wishing you the best!

…. Barbi, So sorry to hear you are having to go through this a second time. They did put Benadryl through one of the drips during my treatment. I was reading about someone saying it was the only thing that provided them relief after the treatment. I was thinking of having it on hand next time. Do you remember what dosage you took?
__________________
2009 CC, mod-rad Davinci hyst, 4/13 recurrence in ovaries & lymphoma found in 2 lymphnodes 6/13 taxel/Cisplatin/Avastin 6x

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

30 June 2013: Endone and panadeine Xtra worked – Jan slept all night (still asleep 10.30 am). That’s the good news. Other news: she fell on her way to the bathroom during the night and there’s a two-square-inch patch of blood on the floor, and some blood in her hair. She talked sense, and I’m letting her sleep, checking on her every 10 minutes or so. I think we’ll be going to her hospital emergency/oncol. dept later when she wakes. Questions I’m researching: ‘Ibuprofen with endone best’ (why?). (Is Ibuprofen same as Voltarin?  Yahoo answers this one fairly well). More later…

29 June 2013: Last night and all day today Jan has suffered her worst pain since 1974  (when the last of our four babies was born).

The best I could do was to get some ‘panadeine Xtra’ from a helpful pharmacist (‘Max. 8 per day’).

When this didn’t ease the pain substantially I phoned a 24-hour oncology helpline and the helpful nurse said yes, she could alternate the panadeine with endone (given to her for easing the pain after a hysterectomy: but the pain then was negligible compared to today’s, and she didn’t need them).

Tomorrow (Sunday) if the pain has not subsided I’ll ask a doctor to prescribe panadeine forte – or something better/stronger.

Mystery: why do some have this reaction to paclitaxel+carboplatin and others don’t? Why does it last just a few days for some and longer for others? etc. etc.

Feel free to email me ([email protected]) if you have some experience+ wisdom…. I don’t enjoy being helpless when my beautiful wife is so physically weak and suffering like this!

Update: wisdom from half a dozen responses  – Ibuprofen+ Endone. Thanks everyone!

28 June 2013. First full rest-day at home.

Did you know that when a uterus is removed, bladder and bowels move to ‘fill the space available’? This is happening to Jan, with unpredictable consequences, sometimes in public places (no further details are necessary at this stage :-)!

Jan has to have 24-hour monitoring available. If her temperature goes above 38 degrees she is taken immediately to the local private hospital emergency department.

We were hoping to go away for some respite in the next week: but now we can’t. However, I and two of our beautiful daughters Amanda and Lindy are taking it in turns to be available. I might slip away for a few days of solitude next week, and Lindy will come and live in here…

Jan and I are drinking a quart of pure water ever day, and she’s about to be put on a special diet.

26 June 2013: First ‘chemo’ day

Up early again today to go to Cabrini Hospital. Jan was hooked up to a machine for about five hours.

Atmosphere: serious (about ten others in the room, more in adjacent rooms), ranging in age from a thirty-ish year old young lady to mostly older folks. Most without accompanying friends/partners (so I offered to go for a ‘cuppa’ for a couple of them).

Again, lots of paperwork, including medical history again. Cheerful, competent nurses. A couple of beautiful, friendly volunteers (trained by the hospital), one of whom gave Jan a hand massage. On the down-side, the hospital has inadequate parking (and it’s expensive), but I found an all-day free spot four minutes’ walk away. Free meals, tea/coffee etc., snacks, fruit juice etc. for patients’ companions (I liked that!).

Jan’s OK but next week will be the worst, if she has an ‘average’ response to the ‘chemo’. Lots of rest for the next three weeks until the next dose.

More later…

25 June, 2013

Jan and I went to three hospitals today, in the city and southern suburbs of Melbourne. First session: briefing by radio/radiation therapist to prepare  for 6×5 sessions in about six weeks’ time.

Then: dietician – see the standard recommendations below. Most important: drink two litres of pure water every day. Oops!.

Lastly, oncology nurse specialist, to prepare for five hours’ chemo from 9 am tomorrow.  Another lot in three weeks’ time.

More on all that later.

Meanwhile: how do you measure up with this –

Australian Guide to Healthy Eating Daily Recommendations: 

Daily Recommendations (Female and Male 71+ years)

Food Group: Fruit

Portion Sizes for recommendations

2 (Women)
2 (Men)
1 medium sized piece of fruit
2 small pieces of fruit
1 Cup Tinned Fruit
200ml Fruit Juice

Vegetables

Portion Sizes for recommendations

5 (Women)
5 (Men)
½ C Cooked vegetables
1 C Raw vegetables/salad vegetables
1 Medium/2 Small potato/s

Milk, yoghurt, cheese and alternatives

Portion Sizes for recommendations

4 (Women)
3.5 (Men)
¾ C Yoghurt
1 C Milk
2 Slices of Cheese (`25g)

Grain (cereal) foods

Portion Sizes for recommendations

3 (Women)
4.5 (Men)
½ C Cooked Rice
½ C Cooked Pasta
½ C Cooked Noodles
2/3 Cereal
1 Slice of bread
½ C Oats/Muesli

Lean meat and poultry, fish, eggs, tofu, nuts and seeds, legumes/beans

Portion Sizes for recommendations

2 (Women)
2.5 (Men)
65g Red Meat
80g Chicken
100g Fish
2 x Eggs
20g Nuts
1 C Beans
1/3 C Legumes

~~~

Monday 24th June 2013:

We got up before dawn and drove at 5.30 into the darkness to witness the most beautiful moon for a year!

The operation at Epworth Richmond took half an hour, but with waiting for the surgeon to complete other urgent ops and then Jan recovering until he’d completed his days’ work, we didn’t set off for home until 5.30 pm.

The job for today: to remove the titanium filter which he’d inserted via the groin on May 28 (to contain journeying blood clots so that other surgery could happen safely) – and would you believe it he pulled it out via Jan’s neck!

And after a day of intensive work, he still had a sense of humour when he saw us at five o’clock. If I wore a hat I’d say ‘hats off’ to such magnificent people!

Jan’s got a bit of a sore neck, but otherwise is feeling tired but OK, and we’re both very grateful. 

And we’re very grateful for your support and prayers.

Tomorrow three consultations in three different Melbourne hospitals!

~~~

Read on for more…

Three intensive days of Jan’s treatment following surgery three weeks ago begin on Monday June 24 (up at 5.30 to drive to a city hospital to have her titanium filter removed); then three visits to three different hospitals on Tuesday; then first chemotherapy session on Wednesday at another city hospital. 

(First time I will have driven in morning Melbourne peak-hour traffic three days in a row in the forty years we’ve lived here!)

Thanks for the many expressions of support during this time!

Read on if you wish…

Was it Samuel Johnson who famously said that the ‘prospect of death concentrates the mind wonderfully’? Well, it does. But the prospect of a loved one dying-too-soon also distracts the mind. On a cold day recently I was putting on two pairs of sox for added warmth – a small pair and a heavier pair on top. But half-way through I’d mislaid one of the larger sox – but then realized I’d put both of them on the same leg, one on top of the other – three sox on one leg, one on the other! Happening all the time! (Which exacerbates the problem of seniors’ moments, when I leave things more often these days where I can’t find them again :-)!

Our prayer during this process:

“As we surrender ourselves to God, we accept so completely and simply, that we are in the right place

At the right time, and that God is using us to bless everyone else.

We accept difficulties and joy with the same great peace.

We are content to know that God is making His Will manifest in us,

through every experience, grave or pleasant.

My grace is sufficient for you, for my strength is made perfect in weakness.”

And in my devotions today (from Patrick Sookhdeo’s Heroes of the Faith): ‘All our difficulties are only platforms for the manifestations of God’s grace’ (missionary-to-China Hudson Taylor).

~~

[If you don’t want to plough through everything there, at this point I’ll offer some ‘headlines’ regularly]

On Monday June 17, 2013 we meet with a leading Melbourne  medical oncologist to begin a regimen of chemotherapy.

P.M. June 17: Good man, competent (assoc. prof.) and personable. He told us there was an inch-diameter cancerous tumour removed from the uterus during surgery last week. But free-floating cells have been found in other places. Next week, after the filter is removed (see next para) we have sessions on 25/6 with a dietition,  and an educator to explain what chemotherapy is all about. Then on 26/6 the first, and 15/7 the second of two 5-6 hour sessions of chemotherapy. After that  sometime Jan has five weeks of five-days-a-week radiotherapy.

Jan’s knitting a ‘beanie’ (what’s it called in your culture?) to cover her head when she loses her hair 🙂

The odds? ‘You have a 70% chance that Jan will survive all this for the next five years!’

Monday (24th) she has the titanium filter removed from her veins – a pre-surgical precaution owing to her having an attack of deep vein thrombosis [DVT] in her right leg about a month and a half ago, which sent clots to her lungs (pulmonary embolism, [PE]). Our Gynaecological Oncologist [‘Gynoncol’] thinks  the PE and CCE may be linked.

[Visit here for summary]

Many friends are sending ideas, and although we’re warned by our medical friends to be wary, we’re treating everything with an open mind.

Especially ‘trusting prayer’.

This article will keep you posted. Thanks to all our family and friends for your good wishes, love, casseroles (we’re OK now thanks!), cards (about 10 Christmases’ worth!) and especially your focussed healing prayers.

Jan is sore, weak, and easily breathless – understandable. But each day is getting a bit better (unless she forgets, and lifts something too heavy, or stretches to fix curtains or something).

We both have moments of sadness, but this whole thing has brought us closer together. We have not heard of any cancer in either families-of-origin for three generations: remarkable really. So we’re novices at facing these realities. Jan has had half-a-dozen ‘surgical adventures’ in her lifetime (apart from having four babies). I’ve only had three – tonsils and adenoids out at age 7, cataract surgery (age 73)  and a prostate ‘turp’ op a couple of years ago. (If you don’t know what that is, you probably aren’t missing anything important :-).

Many of our varied ministries – Jan’s at East Doncaster Baptist Church, mine especially with the Wednesday Koinonia group, have come to a screeching halt. I’ll not be traveling much, if at all, in terms of preaching, leadership seminars and consultations with churches. One-to-one pastoral counseling will continue, though there may be more time before/between appointments. I’m on the pastoral staff of St Martins’ Community Church, Collingwood as a ‘pastoral consultant’ one day a week, and that should continue for the foreseeable future after a couple of weeks’ hiatus.

Some of the wisdom sent by good friends (watch this space for more):

~~ Cancer-fighting foods:  http://youtu.be/8ZIAcc1FNlA

http://youtu.be/gIAA9velJ34  http://youtu.be/7eYOmhc8oQU

http://youtu.be/8iGM_h0OL-g  http://youtu.be/YSvn1v9vYpg

Please stop coffee, sugar, instead green tea, ginger tea, fresh fruit juice, fruit salad, green vegetable salads.

~~ From a pastoral person: 

It is so very, very important that you and Jan both do everything possible to remain positive. Frankly, that may include not telling Jan everything. I walked with one woman who did not want to know how ill she was and outlived her prognosis by years. I am currently with someone who is extremely involved and learning everything she can about her rare cancer and has already surpassed expectations– and is continuing a robust life. You simply (like anything is simple) need to discern what approach will serve Jan best. 

Ask lots of questions on Jan’s behalf.

And another’s wisdom:

Thanks for sharing. One piece of advice, don’t let the people who mean nothing to Jan take up her time. Too many people want to come out of their hidey holes when an old contact gets very sick. There seems to be various reasons for this, one being guilt. Another, fascination with someone else’s suffering (a morbid excitement). Some want to show compassion because they admire you. I’m sure you’ve seen it already, & in the cases of others you know.
I believe, however, that you should continue to let those that were investing in your friendship & love you & your family be those you keep close. Just sayin’..

~~ From a very experienced Christian medico: 

‘An ancient aphorism in medicine [Hippocrates] is  “First, do no harm.”   This still applies in our day, yet the art has progressed so much over recent times.  Advances in management have been refined and continue to occur.  The reports in the medical literature attempt to analyse treatment approaches and assemble the info into what is referred to as a meta-analysis.   This is what is done in the review article, in the hope that protocols can be clarified for treatment agencies.  There may be others.  Which brings me to the second point –

‘EBM  or evidence based medicine.  Good reliable support is required for a treatment program to be acceptable to the general medical community.  In the cancer field, there has been plenty of room  for quackery in the past.  Unfortunately, when options for treatment thin out, others may find a way to take the place of conventional measures.  Caution is needed, as many offers of advice may be heard.

So it is over to the Oncology people to indicate what can be recommended in this specific situation.’

~~From another experienced (Christian) medico:

Jan’s clinical staging is at least IIIa.  This means the aggressive tumour has made its way right through the wall of the uterus and is now into the peritoneum, the sack that surrounds the bowel, liver and pelvic organs.  This would allow for seedlings of the cancer to erupt just about anywhere in the abdominal cavity.

Several studies have been done on management at this level.  Options include generalised radiotherapy, complex mixtures of chemotherapy, or a combination of radiotherapy and chemotherapy.  Debulking the tumour surgically first is always a good option, and this has already been done in Jan’s case.

Although comparative treatment studies are still progressing, the best combination chemo regime so far is with Cisplatin, doxorubicin and Paclitaxel.  This runs the risk of serious side effects, does not offer a cure, but does hold the most promise of extending her lifespan another few years. This situation obviously calls for a lot of prayer.

This has helped us to understand Jan’s condition but it also helps us to pray for all areas of Jan’s health in a constructive way but also for you as you travel this road with her.

~~From a medical researcher:

PubMed is the place to go for the best uptodate information. Here is a list of more recent articles on Clear cell endometrial cancer. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/?term=Clear+cell+endometrial+cancer

Is Jan on the Biopectin yet? I’d consider that vital personally as it will greatly reduce her chances of any of the cancer’s metastasizing or further metastasis, which is extremely important.

(Note: our medical oncologist didn’t know what biopectin was and looked it up).

~~Immunotherapy: 

http://www.lef.org/news/LefDailyNews.htm?NewsID=19456&Section=DISEASE&utm_source=DailyHealthBulletin&utm_medium=email&utm_term=Disease&utm_content=Body+ContinueReading&utm_campaign=DHB_130604

(Medoncol): ‘Not helpful in your case’.

From a Facebook friend:

Rowland, I too was diagnosed with endometrial cancer the same week as Jan, but mine is a different sort. I joined the “hyster sisters” community before my hysterectomy, and I have found it helpful. There is a forum for those of us with gyny cancers. There is also a mister hysters forum! I don’t want to be someone that puts “stuff” on other people and say you need to do this or that. If you or Jan want to go to the website “hystersisters.org” should get you there.

And an experienced pastor-friend: 

I had read about experimental immunotherapy having good results for some cancers, and it might be worth talking to oncologists about. However, with some of these experimental approaches, the setup costs are very high, and may be prohibitive unless Jan fits very neatly into the profile for that treatment. 

Something to keep in mind with experimental treatments is that they usually are exactly that, and have to be controlled for experimental value and according to medical ethics requirements. So a doctor can’t just say, “That sounds worth trying: let’s do it!”

One problem with crowd-sourcing your opinions (or answers) is that you will get mob results, and that can just add to your distress, as you try to sort through what is valid and what isn’t. Also, you’d need to be careful not to start judging yourselves, or listening to others’ judgments, if you decide to bypass some solution your friends are pushing: “Should we be using minted bread poultices at 4:03 pm every afternoon except Thursdays? Our friend, Joe swears it saved his wife!”

~~ And an Amish perspective:

http://www.cancerdefeated.com/amish-secret/index.php?READ=Y&SC=DELAMISH130615

And Delta Tocotrienols - http://www.advancedbionutritionals.com/Special-Offers/201307/Delta-Tocotrienols-ABRRA173.htm

Healing codes  - http://www.thehealingcode.com/mra/ (Summary - the Healing Codes are easy to use…  1) It requires nothing more than the fingertips of both hands pointing toward one or more of the 4 different healing centers in the body. 2) It takes only 6 to 8 minutes to do. 3) It’s so simple that anyone (even a 7-year-old) can do it in the comfort of one’s own home.

More to come.

Thanks again everyone for your loving prayers…

Rowland Croucher (16th June 2013).

Discussion

Comments are disallowed for this post.

  1. Cancer. The scourge of the world from a medical point of view. My mother died of it, my father’s sister died of it, my older brother’s wife is currently dying from it.

    So, what are our choices? Do we let the disease professionals (please, don’t call them health professionals, they are not) take over our lives. Killing us with Chemotherapy and radiation “treatments”? Fact, chemotherapy kills more cancer sufferers than cancer does. How does it do this? Simple, it kills cells indiscriminately leaving your immune system so compromised that if you get the slightest infection you are at an extremely high risk of dying.

    What about how we nourish our bodies? Or more correctly, how we don’t nourish our bodies… just look at what the dietitians have recommended… fruit… full of sugar which feeds cancer. Cooked vegetables which kills all enzymes and vitamins rendering them virtually useless. Dairy products… stuff made from bovine milk which is designed to feed baby cows. Not humans, and especially not adult humans. Meat, toxic to the human body… and here’s the reason why. Lions, cats, dogs etc. the animals that “are” carnivores have short intestines. Humans have large intestines. Carnivores excrete their meal usually within 30 to 45 minutes. Humans take at least 5 hours to digest what we eat. So therefore the meat we eat putrifies, and that putrification is passed through the intestinal walls into the blood stream. Can you see a problem here? Oh, and carnivores don’t cook their meat either…

    Medicines, more appropriately called toxic pharmceuticals, don’t heal you. Your body heals itself. But, if you feed your body with the wrong “foods” then it is NOT getting optimal nutrition. Therefore it often fails to heal itself properly, if at all.

    Read Genesis 1:29 and then head on over to http://www.hacres.com for info presented in a much better way than I can.

    I shall pray for Jan that the Lord may divinely heal her of this terrible affliction.

    God bless.

    Posted by godzonekid | October 25, 2013, 6:00 pm