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Friday, December 27, 2013

Big Changes Ahead ... and Big Prayers Needed

New prayer request!

Patrick and Emily have requested prayer for another important area in their lives.  A few months ago, Patrick was unable to keep his position as youth minister with his church.  He is now actively seeking employment.  Patrick and Emily are earnestly seeking the Lord's direction as this was an unexpected change.  They are both certain that He is always good and will lead them where He intends to use them for His glory!  (oh, how the Shaws continuously inspire me!)

Please be in prayer for the Shaws as Patrick applies for positions, seeks God's will, and as they prepare for  possible career changes and a possible move (or not).

Emily and Patrick continue to thank you for your love, support, and tireless prayers!

Wishing everyone a Happy and Blessed New Year from the Shaws!

Jeremiah 29:11

PICC Line

Hello followers!

Patrick wanted me to update everyone that his chemotherapy infusion schedule has changed a little due to unexpected circumstances.  As many of you know, a few weeks ago, there was an unfortunate occurrence in which the needle slipped from Patrick's vein during an infusion.  This caused his chemo to leak into his arm tissue.  This leakage led to severe lymphedema which has been somewhat "risky" for infection, painful, and mobility limiting for Patrick (the swelling makes it difficult for P to bend/use his right arm).  He is also having to attend therapy sessions in order to move the fluid out of the tissues.

Due to this, Patrick's care team thought it would be best to "install" a PICC line (central line) in Patrick's arm.  This will allow Patrick's chemo and premeds to infuse through a port instead of Patrick having to be stuck each time with a new needed for infusion.  This is both good and bad.  It's good because it will mean less chance for error or slippage ... and fewer pokes for Patrick.  It's "bad" because it can be another source for infection and/or complications.  And, simply because it was something Patrick really hoped to avoid.  The silver lining is that PICC lines are often shorter-term central catheters ... and Patrick will hopefully have this removed before long.

He got his PICC line this Monday (before Christmas), and therefore did not receive chemo that day as planned.  His 5th (of 6) chemotherapy infusion will take place on Monday, December 30th ... and the schedule will resume from there as planned.

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Mishap

Call to Prayer:

Hello family, friends, and followers of Patrick's journey!  This past Monday, Patrick underwent his 4th round of IV chemotherapy at the Hope Center.  This means he has made it over the midway "hump" of treatment ... and only has two remaining infusions!  :)  Overall, Patrick's side effects from the chemotherapy have been well-managed after his initial infusion.  His nausea and vomiting have been under control, although he is still very tired.

*   *   *

Unfortunately, Patrick experienced an unusual mishap this Monday for which he has requested prayer.  The needle that was infusing the chemotherapy into his body became accidentally dislodged.  This means that the needle slipped out of Patrick's vein (where it was supposed to be) but not completely out of his arm. Before he realized it, a substantial amount of the IV chemo had "run" into the subcutaneous tissue of his arm.  Emily said that his arm was nearly twice its proper size.  Patrick was discharged with instructions to apply compresses to the arm to encourage the fluid to either absorb into the body or come out of his arm.  Although not a "life-or-death" issue, this has not been a pleasant experience for Emily and Patrick.  He is on high-alert to watch for signs of infection or tissue damage to that arm, and he is in significant pain.  Please pray for the chemo to quickly travel where it needs to go and for comfort for Patrick.  Pray God's protection against infection and cell damage as well!

And, as always, please continue to lift up BOTH Patrick and Emily in spirit as they face the many expected ...... and very unexpected ...... challenges of fighting cancer.

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Cycle Three

This coming Monday (11/11/13), Patrick will undergo his third chemotherapy infusion at the Hope Center in his hometown.  This will mark the HALF WAY point in his IV therapy!!!

I spoke to Patrick this morning, and he sounded great.  Currently, he is enjoying his "detox" week.  What does that mean?  Every third Monday, Patrick goes to the Hope Center for IV chemo.  That same Monday, he begins taking his oral chemotherapy at home.  Patrick takes this oral chemotherapy daily for 14 days.  Then, days 15-21 (or, the third week), of his three-week cycle ... Patrick gets to "detox."  That means, he does not take IV or oral chemotherapy.  This gives his body an opportunity to relax from insult ... and gives Patrick a much needed break from the more severe side effects he has experienced.

Patrick wanted me to let everyone know that:  "Chemotherapy makes you feel like junk!  But my second cycle was MUCH better than my first!"  Praise the Lord!  While Patrick did experience some nausea and fatigue from his second round of chemotherapy, his doctors have calibrated his medications more appropriately now.  This meant much fewer unwanted side effects.

Please continue to pray for Patrick.  Specifically, pray that the chemotherapy continues to target ANY remaining cancer cells in his body and keeps them away FOREVER.  Please pray for healing over his body.  Lift up Emily too!  Miss Em has had a series of rough weeks herself, and she greatly appreciates your prayers and support (and hugs if you are close by).

*** A few readers have written me regarding less-frequent posting to this blog.  Please remember that I post as requested by Patrick and Emily.  Thankfully, the last few weeks have been less eventful; therefore, there has been less to report.  I will continue to update the blog as necessary!  Thanks for understanding. ***

Friday, October 4, 2013

Side Effects Weighing Heavily

Hello prayer warriors!  Please continue to lift Emily and Patrick up in prayer. This has been a trying week for both of them. Patrick received his first IV chemo infusion on Monday.  The Shaws were very impressed with the staff and hospitality of the "Hope Center" in their hometown. That was a blessing!  However, by the evening of the inflation Patrick was violently ill.  After an evening of continuous nausea and vomiting, Patrick and Emily returned to the Hope Center the next day where Patrick received IV fluids and anti-nausea medication. 

The following day (Wednesday) Patrick was told to return to the hospital for abdominal X-rays due to persistent vomiting after the recovery treatment on Tuesday at the infusion center did not remedy the problem.  Doctors wished to rule out another bowel obstruction.  Thankfully, there was no true bowel obstruction but instead a slow moving ostomy due to the pain and anti-nausea medications Patrick had been taking.  Prioritizing his comfort, the team instructed Patrick to return to the Hope Center for more efforts to control his nausea and vomiting before addressing the slow moving ostomy. 

At this time, Patrick and Emily are home again.  Patrick's side effects are controlled, but he's feeling very puny.  Please continue to pray for God to champion over these nasty side effects of chemotherapy and adjusting to a new colostomy.  Don't forget Emily in your prayers either!  She needs strength and mental stability ... And a lot of peace and understanding.  

Friday, September 27, 2013

Cover Them

Please join me in covering Patrick & Emily with prayer this weekend as Patrick prepares to begin his IV chemotherapy infusions this Monday.

This Monday (10/30/13) Patrick will have his first of several (4 to 6, if memory serves) rounds of IV chemotherapy.  Each infusion will take place locally, at the "Hope Center" in Waynesboro, VA and will last 2-3 hours (outpatient).  During the weeks between IV chemo, Patrick will take oral chemotherapy as well.

Please lift the Shaws up this weekend as they prepare to embark on this chapter of their story next week.  Pray for strength and sound body for Patrick.  Pray for minimal and manageable side effects from this new type of chemotherapy as well.  Additionally, please lift up Emily as his "care giver" and closest support person.  Pray for her endurance, spirit, and sound mind.

Pray for them.
Hug them.
Love on them!

Sunday, September 22, 2013

Patrick Is Home

Thank you to everyone who has faithfully lifted Patrick and Emily up in prayer.  Yesterday, around 3pm, Patrick was discharged home from UVA hospital (two days earlier than expected).  Turns out ... he had been virtually nausea free and his ostomy output was good ... so his doctors thought he was prepared to go home.  Both Emily and Patrick were glad to be back in the comfort of their own home where they could get uninterrupted sleep and a sense of normalcy again.

I spoke with Emily today, and she said Patrick is doing well.  His pain is under control, but he is still very tired and weak (understandably).  Although he is hungry, Emily said Patrick is having a difficult time eating.  She thinks this is partially physiological (body) ... but also partially psychological (mind).  As in:  Patrick is a bit afraid to eat again after his unexpected bowel obstruction.  He is "taking it a day at a time," eating the foods that appeal the most to him, and trying to rest and regain his strength.

This recent hospital stay was unexpected and tiresome for the Shaws.  Please pray God's protection over Patrick's body and over both of their spirits.  Additionally, prayers are needed for Patrick to regain his desire to eat so that he may increase his strength and stamina.

Pray on, Prayer Warriors!

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Bowel Obstruction

I would like to ask everyone reading this blog to stop what they are doing and lift Patrick and Emily up in prayer. 

Last night, Patrick awoke in the middle of the night with severe stomach/intestinal cramping and nausea and vomiting.  After awhile, Emily drove him to the ER.  There, it was determined that Patrick had a bowel obstruction.  A nasogastric tube (NG tube) was placed in Patrick's nose and run down into his stomach. This is used to remove stomach acid (among other things) and help relieve nausea and vomiting.  Patrick was then sent to UVA and admitted to the hospital as an in-patient around 5:45am. 

I have texted with Emily a little today.  Both of them are very tired. Patrick is still feeling poorly as well.  He is awaiting an X-ray to examine the placement of his NG tube.  At this time, the Shaws were told that "watching and waiting" is the plan for Patrick's bowel obstruction.  

Please remember them in your prayers.  

Friday, September 6, 2013

Post-Surgery Updates!!!

I spoke with Emily today about Patrick's first post-surgery update. 

GOD HAS DONE SOME MIGHTY THINGS WITHIN PATRICK'S PHYSICAL BODY!!!

First, the original tumor size was 7cm. The tumor that was removed during the surgery (post chemo and radiation) was, at most, 3.7cm. Way to go prayer warriors!  Patrick's tumor shrunk nearly half its size. 

Even more exciting: Patrick's CEA (carcinoembryonic antigen) level ... a measurement used to determine how widespread cancer is within the body AND how well it is responding to medical intervention) was dramatically reduced!

Prior to treatment:  CEA was 35.3 (less than 5 is normal)
This week:  CEA was 0.9

How incredible is that?!?  Tonight is a night of praise!


***

Now what?  Here is the current treatment plan for Patrick:

Patrick will begin IV chemo two weeks from today (9/6/13). These treatments will be done in an outpatient infusion center every 3 weeks ... And will last 2-3 hours each time. 

Between IV chemo infusions, the first two weeks Patrick will take daily oral chemo.  He will then have one week off before the next IV chemo infusion. 

Patrick will complete 4-6 of these 3-week cycles. 

*** continue following for more updates ***

Patrick's Sermon

This past weekend I had the pleasure of spending some one-on-two time with Patrick and Emily.  Even amongst the adjustments, challenges, and celebrations of Patrick's journey ... They still prove to be unconditional friends. 

Patrick asked me to share a very special link (and message) with those of you who are following this blog.  Below is a link to Patrick's church's web page, specifically to the sermon Patrick gave right BEFORE his tumor removal surgery. 

If you click the link, this page will redirect you to the podcast page.  For that page, you can click on the PLAY button (traditional arrow button) and listen to Patrick's words. The complete sermon is approximately 1 hour long. Enjoy!!!

*** if the direct link does not work, please copy and paste it into your web browser ***

Here is the link:

http://whbc.net/sermons/where-is-god-in-the-midst-of-trials-a-personal-testimony-by-patrick-shaw/

Thursday, August 29, 2013

Patrick is Home!

Patrick is home!

Ring the bells and cheer aloud ... Patrick is home from the hospital!

I talked last evening to Emily, and she told me that Patrick had been discharged from UVA hospital yesterday about 2pm.  Before he left, both of his drains and his incision staples were removed.  He still has sutures in place, and these will be removed in one week. 

Thus far, Patrick had been feeling really good since leaving to hospital for the comfort of home. Emily said his appetite had returned and, although he was "taking it easy," he was enjoying the opportunity to eat real food again.  His nausea and vomiting have lessened a huge deal.  Also, Patrick's pain is well managed, and he has even taken a "real" shower.  Emily sounded quite proud of him!

The Shaws are finally taking the next few days to recoup energy at home (and relishing the ability to sleep without interruption).  They continue to ask for and immensely appreciate your support and heartfelt prayers for Patrick's continued healing. 

Sunday, August 25, 2013

Nausea and Vomiting

Today has been a difficult day for Emily and Patrick Shaw.  Unfortunately, Patrick was unable to be discharged to come home due to continued nausea and vomiting.  His ostomy has begun to work well; however, doctors have been puzzled by his continuing malaise.

After drawing some labs, doctors ordered Patrick to have a CT scan today to view his internal organs.  The good news is:  no "obvious issues" were discovered.  However, this means that the current reason for his nausea and vomiting is an "ileus" (sleeping bowel).  In other words, Patricks' digestive tract is taking a very long time to recover from the trauma of surgery.  While this will eventually resolve, doctors are unable to give Emily and Patrick an exact timeline as to when it will.  That means that Patrick's nausea and vomiting may continue awhile longer.

Because Dr. Friel was not in the hospital tonight, Patrick was asked to stay another night.  Tomorrow he will meet with Dr. Friel to discuss how to proceed.  At this time, the Shaws do not yet know when Patrick will be discharged to home.

Please pray for Patrick's GI tract to awaken and begin working properly.  Also pray diligently for Patrick's comfort ... as NO ONE enjoys feeling nauseous and vomiting!

Saturday, August 24, 2013

Update from Patrick

Here's an update directly from Patrick today!

The plans have been set for Patrick to come home from this hospital tomorrow!  All of his IV pain medications have been discontinued to move him forward with recovery; therefore, he is experiencing more pain today (even a few new pains).  Prayer in this area would be greatly appreciated. 

Within the last 24 hours, he has begun eating "regular" foods again. His nausea has somewhat subsided, but his digestive functions are still mending. Please continue praying for normal function to return and his ostomy to become active. 

Patrick will go home tomorrow will several drains (around his surgical wounds).  Over the next several weeks, he will have appointments to remove those drains as well as the staples that close his surgical incisions.  

Please continue to lift the Shaws up in prayer ... Both for healing and peace from stress. 

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Specific Prayer Request

Hello again prayer warriors. 

I just wanted to drop in with a quick update about Patrick's progress. I have spoken with Emily on and off for the last few days as Patrick adjusts post-op.  He has been walking like a champ!  His doctors and nurses have been so proud of his stamina and determination to not only meet but exceed the care "goals" in place for him. 

He has, however, been suffering from a great deal of nausea and vomiting.  This is partially due to the nature of the surgical procedure he had done ... And also due to a slow-moving ostomy (which is normal soon after creation).  Emily has asked for very targeted prayer over the next few days that PATRICK'S DIGESTIVE SYSTEM BEGINS TO FUNCTION NORMALLY AGAIN.  It is "normal" for it to take some time for digestive functions to regulate ... But that does NOT mean it is easy!  Please lift Patrick up in this way. 

Your continued and additional prayers are always appreciated. 

Sunday, August 18, 2013

A New Day

I have spoken via text message with Emily throughout the day today. She has given me a few updates on Patrick and how he's been recovering on his first day post-op. 

Naturally, Patrick was very disappointed (to say the least) that the end result was, in fact, a permanent colostomy. Emily said he was "bummed" but very "matter of fact."  She also shared with me that he was just very thankful that his bladder and prostate were able to be left intact.  In the end, I think Patrick and Emily both understand that the colostomy is Patrick's best chance at beating the big C. 

This evening, Emily told me that Patrick had been up and walking several times today. By the end of the day, she said he had "exceeded his goal" and been up walking in the hallway.  She says that he is "sore" (especially from the activity) but that his pain meds are working well.  

When Emily left the hospital this evening, she said Patrick was resting.  As pain meds oftentimes do, they were making Patrick very itchy (side effect).  So, he had been given some IV Benadryl and was turning in for the night. 

There is not yet an exact timeline as to the various consults Patrick will have while at UVA or exactly how long he will remain in the hospital.  However, let's all remain faithful in our prayers for the Shaws as they move forward on this journey. 

Pray on! 

Friday, August 16, 2013

Out of Surgery!

Patrick is out of surgery!

I recently got off the phone with Emily.  Her voice was shaky, but overall she sounded good.  Dr. Friel had just been in to speak with she and the family, as Patrick was taken to the recovery room.

Dr. Friel told Emily that although the surgery was very involved and complex, it went "as well as he could have hoped."  He told her that the tumor was still very much present (although smaller) in the rectum.  He had concerns that the tumor was still very close to Patrick's prostate.  This is partially what made the surgery take a bit longer than expected as Dr. Friel worked diligently to separate the tumor tissue from the prostate.  Good job prayer warriors!

In the end, Dr. Friel was able to remove the complete tumor WITHOUT removing Patrick's bladder or prostate.  He expressed some continued concerns to Emily about the cancer returning in these organs.  However, because he was highly unsure whether it was malignant tumor or simple scar tissue (from radiation) that was interwoven with these organs, he did not want to remove them unnecessarily.  At this time, he said he would simply "hope for the best."  But ... we know we're going to pray!

Patrick was given a colostomy after the tumor removal.  However, prior to the surgery, his abdomen was marked in two different places ... one for a permanent and one for a temporary colostomy.  Therefore, although a temporary colostomy was not really considered ... there is a possibility that this will be the case.  Emily is hoping and praying for the best!

Emily will be allowed to see Patrick once he is awake in the recovery room.  The Shaws have a long night ahead and a long journey toward recovery.

I do not think any additional updates will follow this evening.  However, as I speak to Emily tomorrow ... I will return and update the blog.

Thank you for your concern and prayers today.  Please continue to lift up Emily and Patrick as they set out on the next chapter in this story of ... God Healing Patrick!

God bless and goodnight!

 

... Still in Surgery

Dr. Friel has ensured Emily that everything is going well. However, Patrick is still in surgery as of 9:20pm and could possibly remain in surgery for 2 or more additional hours. 

Either the surgeon will update Emily when the procedure is complete ... Or Emily will receive another nurse call in 2 more hours. 

Keep lifting them up!

Mid-Way

Hello prayer warriors!

Just spoke with Emily.  Patrick is doing well in the OR.  The surgeon anticipates another 2+ hours of surgery as they remove the tumor and create the colostomy.  So, please pray for Emily as she continues to support Patrick. This has been a very long and arduous day. 

After the surgery, Patrick will go to the PACU to recover and then be moved to his room.  As a guess (from me) the Shaws may be looking at about midnight before they are settled. I am unsure how many more updates will be available tonight, but I will continue updating until midnight as Emily contacts me .. Then resume in the morning. 

Dr. Friel will be speaking with Emily and the family when the surgery is complete. At that time, more details will be available about the overall outcome of the procedure. 

Emily asks that everyone lift up Patrick ... specifically for the moment when he is told that he does have the colostomy as he was dreading this possibility. 

Check back!

Surgery

Emily just received a call from Dr. Friel that the tumor was still there. 

The surgery will proceed as planned. She may receive another update around 7pm. 

*****

Here's where our hearts break ... But we have to trust in God's bigger wisdom. 

*****

Please pray specifically for:
1.  Dr. Friel's execution of the procedure. 
2.  Patrick's safety. 
3.  That Patrick's bladder and prostate are not jeopardized. 
4.  For Emily as her heart breaks for her husband. 
5.  For Patrick's heart when he wakes up to the new challenges that face him. 

Underway

I just heard from Emily that Patrick has been taken back to the OR. The actual scope and following surgery is likely to begin around 5:15pm once Patrick is asleep.  Emily will await a call from Dr. Friel after the scope is complete to tell her whether or not the surgery will proceed as scheduled. If so, it will take approximately 4 hours.

Trusting in the lyrics of a favorite worship song that there is still much hope:
How great is our God,
Sing with me ... How great is our God,
And all will see,
How great, how great, is our God!

Pre-Op

Patrick is in pre-op right now. Emily said that Dr. Friel (the surgeon) had already been in to talk with them. They are waiting to consult with the anesthesiologist. Dr. Friel told them he expects to begin the procedure around 4:30pm and that, if Patrick does need a colostomy, the procedure will last about 4 hours. 

Along with your usual prayers, please pray for stamina as Emily and Patrick are having a much longer day than anticipated. 

Surgical Prep

I just heard from Emily that Patrick went back from surgical prepping about 1:30pm this afternoon.  She will continue to update me as she is able.  However, her cell is not receiving adequate signal.

Keep praying ... and BELIEVING ... that the tumor is GONE!

Waiting

Emily and Patrick are currently at UVA awaiting Patrick's surgery. Dave Mercer, a nurse practitioner and Wound Ostomy Continence nurse (who I know personally and is incredible) has met with Patrick this morning and "marked" him for his colostomy. Take heart ... That still does NOT mean Patrick WILL be getting one!  He will not be scoped until he is under anesthesia in the OR.  Pray on!

The Shaws are now waiting for their buzzer to alarm, indicating it is time for Patrick to be prepped for the procedure. 

Continue lifting them up,
More updates to follow!

Thursday, August 15, 2013

Tomorrow at 10

Hello everyone!  This begins my best effort at "real time" updates on Patrick and Emily Shaw as Patrick prepares to undergo surgery tomorrow to remove the tumor in his rectum. Tomorrow, as Emily is able to provide me information and periodic updates, I will be posting to this blog. The entires will be very short and are intended to provide concise updates for all friends and family to read and target their prayers.  I suspect there will be multiple "real-time" (or close to it) updates throughout the day, so please check back frequently!  Both Patrick and Emily appreciate your continued support and prayers. 

The Shaws were just instructed to report to the University of Virginia Health System (hospital) tomorrow (8/16/13) at 10:00am.  Otherwise, there is no exact timeline at this time. 

As you lift the Shaws up in prayer today, please pray specifically for:

1.  Patrick's tumor to have DISAPPEARED so he may forego surgery altogether. 
2.  Dr. Friel's best discretion and execution of the procedure tomorrow. 
3.  Emily's health as she has a cold and is feeling under the weather. 
4.  Patrick's peace if this surgery requires a colostomy or other medical intervention. 
5.  Patrick's strength tonight as he begins "prepping" for tomorrow's procedure. 

Thanks and God bless!

Thursday, August 8, 2013

Pictures!!!

Hi everyone!

I just wanted to take the opportunity to share some photographs I took this week of Emily & Patrick with everyone who is praying for Patrick's healing!

Enjoy a "sneak peek" of their session with Favorite Things Photography (me!).
(and "like" Favorite Things Photography on Facebook if you have the chance)












Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Mighty Works

Hello Prayer Warriors!

I apologize for being a tad late updating you with what's currently going on with Patrick & Emily.  As you know, Patrick's tumor removal surgery is scheduled for August 16th, 2013.  About a week ago, the Shaws traveled back to UVA to meet with Patrick's surgeon, Dr. Friel, to discuss the results of his post-therapy MRI.

Dr. Friel, who is very much a realist (not optimist), commented that Patrick's tumor had "shrunk remarkably."  How incredible is that description?!?  Gives me chills!  Because there is still another month before Patrick's operation, he spoke to him about a very tiny chance that the tumor could continue to shrink and disappear!  In that case, Patrick would no longer require surgery.  Dr. Friel, however, feels that this is probably unlikely (statistically speaking) and instructed Patrick & Emily to return to UVA on August 16th expecting to move forward with the surgery.  That morning, he will "scope" Patrick to make the final decision.

During the appointment, Dr. Friel also informed Patrick that if surgery is necessary, he should expect a permanent colostomy due to the tumor's location.  However, he also told Patrick and he NO LONGER feels the bladder or prostate are affected by the cancer.  Therefore, the chance of needing to remove these organs is quite slim.  Praise God!

*   *   *

When I talked to Emily following this appointment, she sounded good.  The Shaws have been through a roller coaster of emotions between Patrick's many physicians' opinions.  The one consistency has been that Dr. Friel's news is never very good.  So ... to hear such encouraging news from him truly spoke volumes.  It was what we have all been praying to hear!

However, regardless of what any physician's opinion is ... good or bad ... we know better.  Patrick is under the care of the Great Physician.  No matter the outcome, He has it under control for His purpose.

*   *   *

Please continue to diligently pray for Patrick & Emily!

What to pray specifically?

1.  Pray for miracle-style tumor shrinkage and total disappearance!
2.  Pray for Dr. Friel as he makes crucial decisions over Patrick's body.
3.  Pray for Patrick & Emily's mental and emotional health as they cope with the real possibility of a colostomy.
4.  Pray for ease of tumor removal and a safe surgery.

And ... don't forget to PRAISE God for the mighty works already being seen!

Sunday, June 30, 2013

Post-Therapy Update

Hello prayer warriors!

Please keep up your earnest efforts in lifting Patrick & Emily up to the Lord.

*   *   *

On June 13th, Patrick had a repeat PET scan to view his tumor's "activity" after completing oral chemotherapy and radiation.  Once the scan was reviewed, Patrick's medical oncologist. Dr. Wolf, gave him the good news that the tumor has certainly shrunk.  He said that based upon Patrick's symptoms and the measurements obtained by the PET scan, things were "looking good."  This is a rather 'crude' quantitative marker ... but the tumor's original "number" on the PET scan was 14.2.  It's current "number" is 8.1.  Although Patrick & Emily do not know what these numbers represent, no one can argue that they show the tumor's response to therapy!  Additionally, the "questionable spots" on Patrick's liver and lungs did NOT respond to the cancer treatment.  That is wonderful and critical news as it means that they are most likely NOT related.  This means that Patrick's cancer is more definitively Stage 3 instead of Stage 4.  Praise God!

Patrick & Emily left Dr. Wolf's office feeling positive and had a great time celebrating their 5th wedding anniversary together.

*   *   *

On June 24th, the Shaws traveled down to UVA to meet with Dr. Friel, Patrick's surgical oncologist who will perform the upcoming tumor removal surgery.  Unfortunately, his view was not as optimistic.  Although he agrees that Patrick's tumor has significantly shrunk in size, its location is still of utmost concern.  Patrick's rectal tumor is still very, very low in the rectum.  Therefore, Dr. Friel fears that once he removes the tumor, he will not have any healthy rectal tissue to "reconnect the pipes" so to speak.  Therefore, barring a miracle, Dr. Friel feels certain that Patrick will require a permanent colostomy.  Furthermore, due to the invasiveness of the tumor through the rectal wall, Dr. Friel discussed with Patrick & Emily that removing Patrick's bladder and prostate may still be necessary to ensure all cancerous tissue is removed from the body.  The necessity of this will not truly be known until Patrick is physically undergoing surgery.  Dr. Friel wants to prepare the Shaws for the worst case scenario, but remain hopeful for the best.

*   *   *

Patrick's operation is scheduled for August 16th, 2013.  

*   *   *

Want to pray specifically?

1.  Pray for a miracle within Patrick's body.
2.  Pray for both Patrick & Emily's acceptance and peace about the possible changes ahead.
3.  Pray that Dr. Friel is able to rid Patrick's body of cancer without removing the bladder or prostate.


~  Remember, God is good, ALL the time!

Keep praying!


Monday, June 10, 2013

Updated Instructions for Monetary Gifts

Today I was contacted by a member of Patrick and Emily's church with some updated instructions on how to BEST give monetarily to The Shaws.

These are important instructions to follow because Patrick is on staff at his church.  These will ensure all giving is done legally and stress-free!

From now on:

1.  Continue to mail any monetary donations to:

Wayne Hills Baptist Church 
877 Ladd Road
Waynesboro, VA 22980

2.  Write ONLY "benevolence" on the check memo line.

3.  Enclose a small note with your gift that "you would like this monetary gift to be given to Patrick and Emily Shaw."

*   *   *

The monetary gifts given to this fund will be used to directly assist The Shaws with medical expenses.  If you would like to send Patrick and Emily "spending money" (which is nice, too) for things like groceries, dining out, household items, date nights ... please mail that to them directly.

Thank you for your cooperation and your continued support of this wonderful couple!

Sunday, June 9, 2013

Patrick's Celebration Weekend

"My favorite part of the weekend was the first moment I saw each person; the moment it hit me that they were there ... and there because they cared about me."
-- Patrick


Never before in my life have I seen a group of friends like Patrick Shaw's.

On the long weekend of May 30th - June 2nd, my husband and I had the pleasure of attending a "celebration weekend" for Patrick & Emily hosted by their dear friends, Jack and Jacqueline St. Clair.


This event was more incredible that I can express in words.  A large group of Patrick's friends from high school dropped what they were doing ... put their lives (spouses, kids, jobs) on hold ... many traveled from across the country ... just to be together in the spirit of love.

For that weekend, everyone shared a unity of purpose ... lifting Patrick up in prayer and likewise in spirit.

Their example of authentic friendship reminds me of Ecclesiastes 4:10-12 ...
"If either of them falls down, one can help the other up. But pity anyone who falls and has no one to help them up.  Also, if two lie down together, they will keep warm.  But how can one keep warm alone?
Though one may be overpowered, two can defend themselves. A cord of three strands is not quickly broken."


I watched as old friends settled into comfortable conversation.

And, although Patrick's journey with cancer was the catalyst of the weekend ... he said himself:  
"The weekend was like stepping out of the routine of my 'life with cancer.'  I got to leave that behind in Waynesboro just to be surrounded by goodness."

Goodness was everywhere!


Good Food



Good Friendship





Good Fun



Good Fellowship (and a special time of prayer)



And Great Adventures!

On Saturday night, Jack arranged for special transportation to take everyone into Washington DC to visit the monuments.  Patrick says "I'm geeky, so Jack knew that's what I'd like to do!"



We arrived in style ...


And took it all in.








... And we finished the night with a special meal ...







Reflecting back on the weekend when we spoke tonight, Patrick didn't think he was expressing himself well.  I beg to differ.  I cannot summarize him better that to directly quote:

"For the most part, I don't like to be showy.  I'm a guy.  Sometimes, though, when I'm expressing gratitude so great ... I almost wish the tears would come, because there's enough emotion behind them.  At the beginning of the weekend, I had a "moment" of brokenness that a few people saw.  I almost wish everyone could have seen it, because that's how I felt.  I am so humbled.  It meant a lot."

* special thanks to Mr. Holmes for the photographs *

Sunday, June 2, 2013

Share the Love

Patrick is one LOVED guy!

This weekend was spent fellowshipping and celebrating with Patrick and Emily and their EXTENDED network of friends.  We had a wonderful time together, and I look forward to documenting the fun on this blog once I have some photographs to complement the entry!

Stay tuned ...

***  Those of you who attended the Celebration Weekend please contact Patrick or Emily for my direct email address and send your photos to me ASAP  ***

Thanks!

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Ring the Bell

Today Patrick got to ring the bell indicating the end of his radiation therapy as he left the doctor's office.    What a time of celebration as well as a time to "call all prayer warriors" to their knees.

The first "phase" of Patrick's treatment for rectal cancer is now complete.  He took his last dose of oral chemotherapy today and completed his last radiation treatment this afternoon.  Overall, both Emily and Patrick have tolerated these combined therapies well.

At this time, Patrick's most profound "side effect" has been fatigue.  He says that simple tasks require much more energy than they used to.  Additionally, over the past few weeks (the second half of this treatment phase) Patrick has been experiencing more "radiation symptoms" that have been uncomfortable.  Basically, imagine having a severe sunburn in one of the most inconvenient places possible.  Patrick has also lost a bit of his hair, but is not "bald" by any means at this time.  He has NOT experienced any nausea or vomiting, and he tells me that the "side effects" have not been nearly as severe as he expected or feared.  Praise God!

*   *   *

Patrick now enters the "watch and wait" phase of this journey.  There is no exact timeline as to what is expected over the next few weeks.  Essentially, Patrick will have several weeks of "rest" to allow for his tumor to respond to the radiation and chemotherapy by shrinking.  Patrick has a PET scan scheduled for June 13th, 2013 that will allow doctors to again view his tumor and the surrounding structures.  They will be looking for tumor shrinkage activity with that scan.  This rest period may last anywhere from 4 to 12 weeks, and Patrick may have additional tests performed or repeated as determined by his team of physicians.  All of the information gathered during this time will be used to schedule and detail Patrick's surgery to remove the tumor in the future.

*   *   *

Patrick and Emily have made several very specific prayers requests at this time.  Please pray specifically for:

1.  The tumor's continued response to chemo and radiation.  Pray that the tumor shrinks.
2.  Wisdom imparted upon the doctors as they make decisions about the proper timing and type of surgery Patrick will need.
3.  That when the time for surgery comes, the tumor will have shrunk enough for Patrick to avoid a colostomy or ANY other sort of "devastating" surgical outcome.
4.  Pray that Patrick's surgery will be as simple as possible and require the least amount of stress/intervention on his body.

Don't forget to PRAISE the Lord for Patrick's protection from severe "side effects" and for the evidence that Patrick's body is responding favorably to treatment thus far!

Friday, May 10, 2013

3 Weeks In

Hello everyone!

Patrick wanted me to share a bit of good news with you.  This week, Patrick passed the 3-week mark with his chemotherapy and radiation (about half way for this initial course).  God has been doing some BIG things too!  For starters, other than fatigue, Patrick has not had any major side effects from these combined therapies.  How incredible is that?  Also, although his doctor was vague ... Patrick was told that some of the changes his body is experiencing indicate ... TUMOR SHRINKAGE!!!

How is that for some good news to kick start your weekend?

Right!

*   *   *

Additionally, both Patrick & Emily have expressed that although they may not be responding to each of you individually ... they are reading your comments and feeling your love.  I know that both of them have been astounded by the outpouring of prayers, love, and support thusfar in their journey.

Want to pray specifically?

Please continue to pray for tumor shrinkage and continued tolerance of therapy!

Sunday, April 28, 2013

Monetary Gifts

I have been approached recently by many, many caring and generous friends of Patrick & Emily.  Most of them have been inquiring about ways to extend financial gifts in this time of need.

At this time, Patrick & Emily's home church, Wayne Hills Baptist, has created a benevolence fund to support Patrick & Emily financially.  However, those touched by Patrick & Emily span far further than Waynesboro, Va ... which is a blessing!  Church members and friends from across Virginia and Florida have expressed interest in helping.

In effort to keep things simple, at this time, it is requested that monetary gifts be sent to:

Wayne Hills Baptist Church 
877 Ladd Road
Waynesboro, VA 22980

With:  "Patrick and Emily Benevolence" written on the MEMO LINE of checks!

***

Don't have the means to give monetary gifts but still want to help?

Heaven is always accepting donations ... and prayers are the only currency!


Sunday, April 21, 2013

Short Update ... Positive, too!

This is just a short update for everyone!  I spoke on the telephone last night to Emily and she sounded pretty good.  Patrick began chemotherapy and radiation on Thursday and Friday of last week.  He took a "break" over the weekend, and his treatments will resume tomorrow (Monday).  Currently, he is tired but is not experiencing any other side effects from the treatments.  Praise the Lord!

Emily was excited to tell me that she and Patrick has successfully assembled a new kitchen island ... so life was feeling a bit more "normal" again.  For the most part, the constant appointments and procedures are over for the time being.  Patrick will still meet with his radiation oncologist once weekly and his medical oncologist biweekly ... as well as go daily for radiation treatments.  However, there is a small amount of calm at their house.

Nevertheless, prayers are still appreciated! 

What to pray specifically?

Please pray for Emily as she "manages" the phone calls, faxes, paperwork, and scheduling that coincides with caring for a loved one with cancer.  Pray that the Lord will give her clarity of mind, ample time, and a sense of calm/accomplishment.  Please also continue to pray that Patrick remains free of treatment side effects ... and that his tumor SHRINKS!

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Medical Oncology and Family Planning

Yesterday, Patrick & Emily met with Dr. Wolf, Patrick's medical oncologist to develop a plan for beginning chemotherapy and radiation.  Patrick expressed a desire for the doctors to be "as aggressive as possible" in treating his tumor.  Dr. Wolf assured him that the oral chemotherapy, coupled with radiation 5 days/week, is as aggressive as possible.  Dr. Wolf has confidence that these combined therapies with shrink Patrick's tumor ... and he is cautiously optimistic that this could mean avoiding the urostomy and colostomy if treatment is highly successful.  Still, Patrick & Emily need your heartfelt prayers as nothing is a guarantee.

Prior to this appointment, Patrick & Emily made the decision to visit a fertility center.  The specialists there felt that due to the therapies Patrick is expected to undergo, their best option for future conception would be sperm banking.  After seeking the Lord's will for this decision, Patrick & Emily decided to proceed with the sperm banking and are looking toward IVF for future family planning.  They truly appreciate the prayers and support of others regarding this decision.

Today, Patrick & Emily are traveling to UVA for Patrick's pelvic MRI.  This diagnostic test is just another "piece in the puzzle" for helping the doctors best target Patrick's treatment.  They do not expect any "major updates" to come from today's appointment.

Patrick will begin both chemotherapy and radiation this Thursday.  These treatments will continue for 5-6 weeks in effort to drastically shrink the tumor.

Want to pray specifically?

Please pray for SHRINKAGE of the tumor through chemo and radiation.  Also, please pray for Patrick's body as he undergoes these aggressive treatments.  Pray that his side effects are both minimal and well-mangaed.

Thursday, April 11, 2013

Radiation Oncology

This weeks in one filled with specialist appointments for Patrick & Emily.  Yesterday (4/10/13) they met with Patrick's Radiation Oncologist, Dr. Morgan.  Today, (4/11/13) Patrick has a PET scan.

Yesterday's meeting with Dr. Morgan was to create a plan to appropriately begin Patrick's radiation treatments.  Once they begin, Patrick will have radiation to the tumor site 5 days/week for 5-6 weeks in conjunction with oral chemotherapy.  At this time, Dr. Morgan anticipates these treatments beginning mid to late next week, after he creates a detailed treatment plan.

Yesterday, Patrick underwent another pelvic CT to better visualize the tumor and surrounding anatomy.  He was also "positioned" in order to choose the BEST position for him to lie in during treatments.  Once that position was found, Patrick was given two permanent tattoos to mark the best areas for radiation.  Again, due to the location and position of Patrick's tumor, concerns arose regarding future fertility after radiation treatments.  Tomorrow's PET scan will shed more light on this and solidify these choices to help Dr. Morgan develop a detailed treatment plan to best target the radiation.   

Want to pray specifically?

Pray that Patrick & Emily make wise, God-inspired decisions regarding future fertility plans.  Pray that the radiation is well-targeted and HIGHLY SUCCESSFUL in shrinking Patrick's tumor.  Pray that the side-effects of radiation are well managed for Patrick.

Monday, April 8, 2013

UVA Update

Hello Prayer Warriors!

I'm so glad you are here, because prayers for Patrick & Emily are very necessary at this time.

As suspected, today was a big day.  It was a day of procedures, of overwhelming information, and of tears.  Per Patrick's request, I am going to be forthright with the new information obtained at UVA.

*   *   *

Early this morning, Patrick underwent his follow-up colonoscopy.  His gastroenterologist, Dr. Shami, also performed a tumor ultrasound while Patrick was sedated.  Additionally, the colorectal surgeon who will eventually perform Patrick's operation, Dr. Friel, attended the scope and physically examined the tumor.

The colonoscopy itself did not reveal a great deal of surprises as most of the information remained unchanged since the original colonoscopy.  Dr. Shami's report did indicate the "stage" of Patrick's rectal tumor:

Tumor Stage:  uT3 uN2

Medical Translation:
uT3:  Cancer infiltrating the rectal wall through serosa or perirectal fat
uN2:  >3 malignant perirectal lymph nodes 

In a nut shell:
Stage 3 cancer with cancer found in the surrounding lymph nodes.

(a photo Patrick asked me to share of him recovering from the procedure)


*   *   *

Immediately after the colonoscopy, Patrick & Emily met with Dr. Friel to discuss future plans and possible outcomes.  Unfortunately, he did not have much good news.

Due to the size and location of Patrick's tumor, Dr. Friel feels it is highly likely Patrick will require a permanent colonostomy (stoma (hole) formed by drawing the healthy end of the large intestine or colon through an incision in the anterior abdominal wall and suturing it into place. This opening, in conjunction with the attached stoma appliance, provides an alternative channel for feces to leave the body).

Furthermore, Dr. Friel expressed a concern about the location of the tumor within Patrick's rectum.  He was troubled to find that the tumor is on the front of the bowel (against the prostate) rather than at the back of the bowel (against the tailbone).  Due to the depth of Patrick's tumor, Dr. Friel has concerns that the prostate and bladder may also be affected by the cancer.  Although uncertain, he mentioned the possible need to remove these organs (prostate and bladder) as well during the surgery if he is unable to separate them from the tumor.  This would result in an additional urostomy (a stoma for the urinary system. A urostomy is made to avail for urinary diversion in cases where drainage of urine through the bladder and urethra is not possible.)

In the midst of this devastating news, Emily inquired about their future desire to start a family.  Dr. Friel also expressed concerns about nerve damage, impotence, and infertility.  He suggested that Patrick & Emily consider sperm banking prior to surgery and genetic counseling afterwards.

*   *   *

Earlier today, a friend of Patrick's referred to him as a "spiritual tough guy."  What an excellent description of him!  On the journey to UVA today, Patrick mentioned several times that:  "me and God are still okay."  His faith and reliance on the Almighty remain unshaken and exemplary.

Nevertheless, Patrick & Emily are also at a place of brokenness.  They are walking through the valley.

They are in desperate need of earnest and relentless prayer and uplifting.

*   *   *

Even in this deep valley, there is great hope.  Dr. Friel told Patrick & Emily that prior to surgery he will begin radiation and oral chemotherapy for 5-6 weeks.  This combination has the potential to shrink Patrick's tumor and separate it from the prostate/bladder.  This would mean avoiding the urostomy and potential infertility.  Best case scenario, it could also mean avoiding the colostomy as well.

Do we serve a big God?

I think so.

Want to pray specifically?

Please pray for Patrick's body to respond incredibly well to chemo and radiation.  Pray that the tumor shrinks drastically.  Pray that the prostate and bladder are unaffected by cancer.  Pray that Patrick is able to avoid these unwanted outcomes of his surgery.

(They are still smiling)

Friday, April 5, 2013

A Timeline

Today marks exactly one week since the initial discovery of Patrick's tumor.  As I'm sure any cancer survivor would tell you, the first few weeks after diagnosis are a whirlwind.  Patrick and Emily have been to several different specialists and to many appointments.  Meanwhile, they are also adjusting to the new mindset they must have to move forward with treatment.

In an effort to "catch everyone up," I feel I can best do that by creating a simple timeline of the last week.

--  Friday, March 29, 2013:  Patrick went to his gastroenterologist for a "routine" colonoscopy due to changes in his bowel habits and a family history of colorectal cancer.  At the time of this procedure, most everyone (the doc included) were concerned about Inflammatory Bowel Diseases such as Crohn's Disease or Ulcerative Colitis based on Patrick's symptoms.  The colonoscopy unexpectedly revealed a 7cm tumor in Patrick's rectum.  Tissue biopsies were taken, and Patrick was scheduled for a CT scan.

-- Tuesday, April 2, 2013:  Patrick underwent a CT scan to look for cancer lesions elsewhere in his body.

-- Thursday, April 4, 2013:  Patrick and Emily returned to the gastroenterologist to discuss the results of the biopsies and the CT scan.  The tumor biopsies indicated that Patrick's tumor was malignant (cancerous), and although it was deemed "partially inconclusive" there was some evidence of lymph node involvement.  The CT scan showed a small lesion on Patrick's liver.  However, it is not known if this liver lesion is related to the cancer in Patrick's rectum.

-- Friday, April 5, 2013:  Patrick and Emily met with a medical oncologist.  This doctor further explained Patrick's tumor "anatomy."  He concluded that the lymph nodes surrounding the tumor are inflamed but not necessarily cancerous (think of how the lymph nodes in your neck become swollen when you have strep throat).  Unfortunately, he also informed Patrick and Emily that there were two questionable lesions on Patrick's lungs.  Like the liver lesions, it is currently unknown whether these are related to the rectal cancer.  The oncologist scheduled Patrick for a PET scan next week.  This scan will help determine whether the lymph nodes surrounding the tumor are inflamed or cancerous.  This will help in "staging" Patrick's cancer.

--  The Plan:  On Monday, April 8, 2013, Patrick and Emily are traveling to UVA for a follow-up colonoscopy, a tumor ultrasound, and to meet with a surgical oncologist.  It is a HUGE day for them.  More biopsies of the tumor will be taken during this colonoscopy, and the tumor's "anatomy" will be further examined during the ultrasound.  Each of these procedures, along with the PET scan, will be used both for "staging" Patrick's tumor and for developing a more longterm treatment plan.  The PET scan will be scheduled for next week.  The lesions on Patrick's liver and lungs are too small to biopsy at this time.  In the future, their reaction to chemotherapy will determine whether or not they are related to the cancer.

*   *   *

Want to pray specifically?

Please pray that the lymph nodes surrounding Patrick's tumor are ONLY INFLAMED and do NOT contain cancer cells.  This would mean a less advanced-stage cancer diagnosis.

However, any and all prayers are greatly appreciated!

About "God Healing Patrick"

Hello everyone!

My name is Jennifer Heath, and I am a longtime friend to Patrick and Emily.  I just wanted to include this very brief post to inform you that it is my "voice" you are reading.  I am the blog author for God Healing Patrick.

Patrick and Emily have invited me to document their journey and post updates on their behalf.  All of the information I write comes directly from the source ... Patrick and Emily themselves!  The purpose of this blog is the create a place for friends and family to read the most accurate and up-to-date information regarding Patrick's cancer journey and their family in general.  Dealing with a life changing illness can be overwhelming and requires much time and energy.  We thought this would be an excellent way to invite Patrick and Emily's extended support network to remain informed about the situation while also providing Patrick and Emily with rest.

Everyone is invited to post comments and encouragements for Patrick and Emily to read below each blog post.  Although I am writing, Patrick and Emily are certainly reading your words.  While they may not respond to each of you, no kind thought or gesture will be overlooked.  Emily has already shared her heart with me that she has been "humbled by the outpouring of support" she and Patrick have received.  Please continue to lift them up!

Most importantly, WE ASK FOR YOUR PRAYERS!  In fact, by just visiting this page, you have been counted as a "Prayer Warrior" (see top).  Don't disappoint!

--  Jennifer