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