I apologize for the delay in letting you all know the latest. I know that many of you are praying daily for us and knowing the latest helps you pray more effectively. Thankfully God is outside of time, so you can "backorder" some of your prayers now. Ha! It took me a couple days to a) get some sleep and b) figure out the best way to keep everyone updated across various churches, time zones, states, continents, languages, et cetera!
It has been about a month since we first started planning our trip to Bangkok which led us to James's initial cancer diagnosis. Throughout this whole process, God's hand has been so evident, especially in who we see for treatment. It was true in Bangkok and has continued to been true in Indianapolis. Orchestrating who we see has been one of God's many kindnesses to us, and it brings us great peace. From Dr. Yongyudh, the Chinese pulmonologist who had dinner with us so we would "feel at home," to one of the top thoracic surgeons in the nation performing James's lymph node biopsy, to the nurse who was a former missionary to India...these are not coincidences. They are planned events, orchestrated by God's great lovingkindness. We are thankful.
Thanks in great part to your prayers, on Friday we saw Dr. Niraj Gupta, an oncologist and our new best friend. Dr. Gupta's approach is a perfect fit for us - he is incredibly compassionate while at the same time on top of the latest research in oncology. He is also not overly cautious in terms of giving James a lot of restrictions ("play with your girls!" "go for a run" "eat what sounds good to you"). Not having to second guess yourself ("Is this going to kill me?") will be incredibly freeing. He stated that we will be treating James's cancer in an "aggressive and expedited" fashion. Like all the other doctors, he commented on James's great overall health and strength, which naturally influence what one is able to endure. So here's the plan (it's a doozy!)...
James will have chemotherapy together with radiation. All previous doctors have said, "and probably radiation." We are truly thankful James will get radiation together with chemo, because that gives the best outcomes with this type of cancer. Chemotherapy is on a 3 week rotation (1 week, every day, and then 2 weeks off.) Four of the six chemo infusions will be about 90 minutes; 2 of them will be 4.5 hours. Radiation treatments will last for approximately 15 minutes every day for the next 5-7 weeks. After the 5-7 weeks of chemo/radiation, we will wait for 2 weeks with neither chemo or radiation and then check on the state of James's cancer. And then we go from there.
To be honest, after hearing how overwhelming the initial oncology appointment can be, I expected Dr. Gupta to be very clinical and grim. He was not at all. We laughed together several times and we were encouraged by his upbeat, confident outlook.
This week James will meet with the radiologist (who "just so happens" to be a friend of a dear friend of ours who has visited us in China) who will map out James's tumors so they can radiate them all. (I don't know if I ever updated you all to say that James has several tumors, the largest two being close to ping pong ball size.) James will also return to the biopsy surgeon to have his chemo port installed. "Real" treatment starts a week from Monday, on September 29th.
As you pray for us, pray that James would get some relief from his cancer symptoms. His cough has only gotten worse over the past month, he has back pain (lower back from coughing, upper back from tumors), and has killer headaches at night. Dr. Gupta is optimistic about these symptoms subsiding as James undergoes treatment (to be replaced by others, perhaps...but hopefully less painful ones).
Thank you, all!
The Lord your God who goes before you will Himself fight on your behalf, just as He did for you before your eyes, where you saw how the Lord your God carried you, just as a man carries his son, in all the way which you have walked until you came to this place.
--Deuteronomy 1.30, 31