So many of you are so faithful to ask us how James is really doing, and as I've not updated you on his situation in a couple weeks...this post is for you. Your faithful prayers mean so very much to us...what an incredible blessing it is to walk this road with you all, to be lifted by your prayers, encouraged by your love, and strengthened by your faith.
The last week of May James saw Dr. Einhorn, and at that time was not feeling all that great. In fact, his hip pain was getting stronger and he ended up asking for prescription pain killers in anticipation of things worsening while we're away (and being away from the good drugs!). Naturally, that really concerned Dr. Einhorn who promptly contacted our insurance company...and got a PET approved for the week James returns.
Dr. Einhorn was careful to remind us that he's been "doing this for 40 years" and that he doesn't make a diagnosis based on symptoms. I think, though, that everyone had hoped that the hip pain would be gone by now. Since his bones will "never" be right again, as you can't grow new bone, it is impossible to know whether the pain is from cancer that just won't die (and is growing?!) or from the compromised nature of his bone. He also has intermittent pains in his chest - is it new tumors or the effects of coughing and radiation?
Naturally, cancer patients take any kind of pain quite seriously (as do their doctors) and after months of pain, treatment, and being a patient, it is probably difficult to objectively evaluate if your health is improved or worsening. (Is that twinge of pain new cancer? Is it back? Am I actually dying?)
So a PET is the best way to know what's really going on.
Since we've been back, James's pain has not gotten worse, and some days its been better. His cough also seems to be descreasing...especially in light of how many hours he daily spends in conversation. There were times where he couldn't speak more than a few words without coughing. But now he is able to speak for about as long as he wants before coughing once, and then continuing on. (As I write, he's sitting just across the room, sharing the Good News with a small group of people and has been speaking for at least 10 minutes with nary a cough!)
And I personally find it remarkable - being the optimist I am - that all those hours on the plane (15 hours, just for one stretch!) did not leave James completely incapacitated for several days after deboarding. In fact, he seemed to handle the travel as well (or better) than I did. It was only a few months ago that his hip pain kept him from traveling a mere 4 hours. So, improved, right?
Also, James's energy levels seem markedly better than even a month ago. I have watched as he divides his day studying, in hours of conversations with people, up and down multiple flights of stairs, playing with his girls, carrying them and letting them climb all over him, et cetera, et cetera...all without a nap, all without wearying until the end of the day. This would have been impossible even a month ago.
Of course, it's been enjoyable to see everyone comment on how healthy James looks. Everyone here is amazed at how strong he is, his coloring, his energy, his hair. Definitely not your typical cancer patient!
So - there's lots (in my humble opinion) to point to an improving state of health, that the immunotherapy drugs are working.
But...there's pain that won't go away, and there's so many opportunities for fearful thoughts to creep in. Short of (another) miracle, immunotherapy is the last resort for James. If this drug doesn't kick it, and God does not show mercy, James will not make it. There's nothing else that can be done.
So...as you've always done, and continue to do...pray. We know that nothing can alter God's purposes, and that His plans will stand. May His will be done, and may we have strength and faith to joyfully submit to all that He has for us.