On Wednesday, we took my brother-in-law/pastor, Bob, and Jason Dailey, another elder from our church, to see our surgeon, Dr. Yueh, with some more questions. Dr. Yueh was able to clarify a lot of things for us. He said we had almost convinced him last week that we should do surgery, but his best friend, Dr. Futran, our surgeon last year, said, "No way. I absolutely would not do the surgery. No way."
Before we went to see Dr. Yueh, we had pretty much concluded that we were not going to go with surgery. So we were very thankful that he was confirming our feelings.
Bob said if chemotherapy was a 1 in terms of helping Andrew, would surgery be another 1, and then 1 + 1 = 2? Dr. Yueh said, "No, if chemotherapy was a 1, then chemotherapy with surgery would be 1.00001." These cancer cells were moving in a wild, unpredictable way when he had looked at them under the microscope after cutting them out. His concern was that it was spreading throughout the body, and surgery would just postpone the chemotherapy, the very thing that has any hope of saving Andrew in his opinion.
Dr. Yueh had cut out all the gross tumor, which chemotherapy cannot take out. Chemotherapy is only effective against cancer still at the cellular level, at least as far as oral cancer goes. So the key is to use it before the cancer grows.
Radiation would be helpful because it enhances the effectiveness of chemotherapy. So radiation, though ineffective last time, with this new drug Erbitux (also called Cetuximab), may give the new chemotherapy drug a little helpful punch.
Nonetheless, both Andrew and I are feeling uneasy about doing a second round of radiation. For one thing, you're not supposed to do it more than once to the same area. He will likely lose his ability to swallow, despite the bit of progress he's beginning to make in that area, but will hopefully still be able to speak.
Before Andrew's surgery in March, I used to tell the doctors that "quality of life" was nothing and was nearly offended that they would even bring it up. That Andrew has to stay with us. But after that horrible Mayo visit where their surgeon proposed surgery again, and the image of Andrew having to breathe out of a hole in his neck for the rest of his life flashed through my mind, and after seeing all that Andrew has gone through, I cannot ask him to suffer any more.
I told Andrew that I felt incapable of making any of these decisions and that I do not trust my judgment right now. I know that if I feel strongly about something, it heavily influences Andrew, and so I'm guarding my mouth. I'm researching with him and keeping him aware of all his options, but not trying to sway him one way or any others. I just keep reminding him that no matter what choice he makes, I am going to support him.
This doesn't mean that I'm giving up on him at all. I believe that God can heal him. I just don't necessarily trust hospitals or anything related after all that I've seen. I am willing to fight for his life, but sometimes I feel the options doled out to us may be the very things that could kill him. It's a crap shoot. We want to believe there's a textbook answer, but there isn't. If there were, there would be a cure for cancer.
Andrew had a PET scan today. Dr. Yueh says he's afraid to see what may show up. Pray that the cancer has not spread to other parts of his body.
I'm hoping that the 6-8 cups that I juice for him a day has got to be doing something, if nothing more than making up for all the depletion done to him in the hospital. I mean all the carrots, beets, ginger, garlic, celery, mushrooms, leafy greens, etc. have got to do something good.
If nothing else, it's better than the formula junk they give him. Formula makes your sugar levels shoot through the roof so much that in the hospital they were giving him insulin until his body got used to the sugar. Cancer eats sugar. Why one would feed a cancer patient sugar, I cannot tell you. Sugar also shuts off the immune system, yet the immune system is the very thing one needs to fight off cancer.
The main ingredients in the formula are corn syrup and canola oil. Yes they do add vitamins to it, but synthetic vitamins will never come close to real food. You'd think that if someone didn't already have cancer, he'd certainly have it after several months of eating that junk. Thankfully, Andrew's new tube in his stomach, though excruciating, allows me to Vitamix things. (A Vitamix is a heavy duty blender like the ones you see at Jamba Juice). With his old tube that went through his nose, I juiced, but Andrew still drank his formula for more calories and to make him feel fuller. Now the Vitamix allows me give him more substantial, healthy meals in addition to the juicing.
Please continue to pray:
- for Andrew's complete healing
- for clarity about all of our decisions
- for wisdom for me as I give Andrew his nutrition