Thursday, March 22, 2007

Update: 22nd March

Taste and see that the LORD is good;
blessed is the one who takes refuge in him."

- Psalm 34.8

God is faithful in times of prosperity and adversity. We continue to be so thankful for all the good things we receive from his hand.

CT scan
Yesterday I had my first post-treatment scan (a CT scan) to begin to determine the effectiveness of all the chemotherapy and radiotherapy I received in January and February. The results were very encouraging. There were no secondary growths (i.e. the cancer has not spread) and the primary tumour had shrunk to about a quarter of the volume it was back at the start of December when I was first diagnosed (the only other time it was measured in a scan). On 1st December, it measured 35 mm by 30 mm by 25 mm but yesterday it was 25 mm by 17 mm by 16 mm - a very impressive reduction. The radiologist who reviewed the CT scan was also impressed at the comparatively minimal damage done to the surrounding area (esp lungs) by the radiotherapy.

However, yesterday's scan does not reveal whether this residual mass is merely scar tissue or active tumour. To find out, we need to wait another month to continue to allow the radiotherapy to have maximum effect and then I will have a second, different scan (a PET scan) to measure cell activity. More waiting - no wonder they call us 'patients'!

After finishing radiotherapy just over a month ago, I have been recovering from the various side-effects and feel as though I am well past half-way (though not yet 100%). I still have less energy than I used to and am still expanding the kinds of food my oesophagus can tolerate. For much of this month, I have been on a liquid diet but have recently been enjoying food with more substance.

My voice, though a little stronger than it was a month or two ago, continues to be quite different to what it once was. It is likely that this will be a permanent issue since the damaged nerve that controls my left vocal cord may never recover. However, with some speech therapy over the next couple of months I might continue to gain a little more volume. I am able to preach and give talks using microphones, but conversation in noisy contexts is very difficult, as is singing - a loss I frequently mourn.

Apart from these factors, Jess and I have been well. We are both enjoying our work, as well as the extra time we've had to rest and recover while both being part-time. We are settling well into our not-quite-so-new church at Leichhardt and have started a couple of small groups for people our age, which have been very encouraging.

We have really appreciated all the generous support from so many: gifts, practical help, people willing to listen, and a constant supply of food and prayers. God has given us all we need and so much more!

For those who pray...
Give thanks:
• for God's generosity towards us all: giving us life and every good thing, especially his son.
• for the love and support we have also received from church, family and friends in a variety of forms.
• for the good result on yesterday's scan, and how far we've come on this little adventure since the start of December.
• that the remaining mass will be all scar tissue and not contain any active tumour cells.
• that while waiting for a more definitive result next month, we will be patient and thankful for each day, without anxiously grasping after an answer or deferring our lives.
• that I might continue to regain strength and would use this to serve the God who loves life.


Joshua said...

Byron, that's encouraging news. We'll keep praying for you. It was great to see you graduate on Monday night. Joshua Kuswadi

Alan Wood said...

25.9% of its original volume, if my calculations are correct...

What Joshua said. Good news.

I stayed home from Monday night's event with a bug, so it's probably best I didn't see you.

Now, you can be honest. How many people have already encouraged you with Prov 27:14?

Martin Kemp said...

However, yesterday's scan does not reveal whether this residual mass is merely scar tissue or active tumour.

When you say residual mass do you mean the bit which is 1/4 the size of the original?

byron said...

Thanks Josh.

Alan - that's what I got too. And you're the first, I assure you.

Marty - yes.

felicity errington said...

Hi byron, we've met a couple of times I think! Just letting you know I'm in a biblestudy at St Albans with Brett Taylor who I believe you know, and we've been praying for you, great news.
Not the same, but I remember last year when I was leading on a camp and I had lost my voice and couldn't sing for quite a while... I don't think I had ever really appreciated the gift that is singing to God until then. Anyway, feel for you.

Nick Duke said...

Fantastic news Byron.

You're in our prayers.


John Shorter said...

Hi Byron! Thanks for telling me about "perplexed"; I also found "nothing new" and your interview on "exiled preacher". I read (and was inspired by) the last of these but need time to read more of the others and am looking forward to it. Don told us about your graduation (and Jess's) and your test results at Dean's bible study last night, and we thanked God for having you with us at All Souls and for your test results and we prayed for more of the same next month. Thanks for your blogs, and for your sermons. Love having you at All Souls. You're doing a fabulous job. Ciao!

Exiled Preacher said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Exiled Preacher said...

Glad to hear your good news. I pray that the second scan will reveal that the tumor has been reduced to scar tissue. May the continue Lord give you and Jess grace to help in time of need.

Rob said...

Prayed for you this morning man. I'm glad to hear of the CAT scan results. May God keep blessing and sustaining you. Remember your weakness is where his strength will shine through, and it's great to hear that you can still preach.

Ali said...

Hi Byron,
Fantastic news! I too saw you graduate the other night and gave you a little something above and beyond anonymous applause. I now have the advantage of having seen you in the flesh (and Jess too)!
Hope and pray all continues well ...
P.S. I am STILL slogging through Bleak House .... said...

Hi Byron.... Just found your blog while looking up info about my Mom's CT scan results (she was diagnosed with small cell lung cancer Dec. 4th...) She's been through hell and back too, she ended up with a feeding tube because her esophagus was paralyzed from the radiation. Anyways, her CT results were much like yours.

"However, yesterday's scan does not reveal whether this residual mass is merely scar tissue or active tumour."

Her Dr. is wanting her to heal and recover for another 3 months, wish she were having a PET scan in a month like you... Trying to get her to go for a 2nd opinion, she wants a break from anything "medical". Can't blame her.

If you don't mind, I would like to forward your blog to her... May God bless you as you continue your battle. Haven't given up on a miracle over here, sounds like you haven't either. Believe.