Monday, April 16, 2007

Update: 16th April

The breath of God has made me,
     and the breath of the Almighty gives me life.

- Job 33.4

Good news!
It has been a month since I had a CT scan that revealed the growth in my chest had shrunk to about a quarter of the size it had been in early December.

This morning, I had a PET scan at RPA Hospital. This involved being injected with radioactive glucose* and then being scanned to see where I was radioactive. The glucose is taken up into cells with high activity: the brain, liver, active muscles - and active tumours. The pattern of radiation thus reveals whether any tumours are active.
*Technically, radioactive tracer in a glucose solution, since the sugar itself doesn't undergo radioactive decay.

But my scan was clear. There was 'no evidence of viable tumour activity' . This means that the remaining tissue revealed last month on the CT scan is simply dead scar tissue. Praise God! This is what we've been praying for and the best outcome we could have hoped for after the diagnosis in December.

From here, I will continue to have tests every few months to check for relapse. If I remain clear for two years, the likelihood of it returning becomes much smaller. But for the moment, I have been spared. And for this, we are thankful.

I know there are many others who do not have such good news today, but who continue to struggle with illness and a variety of difficulties. Why have I been spared at this time? It is not a reward, but pure gift, like all life. We remain thankful for every day.

What has changed? In one sense, not much. I will still die sooner or later and I continue to trust the God who raises the dead. I still follow one whose path of faithful obedience meant suffering amidst a groaning and broken world. Health remains a good gift from God's Spirit, but not the goal of life. There are worse things than sickness and death.

Yet, of course, today's small mercy is worth celebrating: more life together with you; more opportunities to serve God, his world and his people; more time to tell of God's goodness to us all. I am looking forward to celebrating with friends and family, not having any more needles (at least until the next scan), and starting to once more think about the future beyond next week.

My health continues to improve after treatment ended two months ago. I have more energy and am able to eat most things. I am beginning to work at improving my vocal volume with the help of speech therapy. I have lost all my convenient excuses for avoiding the exercise regime that Jessica and I have been promising each other for years.

Thank you for all your prayers, love, cards, food, gifts, kindness and presence (even in spirit). We have really appreciated your company on this leg of our journey and look forward to more adventures together (hopefully for many years!).

At this milestone, we think it's appropriate to give thanks and celebrate God's kindness to us. And so, Jessica and I would like to invite you (and any interested others you know), who have supported and prayed for us, to a thanksgiving service. We haven't yet worked out any details, but we'd love to acknowledge that we are and remain recipients of undeserved grace from you and our heavenly Father. We'll let you know date and time soon.

Of course, we'd still love your prayers:
Give thanks: for so many things - I'm sure you can think of some!
Pray: for those who face disappointment and not joy today; for patience and discipline in trying to strengthen my voice; and that we will not forget the lessons we have learned.


Lara said...

Dear Byron and Jess,
Praise the Lord! That is indeed fantastic news! Thank you so much for sharing your journey with us. The two of you are such an amazing example of how to deal with suffering in light of God's grace and overall plan. Praise God for your healing, and for the encouragement and inspiration you have been to so many people.
Love Larissa

Michael Westmoreland-White said...

Congrats, Byron! Amen, and Amen!

Exiled Preacher said...

Praise God! That is great news.

Jon said...

Good news! God bless...

Toby said...

That's wonderful news Byron!

P.S. I think you were right to call it radioactive sugar. My understanding is that the radioactive atom is actually part of the (modified) sugar molecule, not just in the solution. Was it Fluorodeoxyglucose?

Rachel said...

wonderful wonderful wonderful news. wonderful wonderful wonderful Jesus.

byron said...

Toby - I had got that impression last time I had a PET scan at Westmead (back in December), though I thought I read about radioactive tracer in glucose solution in an information brochure they gave me on Monday. Maybe I was misreading it.

Anonymous said...

God is good and He does answer prayer! We are celebrating with you on this side of the pond.

Brad, Sherry, Shannon & Molly

Toby said...

I think in their terminology "tracer" means the entire radioactively-labelled sugar molecule, which is dissolved in water (perhaps with other stuff), which makes it a "sugar solution".

... but there are much more exciting things to care about today!

byron said...

Toby - thanks for clearing that up. You learn something new everyday. Now I don't need to feel like I'm taking a shortcut when I talk about 'radioactive sugar'.

Carrolls - Good to hear from the other side of the pond! Hope you are all well.

Alan Wood said...

As the folks at our church say at the drop of a hat:

Justin said...

I've been praying each morning for you Byron and I'll keep doing it. But this time there will be more deliberate thanks for this kindness!

John Shorter said...

Byron, thanks for keeping up your posts - this blog is so edifying, I felt blessed just to read it (how far the blessings extend!). The thanksgiving will be so good! Regards to both of you!

Persephone said...

Having lost most of my family to various forms of cancer, I'm always glad to hear a survival story and it just shows the strength of faith in the Lord and prayer!

Congratulations on your clean scan!

God Bless =)

(And in response to your response to my other post [if that made sense] thanks :) I'm a Latin student and Persephone's always been a favourite of mine =) )