April 7, 2018 3 years since the HAI pump

It’s been a while since I wrote an email letter.  NOW, with my NEW WEBSITE, you may hear from me again!  The previous blog posts were some of the past “Best of” writings I sent out to family and friends.  I still try to keep Facebook updated on ‘chemo days’ with a chemo headshot picture.

Since I began this journey 3 years ago, the quiet writing I thought I’d be doing daily in journals evolved from the journal pages, to email letters, to the full-blown show of “Because I Can, Sir”!  I have been blessed to perform this show – or some variation of it – thirteen times, and several more are being planned for this spring/summer, and one group has scheduled me WAY in advance for January 2019!

Most of you know that my journey with Cholangiocarcinoma began with a Richmond oncologist and a Richmond surgeon thinking we should schedule surgery to remove my large liver tumors followed by chemo, as a cure for this terrible cancer. My tumors were the size of a ping-pong ball and an iPad mini.  We went to NY to consult with a surgeon at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center, to have him do the surgery.  He and the tumor board decided that surgery would make this monster spread more and very quickly if it was touched by the surgery.  They were able to insert a chemo pump, the Kemeny Pump, as they call it – named for my MSKCC oncologist, Dr. Nancy Kemeny.  Dr. Kemeny pioneered the use of the Hepatic Artery Infusion pump, the Codman 3000, to treat colon cancer that had metastasized to the liver.  That is her cancer specialty.  They were now using this pump in a new trial to treat cases of Intrahepatic Cholangiocarcinoma.  My granddaughter calls this my “pump lump”. 🙂

I was told 3 years ago that I had somewhere between late stage three and four very ugly cancer that had a 5 year survival rate of 2%, and that was for early stage CC.  My original “shelf life” upon diagnosis was 2 – 6 months life expectancy. Chemo was prescribed as a tool to shrink the tumors and make me more comfortable.  They call this Palliative care. I didn’t expect to be here today.  I’m thrilled that I am. I’m humbled knowing that I’m only here today because God is allowing me to be here.

Bill and I are about to leave this afternoon to hit the road again, to drive to NYC. We do this once a month, sometimes more often.  Tomorrow I will have an MRI and a CT – internal ‘school pictures’, to peek in and see if Fred and Ned and Bob (my newest little tumor) are growing or sleeping or dying.  I’m not anxious, like most people are before scans. I know that the fact that I am here right now, in this moment, is a part of God’s plan.  I also know that I am supposed to live in this moment and reach out to as many people as God puts in my path, to encourage them to live like I am living.

I hadn’t thought about my 3 year anniversary with my HAI chemo pump, but my daughter Ashley wrote a wonderful note on Facebook telling everyone of my ‘anniversary’ with the pump.  For the first time, I looked at the abbreviation for Hepatic Artery Infusion (HAI) pump, and saw the words to a song we used to sing in church many years ago. Here Am I.  I didn’t remember all of it, but the part of the music that triggered this thought goes, “Here am I, send me.  Here am I, Lord send me….” I knew I had to find the chorus and share it.

“Here am I, send me. Here am I, Lord, send me. Unto Thee, willingly, yielded I come.  Show the path that I must walk, compel me then to go. And if I stray, bring back the light of day. For here am I, send me, I pray”.

Isaiah 6:8 says “Then I heard the voice of the Lord saying, “Whom shall I send? And who will go for us”? And I said, “Here am I. Send me”.

Where are you going today? Are you being sent there for a reason? If you don’t know, then you are not listening.  If you see no one who needs you, you are not looking.  None of us are promised to live the next three years, three weeks or even three days. If today, you  hear the voice of the Lord asking, “who will go for us”, are you ready to answer “Here am I”? I hope so. I highly recommend going where God leads. The path God put me on is incredibly bright, happy and full of people He’s placed in my daily path. People who need to see His strength through My weakness. I am daily amazed, and grateful to be here today, 3 years now with my HAI pump.  The BIG titanium one.  Size of a hockey puck.  🙂




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