Sunday, May 31, 2009
The twins greeted me with hugs and kisses when we pulled into the driveway, which was just amazing. Landon held my hand while walking me up to the front door. They both thought that my head dressing was hilarious (think massive white turban). I showed them the stitches on my head and Landon exclaimed "why does your head look like a baseball?" Funny, but true (I'll put some photos up later). I have swelling around the incision site which should go away within a week. The stitches will come out on June 9th.
The follow up MRI showed the surgery site to been clean of cancer. My surgeon couldn't see any evidence of disease in the scans. There is a small spot above my left eye (<0.5cm) that the radiation team will look at but it will not require a surgical procedure. It would be a few weeks before any radiation treatment occurs (if it is necessary at all).
I feel blessed that the surgery went well and the recovery has been better than I expected. Hopefully this will give me relief over the next weeks/months to enjoy life as full as I can.
Thanks again to everyone for your love and support.
Saturday, May 30, 2009
Thursday, May 28, 2009
Wednesday, May 27, 2009
After weighing all of the pros and cons of each of my options regarding treatment of the brain metastasis discovered last weekend, we have elected to have the tumor surgically removed. We had hoped to have this procedure done by now, but due to the holiday weekend we were not able to schedule this until Thursday (28-May) at 8am. Please ask the Lord to guide the surgeon's hands in this delicate procedure that in total will last between 4 and 6 hours. Deb will take the reigns of updating everyone, hopefully just until I have regained the strength to share after my recovery.
We have received such over-whelming support from so many friends and family to help us navigate this difficult time. I firmly believe that prayers lifted for wisdom, grace, mercy, and hope have guided Deb and I to this decision. Of course there are very dangerous risks associated with this surgery, but we trust in God's love and I have comfort knowing that on the other side of this procedure I'll either see those I hold near and dear here on earth or I'll be in Christ's kingdom re-united with the Lord and loved ones who have gone before me.
I thank all of you from the bottom of my heart for your caring support. I have trouble finding adequate words to explain how many of your blog comments and personal emails have lifted our spirits.
In His Love,
Sunday, May 24, 2009
On Saturday we met with a team of neurosurgeons who showed us the scans and gave us information on various options to treat the brain tumor.
1) I can have the tumor surgically removed which will required a sizable hole drilled through my skull. This method will enable the neurosurgeons to remove approximately 90% of my brain tumor b/c the last 10% would potentially damage healthy brain mass and critical blood vessels for proper blood flow to my brain. Unfortunately leaving this amount of cancer will likely result in the tumor continuing to grow. Unfortunately tumor growth in the brain tends to be fairly rapid for Melanoma cancer. The recovery time for this surgery would be 2-3 days in the hospital.
2) Following surgery I would have the option of high dose targeted radiation (gamma knife) to kill off remaining cancerous material. More frequent subsequent MRI scans would determine if additional radiation is necessary. The tumor size must be small for the gamma knife technology. None of my other tumors are eligible for surgery or radiation treatments for various reasons. The risk of high dose radiation is that healthy cells in my brain utilized for motor function and healthy blood flow could also be damaged which could cause numerous health issues
3) My final option would be to use medication like steroids and pain killers to manage the headaches and brain swelling, but this would not reduce the size or slow the growth of the brain tumor. The neurosurgeon's best guess would be 1 to 3 months before I would drop into a coma from the pressure on my brain stem if I went this route.
The latest CT scans (neck to abdomen) from 2 weeks ago showed that the mets in my liver and lungs are still growing, so I am no longer taking the phase 1 clinical drug. At this point there really aren't many systemic (i.e. root cause) options for the treatment of my cancer. I have tried multiple conventional and alternative therapies each of which offered approximately a 10% chance of effectiveness.
We obviously have a difficult choice to make regarding how to treat this new tumor in my brain, since we most likely won't be treating my cancer systemically it is likely that the tumors in my liver, lungs, and brain will continue to grow. Please pray for us to have wisdom in our decision and that which ever route we choose that the best possible treatment will be delivered by the medical team. We will likely make our decision in the next few days, once things settle after the holiday weekend.
Thanks to all who continue to let us know how loved and cared for we are. I wish I had the energy to answer all of your thoughtful messages individually, but please know that each and every one of your notes and responses to my blog lift our spirits and touch our hearts.
Nate and Deb
Monday, May 11, 2009
Last year with the support of family and friends I raised $1500! I hope to equal that this year.
Relay For Life is a wonderful community event that raises money to combat this disease and to spread awareness about how we can protect ourselves from cancer. It is a fun-filled event that brings together people of all ages to camp-out and take turns walking around a track for 24 hours to signify that cancer never sleeps. It's a time of celebrating those who have battled the disease, remembering those who have died and a chance to fight back against a disease that takes too much from too many.
Together, we will celebrate, remember, and fight back!
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Friday, May 1, 2009
Of course cancer isn't the only cause of pain and suffering that leads to these type of questions and responses. It could be the sudden and unexpected loss of a loved one, a difficult relationship with someone close to you, or maybe a financial hardship.
One of the leaders in my church asked me to share how my experience had influenced my relationship with God. A link to my video interview is below.
Nate Trask Interview from John Miller on Vimeo.
Love to you all,