Journey with cancer 18 Apr 2012

Dear family and friends,

This has been a heavy week. CT scans on Monday of chest, abdomen, pelvis, and brain. Maintenance chemo on Tuesday with Alimta and Avastin, no more Carboplatinum. Appointment with our oncologist this morning, to interpret scans, check how I’m going, and confirm plans looking ahead.

I say it’s been a heavy week, because it has been focused on the disease and it’s been a reality check. We’ve been able to (largely) forget the seriousness of the cancer in recent days, especially as we spent a lovely family time at the beach over the Easter week. But then, we come out of holiday land and back home to face facts. And some of the facts aren’t too good. We keep being reminded that the treatment is not considered curative and that the best we can hope for is to slow down the progress of the cancer, while seeking to minimise the bad effects of treatment. Of course, this is still good. I do thank God for the availability of quality medical care, access to good information, the support of others who understand all this stuff (especially my wife), and the hope that comes from the treatment available.

People often ask what they can pray for me. There are lots of things: patience, good use of my time, strategic ministry opportunities, the capacity to love and serve my wife and children, the strengthening of my (and my family’s) trust in God, availability of the targeted Crizotinib drug (currently only approved in the US, and made available in Australia within certain trials or after evidence of cancer progression from standard chemo), and other things. But high on the list I keep asking people to pray for complete healing. That God will, either by medical means or a complete miracle, free me from this disease.  Many of us have been praying this for 4 months now, and I keep hoping that it will either keep shrinking every day, or that one day I will wake up and it’ll all be gone!

This week has been tough because we’ve been reminded that the cancer is still there. The CT shows a very small reduction in the primary tumour and no evidence of any new tumours or spread to the brain. However, it has highlighted a couple of nodes with evidence of cancer, and we are unclear as to whether this is new, whether they have increased in size since the last scan, or whether they were present earlier without being clearly detectable. I think I was hoping for a profound reduction in the cancer. Perhaps for them to say that it’d almost disappeared!

So far the new chemo regime seems like it will be more manageable. Although it is normally 2 or 3 days after treatment that the side effects start to get bad, and they can last for more than a week after that, so I shouldn’t make too many predictions here! My ‘muck in the lungs’ problem is still evident, but I’m about to take a fourth course of antibiotics and it does seem to be slowly getting better. Please pray that it gets completely cleared up.

I’ve been a bit miserable over the last few days. For some reason last night I was picturing my own funeral in my mind, with Fiona and the kids deeply saddened at my passing. This led to a few tears and me being rather melancholic today. My kids are too young for this, I thought. I want to enjoy more time with them yet. I need to make a priority of investing in my family, filling their minds with the promises of God, and depositing good investments into their memory banks. Of course this is true whether I have a months, years or decades. And I need to keep reminding myself that God will look after them. He is an expert at it, with or without my help!

IMG_4963And we’ve had some good times recently. The family escape to Broulee was nice. We spent time lazing in the sun, walking the beaches, the kids surfed each day, everyone but me swam in the ocean (I wimped out, blaming my chest infection and reduced immunity), we read books, watched Sherlock, completed a WASGIJ (a back-the-front jigsaw), and Marcus caught a couple of fish. It was especially nice to have Matt home with us for a week or so before returning to uni.

On Sunday I gave my second sermon for the year on Connecting with God and each other, based on Ephesians 2-3. It was exciting to be able to open God’s Word with the church again, though it left me exhausted after repeating the talk at night. We also had a wonderful time over lunch catching up with 3 families who are long term friends, including a special friend who became a Christian in the first year of our ministry here in Canberra. I hope to be speaking again in a few weeks, as we begin a series in Genesis.

The following prayer featured in my recent talk on Sunday. I am keen to be praying this myself, and I recommend it to each of you also.

 14 For this reason I kneel before the Father, 15 from whom his whole family in heaven and on earth derives its name. 16 I pray that out of his glorious riches he may strengthen you with power through his Spirit in your inner being, 17 so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith. And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, 18 may have power, together with all the saints*, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, 19 and to know this love that surpasses knowledge—that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God. 20 Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, 21 to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen.  (Ephesians 3:14-21)

(* saints doesn’t refer to dead Christians who have done special things they’re remembered for – it refers to living Christians in this prayer)

Thank you again for your support. We are continually humbled to hear of people praying all over the world, some every day. We love getting messages of encouragement via cards, email, facebook, now twitter :), and especially in person. Please feel free to drop in and share a coffee!

With love,

Dave (and Fiona)

10 thoughts on “Journey with cancer 18 Apr 2012”

  1. I agree your children are too young but somehow there is a deeper trust in a loving sovereign heavenly Father who will provide all that they need if you were to die young.
    I will continue to pray for you.
    Know that you are in good hands… God’s. he will never let you go even on the bad melancholic days that you have been experiencing.

  2. Thanks for reminding me that I too “need to make a priority of investing in my family, filling their minds with the promises of God, and depositing good investments into their memory banks. Of course this is true whether I have a months, years or decades.” We continue to pray for your full healing, Dave.

  3. Macca and Fiona this blogosphere is helpful reading, pointing to the things that matter. Your journey is helpful to know how to pray. Ill keep my thoughts n prayers going heavenward. Your words keep pointing us to God as you have always done.

  4. You are truely amazing Dave. A blessing to those that know you. You are an inspiration. You are so loved by so many. May God bring warm blessings in this time of immense trial. Cheers, Larissa McCallum.

  5. Thank you Dave for sharing your journey (and thanks to your family for allowing you to). I would think that many of us are being encouraged and blessed by you. It’s a privilege to share in the prayers of many for you and your family.

  6. Dave – I am sorry to hear that the cancer is still there and will continue to pray for complete healing. I think it is amazing that you are still preaching in the midst of chemo treatment! Please send our love to Fiona and the family. Vanessa

  7. Dave and Fiona, I haven’t met you but have had access to your emails and have been reminded of my husbands emails as he also went through what may have even been the same cancer. I write really to testify to an amazing God who has and is bringing me through a journey I thought was impossible to travel.May God comfort you both as only He can ,may you cherish the times you and family have and may you continue to be kept in the safe arms of our wonderful everlasting God. He is amazing and completely trustworthy even in the darkest of times. God bless you and I do pray He would choose to bring healing Margaret

  8. Dave,
    yes your kids are too young – but they already have an amazing legacy from both your words and your example.
    The most heartbreaking but encouraging words anybody ever said to me were “at least we know where he is!” – such certainty – and it hasn’t wavered.
    Will continue to pray for you in this journey, and for your precious family.


  9. Dave,

    I attended a meeting of the Sydney Skeptics in a Pub in 2010 (and had a great time too, btw). One moment sticks in my mind, though. The folks on my table were discussing illness, and I said that as a Christian I would both pray AND take medicine. The skeptical looks I received were priceless! Perhaps they felt that by taking medicine I was denying my faith, or perhaps by praying I was denying theirs. But I feel that as followers of the Judge of the Living and the Dead, we can have the best of both faiths.

    I guess our temptation though is to see Jesus as a backup for medicine, rather than medicine as a gift from Jesus.


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