Dear family and friends
Time to share some personal updates on how we’re travelling. People have been asking how things are going with the changes to chemo. I’ve dropped the Alimta (the ‘poison the cancer and lots of other things’ chemo) for two cycles in an attempt to clear the neuropathy in my feet. I’m continuing with the Avastin (this chemo works by restricting the growth of new blood vessels that are required to deliver nutrients to the cancer). Without the Alimta in my system, I’ve felt the least toxic I’ve been in over 5 months. They say there’s a ‘chemo haze’ where things feel foggy, memory lapses and you can be rather vague. This has been me – or at least my excuse – for some time!
The neuropathy still exists in my feet, but the oncologist has recommended a 6 week break from Alimta in the hope it will clear. In the mean time, I’ve purchased some new shoes that are more supportive and comfortable, and I continue to go for walks as I’m able. I was reminded recently that I’d been talking about walking the Kokoda trail with a friend this August. It won’t be happening!
The costs of chemo have been very high over recent months and we are thankful to a number of people who have supported us in this. Recently, we received great news from Roche Pharmaceuticals saying that they were willing to share the costs of the Avastin on a 1 in 3 basis. This is a wonderful answer to prayer.
On the family front, June is always a busy birthday month for us. We celebrated Marcus’s birthday by watching him play for the Brumbies under 14s rep team at the NSW Junior Rugby Championships. They had a strong side and easily disposed of their opposition in the pool games. However, the finals were another story. The semi final was a bruising encounter as they played a Penrith side stacked full of boys twice as big as Marcus. At one point a boy, considerably bigger than me, cleared Marcus from the ruck by simply picking him up and throwing him out of the way!
The final was against a well-drilled Gordon side who were the reigning champions. It was played in torrential rain and the Brumbies toughed out an 8-5 victory to take the State Championship. We thoroughly enjoyed the weekend, staying with friends in Orange for the pool games (in beautiful sunshine) before heading to Sydney to play the final (in torrential rain). This worked well, as Marcus was able to enjoy a birthday dinner and an overnight stay with his grandparents as we passed through the Blue Mountains.
Grace’s world has been dominated by the school musical production of Footloose. They’ve spent this term learning parts and rehearsing for the public performances being held this week. Our whole family watched the show last night and thoroughly enjoyed it. Grace had a part that involved rollerskating (the old fashioned way) around a cafe on stage. It was great fun. Grace has also been counting down the days until she is able to get behind the wheel of a car. She picks up her learners permit this Monday and the fun begins!
Matt is home from uni this week, enjoying his mid-semester break. He had a tough start to the year, especially given all that we’ve had going on, but seems to have thoroughly settled back into things. His church in Sydney is a great encouragement and the ministry on campus continues to spur him on. He still enjoys surfing in Sydney, mainly at Maroubra, even in the winter months! As I write this he’s out for a 15km run, up and down Mt Ainslie, in training for a marathon in September. I wish I had that energy!
Luke and Sharon are doing well. Sharon’s still managing the new Kings Swim School near the airport. Luke continues his training in Physical Education and Maths teaching. They’re both busy at church, assisting with children’s and youth ministry and other things. We love having them nearby and appreciate their support and encouragement. Luke’s birthday was last week and the family enjoyed a night out listening to Nathan Tasker and his band. The music was great, but it was also encouraging to hear Nathan share how God had helped his wife and him to cope with the recent deaths of her father and their twin babies. There was a strong message of hope in the midst of great sorrow.
I’m very thankful for Fiona’s ongoing love and support, both personally and medically. This journey with cancer is often a tough one, and I probably don’t consider enough how it’s affecting my wife (or kids). Fiona’s the one who does most of the work keeping our home and family on track. She’s had a very busy term due to taking on an extra day relief doctoring at the Aboriginal Health Centre. She invests a lot into people and has laboured long and hard for a number of her patients. I think it’s been harder than usual lately, having to care for a few patients who are battling cancer. There’s a lot of emotion tied up with her work. Fiona also celebrated her birthday last week and we had a special dinner at a restaurant on Red Hill that has superb views of Canberra.
We’re looking forward to a couple of weeks away as a family in the school holidays. Friends have kindly offered their place on the Sunshine Coast in Queensland. We’re hoping to experience some warmth (please)! It’ll be good to enjoy some surf, maybe catch a few fish, visit some fun places, read a book or two, and generally relax together.
We continue to thank you for your support in this journey. Please keep asking God to heal me of the cancer and that our family will trust God in everything that comes our way.
May God bless you,