Goodbye NED

I’ve got some news to share and I apologise for the impersonal nature of this communication. Some of you have kindly asked about my health over recent months and I have given partial and non-committal answers. I haven’t been that well, and have undergone many tests and scans and have not had clarity until very recently as to what is going on.

The bottom line is that I’m no longer NED (No Evidence of Disease). My cancer is back. There is clear evidence of cancer growing again in my left lung and pleura. I have suspected this for some time as I have been unable to shake symptoms, such as back and chest pains that have grown more severe, a cough that will not go away, and increasing breathlessness after minor exertion such as walking up the stairs in our house.

IMG_4073It has been a slow and detailed process to reach a confident diagnosis. I’ve had multiple CT scans, a PET scan, blood tests, and a lung biopsy taken under CT. All this has confirmed that the original cancer has progressed in the same area of the left lung and pleura.

The diagnosis was not a surprise, but it has been hard to take. I’ve enjoyed more than three years without chemo and I’ve been enjoying a pretty ‘normal’ life. With a phone call from the oncologist, all that has changed, and I have once again become a cancer patient.

IMG_4166I am very grateful to God for the availability of new drugs that target my cancer sub-type: ALK. When I was first diagnosed, these types of treatments were only just being developed. In fact, Fiona and I both lobbied the PBAC to have these drugs available in Australia and placed on the PBS to make them affordable to people. I have now been on one of these targeted oral chemotherapies for a few weeks. The regime is completely different to my previous four years of intravenous chemo. I take two lots of four tablets every day. The drug is a targeted therapy. It is a new technology, developed since I was first diagnosed. It would have cost us $100ks, but is now available on the PBS for less than $40 a month.

We don’t know whether or how well it will work, but our prayer is that God will use this treatment to give me many more years to come. There is initial evidence that it is doing something as the pains in my chest aren’t as severe, but there is a long road ahead. We know some people who have done really well on this treatment—some who, like me, were given months to live, but have been no evidence of disease or contained disease for years now.

It will take a little while to get used to this new regime and to manage the impact of this treatment. The side effects are becoming more obvious. The main impact so far has been with swelling in my feet and ankles, myalgia in my legs, fatigue, and photosensitivity— hence my new hats! We will need to monitor the impact on heart, liver and kidneys. There will be regular visits to specialists, blood tests, scans, and more. I will need to monitor my energy levels and work out my capacity for various tasks and ministries.

If you are one who prays, then I ask you to pray: for healing; for the treatment to be really effective; for the ability to cope with the ongoing chronic nature of things; for our mental health—that we will trust God and not get too down; for Fiona who has asked for patience; for our love and kindness towards each other as we process life together through different lenses; for our children—who are older now, but have strong memories of last time.

There will be much more to say, we will need encouragement, prayers and support on this journey. We know God is with us, loves us, and will never leave nor forsake us.  God, in his mercy, listened to the prayers of so many in 2011/12 as people pleaded with God to extend my life. My hope is that God will grant me many more years in his service. So please join us in prayer.

Feel free to get in touch, but appreciate that there is a lot going on at the moment and it might take a little while to get back to some of you.

30 thoughts on “Goodbye NED”

  1. Hi Dave and Fiona,

    I just read your post and hope this reply gets to you. I only have crossroads emails.

    I am sorry. Sad. Wish it was different news.

    Thank you for the deeply pastoral nature of your telling. You give a road map for how to respond, which is kind.

    I am not very good at praying, but I will yearn for you to be well. For you and Fiona to be good to each other and find your relationship an ever present gift. Also that the treatment will work and you can write “Hello NED again”. And for the process to be as simple and easeful as possible.

    much love, jo

  2. Hi Dave, I’m sorry to hear that your cancer has returned. I’ve just prayed for you and Fiona. In Christ, Jane

  3. David, thank you for your Macarisms. disappointing but I will pray for your healing. My daughter in law Cindy Gray has been on the same treatment alecsana for a year with encouraging results and we were praising the Lord when it was put on the PBS! thanks for your lobbying! have you had a new edition of your book published? Laurel Gray

    1. Thanks for sharing your news so honestly, Dave. Will be praying for you and Fiona during this time. Your book Hope Beyond Cure was a turning point for my brother-in-law who committed his life to Jesus before he passed away in 2017. I will be praying God has more ministry plans for you and that you have more years here on Earth to carry them out. Love to you and Fiona.

  4. Dearest Dave and Fiona, how sad I felt reading this news. I will certainly be praying for you all, cancer affects the whole family. I am so glad the new medication is far more affordable and pray for an excellent response to the treatment and finding the right balance to manage your energy levels. Blessings and prayers

  5. So sorry to hear this news, Dave. Naturally we would have wished for you to live all the rest of your days cancer free. Alectinib is a good drug, and as you know there are other good treatment options as well. The Lord of the Universe holds you in living hands. I pray the side effects diminish quickly, and that this treatment works effectively for you for a long time. May the Living God give you and yours deep peace and confidence in Him and His almighty power. I’m here for you, you know that. Anything I can do, just ask. Sending you and your family lots of love. Jill Hamer-Wilson, Ottawa Canada

  6. Hi Dave and Fiona, very sad to hear this news 😕 Definitely praying. Your faith and hope is inspiring. I actually listened to one of your sermons last week…I was longing for the good biblical teaching I was blessed with over 20 years ago 🙂

  7. So sorry to hear if this turn of events, Dave. I’m grateful that you have had such an opportunity to reach so many people with your story over the years. What stands out in your posts, is the very real relationship that you have with a very real God… a friend, a living entity, …not just a philosophical standpoint.
    Please continue sharing that vibrant relationship with us all “out here”. I’ll certainly be praying !

  8. Praying for you and your family.
    “And the God of all grace, who called you to his eternal glory in Christ, after you have suffered a little while, will himself restore you and make you strong, firm and steadfast.” – 1 Peter 5:10

  9. Hi Dave and Fiona, so sorry to hear this. We’ll be praying. Cling to Christ, our Rock and Refuge. Love from us, Kanishka and Cailey

  10. Dear Dave, So sorry to read this. Praying for you and Fiona as you resume this journey. God has used you so much through this fight with cancer and I am sure will continue to do so. God bless, Diana.

  11. Dear Dave, your accounts of the battles won and the battle being fought inspire us all to draw closer to GOD. I pray for you, Fiona & Family, for the ever strengthening of your faith, love and trust in GOD. I believe that this time, like the last, your recovery will be accompanied with the following advice:

    “WE regret to advise you that your Application for Early Retirement has been rejected. WE have reviewed the situation and found that your skill set for business development and customer base growth is uniquely effective, consequently, retirement/redundancy is out of the question. Please consult your Manager and Counsellor for further advice.”

    Dave, we are with you too – Hilton

  12. Dearest Dave and to your family;
    Heartbreaking news to hear that you are fighting the cancer again. My prayers are with you as you fight this horrific disease. Prays for NED to return.

  13. Dear Dave I have just finished reading Hope Beyond Cure, as I also had a diagnosis of lung cancer in 2015 and had a third of my right lung removed, so far so good.
    I have given 2 copies of HBC to friends and neighbours who are also struggling with cancer and the treatments.
    I am looking forward to seeing you and hearing you at CCSI tonight, and I am praying for you, Fiona and family, especially that this new treatment will eradicate all cancer from your body and God in his mercy will sustain you and give you peace and rest.
    God bless you and keep you and make his face to shine upon you.
    Love Jan

  14. Oh thats not what I wanted to read. I’m so completely sorry to hear that. I heard you talk at St Lukes church in Clovelly and I was so hopeful for your continued health. I was diagnosed 2 years ago and I’m NED but goodness I know the deep fear of recurrence. And having to get on that dreaded cancer treadmill once again. It’s such a tough road but horrifyingly familiar. Last night I prayed for you and prayed that the new drug regime will work. It might give you some comfort to know that on the night I heard you talk, I bought 2 additional copies of your book. And this week am posting them to women from my Bowel Cancer Facebook group. Women at stage 4 and with no Christian faith – so I hope your words will speak to them. So even whilst you’re physically not at your best and emotionally feeling battered and bruised, know that your message continues to give hope. X

  15. Dear Dave, So sorry to hear your news but so heartened to hear your faith and perspective and to see your face on the post which reminds me of your tremendous sincerity and integrity.
    What wonders he has brought out of this cancer journey so far! What wonders will he bring yet. Yet, please dear Lord we pray may he will heal you and bring great credit to his powerful name.
    Thanks so much for sharing brother.

    Steve Doust

    1. I think Daniel said. Our God is able and we know it but even if God does not save us from this earthly suffering then let him be glorified he is great. You and Fiona know He loves you so much he sent his only Son to suffer for you. not to be selfish . The best is yet to come. And I am a pessimist. I will continue to pray for your family also.

  16. Sad and difficult news for you to process, Dave. However, as you’ve said many times before, circumstances should not dictate our trust and hope in Christ, and I, like many people going through a cancer diagnosis, have drawn much confidence and encouragement from your regular blogs and your inspirational book, Hope Beyond Cure. I have bought and given away many copies of your book, because the message it contains is a challenge and a comfort to cancer patients certainly, but especially to those who have never put their trust in Christ as savior and Lord. Thank you Dave for your continued faithful witness to Jesus as our only Hope.

    Ian Bachelor

  17. Dear Dave, for the past 7-8 years you’ve been a faithful encouragement in sharing your struggles and vulnerability for His glory. Continued prayers for you, Fiona & your family for this stage of the continued battle. Agape, A+C

  18. Sad news Dave 😦

    We will indeed be praying that the Lord gives you many more years to serve him.

    Love the Barons

  19. David We were saddened to hear that your cancer has returned. We will certainly be praying for you and your family. We will be praying specifically that the treatment you are receiving will result in a NED status again and also that the side-effects of the chemo will not be too difficult to bear. Love Joyce and Keith

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  20. Dave,

    We love you and are praying for you all.

    Your response reminds us all of the glory that goes to God in all of our circumstances and this is a blessing to us as your friends and brothers/sisters.

    The Hickeys

  21. Praying for you and Fiona at this time. Saw you campaigning for lung cancer recently. May the Lord bless what you are able to do in ministry opportunities that he gives you. Would love to hug you right now. Jocelyn and Andrew

  22. Hi Dave. Got your news. Karen and I are praying for you and your family. No need to reply. Love in the lord Roy and Karen.

    Sent from my iPhone


  23. I’m so sorry to hear this but praying big prayers from the U.S. for you, Fiona and family. Walking with you.

  24. Praying that NED returns for a long long time Dave. Love your great example in way you report this and respond.
    Martin Morgan, Bondi

  25. Dear Dave and Fiona,
    We are sad you continue the cancer struggle.
    We have been deeply touched by the loss of our beautiful Cathy to cancer.The shock is still very raw.Her 50th birthday was her aim,she was in heaven just 3 weeks before that last August.Now just last week her faithful therapy pet Zacci went to be with her in heaven(not sure of the theology of pets but he sure was a gift to her and us.
    Kevin and I wish to thank you and Fiona for your faithfulness over the years.We believe Cathy’s faith was encouraged by your life and teaching.Thankyou.
    We hear Marcus was married last weekend,where has that time gone?
    May God continue to bless and encourage you both.Many thanks and much love,
    Kevin and Judy 💕

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