Saturday, 18 April 2015

Chemo on the horizon

This morning Dad, Sheba and I met Dr. Ashish Bakshi at Bethany Hospital.  Dr. Bakshi is a medical oncologist whom Dr. Stephen referred us to, and he sat down and reviewed Dad's case with us.

The fact of the matter is that the cancer has already spread beyond the large tumour which was successfully surgically removed 3 weeks ago.   One of the lymph nodes harvested was positive for cancer in the biopsy, and a perineural invasion was seen.  So we will continue to be dealing with cancer in Dad's body for the forseeable future - and that too a kind that is particularly invasive.

The outcome and improvements of chemotherapy in this kind of cancer is small.  But if we are going to do it, now is the time.  We know it has spread and we hope to hit it with this cancer-toxic chemical.

Mum and Dad have had more than their share of dear friends die of cancer.  Some of which suffered terribly in their last stages.  For Mum and Dad chemotherapy is almost synonymous with pain, terrible side effects and death.  So it was quite a surpise for us all to hear Dr. Bakshi say that for the molecule he is suggesting - gemcitabine - has according to him a side-effect rate of nausea in only 5% of patients.  The more common side-effect is a low grade fever which he estimates takes place in 10% of those taking this molecule, and which will of course be closely monitored. 

Dr. Bakshi suggested that we have a chemo-port inserted for Dad.  The port is a small vessel which will be inserted under the skin near Dad's collarbone.  The port has a tube that will go into the superiour vena cava (the main vein that supplies the heart).  The chemotherapy medications will be inserted into this port which will then supply it into the vein - so Dad will not need to have the IV lines through his veins in his arms. 

We then met Dr. Stephen and after a discussion about where to start the chemotherapy, we decided that it would be best to begin the treatment here in Thane at Bethany.

So here we have it.  We are prayerfully going to start Chemotherapy for Dad.  It will be 6 months long and each monthly cycle consists of 3 days when the chemo will be administered - with medications given on the first day, followed by further doses on the 8th and 15th days.

And then the discussion veered to when to begin the treatment.  Obviously we want to start as soon as possible.  At the same time, Dad is still recovering from his surgery (and doing pretty well at that thanks to the continued grace of God flowing through him).  And both Mum and Dad dearly want to go to Mussoorie.

So after consulting with Dr. Bakshi and Dr. Stephen - we decided to give Mum and Dad a holiday - and send them back to Mussoorie for 10 days!  Dad was ecstastic.   He couldn't wait to tell Mum.

But then there was still some work to do at the hospital.  A special visit up to the 5th floor to meet the team there who had cared for Dad - he was back with his family.  All lit up when he walked out of the lift.

Dad was of course treated as a returning hero - which of course he is.  His way of dealing with adversity and the genuine love he expresses to each person 'big' and 'small' endeared him to the angels on the 5th floor of Bethany hospital.

By mid-day we had booked tickets for Mum and Dad - they are off tomorrow afternoon to Dehra Dun and will be in Mussoorie by night - God willing of course!

Asha and Enoch were back from their two day sleep over at Nikita and Jaspers home - much to the joy of Yohan who had missed them mightily (as had a number of other family members).  And we knew that we have to do something special for the evening.  The last thing, however, that I thought we would be doing was going out to eat - but at 5.30 PM that is what Sheba called me up about: Dad was insisting that he take us out to Pizza Hut.  And so an hour and a half later this is where we found ourselves - picture courtesy the super waiter Ali who really cared for us:

As we waited for our feast we took turns walking back over the miraculous events since the 7th of March when we talked with Stefan and Neeru over the phone about the sobering conversation that we had with Dr. Stephen about Dad's 'growth' that was blocking his bile duct and causing the deep jaundice he had.

Dad started off by simply and clearly saying that he feels that he has come back to life again.  That Jesus has given him some more time and that he still has work to do.  We then went around and expressed our thanks for the amazing ways that everything fit together, that decisions were made and followed through, how the Bethany Hospital had taken such good care of Dad, how he has gone 'against the odds' in getting the surgery done and doing so well afterwards, how each member of the family - near and far - have helped out in so many ways, how much love and prayers we have been bathed with ... the list went on and soon the hot pizzas arrived!

 We were also celebrating Asha and Enoch's successfully completing their first year at Bombay Scottish School - Powai.  It has been a good year and we were pleased with how they did in their exams. 

Yes, there are areas for improvement, especially in the offspring with the XY chromosomes. But hats off to Sheba who helped guide our two scholars through a mine-field of exams - a testimony to her love and care! 

The pizzas were given a good work-out as 4 out of the 7 walked back home while two bald men and a skinny fellow went on a small shopping outing to get Dad replacement shoes for the ones he seems to have lost somewhere in the hospital.

On getting back just in time for Yohan's evening med dose (he has 100% adherence I am happy to report!) we were treated to a small worship concert by our older two (and enthusiastic participation by all and sundry).

And so we move forward into a new day!  There are many unknowns - but we know who holds the future!

One small request for our dear friends in the Mussoorie / Dehra Dun area: 
Could you please *not* visit Mum and Dad during these days.  They are starved of solitude.  They have been *very blessed* by *lots* of people visiting them here.  The very best way you can express your love for them is by continuing to pray for them.  To be very frank, most visitors to Shanti Kunj take far more out of them than they are getting.  So unless *they call you* please do not make the pilgrimmage up to Shanti Kunj - and also please do not call up and ask "how are you doing?"  It takes a lot of effort for Dad to tell everything (which he will do if you call).  It is better to read about his progress here!  Thanks for helping out in this way!  Your prayers are the most important help you can give Dad and Mum these days!

1 comment:

  1. Well said, Andi! If I were in Mussoorie, I'd have a hard time complying, but I hope those who are there will. Great news that you have such great advisors there! Blessings!