Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Our Treatment Decision

To start off this evening, I must be honest and admit how I have mentally struggled over the past couple of weeks. Although I am generally a very positive, optimistic person, I found myself being completely overwhelmed & depleted at the task of deciding where to begin with Brad's alternative treatment. I have always prided myself in being a "get it done" kind of person & a very strong decision maker. In this case, it seemed the more we thought about the different alternative options, the more overwhelmed I became. I allowed negative thoughts to creep in...I allowed myself to be fearful instead of faithful, and allowed myself to worry about the unknown, instead of focusing on all the hope, peace, and healing that my Lord provides.

As I read a friend Becky's blog yesterday, I felt so convicted. Becky is such a wonderful woman with such a passion for the Lord's word. In her blog she shared
Phillipians 4:6.
"..with thanksgiving I can present my worries, even my tears to the Lord as a prayer while at the same time cultivating a heart of thankfulness. I love the way it reads in The Message. Do not fret or worry. Instead of worrying, pray. Let petitions and praises shape your worries into prayers, letting God know your concerns. Before you know it, a sense of God's wholeness, everything coming together for good, will come and settle you down.. It's wonderful what happens when Christ displaces worry at the center of your life."
Thank you Becky for sharing what was on your heart. You gave me such a sense of peace & comfort, forcing me to realize where I have been mentally. I felt an immediate shift in my thoughts after reading your words...I appreciated reading what you shared so much.

On to our treatment deciding process...once Brad got over the initial wave of post-surgery last month & K started to feel better from her virus/ears/rash, we were feeling the pressing need to make a decision for what treatment we wanted to pursue for Brad. The stress of making sense of treatment information, with limited published results, was challenging to say the least. We have genuinely trusted all of the medical doctors who have brought us to this point and then now found that we reached a part in this journey in which they could no longer make suggestions or give advice about the alternative treatment options we were considering. It clearly seems that the medical professionals we have been working with only know general, standard cancer treatment options (i.e. chemo/radiation) and know very little outside of that.

Through many dicussions with a multitude of doctors from all over the country (MD Anderson, Mayo Clinic, Sloang Kettering..plus a number of others), we have been told over & over that general chemo treatment options will have absolutely no effect on Brad's cancer. While historically chondrosarcoma has been best treated with surgery, surgical resection is not possible due to the location & number of spots that are now found on both of Brad's lungs.

One person who has been especially helpful in advising us with our decision is Dr. Ralph Moss. Moss is a researcher of cancer treatments..focusing on new research (both conventional and alternative). He evaluates the information in reports that he publishes for a person's specific cancer. We spoke with Moss on the phone where he suggested a number of supplements for Brad to try, along with a specific alternative treatment (Coley's Toxins & Newcastle Virus) that has shown effectiveness in fighting sarcoma. There were 2 specific locations that Moss focused on in our conversation: one hospital in Tijuana and one clinic in Germany.

Moss felt that the treatment in Germany would be best due to the combination of treatments the doctor uses there, plus he felt that the overall care given at the Germany clinic was the best. We have been torn about the decision, due to the extensive travel that both places would require and because of the extreme expense of both (i.e. the first round of 3-week treatment in Germany was estimated to cost between $60,000-$72,000)

After weeks of prayer, we finally came to a decision yesterday to travel to Germany for treatment. We are planning to leave at the end of this month. Brad will be under the care of Dr. Arno Thaller at the PraxisKlinik in Markt Berolzheim (a small German town about 2 hours outside of Munich).

Brad's treatment will include a 4-step process that's focuses on helping the body's immune system to attack the cancer:
Fever Therapy (using Coley's Toxins) -- this injection induces a fever, which harms cancer cells more than normal cells

Local Hyperthermia -- this is a heat-generating machine that focuses heat on the tumor -- it's used at the peak of the fever induced from step 1 so that there's an additive effect on the cancer

Virus Therapy (using Newcastle Disease Virus) -- this is a virus that's specifically bred on cancer cells, and preferentially targets those cancer cells for destruction. The idea is that the virus gets in and destroys as many cancer cells as possible before the virus itself is destroyed by the immune system (the virus is completely harmless to normal cells). The virus also performs a secondary function of "marking" with an antigen many more cancer cells than it kills -- this primes them for the final step:

Cancer Vaccine (or dendritic cell therapy) -- this step makes a vaccine from Brad's own dendritic cells, and injects it back into his body to "wake up" his T-cells to start attacking and killing the cancer cells. American drug companies are doing final Phase III trials on some similar vaccines. The advantages of Dr. Thaller's approach are that 1) the vaccine is made from Brad's own dendritic cells, so it is individualized; and 2) the cancer cells have been previously "marked" by the Newcastle Disease Virus, so that they will be more readily attacked by the T-cells once the vaccine is injected.

So, it looks like we (Brad, myself, Sandra, David, Mom, Dad, Zeke & K) will be spending the better part of June in Markt Berolzheim. Brad, myself, Sandra & David will most likely be leaving around the 28th of this month and then Mom, Dad & the kids will follow about a week or so (June 6thish?) behind us. This plan will allow us a chance to get settled in and adjust to Brad's therapy before the kids arrive.

We want to thank each of you for all of your prayers and unwavering support. We are so abundantly blessed. God has richly blessed our lives by placing each one of you in it. Thank you. We are asking for healing prayers now more than ever.

Dear Father,
Please be with our family over the weeks ahead as we make plans to travel to Germany for Brad's treatment. I pray that Brad's travel is as comfortable as possible. I pray that you watch over all of us and keep us safe. Please be with Dr. Thaller. Guide his hands as he works with Brad. I pray for Brad's peace of mind about the situation and I pray that he feels well cared for. I pray that his treatments run smoothly and that he is able to stay comfortable and is able to rest well in a new environment.

Please watch over Zeke & Kaelyn during this time. Make them feel safe & secure amidst the ever changing situations that surround them.

We are awaiting your miracle Father. Please lay your hands on Brad and heal him completely. We know that all things are possible through you. We cannot wait to share in the glory of your miraculous healing. Please bring Brad a swift and complete recovery.

We love you Father.
Amen

31 comments:

Heather Jonasson said...

It sounds like you are making a good decision. I know it has been so hard but it sounds like a good treatment for Brad. You are in our prayers every day and I wish you a safe trip to Germany.

debralynne said...

we are praying for you and your families. I can't imagine what you guys have been through, but you always seem so positive. God is still in the miracle working business and we're believing for yours!!!!!

Perks said...

Wow. We're continuing to pray for God to just work a miracle. We truly believe in His power.

Much love.

sarahdawn said...

I'll be praying over each part of this journey. The travel, the doctors, the kids and family, and for God to work through this treatment to heal Brad completely. Love you guys!

Lisa said...

Jenny - thank you so much for sharing all of this. I really can't imagine what you guys are going through on a daily basis. We are deep in prayer for you and Brad. I'm thankful that God has opened this door for you guys. Please let us know if there's anything we can do or anything you need. I'm already looking forward to the good news from Germany.

Blessed and highly favored. said...

Wims family,

you are an inspiration to me and many others. The strength, hope, and faith that you have shown during this time has been a wonderful testimony! Jenny, I stand in agreement with you in your prayer for peace and comfort for your whole family, and for God's miraculous healing for Brad.

I will continue to remember you in my prayers!!! God bless you and your family!

Rachel in Abernathy

Anonymous said...

Brad and Jenny,

Your FAITH is such an amazing thing. I know the decision to go to Germany was a difficult one. Remember that God will not give us more than we can handle!! I pray for a safe trip for you and your family. Here are two scriptures for you.

Deuteronomy 31:6 Be strong and COURAGEOUS. Do not be aftaid or terrified because of them, for the LORD your GOD goes with you; he will never leave nor forsake you.

1 Corinthians 16:13 Be on your guard; stand firm in the faith; be men of courage; be strong.

With much love,
Regina Sugg
reginasugg@hotmail.com

Kimberly said...

We are praying!

Ella Vonne West said...

Thank you, Jenny, for posting Brad's treatment plan in your blog. Just know that Henry and I (along with many others in Granbury) are praying daily for God to heal Brad. We do know that all things are possible with Him.
Our love in Him.
Ella Vonne West

The Boyd Gang said...

Jenny,
I know that you probably don't remember me but I was a Mary Kay consultant with Joelle Yates about 8 years ago. I met you once or twice but didn't really get to know you. I found your blog through Lyneil Becks blog and began keeping up with your family.

I felt compelled to tell you thank you for being such a wonderful example of a Godly wife, mother, and friend. Your faith just shines through in all of your entries. I am thankful that God gives us such wonderful examples of couples that have decided to fully trust him and give him everything. Even though I don't know you and Brad personally, I am praying for you both. Your family is in my prayers and I know that God will continue to bless his faithful servants.
Page Boyd
Class of 2003

Stephen said...

You guys are in my constant prayers. Our God is faithful adn I have all the faith that he will deliver you guys from this tumultuous journey.

CJAlabama said...

Jenny and Brad, your faith, love and courage inspires us daily. Our prayers are with you and your family as well as the doctors in Germany. You have a church in Meridianville, AL praying for you as well.
Love, John and Christina Johnston

kara hartleib said...

I know this must have been a tough decision, and I hope that having the decision made helps to lighten your burden. Obviously, I pray the treatment will be successful in fighting the cancer. I am also praying that the trip will be uplifting to your family (especially Zeke and Kaelyn) instead of being a strain - that you all will be able to truly enjoy some of your time in Germany.

Perks said...

He is faithful!

Camille, Blake and Pierce said...

Thank you for being so honest with us... this makes it possible for our family to pray more specifically for your needs, concerns, fears, and desires. We have grown to make your family a daily discussion in our household and we want you to know that we will be with you in spirit in Germany and praying from Singapore... it is humbling to realize how Big our God is and how HE is in all places. And the best thing is God is in Germany getting ready for your arrival... He is ahead of you... have peace and comfort knowing that.

Jenna said...

Your family will be in my family's prayers. If you don't mind me asking, how are you paying for that? Specifically, I would like to know if you are accepting donations because we would like to contribute what we can. We are friends with Scott and Tammie, so I could get where to send a donation from them.

God is a God of miracles, and we are praying for yours.

Nellie's Nuggets said...

Glad the decision is made and that you have a plan. That is such a major decision for all of you. It is good to hear how God was in the middle of it all.

We will be praying for safety and success, and that all of you will be blessed through this trip. I know that God will be glorified through all of you as you share your story along the way.

We love you all!

Skip and Nell

Anonymous said...

Blessings to you all. We know how difficult it is to make a decision to go overseas for treatment. We also know God is good and provides. We pray daily for Brad's healing, your families' comfort and strength. Prayers also for safe travels. We love you, Kim E

Brooks Inc. said...

Jenny-

I hve just read and re-read this post...Oh how I am praying for you, for your entire family, for Brad! I am printing this out so Tony can read it as well. We are praying over every aspect of this...asking the Lord to meet you right where you are at and walk you through every aspect of this journey.

Know that you are loved and prayed for! We are asking the one who knows you and loves you the best to work the miracle that is within His power!

BJB

Jason said...

Wow. Those are some intense treatments. You guys are very brave, but that's the strength that God provides. It sounds like God has placed the most capable people around you. I hope, however, that you guys will be able to enjoy your time there somewhat, despite the extremely difficult circumstances. We look forward to hearing the great news come out of this! Godspeed.

Sarah said...

I'm so thankful that God's given you the guidance that you need. I pray His speed in your journey and in the treatments! We pray for each one of you and know that God hears our pleas and petitions. Logan is still thanking God every night that Brad is healed, even though we pray every night that God will work a miracle and heal his body. I pray that his prayer will be a reality soon. We love you guys so much!

Chris Robey said...

Our church and my family are praying for Brad and your family. Tell Brad that I'm looking forward to being back in the fantasy football league again so I can listen to his constant trash talk. I missed it so much last year that I have to come back to get some more.

Also I plan to link your blog to mine so that my friends will be praying for you guys as well.

Chris

Kate said...

Jenny and Brad,
We love you and are praying for you!
Safe travels and continued renewal in all things. Exodus 14:14

Anonymous said...

Dear Jenny, Brad, and Family, Wanted you to know that many of us gathered together at Granbury Church of Christ Thursday night to pray for Brad's healing and for your family' needs. Our church is praying for you daily! I am touched by the depth of joy that I see in your lives even as you face these challenges. Your faithfulness glorifies God. We know that God does hear and answer prayers. My husband, Jerry, faced 4 different live-threatening health crises this last year. Each time God intervened and today Jerry is well. The following scripture helped me through the hard times. Zephaniah 3:17 says: "The Lord your God is with you. He is mighty to save. He will take delight in you. He will quite you with his love. He will rejoice over you with singing." God be with you. Jerry and Ann Jay

Darrell and Angie Campbell said...

We are praying for you always! We wish you a safe trip and God's hand in this big treatment decision, to personally guide you through it. We pray for Zeke and Kaelyn as you are away from them and for a safe trip for everyone. We love you!

Anonymous said...

Jenny,
Last Tuesday evening a large group of Granbury Christians gathered at the church building to pray for all of you. David Casey shared your plans with the group and there were many specific prayers for those plans for and for the cancer to be removed.
Chris Frizzell

Amy Barry said...

We will continue to pray for all of you. Jenny - you set such an example of faithfulness - you are amazing! And I know a miracle is on the way!
Amy

Beck Boys said...

We pray that the treatment will provide healing for Brad. We continue to follow your journey. We are praying for you daily. Thanks for your honesty and love for God and your family. You are such and inspiration. Our God is so good.

tamandscott said...

I am so uplifted by you guys. I am truly amazed at the faith you are showing through this. You have always been and continue to be such a great example to me. Just waiting on God's miracle now--it's coming! We'll continue praying for complete healing. Love you all!!!

Scott

pcb said...

I came across your blog by clicking 'next blog' and felt I needed to leave a comment for you. I am going to join others in prayer for your family and will continue to read your blog. May God make his face to shine upon you all.
Pendy in Georgia

Anonymous said...

We will pray, pray, pray!!

YOu all are on our thoughts and hearts. We love you!
Love, the Gages