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
"..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.
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.