Monthly Archives: May 2013

The Struggle

Life has never been a struggle for Carrie and Travis.  They have always lived with no regrets.  Decisions came easy and time was never wasted looking backwards…only forwards.  Don’t get me wrong…Travis is one of the hardest working people I have ever known. Carrie…the strongest.  Travis has put countless hours into Hemma Concrete and made countless sacrifices.  So when I say life was never a struggle…I don’t mean things have been handed to them.  It just wasn’t…well…a struggle.

People have long said that Travis has a lucky horseshoe up his proverbial you-know-what.  Part of that is true.  I have witnessed it first hand.  But. For the most part. Travis has made his luck and things were just never a struggle.

Carrie is the epitome of laid back…she always has been.  She just never sweats the small stuff.  And to Carrie…everything is the small stuff.  When things go wrong.  She doesn’t notice.  She just…makes it work.  She doesn’t stress about decisions. Life wasn’t always easy but it was never a struggle either.

Carrie and Travis grew up in Christian homes where they were taught the Bible from young ages.  Faith was always just there.  It was what they were taught.  It’s what they have always known.  It was never a struggle to believe.  Prior to the recent months, Travis did not have a close walk with the Lord.  However, despite that, he would place his hand on a Bible and tell you, “I believe everything in this book.  I may not know what’s in it…but if it is in here…I believe it.”  Faith was just never a struggle.

But these past two months have been a struggle.  And so now they are learning to navigate a new way of life.  A life struggling…

Thoughts…have been a struggle.

Laundry…has been a struggle.

Connecting to the Internet…has been a struggle.

Getting through the dayshave been a struggle.

Relaxing…has become a struggle.

One of Travis’ and Carrie’s favorite past times is a weekend at the lake….relaxing.  Wakeboarding…surfing…wind in their face as they fly across the lake in their Nautique.  The warm sun kissing their skin.  Hoops and hollars as Travis not only masters surfing the wake but shows others…how. it’s. done.  Pure…relaxation.

But now. Even time at the lake is…a struggle.  We know Trav is struggling when he wakes up on a sunny, warm day at the lake and says, “let’s pack up the boat and just head home.”  We know Carrie is struggling when we have to convince her to go on the boat.  Relaxing has just become a struggle.

Days are becoming a struggle.  A good day is always followed by a bad day.  If you think about it, it makes sense.  As Travis awakens after a “good day” he lays there and thinks.  He thinks about the fun from the previous day.  The laughs. The smiles. Friends….Family….

His children….

Carrie.

And then the thoughts get dark.

What if…

I don’t want to miss…

Will I get to….

And once the thoughts start.  It’s hard to turn them off.  It’s a struggle.

Last week, as they read the Bible together, something suddenly occurred to them.  They were struggling to get through it….

Let’s face it.  The Bible is tough.  There are some tough topics in it.  Some tough things to swallow.  As Carrie and Travis read more and more they found themselves looking at each other thinking the same thing until finally Travis broke the silence….

“You know what’s crazy?  People actually believe this stuff!?!?”

Travis actually believes this stuff.  But suddenly…it’s a struggle to believe it.   It’s easy to believe in something when you have been taught to believe it. Told your entire life to believe it.  But what happens when you start reading it for yourself?  It becomes a struggle.

There was a garden.  A man and a woman.  They ate an apple and all hell broke loose?  Really!?!

God got fed up.  He picked one guy and his family to save and He had him build a boat.  Then he sent every living creature onto the boat before flooding the Earth and destroying everything on it.  Lions, gazelles, kangaroos, monkeys, etc.  All on one boat.  Really!?!?

There were thousands of slaves escaping captivity.  Their captors on one side and a sea on the other.  No. Way. Out. And God parted the Red Sea and an entire nation walked through?  Really!?!?

A man was swallowed by a fish.  Lived in its stomach for three nights and spit him up on the shore when God told it to.  Really!?!?!

God became man. Lived a sinless life. Never one hateful thought or word. Not a single lie. No lustful thoughts. For three years He healed the sick.  Gave sight to the blind.  Made the deaf hear. And then He died.  In our place.  And three days later…rose from the dead.  Really!?!?!

When you think about it like that…it’s kind of a…struggle.  Isn’t it?

And when you are facing the possibility of death.  There is one thing you don’t want to struggle with…faith.  There is one thing you want solidified…the afterlife.  And so what do you do when you struggle?

You think.  You contemplate.  You pray.

And so Carrie and Travis have come to this.  As unbelievable as the stories are….  As “out there” as the Bible seems….

Believing anything else is crazier. 

When they look at the beauty of the world.  The trees. Lake Blue Ridge.  A single flower. To them…it is impossible not to believe.   To believe that it all came from “nothing”.  That it just “happened”. That the details of a human body were not created.  That…is more unbelievable.

His creation speaks for itself and makes the unbelievable…believable.  But it’s more than that.  It’s deeper.  It’s…

Personal.

The peace they have experienced…they are experiencing, for the past two months, has been nothing less than…miraculous. One that surpasses all understanding.  Even in their darkest days.  Their darkest hours. Their darkest thoughts.  There is still a peace. One they can’t describe. One they don’t understand. One they are not capable of. One they know is not of them.

The strength through the impossible.  They both know…the strength…is not of them.

They wish they could put it into words.  Explain it in a way that makes others experience it.  But it’s just not possible.

Because it is not of them. 

And so the peace is there. The strength. It’s all just…there.

God has shown up for them and so the unbelievable is believable.

But even so.

Even with the Creator of the heavens and Earth on their side. Walking them through this.  Giving them strength. Providing them peace.

For the first time…

Life is a struggle.


From the Rat Race to the Waiting Game

This is a weird feeling. I have nothing to do today but clean my house. How does that happen? We have spent the last month in a cancer diagnosis rat race, running to doctor appointments, scans, blood work, and the biopsy; then traveling for more scans, more blood work, more doctor appointments… Now Trav is at work, and I have nothing to do but clean my house. Well, and catch up on bills and laundry and phone calls that have been set aside. But, we don’t have any doctor appointments today.
Trav and I were saying this morning that since we don’t have chemo this week it feels like we are doing nothing. That feels both strange and not good. It gives me too much time to read the message board on Cholangiocarcinoma.org and feel slightly envious of the people who caught the disease before it spread out of the liver. Isn’t that crazy to be envious of someone else who has CC? I am actually happy for them, but I’m being honest in saying that my happiness is combined with a bit of envy. Why couldn’t Trav have gotten the kidney stones one year ago when the CT scan may have only shown a tumor in the liver and no enlarged nodes? Why couldn’t we have caught this disease before it left the liver? The whys only waste time, but I can’t keep them from sneaking into my head from time to time. Then I read about other people who were diagnosed because they were becoming jaundice and starting to itch. Their bilirubin numbers were already out of control at their diagnosis, so they have to wear drains and have stints put into their bile ducts. Wow, aren’t we blessed! Trav is symptom-free. Outside of the effects from chemo (so far tiredness and a headache), Travis is feeling good. That is so amazing, and we are beyond grateful.
Sunday night a friend came into town, Jason Mashburn (Mash). We are so happy that he is here. We have all been friends since middle/high school when Mash was Trav’s main partner in crime. Trav broke his anti cancer diet Sunday night so that we could go to the hole in the wall Mexican restaurant that Trav and Mash went to when they were skipping school back in the Wheeler High School days. We even sat at their booth.  Well, at dinner Mash asked about the blog. He was wondering if it would be updated as much now that we don’t have new things going on every day. That is a good question. Probably not. Simply because we don’t have as much to report now that we are in the waiting game.
The first date that we are waiting for is a blood test that Trav will get in about four weeks. This blood test will look at his tumor marker which is called CA19-9. It is the blood marker that points the doctors to his diagnosis of Cholangiocarcinoma. Trav’s CA19-9 level is insane. It is 91,000. Normal levels are between 0-37! You may be wondering if that was a typo that you just read. That is what we asked the doctors. Are you sure it is 91,000? Dr Hamrick assures us that it is nothing to worry about. Everyone has his own starting point, and it doesn’t necessarily mean anything. The only thing that matters is that it goes down. In approximately four weeks, Trav will have his blood drawn, and we will be on our knees praying that his CA19-9 level is lower than 91,000.
The second date that we are waiting for will be in about two months:  the CT scan that tells us if the chemo is helping. When I set the date for the CT scan, I will let everyone know. Like I have said before, two months isn’t really long enough to have amazing results, so stable or slight shrinkage of the cancer will be a win.
So… even if you go days without hearing from us, please don’t stop praying. The waiting days seem harder than the busy days. You all know how that is. It is nice to be busy and productive. Please pray that the meds are hard at work and killing each and every cancer cell. Pray that those lymph nodes respond to the chemo. Pray for our strength and our patience. Pray for our three little ones. Trey and Pippi know that daddy is sick, but of course they don’t understand cancer. Please keep joining us in prayer while we are waiting!!!

Chemo? What chemo?

There are all different kinds of people in the world. And these different people handle things in different ways. There are people who are joyous and there are people who are miserable. There are people who are hilarious and there are people with no sense of humor. There are people who are smart and there are people who…well…aren’t.

There are people who have no pain threshold and who cannot handle being sick and there are people who can take whatever you throw at them in regards to sickness and pain.

And then there is Travis.

Travis has been this way for as long as I have known him. He works through the pain. The sickness. I would say that he ignores it but that would require an acknowledgement of it being there in the first place.

He handled kidney stones on his wedding day and did nothing more than joke his way through it.

He broke his arm last summer. The doctor told him it would probably require surgery and he could hope for limited use within a month.

He was wakeboarding three weeks later.

Pain and sickness don’t keep Travis down.

But….

Travis has never faced chemo before.

ImageTravis began chemo on Thursday. He started the day with some blood work and then met with his rockstar, Dr. Hamrick. Dr. Hamrick feels it is unnecessary to put Travis through the Y-90 radiation until they see that the chemotherapy is working on the lymph nodes. His explanation made sense so they will be holding off on doing that.

From there, they headed to chemotherapy. The hardest part of chemotherapy was the I.V. It’s amazing that this seemingly indestructible man can be brought to his knees by a small needle. Travis has said, “I have no problem or fear of you cutting off 80% of my liver. But can you do it without needles?” And he means every word of it…notice the napkin covering the I.V. in the picture…

But once the I.V. was in place, all was back to normal, and the chemo began. The first three hours of chemo was him getting no chemo. They gave him bags and bags of anti-nausea medicine and fluids. In fact, during his five hour ordeal, really only two hours were spent actually getting chemotherapy. The bag of Gemcitabine came first and then the Cisplatin. And then he was done. “The first two days should be the worst and then you should start feeling better. See you in two weeks.”

So those first two days…

By the time he got home he could tell his body was…off. Nothing major but his legs were…shaky. Trey’s graduation from preschool was that night so they headed off.

As he sat through the graduation he could almost feel the chemo filtering through his body. His legs were definitely getting weaker and he just felt…off.  He proudly watched his son “graduate” preschool and then headed home with his father-in-law. He figured some sleep would help. He was in bed by 9:00 pm and he slept.

Hard.

And woke up twelve hours later. Feeling…

Fine?!?

He got his tub time…walked around the house a few times…and finally decided, “this is ridiculous.”

He headed to work.

And, once there…he put in almost a full day of work.

When asked how he feels he likens it to “growing pains”. Some pain behind the knees…a jolt here or there…but, otherwise, fine. He sometimes gets a sharp pain in his liver but he imagines it is the chemo attacking his liver. He is definitely fatigued and sleeps more than he ever has.

But. All in all. He feels…fine.

He  was up bright and early Saturday morning.

He had a commitment to keep. He was walking a 5K.

His good friend, Bryan
Jones, has a son with cystic fibrosis and today was the annual Great Strides walk to raise awareness and funds for cystic fibrosis.

Today, just 36 hours out from receiving chemotherapy, Travis “walked it out” with Team Bryce Bryce Baby to support his friend.

Will it always be this good? We can hope. But it is unlikely. The first chemotherapy session can be “easy”. Although, I am not sure they meant this easy. But, as the chemo builds in his system each time, it will become more difficult. The fatigue will become worse and other side effects may arise.

But not this time.

As I write this post, I am doing so from bed. I got hit with a stomach virus on Tuesday that, literally, knocked me on my rear end. I was doing better yesterday until I decide it was ok to eat something. Three bites of a burger and some tater tots and I was right back where it started…up all night long doing things I won’t publicly post about. I, too, was supposed to walk in the Great Strides walk. I was in bed. A few minutes ago Travis text me. It said…

“How u feeling. Bet I feel better than u 😎”

Touché Travis. Touché. To which I simply ask…

Chemo? What chemo?


The Dream Team

Tuesday was a good day

Tuesday I met with the dream team.  This is the team that I am hoping God put together to save my life.  At 1:30, I had my first meeting with my interventional radiologist.  He is very young (36) with a young daughter.  For the record young doctors, when you have a rare disease, make me feel better than old doctors.  They just get it.  They are edgy, risky, and understand what it means to not want to leave your children behind.   They are not hardened by failures.  They don’t just phone it in and look at you as a stat.  They see a father.  They understand when you tell them that you would rather die by being overly aggressive in 18 months. By pressing and fighting to get the tumors small enough to just maybe be lucky enough to have a liver resection(instead of dying at 24 months without trying).  They understand that six months is irrelevant in the grand scheme of things.  When you look at what is going on in the world of Cholangiocarcinoma the standard of care for my stage is chemo first then some sort of radiation.  I do not know if I have even heard of doing them at the same time in any of the CC chat rooms.  This Dr. wants me to start chemo Thursday and get set up for y-90 radiation at the same time.  This from what I can tell is NOT the standard.  This is risky.. This will make me very sick…  We are going to meet with Dr Hamrick tomorrow before I start my chemo.  We are going to get his opinion on doing both chemo and radiation at once.  Then we will decide. 

Next we met with a liver transplant/resection doctor.  He is one of a 3 person surgical team in this department at Piedmont.  These guys come highly recommended and they are incredible.  At one time we had 6 people in the room wanting to meet me.  We thought that we might be having a party.  For one thing it is amazing that this surgeon took his time to meet me.  I am not a candidate for surgery at all right now and no other hospital thought there would be any point in having me meet with a surgeon.  This guy truly wants me to get to the point that I can have a surgery.  That means I have to have the cancer out of my lymph nodes.  At that point, one of the guys on the 3 man team will take on my liver.  If they think there is the slightest chance that they can  help me, they will do surgery.  This guy got it!  He got that I want to go out guns blazing.  If I am going to go out… I am going to go out fighting.  His words were, “you are a 38 year old otherwise healthy father of 3. We are going to throw the kitchen sink at you”.  Thank you God!  That is what we have been looking for. 

So even though it is scary to go to the doctors and see the looks on the faces, we did not get that from Piedmont Hospital.  They saw me for who I am and not as a stat.  They were straight up about my challenges, but they told me not to give up hope.   That is what Carrie and I needed to hear. 

The prayer request now is that my cancer will react positively to the chemo that I start tomorrow.  I will be going every other Thursday, and the treatment will last about 5 hours.  I will be learning how my body deals with the chemo as far as side effects.  Then I will be scanned in 2 months to see how the cancer has reacted.  Two months is not long enough to make great progress, so it will be considered progress if the cancer has not grown or spread.  BUT, lets pray for shrinkage and especially that it kills those cells in my lymph nodes.

I want to thank everyone for your love, support and prayers.  We are blown away by the kindness.  I keep asking Carrie, “Where have I been?  I never knew that people were this good”.   So thank you for being there for me.  God has given me the strength that I need to make it through each day, and I thank Him for that every morning and every night.  


Helpless?

Helplessness. It’s a terrible feeling. One of the worst. A feeling of being out of control. A feeling of inadequacy. A feeling of desperation.

Helpless.

When you are fighting for your life against a disease you had never heard of…you feel….

Helpless.

When you are facing the possibility of a future without your spouse and the doctors have little confidence…you feel…

Helpless.

When you see your friends going through unspeakable pain, and you know you can’t take it away…you feel…

Helpless.

When you read post after post of a story of hope and faith intertwined with insurmountable odds and you just want to help but know there is nothing you can do outside of prayer…you feel…

Helpless.

But are you helpless? Are we helpless?

Maybe not.

It may not seem like much but there is something you can do. Everyone of you reading this blog. Every friend. Every family member. Every stranger. Travis and Carrie have a request…and each of you can meet their need.

There is a theory. Cholangiocarcinoma would not be the scary thing it is if it were not so rare. Because it is so rare not much research is done on it. Because it is so rare not much money is put towards it. Because it is so rare the doctors feel…helpless.

So the request is simple. Below is a link. It is to the Cholangiocarcinoma foundation. Specifically…their donation page. All the Roberts ask is that you make a donation or buy a bracelet. Give what you can – what you feel led to give but, please, give something. And let’s make the first steps to finding a cure for this terrible disease and maybe. Some day. We can spare others this terrible feeling of being…

Helpless.

Donate to The Cholangiocarcinoma Foundation


Lifting Our Spirits

It is so hard for me to interrupt Kristina’s beautiful writing to stick a quick note in, but I cannot help myself. I was up all night Wednesday night with my mind unable to settle. I read over all of the beautiful comments that you, our family and friends, have left on this blog. You don’t understand… I mean until you are here, there is no way for you to know what your loving support and prayers mean to us. We have walked out of some very upsetting doctor’s visits over the last few weeks. We have felt like we have been punched in the stomach over and over. Then we come home, and we see the number of people who are praying for our family. We feel the prayers for peace and comfort. We feel the love, and our spirits are lifted.

I have spent the last 21 years with this man, Travis Lee Roberts. I mean I really really know him, but I see a new man standing before me now, and I am so proud of him. He thinks that everyone would respond in the manner that he has responded. He thinks that everyone would turn to God if they were faced with a challenge such as Cholangiocarcinoma. I think that is completely crazy!!! I think that many people would be angry and hardened. I am only saying this because I am so proud of his reaction. I love to see the love of God shining through him. I love to see the compassion that God has put inside of him. I am a proud wife. I love him so much! I am so grateful to all of you for loving him too!

So, I am writing this because I HAD to tell you all what your messages mean to me. I had to thank you for standing by our sides, for wearing your cancer kicks, and for lifting our family up in your prayers. I had to thank you for filling the gap for us on days that are so tough. I had to thank you for lifting our spirits!

I love you, and I thank you!
Carrie

Walking Two Lines

What is faith?  What does “having faith” mean? Does it mean living in ignorant bliss? Passing through life thinking “God will take care of it”?  Does it mean making your decisions solely on the belief that God will provide, protect, heal without giving thought to anything else?

Does the employed not actively search for a job because he believes God will provide?  Does the parent not discipline because he believes God will steer his children?  Does the sick not get treatment because he believes God will heal?

Where is the line drawn?  The line between faith and reality?

Travis’ and Carrie’s reality is that he is sick.  He is really sick.  This week they learned that MD Anderson does not have a “special sauce” just as Dr. Hamrick, aka Dr. Rockstar, told them at their first meeting.  There is not a “miracle cure” being kept under wraps at the country’s best cancer hospital.  There is not a miracle cure for Stage 4 Cholangiocarcinoma.

I have faith Travis will be healed. Carrie knows Travis will be healed.  She says that she can see him in 7 years running Hemma Concrete, doing God’s work, donating his time to a cancer foundation…living.  And the doctors will be saying why is he still alive?

But. We still think, KNOW, he should be treated.  That’s a no brainer, right?

But what about the decisions that are harder to make?  Do some decisions mean your faith is weak?

Somehow.  Miraculously.  Travis has to walk two lines.

There is the faith line. He will walk this line because He believes God can, and will, heal him.  God will intervene.  There will be a miracle.

Then.  There is another line. The line of reality.  The line that says you are very sick and your life is not going to end on your timetable.  And as a responsible father and husband.  Travis has to walk this line as well.

What does this line look like?

It’s buying and filling out birthday cards for your children for every birthday you may miss.

It’s recording endless videos of yourself, with your children and wife, so they have tangible memories of you.

It’s sitting down with the camera and telling your sons how to get the girl.  And your daughter…to run from the boys.

There is a sweet girl named Lily who lost her dad far too early and she has written down questions that she wished she knew about her dad…just for Travis.  So Carrie is videoing Travis as he answers each of her questions.

Who would he want to walk Pippi down the isle?  

What does he think each of his sweet children will be when they grow up?

What is his favorite food, movie, band…???  

He is doing it all because he has to walk that line.

And just like starting chemotherapy next Thursday does not mean Travis does not have faith.  Neither do these responsible acts of a loving and sick father.

Travis is sick.  Yesterday he and Carrie met with Dr. Shroff to review the results of his CT scan Wednesday.  This CT scan provides a higher definition and better picture than the one he had a month ago when this all started in that emergency room in Birmingham, AL.  And my friends found out there are not three tumors in Travis’ liver…there are eight. One large tumor approximately 6.7 cm and seven small “satellite” tumors scattered throughout his liver.  Additionally, the lymph nodes in his chest are actually full of cancer.  Not the “small amount” they originally thought.

Are they glad they went to Houston? Yes! Do they like the news? No.  Two things came out of Houston they are so grateful for.  First, they  found out that the treatment plan their doctor in Atlanta suggested, the doctor in charge of Travis’ care, is the same as the Cholangiocarcinoma expert.  Second.  They also are so grateful they will never have to say, if we only went to MD Anderson like everyone told us to do. And this trip was made possible by a friend.  A new friend.  A dear friend.  Holden.  Thanks to Holden, they will never look back with that regret.  No regrets.

While Travis is sick.  Fighting for his life. He will have to walk two lines.

There will be times he simply cannot walk both.  Faith may dwindle.  And that is where we, the body of believers, step in and fill the gap.  Praying on his behalf when the reality line becomes too big to see past.  When the faith line is so narrow it can’t be seen.

Thankfully.  God doesn’t require perfect faith to intervene.  To give a miracle.  God never relies on us.  He knows He would always be disappointed.  No. We have to rely on God.

In the Bible, the book of John, chapter 11, describes Jesus raising Lazarus from the dead.  In verse 40, Jesus says to Martha, “Didn’t I tell you that you would see God’s glory if you believe?”  But the story doesn’t stop there.  Jesus wasn’t laying out a requirement.  He was providing a gentle reminder.  How do I know?  Because as soon as He says it, He prays, and goes ahead and raises Lazarus from the dead.

Despite Martha’s faith.

Or lack of…

Because Jesus knows. Sometimes it’s just too hard for us to walk both lines. 


Cancer Kicks.

ImageIf you know Travis you know his style. And you know he is known for his style. His clothes are as wild as his personality and his shoes…as loud. Kind of like these little gems. His recent purchase. His new “cancer kicks”.

And you love him for it. Love him to the point that you take the fashion RISK of buying them in his honor. Wearing them in his honor. Friends like Steve Matheson and Charlie Cogen (aka The Chuckster) buy crazy shoes like this and send Travis pictures of them wearing them…just to make him feel better. Just to make him smile. Because that’s how much Travis is loved.

IMG_0139Loved by his precious wife, who is walking this journey along side him…in her own new pair of “cancer kicks.”

So Travis just wants to say thanks. Thanks for all the love. The support. And introduce you to his new “cancer kicking” shoes. He bought them for this trip. For this FIGHT. And he is ready to fight. He now has…a plan.

God has been so faithful in answering our prayers. Perhaps not always in the way we would want but His ways are so much greater than ours. So even when we may not agree I guess we just have to trust. After yesterday’s post, Disneyland for Dead People, our dear friend Kelly emailed me and said:

I am a faith person – I will believe to the point of people thinking I am an idiot!!! But I tell u this, I DO believe he will be healed!!! Having the lab tech read the results wrong isn’t much of a miracle….and I know God is gonna give us all a KABOOM miracle that forces the blind to see!!!! Not unto death….I believe it!

Guess I’ve got a lot to learn about being a faith person. Anybody else?

Yesterday, Carrie and Travis received confirmation that it is, in fact, Cholangiocarcinoma. They met with an expert, Dr. Shroff, (and I mean expert) in Cholangiocarcinoma. Cholangiocarcinoma and Pancreatic Cancer are the only things she works on. They could not have been in better hands so there is no more questioning if this is what Travis has.

And yet. Travis and Carrie feel peace. Prayer Answered.

Yesterday, Dr. Shroff sat and discussed treatment options with them in depth. There are so many treatment options. More than Travis and Carrie first realized. More than our “Google research” ever showed. Despite that, her suggestion aligned with the original suggestion that Dr. Hamrick, aka Dr. Rockstar, gave initially. She feels the best course of treatment, initially, would be to attack this cancer with two chemotherapies at once – Gemcitabine and Cysplatnum. Travis will be given chemo every two weeks for six hours. After two months they will reassess and determine their next course of action. Their next line of defense. It could be some kind of localized radiation such as Y-90 or Proton Therapy or another type of chemo treatment.

So the treatment course is clear. There is no worry about making the “wrong decision”. There really is no decision to make. Prayer Answered.

Dr. Shroff felt strongly about using the Gemcitabine and Cysplatnum together. She explained that their studies have shown that the Gemcitabine is far more effective when it is used in combination with Cysplatnum. So are you ready for the exciting part?

They have only been using this combination for THREE years. So who knows if the scary stats on the Internet are even close to being accurate anymore! There seems to be advancements in treatment pointing to possible…survivors????? For the first time ever. MD Anderson is giving them options, and, there’s a little bit of tangible hope. Prayer Answered.

And…the treatment prescribed.  Can be done in Atlanta.  Home.  Travis getting treatment and sleeping in his own bed.  With his family.

Prayer Answered.

Additionally, Carrie and Travis found out that MD Anderson would push for him to have Foundation 1 testing. Foundation 1 testing is an expensive, genetic testing that will show doctors which chemotherapy treatments your body is susceptible to. Scientists look at your DNA and look at where the gene is mutated and that tells them which specific chemo can attack it best. Sadly, many patients don’t get this. Either their doctor does not push for it, their insurance company won’t pay for it, or they cannot afford it. Your body can literally reject the chemotherapy and it will not fight the cancer. This test helps avoid that. What’s more is that Dr. Shroff stated that, because Travis’ cancer is so rare the Foundation will want it. So…if they can’t get it covered by insurance the Foundation will likely eat the cost.

Prayer Answered.

But what about all those scary statistics? What about those percentages? Don’t get me wrong. Cholangio is still a scary thing. And the percentages and numbers and expectancy doesn’t change. But. Dr. Shroff doesn’t see Travis as a number. Dr. Shroff sees him as an individual. And within just 30 minutes of meeting with Travis she was able to see him for who he is…a fighter. And SHE SAID….”I think you are an outlier.” Just. Like. Dr. Hamrick.

Prayer Answered.

The only way cholangiocarcinoma is ever cured is with surgery. But stage four patients are not eligible for surgery. Ever. Since first finding this out and seeing the stats between those who had surgery, and those who did not, Travis has been searching for a surgeon who would roll the dice on him. Who would take a chance. Because he knows that is his only chance. Yesterday…he found that surgeon. A conference call with a Piedmont Hospital suregeon at 5:00 gave Travis his first hope for surgery.

Prayer Answered.

But. Currently, Travis’ tumor is so large it is crossing between his right and left lobe in the liver. No surgeon in the world will touch that. He basically wouldn’t have a liver left if they did. So. We have to pray for the impossible. Pray that Travis’ body not only takes the chemotherapy but that it shrinks the tumor. This is a long shot for two reasons. First, cholangiocarcinoma does not usually respond to chemotherapy – which is why it is a “bad one”. Second, on the patients who do respond it typically does not shrink the tumor. It simply eats up the cancer but leaves the tumor “carcus” behind. We need it to get out of the left lobe. We need it to shrink. And then. Despite the odds. Despite the “rules”. The surgeon will consider surgery.

Today, when Travis went back to get the I.V. for his CT scan, the nurse looked at him and bluntly said,” Do you believe in God?”

Travis responded, “Yes. Yes I do.”

“Well keep believing honey…cause I see miracles walk out of here every day.”

I don’t know about you but I see God working in the Roberts life. He is answering prayers. Holding them in His mighty hand. Giving them peace.

Standing with God, Travis and Carrie are ready to take on this beast. In their new “cancer kicks”.


Disneyland for Dead People

Travis’ title. Not mine.

But once he started explaining what he meant…I got it.

If you have been to Disney you know it is a “machine”. A well run machine.

You never see landscapers…and yet the landscape is always perfect. The crowds are processed quickly and efficiently. They train their employees, from characters to the street sweeper, how to handle their guests politely and cheerfully and they refer to those workers as “cast members” instead of employees. They even figured out how to cut down the wait on the best rides with Fast Pass. They are a well run machine.

Apparently…MD Anderson is as well. A cancer center that spans city blocks. Valet parkers at every corner to care for their patients. A check in process that is fast and efficient.

But MD Anderson is not Disney. Because one thing is noticeably lacking…joy.

A place where people don’t smile and nod as you pass by but, rather, look down at their feet…with tears in their eyes. Face after face after face shows sadness. Hopelessness. Fear. As you sit in the waiting room, scanning each patient’s face, you can’t help but read their thoughts…I’m dying.

In a word. In Travis’ word. You feel…

Disparaged.

But not all patients were given a promise. More than once.

This sickness is not unto death.

You can call me crazy. Say I am in denial. Think that I have “false hope”. Look at me with sympathy.

But I am standing on that promise.

Let me be clear. I am a logical person. A legalistic person. I require explanations and they better be logical or I will call. You. Out. I argue with fellow believers about our beliefs – even when I agree with them. I play devil’s advocate. I sympathize with those who don’t believe and can often see their position.

Simply put…

I am not a “faith person”.

I’m ashamed to say it. Ashamed to admit it. I admire people who have a child like faith and can simply read or hear something…and believe. But that isn’t me. That is my struggle. And I have a feeling…many of you reading this are the same.

And I have admitted to my dear friends. My best friends. That I stopped believing Travis would be healed. As “tidal wave” after “tidal wave” of disappointing news hit. I stopped hoping. And started thinking about…the inevitable.

Until Saturday night.

When I read the email from Kimberly, which I talked about in The Black Angel post,…I became a “faith person”. It’s hard. It doesn’t come naturally. But I believe God sent us a message, the same message, more than once.

This sickness is not unto death.

The pathology slides are in from Johns Hopkins. They were sent there to get a second opinion. We were hoping. Praying. That it was a misdiagnosis. That the original lab person had an “off” day and simply read the biopsy wrong. We were hoping God would answer our prayers this way. But He didn’t. Our ways are not His.

This sickness is not unto death.

Believe that with me. Please. Become a “faith person”. It’s scary. But wow. Is it ever exciting.

The Roberts need it. They need us, their support system (second to God of course), to believe it. Because they are sitting, waiting, trying to hope

In a Disneyland for dead people.

Updated Prayer Requests


God Showing Up

As I have told you before…the faith and love of others has both amazed and overwhelmed Carrie and Travis. Travis, specifically, has never felt so much love. Dare I say…has never “felt” so much as these last few weeks.

There is daily evidence of the love for Carrie and Travis. Right when they think they can not take another step in this journey. God shows up.

A story in which a friend runs into another friend and says, “I need you to pray for my friends.” Her friend responds, “Of course, that works perfect because I need you to pray as well for a couple. Their names are Carrie and Travis.”

Comments left on the blog stating they were praying for Travis even though the person does not know him.

And then there was the call.

Carrie’s friend Diane called her and asked her if they would be at the prayer service on Sunday.

Pause.

Carrie responded, “I am not sure what you are referring to.”

“Oh. Didn’t you know? A prayer service has been organized at First Baptist of Cumming at 3:00 on Sunday to pray for Travis’ healing. Over 70 people are invited.”

Wow. God’s showing up.

We do believe God can and will heal Travis. Not just because we want Him to. Not just because we asked Him to. Not just because Travis is a “good person”. Not just because Travis is a believer.

Good people die every day.

Christians die every day.

Mothers and fathers of young children…die. Every. Day.

To be honest. I don’t know why God sometimes chooses to heal and sometimes chooses not to. I know why bad things happen to good people. We live in a fallen world where there is sin, disease and death. But I don’t know why God doesn’t always choose to intervene.

And…when I am honest…when my thoughts are quiet and it is just Him and I…I sometimes get mad about it. Especially when things didn’t go the way I thought they should go. When the people I deemed worthy are hurt and the people I deemed unworthy are spared.

My thinking is wrong. I know it is. But it is true. And I also know I won’t have the answer to these questions this side of heaven. That’s ok. God doesn’t owe me an explanation.

I don’t know what they are. But only for His holy reasons and for His holy purpose…God has told us Travis’ sickness is not unto death. So I believe he will be healed.

At 3:00 today there will be a prayer service for Travis. Travis and Carrie will be there for it and will leave straight for the airport to head to MD Anderson after. It is short notice and, for most of you, it is a long drive. So, if you cannot make it, we are asking you to simply pray for Travis. From wherever you are. Regardless of whatever you are doing. Pray for him at 3:00. Pray for his healing. Pray for God to intervene.

So that you don’t forget, set an alarm. Write yourself a note. Ask Siri to remind you.

And watch how God shows up.

For where two or three gather in my name, there am I with them." Matthew 18:20
Prayer Service – 3:00 PM

First Baptist of Cumming
1597 Sawnee Drive
Cumming, GA 30040