The Walking Miracle

Travis. The Walking Miracle.

That’s what he is. I am not just saying that because he is one of my closest friends. Because I want to believe it. Because I want it to be true.

I say it because that is what it is.

Truth.

Travis is…a walking miracle.

First…let’s talk lymph nodes. Those pesky little things that swell up in your neck when you get sick. Those things the doctor pushes around on, in your neck, when you go in for a check up. But your lymph nodes are not just in your neck. They run through your body as a part of the lymph system.

Check out this figure. The green is your lymph system and the “bubbles” are the lymph nodes. What do you notice? They are all connected. Remember that. It will come in handy later.

Lymph-Nodes1

Now let’s take a look at where the cancer has hit in Travis’ lymph nodes.

Lymph-Nodes1

Everywhere you see red…Travis has cancer in his lymph nodes. More or less.

Wow.

In his words…”the PET scan lights up like a Christmas tree!”

So where is the miracle in that?

It is simply unheard of. It is a miracle that the cancer, as it has moved through his body through those connected lymph nodes, has not “jump shipped” onto another organ. The diaphragm basically divides the chest cavity from the abdomen. The cancer has passed by the large intestine, small intestine, gallbladder, pancreas, stomach, through the diaphragm, past the lungs…and has not touched a single one of them.

Having trouble understanding how HUGE this is? Don’t quite understand how intertwined the lymph system is with these organs? Not convinced of this miracle? Try this picture of just the abdominal cavity. Again…the green line is the lymph system and the green bubbles are the lymph nodes…

Lymph Nodes with Organs

And that is just the abdominal cavity. The cancer moved through the lymph nodes. These lymph nodes that encircle and intertwine with the organs, and never touched them.

A walking miracle.

But. It’s still hard to hear the doctor say “yep. you light up like a Christmas tree.” When those words come out of the doc’s mouth… When you see how they look at you… Your mind plays tricks on you. The enemy plays tricks on you. And despite the miracle…you get worried.

Travis got a second opinion on Wednesday. Well. I guess technically it is a fourth opinion. Or is it fifth? Who knows…always good to cover your bases. A friend got him the appointment and just wanted him to meet with this doctor who has saved other’s lives. And so he did. And the doctor looked at his images and looked at Travis. He looked at him like he was a walking miracle.

How can this guy have it from his groin to his clavicle and it not be in his organs?

So while it is encouraging to hear. To hear you are a walking miracle. “The look” is still so scary. The look that says…

Wow…how are you standing before me seemingly healthy when you have this much cancer?

And so the look can be discouraging despite the encouraging words. Despite knowing you are a walking miracle.

CA19-9. It’s the cancer marker that tells the doctor how Travis is responding to the chemotherapy. The first time Travis had this test done was on the day of his liver biopsy – April 16. Normal is below 35. Travis’ was 91,000.

NINETY ONE THOUSAND.

Travis and Carrie thought it was a typo. But it was not a typo. 91,000. That was his starting point.

Yesterday, Travis had his second treatment of chemotherapy and, prior to starting, he and Carrie met with Dr. Hamrick. They asked for the results of the CA19-9 test taken on May 15, the day before his first treatment of chemotherapy. The test taken just four weeks and two days after the initial test. Just 30 days later. Just one month.

161,000.

Carrie screamed. Literally. Dr. Hamrick had to yell “Whoa! Calm down! It’s ok! We knew this was an aggressive cancer. Nothing has changed! We knew this!”

Yes. We did. We heard. We were told.

But 161,000???? In a month?

If you go to the message boards on cholangiocarcinoma.com you will find people worried about 300. 400. Even 1000. But 161,000???

A walking miracle.

But again. You can tell yourself you are a walking miracle. You can convince yourself you are the “outlier”. The “exception”. The “miracle”. But your mind plays tricks on you. Your mind says otherwise.

And so. As Travis sat through his treatment yesterday. His five hour treatment. With poison running into his veins to kill this thing that seems…invincible. One thing kept running through his mind. Over. And over. And over.

161,000 161,000 161,000

This morning Travis awoke. And thanked God for another day. Another day of being symptom free. Another day of life. Another day of being a miracle. But he had something more to say. Something more to ask.

Speak to me God. Let me know You are hearing our prayers. Let me know You are there.

And he opened his Bible.

As I have mentioned before, Travis is new to Bible study. He is still figuring out if Galatians is in the Old Testament or New. If there is a difference between Corinthians and Chronicles (uhhh. big difference. huge). Suffice it to say…he doesn’t yet know his Bible. But he is trying and following the advice of his father…sticking to Matthew, Mark, Luke and John.

Lately, he has been reading John. And today, not-so-coincidentally, he happened to be on chapter 11. And for the first time, on his own, he came across John 11:4…

When Jesus heard this, he said, “This sickness will not end in death. No, it is for God’s glory. God’s Son will receive glory because of it.”

God spoke to Travis. He met him where he was and gave him a gentle reminder. But He wasn’t done.

Shortly after this Travis was talking to Carrie. Explaining to her that he was “all for the miracle”. He was hanging in there and trying his best to simply have faith. But just once. Just one time. He would like something tangible. He would like some good medical news. Just once. Something encouraging. After what seemed like punch after punch after punch to the gut. Just good news for once.

An hour later the email came.

Dr. Hamrick.

Great news. Got your CA19-9 back from Wednesday’s test. Down to 135,000.

In just two weeks. After a single treatment. A 16% decrease.

THIS MEANS THE CANCER IS RESPONDING TO THE CHEMOTHERAPY!

Something they weren’t sure would happen. Something that doesn’t happen for a lot of people. Something that could have been another punch in the gut.

But God spoke again. He spoke to Travis. This time the reminder wasn’t so gentle. It was tangible.

God spoke to His walking miracle.

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13 responses to “The Walking Miracle

  • steve townley

    What GREAT and WONDERFUL news! Straight from God’s hands. We pray for you daily and are finding God gives an opportunity each day to share your story of faith and trust in Him with others. Your journey is witness to God’s power and provision and it is being shared with untold numbers. thank you for being so open to share with all of us, To God Be the Glory

  • Mary Gillespie

    Carrie and Travis. I just wanted you to know that I and many people are praying for you back in Illinois. I am a first cousin to Carrie’s dad, Jason, and have been following your blog from the beginning. Your story has inspired and strengthened me and I have used it as an opportunity to share God’s goodness with others. I rejoice with the recent good news and I true believe that this sickness will be used for God’s glory.

  • Nancy

    I don’t know you personally, just know of you through my son Steven and the affection and respect he has for you. I pray you both have peace and the patience needed to see God’s miracle unfold in your lives. People around the country are praying for your recovery, which just shows the power of God’s love. I too pray that you will be well soon.

  • Bob Bracewell

    Praying when I awake at night for you and your family and happy with you that it is responding to the treatment!

  • Anonymous

    Travis, this is fantastic news. I continue to pray for you and your family daily. God is so good, he never leaves us.
    Hugs,
    Lisa Craine

  • Judy Thompson

    Haven’t found orange sneakers yet, but I am praying for you Carrie, and you Travis (I still think of you as Lee) and your children and all those around you.
    God Bless 🙂

  • Kathy

    Travis, it was so nice to meet you at Kisor last Thursday. My husband, Fred, was there for an infusion. I noticed your smile right away. Then, you said you would pray for us and I was so happy to know that you are a believer in Jesus. I pray for you and your family as well.

    • Travis

      I have been praying for you almost everyday and hope that you guys are doing well. It was very nice meeting you and hope that I see you guys on the next one.

    • Travis

      I have been praying for you almost everyday and hope that you guys are doing well. It was very nice meeting you and hope that I see you guys on the next one.

  • Jennie Willis

    Continuing to pray for you and your family! So very thankful your body is responding to the treatments. To God be the Glory!

  • Jill & Brian Henderson

    Travis & Carrie,
    We are rejoicing with you! What great news! We’ll keep the prayers coming.
    Brian & Jill

  • Suzanne

    I claim the name of The Lord, Jehovah Roph!! The Lord heals!!!! Praying always, friends!

  • Kay Pigg

    Travis and Carrie,
    We pray for you daily…and rejoice with you in your good news that the chemo is having some good results. We hope it continues and hope you have other little miracles to hold onto.

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