Monthly Archives: July 2013

Reminders

Throughout life we are given many reminders.  Reminders of the past.  Reminders of future promises.  Reminders of present circumstances.  Reminders are everywhere.

Reminders can be a great thing.  When you sit at the beach, and watch the waves roll in and hear the seagulls chirp, you are reminded of God’s greatness.  His majesty.  He reminds us of His presence through nature.

Reminders can be hard too though.

When Travis got his amazing results back from the CT scan last week I revisited The Cholangiocarcinoma Foundation’s website.  With so much promise.  With such amazing results.  What had I missed?  There must have been someone.  Someone with stage 4 who had…won.

And then I was reminded….

I was reminded of the statistics.  I was reminded of the devastation that Cholangiocarcinoma is.  I was reminded of the reality.  

And I wept.

I wept for those who have gone through this.  For those going through it.  And, most of all, I wept for my dear friends.

While the vast majority of Cholangio patients do not respond to treatment the way Travis has…some do.  A few.

And I was reminded…

Even those few, who respond well to treatment, even they have a life expectancy of three years or less.

Three years is a miracle.

Trey will be eight.  Piper will be six.  Jake….three.

Reminders can suck.

Thursday Travis had his sixth chemotherapy treatment and he and Carrie met with his cancer counselor.  They ran into Travis’ doctor.  And they were bombarded with reminders. 

His cancer counselor reminded him that she discusses cancer and diagnosis’s with doctors every day. However, when she says the word “cholangiocarcinoma” to any doctor they typically just shake their head no.  She reminded Travis and Carrie to stay grounded…despite his positive results.

His doctor discussed how excited he was about the CT scan and the promise  it shows.  But he reminded them to be prepared.  Be prepared for the CA19-9 to start going up.  He reminded them that the CA19-9 always goes up.

Reminders.

After last week’s results were published, many people asked “what’s next?”  “Is it time for surgery?”  “Where are we?”  So allow me to provide you with a reminder.  The cancer has to be completely out of Travis’ lymph nodes to consider surgery.  Additionally, it has to stay out of the lymph nodes and not spread to anywhere else for about six months before the surgeons will start considering surgery.

A reminder that we still have a long way to go.  A reminder that prayer is still very much needed.

Sometimes when you have been living in circumstances for an extended period of time it becomes “the normal”.  Everybody I have met.  Everybody Travis and Carrie have talked to believe that Travis will beat this.  That’s just who he is. Travis beats the odds.  But this is just a reminder that Travis is still sick.  Very…very sick.  And his chances are not good.  So it will take a miracle.  A God sized miracle to save him.  And the Roberts are counting on that miracle.  They believe they are living out that miracle.

But remember…all the while…they are bombarded with…reminders.


The New CA 19-9

Hi All – 

Just a quick note to let you know that the CA19-9 is in and it is down again.  This week we are at 5,100.  It’s pretty unbelievable that we have gone from 161,000 to 5,100.  During our last apt with Dr Hamrick he reminded us that he was going to be happy if he could keep the number stable.  It has decreased 95%!!!!  Thank you God!  We are so very grateful!!!  

I have had quite a few people ask about the last video and I promise that it is coming soon along with another beautiful post from our dear friend, but she has been overwhelmingly busy lately and is now on a well deserved VACA!!!!  

We will be heading to MD Anderson in a few weeks.  We do not anticipate any changes in the current treatment.  Trav just wants to remain in the forefront of their minds for any future trials.  We are also interested in their reactions to his great progress.  Please continue to pray for complete healing in the lymph nodes.  Those lymph nodes need to be clear and stable for 4-6 months before Trav can be considered for a liver surgery.  

Thank you all so much for the continued prayers! 

Love to you all!

Carrie 

 


Expectations

Expectations. They can break your heart.

It spread to my lungs.

Can you imagine getting that call? Can you imagine being the wife to someone with an incurable disease and hearing those words?

Can you imagine being Carrie?

Well. Now you can.

Is your heart in your throat? Mine was too.

And then she heard that laugh….Oh that laugh…

“heh, heh, heh……Just kidding…they still haven’t called.”

Oh to be married to Travis. Never a dull moment.

But then the text message did come in.

A text message???

Well. Dr. Hamrick is at the beach this week and still reached out personally to Travis with the results. That’s just the kind of doctor he is. That’s just the kind of guy Travis is.

I would imagine, as Travis went to retrieve the message, his heart must have been thumping as Carrie’s was when he made that ridiculous joke.

And the message…

“Hey Travis – am at the beach this week but got a voicemail from the radiologist – CT scan shows an excellent response. Lymph nodes persist but the cancer is responding everywhere. I will log in tonight and email the printed report to you. This is great news.”

Travis forwarded me the message to get on the blog…

Really? That’s it?

Ok….ok…ok…I am excited. I am happy. The news should be bad and it is not. Go to The Cholangiocarcinoma Foundation’s website and read the message boards. This disease does not give an “excellent response”…

…but then again…we kind of knew it was responding…the CA19-9 tells us that every two weeks.

But I am excited. I am.

But….

Really God?

It took me a few minutes. Ok. It took me 45 minutes. And I finally got real.

“God. I’m thankful for what You provided. I know it is of You. But….I’m kind of disappointed.”

Don’t worry. He didn’t fall off His throne. Nope…not because I simply told Him what He already knew I was feeling. It’s ok to be honest. It shows you trust Him. At least…that’s what I tell myself.

God?!? Really!?!? That’s it!?!”

Sigh

“I guess I just trust You know what You are doing. Your ways are not mine.”

And then the phone rang.

Carrie.

That wasn’t all the details. That wasn’t everything. God wasn’t done.

How about a sixty five percent REDUCTION in the lymph nodes?

How about going from eight tumors in the liver….to THREE.

How about the largest tumor in his liver reducing by 50%.

How about miracle, after miracle, after miracle, after miracle!?!?

Expectations. When they are met. It’s a beautiful thing.


God is Working

God is working. It’s undeniable. He is working in a big and mighty way. It’s enough to make atheists question their atheism.

As Carrie and I chatted today it hit me, that as we go through day to day life, we can miss God’s work…His miracles…if we don’t step back and take the time to take a look and see that….

He is working.

As bits and pieces of information have come in, it’s like putting a puzzle together, to get a glimpse of the big picture and how He is working.

Travis’ cancer is aggressive. Fast. A completely gnarly cancer that would have eaten him up in a matter of months had God not been working.

Recently, Dr. Hamrick shared with Travis that he had his team go back and compare the MRI Travis had done on the day he found out “something” was wrong (April 11) to the one he had done just weeks later at MD Anderson (May 8th). Why? Because, initially, there was concern that the protocol used for performing and reading MRIs, CTs and PET scans was not as high of a standard at Kaiser as it is at MD Anderson. After all, Kaiser only found three tumors and cancer in the lymph nodes of only the abdomen wall. MD Anderson found eight tumors and cancer in the groin, chest, and abdomen wall lymph nodes.

But there was no difference in the equipment. No difference in the protocol. No difference in how results were read.

Travis’ cancer had just spread that fast.

It makes sense. After all, his CA19-9 markers went from 91,000 to 161,000 in just one month.

God is working. Because as fast as Travis’ cancer was spreading…he would have been dead in months.

God is working.

Remember. This was found “by accident”. Travis has not had a kidney stone flare up in more than three years and, since that fateful night he ended up in the ER, he has not had a problem since.

There was no kidney stone blockage. There was no kidney stone passage. There was no reason for the kidney stone pain that night he went to the ER.

God is working.

But why?

Why is God working? Why is God using Travis of all people to work through?

Is it because he is a good person? I don’t think so. Good people die.

Is it because he has become a faithful follower of Jesus Christ? I don’t think so. I know believers…devout believers…who die.

Is it because he literally has thousands of people praying for him to be healed? I don’t know. I have known others who have had thousands of people pray for their healing…and they passed on to heaven anyway.

Why is God working through Travis?

The truth? I don’t know why!

But here’s what I do know.

God has made it very clear that we are to bring our requests to Him. That we are to pray to Him. That we are to ask for anything in the name of Jesus.

And so…not because I think He is the big gumball machine in the sky, where I put in my quarter and get out my blessing, do I ask for Travis’ healing.

I ask, in obedience, because He has told me to ask.

And I am humbled to watch Him Work.

Tomorrow is a big day. A big day in this story. A big day in the lives of the Roberts and Pettit families.

Tomorrow. Is the cat scan.

It’s been two months of treatment already. It’s time to see what it has done. It’s time to see what God has done.

Pray for the miracle. Pray that unbelieving doctors and lab technicians will be blown away in disbelief.

Pray with the knowledge of what God is capable of…of the miracle He has already provided. Travis is alive. Had it not been for that “mystery” kidney stone pain three months ago, Travis would likely have months left to live.

Pray knowing that…

God is working.


Cliffhangers

Cliffhangers.  Like you…I have mixed feelings about cliffhangers.  Sure.  They are exciting. They get your blood pumping.  They can even overwhelm you.  But they are also, well…annoying.

When your favorite show ends the season with your jaw on the floor going “but…” “wait…”  “how?”  “how did he?!?!”  “How is she!?!?”  “I CAN’T WAIT UNTIL SEPTEMBER?!?!?!?!?”

Like I said…they can be annoying.

This experience is feeling more and more like a movie.  No surprise there.  Travis’ life does seem to play out like a movie.  How many of you feel like the waiting for the CA19-9 every two weeks is kind of like a…cliffhanger?

And so…another two weeks has passed.  And the results are in.  Like a season premiere.  Will it be what we hoped for?  Will it be a let down?

Let’s let you decide….

  • 05/15 – 161,000
  • 05/29 – 135,000
  • 06/12 – 57,000
  • 06/26 – 19,500

Today?

8,800.

Another 55% decrease.  A 95% decrease overall.

A cliffhanger well worth the wait.

Some of you have said the last video was also a…cliffhanger.

“When’s the next segment?”  “Why haven’t you guys updated the blog!?!?”  “FINISH THE SERIES!!!!”

We actually didn’t mean to leave you with a cliffhanger.  We had every intention of posting within a day or two.

But we have been busy.

I don’t mean “normal life” busy.  All of us have that.  I mean

we-got-something-in-the-works-busy.

Something exciting.  A silver lining in this gloomy cloud of Travis’ cholangio.  Something BIG.  Bigger than any of us.

But.  We aren’t ready to reveal it yet.  So while we are ready to reveal the follow up to the last video. Regarding our plans…our work…our BIG thing…we just have to leave you with…

a cliffhanger.

Interview 5 of 6

In segment five of this six part series Travis discusses the chemo game. We encourage you to watch the first four clips if you have not already – Not Your Typical Cancer PatientThe DiscoveryA Death Sentence, and Finding Love…and God.