Dear friends and readers,

As I write this, Jan is within 2 weeks of finishing her course of treatment for oro-pharyngeal cancer.  That is, she has one more dose of chemotherapy scheduled for March 4th, and she has 10 more doses of radiation, having completed 25 of 35.

It is a cause for hope and celebration!  And yet, like so many very hard things, it is hardest near the end.  You see, her radiation has been focused in her neck, tongue, throat and larynx.  Consequently, she has developed ‘the gag reflex from hell.’  Everything that touches the back of her throat makes her gag, and sets up a cycle of vomiting.  This includes the secretions that are part and parcel of the radiation.

Therefore, over the past two weeks, she may have had 2000 Calories of nutrition.  She has received multiple doses of IV fluid.  We now have a suction machine at home, to help with her secretions.  And as of Tuesday past, she has a PEG tube (a feeding tube that goes through her abdomen into her stomach).

Alas, she has eaten so little for so long that things in the tube often make her nauseated and start the cycle of vomiting all over.  Today I am  giving her IV Phenergan at home for nausea. We have used not only Phenergan, but Zofran, Reglan, Scopolamine patches and Ativan to control nausea.  The gag goes on despite all of it.

It is a dark night in her life; a kind of last storm of her spiritual winter.  For all of the family, it is terrifying.  Our home increasingly has the air of a hospital.  Syringes, vials, tubing all lie about, and we are now going to try a tube-feeding pump.

She is exhausted.  She is so weary of vomiting.  Her tongue is ulcerated, and the vomiting only hurts more.  She wonders how long two weeks can last.  And since she always joked that time is merely made up by humans, it would seem that two weeks might seem almost like forever.

We know that her prognosis is very good. We know that soon, the radiation and the chemotherapy will be behind.  But between here and there is a chasm, a gulf.  The idea is so lovely, the reality seems so distant.  T.S. Eliot said, ‘Between the idea and the reality falls the shadow.’  The shadows are long at the end of this winter.

So I come to you to say thank you for your love,  your kind words, your prayers and wishes.  They are precious to us.  And I come to you to ask that you continue them, and specifically that you pray for the last two weeks to be free of any further nausea, vomiting or misery.

She has endured, and I know there is more to endure.  But I hope that with all our prayers and love, her suffering can be less, and her hope greater, through the power of God the Father, God the Son and God the Holy Spirit.

After all, the Word says, ‘ 14 This is the confidence we have in approaching God: that if we ask anything according to his will, he hears us. 15 And if we know that he hears us—whatever we ask—we know that we have what we asked of him.’  I John 5: 14-15.

Please, continue to ask for my dear wife.  We want her to be back to her life, whole, healed and vibrant.   It will not be the same; it will be like rebirth, a kind of foretaste of  resurrection.

May God speed the day.


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