***An update (6/14/16): the proton center has agreed to cover the costs of ALL of Carol’s treatments! Thank God for his incredibly faithful provision. We are still raising funds to cover the costs of chemosensitivity testing and out of pocket health insurance costs – thank you friends!***
Carol had a second, more comprehensive biopsy two weeks ago. The procedure itself was short and successful, but she did suffer some side effects like nausea and a sore windpipe. The results from her biopsy were mixed – it confirmed that her tumor is indeed a recurrence of her triple negative cancer, instead of a different cancer altogether. And although it technically is categorized as Stage 4 metastatic cancer, it is at this point limited to a single lymph node in her chest, which is very good news. The surgeon was able to remove almost all of the tumor, but also discovered that the tumor had grown noticeably since it was first discovered in early April, which was alarming for us to hear.
In addition to being used for a standard pathology report, the tumor was also sent to an advanced testing facility where they will cultivate the cells and then subject them to various treatments like chemotherapy and even immunotherapy. That way they can figure out which treatments are most effective against Carol’s specific tumor without having to actually subject Carol to these potentially toxic treatments.
While we wait for those results, our team has recommended Carol not receive standard radiation because she has already received radiation to that area not long ago, and the cells of her chest are already damaged. In addition, her tumor is located in the center of her chest, closer to vital organs. Instead, Carol will be receiving a different form of radiation altogether called proton therapy, which releases radiation to a very targeted target in the body, minimizing side effects to other tissue. And we are fortunate that one of the few proton therapy centers in the country is located only 45 minutes away from our home!
So the plan is that this month, Carol will start daily proton therapy for a period of three weeks. During that time, I’ve made arrangements to decrease my work hours so that I can help take care of Carol and the kids. After proton therapy is over, the results of her advanced testing should be available and so we will have a very good idea of what treatment will work best in getting rid of the cancer once and for all.
I can’t tell you how comforting it is to have these new options available to us this time around. When Carol was diagnosed seven years ago, there were so few choices available for her. There weren’t many chemotherapy regimens available, and the only way to measure if a certain treatment was effective was to give it to Carol and see how she responded, a pretty brutal test of efficacy. And even though we knew that radiation would damage the surrounding tissue of Carol’s chest, we did it anyway because there weren’t any alternatives. So to discover that there are all of these new test and treatments has been a huge encouragement and relief to us both – thank you Jesus for advancements in modern medicine!
But as was the case before, we have an issue: yup, insurance. You see, health insurance companies don’t like my family. They often try to reject our coverage altogether, or barring that, make sure that we get less than stellar care. This time, our health insurance decided that both the advanced testing and proton therapy are experimental and so they won’t cover the cost of either. While we are hopeful and even confident that we can get financial assistance, our friends at Rainier Avenue Church have put together a fundraiser on our behalf to help cover the costs of these procedures, as well as the out of pocket health insurance costs that we are responsible for.
I know that there are so many important causes out there, but Carol and I hope that you will consider supporting us so that she can get the very best care available. To access the fundraiser, please visit this GoFundMe page. A couple of important notes: unlike our previous fundraiser which was to pay for health insurance, donations are not tax deductible – sorry! Also, credit card donations are subject to a 7.9% processing fee, so if you want to send a check directly, you can contact the administrator of the fundraiser directly via the page.
Thank you again, everyone. Carol and I have done nothing to deserve friends and family like you – as far as we are concerned, you are all clear evidence of God’s unmerited but abundant grace in our lives!