What a difference a week makes. Last Wednesday, we met with John’s Melanoma specialist at Seattle Cancer Care Alliance and he basically told us what we already knew. John had exhausted all treatments options at this point. He was afraid that, with the state of his pancreas, the Keytruda (i.e. miracle drug that could cure his cancer) would be too dangerous for him to attempt because it could literally dissolve his pancreas, which he would not survive. “Trust me,” Dr. Thompson said, “You do not want to die from pancreatitis. It’s not pretty.”
He ended our conversation by saying, “Get your affairs in order, plan for the worst and hope for the best.” While it wasn’t surprising and was pretty much what we expected to hear, like I told John later that day, “It’s a pretty bad day when your oncologist tells you to get your affairs in order.”
I came home and booked a dream vacation to Orlando Florida (Disney World and Universal Studios) for the end of April and a trip back east to Washington D.C., Baltimore, and Philadelphia (all places on his bucket list) for June, determined to create some amazing memories while he still feels good. I bought travel insurance, because we have no way of knowing how long his physical health will last or how quickly the cancer will spread.
Then yesterday, for the first time in three weeks, John had lab work done and we sat down with his local oncologist, ready to hear what we’ve been hearing since the end of January…that his pancreas numbers were rising to unhealthy levels and his blood sugar was high (essentially making him a type 1 diabetic).
Except that’s not what he told us. Turns out miracles do happen, and it was FINALLY our turn.
John’s pancreas numbers were back within the normal range and his blood sugar was normal. Plus, his LDH number (that’s the blood marker that measures cell growth, in this case cancer cell growth), which had been rising at an alarming rate, went from 1149 to 332. The drop in the LDH number can probably be attributed to the radiation on the tumor on his leg, but the only thing we’ve changed in the past three weeks to explain the drop in his pancreas and blood sugar levels is the fact that he’s juicing asparagus every day and using alkalizing drops in his water.
We sat there stunned (in a good way, but still stunned). All of a sudden, there’s light at the end of the tunnel. With normal pancreas function, we’re free to give the Keytruda another try. This could potentially cure his melanoma. It’s his best chance for NED (no evidence of disease, which is as close as you can get to remission with melanoma), and an option we never thought he’d have again.
There are still lots of risks and his doctor will be monitoring his numbers very closely at least weekly. If they start to rise again, he’ll have to stop the drug and at that point, we’ll know without a shadow of a doubt that it’s what’s causing his pancreas problems and not something he can continue. We’re hoping and praying that the numbers hold firm and he can stay on it.
So, next week I might be writing a completely different update, but for now, today is a good day and there’s hope where there was none. Maybe it’s the asparagus, maybe it’s the thousands of people who are praying for us, or maybe it’s a plain and simple miracle. I don’t really care. It’s happened, and I’m hopeful for the first time in weeks.