Well, we fly out for Houston on Monday. Treatment will begin Tuesday and we will need to remain in the Houston area for about 3 weeks while they make sure that I don't have any adverse reactions to the treatment. We hate to be away from our children again but it is necessary.
For the longest time there was still a shadow of uncertainty about if they would allow us into the study or not. They seemed more inclined to allow us but wouldn't give us a solid answer. Finally I just had to pipe up and tell them. "Look, we don't want to whine, but we need some guidance here. Please let us know if we are going to be in the study or not." The lead investigator emailed back and said that he really needed to talk through the situation on the phone with me. We finally got together on Father's day and had a good talk.
It seems I am only the second person that this treatment has been attempted on. The first was a child and I am the first adult. They had expected that our insurance would pick up the bill for the chemotherapy and hospital stay that are involved in the study but our insurance was unwilling. The insurance saw that it was an "Investigational study" and said that our contract specifically permits them to deny payment for such treatments. The principle investigator, Dr Stephen Gottschalk, said that fighting with insurance companies was something he wasn't used to doing. His emphasis has always been on research. He had filed an appeal but didn't know how it would result. He was very concerned that we would end up having to pay something to be in the study. I told him that money wasn't our primary concern. Our concern is to find a cure. Then he told me "It might be even $3000 or more." I almost started to laugh. All this drama over that much money? I think that he has no idea how much money we have already spent in this fight. I told him that God had been very good to me in my profession and that we would have no problem finding the money to pay whatever was needed. He then said, "Then in that case lets get going. I will have the business office call you tomorrow to set up the start date." He said he had reviewed my health status and felt that there was nothing there to prevent my participation. What a lovely father's day present that was. We have spent a lot of time fretting and worrying about what we would do if we were not allowed to continue in the study.
This has been a rocky road to travel. It hasn't been easy but at the same time I pondered about what has happened to me and my family these last four years as we have faced these problems together and learned to lean upon the Lord for our support. I can honestly say that these last four years have been transformative for me personally and for my family. I am a better person because of what I have been through. My family is a better family. Even JoLynne and I, who have always had the sweetest relationship, have grown so much closer because of this. We walk every day. I wish you could listen in on our talks during those late night walks. Wow, we have some amazing discussions as we talk about how God is hearing and answering our prayers and how he is using the priesthood to bless and preserve me. Cancer is awful, but God somehow makes good things come out of bad ones.
We are still waiting for God to show us the great miracle that He has prepared. I still need to be cured. I know that I should be nervous. The cancer has progressed enough now that there is no time for us to make a mistake in our choices. We are poised at the brink of a great miracle or, frankly a certain death. I should be terrified but I'm not at all. There is a peace that has settled over both JoLynne and I. Somehow fear has vanished. It feels like God is illuminating the path before us with small beacons of light that seem to repel our fears. Richard G. Scott, one of the few apostles that I ever met in my life and had a chance to spend time with said it this way.
"The Lord didn’t just deliver the faithful from their trials right away. Rather, He visited them with the that He deliver them in His own time. These assurances, to borrow the words of ElderRichard G. Scott of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, are like “packets of spiritual sunlight” that Heavenly Father places in our path “to brighten [our] way.”1Sometimes that assurance is all we need to persevere through trials, knowing that there will be an ultimate deliverance."We know that there are challenges yet ahead but we also know that with God's help we can meet them bravely and that all will be as it is supposed to be. What a great gift to know, beyond faith, that God is there. He is my loving Heavenly Father. He hears my prayers and cares about me personally. When I am afraid, He takes my hand. When I hurt, He feels my pain and helps me to bear it. I am in awe that the greatest being in the universe cares about me. I think that in the big picture I am not much at all but somehow God thinks I am worth His time.