Brent Harris Believing for BrentH

First post: Sep 15, 2019 Latest post: Nov 18, 2019
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Brent was first diagnosed with mucosal melanoma stage 4 cancer in June of 2019.  He had his colonoscopy the year before (we are in our 50's now!) and it was clean. He went to our family doctor thinking he had a hemorrhoid and our doctor thought that was likely but sent him to a colorectal doctor just to be sure. The colorectal doctor suspected it was a tumor and so scheduled an exam under sedation where he would also take some portions of the tumor to be biopsied. Brent was only under sedation for 7 minutes.  The doctor was back to see me within 10 minutes. He looked at me and simply said, "It's cancer." I asked about the biopsy and was he sure because those results wouldn't be back for several days. He was certain. He had seen this type before in patients. At the time I thought our doctor seemed rather cold in his delivery of the news. I would later find out that he himself was troubled by what he had found and was trying not to upset me any more than I was. How do I know this? When we met with the surgeon for the biopsy results he was very caring, answered as many questions, as he could, and before we left asked if he could pray for us. He is a fellow believer in Christ.

When Brent finally made it back to me after recovery, I was the one to deliver the news that he had cancer. I pulled a chair over, picked up his hand and kissed it then told him those two words no wife should ever have to say to her husband, "It's cancer." He looked back at me with clear, blue eyes and said, "We're going to fight this." Now here we are 3 months later at the country's best cancer center and the battle wages on.

I had done a little research by calling and texting some friends and family the day before the biopsy. I just wanted the name of a great oncologist just in case. Every person I heard from that day recommended the same doctor. So, when our surgeon asked us if we had an oncologist in mind it was without hesitation that we gave him Dr. 
Bhatia's name. He told us he would call him personally that morning and send all of the paperwork and biopsy results over to him. We left the office feeling overwhelmed. It can take weeks to get into an oncologist and we would need a radiologist as well. On the drive home we just decided we would start at the beginning and take one step at a time. We knew Dr. Bhatia's office was being contacted and so the waiting would begin. We were less than 5 minutes from home that very day when Dr. Bhatia's office called and asked us how quickly we could be there! Our response; "15 minutes." We turned the car around and drove to his office at Community North Cancer Center. We were stunned  and we were witnessing God at work. No one goes from surgeon to oncologist in the same day as far as we know. We waited in his office and within 15 minutes a team of 5 people filed into the room led by Dr. Bhatia. I felt a whoosh of the Holy Spirit and a calming of God's peace. We don't know if anyone on our Indy team of doctors is a Christian, and it doesn't matter because God can use any of us to accomplish His will and that is what I was feeling. 

Dr. Bhatia wasted no time in telling us how bad this cancer was. It wasn't what we thought it was, instead it was mucosal melanoma which is a rare cancer that can pop up at random anywhere in the body. While we think of melanoma as being on the skin, that is not the case with Brent. His skin and lymph nodes are fine. Within the group was our radiologist and his nurse practitioner, as well as Dr. Bhatia and his nurse practitioner, and a nurse navigator who would keep things moving. The skeptic in me couldn't help but wonder how we got in so quickly to see Dr. Bhatia and so I asked him. I asked, "How were we able to get in here the same day we saw our surgeon? Is the cancer that bad or are you just that good?" His response? "Both." He works quickly with other doctors to see potential patients as soon as possible. Before we left that day Brent had blood drawn for a baseline panel and an appointment for a PET Scan and a brain MRI. I remember his nurse practitioner saying to the doctor that it was already Thursday afternoon. There would be no way insurance would approve the PET Scan by the following Tuesday when he wanted it. He said, "I don't care about what the insurance says. I want the PET Scan Tuesday and we will all meet again on Wednesday to discuss the results." She was skeptical. He was certain. I walked out with our nurse navigator to schedule the PET Scan for Tuesday while they were drawing Brent's blood. The receptionist told us that there was no way we could get approval that quickly even though she would call about insurance herself rather than following standard procedure. Our nurse navigator just looked at the receptionist and said, "We're believing for Tuesday. Make the appointment please." Then she turned to me and said, "We're believing for Tuesday." I was somewhat stunned and just said, "Okay, we're believing for Tuesday." His PET Scan and MRI took place the next Tuesday and we met with our oncology team on Wednesday. God was and is in the details of our lives.

"Are not two sparrows sold for a penny? Yet not one of the will fall to the ground outside your Father's care. And even the very hairs of your head are all numbered. So don't be afraid; you are worth more than many sparrows."-  Jesus (Matthew 10:29-31)

In a week's time we went from biopsy to diagnosis. In time's of trouble, sickness, and suffering the waiting is often the most difficult part. We are so thankful we did not have to wait.  "What then, shall we say in response to this? If God is for us, who can be against us?" Romans 8:31

While Brent's diagnosis was not what we hoped for, it is the path set in front of us. We were hopeful during radiation, which he was able to do all 5 treatments in one week, and hopeful during 2 rounds of immunotherapy. However, Brent's medical team has now determined that the side effects from immunotherapy pose too great of a health risk to continue so they are now evaluating other options.  One of those options is a Phase 1 Clinical Trial taking place at MD Anderson. Thus, we are here to wait and see if what man can do through the advances in medical science will be enough to push the cancer into remission. We have not had another PET Scan yet. So, who knows if the treatments he has already been given have been enough to push the cancer back. We will find out soon. In the meantime we will go to our appointment at MD Anderson and see what they have to offer us. In parallel with this Brent's medical team in Indy is evaluating other options based on the results of his genomic profiling that was conducted over the summer. While we believe in modern medicine, our hope is in the Lord God Almighty. He is Jehovah-Rapha, the Great Physician.

"Surely he took up our pain and bore our suffering, yet we considered him punished by God, stricken by him, and afflicted. But he was pierced for our transgressions, he was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was on him, and by his wounds we are healed." ~ Isaiah 53:4-5

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