Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance. Perseverance must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything. James 1:2-4
Labor Day weekend, we were taking a much needed rest from ministry, work, chores on the farm and life in general. John woke up in the night with some nausea, discomfort in his back and blood in his urine. He also complained of an overall ache in his abdomen. He just didn't feel good. The week after our cabin trip, John came down with a cold and mild sore throat along with fatigue. We also started to notice that he was losing weight unintentionally.
Around Sept 14, John was overtaken by a full body itch with no evidence of a skin rash or skin irritation. He was itching on the inside of his body. At one point he said, "I think I understand what Job was saying when he wanted to cut himself with broken pottery because he itched so bad." Initially we thought that he was having an allergic reaction to the cold medicine he was taking. We ruled that out along with the new laudry detergent.
The itching persisted and so did all the other symptoms mentioned. We went to our PCP, who ordered up an X-ray. The X-ray showed kidney stones. We were then sent to a Urologist. We probably spent $200 on prescription and over the counter remedies trying to find something to relieve the awful itching that proves to be a sleep-thief. The Urologist ordered up a CT. While we were waiting for the results, John's condition was spiraling downward. He became as yellow as a No.2 pencil. Even his eyes were yellow. We went back to our PCP, who did some more bloodwork , this time checking his bilirubin level. By this point John was jaundice and bloodwork revealed bilirubin to be elevated. PCP sent us to a Gastroenterologist.
On October 3, we saw a Gastroenterologist who reviewed the CT report ordered up by Urologist and informed us that there is a mass the size of a racketball on the head of John's pancreas that is pushing on the bile duct, that runs through the liver, inhibiting the bile to flow and causing it to backup. The next day John had an endoscopy. They sent a scope down through his mouth with the intentions of getting pictures of the mass, getting tissue to biopsy and put a metal stent in the bile duct to open it up and allow the bile to flow as it ought to. The procedure was successful. The following day we learned that the biopsy was positive for pancreatic cancer. There is also a nymph node to the right of the mass that is also cancerous. Although the goals of the endoscopy were achieved, John's symptoms still persist.
The Gastroenterologist sent us to The James Cancer Center where we met with an expert oncology surgeon for pancreatic cancer. The surgeon walked us through John's current condition as well as his treatment plan. John will have chemotherapy and radiation for two months, then undergo a major surgery call the Whipple Surgery, followed by several months of chemotherapy.
We have radiation and chemotherapy consultations scheduled for this week. The surgeon informed us that this is a marathon and not a sprint. We should look to dedicate ourselves to fighting and healing for the next year. When we arrived home with our new life mission, we posted a sign on the door to our house that reads, "This is a house of hope and healing. Please enter into this with us."