Chris’s Story

Site created on February 17, 2018


Friends & Family, thank you so much for visiting our site. We have been so truly blessed and humbled by your prayers, support, encouragement, and love. We can't express how thankful we are for all of you and just how much your love means! 

If you would like to support Dad (Chris) and the family financially to offset medical costs, we have a GoFundMe page setup here: https://www.gofundme.com/chriswestlake.

We also know that so many who don’t even know us directly are seeking the Lord on our behalf, so thank you!  For those of you who don't know the whole story behind my Dad's cancer journey thus far, we thought that we would share it so that all of you can be informed and know how you can pray specifically. So, here it is:

To start, we want you all to know that this is “God’s cancer,” as my Daddy would say, and that He is and has been with us at every step. One thing that Dad says is, “If this cancer is in the middle of my days, then this is just a season. If it is not, then this is what God is using to take me home.” It is so amazing to see the strength and peace that God has granted Daddy. God is good! He is our Shepherd! He has opened so many doors and sustained Daddy in so very many ways. We serve a great God. So, it is in this light that we write this…
 
 As we look back on the past year or so for possible signs or symptoms of cancer, Dad noticed, about five months prior to the diagnosis, a loss in his singing range as he sung at church.  He had also noticed that he felt the need to clear his throat more often than he had before. We thought that it was just acid reflux.  Life went on just as normal, however, and he and Mom were able to enjoy a lovely trip to Scotland in August. The real symptoms showed up in September when, at one point, his neck and lymph nodes were so sore that it hurt to even turn his neck. It was at that point that Dad knew something was off.  He went to see a local Ear Nose and Throat Doctor (ENT) on September 26th, 2017 to get a scope of his throat, and we are so thankful that God prompted Dad to go. During the scope, the ENT saw a mass, about 2.5cm at the base of his tongue (the part that you can’t see.) Concerned with what he saw, the ENT strongly recommended that my Dad get a CAT scan. Taking the doctor's recommendation, Daddy got a CAT scan in Billings, MT and then we awaited the results. I remember the night that my parents received the call from the ENT who relayed the heavy results from the CAT scan. It was cancer....more specifically, it was throat cancer, which had spread to the lymph nodes, which made it stage 4. This was, of course, a huge shock for all of us,  Daddy had never been unhealthy and overall we ate very well - organic, not processed, and whole foods. But, we are so thankful that God, in His grace and peace, is with us, even in the midst of great trial and tribulation, and that, despite what we may think, His will is perfect and He is always good.
   
After the diagnosis, it was like a tsunami wave of symptoms just rolled in. Dad began to cough frequently and felt his throat begin to feel more constricted - both things that began to significantly affect him.  My parents immediately began proactively researching and making lifestyle changes - such as beginning to eat alkaline and ketogenic.  If you know my Dad, you know that he loves people and cares about them and their success, in whatever it may be, at a very deep and personal level. Because he has known so many people who have had cancer or who have had loved ones with cancer., 8 years ago, even before cancer was on his radar, he began researching various approaches to cancer treatment so that he would be able to share that with others in order that they wouldn't have to go through the awful and harmful process of chemo and radiation. So, going into his cancer journey, my Dad was, and is, very well informed, and without any hesitation, chose the alternative route.

While my parents were in Florida for my Dad's work, they decided that it would be best for them to go see a functional medicine doctor and get started on some sort of treatment. God opened another door, and taking a recommendation from a friend, they went to see a doctor in Houston, TX. After the initial appointment, the doctor informed my parents that many of my Dad's systems weren't functioning as they should be. To use his words Dad's body was "functioning like an 83-year-old.”.... Yikes! So, why was this the case? Well, it was not getting adequate sleep or exercise and not eating a consistent breakfast, lunch, and dinner. All of these things really wore on Dad's body and weakened his immune system, and thus, resulted in cancer. We did receive encouraging news from this doctor, who actually believes that the cancer has not spread to the lymph nodes... which would make the cancer only stage 2. The doctor put Dad on A TON of different supplements to help strengthen his body's systems as well as a cancer protocol whose main "star" is something called salacinium. Salacinium, also known as Orasal, is a natural cancer killer. Cancer LOVES sugar and cancer cells do not die like a normal, healthy cell. What Orasal does is attach to a sugar molecule so that cancer cells will let it in and then it essentially goes into the cancer cell and turns the "die switch" on... I like to think of it as a secret agent ;) The other important thing to know about Orasal is that it makes the tumor swell before it dies off... the swelling is due to lymphatic fluid. Dad has been on the Orasal protocol, along with numerous other supplements, since October 16th, 2017.

Things continued as normal as they could through January with Dad going down to Houston every month to see the doctor. However, in these months he began to feel that the space in his throat was getting more restricted... Because of the size of the tumor, swallowing became, and is, very difficult and the tumor also began pressing against his larynx making him cough. These things continued to progress and made it very difficult for him.  My parents decided it best to get a tracheotomy and a feeding tube to provide a backup air supply and food supply in case the tumor blocks his throat completely. He had a successful tracheotomy surgery on January 20th with a truly amazing turnaround which enabled him to accompany the rest of the family to go see Connor graduate from Advanced Infantry Training in Fort Benning, GA. It was such a gift from the Lord, and we are so thankful! Dad had his feeding tube put in on January 30th, and that also was a successful surgery. It has been such a blessing from the Lord that his body has bounced back so well!

We are thankful that God is in control, scared at times, but resting in His marvelous power and grace. I am beyond thankful for my parents and the amazing strength that God has given them. Your prayers are truly invaluable and once again thank you!

With love and gratitude,
Kathryn - on behalf of the Westlake Family

Newest Update

Journal entry by Amy Westlake

I have been wanting to write an update for months.  But, here I am almost a year later... It is hard to believe that it has been a year, one week, and a day since Chris has left us here on earth and joined his heavenly Father.  There are days where it feels like it was just yesterday and then days where it feels as if it was a lifetime ago.  Grief is STRANGE.  It is mysterious, unique, and full of a huge variety of emotions.  Chris liked to use word pictures to often describe situations.  The word picture that has come to mind that describes my grief this past year is one of being lost at sea.  I truly feel as if I have been floating on a life raft holding on with my hands and drifting at sea in a thick fog.  There are days that I have felt completely alone with sharks floating around ready to attack at anytime.  Many days I am utterly exhausted and feel as if I will sink into the ocean.  Then, there are days that I feel as if the tears are gone and I can pull myself up on the life raft, rest, and enjoy some sunshine hoping and expecting that I will be rescued.  With each day, I am discovering my "new normal" and hopeful to land back safe and sound on land with direction, purpose, and a renewed sense of hope... forever changed but not forever broken. Grief is exhausting emotionally, physically, and spiritually.  It is incredibly hard to describe.  Despite our deep sorrow, we would not have been able to navigate and process through this past year without your notes of encouragement, texts, phone calls, coffee dates, help around the house, and most importantly prayers.  Your prayers have truly sustained and continue to sustain our family through this journey.  

Since Chris' death, we have experienced lots of change.  Ryan, who still lives in Denver, was offered a promotion and change of responsibility at his work with NextWorld. He had to move once again out of his apartment (his roommates kept on getting married, haha) for a total of four moves in a year and a half. Connor was stationed in Vicenza, Italy in October of 2018 and we sure do miss him. The blessing is we now have an extra reason to visit Italy!!:) He will be stationed there for two years.  Daniel graduated from high school in May 2019 and the next week moved to Cheyenne, WY.  He was accepted into a fire fighting resident training program while obtaining his fire science degree. He is really enjoying what he is doing!  Kathryn is a junior and for the first time since first grade is transitioning from home school.  She will now be attending a local Christian school. So, we have gone from six of us full time (Chris worked from home) to just Kathryn and me at home.  We sure do miss the boys and truly do treasure every moment we get with them!  Our lab Ike is the lone male in the home now... crazy!! 

Today, Friday, September 13th, is a significant day in many ways.  It was the day that Chris and I met in 1991 in Washington, DC.  We were at a softball team BBQ. I looked across the backyard and thought, "Wow" that guy looks just like Tom Cruise... he was so handsome :). Twenty-seven years later, it was the day that we held his funeral and put his body to rest.  Now, one year later we remember Chris on yet another Friday, September 13th. We miss him dearly and we love him more than we could ever express.  We miss his passion, intentionality, humor, love, wisdom, guidance, leadership, insight, forethought, voice, and his presence in our home to name a few.  He made a huge impact in our lives and will always be remembered, not forgotten.

One of Chris' favorite sights was sunsets.  I thought I would share one of the last sunsets we had together as we were out on a walk with him.  You can see in the picture he is off on the left on the scooter he rode, Kathryn is beside him.   The Lord has provided many wonderful sunsets over this past year as a wonderful reminder and blessing of His faithfulness and goodness to our family over this year.   Soli Deo Gloria
 
Thank you, 
 
Amy
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