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Tuesday, February 24, 2015

We are Never Abandoned...

 If there would be a theme running through my life... a silver cord binding my heart and soul... it would be Grace.

We speak of it often here on the Journey.  Grace, extragavant and undeserved... Gracious gift from a Father's Hand.

Grace, personal and real, before I even took my first breath...

Grace, unmerited and full of favor, as we savor life's sweetest gifts...

Grace, warm and comforting, a shelter from life's storms...

Grace, steadfast and sure, even under the harrowing diagnosis of cancer...

Grace, beautiful and sweet, when friends swoop in to lift our bruised and battered hearts...

Grace, merciful and deep, as we walked the Pancreatic Cancer road with mom...

Grace, All Sufficient, as the veil thinned and eternity called...

Grace has become the mainstay of my life's journey.  And so, it is no surprise that the following quote caught my eye...and my heart.  It is from the book A Memoir of Grace by Chuck Smith...

"Grace does not shield the cruel realities of a world damaged by the fall.
We're not in heaven yet,
and God does not spare us from the crushing blows that come to everyone...
We lose people we love,
we suffer,
we grieve,
we journey on,
but we're not abandoned."

His words speak a truth.  For we all will eventually experience the harsh reality of pain and grief should we live long enough.  The heart aches for each burden we bear.

Perhaps it is a cancer diagnosis.  Perhaps a painful separation from those we love.  Perhaps a grievous abuse that defies forgiveness...

In it all, the anchor is God's steadfast Grace... We are not abandoned... He has walked this road all the way to Cavalry... He knows our pain.  He knows our grief.  He has come to extend Grace, unwavering, never changing, so completely all-sufficient, for even one such as I...

"But he said to me, 'My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.' Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ's power may rest on me."  II Corin. 12:9

Grace breathes hope right into the weariness.  He walks right beside, holding us up when we stumble, and hurt, and weep... We are never abandoned.  Christ's power is glorified beautiful into each life that trusts His Hand.

Let Grace anchor our hearts this day, dear friends, no matter the Journey, no matter the cost...

Holding on to the One who never lets Go, Always,

Wednesday, February 11, 2015

Personalized Pancreatic Cancer Treatment

What if someone could tell you exactly how to zap your cancer?
What if your doctor could plan your treatment protocol with confidence?
What if scientists could map your tumor and tell you the best battle plan to destroy the beast?

The Pancreatic Cancer Action Network is unveiling a new service for Pancreatic Cancer Patients.  It's called Know Your Tumor...

It's cutting edge science and holds much promise for Pancreatic Cancer patients world wide. 

Simply put, doctors can now determine the biology of specific tumors through biopsies and detail a personalized treatment plan for your individual cancer.

When mom was first diagnosed with pancreatic cancer, her doctor went to default mode and automatically set her on the traditional pancreatic cancer treatment... Gemzar Chemotherapy.

Never mind that this protocol had not changed much in the past 30 years... and was still only marginally successful.  Gemzar was the Gold Standard treatment for pancreatic cancer.  And in many doctor offices, it is still considered the Gold Standard... even though so many clinical trials and alternative protocols are showing promise. With Gemzar's low success rate, perhaps it's time to find another Gold Standard... Yes?! 

And maybe we can start by dissecting the pancreatic cancer tumor and finding out just what makes it we can stop it in its tracks.

So, exactly what is this Know Your Tumor strategy? 

It is a way to test your tumor, often called molecular profiling, to find out what treatments and/or medicines will be more effective in destroying it.

The molecular profiling is done by a company called Perthera.  They describe the process on their website:

Every patient is different, and not everyone responds to the same treatment. Perthera’s job is to determine which therapies will work best specifically for your cancer, through a coordinated service designed to help you gain maximum benefit.
We begin the process with a biopsy where we have developed innovative ways to handle fresh tissue samples. We maintain total control over the tissue gathering process at the time of biopsy and beyond, to ensure that the fresh tissue is gathered properly. 
We send samples to the best diagnostic partners, each with tests that have been proven to improve the success rates of patients. Together, these tests represent the most comprehensive analysis of genomic and protein information that you can get anywhere in the world.
We have assembled a panel of distinguished medical professionals, each with expertise in a specific type of cancer, to constantly search for and evaluate the best available testing technologies and the latest drugs, trials and research, so they can become part of our proprietary Expert System Database (ESD).
We use the ESD to combine the molecular analysis of a patient's tumor with their medical history and the latest treatment options available to create a report of personalized treatment recommendations, and our panel of medical experts reviews the report and its recommendations.
We serve as an advocate for each patient by intently listening to their needs, constantly following up concerning milestones in the process and responding to patient inquiries within 24 hours. We also track the latest molecularly-targeted drugs and drug trials and advocate for your participation.
This service is available for patients who meet their criteria:
1.  Have stage 4 (metastatic) pancreatic adenocarcinoma cancer (this means the cancer has spread beyond the pancreas)
2.  Have already started or will soon be starting treatment for metastatic cancer.
Know Your Tumor is another avenue or tool for pancreatic cancer patients to explore.  Targeted cancer therapy designed for your individual cancer tumor.
It is not foolproof... understand that there are still so few chemotherapies to choose from in the fight against pancreatic cancer... but the molecular profiling might show promising clinical trials that target your tumor cells... We fight the fight anyway we can... 
As always, talk with your oncology team.  Molecular Profiling is not on everyone's radar... Perhaps it's time to kick this fight up another notch!  Working together to find Hope in the Fight...
In Grace, Jane