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Friday, March 30, 2018

In the Darkest Night...

Today we celebrate Good Friday...

I've always wondered why it was called Good.  Seems that there was nothing good about Christ's walk down Golgatha's path... his pain must have been immense, the lashings, the weight of the cross upon his wounded back, the scoffing of the crowd, the fear and horror on the disciples' faces, the brutal knowing of his fate awaiting at the top of the hill... nothing good on this Friday...

And when the torment was ended, his broken and bleeding body lay in a borrowed tomb, lifeless and still.  And the stone rolled over the light and shut the Son of God in the darkest night...

The darkness of this hour would seem to be too much to bear...

And there were times in our pancreatic cancer journey that the darkness overwhelmed...just like that stone rolling out the light. 

Our walk down the shadow valley led us to places of utter darkness.

The heartaches, the pain, the fear... it was as if the light was forever gone.

Perhaps you've been there too.  Or maybe you are struggling to find your way through a dark journey even now. 

Might you be encouraged this day.  For it occurs to me that God does some of His most miraculous things in the dark.

There was Abraham.  Father of the Jewish Nation.  He struggled hard with obedient faith, trusting in God when all else about him was sifting sand.  He endured droughts and strife with family, he was called to move to a foreign land and watched as war broke out on every side.  And he aged.  And became old.  And had no son to be his heir.  Even though God had promised his descendants would be as numerous as the stars in the sky.  Doubt had him questioning God's promises. We read in Genesis 15:12-18 that God came to Abraham in the dark of the night and renewed His Covenant with him...promising that his descendants would indeed have this land.  Just as Abraham's heart was in so dark of a place, God chose the cover of darkness to reveal the Light that can only be found in Him... 

And there was Moses.  Leading the children of Israel from the bondage of Pharoah in the darkness of the night.  I can only imagine the horror of that last plague... the death of all firstborn...

And it came to pass at midnight that the Lord struck all the firstborn in the land of Eqypt... (but when He saw the blood of the lamb on the Israelites lintel and doorposts, the Lord passed over the door and did not allow the destroyer to come in and strike them)... So Pharoah rose in the night, and there was a great cry in Egypt, for there was not a house where there was not one dead.  Then he called for Moses and said  'Go, serve the Lord, both you and the children of Israel.'  And so it was that Moses led the Israelites out of the land of bondage in the dark of night.    Exodus 12:21-42

And what about Jacob.  The one who tricked his twin brother out of the birthright.  Yep.  Esau held a grudge.  And back then, grudges could be deadly.  So Jacob fled with his very life (and the birthright), but as the years passed, he found his heart hungering for reconciliation.  He made the decision to head for home, but along the way... in the dark of night... he struggled with his fear and he wrestled the night through with God... like, really wrestling, physically fighting... through the long, dark night... Jacob wrestled with God.  And he found peace.  And the Blessing.  Genesis 32:22-32

And I love Jonah.  Running from God's call.  Acting like a spoiled child not getting his way.  Until God got his attention in the belly of the big fish.  For 3 days.  Can you imagine how dark, how horrid, how completely without hope Jonah must have felt?   Surely the darkness must have been his undoing... for in Jonah 2:7-9 it is recorded, "When my soul fainted within me, I remembered the Lord; And my prayer went up to you."   In the midst of tormenting darkness, Jonah raised the voice of thanksgiving, saying "Salvation is of the Lord."  And the fish spit Jonah up onto dry land... into the light of the sun...

"And I will give thee the treasures of darkness, and hidden riches of secret places, that thou mayest know that I, the LORD, which call thee by thy name, am the God of Israel."  Isaiah 45:3 

Darkness.  When it descends, it can overwhelm.  The fear, the grief, the worry... all seem exaggerated in the midnight hour.  We feel so alone, so helpless.  So out of Hope.

Beloved, we are never alone.  It is during our darkest hours that God is doing His most miraculous work in our lives.  For out of our darkest places He can bring light to illuminate our very hearts... shining Hope over His Purpose in our lives, mining the treasures of the hidden riches for His Glory.

As hard as it is to walk the Shadow Valley, I know that His Hand goes before me to hollow out a place to hold me close until the morning light... for the darkness always gives way to His Light...
And so, this Good Friday... the very Savior is hidden from the light, in the tomb of the dead.  It will never feel right to call it Good.

We could feel as desperate and hopeless as those disciples must have felt.  The darkness surely radiated an eternal grief that night... and just when the darkness seemed to be too much to bear...

 God prepares to reveal His most miraculous work...

Sunday's coming...

Reposted from April 3, 2015

Wednesday, March 28, 2018

Saying Goodbye to Winter...

... and Hello to Spring!

The Dallas Arboretum does not disappoint!

Sharing this day with a dear friend,
walking through a blaze of color and light...
it's impossible not to feel the joy and hope rise up!

There are times when winter's grip on our lives just won't seem to let go,
praying for you this day, that Hope wells up strong and sure...

May you be graced with sweet beauty at every turn,
My Love, Always,

Monday, March 5, 2018

My Journey with Pancreatic Cancer

It is my humble pleasure to welcome David to the blog's front porch today.

David is sharing his journey with pancreatic cancer and how he has chosen to treat his cancer.  His story is rich with Hope and is truly a must read for each of us.  Not only does he detail specific details of his treatment plan, but he also includes many links to the research that has guided the medical decisions he has made.

When mom was first diagnosed with pancreatic cancer we would have given anything to have met David and been encouraged by his uplifting story.  In his generous way, he is giving you the gift of his experience and what he has learned along the way.  

If pancreatic cancer has touched your life, please join me and be inspired by David's story:

My journey with pancreatic cancer

Mine started with a lump in the umbilicus, which led to a CT scan and a diagnosis of Pancreatic Cancer (PC). Out of nowhere I had no symptoms and no idea apart from the lump which I thought was a boil or infection.

The tumour was 4 x 3 cm in the tail of the pancreas – the tail is more rare and even more fatal as I remember but at least the operation is easier with less side effects as pancreas bile duct etc all continue working normally as most insulin is made at the head of pancreas.  They decided it was operable and it was removed along with the spleen. They removed the lump at the umbilicus and all the cancer they could see on the CT scan and took random tissue scrapes from around the internal area. The lab result showed the umbilicus was also cancer and two or four lymph nodes removed also tested positive plus many of the tissue scrapes were also positive - so stage IV cancer.

Medical Treatment So Far
After 8 weeks of recovery we decided to do some chemotherapy and after discussion with the doctor I agreed to try the FOLFIRINOX. This is the latest best option – most effective but most toxic chemotherapy regimen. The doctor admitted many people cannot tolerate the treatment. Because I am relatively young and healthy he put me on the maximum dose. It involves two days in hospital on intravenous drip every two weeks depending on how your immune system holds up.  Basically White Blood Cell count must stay above 3000 or you have to wait another week or lower the doses etc. I had it for 5 treatments over I guess 10 weeks and my immune system held up fine and I was mostly okay just very nauseous for the two days of treatment plus usually one or two more.

Side Effects
I lost weight mainly as it is difficult to eat whilst taking the drugs due to nausea and general ill feeling and for a day or so after. Felt some nerve endings deadened in the feet and hands but not much and it went away quickly after each treatment. I was taken off it as the cancer marker dropped on first treatment but spiralled upwards afterwards so the doctor concluded it wasn’t working and we did a second CT scan at about 5 months after the initial scan. The scan showed 3 cm tumour in the liver plus 3mm in the lung classic metastases in PC. The doctor recommended a second regimen of chemo therapy but was honest in agreeing it was not nearly as effective and largely palliative I declined and since then have had no further treatments and am now just doing monthly blood tests and am still luckily symptom free – the tumour in the liver is in ‘good’ place away from the main blood supply and not pressing on anything.

Now this might seem very bad and is classically fatal since chemo cannot remove a tumour just shrink or stop the growth both temporarily. However the surprise for the doctor was that I only had two tumours given the initial start point of spreading and subsequent rises in the cancer marker.

So What Else was I doing
In parallel to the conventional treatment I started to look around at other options and eventually came across the Budwig protocol. I was attracted by the theoretical basis for the protocol, the quality of the scientists who researched it, including Warburg a Nobel prize winner who put forward an alternative scientific explanation for cancer the basis for the protocol but not the solution. Budwig put forward the solution which could be done from home.

So after two treatments of FOLFIRINOX I started doing Budwig as well. In fact I did it even in the hospital since I had a private room with refrigerator. I have been on it ever since and as far as I am concerned it can’t interfere with conventional treatment as it is based only on normal food. Anyhow I reasoned it’s not a gamble to try alternatives if the outcome of conventional medicine is likely death.  It’s an easy protocol in principle but a big shock to most people’s diet  absolutely no processed foods, flour, eggs, meat, fish, sugar, coffee, black tea, dairy except for the cottage cheese required, cooking oil of any kind including olive oil to name some of the exclusions. Basically you can’t eat out at all and I haven’t except for drinking green/herbal  tea while my wife eats. The main issue of the protocol is it takes typically about 4 – 5months to start to turn around blood tests so you must stay alive that long - that’s partly why I agreed to the chemo to buy time. Due to the poor outcomes of conventional treatment and their toxicity I have always considered Budwig to be my primary treatment and worried mainly if Chemo would affect Budwig not the other way around.

The protocol and advice can be found in detail on the flaxseedoil2 forum on yahoo.

Whilst I was looking into alternatives we started asking locals here what they did (I live on the edge of a tropical forest) and most don’t have the money for chemo or doctors.

Piper Betel
So we heard about Piper Betel leaf which locals widely chew for health and as cure for cancer. I met several people who claimed they cured their cancer with the leaves alone – I have no reason to doubt them - one is a nun the other my gardener (who showed me dormant lumps all over his body the nun did not). I searched the internet and found research papers out of India/China which support the view that it clearly has anti-cancer properties based on research on mice and is non-toxic. And a whole host of other health benefits.

Further research showed up other leaves also with research including Papaya Leaf long used by the aboriginals for cancer and  Phyllantus Niruri.

I take Piper Betel 8 leaves a day (vile tasting but hot and spicy). Most local here people grow the vine.

Papaya leaf two medium leaves juiced with red cabbage and a green apple (low sugar) to make it taste a bit better and take half in morning rest in the evening.

Phyllantus I take in capsule form 4 a day or 2 gm (2 x2)

Vitamin B (the protocol is Vitamin B deficient), turmeric 2gm a day(4) and 4x grape seed extract.
Vitamin D but only through daily 20 min of sunbathing – vitamin is included in the Budwig protocol (sunbathing) as its anti-cancer and very supportive of liver and most cancer patients have low levels.

I have no idea if the leaves (or anything else) are helping but I know they are very supportive of the blood system and general health.

So that’s where I am continuing with my leaves and the Budwig protocol with dropping cancer markers. I have discussed this with my oncologist and he agrees something I am doing is helping and I have his backing to continue as I am since he doesn’t have anything better (or even as effective) to offer. Is it a temporary turn around I don’t know. All I can say is I have done the research and made my decisions and am okay with whatever happens - confident that I won’t die regretting I didn’t try this or that.  If it doesn’t work I may return to chemo but that’s an admission you are going to die but it may buy time. I am far from that at the moment.

I have the tireless support of my wife (her family) and our 5 dogs they all play a big part in me enjoying my time and comforting me in the odd moments of doubt when medical tests have been poor. I live in a very beautiful place and am finally fully content in my life, which would be the saddest part of dying leaving them behind. I have also listened to many of the teachings of Adjan Brahm an Australian Buddhist monk who talks on variety of subjects every Friday with his own unique look at life including pain, illness, end of life issues, meaning of life, life after death, reincarnation, consciousness, meditation etc among huge array of topics about life in general  and how to deal with it -  which have been and are very comforting and calming and are available online at

What would I do different

If I could redo I would have started Budwig the day after diagnosis. I would still have had the operation since the operation is big factor in living longer but I may never have done chemo. I may have decided to wait and see for a couple of months and just done testing – I’ll never know. 

It is now coming up to 7 months since diagnosis and I have no symptoms. I have stayed in total control of my treatment listened to the doctor’s suggestions but done my own research, not just general comment but to the research papers that support a particular regimen, so I am very well informed to ask a lot of questions. Research alternatives and don’t be afraid to try since the conventional treatment will probably result in death what you risk at most is months against a possible different outcome.  I have been surprised about how uncertain the treatments are considering how long research has been going on, for ongoing treatment we have CT scans, how you feel and somewhat unreliable cancermarkers like CA-125, CA-19-9 and from these few clues interpret what is going on – and you can only do CT scans intermittently so it comes down to mainly how do feel -  its more of an art than a science. Since the site originated in the States I see CA-125 seems to be commonly used but the paper below suggests for Pancreatic Cancer CA-19-9 is better - read and ask I would. If I remember I will ask my oncologist about that when I see him in about a week.

Throughout I have been/am very certain I am not going to die. It’s not a conscious decision it comes from very deep – 6th sense you might say. I have never asked the question “how much time do I have to live”, partly as it is somewhat unfair on the doctor, but also it’s also a very pessimistic way of looking at things – maybe leading to acceptance. Perhaps I will get to that stage but I am far from that now. All medical experience shows a positive outlook tends to create positive outcomes. I can see the statistics but I am only interested in what I can do to change the accepted outcome.

I am still slightly revising my regimen and probably will continue to do so as I learn more about Budwig and other alternative options.

I include some of the links I have saved - look at them and look for more to inform yourself as much as possible - don’t let your treatment happen to you - be in control - that’s very calming . Good luck!

Piper Betel Research

Papaya Leaf

Essiac Tea (Ruth Essiac canadian)

Phyllantus Niruri


Reactive Oxygen Species

Alkaline Food Charts

Tumour Markers

Vitamin D

I sunbathe 20 min a day - the best way to get Vitamin D


 Emotional Freedom Techniques – Paul Ardennes  - free for kindle

Qi Gong

Healing Art of Qi Gong   - Hong Liu / Paul Perry

Thank you David for sharing your journey... You raise hope and offer an encouraging hand out to each of us traveling this path.  Knowledge does indeed give power, and your words inspire us to research and ask questions until we find that calm place of peace and control... Praying for continued health and blessing as you journey on!

And as always, we want to remind each one reading here to check with your cancer team, always, always... each pancreatic cancer case has unique challenges and it is so important to go over all treatment plans and therapies with your oncologist.  Nothing on this website should be construed as medical advice... we share these words to inspire, to encourage and to offer options for the fight.

None of us travels alone.  Together is so much better!

Graced to be walking this road with you, Always,

April 2018 Update