Jeremiah 13:23 asks, “can the leopard (change) his spots?” Of course, not really. So, the Haitian Donkey is trying to do this. First of all, I will try to send out a succinct prayer and information update. That might be difficult for a slowly plodding donkey to do. Secondly, the donkey is going to try to change into an experimental lab rat and allow the people running the lab to inject chemicals into him and see what happens, also a bit scary. As many of you know, it is now a bit over 5 years since we discovered my nasty cancer, likely it was there for quite a while beforehand. Before my 3rd marathon surgery, Dr. Bartlett wanted to enter me in an immunotherapy study, where he gathered a bunch of my cancer cells at surgery and then grew them with my white blood cells to make my personalized vaccine, which then was injected into my groin nodes along with other medications to stimulate my immune system. It wasn’t the most fun, though certainly tolerable, procedure and it does seem to have slowed down the relentless growth of my cancer. Thus, almost 2 years afterwards, without further chemotherapy, etc, the cancer is coming back but seemingly slowly.
Dr. Bartlett asked me to see an oncologist locally for further treatment, which I have done, and he and his partner both want to do further immunotherapy treatments. Some of you may have heard of Keytruda or Opdivo, two drugs that are out on the open market, to use for advanced cancers of the lung, melanoma, kidney and bowel cancers (and likely being used for others). The study Dr. Lakhani wants to put me in is one of 4 other similar compounds that are not yet approved, but are in the earliest stages of trials to see IF they can work and how much is the proper dosage and what can be tolerated. I saw him 9 days ago and he has arranged for me to enter the study on the 12th of March for round #1. They have graciously arranged the sessions around my Haiti and office schedule as much as possible, especially as Dr. Luke Channer is going to cover Haiti for March and that would be the first cycle, when I have to spend a lot of time at the experimental center in Cascade, MI, to be sure all the proper testing is done and that I tolerate the trial. Although there is some apprehension in being an experimental subject, I do share some of Dr. Lakhani’s enthusiasm, in that he is very hopeful that this chemical can build upon the positive effects that the Pittsburgh trial seems to have started.
So, please pray for wisdom for him and Karen and I as we hope to start this in 10 days. A possible snag is that the donkey has struggled for many months with recurring infections, every time a different bug, mostly hard to find and grow and even more difficult to get to give drug sensitivity information, so treatment has not been as “pure and proper” as one would like. I really feel good as I just finished the last course of antibiotics IV yesterday but my blood counts are not as happy as we would like them to be and it is quite unlikely that the trials will begin if I cannot be clear of any trace of infection, as we are manipulating my immune system. So, am seeing my infectious disease doctor and checking the blood first thing Monday morning again, praying that the results will be positive and we can proceed the next Monday. I was feeling so good, finally, and very optimistic about what would possibly happen, but the blood counts x 2 last week weren’t as positive.
I am firmly convinced that, as Jesus said in Matt 19:26 and other places, “With men this is impossible, but with God all things are possible.” So, appreciate your prayers that, if it is His will, He will bring it to pass for His glory. I tend to want to make and see it happen, but know that I need to “Be still and know that He is God and will be exalted in the earth” (Ps 46:10). As always, thanks so much for your support and encouragement for our work in Haiti and the Haitian Donkey/Lab Rat’s struggles.
In His Service,
Bill, Karen, Rachel, James and Jenn