Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Definitive Diagnosis and Treatment Plan

Dear Friends,

Thank you for your prayers and for your comments on the blog, your emails, your cards and calls. You have been a source of deep encouragement for Susan, me and the children. We are grateful for your support and friendship.

We met today with my oncologist/hematologist at IU Med Center. The pathology results were back from the Nat'l Institute of Health  as well as the latest testing at IU. My diagnosis is diffuse large b-cell non-Hodgkin's lymphoma. It is one of the more common forms of lymphoma and has a standard chemotherapy treatment protocol. This is much better news than the original diagnosis of pancreatic cancer, and certainly is better than having some rare form of lymphoma where the treatment would be less clear. Thanks be to God for answering our prayers.

The bone marrow biopsy revealed no detectable cancer in my bone marrow or blood. Further, the PET scan revealed no detectable cancer in any other tissue besides the pancreas and the mediastinal area in my chest. Again, thanks be to God for answering our prayers.

While the disease will be staged as IV because it has spread outside the lymph nodes, my prognostic index is still fairly good. In fact, the doctor indicated that my situation would suggest an 80% "cure rate" is possible should they be able to kill all the cancer during this first round of chemotherapy.

I will be starting chemotherapy next week (no surgery and likely no radiation required, another answer to prayer!). I will have six cycles, one every three weeks. The side effects are problematic with this therapy (R-CHOP), so please pray that it will kill all the cancer cells, but that I will also tolerate the side-effects.

Remaining cancer free for two years will be an important hurdle; however, the "cured" label will not be used until five years of being cancer free. I am in the Lord's hands in this regard, but I can assure you we plan to follow this plan of attack and win.

We have been so encouraged by the testimonies of how God is meeting different people who are praying for me in unique ways. If you are so moved, please continue to share how the Lord God is working in your life in specific ways as you pray and reflect on what he is teaching you.

I will close with a passage of scripture that our family has been meditating on that has aptly described our situation and also provided a spiritual roadmap:

"Humble yourselves, therefore, under the mighty hand of God so that at the proper time he may exalt you, casting all your anxieties on him, because he cares for you. Be sober-minded; be watchful. Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour. Resist him, firm in your faith, knowing that the same kinds of suffering are being experienced by your brotherhood throughout the world. And after you have suffered a little while, the God of all grace, who has called you to his eternal glory in Christ, will himself restore, confirm, strengthen, and establish you. To him be the dominion forever and ever. Amen."
(I Peter 5:6-11)

In Christ alone,



  1. Great news! It is nice to get that roller coaster going in the right direction. I'll keep checking in and passing along your progress to the Georgia team. We will be lifting you and your family up in prayer every step of the way. In Christ, Boo2

  2. Newt, Susan and Family,

    This is wonderful news! You will beat this and be restored to good health.

    Kathy and Dan Hasler

  3. Newt, I'm sure it is a relief to have a definitive diagnosis. Funny how what would have seemed like a horrible prognosis 2 months ago now seems like good news. No doubt this is one of those defining moments in your life that will forever shape how you see the world around you. Facing our mortality is a surefire way to help us prioritize the important things in life.

    One of the things that changed for me after my husband died was my planning horizon. I'd always been a a long term planner. In fact, I had everything I wanted when Mark died without warning. I had a great family, just achieved an important career milestone and was content of all fronts. I really had it all . . . for a while.

    With Mark's sudden death, I had to face the reality that all of my planning gave me an illusion of control over my life that was clearly not there. For a while, I went to the other extreme, unable to think about the future beyond a few weeks or months. Now, 3 1/2 years later, I can see the next year or so, and I am totally open to the new experiences that God brings my way. It's actually quite a relief to surrender some of that control. I look forward with great anticipation to the joy that God has planned for me. While I wouldn't have chosen the circumstances, God has blessed me tremendously on a difficult journey.

    I'm confident that you and your family will also find many blessings on this difficult road.

    Peace be with you.

  4. Newt Geat News! I just learned of your blog and was excited to see your new diagnosis. Best wishes and you will be in our prayers.

    Rob and Ruth Brown

  5. Newt,
    I posted your latest blog on the Beta Yahoo group:

    Thought you might be encouraged by some of the responses from Ranford, Petey Lynch, Kermit and others.

  6. Hello Newt,
    this is great news and I hope things continue on this upward slope. Hope the chemo won't be too hard on you and kill all those cancer cells.
    Angelia and I are keeping you in our thoughts and prayers!

    Martin Bott and Angelia Barnes

  7. Newt:

    This is great news I have been praying for you Susan and the kids. As you know I had my own trial this year and God was so merciful and kind. You are a special person in my life and I thank God for our paths crossing. You and Susan are very special people. Arlene and I will continue to pray for you.

    Bob Greenwood

  8. Newt it's good to get the news, and to know there is a path forward. You Susan and the family are in our prayers. We all know the power of faith, the power of prayer, it gets us through each day. We have strength in knowing, he will never leave us alone.
    "He gives strength to the weary and increases the power of the weak. Even youths grow tired and weary, and young men stumble and fall; but those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint. Isaiah 40:29 - 31

    Grady and Family

  9. Newt..You are such an inspiration. Will continue praying for you and your family.

    Roxanne Munson (Japan)

  10. Newt

    I was absolutely stunned when I originally heard you were diagnosed with cancer. Cancer just didn't seem possible for someone with your vitality, energy and stamina.

    It is a great relief to hear the good news re your prognosis. I know you will beat this! With the support of your family and friends, and your faith, you will find a path through these challenging times. I'm not one who prays but I hope you can draw some measure of strength knowing you are never far from our thoughts.


  11. Newt,
    We are so relieved that there is a diagnosis and treatment plan. Noelle's gospel choir has been singing HE NEVER FAILED ME YET and the refrain has stuck in my mind as I think of you all:
    Trust and never doubt,
    Jesus will surely bring you out,
    He never failed me yet.
    - Barrett & Akemi

  12. Newt,
    .Paola and I have you, Susan and the kids in our thoughts and prayers. We were delighted to hear the good news. It will still be hard, but you are a fighter and this will make the difference in the end.
    Your strength and faith are an inspiration for all of us.

    Gino and Paola

  13. Newt,

    We are praying with you! You are such a Christ Warrior. Thank you for being that example in all of our lives.

    Edrice Simmons

  14. Dear Newt,

    Rich and I are encouraged by your news. We will continue to pray for you and your family as you face chemo!

    Love, Liz and Rich

  15. Dear Newt,

    As I was getting radiation for breast cancer, I used to imagine the PacMan guy chomping his way through my veins/tissue eating up the cancer cells. I also imagined Luke Skywalker in Star Wars when he was attacking the Death Star in that cool space jet flying everywhere zapping the cancer cells with the lazer gun - especially the hidden ones. It was a bit silly, but helped me stay positive and focused while I was lying there. I know chemo is a longer process but maybe it will help you too. Let me know if you come up with another image!

    Wishing you strength!

    Love to you and yours, Liz

  16. Newt,

    Bill and I were so humbled after talking with you and praying on May 1st; we asked God to show us our "domesticated" patterns of sinfulness because of your testimony about your readings from Joni Erickson Tada; your gift of exhortation and spiritual admonishment have always been so powerful in our lives.(and yes, He has shown us areas of our lives to surrender for correction!) Our love for God is inflamed to new heights because of your testimonies. So we are humbled but confident in His promises to hear and answer our prayers for complete healing and protection over you as you endure the treatments.

    Therfore I tell you, whatever you ask
    for in prayer, believe that you have
    recieved it, and it will be yours.

    Mark 11:24