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Archive | Medicine

“The Best We Can Hope For”

“Great news! That’s the best we can hope for.”  So began a recent email from a friend responding to the results of a bone marrow biopsy I had last week.  Back on August 25, 2016, I began a clinical trial to treat chronic lymphocytic leukemia (CLL), a disease I have been battling for the last four years (see more here).  Having been treated once already, I became a relapsed patient last summer.  By God’s grace, the treatment options have improved tremendously since I was treated the first time with chemotherapy.  The trial protocol called for a bone marrow biopsy last week.  This procedure is a more definitive test for the presence of leukemia cells in the place in the body where they begin life.  We already knew that the treatment seemed to be working from very sensitive blood tests.  The bone marrow biopsy came back negative – no detectable cancer cells in my blood or bone marrow.  Thus, my friend’s response. 

Reject the Choice

…Jesus came into Galilee, proclaiming the gospel of God, and saying, “The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand; repent and believe in the gospel.” Passing alongside the Sea of Galilee, he saw Simon and Andrew the brother of Simon casting a net into the sea, for they were fishermen. And Jesus said to them, “Follow me, and I will make you become fishers of men.” (Mark 1:14-16)

 

Should a church be focused on proclaiming God’s Word or organizing and promoting ministries of interpersonal mentoring and discipleship? The goal of this short post is simply to reject the false dilemma this question poses. 

Baby Loss Week—a tragic disconnect

October 9th-16th was Baby Loss Awareness Week in Ireland, with Saturday 15th being a International Pregnancy & Infant Loss Awareness Day. I had been wondering why the profusion of news items: UK MPs sharing their stories of loss in the House of Commons; an item about a Garden of Stones in County Armagh featured several times on my Facebook feed; and I turned on the radio on Saturday to hear a series of heartfelt stories. Interviewers and newsreaders alike were empathetic and sensitive, gentle and gracious.

And I was confused. Not simply because I didn’t know it was Baby Loss Awareness week. Not because I don’t know something of that intense pain of losing children to miscarriage and watching someone you love deal with a level of sorrow that, as a man, I can’t fully enter into, nor fathom its terrible depths. I know that pain—and it deserves all the tenderness and empathy and sensitivity we can muster.

I was confused, or more accurately, baffled. Baffled by the ability of the media to portray so sensitively, deal so tenderly, and acknowledge one week that what resides in the womb is a baby, while the previous week, and this succeeding week they will argue […]

C1D1

“Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about its own things.  Sufficient for the day is its own trouble.” (Matthew 6:34, NKJ).

Today is C1D1 for me.  That stands for “Cycle 1, Day 1,” the first day of the first cycle of a 14-month, clinical trial to treat recurrent chronic lymphocytic leukemia (CLL).  CLL is a blood cancer caused by a proliferation of white blood cells called lymphocytes.  Healthy lymphocytes produce antibodies that help our bodies fight off infections.  Some years ago one of my lymphocytes acquired mutations that caused it to divide out of control.  As a result my bone marrow and lymphatic system are crowded with non-functional descendants of that original aberrant lymphocyte.  This makes it difficult for my body to make healthy blood cells, and, a result, my immune system is weakened and I am anemic.  If left untreated, those cancerous white blood cells will destroy my immune system and my ability to get oxygen to my cells.

Crisis Management

The current Ebola epidemic has dwarfed all previous outbreaks of this potent and deadly virus. Since it was first discovered in 1976 variants of the Ebola virus have infected 2,387 people in 24 distinct outbreaks of the disease. Of those infected, the disease has killed 1,590 (67%). That was until the current outbreak in West Africa, which is thought to have infected almost 10,000 people and to have killed over 4,500 to date. At its current rate of increase, The World Health Organization (WHO) is estimating that there will be over 20,000 cases by the end of next week.

In addition to killing more people than all the previous Ebola outbreaks combined, the current outbreak is the first in which a victim died in the United States. It is also the first time that a person has been infected with the virus while on U.S. soil. Perhaps this variant of the virus is really no different from strains in previous outbreaks. To the casual observer it appears that the current viral strain is much more effective at getting around. The epidemiology of this outbreak seems to point in that direction. Interestingly, health officials in our country have been adamant that they […]