A MESSAGE FROM MOLLY (BETSY'S SISTER)
Just before Christmas (Dec 2017), my sister's husband, Chris, was rushed to the hospital. They thought he might have suffered a stroke because he was having trouble speaking. An MRI found some very small lesions on his brain. The doctors weren't sure why there were lesions, but kept looking for a primary lesion source, as these just didn’t seem significant. They ran test after test and finally decided to do a biopsy of the lesions. Just days after the new year, 2018, Chris was diagnosed with brain cancer – Glioblastoma Multiforme (GBM).
If you're not familiar with brain cancer, well, join the club. We weren't either! And quite frankly we really didn't want to be. But now here we are.
Once you get a diagnosis like this, you start to wonder, how could this be? How could you get it? How long have you had it? Cancer isn’t like a tree – where you can just count the rings to find out how old it is. There’s been a significant rise in GBM cases in the last 10 -15 years. It’s astounding how many people who served our country have it – especially those who served in the Gulf War, like Chris did. The sheer number of cases of cancer by Gulf War Veterans simply cannot be overlooked. There are just too many – more than what would be typical in a general population.
So what's next? Chris is on a treatment plan. The first phase of the plan includes radiation and chemotherapy for six weeks. After that, he may get fitted for an Optune Cap – a wearable, portable, FDA-approved device that is designed to treat GBM. When Optune is turned on, it creates low-intensity electric fields, called Tumor Treating Fields (TTFields). TTFields help slow or stop glioblastoma cancer cells from dividing and may also cause some of them to die.
Additionally, they’re looking at clinical trials, and have one that sounds promising. Also, they're getting his DNA evaluated to determine if there are certain therapies that are more successful with his unique DNA.
What seems to be the biggest issue is targeting the cancer, making progress, and then it comes back with a vengeance. The best course of action appears to be to continually attack it.
In addition to traditional therapy, Chris is also trying some other things, like a ketogenic diet and increasing the alkaline (PH level) content of his body. I’m hoping he’ll try the baking soda/maple syrup cure. Why not, right?
And my yoga teacher sent him some frankincense oil – which is supposed to kill cancer cells. I’m waiting for just the right time to convince him to start practicing yoga. Secretly, he’s been doing it for a while. At least one pose – savasana – also called resting pose. It looks a lot like sleeping. But in my mind, he’s definitely practicing yoga.
Many people have been wondering, what can they do? Here are some ideas of what you can do:
1. Pray. Pray. Pray. Whenever faced with something like this (only once before in my life), I went to the Bible, asked God for a sign, shut my eyes and opened randomly to a page. Both times, this and the time previously, God directed me to the book of Isaiah. If you’re not familiar with it, here’s one of the stories: Hezekiah became terminally ill. God told him to put his house in order, because he would die. Then Hezekiah turned his face to the wall, and prayed to the Lord, and said, I beseech thee, Lord, remember now how I have walked before thee in truth, and with a perfect heart, and have done that which is good in thy sight. And Hezekiah wept. Then the Lord told Isaiah, Go and tell Hezekiah, the Lord has heard his prayer, and seen his tears: behold, I will add unto thy days fifteen years.
So, God. We’re looking for a least 15 years!!
Ours is a family of strong faith. We know that God can do anything. Heal anyone. God especially loves to beat the odds. Please pray with us that God will give Chris comfort and healing and let cancer know it is not welcome or tolerated.
Invite your prayer group, Bible study, or anyone of faith to pray for Chris.
2. Airline Miles. Hotel Points. Gas Cards. Chris is being seen at Huntsman Cancer Center in Salt Lake City, Utah as well as Mountain States Tumor Institute in Twin Falls, Idaho. As a family, we want to be there as they need us. If anyone has extra airline miles – specifically Delta. Or hotel points they’d like to contribute, that would be wonderful. Or gas cards for the drives (both Salt Lake City and Twin Falls, Idaho).
3. Meals for the Family. While Chris is on a very restrictive diet, meals for the family are always appreciated - particularly if you live in Spring Creek, Nevada. Nutritious, delicious are great. Thank you!
4. Consider making a donation right here! The expenses have already started adding up – even with insurance. Genetic testing is almost $6,000. The Optune Cap alone costs about $21,000 per month (pre-insurance – WHEW!!). Anything you can do to help decrease the burden would be wonderful. Chris will try to work as long as he can in technology at the Gold Mine – with the hope of not having to go on disability. And, Betsy, as a high school math teacher - well, I don't even need to go into the economics of that, do I? But survivors need to work – as they have a lot of life to pay for. Every dollar helps.
5. Scholarships, Grants. If you know of any organizations that provide family support in the form of grants or scholarships, please let us know. Also, if you have a contact with that organization, that would be helpful.
Also, educational scholarships or grants. With one currently in college, and two more headed to college in the next few years, any ideas would be great. Of particular interest, would be any technology companies that provide scholarship support for Engineering/ Computer Science Majors (with excellent GPAs) whose parents are going through something like this.
6. Information. Do you know anyone who has beaten Glioblastoma Multiforme? Anyone who may have some ideas that will help? Let us know!
7. Send a word of encouragement to Chris and the Sweeney Family. If you want to send a note, provide information, or just ask questions, please post it here.
Additionally, we have set up a special email for the family. Please contact me if you'd like to send a private message to Chris. This email will be monitored not by Chris, but by a family member.
Sometimes people feel strange reaching out to the family while they’re going through cancer treatments. It’s okay. That’s perfectly normal. Again, if you have any questions, or need any more information, please let us know.
I will be posting periodic updates to this page to keep you all informed.
Thank you for listening. Thank you for caring. Thank you for supporting Chris, Betsy and the family. It is truly appreciated!
With God in our hearts!