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“I waited patiently for the Lord.” (Ps 40:1)

Dear Family and Friends,

There are a number of tasks that have to be accomplished before beginning a clinical trial, and we were not able to get them all done today.  We will have to wait because…blah, blah…drug company…blah, blah…needs larger biopsy sample…blah, blah…another biopsy next week.  No big deal.  We were prepared to wait up to 5 weeks anyway.  The next window for me will likely be in about two weeks.  We’re timing it this way so that we can keep the family Ireland trip, and yes, multiple top academic oncologists have assured me that waiting a few weeks will not adversely affect me.

I want to thank all of you for your kind comments, thoughtful words, and especially your prayers.  To the local folks who have come up to say hello after Mass or school functions, thank you.  It is not a burden for me to talk to you about the situation, and I love and care about you, and I want to know what intentions I can offer up for you.  Don’t be shy – come on over.  And local folks, you know us – our house is always a hive of activity.  Come on over.  If you’re worried about imposing, then bring dinner and we’ll call it even.  But no drop-offs.  You have to stay and and eat with us unless you’d be neglecting some other duty that’s more important than your friendship with me.  [Insert guilt trip in cancer blog post: check]

Thank you to everyone who has offered input and advice.  There really are an unbelievable number of options for melanoma patients.  How blessed I am to be living in this era when they’re starting to talk about cancer soon being managed like a chronic condition such as heart disease or kidney disease.  My take on the decisions Kendra and I have been faced with is that some of the art of medicine is at play when you get into uncharted research waters.  Every investigator on every clinical trial has a slightly different view of what the best course of treatment is.  They’re all incredibly smart, dedicated, and caring professionals.  I am amazed and grateful that there are so many of them working day and night to cure cancer.  Thank God for these people.  And at some point, I have to pick the opinion of one of them, believe in that person’s competence and that God will guide his hand, and jump in.  The alternative is to live on a roller coaster.  I don’t like most roller coasters, and I’m wired to size things up and decide.  I’ve got the opinion of two highly competent and trustworthy academic oncologists, one of whom is a friend who cares about my family, that this UCLA trial is a good option for me.  I’ve been briefed on the trade-offs, have worked through the decision trees of options, and think I’ve gotten into a really good trial that will leave other options on the table for me if I should need them.  I also believe that I got a lot of clarity through prayer.

Beyond the dozens of lovely emails, blog comments, and live conversations I had today, I was touched in particular by two things that happened.  A friend observed to me that she noticed my affection for Kendra.  Over the years of getting advice from some real experts about how to be a better husband than I am, I started applying advice to do an end-of-day check-in (well, I try to remember to do it daily and often fail) in which I ask myself, “Was it clear to the kids, my friends, colleagues, and strangers that I love my wife?”  Obviously it needs to be clear to her, but others should see it, too.  I think this was the first time someone came up and mentioned that to me.  Only took like 10 years since I started working on that plus round 2 of cancer for me to get it right, so well done, JT.

Also, Kendra had a deep conversation with the three big kids on a family decision related to this whole situation.  Their response was mature, generous, loving, and wise beyond their years.  That’s all I can say about it at the moment, but it’s nice when the years of working on virtue just shine through in discreet moments.  So today was a great day.

Also, many of you know that my wife is kind of a big deal.  How about this for proof: she tells her readers about my cancer, and the readership of my reporting cancer news blog increases by two orders of magnitude in a half hour.  Every few weeks I wonder if our family might become more prosperous if I stopped charging business windmills and just started managing her career.  Anyway, thanks for reading, newcomers.

With fortitude and prayers for you,