Dangerous Waters

Cossatot Falls Arkansas hosts one river with world class rapids. I stood on the banks of Cossatot Falls shortly after I moved to the state over twenty years ago. When I visited, the river level was low, still, the falls were impressive. I could easily see how the rapids could be classified as class III and IV+. Huge rocks littered the river bed – I mean HUGE rocks! The picture  to the right shows part of the falls during optimal river levels. No, I didn’t try my hand at running the rapids. I may look stupid, but I’m not. I leave that experience to friends of mine who look smart … and maybe they are. Now imagine a family unfamiliar with the river rounding a bend enjoying a leisurely float down the river in their canoe and being sucked into the rapids. Frightening thought, isn’t it? If this were a freeway, a sign would be posted “Dangerous Waters Ahead”.

We returned from MD Anderson Cancer Center yesterday with interesting news. It seems that the chemo treatment that I have been on is ineffective. That was presumed to be true; now the experts have confirmed it. That wasn’t unexpected. What was rather shocking was the statement that there are no approved drugs that will help bring this disease under control. Until that happens, no transplant. We now face two options: one, do nothing. The prognosis is not good if that is the choice. No transplant. No remission. No long, happy life. No mission trips. No teaching. Option two: get into a drug trial. I didn’t know it until yesterday, but my MD Anderson Leukemia doctor, Dr. Kadia, has been trying to get me into a trial since we last met. Unfortunately, all trials are closed. An oral drug has completed all trials and application has been made to the FDA for approval but is not available. That is out. However, a new trial is opening soon.

I’m not certain which drug it is for sure, but I know what the doctor told us. It can be dangerous. In the previous trial, at least one person died within a few days, and the trial was suspended pending investigation. It seems that the drug works really well – to well at the dosage given to this patient. The result was that the enlarged lymph nodes shrank too fast overloading the kidneys resulting in fatal renal failure. OOPS! Dangerous waters indeed. (NOTE: This did not happen at MD Anderson but at another site administering the test drug.)

This time, the drug will be introduced at a lower dosage and built up to higher dosages. All the while, the patients will be kept in hospital for at least a week and stay in the Houston area for a period after that for monitoring. Sounds smart too me. The reason this was not done before, according to Dr. Kadia, is that the side effect was known to occur in other cancers, but not CLL. Lesson learned.

We will meet with our local oncologist tomorrow and see what she thinks.

Peter faced a similar situation. The twelve and Jesus had spent a bit of time in retreat on the eastern shores of the Sea of Galilee. After having been discovered by the teaming throngs, and doing great miracles, Jesus sent the twelve across the lake on a small boat indicating he would join them later. Unfortunately for the twelve, a serious storm hit them mid-voyage bring fear even to the seasoned fishermen among the ministry team. At the height of the storm, Jesus appeared – walking on the water. If the twelve thought the storm was frightening, imagine their fear at what appeared to be a ghost walking across the raging sea! Jesus approached and told Peter to get out of the boat (severely shortened version) and come to Him. I don’t know, perhaps Peter though, “Oh well, what do I have to lose? I can drown when the boat sinks or I can drown on my way to see Jesus.” Whatever he thought, he stepped over the side of the boat and began to walk on water! It wasn’t until he looked away from his Master and at the raging waters that he began to sink. Jesus reached out and rescued him, stepped into the boat and stilled the storm. (See Matt. 14:25–6; Mark 6:48–9; John 6:19 for the full, unvarnished version of this event)

We feel certain that our Father has led us this far. Now it appears to be time to step out of our “boat” and into dangerous waters. We have trusted Jesus so far. We will trust Him yet again. Please keep us in your prayers.

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