Running Onward… Pat & Jana Health Update #5

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Patrick Barrington & Jana… our nickname is PB&J and check out the video of Pat running below!

Hi Friends and Family — Here’s our latest update. We are now in the midst of treatment phase. I started chemo and radiation a week ago yesterday, and so we are 8 days in. We are thankful that my parents were here for 2 weeks and to share in the beginning of the therapies and to help with driving, too – not to mention just spending time together!

We debated for weeks about how to proceed on both of the treatment fronts and were even considering waiting on the radiation (because of one specialist’s concerns about inevitable long-term cognitive effects of the therapy), but in the end decided to follow the standard of care and proceed with both up front. The chemotherapy we are going with is Temodar (“Temozolomide” for you science geeks; I know you’re out there!); this is the “breakthrough drug” for glioblastomas — which is responsible for the only significant scientific advance in the last 30 years – adding 3 months of median survival onto the 11.6 month prognosis for those terrible tumors. So, although THANKFULLY my prognosis is moch better than “glios,” we are on the same treatment regimen – and the benefit I am reaping is a direct result of research on those grade 4 tumors.

Such stats and numbers as I mentioned above will give you an insight into Jana’s and my prevalent mood these days: “blah” and “flat” are two words that come to mind. As we settle into the routine of daily chemo pills (yes, these are oral pills, luckily not IV or in an infusion center and are not yet causing me many side effects) and daily radiation treatments (these last about 15 minutes and have me locked into a specially made mask and then sacrificed before the “Grand Coffee Machine” – see pictures below)… yes this is one run-on sentence, sorry….., as we settle into all of this, we just exhale a collective marital sigh…. “How did we get here? God, what do you want? How are we to face these uncertainties? How can we grow through this? Hws do we glorify you, Lord, in this storm? How can we make the best of this difficult ‘opportunity’?” etc.

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Jana often cautions me about my extreme and unrelenting (my adjectives) optimism, and I sometimes… chide her for a similar grade of pessimism (she calls this realism:).  Now, I am seeing how vital it is to be honest.  And how difficult it is to be honest — even, and perhaps, especially — with oneself.

Here is my best shot:

  • I trust the Lord completely and will go anywhere and everywhere He leads.
  • I am very afraid of what the future holds.
  • I feel selfish writing page after page about my cancer.
  • I am reminded of an encouraging and insightful quote by breast cancer survivor and ESPN commentator Holly Rowe: “Fight every moment so that cancer is not the most interesting thing about you.” I like that. I like that a lot. I am pumped to fight and to pursue an abundantly full life. And that is precisely why Jana and I made the above running video.
  • Even though I am more exhausted than I have ever ever been — which is impressive considering for how many years I ran marathons — I will lace up the shoes every day I can, and I will remind myself and maybe you that our strengths are so much more interesting than our weaknesses. And maybe that is the point of our weaknesses and vulnerabilities: to highlight the beauty of life and the splendor of the strengths that make us uniquely us.
  • Yeah, Jana and I have been in the doldrums of late. Waiting for the pain and the shock of a new reality to subside.
  • I am afraid for what the future holds.
  • I am particularly afraid for my kids.
  • Nevertheless, I trust without any doubt whatsoever my Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.

Those are honest statements. Jana and I have experienced pain during this time, but have been heartened by your outpouring of love. We have cried and then one of us has reminded the other that “we should pray.” I have indeed gained 25 lbs – yup, I hit 170 yesterday! — and then I am pulled back by the Spirit that 20 is simply too many cookies for a single dessert;)

I want to wrap up this update – which I am very thankful you have read to this point – to give a huge encouraging shout-out to Jana. She has more than risen to the occasion of caring for me. I am aware of how truly taxing this is on her, and I want to publicly say “Thank you, Jana, for having my back! I am uniquely blessed and recognize the great burden you feel on so many fronts.” And so we come full circle to PB&J — and YOU. As one unified team, not simply for my personal struggles, but more meaningfully for the collective struggles of all who persevere to destroy cancer and to confront whatever foes have you reeling right now… as one unified team, we can together make a dent and perhaps even a hole in our nemesis’ armor. Thank you for standing by us and our family. Please know that we stand with you, too, are are praying for you and giving thanks to the Lord for you.

Love and respect (stole that from Jana),

PB&J, Lucy & Anja