Gary's Story

 
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Gary Crawford

NEVER LOSE SIGHT OF HOPE

 

By Gary Crawford

In August 2002, while playing in a table tennis tournament, pain ripped through my right side. I didn’t stop playing. I won a First in singles and a Second place trophy in doubles. That pain warned me of future trouble.

At home, I said nothing to my wife, Kathy. She waited for a cornea transplant and I felt certain that if she knew about my problems, she would take her name off the donor list. I waited to see any doctor until her transplant was successful.

In November, after Kathy’s surgery, I saw a doctor. He drew labs and said, “I’ll call you.” Only before he called, my abdomen grew huge. Hot and hard. I looked 9 months pregnant and couldn’t breathe. In the emergency room the doctor said, “Large mass on the appendix.”

A surgeon drained 13 liters of fluid from my abdomen and diagnosed me with a benign form of Psuedomyxoma Peritonei (PMP). “There is a jelly like substance everywhere and hundreds of tumors. I’ve called in an oncologist,” the surgeon said.

The unemotional oncologist said, “Unfortunately, this is such a rare cancer there is no treatment. No clinical trials. My research team of twelve specialists cannot find any treatment. We will keep you as comfortable as possible.”

He later told my wife and daughter, “He might live 3 days, 3 weeks, maybe 3 months. We don’t know.”

I believe in God. I know we live and we die, but those doctors ripped hope from my vocabulary. I went home to sit in a recliner and die.

A month later, Kathy rushed me to a different hospital, a drain of eight fluid liters, and a second “No hope diagnosis.” That second opinion doctor advised my wife to take Family Medical Leave. “You won’t have him long,” he said.

Five months later, still alive, we learned about Hallelujah Acres nutrition program. Kathy begged me to try a strict vegan diet for 6 weeks. Why not?Too weak to move, I watched Kathy juice 100 pounds of carrots a week. She monitored my nutrition, 16 Barley Max capsules and 64 ounces of carrot juice along with raw fruits and veggies daily. The PMP didn’t go away, but in 10 days, I felt remarkably stronger. In six weeks, I helped with the juicing. By fall, I juiced for myself.

A year after my diagnosis Kathy found PMPbellybuttons@yahoogroups.com. She learned about Dr. Brian Loggie, a PMP specialist only 4 miles from our home. In February 2005, Dr. Loggie performed a 9-hour IPHC surgery. After that MOAS, Dr. Loggie told my wife, “I do believe I’ve seen a miracle. I think we removed all signs of PMP.”

The battle raged on. Pneumonia and infections threatened my life.

Six weeks after the MOAS, I sat in Dr. Loggie’s office following my CT scans. I looked and felt every bit of my sixty-five years. I had lost seventy pounds and my skin hung like a wrinkled white sheet.

As bad as I looked, I knew God had guided me through every step of my cancer journey. Before I ever admitted my need of a doctor, Kathy sent Isaiah 58:11 in my lunch pail. “The Lord will guide you always; he will satisfy your needs in a sun-scorched land and will strengthen your frame. You will be like a well-watered garden, like a spring whose waters never fail.” I hung onto that verse as a promise from the Lord. I felt certain God knew where I lived. After all, Omaha fit the sun-scorched land.

At that follow up visit Dr. Loggie entered the office grinning. “What are you doing in my cancer clinic, you Old Curmudgeon? I don’t see one bit of PMP on your scans. I do believe you are cancer free.”

I wanted to believe Loggie, but I felt so weak and depressed I didn’t think I’d get well. I still couldn’t whistle or sing. I had no lung capacity. Five weeks later Loggie suggested I bicycle to build my cardiovascular. On our way out, I heard him say to Kathy, "Will you relax? He's doing great."

That weekend we pooled our resources and came up with $11 between us and I bought a Raleigh ten-speed at a garage sale. That first day I rode one block and then back. My body shook when I collapsed in a chair. Each day I rode further and in a few weeks I convinced Kathy I needed a real racing bike. What a difference.

It's three years since my surgery and we now have a Bianchi bicycle in the front hall, a racing helmet on the newel post, jerseys hung on hooks, bike shoes in the closet, and my wife cheering from the sidelines.

January 2007 my CT scans remained PMP free. I weigh 200 lbs, I am tan and my legs are strong. I ride thirty miles three days a week and my lung capacity is greater than ever.

I’ve gone back into gospel music and my Lionhearted Kat and I share about the Bible promise. God did guide us (we prayed for wisdom and learned about nutrition, found a support group and Dr. Loggie.) He strengthened my frame. (It didn’t happen overnight.) The waters never failed. (Oncologists said the fluid would take my life. It didn’t. That fluid continued until IPHC surgery.)

Now we tell my cancer story to anyone that will listen. 

Today we work for PMPawareness—we are very grateful to Stephanie Cain for building the support group and for Brenda Williams creating a website. Our part is to encourage others to search for answers, and never ever lose sight of hope.

Kat

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Lion-hearted Kat. I bought this lion for her birthday.

He guards the front walk.

 

 

old days

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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