George’s Journal Entries

George’s Journal

Wednesday, June 2nd, 2010

I am very fortunate to advance to the point that I was released from the hospital Friday!  After 31 days of being in one room 99% of the time, trying to eat the same food every day, and where a daily treat was walking around the 6th floor once or twice a day, you can imagine how ready I was to get out!  I must say that the entire nurse staff at COH is tremendous. These men and woman deal with so much pain and suffering with their patients, yet they’re always professional and pleasing, so willing and eager to help…Genuine Guardian Angels. By the way, a patient is ready for discharge when:

  • Patient’s marrow is producing a sufficient number of healthy red cells, white cells and platelets.
  • There are no severe treatment complications
  • Patient has a sense of well-being (as a result of restored blood cell counts)
  • Mouth sores and diarrhea lessen or disappear
  • Appetite improves; it’s important that patients are able to eat and drink to get sufficient fluid and nourishment before they’re discharged.
  • Patient does not have fever and is not vomiting.

It has now been 6 days of relative freedom.  “Relative” because Cheryl and I are now staying in a small apartment at Hope & Parsons Village, located on the grounds of City of Hope.  The Village is intended to provide a temporary housing bridge to newly discharged BMT patients so that the COH team of physicians can keep a close watch on patients for at least a week before they are well enough to go to their home.  The concern is that the newly released patient may develop a life-threatening infection, or something less severe.  COH protocol is for newly discharged patients to be within 30 miles of the hospital the first week after release. Since our home in Irvine is 45 miles from COH, the COH staff arranged for our cozy little lodge.  The apartment is a decent-sized studio with kitchen, sleeping for up to three, TV, a couple chairs, dining table. Kind of reminds me of a small place at Big Bear.

FIRST DOCTOR APPOINTMENT:  BLOOD COUNTS STRONG

My physician, Hematologist-Oncologist Dr. Robert Chen, saw me yesterday and says that I’m making excellent progress. My blood counts are progressing nicely from day to day. There has been one minor complication, which caused me to go to the COH walk-in clinic, Memorial Day.  I have experienced bouts of extreme itching, mainly on my back and chest.  This is a symptom of something called Graft Versus Host Disease (GVHD), a condition in which the transplanted donor stem cells attack the patient’s body. In all allogeneic stem cell transplant settings, where the patient receives an unrelated donor’s stem cells, medications are given to prevent GVHD. These are usually started one to two days before the stem cell transfusion.

GVHD occurs in many transplant patients. GVHD may be acute or chronic. It ranges from a barely perceptible condition to one that is life-threatening. The severity of GVHD depends on the differences in tissue type between patient and donor. Right now, Dr. Chen is not too concerned. He actually said that he’s pleased that I have this symptom.  He believes it may be the result of the new stems cells attacking any remaining cancerous cells, i.e., Graft Versus Lymphoma. As you know, the reason for me pursuing the BMT was to prolong my life and eradicate the cancer in my body; so if this “itching” suggests that the stem cells are indeed “cleaning house,” by getting rid of the cancerous cells, I say Alleluia, Alleluia! God is Great….all the time!

SHOUT OUTS TO:  POTAWATOMI TRIBE AND SHAWNEE TRIBE

The support provided by all of you has been incredibly inspiring throughout my journey. I want to take a moment to give a special shout out to my fellow tribesmen/friends at both the Potawatomi Tribe (Pots) and Shawnee Tribe.  For 4 years my princesses and I were involved in a YMCA sponsored program for Dad’s and Daughters called, “Indian Princess.” The program is intended for girls age 6 through 10.  There are approximately 20 tribes in the Irvine “Orange Blossom” nation. Jacquelyne, Eva and I were all members of “The Pots,” and had some great times with my fellow tribesmen and their Indian Princesses.  We enjoyed monthly meetings, and 6 or so weekend outings and other special events during the school year, such as:  Big Bear (skiing/snowboarding), Catalina Island, Big Rock (camping), Father-Daughter Breakfast, and other fun experiences.  The day before I was discharged, Greg Beauregard showed up at my room with an amazing framed-photo collage featuring Jacquelyne and/or Eva and me at various events. It blew me away! Apparently all the guys and their princesses got together and signed the back of the collage with their own personal message to us.  In addition to Greg, props to Dave Rosenburg, Rob Budetti, Robert Palmer, Don Hankus, Bob Gavin, Dan Borland, Dave Mabie, Dave Rolfe, Gavin Akins and their princesses.

Since The Pots tribe was disbanding due to 80% of the princesses graduating from the program, Eva and I joined The Shawnee Tribe last year.  We were, unfortunately, only able to attend a few events due to the beginning of my cancer complications. Nonetheless, we had fun at these events and meetings. Early last week, Eva and I received a card from the tribe’s leader, John “Chief Itchy Dog” Folis, with personal messages from many of the princesses.  Eva and I were presented with the prestigious Gold Eagle Feather (a couple cool patches) for “enduring and overcoming great challenges during the year, while remaining loyal and committed to the tribe.”  The patches will go on our vests which sport a number of other patches representing participation at various events.

We were also very touched by a financial donation from The Shawnees. The Indian Princess program is a wonderful bonding experience for Dads and Daughters.  I cannot think of any groups I would rather be associated with than the Potawatomi and Shawnee Tribes – pure class! Eva and I look forward to getting back to active status with the Shawnees next season (mirrors school year) and rejoining our friends John Folis, Bentley Kerr, Chuck Finazzo and many others for the good times with our princesses.

DIET NOT RECOMMENDED…..FROM 210 TO 180 POUNDS

Yesterday, they checked my weight, and I was shocked to see that I was down to 180 pounds! I’m so skinny, my clothes just hang on me!  When I entered COH for the first time back in September, I weighed in at 210 pounds.  Eight months and Nine hospital stays later, subtract 30 pounds, and most of my muscle structure.  The first couple days out of the hospital, I was very fatigued, weak and pretty much laid around the apartment most of the day. However, each day I’m doing a bit more and feeling more capable.  I’m very confident that moderate exercise, and increased activity levels will bring my strength and weight back up. For me, 195-200 pounds is the target.

Well, that should be enough for now. I say this every post……I love reading your messages in the guestbook, please keep them coming! Your messages, emails, cards and phone calls energize and fuel me!  I reply to all posts in the reply area just below your message.

Thank you all for your prayers, messages, emails, phone calls and donations. Your generosity is really making a huge difference as Cheryl and I catch up on our numerous financial responsibilities related to my health care.  With our good Lord’s grace and will, I look forward to restoring myself to excellent health and expressing my thanks in person to as many of you as possible.

God bless you and yours,
George

…”With God all things are possible.” (Matthew 19:26)

George’s Journal

Sunday, May 23rd, 2010

It was been two weeks since my last post. The delay was primarily due to a lack of personal energy, and my determined focus on my recuperation from my Allogeneic Bone Marrow Transplant (received new cells from unmatched donor).  There is a lot catch you up on, so let’s get at it. On Thursday, May 6th, I received my donor’s stem cells at the City of Hope near Pasadena.

The previous afternoon, I was very gratified to hear,

“EXCUSE ME, MR. GHINDIA YOUR STEM CELLS HAVE ARRIVED.”

My new stem cell package was delivered via private hospital jet to LAX. The courier responsible for the delivery, hand delivered the goods the evening of the 5th.   In allogeneic BMTs the bone marrow are first of all treated to remove “T-cells” to reduce the risk of  graft-versus-host disease.  There was also an additional testing regarding the number stem cells to ensure there were enough for my specific case. The stem cells then were transferred directly to my room for infusion. I was delighted to hear about the safe arrival and successful (further) testing of my stem cells, Saturday evening!

Certainly, I did not mind at all being awoken at midnight for stem cell transplant preparation. The new stem cells were infused into me intravenously in much the same way that any blood product is given. The transplant is not a surgical procedure. It took place in my room, not an operating room.  In my case, the infusion took place between 12:30-2:30 am, Thursday, May 6th, my new, “second birthday.”  I was semi-conscious the entire time, dozing in and out of sleep. Patients are checked frequently for signs of fever, chills, hives and chest pains while the bone marrow is being infused. When the transplant was completed, the days and weeks of waiting began.

COUPLE ROUGH PATCHES

I have experienced a couple tough challenges since being admitted at COH, April 27th. For example, a week ago I was unable to talk or move my mouth, at all! For two days, I wrote notes to my nurses and doctors regarding my pain and responding to their questions. I have sore shoulders from lying in bed and my mouth hurts from canker sores caused by medication side effects, nausea and fatigue.  This is somewhat typical of people in my situation. Though the extreme nature of the shoulder pain, and swelling of my tongue were noted as extraordinary.

EGRAFTMENT: MAY-JUNE-JULY…..

The two to four weeks immediately following transplant are the most critical. The high-dose chemotherapy given to me during conditioning phase destroyed my bone marrow, crippling my body’s “immune” or defense system.  As I wait for the transplanted bone marrow to migrate to the cavities of the large bones, set up housekeeping or “engraft,” and begin producing normal blood cells, I will be very susceptible to infection and excessive bleeding. Multiple antibiotics and blood transfusions are being administered to me to help prevent and fight infection. Transfusions of platelets will be given to prevent bleeding.  Allogeneic  patients (like me) will receive additional medications to prevent and control graft-versus-host disease.

PRECAUTIONARY STEPS & SUMMARY OF WHAT WE’RE LOOKING FOR…

Extraordinary precautions are being taken to minimize my exposure to viruses and bacteria. Visitors and hospital personnel wash their hands with antiseptic soap and wear protective gowns, gloves and/or masks while in the patient’s room. When leaving the room, I wear a mask and gloves as a barrier against bacteria and virus, and as a reminder to others that I’m susceptible to infection. Blood samples are taken daily to determine whether or not engraftment has occurred (yes, it has occurred!) and to monitor organ function.

When the transplanted bone marrow engrafts and begins producing normal blood cells, I will gradually be taken off the antibiotics, and blood and platelet transfusions will generally no longer be required.  Once the bone marrow is producing a sufficient number of healthy red blood cells, white blood cells and platelets, I will be discharged from the hospital, provided no other complications have developed. BMT patients typically spend four to eight weeks in the hospital. At the time of this writing, I have spent 27 days at City of Hope. One day at a time….

DR. ROBERT CHEN:  PREPARE FOR GREEN LIGHT

I’m getting through all this productively. In fact, Dr. Robert Chen, my primary physician, is very encouraged about my results-to-date.  Now the key is for my new stem cells to continue engrafting into my bone cavities and produce new bone marrow, red and white blood cells, and platelets over the next few weeks.

From May 9th through May 12th my White Blood Count was 0.1 over a four day period; essentially ZERO.  However, Since May 12th, my White Blood Count is up to 2.1.  This indicates that the new stem cells have started to produce! The minimum acceptance point for a healthy person is “4.0.”  I have a ways to go, but the encouraging aspect of this is I’m growing WBCs (fight off infections) with my new stem cells/bone marrow.

Dr. Chen spoke with me yesterday about the possibility of being discharged next Saturday. This is a very encouraging sign for me.  My belief behind an early successful engraftment  is our good Lord has been guiding me through the BMT protocol.  My/our prayers are being answered, “Lord please increase my strength, increase my faith, and renew my life, free of cancer!”  May is the month for spring and new life. I could not pick a better month to, “renew my life free of cancer.” Yes, indeed, May 6th is my new second birthday!

I have had some special visitors in the last couple weeks including: Sunday, May 16th, my darling daughter Eva in her lovely first communion dress, along with my beautiful wife Cheryl and daughter Jacquelyne, parent’s John and Sue Ghindia (from Detroit area), sister Janet (from Denver area) and brother John (Detroit area).  We took many photos to help Eva celebrate her first holy communion that was held later that day at our family’s church, St. Thomas More, in Irvine.  Some pictures of this wonderful event have been uploaded by my brother on the site (click on the “Photos” link at the top of the page).  Other dear  friends that have stopped by are: Tim, Kelly and Alex Blett, Dave Rosenburg and his colleague, Chris Singleton, Chris Copps, Jason McVeigh, Bob Mooney and Larry Delaney.

PHOTO ALBUM / SLIDE SHOW

Regarding the “Photo Album,” John adds photos to the slide show weekly – there may be one or two you! You can adjust the speed of the slide show, just scroll over the top upper right of current photo to change the speed from 2 seconds to up to 5 seconds between each photo.

My room is on the 6th floor of the City of Hope’s Helford Clinical Research Hospital and has a large window that enables me to see from a distance the City of Los Angles skyline. My room is decorated with family photos, your cards, with Jacquelyne and Eva’s artwork  sprinkled along the walls and doorway. It brightens my days considerably looking at your smiling faces and special artwork!

Many of you have requested the address for the City of Hope:

George W. Ghindia, Room #6123
c/o City of Hope – Helford Clinical Research Hospital
1500 E. Duarte
Duarte, CA 91910-3000

I will be in the hospital through the end of the month.  I love reading your posts in the guestbook, please keep them coming! I apologize for falling behind. My plan is to be caught up with all of you within a week, by replying to your post in the reply area below your message!

Thank you all for your prayers, messages, emails, phone calls and donations. You’re really making a huge difference in our lives!

God bless you and yours,
George

…”With God all things are possible.” (Matthew 19:26)

George’s Journal

Wednesday, May 5th, 2010

Cheryl visited me yesterday, bringing me some fresh laundry. It’s always great to see my beautiful wife! Jacquelyne and Eva were here Saturday, with Cheryl of course, we had a great visit. They decorated the room very sweetly with many family photos. I have many photos of them dotting the walls. It brightens my days considerably just looking at their adorable smiling faces. Life’s simple pleasures! This will be short and sweet, since my stamina is a bit low right now.

I’ve been at the City of Hope for 9 days, and my “second birthday,” May 6th, the day I receive my donor’s stem cells, is tomorrow. I feel pretty good. Though, my blood counts are pretty much zero. I plan on writing more next week. The good Lord is guiding me successfully through this Bone Marrow Transplant.

Thank you all for your prayers, messages, emails, phone calls and donations. You’re really making a big difference in our lives!

God bless you and yours,
George

…”With God all things are possible.” (Matthew 19:26)

George’s Journal

Thursday, April 29th, 2010

It never ceases to amaze me how generous and giving people are. Cheryl and I have been blown away by the donations that have come in. Thank you from the bottom of my heart for helping our family during a challenging time. I will spend the rest of my life “paying forward” your love, care and generosity. Your messages in the Guestbook are inspiring – I reply to all ON this site. Your prayers are deeply cherished, please keep them coming!

Today’s journal will focus on my Bone Marrow Transplant protocol, and also provide you a brief tutorial on Lymphoma – a bit more scientific or technical than my typical prose.

Seven Month Journey

As pointed out in “George’s Story,” I was diagnosed with Follicular Lymphoma (small cleaves) – most common slow-growing Non-Hodgkin Lymphoma (NHL) – in November 2001. While living in the Bay Area, I was treated at Stanford U. Medical Center. We moved to Orange County in 2003. My disease was in remission from 2004 through April 2008. I transferred my health care to U. of California-Irvine Medical Center in early 2007Last summer, the cancer transformed into the aggressive, Diffused Large B Cell Lymphoma. Since September, we’ve been fighting to get to the BMT opportunity. Seven challenging months, involving 9 City of Hope, and 1 Oasis of Hope Hospital stays…but now we’re here!

Tuesday, I was admitted to the City of Hope to begin the Bone Marrow Transplant protocol – my long-awaited opportunity to be cured! There are three critical phases to the BMT: (1) Donor Matching phase, (2) Conditioning phase, and (3) Engraftment phase. No surgery. The type of BMT I’m receiving is an Allogeneic Stem Cell Transplant, from a “Matched Unrelated Donor (MUD).” The stem cells are harvested from the donor’s blood. A stem cell transplant is sometimes called a bone marrow transplant.

The Donor matching phase has already been accomplished. As much as they wanted to be, none of my four siblings were matches. Mary Beth, Suzanne, Janet and John tried their best, but meeting the matching criteria was out of their control. Fortunately, after a couple months, the City of Hope’s MUD office, found a Matched Unrelated Donor for me! The MUD was a 9 out of 10 match to my HLA (Human Lymphocyte Antigens). My donor had to pass a few health exams to ensure he was healthy enough to donate, and didn’t pose an unacceptable risk of infection to the recipient (me).

Tuesday, they started infusing me with chemotherapy for 6 days to eradicate the cancerous cells in my body this is known as the Conditioning phase. Then there will be 2 days of preparatory and precautionary medications, mostly to ward off infection, since my immune system will be non-existent for a few days. This phase will be completed 2 days before the infusion of the stem cells. In sum, we will eliminate cancerous cells, make room for new cells, and destroy my immune system. This is done to prevent rejection of the donor cells.

Hand Carry the Goods

The BMT actually takes place May 6th, my new “second birthday.” My donor is a 40-year old male living overseas. A medical center near his home, will extract his bone marrow/stem cells May 5th and a person (hopefully very dependable!) will hand carry the “product” to the City of Hope. Timing is critical. The Engraftment phase begins when I’m infused with my donor’s stem cells through a port in my right bicep area. It’s also where I receive chemo, many medications, blood transfusions, and have my blood drawn.

Stem cells are “immature cells” known as hematopoietic or blood-forming stem cells. Hematopoietic stem cells divide to form more blood-forming stem cells, or they mature into one of three types of blood cells: white blood cells, red blood cells, and platelets. The hematopoietic stem cells are found in the bone marrow, but some cells, called peripheral blood stem cells (PBSCs), are found in the bloodstream. There are other types of stem cell transplants. My BMT will be comprised of the PBSCs from my Donor.

The weeks following the BMT are critical. We want the stem cells to graft into my bone cavities and start producing white and red blood cells, and platelets. The new stem cells from my donor will reconstitute my immune system. Approximately 2 to 4 weeks after the transplant I should see signs of my bone marrow “engrafting” or beginning to grow. The first sign of this is the production of white blood cells. Platelets often take a little longer to begin developing. Once I have “engrafted” and my condition is stable, I’ll be discharged from the hospital. I pray that I will make sufficient progress to be discharged 2 to 3 weeks after the transplant!

30 Varieties of Non-Hodgkin Lymphoma

Nobody knows how I attracted Lymphoma, and that is the case with the large majority of those diagnosed with cancer. Lymphoma is a blood cancer that develops in the lymphatic system. It helps to know a little about the blood, bone marrow and the lymphatic system. Marrow is the spongy center inside of bones where blood and immune cells are made. The marrow is really two organs in one; the blood cell-forming organ and the lymphocyte-forming organ, which is part of the immune system.

Stem cells become white cells, red cells and platelets in the marrow. Then they enter the blood. Platelets prevent bleeding and form plugs that help stop bleeding after an injury. Red cells carry oxygen around the body. When the number of red cells is below normal it is called anemia, which can make you tired, pale or short of breath. White cells fight infection in the body. There are two types of white cells: germ-eating cells (neutrophils and monocytes) and lymphocytes. Lymphocytes can be B lymphocytes, T lymphocytes or natural killer cells. All of these cell types help fight infection.

The Lymphatic System is part of the body’s immune system – our defense against infection. The marrow and lymphocytes are part of the immune system. Lymphoma starts with a change to a lymphocyte cell. The change to the lymphocyte causes it to become a lymphoma cell. The lymphoma cells pile up and form lymphoma cell masses. The masses gather in the lymph nodes or other parts of the body. About 11% of people with lymphoma have Hodgkin lymphoma. The rest of us have one of the 30 or so types of NHL. Hopefully, after reading this, you’re more educated regarding BMTs and Lymphoma’s. (Click on Read Full Post – below right).

Opportunity to be Cured

While in the hospital, I’ll take it “a day at a time.” Staying positive, surrendering to the Lord, to lead me through this intense process in good shape. With excellent nursing provided by Marisa and Juana, and others, I’m very well cared for. I can see the LA skyline from my private room. I have books, DVDs and the TV for entertainment.

Going forward, May 6th will be my second birthday. My opportunity for a renewed life, cancer free! We’ve overcome many challenges to get to this point. I’m ready for this huge step. It’s gametime!

God bless you and yours,
George

….”With God all things are possible”. “Matthew 19:26)

George’s Journal

Thursday, April 22nd, 2010

Thank you to all who have left me a message in the Guestbook. I treasure your thoughtful, encouraging words. I’m responding to each message by replying on this site. Many of you have mentioned that you’re praying for me daily. That is extremely heartwarming and appreciated! Your prayers bolster my faith, and are making an impact with “the man upstairs”.

Yes, God is looking after me. My faith is strong, and with everyone’s prayers and God’s Will, we will prevail. It has been a tough battle since September to shrink the tumor down to a qualifying size and condition in order to receive the BMT, but I’m now, “good to go”. Today, I have two primary topics to share with you: Nutraceuticals and Attitude.

Nutraceuticals
My initial 12-day treatment phase at Oasis of Hope (Mexico) ended, April 14th. My stay paid off with the dramatic improvements highlighted in last week’s journal (see below), which significantly attribute to my OOH treatments. In sum, the hospital was spot clean, staff warm and friendly, physicians and nurses extremely competent, and treatment protocol “state of the art” in blending unconventional, holistic and also some traditional therapies to treat me. Now, I’m on the Home Care Program, featuring “Nutraceuticals”, mega-doses of nutritional supplements (dosage levels not available in the states).

I’ve noticed a major improvement in my right leg over the past 2 weeks. This leg has troubled me with blood clots (emanating from tumor in lower right abdomen), and resultant numbing and swelling; particularly in my calf and ankle. My right foot has felt like a board for five months! I’m under medication to control the clots. For months, I’ve been walking with the help of a cane.

A key part of my Oasis of Hope protocol is to take Nutraceuticals 4 times daily, at meals and bedtime. The Nutraceuticals, 11-12 capsules/pills per meal, have really helped my right leg! My supplements include: EPA-DHA (Fish Oil), Boswella, Semethyl, Vitamin D3, Restveratrol (antioxidant phytochemical found in red wine), Salsalate, Melatonin, Soy Isoflavaones, Curcumin, Promegranate, Lypocene, Green Tea extract, Piperine, Grape Seed extract, Apricot Pit extract, Zinc, Silenium, Folic Acid, Glutamine, Modified Citrus Pectin, and Glycine.

I’ll spare you the technical details about how the various supplements blend together to create a synergistic effect. It feels good to be walking without a cane! I look forward to getting back to the gym daily at 5:00 am, and leaping onto the track for two-mile runs.

Attitude
What a simple, powerful word, attitude! During this challenging journey, I’ve tried to keep a healthy routine of early morning prayers, good breakfast, optimistic-positive outlook, and healthy interaction with family and friends. The key is to have a good attitude every day, even those days where my health was “on the ropes”.

As you can imagine, I’ve been thinking about my upcoming Bone Marrow Transplant, getting physically and mentally prepared. I’ve been hospitalized at the City of Hope, a number of times and during each stay, I would ask my nurses (who are amazing), about their experiences with BMT patients. Never stopped asking, even when the tumor wasn’t responding, and my options were dwindling. Our sights were always on the BMT and being cured!

My curiosity and questions will continue. I’m scheduled to enter the City of Hope, April 29th – the date established by my oncologist-hematologist, Dr. Chen. The key to keep this BMT on schedule is for my Donor and me to pass a series of tests. I’ve passed all of mine, just waiting to here about my anonymous “Unrelated Donor Match”. This terrific, giving person lives overseas. No additional information is available. That’s how it’s set up. A year after the BMT, if we both want to meet, then it is arranged.

Concerning the BMT protocol and month-long hospital stay, I recently exchanged emails with Scott Smykowski, friend of my brother John’s, and former University of Michigan football player (one of Bo’s Boys). Scott received a BMT, 20-years ago, and now enjoys a healthy life with his wife and two sons.

Words of Wisdom
Scott shared with me the following: “I will give you the advice I was given by one of my nurses while I was awaiting my transplant. As I asked him question after question about everyone else on the bone marrow unit and how they were dealing with it he told me, “everyone is different and their body handles things in its own unique way and the only thing you can control through the process is your attitude, you can’t control the amount of medication they give you can’t control how it makes you feel but you can control your attitude, and you must keep a positive attitude”.

I’m lucky for the benefit of great coaching/mentoring throughout my life. My Dad, John V. Ghindia is a member of the Michigan High School Coaches Hall of Fame, as well as a HOF father! My high school football coach, Jack Castignola, is also in the HOF. Coach Jack’s philosophy was based on strong fundamentals, nothing fancy, i.e., discipline. blocking tackling, run the ball, an occasional pass. His favorite saying was “When the going gets tough, the tough get going”. That saying really highlights my challenge.

Attitude….That’s what I can control. Attitude is the key for everything we do. Whether healthy or not, how we approach, and relish each day determines our happiness and success in life.

“The lamp of the LORD searches the spirit of a man; it searches out his inmost being”. Proverbs 20:27 (NIV)

I pray to God for increased strength to successfully get through this rigorous BMT protocol. I pray to God for increased faith to bolster my daily attitude. I pray to God for a renewed life, free of cancer. I pray to God for an opportunity to serve Him better here on earth, to raise my overall game to the next levels. It’s in His Hands. I’m confident that we will beat this thing!

My friend and business associate Donna Ganshirt left me a wonderful message, which included this: “Faith is not believing that God can, It is knowing that God Will”!

God Bless You and Yours,
George

PS – Check out my Top 100 Rock Albums and give me your take. Also featured are 150 plus albums that didn’t quite measure up to the top tier, but were enjoyed immensely.

George’s Journal

Wednesday, April 14th, 2010

The past week has been a whirlwind of activity for us, I’ll try to give you a glimpse. Cheryl and I drove up from Tijuana, late Wednesday, the 7th, and then got up early and headed to the City of Hope, Thursday the 8th for my PET-CT Scan. On Friday the 9th, we met with my primary physician (oncologist-hematologist), Dr. Robert Chen to discuss the scan results….the BIG appointment. The PET-CT scan is the major diagnostic tool that reveals the condition of the cancer in my body (where tumor is, how big, cell activity). We were extremely relieved when Dr. Chen delivered the news we’ve all been praying for: the tumor is shrinking, the cancer cells appear “dead” or in remission, and the Bone Marrow Transplant is back on. The news is nothing short of miraculous. Praise the Lord!

We feel incredibly blessed and thankful. Remember, after 5 levels of chemotherapy, several in the past 7 months, it stopped working for me (medical term, “refractory”). Unfortunately, the initial 13 radiation treatments had yielded only moderate improvement. In fact on March 12th, Dr. Chen advised us that the radiation’s effectiveness must dramatically improve, or I only had 2 months to live! In his report, he wrote, “At this time, I discussed, with the patient the reality of the situation that he has most likely, radiation refractory lymphoma as well”. Yuck!

When we left Dr. Chen’s office, Cheryl and I were extremely motivated to find another way to combat this cancer! I need to somehow get on the offensive, to do something that would improve a rather dire situation. At perhaps my lowest point, I was referred to the Oasis of Hope in Tijuana via Reagan Dean, a friend of my sister Suzanne in Castle Rock, Co. Reagan is a dietary consultant/director with Juice Plus, and has friends/clients with cancer who have received therapy in Mexico. Thank you Reagan!

During my radiation therapy at City of Hope, I had the best support you could ask for! Besides “my rock ” Cheryl, I was blessed to have Kelly Blett and my brother, John (in town to help), taking turns chauffeuring me to and from my radiation appointments. City of Hope is a 43-miles from home, and typically a 60-minute drive. For those of you who know Kelly and John, you could not create two more positive, “can do” people! I completed radiation therapy, March 19th. A few days later, Cheryl and I went to Tijuana (2-hour drive, 30 minutes across border) to check out two of the referred cancer centers.

Oasis of Hope – Tijuana, Mexico
The Oasis of Hope (OOH) was very impressive as a full service cancer center/hospital. We made the decision to enroll in a “first phase” 12 day in-patient treatment program, with a 30-day at-home follow up regimen. From April 1st-7th, I received “alternative” therapies that focused heavily on increase oxidation of the tumor (located in lower abdomen), including infusions of Vitamin C and Perftec (mimics human blood’s oxygen transport ability), and Kemdalin (Laetrile or synthetic Vitamin B17). These are just a few of the complimentary therapies and techniques OOH employs to boost the oxygen and hydrogen peroxide content of tumors, these two elements work together to kill cancer cells!

For some reason, the American Medical Association and Food and Drug Administration, frown on these effective therapies. United Health Care and other insurance carriers do not cover them. Fortunately, I’m blessed with amazing family and friends who have joined together to enable me to pursue and benefit from “The Mexico Option”. The Treatments at OOH are expensive; but there is no price I wouldn’t pay to be with Jacquelyne and Eva as they grow into outstanding young ladies, and experience LIFE with them and Cheryl.

My support network (you!) has enabled me to keep the faith and belief in my cancer treatments, therapeutic choices, and potential for remission, recovery, and being cured. The events and news of the past week are tremendously encouraging!

The treatments at Oasis of Hope, have assisted with the dramatic improvement in my overall condition. Cheryl and I are are monumentally relieved, and blessed! It’s scary, sobering and extremely sad to be told you have most likely 2 months to live. Fortunately, I’m now on schedule to receive my, Bone Marrow Transplant (BMT) in 4-6 weeks. The improvement can be attributed to faith, belief, prayer, a doubling of the radiation dosage for the final 4 treatments, plus therapies received at OOH. It was a good strategy to leverage the OOH complementary protocol with the lasting effects of radiation to achieve our results. Even now, the radiation is still some what percolating in and around the tumor.

Jacquelyne and Eva have been amazing kids! They know their Daddy has cancer, but it’s pretty much life as usual for both (thankfully). Our 11-year old, Jacquelyne, is a 6th grader at Irvine’s Pioneer Middle School. Volleyball tryouts are this week. Jacquelyne’s been playing for the Orange County Volleyball Club since October, so she should be well prepared. Our 8-year old, Eva, is a 3rd grader at Hicks Canyon, and a member of the Irvine Premier Soccer Club. She likes playing goalie. A cute, thoughtful comment from Eva when I came home from the City of Hope, Friday evening. I told her we had some good news. The first thing out of her mouth was, “Your tumor shrunk”! She was momentarily ecstatic and relieved, hugged and kissed me….and then ran upstairs to continue playing with her friend, Kiana! Priceless!

Now, I’m back in Tijuana, completing the initial 12-day phase. I feel good and strong. Once I leave here, April 14th, I will be on a 30-day home treatment regimen, featuring nutraceutical supplements (each pill has a much higher dosage level than “nutritional” supplements) and a vegan-oriented diet. Fortunately, I will be allowed to eat skinless chicken and fish. It’s actually more of a “Mediterranean Diet”. There are 20-25 cancer patients from around the USA and World being treated here. Most of us have (click on Read Full Post – below right) been told at one time or another, “there is nothing else we can do”.

I’ll keep you posted regarding my progress – that’s the key word, progress! For 5 months, we were trying like crazy but not making any progress in reducing the tumor and qualifying for the BMT. Now, we have accomplished shrinkage and remission – HUGE! We have a donor match for the BMT, that’s major, since 20% of people needing a BMT never get matched with a donor. Medicine, hope, prayer, are a powerful combination. As my good friend, Pastor Bob Mooney is fond of saying, “God is GOOD”

Bone Marrow Transplant – City of Hope
The BMT is a rigorous procedure that offers us the hope of being cure. Over the next 4 weeks, my Donor (anonymous) and I will undergo a number of tests. I’ll continue to assess the best treatment options available that will yield me and my family the best quality of life outcome. Right now, the BMT looks to be our best option, and we’re full speed ahead in that direction.

Thanks to my brother, John, and friends at ThomasNet for producing this terrific website. I’m really speechless in my appreciation. It’s a wonderful medium for us. I look forward to hearing from you, reading your Guestbook messages, learning about your favorite rock albums, and continuing to share my journey with you!

My plan is to post a new journal entry weekly. Please visit this site often, and leave a message in the Guestbook. We read and answer them daily. Your participation and engagement has an energizing, inspirational effect on my treatment, healing and, ultimately, the eradication of cancer from my body!

“With God all things are possible”. (Matthew 19:26)

After the March 12th prognosis, I experienced a “big knot in my stomach” feeling for 4 weeks. Now, I feel out of imminent danger and have greater confidence in the future. I pray to God for renewed life, free of cancer. Please keep praying for the miracle, we can see it from here! Thanks for your love, prayers and support.

God bless, George


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