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Journey to the Summit
Attorney at Law
Webb Stokes & Sparks
Max Parker -
•Married 27 years. 5 children. 3 in college.
•Partner/Attorney Webb Stokes & Sparks 35 years.
• Board Certified Personal Injury Law. Super Lawyer as named by Texas Monthly Magazine.
•Vice President of San Angelo Independent School District Board of Trustees 2005 to present
•Coordinator- Christian Breakfast Fellowship for over 20 years
•President San Angelo Texas Exes Association last two years
•Concho Country Emmaus Community Board of Directors 2012-2014
•President, American Board of Trial Advocates, West Central Texas Chapter 2012-2013
"Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves receive from God."
2 Corinthians 1:3-4
Max had sent me a note stating that this was a Scripture that he kept close to his heart through this journey. Welcome home Max!
[I first learned of Max's cancer via a posting in Facebook and began praying for him daily. I did not know exactly what type of cancer or the challenges that he would face with it. Some time later I received an email through the Emmaus Community that Max had written about what he was dealing with daily in fighting this disease. I knew then that everyone needed to read this type of article to gain a better understanding of the struggle our friends and family may be dealing with when they are diagnosed with some type of cancer. Max has now written 3 such articles and I have them here to share with you. Thank you Max for allowing us to share this journey to the summit with you. This is Part 1]
"Battling cancer is really a battle. As doctors will tell you, everyone's battle with cancer is different, but all have to battle. So far, so good for me, but the worse is still yet to come. My worse though, is not as bad as most will go through, as you will read about below.
Some of you have asked about details regarding my treatment. I have finished 5 chemos and 23 radiation treatments. I have 3 chemos and 12 radiation treatments left. Keeping my weight up is very difficult, but important, as my body can not recover from the treatment if undernourished. My doctors are very pleased I have only lost 6 pounds thus far, but I really need to lose no more, if possible. At least that is my goal.
My pain threshold is high as I have not taken any of the liquid hydrocodone prescribed for me yet, and the doctors expected me to start it last week. So, I am fortunate. However, my throat and mouth are getting more burned and ulcers have come up and it is very painful now, especially when swallowing, so I probably will start the hydrocodone soon or I might not be able to swallow and be able to maintain my weight.
There is so much discipline required. Fighting cancer has become my job. Every morning I wake up and take 5 pills and then I eat a small serving of yogurt and a Boost . The emotional aspect of this has surprised me. When you have no taste buds, you have absolutely no hunger. When you have no hunger, you do not want to eat. I have to psyche myself up to eat the yogurt and drink the Boost (Ensure). When my throat was not hurting, I could drink a Boost in about 10 gulps in about 10 seconds. Absolutely no pleasure. Tastes horrible, but I get 360 calories. I need 2275 calories per day. Now when every swallow hurts, it takes longer to drink or eat, which allows the bad flavor to linger. I am up to 5 Boost per day and hope I can fill in with enough other calories from soup, yogurt or cottage cheese. Unfortunately, things with calories like mashed potatoes, or fried foods, or bread, or ice creme, taste so bad, or "ball up in my mouth so quickly" I can not get them down. Not uncommon with throat cancer patients. Many just give up and ask for the feeding tube to be placed in their stomach and just put the food directly in the stomach several times per day. I try to eat something or have a Boost about every 2 or 3 hours or nausea sets in.
When getting much radiation on your salivary glands, not only do you lose taste, but these glands go crazy. You lose the saliva that cleans your teeth and helps digest things like bread. But other saliva flows freely and coagulates in lumps in your mouth and makes you spit out about every 2 minutes. The doctor tells me it's just saliva and to just swallow it, but it tastes bad and makes me feel bad and causes nausea. So, I have to frequently wash my mouth out with a mixture of baking soda, water, and salt many times per day. Because of the damage to the salivary glands, I have been fitted with dental trays that I must fill up with flouride and wear for 10 minutes each night to protect my teeth from cavities. That will be a permanent thing.
To avoid dehydration and nausea, I need to drink 10-8oz. glasses of water per day. Easier said than done, as even water does not taste good right now, and it hurts to swallow. And I am not thirsty. If I can not stay hydrated, I will need to get IV's for fluids.
I also take a pill for the rash that the chemo causes on my face throat and chest--just like acne when I was a teenager. I take another pill for nausea, 5 -10 other pills at night. The doctors really want to make sure I stay ahead of constipation, pain, and nausea so that I can do my best to eat.
Luckily for me, as compared to many cancer patients, my treatments are not killing me. The radiation is burning up my throat, of course. The one lymph node that was affected and swollen is totally back to normal now. My chemo is nothing like the chemo that makes most cancer patients so sick. So, I am blessed. But I have met two men suffering from throat cancer now that have lost 60 and 90 pounds even with a feeding tube, so throat cancer treatment is rigorous.
I am staying positive, or trying to. I have several favorite scriptures I rely upon. This week it has been James 1: 2--4. "Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters,[whenever you face trials of many kinds, 3 because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. 4 Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything." So, I am trying my best to persevere and to be patient, so that I can become a more mature man.
I'm forwarding a letter from Max Parker because it's worth reading:
Many cancer patients have it much harder than me. They are not as blessed to have a good prognosis like me, but also do not have caretakers to assist them. I so appreciate your prayers, but ask that you include these three new friends in your prayers.
Lisa--She is suffering from lung cancer. She may or may not make it. I am really worried about her. She is skin and bones. She has not been able to continue her chemo this week because her blood counts have been too low, but is still getting radiation. I really admire her. She is here most of the time by herself. Her mom and sister have illnesses and can not be here to assist her as infections could arise. She is divorced. Her first husband died of cancer. Her son helps when he can. But she is basically on her own. I am so blessed to have my family and friends to assist me, but many do not have that benefit. I speak to several who come to radiation/chemo treatment who live near the center, who have spouses who can not get off work to drive them. I really do not know how they have enough energy sometimes to drive themselves home. Some are having to continue to work to support themselves or family.
Donna--Fighting breast cancer. She told me she just hoped to recover enough to live until June to see her youngest daughter graduate. Divorced. She works at a barbeque restaurant in her home town. Simple small town lady. Her friends raised $14000 to help her get her trailer house paid off. She has just completed her treatment. Her 75 year old mom stayed with her. I spoke to her mom one day and mom told me this. " My two grandmothers died of cancer. My father died of cancer. My husband died of cancer. I have 4 children and three have had cancer, including Donna. One has died. I just keeping praying I lose no more children. " My, my, my. What a life of endurance.
Sarah--Young mother of four. She has terminal brain cancer. No cures. But she came back recently because she had abnormal scans and thought a new tumor had developed in her brain. Turned out it was just scar tissue. She told us "This will be my best Christmas ever. I will not need another brain surgery. More time with my kids. Praise God".
Some of you have asked where I am staying since my treatment is at MD Anderson in Katy. We were directed to Cinco Charities by our doctors. It is a local charity that was started by local cancer patients to assist persons like me and Donna and Lisa that do not live close enough to drive back and forth daily. Financial need is not a prerequisite. In fact they ask for no financial information--just want to help you. The charity is currently constructing a 24 room hospitality apartment type living center for this purpose, but in the meantime, they put us up in an extended stay hotel. Great group of persons in this charity. Here is their website if you are looking for a charity to donate to:
This will be a special place in the future as MD Anderson has just announced it will be building a huge major new full care cancer facility in Katy.
So, bottom line, I really am blessed. I will recover, and I am keeping my weight up. The next two weeks will be critical and even more rigorous, but God is in control and I continue to be surrounded by angels and I am confident "I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me".
Thanks for your prayers and concerns. I am so blessed to have such friends and family.
Happy New Year. Max"
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