Glenn Sellnow’s Cancer Story

In 2008, I was having some problems with pain in my rear end so I went to the walk-in clinic to investigate the cause.  The doctor looked over the situation and then asked me if he could bring a cancer surgeon into the room to look at it.  This question didn’t thrill me but I said yes.  The cancer surgeon tried a painful procedure right there on the spot, but I said I just could not take that much pain.  They referred me to another surgeon for a biopsy.

I had the biopsy done and was anxious to get the baseline results.  Normally the medical system releases all information to a patient via internet access as soon as possible.  Naturally they don’t do this with cancer because they seem to want the doctor to tell you in person.  I prefer to know things asap so I harassed a nurse by phone until she got permission to tell me the news.  It was not good news.  Cancer.  I remembered a verse from the Bible “Though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for thou art with me; Thy rod and thy staff they comfort me.” Psalm 23:4 KJV  That was the verse I needed.

Now it was time for endless procedures, operations, doctor visits and infusions for the years that followed.  I needed the Bible verse more than ever for these entertaining activities.  I had good doctors with the best of care.  I couldn’t help thinking of all the people living in third world countries without access to the care I was being given.  It brought me great sadness that so many people were suffering even worse than me.  

Some people have said that I have a good attitude.  Perhaps in some ways I do; however, I have moments when my thoughts would frighten those very same people.  I know that I have not reached a state of perfection.  I have yet to meet anyone that has and I will never be that person on this earth.

The first surgeon who operated on me gave my family a pep talk after the surgery while I was unconscious.  He said I probably wouldn’t live more than five years.  He may have been accurate but he was also a jackass.  I would like to live longer just to prove him wrong.

I was given the standard treatments for cancer:  surgery, radiation, chemotherapy and immunotherapy.  I didn’t have any bad reactions but there came a day when my oncologist said that I had a mere six months left to live.  Naturally I got second opinions just in case my oncologist was a dud.  The other oncologists said the same thing. Bummer.

It seems that oncologists have some difficulty keeping up to date on all the cancer trials taking place.  They are busy people and cancer trials do not seem to be organized into a common database for easy review.  Facebook had an “ad” for something called Trialjectory so I decided to take a look at it.  I had initial skepticism because I figured doctors would have the same information.  

Trialjectory has a fill in the blank questionnaire for the patient’s condition and it produces a list of useful cancer trials going on around the country.  Software can be a good thing when it does its job.  This would be a good application for some A.I. programming like they are now doing at MSOE, the college I attended eons ago. 

One of the trials at the NIH seemed to match me so my doctor referred me.  Initially, it appeared that I would be accepted into the trial.  Unfortunately, I received a rejection email just as I was packing my travel bags.  Double bummer.  

I found a second trial through Trialjectory that was considerably closer and would not require so much travel.   I found out my oncologist could duplicate this phase 3 trial at my current hospital.  Yea!  I don’t know how much this trial will extend my life.  We all die eventually but I don’t want to rush the process.  This trial might make a difference, so it’s worth a try.

Currently I am working with my Oncologist to determine the best version of the chosen trial.  Doctors are not God and they simply don’t know everything, and they are not expected to.  A trial is designed to prove the best treatment to pursue.  There is not any guarantee that it will improve your life span so I’m prepared for any outcome.  Everyone eventually dies.  So I have a back-up plan.  As a former electrical engineer, I always make back-up plans for all situations.

I personally believe that God controls our life’s destiny.  We can make choices that affect many outcomes and I would definitely like to prolong my life.  I believe that Jesus has given us a path to eternal life and that this current life “is short and sometimes full of trouble.” Cancer is not the worst thing that has ever happened to me, but, again, I would like to prolong my life just to prove my doctors wrong. 

And a parting word to my fellow humans. I suffered from Crohn’s disease which probably contributed to my getting cancer.  My advice is to get checked early and often for cancer if you have any chronic disease.