E-mail to Family and Friends

January 21, 2002

Dear family and friends--

Hope this note finds you all doing well. A lot of you have been following my health travails through my online cancer journal at http://www.zenguitar.com, but I wanted to deliver the latest news more directly. I wish it was good news, but alas. . . . On Friday, four months to the day after my surgery, doctors found new cancerous growth in my abdominal area. So much for starting the new year off fresh. I had high hopes that last year's aggressive treatment plan was going to work, that I could beat the odds of this cancer returning. But despite my doctors' best efforts, the disease persists more formidable than ever. There's no getting around the fact that our hopes have taken a serious hit. Now the struggle progresses to a new, even tougher level.

Today I start a new chemo plan, this time an oral pill with supposedly limited side effects. In rare cases it has been shown to eradicate cancerous growth, but again, the odds are sobering. Stubbornly, I hold out hope of being the lucky one. All along, doctors have said we'll need some form of divine intervention, and that remains the case today. Please don't give up your hopes. We haven't given up ours.

We've taken the best shot that conventional medicine has had to offer and it's fallen short, so it seems we need to look at alternative treatments for an approach that can resuscitate our chance for a long, healthy life. Over the last several months many of you have suggested nontraditional therapies, which we deeply appreciate. We'll be examining those options closely now, the challenge being to narrow them down and finding the best approach.

We've told the kids the latest news and they've taken it bravely. Even two-year-old Jonathan understood, showing genuine sadness. Physically, I'm still experiencing pain across my midsection, a result now of the tumors, doctors say, not the surgery. Eating-wise, I'm getting better at navigating my way through mealtime, but digestion remains a challenge. Overall, I've lost 30 pounds from my presurgery weight (about 20 percent), and my energy runs low. But people continually tell me I look well, and for the most part I get out and around without too much limitation. Psychologically, we're trying to absorb this latest blow and move on, and while it hasn't been easy, our determination to tackle the problem with full spirit hasn't wavered.

As I said, I wish I had better news to offer, but we play the hand we've been dealt. We're so grateful for your love and support; it means more to us now than ever. Help us keep hope alive and we'll keep moving forward, heads high, wherever the road may lead.

Live today, live tomorrow.