Updated History

Our blog is a collection of medical updates, thoughts, a little humor as well my spiritual journey as we take on the most challenging adventure I have ever been on. My motivation for creating this site is to inform and encourage.

We generally update once a week, or as significant news becomes available.  Be sure to subscribe to have these updates emailed to you. 

Background — Updated 03/14/2018

In October of 2017, doctors discovered that I have seven  (7) cancerous tumors in my brain and one in my lung. After a biopsy, we learned that I have melanoma, which metastasized from an unknown origin to my brain and lung, classifying it as “Stage 4.”

After much—and continuing— research, advise and prayer, Amber and I decided to take a holistic approach to treatment. I underwent targeted radiation to my brain tumors and thirty days of high dose medical cannabis.

In January of 2018, a follow up MRI showed significant growth of the tumors and one new brain tumor.

In February of 2018 neurosurgeons performed an emergency brain surgery to remove five of the largest tumors. Additional scans during the two week hospital stay showed the cancer has now spread to my liver, with an additional mass in a lymph node.

I started immunotherapy at City of Hope in the first week of March 2018. My body had a severe reaction o the medication which landed me a one week hospital stay  immunotherapy is no longer a viable option for my treatment. My oncologist is contacting colleagues to see if there are any new treatments or clinical trials available.

Although there are no guarantees in anything we do, we believe this battle can be fought on many fronts and from many angles.  Most important being through prayer; through the the power of our God and Creator. Miracles do happen.

I have also decided to  radically change my diet, lifestyle and use natural medicines to compliment any conventional medication . As we monitor my progress, we may make adjustments taking advantage of holistic, as well as modern, cutting edge treatments.

Since this site is open to everyone, I am especially encouraged —as well as many others—by your comments under each post. Amber reads all of your messages to me. If you have a personal message for me, you may email me direct at john@heyjt.com

JT

Reception for JT after Celebration of Life

Katie Quintas, of Here to Serve here with some more updates on JT’s Celebration of Life service this Saturday at 3 p.m.  Here to Serve is organizing the reception following the service and we need some help with set up, clean up and food.  We are expecting about 500 people and that will require a lot of food and help.  We will be serving appetisers/finger foods, anything not requiring a fork or knife.  We are looking for volunteers to bring any one of the following finger foods/appetizers such as:

Fruit platter

Sweet and savory tray

Finger sandwiches

Desserts (not requiring fork)

Cheese, salami and crackers tray

If you can help set up, clean up and/or provide an appetizer, finger food or dessert (that can be picked up with your fingers) please email me at Katie@heretoserve.org asap.  Tell me what you will be bringing and how many it will serve.

Thank you for everything you are doing and have done to love on JT, Amber, James and family.  We may not be able to change the medical outcome, but we can change the journey and even make it blessed!  Thank you for doing that!

Katie Quintas, Here to Serve

 

Grand Homecoming

Dear Friends and Family,

Tonight at 9:30pm, surrounded by family and friends, our beloved John slowly slipped away to be with Jesus.

He had a beautiful attitude all the way up to the end, even when the pain started. But his nurses minimized his discomfort.

Thank you all for your support. We will notify you once the celebration of life service is scheduled.

Love,

Amber

Days Filled with Sweet Moments

Good morning everyone,

These last few days have been filled with sweet moments with our dearly loved John. My heart is aching, but still trusting God with all of my being.

JT leading us in worship last weekend

We may have a few more days or week or two with JT, but no one knows for sure how long.

We have had several visits with old friends and they have been nice. We are asking that everyone please keep visits to a minimum.

Please continue to pray for grace and peace for all of us and complete and total healing for JT. It’s not too late! I am still believing God for a miracle for my sweet husband. If He chooses not to heal JT, then I know He will never leave us nor forsake us and He will continue to walk with us through this difficult time.

Love to you all,

 

Amber

JT on Hospice Care

From a Katie with Here To Serve:

The news late yesterday afternoon was what we all feared and hoped against hope would not happen…but it did.  Treatment options exhausted, JT was put on hospice care.

Amber’s notes added below:

JT is such an amazing man of faith and hope.  He still knows that God can heal him at any time if He chooses to. And this is what we are praying for day in and day out.

Please believe with us that God can heal him. But if God chooses not to, then celebrate with us that JT has no regrets, he is surrounded by loved ones, he has no pain, and he has joy!

This is a very tough time for all of us who love JT. Even though we know that God can heal him as surely as I am breathing right now, we are also faced with the fact that we may soon be separated from the one whom we love so very dearly.

I received some comfort today when a small package arrived from a friend. She must have sent it several days ago. When I opened it, there was a tin heart and on the back she wrote these words “…and He knows those who trust in him. Nahum 1:7” It is interesting that not five minutes prior to receiving the package I received a text from a friend sending encouragement with the same words, that her Grandma had underlined in her Bible some fifty years ago. God’s timing is perfect. His words a soothing balm to our weary hearts.

I’m hoping to spend some time focusing on the blog to send you a message directly from JT in the coming days.

Happy Easter!

Love to you all,

Amber

Heartbreaking update…

Katie Quintas, Here to Serve, sharing this update with you…

Daily life is getting increasingly difficult for JT, Amber and James. There is no easy way to share this news I’m afraid. JT has been hit hard with the scan results on Sunday. He still has joy, but he feels like this may be the end.

Amber met with the specialist from UCLA yesterday and he agrees that immunotherapy is too risky. That leaves JT with two options: Do nothing or try the oral chemo pill. The oral chemo has a 10% success rate.

JT is still very uncomfortable because of the ascites (the accumulation of fluid in the peritoneal cavity, causing abdominal swelling). Amber and JT meet with his palliative care doctor today to discuss these options and comfort for the swelling.

Each day is a roller coaster of emotion. One moment JT wants to try the oral chemo, the next he doesn’t want to try it. Even through the pain, JT wants to be a blessing to others. He asked Amber to reply to some of his correspondence and he was focused on encouraging others. What a pillar of strength and faith he is along with Amber and James!

Justifiably, Amber has been angry praying and asking God “why” questions. “How is this going to turn out good?” “What possible good is there from taking JT early from me, from James, from our family and friends!” “Why are You letting my husband suffer?” She felt God say that He doesn’t have to tell her why, She just has to trust. Later, she read “Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and lean not on your own understanding.” She felt asking “why?” was because she was leaning on Her own understanding instead of trusting God… Amber shared, “we can’t see what is going to come out of this, but we can lean on the fact that God loves us, He is good and faithful, and He has good planned for us.”

Unimaginable pain, unceasing hope, bring us to our knees. Can we stand with the Taylorson’s in this time of great suffering? It is not lost on many of us that this is holy week, where Christ suffered to bring eternal life. He said we would share in his sufferings.

1 Peter 4:13
But rejoice inasmuch as you participate in the sufferings of Christ, so that you may be overjoyed when his glory is revealed.

Romans 8:18
I consider that our present sufferings are not comparable to the glory that will be revealed in us.

2 Corinthians 1:5
For just as the sufferings of Christ overflow to us, so also through Christ our comfort overflows.

Philippians 3:10
I want to know Christ and the power of His resurrection and the fellowship of His sufferings, being conformed to Him in His death,

2 Timothy 2:12
if we endure, we will also reign with Him; if we deny Him, He will also deny us;

Our sadness in these sufferings is natural. But unnaturally, we as believers, will see Christ revealed in so many ways and ultimately in person when we go home. Please pray that God will reveal Himself to JT, Amber and James in ways that will bring comfort, strength, increase faith and help them endure. For God always brings goodness and light in darkness and His authorship of our story, as Christians, always ends well even when we must suffer to get there.

May your week of contemplation and prayer in advance of Easter, be one that holds tight to the promise the Lord gives us of healing and eternal life. May the road the Taylorson’s are traveling be bathed in your prayers and support so they know that the family of God is walking with them. Bless them and pray unceasingly for miraculous healing for JT and comfort for Amber, James and the entire family.

Oncologist Visit This Week…What’s Next?

Katie Quintas here from Here to Serve bringing this update on 3/22/18…

JT and Amber visited with his oncologist at Huntington Hospital this week.  They discussed in detail what options remained for JT in the way of treatment. JT and Amber also offered up some of their own researched ideas on what they found that might work.  Here are some of the options they are exploring…

  1. There is a one week oral chemo treatment that their oncologist is recommending.
  2. They will be visiting with a UCLA oncologist who says there is another way to approach immunotherapy that his system may be able to tolerate. It will employ only one of the two immunotherapy drugs.
  3. There is an alternative therapy being done in Orange County that goes in a more holistic direction.

Right now JT cannot start any treatment until his body recovers and gets stronger.  So, the fact that they have time to investigate their options is good.  JT has been suffering from fatigue that has been all-consuming to the point that on some days he cannot talk.  But that is NOT everyday, thank the Lord!  On good days he can make a walking trip around the block (with a wheelchair following closely behind so he can take rests).  His mobility is slowly improving.

His PSA levels are dropping, which is really good from 23 to about 6!  He is able to get up and walk on his own down the hallway to the rest room, no cane, managing his balance with his finger near the wall.  That is progress!  He gets around the house with only a cane or sometimes his walker.  He mostly uses his walker outside or when he has to travel somewhere.  Otherwise, he manages with just a cane, which is an answer to prayer!

His eyesight has not improved and may have gotten a little worse.  So please continue to pray about that.  He is very lucid, and speaks knowledgeably about his treatments and how he is doing.  He would say he is a bit fuzzy often and can’t always retain things or manage long and involved conversations. JT is eating well, but is not always hungry; he does make himself sit down and eat.  However, the steroids have caused stomach bloating and that has been uncomfortable for JT.  He says it feels like he’s eaten a gallon of rice!

It is amazing to see the Godly spirit in both JT and Amber!  They continue to keep their eyes on the Lord and seek answers for their journey. They find comfort in each other and are a testimony to God’s grace under incredible stress.

Prayer Requests

  1. That JT and Amber would find direction on the treatment options before them and together would agree on which one to choose.
  2. JT’s fatigue would end and that he regains his strength and coordination.
  3. The James and Amber would strengthen each other as they care for JT.
  4. God would improve JT’s eyesight.
  5. God would miraculously heal JT here on this earth.
  6. God would be very present in their daily lives in miraculous ways

“I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.” Phil 4:13

“And my God shall supply all your need according to His riches in glory by Christ Jesus.”  Phil 4:19

“Therefore I say to you, whatever things you ask when you pray, believe that you receive them, and you will have them.”  Mk 11:24

Please pray for JT and the family and if you are a member of JT’s Here to Serve care community consider signing up to bring a meal.

UPDATE: Sunday 3/25/18

Katie Quintas updating post above… Asking for Prayer!

JT went this morning to the hospital.  He was having a lot of discomfort from the bloating in his abdomen.  When the post above was written on Thursday, both JT and Amber sounded really good.  However, as is true with cancer, a day later things can change.  On Friday, JT had a very difficult day.  He wanted to eat but when he did it caused a lot of discomfort.

By Sunday morning he wanted to go to the hospital. They did a CAT scan and it showed cancer engulfed his liver and is throughout his abdomen.  JT did not want to remain in the hospital to remove the fluid so he went home.  He is still very uncomfortable and hopes to be able to start the oral chemo that was recommended by his oncologist ASAP.

As you might imagine this is incredibly challenging for everyone.  Your prayers are coveted!

“The Lord is good. A stronghold in the day of trouble; And He knows those who trust in Him.”  Nahum 1:7

JT Comes Home Today!

Katie Quintas here providing the update:

JT headed home today. He is still very weak and needs to build up his strength to avoid atrophy of his muscles. JT still needs to work on his walking. His improvement with his eyesight seems to have plateaued. He still can’t read or type well. He does get tired very easily and, therefore, request no visitors at this time.  As you all know, the immunotherapy treatment has stopped and we are looking to God, as the great Healer, to bring miraculous healing to JT. So please storm the gates of Heaven on JT’s behalf!

As many of you know Amber had a prayer request about extending leave with work. They did extend her unpaid leave which insures her job is there when she is able to return.

Prayer Requests:

Please pray for miraculous healing for JT.

Pray for improvement in reading, walking and typing for JT. This is a big frustration for him.

Strength and endurance for JT, Amber, James and the entire family as they navigate this difficult journey. Give them wisdom for any decisions that must be made.

Amber was denied paid Family leave to care for JT because they said she was being paid at work. She is not. Please pray they reverse this decision and approve Amber’s request.

That God would meet all their physical, emotional, spiritual, and financial needs in ways that would bless them and those who come alongside them to help.

Dashed Against the Rocks – Immunotherapy Failed

Just the Facts

  • JT can no longer take immunotherapy.
  • Oncologist is looking for other treatment options and reaching out to her colleagues.
  • The doctors at Huntington are slowly reducing his oxygen support.
  • The doctors are now saying “JT can hopefully go home in the next few days.”
  • Preliminary pneumonia test still shows negative, but needs more time before it is a definitive diagnosis.
  • JT is still having some hallucinations.

Today, JT’s oncologist from City of Hope came to visit him in the hospital.

I feel like my hopes were dashed upon the rocks. My heart sank as she told us what I was already expecting: because of the seriousness of this reaction, JT can no longer have the immunotherapy treatment.

My heart broke while my mind raced and froze at the same time. No! This is not what we want to hear! We wanted the immunotherapy to work and to work well enough to extend JT’s life.

JT says he feels like he jumped off a bridge with a bungee cord and he is free falling and hasn’t hit the water yet. He is going down, down, down and knows there is a strong safety protecting him, but right now he is still falling.

Strength and Attitude

I am looking at one fact that is keeping hope alive for me right now: if JT were undergoing immunotherapy treatment when God heals him, the therapy could get partial credit. If God heals him now, the immunotherapy can get zero credit and it will be all for God’s glory.

JT and I continue to pray for our friends and family, including those of you we have met at City of Hope or Huntington Hospital.

Prayer Requests

  • Complete and total healing of cancer and eyesight.
  • Wisdom for Dr. Y and Dr. C as they discuss options (I told her we would be praying).
  • Peace for Amber and James. Peace for the whole family, really. This was tough news to receive.
  • Favor at work for Amber as she discusses further leave options with her HR team.
  • Strength for James to go to school so he can graduate.

Levity

JT loves hospital socks. They keep his feet warm and they have non-slip stuff on the bottom so he doesn’t slip.

Oxygen Is Important

JT is doing better this evening. He still depends on the oxygen and is down to only using 6 liters; the goal is to get to 2 liters so he can go home.

JT showing the nurse his strength by picking up his oxygen tank

The flu cultures came back as negative. After viewing the chest X-ray, doctors think it is related to the immunotherapy and not pneumonia. He will have steroids by IV until his oxygen levels are normal without supplementing with the tank. They are also giving him three mega antibiotics “just in case” it’s pneumonia.  JT will probably be here until Monday or Tuesday.

JT feeling good after walking with minimal assistance

Thank you for praying!!