Followers

Friday, September 21, 2012

A different kind of blog post from the usual

Years ago, I started this blog as a way to keep my mom updated on the amusing happenings in our household (since I couldn't remember them all well enough to tell her on the phone). Over time, she and I told other people about it and it metamorphosed into a window into the Parker household.

Well, it's still a window into our household, but some of the goings-on are likely to surprise you this time. They've certainly surprised us.

So...this post is an update on a new beginning in our lives. Not one we anticipated or would have chosen, but apparently one that God sees can bring blessings to our lives. Trusting that God is a God of love, we believe this new journey will teach us many precious lessons about the character of our faithful God.

Alan decided to write this update in his own words.

Dear Friends,

A number of you have been asking about my health, and we wanted to share publicly what has been happening so we can clarify the rumors and also solicit your prayers.
During the summer, we followed up on some routine blood work that had indicated elevated liver enzymes. The result was shocking. I have hepatitis C, and have likely had it for several decades. For those of you who don’t know much about the disease (as we didn’t), it is a virus that attacks the liver, slowly causing inflammation and scarring. Most people who have it show little to no symptoms and are unaware of the disease for 20 to 30 years. It is not easily transmitted, except through infectious needles or blood. We are not sure exactly when I caught it, as I had both blood transfusions and surgery during my childhood and youth in Africa. Since the virus was only discovered in 1989, transmission through blood transfusions was common.

At the end of the summer, I got a biopsy to determine how far the disease had progressed. Unfortunately, I have stage four liver disease, known as cirrhosis. A normal liver is stage one; an inflamed liver is stage two; a hardening or mild scarring of the liver (known as fibrosis) is stage three. Stage four is when there has been permanent, irreversible scarring of the liver and is the last stage before liver failure. While there are many potential complications, the greatest risk is the development of liver cancer, which occurs in 20% of all cirrhotic patients. Even without cancer, if the virus remains in my system, the condition will likely worsen and I will need a liver transplant.

I don't feel sick. Like most patients with hepatitis C, I don't experience many symptoms. Other than some mild fatigue and insomnia (that we had initially put down to the stress of my accident in March), I feel fine. I have continued to engage in my regular teaching and evangelistic ministry and we could almost fool ourselves that I do not have a potentially life-threatening disease. But the biopsy and test results are clear. Unless we do something, as our specialist put it, there will likely be severe liver complications within five years.

We have been through the cycles of good and bad news. First, we found out that there was medical treatment available that was able to clear the virus from over 80% of patients.  Then we got the bad news that I have the worst type of virus (known as Type 1), which has traditionally only had a 35% success rate. Then there was more good news. In the last two years, new drugs have been made available which have doubled the rate of success for Type 1 patients. Then more bad news, as we found out the potential side effects of treatment were severe, including fevers, fatigue, rashes, anemia, a lowered immunity, depression, nausea and a host of other unpleasant possibilities. About 15% of patients have to stop treatment because they can’t tolerate the side effects.

We have visited three liver specialists and talked to numerous doctors in our friendship network such as Neil Nedley, Mike Hollie and John Chung. It is clear that there are no natural remedies that will kill the virus. While we are taking steps to be as natural and healthy in our diet as possible (and fortunately, we had already been eating a healthy diet), we have no other recourse but to pursue treatment. There’s a danger in posting this publicly, as every person who has found a natural remedy to work for them will try to persuade us to adopt it so that we can fight this disease. We’ve looked into this extensively and we have not found a single person who has been cured of Hepatitis C by natural means.

So while we are convinced that we will do treatment, we are still finalizing what that treatment will be. In October we will see a fourth specialist to consider a clinical trial. There are several new treatments that claim to have better efficacy and less side effects. However, they are not publicly available as they are still being approved by the FDA. We are going to be carefully looking at our options before making a final decision and we hope to start treatment by January. My treatment is expected to last a full year and we will not be able to do any significant travelling or speaking during that time. Our hope is that I will clear the virus within the next year and then begin restoring my liver. We are hopeful that with natural remedies and a healthy lifestyle we can avoid a liver transplant.
  
We would appreciate your prayers as we move ahead. With three young children (who vaguely understand what is happening) and a burgeoning ministry, it is a little scary to face our own mortality. We are planning on an anointing in the next couple of weeks and believe in God’s restorative power (whether by medicine or more miraculous means!) Regardless of the future, we are grateful for your support, and most of all to our loving God, who never allows more than we can bear. We are confident that even though He has not ordained suffering, He uses it as part of His great plan to change us into His image, and to reveal to the universe that sin (not pain) is the enemy. Whatever is ahead, His hand is over our lives, and we trust His loving care.
Alan and Nicole

23 comments:

Jeff Harper said...

Your faith continues to inspire me and others. I will be praying hard for you and your children.

Tim Lale said...

This is a big scary challenge and something to put in God's hands every day, no doubt. This life is just the briefest of stages, isn't it. The grass withers, the flower fades. We have complete confidence in God's hand over this, right? You're in my prayers over this specific situation.

Vanessa Tachenko said...

Thanks for your transparency! You can add me to the hundreds of people praying.

Build A Bible Story said...

Hugs. :-( I can only imagine what it's like to get this kind of news is like, particularly with small children. May you find deep strength and comfort from Jesus as you share in His sufferings. There are thousands who will never believe our faith is real NOR see that God is strong until it is revealed through the life of one who is suffering. I know you are in God's hands ... you are also in my heart and prayers. Annie

Barry Mikkelsen said...

^ Agreed, however hundreds? I will be among the thousands praying for you and your family.

Angela Sparks said...

We are praying for you two and your family during this time. Blessings.

Janet Evert said...

Oh! That really hits in the solar plexus! Thank you for sharing. You are in my thoughts and prayers. I know God will bring something wonderful out of this experience, if only in the eyes of eternity.

Janet Evert said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Fallowing my dreams... said...

I'm sorry to hear. Your story inspires me to have faith even when its extremely hard not to trust. Thank you for the blessing and I will be praying for your family.

Unknown said...

So glad to hear that you will be anointed soon. Let us know when, and we will pray along with you during the anointing. And be assured of our prayers for you are continuous.

.Monica Uwajeh said...

Dear Alan and Nicole,

My`name is Monica Uwajeh. God has used your ministry to convict and change me in many ways. Thank you for letting God use you to show me more of His beauty Prayers will be sent up for you and your family.

Blessings,

Monica

John Strosa said...

what!!! HOW did i not know about this Nicole?? i'm so upset right now! this sounds terrible! i'm so sorry this is happening to Alan & your family!!... PLUS, you KNOW this is what i do for LIFE! ~ i work in the liver transplant/surgical ICU at UCLA, & you didn't tell ME? my work has never hit so close to home all these years until NOW! i dunno what to say. this really saddens me. i'm glad he has no symptoms of the disease yet. i love you guys! i'll call you!

Dorothea Sarli said...

We're praying for you! Thank you for sharing.

Marcos David Torres said...

Dude! You can totally count on the Torres' praying for you. :)

Hanlie said...

I'm very sorry to hear this, but am confident that God is in control and that He will carry you and your family through this! Our prayers are with you and your famil

Daniel Arroyo said...

Praying for you and your family Dr. Parker. Daniel

Heidi said...

Marcel and I are praying for your precious family. May you feel God holding you all tightly in His grip during this journey. We love you guys!

Queena said...

Will keep you and your family in prayer. We serve a God of healing. He is powerful and almighty. He is the Great Physician and will take care of you Dr. Parker. God bless.

Ps. Adrian Webster said...

Thanks for sharing from you heart about the latest events in your lives. This couldn't have been easy. I just wanted to let you know that we're thinking of you. You're dear to the New Zealand Websters!! Praise God that we serve the God of eternity. No matter what happens here, no one and nothing can take eternity away from us!

Tom Owiti said...

Alan and Nicole, whilst I am deeply saddened to hear about your new trial, I am very encouraged by your faith and courage. May the grace of God and the faith of Jesus keep you and sustain you through it all. We are standing with you in faith and trust the Lord for full recovery in God's time. Remain courageous and faithful to Him who is forever faithful. Lots of love to you and your family.

Rebeca Carmo Batista de Souza said...

Your ministry also helped me in many ways. I will be praying for you.

Rebeca

Ezekiel Sarsoza, Jr. said...

Your family life experience is of Biblical proportions in every way, it is truly inspiring. In these trying times, we pray that you and your family will have the faith and strength of God's servant Job.

Clendelyn Jane Bala said...

After listening to Ivor Myers AudioVerse I decided to surf the site deeper and came across with this one: https://www.audioverse.org/english/sermons/recordings/4411/dwelling-outside-the-gate.html I got interested because it's been a while since I listen with Nicole's lecture. And I was blessed much.

My prayer are with Allan and your family, together with my friends who loves you both.

Godbless!