HOMEPAGE www.danieljvance.com

By Daniel J. Vance

Brent Snyder is 63 and by now may have no more than two months to live. He reads this column in the Lebanon Reporter, a daily newspaper north of Indianapolis.

“The form of liver cancer I have is incurable,” Snyder said in a telephone interview. “There is no hope for it. A small percentage of people in the U.S. have this type. It has no outward symptoms like other forms of cancer. By the time your liver starts malfunctioning, you're generally too far along. But I tell people to fight it anyway. Always expect the best and believe in miracles.”

Around Thanksgiving 2005, Snyder thought he was having a heart attack. At Witham Hospital in Lebanon, doctors discovered a cancerous tumor on his liver. Later, doctors at Methodist Hospital in Indianapolis said the tumor was too large to remove. They said he'd live no more than six weeks.

But at Snyder's insistence the doctors did operate, removing his gall bladder and a large portion of his liver. “And within a few weeks the liver surgeon considered the operation a success and the oncologist scheduled me for tests in four months,” he said.

It was a miracle, he thought. So he returned to work, until tests in four months revealed more cancer.

“It had moved up a big vein and was invading my heart,” Snyder said. “We found a heart surgeon in April (2006) willing to do heart surgery.”

But the Sunday before his scheduled surgery he learned the cancer had also spread to his kidneys, lungs, and stomach, and had re-appeared in the liver. The heart doctor then advised against heart surgery, saying even with it Snyder would live no more than four weeks.

But at his insistence the doctor operated. After it, Snyder began a newly approved form of chemotherapy.

“Finally in mid-August, we learned the 'chemo' wasn't working, that spots in my lungs had become tumors, and the cancer had re-invaded the heart,” he said. This time, doctors gave him three to six months.

Since then he has lost a great deal of weight.

Though he could complain, Snyder repeatedly said he is grateful for the extra life God gave him the last year, using it to be with his wife and grandchildren. He said, “I expect to have a couple months of feeling good yet. It's worthwhile to hang on.”

For more, see danieljvance.com. [This column made possible by a grant from Blue Valley Sod, www.bluevalleysod.com]