(Editor’s note: BFI has received the following report from Mark Benton, BFI missionary in Nishinomiya, JAPAN, regarding his wife, Kathleen. She has begun much-needed chemotherapy treatments. Mark also reports of very unexpected financial help from a Japanese organization that helps pay for resident foreigners’ medical expenses.)
Greetings everyone from spring in Japan, though it sure doesnâ€™t feel likeÂ spring yet! I want to share with you the latest news about Kathleenâ€™sÂ treatment and once again say thank you for your support of our familyÂ through this ordeal.
This week, Kathleen is in the hospital for 3 days and 2 nights to receiveÂ chemotherapy. This is not unusual, as she has not had this combination ofÂ drugs yet and they want to keep her close by to make sure that there is noÂ unexpected reaction. As she says, â€œThey want to watch me in case I blow upÂ or catch on fire!â€ This chemotherapy is part of a new regimen that recentlyÂ started.
You might remember in a previous message, I talked about how the doctorsÂ were strongly encouraging her to take Avastin, a rather new drug that is notÂ yet covered by insurance in Japan, though it is approved for ovarian cancer.
After much prayer and discussion with the doctors and others, we decided toÂ pursue Avastin, even though the per dose charge is extremely expensiveÂ (about $7,000 or 500,000 yen per dose). Kathleen visited the nearest doctorÂ who can dispense Avastin, who practices in the Tokyo area, a couple of weeksÂ ago. He agree to give it to her and is willing to work with her regularÂ doctor here in Nishinomiya. At that time, he also gave her the first dose.
Avastin functions to cut off the blood supply to the tumors, so they alwaysÂ administer other chemo drugs along with it to shrink or eliminate theÂ tumors. Kathleen is on a schedule to receive Avastin every 21 days and thenÂ other chemotherapy about a week later. Thus, sheâ€™s now in the hospitalÂ receiving the concomitant chemo dose, though she should be able to get it onÂ an outpatient basis from now on.
Now for some good news. First, Kathleenâ€™s latest blood check taken about 10Â days ago, which gives some indication of the growth or shrinkage of theÂ tumors, had a good result. The tumor marker number has gone down rather
significantly as compared to the last several months. This is veryÂ encouraging. Second, several people have contributed money to our cause soÂ that we are able to afford a few rounds of Avastin and chemo at this time. AÂ few weeks ago I received an email from someone weâ€™ve known in Japan for aÂ long time. Unbeknownst to us, he serves on the board of a Foundation that isÂ set up to help foreigners in Japan who cannot pay for their medicalÂ expenses. In a rather round-about way, he found out about our situation andÂ presented it to this Foundation. They decided to generously give aÂ substantial amount for the Avastin treatments (for confidentiality, I donâ€™tÂ want to write the number). Even more than the money, it was such a blessingÂ to receive an email from someone saying that they would like to help,Â without us even knowing that they knew of our need or that this group evenÂ existed. God does miracles and he uses people to make them happen. Itâ€™sÂ amazing.
Please continue to pray, as you have consistently done throughout thisÂ trial. Pray for Kathleenâ€™s complete healing. Our church here is doing wellÂ and she has so many things she wants to do. Pray for our family. Through itÂ all, our 3 children have been fantastic, but they sometimes donâ€™t get theÂ attention that they deserve when we are distracted with medical things. PrayÂ for our financial situation. I think thatâ€™s an obvious need. Kathleen willÂ likely need several doses of Avastin, but weâ€™re just taking things one stepÂ at a time.
Again, thank you very much for caring, giving, and praying. Itâ€™s wonderfulÂ to have friends and family who show unwavering support. You are very specialÂ to us. and all of your messages are read and cherished, even if we donâ€™t getÂ a chance to reply. God bless. Iâ€™ll stay in touch.
(If you are so led to send any financial help for the Benton Family during this time of intense chemotherapy for Kathleen, tax deductible gifts may be sent to Bethel Fellowship International, c/o El Tora Cabe, 1121 244th St SW #27, Bothell, WA 98021. Be sure to write MEMO: Bentons JAPAN.)