(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 doesn’t feel like spring yet! I want to share with you the latest news about Kathleen’s treatment and once again say thank you for your support of our family through this ordeal.
This week, Kathleen is in the hospital for 3 days and 2 nights to receive chemotherapy. This is not unusual, as she has not had this combination of drugs yet and they want to keep her close by to make sure that there is no unexpected reaction. As she says, “They want to watch me in case I blow up or catch on fire!” This chemotherapy is part of a new regimen that recently started.
You might remember in a previous message, I talked about how the doctors were strongly encouraging her to take Avastin, a rather new drug that is not 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 to pursue Avastin, even though the per dose charge is extremely expensive (about $7,000 or 500,000 yen per dose). Kathleen visited the nearest doctor who can dispense Avastin, who practices in the Tokyo area, a couple of weeks ago. He agree to give it to her and is willing to work with her regular 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 always administer other chemo drugs along with it to shrink or eliminate the tumors. Kathleen is on a schedule to receive Avastin every 21 days and then other chemotherapy about a week later. Thus, she’s now in the hospital receiving the concomitant chemo dose, though she should be able to get it on an outpatient basis from now on.
Now for some good news. First, Kathleen’s latest blood check taken about 10 days ago, which gives some indication of the growth or shrinkage of the tumors, had a good result. The tumor marker number has gone down rather
significantly as compared to the last several months. This is very encouraging. Second, several people have contributed money to our cause so that we are able to afford a few rounds of Avastin and chemo at this time. A few weeks ago I received an email from someone we’ve known in Japan for a long time. Unbeknownst to us, he serves on the board of a Foundation that is set up to help foreigners in Japan who cannot pay for their medical expenses. In a rather round-about way, he found out about our situation and presented it to this Foundation. They decided to generously give a substantial amount for the Avastin treatments (for confidentiality, I don’t want to write the number). Even more than the money, it was such a blessing to receive an email from someone saying that they would like to help, without us even knowing that they knew of our need or that this group even existed. God does miracles and he uses people to make them happen. It’s amazing.
Please continue to pray, as you have consistently done throughout this trial. Pray for Kathleen’s complete healing. Our church here is doing well and she has so many things she wants to do. Pray for our family. Through it all, our 3 children have been fantastic, but they sometimes don’t get the attention that they deserve when we are distracted with medical things. Pray for our financial situation. I think that’s an obvious need. Kathleen will likely need several doses of Avastin, but we’re just taking things one step at a time.
Again, thank you very much for caring, giving, and praying. It’s wonderful to have friends and family who show unwavering support. You are very special to us. and all of your messages are read and cherished, even if we don’t get a chance to reply. God bless. I’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.)