Tuesday, December 29, 2009

O Holy Night

Here we sit. We are in the waiting room of McKinney Medical Center waiting on a decision whether or not we are doing chemo today. We got a call yesterday to show up at 8:00 pm for Avastin (angiogensis chemo agent). We got here and 8:00 and there may not be a bed available and we have to wait until after a meeting to determine bed needs. I am so tired. Both Mike and I didn't sleep well and this is so frustrating. Actually it makes me angry at the whole Tricare/insurance issues that we are facing. The first time we did chemo at the hospital, Mike came down with a fever within 24 hours of being here. He went on an antibiotic and we managed the infection at home without going back to the hospital. The 2 hour chemo took 9 hours. I just need to research the cost of that one day stay for the chemo to make the final argument to Tricare. Now, we are waiting on a room decision and another reason why we should be allowed to go back to the outpatient chemo solution that we have been doing for a year. We are now taking beds away for those in ER that need beds. But the more I deal in this world of medical/insurance/money, the more things don't make sense.

It is now 7:00 pm and we ended up having the chemo done in an Echo Cardio room. The hospital was full and I am grateful we didn't get sent home to come back another day. We got home around 2:00 pm. It is so frustrating and tiring. I feel like we are in this dance class and we have been shoved to the back of the room. We are still allowed to participate, but anything we get is because of the effort we put into it. I plan to get the cost of the hospital chemos vs. the doctor chemos and then attack Tricare after the holidays. I called our case manager and she is on vacation this week. So I will be patient, pray, and ask God to give me wisdom, tact, and discernment.

Mike is doing well and we are getting things together again. The house is on hold for the holidays, but I hope to get things accomplished soon. 2010 is right around the corner! Can you believe it? A new year... with great miracles! It is so odd that we have been on this road for so long now. It is still not routine, it is still tiring sometimes, but this road is filled with God. On Christmas Eve, we sang "O Holy Night" and a light just went off in my head and heart. The song had a new meaning this time. The portion that STILL plays in my soul is below:

Long lay the world in sin and error pining
'til he appeared and the soul felt it's worth
The thrill of hope
the weary world rejoices
for yonder breaks a new and glorious morn
oh fall on your knees
oh hear the angels voices
oh night divine
oh night when Christ was born

I will try to explain what this song spoke to me.

long lay the world in sin and error pinning - is cancer. Ugly, painful, and pining (which means an overpowering longing for someone or something) for it to go away.

til he appeared and the soul felt it's worth - this is the moment when Mike and I were prostrate in front of Him calling and He appeared and we were and still are overflowing with peace. The peace that everyone wants this time of year that they think is unattainable. Peace that comes flowing into you from the Holy Spirit even when life is not perfect, hard, or scary. It is from Christ

The thrill of Hope - these 4 words are so powerful. We walked for a short time without hope right after we were first diagnosed. But then, we truly experienced the thrill of hope. It is an excitement for the future and for things to come. God continues to give us the thrill of hope in big and small ways. The research that is being done where people are growing new esophagus's. In our situation, that is the thrill of hope!!

A weary world rejoices - we live weary. Mike is weary and tired. Weary to me means that you are worn to the bone but keep walking. We are worn to the bone with doctor's, insurance, medical whoha and everything that makes that up, but we keep walking and rejoice in the thrill of Hope for the future and small steps.

for yonder breaks and new and glorious morning - if we sit down and look, you can see it. That light that is just beginning in the east. We don't know what that light means, but it is always there. The light is Christ and his plan for us whatever that is. He has always been with us, is with us, and will be with us. He is our light in our future. That is all we need.

fall on your knees - Praise be to God. I actually get a visual here of myself on the ground. Thank you Jesus. Thank you for all you have done, all you placed in our lives, all the times you have answered our call and our needs. Thank you for giving us another Christmas together. Thank you for the support of family. Thank you for the path that you put us on that allowed us to meet all our wonderful friends all over the world. Praise you for all our Brothers and Sisters that have met our needs without even meeting us. You are the true LIVING God!

hear the angels voices - yes, I have heard them through many voices.

Oh night Divine - indeed. Christ's birth set everything in motion. His death fulfilled the deal and His resurrection sealed it! 2000 + years ago and here I am. Deanna. Walking. Saved. Hopeful. Full of Peace. Yes, Divine indeed!

Prayer needs:
Mike to gain weight - he is down to 131
Mike's healing to be complete on this earth
Return to Chemo in Dr. Khan's office and stay out of the hospital
Rest and family time

Praise - see fall on your knees section :)

Friday, December 25, 2009

Merry Christmas

Merry Christmas!

I apologize for not posting sooner. It's generally my intent to post at least once per week, but I haven't been feeling very well. The last chemo really kicked my sorry kiester. I also have some kind of chest/sinus cold thing that is not helping.

Monday should be a blood check, check up with the Doc, and maybe an anti-angeogenesis treatment. Should not be chemo. Blood levels have been fairly good. However, I am still weak, with several waves of fatigue and nausea that come and go throughout the day. There is nothing new to report about the Tri-Care problem.

Deanna was channel surfing the other day and stumbled across 60 Minutes that had a segment about a new treatment. A man with esophageal cancer was given some new stuff called Extra Cellular Matrix (ECM) that allowed his body to grow a new esophagus. Wow! So I am beginning to see if I can get in on that. You can read about it here: http://www.cbsnews.com/stories/2009/12/11/60minutes/main5968057.shtml?tag=contentMain;contentBody

They are also using it to help vets who have lost portions of limbs in Iraq and Afghanistan to replace missing tissue. This technology could be huge.

All of the boxes after the move have been unpacked, although a lot of stuff is still in piles on the floor waiting to be squared away. I was able to convince my wife to slow down just a bit. And we switched gears to Christmas prep too.

We enjoyed a wagon ride with friends through an area neighborhood famous for its Christmas lights. We enjoyed cards from all over the world, including a packet with a pile of cards from our dear brothers and sisters at Fish Bayou church-brothers and sisters we have never met, and yet who have still adopted us and faithfully pray for us and send cards and notes frequently. We enjoyed several more stirring church services at FBC McKinney, two family Christmas gatherings, and to top it all off, the first white Christmas in McKinney that anyone can remember in years. So in between the waves of sick and tired, I can honestly say that I have been blessed this Christmas, and that I've enjoyed it.

God has been faithful. Each one of these things has indeed been a blessing more than my heart can contain. I'm still humbled by how good He is to us. Thank You Abba Yahweh; thank You Yeshua.

As Christmas draws to a close, I am moved to write about the closeness that our God desires to have with us. You can see it in Genesis when God comes into the Garden after the fall and asks "Where are you?" Of course God knew exactly where Adam and Eve were. After He stepped into the garden to see them, He wanted them to take the last few steps towards Him. You can of course see it in Exodus, when God chooses to put His personal living tent right in the middle of the Israelite camp. It wasn't until the Israelites panicked and asked Moses to make God leave that God went out of the camp and up on top of Mount Sinai.

When I was younger and wrestling, as I still do, with what it means to be a Christian, I asked for something simple that even I could understand. God answered that need and providentially led me to Micah 6:8: "He has showed you, O man, what is good. And what does the LORD require of you? To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God." It's a short verse but vastly deep in content. But just take that last part. To walk humbly with your God.

Picture a journey that you are walking. But you are never alone. He is always right beside you. What happens to two people who walk a long journey together? They share the work, the joy, the sorrow, the pain, and they become fast friends with a bond that never fades. This is what our God wants from us, and He will come almost the entire way to us to make that relationship happen. He just wants us to stop hiding from Him, step out from behind the bushes, and take the last few steps to Him.

He wants this so bad, this relationship with us, that around 2015 years ago He came down from heaven, in the most poor and humblest of ways, to live among us as Yeshua, the Christ.

Sometimes I find myself saying "Lord...", and then I feel His presence near. And I realize that this is all I wanted at that moment, just for Him to be near. Not to pray for healing, or money, or wisdom, though I certainly need all those things. The first few times this happened, I felt sort of stupid, like I was wasting His time. So I started praying for whatever I thought wouldn't waste His time. But then, in that way He has of speaking to me without words, He said something like "It's OK. Let's just walk together for a while. We can talk about all that other stuff later."

This is the God we have-not only our mighty God, but also a faithful friend who is always near, a friend who can truly walk with us because He has been through a mortal life of struggle and pain Himself.

If you have not given your heart to Jesus, there is no better time than now. You can gain eternal life in Heaven as opposed to in hell, blessings so rich that you will be unable to contain them all, and perhaps the greatest treasure of all, a mighty God who will also walk beside you as your most valued and trusted friend.

As the song says, Come to Jesus-and live!

Wishing you all the very best of blessings in Christ,

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Contemplating Miracles

Dear Friends,

After chemo last Monday, I am just now feeling slightly human again. Which is a shame since we are back in chemo tomorrow and it will probably wreck me for another week. We may take some weeks off after this one. But I wanted to blog out a few things that have been on my mind since my last post.

The truth is that sadness has often overwhelmed me and I have often went back to God and asked him for all sorts of stuff. I have tried to pray first of all each time that firstly that His will be done, because that is how Yeshua taught us to pray both in the Lord's prayer and in his prayer in the garden of Gethsemane. But Yeshua also taught us in the parable of the neighbor who needed some food for an unanticipated guest in the middle of the night that we should be persistent in asking for what we want, too. So I ask. I ask a lot. I ask him for immediate miraculous healing, help with finances, and a myriad of other challenges, mostly for my selfish self, but also for an ever growing prayer list of others. After thinking about the one time we are permitted to test God according to scripture, I have added another one: Abba Yahweh, please give me the big blessing, the one you said I would not be able to contain. Please soon Father. I am still testing Him you see, but I hope in a much more reverent manner.

And a funny thing happened. I looked around through my chemo misery and realized I was in my own house for the first time in over a year. I was with my family and not in a hospital. We were putting up our Christmas tree together for the first time in two years. A group of our neighbor's kids, all girls, helped put up the tree. It reminded me of the girl gang that we had on Davis Monthan AFB that would hang out at our house on base-kids of all the USAF members who lived on our street. The sound of little girls laughing-music to my ears.

I basically broke down and cried like a baby. (I sequestered myself in another room for a while so as not to freak anybody out.) I asked God for the big blessing that I could not contain and He sure gave it to me. A blessing so big that my heart could not contain it and it burst forth with tears mixed of pain, joy, and thankfulness.

So, of course, I went ahead and asked Him for the next big blessing that I cannot contain.

It was time for Christmas Journey at our church. They put on a full live outdoor drive thru drama in the church parking lot depicting the life of Jesus. Deanna and Elizabeth acted in it, in a scene called the Teaching And Healing scene. My father in law attempted to drive me there, but the line was literally miles long. We aborted and they dropped me back off at home. I texted Deanna to let her know I would miss it, except for viewing it via web cam on the church web site, which only showed one scene. It happened to be hers.

And then He did it again, the big blessing that I could not contain. The church volunteers couldn't see the line so Deanna showed them my text where I stated that the line went around the church in central McKinney to well into the south side of town around the perimeter road of a town park of many acres. She did this just so they would know how many customers they had coming. But the volunteers did something amazing to reflect the love of Christ. They first offered for me to ride in the hay ride wagon, but she told them about how the air would bother my breathing (we are in a cold snap right now). Then they offered me to ride in the pick ups pulling the hay ride trailers, but that would leave my mother-in-law out, who is also a cancer fighter. So then they just let my father-in-law drive us both in through the hay ride route which by-passed the car line, eliminated the hours long wait that would have drained me and messed up my med/feeding schedule, and also kept us in a nice warm vehicle to protect both of our sensitive lungs from the frigid air. Those people bent over backwards so a couple of cancer fighters could get in to see the drama. And what a drama it was. 800 volunteers set up multiple scenes for three frigid nights because of their great love for Jesus. How much He was honored here. When I got home, the blessing was so big that I could not contain it. I thought about all those volunteers and how hard they were working for Jesus, to spread his gospel, under such austere conditions. I though about how harder it was for the volunteers playing Christ in several scenes, and how much harder still it was for the christian brothers and sisters playing roles against Christ, like the Sanhedrin, the Pilate and the other Romans, and even a someone whose role it fell to play Satan. Yet they all performed admirably, for the love of Jesus. And the volunteers who jumped hoops to make special arrangements for two cancer fighters who could have easily been written off and forgotten.. The thought of all the love was too much for my heart to contain, and the tears came again.

So I asked him again. God please send me the next big blessing that I cannot contain soon.

Well, we shall get blood tests at the clinic tomorrow and then, if everything looks okay, will proceed to the hospital to get chemo'd due to this latest insurance Tri-Care flap. We also just learned of a fascinating technology going to clinical trial soon where they may be able to trick my body into growing its own new esophagus. Just starting to research that one. Maybe it's the next big one?

I wonder what it will be?

Our pastor did a session where he told us about a scientist who had calculated the odds of Yeshua fulfilling just eight of the prophecies that He fulfilled. The odds were astronomical, a gazillion to one, so to speak.

In college I had a physics professor who was teaching Quantum Physics to a combined class of undergrad and grad students. He had a fabulous math background that made him good for this class, much more than your average physics academic. One day he showed how to use calculus to determine the probability of an electron penetrating an electromagnetic field which classical methods said the electron could not breach. It was about a gazillion to one. After that, in an off-the-cuff sort of way, he mentioned that this calculus could also be adapted to see the odds of a man being able to walk through a wall. I suppose it was a deliberate indirect reference to Christ. At the time, I was fully steeped in secular science and didn't believe in Jesus. I wasn't even sure I believed in God, though I suspect I did deep down. So I inferred the comment to mean something along the lines of "There is no supernatural, miraculous God. These things are just naturally explainable, albeit highly unlikely, results of scientific laws that we can discover, codify, and manipulate."

(If you really must know, quantum physics is able to describe physical particles that make up everything around us as having a dual nature, both as traditional particles where classical rules apply, and as waves where all sorts of magic can happen. Each particle, using a special part of math called Fourier Transforms, can be described as a sum of an infinite number of wave patterns. When you combine all the waves, you can make them cancel each other out everywhere except where the particle exists, giving you your particle. But because the waves get to play by different rules, you can also modulate them in time to cancel each other out and disappear the particle on the encounter side of a barrier, only to recombine and reappear the next instant in time on the other side of the barrier. Now, doesn't that sound just like Jesus to turn all the old rules upside down to do something completely new? The math is exquisitely beautiful and exquisitely difficult at once-at least for me it was. I barely passed the class even though I loved it dearly.)

We have to be careful when we use these numbers to talk about faith. Believers say "The odds are a gazillion to one, so this must be an authentic miracle and support for Christ." But the secular scientists say "It may be a gazillion to one, but it's not zero. Jesus was just like the millionth guy to pull the handle at Vegas and get lucky. He was in the right time and place. There is no real miracle here."

At the end of the day, I believe that Yeshua deliberately made these probabilities very small but non-zero. He wants your heart, not your calculator. So in the end, everyone considering the question of Yeshua must make their personal decision based on faith, not on numbers. There are all sorts of things in science that point the way to Jesus, and they can be great tools to strengthen our faith and even to evangelize. But we will never "scientifically prove Christ". I don't think He wants a bunch of converts who are there because human science was able to support him. He wants our hearts, so He has deliberately gamed the probabilities so that yes, there is still a very very small scientific probability that He is not God. We must search deep in our hearts to hear and follow his voice based, in the end, on faith. Those tiny scientific probabilities support His truth far more than the horrible alternative, but they don't provide the final answer, which must come, by design, from a far deeper place.

I'd like to throw out a special prayer request for Deanna who is working way too hard right now. That she would learn to not try and fix up the whole house right now along with everything else she has to do and burn herself out in the process-the house needs to be done in small steps over a long time in between higher priorities. It's not really something at this point that anyone can help with--helpers would just put things in wrong places. She should get to decide where everything goes and must know exactly where they went. Thus it falls totally on her. Pray that she would take this on slowly, a bit at a time, and find rest and peace and joy.

Yours in Christ,

Friday, December 11, 2009

More of the Tricare Story...

First off, I want to praise God for watching over Mike. His White Blood Count actually went up and all of his blood numbers look great. I feel it is important to post things like this so that the world can see what the power of prayer can accomplish. Thank you Jesus!

We went in today and got Mike's CBC and then spent a few minutes with Dr. Khan in his office. At this point, Tricare pays 90% of what Medicaid pays and Medicaid pays just enough to cover the cost of treatment. Remember the post a month or so ago with the bill for $184,000 for Mike's treatments for 6 weeks? Let's assume that 50% of that is cost or $92,000 (I am just making this up by the way. I don't know for sure). That means that for 6 weeks, Dr. Khan paid $9,000 to treat Mike. I like putting numbers to it just to make it more real. $9,000 is probably the salary for 1.5 staff members. So, Dr. Khan submitted a letter to Tricare asking them to pay what Medicaid pays for Mike and I believe 5 others at the clinic. He asked them to respond to his request in 30 days. At the same time, he submitted the 90 day notice letter to Tricare that he will no longer accept Tricare Prime patients. He wants to continue treating Mike and his other patients, but he will not accept other new patients. All he is asking is that they meet his costs.

I am a little shell shocked right now. I didn't know that Tricare actually paid less than Medicaid. This is probably not a big deal if you live in a military community where they make up the costs via volume of patients. It is probably not a big deal if you see doctors for routine issues. But that is not the case with us. You never know if it might be you. 18 months ago, things like this were never thought of and I never knew I needed to be concerned about it. My concern is still the same as yesterday... what happens if Dr. Khan and Tricare can't work this out for Mike? But now there is also the thought of others. Dr. Khan will no longer be treating any new patients with Tricare Prime as primary insurance - that means all our military. Is that fair? I say that because so many doctors have written Mike off - one at MD Anderson, "the best cancer center in the world". Two doctors have told us to get our affairs in order and get on hospice in the course of 15 months. Yet, one doctor said during the first visit, " I had a stage 4 esophageal cancer patient live for almost 4 years. Who know what new treatments can be out in 4 years?" He is right. Immunotherpy, Proton Therapy, Angiogensis, etc. Who had heard of those 4 years ago? There is the virus that has been shown to cause cervical cancer, and the HER2 gene that has been discovered with Breast Cancer and Esophageal cancer. You keep walking. You keep praying. You keep HOPE. This is a doctor you want wouldn't you if it were you beloved husband?

Mike has no risk factors for cancer- no one in his family, no acid reflux, he is young, no factors that anyone can point to and yet here we are. It can happen - and the statistics for cancer are INCREASING according to a recent email we got from LIVESTRONG, Lance's Armstrongs foundation. They say that the statistics are pointing to 1 in 2 people will be diagnosed with cancer by the year 2030. That is in 20 years. Worst yet, there was an article today on the Internet that the new "healthcare bill" will be caps on diseases like cancer and diabetes. Caps? Have the Senator look into say Elizabeth's face and say "I am sorry, you have reached your cap so we are done treating your Dad." It is not the answer. There is an answer, but that is not it. I am going on and on about this, because I want you to know what you could be dealing with if you retire or get sick. I am hoping that our experience is something that you can learn from and not take our same path.

So now that you have probably stopped reading this post because of my soapbox, I need something from you. Pray. Pray that God's plan will be clear to us. If God has another answer for us, pray that it will hit us in the face. Pray that we can continue with Dr. Khan and go back to doing Chemo in his office.

If anybody reading this has any pull or knowledge with Tricare, please make a call on our behalf or call me/email me with wisdom. I have already talked to our Case Manager and she is working and asking questions. She is confident that Dr. Khan will continue treating us if Tricare won't meet the doctor's request to cover the cost of our treatment, but I am not. I also plan on placing a call to the Special Ops Warrior program as soon as I can unpack the box that my folder is in. They may be able to help too.

It is just wrong. This situation is wrong. People need to cover costs to pay bills. Companies need to keep costs down to stay in business. But in the end, where does it leave Mike. Who is going to have to make changes? The doctor? The insurance company? Mike? Pray that God's hand is revealed and that we walk only on the road He sets before us.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Tricare Medical Benefits - what you need to know

Alright. I am now stepping into the whole health care issues because everyone needs to know our reality and what is going on with us. Tricare Prime - yes it is a good thing in theory, but here is our reality. Tricare doesn't pay the providers enough. Around here, doctors are dropping it right and left. We noticed that our GI doctor (the one that didn't want to treat Mike anymore) is no longer on the list. He was ranked as one of the best GI doctors in DFW Area. We have been trying to find a replacement, but pickings are thin both in local area and in experience. Now, we get a call that Tricare is not paying Dr. Khan his COST on the drugs that we use. So all this time, every time they treat Mike, they are losing money. Not even breaking even. Now, on a very real world level, why would you want to treat anyone like Mike? Think about that. Is this the kind of insurance that America wants for the men and women that serve them?

Dr. Khan is still seeing Mike as a patient but now the rules have changed. As Mike stated, "This is hard enough, now it is even harder." We now have to order our White Blood Cell booster, Neuprogen, through the Speciality Pharmacy and have it delivered to our house. We then need to hand carry it to the Doctor in case Mike needs it. Chemotherapy? We now have to go to the hospital for our Chemotherapy as an outpatient. So we have to go see the doctor and then drive over to the hospital, register, and do chemo there in Day Surgery.

I remember when we first started Chemo last year in the hospital. I was surprised that the hospital did it on a regular basis. She told me that she has many Medicaid/Medicare patients that do Chemo in the hospital, because their insurance won't cover them unless it is through the hospital. We are now in that category and it is wrong. It is wrong because insurance should cover the costs to the providers. It is wrong because I am sure we can get these drugs cheaper in other countries. It makes no sense to me. What is the cost of doing it in the hospital vs. at Dr. Khan's office? Now let's add the added risk of infection to Mike being in a hospital setting.

Yes, I have talked to our case manager and everyone is working the best they can. Dr. Khan is trying to renegotiate with Tricare. Our case manager said that is the cost of doing business with Tricare. They may not make money on some things. But within this circle of all the $$, there is Mike. I am trying not to panic and trying to trust, but Dr. Khan has fought for us. He is the one Doctor that won't be a time limit on Mike. He still believes that even if he can't cure Mike right now, he might be able to in a year with a new treatment. That is the kind of person you want on your team.

Here are my specific prayer needs:
  1. For Mike - that we can quarantine him and keep him healthy until we get the Neuprogen. His white blood was in normal range, but he typically needs a shot by about Friday. If we can not get this delivered before Monday and his white blood numbers are low, then it puts off Chemo and everything else.
  2. Mike to gain weight.. last check it was at 136
  3. For everything to be resolved with the insurance/tricare etc. This is serious. I can see a few different scenarios playing out here and the worst one being we have to find a new oncologist. In the end, I may need to go back to work somewhere new where I can get insurance that will cover us here in the DFW area. Maybe this all relates to not being in a "Military Town" or near a "military base", but that shouldn't be the case.
  4. For me to figure this out and keep track of everything even though everything is a state of ciaos with the move
  5. For joy, peace, and time to be still and meditate this holiday season.
  6. To understand that the Lord brought us here to McKinney for a reason and that I need to trust that He will make a way for us medically, socially, emotionally, and financially.

We have more to post, but I want to give this issue it's own light. For all of our dear friends out there in the military, you need to consider where you move. Maybe it is not such a big issue if you retire and get another job as most people do. You can have other insurance and use Tricare as your secondary option. Other's might elect to go straight into the VA system. For us, the VA is an hour away (one way) and it takes a toll on Mike just to go. I can't imagine getting our care there 3-5 days a week.


Our house filled with little girls singing "Rudolph the Red Nose Reindeer" while putting up our Christmas Tree

Mike hung a few ornaments on the tree this year.. Last year, he was in the hospital. Thank you God for the small things. It has been two years since we put a tree as a family. We moved to Florida in December 07. Mike was in the hospital in December 08... God proves He is in control in December 09!

Sunday, December 6, 2009

Boxes and mess.. But OUR house

There are boxes everywhere. We haven't eaten a home cooked meal in over a week. My body hurts. I have been so tired that I have snored so loud that Mike slept on the couch. But we are in the new house. I still need to go over and pull nails and get a few things I left yesterday, but we are here.

Mike has held up pretty well. I haven't seen him throw up once this week. He has has waves of exhaustion and nausea, but God definitely answered a prayer there. It was absolutely impossible to move and keep on top of his food. I think the scale this week will show where I failed him this week. He has been complaining of his tail bone hurting and I think is because he has dropped weight and there is no cushion.

So now this week I need to find places to put everything and get the Christmas tree up before Christmas. All this on top of every thing else that the holiday season brings and another round of Chemo this week. I am amazed at the person I have become over the past year and a half. The tasks at hand seem so overwhelming, I just want to hide. That is not me..at least it wasn't me. I am beginning to wonder when "Deanna" will be back.

Please pray specifically for Mike and his weight. We need him to gain weight. Pray that the Chemo is killing all the cancer and only the cancer. Pray for Elizabeth and I. Pray that nothing else breaks in the house right now. Pray for more time in the day.

I will end this praising... we are in a house that is ours. Thank you Scott and Kathy for the past year in your house.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Do you know what your doing?.... Sir, 911 doesn't do plumbing

This is a short post ....

  • Mike started chemo and is doing well at this posting. He is talking and laughing with Doug and Dena in the living room as I type.
  • Mike continues to eat. He has had some issues with meat and fresh tomatoes, but is able to eat and keep food down. Thank you Jesus
  • Mike gained 3 pounds and is back to 141 lbs.
  • We spent a great weekend at McKinney's Dickens of A Christmas downtown, wandered the square, saw a play of the Christmas Carol, and were blessed by FBC McKinney's Sunday service.
  • We all ate at Churchhill's English Pub after church... Mike, Elizabeth, Doug, Dena and I. What a blessing to sit and eat together again.
  • Closed on our house yesterday after Chemo
  • Moved somethings over today
  • Call 911 when the cold water valve for the washer failed in the open position
  • Met the neighbors as we are borrowing a hose and wet vac
  • Announced our arrival on the street with help of the McKinney Fire Department coming to help
  • Am still waiting on the home warranty people to find a plumber to fix it
  • Know how to shut off the water to the house
  • Got the DISH Network guy wetter inside the house that outside the house in the rain setting up the Dish.
  • Have spent tons of time laughing tonight - full details to come later when I have time to post the whole episode... (Sherry, it ranks right up there with Dena locking herself in the truck of her car!)

Thursday, November 26, 2009


Dear Friends,

As I write, Thanksgiving has concluded and Black Friday has begun early. After a wonderful family time, Deanna and her sister have discovered a local outlet mall that started sales 30 minutes ago and they are on there way to do some damage.

There have been a whole series of snafus over the purchase of this house, so that I am wondering if God means us to be there. This latest involves a dispute between several contracts and addendums in which the seller now expects us to pay about $2K of costs which they previously agreed they would pay. There is a good chance the deal will fall through entirely. I'm okay with this if it is God's will. I've already picked out the next candidate house to look over. We will likely do a drive by tomorrow. There is a verse that says something like "Better to live in a tent with the Lord than in a mansion without him." Proverbs I think, not sure.

Blood checks went fine Wednesday. They let me off till Monday. Monday will be pretty tough. Blood check, doctor's appointment, followed by double chemo, followed by either a house closing or a deal cancellation (hopefully before the chemo side effects begin to set in).

Well, I have had another dream, or vision, or chemo-induced hallucination, whatever you choose to call it that I would like to share with you. I waited for a while because I didn't understand it, and I wasn't sure if it was meant for me to share it. But now I can share it with at least partial understanding, and in a way that glorifies Yeshua, showing his great power, love, and mercy.

With something like this, one struggles mightily as Job did between what the Bible says is God's will for us, and what happens in reality. We were designed to live forever, yet children suffer and die every day. Christians who serve God faithfully become sick and destitute. So many truly terrible things happen to so many people. Our church prayer list has so many suffering people, most from cancer. I am just one of them.

I found myself in the throne room of heaven. I saw the white throne, but I could not see God Himself. Yeshua was standing at the left side of the throne. I had a sense there were many more people (or angels or whatever) in the room, but I was not permitted to see them. I walked to Yeshua and kneeled. He put His hands on my shoulders and began to speak. I wasn't permitted to hear all of it, just bits and pieces. It was not in English. It sounded middle eastern, but not Hebrew, Arabic, nor Farsi. Something else. Aramaic maybe? I don't speak any of these, but I have a pretty good ear to differentiate between them after a career focused mostly on region. I can usually tell the difference.

I had a sense that some sort of ceremony was being conducted-like being commissioned in the military. And I had a funny feeling in my chest, like some energy was tingling around the places where the cancer is. Even though no English was spoken, at the end of it, there was a thought in my head. It was "Be opened". Then it was over.

I had to think about that long and hard. What was he talking about? Open up my esophagus to food? (The first and most obvious thought.) Open my mind to some new teaching? OK, maybe. Open my heart to something that it was too hardened to see the way God sees it? Maybe. Wasn't really sure so I just sat on it and meditated for a while.

Then I did some surfing and learned a little more about Aramaic. A lot of scholars believe that Aramaic was actually the language Yeshua used almost all the time. Apparently it was the day-to-day language of the whole Holy Land during His earthly ministry. Even though the old testament is in Hebrew, they think this may be sort of like the way many catholic churches use the Latin Bible today. They teach in English, but read the Bible in Latin. These scholars think Jesus may have taught in Aramaic, but read the Bible in Hebrew when he was teaching from the old testament. Later, his followers wrote the new testament in Greek so it could be used to spread the gospel to a wider audience throughout the former Alexandrian empire. I was sort of hoping to find an idiot's guide to Aramaic so I could look over some words and see if I recognized any of them. Eventually, I got around to my favorite Bible search engine.

I popped in "Be Opened" and was amazed at how many hits I got. In the Bible, "open" can refer to physical healing of the blind and deaf. It can refer to softening hearts. It can refer to opening minds to new wisdom. It can refer to God making a way for someone where there was only blocking before. It can refer to getting new blessings from God. "open" is a powerful word in the Bible.

But the most amazing hit was Mark 7:31-36, where Yeshua heals a deaf man by saying to him "Be Opened" in, no less, Aramaic. I had forgotten the details of this one:

"Mark 7:31-36 (New International Version)

The Healing of a Deaf and Mute Man

31Then Jesus left the vicinity of Tyre and went through Sidon, down to the Sea of Galilee and into the region of the Decapolis.[a] 32There some people brought to him a man who was deaf and could hardly talk, and they begged him to place his hand on the man.
33After he took him aside, away from the crowd, Jesus put his fingers into the man's ears. Then he spit and touched the man's tongue. 34He looked up to heaven and with a deep sigh said to him, "Ephphatha!" (which means, "Be opened!" ). 35At this, the man's ears were opened, his tongue was loosened and he began to speak plainly.
36Jesus commanded them not to tell anyone. But the more he did so, the more they kept talking about it.
Mark 7:31 That is, the Ten Cities"

Here is a hotlink: http://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Mark+7%3A31-36&version=NIV

I'm honestly not sure if I heard "Ephphata!" or not in my vision. You can hear it here if you press the right arrow next to the phonetic spelling: http://www.studylight.org/lex/grk/view.cgi?number=2188

Wow. I was pretty blown away. But I kept it to myself. I was still wrestling with it. I still am wrestling with it.

The truth is, I have been struggling to keep my heart in the right attitude. There have been a series of unfair and tragic deaths around me. Two children. My last scans showed active cancer metabolism and tumor growth in some places, even though some tumors dissappeared. This house thing is not going well. Concurrent receipt failed, and the HAP program turned us down, decreasing our income significantly. Many set backs on many fronts. I've been irritable, downtrodden, and even snapped at my beloved a few times.

And then, I was in the throne hall again. But I was full of angst this time. Yeshua stood off to the side, and I addressed the throne alone. He seemed to want me to stand before the Father by myself. I told God about all these rotten things and, it was not pretty. It was not as respectful as it should have been. I asked Him why His word says that we are to have life overflowing-but not for me. I asked him why his word says "By his stripes we are healed." but not for me. I asked Him when He was going to fulfil his promises to me and my family. We have done everything His word says we are supposed to do, so where is the fulfillment of His promises to us?

And then, I really went out on a limb. In the word, it says we should not test God. But there is one exception. God himself accused the Israelites of cheating Him out of the tithe, and then says something like "Go ahead and test me in this, and see if I will not open up the floodgates of Heaven and pour out so much blessing that you won't be able to contain it!" So I did it. I looked at God's throne and said something like. "OK. Just like your word says, I'm testing you right now. Where is my blessing? Where is my blessing that is so much I won't be able to contain it? We have done everything on our part. We have brought in the tithe, served you as best we can, asked forgiveness for ourselves and freely given forgiveness to others, fought with faith healing, fought with conventional medicine, and even unconventional medicine. So where is it God? Where is my healing and my blessing?"

There was silence in response. After a pause, I added

"I don't mean to be blasphemous or disrespectful. But we suffer so much. We need You! We need your promises and blessings, and we need them now."

More silence. And then it was over. I was back. I thought to myself..."Well, you've done it now. You were privileged to see the throne hall in Heaven and you talked bad to God in His own house. You have definitely had it. You'll be lucky if he lets you in ever again, and you can probably forget about any blessing or healing." I kept this one to myself as well for a while, and then shared it just with Deanna while we were out shopping. I remember thinking to myself, maybe Jesus got more than he really wanted when he said Be Opened. A lot of stuff came out that maybe should have stayed in. More on that later.

When we got home, there was a note from the government. Uh -oh, I thought, here it is. Gotta be something bad. A letter about an audit on my disability payments from social security. But no-the letter said they had miscalculated my payment and it was too low. They are increasing it by about $50 per month and-get this-giving me a lump some back payment for the months prior! What a blessing! It may not be the Lotto, but every bit helps. And I felt pretty stupid about what I said to God. While I was ranting to Him, He already, literally, had arranged for the check to be in the mail.

And the blessings did not stop there. Deanna's Uncle Dick passed recently, and tonight we learned that the family had discovered some things he had written that showed ample evidence that he had a saving knowledge of Christ. So we can rejoice that we will see him again in heaven.

There was another blessing tonight too. I haven't eaten much by mouth in a long time. The last time I tried, it was just a tiny bite of mashed potato and it came back up. Weeks ago.

My sweet Deanna wanted me to be able to share in the Thanksgiving meal. So she took some turkey and stuffing and ran it through the turbo grinder to liquify it, and also some mashed potato and gravy. So I had two little bowls of liquid on my plate at the table. They went down okay.

After dinner, everyone broke up into groups and I was sort of on my own by the tv. There was so much wonderful food, I went poking around the left overs. I put a little of everything on my plate. Just one small morsel of each type of food. Turkey, dressing, corn casserole, spinich casserole, green bean caserole, sweet potato casserole, a bit of lettuce/tomatoe salad, apple pie, bannana pie...the whole thing.

I sat down and thought, this is crazy. You're just going to make yourself sick and miserable. The doc refused to stretch you anymore and your esophagus hasn't been stretched in a long time.

I made sure the bathroom was available in case I needed to be sick. And then, I began to nibble.

I started with the softest foods and worked my way up, chewing for a long time, very thoroughly, before swallowing.

And you know what? Everything went down and stayed down-even the turkey!

Yaweh be praised, thank You Yeshua. They have given me a Thanksgiving meal tonight!

Reference my earlier thought about Yeshua getting more than he bargained for after opening me up in the throne room. Maybe, just maybe, Yeshua knew exactly what He was doing when he said be opened. Maybe He knew that I had to release all that angst during the second time in the throne hall. Maybe he meant Be Opened on many levels-in my heart, in my mind, and even in my cancer shriveled esophagus. The depth of His wisdom is amazing.

A year ago I went into the hospital with a staph infection. I was there till almost Christmas. Many people expected me to die there. But by God's grace I lived. And this holiday season, so far, I am at home. Thank You Yeshua, thank You.

I don't fully understand all this yet. I'm still processing it. It's apparent that many blessings and much healing have occurred, but there is still much more to go. But I feel better about holding onto His hope and promises now. And there sure isn't anything held back between me and God now. All the cards are on the table.

I know this is a super long blog, but I hope it will bless you and amaze you with God's power and grace.

Yours in Christ,

Wednesday, November 25, 2009


Another issue has postponed the closing of the house. We are praying that God's will be done now. I refuse to dwell on this anymore. It is out of our hands and I truly want to focus on being thankful for the blessings that surround me.

Mike and I are thankful to you - our friends and family - for constantly holding us in your prayers and your thoughts. We are thankful for your encouragement, laughter, smiles, and words. We are thankful to the Air Force for our road that led us to you. Most of all, we are thankful to the Lord Jesus, for His sacrifice. For we know that He is the glue that holds us together as brothers and sisters.

Sending our love... Mike, Deanna, and Elizabeth

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Hanging in there - working on Patience

Mike went to the doctor yesterday and overall it was ok. Mike has lost weight and now tips the scale below 140. That sent waves of panic through me, but Mike keeps reassuring me it will be ok. I told him he has just got to keep on the feeding schedule of 6-7 times a day this week. We have the week off from Chemo and this week needs to be about rest and weight gain, which is ironic considering what is going on right now.

Things are way out of whack with closing on our house. It is not us, not our realtor, not our title company, it the mortgage company. We are really tied because of the Veteran's Land Board here in Texas and who will do these loans. We left off yesterday with the documents going to the Title Company and us closing today. However, come to find out the documents are not together even now as I type at 2:00 pm. I am pretty confident we are looking at tomorrow at the earliest. Now if it fails to close then, we are looking at Monday and that is our last shot. If we don't close on Monday, Fannie Mae will pull the house and put it back on the market. Not to mention, Doug and Dena have bought plane tickets and taken leave to fly in Friday to help us.. AND Mike is scheduled to start Chemo again on Monday. (Trust in the Lord....) I am being patient, but I have stopped everything for now and am just waiting. This makes me appreciate Superior Home Loans in Niceville, FL and Bart Swan even more. That was such an enjoyable easy experience when we purchased that home. This.. This is not.

Mike is doing better, but the Chemo effects lasted a long time this time. He still will get waves of exhaustion and nausea even now. But I am so thankful. So thankful. Even with the mess of moving and closing, I am so thankful. I will never take a day together for granted. My God is an awesome God and He reigns in all details.. the house, Mike's health, our family, my life. AMEN!

Prayer needs:
Mike - please pray specifically that he will gain weight. That the chemo effects will be gone. That we will spend this holiday weekend together this year and that we will not end up in the hospital. When you pray, please remember to Thank God for everything He has done for Mike and for us
Deanna - that I can handle all that needs to be done with grace and that His light shows instead of the negative things.
Elizabeth - rest, fun, and rejuvenation

Friends, family, Mike, a house, time together!

Friday, November 20, 2009

The Million(s) Dollar Man

We got two interesting things in the mail today. One was a medical bill from Dr. Khan's office and another was a card from Fish Bayou Baptist Church in Louisiana. Both are worthy of blogging about today.

We got a bill from Dr. Khan's office and we owe $132 for co-pays. That in and of itself is not interesting. What is interesting is that I have in my hands the cost of Mike's chemo and doctor's visit since October 1.
$182,796.25. (that number is a sentence by itself don't you think?)
The chemotherapy drugs: one is $1500, one is $4000 and the other one is $10,500. You know the white blood booster shots that we get? $1000 a pop. Guess how much insurance covers? About $43,000 of the total bill. (this is not political statement blog today, but it makes you think) I truly praise God for our insurance and Tricare Prime right now. I have NO problem paying the $132. Now keep in mind, this is only 2 months.

The same trip to the mailbox produced another wonderful, encouraging card from Fish Bayou Baptist Church. Do you know we have never been there? Never visited. No relatives are members there. The only connection we have is through a friend's in-laws. The heard about us and have been faithfully praying, encouraging, and sending cards for over a year now. Brothers and sisters in Christ that we may never meet this side of Heaven. But we will meet. Isn't that amazing? There are many others too! But my heart is so encouraged today by the perfect timing of it all. It costs $182,000 for Mike to live and yet is costs Mike nothing for Mike to LIVE.

So Mike is a million (probably more like millions) dollar man. He is worth a million to the medical world, but more importantly he is worth millions and millions to Elizabeth and I. But in the grand scheme of things, Mike is worth a million-infinity (playground rules) to Jesus.

Mike is starting to come out of Chemo this afternoon. He still feels bad, but he is talking to me and watching a video.
That God knows all. It rained here today, so most likely postponing the move was God's care.
Pedicures with Traci. Thanks for calling me!

Prayer needs:
The house to close next Wednesday
Mike's strength, weight and health
My family, both here and in MN
Elizabeth and Disciple Now weekend at church. Pray specifically that God will reveal more of himself to her and that their relationship will continue to strengthen/her foundation will be secure

Wednesday, November 18, 2009


Not closing until next Wednesday now... Don't ask. Sometimes silence is a higher road


Please accept my apology for the blog yesterday... At least the last part of the blog. Sleep helped and a new day has begun. What's done is done and we just keep walking. One step in front of another. My blessings are far to great to whine the way I did. I am sorry.

Please continue to pray for Mike and the chemo side effects this week. They did hit last night and he slept in the recliner. He is out of it today. Pray the rest will give him strength to close on the house tomorrow.

This is probably the last update until next week. Moving begins tomorrow!

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

A really broken down blogger posts

Mike did Chemo yesterday and so far he is doing well. Last week, the side effects hit him on Tuesday night. We will see what happens in a few hours. Please pray specifically that Mike will not have ANY side effects this week. I need him so much right now with everything going on.

Lisa Tuttle popped in from Florida yesterday. As I say time and time again, we love visitors. We just hugged and I cried. Lisa and Alan have known us since we were first married. Lisa was a mentor for me and taught me so much about how to cook, be an AF wife, and most importantly prayed unceasingly for our salvation. What a gift to pray for us for so long and to see it come to past. When she left I asked her, "how does Mike look to you?" and she said, "Thin, which I expected, but I saw Life in his eyes and as long as I see that I know all will be ok" She was talking about the life that comes through Christ Jesus and praise God she is right. Mike has the guarantee of everlasting life.

Yesterday, we also found out my Uncle Dick passed away. It was very unexpected and it is very hard on the family. Dick is my uncle that is a Vietnam Vet and if you have been reading from the blog, we got to see him last summer. Mike was able to connect him with a fellow soldier that he hadn't seen since Vietnam, but it was a great reunion and really blessed Dick and us as well. We love you so much, Uncle Dick. You have been nothing but kind, generous, loving and supportive to us. May you rest in peace and praise God you no longer are experiencing the pain you lived with for so long from all your injuries serving our country. Thank you.

To my dear family, both here and in Minnesota. Mike and I are so sorry that we can not be there to walk through this with you and to honor Dick. We love you so much.

We are set to move:
Thursday - after the closing until about 6 pm
Friday - all day until dark
Saturday - 2:30 pm until dark
Sunday - to finish (hopefully) what is left

We can use all the help we can get, especially with my family going out of town for the funeral.

We found out today that the Homeowners Assistance Program turned us down. We don't qualify (yet again). There is an appeals process, which we will try. I have to tell you this broke me and I am a little angry. We are using what is left of our saving to get our house. We used our investments to pay someone to take our house in Florida. The concurrent receipt didn't pass. We were 7 months shy of 20 years.. I am really angry and just tired and just broken. How much more Lord? Why Lord? What am I not seeing or hearing? How much more? Lord, protect my family from anymore attacks.. Guard Mike...

I am really begging for prayers right now.... For Mike and for me.. I need to hold it together

Praises: with everything that has been stripped away and with all the struggles, Mike is still here. Jesus said He will never leave us or forsake us... Lord, be near me

Holding on tightly ~ Deanna

Friday, November 13, 2009


I was up early today and finally decided to post some pictures. A wonderful new friend, Marlo, took the family pictures of us back in August. The wonderful backdrop is provided by my brother and his beautiful backyard (yet one more thing in a long list of things that have done for us). They were taken at the end of August, before braces and before MD Anderson. I also decided to post the crazy picture of Elizabeth's undefeated fall softball team. What I hope to show you, is that despite everything, we do get moments of just life. Moments that we took for granted not so long ago. Instead of treasuring the trips we used to take all the time, we treasure going to watch Elizabeth play softball. We treasure walking into church as a family to worship. We treasure Friday nights watching Star Wars Clone Wars together. So while I am all about vacations, trips, concerts, musicals, amusement parks, water parks, etc., don't forget to treasure the simple things this holiday season. Trust me, spending time with those you love is an incredible gift!

So, Mike is coming out of this week's chemo treatment and looks pretty good. His blood is ok and Elizabeth had 1/2 day of school. We are loading up the wheel chair and heading out to Trade's Days here in McKinney (outdoor market). We plan to wander until we get tired.
Prayer needs:
Mikes strength, blood, energy, health, and weight
Our new home - that we can close on the 20th and that everything will get done
Elizabeth and DNOW weekend next weekend (youth retreat)
Me - that I can pack up, move us, get things fixed, etc over the next few weeks
Enough help to get the above done :)

Doug and Dena are taking vacation to help us/me!
Lisa is visiting this weekend!
Wendy and Jeff's wisdom in sticking all the boxes in the attic for this move
You will be able to put our new address is ink!!??! Wow.. no more pencil entries on us
People offering to help to move including FBC McKinney and from Four Corners Church
Returning stuff like Nancie's Refrigerator that we borrowed to keep all the TPN in for Mike. What a gift it is to remember where we have been medically and where we are right now!
One more day

Monday, November 9, 2009

The Battle Belongs to the Lord

The CT Scan is in and things are relatively OK. Cancer is such a battlefield. I heard one patient the other day talking about her latest PET Scan. It was negative and she was rejoicing. She said, " we have now gone from playing defense to playing offense." Everyone was shaking their head in agreement totally understanding what she meant. I think we are still in the defense mode and pray someday soon we will get to go into the offensive mode.

Mike's CT has shown that some of his liver lesions are growing. However, his liver is still soft and you can't feel this change. There is a node around the gallbladder area that is growing as well. But, the node in his lung is gone and the thickening in his esophagus is unchanged. Praise God! Dr. Khan continues to use words like amazing and remarkable when looking at the CT Scans and such. It is because after 5 + months without targeted chemotherapy on the main cancer, he is still in such good shape. His blood work looks great right now and he only lost a half of pound this last week. That is truly amazing since he didn't eat for over 36 hours when his tube got clogged.

So Mike did round 2 of Chemo today. This is the chemo that we are praying will reverse the things growing in the paragraph above. We also put a nausea patch on Mike today. I hope that this will kick in and keep him eating right through the next few days.

Cancer is a battle. I can almost picture the war going on in his body. The attack and counter-attack. "Take this!" then "You can have that lymph node, I will attack here" "Oh yeah? Well here I come to get you there too!" I know the same battle rages for us as well - the spiritual battle. The battle between sin and good. The battle for souls. In the end, fight! You have to fight! In the end, it is easy to fight. Do you know why? Because the battle is the Lords... You just have to show up, put on the armor (Ephesians 6: 10 - 14) and choose to fight.

In heavenly armor we'll enter the land the battle belongs to the Lord
No weapon that's fashioned against us shall stand the battle belongs to the Lord
We sing glory...! Honor...!Power and strength to the Lord

The power of darkness comes in like a flood the battle belongs to the Lord
He's raised up a standard, the power of His blood the battle belongs to the Lord
We sing glory...! Honor...!Power and strength to the Lord

When your enemy presses in hard do not fear the battle belongs to the Lord
Take courage my friend, your redemption is near the battle belongs to the Lord
We sing glory...! Honor...!Power and strength to the Lord

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Procedure done

Mike has come thru the replacing of the tube procedure just fine. The praise is that the tube was really clogged with medication (curcumin) and that cancer wasn't the issue. There was a concern that cancer might be blocking it or that cancer might have grown around it and prevented the removal of the tube in the ER last night. Praise God! Praise God! it was not the case. In fact, Mike saw the xray equipment that was helping the radiologist guide the guide wire and neither of them saw an obvious tumor in his stomach. I just remember the grapefruit size tumor in his stomach when he was first diagnosed 14 months ago... Thank you God for your mercy and grace.

Mike is flipping through the Sunday paper as we speak ready to go home. In fact, that was the first thing he said after the staff left the room. Please pray that there are no complications with the new tube and that he hasn't lost too much weight after not eating for over 36 hours so far.

On my knees rejoicing! Deanna

Saturday, November 7, 2009

Elizabeth Pitching

We have all this extra time while we are waiting on a hospital room so we thought we would upload pictures from Elizabeth pitching today. Her softball season ended and her team was undefeated. The team is full of good girls that have fun together. It has been great playing with them when it hasn't rained this fall!

Our Streak is at an end.. Mike is in the hospital

Dog! We are in the ER as I type waiting on a hospital room. We were doing so good! This is all related to Mike's feeding tube. Mike was doing his morning medicines when the tube got clogged. We tried everything - coke, sodium bicarbonate, warm water, syringes to no avail. We placed a call to the doctor and we had to go to the ER. After an hour wait in the waiting room in masks, we were escorted back to a room. We have been here for 4 hours. God, once again, has met us here. Our ER doctor goes to our church and he knows us. His wife was the director of Life School Musical and is in love with Elizabeth. So we tried again to flush it here, and it is still clogged. Dr. Armstrong thought he could remove it and put another one in here in the ER, but unfortunately the opening is too small. After consulting with everyone, it was decided to admit Mike tonight and perform the procedure in the morning at 9:00 am. They need to place a guide wire down Mike's nose through his esophagus to put in the new tube. Everyone is concerned about the cancer there and possible complications, so they want to do it right and not a quick procedure tonight. So here we are...

Please pray for a private room (way too many germs here), and that the procedure goes well without complications. Please also pray that Mike or I will not pick up any stray germs while we are here.

I am praising God for His angel here in the ER, for insurance, and for all our friends and family that have helped in a moments notice with Elizabeth! I will post again tomorrow.

Friday, November 6, 2009


The CT Scan is done and Mike is starting to wake up out of the Chemo fog. He had a bad night last night. He couldn't get comfortable and has intestinal issues. It is probably chemo related, but he is going to talk to doctor this morning. His blood is holding good so far...

This chemo is definitely different. He had to take steroids for two days. One day before chemo and the day of chemo. He didn't sleep. He got maybe 4 hours of sleep in two days. Then we went in for the Taxotere. We had the great opportunity to talk to two different ladies. Jan's husband Chuck, was mixing a powder into a drink for Jan and I want over and asked what it was ( You never know when you might learn something new from other patients). It was a protein powder, Beneprotein, that has been working for her to keep weight on during Chemo. Jan has pancreatic cancer that has spread to her liver. She had breast cancer about 12 years ago. Jan was talking to another lady. This was her 3rd time to battle breast cancer. However, this time a tumor has formed between her C3 and C4 vertebrae. The tumor is in between the spine and the spinal cord. She wears a neck brace all the time. They are afraid that one wrong move of her neck could make her a quadriplegic. Both these ladies are in their 50's I would guess. Both of these ladies have amazing men by their side. They were both very inspirational for me. Their faith is so strong and their fight so courageous. It put me on my knees yet again to thank God for His incredible blessings in our fight. It made me confess my self pity party and ask for forgiveness.

Prayer requests:
Fort Hood, Kileen, the Army and for everyone that has been touched by this tragedy. I spent a few months at Fort Hood training for AAFES before I was sent to California where I met Mike. It is a good place, doing good things, filled to the brim with incredible people. They were also instrumental in doing all our VA paperwork last year at this time for Mike.

Mike - his strength, his fight, his mental toughness and his body. He is struggling with everything mentally. He wants to eat. I made sloppy joes last night and he looked so sad. He loves a good sloppy joe and it is the first time I have made them since before Mike got sick.

Elizabeth and I as we start packing the house and as I try to "dot all the i's" with paperwork, maintenance issues, and moving details for the new house.

The wonderful Taylor boys who came over and got down all the moving boxes out of the attic. I am afraid of heights and falling and this was a huge deal. By the way, the oldest is a Senior as is going into Army ROTC at University of Missouri. He wants to be in Special Ops!

For my little "slap in the face" this week so I can look around and see the what blessings I have right now, in this moment.

Lunch at school with Elizabeth...

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Quick Post to update

We are headed in for the CT Scan very shortly. Mike feels awful from the Chemo still. The steroids we took the first two days kept him up and he couldn't sleep. Now he just feels bad and is battling nausea. I do have things I want to post, so I hope to do that tonight. Please be in prayer for this scan. We should know something on Monday.

God Bless you and your day. Make His light shine even in the smallest circumstances and meetings today.

Monday, November 2, 2009

Chemo today, Chemo Tomorrow - back in the saddle again

Here we are again. Mike started another new chemo - Avastin - after seeing the doctor today. His pulse rate is down and his weight is the same. Dr. Khan doesn't feel anything. His liver is still soft (good). However, the cough is still hanging on and it could mean that the cancer is progressing. Dr. Khan has ordered a CT Scan. It may take a week or so for that. Please be in prayer over the CT Scan. Pray that is shows the miraculous results and not disease progression.

Mike and I then went into the chemo room for about a 3 hour IV infusion. It makes it harder when you have to pay a co-pay for it too. Here is $12, now poison me :)! We will go back tomorrow for the other Chemo drug. This one is a little different. Their is a premeditation that I am going to pick up at Walgreens today. He needs to take it today, tomorrow, and Wednesday. He will go in tomorrow for the chemo. This chemo will cause him to lose his hair again.

We got home today after lunch and I arrived to medical bills. I just let out a huge sigh and think, "Here we go again." Just in case you are wondering, it never gets easier. It never becomes routine. Time goes on, and cancer still sucks. (That should be a bumper sticker or something, don't you think?)

I refuse to end the blog on that note. It sounds so depressing. Yes cancer sucks, but God is bigger than cancer. God has never left us. Mike is His visible handiwork. Mike is a miracle and what I am thankful for is His physical presence. His angels roaming this earth that know the perfect time to send an email, visit, and respond to our S.O.S. We are still a family. We have one more day.... so I am going to use the rest of it to remember where we have been, who brought us through, and focus on Him.

Prayer needs:
Mike to gain weight, health, CT Scan, Acid Reflux to subside, protection from harmful side effects of chemo, cough to go away, and both mental and physical energy
Financial wisdom
House and move details
Emotional healing

A home for us
Neighborhood block party's
beautiful weather
day off from school

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Learning from Paul

I haven't posted in awhile. I have just been struggling so much lately. Struggling with the day to day of cancer. You start to watch every micro thing. "Mike why are you coughing?" "Are you okay?" Wondering why Mike is sleeping more today. Did you eat enough? Why didn't you gain weight? Mike's pulse rate is high, what does that mean? Mikes blood counts are down, now up, now down again. Mike's eyes look funny.. is that a rash or just a mark. UGH!!!!!!! It really makes one want to scream. It also pulls that cliff of depression closer on some days. There are days you just want to stay in bed and block everything out. You don't because the minute you give into that Depression will win. And Mike is just this incredible patient man. He doesn't get mad at me when I hoover over him or when I berate him with questions. I am sure he is bitting his tongue but I sure love him!

I opened up more than I probably should have to my dear friend Robin last night on the phone. She is walking through an incredibly difficult time after the loss of her precious baby Tessa. I love her for sharing openly with me about both the emotional and the spiritual side of her journey. For the last few weeks, I have needed to know all is going to be ok. No matter what, it will all be ok. When I hung up the phone, it was time to put Elizabeth to bed. We have been reading throught the bible chronologically since Easter. We have arrived at Paul's journey from Jersulem to Rome to stand before Ceaser. We got to the point where the boat full of prisioners left Crete (when Paul warned not to go) and got caught in horrible weather. They were throwing tackle overboard and were in dire straits. Finally Paul stood before then and said, (Acts 27: 21-26)

After the men had gone a long time without food, Paul stood up before them and said: "Men, you should have taken my advice not to sail from Crete; then you would have spared yourselves this damage and loss. But now I urge you to keep up your courage, because not one of you will be lost; only the ship will be destroyed. Last night an angel of the God whose I am and whom I serve stood beside me and said, 'Do not be afraid, Paul. You must stand trial before Caesar; and God has graciously given you the lives of all who sail with you.' So keep up your courage, men, for I have faith in God that it will happen just as he told me. Nevertheless, we must run aground on some island

This was meant for me. Paul was given his life, but he still had to go to the incredible struggle. If you read on, after this promise, their was mutiny, death threats, ship wreck, prisoners swiming ashore, and prisoners that couldn't swin floating on debris to shore. Paul was even bitten by a Viper once on shore. So all this struggle, doesn't negate God's ultimate plan and purpose. I am clinging to that and I thank God for reminding me through His Word.

Mike is hanging tough. We are in this constant questioning phase. His weight is down. His blood numbers are all over the place and his energy seems down to me. But his skin color and eye color look good and he can still swallow liquids and he is not in any pain. Chemotherapy was postponed again until next week due to these numbers. In a way it is a game of strategy and risk with treatment.

Prayer needs:
Mike - his health, strength, nutrition, weight
Godly (The Great I AM) wisdom for treatments
New house - the closing, the appraisal, the move, our finaces, my stress
Elizabeth and I - our health
Connor - my nephew - Swine Flu that he will recover and that it will not spread
Robin - my dear sweet friend!

Praise -
Robin - my dear sweet friend
A home of our own - what a praise...
The Word - Dear Lord, where would I be with it?

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

A New Home?

Dear Friends,

There is a lot to catch up on since the last post!

Medical. The second round of Vidaza seemed to hit me much harder than the first. I have had a lot of bad fatigue where the simplest of actions seemed exhausting. Plus some of the nausea. I've also developed some sort of upper respiratory cough/bronchitis thing...not really what you want when your white blood cells have been whacked pretty hard by chemo. So Monday, Doc told me that last week's 5 days of Vidaza was enough, and he thought I should start the rest period early and skip the last two days of Vidaza, which would have nominally been yesterday and today. Today's blood was somewhat low, so I got a medium sized white blood cell booster shot and left. I get tomorrow off, have to get a blood check Thursday. In the mean time, Doc is seeing if the insurance will pay for a couple of other chemo drugs that he thinks will not be as hard on me. So we could be trying something new as early as this Monday. After the clinic this morning, I was feeling a bit stronger, so instead of going straight home, I went to Lowe's to look at refrigerators. I stopped at every man's first stop in Lowe's of course--the riding lawn mowers. After a couple minutes there, I proceeded to appliances, but by the time I made that short walk, the fatigue hit again. I found a seat, sat down, and chilled out for about twenty minutes before I felt safe to drive home. These waves of fatigue and nausea sure are a pain in the kiester.

So, Mike, why were you looking at refrigerators and riding lawn mowers you ask? Good question. Well, in God's gracious timing, we have in the last few days got our pre-approval for the Texas veteran home loan program; and what appears to be the right house, in the right neighborhood, for the right price, has appeared. We currently have verbal agreement and expect to have a signed purchase contract by the end of today. It meets all our basic needs, doesn't bust our budget, and keeps Elizabeth in all the same schools as her friends and cousins, so that our support network should remain intact. And it's close to where we are staying now, so the move should be mercifully less painful. We expect to close around 20 November, perhaps a few days earlier. This Thursday we are doing the inspections, so we will know a lot more then. Here is a link to the house: http://www.ebby.com/property/6274443/3705_Landsdowne_Drive_Mckinney_TX_75070-7142

Please pray that I would continue to recover from the chemo and the bronchitis and that all would go according to God's plan with the house.

If I recover by the end of the week and the house stuff goes well, I am thinking of taking a quick trip to Tucson to visit friends and go to the Copperstate Fly In, which should be highly populated with kit Light Sport Aircraft for me to look over. Not sure about this though. A lot of things have to fall exactly into place for this to happen.

Elizabeth is doing well-pulling all A's and won another softball game last night. Deanna is excited about the house. I think she already has the whole furniture plan laid out in her mind!

Deanna's brother has been so generous to let us live in his house this past year with everything we've been going through. Thank you Scott. You have provided not only a roof over our heads, but a home as well, when I could not. I will miss this house a lot.

Maybe our time in the desert is at an end, and the promised land is now in sight.

Thank you all and we will update again later this week.

God Bless,

Hey everyone - I thought I would tack this on to Mike's post about Concurrent Receipt.

A House-Senate conference committee tasked to iron out any differences between separate versions of the fiscal 2010 defense authorization bill decided in early October to drop the House concurrent receipt provision from the final bill. Senate conferees said the House plan to pay for this provision would have violated Senate budget rules. So the bottom line is that Congress has failed this year to pass any part of President Obama’s plan to phase in concurrent receipt for “Chapter 61” retirees forced by disabilities to leave service before completing 20 years.

I don't even know how to express the disappointment we feel right now. I wish that those that are in the Senate could walk just one month in our shoes. Yes, we do have medical care but this month alone I have spent $1036 on supplements/vitamins/ special food for Mike. Truth. Most likely spouses are caregivers and that makes working very difficult. God will provide and we will trust, but if this stirs your heart, please email your Senators and let them know what you think.


Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Stiff neck and hard heart

Dear Friends,

After Beetle's trip to Florida, he and Pam stopped here again on the way to Tucson. They got weathered in and we were blessed to have them stay with us for several days. There were no more airplane rides due to the weather, but that was okay because it allowed us more time to talk.

I am considering building and flying an aircraft, what is known as a Experimental-Light Sport Aircraft. Beetle's RV has a smaller sister that fits into this category called an RV-12. I've also been looking at the Sonex, the Kit Fox, the Sadler Vampire. We also discovered that about 1.5 hour drive east of here is the American Legend factory where they build a much improved Cub. They have a program where you can go to the factory and build your own aircraft using all their stuff, and with their experts on hand to prevent you from fouling it up. Beetle and I drove out for a visit and we were both very impressed. Those guys at American Legend really have their act together.

After a few days of this, the weather broke, and our dear friends flew out back to Tucson.

House. We have chosen a bank to do our Texas vet program mortgage. I suppose financing will be in place around 28 October and then we will have to make some difficult choices quickly. We're still watching the existing home market and talking with 3 builders. Nothing that really fits us has surfaced yet. God's timing, not ours.

We've been told the HAP program is now processing applications, so we should hear our decision soon. Would certainly help with the new house.

On a related note, Deanna ran across an article that stated a joint congressional conference last week on the 2010 NDAA (military budget) had decided to chop concurrent receipt for Chapter 61 retirees. Boo. If you haven't written your congressman yet about this one, you should consider doing so.

Medical. I'm on day three of seven chemo days for round two. The first day hit me pretty hard, the next two days not as bad. Red and platelets are holding, but the white count has dropped to 1.5 or so, and I'm once again confined to just the house and the clinic, so as to avoid any infectious germs. I am hoping to go to Copperstate Fly In with Beetle in Arizona right after this round of chemo, but that won't be possible with this white count. Many of the kit planes I'm interested in will be there. We'll just have to wait and see I guess.

I lost about 4 pounds last week, despite feeling full all the time from five rounds of tube feeding (around 2200 calories) per day. And my fatigue is worse. Not quite sure why. Let's just say it's detox symptoms from lots of cancer cells dying, okay?

I'm happy to report that Granny is doing much better. After doing a bunch of internet research and talking to a homeopathic expert, we sent her some neem oil, which comes from a tree in India that they have apparently used to repel all sorts of bugs for a long time. She says it appears to be working. The spots are healing and she can't find a single bug now. Apparently neem oil really does work against scabies. And it's probably better for you than the conventional medical treatment, permethrin. (Do you really want to ingest a pill with insecticide in it? I think this is the same stuff they used to issue us in the Air Force to spray all our deployment gear with as a bug repellent..and they told us NOT to get it in our eyes/mouth etc. Here, just open your mouth and I'll spray some RAID in for you.)

I have been quite frustrated and low lately over not being able to eat anything for so long. I have to admit it's been getting to me. It's an act of discipline sometimes to be thankful. After thinking about this, I realized I was being a lot like the Israelites in the desert, complaining about the lack of water, the lack of bread, and then the lack of meat, until God graciously provided water, manna, and then the birds (quail?) for them to sustain them. And then they just complained more. The airplane ride might have had something to do with it as well; it was a wonderful experience, yes, but also a reminder of how much we've lost.

Through my fabulous wife, God has provided me with my green fluid concoction that miraculously sustains me. Through Beetle, God has reminded me that I still have skills in the cockpit, and that they may come into play again in the future. After all, doesn't the book say that God gives us gifts in order to perform works that He prepared for us before the beginning of time? I will be thankful for these things, not an endlessly complaining Israelite. Yeshua, please keep my heart from going hard, and my neck from going stiff, that I might always recognize and rejoice over your miracles.

Prayer Requests. Healing for me, for my soul first and then for everything else. Wisdom for me and Deanna as we get nearer to decision time about the house. For the HAP program and for Chapter 61 concurrent receipt to both get approved. Blessing and protection for Elizabeth as she deals with the challenges of middle school.

Many thanks and Yahweh Bless You!

Monday, October 5, 2009

Flying High - A week off

What a week it has been! Our wonderful friends, Gary (Beetle) and Pam Bailey, flew their plane in from Tucson to visit on the way to Pensacola. They managed to beat the t-storms and then God gave us the perfect day to fly. We elected to pull Elizabeth out of school on Friday right before lunch and Beetle took her up for a plane ride. Mike was a proud daddy to buy her a Pilot's Log book and Beetle logged her first hour for her! Elizabeth got in the plane after some coaching from Mrs. Pam and off they flew. Now this plane is fast and very maneuverable. They flew low down the runway and they shot off up and to the right of the field. They flew over Lake Lavon. He pulled 3 G's with Elizabeth. She thought is was very cool that she couldn't lift her legs or feet. She did an eolian roll (360 roll) and even took the stick and flew. That is until they came across some birds and Beetle then took command again. It was great!

After Elizabeth, Mike had a turn. He got in the plane and said, "Now I am home." They were off and Beetle let Mike fly most of the time. I sat on the ground and teared up beside Pam. Mike deserves this. He deserves the joy. He has fought so hard. Endured so much. This ride was more than a ride. It was joy to his person. He loves to fly. He loves it. I pray someday God will remove obstacles that will allow him to use his passion again to further God's plan in this world. Mike landed and had absolutely no medical issues. None. He had no pain, no gas, no woozy feeling, nothing. It was a thought in the back of our heads. Who knows how things would react?? Mike was so happy and I was so happy to see him so happy!

To Beetle and Pam, thank you for stopping. Thank you for loving our Belle. Mike said that as they were flying Mike said to Beetle, "Not bad for someone who was supposed to be dead 10 months ago." Beetle responded in prayer. Mike and Beetle flew through the sky praising Jesus for His incredible gift.

As this picture shows, life is good right now. Thumbs up in a way. We have managed to stay out of the hospital for 3 months now. Mike is holding. His weight is holding. His blood is holding. Mike saw the doctor again this morning and he did a extended belly feel session. Again, nothing. His liver is soft and no obvious signs of cancer tumors. It is a huge miracle. We are in fact doing something that we haven't done in a very long time... dream and plan. At first, you couldn't even commit to tomorrow, much less next week. I noticed the change a few weeks ago. We started timidly back into the pool of next week, next month, and now even 4 months down the road. It is scary. The best visual I could give would be like getting into the pool for the first time in the spring. The pool is cold so you start by putting your toes in. Then your feet. Then your legs. You might even step out of the pool and then venture back in. You get up the courage to get your belly wet and then take a deep breath and stick your head under. I am not sure where we are at in the "pool process", but we are definitely getting wet. We are still thinking of houses, of Thanksgiving, even Christmas. All dreams. Thank you sweet Jesus... Thank you.

I will end this blog with the best picture of all... a picture that by all medical means shouldn't be (Someday, I will quit saying that!). A beloved Father and his precious daughter captured by a "on her knees rejoicing Jesus for this day" mother and wife!

Prayer needs:
Mike's health and blood counts
Health for entire family as the flu season kicks into high gear
A home for us
Jesus will continue to battle back this cancer
Titus and Evelyn
Dave Beaver and his ministry in Cleveland
Beetle and Pam
Friends far and wide
One more day as a family!