Friday, June 26, 2009

Richly Blessed

Dear Freinds,

How rich we are indeed. God has given us the love and support of so many of you. We had visits from Melissa and her family, from Carol, and from Dave and Susan and their kids this week. It makes life seem bright and hopeful to have these visits.

The Florida house, after some last minute wrangling and minor repairs, seems to be on track to close on Tuesday. The buyers actually moved in today. So we are starting to look at houses here in McKinney. It will take a bit longer before we can seriously house hunt, because we have to get a note from our bank that the loan is paid off and send it to the VA to get a new VA loan certificate.

Platelets were up slightly yesterday, and the white count was marginally low, so I got a half-dose of a blood booster shot. Today we were off from the cancer clinic. I'll go in tommorow afternoon for a blood check.

The esophagus has squeezed almost shut again, so I'm back to liquids only. I am strangely okay and unworried about this. As long as I can get liquids down, I can stay hydrated, and the TPN will sustain me in place of food. We can't get stretched yet because the platelets are too low to accept the bleeding risk.

When we signed up for VA disability compensation, they expedited it by using just the cancer, and talked about evaluating all my other maladies at a later date. So today we got to go visit the VA in south Dallas to see an ortho doc--our first visit to this facility.

It's huge, like a medium sized college campus. They seem to have about every specialty you can imagine. Our appointment letter said to report to room 1E201 in building 2, clinic 16. Deanna printed out several maps from their web site that we used to get parked and into building 2, and even to clinic 16. Room numbers, however, were not marked on the map.

We passed one check in desk labelled cardiac, but it was a 1C room number, so we kept going, looking for 1E201. We failed to find it after looking around a bit, and we decided to ask at the cardiac counter.

As we backtracked, I took a closer look at the restrooms. You got it...1E201 is the restroom room number for clinic 16. It turned out that the ortho guy was working out of the cardiac area.

In the waiting room, I listened to two guys talking. One a recent vet, and the other a Viet Nam vet. One talking about fire base defensive measures used in the middle east, the other about defensive measures at Khe San. Some of the vets could walk. Some used walkers or canes. Others needed wheel chairs. It was good to be around the vets.

We had spent the morning at the Notary Public and at Kinkos doing the house paperwork, and had a too short rest over lunch time before driving to Dallas. We were both tired, but we both got a good laugh out of being sent to the rest room. We allowed extra time to get there because neither of us had been there before, in case there was a traffic problem, or in case we got lost or something.

In fact, we arrived about an hour early. They took us in early though, so the wait wasn't bad at all. I saw my VA file there. It fills five volumes, each about an inch and a half thick. The ortho doc checked out my weak ankles, bad knees, lower back misaligned vertabra.

He had such a good sense of humor! He made me bow down to Deanna to check my range of motion. He was really good. And I got to tell him how good God has been to us, how I was supposed to be dead already, but am still around to serve Him. I love to tell people about it. They get that pained look when I tell them I had terminal cancer, but then they grin when I tell them how God has sustained us.

On the way out, we checked out their retail section, which is sort of like a BX at a small base. There was a small general store, a candle store, a leather store, a coffee shop, and a deli. We were also pleasantly surprised to discover the VA pays a mileage allowance to help defray the cost of travelling to the center. So your last stop before leaving is the cashier, where they give you forty some cents per mile, in cash. I have to go back Tuesday for three more appointments spread out all day long. I will probabaly spend some time checking out their community center.

Then Dave and Susan stopped by at dinner time to visit with their kids, who jumped in the pool with Elizabeth to play. They had pizzas that smelled great, and I had some of my favorite Thai soup.

All in all a busy but very good day,

God Bless,

Monday, June 22, 2009

Father's Day

Are we allowed to post twice in one day? Maybe it's against the blogging rules, but I feel moved to write today.

Medical. Platelets down to 40 today. Not so good. Deanna did some research and found out that Nexovar might be the culprit. Or it could be the heparin antibodies. Doc says after you stop heparin, it can take weeks, maybe a few months, for the heparin antibodies to stop messing with your platelets. We saw the GE doc today, and learned more about the option of installing a GE tube. It actually has a number of advantages over the TPN. One of which, is it's less restrictive on physical activity. I'm toying with the idea of taking up a martial art again--but of course it will have to be done very carefully. I can't find a kwan mu do instructor around here, so I'm thinking about another art with a dojo nearby. So, when the blood levels come up enough, there could be a three way surgery coming up: remove the PICC line, replace it with a mediport (still need one or the other for chemo), and install the GE tube into my stomach.

Father's Day. I really miss my dad, who passed away after a long battle with diabetes. He did difficult, dirty, dangerous work as a steelworker at the old Republic Steel plant in Elyria, OH. I remember him coming home dirty and tired, with cuts and burns on his wrists and forearms from the sharp bits of steel that hit him where neither his shirt nor his gloves protected his skin. He started as a general laborer, unloading rail cars, moving steel from place to place in the plant, cleaning up, and loading up finished product. Later he got promoted to welder helper and then welder operator. The welders are giant machines that run almost the whole length of the plant. Steel comes into the plant as long flat strips, wound around giant wooden spools. The strips go into the beginning of the welder, get heated up, and a series of dies gradually bends the long sides of the strips together to make pipe. The welder welds the seems together, and more dies can then squeeze the round pipe into square pipe. A blade scrapes the excess steel off the welding seem, which comes off as razor sharp strips, much like razor wire.

At least that's how he described it to me. After he passed away, I wanted to see it for myself, and the plant manager granted my request for a quick tour of the plant. Dad had always wanted to give the family a tour of the plant, but it was something we never got around to doing. He worked there for about 18 years while his diabetes was still under control, but then had to stop and retire early. He worked so hard to support my mother and me. My dad's work ethic was unmatched. Diabetics are not supposed to be steel workers. But he hacked it as well as any man in the plant, for his family. In many ways, I am following in his footsteps, and his bravery is an example. He had to do dialysis, I have to do TPN and chemo. He had foot neuropathy, I have foot neuropathy. He fell short of twenty years, and I did too. I deeply regret that he passed before Elizabeth was born. She was cheated of a grandfather. I intend, of course, to stick around long enough to help raise Elizabeth's children.

I remember him facing down the leader of the most notorious gang in Elyria at that time. I had a bicycle collision with a girl that this gang claimed protection over. The leader blamed the accident on me ( was her fault, she was riding on the wrong side of the street). The leader claimed that since it was my fault, that I had to forfeit my bike to the gang to replace her damaged bike. As a boy, I peeked around the corner of our house from the back yard, and watched my dad, alone, face down this leader, a grown man, and the rest of his gang, a mix of young men and older boys. My dad's courage was tremendous. This gang was reputed to have even killed a police officer.

My dad had a side business fixing home electronics. Now most home electronics are disposable--you just buy a new one when they go bad. They are not designed to be modular and repairable, and repair costs often exceed the cost of buying a new one. But back then, digital technology was new, limited, and modular. So a bad TV might be fixed by replacing a single component from one of several local electronics stores. My dad let me help him. I learned about electricity, circuits, tools, test equipment. But perhaps the most important thing I learned about was integrity.

I don't think my dad ever actually used words like integrity, honesty, fairness, ethics, etc. But his example was enough. One memory stands out in particular. A neighbor brought his TV over, and dad said he would try and fix it. The family were working poor people like us, so as a favor to this neighbor, dad said he would only charge him for parts.

He worked on this thing for several weeks. He would find a suspect part, buy a replacement at the store, and put the new part in, only to discover that the TV still wouldn't work. The suspect part really wasn't bad, and he had to start looking all over again. The same thing happened over again several times.

But then he finally found the bad part, replaced it with a new part, and called the owner. Despite the fact that he had put weeks into this piece of junk and spent a lot of money on parts that turned out to be unneeded, dad only charged this man for the price of the one part that fixed the TV--not for the other parts, and nothing for labor. He was true to his word, down to the last penny. Compare that to the widespread epidemic of a lack of financial ethics that we see today.

I remember him talking about it later. He said if he had been better at his job, he would have found the correct part the first time, and that he had learned a lot from this uncooperative TV. He said he could always use the extra parts to fix other TVs later. And besides, he had given his word to a neighbor. I have never met anyone anywhere with a greater sense of integrity than my father.

Courage, work ethic, integrity. These are the words that come to mind when I think of him.

I love you Dad,

God Bless you all,

No creative title post

So much to post! It has been crazy busy here. First of all, I am absolutely thrilled that the garage sale is over. It was so hot! But fun to have my first garage sale in the civilian community. It was so different. I had to get a permit from the city!! But in the end, I sold everything and all together the four of us made over $1,300. Well worth the effort and most of all, we will be grateful for the clean out when it comes time to move.

Yesterday was both Father's Day and our anniversary - 17 years! It sounds so long, but it doesn't feel that long. God's had an amazing plan for both Mike and I the night we met at Jock Night at Mather AFB. (Yes.. I am a Jock Night bride and proud of it). I took a job with AAFES out of college and my first assignment was Mather AFB. It was an awesome place to be single. There were 5 Sales Area Managers like myself. In our 20's, out of college and on our own. We became fast friends. I remember that Natalie took me under her wing and explained Jock Night to me. Her Dad was a Colonel at the time in the Pacific somewhere. She explained that guys fly in from all over for Jock Night. She explained that just because their patch had a name on it didn't mean that was their name. She also said to look for tan lines on ring figures (sad but true). Mike and I met because his friend, Martin (Marty) Johnson was after my friend, Denise Evans. They went out to dance and Mike came over to share a pitcher of beer. It all started from there and I won't bore you with the details. Once training was over for me, I got assigned to Beale AFB and Mike and I continued dating. It wasn't until he went to Survival School that I realized that I really did love him and finally got the nerve up to tell him. He had proclaimed his love for me LONG before that (at least that is the version I remember!). Mike then went to Dyess for training and we had to decide whether to call it quits or take the next step. We got married here in McKinney on a Sunday afternoon, took a one night honeymoon in Dallas, and had to go back to Dyess AFB for Mike to finish up training. By July 4th of that year, we were rolling into Ellsworth and the rest is history.

Speaking of Marty Johnson, once he left Mather AFB, we never saw or heard from him again. He has no idea how God used him to impact our lives. Not only was he the reason we met, but he did something far greater than pointing us to each other. He gave Mike a bible. That bible sat on a shelf for five (?) years, but Mike never got rid of it. He never read it either. But it was there. One day, because of many circumstances, Mike picked it up and read it cover to cover. That is Mike. That was it. Life changed. Marriage changed. Future changed. We still have that bible and will never let it go.

We also got to celebrate Father's Day. Mike is the best Dad. He was made to be Elizabeth's Father. Since day one he has been there. He plays with her, laughs with her, teaches her, talks to her, listens to her, and inspires her. He was just supposed to be a father. He is so patient, kind, tough when necessary. Here is a story that I think illustrates what I am trying to say. This weekend we have had the privilege of having many kids over to swim. We live in a triangle with 3 girls across the street and 2 boys and 1 girl next door. They range in age from 1st grade to 5th grade. We open the pool as much as possible. We were talking about what joy it brings us to see Elizabeth playing and having fun with everyone. (Like when we were on Washington Ave in Tucson). Mike said he loves to sit in the recliner and hear the games and laughter. He said he is sure that is what Heaven will sound like.

What a day. We got to celebrate our Father at church, our marriage, and remember that special gift that God created out of that marriage - Elizabeth and the chance to be a father. Doesn't get much better than that.

We are heading off today to see the GI doctor. Mike's platelets are down in the toilet again. So we are going, but they can't do any procedures until Mike's numbers come up. (Thanks Dr. Monhollon for the suggestions!) Mike looks so good right now. He is gaining weight and if he just had hair, I doubt anyone off the street would know what we are going through. God's hand is here. That is for sure.

This week is filled with both great things and some dreaded things (my point of view). Great things... House closing, Carol Beene, Kiviojia's! Dreaded things... GI Doctor's appointment and Mandatory VA appointment on Friday. We finally have no choice. We have to find our way to the VA in Dallas for more Doctor's appointments. UGH!

Prayer Needs:
Our house to close
Mike's platelets and blood count to stabilize and climb
Wisdom over medical decisions
Financial Wisdom
Vacation Wisdom.. making Godly decision of what to do
Mike to be able to go on Vacation with us
The concurrent receipt to go through. It was tabled because of the lack of funds and they need to find the money somewhere before it will. I can not tell you what a difference it would make for us and I am sure many others in our situation. (Whatever you do.. Make it to the 20 year mark before you retire!)

Fathers, laughter, VBS, friends, family, summer, love, marriage, insurance, retirement pay and benefits

Friday, June 19, 2009

Geeking out

Dear Friends,

The platelets continue to be problematic--they dropped significantly today. The oncologist called the ge doc yesterday and discussed the necrotic patches in the food pipe, wondering if they might be clots caused by the heparin induced antibodies. Then he tried to call a radiologist, wondering if there might be some sort of test we could do. The radiologist was out, so no answer for now. Nor any chemo due to the low counts, nor any procedures (PICC removal/port installation/esophagus stretching/g tube installation) due to the risk of clotting. Doc said my case is complex, difficult to decide the best treatment right now.

Again, I'm strangely unworried about this. Jeshua will take care of it, one way or another.

The liquidation of our primary investment mutual fund wet through, so we have enough cash on hand to close on the Florida house. Seems to be on track.

The garage sale happened today. It was way hot, so I mostly stayed inside after a blood check at the clinic. We got rid of a lot of stuff to make the next move easier, and made a few hundred bucks too. Deanna worked very hard to pull it all together.

I've been able to geek out with some new toys the last few days. Our Verizon contract was up for renewal, and they offered us a good deal on new phones and a netbook. Elizabeth's phone had only four dial out numbers and the battery in mine was very poor. Plus, our laptop has a stuck down "4" key and a failed "f" key. So we renewed the contract, got two new phones for Elizabeth and me, and a netbook to replace the laptop.

The netbook has no CD drive, so I spent most of the day figuring out how to get it to see the CD drive on our desktop through the wireless LAN. Then I was able to load up MS Office and some other software, as well as print from the netbook to the desktop's printer wirelessly.

Elizabeth is dying to go to the beach vacation with Deanna's family, as we have done each year for some time now. But we're not sure it's going to work out. If the blood count is too low, I can't go because I'll need the daily checks and shots. If it's too high, I can't go because I'll get chemo and maybe some surgical procedures. Which means we have to decide among options of: Elizabeth goes without us, Elizabeth and Deanna go, or none of us go.

I think the most likely situation is that I will be pretty much like I am now, which would mean that I would stay here, but Deanna and Elizabeth could go.

Deanna has been working so hard this week. But I think she will get to throttle back a bit this weekend. She needs some r&r.

God Bless,

Thursday, June 18, 2009

I will be with you

It is early in the morning and the dog woke me up and I can't sleep. It has been awhile since we posted and thought I would update everyone. I honestly don't know if people are still checking in with us, but from the beginning this blog has been a therapy session for me. So I may just be typing this to myself, but God will use that!

"I will be with you." I keep hearing that phrase over and over. I know it is God whispering to me and yet at the same time I am wondering, "Why do I keep hearing that phrase?" What is around the bend? Or is it that He knows the fear that creeps in and out all the time and He is trying to reassure me. I wish I knew. Then again, maybe I don't want to know.

This process that we are going through is exhausting and full of questions all the time. Are we doing the right things? Is there something we are not doing? Is there something we should be doing? Do you realize how greedy I am? Mike has changed so much. He is so much apart of life again. He helps do laundry, trash, makes phone calls, goes to events, is a great sounding board, and makes us laugh (or laughs at Elizabeth and I). We laugh. For so long, we didn't. And yet, I still want more. More. I want to know that I will grow old with him. I want to know that he will always be at my side to talk rationally. I want to know that he will be here to love on Elizabeth in that special way he has. Maybe that is what God is telling me, "I will be with you". Maybe that is what I need to examine.

We have a doctor appointment in the morning with Dr. Khan. Then we need to call the GI doctor and see if we can go in for the stretch again on Monday. Mike has had some issues yesterday. He seems to get those issues after he seems to really gain momentum eating. I am honestly frightened for the first time to do the procedure after the last time. (Do not fear for I am with you..right?)

I have also been going through the house and pulling things for the garage sale on Friday. I still can't believe I am doing it! We have extra furniture and just things we don't need. I have felt the need to pare down to simplify things. If we are able to close on our house next week, we will start the process of trying to get a home of our own here. This time, we have to move ourselves. The AF is not there to move us for the first time in our married life! As I look forward, I wait and wonder how God will move mountains.

Prayer needs:
Our house to close on June 25ht
Our cash out of our investments to be complete in time for the closing. It is taking much longer than I thought and of course the stock market is going down every day.
To take one day at a time
Beach vacation- it is 3 weeks away and I don't know how we are going to go. It seems so overwhelming to get all the medical needs taken care of to go and yet I really want to go. ALL of us.
Financial Wisdom
That we will qualify for the HAP program under the wounded warrior clause that they are still writing.
Doctors and all the things that will be happening next few weeks. GI issues, VA appointments in Dallas, Oncology (do we just suspend Chemo until after the vacation? Will that be a mistake that could make the difference between life and death?)
Garage Sale - I just need everything to sell so I don't have to struggle with what I do with the leftovers
Tessa, Connor, Titus - precious children, created by Him, who are battling

Hearing God's voice
The birth of Destiny to Pierre and Keisha
Cards that still come from very dear friends
Contract on the house
Good days as a family
Strength for today

Joy's post that reminds me:
Be still and wait. You shall know that the Lord your God, He it is who fights for you, and He will do a miracle before your eyes if you will but trust Him completely and cease to be anxious. What others are doing is as nothing compared to what He is doing and is GOING to do

Friday, June 12, 2009

CT results good, HIT test positive

Dear Friends,

I thought I would blog out an update prior to the weekend.

Doc felt around my belly yesterday and was pleased to be unable to feel anything bad.

The CT results were overall good: lungs, no change; heart, no change; largest liver lesion decreased from 26x25mm to 20x17mm; another decreased from 18mm to 15mm; "...multiple additional smaller hepatic lesions are stable to slightly decreased in size. No new hepatic lesions..."; spleen, no change; gallbladder mildly distended (?); pancreas, adrenals, kidneys, bowel OK.

Thank You Jesus!

Now, those mm measurements may seem small, but if you consider the lesion as a 3 dimensional block, and assume the same proportional decrease, it means the first lesion decreased in volume (and presumably mass) down to 38% of its size last time. A similar math exercise yields a decrease down to 57% for the second lesion.

It also says the esophagus has thickened slightly, particularly at the bottom where it joins the stomach. Could be bad, yes, but it could be other things as well. Scarring, maybe new tissue growth, or a side reaction to the Nexovar, which can do all sorts of odd things--including (I recently found out) maybe causing the necrotic tissue seen on the last GE scope. It might even be part of the Heparin allergy we just found out about.

About a month ago, Doc had a hunch about this HIT problem, so he ordered a blood test, which we sent off to the lab. The results never came back from the off site lab, and the staff kept calling and finally got the lab to admit that they had screwed it up. Either they lost the sample, or forgot to prepare it correctly, or something like that. So we had to get another sample and try again. It came back positive.

Heparin is an anti-coagulant that we use to flush my IV lines after using them for chemo, feeding, blood draws, etc. After flushing the line with saline to clean it out, you then "pack" the line with Heparin so that any blood that backs into the line won't coagulate and clog the tubing. The next time you use the tubing, you flush it again with saline, which pushes the packed Heparin into your bloodstream. So I get at least one small dose of Heparin daily, sometimes several depending on what we're using the PICC line for.

When the Heparin gets in the blood, it attaches itself to platelet cells and prevents them from clotting. That's how it's supposed to work. But a small percentage of the population can develop an allergy to Heparin. When my antibodies check out my platelet cells, they don't recognize them as being part of my own body anymore because of the molecular alteration done by the Heparin molecule attaching itself to the platelets. So the antibodies do their job and attack the perceived "foreign" cell.

So we have good platelet cells being destroyed, and the immune system being distracted away from fighting cancer and other diseases.

This leads to platelet cells being destroyed, and can lead to, (ironically enough, since Heparin is used as an anti-coagulant) the formation of dangerous clots. Things like DVT, heart attacks, strokes, etc.

So, no more Heparin soup for you!:)

It's amazing to think of this strange fratricide event, this little war that we knew nothing about, raging inside of my blood for who knows how long.

So far the lines have not clogged even though they are being flushed only with saline now and no Heparin.

For this morning's blood check, all levels were still low. But the red and platelet counts were improved a bit. The white count was back down though, so I got a little booster shot for that.

Elizabeth is toughing it out in swim team. The practices are really kicking her behind--she comes home pretty much wiped out. They make them run and do push ups, crunches, leg lifts, and other stuff. But she placed pretty well in her first swim meet.

Deanna has a few so far benign cysts around her thyroid she is dealing with.

We have a signed purchase contract for the Florida house. The process seems to be on track so far, although the buyers' bank is making noise about being unable to approve the loan by the closing date. They want an extension. We're starting to eyeball houses in McKinney.

God Bless you all,

Monday, June 8, 2009

CT Scan tomorrow

I loved Mike's post last night!

Mike is scheduled for a CT Scan tomorrow am and I am asking for prayers. Please pray that there are miraculous results and that the cancer has continued to leave his body.

Sunday, June 7, 2009

Bottoming Out

Dear Friends,

I remember taking a Piper Warrior out of Sacremento on a cross country flight when I was still stationed there. It was a beautiful day, and I headed north. On the way was Mount Shasta, an old volcanic mountain on the northern border of California.

It was so beautiful, I decided to have a closer look. So I descended and circled back to the south, overflying the summit of the mountain. Just after overflying the summit, the aircraft began descending-fast. I checked the aircraft systems, thinking I had lost thrust somehow--but I hadn't. The powerplant and prop and all other systems were working just fine. It became clear in a few seconds that I had encountered a significant downdraft. I applied full power and pitched the aircraft to best climb speed, yet it was still descending down the south slope of Mt Shasta.

Well, I thought, this might be it, as the trees got bigger near the base of the mountain where the terrain flattended out ahead of me.

It was a perfectly sunny day, not a cloud in the sky.

But then, at the base of the mountain, the downdraft stopped and the little single engine plane climbed back up nicely to cruising altitude.

It turned out that higher than forcast winds out of the north were flowing over the mountain, up the north side, and back down on the south side. But at the southern base of the mountain, there was no more downslope left for the downdraft, so it bottomed out and let me go.

I spent a lot more time visualizing wind patterns flowing over terrain after that, and I studied my mountain flying techniques even harder than I had before.

Sometimes you have to just fly the aircraft until it bottoms out. A former colleague used to say something like "You can overcome any challenge with attitude and airspeed." A good saying both for aviation and for life.

After Friday's falling blood count numbers, we were aware that any further fall would require a trip to the ER for some blood transfusions. But Saturday, the numbers imroved a bit, and today they improved a bit more. No ER this time. We bottomed out, and while we are still at low blood counts, they are beginning to slowly increase. The aircraft is on it's way back up.


Friday, June 5, 2009

Friday update


I thought I would blog a quick update.

Medical. The GI Doc stretched me and saw some things he did not like. Necrotic spots in the esophagus and maybe tumor in the stomach again. But then again, the oncologist says that these spots could be a good thing..the tumor tissue dying as a result of the Nexovar drug. It an anti-angeogenisis agent that cuts off the blood supply to cancer. The docs are talking about putting in a feeding tube into my stomach or small intestine, which I am not too thrilled about. They are also talking about removing the PICC and re-installing the port, which I am also not thrilled about. White, red, and platelet levels are all down today--almost down to needing a blood transfusion again. I feel pretty good though--difficult for me to believe all these tests. I am strangely at peace and unworried about these things. Could be in the emergency room this weekend though if the blood levels fall much more. During the week, I can get blood at the day surgery center if needed, but they are not open on the weekend, so we might have to visit the ER folks. They do a great job in the ER, but I would not be high on their priority list, so it can take a long time.

Elizabeth had a great softball game last night. She got a number of outs at first base and scored one run. Did wonders to boost her happiness and self confidence. They have one more game left.

Deanna is at the eye doc right now. One eye has been red and itching her for some time now. Hopefully it will be a quick fix.

We got an offer on our house, which we have accepted! It's at the lower limit of the fair market value range for the house, but after considering all the timing factors, we decided to accept. The market is so slow, we figure that we might spend the price difference of a higher offer before the next one comes along. The house is worth less than what we still owe because of the market drop, so we will have to liquidate some investments to make up for the shortfall, but we should come out okay--with a great credit rating and no debt, positioning us to look for the next house. Thanks to Tom in Tucson for telling us about the expanded Homeowner Assistance Program (HAP). We're putting in an application, and if they accept us, we might be able to get a reimbursement of about 75% of our loss.


Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Requesting your help

I sent this email out today to everyone that I had emails for - but I thought I would post it so we can get help from everyone!

Dear Friends –

I am contacting you to ask for your support to hopefully help us and many others in our situation. As you all know, Mike was diagnosed with stage 4 cancer in September and was medically retired from the AF. Because Mike was retired at 19 years 4 months, we do not qualify for “concurrent receipt” which means both the VA benefit and the AF retirement. The way the law currently reads you have to have over 20 years in to receive that benefit. I have never understood it. If you have been medically retired, especially at 100%, the concurrent receipt can go a long way to help financially. Mike is unable to work, and honestly, I have not been able to work because of Mike’s needs. I am sure that we are not the only ones.

Below is some information from this article:,15240,191302,00.html

President Obama has asked Congress to phase in "concurrent receipt" for all Chapter 61 retirees – those who received a disability retirement from the Department of Defense. This week we explain more details of the plan which, if enacted, would boost pay for 103,000 veterans by more than $2 billion through 2014.Concurrent receipt means being able to receive both VA disability compensation and military retired pay earned for years served. For many decades, retired pay had been reduced by the amount of disability pay. The schedule to expand CRDP to Chapter 61 retirees would begin Jan. 1, 2010, for those having fewer than 20 years of service and VA ratings of 100 or 90 percent. Full retired pay would be restored on schedule dates, rather raised incrementally as was done after CRDP was launched.

So on behalf of Mike and other fellow servicemen, I am asking that you send an email or call or write your Congressman and President to show support for this initiative.
Mike is still doing well and fighting everyday. Thursday, June 4 will be our 9 month anniversary since diagnosis. This is a praise moment because the most time they gave Mike at diagnosis was 9 months. We are blessed to be near family who help out and have supported us both financially and emotionally. We are also blessed by your continued prayers and support.

In His Hand and Holding On!!

Monday, June 1, 2009

Holding Hands

It has been a while since I thought about the title of this blog - In His hand and holding on tightly. My original vision when that came to me was hanging over a cliff and hanging on to his garment for everything I have. Today, the vision that comes to me is holding his hand and him squeezing reassurance that everything will be ok. I trust everything will be ok. Certain in the Uncertainty. The verse that comes to mind is "Cast all your cares on Him, for He cares for you."

Holding hands is such an intimate gesture to me. Do you know it was forever before I allowed myself to hold Mike's hand when we started dating? It was a commitment issue, if I hold his hand it means that I am letting a piece of my heart go, letting him in, showing everything (good and bad). I had no plans on getting involved with anyone. But I finally allowed that connection and was blessed beyond measure. I received so much, more than I ever dreamed. (This is a picture of what it means to finally let go and receive Christ as your Savior).

Mike still amazes me at how well he looks. Better and better everyday. The procedure is over and Mike is asleep in the recliner. His esophagus was down to 7.5 centimeters again. Not at all what we were expecting. He was able to stretch it to a 13 again, but decisions loom. This time, the camera yet again revealed cancerous tissue in the stomach. It also revealed black patches in Mikes esophagus... dead tissue. The doctor is very concerned about doing many more stretches for fear of perforation at the site of the dead tissue. If that happens during the procedure, Mike will die by earthly standards. The GI doctor wants to put in another stent or GTube (feeding tube in the stomach). We have always avoided the feeding tube but apparently there are people that are on it for years. We need to pray about this decision. I can see the advantages of it... be able to juice again for him, organic greens, supplements and off TPN. But there are disadvantages too.

I have called HAP and left a message today to get some clarification on things. Hopefully someone will call back soon. We have also lower the house another $10,000. God willing...

I am emotionally tired today. Oh I can not wait until Jesus returns. What a time that will be...probably just like above- so much more than I ever dreamed!

Holding on!!!

Prayer needs:
Continue healing of cancer in Mike's body
New esophagus for Mike
Medical decisions
House to sell
Us to qualify for HAP
Elizabeth's week full of Elementary Graduation celebrations - that both Mike and I can be at them
My doctor's appointments this week - all will be well and that Mike remains strong so I can make them
Bind Satan from this household
Financial wisdom

Wonderful people at the hospital
One more day
all our needs are met today
God's Promise