Monday, August 31, 2009

MD Anderson - The Miracle Amplified

Hang with me on this one. It may seem odd but I have a point.

First off, Mike's esophagus was stretched again today. It was stretched up to a 10 this time and the GI Doctor was able to get all the way to the stomach. That is a praise. They haven't been able to do that for the last two times. Once in the stomach, no obvious tumor was seen. Remember, when Mike was first diagnosed, there was a grapefruit size tumor that hung down from his EG Junction into his stomach. Praise God!

So I have been digesting MD Anderson - or as some patient relayed to us Most of the Day Anderson :)! In some ways, it is hard to grasp that the "best cancer center in the world" has nothing for you. By nothing I mean, no cure and that there is nothing in the pipeline. That really sucks. It is hard to sit in those meetings and know what they are thinking and yet not saying. Honestly, I don't need them to say it. I have heard it enough.

Here is the real miracle that happened for us at MD Anderson - the fact that Mike is still here is testament to the amazing power of Jesus. It is like when Elizabeth was born. It took a few months, but eventually we held this incredible miracle of God. Then we decided it was time for more, and were never able to conceive again. We even did infertility treatments in Tucson to try and have another child but to no avail and no one could explain why. That processed just amplified the miracle of Elizabeth. She is a gift from our gracious heavenly father.

I am using that same argument for Mike. His life, his survival just to this point is a miracle amplified. September 4 is one year for us. 95% of those diagnosed with stage 4 esophageal cancer don't survive one year. The oncologist at MD Anderson was very surprised that there cancer was not all over his abdomen after the 3 month chemo/treatment break we have taken over the summer due to all kinds of reasons. The cancer appears to be in the same spots. Things don't make sense and yet they do. It is another miracle amplified. There is a battle going on in Mike's physical body, but Jesus has won the spiritual. He is working on the physical body as well.

I also believe that taking MD Anderson out of the picture allows us to fully rely on God and be able to point to Him for the healing. What a testimony right? Even MD Anderson said there was nothing, no treatment left.... but they forgot one - the Greatest Physician, the Greatest Healer..The GREAT I AM. Moses is a great example. Moses was an incredible man and did great things through God and yet he didn't make it to the Promise Land. He got to see it, but he didn't get to cross into it. He was told to speak to the rock for water and instead struck the rock with his staff. God was righteous in the punishment, but gracious in letting Moses also see the Promise land. In my mind, I also think that if Moses had led the Israelites into the promise land, the Israelites would in turn worship him and not God. We all do it. We worship the money and not the provider. We worship the wonderful vacation somewhere exotic, luscious, relaxing and not the creator of the location. We worship the physical beauty of a person and not the One who knitted him in his mother's womb. I chose to look at our trip as an opportunity to take an obstacle out of our path that might have taken away my sight on God.

Finally, Mike and I talked about Paul and the "thorn in his side". Maybe cancer is the thorn in our side. Maybe our life will consist of Chemo, Doctors appointments, insurance, medical bills, and hospital stays. In the end, that is ok as long as we are still doing what we were created to do, point others towards Jesus.

Prayer needs:
Drs appointments tomorrow to discuss treatments here in McKinney
House wisdom - Dear Lord, we are so confused? Please light that path!
Financial Wisdom
Ministry opportunities
To guide Elizabeth

Great weather here in Texas - 80's in August??
MD Anderson - so many are seeing miraculous things
Our home here. It was great to be home as a family
One more day!

Friday, August 28, 2009

Houston Trip Report

Dear Friends,

Well, we got back from Houston late yesterday so I thought I would blog a trip report before the weekend.

Wednesday, we had the day off in Houston while they worked on all the tests we did Tuesday. So we slept in late to get back some of the rest we had lost over the previous several days. We spent the afternoon at the Houston science museum at the terra cotta warrior exhibit from China's first emperor. It was fabulous! Well worth it if you have the chance to go. Then we spent the evening with Deanna's cousin and his beautiful family at their home. I was able to eat quite a bit of food normally.

On Thursday morning, we saw the doc again. The summary of the testing was that there has been little overall change since the last round of scans 4 months ago. The PET scan had some hot spots this time. However, after some research I discovered that in addition to active cancer, a PET scan can be set off by other things like inflammation, infection, and even dying cancer cells. That is why they always get a CT to go along with it and measure tumor size. Doc pulled up the Tuesday CT scan and the previous one for comparison and showed us two liver lesions. He thought the first one was slightly larger this time. The second had split into two halves with normal looking tissue in a gap between them. This one was rather like looking at a large thunderstorm on a radar scope when it begins to die. They often split into several smaller cells before they dissipate. The blood work and EKG were normal. He said he was surprised by the test results. Apparently he thought they should have been much worse, considering that there has been basically no chemo since the last round of scans.

I asked about all the advanced things they have at MD Anderson--the proton therapy, lasers, chroma, ultrasound, genetics, etc--and he said I was simply too far gone to qualify for any of these. Apparently, you only get advanced therapies if your cancer is easy to treat. If your cancer is hard to treat, you only get good old chemo. Seems somewhat backwards to me. No Soup For You!

He suggested three different types of chemo that may be easier on my blood, which we'll be discussing with our local doc this Tuesday. One of the first questions they asked me on Tuesday was what would I do if the only treatment available was chemo. I'm quite happy with my oncologist's chemo skills, so I told them we would not stay in Houston just for chemo. We would return to McKinney.

He made one more interesting comment. He said that patients that get esophageal surgery often have scarring that requires them to get stretched every week or so for up to a year--and then they are good to go. My GE doc said I have scarring in the maybe after a year of stretching maybe it will be good to go too.

We returned to the hotel, checked out, and loaded up the van, and then took the shuttle back to MD Anderson. The nutritionist had an earlier opening, so we went in early for our last appointment. She gave us a case of a new liquid food to try in the feeding tube. Tried it for the first time today. Still had intestinal distress, but not as bad as the other stuff.

That was the last appointment, so we went over to the hotel attached to the complex, the Rotary House. Great lunch at the Oaks restaurant, followed by a trip to the gift shop, and then hit the road for home.

It was a goal for so long to pursue the surgery, it seems I should be disappointed. But I'm not. This is simply a set of doors that we have confirmed are closed and that we don't to worry about any more. Deanna felt like we weren't meant to be there. We got okay test results, although not as good as we would have liked, got to visit a bit of Houston, see some family, to meet some fellow cancer fighters. It was a worthwhile trip.

Had a blood check today and numbers were ok. Will get stretched again Monday and see the doc Tuesday. Could be another round of chemo Wednesday or so.

Elizabeth got a different locker at school today, which will greatly relieve her stress.

The bank counter offered full price on the house. It is not worth their price, nor could we afford it anyway, so that one is off the table for now.

Thank you all for your continued prayers.

Yours in Christ,

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Deanna and Mike blog together

I can not even describe to you the emotions today. We arrived in Houston at 11:30 last night. We got to bed around 1:00 and honestly, had a restless night. My dear sweet husband got up and went down to the lobby and brought me breakfast in bed. How did I get so lucky? One thing that cancer has done has shown how the smallest of gestures speak the greatest of our love. I love him so much.

I struggled so much with the absolute anxiety about this place. It is huge. I told the shuttle van driver that it is like "Disney World of Cancer" - a city within a city. There are tons of buildings that make up this place. They have there own water, electricity, and police force. There is hotels, restaurants, construction, gift shops, library, art, water fountains, friendly people that work here, and even a Chick-fil-a (Dena!). But there are also a mind boggling number of people with cancer. Something is really wrong... young, old, male, female, .. We as a "people" are missing something somewhere. How is it that we can send people in outer space, smash atoms to create more elements, and yet this goes on without check really? What is it in the body that causes the first cell to turn cancerous? Is there something in the environment? Could it be plastic? Could it be processed food, fast food, corn syrup? I don't know, but when this is one (of many) cities that are created, and booming by all the construction I might add, we need to take notice.

So back to the day, Mike did a tube feeding this morning and then threw up. We think it is something in the two-cal formula that is making him feel so bad. We are going to meet with a nutritionist here on Thursday and hopefully get this figured out so he can gain weight.

We took the shuttle here from the hotel and found the main building and made our way to new patient in process. That was quick and we headed to our first appointment ahead of schedule. That was the last thing we got to on time. We saw Dr. Ho who had an incredible list of degrees and was really nice. It was really a "what have you done and where are you at" meeting. The appointment was at 2:00 and we left the office at 4:36. We were told to get to the lab since it closes at 4:30. We showed up at the lab and got an EKG and blood work. They got it on the first stick!! Then ---

(That was Deanna's writing. She is done for the evening, watching tv now.) Not true. I was writing it while waiting on Mike at the CT Clinic and then he was there and we had 15 minutes to catch the last shuttle!! _Deanna

My wife deserves breakfast in bed every day!

We faxed in our offer contract for the potential house before we left for our first appointment. It's funny, the last house we looked at was kind of a gut check. The house was attractively priced and was pretty much move in ready. It would have kept Elizabeth in the same middle school she just started. But it also had detractors by location. It would have put a four lane, high speed traffic road between Elizabeth and her friends and family. And it would have put her in a different high school from them as well in three years. After sleeping and praying on it, I decided the proximity to friends and family and keeping Elizabeth with her network through high school was more important than the price. We did not put in an offer on that house.

So I had a little list that went something like this: I need a 3 bedroom, 2 bath, 3 car garage, single story, pool in back, in this neighborhood, and oh by the way it has to be below this price to fit in our budget. Guess what happens when you put that criteria into a real estate search engine? You get no matches, and you can almost hear the computer laughing at you.

But God apparently was listening, because a house with the exact criteria I listed popped up yesterday as a foreclosure. So despite the rush to get to Houston, we took the time to take a look. Now it's no beauty queen mind you...needs a lot of dings patched, some framing replaced, one interior door replaced, and a few other things...but I think God just dropped the right house right into our laps at just the right time. Isn't it neat how he does that? Well, we'll see how the negotiation goes and hopefully it will pass all the inspections and be easily fixed up.

MD Anderson is indeed a city within the city of Houston. Impressive and profoundly sad at the same time, that entire cities are built around this evil we call cancer.

I did some research into one of the ingredients in my liquid food called FOS (fructo-oligo-sacharide), and found out it causes severe intestinal distress in some people. Looks like I might be one of them. Makes you wonder why some idiot would put it in a food for people with compromised GI systems. It's an artificial a food tube liquid food that patients will never taste. Brilliant! Time to start looking for a new type of liquid food, I think.

After the EKG we went over to the CT area. Which requires you to ride a golf cart through a sky tube over the streets below to get to a different MD Anderson building. It was raining outside--God blessed me again. I love to watch the rain. In the CT room I saw a new gadget. It shines a green light on your arm and makes the veins visible beneath the skin so the IV insertion goes smoother. Only one stick!

The CT here had a new twisted requirement than other CTs I have had. Radioactive stuff was induced into my body in three different spots--one of which was not particularly comfortable and allowed 3 techs, two women and one man, to gain views of me that were embarrassing. All in the name of science, I suppose.

While we waited, Deanna chatted with other cancer fighters and I played my submarine game on the netbook, happily sinking a number of destroyers before a torpedo failure doomed me.

On the way out, while we waited for the shuttle, we met a security guard who had been a fillipino air force major! Then, after a quick stop at Krogers for some food, we retreated back to the hotel.

I think we have tomorrow off. I think we're going to a museum and to visit Deanna's cousin.

Oh, and we hear that Elizabeth had a good second day at school today.

God Bless,

Monday, August 24, 2009

On the way to Houston

We’re driving to Houston as I write. Please pass along our humble prayer requests:

That God would use us in Houston to bless someone who needs it.
That God would manifest full healing to decisively defeat this cancer—and that we can move on to serving Him even more.
Supernatural skill for all the healers at MD Anderson.
Safe travel.
Peace and joy and health for my wife and daughter—Elizabeth started a new school today, lots of stress.
We have just put in an offer to buy a house—wisdom that this would go according to God’s will as well.

As head of my family, I have made two decisions today without a lot of time and a lot of pressure. (To take Deanna away from Elizabeth to be with me in Houston and to put in the offer on the house.) That He would grant me wisdom to have made the right decisions and that He will forgive me and correct my mistakes if I have erred.

Will post more tommorow evening after our first volley of appointments.

God Bless,

Friday, August 21, 2009

Great Small things

Mike had his PET Scan today. No results yet. We will hopefully get the report on Monday afternoon before we head to MD Anderson.

I made reservations for a hotel down near MD Anderson - MainStay Suites. It has a kitchen, laundry facilities, and a shuttle that can take us to and from the hospital. (Save on parking fees that way). Tricare will reimburse some expenses with receipts to include hotel, gas, and food. We will leave late Monday. I will post everyday we are down there!

The "Praise God" thing for today is that Mike has put some food down his mouth. The GI doctor said that he would only be able to tolerate clear liquids and Mike has eaten mash potatoes mixed to a thin consistency with gravy, apple butter mixed with water, chicken noodle soup blended to oblivion in the Vitamix, and even banana bread. I don't know how to explain it and I haven't made a big deal out of it in front of Mike, but my heart is singing loudly to the Lord. He wants to eat so bad. He hates the feeding tube and the formula. Thank you God for THIS day and THIS small but huge blessing.

Back to family night in front of the DVD player... Race to Witch Mountain is the movie of choice..

Prayer needs:
PET Scan results - miraculous news
Mike continues to eat food and gain weight
Details for trip to MD Anderson - everything from packing Elizabeth, to packing us and all the nitty gritty things that this trip will entail
School - lift Elizabeth up as she goes at this without us for a few weeks..
Me - that I can handle not being there for Elizabeth and for all the unknowns that we are about to encounter

Pool full of laughing girls
Family nights together

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Sometimes, a Girl Just Needs her Dad!

Elizabeth and Braces (with softball injury on chin!). She chose pink and turquoise rubber bands
Sometimes a Girl just needs her Dad!

This morning started early for both Mike and I. We were blessed to have Doug Howard pop in last night and stay with us for a very short, but very awesome visit. He arrived around dinner time, we ate, talked, and went swimming. We tried to fill him in on everything in a few short hours before we headed to bed.
We woke up and were at the hospital by 6:30 am with donuts in tow for our beloved nurses in the day surgery. Our GI doctor came in on vacation to stretch Mike and Mike really needed it. Mike was almost completely closed up to the size of a pin hole. Mike was no longer able to drink anything by mouth. He was able to stretch Mike to 8 cm this time. (In the past, it was 11 - 13 cm). Praise Jesus for the stretch as Mike was able to drink water and juice for the first time in 4 days. The doctor is convinced there is a tumor in the upper part of his stomach and around the outside of esophagus that we can not see that is squeezing things shut. He saw no physical evidence (scar tissue again this time), but it is the only thing that makes sense in his mind. We have a PET Scan on Friday and we should know the results on Monday. That will give us the true answer. I refuse to go there. I know Mike is losing weight rapidly right now. He is down to 156. But I really believe it is related to dehydration from the closure of esophagus and the diarrhea issues with the feeding tube. Now that I have taken a nap, I will not fear.
We had another great nurse today whose son is in the AF and works with Ejection Seats. The nurse and Mike talked a long time sharing stories. She was so caring and everyone wants to hear how MD Anderson goes. We are supposed to stop back in when we get back.
Then we came home to discover Doug had spoiled Elizabeth rotten. He changes some light bulbs for me and took Elizabeth shopping for softball shoes, an Edible Arrangement, PetSmart, Target, and Chick-fil-a. All that in a matter of 2 hours. I am still not quite clear how Doug knew that Elizabeth has ALWAYS wanted an edible arrangement, but to be honest, it was yummy. Especially the chocolate dipped bananas. Thank you Doug for everything. You trip was well timed and loved.

After Doug left, both Mike and I ended up taking Elizabeth to get her braces. Elizabeth was excited about getting them until the actual moment that it came to leave. Mike asked her if she wanted him to go with, and she said please. That moment makes me cry. That is what we are fighting for moments when only your Dad will take you by the hand and make everything ok. Sometimes a girl just needs her Daddy, right? Course I went too, so it was a big family outing to the orthodontist!
Prayer Needs:
Mike to gain weight
Negative PET Scan
God's Will and Strength and Reassurance
Elizabeth and her braces - care, pain, and quick straightening
Deanna - all the details to leave to MD Anderson
A drink of water - Mike praised Jesus all afternoon everytime he took a drink
That God is bigger than Doctors!

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Entering busy phase here

We have spent the last few days actively trying to find a house to live in here in McKinney. We actually put in an offer on a house that seems to fit, only to discover that the owners have no desire to sell the house for what it is worth. So in the meantime, our #2, and #3 houses all went under contract. We are now sitting here scratching our heads trying to listen to what God has planned for us. We narrowed our scope of houses to Elizabeth Middle School (so she doesn't have to start over for the 5th time in 2 years) and to our price range and house size. It is not as easy as it sounds because we want a house that hasn't been smoked in, has a Master bedroom on ground floor, is no bigger than around 2400 square feet, and is a ranch. It is really funny because it seemed as soon as we got everything we needed in order to put in offers, houses started falling off the MLS. Mike reminds me that we need to be patient and keep praying and seeking God. Maybe he has something else in mind. I have to watch myself though. I confess that I laid my heart out before God and was respectfully honest in asking if he could at least make this simple or give me a sign, a voice something. In the end, we are in the same place that we have been for so long... counting on God to give us direction for our life and only His direction.

I think I can explain this best with a visual illustration - when Mike was diagnosed almost a year ago, it was like we were placed in this small, tight cinder block box. Barely enough room to breath. But slowly God chipped away the cinder blocks to reveal a bigger, card board box with windows. Then the windows turned into a door that we walked through (medical procedures/treatments) and now we are living in this large glass building. There is room to laugh, play, worship, breathe, but yet we are still confined. You can see outside and are just waiting for God to shatter the glass into a million pieces so we can walk outside and into whatever He has for us.

This week will be busy. It is the last week of summer and we are making all the preparations for school and our trip to Houston. Doug Howard is coming in on Tuesday and going to spend the night with us. It is God's perfect timing, because Mike is getting another Esophageal Stretch on Wednesday morning. His esophagus is so tight. He has issues sipping tea today. He goes in at 6:30 am and Elizabeth is scheduled for braces at 2:00 pm. I am praying that everything goes well with no complications so that I can be at everything. Mike has a PET Scan on Friday and a doctor's appointment on Tuesday. Again, I am praying... the PET scan has to be negative for surgery to be an option when we go to MD Anderson. I also need to track down our "medical orders" from Tricare in order to get some of the travel, mileage and hotel paid for. I have called the person in charge twice a day for 4 days now. I will try again tomorrow and then go back to our case manager and try to figure out the next step.

I don't know how I feel about MD Anderson. I am nervous at not knowing what to expect. I have heard it is a maze of hospitals and that they even have buses for people to board to get around the campus. I am nervous about Mike's weight. He seems thinner to me. We got a higher calorie thing for the feeding tube, but it hasn't made a huge difference in the 2 days that we have been using it.

This has been another posting/sounding board/therapy session for me tonight. Thanks for letting me get all this off my chest. The only thing going round in round in my head tonight is the song from church that we sang. It is the same song that we listened to everyday while we were in Sarasota that Rhonda sent us on a CD...

I'm in a fight now physical. I'm in a war, but not of this world. You are light that is beautiful and I want more. I want more that is yours. Joy unspeakable that won't go away, just enough strength to live for today. So I never have to worry what tomorrow will bring'Cause my faith is on solid rock. I am counting on God!

Prayer needs:
Mike - gain weight, negative PET Scan, Esophageal Stretch - God's protection and more Praise Jesus moments!
Deanna - patience and strength and focus on the important things
Elizabeth - great last week of summer
God's direction for housing
My mother's healing. She is out of the hospital, but no where near well

Family pictures!! We took them tonight
Family, friends, and everyone

A BIG THANK YOU to everyone that sent cards, gift cards, and gifts for Mike's birthday. That was the most fun ever. He got over 100 cards and it was great to open them. Some where funny, some had pictures, some had Starbucks cards!... We laugh, cried, did the "do you remember when ..." thing and they were the best present ever. Everyone.

Saturday, August 15, 2009

Elizabeth's Middle School Update and Belle's Corner

Hello friends and family,

Just doing a quick post on things happening lately.I figured out what I was doing wrong with my locker (it kept getting stuck) apparently your not supposed to push in the dial (whoops). Anyhow middle school will probably be insane (my locker is on the complete other side of the school from 1st period :(. and the 2nd floors aren't connected.I start school on the 24th.Oh and I am also getting braces on the 19th.the Orthodontist says I will probably have them for 18 to 24 mo.Softball season is getting up to speed .We have an awesome team this year.The Yellow Jackets are back!!!

BELLE'S CORNER (my new addition)

Belle is doing good.Yesterday I got her a plush squeaky toy.......torn inside out and gone ( the fluff was everywhere). Then we had a swim party.... Belle had her first taste of frosting (someone dropped a cupcake...oops!). She is currently sitting in the office chair with me:)

Best Wishes,

Belle Shiloh and Elizabeth......


Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Who was that man??

Are you still with us?? Sorry about the silence. It has been crazy. My mother is in the hospital with a nasty lung infection and of course this happened the same day my aunt flew into town for a vacation. So all plans were tossed out the window and Mary had the privilege of staying with us for a few days. I did wash the sheets, but she had to make the bed!!

Someone out there turned on a switch because our life was moving at a nice slow pace and now things seem to be going full steam. Everything is in motion for us to go to MD Anderson on August 25. The first day of school is August 24, so we will get her off to school, pack the car, make sure Elizabeth is tucked in at Aunt Kathy's and head out from there. Elizabeth is not excited about us leaving her first week of middle school. But this trip is very important on so many fronts and we have to stop postponing treatment.

We also received our VA eligibility certificate, applied for a loan, and are back in the housing market. We looked at 5 houses today and will put an offer in tomorrow. The pace and the heat has done Mike in a little bit.

We had middle school orientation this morning for Elizabeth. She had to register and then she got her class schedule. I shelled out way too much money for miscellaneous things. We found her locker and we believe she can open it. She also had the opportunity to practice the bell schedule and find her way to her classes. The weird thing is that this middle school is the High School I graduated from so many years ago. One of my high school basketball coaches is still there. So many memories!!

Elizabeth spent the weekend with the middle school group for "KickStart Weekend". The 6th graders went to host homes, had bible lessons, ate junk food, slept (?), and went to the waterpark. This was a huge leap for us and she did well. Mike and I also spent some time trying to get to know where we can volunteer in the middle school area.

Sunday, Mike, Elizabeth and I drove to Ft Worth to Nations Worship Center for Mike to give his testimony. It was one of those moments that I will never forget. I am at a loss for words to describe it. I recognized Mike, but at the same time who was that man?? His story was compelling, true, and full of scripture. He talked about healing, about tithing, about forgiveness, about Jesus. It was so good. We were in church over 2 hours in the most freeing worship service I have ever been too. People prayed in tongues, worshipped with music, dancing, horns, flags and just filled the hall with glorious praise. I am hoping to get an audio, and if I do, I will post it somehow.

Today, Mike went to the doctor and has loss another 2 pounds. The formula that we are using is not enough calories. I have found Peptomin 1.5 which has almost double the calories than the Jevitiy that we are currently using. I have to call the doctor in the morning to give him the name. In the meantime, I have ordered Benecalories which has 300 calories in 1.5 ounces of fluid. I am a firm believer that the weight loss is not related to the cancer. It is coming off gradually and I know what he is eating via the tube. He is not getting enough calories. The GI doctor, the one that is always so blunt, had the nurse relay to me that it is probably the cancer in Mike's stomach progressing. I had to laugh. Everytime.. it is the cancer progressing.... and yet it is not. I refuse to believe it this time as well.

Mike does have a PET Scan on August 21. So all will be revealed soon.

Prayer needs:
Mike to gain weight
All the details for MD Anderson
PET Scan - that it is negative for cancer
House.. God's will not ours
Time and paper management - the paperwork is crazy right now
Middle School for Elizabeth - that she will be a light, make Godly choices, and that she will achieve everything that God intends for her life
Sleep for me
My mother's healing and for sleep for my father. I know how hard long hospital stays can be

We are house hunting
One more day
The ability to go and testify about the incredible miracles in our lives
New friends

Thursday, August 6, 2009

Brief Update

Dear Friends,

We restarted Nexovar for two days because one of my docs wasn't completely convinced that it was affecting my blood levels. The levels dropped again this morning, so now he is convinced and we have stopped Nexovar again. There is another anti-angeogenisis agent from the homeopathic world, so I might ask the Doc next week if we can try that one.

We are on track for MD Anderson. Our first appointment is with a medical oncologist on August 25. From there, he will farm us out to other MD Anderson specialists, hopefully including the surgeon. I could not talk them into sending me directly to the surgeon. They told me to be prepared to spend about a week and a half.

It's been a while since I've visited Houston. The last time, I was cross training from the offensive to the defensive seat in the B-1 bomber. We took a B-1 into the last airshow at Bergstrom AFB before it shut down, so we were able to support the airshow and get some formal training sorties done at the same time. The whole city treated us really well. I'm looking forward to visiting the city again.

Thank you all for sending the birthday cards. The stack was several inches high! You know, after Job's lengthy ordeal, God blessed him with, among many other things, a new family. I feel as if I have been given new family as well. In my case though, I was doubly blessed because I started this journey with a wonderful family and I have not lost them as Job lost his. My family has simply expanded.

This Sunday I get to meet some members of my new family. I've been invited to speak at a church in Ft Worth that has been praying for me.

Some prayer requests:

My mother-in-law, a fellow cancer fighter, going to the hospital as I write with bronchitis/pneumonia.

Blood levels to go back up after Nexovar.

A favorable PET scan scheduled 21 August.

Wisdom to deal with an Elizabeth/youth group issue that has cropped up.

Fruitful trip to Houston

Wisdom as we begin looking at mortgage stuff.

Wisdom to speak fruitfully on Sunday, to be a blessing to the church in Ft Worth.

Love in Christ,

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Pictures for the rest of the story

These are some pictures of the some of the people that I have blogged about over the past 11 months. It is 11 months today. I had the camera with me on Sunday night and was able to get pictures. I don't want to leave the impression by posting these pictures, that one person is more important than others. First of all, Jesus trumps everyone. Second, you can not walk this journey with one person. It takes a community of people from all over, doing all sorts of things, meeting all needs, to walk this "death sentence" of cancer that we were given. It is a perfect example of the body of Christ. Some days, God used an email. Some days, God used a monetary gift. Some days, God used a visit. One day, God used Relay for Life. AND some days, God used quiet. Make no mistake, God used it all from everyone.
As we celebrate this day, I want to say thank you to everyone, and especially family, for walking us here, to this day. Mike should be dead according to doctors, but God had a different plan. How do you put a value on a day? One more day to be a man of God, a father, a husband, a friend, and most of all an inspiration...
This is do you start that one?? This woman would stand toe to toe with Satan and not back down or blink once. She knows, beyond a shadow of a doubt, Jesus and the real picture. She was given a death sentence like us 8 years ago and here she is. Like her brothers, with every breath she takes, she lives for Jesus. She has walked us through some of the darkest days. I remember when she sat in bed with Mike in Sarasota and told him when she sees the signs that he is dying, she will tell him. She has been God's physical hands, God's audible voice, and God's kicking boot when needed (it has been needed sometimes too!)

This is Pierre. When I opened the door in Sarasota last October, I had no idea what God had just brought to our lives! His ministry is KMMI and he is on fire for God. He tells Elizabeth the best way to bring people to the Lord is to just love them. He travels all over the world, can sing incredible Praises, speak of God's transforming power, and laugh!! He has prayed with us, worshipped with us, stayed all hours in the ER and hospital with us, and he has become an incredible mentor to Elizabeth.

This is Merlin Bise - Melissa's brother and co-owner of Giact. He is an encourager and a man that incorporates God as part of his daily life. I say that has a very high compliment. God just is apart of his life, his work, and his basketball. He walks it every moment in everyday life.

This is Evelyn Hopson. This dear friend works at Giact and has a gift of order. She was also a nurse. She put so many hours into organzing everything from Doctor's appointments to paperwork for us when we got her to Texas. She also taught me what Mike's level of care needs to be at the hospital and also about cleaning hospital rooms. I think to the first hospital stay to the last one we had. She would be very proud!

This is Craig Church of Craig Church Ministries in North Carolina ( They have been praying for Mike and he also visited us in the hospital this past month. Another man filled with the Holy Spirit -it is just such a tangible thing that you can't put into words when you meet him.

This is Bruce Bise. He was the one that gave us from Prison to Praise and thought us how to Praise God even when in the depths. It is freeing and joyful and puts things in perspective.

Mike and Pastor Hermon. Amazing man and was the one that first prayed healing over Mike over the phone on our way to Sarasota, FL. Mike felt hands moving in his stomach. He was also the one that prayed with us in the ER that when Mike's blood count was at 3 and he should have been dead. Amazing Godly, man. Filled with Holy Spirit. Spends a lot of time in Phillipines.

Belle - our "When we Retire" Dog

Fran our wonderful Chemo Nurse

Monday, August 3, 2009

GO, GOD, GO!!!

I think this might be a long post. SO much has happened. I will get the medical stuff out of the way first -

1. We are still waiting on an appointment time at MD Anderson. We called again today and they are waiting on records from our doctor. Mike called them and will be going there tomorrow for blood work. He plans to harass them until it is done.

2. Mike went to the doctor this morning by himself. I took Elizabeth to get spacers in her teeth and xrays of her head for braces. His numbers are down (platelets and White Blood Cell) so he got a shot for the White Blood Cell and we are stopping the Nexavar once again. We have been back on it for a week and Mike's blood counts are going down again. If the numbers go back up, we have found the culprit. Nexavar is an angiogensis drug that prevents new blood supply in the body - thus preventing cancer from finding a new food source to grow. Or that is the theory anyway.

3. Mike's stomach is sore. If he bumps the tube, it hurts. Everyone thinks it might be another side effect of the Nexavar. The sight is not red and he is not running a fever, but it is something that we need to watch and pray over.

This weekend was full of great surprises. We had a visit from Angie McCue and 3 of her kids. Angie and John were our neighbors at Dyess AFB. She is the one that I got the chocolate chip cookie recipe from and the one that took all those great pictures of Elizabeth that are in our house. Angie brought us 8 loaves of homemade bread. 3 fresh and 5 frozen. It is the BEST bread ever. It reminds me of my grandma's bread. (Just wish I had some rhubarb jelly!!).

We also got a visit from Lisa Rhodenbaugh and some of her boys to include Joshua. Lisa is a great non-military friend from Tucson. Joshua and Elizabeth were good friends at the time we left Tucson. Our house was just overflowing with love, laughter, friends, some tears, and Jesus. It justs brings so much joy. Thank you ladies. Thank you.

Elizabeth was John the Baptist this weekend at church in "Life School Musical". She had big role and did so well. She really surprised both Mike and I how good she was. She loves to be on stage, but she had a role with the meat of the gospel message. She really understood what she was saying and really said the lines. Proud Parent Moment for sure.

Sunday-- this was a big day. We were invited to participate in GIACT's 5 year anniversary. They also included in this celebration Merlin's birthday and Mike's birthday. I have said this before, but Giact was given as a vision to Melissa by God and it is a company that truly lives out the gospel in the business world. They set aside 10% for God's glory and support churches, missionaries, people in need (like us), and so many more worthy projects. We got to meet everyone. There is amazing ministry going on all over the world. I am hoping to download the pictures of everyone very soon. It is so exciting to be in a room where you can feel the pulse of God and hear about people reaching others for Christ SO MANY different ways. I felt like this big cheerleader - "Go God Go!" and "Go Giact Go!" Actually, that is a good title for the weekend - between Elizabeth preaching the gospel on stage, friends ministering to our hearts, and Giact's celebration -- GO, God, GO!!!

Guess what has come out of Giact's celebration? Mike will be going to Cedar Hill on Sunday to give his testimony for Pastor Herman's church. It is his first opportunity to go and "declare the miraculous work of the Lord" to a church that has been praying for him since day one.

Prayer needs:
Mike to gain more weight and eat more
His stomach and the pain/soreness
MD Anderson - God's perfect timing and perfect care
Financial wisdom as we wait for our VA eligibility certificate and buying our house
HAP program - that we qualify
Hedge of protection for Mike, Elizabeth and I as we prepare for the weekend.
That Mike's testimony will be honoring to God and that God will use Mike for His glory to further His Kingdom
For Giact -- continued prosperity and focus on the true priorities in life and that God will use them to move mountains!

For the joy that He delivered this weekend
Baptism of John, Jenny and Jared (neighbors)
Spend the nights
Shark Week on Discovery Channel -