Wednesday, September 30, 2009
Thank you so much for your continued prayers.
Medical. This morning red, white, and platelet counts were all slightly improved. And...today I weighed in at 145 (versus 144 yesterday). So watch out, the fat man cometh! It was not that long ago that I was about 100 pounds heavier and trying hard to lose weight. Funny how much things can change in a year. Doc was so pleased he gave me tommorow off. Don't have to get checked again till Friday.
You know, I remember one day before cancer, driving to work, and thinking to myself that I had learned a lot about God through our churches and Bible studies, but that I still had a somewat distant and cerebral relationship with Him. I remember asking Him to do something to bring me closer to Him in the heart. Perhaps God chose to answer this prayer through cancer. After all, does the book not say something about God using the stone that was rejected for the cornerstone? If so, I must work on my heart to be grateful, even for cancer, because I am definitely closer in heart to God than ever before. And I do not want that to end. I think I would rather keep this closeness and the cancer than be healed and lose the closeness. (Of course I say that bravely now, but maybe not so much the next time they decide to stick me with 9 IVs, pump HAZMAT chemicals into me, or suck some marrow out of me.)
My friend Gary from Tucson, who built his own airplane from a kit, is flying it here tommorow for a visit on his way eastward. I am so glad he is able to stop for a visit. Now that I have discovered that I may be able to fly again, I have about a million things to talk to him about. Plus it's just been to long since we've seen each other. It will be great to catch up.
After doing some more research, I am pretty sure Granny has scabies and the doctor misdiagnosed her. She is actually catching the little bugs and killing them. Their appearance, behavior, and timing all match the description of scabies on the internet. The doctor only looked at her back for 5 seconds and did not take a skin sample for pathology testing, as he should have. She is miffed at pretty much all doctors and will not go back, and the doctor will not prescribe the proper medication over the phone to kill the bugs. He only presribed her a lotion that will ease the itching somewhat, but not kill the bugs. So I am looking for a homeopatchic remedy that I can have sent to her house. Please keep her in your prayers and that I will find a good homeopathic for her. She always treats me like royalty and it hurts to think of her suffering from these bugs. Ironically, she most likely got them from her last visit to the hospital.
After getting some very wise advice from my father in law and brother in law, we have elected to put the house purchase on hold. The foreclosure we were looking at sold to someone else, likely for more than what it's worth. And the three build sites we were looking at all have potential issues that could manifest in the long run to cause big problems. So we are zooming back out to wide angle mode and resuming the search. Timing to buy a house could be as late as spring time. In the mean time, I'm getting mortgage good-faith-estimates from three local banks that participate in the Texas vets housing assistance program that gives us the .5% off on the interest rate. So soon we should have numbers to compare and will be able to pick a bank and get our pre-approval and application in. I haven't decided yet--but one of the loan officers is an Air Force spouse (retired husband), and she seems really sharp--so I have a warm fuzzy this is going to work out. God's timing, not ours.
The flying thing has really been bothering me. It sucks up so many family resources and it could really damage our family if it's not done just right. I need to spend a lot more time thinking and praying about it. I am so worried that it could drive a wedge between me and Deanna. I will put it away forever before I let that happen. She is my true blessing and my treasure, not a chunk of aluminum, now matter how cool it flies.
Elizabeth is doing great at school. After getting off to a rough start, she seems to have figured out how to get her act together and is getting A's now, including a fair number of perfect papers. She also had a great softball game last night. Got a bunch of people out as first baseman, smacked a deep outfield hit and was able to get a homerun out of it due to some defense fumbling, and finished up pitching the last inning where she did pretty good as well. She is beaming. I remember thinking in Florida that just once I wanted to see her really smack one good-she was having a lot of trouble batting. And last night I got to see it!
Deanna is doing well too, off at a girl's Bible study right now.
Please pray for my medical stuff as always, but also that God would grant me wisdom as I make big family decisions about the house, the airplane, and my Granny.
Yours in Christ,
Sunday, September 27, 2009
It's been an eventful week, a lot of things to report. I suppose we'll start with medical. We finished the first round of the new chemo on Tuesday with relatively low side effects. Some fatigue and chemo brain, mostly in the afternoon and subsiding by evening, and no nausea. White counts and red counts, strangely enough, improved on their own without booster shots. The platelets did decrease slightly. So I shall have about two more weeks off before we do round two of the new chemo.
I had an interesting conversation with a medical professional I see occasionally who shed some light on advanced treatments. He said that the companies that develop advanced treatments need to show good success statistics to get them approved. So to improve those statistics, they often reserve advanced treatments for patients in the early stages of disease. Which caused him great frustration, because it often prevented him from giving advanced stage patients the advanced treatments that might help them the most. What a great system.
The tube feeding is going much better. We tried a number of different canned liquid foods, which all failed by causing me great intestinal distress. So my fabulous wife concocted our own blend of liquid food in the Vita Mix turbo blender machine. It has protein from brown rice bran. You need protein, but animal source proteins require an enzyme that your body also uses to fight cancer, so it should be from a plant. And soy protein has something that mimics estrogen that can also interfere with cancer fighting. So brown rice bran seems to be a good source. It also includes a powder based on leafy green plants and liquid wheat grass juice. These contain lots of cancer fighting elements. The natural healers call it turning on your "green shield". Deanna also adds a number of vitamin and mineral supplements. My weight seems to have stabilized, and my intestinal distress is far better. My wife has outsmarted all the big national companies and their labs that concoct the liquid food!
I have a check up appointment tomorrow, so it will be interesting to see the official weight and blood counts.
I discovered that the Texas legislature passed a very generous measure that eliminates property taxes for 100% disabled vets. This will make it easier for us to buy a house. In addition, on October 22, we will have resided in Texas for a year, making me eligable to receive a .5% discount on the mortgage rate, another very generous Texas measure for 100% disabled vets. We are looking at a development here in McKinney, and I am about 90% certain that we will sign a build/purchase contract tommorow. We have selected a single story, 4 bedroom, 2.5 bath, 3 car garage plan.
The blog title today is a rough quote from the original Battlestar Galactica series. A virus runs through the fleet's fighter pilots, and they of course get attacked from the aliens. Boomer, one of their top fighter pilots, decides to fly even though he is sick. The commander stops him and says, You can't fly, you can barely even stand up. Boomer's reply is the title. I have discovered that I may still be able to safely do some limited flying, even with all my medical issues. I am very excited about this, and dreaming up all sorts of ways to serve God with flying!
All in all, God has been very good to us this week, gracious, kind, full of healing and provision!
In addition to my usual request for prayers for health, I would also humbly ask that you pray that I have wisdom regarding this house purchase tommrow. Also, my Grandmother has some kind of skin problem plaging her -might be scabbies-that it would be healed as well. She is 85, has alot of other health issues, and just doesn't need to have this piled on as well.
Yours in Christ,
Sunday, September 20, 2009
Mike's esophagus has closed down again. We need to get stretched, but can't to that until after we complete the round of chemo on Tuesday. We are relying on his tube for nutrition again. However, we are not using any of the canned stuff like before due to the nasty side effects of that stuff. I am making it for him. We are using a brown rice protein supplement, a raw food powder, flax seed oil, and vitamins. I usually will mix that up in either coconut water or almond milk. We have been on this for 2 days now. Hopefully, he will not have lost any more weight. At last check Mike has fallen below 150 pounds. He is so thin, but his energy level is great. It is weird. So while I am greatly concerned about it, it is easier to deal with because of the other signs. Please continue to lift this concern in prayer.
While I am on the subject, Mike still continues to take the following:
- Wheat Grass - 1 oz everyday
- Haelan - a fermented soy protein drink from China that has shown great results with cancer. In fact there is a medical trial going on at MD Anderson using this beverage. It tastes nasty. Mike drinks what he can and then we put the rest in his tube.
- Aloe - about 2 oz per day
- Blackraspberry powder - great antioxidant and shows promise specifically with precancerous cells in esophagus. Ohio University is doing some trials and testing with this
- Mannatech Ambrotose - a glyconutritional supplement - promotes cell communication
- Cell Power - supports oxygen to cells
- Vitality C - blogged about this before and the powers of Vitamin C and cancer
I know that each one of these things has a specific place in fighting this fight. I do wish it would be covered by insurance, but I know there will be a time and place where traditional medicine and homeopathic will come together.
Elizabeth and I (Mike wanted to but his white count was too low) had a opportunity to serve McKinney and God yesterday at Kohl's department store for Clothe-a-child. This is an event where at least 5 churches come together to clothe kids in need. I think they clothed over 650 kids. Each child that qualifies gets a $100 voucher from Kohls. Each child/family is assigned a personal shopper and we walk with them through the store. I had an adorable 1st grader named Leeza. We stopped at shoes first and she got 2 pairs of shoes. One pair was rather expensive at $32 but they had stars on them which is her school's symbol. Her mom gave in saying that she has never had the opportunity to buy a new pair of shoes and pick what she wanted. Usually they are shoes just given to her. (makes you stop and think doesn't it?) We then took her over to clothes. Kohl's does something incredible. They gather up all the clearance clothes from around the area and ship it in for this event. So we were able to get a lot to include coats. It was humbling and so worth getting up at 5:00 am. Other businesses helped too. Starbucks and Krispy Kreme provided breakfast for volunteers and participants alike. And there were tons of people. Imagine Day after Thanksgiving on steroids and then shove that into a four hour window! I did take a nap.
Now, this event has special meaning for two reasons.
1. In a small way, it is paying forward all the incredible "helps" we have received from the beginning of this cancer journey. Again, thank you to everyone for the financial, emotional and physical help over the past year. It humbled me and changed me for the better. Learning to accept help has been a hard lesson that I am still learning is someways. I always thought I can do it myself. I can handle anything. Part of that comes from being a middle child and part of that come from the years of training in the military wife school of life. I am the "helper" not the "helpee". Now I know what a wall I put up not only to my family and friends, but to my God. In the end, if I can do it myself, then how does that allow God to reveal himself and to be the all powerful Lord over my life. I didn't give it all to Him, only about 90% because I thought I could handle the 10%.
2. Elizabeth was incredible to watch in action. She volunteered at the kid area painting faces. When we got in line to checkout, the parents stood in line and the kids went to the kid area to play, color, face paint, and make balloon animals. Elizabeth didn't stop. She worked the whole time, but she also witnessed. I got this great text from her after I asked her how it was going. It said. " Great. I got 2 witness 2 1 girl while I was painting a pink cross" Lord I thank you for training her and allowing her this opportunity to serve. She did it with such a joyful heart. She popped out of bed at 5:20 am Saturday and loved it. She also loved her nap later on that day!
Prayer needs: mike to gain weight, his esophagus to open up, cancer cells to die, wisdom for house and finances
Praise: Serving the Lord in small ways, friends, family and the opportunity to say thank you again to everyone
Tuesday, September 15, 2009
Death seems to be all around me these days. After baby Tessa went to be with the Lord, I learned from our church prayer list that another 4 yr old boy, Caden, went as well. Once in a while I look at some martial arts web sites, where I learned that my college KwanMuKan instructor, Mr George Anderson, had also passed recently. He was a fabulous martial arts instructor--I have only met one other at the same par. (Brian Malm at TKD Southwest in Tucson, for those of you lucky enough to be there.) Before that, Connor Cruise and Bill Coury also passed from cancer.
Both Caden and Mr Anderson had cancer as well. I'm still processing all these deaths. It's like I'm in a company travelling through a valley, and a sniper is just picking us off, one at a time.
Yeshua, I am so ready for You to come, to bring Your justice on the evil one and end this once and for all.
When we went to see Dodie Osteen in Houston, she did a great job praying for a whole bunch of sick people there, including me and Deanna's cousin. She did something while praying that surprised me. She was praying over one person, and she commanded Satan himself to depart and leave that person alone.
I know from scripture that we have been delegated from Christ the authority to cast out demons, but I did not know we had authority to cast out the prince of demons.
Does anyone have a verse that says specifically we have authority to cast out Satan? The closest I can find is the sequence culminating in Luke 10:19: http://www.studylight.org/isb/side.cgi?bk=lu&ch=10&vs=19&it=nas&ol=grk
It doesn't specifically say we can caste out Satan himself, but it does say we have authority over ALL the power of the enemy.
I think Dodie taught me something very valuable there! She is very special and if you are ever in Houston, it would be worth your time to see her in action.
I was able to see the McKinney 911 memorial ceremony the other day (pic above). A fair number of people there were actually in NYC during 911. It was very well done by the fire and police depts and the presence of these heroes made it even more special. We don't do enough to honor emergency services workers--we should probably make 911 a dedicated national holiday to them.
Of course, I later discovered that Elizabeth's middle school had an assembly that day, where they discussed the evils of bullying and said absolutely NOTHING about 911. Ironically, it took the place of history class. People are already forgetting and neglecting to teach the children. Maybe I should have pulled her from class and taken her with me.
Speaking of teaching, I had a chance to teach two classes on Sunday over the holiday weekend. I taught about scriptural healing to my neighbor's adult class. And I taught a little at a seventh grade class. I am thankful that my neighbor let me teach while he was out of town, and to the youth dept at church for letting me sub in when they had a vacancy. It's been a long time since I formally taught anything, and it made me feel good-like I was doing work for the Kingdom. I'm sure I got more out of it than the attendees. It reminded me that teaching is sort of built into me- a fundamental part of my makeup. We'll see how my blood counts hold with the new chemo-hopefully I can continue to be involved.
So far so good with the new chemo. Blood counts were about the same today--red ok, white and platelets still marginally low. No nausea, no pain. Some fatigue, some chemo brain fog, but I can live with that. Could be on this stuff for 6 months or so. This stuff might do good against all the tumors, not just the bone marrow. It's epigenomic demethylization thereapy, which means it works by resetting the gene switches that tell a cell whether to be normal or cancerous. High tech stuff!
We investigated another potential clinic in Houston that does some good stuff with cancer, but right now they can only work on brain cancer due o FDA rules. But I did some research into their stuff and discovered we can get the same stuff they used as a pill, or just eat royal jelly (the stuff bees make), which has a lot of the same stuff in it from a natural source.
Our house search is at a standstill again. We are being patient and waiting for the right house in the right neighborhood at the right price. Today we saw right neigborhood, right price, but not the right house. It was a two-story with all bedrooms on the second floor...not good with all our medical issues. It was a beautiful home though, priced a bit below value I think, to get it to sell quickly perhaps.
I suppose that's enough for now. Bless you all and thank you for your continued prayers!
Yours in Christ,
Monday, September 14, 2009
Friday, September 11, 2009
Back to the MDS, they have to treat the issue in Mike's marrow first because if we continued on the Cisplatin/Campostar road we will annihilate his marrow and thus his ability to make platelets, white blood cells, and red blood cells.
So our treatment will begin next Monday and we will be doing 7 days of Vidaza. We are not sure if we will do 7 in a row or flow into the next week. Vidaza is an epigenomic drug which works at the source of the genes. There are protein genes at the genetic level that tell cells how to divide, etc and cancer is thought to start with those fundamental switches. Anyway, this drug works at stopping that switch and also reversing some switches. A couple of the side effects will include low blood counts and possible transfusions. Things may die off first before new healthy marrow grows. So we could be in for some hospitals stays in the near future. As in the past, keeping Mike healthy is important and not exposing him to colds, allergies, flus etc. They have seen some positive effects with this drug and lymphoma’s but there has been no testing as it relates to liver and esophageal cancer. Mike is hopeful and a little excited to see what it does to his main cancers. Mike said it could be just what God needs to defeat the entire bunch. We both really believe that the future of cancer needs to be in the genomic area.
At our visit, Dr. Khan felt Mike’s liver and it is still soft and not enlarged as it was last winter. Mike is not in pain. Our biggest struggle right now is calories. He has lost more weight. The nurses say they have gotten really good results with the Vidaza and Dr Khan said we are in new territory as far as managing the first cancers and this MDS. We might have to switch back in forth. There is no real protocol out there for it. The one thing I will say, it that Dr. Khan is a fighter in his own cerebral way. I really expected another “death sentence” lecture like we got when we were first diagnosed. He just sees another hurdle to overcome. I feel like he is really pulling for us and I am completely confident and at peace in our road here after our visit. I had it in the back of my mind to maybe go looking international depending on the outcome of the visit. I will fight for Mike!
To end this, I am asking for a renewed and continued prayer from everyone. We are about to walk into uncharted territory and Satan has upped the challenge so to speak. He did a pretty good job too. I was an emotional wreck on Tuesday. Are we missing something? Am I not doing enough to heal Mike? But God placed a scripture on my heart:
The thief comes only in order to steal and kill and destroy ~ John 10:10
You read that scripture and you think very catastrophic - death, destruction, loss of money or house - which are all true. But Satan is smarter than that. He can steal your joy, your thoughts, and thus great times with family and friends. He can kill your mood, your hope, and thus sucking life right from you. He can destroy your conversations, your thoughts surrounding the future and thus losing precious moments right now. He can steal, kill and destroy just your day robbing you of the life that God had for you. As the bible says and we say every morning:
This is the day the Lord has made. I WILL rejoice and be glad in it ~ Psalms 118:24
With that, I have to take a moment to reflect on 9/11. What a day that was.. in bigger spiritual terms Satan gave us an unbelievable moment. He pulled out all the stops that day and we lost so many valuable, beloved friends and family. It wasn't fair and it changed the world we live in. But there are so many incredible praises that happened - hero's were born, this country got on their knees and prayed, serving this country became honored, and even a world was united for a short time. There is no way to put 9/11 in a few short sentences. My prayers are with everyone today.
In His hand and holding on tightly….STILL
I am asking that everyone put us back on prayer lists with Church's, groups, bible studies, etc
Mike to gain weight, to tolerate this new chemotherapy, and that the new drug will not only cure Mike's marrow, but that it will do miraculous things with his other cancer areas
Emotional healing, medical wisdom, and financial smarts for myself and that I can manage everything now that our life seems pointed towards more doctors appointments
A place that God wants us to call home
Friends, family, support, girls laughing, lunch with Elizabeth at school.
Tuesday, September 8, 2009
However, we also found out that Tessa was born and and lived a short 2 hours before Jesus carried her home. It hurts in so many ways. TO be so far from our beloved friends, is heart breaking. TO pray for Tessa's healing so fervently and really believing and yet still having her pass away hurts and shakes you a little bit. I had a vision of an angel breathing into Tessa Friday afternoon and I got such a peace. IT was hard to believe that she passed away. I am still chewing on that.
We have also found out that Mike's marrow issue might be a significant development. He has MDS and it is side effect of chemo. There is an IV drug that can be used to heal the marrow but that may take 4 months or longer. We have been told that Chemo is not an option during this time. We know that his last PET Scans indicate metabolic activity. Heavenly Father, help us, heal us on this earth.
I am typing this from our car. We have just traveled to Houston for the day to go to a healing service in Houston led by Dodie Osteen. Her book, "Healed of Cancer" has been a well loved book for us. It is full of healing scripture and Dodie herself was healed of Liver cancer. The great surprise and comfort is that my cousin Chad met us there and was prayed over as well for his back. Healing is a funny thing is the "church world" . Many think it is an "out there" practice. But it is biblically founded, both anointing and laying hands on the sick. I will pull up verses when I get home and post them sometime soon. Jesus said after I go you will do even greater things still (paraphrased..sorry hard to do from car). That includes healing. Here is the link for the healing scriptures:
We were able to take Elizabeth with us to Houston and took her to see the Terra Cotta Warriors at the Houston Natural History Museum. It is funny how quickly Satan can work to steal. He worked on me pretty good. There was at one point where Mike had to go to the car to rest and I was wandering the Museum with Elizabeth. I got very sad because I thought is this going to be the way it is? Going places without Mike?
The fire may be getting hotter, the wall may be bigger, but we still have Hope that endures for all time. Jesus is bigger. He just is.
Healing of Mike's marrow
God to hold back the cancer for His glory
Emotional healing for me
Bind Satan from our thoughts and our lives!
Continued healing God has brought us so far. I believe He will see us through
Wisdom for medical
Chad, Leigh Ann and girls.. thank you for allowing us to pop in all the time.
Chad for walking this with us in Houston
Family trip - time together is so precious
Choc lab puppy! So cute
Neighbors who watch belle so we can do this
Some Teachers who believe and sent us off with their blessing
Friday, September 4, 2009
As you may remember from previous posts, our dear christian sister Robin is pregnant with baby Tessa. The medical world has, much like it has done for me, declared little to no hope for a successful outcome.
We have just learned that contractions have started, and she is on her way to the hospital as I write.
If at all possible, please join me in expeditious prayer that in the name of Yeshua, for the glory of Yahweh, we will see a miracle this day of a fully healthy new baby Tessa into the world!
On my knees beside you,
Wednesday, September 2, 2009
Well, the bone marrow is on it's way to be looked at and overall is was somewhat traumatic. I stood at Mike's head holding his hand and got a birds eye view of the procedure. The doctor did it in the office. Mike had to lay down on his stomach, which was uncomfortable due to the feeding tube. We did put two pillows for him to lay on so the tube could fall in the middle. The doctor numbed the area with latacaine. It took two needles and you knew Mike had enough numbing medicine when the needle stopped at the bone. Then, the doctor took an exacto knife and cut Mike's flesh and then inserted a small hollow medal rod into his hip. He knew he got to the marrow when it began to hurt. (They can't numb the marrow). Then he attached another syringe and withdrew fluid from Mikes marrow twice. It was extremely painful. Then when the pain went away, he took a core sample. Mike told the doctor to stop and about jumped off the table. But the doctor was quick and it was all done. So they bandage him up and get him to sit up. Then they want to stick a needle in his arm for blood. They couldn't find a vein and at that point, Mike got faint and had to lay down. In the end, he ended up getting IV fluids because they thought he might be dehydrated. I think it was the trauma. But he is home now and he is done.
Mike told me in his quiet determined voice that he will NEVER do that again. It was just a statement, but one with so much resolve, I don't doubt it. He is a brave warrior. I have no bible reference for this one other than it makes me think of the endurance that Christ had on the cross.
Please pray that the marrow will show what is holding down the platelets and that they will not find any cancer. I am not smart enough with this new test to know what to ask for in prayer, but I know God knows my heart and the Holy Spirit can intercede for me. We see the doctor next Thursday and will know by that point what the results are, if not sooner.
Finally, please pray for my dear friend Robin and Tessa. As in our case, all the Medical books say life is not possible. But the Book of Life says it is. We both choose hope, peace, Jesus...
Tuesday, September 1, 2009
Please pray specifically that Mike will start gaining weight. He is slowly loosing weight and we need him to gain weight.