A year later…

April 29, 2010

One year ago today I was diagnosed with cancer, and figured I would be dead soon.

But here I am one year later, alive, well, in remission, and well on the road to recovery.

It is very strange to live a day you didn’t think you’d get the chance to live. I can’t really explain it to the depth I feel it, but I’ll try to give a rough sketch. I got to spend today just how I wanted to, swimming in a pool and going down a waterslide with my kids, then snorkeling on a reef and seeing some spectacular fish, and making sand castles. It was a very good day.

But if I were only living for this world, I would be very sad today, because I know from facing death that all the things in this life come to an end. The illusion has been broken for me. And frankly today is a little bitter sweet because I want to keep experiencing these things, and hang on to the world just a little bit.

Hanging on to it just won’t work because this life is not all there is. There is an eternity beyond it, and through Jesus Christ I can have access to an eternal life that overcomes this temporal one because of His abundant grace which can reconcile the fact that I am a sinner full of shortcomings and failures.

So this is what today drives home the most for me. I’ve been given another year, and probably more. But I haven’t been given it just to go do whatever brings me the most pleasure, but to live for the eternity that is to come. My life doesn’t belong to me, it belongs to God who paid a ransom for it, the life of His own Son. A King’s ransom if ever there was one.

That is the great hope, opportunity, and great challenge that I’ve been given.

Today was a great day, but eternity will be even better.

Rich

Terrific PET Scan Results

February 27, 2010

We just received GREAT news from Rich’s oncologist regarding the PET scan he had on Monday, February 22.

THERE IS NO UNUSUAL ACTIVITY anywhere…not in his lymph nodes; not in the residual mass; nowhere.

This means the cancer is gone. It’s gone. It’s gone. It’s gone. Praise God. It’s gone.

From the radiology report:

** IMPRESSION **:
Abnormal radioglucose activity is no longer identified within any
retroperitoneal lymph nodes.  No other abnormalities identified.

Oh, happy, happy day…

It’s getting better all the time…

February 13, 2010

Life has improved greatly over the past 3 weeks or so. Rich has been able to eat more foods, though he needs to keep an eye on what he eats, as well as the quantities. Probably not a bad thing to do, anyway!

Pain – Still there, but appears to be manageable. Far less intense than in January and late December.

Energy – Better every day. He’s back to where he was probably in mid-November.

He’s been able to work a growing amount over the last few weeks, which has been very good.

At the oncologist appointment last week, she said the CT Scan showed a tiny amount of shrinking, “Almost not worth mentioning”…shrinking is GOOD.

He has a PET scan on Feb. 23, for monitoring purposes.

One of the chemo drugs can affect pulmonary function adversely. Rich just had a pulmonary function test today, and he did as well as he did on the baseline test. Granted, this test was done 4 days after his surgery (and the day before Chemo started) in May…so he wasn’t at his best…but it’s good that it didn’t go down from there.

Our kids are ECSTATIC to have Daddy healthy again, especially Asher who keeps close tabs on him. Tonight, Rich put the kids to bed while I tidied up the house…it’s so good to have him fully living again.

Thank you, God. And thank you to each of you reading, for the prayers and love extended to us. We are more than blessed by you.

The test results we were praying for…

January 30, 2010

We went into Friday morning praying that Rich’s problems could be cured with a pill, and that we could be released from all of this DRAMA to go live our lives…

Rich went in for his colonscopy and endoscopy at 8:30AM. This was after a sygmoidoscopy earlier this month revealed a lot of inflammation and tiny ulcers throughout his colon. They scheduled the colonoscopy to see if the problem went through his entire colon; or if it was just the section they had examined. They thought it was likely that he had a chronic illness, such as Chrone’s disease or Ulcerative Colitis.

After today’s tests, the GI specialist said that his colon was “unremarkable”; that he had biopsied a few places “just because that’s standard protocol…not because it was unusual.” He didn’t see inflammation, nor ulcers. He said, “It was maybe an after effect of the chemo that resolved on its own. That can happen.”

He did discover that Rich has GERD (acid reflux), with some inflammation in his esophogus. They prescribed him Prilosec for that, and  he took his first dose tonight. This, along with some dietary changes, is supposed to do the trick.

Could it be resolved this easily? Was he really just healed? Is this craziness really over? Only time will tell, but the tests certainly seem to point in that direction. Thank you, God!

Colonoscopy/Endoscopy on Friday

January 25, 2010

Still no resolution to my pain when eating. I’ve learned to live around the edges of the symptoms, and what and how much I can eat without pain. I’ve lost over 15 pounds, but  I think I’ve stopped the weight loss. My activity level has been pretty low for over a month, but it’s improving.

I had the elders of my church pray over me two weeks ago, and I’ve felt better since then. I was hanging on to my plans for this time, not God’s plans, and once I surrendered that to Him, it’s been a lot easier to deal with being sick.

Friday the 29th of January they are going to give me a colonoscopy and a endoscopy under general anesthesia. Truthfully I am looking forward to this! (Ok, so the “prep” the day before, not so much, but I’ll do what needs to get done to have a successful procedure.)

Please pray that the doctors see what has been the cause of my pain and discomfort, and that it is not a chronic problem, but can be easily and permanently healed.

Thanks again for your continued faithfulness in prayer. God continues to work on me and remind me that this life is not my own, and I don’t write the script, but I can trust Him and the path He has for me to tread.

Rich

Testing date moved up

January 21, 2010

Amen! I called today to see if there were any cancellations for the colonoscopy and endoscopy, and there was! Rich will have this testing done on Jan. 29 at 8:30AM. It was originally scheduled for Feb. 23.

This is good because Rich has lost more weight, and is down down to 207 with clothes. This is 33 pounds down from where he was pre-cancer, and 20 pounds down from where he was mid-December. I am feeding him whatever he can eat…and he has been able to eat with our family at dinner, though usually something other than what the rest of us is eating. I’m becoming quite good at becoming a short-order cook!

Thank you for your continued prayers. We need them.

Love, Susan

More Tests

January 14, 2010

We still don’t know the specific diagnosis of  what is causing my pain. The tests came back showing inflammation of the bowel. They are going to do more followup tests and a full colonoscopy. They put me on anti-inflammatory meds. They suspect that it is some sort of Inflammatory Bowel Disease, which is an umbrella term for a variety of diseases. The doctor said it looked like ulceritic colitis, but they would need more tests. It’s not cancer, so that is good news.

Please pray that the symptoms would quickly resolve, and that I could eat without pain. Please pray that I heal, and that the symptoms never return. I’m hoping that this is just something brought on by chemo and that once healed, I can get healthy and it won’t return.

Next Challenge: Intestinal Disease

January 9, 2010

I need to ask for your prayers again. I didn’t have diverticulosis, and the pain hasn’t gone away.

I went to the ER on Tuesday after some blood showed when going to the bathroom. They gave me a CT scan that ruled out a lot of possibilities (they didn’t see any tumors), so they moved on to giving me a sigmoidoscopy today and it became immediately apparent that there is something going on in my large intestine. It was inflamed and there were obvious sores that were the source of the bleeding. It’s all throughout the area they examined. They didn’t have an immediate diagnosis, but they took three biopsies and we’ll have the results by Wednesday. They seemed to think that would give us an answer.  The tech said it didn’t look like cancer, but there are a whole bunch of other nasty chronic diseases it could be.

God is giving me the chance once again to choose to trust Him.  I don’t know where this path leads, but I know I can choose to hold His hand and He will see me through it.

As it stands now it hurts every time I eat even a small amount, and sometimes even when I don’t eat it hurts. I’ve lost over 15 pounds since the middle of December. That’s leaving me weak and with a pretty low quality of life. I’m really sick of the pain, and of not being able to participate in life.

Please pray that this would be treatable and that I would be healed of this swiftly. Pray that I would continue to choose to trust, and would not despair. Pray that this would bring Him glory, and that I would be obedient in this, so that I will do the work He has for me in this.

Thank you for your continued prayers throughout this long journey.

Rich

The pain is still there…but it’s OK

December 29, 2009

We visited the friendly Oakhurst Kaiser doctor’s office again today. This time, because Rich was having a reaction to the antibiotics. Chemo caused neuropathy (numbness in his fingers and toes), and this side effect has lessened over the months. The antibiotics caused the neuropathy to return in full force. Fun.

After reading a lot about diverticulitis, Rich feels quite confident that this is NOT what he has. After enduring a 4-day liquid fast (chicken broth and orange jello – yum!) he began to eat again at Christmas dinner. He doesn’t have pain if he eats small amounts. He doesn’t have pain if he’s not active. He DOES have pain if he’s doing normal daily activity, and if he eats larger meals.

After a talk with the oncologist on call (Rich’s is on vacation), and review of Rich’s labs from last week, we feel quite certain this could just be muscular. A little over 2 weeks ago, Rich cut down and hauled our Christmas tree about 1/4 mile at Cobb Ranch in Fresno…and then loaded about 4 big boxes of mat board into our van, and then into our studio that day. I think he really torqued his abdominal muscles that day…and his symptoms began about 2 days after that.

This week, we’re feeling less freaked out, and more relaxed about the whole thing.

It’s funny. I had just been thinking a day or two before this happened…why did I have my kids in full time daycare this summer? Why wasn’t I able to work more? Why was I so consumed with cancer that everything else ceased to exist? Wasn’t I being a bit dramatic in the whole thing? Couldn’t I have done more?

Rich was having his own version of these thoughts.

Last week was a giant reminder of the magnitude of the summer. Normal life just wasn’t possible. It just wasn’t. In some ways, it was nice to have that reminder…in other ways, it brought it all back in painful technicolor. I had a bad afternoon on Wednesday, asking God WHY THIS IS ALL HAPPENING AGAIN…WE HAVE A LIFE TO LIVE…DREAMS TO PURSUE…and then came to the conclusion that I am living my life…the life God gave to me at this moment…and there are an astounding number of blessings in my life, many of which are NEW blessings…blessings we wouldn’t have without cancer. In the end, I just need to trust that God loves me; loves Rich; loves our kids…and He has a plan in all of this. There is astounding peace in this Truth.

To end with a happy note, we had a wonderful Christmas. The kids are at the PERFECT age for it (Asher is 3.5; Allison is almost 6). It was magical and peaceful…and without having to cook a giant Christmas dinner, thanks to Rich’s fast, it was actually quite relaxing. I haven’t put the word “relaxing” in the same sentence as “Christmas” since I had kids… So again, there have been blessings amongst the craziness.

The doctor wants us to come back if Rich still has pain in 2 weeks. We also meet with the oncologist in early February for a routine checkup, and have another monitoring round of CT and PET scans then, as well. We’ll keep you posted!

Diverticulitis?

December 22, 2009

I went to the doctor today after several days of pain in my stomach. The doctor thinks it is diverticulitis, and is treating me with antibiotics. The symptoms are similar to those I had from my tumor ten months ago, which makes it easy to get scared that the cancer has come back, as it brings back all kinds of memories.

Please pray that this is a correct diagnosis and that it will clear up right away. Please also pray for strength from God through this for Susan and I. Pray that we would keep our thoughts captive to Christ and not be afraid or worry. Also pray that I will be well enough to celebrate Christmas with my children, and that I could play and have fun with them.

Last Christmas morning was the “start” of my cancer journey. We spent Christmas morning driving to the hospital to have my testical examined because of pain from an injury, which we now know was the cancer. The kids had to put off opening presents till around noon.

I really don’t want to be going to the hospital this Christmas! If the pain doesn’t clear up in a few days, or worsens, we’ll do another CT scan to make sure it’s not something more serious. It’s unlikely that this is a recurrence, but we’re keeping the oncologist in the loop. Thanks always for your prayers.


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