Saturday, September 29, 2012

Amazing August

Col 3:15 And let the peace of God rule in your hearts, to which also you were called in one body; and be thankful.

Learning to fully lean on the Lord is an amazing thing... we always want to be in control, but when we learn to release it to Him we begin to really understand that He is Faithful and we never had control to begin with.

August really was an amazing month, as I said the month of July held a key turning point in this battle. It was at the darkest hour that the Lord flipped a switch and the fog began clearing. Getting Glenn's nutrition back on track was crucial. If he wasn't eating then his body had nothing to draw on for the physical part of the battle. I give thanks to the Lord for the clarity, vision and plan that we began to implement during that month.

As I mentioned, we created a spreadsheet and tracked everything he took in, when he reached a steady 2000 plus, calorie intake, I quit tracking things like Gatorade and 2am PB and cracker snacks. He was gaining weight steadily now, and with it, he was gaining energy. We began taking walks, and he began doing light exercises to regain the lost muscle. (One of the Physician Assistants had told him that he more than likely wouldn't be able to gain much weight back and probably never regain muscle.) I am so glad that our faith is in the Lord, the doctors do what they can, with the knowledge they have... and we are thankful for that. But what we know, is that our Lord is the Great Physician, and He knows far more!! So our minds were continuing trusting in the Promise and aiming for the goal.

Goals, that is something that we were told are good to have, even from the natural standpoint. Well our first immediate goal was Glenn's birthday... Aug 24th. I don't know what kind of odds the medical community would have given him of reaching it back in June, but now the doctors were certain he would make it, no problem, and the next CT scan was set for a couple weeks after. It's nice to know that they are seeing what the Lord is doing. Glenn made his birthday, and his health continued to improve through out the month. He was also feeling good enough that he was able to play bass on one of the Wed services at church in August.

We both really saw in July, it is important that periodically, we find a way to get away, to get a break from the house and a change of scenery.  It helps to refresh us, and help fight becoming stir crazy... so we booked a delayed birthday trip. We were celebrating both our birthdays because my birthday falls about a week before Glenn's. We decided to head to the coast.

We both love the coast and Glenn's folks were camping over near Gold Beach and spending the days at a park that we really enjoy over there, Arizona Beach. Mind you, I love the Oregon Coast but I hate the canyon on 199 that you go through to get there, a steep cliff to the river on one side of the road and a mountain wall on the other side. However, since we had another victory in August, and Glenn had begun driving again. (Not very much but sometimes, something he hadn't done since March.) He was able to drive from the tunnel all the rest of the way to the beach. Yeah, I didn't have too!! 
We spent the day hanging out with them and Glenn's sister, and some of the cousins--we just chilled. I took my camera and spent some time snapping pix,  We had booked a room in the older part of a hotel and it turned out to be perfect for us. It was a corner room and we could see AND hear the ocean, so we opened our windows a bit and enjoyed the air and the sounds of the ocean. The next day we found a little restaurant to have breakfast at... turns out we used to square dance with the owners, lol. Then we began our wandering trip home, stopping along the way to look at the beaches, take some pictures and we even went to the Aquarium in Crescent City before heading back inland.

During the month of August we saw the cancer numbers continue to drop, and by the end of the month we were looking at only 2 above "normal"- and one was within a gnat's breath of it. The other had dropped from a high of 1027 down to under 300! We were happy, Glenn was feeling good, the next CT was set for Sept 10th. We were anticipating the goals ahead. Those immediate goals, by dates, were 1st- the CT to reflect what we were seeing. 2nd- Glenn was going to be speaking at church on a Wednesday night, and 3rd- He was set to play bass again. There was one more but it was more of a Sept-Oct thing not goal... we have another grandbaby set to arrive... in her own timing.

Yes, August was amazing, thanks be to the Lord on High!! Through this journey that we are on, we have learned better how to rest in His peace... it is always a learning process. We have a greater appreciation of the Lord, of life, and I think of each other; for this I am glad. No, I'm not glad that it's coming this way, but I hold to the promise of God and the scripture in Romans that tells us: "And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose." (Rom 8:28 NKJV).

Here are a few more of the pics from the trip......
Dad and Mom
Debbie and Russ
Arizona Beach locals

Sunset from the hotel beach

Thursday, September 27, 2012

Turning A Corner

2 Tim 1:7 For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind.

Getting a firm grasp on the Word of the Lord is crucial for clarity in a storm- remember the anchor is the Lord.

As I said, last time, June 8th was a very dark day. After the doctor told us that Glenn wouldn't be having Chemo that day because that treatment was no longer effective, and that we would be coming back on Monday to start the new regime of treatment, we headed home.  It was a quiet ride and a very long and quiet day. Glenn was quiet, and it wasn't the 'normal' quiet that had been happening, it was more of a shock and awe quiet... he was overwhelmed and needed to process. Watching this was sooo hard! I too felt overwhelmed but needed to stay calm and focused. Then came the scripture above. I put it on a poster, and put it up over the fireplace.

Over the next few days, we began to get the fog of the news cleared and refocus on the promise of healing.  Glenn started the new chemo and I began to really see the amount of food Glenn was eating... or rather wasn't eating. His food intake had reduced to less than 1000 calories a day. Before the chemo treatment shift, they had tried to add an oral chemo drug, it was an unmitigated disaster in my opinion. Yes by some reactions it looked like it was going to help, however during the week he took it, he was so sick he couldn't eat and dropped another 10 pounds. It was about this time that he hit his low of 154 pounds... just over 70 pounds gone since January. I didn't remember when I first began praying about his eating, but I know that about the 14th I included in my journal a written note for the Lord to increase Glenn's appetite.

In addition to listening to the Bible each day we also had been going through some devotionals, one by Joyce Meyer- Battlefield of the Mind. Another one we listened to was 31 Days of Healing and Recovery. (Both are on the website.) The week of the 25th we also began listening to a series by Keith Moore on healing, the primary focus- Why healing is for everyone! At this point we began to turn the corner.

During this time another scripture was added to the wall above the fireplace, directly in front of Glenn's chair- Psalm 118:17 I shall not die, but live, And declare the works of the LORD. It was while we were listening to the scripture that this verse literally snapped Glenn out of his chemo haze that day; He looked at me and said write that one down and put it on a poster... so I did!

The first week of July the family and extended family were going camping at Valley of the Rogue Park, we were hoping to go up during the day if we could, but they came up with a better idea for us. Glenn's dad talked to the owners of Siskiyou RV (and Mock's Ford), for whom he has worked for well over 50 years, and they allowed Glenn and I to use a 5th Wheel to camp with the family... What a blessing!!

The time we spent at the campground was just what we needed, the RV had a recliner and a comfortable bed which we needed for Glenn.  The change of scenery and time together alone as we needed, or with the family when we chose was a huge part of of continuing the turn. During our time in the RV we spent time in the Word, in prayer and just talking. The Lord used this time to show us things and allow us some very deep and intense discussions, all beneficial to gaining the focus and allow us to start recapturing the ground that the enemy had stolen. One of those discussions was about the eating, before we had gone camping, I had gone online to the message boards on some cancer support sites, to try to understand how I could help him with the eating thing. What I found both upset and angered me, so much of what I read seemed to be people giving up, or that was how I read it. Thing's like "the reduced appetite is a natural part of the ending process." My thought, pardon my non-French here... HELL NO!! I was not going to allow him to starve himself to death. That is what I told him too, I really feel that so many of the people are willing to accept the death sentence when the eating declines... honestly at one point Glenn looked at me and said that he understood why so many people give up, but that we were trusting in the Promise of God.

One major thing that we began doing from the natural standpoint- we began tracking Glenn's calorie intake, that's when we realized just how little he had been eating. Glenn realized that he had dropped part of the three-fold chord that the Lord had shown us... the nutritional part, that's the part that really only Glenn can control, I can push him to eat but I couldn't do it for him. Our first goal was to get him to a minimum of 1500 calories. Not much to most people but for him, it was a hurdle, we were counting every cracker, any juice or Gatorade... any and everything he consumed. Praise God, this is what we needed, things began to shift.

We got him to 1500 calories pretty quick, about a week I think, the next goal... 2000, then 2500 and eventually 3000. Each hurdle was achieved, chemo weeks proved to be challenging speed bumps at first, but as time went on we began to pray through them. And with the upped calories, came improving strength and energy, and this helped with him take the chemo better, and his numbers began improving again... finally a positive cycle, steady improvement that was visible to all. 

Our faith in the Lord was solid through all of this, but admittedly to really begin to see in the natural, what we were and are believing in the spiritual is a major boost! And what was really cool was when the staff at the oncology clinic started commenting. We serve an Awesome God and we know that more good is on the way!!

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Walk By Faith Not By Sight

Phil 4:8 Finally, brethren, whatever things are true, whatever things are noble, whatever things are just, whatever things are pure, whatever things are lovely, whatever things are of good report, if there is any virtue and if there is anything praiseworthy—meditate on these things.

When the whirlwind of life is blowing all around us, the biggest struggle of our life is often time the one that is going on in our head. 

I can't tell you how many times that my Faith was challenged by the head games brought on by the doctors report, the statistics, or just by what my eyes were seeing in the natural. At these times I would turn again to the word and worship... Whose report do we believe? We shall believe the report of the Lord!!

A part of moving in faith is moving forward in life in spite of what we see. We must always remember that fear is the opposite of faith and that fear is False Evidence Appearing Real. So when the mental attacks arise I fought back, reminding the devil that we were not accepting this, that through Christ the healing is there!

Some days were harder than others, you see Glenn and I have worked together in our own business for the last 3 years, spending almost every day together, talking, laughing, taking drives, and sharing dreams of what we would do in the future... but now there were days that talking was at a minimum, Glenn was weak. My husband had dropped 60 pounds and was looking like a shadow of his former self. A friend told me to make sure to get a mental picture in my head of him healthy and at weight. Also to post a photo of him that way... so I did, and I also put a scripture of healing on it... Now there were 2 scriptures on the walls, Mark 10:27 and Isa 53:5 'But He was wounded for our transgressions, He was bruised for our iniquities; The chastisement for our peace was upon Him, And by His stripes we are healed.', and one on the front door. On the poster on the front door the top says 'Faith Only Spoken Here' and on the bottom is 2 Cor 5:7 For we walk by faith, not by sight.

And in April, as a part of the faith walk we figured that since we believed that the Lord will heal Glenn we pressed on into seeking the Lord's direction for the future and went through Presbytery service at church. It was awesome, especially when among the words spoken are these... "Limitless life." For a limitless life, it requires being alive. All the words were good, and as we listened to the ones from past years, as many as 25 they all lined up... God really is amazing!!

So in spite of the cancer and its effect on Glenn's body, we pressed forward doing what the Lord has called us to do. Tuesday evening prayer had become a part of our routine just before this all started and we are doing our best to make sure that it stays a part of it... sometimes it has been a bit more challenging, but our goal is to be diligent to be there. And as I mentioned in a previous blog we are trying to be the doers of the word as we have been called to be; praying when people need it and as the Lord leads, speaking his word.

During this time we were following the path of treatment as prescribed by the doctor; Chemo once a week for 3 weeks on and one week off, repeat as long as it works. We were very happy when Glenn's numbers begin to show improvement immediately, the cancer was retreating. The numbers they are looking at are levels of enzymes and chemicals in his blood that are considered cancer markers, these numbers help the doctors determine what the cancer is doing between CT scans.

All the numbers progressed down for about 7 weeks, and then some of the numbers started to cause the doctor to have pause, they seemed to be contrary- part were showing one thing and others were starting to shift the wrong way. So between the 2nd and 3rd treatments of the 3rd series (about 9 weeks from the first one) Glenn went in for another CT... The results were not good.

Here is a snippet from my journal for that day. --   June 8- I feel as if a 5 ton weight was dropped on us today… it is probably the worst day in this surreal journey. The doctor told us that the CT showed new tumors and that the Gemzar was no longer effective in fighting the cancer. Monday we begin the Flofloxinal (or whatever it is) as Glenn calls it; the nuclear option.

Father God, strengthen us, physically, emotionally and spiritually… We know that it is only through You that the healing comes; I ask Lord for Glenn’s healing to manifest. 

 In many ways I remember it like it was yesterday, but I am glad to say we are in a much better place today, thanks to the changes that were to follow during the end of June and early July. I'll talk about those more in the next entry.

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Where now...

Psa 138:3 In the day when I cried out, You answered me, And made me bold with strength in my soul.

You never really know what's in you until you are pressed beyond what you ever thought possible. The shock of something like cancer can press you... my heart's cry- Lord guide us!!

It was now mid-March, we knew that what we were facing was big, and straight from the pit! First reactions to something like this; shock, fear, surrealism, what? where? how?... After the initial reaction, we took a deep breath and said, “Okay Lord this and we are in Your hands, where do we go now?"

Suddenly life began to move at lightning speed, and a snail’s pace, simultaneously. We had limited understanding of chemo- and it was kind of scary to think about; with all the side effects, and the fact that you are intentionally putting poison in your body. With those thoughts running through our heads, we jumped on the internet to do some research, and see what other options were available. As I mentioned before, we actually considered trying to find the money to go to a clinic in Mexico that seemed to have good results... our kids, were mixed on their feelings about this, but they also said that they would support our decision. 

Decisions, all major, and all needing to be made quickly, thank goodness we serve a God that is faithful. As we took time to listen for the Lord's guidance (this is a case where a wrong decision can truly prove costly) He was faithful to give us what we needed. As Glenn was pondering everything, and deciding on a treatment course, the Lord brought to his mind this passage-- Mark16:15-18 And He said to them, “Go into all the world and preach the gospel to every creature. He who believes and is baptized will be saved; but he who does not believe will be condemned. And these signs will follow those who believe: In My name they will cast out demons; they will speak with new tongues; they will take up serpents; and if they drink anything deadly, it will by no means hurt them; they will lay hands on the sick, and they will recover.”

Glenn knew at that moment we were to stay here and follow the course that our doctor was laying before us, Chemotherapy. So that was the decision, the appointment was set for his port (the port allows for easy and more direct access for drug delivery than using an in arm IV every time.) to be placed on March 30th and 3 days after that Chemo was to begin. Then on the day before the surgery we got a phone call that would again test us, the doctor wanted to see us before we went to the hospital. We went in to see him in the morning and found out that we would not be waiting until Monday for treatment, Glenn would be starting chemo that day and a different regime than we had talked to the doctor about. Apparently, the numbers that had been only slightly elevated a couple weeks before had now jumped big! The doctor didn't feel that his body handle the treatment we were planning, so we needed to shift to one that was commonly used for this type of cancer and that starting today (the day of surgery) was vital. The expression on the doctor’s face and concern in his voice were not something we wanted to hear.

Though it was not what we wanted to hear, we held fast to the fact that the Lord knew long ago what we would be facing at that moment. We trusted in Him and proceeded to move forward with the new treatment plan, and also to follow through with what we had been commissioned to do with that block of scripture; preach the Gospel, pray for people, lay hands on the sick and to see them recover. Now when we receive a prayer request or see a need, we move on it immediately, we don't wait, when you wait, you can forget, so pray when the need occurs then you know you've done it.

We have celebrated the 6 month anniversary since diagnosis, God has blessed us!  Life is still very much day to day, but we really know that each day really is a gift from the Lord and we are thankful for them. God is being faithful to the promise He gave us, and we are doing everything we can to to what He has asked us to do...

This is part 3 of our journey from my viewpoint, I don't know how many entries it will take to bring you to the present, but my prayer is that with each one, you see --
  •  Our trust is in the Lord and His leading.
  • God has a plan for our lives.
  • He can and will get you through anything.

Monday, September 24, 2012

Beginning the Journey

Jeremiah 29:11 For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, says the LORD, thoughts of peace and not of evil, to give you a future and a hope.

Letting go and letting God, it's a phrase that Christians speak and try to practice in their lives. It's not always as simple as it seems, sometimes we think we are letting go, yet we find out as we press in to the Lord, there are areas that we have held on to. In this particular battle it is critical that Glenn and I release it fully to the Lord, and keep it that way.

Keeping it that way... there is the challenge, not letting the moments of fear that creep in take up residence. It means as soon as we see it, boot it, standing on the Name of the Lord, fully trusting in the Word of the Lord. The first few weeks of the battle was a series of this cycle, sometimes multiple times a day. Again I am so thankful for the prayers of people around me. Through God's grace, time has brought stability to the emotions... most days. But diligence to being in the Word, walking by faith and trusting that the word of God is true has been the stabilizing factor.

I am thankful for that as I look back to March. The month was a whirlwind, it was the first week or so, after  we had gone to the doctor to have Glenn looked at for a possible gallbladder issue. The doctor sent him in for an ultrasound and within and hour of the results being given to us, he was going in for a CT, they had found a mass on the head of the pancreas and it appeared to have spread to the liver and it looked like lesions on the lymph nodes close to them. March 8th was difficult to say the least... we had to let our family know that we were looking at a possible cancer battle. (We took the advice given to Glenn's dad when they found bladder cancer- don't hide it from the ones you care about.) Though it was hard and painful, it is a decision I am glad we made. It was also during this time that we also knew that for us, by the Lord's direction, was to be a battle fought very much in the open... Biopsy is set for March 12.

During all of this a dear friend posted the following on Facebook: "Replace the little fear-filled thoughts and conversations in your everyday life with short, simple prayers." Joyce Meyer  and "When God gives us an impossible task---it becomes possible." (Our Daily Bread) This and the supportive words from many friends helped strengthen me(us) for what was to come. (Though we know that this didn't come from the Lord, He doesn't give His children sickness.)

I love listening to Praise and Worship music... can't tell you how many hours of worship I listened to in March, but it was a lot. It is in HIM we live and move and have our being!! And when I am listening to this music, I am reminded of this, and strengthened by this.

March 14th, the day after our daughter's birthday, we found out the news, yes we were in a cancer battle and from the natural (the doctor's perspective) it doesn't look good, however in spite of this, our trust is in the Lord!! It continues to remain that way...

......... My hope is that as I write this, others may get a different view, a view of Trusting God in spite of the tornado of life that may be whirling all around you. We are still in the battle, things are good at this time, but as you follow my journey both reflecting back, and in the future to come- you will see that it is all and only through Christ that we do what we do.

Sunday, September 23, 2012

Hmmmm... Where to start?

Mark 10:27 But Jesus looked at them and said, "With men it is impossible, but not with God; for with God all things are possible." - This is the scripture that the Lord gave me when it all started.

A little over a year ago, I thought I'd start writing a blog, at that time I figured that it would focus a lot on family and family history. Well along the way, life happened. I got delayed and thought, well after the holidays... then business got busy so I again, said "after this project." So that put me to the beginning of March.

March, yeah, I guess that is where this really starts, even though that was over 6 months ago. What a month that was, my life, our family's lives were rocked in a way we never imagined; a six letter word entered our lives and personal daily vocabulary- Cancer.

A word I was familiar with, but only from an outside perspective, yes family members had dealt with it but those close to us were dealing with treatable forms, bladder that was contained, and the small ones that many people develop on their faces later in life that are removed fairly easily. I have known friends over the years that battled it, and even known a few that lost the battle, friends, extended family and my former sister in law... but even with all that, I never thought it would become quite this personal.

But personal it was, the man that I have been married to for over 30 years, and who has been a constant part of my life for even longer than that was diagnosed with Stage 4 Pancreatic Cancer... and to the doctors a certain death sentence. The doctor said it on the first appointment, not in those words - but his words were, "I can't cure you, I can just hope to extend things." Two of the most difficult sentences I have ever heard in my life... However, God had given us a heads up, the Lord had woken Glenn a couple weeks before we were to find out and told him, not to pray for healing but for a revelation of healing, because what he was going to be facing was much bigger than we thought (we thought it was gallbladder), but that His (the Lord's) glory would be shown. So we knew that we were entering a battle, a huge one and of undetermined length from our sight, but we also knew that God was on our side, and if He is for us then who can be against us.

The day we walked out of the doctor's office, we were shocked, yes, scared but still we knew that no matter what it looked like in the natural God was with us and had our backs. He gave us a download of our part to do before we even left the parking lot, the battle was to be fought on three faces- Spiritual (prayer, word, worship and ministry as He leads); Nutritional (doing what we can to keep Glenn healthy enough to battle and handle the medicine) and Medically (following the course of care that the Doctor recommends.) Yes we still went through all the emotions and questions... do we go the naturopathic route? What about a clinic that we heard about in Mexico? How about this or that?.... We have amazing friends who all reached out to help with their knowledge... ultimately though it has been a case of let go and let God.

I will be adding to this blog more about our journey, as well as incorporating more of family and family history (my favorite hobby) as well as sharing the Joy of the Lord in my life.