Sunday, January 31, 2010

Remission is around the corner and here's my plan...

1. Run through MDA naked.
2. Get someone to bail me out of jail for running through MDA naked.
3. Walk around outside in the cold w/out shoes on.
4. Take icecream out of the freezer without gloves on.
5. Eat the icecream.
6. Play the drums until I fall off the chair.
7. Run 5 miles without taking a nap after walking 1 mile.
8. Go to Ruth Chris's Steak House and eat the biggest steak on the menu.
9. Go see the big trees in California.
10. Go to the union hall without being sent home by the secretary treasurer.
11. Drink a Diet Coke.
12. Take a shower without having to have someone wrap my arm.
13. Eat all meals without throwing up.
14. Sleep in the bed w/ ease and no pain. Hell, I may sleep on the floor.
15. Grow my hair down to my butt.
16. Buy hair dye.
17. Drive a vehicle w/out a throw up bucket sitting next to me.
18. Thank God. Thank God. Thank God.

"I run in the path of your commands, for you have set my heart free." Psalms 119:32

Friday, January 29, 2010

Trust in God

The doctors tell me that there is no cure for my cancer. They say I have the opportunity to go into remission, but I'll never be cured. I think they are full of baloney. God can heal anyone! When I'm receiving chemo I begin the process by texting several different people. We all pray at the same time that the chemo is working. Then, as each drug is administered I imagine the Holy Spirit touching each of my organs and lymph nodes and healing them. Because I've seen my body scan I can easily picture the cancerous spots and consistently pray throughout chemo that the cancer is disappearing. Then, on Sunday when I take communion at church I picture it healing everything it touches as it enters my body. It's up to God to determine when it's your time to join him in Heaven, but while on Earth you can trust in him. The doctors may have told you your time on Earth is limited, but it's up to you on how you live it. You can waste it away by moping around or you can enjoy it.

"Trust in the Lord with all your heart. Do not rely on your own understanding. Seek His will in all you do, and he will direct your paths." Proverbs 3:5-6

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Doctors and God Work Together

I've been reading "God's Created Power for Healing" and thought I'd share some of the authors thoughts with you.

This book is written for people that are struggling with their physical health and includes thoughts on spiritual healing. It isn't discounting the importance of visiting doctors for medical care or taking medicine, but they are stressing the importance of God's healing power to your spiritual body.

"Just as you would take medicine in your physical body to aid healing by physical means, so you must receive God's word concerning healing in your spirit for supernatural healing."

"God's word is supernatural medicine. It works through the human spirit and is a spiritual cure, but like any other medicine, it must be applied on a regular basis. You must speak God's word to your individual circumstances or situations-someone else can't do it for you."

"When God's words concerning healing takes root in your flesh, it becomes greater than the disease and healing is the result."

"Doctors may have told you there is no hope for you medically, but you can always find supernatural hope from God's word."

"If you're sick, you don't deny you are sick: yet, on the other hand, you don't want to always be confessing your sickness, for that will establish your present circumstance to you. Denying sickness won't make you well. But mixing faith with God's word, you are calling for the promise of God to be manifest in your body. This will cause you to be fully persuaded, and healing is the result."

I am thankful for the treatment I'm receiving at MDA but ultimately God gets all the credit. He gives the doctors the wisdom they need to take care of me and he also chooses the outcome. Not only has God been physically healing me, but he has certainly healed me spiritually. I've never felt this close to God and I'm enjoying building a relationship with him. Spending time in his word each day has brought me peace.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Thanks to the doctors

Today I thought I'd explain why I chose to go to MDA for treatment. It all boils down to feeling comfortable and having complete confidence with the care you are receiving. Even if someone in your family or a close friend doesn't have faith in your doctor it can put doubts in your mind. It's best if everyone is in agreement on which doctor you should see. This way you know you've done everything you possibly can to fight the cancer.

When I first had prostate cancer I actually trusted my doctor in Beaumont but the reason I choose MDA was they had the equipment necessary to preform the DaVinci Surgery. The doctor in Beaumont was only able to cut the cancer out by hand while MDA could do it robotically which has a faster recovery time. Actually, MDA has an entire department dedicated to the DaVinci and a separate department dedicated to doctors who still perform the surgery by hand. MDA provided options. Also, because I was an existing MDA patient they were able to quickly get me in to see a surgeon when my cancer returned.

One of the things that I appreciate about MDA is they are so specialized. My oncologist ONLY treats people who have stomach/esophagus cancer. Their doctors focus on one type of cancer and become experts. Even the doctor who is putting the power port in my chest specializes in power ports. MDA even has an experimental drug department that is highly sought after. People from all over the world fly to MDA for treatment and I'm blessed to live 1.5 hours away. I find it comforting that the doctors treating me know their fields so well.

Overall, you have to feel comfortable with the doctor you are seeing and trust them. I'm not saying one doctor is better than another but just feel strongly that you need to have confidence in the treatment you are receiving. With that being said, I know that God is my true healer. I thank MDA for their expertise and the treatment that I'm receiving, but God is the ultimate healer and the one who determines my fate.

"My son, pay attention to what I say;listen closely to my words. Do not let them out of your sight,keep them within your heart;for they are life to those who find the and health to a man's whole body." Proverbs 4:20-22

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Treat Your Body Like a Temple

This round of chemo affected me a little more than usual. My sugar level was crazy and I was nausea/sick all weekend. Finally, last night I started feeling a bit better.

Over the past few weeks I've been thinking about what caused my cancer and how I could change my lifestyle to prevent bringing it back. Unfortunately, stomach cancer isn't like other cancers. If you smoke and get lung cancer you know to stop smoking, but it's not that black and white with stomach cancer. I asked the doctor what she thought contributed to my cancer and she feels there's a good chance it's the environment I've worked in for so many years. I do know that when I return to work I'll change a few things and protect my body when going into the field. I'll make sure I wear proper equipment at all times to protect my body from chemicals.

I've also been concerned about the food I put into my body. For example, I use to be a huge Diet Coke drinking, but I'm hesitant to drink it again for fear that may have contributed to my condition. I've always eaten relatively healthy because of my diabetes but never worried about where the food came from or how the food was processed. My goal is to speak with the nutritionist at MDA and to also read books and become more educated on foods I should and shouldn't eat. Hopefully this will put my mind at ease as I get back to normal.

"Do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own; you were bought at a price. Therefore honor God with your body." 1 Corinthians 6:19-20

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Take That Cancer!

Yesterday I had an appointment with my oncologist which means you either see her or one of her two assistants. This week I requested to speak directly to her because one of her assistants said something last time that has been bothering me. I asked the assistant if there was a chance that I could go into remission? Would I ever get to stop chemo? The assistant told me that I could maybe stop chemo for a couple of weeks for a holiday or something but that was about it. Since then I've been worried that for the rest of my life I'd have one good week and one bad week.

So, yesterday while waiting for the doctor I was complaining to my friend. I was concerned that I would never be able to go into remission and overall anxious to talk to the doctor. I then opened up my daily prayer book and this is what it said:

"Father, I love you, and I lay my life before you. Take me and use me for your glory and your purposes. Forgive me when I complain and do not see all the wonderful things you do for me, things I take for granted like being able to wake up today and see the beginning of another day. Give me strength to worship you, encourage your people, and speak your name to a lost world.Amen."

A few days ago I told you about my prayer book and how it always relates to my life. Again, the book baffled me and put me in my place. I immediately stopped complaining!

My conversation with the doctor went great! She said a few things...
1. It is a fact that my lymph nodes and tumor have shrunk in half. She plans on shrinking them to where you can't visually see them in a scan. Once this happens I'd be in remission. She said it could be months or even years (hopefully never) before the tumor returned.
2. My blood work is good. On one hand my blood work is great because I can continue chemo. Most of the time people who have received the amount of chemo that I have must take a break. Their blood work shows poor nutrition levels and overall their body is worn out. At the same time, my blood work has never shown that I have cancer. Blood work is not an absolute way to test for cancer. Sometimes the cancer does not show up. So, they can't do a blood test to see if my cancer is returning. They'll have to do a body scan.
3. I've gained weight and she's happy that I've kept my nutrition levels up. Both chemo and cancer stifle your appetite. If I'm able to eat that means my body is tolerating the chemo and the cancer is loosing the battle. Having an appetite is a great sign.
4. On February 3rd they are going to put a power port in my chest. The port lays under the skin and can stay in for years. When anyone needs to access the port they just stick a needle through the skin. This means I get to take my PICC out! Unlike the PICC, the port doesn't need cleaned and I can return to a more active life style. With the PICC I wasn't allowed to sweat, it needed weekly cleanings, I couldn't get it wet, I couldn't work out or work. With the power port I'll be able to begin working out again and hopefully return to work soon there after. The reason they didn't put the port in my chest to begin with is she wanted to see if the chemo was going to work. She didn't want to put me through a minor surgery if it wasn't necessary.

Monday, January 18, 2010

Don't Waste Your Life

My daughter was telling me the story of a young lady who is probably not even 30 yet. She is married with 2 small children and recently found out she has stage four cancer. After chemo, radiation, surgery, and experimental drugs MDA has told her there is nothing else they can do. They gave her 2 months to live. We don't know this girl personally but it's heartbreaking. Young moms, dads and children are being diagnosed with cancer every day and not always receiving good news.

For some reason, my prognosis is going in the opposite direction. The chemo is working and it appears that God may spare me. God has a plan for me on Earth and I plan to live my life for him every day. I won't sit around and waste it. If you are able to wake up each morning, then God has a plan for you too. God gives us all gifts or talents that he plans for us to use to bring him glory. I challenge you to use your gifts and live for him each day.

"Many, O LORD my God,
are the wonders you have done.
The things you planned for us
no one can recount to you;
were I to speak and tell of them,
they would be too many to declare." Psalms 40:5

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Getting Your Problems Off Your Mind

I've always been an active person and usually don't spend much time sitting around. While undergoing treatment I've had to spend A LOT of time at home. While my mom was still around I'd go to her house every day and hang out with the family. My daughter and grandson also spent a great deal of time in Beaumont over the past few months. After the holidays my siblings returned to work since we were no longer looking after my mother and my daughter had to return to her life as well. Without these daily distractions my life has been pretty boring. I've been spending more time alone than I ever have. This week my friend and his father came by the house and picked me up to go on a drive. It was so nice to get out of the house and visit with someone. It was a great distraction from my mundane, daily schedule. Time away was good for my mind, body and soul. If you know someone who is spending a lot of time alone feel free to give them a call. There's a good chance they'd like a distraction from their life too.

"Finally, all of you, live in harmony with one another; be sympathetic, love as brothers, be compassionate and humble." 1 Peter 3:8

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

An Anxious Look About You

I'm feeling pretty good today except tonight I've been having pain in my stomach. That's a good sign though because the doctor says that's the chemo fighting the cancer. Other than that things are pretty normal.

I've been thinking about the waiting room at MDA where you get your blood work done and have made some observations.

You can categorize the people into 3 groups:

1. Just diagnosed with cancer for the first time. Waiting for the blood work to see how bad it is.
2. Waiting to find out if they have cancer again.
3. Currently in chemo waiting on routine blood work.

While sitting in the waiting room your eyes automatically scan and notice the bald people with PICCS in their arms. There are all different types of cancers and stages of cancer being represented. Some people are moving well while others are in wheel chairs. Then, you notice the other people in the room who look healthy. They still have hair, but they have a certain look about them. Those who have had cancer before are contemplating, look worried and frightened. They know what to expect and are thinking about their past experience and worried about their future. Then, you notice the people who look completely frightened, almost panicked. Their eyes are wandering around the room and fixate on the sick people. On several occasions I've had people eye balling me. They look me up and down, stare at my bald head, and focus in on my arm. Never do they look away, but I don't take offense. They are in their own world worried about their future. You can almost read their thoughts. "Is that what I'm going to look like?" and "Am I going to loose my hair?" and "Will I have that thing in my arm?" It's weird because in my experience nobody ever talks about their diagnosis. No one asks questions or compares stories. Sometimes I feel like I should stand up and ask, "Who here is waiting to be diagnosed? OK, let's go talk and leave here feeling OK about our situations." I really hope that each of these people have the same support as me. The prayers, emails and phone calls have helped get me through this experience. Lastly, I hope they have a relationship with God because without his strength beating this disease is near impossible.

"Do not fear, for I am with you;
Do not anxiously look about you, for I am your God
I will strengthen you, surely I will help you,
Surely I will uphold you with My righteous right hand." Isaiah 41:10

Monday, January 11, 2010

Friends For Life

Over the past few weeks I've experienced my hands and feet going completely numb when exposed to cold temperatures, and today I found out my nose does the same thing. When on a walk, my nose went so numb that I couldn't even tell if it was still attached to my face. I had to go inside to defrost it.

I've been thinking about the unexplainable bond cancer patients have. They understand what it's like to hear the terrible words, "You have cancer." They know what it's like to have to ask "How bad is it?" and "What's my prognosis?" and "Is it curable?" They also know what it's like to deal with the fear and doubt that overwhelms us. To then wonder what we did wrong to deserve this. During this time our minds wonder and sometimes think the worst. It's interesting because people you'd never imagine being a close friend with instantly bond because of their shared cancer experience. Before you know it, you're checking on each other daily and praying for one another often. You keep up with doctors visits and anxiously await results with each other. You even find yourself being happy when they get good news and you don't. Through this disease you become life long friends.

"Two are better than one,
because they have a good return for their work:
If one falls down,
his friend can help him up.
But pity the man who falls
and has no one to help him up!" Ecclesiastes 4:9-10


My sister Becky read last night's blog entry and remembers her trip to heaven just a little differently. Becky remembers standing in front of grandma and a man. Grandma never spoke but just smiled at her. The man explained to Becky that it wasn't her time and told her to go back. She remembers turning around and walking back out of the light. She always felt like the man speaking was Jesus.

Sunday, January 10, 2010

Don't Throw an Angel out a Window!

Wednesday I had chemo and it was pretty routine. Friday I got sick, Saturday I still wasn't feeling well and today I was just tired.

I've always believed in miracles, angels and the power of prayer and 20 years ago all three played a big part in my family's life. My niece, Lindsey who was in elementary school at the time got home from school to find an empty house. This was unusual, so when Lindsey got inside the house she received a call from the hospital telling her my sister was there. Confused, Lindsey called her daddy and my brother in law started investigating. Quickly there after my mom saw Becky's car on the news and realized she had been in a wreck. It turns out the car had flipped several times and she was in critical condition. When the family arrived at the hospital we were asked to identify her and we couldn't. She had several hairline fractures in her face which caused severe swelling, her eye dropped in the socket, she had brain swelling, and a broken arm. We were then told she wouldn't make it until morning, so we called a priest to come up to the hospital and pray for my sister. When the sun rose the next morning my sister was still alive. Now, the doctors were concerned that the swelling in her brain would kill her, so they drilled a hole in her head to relieve some of the pressure.

Becky was in ICU, so my family and I brought sleeping bags and moved to the hospital waiting room. On night 2 or 3 we received a call in the waiting room around 11p from a man. He asked to speak to someone in our family. He proceeded to tell my sister, Liz that he had a vision while driving about my sister and that the doctors needed to remove the blood clot behind her left ear. Liz told him that the doctors were watching her and hung up the phone. The call disturbed Liz and just made me mad because he was upsetting the family. The man called the next night and this time my mom answered the phone. My mom got upset and didn't know what to say. I then warned the family that if he calls again I wanted to be the one to talk to him. The next day they were preparing Becky for surgery. Her eye muscles needed repaired and she needed arm surgery. Before the surgery they were doing X rays of her eye to see the extent the damage. During this time the man showed up to the hospital with a bible. He asked to pray with the family and over Becky. I told the man to leave the hospital or I was going to throw him out the window, but my brother in law said if he just wants to pray why not let him. So, we allowed him to pray over Becky. After the man prayed he repeated the vision and left. The doctors then came in the room with the test results and said that Becky would need another surgery. When doing the eye X rays they found a blood clot behind her left ear. I was in shock and almost fell out of my chair. My family immediately looked at me and got on to me for almost throwing an angel out the window. We never saw the guy again.

My sister woke up from a coma 14 days later and she told the family she had been in heaven. She saw a bright light, a man and my grandmother. My grandmother explained to Becky that it wasn't her time and she must go back. Becky isn't sure who the man was, but we can only guess it was Jesus.

Becky had a long road ahead of her. She was in the hospital for about 6 months and had to relearn everything. She had to learn how to tie her shoes, how to talk, etc. She didn't have a vocabulary, any memories including a memory of her husband. Once released from the hospital she'd have to write notes to herself so she could remember what she was doing. For example, if she was cooking, she'd have to write a note that would remind her that food was on the stove.

It took about 5 years for her to get everything back and it is truly a miracle she's here today. Not only that, if you met her you would never know she was ever in an accident. She looks and acts completely normal. During this experience my family witnessed several miracles, visions of heaven and even a visit from an angel.

"Sing to God, sing praise to his name,
extol him who rides on the clouds [a]—
his name is the LORD—
and rejoice before him." Psalms 68:4

"You are the God who performs miracles;
you display your power among the peoples." Psalms 77:14

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

God Suprises Me Everyday!

I've been reading "The One Year Devotional Prayer Book" and have been surprised to see how the prayers have been completely appropriate for that day in time. It's as if they were written for me and what I'm going through. I'll share a couple with you so you know what I mean.

On Monday before leaving for MDA to get my test results I read this prayer:
"Lord, this morning I wait with eager anticipation to see what you have in store for this day. Help me find my hope in you and in your word. Teach me to wait for your perfect will to be done. Thank you for waking me this morning with another opportunity to live for you. Amen."

"Perhaps God has you in his waiting room. Be patient. Waiting on God is never wasted time. He hears you! As you wait, your hope is in his word.

It is often said that God answers our prayers in one of three ways: yes, no, and wait. The important thing is that God hears and answers everyone of our prayers for our good and for his glory."

"I wait for the Lord, my soul waits, and in his word I do hope. My soul waits for the Lord more than those who watch for the morning, yes, more than those than watch for the morning." Psalms 130:5-6

Then today before leaving for chemo therapy I read this prayer:
"Father, You are mighty to save and worthy of all praise. This morning, as I prepare for battle, help me to choose the right weapons; the helmet of salvation; the sword of the spirit, which is your word; the breastplate of righteousness; the shoes of the gospel of peace; and the shield of faith. Thank you that you go before me in this war and that I have prepared the way for victory. Amen."

"For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal but mighty in God for pulling down strong holds." 2nd Corinthians 10:4

Doing daily devotionals is something new to me and I'm really enjoying it. It's amazing how God speaks to you through so many different channels. This week's prayers could have been completely different but they weren't. They were perfect and prepared me for the tough day ahead. God is truly amazing!

Monday, January 4, 2010

Praise God

Today was my big appointment with the oncologist and we received GREAT news. The lymph nodes and tumor have shrunk by about half. Some of the lymph nodes have shrunk even more than that. The doctor has decided to continue with the chemo treatments with the next one being this Wednesday. We'll do chemo 3 more times, have the scan again and reassess the situation. Also, we are discussing a day surgery where they will place a "power port" in my chest which will allow my PICC line to come out. This port will be placed in my chest under the skin. It will give me more mobility and does not have to be cleaned. With this procedure hopefully I can get back to work and resume my regular activities. God has definitely heard our prayers and answered them. I can't thank you enough for the continued prayer and ask you to please continue praying.

I want to say a special thank you to one of the kids in my family. Every night he and his family pray together and he has been saying special prayers for me. This morning he even went to church at 5:30a to say a rosary just for me. That is such a kind thing to do, especially for a teenage boy. He's also been praying specifically for my mustache which hasn't fallen out. Thanks Jacob for your consist prayer and for remembering me and my mustache.

I am also thankful to MDA for knowing the right medication to give me and for the overall great treatment I have received, but the real thanks goes to God. He is the one who ultimately makes the decision on whether or not I survive this disease and I can't praise him enough for improving my health. He is the one that gives the doctors wisdom and me the strength I need to get through the day. He continues to answer our prayers and I feel so blessed to have him in my life.

I'm still not cancer free, but know with our continued prayer God will heal me.

"Hallelujah! Praise God in his holy house of worship,
praise him under the open skies;
Praise him for his acts of power,
praise him for his magnificent greatness;
Praise with a blast on the trumpet,
praise by strumming soft strings;
Praise him with castanets and dance,
praise him with banjo and flute;
Praise him with cymbals and a big bass drum,
praise him with fiddles and mandolin.
Let every living, breathing creature praise God!
Hallelujah!" Psalms 150:1-6

Sunday, January 3, 2010

Tomorrow Is the BIG Day!!!

I meet with the oncologist tomorrow at 3:30p to review the results of my catscan, X-ray and bloodwork. These test will determine how my body has responded to the chemo. They will check the size of the tumor and also the size of my lymph nodes. This test will also show if the cancer has spread anywhere else. The ultimate goal is to get rid of the tumor because the tumor is feeding the lymph nodes which can ultimately spread to major organs. This is probably the most important doctors appointment I've ever had. Wish me luck and pray hard!!!!

Mind over Body

Lately I've been training my mind to overcome my body. I'm not allowing the way my body feels to dictate my actions. For example, in the mornings if I'm tired I force myself to get up and go walking. I walk every morning and night even if I don't feel up to it. Now this doesn't mean that after my walk I'm not tired. In fact, some days I come home and take a nap. My goal is to get my body and mind to work together to overcome the cancer and help the chemo take affect. Another example of mind over body is when I'm eating. During many meals I take a break to vomit but force myself to sit back at the table and finish my plate. I won't let the nausea win. Now it's mind and body versus cancer and chemicals and I plan on winning. A lot of people just say I'm hard headed!

What I do know is God can heal. I have no doubt that he is answering my prayers and I can feel him strengthening me each and every day. He can can heal even the sickest person, but I have to do my part too. God gave me a body and a mind and I plan to use them. I will use my God given abilities and do everything in my power to overcome this disease. How can God help us if we aren't helping ourselves?

"Those who wait for the Lord will gain new strength; they will mount up with wings like eagles, they will run and not get tired, they will walk and not faint." Isaiah 40:31