Sunday, December 27, 2009

December 27, 2009

Unfortunately, I didn't get to blog last night. As I had mentioned, we set out from Rochester, MN at around 10:20am local time (11:20am Eastern time). Anne was anxious to get going. We drove basically straight through with only 3 stops total. So I couldn't write because I was DRIVING. Forever. The roads weren't all that bad for the first 3 hours, but they were pretty slushy for the last 9 hours. What I don't understand is why people who are afraid to drive in bad weather don't just STAY HOME. Or at least stay in the slow lane--that's why they call it that.

Anne indicated that she didn't want to stop overnight anywhere else but home. So I obliged. Unfortunately, she doesn't have much of an appetite, and I do, so I got to starve for a while until I convinced her to stop to eat when we hit Michigan, about 8 hours into the trip. I had set up a little bed for her in the back of the Enclave (which performed quite well in the snow, by the way), but she only spent about 3 hours there in all. She was a bit stiff and somewhat sore, but the Superstar did extremely well. She hit the sack within 20 minutes of getting home, but slept in and didn't come to church with me this morning.

Of course, everyone and their brother asked me about her at church today. Most people were surprised to see me home so soon, as they thought I wouldn't be home until tonight, but they seemed happy to see me and happier to hear that Anne was doing so well. The prayers of everyone at church and all of you reading this I think helped her to recover so quickly.

I'm sure I've used this one before, but it says it all:

"Praise the Lord, O my soul; all my inmost being, praise his holy name. Praise the Lord, O my soul, and forget not all his benefits." Psalm 103:1-2
God Bless,

Friday, December 25, 2009

December 25, 2009

Well, I hope everyone had a great Christmas day today. Ours was quiet, as would be expected. We had coffee and muffins in the room (from the hotel restaurant--somewhat cheaper than Starbucks). At about 1:30pm we went to the hotel restaurant again for Christmas dinner. They had a nice buffet--nothing special, but there was plenty of food. They got their money out of Anne, so I tried to make up for it, but I also tried not to overeat like I usually do. We "rested" until around 5:20, then went to the movies! We saw Sherlock Holmes in a very nice theater, with stadium seating. It was very comfortable and the movie itself was really good. It didn't get the best reviews (2 1/2 stars), but we really enjoyed it. I'm sure they'll have a sequel, so they can get Dr. Moriarty.

I'm typing this on Anne's laptop (Michelle's old one) which she fortunately brought with her on this trip. Mine must have a swine flu virus or something on it. Every time I tried to get to the website to write a blog it gives me an error message and then restarts Internet Explorer. Maybe I should just give up. I tried to install Firefox on my laptop, thinking the problem is with Internet Explorer, but I keep getting the error message and it shuts down. Not being as computer savvy as I guess I should be, I'm going to have to get the computer geeks to bail me out again. There goes my Christmas bonus I guess.

I read about the terrorist who tried to blow up the plane going into Detroit today. Thankfully it seems he only succeeded in burning himself, but I guess the guy who tried to stop him also was burned a bit. The plane originated in Nigeria. I guess there are wackos all over the place. He said he was on a mission from Al Quaeda. I wonder if Obama will admit to terrorism this time--he didn't when the idiot shot all of the people at Fort Hood. We had been safe for 7 1/2 years--I hope this doesn't portend bad times to come on the terrorism front. The plane we usually take to Nigeria and back is with Lufthansa. Their security (at least when you have to switch planes in Frankfurt to get to Detroit, which is really a pain in the patootie) is probably a lot better than in Amsterdam.

Today's verse is from Isaiah 9:6:

"For to us a child is born, to us a son is given, and the government will be on his shoulders. And he will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace."

Maybe if enough people believed in Him and followed Him, there wouldn't be so much violence and terrorism in the world. Jesus was the model of peace for people like Ghandi and Martin Luther King, Jr. who believed in peaceful demonstration and resistence--and still got the job done. Salvation in Christianity is based on God's grace--there's nothing we can do to deserve it, nor can we repay Jesus for dying for us. Other religions believe that you have to earn your way to paradise, through works (dying as a martyr in Islam buys you a free pass--no judgement to decide how many good works you did). I wonder how many good works are enough? If you only did 99 and you needed 100, can you still get in? With Christianity, all you need to do is truly believe that Jesus is your Savior--He's taken care of the rest for us. He was born to die for us as redemption for our sins--to give us a second chance. Now that's a Christmas gift we can all use.

From what I can tell the weather is going to be better for driving on Saturday, so we plan on heading to Saginaw then. I'm planning on taking two days, but I'll take 3 if I need to. I'm not going to be in any rush, even though we are both VERY anxious to be home.

God Bless,

Thursday, December 24, 2009

December 24, 2009

Merry Christmas Eve! Well, we're still here. The town of Rochester only got an inch or two of snow, but apparently the roads were pretty bad, so I'm not complaining that we haven't started out for home yet. From what I can see from all of the forecasts, it will be better for us to wait until Saturday to leave as we had originally planned. We can't wait to get home, of course.

Anne had a reasonably good day today. She was a bit stiff and sore, but has still been going forward and not backward. She rested well, I think. Her appetite is still small, but that's expected. I actually slept in this morning, so we went to Starbucks (or St Arbucks as Pastor Dan once said) and had a lovely coffee and muffin (pumpkin cheesecake--yum). Yeah--2 cups of coffee and two muffins for $13--who can afford to go there? I'll take my 50 cent cup of instant next time, thank you! We wound up skipping lunch, mainly because Anne wasn't hungry (and she was napping). I fortunately had plenty of Christmas goodies with us (thanks to Karen Zirkle) to munch on. We then actually went outside to go to church. We decided to go to the chapel at St. Mary's Hospital. It was a Catholic Mass, but I figure it's the same God, and the roof looked good and strong, so I figured it wouldn't fall in on me. It was lovely. Unfortunately, from where you park to where the chapel is is about 3 blocks (all inside--so you can imagine how big the hospital is) and it pooped Anne out a bit. But, she got to rest in church. They kept making us stand up and sit down (like Episcopalian calisthetics) but she did recover. I picked her up after leaving her by a different exit and going to get the car by myself. Of course, here we are far from home on Christmas Eve, and now I'm pretty darn hungry, and Anne's pretty tired. You'd think you could find an open restaurant to eat in , but nooooo. So, we went back to the Kahler Hotel and ate in the restaurant there. The food is adequate but nothing special. Plus, I've only eaten there a dozen times this year, so I was actually looking forward to something different for a change. Ah well, I'll survive (actually with this shape, longer than most people).

We had a fun time getting Skype to work tonight so we could receive a call from Michelle who was at the Dorey's house with the Zirkles. They went there after church. I had to reboot this stupid computer (I'm actually afraid to insult it since it's working now--I've been having problems with this stupid keyboard that sometimes doesn't register letters I've typed--go figure). Mind you, it has been getting a workout lately, but isn't that what it's supposed to do? Heather had to work today at Sears--then they told her they no longer needed her after this Saturday since she was only seasonal help. She's home tonight making cheesecake to take with her to the Garners' home tomorrow for Christmas dinner. Thanks, guys for hosting my daughters since we couldn't be there.

Our Bible verse for today:

[An angel of the Lord said,] “‘Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is Christ the Lord. This will be a sign to you: You will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger.’ Suddenly a great company of the heavenly host appeared with the angel, praising God and saying, ‘Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace to men on whom his favor rests.’" Luke 2:11-14

Merry Christmas, everyone! Christ is born!

God Bless,

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

December 23, 2009

Today was a pretty quiet day. The girls didn't get rolling until fairly late this morning, so instead of breakfast, we had an early lunch. Anne slept pretty well last night and only got up once during the night. She was fairly sore so I got her a pain pill. She did great all day though, and only took one more pain pill--and that was just before going to bed. She's been sore in her right shoulder again--like she was last time we were here when she had her portal vein embolization. I guess her side effect of doing anything to her liver is right shoulder pain. In fact, going back to before her diagnosis, she had right shoulder pain and thought that was from exercising but in retrospect was probably from a liver tumor. Funny how that works. She's got a small appetite, which is normal, and her bodily functions (I'm not allowed to mention her bowels) are good.

God came through again for us today. The girls got off the ground without a hitch, including no problem with the weather. Interestingly, it's been snowing here from about an hour after they left--and probably won't stop until Friday night. They made it to Detroit OK, but had a long layover of nearly 3 hours. They made it to Saginaw without problems, and so did their luggage! Praise God for that. Again, we won't be with them physically for Christmas this year, but we will be spiritually. We had a good time with them these past few days besides the fact they were just sitting around.

I've been getting a fair amount of reading done, but unfortunately I also spend a fair amount of time on the computer. A lot of what I read online is devotions, and I'm spending a lot of time on the Colson Center for Christian Worldview website ( There are daily devotionals there and a lot of interesting articles and commentaries, as well as a vast library of Christian material. I highly recommend it. Santa brought me "The Signature in the Cell" by Stephen Meyer, which is a book about DNA and intelligent design. It's very "heady" and a bit of a slow read, but goes along well with the cass I co-taught at church about creation and evolution. I'll actually be hearing him speak at a Centurions conference I'll be attending in January. I'll hopefully be getting commissioned as a Centurion then as well. I've also been reading about political stuff, but this health-care fiasco has gotten me sick, so I'm not so sure I want to keep doing that.

A Bible verse I thought was appropriate for today is:

For our present troubles are small and won't last very long. Yet they produce for us a glory that vastly outweighs them and will last forever! 2 Corinthians 4:17, NLT

Although it didn't seem that Anne's cancer was a small thing, I guess it could be considered that in the general scheme of things. Certainly were were blessed in the outcome, as many others are not so fortunate. But the trouble we have been through has given us an opportunity to tell others about the greatness of God. The devotional I got this verse from goes on:

Our troubles should not diminish our faith or disillusion us. We should realize that there is a purpose in our suffering. Problems and human limitations have several benefits: (1) they remind us of Christ's suffering for us; (2) they keep us from pride; (3) they cause us to look beyond this brief life; (4) they prove our faith to others; and (5) they give God the opportunity to demonstrate his power.

I couldn't have said that better (so I just copied it!).

God Bless,

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

December 22, 2009

What you are about to read is true, albeit amazing. Anne was dicharged from the hospital today! Three days earlier than originally planned by her surgeons, no less. She has done so incredibly well. They were still calling her "Superstar" today. She has been eating regular food, and walking short distances at least. She had her mediport removed today as well since she no longer needs chemotherapy. We're supposed to stay in town a couple of more days just in case, but actually we'll probably stay in town until Saturday. We're expecting a huge snowstorm here starting tomorrow night--at least I hope it holds off until tomorrow night since the girls are supposed to fly out tomorrow at 1:45pm. I'm not interested in driving in a snowstorm with a wife who just came out of surgery, so I think we'll just stay here and spend Christmas together at the Kahler Hotel. The girls have been invited to have Christmas with friends, so I feel good about that. We've had a good visit with them out here--even though there wasn't much for them to do except read and stare at Anne.

I still cannot say enough for the Mayo Clinic system and I can only wish their philosophy would be adopted nationwide, but especially in Saginaw. I am working on that, having been asked to be on a new committee--the OR Satisfaction Committee--at Covenant. We'll have to see how much influence I can muster. Our nurses and physicians on this trip were awesome. They all express the Mayo philosophy of "the needs of the patient come first" to the ultimate degree. For their concern and care of Anne I can only be truly thankful. May God Bless them forever.

We had a visit from one of the hospital chaplains today. It was a nice visit. Anne basically did most of the talking and told him of the many miracles we have witnessed since she was diagnosed with cancer. He especially liked the story of Anne's being annointed with oil by a Catholic priest as we were starting our journey to Mayo Clinic last April. Interestingly, he had written a chapter for a book about that very subject. Blessed again!

This following verse is so appropriate now.

For it is by believing in your heart that you are made right with God, and it is by confessing with your mouth that you are saved.
~ Romans 10:10, NLT

I can only pray that you all believe or come to believe in your hearts that God is our Father and Jesus is our Savior. I have seen with my own eyes how awesome He is and the miracles He can do--and Anne is the best example of that. She went from "palliative care" to "Cured" through His love for her. He alone directed the physicians in what medications to use (He also helped investigators to develop these drugs). He alone caused the cancer to be driven out of her body. He alone guided the hands of the surgeons to remove the necrotic tumor. And He alone has heard your prayers for Anne's healing.

God Bless,

Monday, December 21, 2009

December 21, 2009

"Superstar". That's Anne's new nickname, given to her by her surgeons. It sounds like they've almost never seen anyone recover so quickly from this kind of surgery. They're even talking of potentially discharging her tomorrow---3 days early! She is a superstar! She was up walking all over today. They yanked her foley catheter, pulled out her central IV line, and disconnected her from her IVs. She still has her drainage tube in, but that should be coming out tomorrow. They even advanced her diet quicker than they usually do. And, most importantly, she's even moved her bowels--earlier than expected! What a woman! We'll probably have to stay out here a couple more days before starting home, but that's still cool.

This morning, I missed her two surgeons who visited early, but I was there when the oncologist showed up. He had great news. The pathologist looked at the liver and found only necrotic (dead) tumor tissue, as we expected. They did find a small amout of live tumor in the colon, but the surgeon had cut everything out, so she doesn't even need chemotherapy now! She'll need followup labs and scans, of course, but they were very encouraged by the results. If only they knew our connection with God and all of you prayer warriors. They will actually be removing her port tomorrow that was used for the chemotherapy since she doesn't need it any more.

My verse for you today (I might have used it before):

Always be joyful. Never stop praying. Be thankful in all circumstances, for this is God's will for you who belong to Christ Jesus.
~ 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18, NLT

Well, I can tell you that we are very joyful. We have been blessed beyond compare, and we are very thankful. I think we would have been thankful for all that God has done for us no matter what the outcome of all of this, but obviously, I'm not complaining about how this has worked out for us. We may never understand God's will, and I wonder if a lot of us will really find out what it is, but if it is His will that Anne is cured from this major cancer scare, there is good reason for it. I think we are to witness to everyone of God's greatness, and I hope this blog has helped some people to see how good (great, awesome, magnificent...) He is.

God Bless,

Sunday, December 20, 2009

December 20, 2009

Anne continues to do well, in fact, she's way ahead of schedule. She got up and walked around 5 times today. She actually walked a fair amount each time. They progressed her to a full-liquid diet, which means she can have broth, juice and pudding. She has done very well as far as pain goes, although it still hurts for her to move around in bed. Her blood pressure is getting better too and her pulse rate is coming down. She was apparently pretty dehydrated which was not a bad thing, and that is also getting better. No bowel sounds yet, and she did have one episone of a sharp pain in her right upper quadrant, but even that didn't last long. Who knows, we might get to go home early.

The girl's luggage was delivered about 15 minutes after I finished writing the blog last night. They were already fast asleep, so I just left it in their room, which is adjoining to mine. I got up fairly early today and went over to see Anne around 8:00am. I wound up going to church at Trinity Presbyterian Church with my friend from Centurions, Helen Laack, whom I finally got to meet in person today. It was a very nice service with a wonderful sermon. It was quite nice to attend a more liturgical style of service than I do at Hopevale, but it was different than St. John's Episcopal Church which had a more high-church atmosphere, with all the pomp and circumstance that goes with that.

I arrived back at Anne's hospital room around 1:00 pm. I basically got there, said hello and took the girls to lunch across the street at a small family restaurant. The food was lovely. After lunch we took Anne for a walk around the nurses' station. Again, she is doing amazingly well. Thankfully, she's taken good care of herself over the years, so being so healthy has really helped with her recovery. She was able to sit in a chair for about 2 hours in the morning too. She looked even better today than she did yesterday, and I expect that to keep improving.

At church this morning, we sang the Doxology:

Praise God from Whom all blessngs flow;
Praise Him, all cretures here below: alleluia, alleluia!
Praise Him above, ye heavenly host,
Praise Father, Son and Holy Ghost:
Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia, alleluia, alleluia!

We don't sing it at Hopevale. I don't necessarily miss singing it, nor do I miss not saying the Lord's Prayer and all of the other things we used to do at St. John's. It's just a different way of worship, and any worship is a good thing. They certainly do things differently in Nigeria, and I like that too. It is a wonderful song, however. And so true. All blessings do flow from God, as Anne and I are fully aware. And we sing His praises repeatedly.

God Bless,

Saturday, December 19, 2009

December 19, 2009

This should be a pretty short blog since not a real lot happened today. If you remember I wrote yesterday's blog this morning. I went over to see Anne shortly after that. She was propped up in bed smiling. She had been up in a chair already, mainly because her bed needed to be changed because of leakage of blood around her drainage tube from the liver area. To my amazement, her NG (naso-gastric) tube had already been removed, and they were already letting her drink some clear liquids. When I was an intern in general surgery 30 years ago, you'd be lucky to get clear liquids until 3-4 days after surgery. Her puffiness had gone down considerably. She was comfortable all day except when she tred to move around in bed. She was getting sore lying in bed, but sitting up made her "fuzzy" mainly because her hemoglobin had dropped from 12 to about 8.1. They don't like to transfuse unless it gets down to 7 which is OK by me. We got her up to walk around 5:00pm and she made one lap around the nurses station. We almost had to run to keep up with her. What a trooper.

The girls arrived at the Rochester airport at 1:00pm Minnesota time (2:00 Saginaw time). We waited for their bag to get on the carousel. And waited. And waited. Well, their bag (they had put their clothes in one bag to save money) never showed up. It apparently made it to Detroit, but not to Rochester. I'm hoping they get it by tomorrow. We stayed with Anne until a little after 7:00pm then went to dinner at Victoria's--my new favorite Italian restaurant. You can't eat an appetizer there and expect to finish dinner. In fact, you can't finish dinner even if you don't eat an appetizer. So, we packed up the "remains" to eat for lunch Sunday, and got to the hotel around 9:30pm. Still, a pretty long day, as a lot of it is sitting around waiting--now waiting for Anne to recover from the surgery. With God's help, I expect that to go incredibly well, as she has already shown after only 24 hours. I'm hoping she gets some rest without us there. We'll spend all day with her tommorow. I was invited to church by Helen Laack, a Centurion who lives out here in Rochester. I think the girls would like to come but their luggage hasn't arrived yet so they may not go since they don't have a change of clothes.

Here's how I feel now:

"Come, let us sing for joy to the Lord; let us shout aloud to the Rock of our salvation. Let us come before him with thanksgiving and extol him with music and song." Psalm 95:1-2

Only, I don't think you really want to hear me sing!

Interestingly, last February, when I was last in Nigeria, I was talking to my friend Andy Wallace about how blessed my life was--great wife, great kids, great (not always) job, good health (of course that was before Anne was diagnosed with cancer), you name it, I had it. Well, I can honestly say that my life is still blessed--in even more ways. I have a God and Savior who loves me unconditionally and I have a hugh number of friends who have helped me and Anne and the girls get through the biggest challenge of our lives with flying colors. Talk about a Christmas present!

God Bless (and He blesses all of us)

December 18, 2009's actually the 19th, but I didn't get to do this last night so here I am this morning.

We were to get to the hospital (Rochester Methodist Hospital) around 7:45 Friday morning, so I knew that Anne wasn't the first case of the day. We got up to the pre-op admission unit around 8:00, and they did the usual nursing stuff (interview, filling out paperwork, starting IV, taking pre-op meds, etc), and at 9:30am I took my leave as they took Anne up to the OR. They have a smallish family waiting area with TV, magazines and coffee. It was packed, but I was able to find a corner to plant myself (actually I sat under the TV, but I at least had a socket to plug in the computer). I was told that surgery would take aroud 4 hours, so I figured that she would be done around 2:00pm. At 11:30 I went down to the cafeteria and had a sandwich (or as my mother would say sangwich) and a cup of soup, then ran back up to the family waiting area. When I got there, a "nurse communicator" was actually just looking for me. "They just started her surgery at 11:43" he told me. Ok, they won't be done until nearly 4:00pm. No problem, I have my computer and a bunch of books, and I could look at one or two magazines. So I sat and waited, and waited and waited.

At 4:30pm, Dr. Wolff, the colorectal surgeon came down to talk to me. Surgery was over--they were just closing her up, he said. He did find the colon mass and was able to get it all out along with the surrounding lymph nodes. Everything looked fine from his standpoint, but he wouldn't know until the pathology report came back as to whether there was any viable tumor. Mainly, he did not need to do a colostomy (Praise God for that--I think that was what worried Anne the most), and he thought she did and will do fine. At around 5:00pm Dr. Nagorney came down to talk to me. From his standpoint the surgery went great. He got everything out that he needed to, including some lymph nodes. The intra-operative ultrasound of the liver showed no remaining tumors, and most importantly, all the tumor tissue that he took out was dead. The chemotherapy had killed everything! Is God awesome or what!!! He mentioned that one of his collegues wrote a recent article that showed that a response to chemo like this had a tremendous prognosis. Here's my shouting from the mountaintop!!!!

A little after he left, a nurse came and got me and brought me up to Anne's room. We didn't get the private room (yet) that she wanted (she was worried having me and the girls there would disturb her neighbor), but her roommate is leaving this morning so she may be in the room all by herself anyway--at least until Monday. "She should be here in about an hour or so" she said. I sat in the room and waited. And waited. And waited. Well, you get the picture. At 8:00--so she had been in recovery about 3 hours--they wheeled her down to the room. "We'll just be a minute" the nurse told me, as they had to transfer her to the bed. So I stood outside the room and waited. And waited. Well, anyway, after a while I was let back in. Anne was awake but pretty sleepy and sore. Her back was bothering her from laying flat on it for so long, so I helped her to get to her side. She was pretty puffy from the meds, but looked beautiful to me. We spoke for a bit, and at around 9:00pm, I left and went back to the hotel, sat at the bar, had a glass of wine and a salad for dinner. What a day. But thank God, this part os over. Now all she has to do is heal up, which should take all of 6 weeks or so. Then we can start our lives over again, and leave this all behind us.

My friend from Hopevale, George Puia, sent me this:

"I pray that He may grant you, according to the riches of His glory, to be
strengthened with power through His Spirit in the inner man, and
that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith. I pray that you,
being rooted and firmly established in love, may be able to comprehend with all
the saints what is the length and width, height and depth of God's love, and to
know Christ's love that surpasses knowledge, so you may be filled with all the
fullness of God. Now to Him who is able to do above and beyond all that we
ask or think--according to the power that works in you--to Him be glory in the
church and in Christ Jesus to all generations, forever and ever. Amen" Ephesians 3:14-21

God Bless,

Thursday, December 17, 2009

December 17, 2009

How about this? Two days in a row!

Anne and I met with Dr. Alberts, an oncologist here at Mayo today. He basically said that as long as all of the pathology looks good, Anne may not need any more chemotherapy. That would be cool, of course. We met with Dr. Nagorney, the liver surgeon this morning as well. Unfortunately, we had hoped she could have her surgery done endoscopically, but apparently they won't be doing it that way because of he extent of what they have to cut out. Also, the combination of needing to do the colon with the liver makes it better to do it open. Apparently, on a good news front, the embolization procedure Anne had a month ago did what it was supposed to do--shrink the right lobe of the liver and make te left side grow bigger. Dr. Wolff, the colorectal surgeon will be starting he surgery tomorrow, with Dr. Nagorney following. We will be checking in to the Methodist Hospital at 7:45am--which means that she won't be going first at 8:00, but probably their 2nd case of the morning. I mentioned on the previous blog that we had checked in to a hotel across the street from St. Mary's Hospital. That's because we were under the impression that that was where she was having the surgery. We were wrong. So, we checked out of the SpringHill Suites and into the Kahler Grand, where we've stayed both other times we were here. They actually recognized us--we've got to stop coming here. This is an older hotel but it's in a perfect spot. You can get just about everywhere you need to go underground which is a good thing considering it's cold enough to freeze off body parts I really can't mention in a blog. I wound up reserving a second room for the girls for when they come.

I found this Bible verse recently:

"A cheerful heart is good medicine, but a broken spirit saps a person's
strength. "
Proverbs 17:22, NLT

I think this is where they got "laughter is the best medicine from". I've been trying to keep cheerful throughout this whole journey of ours--and trying to make Anne laugh as much as I can. We have had a lot of fun, spending a lot more time with each other than we have been able to over the past many years--mainly because of my work. Anne was asked if she would contribute to a new study they're doing here about colon and pelvic surgery. There were a lot of questions about sex in it--and boy can I do lots of jokes about that. She kept "shushing" me when she started filling it out in the exam room while we were waiting--which only made me crack even more jokes about it. The other side of this is how your strength can be sapped from you if you are constantly worrying, fretting, or whatever else you want to call it. There's no benefit from walking around being depressed, but if you have faith in God, you will give your troubles over to Him, and rejoice in the fact that God ("Father") knows best, and His will be done.

Thanks again for all of your prayers.

God Bless,

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

December 16, 2009

I promised I'd write this blog while we were out at Mayo, so here goes. We actually got in late last night. We left Saginaw at 8:50 am and pulled in here around 8:30 pm--so it actually took about 13 or so hours to get here. We did stop at a Bob Evans for lunch (yum!--Anne's choince, not mine). We were the youngest couple in there by at least 20 years. The lunch stayed with me until we got here. Our original plan was to stop somewhere along the way and sleep but since we didn't need to stop for dinner, we decided to keep going. I passed through La Crosse Wisconsin and figured we only had an hour and a half to go. I also thought that there would be somewhere along the way to stop for gas. Boy was I wrong. Can you imagine passing about 10 intersections on a highway with no gas stations on the exits? The Buick Enclave I was driving (actually it used to be my car--a substitute for my usual Surburban--but that's a whole different story) gets about 18 miles per gallon on the highway (not 21 or even 24 like they advertise). The "you're going to run out of gas soon" light came on and I checked the on-board computer. I had about 40 miles of gas left, and 33 miles to go. I don't know about you, but I didn't trust the car at all. So I prayed and prayed--and God came through as usual. This time it was with the Amish. They have a truck stop a few exits ahead of Rochester Minnesota, thankfully. I was so happy I almost bought a few pies from the service station!!!

Anne had booked a room at the SpringHill Suites for us, right across the street from St. Mary's Hospital, where we are pretty sure she will be hospitalized. The room is quite nice, about the same size as at the Kahler Grand where we have stayed before. The hospital is literally across the street. I probably wouldn't really even need a coat to get there, except it was -7 degrees out there last night, and I'd prefer that I not freeze off any body parts, thank you.

Anne had some bloodwork done today, as well as an EKG and a CT of the abdomen. Tomorrow we meet with an oncologist and both surgeons. She's already got a list of questions for them. Boy, do I hate it when a patient comes prepared like that! But, actually here they seem to enjoy it. Maybe because they're employees and don't have to worry about generating enough money to pay the rent. I guess I'll have to check if they're hiring orthopods.

After dinner I took Anne to the chapel at St. Mary's. I mentioned it in an earlier blog, but it's really a very large Catholic Church. It's absolutely beautiful. There was another couple there with a small child when we arrived, but after they left we were alone in a very divine place. You could certainly feel the presence of God there. I must admit that I do really love churches like that--especially the ones in Italy. I'm happy with Hopevale, of course, because it's not the building that makes the worship, but the people inside, but there is no question that there is something to be said about the grandeur that some of these churches have as part of their worship.

Today's passage is from Psalm 100:4-5:

"Enter [the Lord's] gates with thanksgiving and his courts with praise; give
thanks to him and praise his name. For the Lord is good and his love endures
forever; his faithfulness continues through all generations."

I give thanks to God wherever I am these days. What He has done for us is unbelievable. Please pray with us that Anne does well on Friday. I also want to pray for all of the other people that have been brought to my attention that need His help.

God Bless,


Sunday, December 13, 2009

December 12, 2009

Yes, it's that time again. I haven't written in a while because Anne has done quite well, but I wanted to get this one in before we head out to Mayo Clinic this coming Tuesday (the 15th). I'll ask right up front for some extra prayers for her: that she doesn't come down with a cold before the surgery which would postpone it, that I do a good job of driving us out there Tuesday whithout any "incidents", that Anne keeps a positive attitude (she has been somewhat down over the past couple of weeks, worrying about the upcoming surgery), that we have our questions answered by the 2 surgeons on thursday (that we haven't even met yet!), and that God guides their hearts, hands and minds while doing her surgery on the 18th.

Heather and Michelle will be coming out to visit on the 19th and will return home on the 23rd. We won't be together for Christmas for the first time ever, but they have been invited to spend the day with some of our best friends. Heather will be going to Pastor Mike and Rhonda Garner's house, and Michelle to Tom and Karen Zirkle's house. I am very thankful to their families for taking care of mine. Anne and I will most likely be out in Rochester Minnesota still. However, I spoke with my sister Anna yesterday, a surgical nurse, who said she recently scrubbed on a Hepatectomy case (removal of part of the liver like Anne will be having), and the surgeon told her he couls take out as much liver as he wanted by a laparoscopic technique. I know they can do solon resections that way. So, we'll have to all pray they can do that for Anne. Recovery and pain will be so much easier for her! And I assume we might be coming home earlier. We'll see, I guess. I have to leave that one in God's (and the surgeon's) hands.

This past few weeks we have been going over the Apostle's Creed at church. Pastor Dan, who is an awesome preacher, mentioned the Manhattan Declaration today, as something that we should read. It was written by a few religious leaders, including one of my favorites (and mentors) Chuck Colson. I believe it draws a line in the sand for us Christians over 3 specific topics: the sanctity of life, marriage, and religious liberty. Please check out the document at and sign it if you agree.

I promise to keep everyone posted while we're away at Mayo. I want everyone to know how great God is through what miracles He has done for us.

"Give thanks to the Lord, call on his name; make known among the nations
what he has done." 1Chronicles 16:8

Saturday, November 21, 2009

November 21, 2009

Well here I go again. I didn't write last night because: a) I'm too lazy b) I was watching TV c) I forgot or d) all of the above. Well, if you picked d) you were right. Thank God Anne reminded me this morning. I had promised I'd write while we were out here to keep everyone informed about what has happened.

Anne spent a rough night Thursday after the liver embolization procedure. She had a lot of pain in the right shoulder with certain movements (referred pain from the liver), and between that and the need for vital sign monitoring (blood pressure, pulse and temperature) about every hour or so, she didn't sleep much. Her pain meds did help a lot, and the resident that was on call that night at the hospital spent a lot of time with her. She was a lot better by the time I showed up in the morning. Her labs looked good, although her hemoglobin dropped a bit. They "dismissed" her (everywhere else in the world it's called "discharged" except at Mayo) around noon, and we came back to the hotel and had lunch. She then proceeded to sleep most of the afternoon. By the time she woke up, her pain had largely disappeared. We ate at one of our now favorite restaurants, Victoria's, which is right around the corner. It has a huge menu of pretty decent Italian food--way better than anything in Saginaw, I'm afraid to say, and the portions are huge as well. The calamari in my pasta dish were real--tentacles and all! We saved half for lunch today, but we wound up having such a large breakfast (OK---I did), that we may not be hungry for it.

After dinner we watched TV (and I read as usual while watching--now I can't remember what I watched OR what I read), and as Anne was passing out in her chair, we hit the sack reasonably early. It's 9:45am now, so we have to kill some time before we go to the airport to head home.

So, again, we had a pretty decent experience at Mayo Clinic again. The motto "The needs of the patient come first" was again witnessed everywhere. I have been put on a committee at Covenant for patient satisfaction for the operating room services, and I plan on stressing that motto. I'd suggest that we all adopt this motto: "The needs of the other person come first". If we all can think of that in our daily work and relationships, wouldn't we have a better world? We shouldn't think of ourselves first. Christ surely didn't, or He wouldn't have died for us on the cross.

The following verses express what I feel right now about "Our Faith Journey":

"Come, let us sing for joy to the Lord; let us shout aloud to the Rock of our salvation. Let us come before him with thanksgiving and extol him with music and song." Psalm 95:1-2

It has been a bit of a wild ride, but God has been with us throuhgout the whole journey. I will shout this for all to hear, and I have been singing for joy all day long.

God Bless,

Thursday, November 19, 2009

November 19, 2009

I'd like to thank you all for your prayers. It's amazing how many of our friends are on Facebook, but after getting it to work on my Blackberry, I was able to read each and every birthday wish and prayer for Anne.

We got to Methodist Hospital at 6:45am this morning and went to Admissions. Apparently, Anne wasn't in the system to be admitted, although she was in there for the procedure. After waiting about an hour, they got things straightened out and she was brought, by escort, to the oncology floor. Nice private room, but fairly small. I wish my patients could have such a room. Mine get a double with not enough room for one bed no less two. And her bathroom was large enough for 4 patients at once (although there was only one potty!)

Her team of doctors came in to introduce themselves. There is an attending "consultant" physician who we met later in the afternoon, a resident, and an oncology fellow. They were both wearing suits. When I was a resident, I wore a scrub shirt, white pants and a long white lab coat--full of plaster. Turns out the fellow is from Edinburgh, like Anne, so they hit it off right away and reminisced about HP sauce, Haggis and Rybena. It was lovely, and picked up her spirits. She was a bit nervous as would be expected. They finally picked her up around 11:30, and I left to get in some lunch. I took a stroll through the gift shop, which would put Stroebels in Saginaw to shame, then went to the family waiting area until she got back at around 3:30 pm. She did incredibly well. I didn't speak to the interventional radiologist, but Anne said he was a bit "older" so "he must have known what he was doing." It's nice to know that just getting older puts you in the category of "knowing what you're doing".

She rested a bit and wasn't allowed to get out of bed until 8:00pm. She did have some soup and juice, but started getting some sharp pains in her right shoulder--referred pain from the liver area. They seemed to get better after she got up and walked around, and went to the potty. The oxycodone didn't hurt either. I left her just about sleeping at 9:00pm and I wound up eating dinner finally in the bar at our hotel. We're hoping she'll be discharged by tomorrow.

They did let us know that we're scheduled to return on December 14th for a CT scan and some other tests, and then she'll have the big surgery--removal of a lot of liver and the colon tumor--on the 18th, so I'm planning on being out here for Christmas. We could be in a lot worse places--think of those poor kids in Iraq and Afganistan for instance. We'll keep praying that God watches over us. A concern would be her getting a cold or the flu which would delay surgery. They're thinking she should get a flu shot, which we were avoiding because of the chemo, but apparently they think it's a good idea out here. They are the experts, so we'll do what they say.

My verse for the day is:

"And it is impossible to please God without faith. Anyone who wants to come to
him must believe that God exists and that he rewards those who sincerely seek
Hebrews 11:6, NLT

Our faith through this journey has only gotten stronger. We have seen with our own eyes and with our own hearts how great is our God. We believe that He has indeed rewarded us with incredible miracles of healing. The oncologists here were amazed at how well Anne responded to the chemo--but she wouldn't have without God intervening for her. Praise God from whom all blessings flow!

God Bless,


Sunday, November 15, 2009

November 15, 2009

I want to start this blog out with the lyrics to a song by Chris Tomlin, and I think you'll see why when I get to the meat of the blog:

The splendor of the King, clothed in majesty
Let all the earth rejoice
All the earth rejoice

He wraps himself in Light, and darkness tries to hide
And trembles at His voice
Trembles at His voice

How great is our God, sing with me
How great is our God, and all will see
How great, how great is our God

Age to age He stands
And time is in His hands
Beginning and the end
Beginning and the end

The Godhead Three in One
Father Spirit Son
The Lion and the Lamb
The Lion and the Lamb

How great is our God, sing with me
How great is our God, and all will see
How great, how great is our God

Name above all names
Worthy of all praise
My heart will sing
How great is our God

Name above all names
Worthy of all praise
My heart will sing
How great is our God

How great is our God, sing with me
How great is our God, and all will see
How great, how great is our God
© 2004 Six Step Records

Yes, God is GREAT! And all I have is praise and thanks for Him.

Since I last blogged, a buch of stuff has happened. We had been waiting to hear from Mayo Clinic on when we would be going out there for Anne's surgery. We initially thought we might meet with a different oncologist than we had met when we were out there in April, who was the director of the department and a colorectal cancer specialist. Instead, Anne got a call from Dr. Banck whom we had seen last time. She was enthusiastic about Anne's response to the chemotherapy this time (apparently she didn't know so many people had been praying for us and that God had interceded). She had talked to Dr. Nagorny, the number one liver surgeon in the world, and they felt that Anne's liver was indeed now able to be operated on! The next step was to get a PET scan, which apparently shows tumor activity. Mind you, her lab work has been normal, but there was still a chance that the tumor was still active. As it turns out, Dr. Balcueva had set the PET scan up for Friday, November 6th. Dr. Banck was excited to know that things were already scheduled.

Of course, I didn't get the results of the darn PET scan until the following Tuesday night, after calling myself to get the results. Anne had Fed-Exed a copy of the PET scan to Dr. Banck so she could have it by Monday, November 9th. I looked at the PET scan myself multiple times, but honestly, this was the first one I had ever seen one, so I really didn't know how to read it--but I thought everything looked great. I saw only "black holes" in the liver where the tumor WAS, but no increased uptake like you should see if the tumor was still active. There was some uptake in the colon, I thought, but there was no blockage of the colon. Well, the radiologist here felt the same way (not bad for an Orthopod, I thought). Dr. Banck herself called Anne Wednesday night (are they awesome at Mayo Clinic or what? I personally hate calling patients--but maybe I should start--it is very uplifting for the patient). She told Anne that the Mayo Clinic radiologists felt that the PET scan was ENTIRELY NORMAL!!! They felt there was NO TUMOR ACTIVITY LEFT. PRAISE GOD!!!! She told Anne that the new plan was to do a procedure to cut off the blood supply to part of the liver that was diseased (full of dead tumor--embolize it) which would then allow the normal liver tissue to hypertrophy, or grow bigger. This is done through the femoral vein, like they do for cardiac catheterization. She'll stay overnight after the procedure. The plan will then be to return to Mayo Clinic for the definitive, big surgery, where they will remove a good portion of her liver to get rid of the dead tumor, and also remove the portion of the colon that is diseased. This is a lot more surgery than we had initially thought, as we didn't think the liver was resectable, but thank God it is now. That means that she will be CURED, and not just palliated.

Apparently, this procedure has been pioneered by a surgeon at MD Anderson in Houston, Texas. I can only thank God for him--God has seen fit to give this doctor the skills to be able to come up with this technique that has improved the prognosis of patients with Stage IV colon cancer tremendously. I thank God with all my heart and soul that Anne has been so responsive to the chemotherapy so that she is a candidate for this type of surgery.

So, we head out to Mayo Clinic this coming Wednesday, November 18th, and Anne will have the procedure on my birthday, November 19th (it's my sister Margaret's birthday too, and my cousin Christine's). I couldn't ask for a better birthday present. The big surgery will take place anywhere from 3 to 5 weeks later, which means we may be spending Christmas out at the Mayo Clinic. For what this means for Anne's treatment and recovery, I couldn't ask for a better place to be, although I will miss being home. We'll have to see about the girls coming out too, but we'll have to see how that goes. I will keep everyone posted on how things go out there by blogging every day while we're out at Mayo. We're planning on being back on the 21st, so this is a short trip. Next time will be around a 2 week stay, we think.

God Bless,

Now to the King eternal, immortal, invisible, to God alone who is wise, be honor and glory forever and ever. Amen
1 Timothy 1:17

Friday, October 30, 2009

October 30, 2009

Yes, it has been a long time again since I "blogged" but honestly, there's good reason for it. As you already know, Anne finished last her chemo treatment 2 Mondays ago. She did great as usual. We were waiting for her to get her abdominal CT scan, which she had this past Tuesday. They also got a chest xray at the same time. Her lab work, including the CEA, was all NORMAL. The abdominal CT scan showed that the liver tumors were much smaller than they had been before--great news. And the colon tumor itself was smaller--only 4.5cm (from about 8 cm I believe). Unfortunately, the chest xray showed a lesion in the left upper lobe--something totally unexpected. Well, we met with Dr. Balcueva yesterday during lunch, rather than waiting until next week--and he was very optomistic. He was happy with the results of the CT scan and recommended that we head out to Mayo Clinic in a couple of weeks rather than waiting for December. In the meantime, he ordered a CT scan of Anne's chest to evaluate the lesion seen on the chest xray, and a PET scan, which will see if there is any tumor activity left--I think it's all dead, personally, and what we're seeing is scar tissue. The PET scan is scheduled for next Friday, November 6th. Anne had the CT scan of her chest today. When she went to pick up the copies of the scan from the radiology department, the girl at the desk, who also goes to Hopevale, asked if she would like to go over the films with the radiologist. Pretty neat, I'd say. Well, the bottom line is that the radiologist DIDN'T SEE ANY TUMORS IN THE LUNGS!!!!!! Praise God over and over again!!!! She can see the lesion on the chest xray, but not on the more sensitive CT scan. She thinks it may be only pleural scarring, which can be a side effect of the chemotherapy. Personally, I think God heard our prayers and made the thing GO AWAY! How awesome is that?

Anne was of course pretty depressed after the chest xray and abdominal CT scan results, but has come out of that completely. We're still wating to hear about when we might go to Mayo. I'll have to rearrange my schedule (actually Linda, Carol and Denise will), but hey, who cares? I only care about "the wife" at this point in time. (Well, I do care about Linda, Carol and Denise of course, but I think they understand). There's no question that prayers have helped all along the way, so please keep them coming!

I sent the following Bible verse to Anne Thursday:

"God blesses those who patiently endure testing and temptation. Afterward they will receive the crown of life that God has promised to those who love him."

James 1:12, NLT

How appropriate again! It's amazing how these verses show up in my email just when we need them. We need to patiently endure these trials rather than give up and lose hope for the future. Our prize is ultimately in Heaven when we will be able to see God face to face--how awesome will that be? In the meantime, these tests are to see how strong in Him our faith is and to make us stronger believers--able to withstand the onslaught of unbelievers and Satan himself. I pray that Anne and I will continue to do that, regardless of what happens. Chalk up the chest CT scan as another miracle that we have experienced. I does make it easier to have faith, but shows that our faith is rewarded, as would yours be in similar situations.

I pray that all of you experience the love of God and friends, both known and unknown, that we have.

God Bless,

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

October 13, 2009

Well, we finally made it! Anne had her last dose of chemotherapy yesterday. Well, actually, she won't get the catheter removed until Wednesday, but she's as good as done. And no side effects again, praise God! She had lab work drawn yesterday, but we haven't gotten the results back yet. She should on Wed. when the catheter is pulled. She'll be getting a CT scan in 2 weeks and then we'll know what is going on after that. We can't wait. It is hard to believe it's been 6 1/2 months since she was diagnosed, but I won't deny that it does seem like a long time.

Of course, she did great with this final dose. She actually went out Monday night after the chemo to an American Cancer Society event--something about feeling good and looking good (whatever--what's important is she had a nice time). She met a bunch of other woman with cancer and they got makeup and other things to help them feel better about themselves. Anne was the only one in the group who hadn't lost her hair. They were all jealous.

Of course, she's not one to just sit around, and the past 6 months have been full of that. A couple of weeks ago she saw an article in the Saginaw News about the American Cancer Society here in Saginaw. They have a library/resource center at St. Mary's Hospital. So what does she do? Volunteer to work there of course! Her idea is to help other people going through cancer as an advisor or something like that. She went for training last week. This may just be her new calling. They will be setting up a new unit at the Mackinaw Office building where I do my outpatient surgeries--a lot closer to home. I guess she'll be able to make her own hours. I think it will be great. They like the fact that she is currently undergoing treatment for cancer--the other patients will be able to identify with her better and she'll have a lot more empathy for what they are going through than someone who's never had cancer.

We have had a medical student from Kansas City, Nathan, staying with us since October 5th. We met him in Nigeria in June of 2008, and hit it off well. He was given permission by his med school to spend a month following me around, so I've gotten to do a bit of teaching again, which I haven't done in a while. I've enjoyed having him around. Since I'm doing the driving back and forth from home to work, I have done a better job at leaving work and coming home rather than linger. I then get to spend more time with Anne. Of course, she doesn't stay around much. This past weekend she went to Grand Rapids with some of her friends on a girl's weekend away. They actually celebrated the 50th birthday of Anne and one of the other women (a year late), and had a great time. It was great to see her spend some time with her friends--which she couldn't do if she didn't feel so well. As it turns out, it was the midterm break for Michelle and Heather, so I got to spend some time with them without mom around. We had fun, except there wasn't a whole lot going on around here this weekend. Ah well, we got to watch some movies together and spend time together which is well worth it. I also got to spend lots of money eating out...

I really liked this following Bible verse with the devotional comments that followed from the Living Water Life Application Daily Devotional:

For our present troubles are small and won't last very long. Yet they produce for us a glory that vastly outweighs them and will last forever!
2 Corinthians 4:17, NLT

Our troubles should not diminish our faith or disillusion us. We should realize that there is a purpose in our suffering. Problems and human limitations have several benefits: (1) they remind us of Christ's suffering for us; (2) they keep us from pride; (3) they cause us to look beyond this brief life; (4) they prove our faith to others; and (5) they give God the opportunity to demonstrate his power.

I guess in comparison to what Jesus went through for us, having cancer is pretty small. It doesn't always seem like our troubles are small, however. I think what's important is how we use those problems and deal with them. We can certainly feel sorry for ourselves, or we can fight them head-on. A lot of my patients will say to me that they feel their problems are minor when they see some of the children I take care of. We can always compare ourselves to others and feel we are better off or even worse off. But I think if we use these opportunities of our troubles to witness to others of how God is working in our lives, we will all be better off. God has been so incredible to us I can't help but let everyone know. If Anne is an inspiration to anyone that would be awesome. And now that she'll be helping out with the American Cancer Society, she'll have opportunities to tell others of how God has helped to heal her--spiritually and physically. We can both shout from the mountaintop as I promised!

Now that Anne is doing so well, I decided to get myself checked out a few weeks ago. Of course, I'm too fat, and my blood sugar and hemoglobin A-1c were high (but still normal). I'm supposed to be on a diet, however, which is not working out all that well. I'm trying to eat less, and not so much junk food (no more cake for breakfast or ice cream at night unfortunately). I'm convinced God wants me to look like this anyway--every time I lose weight, I just gain it right back again! I had a stress echo test which showed my heart is OK, but I have to go through a colonoscopy this coming Thursday. Oh what fun the bowel prep will be!!!

God Bless,

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

September 29, 2009

Well, now it's 11 down and only 1 to go!!!! It seems like a long time to get to this point, but obviously a lot has happened from the first diagnosis to now. Anne continues to amaze me with how incredibly well she tolerates the chemotherapy. She has had basically no complications from the chemo for a very long time. She's not even tired after the treatments anymore. And her spirit is high (praise God). Now we just have to get through the next chemo dose, and then a CT scan of the abdomen to see how things are going. Then, hopefully back to Mayo Clinic for her colon resection. That's our plan--we'll see what God plans for us.

We were able to get away--out of state this time--for a few days last week. We went together to a meeting in Boston for a new surgery that I have been wanting to do for a while. It requires going to an instructional meeting which included lectures, demonstration of the surgery on a cadaver, and then we were able to do the surgery ourselves on a cadaver. Thank God that people donate their bodies to science. The training is invaluable. You get "hands-on" experience with real anatomy (instead of plastic models), and if you make a mistake, the patient doesn't complain (or sue you). I actually had the surgery scheduled on one of my patients for this past Monday---and it went great thanks to the training. The best part of the trip was the fact that we were finally able to travel. We have been to Boston a few times in the past. This time we met up with a few friends. We had great fellowship and great meals. I tried to stay on my diet (really, I did). It was hard to pass up the Boston Cream Pie at Legal Seafood--so I didn't. We did a bit of sight-seeing as well. We went on a "duck-boat" which is amphibious and can go on land and sea. It's a leftover from WWII, actually, and was used for troop transport. We happened to be on a replica, but originals are still around. We drove around the city, then got into the Charles River for a tour that way. It was quite fun. We walked the "Freedom Trail" as well which is well worth it--there are a number of sites in Boston related to the Revolutionary War that are still standing--like the building where the Declaration of Independence was first read from.

At the meeting, I happened to mention that I needed to get back for my class on Creation and Evolution at church on Sunday night that I am helping to teach. I had to speak about Biblical Worldview and why it matters, which I am learning about in the Centurions program. One of the engineers overheard me talking and now we are new friends. He was involved in teaching the same subject years ago. It was great to speak with another Christian in a secular setting where you don't expect to hear about God. But, as I've found out, if you don't bring it up, you might never be able meet Christian friends, or start a discussion about God with a non-Christian.

Anne drove to London, Ontario on Sunday to go to her sister-in-law's baby shower. Rebecca and John are expecting their first child in a couple of weeks. It's very exciting as this will be the first baby in the family in 18 years. We are anxiously awaiting the arrival of our new neice or nephew. They don't know the sex of the baby yet--I think that's cool. Anne and I were happy that we didn't know until the last moment. In fact, one of my patients told me today (who is also expecting in a month or so) that she knows she's going to go through a lot of pain, so to be surprised with the sex of the child is a bonus she is looking forward to and will help to take away some of the pain. Neat-o.

"Instead, you must worship Christ as Lord of your life. And if someone asks about your Christian hope, always be ready to explain it."

1 Peter 3:15, NLT

Yes, Anne and I have lots of hope, from hoping and praying that the cancer is all gone (I'm thoroughly convinced that it is of course) to the hope that someone who reads this blog will come to Christ because of the witness that this blog brings of God's greatness. I have gotten deeper and deeper into the word of God and feel reasonably comfortable speaking about my faith with others. I will bring it up frequently in the office (actually almost every patient). I guess I used to be embarrassed, but if I can help one person, it is worth it. So far, no one has said anything negative to me, so I will continue to plod along witnessing to others. And I said early on in the blog that I would shout from the mountain top when Anne is cured--so be ready.

God Bless,

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

September 16, 2009

Ten down and two to go! Anne just completed her 10th chemo treatment with flying colors. Her labs remain normal (WBCs, neutrophil count, hemoglobin is 11.2 which is good for her). She made it through this dose with no problems whatsoever.

We've been blessed by a few visitors recently. First, my sister Anna came to spend a few days with us. We had a lovely visit. Anna herself is a cancer survivor--both breasts. She is doing and looking fabulous. I don't know how she made it through all of the chemo and surgery as a single mom--it's hard enough with a loving husband around (thank you, thank you), but to do it by yourself has got to mean great stamina and determination. I'm so happy she's doing well now. She's been back to work full time at Robert Wood Johnson Medical Center (where I started medical school) as a cardiac operating room nurse. She scrubbed on the first-ever in the world totally implantable mechanical heart. Very cool. We had a great visit. It was awesome to see her again and find out what she has been doing with her life. I was especially interested in learning more about my nephew, Brian, and what he has been doing.

Next came my other sister, Margaret. It was a lovely visit--too short of course. We reconnected after many years of not seeing each other enough. It was wonderful to see her and get to spend time with her and get to know her more. She is truly a great mom and now grandmother, as well as a gourmet chef! If you looked at her, you'd never guess she was only 2 years (to the day-we share Nov. 19th as a birthday) younger than me. Of course, she had to bring brownies and cookies--now that I've started a diet!

Anne's Aunt Helen and Uncle Doug came this past weekend. They are tons of fun. Helen has got to be one of the happiest and busiest people I've ever met. She is very selfless and volunteers for just about everything. Doug is outrageously funny--quiet yet a riot to be around. It was great to see them as well. I did go off the diet with them around-- and gained back 3 of the pounds I had lost.

My verse for this blog is:

"You thrill me, Lord, with all you have done for me! I sing for joy because of what you have done."

Psalm 92:4, NLT

I am thrilled in so many ways: visits from family and friends, food brought to us by neighbors and other friends, the number of prayers and cards we have received, and the miracles that God has provided for us. Office hours have been longer than expected because so many of my patients are asking about how Anne is doing. We are overwhelmed by the love we have been shown by all of you. I am totally convinced that God has heard all of your prayers and responded with His miracles for Anne. This is all about God's grace--something we don't deserve but God gives to us. How can anyone not believe He exists? I ask myself that all of the time. When I was an atheist, I had no idea what I was missing. As I have been preparing for a class I am helping to teach at church (The Beginning--discussions about creation vs. evolution), I am more and more convinced of His existence. God has so much love to give us--and I am thrilled! "Praise God from whom all blessings flow" as a popular old hymn says.

God Bless

Monday, August 31, 2009

August 31, 2009

Well, as usual, it's been a while since I last wrote. Again, that's a good thing, since Anne continues to do incredibly well. God is taking care of her as only He can. Her labs continue to be normal. Where we used to be facing low neutrophil counts, today's was again within normal range. She's continued to have no side effects from the chemotherapy. Even her hair has stopped falling out! If you didn't know she had cancer, you'd never guess. She actually has even worked a couple of days in the office in the last couple of weeks--not putting patients in rooms like she used to, but scheduling surgeries, answering phones, editing dictation, etc.

She even felt good enough to go away this past weekend. I had taken Friday off (a rare event, but I was supposed to go to a meeting in Memphis that was cancelled at the last minute) so I took the opportunity to spend some more time with my "lovely bride" (an inside joke if you've ever listened to Christian radio). We wound up going to the Leelanau Peninsula with our friends Andy and Sharon. We had never been there before, even though we have lived in Michigan for 20 years now. To think it's only 2 1/2 hours away or so. And talk about beautiful. It reminded me a lot of New England, especially when we visited a couple of lighthouses, and "Fishtown" in Leland, near where we stayed. Although it rained all Friday and Saturday, we had a great time. We rested a lot, and visited a bunch of wineries the area is famous for. The wine's not nearly as good as from California (they can't grow the variety of grapes because of the short growing season), but really they weren't that bad--so I had to buy some, of course. We also had some excellent meals (mostly fresh fish from Lake Michigan), and did a bit of shopping in some of the little shops in Empire, Leland, Sutton's Bay and Traverse City. Overall, I'd say we had a fantastic time. I can't wait to go back already.

My verse for today is: "But joyful are those who have the God of Israel as their helper, whose hope is in the Lord their God." Psalm 146:5, NLT

How true that is! Anne and I are so incredibly joyful to be coming out of this experience. Of course it's not over yet, but the end is in sight, and God has provided us with miracle after miracle. Anne had chemo treatment number 9 today--only 3 more after this one. We'll be hoping for surgery after that to remove the colon mass--hopefully the liver tumors will have shrunk so much that they don't need to do anything about them. I'm expecting them to necrose and die completely--and I'm convinced it will happen. Her latest liver function studies are normal--mine aren't even normal (and it doesn't have anything to do with how much alcohol I drink, thank you--it's genetic).

Well, enough for now. I better hit the sack so I can function in the office tomorrow (yuk--I hate office hours).

God Bless,

Monday, August 17, 2009

August 17, 2009

Halleluia, Halleluia, Halleluia!!! If you have any question about how awesome our God is, read this: Anne had chemo treatment number 8 today (actually she's still getting it--the 5-FU is pumped in over 46 hours, so she technically isn't done until Wednesday morning). Before they started the chemo they did some bloodwork to check her white blood cell count, neutrophil count, and this time her CEA level. The CEA is a tumor marker that may or may not be elevated in some cancers. It just happened to be elevated in her--almost a level of 3700 (normal is 0-5!!), and was first measured after we came home from her first chemo treatment at Mayo Clinic. It had dropped to somewhere in the 200-something range after her 4th treatment. Well, today it was 7--that's right--basically normal. I can only think her tumors are basically gone--or at least they aren't working like tumors any more. They certainly aren't growing (last week her liver enzymes were normal), and they aren't producing CEA any more. PRAISE GOD! Like I've said before, we've been praying for a cure, and I know that's what we're getting, thanks be to God (and all of you for praying for her).

I know I've used this verse before, but it's worth repeating:

The Lord is good to those who depend on him, to those who search for him.

~ Lamentations 3:25, NLT

I can think of others, like "Ask and you shall receive", but right now I'm a bit too excited. It is all I've been thinking about since Anne called me this afternoon. I also said I would shout it from the mountain top, so I have had this blog connected to Facebook, not quite a mountain top, but at least it will reach a lot of people! Please pass the info on to your friends, especially those who have been praying so they can see how their prayers have been working. And keep them coming! I'm assuming we'll be headed to Mayo Clinic again probably in early December to have the colon tumor removed, or at least that may be the plan (God willing). The doctors there said they didn't need us to come back a couple of weeks ago just for a consultation/update, because they could do what they needed with the CD of the CT scan of Anne's abdomen, but would be willing to see us back in the future if need be. Sounds like "they need be" to me!!!!!!!!

God Bless (and thank you all!)

Sunday, August 9, 2009

August 9, 2009

There now, I didn't take as long to write this time. Anne has done incredibley well this week. She recovered from the chemo in what seems like record time--I think this time she was tired for only about 3 days. I think her body has adjusted to the chemo. The Neulasta seems to be helping as well--since her white cells and neutrophils are staying in a more normal range, it must have something to do with her ability to fight the effects of the chemo on her system.

Speaking of effects on her system, the chemo seems to be doing the job not only on the liver metastases, but on the colon tumor itself. She will undoubtably be embarrased by this tidbit, and mad at me too, but on Friday she passed her bowel stent. I got a frantic call from her while I was operating on Friday. During the morning, she noted something a bit wrong, and found the stent making it's way out! I won't go over details (for fear of reprisals), but apparently her tumor has shrunk enough that the stent fell out!!!! I think that is a fantastic bit of news. Praise God. Obviously, her colon has opened up enough that the stent is no longer necessary. The stent looks like a metal Chinese finger trap--In it's opened state, it pushes against the bowel wall (or in her case the tumor) to open the inside of the intestine so she doesn't get impacted (I know she's going to kill me for going into this!). Her's was a 30mm stent. Well, apparently her canal is now greater than 30mm wide, so it just fell out. I'm excited about that. Just one more small miracle that has been happening. There are now quite a number of things that have happened to show all of us that God is working on her--either directly through His love for her, or indirectly through the medical care she has been given.

Now how's this for a Bible verse:

The Lord is good to those who depend on him, to those who search for him.

~ Lamentations 3:25, NLT

I'd say He is! He has heard all of our (and your) prayers and is acting upon them. We have definitely been seeking God more for help in this trying time, and He is comforting us, as are all of you. She has 5 more sessions of chemo to go through, and the end of the tunnel is in sight. The past few months have indeed gone by quickly. Thanks to global warming (not) we have had a beautiful summer here in Michigan--not too hot, and fairly wet, but not too humid either. I'm not so sure the farmers have been happy, but I have been. As much as I miss going to Nigeria (another team from HELP goes over in a few weeks) I must admit, I don't miss the heat over there. There are 2 seasons in Nigeria---Hot and Wet, and Hot and Dry! I've never been one for really hot (75-80 degrees is fine by me) which is probably why we wound up here in Michigan anyway. Mind you, I'd be happy if it were 75 degrees all year round, which I can't say we have here, but it's easier to get warm than it is to get cool, so I'll put up with it.

God Bless,

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

August 4, 2009

Well, here I am again, late to the post! I guess I don't realize how I am not writing in to this thing that frequently, until someone brings it up to me. Well, no news is good news. There really isn't much to report on again. Anne has been doing incredibly well. She has passed the half-way point of her chemo and in fact yesterday had number 7, without any glitches whatsoever. Her white blood cell count and neutrophil counts are within normal range, thank God. She was also started on a new drug, Neulasta, which is apparently better than Neupogen to keep her WBCs and neutrophils up. It seems to be working. Thank you God for giving man the ability to research and come up with new drugs to help people. The Neulasta costs something like $4000 per shot (she'll get one every other week), but thankfully it is covered by my insurance, so I only have a $60 copay. I also thank God I have insurance that has covered a lot of these costs.

I guess I can't go on without commenting about what is going on with our healthcare debates (debacle would be a better word). The plan currently before Congress is a bad one. It is over 1100 pages, and there are a lot of problems with it, not least of which would be a true rationing of care to elderly patients, but I also believe to cancer patients. There is no question that in order for this plan to work, rationing will happen. The plan will look at not only your age, but also your prognosis, and decide if you deserve treatment or not. They will look at "the number of years the treatment will benefit you". If indeed your prognosis is poor, or you're old enough, you will not get the treatment if it "costs too much". They are concerned that most of the health care dollar spent in Medicare is spent in the last 2 months of life, for instance. Well, duh, most people with Medicare (insurance for those over 65) are a lot closer to the end of life than say a 30 year old with private insurance. But should we deny say a total hip to a vibrant 85 year old just becaus they don't have that many years left? Or chemotherapy to a cancer patient who has a not-so-good prognosis? Well, according to Obama, the answer is yes. He has stated that there should be counsellors who will help you make a decision to enter hospice, for example, rather than take treatments that "cost too much". Sorry, I don't buy that. According to my God, all human life is sacred, we are made in "the image of God". We all have value in the eyes of God, irrespective of our age or health or "social status" for instance. A decision to not be treated should be the individual's not society's. I don't want some counsellor telling me that I'm too old or too "expensive" to be treated. That's why I have private insurance, so I can make the choice, along with my insurance company, of course. But I can also choose to pay out of pocket if the insurance company won't pay. That would not be possible with a government-run insurance company, as happens in Canada, where it is illegal to go outside the national health plan (unless you can afford to come to the US).

And don't think Obama doesn't want a national health, single payor system. He has stated it a number of times, and it is preferred by a lot of Democrats in Congress. There are a lot of other issues that I am against with this health plan but this is not the place to talk about them. I just wanted to mention one that is near and dear to my heart.

I'll leave you with this passage:

He will cover you with his feathers. He will shelter you with his wings. His faithful promises are your armor and protection.

~ Psalm 91:4, NLT

God bless,

Monday, July 20, 2009

July 20, 2009

Well, here I go again not "blogging" for a long period of time again. Sorry about that. I'm not sure if not writing is a good thing or a bad thing. The good thing is that it means not much is going on in the "Anne front" (Praise God for that), and the bad thing is that I guess I'm pretty lazy, or too many other things have taken control of my time.

Anne was discharged from the hospital July 12th from her "febrile neutropenia", and has done remarkably well. No complications like further fevers, nausea, vomiting, etc, but she has been a bit more tired lately. I actually took last Wednesday off rather than go to Traverse City to watch some guy (an orthopod) do a couple of surgeries I'm thinking of adding to my toolbox. Under the circumstances, I thought that could wait, and I thought I could better use my time by giving it to Anne. She was unfortunately unable to get her chemo last Monday (her birthday!) because Dr. Balcueva wanted to give her body a rest after the fevers, and because she was on some antibiotics. The good thing about that was that we got to go out to dinner for her birthday which we wouldn't have done had she gotten the chemo. Her parents had made the trip to be with her for the chemo, so they got to be with her for her birthday as well, which was nice. Her parents went home on Tuesday, so we had the day to ourselves on Wednesday (Heather had to work). We went down to the Sommerset Mall (they call it a "Collection" so they can charge more), and Anne was able to get some new clothes. I had hoped it would raise her spirits a bit to get some new stuff as well, as the time in the hospital got us both down a bit. Unfortunately, the trip pooped her out so Thursday she didn't do much, but had a nice visit from one of our friends who brought us some mighty-good tasting home-made manicotti and brownies.

Anne did get her chemo today, probably in record time. It seems that they are able to give her the stuff faster, so she spends less time at Dr. Balcueva's office, because she tolerates it so well. Anne's labs were good--white blood cell count and neutrophil count were normal, and her hemoglobin was only a little low (for her) at 10.7. Unfortunately, the woman sitting next to her was a pessimist, giving her all sorts of bad news about colon cancer that no one needs to hear. All I can think is that this lady has no faith in God. Too bad for her, but it may be an opportunity for Anne to witness to her. (Instead, you must worship Christ as Lord of your life. And if someone asks about your Christian hope, always be ready to explain it.~1 Peter 3:15, NLT)

Here's a reading from 2 Corinthians 1:4-6 that addresses this as well:

He comforts us in all our troubles so that we can comfort others. When they are troubled, we will be able to give them the same comfort God has given us. For the more we suffer for Christ, the more God will shower us with his comfort through Christ. Even when we are weighed down with troubles, it is for your comfort and salvation! For when we ourselves are comforted, we will certainly comfort you. Then you can patiently endure the same things we suffer.

I have been hoping that this blog has helped someone out there to be comforted by what we (mostly Anne) have been going through and that they will give themselves to Christ to take on the burden of their problem, whether it be cancer or some other medical issue, or a troubled family, or anything that they can't (and shouldn't) try to face alone. I had to watch a Woody Allen film for the Centurions titled "Crimes and Misdemeanors". It was a typically slow Woody Allen film with lots of dialog and some action, but not much. He says in the movie at one point to another actor who had recently conspired to kill a mistress, who basically told him he didn't believe in God: "Why would you want all of that responsibility for yourself". In other words, God is big enough to take our trouble on His shoulders so that we can be lifted of that burden and don't have to carry it ourselves. To me, that is so awesome. Now, when people ask how I'm doing, I can honestly say I'm doing well, since God is taking care of Anne for me. My "yoke is light". I only have to concentrate on making her comfortable, and making sure she gets the best attention here--God will take care of the rest. Jesus is the "Great Physician"--I just work for Him!

God Bless,

Sunday, July 12, 2009

July 12, 2009

Thank God! Anne's home! And doing well, I might add. Her fever has broken, cultures were all negative, and she feels well. Her "febrile neutropenia" is what caused the fevers. Her neutrophils and WBCs are way up. She will hopefully be getting her 6th chemo treatment tomorrow, which, by the way, is her birthday. 39 (again!). Her nurses were wonderful, and as much as I'm partial to the orthopaedic nurses I usually work with, these women were excellent at their jobs, caring, loving and very professional. They spent a lot of time with Anne making sure she was comfortable and well-taken care of. God Bless them. They made a long hospital stay (at least it seemed long) very comfortable.

Unfortunately, I had to cancel my trip to my Centurions residency this weekend. I was supposed to leave Friday morning and return Sunday night, but I couldn't leave Anne. Actually, I was then able to spend all 3 days with her since I wasn't supposed to be here anyway. I was worried that I might have to resign from the program since this was a very important residency, but thank God, they totally understand, and I can get the lectures on-line that I missed. It'll take quite a bit of time to make it all up, but I'll get it done (with God's help).

A dear friend, Lois Dewald, sent me the following poem:

The Mystery of prayer .
Beyond that
which words can interpet
or theology can explain
the soul
feels a " shower of refreshment "
that falls like the gentle rain
on hearts that are parched
with problems
& are searching to find the way
to some how attract God's attention
through well- chosen words as they pray ,
not knowing that God
in his wisdom
can sense all man's worry & woe .
For there is NOTHING man can conceal
that God does not already KNOW ....
so kneel in prayer in his presence
& you'll find no need to speak
for softly in silent communion
God grants you
the peace that you seek ,,

I am totally convinced that even though God knows all things, including our fate, I do believe that He hears our prayers and will certainly answer our prayers if they prayed in faith.

God Bless,

Thursday, July 9, 2009

July 9, 2009

Hello. Sorry I haven't been doing much blogging lately ( but there fortunately hasn't been too much to report on. Anne has been doing very well. Her liver is shrinking in size, 3 out of 4 of her liver function studies are normal (one of the enzymes is still slightly elevated), and her CEA level (a cancer marker) is down from nearly 3700 to in the 200's--a dramatic decrease. In fact, Dr. Balcueva, her oncologist here in Saginaw, thought we should go back out to Mayo Clinic to have them reassess things--instead of palliative care, I believe he thinks we can go for a cure--which of course, we know will happen, thanks to God, and all of your prayers. Anne got her chemo on June 29th without any problems. She has been having a bit more abdominal pain than usual, but other than that, everything was going along as planned.

This past Tuesday, her WBC count (1.9) and neutrophil count (0.6) were pretty low, but she has otherwise been feeling fine. Last night, however, she developed a fever of 102.5. It improved with tylenol, but during the night, it went back up and she had shaking chills. Tylenol helped again, and I tried to make her warm by cuddling (I'm good at that--thanks to being the hot-blooded Italian that I am). She did eventually get up for about 3 hours, read some, then fell back to sleep. I tried to get her to go to the emergency room last night, but she refused. I did get her to call Dr. Balcueva's office this morning--and he's out of town! But, thankfully, they recommended she go to the emergency room. Heather wasn't working this morning, so she took her mom in. They ran a bunch of tests and decided to admit her to the hospital for further workup and antibiotics. Apparently, unbeknownst to me, a dumb orthopod, this is not an uncommon event in the lives of chemotherapy patients. We had not experienced it before (thankfully). It's a "neutropenic fever" or something like that. It is treated with antibiotics and fluids--she was pretty dehydrated from the fever. They also started the Neupogen again to build up the neutrophil count. She feels fine, and in fact, her belly pain is gone as of tonight. I was worried about sepsis, an infection of the bloodstream, so I'm happy they're checking for that and using a potent antibiotic as well. When we left at 10:00 tonight (Heather had stayed all day except for a short time to take a shower at home, and Michelle drove up from East Lansing after classes), they were taking her to get a followup CT scan of the abdomen.

She should be in the hospital (Covenant Harrison) until Saturday or Sunday, or possibly even Monday when Dr. Balcueva gets back. I was supposed to go to my Centurions Residency in Lansdowne Virginia in the morning (Friday) until Sunday night, but I've cancelled that. Fortunately, since I'm not working, I can spend all day with her, as will the girls. Her parents will be coming on Saturday instead of Sunday as they had planned, and Greg will be coming tomorrow night, so she'll have plenty of company.

Please pray for her rapid recovery. She needs her white blood cell count up as well as the neutrophils, so that will give you something specific if you want. Pray that she doesn't develop any infections.

Rejoice in our confident hope. Be patient in trouble, and keep on praying.

~ Romans 12:12, NLT

God Bless,


Monday, June 29, 2009

June 29, 2009

Anne was able to get her 5th chemotherapy treatment today despite having a neutrophil count of only 0.9 (it needs to be greater than 1.0 to get it usually). Fortunately, her white blood cell count was high enough (3.2) that Dr. Balcueva felt confident giving her the chemo. She tolerated it very well, as usual. He also started her on Neupogen, which is a drug that stimulates neutrophil production. She got her first dose today, then will get another tomorrow and then Wednesday. They'll check the neutrophil count again, and if it's still low, they'll keep using the Neupogen. Sounds good to me--she doesn't need an infection now because with neutrophils that low she wouldn't be able to fight it well.

She will be getting her repeat abdominal CT scan on the 16th or 17th of July and then we'll most likely be heading out to the Mayo Clinic again after that to meet with the oncologist, gastroenterologist and probably the colorectal surgeon as well. The response she's had to the chemo I think will have them rethinking things--while they thought about "palliation" I believe they need to think about "cure". They probably don't understand the power of prayer and how the Lord can work, but most of you do. Her response to the chemo has been nothing short of miraculous, and I thank you all for your prayers of intercession for us. God has been listening and working to rid her of the cancer.

Isaiah 30:41 says: “Those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint.” This journey of ours is a lot like that. We have received our strength from the Lord. Right now, in fact, I feel like I'm flying on the wings of eagles, I'm so excited about the news we've had. To know that Anne is beating this cancer could not make me any more happy, and I thank God for all He has done and will do for us. Our journey will be tireless--we won't give up hope and give up on believing in His love.

1 Peter 4:12-13 says: "...don’t be surprised at the fiery trials you are going through... Instead, be very glad-for these trials make you partners with Christ in his suffering, so that you will have the wonderful joy of seeing his glory when it is revealed to all the world. " Yes, this is one heck of a fiery trial, but it has made us stronger. To know that Christ suffered for us, to make us forgiven to the Father, gives us great joy. We will be with Him some day to bask in His glory and spend eternity with Him. There is a hope and joy in knowing that God wants us to spend eternity with Him. I pity those who reject His truth and will never know what it will be like in Heaven. But despite this trial, Anne and I will not reject God. I just saw a movie required by my Centurions program: Tender Mercies starring Robert Duval. It was a bit slow, but there was one scene where his ex-wife comments after their daughter dies in a car accident: "Why did God do this to me?" Well, I hate to tell her, but God didn't "do this" to her, Satan probably did. But the response should be: "Thank you God for giving me this trial so I can grow in my faith and become a stronger Christian. I will continue to pray for your strength and love and protection." Trials give us perserverance, James says in his letter. I'd like to think that how we respond to trials shows God how truly serious we are and confident in His love for us. We should grow in faith rather than the opposite.

God Bless,

Monday, June 22, 2009

June 22, 2009

To those of you who are regular followers of this blog, I apologize that I have not written in a while. As I have mentioned before, rather than turn this into a blog about me, with political or even religious views, I had intended this blog to be about Anne, and her colorectal cancer treatment. I can happily report that she has been doing well enough that there hasn't been much for me to write about.

Last Monday Anne got her 4th chemo treatment. It went well, but she did have a bit more stomache cramping than she had had in the past. She did get better by Friday, thankfully, and her cramping has been a lot less since then. Unfortunately, she's convinced that chocolate cake (thanks Cathy M) and icecream may not be the best thing for her to eat. Today she got some labs again, and although most of the values were below normal, they weren't that bad, and will hopefully be high enough for her to get her chemo again next Monday--so keep praying. I'm convinced that the praying is working since her neutrophils haven't decreased enough for her not to get the chemo except that one time.

We had an appointment with Dr. Balcueva today. I now know what it's like for patients to wait 2 hours to see the doctor--but I have to say, it was well worth it. Our news was more than fantastic--it was remarkable--or whatever term may be better! Anne's liver enzymes have all returned to normal (3 out of 4) and the 4th is just a bit above normal. All of her other blood values have returned to normal. Interestingly, the CEA (carcino-embryonic antigen) which may not be elevated in colorectal cancer, was in fact 3600 (normal 0-6.0) when first checked--but it is down to around 200 now--a dramatic decrease! In addition to that, where her liver was palpable I think 10 cm below the ribs, is now not palpable at all. Yes--it shrunk in size. You gotta think that the tumors are responding to the chemo. Praise be to God!!!

Dr. Balcueva has recommended repeating her abdominal CT-scan to check the size of the colon and liver tumors. He has also recommended going back to Mayo Clinic for a repeat consultation to ask: 1) Do we continue the same chemo regimen? 2) Should we think about removing the segment of colon with the cancer? 3) If not, does the colon stent need to be replaced at some point in time--does it last forever? We may wind up going back there in mid-July, after chemo dose #6 and after the CT scan. All I can say is: THE PRAYERS ARE WORKING!!!!!!! KEEP THEM COMING!!!!

"But blessed are those who trust in the Lord and have made the Lord their hope and confidence. They are like trees planted along a riverbank. " Jeremiah 17:7-8

We have turned our trust over to God and He has responded with incredible results. I am fully confident that God has prevailed in our fight against this cancer so far--causing the liver tumors to shrink, and returning most of Anne's labs to normal. Maybe some of you think this could happen by chemo alone, but I'm not convinced. She has only had 4 doses of chemo so far, and yet her tumors are shrinking like crazy--and most importantly, she has remained mostly side-effect free during the whole process. That in itself is a miracle. Most people who have seen her remark on how well she looks--and she does. She still looks as beautiful as ever (even though her hair is getting thinner--but she still has a ton more than me!). Her weight is remaining the same, and her appetite is good. Other than having the cancer go away together all together--what more could you ask for.

I hope all of the dads out there had as good a Father's Day as I did. We went to church together (Michelle was home from East Lansing fsince Saturday), then ate leftovers from Famous Dave's for lunch. Anne and I did a bit of shopping and then I got to do some paperwork while the 3 of them gabbed. Then I got to cook dinner--and clean up! We had a great time Saturday night. After eating dinner at Dave's, we decided to go to the movies to see Up- the Disney Pixar film. If you haven't seen it yet, you need to go. It was very cute, but also a great film for adults, with a wonderful message. I had the 3 of them rolling at the theater when I had a hard time getting into my seat. The darn seats were too narrow! I'm about as fat as I've ever been, but that didn't explain my trouble. The darn cupholders on the armrests made the entrance to the seat too narrow for me to get in. Mind you, I played it up a bit--but it was indeed not easy to get in and out of the seat--and I must have had to do it a dozen times. I love making them all laugh. I think the other people in the theater were having fun with it too.

God Bless

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

June 16, 2009

I do have great news to report again. Anne was able to go through the chemotherapy again yesterday. Her neutrophil count had dropped down to 1.4, but that was high enough to get the chemo (it needs to be above 1.0). She did great as usual! She did have some stomache cramping last night but it's already gone. She was able and continues to be able to eat well. She was asked to be in another study--this time to see if blood levels of the administered 5-FU chemo drug are high enough based on height and weight dosing.

I received another email from Mayo Clinic concerning our participation in their fund-raising efforts. Apparently, they would like us to do another interview for them. No problem! We'll help them any way we can. We have high praises for the institution, and the work they do for people. I've heard other places are also great, and I'm sure they are, which is fantastic. We definitely need more places like it. I can only hope that this would be able to happen with "universal health care" but I have my doubts. I don't want to turn political here (too much) but my impression of government run health care (remember, I spent a year in Canada for my pediatric orthopaedic fellowship) is that it turns into something like the Secretary of State or Post Office--impersonal, poor service and apathy. That's not the way God wants us to take care of patients, but unfortunately it inevitably goes that way. In Europe, it is difficult to speak with the doctor unless you "bribe" him, wait times in countries with socialized medicine for care becomes longer and longer as a way to control costs, and quality of care doesn't necessarily go up. How many times have you heard of people going to these countries for care? Not many--most people are coming here, and for good reason. Well, enough of that or I could go on for pages.

I thought I'd pass along the following verse this time:

"Then your light will break forth like the dawn, and your healing will quickly appear; then your righteousness will go before you, and the glory of the Lord will be your guard.” Isaiah 58:8

I still find it amazing that people think I write well. But if indeed I do, and people who read this blog have been getting the (right) idea that I've turned into a "Jesus Freak" over the years---GREAT! We are supposed to be light to others in the darkness of this world, encouraging others ("Encourage one another and build each other up, just as in fact you are doing.” 1 Thessalonians 5:11) and trying to bring them to faith in Jesus. I recently ran across an old friend I have not seen in a couple of years. Amazingly, she had heard about the blog and had been reading it. "You need to teach me how to be as faithful as you are" she said. You betcha. I'd first start by praying--opening your mind to be receptive to God's word, and not being "hard of heart" like people you'll read about in the Old Testament. Trust that His word is true, and that most of all, He loves you. Try to spend a part of every day praying and reading. For books, I'd start by reading any of Lee Strobel's books ("The Case for Christ", "The Case for Faith", and my favorite "The Case for a Creator") and of course, the Bible. I'd pick an easy-to-read translation, like the New Living Translation--and probably a "Life Application" version which goes into more detail than the usual "Study" version, and has more "stuff" to read, like interpretations and questions for you. I'd start with the New Testament (probably the Gospel of John, or at the beginning with Matthew) and leave the Old Testament for later. I have read a bunch of other good books over the past 14 years since coming back to the Lord as well. I wish I had more time to read because I have a ton more sitting in my den just waiting to be picked up!

Please pray for Anne's continued good health and tolerance of the chemo, and that her neutrophil count continues to be high enough so that she can get her chemo. By the way, both her brother John, and Michelle's boyfriend Greg are doing well since their surgeries. See, prayer works!!!