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,