Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Twisted Thoughts

Overcoming a life-threatening illness that has the potential to return, kind of twists your thinking... at least it has mine. Here is how some of my thoughts go:

"This cancer has the potential to return.
If it returns it will be in my liver or my lungs.
If it returns it will be worse.
I will be more sick.
I will lose more weight.
I better hang onto the weight I have.
Maybe I should gain a little extra.
Just in case..."

Then one day I wake up and none of my clothes fit. They are too tight. I have gained back all the weight I lost during treatment, plus some. I share this with Mark, who says to me, "It might be time to quit the 'support package.'"  

I laugh so hard at his comment, and I laugh at myself, at my silly thoughts. I guess it IS time to do away with the "support package" and get back on the treadmill!

Monday, December 27, 2010

The Butterfly

"Just when the caterpillar thought the world was over...
                                         ...it became a butterfly."     

Sunday, December 26, 2010

Another Mighty Warrior

Another mighty warrior finishes well...

Brandon was 24 when he was diagnosed with a rare form of cancer. When I first met him, he was a tall, strong, strapping young man. In spite of his imposing form, he had a kindness to his eyes that opened the door to his heart. He played basketball for his university. He came into Mark's office with courage and confidence, asking us to join him in praying for God's healing. 

Brandon was 24 when he took his last breath. The battle was short and intense. He proved himself to be one of God's elite warriors. His faith never wavered. A few days before he died, he called for Mark and me to come to his bedside. He was in constant pain due to the damage to his nerves. We weren't able to hold his hands or hug him because it hurt him. He could barely hear because his auditory nerve was damaged by the cancer. As he lay bravely in that bed, he said to Mark, "Tell me more about ruling and reigning with Christ. I've been thinking about that a lot."  Fighting tears, Mark told him, again, how God was preparing him for eternity. Brandon said he was ready. 

Please pray for Brandon's  parents, Sherri and Fred, and for his family and friends as they grieve his loss. Please pray for Mark as he performs the funeral on Tuesday. Pray that the words he says will bring honor to Brandon and his family, and glory to God, who carried Brandon every step of the way. 

"You did well. You are a good and loyal servant. Because you were loyal with small things, I will let you care for much greater things. Come and share my joy with me."  Matthew 25:21

"It's been an honor to fight beside so noble a warrior and a great friend." 
The Voyage of the Dawn Treader
 by C.S. Lewis

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Miracles, Gratitude, and Love

I was reminded yesterday of what God has done for me over the past year and a half....

I had an appointment with my endocrinologist yesterday afternoon. This appointment was not in any way related to my cancer follow-up, just a regular exam to check the status of my poor functioning thyroid gland. My endocrinologist is an amazing lady and a sweet friend. She was asking me questions about my health now, post cancer treatment. I answered each question, telling of my clear PET scans, and how well I am feeling. 

Suddenly, she stopped typing on her computer, looked up at my face with a look of joy, and said, "You DO recognize what a miracle this is? From where you were to where you are now? You know, right?" 

I was a little surprised to hear her say it. Most doctors don't want to admit to you how serious your cancer diagnosis is. They want you to maintain a sense of hope and a fighting spirit in the face of difficult odds. She confirmed what I'd known all along: my life hung in the balance, in a scary place; and God performed a miracle for me! My heart was flooded with a renewed sense of gratitude. God has been good to me! I felt like I was walking on clouds the rest of the day!

Through the last few days, as we have been encouraging my mother-in-law in her recovery from a stroke, God has reminded me of a few of the things he taught me during my battle with cancer:
  • Every day is a gift, live it fully!
  • Every moment is an opportunity to cling tightly to Him.
  • Don't pass up a chance to tell those you love how special they are to you.
  • Be ready. You never know what the future holds. 
Life is unpredictable. Pain is inevitable. But even in the midst of difficult days, God's love and faithfulness shine brightly! Don't miss Him this Christmas!

Update on Jackie: 
Mark, the kids and I spent the evening with Jackie yesterday. I was surprised at the progress she has made even in just a few days. She is participating in about three hours of rehabilitation activities each day. She gets dressed each day. She has been walking in the hallways with a walker. She is getting in and out of bed and chairs with help. We enjoyed singing Christmas carols with her last night! Yesterday was Damon and Jackie's 53rd anniversary! Damon brought Jackie a lemon pie (her favorite!) from R.J. Goodies. What an incredible example of love and faithfulness they are to all of their kids, grandkids, and everyone who has had the honor to know them. 

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Solitary Road

Sunday, December 12th, I am walking down the hospital corridor and I have to laugh... after all my hospital and doctor visits,  then Mark's mother's surgery, then two weeks with her in ICU, then my father-in-law spent 24 hours in the hospital, and now - here I am again! I just checked Mark into the hospital through the emergency room.  What else could possibly happen?! Everyone here at least knows our faces if not our names. I am thinking we should just keep a room on hold for the next time we need it!

Thankfully, this turns out to be just another 24 hours at the hospital. Mark's heart checks out fine. I'm pretty sure it's stress. We make it home on Monday afternoon and I collapse on the bed, exhausted. I didn't realize how worried I had really been. 

At this point I begin to question, "God, are you sure you know what you're doing? I know you said you wouldn't give me more than I can handle, but I sure feel like I am at the limit." 

There are days when I find myself still struggling. And then I find myself angry that I am still struggling. It seems like I should be able to pick up where I left off and go on with my life. But somehow things are different now. The path is unfamiliar and my steps are tentative.

I read the following quote from Elizabeth Edwards this week:  "The act of looking forward after a setback is a solitary act...It is a gift, but also a learned skill..."

It describes perfectly how I feel - on a solitary road, learning a new skill, trying to recognize this as a gift from a God who knows perfectly what I need. 

Sunday, December 5, 2010

"I love you too"

I bent over and kissed Jackie on the cheek. It was as soft as always. I whispered to her, "I love you. I'll see you tomorrow." And she said back to me, "I love you too."

I drove home from the hospital, after a long weekend, with happiness in my heart. Happy that Jackie continues to improve a little each day. Happy that she is engaging in conversations, happy that she still has her sense of humor. Happy that she is opening her eyes more, happy that she is eating. Happy that I still have more time with my sweet mother-in-law.

If all goes according to plan, Jackie will be moved to a rehab facility sometime this week where she will receive intense physical and occupational rehabilitation. She will spend about three weeks there, and then she will be re-evaluated to see  what her needs are at that point.

Damon is doing well. He is adjusting to the idea that recovery will be a long process. All of us are encouraged and hopeful that Jackie is going to do great as she works hard to get well.

Thank you for all your prayers on our behalf. "I love you too!"

Wednesday, December 1, 2010


Jackie had another good day. When I got to the hospital today she was already up and sitting in a chair. She was talking a lot and laughing. She even told us that she was hungry and that a steak and baked potato sounded good!  They have removed the pressure monitor from her brain. Her vital signs are all normal.

The neurologist came by while we were there. She said that Jackie is doing well. She told us that it is still important for her to rest and not to be overstimulated. Her brain needs quiet so that it can heal. She said that Jackie's body will naturally try to "cocoon" and keep from being overstimulated; explaining why she maintains her eyes closed. Although we all try to keep her still and quiet, no one seems to be able to keep her from talking! 

Mentally, she is very coherent. Physically, she is tired and struggles with balance, but has strength in her arms and legs. Emotionally, she is calm. She recognizes that she had a stroke and can even remember what happened that night. She told Mark that she is not afraid. Spiritually, she is at rest, trusting that God is taking care of her. She is grateful for so many who are praying for her. 

We know healing will be a long, slow process, but we are encouraged by her progress. She is surprising all her doctors with how quickly she is improving.

Hopefully, she will be able to move out of the intensive care unit into a regular room within the next couple of days.

Thank you, again, for all your calls, emails, texts, thoughts and prayers! We are surrounded by the best family and friends ever!

Monday, November 29, 2010

Monday Morning

Jackie continues to make progress! This morning they took her off sedation and removed the ventilator. Before the procedure, Mark, Damon and I were telling her what they were going to do, and told her that she needed to try to be calm and not fight against the medical staff. We knew it would be scary, but it would be a quick procedure and would go better if she would cooperate. Then Mark asked his mom, "Are you going to be calm and cooperate?" Jackie shook her head "No." Then Damon asked her, "Are you going to be stubborn?" Jackie nodded her head, "Yes!" We all laughed out loud! That's the Gran Gran we all know and love!

The ventilator was removed without any problems. Her heart rate is up in the 50's. Today's CT scan showed decreased swelling in her brain. The goal is to have her rest quietly today with little stimulation, allowing her brain to heal. Tomorrow she should be more alert and they plan to begin physical therapy.

This afternoon, she was shaking her finger at Damon. The nurse asked her what was wrong. Damon said, "She always tells me what to do." And Jackie spoke out loud, "I do that."

That strength of spirit is serving her well! She knows that thousands of people are praying for her. Thank you for your part in this miracle!

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Thank you for praying!

Jackie had a good day today.  Her condition is stable. Her heart rate has remained in the 40's and 50's. She is still sedated, but when they bring her up from sedation, she is able to answer questions appropriately by nodding her head and squeezing our hands. She is receiving very good care. The doctors plan to wean her off the ventilator on Monday to see how it goes.  Damon spends the days at the hospital and goes home at night to sleep. We have all been surrounded by family and friends. Thank you for your prayers, and please keep praying. Specifically, please pray for the following:

1. Pray for Jackie's blood pressure and heart rate to be within a normal range.
2. Pray for the pressure inside her skull to remain normal.
3. Pray that her body would quickly reabsorb the blood that leaked into her brain tissue.
4. Pray for protection from infection for Jackie.
5. Pray that Damon will be able to sleep well at night.
6. Pray for peace and strength for the whole family.

Thank you!

ICU Waiting Room Rules of Etiquette

Well, after spending many hours in the ICU waiting room, the girls and  I have come up with a suggested list of ICU Waiting Room Rules of Etiquette. Hopefully, you will never have the need for such a list, but if you do, here are a few things you should remember:

1. No children under 12.
Please leave your babies and toddlers at home. They are noisy and increase the stress level in a room that is full of stressed people. And children carry lots of germs. No one in ICU can risk being exposed to those germs.
2. No battery operated toys allowed.
Obviously, this is related to #1 above. I was tempted to grab a certain pink toy (from the father, no less!), stomp on it, and throw it down the hallway. If you must play with noisy toys, go to the main lobby of the hospital.
3. No clipping of fingernails in the waiting room.
I think this speaks for itself.
4. Do not use your cell phone on the "speaker phone" setting.
I mean, seriously? Do you think we want to hear your conversations??!!
5. Please throw your garbage away.
I shouldn't have to say this to adults, but apparently there is a need to be reminded.
6. If you can't eat without spilling crumbs on the floor, clean them up.
There is no one on call to clean up after you. Please be considerate of others who will sit in that seat after you.
7. If you have to listen to music, use head phones.
Not everyone shares your taste in music.

This list is not all-inclusive. I'm sure many of you could add to it. When in doubt, remember what your mother taught you: "Do unto others as you would have them do unto you."

Friday, November 26, 2010

Unexpected Thanksgiving

Yesterday, after a long night and anxious morning, our son David said, "Well, I hate that Gran Gran is in the hospital, but in a weird way, it was nice to wake up on Thanksgiving morning praying."  Such true words spoken from the heart of a boy who loves his grandmother dearly. 

Thanksgiving didn't quite turn out as we expected. We enjoyed our annual vegetarian meal, prepared by our kids, on Wednesday evening. They invited Mark's parents to join us, knowing that Jackie loves all things vegetarian. We enjoyed the evening together talking, playing games (please note, the girls won every time!), and making a Shook family music video which is now circulating the world in cyberspace. We finally called it a night around midnight. 

3:50 a.m. the phone rang. When I answered, Mark's dad, Damon, told me that he had just called an ambulance for Jackie. She had a severe headache and was vomiting uncontrollably. Mark raced to their house, encountered the ambulance on the way, and led them there.  Her blood pressure was off the charts, and she was rushed to the nearest emergency room. A CT scan revealed a small bleed in the back of her brain due to her blood pressure. 

I finally woke the kids up at 5:30 a.m. to have them pray for their Gran Gran. Of course, no one slept after that news. 

Jackie was admitted to the ICU. She had an inter-cranial pressure gauge inserted yesterday to monitor the pressure on her brain. The bleed is very close to her brain stem. Increased pressure on the brain stem could cause her body to stop breathing on its own; so, she was placed on a ventilator as a precaution. The 3p.m. CT scan yesterday showed no change, which is good. Hopefully that means the bleeding has stopped. We are awaiting the results of the 5a.m. CT scan today. For now, she is in a medically induced sleep to allow her brain to rest and heal, her blood pressure is under control, the pressure in her skull is at an acceptable level, and her vital signs are stable. The next 72 hours are critical. 

Thank you for your prayers for Jackie. Please pray for complete healing with no residual neurological effects, protection from infection, and for peace and strength for Jackie, Damon, and all the family. 

"Her children arise and call her blessed; 
her husband also, and he praises her: 
'Many women do noble things, but you surpass them all.' 
Charm is deceptive, and beauty is fleeting; 
but a woman who fears the LORD is to be praised." 
Proverbs 31:28-30 

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

My Life

The past ten days I've been busy working, planning, studying, shopping, running from one event to another, hosting friends, eating, laughing, and hanging out with family. I am completely exhausted, and completely content. 

I was driving home the other day, tired all over, looking forward to climbing into my bed and putting the pillow over my head, when it hit me -

These have been the busiest ten days I've had in the past eighteen months... 

Do you know what that means? 

My life is back to normal... I am not sick... This was my prayer for so many months ("I just want my life to go back to normal")... and my faithful God has given me what I dreamed of -- again! 

I have so much to be thankful for this Thanksgiving! It overwhelms me just to think about it all! I couldn't even begin to write it all out... 

So, hopefully, these pictures from the past ten days tell a small part of the story!

Inspire Women Luncheon with Teri and Gretchen

COF Texan Tailgate 2010 with Mark

and with my personal security detail... LOL!

Hangin' out with the Yerkes twins, this is Miss Paige!

HBU Spirit of Excellence Banquet with Teri and President Bush!

Dinner with our missionary staff including Katrina, me, and Carina

Serve the World Celebration Weekend!

Thank you, Lord, for giving me abundant life in 2010!

Wednesday, November 17, 2010


"For we are His workmanship,
created in Christ Jesus for good works,
which God prepared beforehand
so that we would walk in them."
Ephesians 2:10

The word translated "workmanship" in Greek is “poeima”. It’s the word for poem. "We are his poem." I like that. Our son, David, is a published poet. I’m saying that here not just because I’m proud of him; but also because having a poet in the family has helped me to understand this verse a little more clearly.

I have watched how David writes. He has ideas and thoughts in his mind, and it is almost as if they are alive in him. He has to write them down. And then he agonizes over the poem, crafting it just the way he wants it to be. He works for a while and then comes back to it later to rewrite a certain phrase or to change a word. He spends unbelievable amounts of time creating the poem to be exactly as he envisioned, so that it will express what is in his heart and mind, until finally it is finished. Then the poem is sent to the publisher and put on display.

I think that is what Paul is telling us in Ephesians. We are God's  masterpiece,  his workmanship, his poem. He is working in our lives to craft us to be exactly as he envisioned so that we will express what is in his heart and mind. He wants to display us to the world - as beautifully perfected masterpieces - each of us a demonstration of His power, his love, his character, his peace, his life. "We are his poem."

There are times when David sends me a poem to ask my opinion, and honestly, sometimes I don’t understand them. I don’t get what he is trying to express, it is confusing to me. But that doesn’t make it any less of a masterpiece, any less of a poem. It just means that my human brain can’t understand it all. And the same is true of my life. God is working a masterpiece, I might not always understand, but I can rest in the fact that He knows, He has a plan, and he is creating exactly what he desires in my life so that I will be a reflection of Him.

God, please let me be an accurate reflection of you today!

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

"See you in three months"

I have a new book: Finding Your Way Through Cancer by Andrew Kneier.  It was just recently published and recommended to me by a very sweet friend. The author is a psychologist who has worked with cancer patients and survivors for seventeen years. The book was written out of his experience with families affected by cancer. 

I have just barely started reading the book, but one of the statements I read today hit home. It was from the journal of one of Dr. Kneier's patients who was fighting stage 3 colon cancer. She said this, "I get to live three months at a time." 

"Wow," I thought to myself. That's what I'm doing. I'm living three months at a time. Three months between doctor visits where I wait for someone to tell me that I'm still healthy. So far, so good.  No sign of the dread disease. Then they set another appointment for me and send me on my way. "See you in three months," they say. 

Initially, I feel relief, I feel joy, I feel like laughing. I race home, let my family know, and get busy with life. But over the weeks, in barely noticeable increments, the anxiety starts to return. And as the end of that three months gets closer, I find myself starting to wonder again, "what if..."

It sure will be nice when I can live six months at a time.  

Friday, November 5, 2010

Live Strong

I meet a lot of cancer survivors. They all seem to be doing well - big smiling faces, busy lives, no complaints.  Every once in a while, one of them will quietly ask me, "How are you doing?" with concern in their eyes, as if they know there is more to this recovery process than anyone lets on. And I would have to agree... 

Yes, I feel good. Yes, I am doing great. Yes, I am so thankful to be back to a "normal" life (whatever that means!). But apparently, when you are faced with the truth of your own mortality, it has a deep impact on your psyche. At least it has on mine. 

So God and I have been discussing these issues. Daily serious discussions like this:

Me:  "What is wrong with me?"
Me:  "Why can't I get over this?"
Me:  "Why am I still thinking about this?"
Me:  "Why do I feel this way?"
Me:  "Why do I feel so insecure?"
Me:  "I hate this."
God:  (silence)

And so I persist, like He tells me to, in prayer. Asking for His wisdom. Waiting for his answers.

Slowly, I begin to move forward. I have (almost) whole days where I never even think about cancer, or at least not until the end of the day. And as the days pass, God begins to speak.

He reminds me that I am grieving, and grief is good. It is a healing process. It takes time. We all process grief differently, at different rates and in different ways. So, I stop comparing myself to other cancer survivors. This is not, after all, a cancer survivor competition. 

I realize that my insecurity is a grief reaction. I am afraid to go out and live my life strong because I am afraid that if I do, I might get slammed again, just like I did with the initial cancer diagnosis. It helps to see it for what it is. I am reminded of a book I read many years ago called "Feel the Fear and Do it Anyway." So, I decide to feel the fear and go ahead and live strong.

I am naturally a homebody. I love to travel, but when I am home I like to be at home. I don't have to go out and do things to be happy. I am happy at home. But over the last several weeks I have felt myself staying especially close to home. I have to force myself to get out every once in awhile just to go to the grocery store or run errands. Just this week I realized that this increasing need to hibernate is also a grief reaction. The world doesn't feel safe to me anymore.  And so I hide away, trying to stay safe. It's funny how the mind works!

Today, I had the privilege of hearing Kay Warren speak (she was awesome) and Nicole C. Mullins sing; and God's truth came flooding into my heart again:

"The very same God
That spins things in orbit
Runs to the weary, the worn and the weak
And the same gentle hands that hold me when I'm broken
They conquered death to bring me victory

Now I know, my Redeemer lives
I know my Redeemer lives
Let all creation testify
Let this life within me cry
I know My Redeemer lives"

(My Redeemer Lives by Nicole C. Mullins)

And God speaks:

God:  "I am still here with you."
God:  "You are doing great!"
God:  "Keep walking with Me. Live strong."
Me:    "Thank you. I will."

"Those who want to save their lives will give up true life, 
and those who give up their lives for me will have true life." 
Matthew 16:25

Monday, November 1, 2010

Conversations... Part 2

A man walks up, his face twisted with grief, and says, 
"My dad died of colon cancer." 
He hangs his head and walks out the door. 
(Spoken to me the day we announced my cancer to the church.) 

"It wasn't the cancer that killed him, it was the chemotherapy." 
(Spoken to me the day before I started chemotherapy.)

"I've seen corpses that look better than you." 
(Seriously, someone said this out loud to a friend of mine who is fighting cancer!)

"You look tired." 
(Seems like an innocent statement. But please know that cancer patients are aware of how they look. They spend a lot of time trying not to look sick, but eventually, there is no hiding it. Please don't remind us.  Unless you have a very close relationship with someone, don't make this statement.)

In the words of my mother (and probably yours too):
"If you don't have anything nice to say, don't say anything at all."

"Words kill, words give life; 
they're either poison or fruit—
you choose." 
Proverbs 18:21

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Today's Surgery

Jackie's surgery went well today. She is resting comfortably and will probably be in the hospital for a couple of days. The tumor was larger than the doctor anticipated, but he believes that he was able to remove it all. Thank you to all who have been praying! Please pray now for pain relief and for a quick recovery! Thank you!

Saturday, October 23, 2010


Him: "You better not die. If you die, I'll kill you!"
Her: "Oh, I'm not dying! I fought way too hard to live!"

Her: "I feel like I'm falling apart."
Him: "Let's give it two years, two years to recover. And I'm just glad I have you for two years."

Her: "I feel really insecure. I feel weak. And it's so frustrating because I felt so strong before all of this. 
Him: "You are so incredibly strong, you just can't see it right now. When you come out the other side you are going to be amazed at what God has done!" 

Her: "I feel like I've let you down. I feel like I'm a burden to you."
Him: "You have never failed me. You are not a burden. You are the love of my life."

"Love... always protects, always hopes, always perseveres." 
1 Corinthians 13

Friday, October 22, 2010

Update on Jackie

Just a quick update on  my mother-in-law, Jackie...

Her PET scan showed that the cancer is confined to her thyroid gland. There is no lymph node involvement, and it has not metastasized to her lungs. All good news!

Her surgery is scheduled for next Thursday, October 28th, at 7:30 a.m., followed by a radioactive iodine treatment two weeks later.

Please continue to pray for her complete healing, for successful surgery without complications, for the iodine treatment to kill any micro metastases, and for God's supernatural peace to be all over her and her family.

Thank you!

Gran Gran and (almost) all of her grandkids!

Monday, October 18, 2010

Go Gently

"Go gently through this day, keeping your eyes on me."  
Sarah Young, Jesus Calling

I remember when our kids were little trying to teach them the meaning of the word "gentle".  Any time they would be around babies, younger children, or around animals I would instruct them to "be gentle" or "touch gently".   The idea was to keep them, whether by enthusiasm or ignorance, from causing harm to others. I didn't want them to frighten young children by running over them, to harm babies by squashing them, or to overdo it when loving animals. It was something I found that had to be taught to excited, adventurous toddlers.

I remember once when David was two years old and Sarah was three months old, not knowing exactly how to play with his new baby sister, David decided to sit on her like a horse! I heard lots of squealing and laughter, came around the corner to find him seated on Sarah's belly. Of course I panicked, screamed, and caused everyone else to start crying!  David didn't realize the harm he could have caused his baby sister, Sarah was too small to defend herself as she struggled to breath, and I just exacerbated the situation by frightening everyone involved. This was the beginning of the life lessons in gentleness!

Today, I read the quote above in Jesus Calling by Sarah Young, and it just seemed to stick with me. How often do I go gently into my day? Have I EVER gone gently into a new day? I guess in all those life lessons, I never applied the idea of gentleness to myself. So many times I "go crashing" through the day or I "go racing" through the day.  Sometimes I hurt other people because I forget to go gently. Sometimes I miss God completely because I forget to slow down and focus my eyes and thoughts on Him.

God reminded me today to "go gently".  Gentleness isn't just a lesson for toddlers. It's a better way to live.

"Blessed are those who are gentle.
They will inherit the earth"
Matthew 5:5

"Take the yoke I give you. Put it on your shoulders and learn from me. 
I am gentle and humble, and you will find rest."
Matthew 11:29

"But the wisdom that comes from above leads us to be pure, friendly, 
gentle, sensible, kind, helpful, genuine, and sincere."
James 3:17

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Home Again...

Mark, John, Ellen, & Laura

For the past six months, many of you have been praying for my friends, John and Ellen. John was diagnosed with metastatic colon cancer in April and they came to Houston to get treatment. Thank you so much for praying! I am so happy to report that John's latest PET scan showed that his cancer is now ninety percent gone! There is still a small tumor in his colon, and a few small spots on his liver, but God has worked an extreme miracle from his original PET scan to his most recent one! 

Today, these sweet friends have loaded up their truck and are heading home to Georgia. They will get home just in time to enjoy autumn's cool breezes and beautiful foliage! John's care will be administered by a doctor in Georgia who is working under the direction of his oncologist here in Houston. He has already endured twelve chemo treatments and he has at least six more months of treatments to go. John is a fighter. He is an optimist, always seeing the positive in any situation. But he is going to need your continued prayers as he settles in at home, establishes a good relationship with his medical team in Georgia, and as he perseveres through his treatment. 

Thank you for being a part of this miracle! 

John and Ellen, your Texas family loves you and will continue to stand with you in this fight! 

"It is right that I should feel as I do about you, for you have a very special place in my heart. We have shared together the blessing of God..." Philippians 1:7

Thursday, October 7, 2010

And some not-so-good news...

Mark's mother, Jackie, recently had a complete physical. She has had a goiter on her neck for a little while and the doctor decided to do a biopsy of the lump just to rule out cancer. Less than 1% of nodules on the thyroid prove to be cancerous so no one was too worried. The biopsy was done last week and on Thursday evening the surgeon called. 

Diagnosis: Papillary Thyroid carcinoma. 

Reaction:  Shock. How can this be happening? Shook family cancer, round 2. 

Action:  Call the oncologist's office.

Monday morning I called my oncologist's office. My doctor is going out of town for two weeks on Thursday and I desperately wanted to get an appointment for Jackie before he leaves. Miraculously (in answer to very fervent real-time prayers), the physician's assistant answered my call on the first ring. I explained to her what has happened and she told me that they would see Jackie on Wednesday. Once again, I was overwhelmed by the compassion of each person on staff at my oncologist's office. Thank you, God, for these wonderful people!

Mark and I went with his parents to see the oncologist Wednesday, and it turned out to be an encouraging visit. The doctor recommended that she have surgery to remove the thyroid gland completely. This would be followed by a radioactive iodine ablation. This is done to kill off any remaining thyroid cancer cells anywhere in her body. The doctor does think that she has some metastases in her lungs, but the radioactive iodine should kill those spots too. If it doesn't kill it completely, then it will knock it down to a level that it can be treated with medication to keep it at bay. He explained that thyroid cancer is one of the most treatable and that with this treatment she can have a normal life expectancy. She is scheduled to have a PET scan on Friday afternoon. She will be making an appointment with the surgeon who was recommended to her. She also has an appointment next week to get a second opinion. Please continue to pray for wisdom for Jackie and Damon as they make important decisions, and pray for God's peace to continue to surround them and their extended family.

If you would like to send a message to Jackie, you can email me (mlshook@mail.com) and I will get it to her.

Recently I read a quote that said, "If you want to live, you have to keep moving." You know that past year and a half has been a challenge for Mark and me, as well as the recent staff changes at Community of Faith. Please pray for God's strength and wisdom as we "keep moving."