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 ( 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."

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Some good news!

Every so often I spend time on the internet reading about colorectal cancer. You would think I would be tired of the subject by now, but I find myself drawn to continue to learn as much as I can, hoping that somehow my knowledge will prevent recurrence! Funny how the mind works...

Dr. Ralph Berberich in his book "Hit Below the Belt" said, "Cancer is never really over unless you die, have an autopsy, and are shown to be cancer free, in which case it is of no interest to you. The passage of time simply reduces the chance of recurrence, but it never completely eliminates it."

I imagine that every cancer survivor, as some point, ponders the possibility of recurrence - How would that feel? What would I do? What would that mean? - And then you shake those thoughts from your mind and try to go on living.

Studies of people with my initial diagnosis of stage three rectal cancer have shown that there is a 51% survival rate at five years. Those odds don't really sound too positive! But just this week, on one of my regular internet cancer searches, I came across some amazing news! New research published on August 25, 2010 in the journal The Lancet Oncology has shown that patients with a diagnosis of stage three rectal cancer who show a pathological complete response to neoadjuvant radiation and chemotherapy have a 83.3% five year disease free survival rate! That may sound like complete mumbo jumbo to you, but to me, it sounds like LIFE!!!  To put it in layman's terms, the study showed that people who were treated initially with radiation and oral chemotherapy whose cancer responded by dying off completely (which is my story!) have an increased five year survival rate from 51% to 83.3%!!! That's a jump of 32.3 percentage points!!  That's crazy good news!!  In my opinion, it might as well be 100% now! There is no chance this cancer is coming back!

As happy as this new report makes me feel, God reminds me that my life is not dependent on medical reports or even on five year cancer survival rates. All along it has been dependent on Him - on HIS plans, on HIS timetable, on HIS grace. I've been free all along! Free to live...

Monday, October 4, 2010


I have a t-shirt that says "Cancer Sucks" in big bold letters. Every time I wear it I get one of two responses from people who see it. They either look at me really weird, or they love the shirt and ask where I got it. I don't want to offend anyone, so I am careful where I wear the shirt. But the truth is, cancer does suck. And now I am discovering that I need a new shirt, one that says "Cancer Recovery Sucks". 

I felt really great right after I finished all of my treatment and surgery; so happy to be alive, so happy to be finished with treatment. Those feelings lasted for awhile, and then slowly they settled into a darker place. The interesting thing is that the more I talk to other cancer survivors, I find that I am right on track with my thoughts and feelings. They've all been here too. They've all experienced the doubts and questions, the grief and confusion, the loneliness.  

I read recently that about 25% of all cancer patients and survivors suffer from depression, and up to 19% suffer from post traumatic stress disorder. Those are big numbers! I'm pretty sure the same could be said of their family members too. Don't worry, I'm not there (yet!), but I think it is good to be aware that depression often comes on the heals of a great victory. 

Around 6:00 a.m. today I woke up to the sound of the smoke detector chirping, alerting me that the battery needed to be replaced. I was not too happy. Monday mornings are usually my day to sleep after our long weekends at Community of Faith. I stumbled out of bed and went in search of a 9V battery in the dark. Of course, as is always the case, we didn't have any. Due to the way the system is designed, simply removing the battery will not stop the chirping. I sent Mark upstairs to sleep, but unfortunately by this time, the dog had decided that it was time for breakfast. Realizing that I was not going to get any more sleep, I got up and fed all the pets. I plopped down in the chair in the living room and stared out the window at the darkness. As I sat there, the sky began to get light and I watched a beautiful sunrise unfold. And God spoke to my heart, "I am still here with you. I will continue to walk with you. You are going to be OK." 

It was such a powerful moment for me. Knowing that God woke me up, not the smoke detector! Knowing that he painted the sky specifically for me today to remind me of his presence and his faithfulness. Knowing that I am OK. My God is amazing! He is everything I need!

So, as you pray for me, for my family, and for others who are facing this disease, please pray that the dark clouds of despair will give way to a clear and constant vision of God's presence, his faithfulness, and his goodness. Thank you!

"The heavens proclaim the glory of God. The skies display his craftsmanship. Day after day they continue to speak; night after night they make him known. They speak without a sound or word; their voice is never heard. Yet their message has gone throughout the earth, and their words to all the world." 
Psalm 19:1-4