Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Standing at a crossroad...

Robyn and I met with my Oncologist today and discussed my treatment options. On Thursday I will be finished with my radiation/chemo treatments and now have to make a decision on how far to go with additional treatment. The Oncologist explained again that my type of cancer is very rare, therefore there haven't been many studies on it. The studies that have been done are not very accurate because many of the people have died during the study because of the cancer... So, as you can imagine, we were a little taken aback today with that information. What was encouraging was the doctor's response to all my blood work and his reassuring words that I'm not the norm and that I'm doing great! He went on to describe the next course of treatment which is 4 to 6 months of chemo. But, since the studies are limited, there is no information that indicates whether or not chemo will do anything for me. In other words, it's just a shot in the dark... He said from his perspective there is no right or wrong answer here and he would completely understand if we decided not to continue with the chemo treatments. He also said that if we chose not to continue with chemo he would continue to monitor my health with a CT scan every three months since this cancer can be aggressive.

So why am I sharing all this with you? Because, as usual, we need your prayers. We ask that you pray for God to give us wisdom through the next three weeks as we weigh our options. We ask that you pray for God's peace and comfort in knowing that He is in control and His plan is sovereign. Most importantly, we ask that you pray for us to never rob the Lord of His glory through this event. He is to be praised at all times and lifted on high for this situation. We trust in Him and trust that He knows exactly what He is doing and where this is heading. For that we are truly grateful.

Thank you again for all your support!
Russ and Robyn

Sunday, August 24, 2008

Running the race.......

Our family has enjoyed watching the olympics this summer. We would pick our favorite athletes as we watched in our family room cheering them on as if they could actually hear us encouraging them to run faster, dive straighter, spike better...come on you can do it!  

I want you to know we hear your cheers, feel your love and treasure the prayers. We could not run this race without our Heavenly Father and all of you! 

The last 2 weeks have been hard on Russ.  The daily radiation treatments have robbed him of all energy.  He has a hard time describing how he feels. Sometimes he says it feels like his internal organs are burning and at times he feels nauseated and totally drained. The good news is that after Thursday the radiation treatments will be done.  Russ has 4 more days of radiation treatments with chemo accompanying the last 3 days. Please pray for my dear sweet husband as the combination of the 2 treatments will make it a very rough week.  Then Russ will have 2 glorious weeks of no treatments! Around mid-September he will start his 6 months of chemotherapy.

Russ loves sharing with you on his blog and he just wants you to know he will be back.

Blessings to you all...and thank-you so very much!

Monday, August 18, 2008

I haven't forgotten you...

I know it's been several days since I last wrote so I just want let you all know that I haven't forgotten about the blog. I've been out of sorts for the last few days with a cold and haven't felt like doing anything other than sleeping. Today was my first day back to work and I'm feeling better but haven't kicked it yet. So, please forgive my lack of communication. I'll try to write during the next few days.

Thanks, Russ

Saturday, August 9, 2008

Tough night...

For some reason this is one of those nights when I just can't sleep. I just can't turn my mind off. Maybe its the anesthesia they used yesterday morning for my "port-a-cath" surgery, (which went well by the way). Maybe I've left a small window of opportunity for satan to use his tools of fear, worry and deceit, to infiltrate my thoughts. Or, maybe, its God whispering to me, prompting me to lean on Him even more. I don't have many of these nights but, when I do, they usually last late into the night and result in a blog update the next day. Apparently, this one can't wait until the morning...

Tonight I'm thinking of the cancer and how evil it can be. I can't get it out of my head that no matter what I do now, radiation, chemo, exercise, eating right, there are no guarantees that the cancer won't come back. My chances are improved by all of these things but none offer a guarantee to beat the cancer. If you've ever faced an illness like this you know what I mean. If you haven't, picture yourself standing at the base of a mountain looking up at this ominous obstacle in your way. (By the way, this is a "5 year mountain", meaning that, no matter what you do, it will take you that long to climb it.) You know there is no way around it so you have to climb it to continue on with your journey. When you begin your accent you soon realize the mountain is much larger and much more real than it was when you were just looking at it from it's base. As you continue up the trail you lose energy and your breathe. That's when the doubt and fear creep in and begin to eat away at your motivation and faith. That's also when you begin to look around to see how you are doing compared to the others on the trail.  Most of the time you see the others on this mountain and receive inspiration from them. There really are a lot of champions on the mountain who will make it to the top. The champions that really stand out are those who haven't made it to the top yet but keep trying and cheer the rest of us on and who keep their faith strong.
Those who stand out most to me, by far, are those who can only be seen by me. Those are the people walking behind and in front of me, urging me on, clearing the path, pushing me, and making camp for me when I'm too tired to take another step. And, the one at my side, is the one who hears my prayers and responds by tightening the rope between me and Him and breathes a gentle flow of oxygen into my lungs. Those are my champions. I thank God for all of you who are climbing this mountain with us and shouting such encouraging words and prayers for us. Unless you are going through this now or have gone through it in the past you can't possibly understand how much strength we draw from each of you.
Tonight my prayer is this;
"Lord God, I thank you for your love. I thank you for your grace. I thank you for your mercy. Without you or any one of these attributes I could not make it another day. I thank you for the obstacle that you've allowed to be placed in our life and for walking beside us as we begin this trek. I realize that this obstacle has a purpose in our life that you have designed and timed perfectly. My prayer is that I will allow you to complete your work in me and not to become an obstacle to you as you make me into the man you want me to be. Lord, I also thank you for those around me who you use to inspire and encourage me. I count it such a privilege to be a part of this journey with them but pray that I can be strong enough to not let them down. Again, I thank you for the love, grace and mercy you share with me every day. Amen."

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

Quick Update

I just want to give you a quick update since I haven't written in a few days. I went to the Oncologist today and he was very pleased with my blood work results. The best news is that the indicator that tells us how my liver is functioning, (the bilirubin), is within the normal range. That tells us that my half of a liver is functioning as well as a complete liver! Praise God! Everything else seems to be going very well also. I'm continuing on with the radiation treatments and I'm about half way through them. I get tired and kind of queezy but nothing that I can't tolerate for a few more weeks. We also discussed the upcoming chemo treatments but I won't start those until mid September. On Friday this week I'll be going into the hospital to have the "port-a-cath" installed. It's an outpatient type surgery and should only take an hour and I'll go home that afternoon.

Here's some more great news!! I've received an offer of employment with Cornerstone Community Fellowship in Chandler. The offer at this time is a short term contract as the liaison to the staff for the new construction projects. That means I'll be facilitating the design stage with the staff, architects, builders, and project manager. I've been working with the staff for a couple of days now and it looks like this will be a good fit for me and the church. Now all we have to do is close the deal by signing the contract. It definitely won't be the income I was making before but, praise God, it's a job that I'm interested in and has the potential to grow into a career at the church in the long run.

So, that's it for now. Please continue to pray for us and keep in touch. I'll try to write a little more over the weekend.

To Him be the Glory!

Friday, August 1, 2008

Losses and Gain

I was just driving home from my radiation treatment and I began to wonder how many cells I've lost through these treatments. That led me to think about the losses that I've suffered over the past 78 days, since my cancer diagnosis. I began to list them in my head...

  • I've lost half of my liver.
  • I've lost about 35 pounds, (I'm not sure if I can count that since I didn't need them any way...)
  • I've lost my strength and stamina.
  • I've lost my job.
  • Along with the job, I lost the ability to support my family.
  • I've lost thousands of tears.
  • I've lost the ability to sleep soundly.
If I spend much time on this at all I think I would be able to list a hundred things that I've lost, or our family has lost, to the evil of cancer. But, fortunately, I began to thank God for these losses and realized that I count them all gains for Him. He is the reason I'm still here and it is the hope that I find in Him that keeps me going and fighting.
If you are going through a difficult time in your life, whether it is cancer or the loss of a job, or the loss of someone close to you, hang your hopes on what God has to offer to you. He is there waiting to hear from you and to share His love with you so that you can carry on through your personal tragedy.

"What is more, I consider everything a loss compared to the surpassing greatness of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whose sake I have lost all things. I consider them rubbish, that I may gain Christ and be found in Him, not a righteousness of my own..." Phillipians 3:8-9.