Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Picture Slideshow

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Just a Quick Update

We wanted to let everyone know that services will be held at Cornerstone Christian Fellowship Church on Saturday April 11, at 10:00 a.m. The church is located at 1595 S. Alma School Rd. in Chandler on the corner of 202 East (South Loop) and Alma School Rd.

Standing in HIS Presence!

Face to face....oh what a wonderful site!  A husband, a dad, a grandpa, a brother, a son, an uncle, a friend and a servant of the one true God has reaped the benefits of believing in the Lord Almighty. 

My dad passed away on April 7, 2009, at 1:11 a.m.

Right now we don't have the details regarding the funeral service, but will let you all know as soon as possible.

Cody for the Bishop family

Sunday, April 5, 2009

Simply put...

I have rehearsed what I wanted to write to you over and over in my head several times and now that I sit here before the computer I stumble with the words.

Today will be the last posting on the blog until the time comes for Rusty to meet our Heavenly Father face to face. If it is the Lord's will to heal him...beleive me we won't need the blog to announce that as we will be lifting the roof top with glorious praise!

Sadly the cancer is moving much faster than we had hoped. As a family we will be spending precious time with him here at home.

Rusty knows that he is loved by each and everyone of you. What an absolute blessing you are to us. If you wish to post a comment to Rusty we will glady read all of them to him.

We love you all,
Robyn, Ashley, Cody and Luke

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Update from Cody

Many of us have been to amusement parks at least once. We all know the routine. You jump in the car early in the morning to get there right when the park opens. Getting closer to the park your excitement causes you to look intently for the bright colored thrill rides. Finally arriving, you jump out of the car and rush to the entrance of the park. Hearing the themed music playing, you wait impatiently for the gate to open. It's finally time! The gates swing open and you push and shove to get through the crowds as quickly as possible. Once in the park, you run to the biggest, most thrilling ride. You wait in line and observe the speed of the train. It goes this way and that way, back to the top, quickly down, through a loop, twists and turns, and then back into the boarding station. Suddenly you begin to have second thoughts and wonder if you should continue. Can I handle this ride? Fear begins to creep in. There is that one friend with you in line that always comforts and nudges you to continue on. The gates to the train then open. You're hesitant. Your friend, along with that inner adventure in you pushes you to climb aboard and take your seat. The lap bar locks! There is no going back. The train pulls forward and begins its assent. With the loud, "Tick, Tick, Tick, Tick, Tick, Tick..." in the background, fear explodes inside of you. You either begin to shake or have a quiet, pale look on your face. At the top, you take one good look around and then... the drop, twist and turn, then the loop, then the corkscrew, back to the top, down again, and then you are brought back into the station. The lap bar releases and with a smile on your face you jump out of the car. You feel in a way stupid that you feared the ride at first and now are filled to the brim with satisfaction.

I have been on many roller coasters in my life. I love them! I get a rush of energy and satisfaction. I know many of you that read my dad's blog have noticed that he relates his fight with cancer to a roller coaster. I thought I would add to that and give it a shot. Let me tell you this is one roller coaster that fear has truly crept in. But you know, the coolest thing I have had through this journey are friends who stand in line with me to comfort and help me through this. That friend is my family and all of you that read our blog. So for that, I would like to say THANK YOU! Your prayers and comforting words bring so much strength and simply put, comfort to our family.

This week has been very trying for my dad. However, he is a fighter! His cancer has become more aggressive than we had hoped. Dad tires easily and his appetite has decreased dramatically. I haven't expressed really how I feel about all this. It took me a while to get to this point but I look at this journey as a blessing. We must remember that God says he will never give us anything we can't handle and for Him to know that we can handle this is a big blessing to me. Of course I still have my good and bad times. We know you all have been so faithful in this, and we continue to ask you to pray for strength and comfort for our family. Thank you all again!

Cody for the Bishops

Saturday, March 28, 2009

A Million Bucks

When we lived in Papua New Guinea our newsletter gave us the opportunity to share the mighty works of GOD in that country along with needed prayer requests. The newsletter was such a blessing to us. It was a way we felt connected and loved by all our friends and family while we were so far away. I shared with Russ the other morning that I feel like this blog is kinda like our newsletter. God has given us this wonderful opportunity to share HIS amazing grace and love for our family and on top of that our prayer requests. Truly our cup runneth over!

Monday, the 23rd was what we call the "scary day"! Russ was overcome with such pain, nausea, uncontrolable shakes, fever and a few other symptoms all within such a short period of time. Hospice got to our home in record time. Tammi, his Hospice nurse, was great. She was the calm within the storm. Russ was able to rest peacefully through the afternoon and into the early part of the evening. We truly see God's fingerprints all over this. He gave us the wisdom to sign up for Hospice the week prior...thank you Lord! ...and thank you for all your prayers.

Sometimes I think the word "hospice" paints a grim picture for many so I would like to share with you that hospice is truly looked upon as a blessing to us. Please know that Russ is very mobile and active. (Right now he is making Cody an egg mcmuffin) He does however, tire easily and is on pain meds 24/7. Hospice helps us by no more trips to doctor office's, hospitals or pharmacies. Tammi, the nurse comes once a week or more if we need her. She has helped with getting pain meds under control and monitors Russ's symptoms with the hopsice doctor.

After the episode on Monday I have told everyone that Russ is looking like a "million bucks." Thank you Lord for all these precious days you continue to share Russ with us!

We are enjoying all the visits, phone calls and oh so many added extras you are blessing us with.

God Bless you all so very much
Robyn for the Bishops

Monday, March 23, 2009

Extra Prayer Please.

It is amazing to me how many people are following my Dad's blog. This website has made it even more apparent to me how lucky and blessed my family and I are to have Dad as our Dad, Husband, Brother, Grandpa, Uncle and/or friend. I want to say thank you to all of you for your prayers, comments and words of encouragement you have provided for my family. They are greatly appreciated and are read numerous times throughout every day.

As I say thank you for all of your prayers I ask tonight that you say a little extra prayer for Dad. For now my family would like to share only that my Dad had a difficult day and is at home sleeping now. We ask that you pray especially for his comfort and rest at this time. Please pray for my mom and brother as well, and that they take care of themselves, not just my Dad. I also ask that you pray for wisdom for the hospice team taking care of Dad. They are wonderful and have responded quickly when needed by my family.

This is a vague post I know, however what my family needs is a simple extra prayer at this time! Thank you all for following my family and walking alongside us during this long journey. You are all appreciated and loved.... Thank you.

Ashley for the Bishop Family

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Quick update from Robyn...

I honestly don’t know where to start. It has been seven days since the news of Russ’s prognosis and what a week it has been. We will continue to update the blog on Russ’s condition and share with you God’s amazing love! You have been ever so faithful to continue this journey with my dear sweet husband. I can’t tell you enough how Russ enjoys hearing from each and every one of you. Thank you from the bottom of my heart.

A lot of you ask how Russ is doing and what, specifically, you can pray for, so we thought it best to be forthright and honest with you on our blog updates. My updates may be a lot more emotional than Russ’s so bear with me. From time to time Ashley or Cody will also update the blog.

As you can imagine this past week has been a tough one. We have had talks that I never thought we would have to have, “yet”. One of the harder tasks this week was calling Hospice. The Hospice nurse arrived at the house this afternoon and Russ is officially set up. What Hospice will provide right now is pain management, a weekly visit by the nurse to check on Russ’s vitals and to evaluate any new symptoms that may have developed. Russ currently has abdominal swelling and constant pain that has been quite intense on some days. Currently the pain meds he is on makes him very tired so we are hoping that Hospice will be able to help him with meds that won’t make him so tired.

As a family we will be celebrating Russ’s 48th birthday on Friday. It will be one we will all remember. Please continue to keep Russ in your prayers along with our precious children. Our emotions are all over the place. We love you all and thank you, thank you for everything!

God’s love is sufficient!

Robyn for the Bishops

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

A really difficult conversation...

          After several phone calls today we were finally able to get an appointment this afternoon to see the oncologist. I really wanted to talk to him today and get the results of the PT scan before I go see my surgeon tomorrow morning. After just a few minutes of waiting for the doctor he came in with a somber attitude and sat down beside us. He began to explain that he had just got off the phone with the radiologist who read the PT scan and the news was not good. He told me the cancer is definitely back but this time it is in two areas of my abdomen. It is in the area where the lymph nodes were removed during the surgery and also in the lining of my abdomen. This time the cancer is not in a tumor form like the last time but now it is numerous cells spread out in the two areas. He called this "seeding" which really means that the cells are planted within the tissue and multiplying.

          As you can imagine, we were set back a bit by the news but then the questions started flying. I asked what the course of treatment would be and he explained that there are no real options for treatment. Surgery is out because there isn't a tumor or mass to be removed, the only chemo drug that works on my type of cancer has already been used but it didn't work, and I've already gone through radiation so that is not expected to work either. The best he could offer is the possibility of applying for a clinical trial but he will have to do some research to see if there are any going on right now. When I asked what the next symptoms will be he told us that my abdomen will begin to swell with fluid and the cancer may spread to other organs such as the lungs or even the brain. I asked the next question fully expecting the doctor to tell me that "no one knows" so his answer really shocked me. I asked how long should we expect all this to happen and he told me "weeks, maybe months". I'm not sure I was fully prepared to hear that answer and surely thought I had more time than that but, I shouldn't be too surprised by the answer since I know the cancer is moving very quickly.
          So there you have it... You know everything we know and the news really isn't very good. Obviously, we are going to need a little bit of time to process all of this as a family so we'll keep you all posted along the way. For now, we are all doing well and don't have any immediate needs. The best thing anyone can do for us right now is to continue to pray for the family and for God's will to be done. Even though we don't understand why this is going on and don't necessarily agree with it, we are steadfast in our understanding that God is sovereign and He will be glorified through our lives. My prayer is that we, as a family, will stand as one to get through this no matter how difficult things get.
          There are so many of you who have joined with us on this journey and we hear about new "members" who are joining us in prayer quite often. We just want to stop and thank all of you for your faithful prayers and words of encouragement. We are truly held up by all of you and I will literally be carried to the finish line by the knowledge that you are all there.

Thank you all,
Russ and Robyn 

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Still waiting...

          We've received several emails and a couple of comments on the blog asking about the scan results today. Unfortunately, we don't have any results yet. This morning I went in for a PT scan, (also known as a "PET" scan), and despite being uncomfortable during the scan and for several hours after, it went well. The only problem is we now have to wait until Thursday morning for the results. I have an appointment with my surgeon that morning and he'll go over the results then. Our main concern right now is the pain that I'm feeling in my abdomen. It seems to be in more than one place and continues to worsen over time.

          Thank you all for your continued prayer and encouragement throughout this whole ordeal. By the way, I think I fixed the problem on the blog so comments can now be left without any problems.

Russ and Robyn

Friday, March 6, 2009

The coaster continues...

          The roller coaster has been used over and over again to describe the ups and downs of life. I think its because of the exhilaration and excitement you feel when you rise to a peak and the enormous pressure you feel on your body when you sink to the bottom of the valleys. Nothing can describe the lives of cancer patients and their families better. We all have those moments of great hope when we're told "your cancer has gone into remission" or "the scan is clear" or "you have completed your treatment". Robyn and I were told two of those three last week by my oncologist. My CT scan was clear so he took me off of the chemo treatments one month early. Those were the words we were waiting to hear and once we heard them we felt as though we were on the upswing of our personal roller coaster, hoping the ride would soon be over. 

          As cancer patients we've also felt the pressure as we head toward the lowest of the valleys when we're told "you have cancer" or "there's nothing more we can do". We certainly didn't expect to find ourselves heading toward one of those valleys this week...
          During the past several weeks I've been feeling some pain in my abdomen and the lower right side of my back. When we saw the oncologist on Tuesday and heard the good news about the CT scan the doctor said that since the scan came back clear the pain was probably being caused by something else. He asked me to go back to the surgeon to get his opinion and to see if there was any post surgical complications going on. We made the appointment for later this month but two days after the oncologist appointment my pain worsened. Yesterday morning I was sent to the ER for more tests including another CT scan. This time the blood tests and scan both showed indications that the cancer has come back. My oncologist and surgeon both read the results and they concur that there seems to be some swelling in several areas of my abdomen and my blood test results were concerning to them as well. I left the ER yesterday evening with some pain medication and got a fair amount of sleep over night. However the pain continues and seems to be worsening.
          The next step is to go in on Tuesday morning next week to have a PET scan done which should show cancer cells or nothing at all. We're praying for the latter... The most difficult part of our discussion with the oncologist about this was that he, once again, reminded me of how nasty my cancer is and how it can come back quickly and aggressively. When it does, there usually isn't anything that can be done to combat it. No surgeries, no more radiation, and chemo may slow it but won't stop it. 
          So, as you can see, we are still on that roller coaster and we're heading for another valley. But, here's the really good news. No matter what the outcome of this story, the God of compassion, the God of comfort, the God who surpasses all understanding and who has the most perfect plan ever, is riding the roller coaster with us and will be first in line to hold us and comfort us when we get off.
          Will you all join us in prayer this weekend and into next week? It is difficult to wait for the test and then wait again for the results so, we'll need plenty of patience over the next few days. We would also like you to pray for God's will to be done in our situation. Obviously, we would love to find another cause of the pain and to be able treat it. But, if it's cancer, our prayer will be that He be glorified through our response to the news and through our lives as we continue to battle on. 

God is good, all the time!
Russ and Robyn

Saturday, February 28, 2009

Trusting in Him

          We've previously spoken a little bit about cautious optimism and this week has brought a little of that back again. I visited the Oncologist last week and we discussed the possibility of taking me off of chemo. This was his idea and it surprised me when only just a couple of weeks before he said I'd have to continue with it through the end of March. Now, he thinks I may be ready to stop chemo but he wants to do another CT scan just to be sure. The scan is the only way to determine whether or not there are any further tumors or growths. 

          This past Thursday I went in and had the CT scan done and will find out the results on Tuesday, March 3rd. As you can imagine, we're anxiously waiting to hear those results. If everything is clear, we expect the doctor to take me off chemo and I'll be officially done with treatment! We'll definitely be in prayer about this and hope you will all be praying for us as well.
          It's interesting to stop and review how God uses these events in our lives to change us and to influence those around us. In our case, we are reminded quite often by many of you how God has spoken to you through my cancer. You can't imagine, how fulfilled that makes us and how happy we are that God is being glorified through an otherwise nasty situation. Just in the past couple of weeks we've heard from a couple of different people who have commented on how "calm" we seem to be or "at peace" we are with our situation. Although we certainly appreciate these comments and attribute any calmness to the glory of God, we want you all to know that we are as human as any one and we certainly have our moments of fear, anxiousness, and doubt. I think what you may be seeing is how God has helped us to understand how to trust Him and the contentment He can bring to our lives.
          In Philippians 4:11 (esv), Paul talks about God's provision and writes "...for I have learned in whatever situation I am to be content". Now, I understand this verse very clearly and I'm sure you do as well. We understand that we are to be content in every situation, but most of us, including me, struggle with that very thing. In fact, I've come to be content in the fact that I'm human and I'm going to have trouble with being content! But, that doesn't let me off the hook. Knowing that I'm "to be" content in every situation puts the responsibility on me to seek contentment but, it doesn't mean that I "will be" content every time I try. After all, I'm human and I have to deal with fear, anxiousness, doubt, and a whole lot of other weaknesses. In the same paragraph, Paul goes on to talk about how he had "learned the secret" of facing difficult situations. This verse speaks very clearly to me also but this is where I draw a distinction between myself and Paul. While Paul had the confidence in knowing that he "learned the secret", I struggle with knowing and understanding that confidence.
          Here's the really great news that clears it all up for me. While I struggle with absolute contentment, I have learned absolute trust in our God. I trust that God is perfect and trust that His will for this world, and every life within it, is perfect. That means that His will for my life is perfect. That trust helps me with contentment and helps me to understand how to face my fears.
          Let's face it, trust is a very difficult thing for many of us to allow into our lives. With all the deceit, abandonment, infidelity, theft, etc, that goes on in the world today, trust is extremely risky. But, in my experience, allowing myself to trust God with my life really wasn't much of a risk at all and it has paid off with huge dividends.

Russ and Robyn

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Unexpected therapy this weekend...

          Last week I mentioned that I really wanted to get caught up on a few projects that I've put off since I learned of my illness. One of those projects was to tear up the carpet in the living room and dining room and lay tile down. On Saturday morning I got up and convinced myself to tear up the carpet and see how I was feeling. After only an hour I had the carpet, padding, tack strips and glue all cleaned up and in the trash. Since that went smooth, I convinced myself to layout the tile and mix up a little thinset to lay the first few tiles. I continued working on it slowly and methodically, and by the end of the day I had laid tile in half of the room. Physically, I began to ache in muscles I haven't used in 9 months. My legs and lower back ached and my knees were so sore I could hardly walk...

          While "suffering" physically, I realized that, for me, I had just completed some of the best therapy money could buy. I thrive on using my mind and hands to construct things and I'm used to having some sort of project going on most of the time. I just didn't know how much I've missed losing myself in a project and thinking about nothing else. I enjoyed it so much that I finished laying the tile on Sunday afternoon and on Monday I grouted the tile. By the time I finished Monday night it was all I could do to get myself up off the floor and walk. I was in pain and I loved it!
          I did have a little more motivation to complete this tile job than I let on... You see, last weekend was an "off" weekend from chemo so I was feeling pretty good. But, in the back of my mind, I knew that I will be having chemo this Thursday and will probably not be feeling very well by Saturday. I wanted to get the job done so I didn't have it sitting unfinished for the next few weeks.
          If you think about it and have a few minutes over the weekend I could sure use your prayers for getting through this round of chemo. I'm a little more nervous this time since I had such a bad reaction last time. I'm determined to go through it though and get it done because I'll be that much closer to the end, which I hope will be around the end of March.
          Thanks again for all your encouraging words and prayers. You can't believe what a difference it makes to us to know that you are all out there reading this blog, praying for us and writing comments or sending your words of encouragement through emails and cards. If we can pray for you for anything that may be going on in your life please feel free to write a comment or drop us an email. We count it a privilege to join you in prayer and encouragement.

Because His love and grace is sufficient,
Russ and Robyn 

Thursday, February 12, 2009

All is well!

          Since the last time I wrote I've had a couple of ups and downs with regard to my treatment. On Friday, February 6th, the day after my last chemo treatment, Cody and I were able to attend the FBR golf tournament in Scottsdale and had a great time spending the day together watching our favorite sport. Later that night I came down with a fever which lasted until late Sunday evening. The fever grew to a high of over 103 degrees and was caused by the chemo drug killing off my white and red blood cells. I was pretty anemic for the next several days but I was able to make it through each day at work. On Wednesday last week I went in for a blood test and my blood counts were too low for chemo treatment on Thursday. In place of the chemo treatment, my doctor sent me in to the hospital to receive a blood infusion. After 5 hours and two units of blood, I was able to go home and felt much better over the weekend. Since then I've been feeling like my old self again. I'm now preparing myself mentally for my next appointment, which is on Thursday of next week, when I'll see the doctor again and receive my next chemo treatment. 

          With all things considered though, I really have been doing great. My chemo treatment is relatively light compared to many people who suffer through considerably harsher medications and chemo drugs. I feel very blessed to have the course of treatment that I have and truly admire the strength of those I see week after week going through 5 and 6 hours of treatment at a time. Those are the people we all need to be praying for. Praying specifically for strength, endurance and comfort from God.
          Over the next week I expect to continue to feel good and will be trying to get a lot of things done around the house and at work. I have a few small projects at home that I've been trying to keep up on and work is getting busier every day. I'm supervising the construction of our new church offices and continuing to work with the architects and contractors on the design of our new buildings at the church. For those of you who know me, you know that I really enjoy keeping busy and being involved in the construction process. I'm not physically able to do the work right now but I'm really enjoying the planning and design work.
          If you happen to think about it, when you have a minute, your prayers are always appreciated. Things to pray for would be continued contentment with my course of treatment and patience to endure through to the end of March. As well as praying for those cancer patients who are suffering through their treatment and who may not know the God of comfort.

Blessings to you all!
Russ and Robyn

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

What's your prognosis?

I probably don't need to remind you that 8 months ago my doctors were not very optomistic that I would live through the impending surgery let alone through the end of the year. Now here it is January 28th and the eve of Cody's 18th birthday! So, when I say it's an incredible blessing to be here to see my son reach the age of adulthood you can really believe it. And that's not all... This month I also got to be here for a milestone birthday for Ashley and to see Reaghan have her first birthday! It's been a great month!
Hearing the prognosis from the doctors was devistating to say the least but the journey since has been life altering and incredibly fulfilling at the same time. Life altering because we have learned to take things slower and take time to enjoy the simpler things of life. Fulfilling because we have drawn closer to God and become more dependent upon Him to meet our needs and to help us find contentment in His plan for our lives.
Enjoying life and finding contentment seem to be in short supply around the world today considering our economic times and social environment. On the other hand, those who are seeking God and striving to become more dependent upon Him are growing by leaps and bounds. Statistics tell us that when things get difficult and the stress of life becomes unbearable people seek God to help them through. This is good news because it's okay to seek God when things get out of our control. God is standing by waiting to hear from any one who is going through a difficult time no matter what kind of pain they are experiencing.
If you are someone in the throws of devistation or caught in a whirlwind of pain, I urge you to seek God and allow Him to carry your burdens. He is ready and waiting for you to rely on Him.

Blessings to you all,
Russ and Robyn

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Quick Update

Can you believe it's been more than a month since my last update? My apologies to all of you who watch for updates regularly. I have no excuse other than I've really been doing well which has caused me to be more busy with life than usual. In any case, here I am and I'd like to give you a quick update this evening and then catch up a little more in a few days.

The number one question we've been getting lately has been about Ignas. We were all truly heartbroken when we learned that Ignas had passed away on Christmas day after being removed from the ventilator. There are still very few details about how he was actually attacked but my understanding is that he was targeted by his cousin who intended to kill Ignas from the beginning. Our family joined many people in PNG, including his family and many missionaries who were touched by Ignas' life, in feeling the loss of such a great man. We will continue to be in prayer for Ignas' wife, Julie, and their children and trust God for His comfort and provision in their lives. I've included a photo of Ignas and me which was taken on our last day in Papua New Guinea. Ignas showed up at the airport to say goodbye to us.
There's not much left to say after that but, since I promised Robyn I'd give you an update on my health, I better give you the latest...  In my last update I told you about a three day stay in the hospital due to low blood counts. The blood infusions that I received during that stay helped quite a bit and I had one more infusion just a couple of days before Christmas. Because of the holidays I was able to get a three week reprieve from chemo so by the second week in January I was feeling very good! I've since started back on the chemo schedule and I'm still doing well! As I've said to many of you who see me often, I can't complain much at all about my chemo treatments and how they make me feel compared to those who really have tough chemo drugs! The only real change with regard to my health is that my doctor has extended my chemo through the end of March to give me a full six month course of treatment. This is really no surprise but rather just a disappointment.
So, with that, we continue to give God the glory for the grace and mercy He so freely gives. Please join us in praising Him and praying for so many who's lives have been impacted by the unexpected. If you think about it, the unexpected really shouldn't be so "unexpected" any more since there's so much of it going around... We can however, continue to pray that we learn how to give these situations to God and allow Him to be glorified through the process.

Russ and Robyn