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