Day 23 – Saturday (9/15/18)

Health Update:  Still trucking.  Still waiting.

Thought for the day:  Are you prepared?

I was listening to Casting Crowns “O My Soul” this morning (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DjNZf878ISQ) , and one of the lyrics got me thinking.  Note that this is another song Mark Hall wrote while he was going through his own cancer diagnosis and treatment.  The lyric was “This is the one thing, I didn’t see coming”.  For those who know me, I try live a very structured life (some may call it OCD).  I have spreadsheets for all aspects of life, from our family budget, to the gas mileage on every tank of gas I have ever bought, to bowling scores when my wife and I were dating (and even now).  I have always had a 6 month plan, a 12 month plan, a 5 year plan, and a 30 year plan.  I got on a “prepper” kick some years back, and I made sure that we had everything we could possibly need to live years without power, grocery stores, city water, etc.  As Hurricane Florence is approaching the mountains that I call home, I made sure I had generator fuel, fresh food (don’t want to eat the emergency rations if I don’t have too, haha), water, etc.

“This was the one thing I didn’t see coming.”  Honestly, that is a very true statement for me.  Would I wind up with diabetes?  Maybe (I love milkshakes… a lot… of milkshakes).  Heart attack?  Maybe, due to family genes and thriving in high stress situations at work and elsewhere.  Lymphoma?  Nope… didn’t see that coming.  Car crash, house fire, school shootings, lightning strikes.  Nobody can see those things coming either.  This brings me to my point.  You can do all the prepping you want to guard against every situation imaginable.  You can make all the plans you want for the future.  But in the end, there is only one preparation step that matters.  Do you know the Lord Jesus Christ as your personal savior?  Have you recognized that you are a sinner? (Romans 3:23).  Do you know that sin separates you from God? (Isaiah 59:2)  Do you know the punishment of our sin is death and eternal separation from God? (Romans 6:23)  Do you know that God sent his only son, Jesus Christ, to die on the cross for our sins (in our place), so that if we believe on Him, and accept his gift of Salvation, we could be saved, and spend eternity with God in heaven? (John 3:16).  Did you know that Jesus did not stay dead, but rose again after 3 days? (1 Corinthians 15:3-4)

Are you prepared?

If you have any questions about this, again, please email balfour@balfourbaptistchurch.org .  Someone will contact you if you leave us contact info in the email.

Do you want to accept God’s free gift?  I can tell you from personal experience, there is an overwhelming peace that God will give you for any and all situations when you know Him.  If you want to accept Jesus into your heart, and invite the Holy Spirit to reside in you, all you have to do is ask God.  Simply pray this prayer along with me.

Dear heavenly Father,  I ADMIT that I’ve sinned against You and broken Your laws, and can’t get to heaven on my own. I BELIEVE You sent your Only Son, The Lord Jesus Christ to earth to take the punishment for my sins. I believe that You, Jesus gave Your precious blood as payment for my sin, died, was buried, and arose again from the dead. Come into my heart and life. I ACCEPT Your free gift of everlasting life by faith, trusting you alone to forgive my sins, to cleanse me, and make me Your child. In Jesus Name I thank you.  Amen.”

Day 22 – Friday (9/14/18)

It’s FRIDAY!  The blog is going to be short and sweet tonight.  Now that I’m home from work for the day, my mind is already in weekend shutdown mode.

Health Update:  No Change.  I’m still feeling decent and able to go to work as though nothing is wrong.  Today was actually a really good day mentally (or stress wise).  Not having any expectations of doctors calling actually freed me to fully focus on the tasks at hand, without having this lingering in the back of my mind.

Thought for the day:  Thankfulness.  What was on my heart this morning was realizing how lucky I actually am.  I realized how great God has been to me throughout my entire life.  I recognize how great He will continue to be.  This got me thinking… what can I thank God for in the middle of this trial?  In no particular order, and realizing I’m missing many things:

  • Friends and Family
  • Colleagues and managers who support me
  • Church / brothers and sisters in Christ
  • The PET scan machine happening to be in town on the Sunday I needed it (when it only comes every other Sunday).
  • No pain through either biopsy
  • Catching this early (it seems). God poking at my stubbornness to get me to go to the doctor when I did.  I may have waited 4 weeks, but at least I didn’t wait years!
  • A wife and children who have been very understanding through everything, but especially on the evenings I just have to go straight to bed due to fatigue.
  • God giving me the idea for this blog, and knowing (through Google analytics) that I currently have 381 unique people reading it. (1) That is a massive encouragement to me knowing how many people care about me and are praying for me.  (2)  I’m confident God will use this blog in many powerful ways.  I will likely never know how all He uses it, but I know He is.

Dear heavenly Father, thank You.  Thank You for everything on my list.  Thank You for everything You have given me through my entire life, and for everything You will continue to provide.  I’m looking forward to a nice relaxing weekend that is actually NOT jam packed for once.  I pray this weekend will give my entire family the recharge we need after the last 3 weeks of roller coaster emotions, doctor’s visits, activities, etc.  While it is good to stay busy, it is also good to recharge.  Amen.

Day 21 – Thursday (9/13/18)

It wasn’t until I was typing the date in the blog tonight that I realized it was 3 weeks ago today that this all started.  Crazy how time flies.

Have any fellow blog readers ever been to California?  Well, part of me has!  I found out today that my Blobby Biopsy made the trip without me.  He was shipped next day air on Tuesday to Stanford University, and arrived Wednesday afternoon.  He has a hotel room booked for up to a 2 week stay.  I personally think he just wanted to get away from Hurricane Florence.

Alright, so let me break this down.  The local pathologist was able to confirm, 100%, that Blobby is malignant.  He was able to mostly confirm (let’s say 80%), that Blobby is a Lymphoma.  He was NOT able to determine what type.  This is really all very similar news to what we already knew from the first biopsy.  However, the sample is good this time (no issues with necrotic tissue).  Knowing the needed expertise and technology was not available locally; the pathologist shipped Blobby off to Stanford.  It is my understanding that they are experts in this field, and should have no issue decoding the rest of Blobby.  Problem… They are experts in this field, and are in high demand.  The turn-around time is 7 – 10 business days.  This means we may not have final results until Wednesday, September 26th.

Anybody else like “what!?!”  Yeah, that is how I was.  The biggest question I had was understanding the risks of knowing I have a growing cancer inside my body, and waiting 2 more weeks before doing anything about it.  I was able to talk with my operating doctor (from the biopsy).  He explained to me that the risk of doing some kind of “pre-treatment”, or guessing which treatment to try… without knowing for sure what type of lymphoma we are dealing with… is very risky.  Waaayyy more risky than doing nothing.  Apparently, if you hit blobby with the wrong treatment for the wrong type, complications can and most likely will ensue.  He told me that if we were talking 3 months… as opposed to 2 weeks, the conversation may change.  He said waiting 2 weeks shouldn’t impact the success rate the treatment options should offer once they finally begin.

So, how do I deal with my emotions as I now realize that I have to simply keep living life like normal for another two weeks, knowing, 100% this time that I have cancer, and we can’t do anything about it yet?  By utilizing the wisdom of Philippians 4:6-7 (thanks pops for sending me this tonight) “Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God; and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.”  Further, I was provided a song (from a fellow blog reader) while I was typing the blog tonight.  I think I will make it my theme song over the next two weeks.  John Waller, “While I’m Waiting.”  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=518ipIfM8qI

Dear heavenly Father, I want to start by saying thank You for answering my hearts desire last night.  I simply needed a new timeline, and I was going to be good.  I stick by that Lord.  You provided me an update, and a new timeline, and I’m good.  I honestly have a greater peace now, knowing that I can’t and shouldn’t expect a phone call anytime soon.  I think that anticipation was the hard part.  Now there is no anticipation for the next 2 weeks, so maybe I’ll just be surprised one day if the results come back early.  I pray that You will be with the pathologists at Stanford and give them a clear, 100%, diagnosis.  I pray for the cousin’s nephew of a childhood friend of my wife (that may be a complicated lineage to us, but You know who I am talking about), whom I found out today is actually going through the exact same thing I am right now.  He is at the PET scan phase.  Please be with him and his family as they head through this process.  Thank You again for all of the friends and family You have surrounded me with during this time.  They are a true encouragement to me, as they send songs, scriptures, prayers, etc.  Please help me to come up with 2 more weeks’ worth of “thoughts of the day” that You would have me to publish on this blog.  You seem to always provide me with a thought just as I sit down to type.  I thank You for that Lord.  This is Your blog, not mine.  This cancer is not something that is being done to me, it is being done for You.  Please use me, please use this blog, in any way You see fit; that others may be encouraged, that they may grow their relationship with You, or that they may simply come to know who You are if they don’t know You already.  I will continue to patiently wait on You Lord.  Thank You for being in control of this situation.  Amen.

Day 20 – Wednesday (9/12/18)

Health Update:  No change (sad emoji).  I called the doctor again today, and they told me that there are still no results.  They “suspected” that the samples had to be sent off for more in-depth testing.  I really wasn’t pleased with this “lack of an answer”, so I called the doctor I had worked with on the first biopsy.  I left a message for him, and asked if he could get in touch with the pathologist and tell me the actual status, as opposed to an assumption.  If the sample had to be sent off, that is cool, but I’d like a new timing estimate.  He didn’t call back, but this was late in the day.  Maybe tomorrow.  He was really helpful with giving me updates on the first biopsy.

Now, I’m trying to put myself in the other person’s shoes.  In maintenance, we routinely work on broken machines.  There is a troubleshooting/diagnosis phase (usually the longest phase), a repair phase, and finally a verification phase (to make sure the correct fix was applied).  Often, machines don’t break at opportune times, and customer shipments can be jeopardized.  Our schedulers first question to maintenance… “What is the ETA”?  This question is one of the most difficult questions to answer, especially in the diagnosis phase.  Until you know what you are dealing with, it is very hard to provide an estimate on when the issue will be resolved.  There have been countless times when I have provided an optimistic, yet inaccurate timing estimate.  Things happen, situations change.  I simply have to go back to the scheduler, provide a new timeline, and do my best to beat it.  This is really all I can ask of the doctors… please let me know what the complications are, and provide new timing.  Hopefully I can get that information tomorrow.

Thought for the day:  How to deal with disappointment.  I’m not going to lie.  Today I was disappointed.  I had my hopes up for answers, and got nothing.  Nonetheless, God is in control.  These two scriptures really explain how to deal with disappointment much better than I can explain it.  Isaiah 55:8-9 ““For My thoughts are not your thoughts, nor are your ways My ways,” says the LORD. “For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are My ways higher than your ways, and My thoughts than your thoughts.”” Jeremiah 29:11-12 ”For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, says the LORD, thoughts of peace and not of evil, to give you a future and a hope.  Then you will call upon Me and go and pray to Me, and I will listen to you.”

Dear heavenly Father, thank You for reminding me that my ways… my timing… is not Your timing.  Your ways are higher than my ways.  You know the end from the beginning, and YOU know when I need results.  Thank You for also reminding me that You want what is best for us.  We may not understand at the time, but You do, and You are doing what we need.  Finally, thank You for reminding me that all I have to do is pray, and You hear me.  With that said, I am praying now, and I know You are listening.  I respect Your timing God.  Please use all the time that is needed to ensure that a proper diagnosis is reached, and a proper treatment plan is put in place.  Rushing through the critical “diagnosing phase” can create many delays with returning “the machine” back to peak operating performance (to continue my maintenance analogy).  Thank You God for being in control of everything.  Thank You for helping me keep my spirits high throughout this process.  Amen.

Day 19 – Tuesday (9/11/18)

Health update:  I was more tired today (compared to yesterday), and felt my heart rate over 100 for quite a while this morning, while being “at rest” working at my desk.  Other than that, I have had a good day.  Still no pain.  The incision seems to be healing well.  I called the doctor this afternoon to see if there were any results yet.  My file still shows “pending”.  I told them I’d try again tomorrow.

Thought for the day:  I would like to take a moment to praise/thank God for working in the life of a fellow blog reader.  Through a friend of a friend of a friend, a lady started reading the blog and reached out to me with her own cancer treatment story.  She was diagnosed with non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma type B a few months ago, and today was her last treatment!!!!  Yeah!!!  I’m so happy for her, and while it was a long road for her (from the bits and pieces I know), it encourages me to hear her story of success.  I don’t know all the details, and I won’t pretend too.  I’m pretty sure she has more tests to go through to make sure it is all gone, but just getting through the chemo is a big win!

This leads me to my thought for the day.  Acts 4:36 “And Joses, who was also named Barnabas by the apostles (which is translated Son of Encouragement), a Levite of the country of Cyprus”.  Acts 11:22-24 “Then news of these things came to the ears of the church in Jerusalem, and they sent out Barnabas to go as far as Antioch.  When he came and had seen the grace of God, he was glad, and encouraged them all that with purpose of heart they should continue with the Lord.  For he was a good man, full of the Holy Spirit and of faith.  And a great many people were added to the Lord.”

Are you a Barnabas?  Do you actively seek to encourage others?  I think each of us needs a Barnabas, and each of us should strive to be a Barnabas.  Today, my Barnabas was the friend of a friend mentioned above.  It gives me great encouragement to see someone coming out victorious on the other side of treatment.  Hopefully I am being a Barnabas today with this blog, encouraging every reader to look for ways to encourage those around them.

Dear heavenly Father, thank You for friends who encourage us.  Thank You for Your providence and Your ability to send those friends to us at just the right times.  You prick our hearts to send that card, or make that phone call just when you know others need it.  Help us all to be a Barnabas.  I pray for continued patience Lord, as the results are still not in yet.  It’s easy for me to say, “all in Your timing”, but hard sometimes to live it.  However, in my heart, I know You have it all under control.  Thank You for helping my new friend make it through her treatments.  I pray that as they conduct follow-up scans, that she would be found cancer free, and that she can move on with her life… as a living testimony for You.  Thank You for helping my Aunt and Uncle return safely to Kansas.  Please be with the families of those who lost their lives as a result of the terrorist attacks 17 years ago.  I’m sure that today is not easy for them, but hopefully they have put their faith and trust in you through the grieving process.  Thank You for all that You do, Amen.

Day 18 – Monday (9/10/18)

Health update:  Still feeling very good.  No pain.  Just waiting on results.  I didn’t hear anything from the doctors today.

Thought for the day:  Depending on where you live, you may or may not be following hurricane Florence.  Hearing the “panic” on the news has helped me develop my “thought for the day”.  The news tells everyone to buy water, stock up on food, fill up with gas, etc. etc.  This got me thinking about foundations, and a song I heard as a child.  Going from memory, it went like this:

“Don’t build your house on the sandy land, don’t build it too near the shore, though it might look kind of nice, you’ll have to build it twice, and you’ll have to build your house once more.  You need to build your house upon a rock.  Make a good foundation, on a solid rock.  So the storms may come and go, but the peace of God you will know.”  Insert catchy tune… which I don’t know how to convey through the blog, haha.

Where do you have your foundation built?  On the slippery slopes of sin and the devil’s lies?  Or on Christ Jesus, and the promises he has given us through His word of grace, mercy, and salvation?  I’m thankful that I have my foundation in the Lord.  It is a bonus that my house foundation is in the mountains as well.  I believe the scripture that goes along with that childhood song is Matthew 7:24-27 “Therefore, whoever hears these sayings of Mine, and does them, I will liken him to a wise man who built his house on the rock: and the rain descended, the floods came, and the winds blew and beat on that house; and it did not fall, for it was founded on the rock.  But everyone who hears these sayings of Mine, and does not do them, will be like a foolish man who built his house on the sand: and the rain descended, the floods came, and the winds blew and beat on that house; and it fell.  And great was its fall.”

Dear heavenly Father, I do realize that there are a lot of people that are in the path of hurricane Florence.  I saw today where some coastal areas are already under evacuation.  I know that You are in complete control of this (and every) storm.  I pray that You would help people heed warnings and evacuate and that You would protect them.  I thank You for a good, productive day at work.  I thank You my wife and kids had good days at school as well.  I continue to pray that the pathologist is actively working on my biopsy samples, and that You are guiding them to the correct diagnosis.  I eagerly await the coming phone call from the doctor, but I know allowing it to happen in Your time is the best way.  I pray for a good night’s sleep for everyone.  Amen.

Day 17 – Sunday (9/09/18)

Today was another good day.  I am feeling very good for having surgery two days ago.  I was able to spend the entire morning and afternoon with my family (in-laws, parents, brother, wife, kids, aunt/uncle from Kansas).  We all had a really good time together.  Just a reminder the next milestone we are looking for in my health situation is the results from the latest biopsy, which I suspect will come Wednesday.

Tonight was the first night of Awana’s at our Church for this school year.  My kids always enjoy attending Awana.  It is a Bible club that is focused on Bible verse memorization, mixed with snacks and games.  While the kids participate in Awana, the adults have an evening service in the sanctuary.  My thought for the day comes from a story/joke that the guest speaker tonight used at the opening of the message.  The below is copied from a website (noted afterward), and is similar to the story that was told.

A fellow was stuck on his rooftop in a flood. He was praying to God for help.  Soon a man in a rowboat came by and the fellow shouted to the man on the roof, “Jump in, I can save you.”  The stranded fellow shouted back, “No, it’s OK, I’m praying to God and he is going to save me.”  So the rowboat went on.  Then a motorboat came by. “The fellow in the motorboat shouted, “Jump in, I can save you.”  To this the stranded man said, “No thanks, I’m praying to God and he is going to save me. I have faith.”  So the motorboat went on.  Then a helicopter came by and the pilot shouted down, “Grab this rope and I will lift you to safety.”  To this the stranded man again replied, “No thanks, I’m praying to God and he is going to save me. I have faith.”  So the helicopter reluctantly flew away.  Soon the water rose above the rooftop and the man drowned. He went to Heaven. He finally got his chance to discuss this whole situation with God, at which point he exclaimed, “I had faith in you but you didn’t save me, you let me drown. I don’t understand why!”  To this God replied, “I sent you a rowboat and a motorboat and a helicopter, what more did you expect?” (citation — this was directly copied from https://truthbook.com/stories/funny-god/the-drowning-man)

Hearing this led me to my thought for the day.  I have read some true stories where people refuse medical treatment, on the belief that God will heal them through a miracle.  Could He?  Absolutely.  However, what if God’s plan was to heal through the medical treatments?  I guess this got me thinking on what does faith look like in action?  For me personally, I feel that when I pray, I’m praying that God will guide me through my current storm.  Guide me to the right hospital.  Guide me to the right doctors.  Guide the doctors to the right diagnosis.  Guide the doctors to the right treatment plan.  Now, could God intervene at any point during this process and perform a miracle and blobby is suddenly gone?  Absolutely.  I guess for me, I fully accept (through faith) that God is in control, and he will open and close the doors needed to guide me out of the storm.  When I have been praying for God to help me, and a man in the helicopter drops a rope to pull me off the building?  I’m going to grab it, knowing God opened that door, and answered that prayer.

Dear heavenly Father, thank You for a great family day.  Thank You for the guest speaker tonight at Church.  I pray that you would bless him and his family, and continue to use him in ministry.  Thank You for reminding me that You can work in many ways.  Sometimes you heal through miracles, sometimes you heal through doctors.  Either way, I know that you will heal in a way that You get the glory.  Help me to use this storm that I am in as a testimony to how loving, powerful, and great You are.  Thank You again for such an easy recovery from the surgical biopsy.  I pray for all the school kids and teachers as they head back to school tomorrow.  Keep everyone safe at the bus stops, in the school buildings, etc.  I pray for safety of travel for my aunt and uncle as they return to Kansas tomorrow.  Amen.