Day 37 – Saturday (9/29/18)

 

Next blog update will be posted by Saturday, October 6th, at midnight.

 

Hello blog readers.  Some of you that check in daily may have noticed this week that my posts are getting later and later, even into the next day sometimes.  Truth be told, I’m physically hurting, and some evenings I can’t sit at my computer long enough to focus and write.  I mentioned on Day 35 one of the things I wanted to talk to the doctor about was the pain in my right arm.  That pain is now “transferred”, to include both of my hips.  Whether I’m standing, walking, sitting at my desk, I have this throbbing nerve pain in my hips and right arm.  Tylenol seems to help me manage the pain at this point.  When we talked with the doctor on Friday about this (at the time, it was only my arm.  The hips started late evening today), the doctor was honestly surprised.  He said, “Looking at your scans, I’m surprised that is the ONLY trouble your having!  I would have expected you to much worse off”.  Now, he believes the pains I’m having are indeed nerve pains caused by Big Blobby B pushing everything around.  With that said, he hopes that those pains will go away, or lessen, after the 1st or 2nd full chemo cycles.  Hearing the doctors comments really made me stop and thank God.  While I thought the pain I’m having was rough, I didn’t think about it how much worse it could be.

With the above information in mind, I’m going to change the blog structure/strategy going forward.  Instead of stressing that I didn’t post, or haven’t posted each day, I’m going to start doing a weekly post only.  My plan will be to make sure that a new post comes out by midnight each Saturday.  I’ll try to jot down notes as the week goes, and do a kind of weekly summary on my health and anything God revealed to me that week.

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You for being with me throughout this process.  You have given me strength to work and keep this blog updated for 37 days now.  Google analytics show that over 500 people have visited the blog.  I feel that You are using this blog in many ways.  I also feel that You will continue to use it, even though I’m needing to change the frequency of the updates.  I pray that You would bless every reader out there, and help them with whatever struggles they may be going through.  If any blog reader does not know You as their personal savior, I pray they would come to know You today.  I thank You for all the loving, caring, praying people You have put in my life, to help me through this time.  I’m looking forward to getting treatment started next week, and pray that in 18 – 22 weeks, I am cancer free.  I pray for the bone marrow biopsy on Monday, that the results would come back negative.  Thank You Lord for all You do, Amen.

Day 36 – Friday (9/28/18)

Health Update:  Today was the big day, and I was given a massive amount of information.  I will try to summarize everything here for my benefit (and yours).

  • My chemo regiment will be 6 cycles of 3 weeks each. There will be another PET scan after the 2nd cycle to make sure things are working as expected.  There will be another PET scan after the 6th cycle to make sure everything is gone.  If there are still active cancer cells, then the regiment could be extended an additional 2 cycles.
  • After the chemo cycles are complete, I will then have 4 weeks of radiation to specifically target the large mass in my chest. The goal at the end of the chemo and radiation is that I’m cancer-free, and that blobby is dead and “shrunk”.  It is my understanding a smaller dead blobby will always exist inside of me.  It won’t complete disappear.
  • Each cycle of chemo will consist of 5 different drugs, designated by the acronym RCHOP.
    • R – Rituximab
    • C – Cyclophosphamide
    • H – Doxorubicin (hydroxydaunomycin)
    • O – Vincristine (Oncovin)
    • P – Prednisolone
  • As we go through each cycle, I will have to have labwork conducted multiple times per cycle. There are several things the doctors have to monitor for (side-effects) that can be mitigated as they occur.  Some side effects to expect include:
    • Nausea
    • Hair loss (the doc looked at my head and said “probably not a big deal for you”, haha)
    • Fatigue
    • Low blood count
    • Risk of bacterial infections needs to be closely watched
    • Bowel issues
    • Numbness in hands and feet
    • Uric Acid issues (leading to gout)
    • Tumor Lysis syndrome (Blobby could explode and dead tumor cells enter the blood stream and have to be processed).
  • The first chemo cycle is scheduled to start Friday, October 5th at 8:00am. In order to meet that schedule, there are three prerequisites I must complete before Friday:
    • On Monday I have an EKG and bone marrow biopsy scheduled
    • On Tuesday I will have a consultation for a port to be installed (to administer the chemo)
    • On Wednesday or Thursday, I’ll have an outpatient procedure to install the port.
  • Why do I need an EKG? We must establish a baseline for my current heart condition / functionality.  One of the drugs in the chemo regiment has a side effect that can damage the heart.  This must be monitored throughout the process also.
  • Why do I need a bone marrow biopsy? Currently, I’m classified as Stage 2.  If the bone marrow biopsy is positive for cancer, then I immediately become Stage 4.  The doctor feels this is low risk for me, but said it is something we must know.  He said the treatment plan won’t change if it is positive, but the prognosis changes.
  • The prognosis at this point (being stage 2) for a “Non-Hodgkin’s primary mediastinal large B-Cell lymphoma” (abbreviated PMBCL) is 80 – 85% likelihood of being cancer free and living at least 5 years past the date of discovery (data stops at 5 years). If I were to be at stage 4, it drops to 70%.  Out of all Non-Hodgkin cases, PMBCL accounts for only 2%, and is primarily found in adolescence or young adults.  Looks like I’m a pretty typical, atypical case, haha.

Well, I think that about covers it.  I may recall more (or be able to interpret the 7 pages of notes better) in time, but for the moment, I think I have hit all the high spots.  How am I feeling at the moment, emotionally?  Honestly, ready to go.  We found a problem.  We identified the problem.  We identified a plan.  Now let’s execute it (and blobby)!

Dear heavenly Father, You have not let me down yet.  There have been numerous “small” things throughout this process that You have worked out.  Knowing You helped with the small things helps reassure me that You will help with the big things.  It’s go time on the big things.  I know that You worked with the doctor to guide him in the regiment I need to follow.  I’m confident that I will go through the treatments, with You by my side, and we will come out victorious on the other side.  Thank You Lord for being in the middle of the storm with me.  Amen.

Day 35 – Thursday (9/27/18)

Health Update:  Tomorrow is the big day!  I will finally get to sit down and discuss everything with the oncologist, and establish a treatment plan.  I have several health items I plan to bring up with him.  I have played everything off up to this point as still trucking, still waiting… but there have been a few things that have been causing me some trouble.  About 10 days ago, my right arm starting hurting.  I found a spot near my shoulder blade that if I push on, I can shoot pains down my arm.  I have this dull pain 24/7.  Next, I have been coughing quite a lot… just dry coughs… like an irritation, not fluid in the lungs or anything.  Next, my heart rate stays steady between 100 and 120 all day, no matter if I’m sitting, standing, or walking.  Finally, I have been losing a lot of weight.  I have lost 35 pounds in 2 months.  10 of those pounds in the last 14 days.  This is not from lack of eating.  I have been eating double and triple portions, to no avail.  Nonetheless, I’m looking forward to tomorrow where I can hopefully get a game plan for everything.

Thought for the day:  Checkpoints / Goal Lines

How do you feel when you stand on the verge of reaching a long-awaited goal? Are you happy, sad, or relieved that the journey is nearly over? Are you frightened of the tests and trials that still lie ahead, or do you view your future with courage and faith in God?

Forty years of wandering in the wilderness had brought Israel to stand upon a mountaintop overlooking the land of promise.  Joshua 1:1-5 “After the death of Moses the servant of the LORD, it came to pass that the LORD spoke to Joshua the son of Nun, Moses’ assistant, saying: “Moses My servant is dead.  Now therefore, arise, go over this Jordan, you and all this people, to the land which I am giving to them – the children of Israel.  Every place that the sole of your foot will tread upon I have given you, as I said to Moses.  From the wilderness and this Lebanon as far as the great river, the River Euphrates, all the land of the Hittites, and to the Great Sea toward the going down of the sun, shall be your territory.  No man shall be able to stand before you all the days of your life; as I was with Moses, so I will be with you.  I will not leave you nor forsake you.””

After 40 years, the children of Israel were finally getting to enter the promised land.  They had reached the long awaited “goal” (or really in this case, served their punishment sentence).  Nonetheless, it was time for the next step.  Joshua led Israel into battle to conquer the promised land with courage, knowing God was with him.  As I enter the next phase of my trial tomorrow, the treatment phase, I also have courage knowing the God is with me.

Dear heavenly Father, thank You for filling me with excitement and courage as the doctor’s appointment approaches.  I’m ready for the next phase.  I pray that You would guide the conversation tomorrow, and guide the doctor to establish the proper treatment plan for me.  If there is anyone else who is approaching a long awaited goal today, and is nervous about the next steps, I pray that they would seek You and know that You are with them.  Amen.

Day 34 – Wednesday (9/26/18)

Health update:  I didn’t feel very well today.  I think it was the flu shot I got yesterday.  The doctor had told me I needed to get a flu shot prior to starting the chemo, because chemo lowers your immune system, and you don’t want to risk getting the flu while on chemo.  Other than that, Still Trucking.  Still Waiting.

Thought of the day:  On Sunday, our pastor asked if I could lead the Wednesday Night service, as he would be out of town.  I was glad to do it and was thankful for the opportunity to share my testimony and share a Bible lesson that God had laid on my heart.  God helped me through the 1 hour service without coughing much, and I felt okay during that hour.  I had prayed and asked God for strength prior, knowing I wasn’t feeling well.  After the service, it hit me…  It was clear God helped me in the little things, so how much more will he help me in the big things?  I’m cutting this short today, because I’m very tired and need to get to bed.

Dear heavenly Father, thank You for helping me make it through the day.  I was feeling pretty rough.  Thank You for giving me the strength to make it through the service tonight.  Thank You for allowing me the opportunity to share my testimony and heart with others.  I pray for a good night’s rest tonight, as I am exhausted.  Thank You Lord, amen.

Day 33 – Tuesday (9/25/18)

Health update:  Still Trucking.  Still Waiting (now on the treatment plan).  The oncologist called today and setup the appointment to discuss my treatment plan.  That appointment is around lunchtime on Friday.  That was the soonest they could get me in.  They said they would call me if there were any cancellations prior to Friday.  I must say, God did answer my prayer from last night’s post.  I asked for the appointment to be before the weekend, and that is what has worked out.  I guess I was secretly hoping for something sooner… like today or tomorrow… but honestly, what’s a few more days at this point.

Thought of the day:  Patience

I found it fitting today to talk about patience.  I knew at the beginning of this process not to pray for patience.  I have always been told if you pray for patience, then God will teach you patience.  Whether that is accurate or not, I didn’t want to test the theory.  Lucky for me, praying for it or not… I have been given the opportunity to learn and display patience.  This got me thinking about a bible story I remembered from some time back.  Genesis 29:18 “Now Jacob loved Rachel; so he said, “I will serve you seven years for Rachel your younger daughter.””  Genesis 29:20 “So Jacob served seven years for Rachel, and they seemed only a few days to him because of the love he had for her.”  If you will remember, the big wedding day comes, and Genesis 29:25 ”So it came to pass in the morning, that behold, it was Leah”.  That’s right… 7 years laboring, and Jacob did not receive what he was promised.  He got the older sister instead.  So what happened next?  Genesis 29:27-28 “Fulfill her week, and we will give you this one also for the service which you will serve with me still another seven years.  Then Jacob did so and fulfilled her week.  So he gave him his daughter Rachel as wife also.”

That’s right.  First off, Jacob waited patiently, laboring, for 7 years to gain Rachel as his wife.  Then, because of the trickery of Laban, he had to serve ANOTHER 7 years to gain Rachel as his wife.  Now that… is patience.  How easy is it for some of us to give up hope after a day, after a week, after a month… But 7 years?  And then, have it all ripped away and have to wait another 7 years?  Yeah, this put it in perspective for me.  Patience is relative, and in the course of a lifetime, what is waiting another couple of days to hear my treatment plan.

Dear heavenly Father, thank You for answering my prayer yesterday.  I asked that You would help me get an appointment before the weekend, and You helped me do just that.  Thank You for reminding me that patience is all about perspective.  In the course of life, what is another couple of days?  In the course of eternity, what is this life?  Meaning, I’m so thankful that I know You as my personal savior that I may spend eternity with You, as opposed to eternity in hell.  I pray that everyone reading this prayer today can say the same thing.  If they cannot claim You as their personal savior, please prick their hearts that they may seek to know You personally today.  I continue to thank You for all that You do for me every day, and I look forward to seeing what treatment plan You have in store for me on Friday.  Amen.

Day 32 – Monday (9/24/18)

Health Update:  That’s right fellow blog readers, we have a positive ID on Blobby!  I got a phone call around 4:00pm today from the doctor letting me know that the final results are in from Stanford.  I have (confirmed) malignant Non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma Large B Cell.  This is treatable at our local facilities.  It is my understanding I will not have to go to any major universities.  The doctor that called me was the surgeon.  He asked me to save all my detailed questions for the medical oncologist.  I should receive a call from them tomorrow to setup the appointment to discuss the treatment plan.  With that said, this is really all I know at this point.  One day soon, I should be able to provide more info on what treatment will actually look like.

Thought for the day:  I do not have a thought for the day, because I spent quite some time making the Blobby ID card.  For the sake of time, I will skip this section today.

Dear heavenly Father, THANK YOU for providing me the final results today.  I’m ready to get treatment started and move on with life and what You have in store for me next.  I realize I still have a long road ahead, but I’m ready to take the first step of the treatment process.  I pray that You will allow me to get into the oncologist office this week for sure, so I can know what the next months will look like.  I have all the confidence in the world that You will work through the doctors and everything will be okay.  Thank You again for the overwhelming peace you continue to give me.  Amen.

Day 31 – Sunday (9/23/18)

Technical Note:  It has been brought to my attention by several smart phone users that it appears the blog does not update.  In all cases, the user had left the window open, and would just click refresh the next day to see if a new blog had posted.  The page would refresh, but not show the new blog posts.  To correct this, we have added a button at the very top of the page that says “View Most Recent Post”.  Please utilize this button to refresh (instead of the normal browser refresh button).  This will guarantee that you are seeing the latest posts.  Up to this point, God has been very good to me, and I have not missed posting a single day (although some days may be after 8:00pm).  If you are still seeing a post from early September, please use the new button to refresh.

Health Update:  Still Trucking.  Still Waiting.

Thought of the day:  It is not how you start, it is how you finish.

Our Sunday School class today covered 1 Samuel 9 and 10.  (Note, as I prepare to teach the class each Sunday, I typically use teachings from Skip Heitzig to help me draw conclusions.  Most of the points I’m discussing today are from the sermon he gave on these chapters back on 5/8/2002).  In these two chapters, God selects Saul to be the King over Israel, and he has Samuel anoint him and establish him as King before the Israeli people.  King Saul starts his Kingship very well.  He has multiple natural advantages and is given multiple spiritual advantages.  The natural advantages King Saul had include:

  • His heritage – Chapter 9, Verse 1 tells us that Saul came from a prominent family among the Benjamites.
  • Physical Stature – Chapter 9, Verse 2 tells us Saul was a “choice and handsome son”, and that “from his shoulders upward he was taller than any of the people.”
  • He showed he was submissive to authority, even as an adult, by obeying his father in the command to look for the lost goats. He was able to work with others, as he took a servant to help him.  He was sensitive and compassionate, which was shown by his concern for his father’s feelings in Verse 5.  “Come, let us return, lest my father cease caring about the donkeys and become worried about us.”
  • He was humble. In verse 21, he says to Samuel (paraphrased), “Why would God choose me?  My family is the least in the tribe of Benjamin” even though verse 1 made it clear his family had prominence.

The supernatural advantages Saul receives are:

  • Chapter 10, Verse 6 – The Holy Spirit indwells within Saul.
  • Chapter 10, Verse 7 – It is promised that God will be with Saul.
  • Chapter 10, Verse 9 – Saul is given a new heart
  • Chapter 10, Verse 26 – God gives Saul a team of valiant men.
  • So in summary, Saul received God’s presence, power, and people.

Reading through these lists, it is easy to see that Saul had everything he needed to be successful in his upcoming role as king.  However, to the point of my title for the thought for the day… it is not how you start, it is how you finish.  For Saul, he did not finish well.  What happened?

  • In Chapter 13, Saul shows his arrogance
  • In Chapter 14, Saul shows his indifference
  • In Chapter 15, Saul shows his disobedience
  • In Chapter 18, Saul shows his jealousy
  • Finally, in Chapter 28, Saul really screws up by seeking a medium to tell him what is going on instead of seeking God.

As you can see, Saul did not end well.  Let’s look briefly at Billy Graham?  Did he finish well?  Considering he continued his ministry and was telling others about Christ all the way to the point of death, I would say, “Yes”, he finished well.  He was fulfilling the great commission (Matthew 28:16-20) to the very end.  Where are you with your walk in Christ?  Are you giving God 100%?  Don’t live with regrets from the past.  God forgives and forgets.  (Isaiah 43:25 “I, even I, am He who blots out your transgressions for My own sake; And I will not remember your sins.”).  We all start from different places.  It doesn’t matter how you start… It matters how you finish.

Dear heavenly Father, I thank You for reminding me today that the sins of my past should not define my future.  If we repent, You are faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and cleanse us from all unrighteousness.  We all start at different places.  Some of us were saved at a very young age, as our parents took us to Church starting 9 months before we were born.  Others of us may not have come to realize our need for Jesus’ redemptive blood until middle age.  Regardless, it is not how we started, it is how we finish.  I pray that You would help us to lead a life that fulfills the great commission to the point of death.  Help us to finish well.  Amen.