September 30, 2008

baby in red

when you have a snazzy red outfit you should be on a snazzy red couch. and here he is... looking so cute and so happy. he's been called 'bubba chunk' lately, and at 17.5 pounds, has earned the name. we are in love with our son and have so much fun as a family of four.

working on thankfulness

we have a new chart starting at our house. it is the thankfulness chart, for abbie. we are working on her attitude and for some reason the chart really works. so this morning when she and dad went to get doughnuts (on tuesday? why not!) she came home and told me she had a good attitude about the ones she selected and was not greedy for more, then asked me to put her happy face on the chart. i did and she was pleased. as we were all enjoying our breakfast james told me sometimes i was smelly when i stayed in my pjs all day (yesterday) and abbie immediately said, "i think dad needs his own chart. that was not very nice." we all laughed and i thought seriously about making daddy his own chart... she is a smart girl. we are so thankful to be able to have mornings together, eating doughnuts, learning life lessons and laughing together. we have so much to be thankful for.

September 26, 2008

I had several follow-up appointments along with a PET and MRI scan this week. While driving to the cancer center on a sunny Thursday morning, I felt a little nervous. My concern was NOT due to the crazy drivers zooming by, but because of the results from my recent scans. After playing the waiting game and patient room shuffle, the doctor entered the room. He gently placed his hand on my shoulder and asked, "Is anyone here with you today?" Immediately I thought to myself, "Oh no, he has some really bad news and I need someone here for support." Why did his question fill me with fear? First, the doctor has never placed his hand on my shoulder and second, I am almost always alone. The PET scan shows cancerous activity in my entire body and the MRI was of my head. I have not had any scans of my head and was concerned there might be some new developments in my head or worse brain. By the grace of God, the results: no new areas or major changes. We also decided to postpone chemotherapy.

September 15, 2008

We love the circus-words from dad and abbie

The circus was in town. Did you make it to The Greatest Show on Earth? It is so much fun! I never had the privilege of attending the circus when I was young. Three years ago a friend bought Me, Sarah and Abbie tickets for the opening night at Ringling Brother and Barnum and Bailey Circus. It was not my idea, I didn't have any expectations and frankly, I was going for the sake of Abbie. But one thing was certain, I loved the circus! Furthermore, my love for the circus was not simply a one night stand, but rather was the beginning of a long loving relationship. After this pleasure filled night, I knew I would attempt to go the following year, and we did. I also knew I wanted to attend the circus this year (and had plans to do so). Honestly, I feel a little embarrassed of my enjoyment for the circus. Perhaps, it is because the circus seems only for children; or maybe it's that clowns are not very sophisticated.

I don’t favor any one aspect of the circus but what makes the circus special is sum of its parts. Lets be honest, clowns alone are a little creepy; animals can be seen at a zoo; and Cirque Du Soleil has more amazing acrobats. The circus’ appeal is its many unique performances working together to create a sensory experience that makes me feel, “Wow.” And “look at that,” and “this is fun.” Mostly, I love to feel like a kid, forgetting for a moment what it means to have responsibilities, commitments, and worries. I also love to experience the circus through the eyes of my daughter. It is fun to observe Abbie as she experiences the awe and wonder of the circus. Let me allow you to experience the circus in Abbie's words:

I went to the circus with my friends, Maddie, Jack, Kate and mommy. I ate a snow cone, popcorn and pop. I saw elephants, tigers and dogs. The master slapped a stick and the tigers jumped down from the stools. The elephants marched in circles and circus ladies rode on them. Bello was a craaazzy clown. Then he rode a bicycle, just kidding. Then circus was called "Bellobration." He like a girl in the circus and gave her flowers. He did lots of fun and crazy things. I love the circus. The circus was fun. I want to go to the circus next year.

September 13, 2008

"...and he was limping because of his hip." Gen 32:31

This summer was an enjoyable summer excluding one continuous problem: I had royal pain in the acetabulum (ass-e-tab-u-lem). For all you human anatomy buffs, you know this refers to the cup-shaped socket of the hipbone, into which the head of the thighbone fits. The cancer in my left hip and sacrum has been problematic for more than 3 years and this problem has been especially evident these last five months. I have had my “normal” bone pain but recently I have been experiencing a “new” and excruciating nerve pain. The only relief from this nerve pain, outside of more drugs, is radiation. However, I have already received my limit of radiation treatment in this area. Therefire, my only option is Cyberknife radiosurgery. This is an advanced technology which delivers radiation in very precise beams of radiation.

I finally received this treatment a few weeks ago. Following my final treatment, I became unable to stand or bear any weight on my left leg. If I place even slightest pressure on my leg, there is an immediate and severe pain in my hip joint (groin area). I have inquired about a hip replacement and others have asked me about it as well. A hip replacement, common among senior citizens and athletes, would be the surest solution and fastest way to fix my hip pain. However, in my circumstance a hip replacement is not an option because there is no healthy bone to attach the false hip to. My only option is time. As the cancerous bone dies, the normal bone will repair and heal itself. This is why I have to stay off of it and this means crutches for at least two months. The orthopaedic oncologist has also recommended resuming Zometa, a monthly bone treatment which helps strengthen the bone (I received Zometa from 2005-2007).
So far, the Cyberknife radation treatment has helped lessen my nerve pain. Amen! With one problem solved, another danger is increased. My most recent conversation with the othropaedic oncologist revealed the importance of protecting my hip joint. The peril of my current situation is the risk of fracturing my hip. If I fracture this bone I will be in serious trouble! As I shared above, a fracture would be impossible to repair (hip replacement) due to the cancerous and damaged hip bone; furthermore this would cause tremendous pain and disability. The good news: As long as I walk with crutches and keep from bearing weight on my left leg, I should be okay. Ultimately, this means I will need assistance with even simple activities. My disability places a greater burden on Sarah, please pray for her.

September 11, 2008

a word from chinchilla

This is my chinchilla, Chin-chee. Chin-chee looks like a fuzzy little rabbit. His color looks like gray and black and his belly is white. He puffs in and out (breathing). And he eats one raisin every day, [along with hay and other food]. He lives in a cage and he hops around in it. Chin-chee has a wheel and he hops around in it because he needs exercise and practice. He has a large plastic ball we put him in and he rolls around in the basement. He has little feet but he jumps really far and high. Sometimes I grab his tail and pet him (when she is able to catch this chinchilla). I pet Chin-chee when he lays down and he is really soft, but sometime he bites me. One time he bit me on my arm and I cried. I love Chin-chee because he is my pet.

September 4, 2008

"blessed by misfortune"

While enjoying an evening of watching the Republican National Convention (yeah, really exciting night), I was struck by a comment from presidential candidate, Senator John McCain. He said he was "blessed by misfortune" as he referred to the five and a half years he spent as a prisoner of war in Vietnam. John McCain was hitting on a profound truth which really resonated in my heart. Often times when people refer to the idea of "blessing" you often hear about having good health, an increase in material wealth, or the perfect job. Indeed, all of these things are a blessing. However, poor health, a desperate need for more money and inability to work may equally be a blessing from God. They are not a blessing because they make our lives easier rather they are a blessing because they make us more attentive to see God at work in and around us.

My battle with cancer is not a mystery with most who know me. My cancer is currently in parts of my spin, sacrum, hip, and head. The cancer in my sacrum and hip is eating away at my bones and is also interfering with the nerves in this area-this can be extremely painful. Because of this pain, I have had to visit the ER on three separate occasions since April, most recently last Friday. Now on crutches, I am even more needy. Yet, I have been "blessed by misfortune." Sarah and I have been on the receiving end of God's grace. Many friends from church and in our neighborhood have mowed our yard, provided meals, cared for Abbie, and even given us some finacial assistance. Whats more, we never had to ask for help. We experienced the very best of living in community with others. In spite of misfortune, we have been blessed. Thank you to everyone who has been a blessing to us this summer.

summer time

summer time
(click on image)


click on image for hawaii pics