Saturday, July 29, 2017

Thy Will Be Done





Thy Will Be Done?  What does that mean?  What does it mean to you?  I'm not really sure anymore. I would like to say that my faith is always strong and that I always lean on that everlasting love, but that is not true.  I'm distracted A LOT!  Like this song says, "Sometimes I gotta stop and remember that you are God and I am not."

Over the last 4 months, I've felt a fog over me.  A deep, sorrowing, drowning feeling.  I put a smile on my face when I'm around others, and I continue to be the "keeper" of my family, but I feel like I am daily pulling myself out of a rut.  Sometimes I shout at God and ask him Why?  Sometimes I cry at the drop of a hat and wonder if God is even there anymore.  I wonder if he is listening or if all of the demons from my past prevent him from being able to hear me.

Then......

I sing, I play the piano, I listen to music.....and I am reminded that he loves me and that his sorrows are deeper than mine could ever be.  Music is my sanctuary.  It's my place to connect.  It's where I find God when I can't seem to find him otherwise.  I've heard people say that it's just "emotions" when you get all "wishy washy" over a song.  I disagree with that on the greatest level of levels.  Maybe for some people it is.  For me, and for many other "musicians" or people who connect to "music" would argue with me on that.   When I hear or sing a song about how much Jesus loves me, I feel that love.  I cry through the words sometimes and beg God to help me feel it in a new way.  Music is something that makes my heart beat.  Jerry is the same way.  I believe this is one of the ways that originally connected us.

About that.....

Jerry can't play very well anymore.  The numbness in his left hand has gotten to the point that he can't feel the strings on the guitar well enough to play the right chords.  Jerry has been playing the guitar for almost 50 years!  This has been very hard on him.  This is only one area in his life that has been affected.  I can't begin to completely understand how he feels, but I can try.  I can't imagine if I were to loose the ability to play the piano.  I find so much solace in playing.  It brings me a peace.  Jerry used to just go into another room and play and play for hours.  He loved to play and sing.  On top of not being able to play the same, he also can't sing the same.  His words don't come out when or how he wants them to all the time.  It can be very frustrating for him.  He struggles at times just to say the most simple words.  His brain will not let them come out how he wants them to.
This has broken my heart.  I feel so bad for him.  I can see the hurt and pain in his eyes, not just the physical pain, but the mental and emotional pain.  That fear that he will never be the same again.  He is so tired after working all day.

*******

If you've been following our story, or if you read my bio, then you know that I was a stay at home mom for many years.  2 years ago I went back to work.  I loved my job.  I was a preschool teaching assistant and I loved my job to the point that it was hard when the kids would leave for the summer.  I just wanted to bring them all home with me!  But.....the pay was not great.  It was an "affordable" tuition based preschool program, which means....the teachers don't get paid a lot.  (Sorry if this offends anyone)   I don't think it's a big secret that teachers on most levels, don't get paid what they deserve!!!  Anyway, because of Jerry's condition seeming to deteriorate, I started looking for another job last May.   I was looking for more $ so Jerry could work less, and I was also looking for Full Benefits.  The first job didn't pan out, so I applied for another, then another, then another.  It's easy now, cause you can do it all online through hiring sites.  I mostly used indeed.com.  That is the same site that we use for our business to hire mechanics so it was familiar to me.  After applying for near 45 jobs, being called for 5 of them, one I turned down over the phone, 4 I interviewed, 1 was a scam (insurance agency trying to recruit people to open a business), 2 I was not offered the job and 1 offer finally came in.  This offer was not EXACTLY what I was looking for, but it was better money than I was making and it was full time, year round so I would be more $.  I verbally accepted the offer, but was not starting for 2 weeks due to my vacation and unavailability before then.   Our vacation was at our Church Campground called Covenant Hills.  That week, I will just say, was a very tough week for Jerry and myself.  Jerry was on chemotherapy a good part of the week, and our vacation was just "different" this year.  I felt lost, alone, and afraid much of the time I was there.  I would take my dog for a walk and I would wonder how other peoples lives were.  I wondered if other people were carrying around the heavy load and burden that I was.  So, I started praying for people as I saw them, as I was walking.  I would pray for God to give them guidance in their decisions, faith when their faith seemed weak, and friends when they needed friends.  I prayed for them~what I needed for myself.  I was not feeling "good" about my job that I was going to start.  It was not a 9-5 day job, I could work some evening and I was very likely going to work many Saturdays.  This would put more pressure on Jerry and his responsibilities at home.  This was not what I was trying to do for our family, or for Jerry.  I was trying to find something that would "help" us, "help" him.  By the end of our camping trip, that unsettling feeling in my stomach regarding my new job turned into a decision that  I was going to decline the offer as soon as I got home.  So I did.  I sent an email, 4 days before I was supposed to start and told them that I was sorry, but I realized the job wasn't the right fit for myself or my family.  I explained Jerry's condition and told them I was worried I was going to burden him too much with the hours I would be working.  Instantly, I felt better.  I still had a job.  I still had a good job, a job that I loved and a job that allowed me to be there for my kids before and after school and also offered all the same days off that they had.  God must want me to keep this job. Then the next day happened.  I received a phone call from a job that I had applied for over a month before.  They wanted to meet me the very next morning at 8:30 am.  My daughter was having oral surgery that day at 9:40 am and I had to think fast.  I figured out a way to make it work as long as I was out of there by 9:00.  I told them this.  I figured at this point, what do I have to loose, right?  I probably wouldn't get it anyway....I hadn't gotten the other jobs.....my competition is 20 years younger than me, I was loosing confidence.  I went to the interview at 8:30 (I was actually there before the employer who was interviewing me...haha)   I told them, I'm older than my competition (I assumed) but I had experience, experience working with people, experience working with kids, I didn't just graduate from college, but I had experience in the real world.  I left by 9:00 am.  I didn't care at this point, I needed to get to my daughter.  Her surgery was over by 10:30.  My daughter's boyfriend brought her home, while I went to the store to get her some food and her prescriptions.   As I pulled in the Meijer parking lot around 10:45, only a couple hours after my interview, I received a phone call with an offer for the job I had interviewed for that very morning.  They wanted me!  I was stoked and almost shocked!  My new boss, the one who called me was so surprised at my response, that she thought I had accepted an offer to another job and that I didn't want it!  I was almost speechless!!  haha!   That's when I told her that I was very grateful and I was thankful for the opportunity.  Her words to me were "I just prayed that we would find the right person, and we believe you are her".    My confirmation that God had not forgotten about me.  My confirmation that he was still listening and that he was still looking out for me.  That unsettling feeling that I had with the other job was God telling me to be patient and to wait.  Once I listened, he moved.

When I'm in doubt, I listen to music.  This song below touched me after I received the job offer.  I cried in the parking lot of Meijer.  You are enough for me God.  I don't think that God is angry that I questioned him.  I think he expects that.  He just wants us to come back, like Kari says in this video, he wants us to lean in to him - he wants us to surrender - he wants our hearts.  When I surrendered my own will, when I could tell that what I was doing on my own did not feel good, I gave it up....I walked away and just prayed that God would provide for Jerry and I, and He did!


 My new job is a secretary at an elementary school with full benefits.  I'm so grateful and so thankful!









Saturday, May 6, 2017

WHO HOLDS YOUR TOMORROW?




I have had a lot of emotions going through me lately and the best way for me to deal with them is to write.  For some reason, it helps me to feel better when I talk about what is going on.  I don't have time to talk to a therapist or burden all my friends and family with conversations, so I write.... This way, people can listen if they want to, they are not forced to put on a smile and listen to me go on and on about my life while they are struggling with their own demons.  

So, if you have been following our story, you know that Jerry has been having several MRI's over the last year because the Dr's were seeing some changes.  There was no way to know what exactly was happening, so having MRI's often was the best option to figure it out.  Was it swelling?  Was it effects from radiation?  Was it good brain cells that were affected by the treatment?  What was going on?

At his last appointment, we received information to better explain what was happening because the MRI scans had become more clear.  The news was not good.  We were devastated to find out that what was happening was that he was developing new tumors.  In a new area.  They originate from the original area, but they are growing in a different location.  This explained a lot.  This explained why Jerry was having more issues of weakness and why he was so tired all the time.  Originally Jerry's tumor was labeled as a Grade 2 Astrocytoma, which means it was considered low grade, and slow growing.  Now, they have changed his diagnosis to a Grade 3, which means it is considered High Grade and becoming more aggressive.  Grade 4 is the highest grade.  

We have been so devastated by this news that we have not really shared with many people unless they came right out and asked or if we knew that they really cared to know.  


Jerry has been feeling better since they gave him some medication for the swelling, but it is a medication he cannot be on long-term.  He had a brain tumor re-section to remove as much tumor as possible (brain surgery), he had 6 weeks of radiation, and he had been receiving Chemotherapy treatments from December 2015 - January 2017.   So, for the last 3 months he has been treatment free, thankful that he was through all of that and hoping and praying that everything he had been through was "working".


He had an appointment this week with his new Oncologist.  After the tumor board met and discussed his treatment options, the best and only option for him right now is to go back on the chemotherapy. Radiation may be be an option, but they have to do more research to find out if the area the new tumors are in, were at all affected by the original radiation because you can only have that done one time to any given area of the body.  

Jerry's quality of life is pretty good right now.  The only change is that we are aware of his condition. We are aware that it is getting worse and not better.  He still functions normal and is able to work and do all the things that he did before.  But, knowledge is powerful.  It changes us.  It changes the way we think and the way we act.  For me, I have been angry, sad, hurt, depressed...really all of the normal feelings of grief.  Sometimes I don't know how to stop feeling this way.  I have kids that are watching me.  Kids that are following my lead.  If I'm good, they are good.  If I'm sad, they are sad. If I'm worried, they are worried.  I have to hide a lot of feelings.  I have to pretend a lot.  I have to put on this bubble wrap around my heart because it is seriously breaking every minute of every day. One question that I have asked God is, why?  Why has the last 20 years of my life been so hard? That is kinda hard for me to say because I know there are people that have had it much worse than me. (But this is my blog so I'm going to be selfish and talk about myself) There were a lot of good times in there, but in the last 20 years, I married a man because I was pregnant with his child.  I didn't know him, I was scared, so I married him.  We proceeded to have 2 other children and remained married for the next 11.5 years before the divorce happened.  I will not publicly bash my ex-husband because he is the father of my 3 daughters, but I will say that I was very un-happy many of those years that I was married. I'm not saying there weren't any good times, but it just wasn't a good fit, we should not have been together.  What did make me happy during my marriage and what did make me thrive and keep going, were my children.  I am always thankful for them and I always will be.  Then I married Jerry. Honestly, for the first time, I felt a love I had never felt before.  It's difficult to explain, but Jerry and I had a connection that was bigger than words.  It was what people consider a "sole connection".  That statement "soulmate" has been so over used that I think it has lost it's true value, but that is what I felt with Jerry.  We were one.  I was happy.  We were happy.  My girls LOVED Jerry and were very comfortable around him.  Shortly after our marriage (literally weeks) we found out we were expecting our little boy.  One day shy of our 9 month anniversary, we welcomed him into our family (he was a few weeks early just in case you are doing the math).  When Brayden was only 11 months old, we found out Jerry had the Brain tumor.  I can't say that I haven't had "happy moments" over the last 6 years, but there is always that dark cloud looming in the air.  That silent whisper saying "brain cancer".  I can never get it out of my mind.  I feel sometimes like I will never have a normal life.  I see people that seem to have everything together and it seems as though everything is good for them and I just think and wonder what it would be like if it could be like that for me, for us.  If I could wake up everyday and just be happy. Have no worries and no pains in my heart.  My girls have been through the experience of having a broken family then having a stepfather that is sick.  Our son will never remember a time when his Daddy wasn't sick.  Then it hits me........  It's not suppose to be like that yet, we are not suppose to live free of pain and sickness yet. We still live here, in the flesh and on the earth.  We don't get to have that freedom.  Just like most people don't know my daily struggles, the very same people I look at and "want their life", have struggles that I know nothing about. Struggles that I wouldn't want to bear.  This life here isn't suppose to be easy.  It's suppose to be hard. We are going to have worries and we are going to have struggles, it's just part of life.   This week I found out that someone I care about deeply has passed away, way too young.  Someone that held an important part in my life when I was a teenager whom I had reconnected with a few years ago. Someone that was encouraging and full of joy.  He's gone.  He's not here anymore.  It makes me angry and it makes me sad.  In my grief, I have to remember that he is happy now.  He gets that life that I want so badly.  He is free of pain, free of worry, he is happy.  He get's to have what he has longed for all of his life.  He is with his family that has passed on, with his friends that left the earth too early.  He is there, where I long to be someday.  Then I think of his children, and his wife.  They are sad, they are grieving, they are still here. Ironically, his son is one of my daughter's very good friends so she is with him today.  She is standing beside him and helping him keep his chin up, holding him and comforting him as he grieves.  His son is young, barely a man.  He has already lost his father.  My friend who passed, his daughter's are also just young women, he will not be in a lot of their new beginnings. When I bring all of this into perspective, I realize that pain has a way of guiding us.  Keeping our eyes and our ears focused on what matters.  My life is not great, it is not easy and my husband is sick, yes....but he is still here.  He hasn't left.  He put a bracelet on my daughters wrist last night before her senior prom..  He wanted her to know that she was special to him. That was a moment that he DID give to her, a moment they shared together, a moment that I need to remember.  There may be a future that I don't want to think about, but I need to think about today and make the best of every single moment and opportunity.  I need to live, as does my husband.  No matter what the future holds, today is good and I know that the future is something greater than I can even fathom because mine and my husbands ultimate future is with Jesus.  We will be with my dear friend, with my grandparents, family members, with everyone that will go before we do.  My future is bright and so is my husbands.  💕



These Pictures reflect the stories I shared:


Our Wedding
Our Sons Birth

My husband's relationship with my "his" daughters
I purposely picked pictures that were "real life" pics and not professional ones that were "posed".



My daughter's senior Prom

Her bracelet from Jerry




Matthew 6:34

"So don't worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will bring its own worries.  Today's trouble is enough for today."

James 4:14

"How do you know what your life will be like tomorrow?  Your life is like the morning fog - It's here a little while, then it's gone."


Sunday, December 11, 2016

HOPE


Hope....What is it?  Where does it come from?  How do we keep it once it is found?

This is something that I have been thinking about for awhile.  Why do we have hope in times when it seems there is no possible way of finding it?  Where do we get it from and how do we sustain those feelings of hope and peace?  

Jerry and I have not been publicizing some things that have been going on.  We have had several different reasons why we hadn't posted about it on the blog or on facebook, nonetheless, I am going to update you today..

Back in April 2016, Jerry had an MRI that showed very little tumor still in his scans.  You could barely see it.  In July 2016, he had another scan that showed some changes.  The changes made the area of the tumor more visible and concerned the Dr's.  (We were still somewhat in the dark at this point) The Dr. scheduled another MRI, which happened to be on the first day of school.  (Last year on the first day of school, Jerry went to the emergency room with symptoms which inevitably led to him having a severe infection...bad memory for us!) Anyway, this scan, in September, showed even more concern to the Doctor.  Jerry went to his appointment to discuss the results with his Dr. and was devastated at the news.  I was not able to be with him at this appointment, but his Mom was there with him.  The Dr. left him with little to no hope for anything good to happen.  He told him that surgery would no longer be an option for him,"if" this was tumor cells, there was not much more they could do other than continuing Chemotherapy as scheduled.  It "could" be good brain cells that were killed during radiation, but there is no way to know.  In my opinion, this Dr. needs to take some classes on "having a good bedside manner".  He left Jerry devastated, to the point that he wanted to make sure his affairs were in order.  It was tough for me to watch day in and day out and really not be able to talk about the situation to anyone because Jerry wanted privacy. He didn't want anyone to know the vast details and reality of the situation, which was grim.  He has appreciated the prayers along the way and all the support that we have gotten, but it also can be overwhelming, especially for a man.  When you have to rely on other people to care for your family it takes a toll on a man's spirit.  I think that is where Jerry was.  He wanted to care for his family and he didn't want anyone to think that he couldn't or wasn't able to.  I don't know about anyone elses husbands, but mine doesn't like people to know that he is "unable" to do something even if he shouldn't do it or simply can't do it.  This is more than a humility thing, it's more of an  "inner spirit" thing.   If he gave into his physical and mental challenges, then he felt as if he was giving up. Anyway, the Dr. upped Jerry's chemotherapy dosage and told him that they wanted him to have another MRI in November.  Jerry was given a new nausea pill and seemed to tolerate the higher dosage of chemotherapy a lot better than he had been, which was a concern for me and an answer to prayer.  
Jerry had his MRI this last Thursday.  I went with him to this appointment and prayed and prayed while he was in there asking God to give him a reason to keep fighting.  I could tell that Jerry was loosing some of his stamina to want to keep fighting.  
We sat in the patient room after his MRI waiting to see the Dr. to get the results and I think Jerry said to me several times "I feel like I'm going to throw up" because he was so nervous.
The Dr. he was seeing this time was not his normal Doctor, because he was out of town.  We had seen this Doctor before, but he was not Jerry's regular oncologist.  He came in with a "bright spirit" and a very positive attitude.  He showed Jerry and I the new scan which didn't look much different from the last one, in fact, the tumor area appeared slightly larger in size.  He was honest and said it did appear slightly larger, but he also said this....

  • I don't think it's tumor
  • I think its bruising from radiation
  • It still appears to be a low grade
  • If it was high grade, we would see other changes
  • Surgery is just as much of a risk as it was the first time you had it, definitely not out of the question.
  • If things get worse, there are always options
  • prognoses looks positive
  • Cancer research is continuously coming up with new ways to treat brain tumors
  • At Cancer Moonshot Summit, Vice President Biden announced new actions to accelerate progress toward ending cancer as we know it.

(Below is a link to that article, if you are interested)
Cancer Moonshot Summit Article


Ultimately, the results from the MRI were no different than they were before, in fact, they appeared worse.   What was different was attitude and hope.  This Doctor had a positive attitude.  Instead of pointing out what was no longer an option, he gave Jerry hope by telling him about several options if things were to progress.  He also made it clear that in his experience, and by what he was seeing, he did not believe this was tumor, he believes it is bruising from radiation.  Jerry and I both left this appointment feeling hopeful and happy.  

Why?  We were given hope, that's why.  I never really understood how someone else could shed a person on their hope, but it happened.  I would never have realized it was this particular Doctor's attitude had we not spoken to a different Dr.  It was so easy for him to steal Jerry's hope.  Makes me realize that in all aspects of our lives, we have great power over other people.  As a parent, we have a power over our children that is quite scary actually.  We have the power to help them become successful, well balanced, highly motivated individuals, or unsuccessful, improperly balanced, low self esteemed individuals who crumble in the midst of lives challenges.  So scary.....

I believe my attitude in the midst of my husband's battle could really impact him as well.   I look outside right now at the snow falling on the ground and I'm watching my husband, who is fighting brain cancer, facing challenges that most of us wouldn't be able to bear, is hard at work on a Sunday afternoon...because he has hope.  He has hope for tomorrow, he has a family that he loves and he wants to provide for.  I thank God for instilling this hope into the Doctor, and passing it on to us, because I believe that is where our hope ultimately comes from, God.  Today, that hope from God gives Jerry hope, which gives me hope........  



Listen to this song:


Thursday, June 16, 2016

It's Been a Long Year!

On April 22, 2016, Jerry had what we hope was his final surgery.  His surgery was successful in implanting his new prosthetic bone in his skull where his infected bone had to be removed.   This surgery went very well, and when Jerry left the hospital, he left with a new, nice looking skull again!  He no longer has to wear any protection on his skull to protect his brain.  This was very liberating for him.  It's obviously been a couple of months since that surgery (I apologize for not updating sooner) but we have been trying to live our life as normal as possible, at least our new normal :-) 

Jerry is still being treated with Chemotherapy one week out of every month.  Basically, Monday through Friday, every 4 weeks.  This is tough on him physically, but he still manages to function on most days like every other day.  He is a man that keeps working through his nausea and headaches,  because  he knows that he has to.  Jerry is self-employed and he does not have the luxury of going on disability  (no disrespect meant on this comment, but when you are sick, it's a nice thing to fall back on).  Maybe "luxury" isn't the right word, but please know that my intentions are just saying that people who are able to do this, I'm sure are very thankful to be able to spend their time focusing on their healing and not worrying about money.  Jerry continues to work to provide an income for our family.  To date, we have not been behind on any of our obligations financially.  This is largely due to the help we have received in addition to Jerry's continuous efforts to keep his business operating while he has been healing.   

Anyway, hopefully I came away from that comment with everyone completely understanding what I meant!!


Our kids have been champs through this.  The children that we have living in our home, who have been enduring this battle right along side of us, have all had very successful years at school.  I thank God for that, because I'm certain that I wasn't always as attentive as they needed me to be!  Our oldest daughter finished her Junior year in high school.  Our second daughter finished her freshman year in high school.  Our youngest daughter finished 5th grade.  Our son, had a very successful finish of Kindergarten.  
It was a year of a lot of changes in our home between Jerry's battle and me going back to work full time for the first time in 17 years.  Our kids and our family could not and would not have been as successful as we have been if we didn't have our community, our church families, and our families surrounding us with such an outpouring of love.  Things came at unexpected times, notes in the mail, flowers on our front porch, just gestures from people letting us know that they cared and they were thinking about us.  One organization that I would like to recognize is "Angels of Hope".  They are a wonderful non profit organization that helps families with cancer.  They helped us two different times over the last 5 years and they are also sending us to a Tigers game free of charge so that we can have a day to just "get away" from the cancer. If you are looking for an organization to donate to, please consider Angels of Hope.  We are evidence that they do what they say that they do and they do it with love and compassion!

 We were not able to thank each and every person, but we want you to know that we noticed and we continue to notice.  We are hopeful that our lives are beginning to get back to a more normal pace.  We have learned through our own experiences what people need as well.  If you are looking for a way to help a family who is battling something difficult.  Please feel free to contact me and I will let you know what we found most helpful.

Today, June 16, 2016 brings thankfulness in my heart.  My daughter is almost 18 and I remember it was at this time, 5 years ago that we first discovered Jerry's tumor and we spent her 13th birthday in a hospital waiting room waiting to find out the results of Jerry's biposy.  It's been a long year, it's been a long 5 years!!!!!!  We are thankful for every moment, every triumph, every discouragement, every battle, because we know that each moment has made us a little stronger and a little closer to understanding God's grace and love.  We are loved by so many and we are loved by our heavenly father and we are loved by each other.  What more could we really ask for?  Really?  We could have more things, complete health, more money...and the list goes on and on.  What we have is our very own perfect, not so perfect, life.  My husband often says to me that he feels bad that I married him and then have had to go through all of this.  It makes me almost angry when he says that because I wouldn't ask to be anywhere else.  I love him.  With love, comes no boundaries.  When you truly make a vow, and you are 100% certain that you are suppose to give your life to the person that you marry, you do it!  You do it with no hesitation.  

I will continue to update this blog as Jerry continues on this life long journey.  
Thank you for reading this and giving me an outlet to just "vent".  I'm no scholar, and certainly not an English major, so please forgive me for my typos and grammatical errors!!

-Lyn



This is Jerry before his surgery to put prosthetic bone in.  If you look closely, you can see indent on the right side of his skull next to his arm.



This is Jerry after surgery.



This is our two youngest with Jerry after he came home :) 



This is Jerry with our two oldest daughters in May as they are leaving for a banquet.

Next to preaching, this is Jerry's favorite thing to do, he is on guitar, and myself on keyboard, along with our worship team at church doing what we love, leading worship.



Wednesday, March 2, 2016

Everyday is a gift, a lesson and often a blessing....

I was a stay at home mom for 17 years, and this past fall, I started working "almost" full time.  I work about 32 hours a week and sometimes more if I'm needed.  For the last week, we have had 3 "snow-days" as well as two additional days off school for "Winter Break".  Because I work for the schools, I have received the same "snow-days" my children have.   I have quickly realized why kids are better off at school all day and not at home.  My two teenagers rarely leave their bedrooms and my two younger ones who "love" to play together cannot stop fighting.  I am thankful that God guided me to a wonderful job/career because I definitely believe that my time as being at home all day with children is over.....

Their is a purpose in me sharing that.  I will get to that later.


These last 6 months feel like a few years, not months to me.  It seems as though there has been so much change and so much going on in our lives, that if we blink, we might miss another day.  Today, I was thinking about the sermon I heard on Sunday by the Pastor from my childhood church that I visited this past weekend.  He was referring to his sermon topic, which was on forgiveness, but he mentioned "journal-ing" and how it can really help you heal and move forward when you journal.   I though to myself, "that's what my blog is for, to help me!"  Then I thought about how little I've written in it lately.  Life has fully consumed me to the point that I haven't been doing very many things very "normal" these days.  Even things that I shouldn't be putting off, like balancing our check-book or my husbands business "check-book".  

Today, I have decided to update the blog, but when I started, I had no idea what I was going to write about.  Did I want to write about how Jerry has been feeling very ill these last few days, he is loosing weight, not eating much, and fighting a "bug" that his body seems to be too weak to fight.  Or did I want to talk about how my husband, who is in the middle of the biggest physical battle he has ever been through, threw me a surprise birthday party over the weekend because he wanted me to feel "special" in the midst of our chaotic life. 

What I have decided to write about is simply how every day that we are given is truly a gift that should never be taken for granted.  The days that your kids won't stop fighting or your husband leaves his clothes on the floor for the 1028th time, or the dog hair is in your cereal, etc...etc... I'm sure you get the idea.  One thing that people have said to me over the last 6 months is how I have inspired them or how "I'm amazing", and I honestly don't get it.  If anyone was given the life that I have, so many would be doing the same thing I am doing and many would be doing so much more.  I've been given a "life" and I am dealing with the hand I have been dealt.  I have no choice but to move forward and live each day as God leads me to live it.  I believe that God has a hand on our situation and on our lives because we have invited him to be part of it.  He has not caused it, he cannot prevent it, but he is working in it and will work with us and the Dr's and we ask him constantly to help us get through each day.  We have seen God work many different ways over the last several months.  We have received a tremendous amount of financial help, we have received gifts of food and pantry items, we have received a free house cleaning, a tremendous amount of support through prayers, hugs and well wishes.  Satan has tried to work as well, he has tried to taunt me with the people who have shown little to no compassion for Jerry, myself or my family during our struggle, people who we thought cared more than they really do.  He has tried to get us to focus on those one or two relationships who have lacked empathy instead of focusing on the literally hundreds who have shown us so much more than we could have ever imagined.  In the end, I choose to see God and I choose to see the blessings and gifts and I try to pray for those who do not know the hurt they have caused.  Another gift/lesson I have received through this journey;  To pray for those who hurt me.  

"But I say to you, Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you."
Matthew 5:44

So, in the beginning of this blog, I was talking about my children and basically how they are driving me crazy being home so long.  At the same time, I know the two older ones will soon be gone and out of my home instead of just in their bedrooms and before long my 11 year old will be in her room all day instead of constantly asking me to "snuggle" with her after a long day when I want space to myself, and my 5 year old will soon NEVER ask to crawl into my bed again at 3 o'clock in the morning, and one day, my husband may not be around to leave his clothes lying on the floor anymore.  The truth of the matter is that these things still drive me crazy, but I really wouldn't want them to change.  Changing one thing about a person or situation can truly change who they are in so many different ways.  This situation that my husband is in and ultimately our family is in has been life changing.  Every day is still just another day, but I consciously try to be thankful for each moment, good and bad.  The things I have learned have brought me to a new place of closeness with God.  A new understanding of what we, as Christians, are suppose to be doing in his name.  And I have learned how to pray from a deeper, more intimate part of my being - a part that I let no one else see but God.

I dont' know what the furture holds, but I know who holds the future.  I know that with God by our side, we will be ok.  No matter the outcome.

"For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans proper you and not harm you, to give you hope and a future" 
Jeremiah 29:11

"I am the resurrection and the life.  The one who believes in me will live, even though they die; and whoever lives by believing in me will never die."
John 11:25-26

Update on Jerry's condition:
My husbands battle is far from "over".  We just had an appointment with his Neuro-oncologist yesterday and once he is fully recovered from his 6 week regimen of chemo and radiation (he finished Feb 10), he will start his chemotherapy again for 5 days every month.  This chemo will be a stronger dose than what he received during radiation.  He will do this for 6-12 more months.  He will also have another surgery to replace the bone flap that was removed, hopefully in early June.  He had an MRI last night for his new "base-line" and he will receive new MRI's every 2-3 months.  He is currently having a lot of swelling from the radiation which we believe is causing some numb-ness and tingling on his right side (his tumor is on the right side of his brain, which affects the left side of his body - he has weakness in his left arm/hand and in his face from his tumor) the fact that he is feeling some tingling on his right side is concerning, but we are hopeful that it is just from swelling from radiation.  We will find out more once his most recent MRI results are in.  



  

Saturday, November 21, 2015

Update since surgery

So, It's been awhile since I have posted, but that is because we have had a LOT going on.  
Jerry's original surgery went great, but on September 29, I took Jerry to the hospital after suffering from a fever, vomiting and severe swelling of the incision area.  Unfortunately, he ended up being diagnosed with having a STAFF infection and on Thursday October, 1st, he had a second surgery to remove the bone flap that was cut to remove the brain tumor.  The bone flap had to be discarded due to the infection.  For the last 7 weeks, Jerry has been receiving intravenous antibiotics through a PICC line at home.  This last week, he finally had the PICC line removed and he is ready to now move on to the next step of healing and recovery.  He will still need a 3rd surgery to put a new bone flap in, but they will not do that for a couple months because they want to make sure the infection is completely gone before they close in the brain again.  He has a cap with a hard shell in it that he wears when he is up and about to help protect his brain where there is no bone protecting it.  The next steps are to get started on Chemotherapy and Radiation therapy which will start within the next couple of weeks.  He will continue this treatment regimen throughout the Holidays, which makes me sad, but at the same time, because I work for a school district, I will be off work for a good 2 weeks, so it will be good for me to be home with him too!!  From what we know today, he will likely have Chemotherapy for a year for 5 days, every 28 days.  Probably in February, he will have the 3rd surgery to put his new "bone" in his skull which has a 4-6 weeks recovery process.  Our family had been planning a cruise for this spring, because our oldest daughter will be 18 this summer and we were hoping for a "last big family trip" before she was off on her own, but that is being put on hold now.  The kids are sad, but at the same time, they completely understand.  We had our kids conferences these last couple of weeks and they are all thriving in school and doing very well. I'm sure that is greatly attributed to people who have been helping us and keeping mine and Jerry's stress levels to a minimum!!   That is my short and sweet update for now.  Though we have been going through a lot, especially Jerry, God has been very evident in our lives.  We have had people bring us dinners, sent cards and get well wishes, financial contributions and so much more.  We are grateful for every act of kindness and I can't wait to be in the position to pay it forward!.  My perspective on it is so much different now than it was before.  Love you all and please continue to pray for Jerry as he has a long road ahead of him!!


After second Surgery:




Wednesday, September 2, 2015

He Can, He Will, but even if He doesn't.....

In August, Jerry preached at church referencing Daniel chapter 3 regarding the parable written about Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego.  He rephrased the parable in his own words and said "He can, He will, but even if He doesn't".  Jerry went into surgery on August 18, 2015 having complete peace with the outcome of the surgery, no matter what it was.  He is a man of great faith and he knew that no matter what, God was in control and that no matter the outcome, God would have a plan.  It was a little harder for me to think like he was at the time, as I did not want to think about loosing him or living life without him, but I did have a weird peace inside as well, knowing that Jerry was right with the Lord and if he did choose to take Jerry home, I knew Jerry would be experiencing his eternity, and I knew that he would be "happy". God can, God will, but even if he doesn't ran through my head so much on the day of his surgery.  I kept praying and asking God for this to be a time where "He did".  It's an unwavering feeling to not know if your ever going to see your husband alive again.  The moment as the Dr. and his staff was leaving, that moment when I could no longer walk along side his bed, that moment that I knew I had to say good-bye and tell him I loved him came, and that peace that surpasses all understanding came over me.  I looked at the Dr. and took his hand and I told him I would be praying for him during the surgery.  He was very kind and said that he was going to do the best he could.  Then they took the love of my life through those double doors...

I went to the waiting room of the hospital where my mom, Jerry's mom, Jerry's sister & boyfriend, and Jerry's brother all sat, there was an uncomfortable silence for a little while.  We were all scared to death, we were all worried, we were all in a place of complete surrender knowing that there was absolutely nothing we could do to potentially change the outcome that was going to take place that day.  We didn't know what it would be, but we knew that it was out of our hands. 

We were told that the surgery could take up to 14 hours.  They just have no idea what they will face until they "get in there" and start to dissect the tumor away from the good tissue in the brain.  The minutes, and hours started to tick by.  The staff at the hospital would come to us about every hour and tell us that everything was going well.  All of us in the waiting room started to loosen up, we started to relax and we started to enjoy the presence of each other.  We played a long game of "rummy" and I lost by a long shot!!  Approximately 7 hours into the surgery, the representative from the hospital came to me and said "They are finishing up and the Dr. will be out to see you soon". The thoughts and feelings that started to flood my mind in that moment were overwhelming.  I was thinking things like "They said this could take 14 hours, and they are done after 7, is he alive?  Did he Die during surgery?  The staff wouldn't tell us if something was wrong, they would just tell us to wait?"  I didn't say any of these things out loud, but boy was I thinking them.  I think everyone was.  Once again, there was an overwhelming "silence" that took over the room.  We were all waiting and wondering, but no one was talking.  Finally, I got up and started pacing the hallway because I couldn't just sit anymore.  It took about an hour after they told us they were finishing up before the Dr. came out.  He pulled us all from the waiting room and brought us to a private room....again, inconceivable thoughts and feelings were overwhelming my mind at this time.

  The Dr. spoke to us for about 15 minutes, describing in detail as much as he could about the process of the surgery.  I kept waiting for the "bad news" at the end of it all, but finally, he said...."He's OK, they will come and get you as soon as he is out of recovery"  At that moment, the huge block that was on my shoulders was lifted and I started to relax.  The moment that they told me I could go see him seemed like an eternity after that.  I remember walking into the room in the Neuro ICU and seeing him for the first time.  He looked good.  He was alive.  That's all I wanted, was for him to be alive.

The next few days, we learned more about his surgery.  We learned that the Dr had to stop the surgery once Jerry's left arm started being affected.  (Jerry was awake for the surgery so that the risk for paralysis was minimized, the Dr. communicated with Jerry asking him questions and watching certain functions to know what he could and couldn't touch in his brain, it was pretty amazing) We knew going into the surgery that Jerry would have a transient facial droop.  We also knew there was a chance he could be weak on the left hand side of his body.  Both of those things were exactly as the Dr. had predicted.  Jerry's speech was also affected, but today marks 2 weeks since his surgery and his speech has dramatically improved, in fact most people would not even notice it at this point.  We also learned that they could not remove the entire tumor.  We learned that the tumor was in fact cancer and that this type of tumor will always come back.  We learned that Jerry will have to undergo chemotherapy and radiation therapy after recovering from his surgery in hopes to "hibernate" the tumor so that Jerry can have many more years before the tumor comes alive again and affects his quality of life. Where we are today.....

Like I stated, it has been 2 weeks since Jerry's surgery.  We are back home and Jerry is recovering pretty much just like the Dr. had described to us.  He is very tired.  He still has some loss of function in his left hand.  We have scheduled him to started Neuro-therapy in a couple weeks so he can re-learn how to make his hand work again.  He is not paralyzed, he can move his hand and he can squeeze it very tight, there is just a disconnect where his brain is not telling his hand what to do properly yet.  He has made a lot of progress already though so I anticipate a positive recovery process.

Jerry will likely be off work for the rest of the year.  After he recovers from his brain surgery, he will start his chemotherapy and radiation therapy for 6 weeks.Today I want to thank Jesus for his love for Jerry.  I want to thank him for not taking him from me yet.  I was trying to be prepared for a different outcome, but it is almost impossible to do.  I'm thankful that I didn't have to go through something different.  He Can, He will and if He doesn't.I'm thankful that He did this time.

My prayer requests would be to help Jerry rest.  He is a very active person and this healing process is making him feel lazy.  His mind tells him that he is being lazy but when he tries to do something, he is so tired and gets wiped out very quickly.  I need him to rest.  I need him to be lazy for awhile.  I need him to give his body the time it needs to heal so that he can get back into his life once this process is in the past.  I need him to be OK with resting.

This is Jerry and I on the Plane before his surgery.

This is Jerry and I the day before his surgery



Jerry in the ICU after his surgery


His incision


Jerry and I  overlooking the San Francisco Bay while Jerry was recovering at the hotel before we were able to fly back home.


This is Jerry's incision after we were home before he had the staples removed.