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.