Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Week 5 appointment times

Ryan just texted me to let me know that he is safely at O'Hare. Praise God that he has not yet run into any major hassles while flying back and forth each week. We are so grateful.

This short week will be a busy one. I started off the work week with a sick day, because my son believes in sharing! He had a really mild bug on Sunday, and it seems to have struck Mom a little worse. Pray that Ryan will be able to avoid this bug and stay healthy. Other than that, we have work projects, wrapping up the school year, and normal, everyday things.

Ryan's fatigue continues to grow each week. I really, really hope that he can take a quick break once he's done with radiation so that he can get his feet underneath him. He is whipped, and not quite halfway through this journey.

This week, he has appointments at:
Tuesday, May 29: 1:40 PM CDT
Wednesday, May 30: 8:10 AM CDT
Thursday, May 31: 8:40 AM CDT
Friday, June 1: 7:30 AM CDT

Thanks for praying for us! We are encouraged. And while you're praying, please remember our friends the Hansens in your prayers. Collin Hansen lost his battle against cancer last Friday. He was diagnosed at the same time as Ryan (but with stomach cancer), and his death has rocked our community. Please pray especially for his wife, Courtney, son, Cole, brother, Blake and his family, and his parents, Goeff and Tami.

Thursday, May 24, 2012

A thought for this painful week.

This week I have doubted God.

In a weak moment, I lashed out at him in anger on behalf of a friend who is dealing with way more sorrow than I can even comprehend. I doubted His goodness. I doubted His plan for her. I doubted whether He even really listens to us when we cry out to Him, as it seems as if He already has His plans made out for our lives, like it or not.

But then I stumbled across this passage:

I cried out to God for help;
I cried out to God to hear me. When I was in distress, I sought the Lord;
at night I stretched out untiring hands,
and I would not be comforted. I remembered you, God, and I groaned;
I meditated, and my spirit grew faint. You kept my eyes from closing;
I was too troubled to speak. I thought about the former days,
the years of long ago; I remembered my songs in the night.
My heart meditated and my spirit asked: "Will the Lord reject forever?
Will he never show his favor again? Has his unfailing love vanished forever?
Has his promise failed for all time? Has God forgotten to be merciful?
Has he in anger withheld his compassion?" Then I thought, "To this I will appeal:
the years when the Most High stretched out his right hand. I will remember the deeds of the Lord;
yes, I will remember your miracles of long ago. I will consider all your works
and meditate on all your mighty deeds." Your ways, God, are holy.
What god is as great as our God? You are the God who performs miracles;
you display your power among the peoples. (Psalm 77:1-14 NIV)

How quickly I can forget the awesome wonders my God has done for me, for us, and for generations before us. He has called us out of darkness and placed us under His tender care. He has provided for us, and will not stop doing so. My God is the God of Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, and Joseph...a God who has shown mercy and miracles in countless stories across the course of time. Who am I to doubt the goodness of a God who even cares for the well-being of a sparrow?

This next part of our journey will bring tears, sorrow, and pain as we struggle to comprehend the question "Why?". But I know at the end of the day, we believers have eternal security in the palm of a loving Father. And that, my friends, is a beautiful place to be.

Radiation Update from Ryan

Tomorrow will be the end of my fourth week of radiation! Wow it's hard to believe I've been at this almost a month already. There are moments when it seems to go quickly, and then times when it drags on.

This process is more difficult than I expected. I don't feel the greatest at times. The fatigue and nausea were worst last week but are still very present. Being away from Kendra and Colton is more difficult than I expected.

I've had a number of visitors or other patients that I've connected with. Thanks to every one who has or is planning on stopping by. I really appreciate it.

I'm sorry I haven't posted much lately. Please pray I would be able to focus better and be more productive. The chemo drugs are starting to give me chemo brain again and it makes it hard to think some times.

Thanks so much for all your prayers and support. Kendra and Colton and I are so grateful for all the friends who have reached out to help us right now.

I would tell you God is doing some very exciting things with us behind the scenes. Please pray for wisdom and discernment for Kendra and I as we seek to be obedient through out this process.

Sunday, May 20, 2012

Week four appointment times

Wow...so when I typed "week four", it occurred to me that time has both crawled and flown by this last month.

Without further ado, here are the times for Ryan's treatment...as always, the posted times are Central time.

Monday: 2:10 pm
Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday: 8:40 am
Friday: 7:30 am

We are so excited to be seeing a light at the end of the tunnel. Ryan is approaching the halfway point of treatment, and I only have three short weeks left of school - then we can all be TOGETHER again! Praise God.

Emotionally, I think we are all okay. Colton seems to be adjusting and is much less clingy than he was the first weeks Ryan was gone. I'm seriously busy with school and life, and doing fine. I would probably say that it's hardest on Ryan, since he's the one away from home...but he's okay. This week will be a little less lonely because three guys from Grace Adventures are coming TO Ryan to do part of staff training at CTCA with Ryan. Excellent!

Physically, he has felt better. He looks whipped. The combination of heavy radiation and Xeloda is definitely draining...but his attitude is so good about it. Please pray for lessened side effects. During week 2, he felt good well enough to run and be active, but last week he was so physically run down that he felt like going downstairs in an elevator was daunting!

We have everything set for him to fly back and forth from Muskegon from now on, and they will be really short, easy flights. Once school is over, we will start commuting by car again since I'll be able to drive him. Speaking of when school is over, I'm interested in what we can do for some (cheap or free) fun family outings. One thing that we are looking forward to is to grab some cheap tickets for when the Tigers play at Wrigley in June. I hope that we can see Verlander or Porcello pitch AND bat! :)

I think that ends this weekly update. Thanks so much for continuing to pray for us. We are super thankful for each and every one of you that pray for and encourage us!

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

I just want chemo

Getting scans is one of the hardest parts of living with cancer. I wrote about the up and down roller coaster ride here.

As Kendra and I were waiting in the waiting room to hear the results of our most recent scans I turned to her and said something I've never said to her.

"I just want to go get chemo"

"I know, me too!" she replied.

Getting the chemo infusion begins the cycle which kicks my butt. Why do I have fond feelings for the infusion center? 

Six out of seven times when we've gotten scans the results have been stable or shrinking. So we talk to the Doctor, he says things are going well, and we head up to the infusion center. By the time I get plugged in and start the infusion, it hits you. The stress you've been carrying around for the last week or so just disappears in the knowledge that things are going okay. 

I hate chemo, but I love that feeling of things being okay. So when I said I just wanted to get up there, what I really meant was I'm just hoping for stable news so we can keep going a little while longer. 

Then we got bad news.

The cancer began to grow again. There would be no emotional release up in the infusion center today. There would be no pleasant feelings as the Benadryl is pumped into my body (it's a crazy feeling). Now we were having to talk about changing drugs. 

Maybe this drug or maybe that drug. Then we asked him about radiation again. Long story short we set up to meet with the Radiation Oncologist the next day. A night of anxiousness and wondering would this be the treatment that might work? 

The new Dr. enters the room and blows our minds by telling us he thinks he can get all the cancer, and we need to take a curative approach! 

What a relief! Not just status quo but maybe killing this cancer!

As I drove home that day it hit me. All I wanted from God was something average, status quo. I was afraid of the possibility of bad news. So instead of praying for a cure, or a miracle, I prayed for maintenance. 

Yet in order to get to the radiation treatment, the cancer had to start growing or else we would have just maintained. You see God's got it all in control. I don't. In the midst of the bend in the river you can't see forward, you can only see the sharp turn. It's scary and frightening. You can't see so you have to trust the guide who knows the way. 

His plans are higher than my plans. Sometimes we must endure moments of unknown or of difficulty in order to move forward. Abraham had to leave his homeland, Jacob was told to sacrifice Issac, Paul spent year studying and making tents while he was prepared for ministry. On and on it goes that God has a plan for your life. It often is not the way we would write it though. Are you brave enough to pray that God's will would be done no matter what it might mean? 

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Week three appointments

Oh goodness...it's Tuesday evening and I just realized that I did not yet post anything to the blog for Ryan's treatment times! My apologies.

Here are the remaining times:
Wednesday - 8:45 am CDT
Thursday - 8:40 am CDT
Friday - 8:40 am CDT

If you could throw in some prayer for me, too, I would appreciate it. I'm in the midst of a very tough, busy week and am feeling like there is just not enough Kendra to spread around. I am just stressed, no major concerns. I will be VERY glad when the next three and a half weeks are done and we can be reunited! In the meantime, I will continue to trust in God's perfect plan and timing. I know that there is a lesson in here that He is teaching me...I just know it. When I flesh that out and have a couple of hours to myself to write, I'll let you know what He's up to. :)

I wait quietly before God,
for my victory comes from him. He alone is my rock and my salvation,
my fortress where I will never be shaken. (Psalm 62:1-2 NLT)

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

A cowboy's spirit

People ask me all the time, 

"How do you do it? How do you stay so positive and upbeat?"

The first and foremost reason is God has protected me, and provided the grace for whatever I am facing. That's the biggest reason I am where I am. I've written about that here.

I don't want to diminish that, but there is another much smaller element that I think helps me keep moving forward and stay positive.

Cowboy Spirit

I wear a bracelet every day that was given to me at the benefit a bunch of my friends and family put on for us. It was called Rodeo for Ryan and it was an extraordinary day with over 1000 people showing up to support us. I get goosebumps when I think about it still. 

The bracelet only has two word on it. 

Cowboy Up!

There's a song called Cowboy Logic by Micheal Martin Murphy (that Kendra hates), it starts out with these words;

There's a great American hero, we all look up to
When the times are hard and the chips are down,he knows just what to do

I have a John Wayne coffee mug in my office that has a quote from the Duke on it;

Courage is being scared to death... and saddling up anyway

What do all these things have in common?


Stubborn, unrelenting, will.

I think I get the ability to look any situation in the face and say, "It'll be okay, we'll find a way through this some how". Where does this come from? Lots of places. 

My great grandparents who were coal miners, my grand parents who spent their lives building an incredible ministry for juvenile delinquents through blood sweat and tears. Through season after season of losing sports games growing up and having to come to practice or the next game and choose against all odds that I truly believed we could win. It comes from an attitude that there aren't problems only opportunities. 

God has prepared me for this journey with cancer and one way He did that was help build in me the will power to always choose to keep going. 

When I'm puking, when I'm hurting, when I'm foggy, when I'm tired, when I'm discouraged, when the future is bleak, when the cancer is growing, when Kendra is scared, when I worry about Colton, when I'm terrified.

I'm going to Cowboy Up! 

I'm going to do what I have to do. If that means year after year of chemo, I'll do it. If that means hanging on as long as I can through the pain to be here, I'll do it. If that means working as hard as I can when I feel well enough to make up for when I don't, I'll do it. 

The unrelenting decision to stay positive and choose hope has gotten me out of more jams than I can count. Did I win every game? Nope, but you know what? I fought like hell while I played. I'm proud of how hard I played, and that's all I can control. How hard am I going to play the game. 

Sometimes when life doesn't make sense in our mind, and our heart is afraid or doubtful we need a little stubborn willpower to get us through the obstacles in our way. 

This is the cowboy spirit. It's a never give up, never say never attitude that won't let you quit. There's always a way and you can always do the right thing. When your horse bucks you off, get back on. When the fence breaks, fix it. When the job is hard, do it!

So let's quit our whining and complaining about life, and get back to work. Let's do something with ourselves  regardless of our circumstances. Lets stop using life as an excuse not to be obedient to God and do great things for Him. 

I can't use cancer as an excuse, I have to use it as motivation!

Sunday, May 6, 2012

No superhero side effects from radiation yet :(

"How was the first week of radiation?"

I think that I got asked that at least 20 times this morning at church. Which leads me to believe, some of you out in blog land might be wondering the same thing.

The short answer...it could've been better and it could've been worse.

I started receiving treatment on Wednesday due to a scheduling error. Treatment takes about 10-15 minutes each day. It's the equivalent of getting an x-ray. Very noninvasive, quick, and easy. Then I have to figure out what to do with the rest of my day.

Actually I have quite a bit to do. I usually do my personal quiet time before or after treatment, depending on what time zone I'm still operating in. Then I am able to keep up with about 70-80% of my work duties from the hotel. Sometime I'll take a picture of my desk. It includes a hotel bed with files scattered all over a lap top on one side, a phone on the other, and me in the middle.

When I'm not working on camp stuff Kendra and I are really trying to use this time to make progress on writing a book. This is a grueling process because you may not believe this, but I hate to write. :)

There's a certain amount of time taken up from walking back and forth to the hospital, not feeling well, or working out in the gym at the hotel.

So surprise, surprise: I manage to stay pretty busy.

However, this week was a little tougher than I expected. Physically the side effects of nausea, fatigue, and funkiness seemed to hit in the afternoons then dissipate later. This left me foggy, irritable, and overall a little out of it. The symptoms were more than I expected and less than the doctors described.

Being away from Kendra and Colton was tough. We have "Facetime" on our phones so we can do a video conference. This was great and allowed me to see and talk to Colton as he doesn't do a regular phone yet. However after the first day of this, he ran around constantly grabbing Kendra's phone yelling "daddy, daddy, daddy". He gets pretty upset when we hang up or he is told he can't call me right away.

This is a constant reminder to Kendra that I'm not around. Even if she is busy enough to forget, or focused on something else, Colton reminds her right away. It was tougher to be away from them than I expected. I didn't think it would be fun, but we've spent time away and it's not a big deal. However I think the gravity of our circumstances, coupled with not feeling well and loneliness made it more difficult.

So tomorrow I head back to start week two. Kendra and I are hopeful and excited that this treatment might lead to cancer shrinking or being killed, and possibly even hearing that beautiful word, "remission".

Throughout all of this, it's easy to wonder why God has allowed certain steps to take place. Why did we wait to do radiation until after a year, why does it take nine weeks, why were there the ups and downs we experienced during chemo?

Sometimes it doesn't make a lot of sense in the moment. I spoke with a farmer today who has lost 90% of his crop in the last two weeks. His wife and I talked about how looking forward it doesn't always make sense, but looking backward it's obvious God has been faithful to guide and protect us.

Instead of wondering why about our circumstances, maybe we need to start asking God "what"?

What would you have me to do while I'm here? Who would you like me to serve? What would you like me to learn? How can I honor you?

When we stop doubting God's perfect will, He'll call us to be obedient.

Where God guides, he provides.

Please pray for my family this week. Pray for peace, energy, healing, and most importantly that we would be obedient to where God is leading us!

And don't worry, I'll let you guys know if I start experiencing side effects such as the ability to fly, shoot webs from my hands, or xray vision. :)

Week 2 treatment times

Monday: 2:50 pm
Tuesday: 11:50 am
Wednesday: 9:10 am
Thursday: 9:10 am
Friday: 7:50 am

All times are Central time.