Comfort for those living with cancer

I am really confused! One day the doctors say, “No cancer.” Less than 24 hours later another doctor calls and says, “You need to be on chemo therapy.”  What a roller coaster ride!

Image

Yesterday Judy and I saw my cancer surgeon and he gave us the report from my extensive cat scan, knees to chin. “No new tumors, no spreading of cancer. We’ll just keep monitoring.” That certainly was a good report. He also didn’t have anything good to say about the chemo therapy drug Nexavar which is the only chemo drug for liver cancer.

Less than 24 hours later my GI doctor calls and says that I should be on Nexavar. She has been talking to the liver transplant specialist and he thinks I should be on Nexavar, even though he said I wasn’t qualified for a liver transplant. ??????

Now I have an appointment to go back to my Oncologist so that she can talk to me about starting chemo therapy, even thou two weeks ago she didn’t recommend it. ??????

Maybe I should get my dentist’s opinion or maybe the piano tuner guy that looked at Judy’s piano this morning. I really am confused!

Not having gone through this before leaves me at a bit of a loss as to weather others with cancer face similar ups and downs. It is one of the reasons I began this blog, to share with others Living With Cancer.

I really feel like I am on an emotional roller coaster.

The most difficult part is watching Judy. One minute she is dancing and praising God and the next she is looking for some way to encourage me. I wish I could give her some stability, but it seems that is one of the problems with cancer, lack of stability.

As a Christian however……………………. we have stability that is absolutely certain and unchangeable!

Psalm 18:1-3

1 I will love You, O Lord, my strength.
The Lord is my rock and my fortress and my deliverer;
My God, my strength, in whom I will trust;
My shield and the horn of my salvation, my stronghold.
3 I will call upon the Lord, who is worthy to be praised;
So shall I be saved from my enemies.

I am so thankful that my Jesus is there for Judy and I! I am persuaded that He is able to keep us…

2 Timothy 1:12

12 For this reason I also suffer these things; nevertheless I am not ashamed, for I know whom I have believed and am persuaded that He is able to keep what I have committed to Him until that Day.

Even with all of the ups and downs, emotionally, of Living With Cancer, I have a peace that surpasses all understanding! Even as I share my thoughts here and look into the WORD I am blessed and I am reminded that:

Romans 8:37-39

37 Yet in all these things we are more than conquerors through Him who loved us. 38 For I am persuaded that neither death nor life, nor angels nor principalities nor powers, nor things present nor things to come, 39 nor height nor depth, nor any other created thing, shall be able to separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.

Judy and I pray that someone will be comforted with the same comfort we are comforted with. Would you please pray with us?

When I saw the picture of the flying dog I laughed so hard I cried. Oh how I wish I could “Live Like Someone Left The Gate Open”! I’m trying, I really am.

Image

Judy doesn’t seem to think that I’m living what I’m bloging. She is probably right, at least in part. It’s difficult to do what we want to do, no matter how much we want it. I have decided “To Live” with my cancer, but I must admit, it’s easier to say than do.

Why do you think it’s difficult to do what you want to do? The apostle Paul admitted to this struggle when he confessed to not always doing what he knew was right.

I know it’s important to exercise, eat right and so forth, but I often just find myself sitting in my easy chair and waiting for something to happen. Writing about my life with cancer is a good thing, but it doesn’t burn many calories.

Today I had a major cat scan from my thighs to my chin. Boy, I can hardly wait for the doctors report on this one, not! I’m starting to enjoy any day that doesn’t include a doctor appointment. I really think I would be doing better if I could avoid thinking about “IT”.

What do you do to keep your mind focused on worthwhile things?

Philippians 4:8 Finally, brethren, whatever things are true, whatever things are noble, whatever things are just, whatever things are pure, whatever things are lovely, whatever things are of good report, if there is any virtue and if there is anything praiseworthy—meditate on these things.

This week I think I’ll work on being disciplined in my thought life, then maybe I can get my body to cooperate.

Yesterday Judy and I met my Oncologist, Dr. Sarah Conte.

Image

I did not look forward to this appointment and even dreaded it a bit. I had visions of her telling us all of the horrible things that were coming and the hopelessness of the situation. Much to my surprise and delight she gave us hope. The greatest source of fear when living with cancer is a lack of knowledge and the uncertainty that brings. Dr. Conte helped remove some of that uncertainty.

Hosea 4:6 My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge.

She spent nearly an hour talking with us, not at us as some other doctors have done. She answered questions that we were afraid to ask or too ignorant to understand. Rather than putting me on the chemo therapy I had feared, she explained that things were more hopeful than we had thought. Wait and see is actually the course of action at this point. That’s great because “wait and see” doesn’t have any nasty side effects.

She reviewed at length what has transpired to this point in my care. Labs, pathology reports and other doctors findings were all carefully considered by her. She spent a great deal of time making sure Judy and I had a right understanding of my condition and what to expect next. The knowledge she imparted and assuring demeanor went a long ways in allowing us to live today and not fret about tomorrow.

Some future cat scans, MRIs and lab work will determine future course corrections, but until then I can concentrate on getting the rest of my body as healthy as possible. Losing weight is my number one physical priority now. Eating right and exercise to regain my strength are also key to my future.

She did explain a drug called Nexavar that I will be on sometime in the future to slow down the growth of the tumors, but for now it wouldn’t be necessary. That was great news! We go back to review my scans and other tests in six weeks.

I am so thankful that God has provided such a knowledgeable and compassionate doctor! I no longer cringe at the title Oncologist.

Way Too Many Doctors!

When you have cancer the doctors seem to come out of the woodwork. Is there really a need for so many specialists?

Judy and I love to watch the old western, Gunsmoke. We have seen so many episodes that the characters seem like family. There’s Matt Dillon, Miss Kitty, Chester and others that came and went over the twenty year run of Gunsmoke. My favorite character was “Old Doc Adams.”

Image

 

Doc Adams reminds me of how doctors were when I was a kid. They all seemed much alike and they would examine you with a knowing look, but they said little. In their silence there was a degree of confidence that said, “This guy must know something important and too deep for my understanding. I better just trust whatever he says.” Not so today. Doctors want their patients “Informed.”

Doc Adams was an expert at removing bullets and delivering babies. How could you not trust a doctor who removed an average of fifteen bullets a season from Marshall Dillon? I wish Doc Adams was here now to “fix me up.” He would say, “Now don’t you worry a bit. I’ll have you fixed up in no time by golly.” He would say that even when you knew the cowboy he was working on was a gonner, but at least they died with confidence in their doctor.

I suppose being informed allows me to “Participate” in my treatment. To tell you the truth, I think I would rather just have a doctor that looks confident and isn’t counting on me for much. I have enough of a burden to carry already, I don’t need to be responsible for my treatment. Where is Good Old Doc when you need him?

Today we have our first appointment with the Oncologist. Oh how I’m looking forward to this! NOT!

I never knew there were so many different kinds of doctors. So far we have seen Primary Care doctors, gastroenterologist, surgical oncologists, hematologists, urologists, transplant specialists, radiologists, and the all important billingologists. Down the road I suppose I will meet a few more specialists, but none are going to tell me, “Now don’t you worry a bit. I’ll have you fixed up in no time by golly.”

Oh how I wish Old Doc Adams was here now!

Now what I do have is Old Doc Jesus.

1 Peter 2:24 who Himself bore our sins in His own body on the tree, that we, having died to sins, might live for righteousness—by whose stripes you were healed.

I can almost hear my Lord saying to me now, “Now don’t you worry a bit. I’ll have you fixed up in no time by golly.”

 

I Have Decided To Live!

I Have Decided To Live!

I was sitting here thinking about my future. What a silly thing to waste time thinking about! If a thought begins with, “What if…..?”, it’s probably not a thought worthy of much time.

James 4:13-15

13 Come now, you who say, “Today or tomorrow we will go to such and such a city, spend a year there, buy and sell, and make a profit”; 14 whereas you do not know what will happen tomorrow. For what is your life? It is even a vapor that appears for a little time and then vanishes away. 15 Instead you ought to say, “If the Lord wills, we shall live and do this or that.”

Now if a thought begins with, “Here is my present situation, what should I do with it?”, that is a thought worthy of consideration.

So what is my current state of being? I AM ALIVE! I have the precious gift of life for another day. My thoughts now turn to the important question, “What do I do with this day?”

I have thought about this and here is my decision, I chose to live the abundant life Christ died to give me! This may sound like a trivial decision, but dear friend, it is the very decision that allows us children of God to make a difference in this world. Far too many Christian just exist, they don’t live.

Living with cancer isn’t that difficult when you boil it down to a daily decision of choosing life over death. What will you chose to do with today?

When Life Doesn’t Go As Planned

When Judy and I headed off for San Antonio and the Liver Transplant Hospital I had some ideas of what to expect. No where in my mind where the words, “Well, Steve, you are not qualified for a transplant.”

Proverbs 3:5-6

5 Trust in the Lord with all your heart,
And lean not on your own understanding;
6 In all your ways acknowledge Him,
And He shall direct your paths.

Had I completely forgotten that God is sovereign? Am I making this process of life more difficult by assuming my future? Am I getting in God’s way by getting my hopes up? Am I straying off of the path when I anticipate certain outcomes? I seem to have more questions than answers.

Here is the GOOD NEWS, God has His ways of bringing us back on course and dealing with our Father’s business, even when we get distracted. I am so thankful that my future is in His hands and not mine or the doctors. My only real question now is, “How do I glorify God in my daily life and remain faithful in the meantime?”

God’s Word tells me exactly how to remain faithful in the meantime. Joshua 1:8

This Book of the Law shall not depart from your mouth, but you shall meditate in it day and night, that you may observe to do according to all that is written in it. For then you will make your way prosperous, and then you will have good success.

The world is full of distractions, but God’s Word guides us through unfamiliar territory. Cancer or any other distraction can be overcome when I keep my focus on God and His never changing principles for life.

Dear Jesus,

Help me to keep my eyes on You and find time each day to be still and know that You are God. Give me Your peace and help me to trust in You and You alone as I Live this life You gave me.

I love you Lord and You ARE my shepherd and I shall NOT want!

Liver Transplant Adventure

This coming Tuesday I begin a new adventure when I go to San Antonio for my initial screening to be placed on a liver transplant list. I thought having cancer was stressful, but I’m starting to see that the diagnosis is just the beginning. Transplant? That word never had any meaning for me until a few days ago.

The phone rang and a nice lady said something about an appointment for a liver transplant. I got caught cold turkey on this one. Who was she? Where was she? Why was she calling me? My doctor had mentioned something about a transplant just before my first surgery, but I had other things on my mind. I had no idea what a liver transplant involved or how such a thing would turn my life upside down.

We made the appointment and she said a few things that didn’t really register at the time about forms, insurance, medications, meeting the “Team”, and some other stuff. I really should have taken notes. I already knew I was in trouble with Judy since I had no answers for all the questions she was sure to have. Today my “packet” arrived with the forms. Boy, it’s a good thing I’m not adopted! They want a history all the way back to potty training. I guess I was trained, but I really don’t recall much of the process. I sure wish my dear old mother was around to help.

Back to my initial shock at realizing something was going to change about my life and I didn’t have a clue. As with all good problems I Googled HELP! What I got was way too much information! I narrowed my search to the Transplant Hospital and I found everything I ever want to know about pre-transplant issues, post-transplant issues and some medication information overload when it comes to anti-rejection drugs. Thank God that the Methodist Transplant Hospital in San Antonio has a great brochure on their website that gave me the answers Judy would be looking for.

The list of tests required before a patient can be considered for the “Waiting List” is so long it nearly takes a medical degree to understand. I take it they don’t want to waste an organ on someone who has little chance of having a successful transplant preformed. I still don’t know if all of these tests are required or just some depending on history and other physical conditions. I suppose we will find out Tuesday when we meet with the “Team”. They use this word a lot and I guess a team approach is good, but it makes me feel a little like I’m being considered for the NFL Draft rather than a medical procedure.

I suppose this would be a good point to insert a Scripture since this is a Christian blog, but I’m not sure which applies because to be honest, I’m overwhelmed! One of my favorite “overwhelmed” text is found in Isaiah 43:1-3(a),

1 But now, thus says the Lord, who created you, O Jacob,
And He who formed you, O Israel:
“Fear not, for I have redeemed you;
I have called you by your name;
You are Mine.
2 When you pass through the waters, I will be with you;
And through the rivers, they shall not overflow you.
When you walk through the fire, you shall not be burned,
Nor shall the flame scorch you.
3 For I am the Lord your God,

It certainly is true that God will never leave us or forsake us and He understands what it means to be overwhelmed. Jesus was a bit overwhelmed on the cross when He cried out and said; Matthew 27:46 And about the ninth hour Jesus cried with a loud voice, saying, Eli, Eli, lama sabachthani? that is to say, My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?

Well, I need to start filling out all of these forms and spending some time with my Honey. Let me close out this post by simply saying, I trust God and I know that He already has laid out the course that Judy and I will have no problem following. Because we believe;

Proverbs 3:5-6

5 Trust in the Lord with all your heart,
And lean not on your own understanding;
6 In all your ways acknowledge Him,
And He shall direct your paths.

In my next post I’ll try to explain the feelings we are having and the uncertainty of this new adventure. I hope to hear from you soon.