Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Visitors to Our June Yard

Update & Request for Prayer: June 30, 2009

The good news for today - my spleen had shrunk by another finger width - that is four finger widths total.

Also, my CD4 T-Cell count escalated from 200 or less to 417! That is a low NORMAL range. These T-Cells are vital components of my immune system. If ever I need fighting T-Cells it is now during treatment. Praise God.

I do need prayer - we are worried about Tumor Lysis Syndrome (TLS) which I have mentioned before since I cannot take the drug that protects patients from TLS during chemotherapy. My uric acid level has elevated to almost 7. It was rechecked tonight and if it is higher, I might be admitted to the slammer for IV hydration. Please pray that I can avoid that. I have felt poorly today - weakness, diarrhea and nausea that has prevented me from consuming the fluids that my kidneys need right now.

I will begin Week Three of Half Dose Rituxan tomorrow morning at 9:15. I will update as able. Please continue to praise and pray for a successful outcome for me.

Monday, June 29, 2009

Eulogize the Living

Funerals have no attraction to me. I say this, not because I have stared the threat of death in the eyes for over a decade, but because funerals can bring out the best and worst in people. Emotions are raw when a loved one dies and polarizing personality traits emerge.

Negative sentiments such as jealousy, bitterness and anger may erupt. Battles emerge between family members as they scuffle over funeral details and facets of inheritance. Guests attend visitations for people that they have not given the time of day to when they were alive. This type of insincerity is why I have no desire for public visitation or a funeral.

And these reflections bring me to the heart of these reflections - eulogies. Heartfelt funeral orators for centuries have sung the praises of the dearly departed. Almost everyone at his or her funeral will be described in glowing terminology and be elevated to near sainthood. As I have lived under the umbrella of a leukemia diagnosis and experienced many near collisions with death, I have contemplated the practice of glowing eulogies, attendance at funerals and visitations, and adoration of the dead.

I do not plan on having a public visitation or funeral – my plans include a very private graveside service for a handful of people who have journeyed this life with leukemia path with me. I have a new hypothesis – it is time to focus our energies and efforts on the living. Less time, money and energy need to be applied to funerals. It is time to eulogize the living!

Eulogy is defined by the Encarta Dictionary as “to praise somebody or something very highly”. Pause for a moment today and ask yourself what person you might be called upon to eulogize one day. Now reflect on how much more those eulogizing words would mean if they fell upon the living, hearing ears and heart of the person for whom they were penned. Let’s initiate a Living Eulogy Revolution – consider the potential positive outcomes. Relationships could be strengthened. Grievances could be overcome. Hearts could be blessed. Lives could be changed.

Will you write a Living Eulogy today?

Update & Request for Prayer: June 29, 2009

This morning I am already at the oncologists' infusion center to receive my IVIG treatment that I receive every 28 days. All is going well and I feel better today than I did yesterday.

It was nice to come home Saturday night and to sleep in my own bed. I had a decent day yesterday with some weakness and fatigue - we had family in and out most of the day.

I continue to do well on my anti-cancer diet plan - yesterday I ate:

Green drink with wheat grass, kelp, etc.

Smoothie with blueberries, strawberries, cherries, whey protein, coconut oil, and other nutritious nuggets.

Mediterranean Warm Bean Salad - made with 3 beans and 5 different vegetables

Freshly squeezed juice made from spinach, watermelon and fresh pineapple

Curried Coconut Milk Chicken with Vegetables

Everyone else ordered pizza last night and I wasn't even tempted.

Lab results (drawn Saturday at the hospital) revealed that my Absolute Lymphocyte Count was 128,535 before I started half-dose Rituxan and it was 64,258 after yesterday's infusion - so that is not too bad (I've had two weeks of half-dose Rituxan so that is equivalent to one week of standard dose Rituxan). And my spleen and lymph nodes continue to shrink. More labs were drawn today, so I will update with any news.

Tomorrow I will receive IVIG all day. On Tuesday I see my family physician, have acupuncture and will begin the beta-glucans. Some research has shown (at the University of Louisville) that beta-glucans can boost Rituxan's performance. I had planned to begin taking beta-glucans when I began the Rituxan, but then further research recommended waiting until the highest risk of tumor lysis syndrome had passed, so we decided to wait until Week Three. Then I will receive half-dose Rituxan on Wednesday and Thursday (eight hour days due to the slow infusion rate I must follow).

Please continue to pray that this will work beyond any doctor's expectations and that as I transition to outpatient insufions from ICU this week, that my success with reaction-less infusions will continue.

I have never achieved a remission in all of these almost 13 years of fighting leukemia. I am bold enough to believe, despite the poor prognosis offered by specialists, that God is able to touch my body and bring a remission just as he healed the woman with the issue of blood who had been ill for twelve years.

Saturday, June 27, 2009

The Giver and the Receiver

“In everything I did, I showed you that by this kind of hard work we must help the weak, remembering the words the Lord Jesus himself said: 'It is more blessed to give than to receive' " (Acts 20:35).

The donor search is underway for an unrelated donor who will graciously give of his or her stem cells to me (if I elect to proceed with a transplant). I have always been a giver my entire life. I live selflessly and always place the needs of others ahead of my own needs and desires. I have spent years of my life dedicated to assisting impoverished, inner-city children and their families. I have always been able to come to the rescue of others and to help people through trying times. As a wife and mother, the needs of my husband and children have most often been placed above any of my personal agendas or goals. This new role of standing on the receiving end of this donor search feels peculiar to me.

I reflect with a degree of sadness that I cannot give the gift of life – through blood, marrow, organ or stem cell donation. My heart has longed to be able to return this favor to someone awaiting a transplant and the same gift of life that I am in need of according to the experts. We have also witnessed our son-in-law’s successful kidney transplant from a generous family who lost someone precious to them.

Today, a part of this changed. As I linger, to potentially receive cells from a matched unrelated donor, my husband joined the team of givers – life giving and life breathing individuals who are part of the National Marrow Donor Program. He is a picture of amazing good health – he has never spent a day in a hospital in his entire life. He does not take even one medication. One day recently he told me that he needed to join the Registry, given how we are brutally aware of how a donor of bone marrow or stem cells can save the life of a cancer patient.

Our long standing marriage is now composed of a new couple – the giver and the receiver - I await possibly receiving a stem cell donation as my husband awaits being the giver of stem cells. We were particularly amused at the movie storyline that could evolve as my husband’s tissue matching results are entered into the National Marrow Donor Registry and my tissue matching results are entered into the National Marrow Donor Registry in search of a match – imagine that genetic collision if he would be my perfect match! The odds are minute that this would ever happen, yet I have had a hearty laugh imagining this movie plot – one that would have Academy Award written all over it. I suppose this happening would truly make us a match made in Heaven!

(I realize several of my leukemia cohorts read my blog and are pondering a transplant – if we receive the call that my husband is a match for one of you – he will be at your service!)

Thank You for Your Love and Support!

We are grateful to the many family and friends who have helped us through these first two weeks of treatment (my apologies if my chemo-brain forgets anyone).......

My family and friends for all of your prayers, cards and words of encouragement - they sustain me;

My Husband - for your love and support through this almost 13 year cancer battle;

My Three Daughters, Three Sons-in-Law and Lil Man - for your love and support and for coming to visit me. Special thanks to Sis for helping me on Tuesday and for watching Lil Man when I cannot and to Scott for shopping for us;

My Mom and Dad - for your love and support and for the numerous hospital visits and deliveries to save me from hospital food and for your help with Lil Man;

Terri - for your help and for the food preparation that you did for my anti-cancer diet;

Mark and Dawn - for preparing and delivering meals to Kevin;

Shelly, Hannah and Hope - for cleaning our house and for helping me at home;

Tina - for keeping our prayer group updated!

I am so blessed!

Update 2 for June 27, 2009

Treatment Number 4 of half-dose Rituxan is now history! Only 12 more treatments remain for me. I had NO reactions - wooohoooo! I am praising God for that major achievement.

I will remain at the hospital until around 10 tonight for IV hydration and then be discharged. They will draw labs around 8 PM and I will try to report on the results later.

I did very well with the Rituxan but again have had some diarrhea and nausea with it today.

I will rest tomorrow and then on Monday I have my usual IVIG all-day treatment that I receive every 28 days - followed by full day treatment days this coming Wednesday and Thursday with Rituxan. It is going to be a challenging week with three full days of treatments, however, I know I am not walking this stony path alone.

My Dad gave a pep talk to the Rituxan as it infused today, so if those smart bombs listened to Dad, the leukemia cells must be imploding as I write.

Looking for Blog Viewer #10,000

If you have noticed the small Blog counter on the right side of my blog, you probably have realized that I am fast approaching 10,000 viewers of my blog. So, I've decided to announce a contest - I am searching for who is going be my Blog Viewer #10,000. (Being in Intensive Care where I am attached to IV's and monitors 24/7 causes me to create and ponder unusual contests and quirks!)

So, if during the next few days you sign onto my blog and notice that you are Blog Viewer #10,000, drop me an e-mail or comment on the Blog and let me know who is the lucky winner of the contest.

Update & Request for Prayer: June 27, 2009

Good morning. It is a beautiful, sunny Saturday morning. I slept poorly last night due to nausea and bone pain. They drew blood around 4 AM and I finally went to sleep until 7 AM when my oncologist stopped by. The treatment is planned to begin at 10 AM today (Eastern Time) so please continue to pray that God will use it for my good and not for harm. I am believing that He will guard me from serious infusion reactions.

All of my counts had declined this morning (that is good news for some counts and not so good of news for other counts). My uric acid level is still elevated, so receiving the IV hydration is important to prevent Tumor Lysis and to protect my kidneys.

When all goes well today, I might be home before midnight tonight. It will be comforting to sleep in my own bed. Thank you for your love, support, and prayers.

Friday, June 26, 2009

Quick Update: June 26, 2009

I am three hours into the treatment infusion and have done well. I have had no reactions except for a brief period of being warm and flushed. I have a bad headache and nausea right now, yet I am extremely grateful that God has closely guarded me through this day. I will update the blog later tonight.

Blogging Under the Influence

Disclaimers should abound today. I am blogging under the influence ...... of chemo and steroids and benadryl. This can prove to be hazardous to my writing. Brain cells whirl and chug. Steroids make my bleary eyes cross. Benadryl slows everything in my mind to a crawl. Words that are spelled with ease become word scrambles as I write with the shadow of these medications infringing on my cognitive capabilities.

Therefore, all grammatical or spelling errors should be reported ASAP to this writer. I don't want my Blog legacy to be passed down to my children and grandchildren with them thinking Grammy could not write or spell. Errors of greater magnitude – my reporting on our granddaughter instead of grandson; referring to myself as an 87 year old patient; or reports of psychedelic lights in my hospital room should be reported to a higher power who can withdraw my rights as a blogger.

What is the penalty for blogging under the influence?

Update & Request for Prayer: June 26, 2009

My veins were at attention this morning - thanks for the IV prayers - this morning's nurse started one on the first attempt. Thank You, God.

For an overnight ICU stay, I did sleep for 5 or 6 hours in split shifts. I felt better rested this week than last week when I started the treatment. My counts are not where I would like to see them, however, I am trusting God to do the work and perfect them for me. I play a solitary game in this 8 X 8 cell of a room. I review and look at the reports generated from tests and physicians and then recall Scriptures - the real truth of the matter - I am trusting Him alone.

My uric acid level has increased (they monitor the uric acid level to help prevent tumor lysis syndrome) this morning. IV fluids were increased so I will be like a bloated little piggy. :-)

There was some confusion over the treatment dosage - half-dose versus full-dose - but that has been resolved. It looks like a start time for treatment around noon (EASTERN). Please pray that I will not have a reaction to the drug and that it will work for good and no harm to my body.

Power Source

The electrical cord snakes across the hardwood floor, coiled and still with one end plugged into my laptop. The fanged prongs on the opposite end of the cord remain inoperative on the floor. The amazing capabilities of my laptop are dormant, unable to function or perform the tasks it was created to perform as long as it is unplugged from its power source.

Such is the life of the Christian who remains unplugged from his or her Power Sources. We are unproductive, joyless, hopeless, strife-filled Christians when we attempt to walk the Christian walk detached from the Power Source. Just as my laptop was packaged with an instruction manual for its successful performance, God has given us His Word – the Holy Bible – as our instruction manual for a successful life. How many individuals never open a Bible and read the Word of God? How many Christians fall short and rarely open their Bibles? Can you imagine operating any piece of equipment without reading the instruction manual? Is not the thought of missing out on the opportunity of eternal life or being able to stand firm in the midst of trials and tribulations a frightening proposition? Everyday that I read my Bible, my eyes are enlightened, I am challenged to change, and my heart is encouraged. Specific instruction is given to the reader on the one path to eternal life. These instructions are too critical not to learn.

Once opened, His Word brings light and life to our spirits. And we will quickly learn through His Word that we must plug in our power cord of prayer to tap into the reserves of power the Holy Spirit is waiting to distribute to each believer. We may attempt running our lives on auxiliary power for awhile – doing things our way without the counsel and guidance of the Holy Spirit through prayer – however, our lives will not run well without the power cord of prayer connecting our lives with the energy and leading of the Holy Spirit.

After reading the instruction manual for my new laptop and plugging its cord into the electrical outlet, this remarkable piece of equipment buzzes to life. In an instant, I am communicating with people around the globe. I am researching medical topics in far away medical libraries. Greetings from family and friends are delivered to my mailbox. Music dances from the speakers. A black piece of hard plastic and electronic gadgetry becomes a magnificent, operational machine.

Much is the same for each human being who is willing to connect with the One True God of the Universe. As our eyes fall on the written Word of God, we are changed and empowered. His Word teaches us to seek Him and His gifts of forgiveness and salvation. The words are saturated with God’s grace and mercy and compassion for each of us – no matter how we have behaved or believed in the past. And as we read the Bible, we are told to pray and to believe. We are taught that the Holy Spirit indwells within us while we are on earth – God’s deposit of Himself into each believer’s soul – He truly never does leave us nor forsakes us.

Power up today! Open your Bible and commit to reading even a few verses a day. Seek God’s gift of salvation, if you have not. Receive and welcome the Holy Spirit into your life. Pray without ceasing – no eloquent, flowery words are required – speak as a child would speak to its father. God already knows all about you and your needs but He loves to communicate with His children. In no time, you will see a life of turmoil and distraught evolve into one of love, joy, peace, and patience. And with attributes such as these gifts of the Holy Spirit, you will experience a life empowered beyond your wildest imagination! Get plugged in.

Pie Crust Capers

When I put my mind to accomplishing a task, I am generally successful. I tend to be a perfectionist, an organizer and someone who will study a topic until I can master it. There has been one looming exception in my life – baking pies.

This pie baking defective gene that I posses is long standing. A ten year 4-H member I baked my way to the State Fair on numerous occasions. I was awarded Grand Champion ribbons for homemade yeast breads, tea rings, cookies, and other delectable morsels. One miserable failure emerged – pie baking.

I attempted different pie crust recipes – many of them guaranteed to be “fail proof” – maybe for some people! They might have been fail proof until my floury hands experimented with them. The standing joke about my pies from my husband was we called all of my pies “spoon pies”. Now don’t confuse my “spoon pies” with “Moon Pies” – that would be a travesty to make such a comparison.

My “spoon pies” were labeled such because most often, my crusts would basically disintegrate and we would scoop out the filling and meringue and remnants of soggy bottom crusts into a cup and eat them with a spoon.

The 4-H failures did not compare to my pie crust caper as a young bride. Shortly after we were married (many moons ago), we invited my in-laws to our home for dinner. I was a fairly young, but confident cook, and was not overly intimidated about cooking dinner for my new mother-in-law, until my father-in-law’s request for dessert was given to me – chocolate pie – homemade chocolate pie with meringue to be precise.

Shock surged through every culinary cell of my body. Given the zillions of dessert options, why did he have to ask for pie? I will never forget the day of the dinner date with doom. I awoke, eager and confident, that I was going to bake my best pie ever for my in-laws. (Why I thought this with my track record of flake-less failures, is still beyond reason!) Ingredients were gathered. My rolling pin was floured. Crust after crust, I blended, mixed, rolled, and attempted to construct a pie. And time and time again, they failed. That day I baked nine miserably disastrous pies in an attempt to serve my father-in-law’s request for dessert. The trash can filled to overflowing with meringue and crusts unfit for man or beast.

The in-laws arrived and dinner was served. It was a culinary delight that could earn me NEXT FOOD NETWORK STAR status in this era. Yet, true confessions had to be made as the meal concluded and the time for dessert arrived. The trash can was heavy with discarded pies. Yet our hearts were light with laughter as I confessed to all of my pie failures. I did receive an “A” for effort and my mother-in-law still laughs nearly 27 years later about my pie baking attempt. Since that dinner, no one has ever asked me to bake them a pie.

Nevertheless, I am on a mission. A fellow leukemia patient (Sally) has assured me her pie crust is delicious and the recipe is relatively fail proof. As soon as I complete these treatments, I am going to revisit pie baking. I believe I can still overcome the flawed pie baking gene. You can teach an old dog new tricks, correct?

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Update & Request for Prayer: June 25, 2009

I am resettled in the ICU room. I was admitted earlier this evening - IV hydration is underway to help prevent Tumor Lysis. I will receive more Neupogen tonight and will begin my treatment with Rituxan (I believe) in the morning sometime. Please pray that I will not have a serious reaction - this week the dose is larger, the rate is faster and we are decreasing steroid premedication - I must be able to infuse it in this fashion to be able to move next week to the oncologists' infusion center and get out of this hospital every week. I pray it will go as planned.

My spleen had shrunk my family doctor said tonight - it was below the belly button - now is 3 finger widths above it. Enlarged lymph nodes have decreased in size.

The anti-cancer diet is going well. I am so focused on only putting nutritious, live foods in my body during treatment, that I am not even tempted to eat junk. My husband ate a piece of apple caramel walnut pie at dinner on our way here - it had no appeal to me. I had Mediterranean roasted veggies and a strawberry, Romaine, walnut salad. I juiced today and mainly had juice, smoothies and other experimental goodies.

Next week I will have my monthly IVIG all day on Monday and then my treatment all day on Wednesday and Thursday - so a busy week - I am going to miss Lil Man so much.

Update: IV sticks not going so well tonight - my veins are so tired - they have put in 6 IV's trying to get 2 good lines -so far only one IV has held up. I told the nurse I couldn't take anymore sticks tonight, so we are out of the IV business for the night. Please pray specifically for my vein access to improve.

WBC increased again tonight (not a good sign) - please pray I am not refractory to the treatment (meaning it is not working) and these increases in my WBC are just from the lymphocytes being moved from the nodes and spleen to bloodstream. I will continue to stand on the promises of God.

Prayer for Today: June 25, 2009

Father in Heaven,

I am grateful that You are on Your throne, listening and observing, all that we endure on earth. Our hearts are quieted by the knowledge that You are in control of each believer’s life. We are grateful for the gift of salvation which You have offered to each of us.

We love You, Lord, and ask that You will work through our lives to equip us to be the best disciples that we can be for You and Your Kingdom. Forgive us when we lack boldness and desire to tell others about You.

Many are in need of a special touch from Your hand tonight, Lord. Remember each need and each person. First, I ask that You will grant peace and guidance to those searching for answers to questions too difficult for human minds to decipher. Next, I ask for Your special healing touch to fall upon those who are sick in body. Lastly, I ask for stamina, strength, energy, and positive attitudes so that none become disheartened or discouraged. The joy of the Lord is our strength.

In Your Precious and Priceless Name I pray. AMEN.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Request for Prayer: June 24, 2009

Please pray for me. I return to the ICU tomorrow afternoon (through early morning hours of Sunday) for Week Two of treatment. I am exhausted tonight and am not feeling well. My counts were not favorable today and quite discouraging. I was neutropenic and had to return to the oncologists' office today for more Neupogen. I will update more from the hospital when I am not as tired.

I must maintain my focus on Him and not how I feel, what reports state, or the predictions of physicians.

Happy Birthday Mom!

Today we celebrate my Mom's 66th Birthday. It is simplistic to remember our ages as twenty years separate each of three generations - Mom turns 66 today, I will turn 46 later this year, and our twin daughters will celebrate their 26th birthdays. Otherwise, I might lose track of everyone's age.

Much has changed in the last year. Last year we celebrated at a quaint farmhouse restaurant on white linen tablecloths, crystal glasses of basil lemonade and gourmet food. The atmosphere was quiet and relaxed.

This year we had the added blessing of Lil Man at our celebration. He is a delightful napkin shredder. He squealed and entertained with all of his new sounds that he is discovering. He sucked on limes and made adorable faces. This year's celebration, although quite different, was a joy with our newest family member who has made my Mom a Great Grandma and me a Grammy since last year's birthday celebration.

I am grateful to God for the good health and stamina He has given to my Mom. I am thankful for the many ways in which she helps me. And I pray we will celebrate many more birthdays together.

Monday, June 22, 2009

Five Smooth Stones

The roar and hum of hospital equipment robs me of sleep tonight. Lights are blinking. IV pumps hum. Doors open and close frequently. And the enemy of my soul would like for me to dwell upon leukemia and infections and drug reactions. I am alone, void of family and friends, and my enemies loom large. Yet, I am confident and bold enough in my faith, to believe that the impossibilities of this life situation are minuscule for my God.

I ponder the dilemma that the young shepherd boy David faced as he approached the Philistine giant Goliath. My life situation is no different. As I toss and turn in this web of monitor cords, IV lines, and other equipment, this thought has returned to my conscience, over and over this evening: Five Smooth Stones. It only took five smooth stones in a shepherd’s bag to serve as the ammunition to kill a giant. Stacie, did you pack your five smooth stones for this journey?

Am I any different in God’s eyes? No. Did God’s supernatural power to rescue His children from intimidating giants conclude with Old Testament accounts of supernatural victories? No. Will I choose to believe, with unshakable faith such as David’s and dare to ask the Lord to intervene and rescue me from these threats against my very life? Yes.

Stone One – The Word of God

My Bible is at my bedside. It is my life-breathing Book. Many nights I have spent in this Intensive Care Unit, gripping my Bible to my chest and asking Him to answer my prayers. His Word has breathed Life into my soul so many times, I cannot count. Just as Jesus used the Word of God against Satan when Satan was tempting and taunting Him, I surely packed this “stone” in my bag.

“For the word of God is living and powerful, and sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing even to the division of soul and spirit, and of joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart” (Hebrews 4:12).

“My son, give attention to my words; incline your ear to my sayings. Do not let them depart from your eyes; keep them in the midst of your heart; for they are life to those who find them, and health to all their flesh” (Proverbs 4:20-22).

Stone-Two – Praise and Worship Music

My laptop plays music from my favorite contemporary Christian music station and my CD collection in my hospital room. It comforts my soul and it is amazing at the comments and compliments I receive on my music from hospital staff that enter my room. I am reminded of Paul and Silas in their prison cell, praising God to the point that prison doors swung open and their chains were loosed. Praising God brings that same power into our lives. The chains that bind us are broken and loosed in the presence of praise. Focus shifts from toxic anti-cancer drugs flowing into my veins to the creator of these veins Who is able to protect me from harm and use the drugs for my healing.

“But at midnight Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns to God, and the prisoners were listening to them. Suddenly there was a great earthquake, so that the foundations of the prison were shaken; and immediately all the doors were opened and everyone’s chains were loosed” (Acts 16:25-26).

“In God, whose word I praise, in God I trust; I will not be afraid. What can mortal man do to me?” (Psalm 56:4).

Stone Three – Prayer

Where would I be without the prayers of so many faithful intercessors praying for me? There is power in prayer. I am confident and assured that He hears our prayers and answers them, when we pray according to His will and when our hearts are pure and right before Him. In the silence of every hospital room, He is but a whisper away. I am never alone in that hospital bed. He is there. Hallelujah, thank You, Lord.

“Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer” (Romans 12:12).

"Go and tell Hezekiah, 'This is what the LORD, the God of your father David, says: I have heard your prayer and seen your tears; I will add fifteen years to your life” (Isaiah 38:5).

Stone Four – Joy

Do you realize how simple it would be for me to wallow in self-pity, never leaving my bed and dwelling on pain and death? Far too many cancer patients lose their battles in their minds before their bodies expire. Living life fully, with joy and happiness is not an easy task as my body decays and deteriorates. Pain pulls at my emotions and taunts me to give up. Yet, the joy of the Lord is my strength. The Holy Spirit residing inside of me, is Who motivates me to live life as a person without a death sentence placed on her medical chart.

"So with you: Now is your time of grief, but I will see you again and you will rejoice, and no one will take away your joy" (John 16:22).

"When anxiety was great within me, your consolation brought joy to my soul" (Psalm 94:19).

Stone Five – Faith: Confidence in God to Accomplish the Impossible

Leukemia, you come at me with failing bone marrow, infections, and poor blood counts. But I come to you in the Name of the Lord. Just as the shepherd David boy taunted the giant Goliath with similar words, I must come before my God with this type of faith-filled confidence. I cannot do this in my own strength – my flesh trembles at how leukemia has ravaged my body. However, my spirit remains strong and courageous and bold.

“Let us then approach the throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need” (Hebrews 4:16).

“Such confidence as this is ours through Christ before God. Not that we are competent in ourselves to claim anything for ourselves, but our competence comes from God” (2 Corinthians 3:4-5).

Update & Prayer Request: June 22, 2009

Glass of produce after the juicer

Plate of produce before the juicer

I have had a pretty good day today - the swelling is almost all gone in my hands and feet. I surprised myself and was on the road at 7:30 AM to pick up Lil Man and watched him all day. One of my best friends came and spent the day with me - she prepared alot of my anti-cancer meals ahead for me.

I am following Dr. Michael Murray's anti-cancer diet found in the book HOW TO PREVENT AND TREAT CANCER WITH NATURAL MEDICINE (I think that is the title)! :-)

Today I ate:

Green drink with kelp, spirulina, and wheat grass and other goodies.

3 liters of water

Smoothie made with an apple, non-fat milk, flaxseeds, whey protein powder and other "goodies".

I have juiced 1/2 head of cabbage, bag of carrots, 2 apples, and 1/2 bunch of broccoli.

I ate a bean/leek/garlic soup my friend made from a recipe in the book for lunch.

I ate a chicken breast for lunch.

I have spinach juice and a berry smoothie left for today.

It is alot of food for me and I don't know if I can eat all of it but it is nutritionally dense.

It is simple to follow this plan (even with that candy bar cheesecake in the refrigerator) when I've been given the "end stage disease" prognosis. :-)

The lymph nodes in my neck feel a bit smaller today. I will see the doctor and have labs tomorrow - so maybe more news tomorrow on blood counts, spleen size, etc.

Thank you for your continued prayers.

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Please Pray for Jessica

I have requested prayer for Jessica, a young woman battling cancer, on my blog before. I received this e-mail last night and again, ask that you pray for Jessica and her family.

First of all.............. we are praying for you faithfully... often.... fervently.

But, the reason I am sending you this note is, remember me asking if you would pray for a young woman (24) Jessica, & that she was praying for you???? That you were both fighting Cancer & treatments that were so difficult?

She spoke as a Cancer Survivor LAST NIGHT at a Relay for Life function. Afterward, she began experiencing a pain that grew worse during the night. Earlier today, they were rushing her to the IU Hospital for tests. She & her Mother, Susan, are devastated & concerned. They are fearful at what they will learn, & may have already learned by now.

When Susan called me on their way to the hospital, she wanted me to pray with Jessica. After I prayed for her, I told her how you are fighting right now, & she said she is praying. Pray for Jessica, Stacie. And Jessica is praying for you.
I believe there is power in that!! I KNOW there is Power in it!

Hang in their Stacie. God's arm is not to short to reach down & rescue you!

In His love, Donna

Happy Father's Day, Dad!

Today we celebrate Dads! For those of us who have been blessed with loving fathers, it is difficult to comprehend the lives of those without a Dad to love, support, help and guide their lives. I have been blessed with a Dad who is always near when I am in need. He has always been a hard-working man who has cared for his family's needs for decades. I am fortunate to live nearby to him and to be able to see him almost every day of my life. I never take for granted the time that we have together. He has had many retirement years rich with time to spend with family, to fish, to garden, and to lend a helping hand to his family.

Happy Father's Day, Dad. I love you.

Update & Request for Prayer: June 21, 2009

We arrived home from the hospital at about 2:40 AM. We realized when I got dressed to leave ICU, that I had a great deal of swelling in my hands and feet - edema probably from the IV hydration given to prevent Tumor Lysis. My hemoglobin had dropped to 7.9 when I left - please pray that this downward trend in the hemoglobin reverses as I am nearing the point where I will require a blood transfusion (which I would like to avoid due to past reactions to blood transfusions).

My WBC continues to decline - it was 46,100 last night when I left (135,300 at admission). My platelets continue to decline as well (not a good trend). My neutrophils also really took a turn for the worse, so I will probably have labs repeated tomorrow to be certain I do not require more Neupogen.

I am very weak today and still have edema from the retained fluids. Thank you for your prayers. I will be admitted again to ICU on Thursday evening.

Saturday, June 20, 2009

Update: June 20, 2009

Thanks for all of your encouraging words and prayers. I have completed my treatment for the week - praise God - this is the remaining 90 percent of the dose I received 10 percent of yesterday - I made it with flying colors and no reactions - we have advanced the infusion rate from a maximum of 16 mg/ml yesterday to 50 mg/ml today - that is a major accomplishment for me to be infusing that "fast" without reactions.

Thank God and thank you Dr Hamblin for the tip to divide the dose like this. My family doctor came to see me today - she believes this can be infused, my 6 hours of IV hydration, the IV Micafungin and have me headed home by 1 or 2 AM later tonight. I hope all goes well as U am exhausted from two sleepless nights in ICU - every hour someone is in here doing something and I need rest to heal.

Tomorrow is our daughter's birthday / Father's Day party and I have everyone coming for dinner .... do i need a good night's rest. :-) The oncologist scolded me for making such plans but if I cannot live how I desire to live, making memories with my family, then I am not truly living.

I will have more labs drawn before I leave and will update the blog later with the new results ...... drum roll please

again, excuse this horrific typing.

Update & Request for Prayer: June 20, 2009

Good morning. The sun is shining brilliantly through my hospital room window after a stormy night. Isn't life always the brightest after we have trampled through life's storms with God's assistance and guidance?

The Rituxan infusion finished at 6 AM this morning (it took 17 hours to infuse). That was my 10 percent dose of half-dose Rituxan. At 1 PM today, I will take the remaining 90 percent of half-dose Rituxan.

I am rejoiced to report the results from this relatively small dose. My total white blood count yesterday was 135,000 (normal WBC being 5,000-10,000) and this morning it was 51,200. More importantly the cancerous lymphocytes fell from 95 percent to 71 percent of the total white count. The absolute number of (cancerous) lymphocytes declined from 128,535 to 36,352.

Obviously, my body is going to need assistance to flush out a cell kill like this (since I cannot take allopurinol), so please pray that I will not develop Tumor Lysis Syndrome (where the toxic debris from the cell kill can shut down kidneys, cause heart damage, etc.)

My hemoglobin did decrease from 9.7 to 8.3 and my platelets decreased from 157,000 to 97,000. Thus, I ask for prayer for these counts to recover and not to decline any further.

I feel decent today, given all of the medicines and the rampage that Rituxan has initiated against the leukemia cells in my body. I have a bit of nausea and diarrhea, but overall, this morning I feel pretty well.

I do not have a fever and I was able to move to my left side for a few minutes, so I believe there has been a small reduction in the size of my spleen. A few of the lymph nodes in my neck are a bit smaller, as well.

I appreciate your prayers of thanksgiving on my behalf - thanking Him for the work He is going to perform in my body, all for His glory and praise.

John 11:4
"When he heard this, Jesus said, 'This sickness will not end in death. No, it is for God's glory so that God's Son may be glorified through it'."

Friday, June 19, 2009

Happy Birthday to Our Baby Daughter

I have been waiting for the clock to strike midnight to signify the 24th Birthday of our youngest daughter. So, here it is midnight and I am swept away to a special day 24 years ago when she arrived. She has blessed our family by being a part of it.

That precious day remains vivid in my cognitive memory book. Her "older" twin sisters were excited about the prospect of a new baby (they were 17 months old when their baby sister arrived). My husband and I commuted to the hospital where a planned C-section had been scheduled. I can still recall the pink and white striped dress I wore to the hospital.

In no time at all, with the assistance of modern medicine, our third beautiful baby girl joined our family. She had chubby cheeks and cherub lips. She stole our hearts as I cradled and nursed in her in my arms for the first time.

Tonight, I write this from my ICU bed - I am so grateful to God for giving me these years to watch her grow and mature and now witness her perform amazingly as a mother herself to our Lil Man. I am saddened that I cannot celebrate in person with her tomorrow, but she knows that I am celebrating in my heart tonight and tomorrow over the love she has brought to all of us.

Happy Birthday, Baby Girl!

Last Update for First Day of Treatment

It's been a busy day. It is almost midnight and the Rituxan continues to drip into my veins. It has been infusing for almost twelve hours - probably five more hours to go. Then I will begin tomorrow's dose at 1 PM. I just completed the IV Micafungin, an injection of Neupogen, and IV hydration continues. I am anxious to see my lab reports in the morning.

Thank you for your continued prayers. I am blessed.

Update 2: June 19, 2009

Shortly after my last post, U began chilling, my pulse ox dropped, diarrhea, etc.....oh rats, i mean mouse juice (see previous post on mouse tissue being used to produce this treatment) is at it again. The nurse administered the next set of premeds an hour early and everything has calmed down.... this all happened with 10 percent of half dose being infused at 16 mg/ml ....imagine if full dose had been infused at full rate.

They had to add a second IV line and pump to be able to infuse all the medications plus Rituxan at the same time... please forgive typos as I have a monitor on my left hand and 2 IV' in my right hand and wrist.

Update: June 19, 2009

Two hours into Rituxan treatment infusion ... vitals are holding steady ... His peace just flooded the room and my heart when it was time to begin....thank you for praying .... awesome to experience....had to get a second iv line started as we cannot get everything infused with one line..... today's rituxan will take 15+ hours so keep praying.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Update & Prayer Request: June 18, 2009

First, forgive my bad typing .... I have an IV in my right wrist. This has been an unbelievable day - two hours before I was to leave for the hospital, the doctor called and the lung sputum culture from two weeks ago grew out positive for a fungal infection. I realy need prayer about this new concern.

I was admitted - my vein access was bad and it took 4 IV's to get one good one IV site...then I began premeds, received Neupogen and now I am receiving IV Micafungin(antifungal). I really didn't have time in the schedule for this added IV (it is the IV antifungal was on at home for almost a month in March) should finish it about midnight and then I will premedicate again then desensitize to Cipro - so there won't be much sleep here. Early in the morning, I will premedicate for the planned Rituxan treatment to begin at 9 AM. I am receiving lots of IV hydration as well to help prevent tumor lysis. I certainly need this new report to prove to only be a contaminant fungus and not a full blown pulmonary fungal infection.

Amazingly my nurse's mother has been diagnosed with the same leukemia that I have - she is taking all my protocol I typed for my doctors and other studies I have with me and is copying this information for her mom. I'm giving her online resources, etc. I am grateful God can somehow still use me to help someone else in the midst of all this mess. He is faithful. I will write more when I am not so groggy on Benadryl.

Days Until I Finish Treatment

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

A Prayer for Today: June 17, 2009

Dear Lord,

We rejoice that You are our God. We cannot fathom our lives void of Your presence. You are our Comforter and our Deliverer. You are our Strength. You are our Hope and Promise of everlasting life. “Let everything that has breath praise the LORD. Praise the LORD!” (Psalm 150:6).

May we pass through the refiner’s fire and our lives emerge purified by You, O Lord. We cannot be good nor do enough good to be allowed to stand in Your presence. Only by the precious blood of Jesus, shed on Calvary, are we washed clean. “But we are all like an unclean thing, and all our righteousnesses are like filthy rags …” (Isaiah 64:6).

Many are in need of healing touches from You. Others of us are relying solely on You to bring us through treatments, protect us from infections, bring revelation regarding important decisions, provide financial needs, and to bring salvation to those family and friends who are in need of a Savior. We are asking tonight for these things because Your Word tells us that “we have not because we ask not” (James 4:2).

You are our Everything. In Jesus’ Name I pray. AMEN.

Chemo Care Package

Today I received a Chemo Care Package from my Dad and Mom. They have covered all the bases and purchased everything and anything I might require during my treatment. After this many years of leukemia treatments and hospital stays, all of us have mastered the art of making a stay in the ICU as near to a stay at a Hilton, as humanly possible (okay, that might be a "slight" exaggeration).

Some items I received ......

-New quilt for my hospital bed - who wants to sleep with germy blankets that other sick people have used?
-New pillowcases for my Memory Foam pillow - who wants to sleep on a plastic encased, flat pillow (that other sick people have slept on)?
-New pajamas - no description needed - who wants to sleep in a hospital gown, parading around a public place in such a garb?
-New praise and worship CD's to lift my spirits and to filter out the beeps and buzzes of the ICU unit
-New Joyce Meyer book NEVER GIVE UP - pretty good message for someone who has been told it's the "end" ....... Call me stupid, but I'm not giving up despite what I have been told.
-Socks, house shoes - ewwww who wants to walk on germy hospital floors with bare feet?
-Nutritious snacks to replace repulsive hospital food and snacks.
-Evian bottled water - who wants to drink out of the refillable hospital mug that travels throughout the unit on its way to refilling, collecting germs along the way?
-A picture frame with Lil Man's picture - what Grammy could travel without this treasure?
-And a wide array of toiletry items and other goodies.

Thanks Dad and Mom!

You Are God Alone

"You Are God Alone" by Phillips Craig and Dean is a favorite song of mine. If our minds and hearts can wrap around these concepts and embrace them, we are on our way with our faith walks. He remains "unchangeable, unshakable, and unstoppable" even when the world swarms with chaos and change. To embrace and serve the One True God brings such peace and comfort to my soul. May He embrace our deepest concerns and carry those burdens for us. All that He requires is for us to accept Him as our Savior. He asks that we repent of our sins and embrace His forgiveness. And He desires for us to leave our burdens and concerns laying at the foot of His cross.

Link to video: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eLIOSWYhQoE

You are not a god
Created by human hands
You are not a god
Dependant on any mortal man
You are not a god
In need of anything we can give
By Your plan, that’s just the way it is

You are God alone
From before time began
You were on Your throne
Your are God alone
And right now
In the good times and bad
You are on Your throne
You are God alone

You’re the only God
Whose power none can contend
You’re the only God
Whose name and praise will never end
You’re the only God
Who’s worthy of everything we can give
You are God
And that’s just the way it is

Repeat Chorus

That’s what You are

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Cheese, Please!

If you detect an increase in my cheese consumption, I will explain to you the reason for the new craving. Rituxan, the treatment I will begin early Friday morning, contains small amounts of protein from mouse tissue. Rituxan is referred to as a chimeric antibody since it is made from tissues from two different species.

With past exposures to Rituxan, I did not observe an increase in fur or tail length. I did spend increased time scurrying about the house at night, but it is believed that was related more to the increased steroid doses than the chimeric antibody inducing mouse-like characteristics in me.

Put up the mouse traps. Guard your cheese. You never know what might happen to me after eight weeks of mouse tissue being infused into my body.

Houston, We Have Lift-Off!

I left home at 10:45 AM and just returned home - I had three doctors' appointments, including one in Indianapolis. I drove myself and really regretted it by the end of the 200+ mile trip. All three doctors are in agreement - I will be admitted Thursday evening to begin half-dose Rituxan.
This mission will not be scrubbed!

The oncologist and infectious disease doctors (who both had listened to my chest at the peak of the pulmonary infection) commented on how well my lungs sounded today. I tested negative for CMV, Asp., and other nasty infections. That's a praise.

The wheels of organization are turning - hospital orders and plans are being made. I should be admitted around 6 PM on Thursday. I will begin receiving IV hydration to prevent Tumor Lysis Syndrome - a very serious complication when a huge cell kill occurs with treatment - please pray specifically for my body to be able to rid itself of the toxic debris that is generated from the B-lymphocytes being bombarded and killed by the Rituxan. Later Thursday evening, I will begin receiving premedications for the treatment and to desensitize me to another antibiotic. I will also receive a Neupogen injection to help prevent infection. On Friday morning, the first drops of Rituxan will flow into my bloodstream - the smart bomb that will seek and destroy the CD20 markers on the cancerous B-lymphocytes. These lymphocytes are sequestered in my massive spleen, enlarged lymph nodes throughout my body and in my bloodstream.

As I have asked you in the past, let us pray and then THANK God for these answers we are believing that He will deliver:

--Destroy leukemia cells while rebuilding my immune system (for those of you who know much about cancer treatment, you know this is a real oxymoron for which to ask)
-Help my body to fight off harmful organisms and dangerous infections
-Protect me from tumor lysis syndrome
-Return my spleen and liver to normal size
-Return enlarged lymph nodes
-Return all blood counts to normal
-Let doctors and other caregivers stand in amazement at God’s work through this treatment
-Prevent any drug reaction or serious side-effects

My infectious disease doctor told me that I have the patience and strength of Job and I told him that I hope, like Job, that my latter days are blessed more than the beginning and that I will die old and full of days! (Job 42:12, 17)

Monday, June 15, 2009

Stacie's National Marrow Donor Hall of Fame

A few posts ago, I reflected on the National Marrow Donor Registry. Currently, individuals who have registered as potential bone marrow/stem cell donors are being surveyed to see if anyone is a perfect match for me. I challenged readers of my Blog to forward the post to others in their e-mail address books in an attempt to recruit new people to register. I received word today that the first member of Stacie's National Marrow Donor Hall of Fame has joined the Registry. I am going to post first names of those I learn about who have volunteered to be a potential donor. Thank you for considering this vital endeavor (you can join for FREE until June 22 or for as long as donations remain to cover the registration fees).

Stacie's National Marrow Donor Hall of Fame
Lisa P
Kevin M
William F

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Scrubbing the Mission

A hydrogen leak recently scrubbed the mission of space shuttle Discovery. After months of preparation and weeks of postponements, the anticipated two week mission was delayed. Valves had been replaced. Weeks of inspections and repairs were completed. Astronauts prepared and readied themselves for lift-off.

And then, with little notice, the mission was scrubbed.

I feel a bit like the astronauts preparing for this Discovery mission to the international space station. I have prepared and prayed for this week's upcoming treatment to begin. Much anticipation has been felt by myself, family and friends. Every "i" has been dotted and every "t" has been crossed. Insurance battles have been resolved. Plans and procedures are in place. My hospital bags are packed.

And now, this pesky lung infection - the leaking nitrogen valve of this leukemia treatment mission -- is threatening to delay my treatment. I will know for certain by Tuesday if all systems will be "go" for Thursday's admission to ICU.

I can relate to the astronaut's wearisome emotional roller coaster as they waited to see if they would blast off on their mission. I am frazzled and frayed - not knowing if I will be proceeding with treatment this week or if the infection will postpone current plans.

Nevertheless, just as if I was one of those astronauts, I would be reminding myself that God must have scrubbed the mission for a purpose larger my mind could comprehend. And that is what I will do this week. I will be patient before Him. I will trust that His timing is better than my timing. I will believe that He is coordinating plans that none of us can even comprehend. And if the mission is to move forth, it will do so with His blessing. And if it is to be delayed, the Holy Spirit will step onto the scene and scrub the mission.

Friday, June 12, 2009

A Prayer for Today: June 12, 2009

My Precious Lord,

You are our Savior and Deliverer. We rejoice at the mention of Your Name. We praise You for the peace and hope and joy You bring to our lives. May our hearts swell with praises for You, even when life’s problems are beckoning. Isaiah 61:3 instructs us to “put on the garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness” – words that we have employed over and over again. Thank You for this reminder that depression and doubt may be overcome by praise.

“He has delivered us from the power of darkness and conveyed us into the kingdom of the Son of His love, in whom we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of sins” (Colossians 1:13-14). The preciously shed blood of Jesus – dying on the cross for the forgiveness of our sins – may it not be in vain. This very moment, may each of us bow our head and seek that redemption and forgiveness. May we never become so self-absorbed and arrogant to think that we do not need a Savior.

What a privilege it is to pray for others in need. May we “continue earnestly in prayer” (Colossians 4:2) for each other. I lift the needs of my family, friends and readers of this Blog to you, Lord. May temporary suffering produce eternal results for each of us.

We thank You and praise You, Precious Father, for hearing our prayers. May we offer them to You, believing for Your answers, that will always be the best answer for each request.

In Jesus’ Mighty Name I pray, Amen.

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Update & Request for Prayer: June 11, 2009

A quick update before the evening draws to a close .....

Amazingly, Anthem Blue Cross Blue Shield approved for me to receive the Neupogen injection today (you would think after their denial of Neupogen earlier this year resulted in the serious fungal infections and their tens of thousands of dollars in medical expenses to treat) that Anthem would have learned that $500 for a Neupogen injection is really a bargain.

I returned to the oncologists' office and received the Neupogen. I came home around 6PM and fell soundly asleep for four hours. I am weak from fighting this lung infection.

Concerning was my total WBC (white blood count). For normal people, their WBC remains in the 5000-10,000 range. On Saturday evening, my WBC was 129,000. Yesterday's CBC showed it had escalated to 167,900 - that is nearly a 40,000 increase in four days.

That raises the question: Is the infection remaining unresponsive to all of the treatments I am currently taking? I hope not.

Next week was to be the start of treatment, being admitted to ICU on next Thursday. All of the plans are cloaked in uncertainity due to this infection. Now, with a WBC this elevated, concerns emerge about being able to safely receive this drug. I am researching for answers to that concern.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Leukemia Specialist's Quote

"Here is the attraction of stem cell transplants: they cure people.
Here is the problem with stem cell transplants in CLL: they kill people."

-Dr. Terry Hamblin

Blog Statistics

As I become more and more unable to be in crowds and out in public, I ask myself how I am to spread the Gospel as his disciple? My Blog has been a wonderful resource and way to share Scriptures, thoughts on the Christian walk, and to report praises for God and His goodness.

At times, I develop tunnel vision - narrowly focusing on the Blog audience I am aware of -- family and friends checking on my health updates and requests for prayers or other faithful readers.

Last night, I reviewed updated blog statistics on my site. My heart sang when I realized that I now have followers in eight other countries outside of the United States. Readers are logging on from the United Kingdom, Costa Rica, United Arab Emirates, Spain, Canada, Republic of Korea, and Japan.

Allow my mind to wander and my heart to sing as I consider the possibility of a Muslim friend in the Middle East reading and learning about a Savior she has never met. Or consider the individual in the Republic of Korea reading and finding a Source of hope in his country, being surrounded by threats of missile attacks and tyranny.

I can only pray that the Holy Spirit will continue to breathe words into my spirit to type and that He will draw those who do not know Him to read my mortal words. When God is in the mix, my humble, insignificant words become anointed by the Holy Spirit and can empower the lost to draw near to their Savior.

That is my prayer. If you are reading this Blog tonight, I pray that you will become aware of your need for a Savior - a God of love and hope and the promise of eternal life. I pray that you will bow your head before the One True God, possibly for the first time in your life, and tell him that you are sorry for your sins and that you believe Jesus died on the cross for the forgiveness of your sins and the promise of eternal life.

Our world is frazzled and fear abounds. Disasters and crimes, and terrorism wrap on the doors of cities and nations. There is a Source of peace and hope - and when we seek Him, He will be found.

Psalm 46

1 God is our refuge and strength,
A very present help in trouble.
2 Therefore we will not fear,
Even though the earth be removed,
And though the mountains be carried into the midst of the sea;
3 Though its waters roar and be troubled,
Though the mountains shake with its swelling. Selah

4 There is a river whose streams shall make glad the city of God,
The holy place of the tabernacle of the Most High.
5 God is in the midst of her, she shall not be moved;
God shall help her, just at the break of dawn.
6 The nations raged, the kingdoms were moved;
He uttered His voice, the earth melted.

7 The LORD of hosts is with us;
The God of Jacob is our refuge. Selah

8 Come, behold the works of the LORD,
Who has made desolations in the earth.
9 He makes wars cease to the end of the earth;
He breaks the bow and cuts the spear in two;
He burns the chariot in the fire.

10 Be still, and know that I am God;
I will be exalted among the nations,
I will be exalted in the earth!

11 The LORD of hosts is with us;
The God of Jacob is our refuge. Selah

Update & Request for Prayer: June 10, 2009

I was supposed to begin my weekly Neupogen injections at the oncologists' office this evening (in an effort to eliminate becoming neutropenic and then giving the Neupogen). I rushed down and they said my ANC from Monday was not low enough for insurance to pay. They redrew my blood and said maybe I can receive Neupogen tomorrow. UGH! I "love" the insurance gurus who dictate my care over what my doctors and I know that I need to stay alive.

The nurses heard my cough and said how horrible I sounded. The nurse practitioner listened to my chest and sent me straight to the hospital for a chest x-ray. I asked to wait and have the oncologist paged as I was convinced pneumonia was going to present on this film. It did not - the radiologist said it was negative. Praise God. But why the breathing concerns with no visual signs of pneumonia?

So, I am back home, continuing to cough and debating if I should desensitize and switch to Cipro before the weekend? We still have no results from the labs drawn last week by my Infectious Disease doctor.

This week's concerns have pushed me to really consider how we approach lung infections in my future (the number one infectious cause of death in this type of leukemia). Maybe I made an error in judgment not to go to IU or OSU (although lengthy commutes) where expedient labs, a pulmonologist and infectious disease specialist would be working as a team in the environment of caring for other stem cell transplant (immune compromised) patients with lung infections. I need to ponder the best plan - my current one appears flawed.

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Free Marrow Donor Registry Through June 22

A fellow CLL warrior (John) just posted this information as a comment on my Blog after I posted on the Blog about the fees that potential donors pay to join the National Donor Marrow Registry.

His information:

Between today and June 22, or until 46,000 new donors are registered and funding lasts, the registration is free. See this link for details:
On the main page, the link for details is down on the left hand side.

So if any of you are interested in joining the National Donor Marrow Registry, please consider this opportunity to do so for free. Your gift of bone marrow or stem cells could save a life like mine.

It Is Well With My Soul

I have several books that I peruse to learn about hymn writers and their life testimonies. I will be the first to admit that I adore contemporary praise and worship choruses and songs, however, a special place in my heart of worship is reserved for these hymns.

"It is Well with my Soul" was written by Horatio Spafford during the 1800's. The never changing ways of God are apparent in the words of these hymns that are centuries old. Not unlike many of us, Spafford's life was punctuated with tragedy, yet he continued in his service and praise to our Heavenly Father. He suffered major losses from the Chicago Fire of 1871. Following that event, his four daughters perished in a collision between ships crossing the Atlantic. The Holy Spirit inspired the lyrics to this favorite hymn as he crossed those very Atlantic waters where his daughters died.

No matter what I have faced or will face in my life, it is well with my soul. If I close my eyes tonight and awake in a Heavenly Home, it is well with my soul. Such assurance and peace this knowledge gives to me. God longs for each of His children to seek Him, accept His forgiveness, live for Him, love Him, and be promised the gift of eternal life.

Can you say tonight that it is well with your soul?

When peace, like a river, attendeth my way,
When sorrows like sea billows roll;
Whatever my lot, Thou has taught me to say,
It is well, it is well, with my soul.


It is well, with my soul,
It is well, with my soul,
It is well, it is well, with my soul.

Though Satan should buffet, though trials should come,
Let this blest assurance control,
That Christ has regarded my helpless estate,
And hath shed His own blood for my soul.


My sin, oh, the bliss of this glorious thought!
My sin, not in part but the whole,
Is nailed to the cross, and I bear it no more,
Praise the Lord, praise the Lord, O my soul!


For me, be it Christ, be it Christ hence to live:
If Jordan above me shall roll,
No pang shall be mine, for in death as in life
Thou wilt whisper Thy peace to my soul.


But, Lord, ‘tis for Thee, for Thy coming we wait,
The sky, not the grave, is our goal;
Oh trump of the angel! Oh voice of the Lord!
Blessèd hope, blessèd rest of my soul!


And Lord, haste the day when my faith shall be sight,
The clouds be rolled back as a scroll;
The trump shall resound, and the Lord shall descend,
Even so, it is well with my soul.


Update: June 9, 2009

The lung infection remains mostly unchanged. The lab results we are anxiously anticipating, were not available today. I am coughing and wheezing and weak. I am formulating the next plan of attack. If there is no improvement tomorrow, I will call and request a chest CT Scan late tomorrow. Based on those findings, I may have to be desensitized to another drug on Thursday. Please pray that God will not allow this infection to run rampant in my immune compromised body, as we make decisions and treatment plans.

I feel vulnerable and an easy target for fungi and bacteria seeking a home. Since losing most of my body's ability to fight infections, I am even more amazed at what the normal God-created human body accomplishes each day, to keep humans healthy. The human immune system is complex beyond what words can describe. Its mysteries puzzle the most brilliant immunologists' minds. God's masterpiece, man, will never be fully understood or conquered by modern medicine and mortal man.

Ruminating Transplant

I wait. I reflect on my destiny and if it will include a Matched Unrelated Donor (MUD) Stem Cell Transplant. I ponder if there is another human being on this earth who is more like me than any family member. I formulate lists of questions for the transplant coordinator. I wait on those responses. I research statistics on transplant outcome results. Terms like morbidity (a diseased state) and mortality (failure; death) run rampant through the transplant literature and wrap themselves around my heart in a suffocating swipe.

My mind meanders through that moment of backing out of our driveway, on the way to the transplant. I choke up as my daydreaming psyche imagines looking back at my family and home, not knowing if I will ever see either again. As I mentally journey through these scenarios, I always wonder if, at that point, I would give in and drive back up to our garage, abandoning the transplant after going through so much preparation and planning.

Daily, I contemplate the individuals who might be called in the next few months and told that it has been determined that they are a perfect match for a 45 year old leukemia patient needing a transplant. Many people probably join the National Donor Marrow Registry on a whim, never truly believing that a person’s life would rest in their resolve to complete the donor process. Can you fathom receiving that telephone call today? If you are a mother or father with children, would you be willing to take this giant step for a stranger?

I ponder why more matched unrelated donors are not located for dying patients. I ask myself why generous people, willing to be tested and entered into the National Marrow Donor Registry, must pay a fee to be recruited. If this opportunity to give the ultimate gift of life was free, would there be more perfectly matched donors for me and others dying of cancer? The National Donor Marrow Registry website states:

“On average, the cost for tissue typing is $52. You may be asked to pay all or part of this tax-deductible cost when you join. Sponsors sometimes provide funds to offset the cost of typing. The total cost to add a new member to the registry is about $100.“

I wait. I am confused and confounded about the life and death decision that awaits me. One month since the donor search was initiated will slip by on Monday. Scientists will scrutinize my cells. Donor registry search engines will delve through volumes of genetic information on virtual strangers. Will bells and whistles sound and alert someone that there is another genetic me – somewhere in this world? Or will it be determined that I am truly one of a kind?

Waiting is difficult and draining. Psalm 27:14 instructs us:"Wait on the LORD; be of good courage, and He shall strengthen your heart; Wait, I say, on the LORD!" Strengthen my heart, Lord, as I wait.

(Note: For those of you who might be wondering what ruminating a transplant means - to ruminate – means to think carefully and at length about something (Encarta Dictionary).

Taking Care of Business With God

I absorbed these words from David Wilkerson's blog. I enconter this everyday - people asking others to pray for their needs, all the while that person is not living a Godly life, praying, or reading His Word. God's agenda just does not work like that. He seeks fellowship with us, not just a wish list of our prayer needs. He seeks our time and our lives - not just the hurried prayer tossed up in times of trouble. He seeks repentent hearts that come to Him.

I can write this with complete authority. I have lived for years, knowing I had to depend solely upon His Word and prayer to maintain life and breath in my lungs. Never would I have survived this long by merely asking others to pray for me as I coasted through life, doing as I pleased, spending my time with "fun" activities, and remaining distant from the Lord. It is time to get serious about our relationships with the Lord. He already knows if we are living as He Word instructs.

"Recently, while counseling a Christian man who faced marital, financial and career problems, it dawned on me he was hoping I would say a prayer or give him some kind of supernatural advice to solve his problems. Yet he admitted he himself does not pray. He watches many hours of television, but he doesn’t pray or read the Scriptures. I thought to myself, “How many Christians today face incredibly complex and overwhelming problems, yet never seek God in private prayer?”

May I lovingly ask you some questions? Do you diligently seek the Lord with all your heart and strength regarding your problems and needs? Do you give him quality time in secret prayer, waiting on him? Do you spend at least some meaningful time each day studying his Word? If your answer is no, I would have to honestly say that no one else’s prayers will prevail on your behalf. God expects us all to be in agreement in prayer. His Word promises, “If you seek the Lord your God, you will find him, if you seek him with all your heart and soul” (Deuteronomy 4:29).

Until God’s people learn to go quickly to him in secret prayer with all their needs and problems, unburdening their souls in his presence, there will be constant disorder and despair. Every time I spend unhurried, quality time with my Lord, I come away refreshed, encouraged and confident God is going to make a way.

If my messages provoke you to get back to praying diligently and in faith, I am convinced you will one day thank me, because you’ll see God’s blessing and favor on all sides. The Lord deeply loves all who seek his face daily. May he forgive us for neglecting him days on end.

I urge you, begin spending that time with him today. Go to God and pour out your soul in his holy presence."

Happy Birthday Mr. Binkerton!

Our Lil Man turns nine months old today! He has been a Binky Man (aka he likes his pacifier at times) to his Grammy since early after his arrival. Thus, I attached the nickname Mr. Binkerton to him. It has stuck and more and more of his fans call him Mr. Binkerton or just Binky for short. Mr. Binkerton is an adorable, embraceable name when you are nine months old. It might not be so appropriate when he goes to school. His Mom said that if I don't quit calling him Mr. Binkerton that he will stand up in kindergarten, on his first day to introduce himself, and will say, "Hi! I am Mr. Binkerton!" The classmates will roll with laughter, make fun of him and then she will have to go to school to defend her baby.

Anyway, for today, I will wish Mr. Binkerton a very happy nine month birthday!

Monday, June 8, 2009


The blog-a-versary of my 500th post flew by me in the midst of this current health challenge. This entry is number 505. It is encouraging to know that in less than a year, God has inspired me to write over 500 entries for this blog. My initial goals for the blog remain unchanged - to write and give God the glory and honor for all He is to me; to leave a written journal of the life battles I have faced and how the Lord always guides and protects me; and to leave a legacy for my children and grandchildren to which they can access when I have relocated to my Heavenly Home.

The blog has evolved into a wonderful resource to connect family and friends with regard to my health battles. Updates and prayer requests are posted on my blog and are easily dispersed throughout the world. These calls to prayer do not go unheeded. I am encouraged by the responses you e-mail and the comments you make. My story is truly being preserved for those who will come behind me. I pray I can bring honor to God's Name as I walk on this stony pathway called life.

Our Daughter

Our oldest daughter who has a congenital heart defect, visited her cardiologist today. We are grateful that her report was mostly good, with everything remaining fairly stable.

Please continue to pray for her - we are trusting that the leaking valve will not worsen; that medication can help to control her heart rate; that thickening of one are of her heart will not worsen; that her life will be long and full despite these concerns; and that God will always direct her steps as she makes medical decisions for herself.

Love ya, Sis!

Update: June 8, 2009

I am so grateful for all of your prayers and encouraging e-mails.

I was so sick last night - but remained firm in my resolve to stay at home and not be admitted to the hospital. I told my husband not to allow them to resuscitate me, should I worsen. We sat up in our twin recliners in our small den all night. The sunrise was embraced by my eyes and spirit as I knew He had brought me through the night.

My husband took me to the local oncologist this morning. That alone makes everyone nervous, because no matter how sick I am, I usually always take myself to the doctor. (Although I have had many trips when I don't recall the drive home from the doctor's office - I call those my "riding the magic carpet home" commutes. :-)

They began another antibiotic as we await the lab results from last week to see if a serious lung problem is the cause -- i.e. CMV, Aspergillosis, etc. I was desensitized and it took most of the day to get that drug into me, yet I avoided another reaction. The oncologist ordered a prescription for a cough suppressant, so I am hopeful for sleep tonight.

My husband said the oncologist was worried about me. When he listened to my lungs, he said my lungs did not sound well at all. If the temp, cough, etc. does not improve then I will have to have a broncoscopy to try to isolate an organism and then treat that. Please pray we can see resolution of this infection as I really do not want an invasive procedure.

I had very good care today by the local oncologist's team and was grateful to each of them.

All weekend as I debated calling my trusted family physician (who left last week to go with her ailing father), I was stopped in my spirit. This morning, we learned heard from her that her father died on Saturday morning and they buried him today. I was grateful I had not bothered her and that God has helped me as the Great Physician while she is away. She will remain with family until next Tuesday. Please pray for this family.

I located a pulse ox meter that I could have at home. My parents went and picked that up for me while I was at the infusion center. That will be a big blessing and help during lung infections.

I am so blessed. Several dear friends e-mailed words of prayer to me. During the night as I sat here, struggling to breathe, my long-time friend (since we were 5 months old!) texted me through the night with reminders of what God was going to do for me. She and her husband were up praying for me at 3 AM. The fellowship and prayers of our brothers and sisters in Christ become even more precious in life battles such as this.

With love and gratitude to each of you. May He bless you and keep you and always provide prayer partners for each of you during your difficult days and battles.

Sunday, June 7, 2009

Update & Request for Prayer: June 7, 2009

It has been a very difficult night. I was awake all night coughing, wheezing and short of breath. I sat up in a recliner all night as I was concerned if I dozed off that I would stop breathing. We are trusting God to help me through this. My trusted family doctor was called home (Iowa) to be with her ailing father. At times, like this, I believe God allows me to be stripped of anyone or anything (outside of Him) so that I will learn to trust Him more. I am trusting HIM to bring me through this newly spawned battle.

Most importantly, please pray this is a "simple" infection - not PCP pneumonia or a fungal lung infection - both of which could be life-threatening. I need my airways to open up - my oxygen levels dipped into the 80s last night and that was concerning. I believe I have cracked a rib on the right side from coughing so hard. My trunk throbs from over 12 hours of almost non-stop coughing.

I am praising Him and believing Him for my deliverance from this infection .....

2 Samuel 22
Praise for God’s Deliverance

2 “The LORD is my rock and my fortress and my deliverer;

3 The God of my strength, in whom I will trust;
My shield and the horn of my salvation,
My stronghold and my refuge;
My Savior, You save me from violence.

4 I will call upon the LORD, who is worthy to be praised;
So shall I be saved from my enemies.

5 “When the waves of death surrounded me,
The floods of ungodliness made me afraid.

6 The sorrows of Sheol surrounded me;
The snares of death confronted me.

7 In my distress I called upon the LORD,
And cried out to my God;
He heard my voice from His temple,
And my cry entered His ears.

19 They confronted me in the day of my calamity,
But the LORD was my support.

20 He also brought me out into a broad place;
He delivered me because He delighted in me.

29 “For You are my lamp, O LORD;
The LORD shall enlighten my darkness.

30 For by You I can run against a troop;
By my God I can leap over a wall.

31 As for God, His way is perfect;
The word of the LORD is proven;
He is a shield to all who trust in Him.

32 “For who is God, except the LORD?
And who is a rock, except our God?

33 God is my strength and power,
And He makes my way perfect.

40 For You have armed me with strength for the battle;
You have subdued under me those who rose against me.

47 “The LORD lives!
Blessed be my Rock!
Let God be exalted,
The Rock of my salvation!

50 Therefore I will give thanks to You, O LORD, among the Gentiles,
And sing praises to Your name.

51 He is the tower of salvation to His king,
And shows mercy to His anointed,
To David and his descendants forevermore.”

Saturday, June 6, 2009

Update & Prayer Request: June 6, 2009

We just returned from the hospital. My coughing, shortness of breath and wheezing continued to worsen. The x-ray techs commented that it "sounded like I had pneumonia" -- but thank God the x-rays showed no pneumonia. My hemoglobin continues to decline but I did have enough neutrophils to be considered in a relatively safe range. I have coughed so hard, I feel as though I have cracked a rib. Please pray for God to resolve this infection quickly and for it not to develop into pneumonia. I have increased the steroids in an effort to reduce inflammation in my airways -- which means I will probably be awake all night alphabetizing spices and organizing closets and drawers (the side effect I have with higher dose steroids)!

Update & Prayer Request: June 6, 2009

I continue with the chest congestion/infection. We have not received any of the results from the recent lab work ordered in Indianapolis. My pulse ox levels have dropped tonight and I am having a harder time breathing this evening. Please pray for God to quickly reverse this congestion as I do not want to go to the hospital. I must be infection-free to begin treatment on June 18th.

Thursday, June 4, 2009

Update & Request for Prayer: June 4, 2009

I am home after a very long day. The bone pain from last night's Neupogen shot really escalated on the drive to Indianapolis. I had gotten the chest x-ray and sputum sample delivered this morning before I left for Indianapolis (to see the infectious disease specialist).

The infectious disease doctor is concerned. He said there is a hazy patch on my right lung. He sent me to the hospital (in Indy) for additional labwork to check for CMV, Aspirgillus, Crypto-something, and HHV-6 - all concerns in the lungs of an immunocompromised patient. He is on call through the weekend but will be away next week (as is my trusted family doctor).

He expressed his similar concern that the NIH expressed - making the decision to undergo the transplant and its related risks or not transplant and have an infection kill me.

SO, I really need for this to resolve and be something simple to correct. If any of these tests ordered today by my Infectious Disease Doctor return positive, it will be a very serious matter. Most likely, I would have to go elsewhere to be treated for any of these . I am having difficulty breathing tonight - it is difficult to determine if it is from the lung congestion or from the very low hemoglobin (8.7). I had zero neutrophils last night on my lab report.

Please pray!

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

A Prayer for Today: June 3, 2009

Almighty God,

I praise You for never forsaking us. Thank You for being our constant Companion, ever-present, always listening, forever perfect. In this dark world, Your Word remains that “lamp to our feet, and a light to our paths” (Psalm 119:105). I am grateful for the gift of Your Holy Word – it is the perfect instruction manual for each of us to follow. You have provided us with all of the answers to life’s dilemmas and challenges.

Forgive us when we falter and fail and turn to others for guidance for our life before we turn to You and Your Word. Each time that we face trials and tribulations, remind our spirits to seek You and Your Word for answers. Your Word never fails us or returns void. We are instructed in the book of Isaiah: “So shall My word be that goes forth from My mouth; It shall not return to Me void, but it shall accomplish what I please, and it shall prosper in the thing for which I sent it.”

I know there are great needs in most families and I bring these needs before You, Precious Father. I am certain you know the intimate details of each life situation. Draw near to each one and provide comfort, clarity, and compassion.

I love You Lord. I lift my voice and prayers to You in praise and thanksgiving for all of the answers and blessings you have bestowed upon us. Although unworthy to receive the blessed gift of salvation, we are forever grateful for the Cross and for the sacrifice Christ made for each of us – sinners all saved by grace. May we grant you first place in our lives, our plans, our words and our deeds.

In Jesus’ Mighty Name I pray. AMEN.

Update and Request for Prayer: June 3, 2009

I developed a cough and chest congestion overnight. I had an appointment this afternoon with my family physician. As always, we become concerned with any kind of infections. I am to obtain a sample for culturing and have a chest x-ray in the morning before I leave to go to Indianapolis to my Infectious Disease specialist. My Dad and Mom are driving me over for that - they are my official chauffeurs to doctors' appointments and I appreciate them so much.

Please pray that this will be a swift, simple infection that will not require hospitalization or more medications. We are awaiting my lab results tonight to see if I am need another Neupogen injection tonight to boost my failing neutrophils.

You've Got Mail - Don't Read It!

At my doctor’s appointment this afternoon, I was handed an envelope. As I waited on my physician, I opened the envelope to see what it contained. A seven-page letter from the exceptional NIH doctors had been sent to my family doctor and she had copied it for my records.

It is really not a good idea to read what doctors say to other doctors about you. It might be hazardous to your (mental) health. First of all, it should be illegal to discuss people’s weight in writing. I consider any discussion regarding weight to be highly classified information. Secondly, can you explain to me what a doctor stating, “patient is oriented times three” means? If you know me well and how I remain informed and educated about this disease, you probably can surmise what THAT comment means. I suppose it is better than being not oriented. My husband had a hearty chuckle on that comment. The cardiac evaluation revealed no gallops – that’s a good piece of information to have – would not want a galloping heart getting away from me. Whoooooaaaaaaaaa.

The assessment section of the letter explains that I am a “complicated” leukemia patient. Webster’s Dictionary contains one definition of “complicated” as "difficult to understand, deal with, or explain". So that explains why my trusted Ohio State doctors had few suggestions on how to treat me. They referred me onto the NIH and those wise specialists only could conclude that an allogenic stem cell transplant would be my best option. I don’t like being complicated.

All laughs aside, the concluding remarks were sobering. Granted, in person, these excellent physicians told me that I was “end stage leukemia”. With the spoken word, I could possibly convince myself that the doctors had misspoken. That plan back-fired a bit as my husband was in the room and heard the same spoken words about “end stage leukemia”.

However, in this letter, the doctors state: “Our impression after reviewing her entire case is that she is classified as 'end stage' leukemia. Her significant risk factor right now is death secondary to infection." Now that could possibly be the understatement of the year – yes, death would be considered a “significant risk factor”.

These are words presented by mortal man. I must guard closely my emotions and thoughts so they are not tainted by this information. I must not falter in my faith even though my life described on paper appears as though it is dissipating like a vapor into air. I must continue to trust God with the details. He created my mind and made me “oriented times three” for a special reason. Discussions about death and end stage disease are easily dismissed by a Savior who can rescue me from these ferocious life storms and deep waters.

My Confidence: I Know God is Here

"I Know You're There"
By Casting Crowns

You Tube video link: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=98nG3xH02wo&feature=related

If all I had was one last breath
I'd spend it just to sing Your praise
Just to say Your name
If all I had was one last prayer
I'd pray it 'cause I know You're always listening
If I could live a thousand lives,
bind the hands of time
I would spend every moment by Your side'cause I,
I know You're there,
I know You see me
You're the air I breathe
You are the ground beneath me
I know You're there,
I know You hear me
I can find You anywhere
If all I had was one more song to sing
I would raise my voice to make the heavens ring
If all I had was one last chance, I'd take it
I would stake it all on You
If I could raise up high and catch a glimpse of every eye
I would make them believe
What I feel inside
If I could live a thousand lives and
bind the hands of time
If I could rise up high and catch a glimpse of every eye
I know You're there
I know You're there
I know You're there, You're there

Missionary Prayer Requests

I have posted prayer requests in the past for my friend Jessie. She is a missionary in Costa Rica. Please agree in prayer for her requests:

It's June!!! Two weeks from today, I will be jumping on a plane to Denver, headed to Young Life's family camp Trail West in Buena Vista. I am going to be the Tuwashi boss, which is a fun way of saying housekeeping. I will have a work crew of 8 high school girls, who have accepted Christ and want to serve Him this summer. We will be working together, eating together, and sleeping together for a solid month! I am very excited about the opportunity to live life in a very close-knit Christian community with these girls and have the gift of discipling them.

I have been asked to have 10 people specifically pray for daily for camp. Each person assigned to work at camp this month is doing the same, as we firmly believe that the prayers of God's people impact our ability to share His love. Would you consider joining our team and praying for God's work at family camp?

Thanks so much for being an integral part of my life and ministry!

Specific Ways to pray June 18-July 18:
- Tuwashi Work Crew Girls: Hannah 1, Hannah 2, Jasmine, Stephanie, Cara, Jesyca, Jenalee, and Carley
- Families at Camp: Families would reconnect with Christ and each other
- Military Week: July 5th-11th Soldiers that recently returned from or are leaving for 15 month deployments and their families
- Camp Speaker: James Rockwell
- Personally: strength, rest, patience, endurance, favor with the girls on my team, friendships with other assigned staff members
-That we would be aware of the enemy's schemes and foil them

Healthcare Exodus

A secondary battle is emerging on the verge of the initiation of my treatment. Anthem Blue Cross Blue Shield is at odds with our local hospital (and vice versa). The greed of the medical system is truly emerging. Patient care is most always secondary to the financial bottom line. If a contract agreement is not achieved by July 31, 2009, Blue Cross patients such as me (and thousands of others in our community) will be charged out-of-network charges. If you battle a chronic illness, as I do, this will mean thousands of dollars in unpaid charges that the patient will be forced to absorb.

I cannot calculate how the hospital will fare financially better by forcing thousands of us to obtain services at other locations. If a contract is not agreed upon, I will be forced to be treated and hospitalized in Indianapolis – a two hour drive for us. I cannot even envision the burden of this travel will place on my family and me. Most concerning to me, is that I will be midway through a treatment cycle that will be forced to new facilities and doctors, unfamiliar with my care.

Instantaneously on August 1, 2009, hundreds of thousands of dollars for my annual healthcare will depart from the local healthcare providers and economy. I am not a financial analyst, but multiplying my scenario by thousands of other local Anthem patients transferring care, appears like an atomic bomb to the sustainability of the local hospital.

Even more ironic is the fact the local hospital is currently constructing a new multi-million dollar facility with more beds. If this impasse cannot be resolved, I foresee many empty beds as the area Anthem patients make a mass exodus to new doctors, hospitals, and oncologists who participate in Anthem contracts.

If you are a local resident and Blog reader, please take a moment to call the local hospital and urge them to resolve their differences with Anthem. Outpatient services should not be billed or reimbursed as inpatient services. If your Anthem insurance coverage is through a local employer or union, please contact them and be certain those managing your policies are aware of this looming threat to healthcare services due to Anthem’s declining reimbursements and unwillingness to negotiate and compromise. Many of my healthcare providers could not remain in business if they relied solely upon Anthem's deeply discounted reimbursements. Both parties are at fault to some degree - it is time for this impasse to be resolved because lives are depending upon it!

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

2 Chronicles 20:25-30: The Victory

Humans love to win! Children are participating in athletics at younger and younger ages. Parents cheer. Children swing. Teams win! Cheers even tout, "V-I-C-T-O-R-Y!"

Soldiers march on foreign turf in anticipation of a victory. Would they enter the military, hoping that they would be defeated at each stop of their tours? Never. Soldiers seek the victory.

Life victories are especially satisfying when won with the knowledge that God has performed the impossible. Granted, God might help Junior hit his first home run, but I am referring to victories otherwise unattainable by mortal man without God’s involvement. Broken marriages restored. Childless couples blessed with a bundle of joy. Cancer patients’ health reinstated. Addicts abolish addictions.

As we read in 2 Chronicles 20:25, Jehoshaphat and his people struck it rich. Their defeated enemies were not paupers. Riches, valuables, and jewelry awaited collection by the Israelites. God not only won the battle, He provided for future needs that they might confront. It took them over three days of gathering and collecting to contain all of the provisions that God had given to them. A battle that loomed large evolved into a bevy of blessings.

Take a moment to reflect on life battles. When we meticulously examine some of the most difficult battles we have faced, often times they have brought forth amazing, life changing results. Life changing results are far better riches than gold or silver. If a battle molds us into men and women more reflective of God’s image, it has been a battle worth fighting. If an ominous battle has drawn our souls into a relationship with Jesus Christ, the ultimate victory has been attained.

2 Chronicles 20:26-28 details to the reader that after the victory was won, Jehoshaphat and the Israelites continued to be joyful, praise, sing, and bless the name of the Lord. They had witnessed, firsthand, that the weapons of warfare are not missiles or swords or guns, but are the spiritual weaponry God provides.

The Apostle Paul wrote in 2 Corinthians 10:4-6

“For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal but mighty in God for pulling down strongholds, casting down arguments and every high thing that exalts itself against the knowledge of God, bringing every thought into captivity to the obedience of Christ, and being ready to punish all disobedience when your obedience is fulfilled.”

Most battles begin in our minds. We must take ominous life battles and immediately defeat them in our minds. Jehoshaphat allowed himself to fear his enemies for but a moment. Then he charged forward using the spiritual weapons of warfare.

After defeating their enemies with God as the Commander-in-Chief, Jehoshaphat and his people were at rest. The power and fear of Almighty God spread throughout the kingdoms. No one wanted to mess around with God’s children. To think, if we can pass our life tests, one by one, then we will be no different than the Israelites. God will give us rest from our enemies. Other enemies will slink into the corner as they witness our overwhelming power through Almighty God. Divorces will dissolve into decades of marital bliss. Addicts will abolish addictions and achieve. Cancer cells will dissipate and dissolve. And we will have the victory!

“For whatever is born of God overcomes the world. And this is the victory that has overcome the world—our faith. Who is he who overcomes the world, but he who believes that Jesus is the Son of God?” (I John 5:4)