Friday, July 31, 2009

Summer Cone Flower

Update & Request for Prayer: July 31, 2009

Jumping for joy might be the best description of what I am doing today. I had labs drawn early this morning. My uric acid level is normal for the first time during the past seven weeks of treatment as are all aspects of my Complete Metabolic Panel - kidney function, liver enzymes, potassium - you get the picture! I feel like I maybe evading the threat of Tumor Lysis Syndrome at last! On paper, I look like a picture of health!

My hemoglobin and platelets remain fairly stable - low but improved from the start of treatment. What I am jumping for joy over is my lymphocyte percentage (B-lymphocytes being my cancerous cell line). Almost always, my percentage of lymphocytes on the differential is 95-99%. Today, this count had dropped to 55%! Wooohoooo! (Normal is 13%-43%)

I will try to summarize my counts - from where counts stood prior to treatment and what they are today:

Total White Blood Count Before Treatment: 167,800
Total White Blood Count After 7 Weeks of Treatment: 30,400
Normal White Blood Count Range: 4,800-10,800

Absolute Lymphocyte Count Before Treatment: 166,122
Absolute Lymphocyte Count After 7 Weeks of Treatment: 16,720
**This is the count we watch the most to determine the improvements generated by the treatment. On Monday, this count was 23,328 - quite a decline in four days.

Absolute Neutrophil Count Before Treatment: 1,678
Absolute Neutrophil Count After 7 Weeks of Treatment: 13,376
*This is the count we watch to help me prevent infections - I actually have more neutrophils than the average normal ANC!When this count is below 2,000 is when I have to take Neupogen injections.

Please pray for Lil Man because he is not feeling well today and has been running a fever.

Please pray for one of our daughter's father-in-law. He went in for a routine heart cath yesterday and the physicians determined that he had blockages to his kidney that needed to be first repaired. His heart blockages will require open heart surgery. He is recovering today from the stents that were placed for his kidneys and his kidneys are doing well tonight. We ask for prayers for him, his family, and the physicians who will be caring for him. Trusting God!

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

A Prayer for Today: July 29, 2009

Gracious Father,

I am reminded today of Paul and Silas – beaten, imprisoned and in chains – yet able to praise with hymns and prayers to You. May this serve as a visual reminder to each of us. Whatever our own personal “chains” might be – affliction, addiction, lack, even personal heartache, please remind us that we can be joyful and prayerful in spirit.

Forgive us, Lord, when we forget these principles. Forgive us when we wallow in self-pity and self-absorption and fail to think of anyone except for ourselves. Forgive us when we allow the strain of the chains on our life to pull us down, instead of pulling us to the foot of the cross.

As You and Your power appeared on the scene of Paul and Silas’ imprisonment, we are certain that Your Holy Spirit will move on behalf of each of us. Not only were Paul and Silas freed by Your power, others were brought to a point of salvation. May You work the same way in our lives – in desperate, difficult times. May our “light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and glorify your Father in Heaven” (Matthew 5:16).

Needs are numerous, Father. I cannot even name all who are hurting, undergoing treatment, battling infections, facing difficult decisions, enduring unemployment, fighting for their families, or who are lost and have never known You as their personal Savior. Yet, I am praying and trusting that You personally know each life situation. Move in the midst of each and every battle, we ask, Lord.

“We will shout for joy when you are victorious and will lift up our banners in the name of our God. May the Lord grant all your requests” (Psalm 20:5).

And so may it be, that these and all other requests will be granted by our Father.

In Jesus’ All Powerful Name I pray. AMEN.

Hamburger Havoc

One of the slogans for Hamburger Helper is: "An easy, delicious, one-skillet solution to the question, 'What’s for dinner?'" Our youngest daughter, the working mother, trusted that slogan. With a degree in marketing, she should have known not to believe phrases utilized by marketing wizards to tout their products.

She concocted a box of this “one-skillet solution” the other night for dinner, knowing she had worked all day, had Lil Man to care for, and had an assignment due in one of her graduate school classes. “Easy” was what she needed to prepare for dinner. The results were less than she and her husband had anticipated (and their anticipations had been low) so they tossed the culinary tragedy in the trash can. Not long after, she asked her husband what Lil Man was doing.

He replied, “I thought he was in the living room with you.”

She responded, “No, I thought Lil Man was in the bedroom with you.”

Panic. They both bolted up and ran in search of Lil Man, concerned that the newly walking baby was into mischief. He was located in the kitchen, covered in Hamburger Helper. He had discovered the remnants of dinner tossed in the trash can and had retrieved the paper plate and dumped its contents on top of his head and was wearing a head covering of Hamburger Helper.

He had discovered the true value of Hamburger Helper – he was finger painting a mini-masterpiece on the tiled floor with Hamburger Helper. Monet would have been pleased. A new art medium had been discovered! Chubby hands were covered in the red sauce. Chubby cheeks were coated. And laughter erupted from his parents as they discovered this hamburger havoc.

Faithful Followers

From Luke 5:

Now it happened on a certain day, as He was teaching, that there were Pharisees and teachers of the law sitting by, who had come out of every town of Galilee, Judea, and Jerusalem. And the power of the Lord was present to heal them. Then behold, men brought on a bed a man who was paralyzed, whom they sought to bring in and lay before Him. And when they could not find how they might bring him in, because of the crowd, they went up on the housetop and let him down with his bed through the tiling into the midst before Jesus. When He saw their faith, He said to him, “Man, your sins are forgiven you.” And the scribes and the Pharisees began to reason, saying, “Who is this who speaks blasphemies? Who can forgive sins but God alone?”But when Jesus perceived their thoughts, He answered and said to them, “Why are you reasoning in your hearts ?Which is easier, to say, ‘Your sins are forgiven you,’ or to say, ‘Rise up and walk’? But that you may know that the Son of Man has power on earth to forgive sins”—He said to the man who was paralyzed, “I say to you, arise, take up your bed, and go to your house.” Immediately he rose up before them, took up what he had been lying on, and departed to his own house, glorifying God.

This passage of Scripture from Luke contains several important teachings. We must never forget that it is the “power of the Lord” that is “present to heal”. If a mortal man refers to himself as a “healer”, run quickly in the opposite direction. Yes, God can use mortal man to pray for the sick so "they shall recover". However, the power always is that of the Holy Spirit indwelling in the believer. We are inadequate and incapable when apart from Him.

I am touched by the actions and faith of the companions of this ill man. First, they demonstrate faith in a Healing God. As they watched the paralyzed man in his suffering, they sought to bring him before the Lord. Nothing is more important for those of us who are ill than for our family and friends to pray for us.

And as this man’s friends attempted to physically bring him before the Lord, they encountered obstacles. Many times before we experience a miracle or touch from the Father, Satan will throw roadblocks in our paths (or in the paths of those who are attempting to pray or support us). It is vital to notice that this group of family and friends of this man did not stop in their pursuit to take the paralyzed man to see Jesus just because of the crowd standing in their way. Imagine carrying a paralyzed man to the roof and making an opening in the roof to lower him through so that he could arrive at the feet of Jesus. Such is the perseverance we must exemplify when chasing after the Father.

Their efforts exemplify several characteristics that we must adhere to when we are seeking to assist a loved one with receiving his or her healing.

1. Faith.
This Scripture reports that Jesus “saw their faith”. Praying for a sick loved one is no easy assignment. We must be constantly in prayer, seeking His Word, asking Him to increase our faith and to decrease our doubts.
2. Faith Into Action.
This band of supporters of the paralyzed man could have chosen to remain at home and pray for their loved one. However, they put their faith into action – not always an easy assignment. They loaded up the crippled man and began their journey to take him to the feet of their Savior.
3. Don’t Be Detoured by Distractions.
A large crowd enveloped the group and crippled their efforts to bring him to Jesus. Easily, they could have been detoured and given up on their attempts. Yet, they fiercely pursued the opportunity to be in the presence of the Savior with their loved one.

As His faithful followers, we must never become lax with regard to prayer, assisting the sick or oppressed, and studying His Word. When God calls upon us to serve as intercessors for one of his hurting children, we must be prepared to answer His call.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Update & Request for Prayer: July 28, 2009

I have completed six weeks of half-dose Rituxan, with two weeks remaining. I will receive treatment all day tomorrow and all day Thursday, completing Week Seven.

I saw my family physician today and my spleen had shrunk by more than five finger widths - more than the width of her hand she stated. I have been able to lay on my left side the past few nights, which is so welcome. My liver edge has basically disappeared as well.

My Absolute Lymphocyte Count was 23,328 (down from 30,362 just five days earlier). My total White Blood Count was 24,300 - normal is 5,000-10,000 - and I started with a WBC of over 160,000. Remember that B-lymphocytes are what are cancerous.

My Absolute Neutrophil Count was the lowest it has been since beginning Rituxan (despite Neupogen twice weekly) at 972. Since I am neutropenic, I will receive two more Neupogen injections this week. My platelets are holding in the 140,000 range and hemoglobin in the 10.5-11 range most of the time.

My Uric Acid level had elevated quite alot this week, so please continue to pray that I will not develop Tumor Lysis Syndrome.

Most impressive, I have made it through six weeks of treatment without infection, reaction or complication. I have not achieved this with any treatment I have taken in almost 13 years. I know God is listening to our prayers.

Monday, July 27, 2009

Isaiah 41:10

New King James Version:
"Fear not, for I am with you;
Be not dismayed, for I am your God.
I will strengthen you,
Yes, I will help you,
I will uphold you with My righteous right hand."

Amplified Version:
"Fear not [there is nothing to fear], for I am with you; do not look around you in terror and be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen and harden you to difficulties, yes, I will help you; yes, I will hold you up and retain you with My [victorious] right hand of rightness and justice."

The Message:
"Don't panic. I'm with you.
There's no need to fear for I'm your God.
I'll give you strength. I'll help you.
I'll hold you steady, keep a firm grip on you."

No matter how you phrase it, God does not want us to be fearful. In a world teeming with terrorist threats, war, famine, economic disaster, diseases including a flu pandemic, crime, and other threats too numerous to mention, He instructs us to rely upon Him. When we are weakened and distraught, He will strengthen us. When our knees are ready to buckle from the weight of the world bearing down on our shoulders, He will uphold us. When terror stabs at our hearts, He will retain us and steady us.

Fear is that unpleasant sensation of anxiety that creeps into our spirits due to dangers infiltrating our lives. More often, fear is that sensation we perceive when we ANTICIPATE that something treacherous or perilous is going to happen in our lives. We need to be sensitive to discern when fear is a response to an imminent threat. If a rabid dog is nipping at our heels, fear will strike. If a mugger has snatched our handbag, fear will strike. God’s Words of instruction are attempting to illustrate for us that even in these imminent attacks, we need to quickly turn to Him for assistance. Our physical beings take over and we begin shouting for help from others, calling 911, or trying to rectify the situation in our own power or by asking for help from other individuals. We need to retrain ourselves, so that instantaneously, we will shout out to our God for His deliverance and protection from harm.

The testimony of David Wilkerson in The Cross and the Switchblade encourages me to become bolder in my faith when facing fearful situations. Reverend Wilkerson spent much time in New York City ministering to gang members. Niky Cruz was one of these gang members that Reverend Wilkerson confronted. He reached out to him in love and forgiveness instead of fear. To watch this testimony from Mr. Cruz go to:

Sometimes it takes facing our very worst fear for us to truly discover the power of Christ. Cancer rates as one of Americans greatest fears – but once confronted and living with cancer – Christ has taken that fear from me. I was fearful of inner-city neighborhoods and then Christ took my hand and led me to work right in the midst of an inner-city neighborhood with drug dealers, gun fights, prostitutes, and other crime. I have witnessed Christ take these two fears in my own life and use them for His glory.

Search your heart and soul and uncover areas of fear in your life. Repent of the sin of fear. And then ask yourself how to best confront that area of fear, measure it against God's Word, and conquer the fear so that He is glorified.

Sunday, July 26, 2009

A Brief Update & Request for Prayer: July 26, 2009

This will be a hectic week, so I ask for your continued prayers for healing, strength, and treatments with no complications.

Tomorrow, I will have my eight-hour IVIG treatment (that I receive every 28 days to support my immunoglobulins/immune system). Then, I will have Week Seven of treatment all day Wednesday and all day Thursday. After this week, I will only have one remaining week of treatment!

I will probably receive new lab reports tomorrow - so I will update the blog with those when I receive them. Please also pray for my veins to stand up to three days of treatment this week.

A Prayer for Today: July 26, 2009

Father in Heaven,

"Hear my cry, O God;
Attend to my prayer.
From the end of the earth I will cry to You,
When my heart is overwhelmed;
Lead me to the rock that is higher than I.

For You have been a shelter for me,
A strong tower from the enemy.
I will abide in Your tabernacle forever;
I will trust in the shelter of Your wings. Selah

For You, O God, have heard my vows;
You have given me the heritage of those who fear Your name.
You will prolong the king’s life,
His years as many generations.
He shall abide before God forever.
Oh, prepare mercy and truth, which may preserve him!

So I will sing praise to Your name forever,
That I may daily perform my vows." (Psalm 61)

So that we may “daily perform our vows” – keep us true to Your Word, Lord. Daily help us to reevaluate our lives, our speech, and our thoughts, so that we may be pleasing to You.

Our hearts are overwhelmed for those among of us who are hurting and struggling. So, we cry out to You, Heavenly Father, on their behalf. For those contemplating treatment, entering into treatment or being treating, be our Constant Companion. Grant the spirit of joy and encouragement for all who are struggling to find daily happiness in the midst of difficult trials. We ask that You intervene in our nation. Bring Godly men and women to the forefront to lead our states and our nation. We ask that our country will remain faithful to Israel and the decisions affecting health care will be positive and none of us will be harmed by lawmakers making decisions on topics without being fully informed. Grant divine protection for the men and women defending our nation.

We are continually amazed at Your goodness. Thank You for never forsaking us. The tunnel ahead of each of us may be very, very dark. Yet, through that darkness, Your light beckons for each of us to follow It. May scales fall off of our eyes, so that our spiritual eyes may see what You might have for us to see and do. And may we always be obedient.

In Jesus’ Most Wonderful Name, I pray. AMEN AND AMEN.

Friday, July 24, 2009

Raison d’etre

This morning, I type one-handed. Hunting and pecking away on my keyboard, my other arm is occupied. It cradles my precious baby grandson. He sleeps, cuddled in my arm. He breaths, I listen. I smell those fragrant smells that only emit from babies. Pink lips are pursed and nurse an imaginary bottle in his dreams. He pulls on my hair and tugs on my heartstrings. My eyes periodically fill with tears as I watch him, peaceful and secure.

He is much too young to know what his life has meant to me. He does not yet fathom how he was born for and has become my raison d’etre. My “reason to live” – that he is to me. My body hurts too much and multiple medicines wreck havoc. Quality of life, for me, has slipped down a precarious slope over the past months. Infections have invaded and irritated me. Too many hours each week are spent moseying through medical mazes of appointments, insurance appeals, refilling prescriptions, and time attached to IV lines.

Yet, I rejoice in the midst of these tribulations, that I have my precious raison d’etre to share these times with me. Lil Man – my reason to live – makes all things medical suddenly endurable. His smile and cackling laughter are infectious. My heart, on its heaviest days, bursts forth with inner joy and outer laughter when I see his two-teeth grin. His morning wake-up call each weekday – to be certain Grammy has not overslept – instantly catapults me out of bed, despite the sleepless nights sated with treatment side effects.

I have been blessed with other reasons to live – including our three daughters. Yet for this time and season, when the three of them have married and left our nest very empty, our precious “baby bird” has filled our nest and this Grammy’s life with much love and life – and to think he does not yet even realize that he is one of my dearest raisons d’etre.


Aging parents are often the concern of their children as we watch them become more forgetful and slow in step. A recent discovery by me at the front window of my bird-watching parents caused me to pause and reflect – are my parents gaining creativity and inventiveness as they age or have they slipped off the deep end when I wasn’t watching?

I drove up the driveway and what did my eyes behold on this blistering hot July day? A Bird-Brella (I coined this product name for my parents’ invention) had been installed over the birds’ feeder. Nothing more than a child’s bright red umbrella, this Bird-Brella had been installed over the feeder to keep the sweltering sun from roasting the little hummers. The Bird-Brella also gives them a place of shelter from summer showers. Rather inventive, wouldn’t you say?

Hummingbirds hover and hum at their multiple feeders at my parents’ home. As many of us discover when our own nests become childless and empty, we must seek other hobbies and interests to fill our days and lives. First, the hummingbird feeders arrived in their front yard. Finch feeders, binoculars, and bird books followed. Their nest is no longer empty – flying friends are flocking to my parents’ yard where food, shelter, and Bird-Brellas await them.

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Update & Request for Prayer: July 23, 2009

Week Six of treatment is completed. All went well, however I am just very exhausted. Last night I had a great deal of nausea and a difficult headache but tonight I am simply exhausted. Labs were not repeated today. I received a Neupogen injection following treatment.

Next week will be a challenging week as I have three 8-hour days of treatments. On Monday, I will receive my IVIG treatment for my immune function, that I receive every 28 days. Then I will receive the Rituxan treatments on Wednesday and Thursday along with IV hydration. Please continue to pray for strength and success with these treatments.

I will return to my Ohio State oncologist in August.

"Restrain the Government - Lest It Come to Dominate Our Lives"

These quotes from Patrick Henry, one of the Founding Fathers of the United States, are vital reminders to the leaders of our country today. The full speed ahead attempt to take freedoms from Americans, have government control every area of American life, and drag us toward a Socialist nation, should be contrasted to the content of these quotes. Our freedoms hang in the balance – we must not sit idle and mute. We must make our viewpoints known to those who are representing us in government.

"The Constitution is not an instrument for the government to restrain the people, it is an instrument for the people to restrain the government - lest it come to dominate our lives and interests."

"It can not be emphasized too strongly or too often that this great nation was founded, not by religionists, but by Christians, not on religions, but on the gospel of Jesus Christ!"

"The liberties of a people never were, nor ever will be, secure when the transactions of their rulers may be concealed from them."

"Are we at last brought to such a humiliating and debasing degradation, that we cannot be trusted with arms for our own defense?"

"The Bible is worth all the other books which have ever been printed."

"The eternal difference between right and wrong does not fluctuate, it is immutable."

"The great object is that every man be armed. Everyone who is able may have a gun."

Link to Senators and Representatives:

Sea Bands to the Rescue

For several years, I have received weekly acupuncture treatments. These treatments assist with pain management, stimulation of my weakened immune system, nausea, and other complaints.

Nausea has been one of my chief complaints with this cycle of treatment. I have some nausea from existing medications I am taking, so the addition of the Rituxan has multiplied the nausea symptoms. I did not want to add another medication such as anti-nausea drugs to my 40+ pills that I am taking each day.

My Mom struck on the idea for me to try Sea Bands. These are the acupressure wristbands that some people use on cruises to prevent sea sicknesses and expectant mothers utilize them to assist with morning sickness. There was really nothing to lose by giving them a try, so she purchased me a set and our experiment began. They have worked well and prevented me from having to take the anti-nausea medications!

These are placed around both wrists at the very points on the underneath side of my arms, slightly above the wrist that the acupuncture needles are inserted. The Nei-Kuan point is where the Sea Bands are positioned. To locate this position (you can apply pressure to this point without a Sea Band if you are ever nauseated). Just place your three middle fingers on the inside of your wrist , just below the bend of the wrist. This point will be beneath the index finger, between two tendons that you can feel running up your arm.

My results have been confirmed by clinical trials. In 1998, the National Institutes of Health Consensus Statement on Acupuncture concluded that promising results emerged that verified that acupuncture can improve chemotherapy induced nausea and vomiting. Data from several trials concluded that acupuncture stimulation of the P6 point appeared to be superior to antiemetic (anti-nausea) medication for nausea and acupuncture’s results were equivalent to the antiemetics for vomiting (PMID: 16813514).

Photograph from Sea Bands website

Morphing into a Mouse

Six weeks of this mouse tissue infused treatment and there are no further signs I am morphing into a mouse. Previous reports that I was growing a mouse-tail have proven to be nothing more than folk lore (or chemo drug hallucinations) and the overnight cheese cravings accompanied by rapid scurrying around the house have ceased.

One of my friends sent some mouse trivia facts to me and wanted me to assure her that I was not morphing into a mouse with the risk I would develop any of these possible traits including having eight litters of children per year.

A fellow leukemia patient who was taking Rituxan, was well aware of the mouse tissue component of Rituxan. He located a mouse costume – nose, tail, mask, etc. When his nurse left the room, he quickly donned the costume then yelled for his nurse: “I am having a bad reaction!” The nurse came quickly to his rescue, only to discover him having his “mouse” reaction. I told one of my nurses today that I had considered replicating this brilliant stunt but I knew if I shouted, “I’M HAVING A REACTION!”, they would panic and come running with all sorts of rescue shots and IVs, given my drug reaction history.

Although my body usually revolts against Rituxan and its mouse proteins, I recently discovered that tissue from mice had actually been used to create stem cells which could not be distinguished from human embryonic stem cells. With such controversy and debate surrounding the use of embryonic stem cells to research and cure diseases, this could feasibly be a brilliant discovery (Personally, I am adamantly opposed to this use of human embryonic stem cells -- despite being a cancer patient who could have the potential to benefit from this research– I will never want to personally benefit from the tissue of another human who has been destroyed).

While, I have joked periodically throughout this treatment about morphing into a mouse, there might be more science and potential behind that thought than I ever imagined. If this research proves to be fruitful, more of us than we thought possible, could be benefiting from the tissue of these furry, little critters.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Are You Ready?

No post is more appropriate after one on being assured of our salvation, through being born again, than one written about the Rapture. Many have read the fictional series LEFT BEHIND. This series details the Rapture and those who are left behind on earth to face the seven years of Great Tribulation. Those who are secure in their salvation and dedicated to living their lives for God will be raptured to Heaven (not facing physical death on earth or the Great Tribulation). Thus, the title of the first book of the series, LEFT BEHIND, succinctly describes the terrors and perils of those who are LEFT BEHIND on earth - those who miss the Rapture.

"For this we say unto you by the word of the Lord, that we who are alive and remain unto the coming of the Lord shall not precede them who are asleep. For the Lord himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God; and the dead in Christ shall rise first; Then we who are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air; and so shall we ever be with the Lord. Wherefore comfort one another with these words." 1 Thessalonian s 4:15-18

Those who study Biblical prophecy, detect signs of the times all around us. Signals that we believe are warning us of the Rapture and then the onset of these seven years of Tribulation on earth. Over one-half of the population who is left behind after the Rapture will die in wars, plagues, natural disasters, and other horrendous events. The Antichrist will rule over the earth at this time and all of the Christians (who normally would be engaged in spiritual warfare prayers against the enemy) will have been Raptured.

Those not truly believing and living for Christ will be left behind. As the fictional series depicts, many "church" people will even be left behind. God knows the intent of our hearts and spirits. He knows our thoughts, deeds and actions. We need to be living lives that are holy and pure before our Lord and Savior, so that we will have the eternal promise of Heaven AND the guarantee that we will not have to endure these years of tribulation.

If left behind, it is imperative for each human to recognize quickly - what has happened; why he has been left behind; and what he can do to rectify the situation. If left behind, each person still has the opportunity to fall to his knees, seek forgiveness, and be redeemed. These individuals - Tribulation Saints - will endure great persecution and possibly even death for their faith - but eternal life will await them.

Individuals living during these years of tribulation will be forced to take the "mark" (of the beast, the enemy) in order to purchase or sell and participate in the global economy after the Rapture. Do not fall for that and be willing to take the "mark" - even if it means that you will be unable to purchase or sell - by taking this "mark" - the person will be eternally doomed and sealed as belonging to the enemy.

"I Wish We'd All Been Ready" is a song that DC Talk performs. The words are poignant and one scene on this video (link below) shows the shock of a young man who knew immediately what had happened, as he falls in heartbreak to the floor. Most likely, this young man, in the video, had once known the ways of God but had strayed from them. He knew what God requires of those who desire to have eternal life in Heaven. He had heard of the Rapture and perhaps, like many, found it far-fetched and doubted that Christ would return for His own, leaving behind those who fell away from Him to face the years of tribulation. His regrets are obvious. Let each of us have no doubt that we will be sojourners on the Rapture trip to Heaven.


Born Again

I treasure Third Day's song "Born Again" - the lyrics remind us of the beauty of each born again experience. John 3:3 instructs us:"Jesus answered and said to him, 'Most assuredly, I say to you, unless one is born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God'.” The Holy Bible does not mince words when it explains to us how we are assured that we will enter the Kingdom of God when we pass from this earth. We must be born again.

For some, this might seem to be a radical phrase or concept. However, its simplicity is only complicated by religiosity and man's interpretations. God did not intend for this to be difficult - He longs for no one to perish and miss the opportunity to be blessed with eternal life. John 3:7 reiterates: "Do not marvel that I said to you, ‘You must be born again.’"

When we are "born again" - it is not a physical rebirth, but a spiritual rebirth and cleansing. We are saved from our sins and ourselves. Acts 16:30 poses the question, "...'Sirs, what must I do to be saved?'” And the response was, “'Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and you will be saved, you and your household'" (Acts 16:31).

Growing up in the church or having Christian parents or grandparents will not guarantee our reservation in Heaven. Living a "good" life or doing "good" works daily will not open the door to Heaven for us. Don't be fooled into believing that there are other methods or other men who will guarantee your promise of eternal life. Acts 4:12 teaches, "Nor is there salvation in any other, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved.

Through One Man's Name, through His death and resurrection, through Jesus Christ alone are we saved - forgiven and redeemed.

Born Again
By Third Day

Today I found myself,
After searching all these years,
And the man that I saw,
He wasn't at all who I'd thought He'd be,

I was lost when You found me here,
And I was broken beyond repair,
Then You came along and sang Your song over me


It feels like I'm born again
It feels like I'm living
For the very first time
For the very first time,
In my life

Make a promise to me now,
Reassure my heart somehow,
That the love that I feel,
is so much more real than anything
I've a feeling in my soul,
And I pray that I'm not wrong,
That the life I have now,
It is only the beginning


It feels like I'm born again
It feels like I'm living
For the very first time
For the very first time

It feels like I'm breathing
It feels like I'm moving
For the very first time
For the very first time

I wasn't looking for something that was more,
Than what I had yesterday,
Then You came to me,
Then You gave to me,
Life and a love that I've never known,
That I've never felt before

It feels like I'm born again
It feels like I'm living
For the very first time
I'm living for the first time

It feels like I'm breathing
It feels like I'm moving
For the very first time
I'm living for the first time,
In my life

You Tube Video Link for This Song:

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Update & Request for Prayer: July 21, 2009

A quick update before Week Six of half-dose Rituxan will begin tomorrow and complete on Thursday .....

I still am coughing and have some sinus congestion - I am taking Cipro and antifungal, so we are waiting to see if we need to desensitize to add another anti-something. I was just above neutropenic level, so will not receive Neupogen until Wednesday and Thursday.

I have continued to have ongoing nausea from the treatment. My Mom thought of my using Seabands to lessen the nausea. (These are wristbands that people wear when on ships to prevent sea sickness-they apply pressure on an acupuncture point that my doctor uses to treat nausea.) They are working and the nausea has decreased without having to add more chemicals (prescription anti-nausea medicaitons) to my over-loaded body.

My total WBC yesterday was 29,300. It was 167,800 when I began this protocol. This means my ALC (absolute lymphocyte count) has gone from 166,122 to 27,542 - over an 83percent decline. Cancerous lymphocytes are what we are trying to annihilate.

My platelets almost were identical to last week -- still low yet high enough to keep me at stage 2 as well as hemoglobin (which dropped a bit) but still good enough to keep me at stage 2.

I cancelled my doctor's appointment today as I am just worn out and wanted a day at home. However, based on my estimations, my lymph nodes and spleen have decreased in size from last week.

Please pray for me as I receive treatment this week.

PS - We received the EOB from insurance today - the first week of half-dose Rituxan cost over $20,000. Imagine the eight week total cost! My insurance lifetime maximum benefit is quickly eroding. Such is the risk when one lives a long life with cancer.

Sunday, July 19, 2009


Perspective is the evaluation of a certain fact from one person's point of view. Sixty two and one-half percent would be evaluated as a miserable failure by a student receiving this score on a final examination or vital research paper. Yet, for the patient (me) calculating the percentage of treatments that are completed, a sixty two and one-half percent completion rate is cause to celebrate.

This week I will complete three-fourths of the scheduled treatments on Thursday. It seems as though I have been locked in this weekly cycle of treatment for a very long time. Our weekly schedules are gradually conforming to accommodate the treatments yet they still tend to be a nuisance that I would prefer to eliminate. If, upon completion, I have achieved some degree of remission, the treatment nuisance will be worth the time, effort, and resources that we have invested.

I state "we" because cancer treatment becomes a family affair with everyone contributing to assist. It takes a "village" to support the cancer patient. My husband and parents have driven me to or picked me up from the cancer center or hospital. My parents and twin daughters have helped me to care for our precious grandson. He is becoming stronger and faster and during these past months, I have become weaker and slower. That combination does not equate and added manpower has been recruited. Friends and family have cooked for us or brought meals to us to help lighten the load at home. Our youngest daughter, my husband, a son-in-law and friends have become bone marrow donors or donated blood in my honor. Both causes that are admirable and appreciated by those of us dependent upon blood transfusions, immunoglobulin treatments or transplants. Prayers have been spoken on my behalf and words of encouragement have been received. Our family doctor provides exceptional care and support during each step of this battle. Leukemia specialists from around the USA and around the world have graciously given of their wide-ranging understand of this leukemia to offer me guidance and advice. The chemo nurses have been professional and compassionate and provided me with exceptional care. This "village" of caregivers has been wide-ranging and faithful in their efforts to help me to heal.

I may have completed only 62.5% of my treatments but those around me have given 100% to help me during this time! Words cannot describe the gratitude I hold in my heart for each of you.

Saturday, July 18, 2009

Black-Eyed Susan

Black-Eyed Susan
Poem by John Gay (1685–1732)

ALL in the Downs the fleet was moor’d,
The streamers waving in the wind,
When black-eyed Susan came aboard;
‘O! where shall I my true-love find?
Tell me, ye jovial sailors, tell me true
If my sweet William sails among the crew.’

William, who high upon the yard
Rock’d with the billow to and fro,
Soon as her well-known voice he heard
He sigh’d, and cast his eyes below:
The cord slides swiftly through his glowing hands,
And quick as lightning on the deck he stands.

So the sweet lark, high poised in air,
Shuts close his pinions to his breast
If chance his mate’s shrill call he hear,
And drops at once into her nest:—
The noblest captain in the British fleet
Might envy William’s lip those kisses sweet.

‘O Susan, Susan, lovely dear,
My vows shall ever true remain;
Let me kiss off that falling tear;
We only part to meet again.
Change as ye list, ye winds; my heart shall be
The faithful compass that still points to thee.

‘Believe not what the landmen say
Who tempt with doubts thy constant mind:
They’ll tell thee, sailors, when away,
In every port a mistress find:
Yes, yes, believe them when they tell thee so,
For Thou art present wheresoe’er I go.

‘If to fair India’s coast we sail,
Thy eyes are seen in diamonds bright,
Thy breath is Afric’s spicy gale,
Thy skin is ivory so white.
Thus every beauteous object that I view
Wakes in my soul some charm of lovely Sue.

‘Though battle call me from thy arms
Let not my pretty Susan mourn;
Though cannons roar, yet safe from harms
William shall to his Dear return.
Love turns aside the balls that round me fly,
Lest precious tears should drop from Susan’s eye:

The boatswain gave the dreadful word,
The sails their swelling bosom spread,
No longer must she stay aboard;
They kiss’d, she sigh’d, he hung his head.
Her lessening boat unwilling rows to land;
‘Adieu!’ she cries; and waved her lily hand

Photographs copyright Stacie

He Is

Before my treatments began, I received a card of encouragement from a friend (Thanks, LM). This poem blessed me so much that I wanted to share it on my blog. It does not credit an author of this beautiful piece.

When you are the neediest,
He is the most sufficient.
When you are completely helpless,
He is the most helpful.
When you feel totally dependent,
He is absolutely dependable.
When you are the weakest,
He is the most able.
When you are the most alone,
He is intimately present.
When you feel you are the least,
He is the greatest,
When you feel the most useless,
He is preparing you.
When it is the darkest,
He is the only Light you need.
When you feel the least secure,
He is your Rock and Fortress.
When you are the most humble,
He is most gracious.
When you can't,
He can.

Friday, July 17, 2009

Thanks Donors!

Our youngest daughter, one of our son-in-laws, our daughter's co-workers and other office staffs in her building gave the gift of life today -- blood. Thank you to each one of you. For my IVIG treatment that I receive every 28 days, it requires thousands of blood donors to provide my one dose of immunoglobulins. Keep donating blood - it sustains many cancer patients each day.

He is Coming Back!

Matthew 24:30
Then the sign of the Son of Man will appear in heaven, and then all the tribes of the earth will mourn, and they will see the Son of Man coming on the clouds of heaven with power and great glory.

1 Thessalonians 4:17
Then we who are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And thus we shall always be with the Lord.

Revelation 1:7
Behold, He is coming with clouds, and every eye will see Him, even they who pierced Him. And all the tribes of the earth will mourn because of Him. Even so, Amen.

Defining Complete Remission

I have been searching for the scientific definition of complete remission (CR) of this disease. These defining criteria are discussed by a leading specialist, Dr. Hamblin, on his blog:

Now CR needs all the following criteria as assessed at least three months after the completion of treatment:

1. No clonal lymphocytes. This is more stringent than before – all you needed then was fewer than 4000 lymphocytes.

2. No significantly enlarged lymph nodes. In clinical trials CT scanning is now positively encouraged. So we are talking about the largest diameter of lymph nodes anywhere in the body, not being greater than 1.5 cm.

3. No hepatomegaly or splenomegaly by physical examination. We have now reverted to physical examination even though a CT scan will have been done to look for enlarged lymph nodes. The guidelines advise that if liver or spleen were found to be abnormal before treatment then a scan should be performed at evaluation; this should also be done if the evaluation was inconclusive by physical examination.

4. No constitutional symptoms.

5. Neutrophils >1500 / cu mm, platelets >100,000 /. Cu mm Hb >11 g/dL (untransfused). For more than 20 years I have been protesting that to choose the same Hb level for men and women is insane.

6. If all these points have been achieved a bone marrow aspirate and trephine biopsy should be performed. The marrow should be examined by flow cytometry and immunohistochemistry to look for clonal B cells. If clonal cells are found then the case is demoted to PR. It must be stressed here that the flow cytometry is not the powerful 4-color flow used to detect MRD, but the simpler 2-color flow that detects one cell in 100.If lymphoid nodules are found in the trephine, then immunohistochemistry should distinguish between CLL and reactive nodules. The nPR category therefore disappears. If the marrow is hypercellular, then it should be repeated in 4-6 weeks, provided the blood counts have recovered. In some cases it is necessary to continue to postpone the marrow, but this time interval should not exceed 6 months.

7. The question of apparent CR with a failure to recover the bone marrow also seems to have been resolved. Those who fulfill all the criteria for a CR including the marrow examination, but who have a persistent anemia, thrombocytopenia or neutropenia unrelated to CLL but related to drug toxicity are designated CRi (‘i’ stands for incomplete marrow recovery). In view of the fact that a PR still requires recovery of at least one of the marrow lineages, I am not clear whether CRi can be applied to a patient with complete pancytopenia.

Thursday, July 16, 2009

A Prayer for Today: July 16, 2009

Heavenly Father,

We are grateful for the love and support we receive from our fellow Christians. You knew that we would require the love and support of each other to assist us through trying times. Continue to equip us so that we can encourage and lift one another up through our prayers and words of enlightenment and encouragement.

I Peter 3:8-9 reminds us: “Finally, all of you be of one mind, having compassion for one another; love as brothers, be tenderhearted, be courteous; not returning evil for evil or reviling for reviling, but on the contrary blessing, knowing that you were called to this, that you may inherit a blessing.”

Please forgive us when we fall short of these instructions, Lord. We pray and ask for unity in the Body of Christ. Expand our hearts so that they will overflow with Your compassion for those in our lives who are hurting. Grant us wisdom and understanding of Your Word, so that we can adequately share the Gospel with those who do not yet know You.

With His love and compassion, I bring so many of my brothers and sisters in the Lord before Your throne tonight. May You touch and bless and heal each one. Cover each one with Your protection, restore lives, and heal each broken body.

We will not give up, Lord. We will daily turn to You so that our hearts are uplifted and our spirits are renewed. We will not allow the spirit of discouragement to conquer our fighting spirits. We will remain focused and dedicated to our task, as your disciples, to share the Good News to a lost world around us.

We rejoice at the mention of Your Name. In Jesus’ Name I pray. AMEN.

Wonders of Wyoming

A fellow leukemia warrior, who lives in Wyoming, took this beautiful photograph. I fell in love with it and asked her for permission to post it on my Blog. I hope you enjoy it. If treatment continues to go well, we may head west this fall to the Grand Tetons. Barb keeps me inspired with her Wyoming photographs. Thanks, Barb!

Looking Ahead: What I Plan to do When Declared in Remission

Doctors are not even mentioning the “R Word” (remission) as a possibility to me anymore. One doctor talks about “knocking back the disease”. Another focuses on clearing the leukemia from the marrow enough to regain some marrow function. In their opinions, the leukemia is too entrenched and my immune system is too fractured to utilize the drugs and amounts needed to arrive at a remission.

Since I tend to believe in miracles and I still anticipate a God-breathed remission, I decided it would be healthy to dream about what I will do when I am declared in remission.

1.Run down the street, waving my lab results, shouting, “I am healed. Thank the Lord!” This plan could possibly result in my arrest for disturbing the peace or being ticketed as a public nuisance, but I am game to give it a try!

2.Incinerate wills, funeral plans, my self-written obituary and other preplanning I have done. After all, who really needs preparations like these? When we die, just leave the worrying and planning to someone else.

3.Make reservations for all of the trips and travel I have had to postpone due to infections, treatment, or concerns about my health while traveling. Accumulate frequent flyer meals from travel to intriguing destinations instead of to the National Cancer Institute.

4.Have a bonfire and burn the umpteen file cabinets of medical journals, articles, copies of lab results, and medical receipts.

5.Add about 72 extra hours each week to my schedule after I can cancel all doctors’ appointments, time to battle the insurance company, time to file appeals to receive the treatments I need, to conduct online research, to travel to see specialists and to order/pick-up/refill pills too numerous to count.

6.Dig and plant in the dirt of my flower beds (since I cannot due this to risk of fungal infection); return to practicing my handsprings in the living room (since I had to discontinue my gymnastic exhibitions due to the potential of rupturing my spleen); sleep without pain; live every day without addressing medical concerns; and where a flamingo pink T-shirt everyday that says, "God Healed Me of Cancer!" (with gold bangles and silver sequins).

7.Sign up to be Lil Man’s Nanny until age 18. Although he “might” decide to break the contract at age 10.

8.Tell every person I know about the wonderful gifts of salvation, healing, and hope that my Savior has given to me.

Keep believing with me – all things are possible.

Mr Binkerton and Gram Gram

Certain nicknames and jingles have emerged in the life of Mr. Binkerton and Gram Gram (aka my grandson and me). We sing silliness and dance together. At ten months, he recognizes me and reaches for me. We are soul mates!

Last night, he and Grampy came to pick me up at the Cancer Center. When I walked out and opened the rear door to our car, he grinned from ear to ear. I knew he had missed me while I received treatment yesterday. You notice, I say I opened the REAR door to our car - that is my new favorite seat - in the backseat with Lil Man!

Once I slid in beside him, he began jabbering nonstop. My husband I laughed because it was if he was recounting his entire day's adventures to me. He laughed and grinned with his two teeth smile at me. My heart was so warmed and any feelings of malaise that I had were forced to the back of my mind and pain center. He kept waving BYE BYE to me - I think he knew it was almost time to go home with Mama.

Gram Gram loves her Mr. Binkerton. He puts a sparkle in my eye. He evokes hope in my heart. He is a precious gift from God. (And I hope he will forgive me when he is 14 and everyone still refers to him as Mr. Binkerton!)

Small Potatoes

Isaiah 26:3
You will keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on You, because he trusts in You.

Perfect peace – does that not sound like a dream come true? Peace in this world of turmoil and trials seems unattainable yet God’s Promises in Isaiah 26:3 instruct us that perfect peace is an attainable goal. Yet, as with many of God’s Promises to us, there are mandates of what we must first do in order to obtain His Promises. First we are advised that we are to keep our minds “stayed on Him” if we are to have peace reigning in our lives.

Stayed – to continue to be in the same place, condition, or state -- depicts a constant abiding and focus of every cell of our minds onto God and His Word. The practice of keeping my mind stayed on Him has been an ongoing effort since cancer invaded my body. Life challenges, threats to health or wealth, and physical pain and suffering all attempt to drag our minds away from God and His Word. The “what if’s” and “could have beens” of today taunt and threaten to lug our thought life away from God’s Word and focus it on today’s temporary challenges.

No matter how large and looming life challenges might be for us, we must view them within the context of God’s teachings. They are “light and momentary troubles” – the most brutal life problem is here for but a moment when compared to eternity. 2 Corinthians Chapter 4:17-19 states: “Therefore we do not lose heart. Even though our outward man is perishing, yet the inward man is being renewed day by day. For our light affliction, which is but for a moment, is working for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory, while we do not look at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen. For the things which are seen are temporary, but the things which are not seen are eternal.”

I especially appreciate the translation of this verse in The Message: “These hard times are small potatoes compared to the coming good times, the lavish celebration prepared for us.” Small potatoes – isn’t that a great analogy to consider? Cancer is “small potatoes” compared to the Heavenly celebration that awaits us. Personal financial losses or foreclosures in the midst of these economic trials are just “small potatoes” when compared to what God has planned for His children. Drug or alcohol addictions – again, Satan might like for us to view addictions as impossible to overcome – just “small potatoes” through God’s viewpoint.

We are taught that we must trust God in order to be the recipient of perfect peace. When I looked up TRUST in my thesaurus, the first synonym offered was FAITH. The second synonym was HOPE. When we walk with our focus properly placed on God and His Word versus on Satan and his taunts, we arrive at that place of perfect peace.

I have walked down both sides of the Faith Fence. As a young Christian, I was assured of my salvation, however, I did not walk very victoriously. I would stumble and falter when Satan would throw challenges in my path. I did more doubting than believing. I was not consistent to referring to the Bible when struggling with distractions and doubt. I did not seriously seek Him in heart-wrenching prayer. I lived my life following more of my plans than His plans for my life. And, in turn, I did not possess His perfect peace.

After years of serving Him, I slipped under the Faith Fence and began walking down the other side of the fence row. I learned to pray continually and constantly. I began studying and seeking His Word more seriously. I trusted Him more and placed my focus on Him rather than on the problems that taunted me. Gradually, His perfect peace began to take up residence in my heart and mind.

Words cannot adequately express the difference that living like this has made for me. His perfect peace allows me to soar above being told I have “end stage leukemia”. His perfect peace allows me to trust Him to save those in my family who are not serving God. His perfect peace has allowed me not to worry myself to pieces when a dishonest employer cost our family tens of thousands of dollars. His perfect peace has carried me through serious illnesses with our children. His perfect peace has given me strength to fight cancer for over a decade. His perfect peace never fails. His perfect peace is priceless. His perfect peace is absolutely worth following His instructions to achieve – keep our minds stayed on him and trust Him.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Counting Down to Treatment Completion!

Prayer Request for Friends

I received this e-mail from a dear friend in Tennessee. Please pray for this little girl and her family.

I wanted to write you to request your prayers for one of our sweet twin granddaughters(4 years old). She has had a significant loss of vision in one eye. This was noticed in a regular check-up in January. Since then, the specialists they have been seeing have tried different therapy treatments including requiring her to patch her good eye. This has been very hard on her because when her good eye is patched she is virtually blind and has a hard time coping. At her check-up a few days ago, the doctors decided they were beginning to see signs of what they think is an "orbital eye mass" and she is scheduled to have a CT Scan on Monday afternoon. There are several outcomes of an "orbital eye mass", and we would requests your prayers that the results will be a treatable condition. Of course, we are all hoping she can have her vision restored in that eye, also. We will be with them when she has the CT Scan on Monday, but they have said the results might not be ready until Tuesday. I will let you know what we find out. Thank you so very much for your prayers. I really was upset at first to have to wait until Monday, but that gives us several days of prayer time and that is very comforting to Grandma.

Update & Request for Prayer: July 15, 2009

Since I have emails from several of my blog buddies, I thought I should update the blog. I am still alive and kicking for those of you with curious minds. I have been working on a grant funding proposal for the past week, so my efforts as a wordsmith have been focused on completion of that project.

Others have inquired about our young friend of the family for whom I requested prayer on the blog. She is much improved and was dismissed from the hospital last night. She needs continued prayer as they adjust blood thinners and she recuperates.

I realized that I departed from the blog, leaving my readers hanging in suspense about the donor search. Evidently there is a donor or donors that have matched to some degree. The NIH transplant team only has the results of the transplant donor preliminary search. Evidently, I will not be given details of this search. Now, more intensive searches will begin on the potential donors. The NIH transplant coordinator contacted me and told me that the transplant team would like to meet again in person with me. For the time being, my calendar is a bit overbooked, so that trip may be delayed for a short time. I have 4 more weeks of treatment, nanny duties with Lil Man, a fall vacation (destination to be determined), and other regularly scheduled programming that fills my next few months. When I find an opening, I will most likely just hop on a plane and fly out for a quick day or two trip.

My total WBC (white blood count) is 34,900 as of yesterday (you might recall it was over 160,000 when I began). That makes an 80 percent decline in the Absolute Lymphocyte Count (B lymphocytes are cancerous)! My hemoglobin is rising steadily and is 11.8 - much better than the breathing busting level of 7.9. My platelets remain steady at 147,000.

I am neutropenic again - I will most likely receive the Neupogen injection sometime this morning to help my body's immune system to fight off infections.

The uric acid levels remains slightly elevated, so I continue to drink 2+ liters of water per day and receive IV hydration to prevent Tumor Lysis Syndrome. My kidney counts were all normal and I had one liver count that was slightly elevated.

I have not felt as well this past week as I have after the previous weeks of treatment. I liken this to the passage of Scripture in Mark 4.

Jesus Calms the Storm

That day when evening came, he said to his disciples, "Let us go over to the other side." Leaving the crowd behind, they took him along, just as he was, in the boat. There were also other boats with him. A furious squall came up, and the waves broke over the boat, so that it was nearly swamped. Jesus was in the stern, sleeping on a cushion. The disciples woke him and said to him, "Teacher, don't you care if we drown?" He got up, rebuked the wind and said to the waves, "Quiet! Be still!" Then the wind died down and it was completely calm. He said to his disciples, "Why are you so afraid? Do you still have no faith?" They were terrified and asked each other, "Who is this? Even the wind and the waves obey him!"

Despite some of my counts still not declining and a pesky spleen and lymph nodes that continue to swell and shrink in a vicious cycle, I want to be like Jesus. While everyone else in the boat filled with fear and looked at the physical circumstances, Jesus slept soundly in the stern - the furious waves and threats of drowning and death did not even faze Jesus. I pray for that same calm that He sensed and proclaimed over the storm He was facing. Leukemia - be quiet! Be still! I ask for Him to continue to increase my faith so that I will not falter in the midst of threats and torments.

Saturday, July 11, 2009

Urgent Prayer Request for a Friend

Please pray for a young friend of our family's. She is at the hospital as I type and has been diagnosed with a Pulmonary Embolus (PE) which is a blood clot in the lung and pneumonia.


In the Name of Jesus, I come before you on behalf of this special young woman. I ask that at this very moment, You will touch her body - safely and speedily dissolve these blood clots in her lungs. Do not allow them to move from her lungs. Help her to tolerate the treatment with no complications. We ask that this infection will clear quickly. Comfort her and allow her to take deep breaths without pain. Be near to her, her husband, and her family and give them Your peace, reassurance, and strength. Provide Divine Wisdom to the physicians and everyone who cares for her at the hospital.

In Jesus' Name we pray. AMEN.

Thursday, July 9, 2009

Update & Request for Prayer: July 9, 2009

A quick update for today.....

I am officially finished with half of my treatment cycle of 8 weeks of half-dose Rituxan.

Today was one of the most difficult treatment days - physically and emotionally. On the physical side, I ran a temperature all day, was very nauseated and just did not feel well. Six veins blew out, so vein access is becoming a real problem. One of my nurses asked if I could grow some new veins before next week's treatments on Wednesday and Thursday. :-)

My CBC results were comparable to Tuesday's. My uric acid level had improved, so that was good news.

Emotionally it was a challenging day as a fellow cancer warrior, whom had been at this cancer center longer than my decade of service, passed away. She was a Christian and her husband would always accompany her and come to see if I needed drinks, etc. We shared alot about the Lord over the years, so I know she is in His presence. It was still sad to learn of her passing.

Then after having a rocky day, I walked in the house and discovered a large envelope in the mail from the National Marrow Donor Registry. I could not even open it for awhile, as I was uncertain of what its contents might be. Once I generated the courage to open it, the letter stated, "your doctor has received your report". I am a bit confused because when my search was initiated in mid-May, I was told it could be 3-6 months before the results would be available. Naturally, it was after 6 when I returned home, so doctors and NDMP numbers were not answered. So we wait....

The packet included a great deal of information on transplant, so my assumption is that they found a matched unrelated donor (MUD). I will update with more information once I receive it. I had completely tabled any mental time or energy spent on the transplant decision. It has to be one of the most difficult decisions anyone is every asked to make. My logic was that until I knew I had a match, there was no need to ponder and research transplant. IF the results are available and IF there is a matched donor, I can no longer ignore transplant consideration. I will be forced to make that decision for myself.

Thanks for your prayers.

Happy Ten Month Birthday, Lil Man!

Lil Man turns ten months old today. Ever so quickly he is marching toward his first birthday. In the past week, he has begun walking and talking. His first word was DADA, much to the dismay of our daughter. And crawling will soon be a distant memory.

There are not many of Man's milestones that Grammy has missed with her camera. Camera memory cards are filled with precious photographs. And Grammy's "internal memory card of her heart" has preserved the sights, sounds and emotions of ten months spent with her first grandchild.

Sometimes I cry when I just reflect on the past year I have been blessed to live to be able to share in his life. I weep because of the joy he brings to me and the internal fight to live that he inspires.

I laugh during the nighttime hours when I awake and envision him making the "Larry the Lizard" or "Pee-Pie" face. My heart warms when he gives me a kiss when I ask for one. My pain takes a backseat to the life he breathes into me.

Thanks, Lil Man for sharing so much with your Grammy.

Dedicated to My Baby Grandson

These lyrics contain words that my heart speaks to my baby grandson. I pray that years from now, he will read my blog and know what his Grammy prayed for him and his life.

Find Your Wings
Mark Harris

It's only for a moment you are mine to hold
The plans that heaven has for you
Will all too soon unfold
So many different prayers I'll pray
For all that you might do
But most of all I'll want to know
You're walking in the truth

And If I never told you
I want you to know
As I watch you grow

I pray that God would fill your heart with dreams
And that faith gives you the courage
To dare to do great things
I'm here for you whatever this life brings
So let my love give you roots
And help you find your wings

May passion be the wind
That leads you through your days
And may conviction keep you strong
Guide you on your way
May there be many moments
That make your life so sweet
Oh, but more than memories


It's not living if you don't reach for the sky
I'll have tears as you take off
But I'll cheer as you fly

I pray that God would fill your heart with dreams
And that faith gives you the courage
To dare to do great things
I'm here for you whatever this life brings
So let my love give you roots
And help you find your wings

Watch the video at:

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

A Prayer for Today: July 8, 2009

Almighty God,

“God is Spirit, and those who worship Him must worship in spirit and in truth,” (John 4:24). We worship You, Lord, for You alone are truly worthy of our worship. You seek our worship, so let us not grow slack with our praises. Life is challenging, calendars are over-scheduled, yet prompt us to carve out the time each day to worship You. We love You and are so grateful for the love that You possess for each of us.

We humbly seek Your forgiveness, Father. However we have messed up this week, forgive us and help us to avoid repeating that snare of sin, whatever it might have been. Keep us alert to recognize when our thoughts or words are not pleasing to You, Lord. Turn us from darkness to light. James 3:2 reminds us, “For we all stumble in many things,”. Pick us up when we stumble and brush the dust off of us, Lord. We desire for our lives to be reflective of You.

You know the desires of each of our hearts. We trust You to orchestrate the details of our lives in ways that are in our best interest. We won’t cast off our confidence in You as it has great reward (Hebrews 10:35). Thank You for hearing our petitions that we utter.

In His precious and priceless Name – Jesus – I pray. AMEN.

To A Butterfly

To A Butterfly

I've watched you now a full half-hour,
Self-poised upon that yellow flower;
And, little Butterfly! indeed
I know not if you sleep or feed.
How motionless! - not frozen seas
More motionless! and then
What joy awaits you, when the breeze
Hath found you out among the trees,
And calls you forth again!

This plot of orchard-ground is ours;
My trees they are, my Sister's flowers;
Here rest your wing when they are weary;
Here lodge as in a sanctuary!
Come often to us, fear no wrong;
Sit near us on the bough!
We'll talk of sunshine and of song,
And summer days, when we were young;
Sweet childish days, that were as long
As twenty days are now.

Stay near me--do not take thy flight!
A little longer stay in sight!
Much converse do I find in thee,
Historian of my infancy!
Float near me; do not yet depart!
Dead times revive in thee:
Thou bring'st, gay creature as thou art!
A solemn image to my heart,
My father's family!

Oh! pleasant, pleasant were the days,
The time, when, in our childish plays,
My sister Emmeline and I
Together chased the butterfly!
A very hunter did I rush
Upon the prey:--with leaps and springs
I followed on from brake to bush;
But she, God love her, feared to brush
The dust from off its wings.

William Wordsworth

Photograph copyright Stacie

Update & Request for Treatment: July 8, 2009

Treatment has infused for today without reactions or complications. I now sit and watch IV fluids rush into my veins to aid in the fight to prevent Tumor Lysis Syndrome. I am groggy from premedications and tired from sitting for over 7 hours in this chair. Who knew that sitting could be tiring?

Before I began adhering to this anti-cancer diet, time could be passed here with a lunch delivery from a favorite restaurant or snacking on yummy snacks. Today the hours on the clock have slowly moved from hour to hour to hour to ....... My scientific observation is that time passes more slowly when drinking liters of water and barley grass with kelp and feasting (or should that be fasting) on almonds, red grapes, and a veggie sandwich?

We did not repeat labs today, but we will in the morning. I will receive another Neupogen injection today to help my body's defenses to fight infection.

Thank you for your prayers - I sense God's power, peace and presence accompanying me each day.

Confidence in God - Not Man

Psalm 118:8
It is better to trust in the Lord than to put confidence in man……

This passage of Scripture has deep meaning and relevance to me. Through the years of this cancer battle, whenever I have placed my hope or confidence in a doctor’s prognosis, the results of lab work or scans, or scientific data, I have been gravely disappointed. Today is no different. Just as my heart elected to rejoice for a moment, over my seeming success with this treatment, I received an e-mail from one of my specialists. He wrote nothing that the far recesses of my mind don’t already know. Yet, I have been solely depending upon God and His ability to perform the impossible with this treatment and allow me to emerge with some sort of remission. I will continue to trust the Lord and not place my hope or confidence in man.

He wrote:

I am glad to hear that your treatment goes so well for you. Let me not spoil the success, but please keep in mind that we expect this to work only temporarily and that you are well advised to think about how to continue treatment. At the end of the rituximab treatment your chance of being able to tolerate and benefit from other (experimental) treatment might be better than it was before you started. So you could revisit lenalidomide, ABT, or trials at OSU. Still, my advice would be to pursue transplant options.

If my balance of dependence was leaning more toward man than the Great I Am, written words such as these would spoil today’s treatment success. My mind would be inclined to fall into anguish and depression. My new-found hope would be dashed. However, I will elect to focus on His Word. The book of Matthew is abounding with healing accounts – where Jesus’ touch and Word healed all types of sicknesses and diseases.

I will continue to reflect upon and believe the reports of the Lord. I feel a bit like Joshua – He lived and was blessed after he refused to listen to or report bad news when he was sent out to spy upon the enemies’ territory. His focus remained on God’s Promises and not threatening, terrifying circumstances. Those who chose to focus on the circumstances surrounding them versus focusing on God’s Promises, all perished. I shall choose life as did Joshua.

These passages of Scripture offer us vital insights into the healing of many by Jesus.

Matthew 8:2-3

And behold, a leper came and worshiped Him, saying, “Lord, if You are willing, You can make me clean.” Then Jesus put out His hand and touched him, saying, “I am willing; be cleansed.” Immediately his leprosy was cleansed.

Matthew 8:5-13

Now when Jesus had entered Capernaum, a centurion came to Him, pleading with Him, 6 saying, “Lord, my servant is lying at home paralyzed, dreadfully tormented.”
And Jesus said to him, “I will come and heal him.” The centurion answered and said, “Lord, I am not worthy that You should come under my roof. But only speak a word, and my servant will be healed. For I also am a man under authority, having soldiers under me. And I say to this one, ‘Go,’ and he goes; and to another, ‘Come,’ and he comes; and to my servant, ‘Do this,’ and he does it.” When Jesus heard it, He marveled, and said to those who followed, “Assuredly, I say to you, I have not found such great faith, not even in Israel! 11 And I say to you that many will come from east and west, and sit down with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob in the kingdom of heaven. 12 But the sons of the kingdom will be cast out into outer darkness. There will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.” 13 Then Jesus said to the centurion, “Go your way; and as you have believed, so let it be done for you.” And his servant was healed that same hour.

Matthew 8: 16-17

When evening had come, they brought to Him many who were demon-possessed. And He cast out the spirits with a word, and healed all who were sick, 17 that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by Isaiah the prophet, saying:

“ He Himself took our infirmities
And bore our sicknesses.”

Matthew 9:2-8

Then behold, they brought to Him a paralytic lying on a bed. When Jesus saw their faith, He said to the paralytic, “Son, be of good cheer; your sins are forgiven you.”
And at once some of the scribes said within themselves, “This Man blasphemes!”
But Jesus, knowing their thoughts, said, “Why do you think evil in your hearts? For which is easier, to say, ‘Your sins are forgiven you,’ or to say, ‘Arise and walk’? But that you may know that the Son of Man has power on earth to forgive sins”—then He said to the paralytic, “Arise, take up your bed, and go to your house.” And he arose and departed to his house. Now when the multitudes saw it, they marveled and glorified God, who had given such power to men.

Matthew 9:18-26

While He spoke these things to them, behold, a ruler came and worshiped Him, saying, “My daughter has just died, but come and lay Your hand on her and she will live.” So Jesus arose and followed him, and so did His disciples. And suddenly, a woman who had a flow of blood for twelve years came from behind and touched the hem of His garment. For she said to herself, “If only I may touch His garment, I shall be made well.” But Jesus turned around, and when He saw her He said, “Be of good cheer, daughter; your faith has made you well.” And the woman was made well from that hour. When Jesus came into the ruler’s house, and saw the flute players and the noisy crowd wailing, 24 He said to them, “Make room, for the girl is not dead, but sleeping.” And they ridiculed Him. But when the crowd was put outside, He went in and took her by the hand, and the girl arose. And the report of this went out into all that land.

Matthew 9:27-29

When Jesus departed from there, two blind men followed Him, crying out and saying, “Son of David, have mercy on us!” And when He had come into the house, the blind men came to Him. And Jesus said to them, “Do you believe that I am able to do this?” They said to Him, “Yes, Lord.” Then He touched their eyes, saying, “According to your faith let it be to you.”

Matthew 9:32-33

As they went out, behold, they brought to Him a man, mute and demon-possessed. And when the demon was cast out, the mute spoke. And the multitudes marveled, saying, “It was never seen like this in Israel!”

Matthew 12:10-13

And behold, there was a man who had a withered hand. And they asked Him, saying, “Is it lawful to heal on the Sabbath?”—that they might accuse Him. Then He said to them, “What man is there among you who has one sheep, and if it falls into a pit on the Sabbath, will not lay hold of it and lift it out? Of how much more value then is a man than a sheep? Therefore it is lawful to do good on the Sabbath.” Then He said to the man, “Stretch out your hand.” And he stretched it out, and it was restored as whole as the other.

Matthew 15:30-31

Then great multitudes came to Him, having with them the lame, blind, mute, maimed, and many others; and they laid them down at Jesus’ feet, and He healed them. So the multitude marveled when they saw the mute speaking, the maimed made whole, the lame walking, and the blind seeing; and they glorified the God of Israel.

Matthew 17:14-21

And when they had come to the multitude, a man came to Him, kneeling down to Him and saying, “Lord, have mercy on my son, for he is an epileptic and suffers severely; for he often falls into the fire and often into the water. So I brought him to Your disciples, but they could not cure him.” Then Jesus answered and said, “O faithless and perverse generation, how long shall I be with you? How long shall I bear with you? Bring him here to Me.” And Jesus rebuked the demon, and it came out of him; and the child was cured from that very hour. Then the disciples came to Jesus privately and said, “Why could we not cast it out?” So Jesus said to them, “Because of your unbelief; for assuredly, I say to you, if you have faith as a mustard seed, you will say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there,’ and it will move; and nothing will be impossible for you. 21 However, this kind does not go out except by prayer and fasting.”

Matthew 20:30-34

And behold, two blind men sitting by the road, when they heard that Jesus was passing by, cried out, saying, “Have mercy on us, O Lord, Son of David!” Then the multitude warned them that they should be quiet; but they cried out all the more, saying, “Have mercy on us, O Lord, Son of David!” So Jesus stood still and called them, and said, “What do you want Me to do for you?” They said to Him, “Lord, that our eyes may be opened.” So Jesus had compassion and touched their eyes. And immediately their eyes received sight, and they followed Him.

As these Scriptures have refocused and renewed my faith today, I pray that they will increase your faith, no matter the impossible answer you are seeking today. Remember Matthew 19:26 that states, “But Jesus looked at them and said to them, “With men this is impossible, but with God all things are possible.”

Souls Panting for God

A Midwest heat wave recently left individuals parched and dehydrated. We sweltered in the summer sun and looked ahead to cooler temperatures and lower humidity. Heat advisories were issued and there appeared to be no end in sight when an area of low pressure swooped through and lowered stifling temperatures.

Stepping outside on these unbearable days was like stepping into an inferno. Perspiration pulled fluids from active bodies and mouths dried and dehydrated. For those working or exercising in this scorching summer heat, the quest for hydration was unending.

On one of those days, my thoughts returned to Psalm 42:

As the deer pants for the water brooks,
So pants my soul for You, O God.
My soul thirsts for God, for the living God.
When shall I come and appear before God?

I could envision the wildlife of the forests, panting and parched, in search of a brook from which they could drink. No ready remedy of bottled water awaited these creatures during the heat wave. Deer, squirrels, and elk all panted as they stumbled through briars and overgrown grasses, searching and exploring for a drink.

So it should be for us as we chase after God. Our souls should be on a continuous quest to search God’s Words and His Ways for our lives. We spend hours a day in search of career advancement, financial gain, entertainment and caring for our outward appearance and little time is reserved for the pursuit of God. Our souls need to be thirsting and panting for the things of God if we expect to see answers to prayers for the impossible and to see our lives changed and recreated in His image.

Are we panting after God? Let us reevaluate our use of time. Are we giving even ten percent of our hours (He graciously gives to us) to praising Him, praying to Him or reading His Word?

As we seek after Him, we will find Him. And when we find Him, our lives are transformed. He is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him (Hebrews 11:6).

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Update & Request for Prayer: July 7, 2009

I did not feel well today as I battled nausea and a bad headache all day (yet still managed to watch Lil Man all day). Also, today I saw my family physician, had acupuncture and had labs drawn. We are rejoicing at some good reports that I wanted to report tonight.

The praises - with tonight's lab results, the leukemia has been restaged from Stage IV (worst stage there is) to Stage II. Woooppeeeee! The spleen and lymph nodes did not feel any smaller this week to my doctor, so God needs to work on those for me.

My platelets are up to 148,000. They have been as low as 80,000 since beginning treatment. Platelets under 100,000 cause me to be staged at Stage IV. So that improvement bumped me to Stage III. My hemoglobin was 11 - that was a welcome improvement as I have had difficulty breathing with hemoglobin as low as 7.9 since beginning treatment. Hemoglobin above 10.0 restages me to Stage II. I will need a normal sized spleen and liver to make the next step to Stage I leukemia.

My total WBC is 52,300 tonight (normal is 5000-10,000). While I need this count to decline further, it is a big improvement from the 167,800 white blood count prior to treatment. When I calculated my Absolute Lymphocyte Count (ALC) - B-cell lymphs being what is cancerous - the ALC has dropped from 166,122 to 50,731 - that is over a 70 percent reduction. Are you singing praises with me?

I rejoice at the progress I have seen - I don't believe any of my trusted specialists I have seen anticipated that I would have these kind of improvements, given their "end stage" prognosis. God is always able to do more than we can ask or imagine.

Prayer Requests.......

I do remain borderline neutropenic, so I will receive Neupogen injections again tomorrow and Thursday. I do not want to be neutropenic as that opens the doors to infection.

My uric acid remains elevated and my kidney function counts escalated somewhat. We are watching these and need to keep me well hydrated to prevent Tumor Lysis Syndrome that I have mentioned before. I will receive IV hydration tomorrow after I complete the treatment.

Today, I added another weapon to my arsenal - beta glucans. Researchers at the University of Louisville are studying beta glucans' role with enhancing Rituxan's effectiveness against leukemia. Thus, why I have decided to add 7 of these capsules a day as a possible booster to the treatment I am taking.

Please pray for me tomorrow and Thursday as I return for my all day treatments both days. After Thursday, I will have 8 treatments completed and 8 treatments remaining -half way finished!

Oh My!

Watch out world, Lil Man is walking! Just shy of his ten month birthday, Lil Man took off today and walked twelve steps. We rejoice at his progress and development but Grammy is in serious trouble now.

Grammy's lil crawler, on all fours, could move fairly quickly - this two legged sprinter is going to be another story. Grammy gets slower each week and Lil Man is getting faster!

Oh my, I better start training for the Grammy Marathon!

Monday, July 6, 2009

Camp Lil Man Chronicles

Summertime brings summer camp time for children and teenagers. Bags are packed. Camp reservations are made. Mothers utter teary-eyed good-byes.

Recently Camp Lil Man was held for the first time. Grampy and Grammy opened the Camp so that Lil Man’s Mommy and Daddy could have an evening/night out together once in awhile. We picked him up and his Spongebob backpack on wheels was packed. He had milk bottles, baby food, the camcorder to preserve camp memories, a framed picture of Mommy and Daddy (as if he would forget them overnight) and his DON’T BUG ME PAJAMAS (that is what is written on the shirt) and the bottoms have bugs printed on them.

We decided to make a DVD of the camp adventures. First, we put on his DON’T BUG ME pajamas and filmed him in the camp bunkhouse (aka his nursery). He jumped like a wild man in the crib. Next we put marshmallows on a fondue fork and he and Grampy roasted marshmallows over the gas flame of my stove. It quickly ignited and provided some additional entertainment as we sang “Kumbaya”.

Lil Man penned a quick note home to Mommy and Daddy scribbling his heartfelt sentiments from Camp Lil Man. He then spied Grammy’s planter and plucked a leaf off it. Every good camper knows the itchy outcomes associated with poison ivy, so Grampy reminded him, “When you see three leave it be…..” He quickly dropped the three leaved treasure. Fortunately, no poison ivy emerged.

Lights out at Camp Lil Man was scheduled for 10:30 PM. Bedtime snacks ran a bit late and milk and oatmeal cereal were gobbled down by the Lil Camper. He quickly fell asleep but would open his eyes as soon as he was placed in the bunk bed (aka crib). It was resolved by the exhausted Camp Counselors (aka Grampy and Grammy) that we could let him sleep in the counselor’s bunkhouse – but that meant Counselors were awake almost all night checking in on the Lil Camper. After all, closing of the counselors’ eyes could have resulted in the Lil Camper escaping from the bunkhouse and crawling around all night unsupervised.

Sunrise and the opening of Lil Man’s big brown eyes arrived early – much too early for the exhausted Camp Counselors. He was eager to see a bottle of warm milk and as soon as he finished breakfast cereal and fruit, he placed a call to Mommy’s cell phone. He told her that Grampy and Grammy were about to fall asleep and that he needed picked up from camp!

Such was the saga of Lil Man’s first campout experience with Grampy and Grammy. Summer Camp does roll around just once a year – good news for Grampy and Grammy – they will have plenty of time to recover before the next campout!

Love you, Lil Man!

Sunday, July 5, 2009

Rituxan Retreat

Some photos from our weekend reprieve from treatment ......

West Baden Spring Resort - on Conde' Nast's Two 75 US Mainland Resorts List....

Looking down the original brick boulevard leading into the resort....

Beautiful tiling on the veranda ......

Can you imagine constructing this over a hundred years ago? What an engineering feat!

Update & Request for Prayer: July 5, 2009

We were blessed to be able to make our holiday weekend mini-getaway mid-stream of Rituxan. I have not had any labs drawn since Thursday, so that will be on the agenda for tomorrow and I will report those findings.

I have had a bit of a problem drinking as much water (3-4 liters daily) as I should to prevent tumor lysis since I have had some nausea. Our younger twin daughter (dietitian) purchased some crystallized ginger at Whole Foods for me to try for the nausea. That is scheduled for today's agenda.

I have not had much zip this weekend but still made the trip, so that was a blessing. It was the perfect destination for rest and relaxation. I will share some photos on another blog post. Rituxan is scheduled for Wednesday and Thursday this week, so please continue to ask for God to use this treatment mightily and that it helps and not harms me. Please also continue to pray that I can avoid Tumor Lysis Syndrome.

Most importantly, I have received three weeks of half-dose Rituxan and not had an infection! Now that is a major accomplishment and all praise be to God. Thank you for your faith-filled prayers.

I hope everyone enjoyed their freedom, family and faith this Fourth of July. God Bless America (Heaven knows our country needs His blessing and protection)!

Thursday, July 2, 2009

Cancer Center Comedy

If for one moment you believe that sitting, semi-sedated, in this chemo recliner is boring, consider again. The past two days have been quite intriguing. Humor becomes a bit twisted, warped, morbid, and borderline psychopathic in a cancer center. I issue this forewarning: as a cancer patient, I am entitled to the right to laugh at these scenarios, because I have been there and done that. For the rest of you, we would find you heartless and callous to hear you joking about these topics. If you are easily offended (or a cancer patient who has yet to develop the idiosyncratic humor that can laugh at cancer catastrophes and death to keep from crying), then you might want to stop reading HERE. :-)

The Toilet Seat Mystery

Our home was always comprised of three daughters, a mother, a female cat, a female dog and one male – my husband (talk about an estrogen overload). He quickly learned that toilet seats are always returned to their original position – otherwise he would hear about it from the women in the house. Yesterday, I unplugged my IV, waltzed with the IV pole to the restroom at the cancer center, opened the door and to my horror of horrors, someone had left the seat up on the toilet! My first thought was that there were about 5 men in the chemo room, so the suspect could be easily identified. Then to further disgust me, the villain had not flushed when he finished. For those of you familiar with chemotherapy, you know that some chemos are infused RED and are excreted RED. So, I now had a second clue to the villain. I didn’t read Nancy Drew mysteries as a young girl with no benefits – I am a super sleuth and within moments of exiting the restroom, I had identified the culprit. I issued him a citation and returned to my seat (just kidding).

Rumblings and Roars from the Next Room

Due to my being so immunocompromised, I have often must sit in a small private area of the infusion center. Usually, I fail to notice a lot of the excitement of the larger infusion room. Yesterday there was a mass exodus from one section of the larger room to the opposite end due to the snorer of all snorers. All of us familiar with premedications, recognize the potential to fall into a deep medication-induced sleep in a public location and begin snoring aloud (or singing along to the MP3 player). This man snored louder than I thought humanly possible. My daughter stopped to see me at lunch and she could barely contain her laughter. She said, “Why doesn’t someone just go shake him and wake him up?” Much to all of our relief, the medications wore off and he returned to consciousness and quiet, unbeknownst to him that he had entertained (or irritated) everyone for the past two hours.

Get the Spray

There is one phrase at the cancer infusion center that when uttered, we all know there is trouble. “GET THE SPRAY!” I won’t go into the gruesome details, but chemo causes nausea and nausea causes ……. Today, the chemo concoctions must have been particularly potent as there was a “whole lotta sprayin’ goin’ on”! There is nothing more vile or pungent that spray trying to cover up the after effects of chemo.