Monday, May 23, 2011

It is About Time for An Update!

I have been a slacker. And a hefty case of writer's block has continued. However, today I am at the cancer center receiving my treatment and this morning's IV steroids have lifted the brain fog and my writer's block was cured as well. I have been blogging away this morning to pass the hours and vowed that I would have an update posted before the end of the IV late today.

Worthy of celebrating and offering a praise to our Heavenly Father, is the fact that I have now not required IV antibiotics or antifungals for infections since mid-January - four months! This is a miraculous improvement for me. I have experienced continued infections but infections that have resolved with oral antibiotics. Not being attached to IVs for weeks at a time each month has improved my quality of life. Pray and believe with me that this record will continue to be broken! I spent much of last summer in ICU or at the cancer center, so I am believing that this summer I will be slammer-free and might even manage a vacation or two.

Last month we made the trip to Ohio State to consult with the leukemia specialist. It was a discouraging trip for us and I have decided against further trips. Research is vital to uncovering cures for diseases such as leukemia. However, it has been my personal experience that when consulting with the larger research centers such as OSU, that sometimes the focus is so strongly placed on clinical trial recruitment, that patient care suffers. Unfortunately, for late stage cancer patients such as myself, we do not even qualify for many of the trials. Recruitment eligibility criteria is stringent and usually my low counts, excessive infection history or history of drug reactions, excludes me from joining a clinical trial. It doesn't take a brain surgeon to know that a patient with my history is not someone that researchers are eagerly lining up to recruit. So we returned, at first, a bit discouraged, knowing that there are really no treatment options remaining there for me. Yet, it didn't take long, for the Holy Spirit to remind me, that I am trusting God to direct my paths and if I have been diverted from that pathway, it is in my best interest.

I developed a case of cellulitis (skin/tissue infection) on my face and an eye infection last month. I was desensitized to Clindamycin, which I have taken and tolerated in the past. Since I do nothing by the book, I broke out in a drug reaction rash all over my body on the third day of taking the Clindamycin. About the same time, I developed some lumps on my legs - being speckled from the rash and with egg shaped lumps, one fellow leukemia patient, diagnosed it as a good case of Easter-a-titis, since all of this transpired the week before Easter. The rash has cleared but the leg lump on my lower left leg is still present. My doctor suspects erythema nodosum. If it enlarges or does not improve, my Infectious Disease doctor said I will have to have it surgically removed for pathology.

My platelets continue to remain low and believe me, I have the bruises to prove it. Lil Man kisses those boo-boos and he is convinced they are then "all better"! What is puzzling to us, is the fact that my hemoglobin is doing well. Normally, as the bone marrow fills with leukemia cells and the marrow function is suppressed, the hemoglobin declines and then the platelets. I located a research paper that suggested in leukemia patients with normal hemoglobin but low platelets, that they be checked for H.pylori. H.pylori is a bacteria found in the gut that often is attributed to ulcer formation. A blood test was ordered and lo and behold, it returned positive for H.pylori - was this the cause of my low platelets? The puzzling piece of this information is that the test is an Ig antibody test. It can reflect that I have H.pylori OR it can be a false positive attributed to the IgG I receive in each month's treatment from 3000  blood donors. If one of these donors was H.pylori positive, that might be why my blood test returned positive. Additional testing will be ordered to make this determination.

PCP is the dangerous pneumonia that can develop in immune compromised patients with low CD 4 counts. My CD 4 count is 159 today which is very concerning (below 200 increases the risk of PCP). My last PCP PCR antigen test had "indeterminate" results. My Infectious Disease doctor said that result might indicate early stage PCP has developed, so we are carefully watching for any worsening of breathing and respiratory symptoms. I also had a positive fungal culture return on lung sputum. We are watching and waiting to determine if the symptoms warrant the introduction of IV antifungals (the drug I have to take 7 days a week for 6 weeks). Please pray specifically for my lungs - a great majority of leukemia patients are killed by respiratory infections - and both fungal lung infections and PCP can be killers. I am trusting the Holy Spirit to prompt my spirit, if I need to more aggressively respond to these two test results.

Thank you for your continued prayers and support. I am blessed.

Signs of the Times: Matthew 24 (The Message)

1-2 Jesus then left the Temple. As he walked away, his disciples pointed out how very impressive the Temple architecture was. Jesus said, "You're not impressed by all this sheer size, are you? The truth of the matter is that there's not a stone in that building that is not going to end up in a pile of rubble."

3 Later as he was sitting on Mount Olives, his disciples approached and asked him, "Tell us, when are these things going to happen? What will be the sign of your coming, that the time's up?"

4-8 Jesus said, "Watch out for doomsday deceivers. Many leaders are going to show up with forged identities, claiming, 'I am Christ, the Messiah.' They will deceive a lot of people. When reports come in of wars and rumored wars, keep your head and don't panic. This is routine history; this is no sign of the end. Nation will fight nation and ruler fight ruler, over and over. Famines and earthquakes will occur in various places. This is nothing compared to what is coming.

9-10 "They are going to throw you to the wolves and kill you, everyone hating you because you carry my name. And then, going from bad to worse, it will be dog-eat-dog, everyone at each other's throat, everyone hating each other.

11-12 "In the confusion, lying preachers will come forward and deceive a lot of people. For many others, the overwhelming spread of evil will do them in—nothing left of their love but a mound of ashes.

13-14 "Staying with it—that's what God requires. Stay with it to the end. You won't be sorry, and you'll be saved. All during this time, the good news—the Message of the kingdom—will be preached all over the world, a witness staked out in every country. And then the end will come.

The Monster of Desecration

15-20 "But be ready to run for it when you see the monster of desecration set up in the Temple sanctuary. The prophet Daniel described this. If you've read Daniel, you'll know what I'm talking about. If you're living in Judea at the time, run for the hills; if you're working in the yard, don't return to the house to get anything; if you're out in the field, don't go back and get your coat. Pregnant and nursing mothers will have it especially hard. Hope and pray this won't happen during the winter or on a Sabbath.

21-22 "This is going to be trouble on a scale beyond what the world has ever seen, or will see again. If these days of trouble were left to run their course, nobody would make it. But on account of God's chosen people, the trouble will be cut short.

The Arrival of the Son of Man

23-25 "If anyone tries to flag you down, calling out, 'Here's the Messiah!' or points, 'There he is!' don't fall for it. Fake Messiahs and lying preachers are going to pop up everywhere. Their impressive credentials and dazzling performances will pull the wool over the eyes of even those who ought to know better. But I've given you fair warning.

26-28 "So if they say, 'Run to the country and see him arrive!' or, 'Quick, get downtown, see him come!' don't give them the time of day. The Arrival of the Son of Man isn't something you go to see. He comes like swift lightning to you! Whenever you see crowds gathering, think of carrion vultures circling, moving in, hovering over a rotting carcass. You can be quite sure that it's not the living Son of Man pulling in those crowds.

29 "Following those hard times,

Sun will fade out,
moon cloud over,
Stars fall out of the sky,
cosmic powers tremble.

30-31 "Then, the Arrival of the Son of Man! It will fill the skies—no one will miss it. Unready people all over the world, outsiders to the splendor and power, will raise a huge lament as they watch the Son of Man blazing out of heaven. At that same moment, he'll dispatch his angels with a trumpet-blast summons, pulling in God's chosen from the four winds, from pole to pole.

32-35 "Take a lesson from the fig tree. From the moment you notice its buds form, the merest hint of green, you know summer's just around the corner. So it is with you: When you see all these things, you'll know he's at the door. Don't take this lightly. I'm not just saying this for some future generation, but for all of you. This age continues until all these things take place. Sky and earth will wear out; my words won't wear out.

36 "But the exact day and hour? No one knows that, not even heaven's angels, not even the Son. Only the Father knows.

37-39"The Arrival of the Son of Man will take place in times like Noah's. Before the great flood everyone was carrying on as usual, having a good time right up to the day Noah boarded the ark. They knew nothing—until the flood hit and swept everything away.

39-44 "The Son of Man's Arrival will be like that: Two men will be working in the field—one will be taken, one left behind; two women will be grinding at the mill—one will be taken, one left behind. So stay awake, alert. You have no idea what day your Master will show up. But you do know this: You know that if the homeowner had known what time of night the burglar would arrive, he would have been there with his dogs to prevent the break-in. Be vigilant just like that. You have no idea when the Son of Man is going to show up.

45-47 "Who here qualifies for the job of overseeing the kitchen? A person the Master can depend on to feed the workers on time each day. Someone the Master can drop in on unannounced and always find him doing his job. A God-blessed man or woman, I tell you. It won't be long before the Master will put this person in charge of the whole operation.

48-51"But if that person only looks out for himself, and the minute the Master is away does what he pleases—abusing the help and throwing drunken parties for his friends—the Master is going to show up when he least expects it and make hash of him. He'll end up in the dump with the hypocrites, out in the cold shivering, teeth chattering."

(Emphasis mine.)

Glorious Day

Much ado has been made by the media about a man's prediction that Christ would return on Saturday. Several people asked me what I thought about the prediction. I scoffed at the thought that anyone who claims to have read the Bible would even begin to state that he or she knows the exact date of Christ's return (the Rapture). Mark 13:32 explains precisely: “But about that day or hour no one knows, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father." This verse instructs us that not even Jesus, the Son of God, knows the timing of Christ's return - only the Father possesses this information. So the next time you read or hear of someone alerting you about Christ's return, utilize discernment.

I believe there are signs all around us that His return is nearing. There is no doubt, that good can even emerge from this man's erroneous predictions. Recently, many people have paused to reflect on their hearts' conditions since the possibility existed for Christ to return for His children. And that is a positive outcome from his predictions. Everyday, we need to pause to confess our sins and be certain that our hearts are right in the event that Christ should return.

As these Casting Crown lyrics states: "One day He's coming, oh glorious day!"

To listen to this song:

One day when Heaven was filled with His praises

One day when sin was as black as could be
Jesus came forth to be born of a virgin
Dwelt among men, my example is He
Word became flesh and the light shined among us
His glory revealed

Living, He loved me
Dying, He saved me
Buried, He carried my sins far away
Rising, He justified freely forever
One day He’s coming
Oh glorious day, oh glorious day

One day they led Him up Calvary’s mountain
One day they nailed Him to die on a tree
Suffering anguish, despised and rejected
Bearing our sins, my Redeemer is He
Hands that healed nations, stretched out on a tree
And took the nails for me

Living, He loved me
Dying, He saved me
Buried, He carried my sins far away
Rising, He justified freely forever
One day He’s coming
Oh glorious day, oh glorious day

One day the grave could conceal Him no longer
One day the stone rolled away from the door
Then He arose, over death He had conquered
Now is ascended, my Lord evermore
Death could not hold Him, the grave could not keep Him
From rising again

Living, He loved me
Dying, He saved me
Buried, He carried my sins far away
Rising, He justified freely forever
One day He’s coming
Oh glorious day, oh glorious day

One day the trumpet will sound for His coming
One day the skies with His glories will shine
Wonderful day, my Beloved One bringing
My Savior Jesus is mine

Living, He loved me
Dying, He saved me
Buried, He carried my sins far away
Rising, He justified freely forever
One day He’s coming
Oh glorious day, oh glorious day

Triathlon Trek

This weekend our daughter Marissa crossed the finish line at her first triathlon. A triathlon is a daunting task for anyone but as a Type 1 diabetic, it was an achievement of a lifetime for Marissa. As a health care provider, she is well aware of the potential for complications in Type 1 diabetics, so she exercises and trains all the time and her good health is a testament to God's faithfulness to her and her commitment to take care of her body. The swim was 800 meters, she then rode 25 miles on her bike and ran 5 miles.

Her husband, one of our other daughters and her husband, and my husband and me were her Encouragement Team. Once she pedaled off on her bike, we jumped in our car and traveled back roads so that we could be waiting around her half-way point to encourage her on. We had signs in tows and binoculars for scouting her arrival from afar.

These are some photos from the Triathlon. Congratulations, Maris!

Your Great Name

As Christians, we are aware that we should pray "in Jesus' Name". At times, it might almost become habit that we conclude our prayers with "In Jesus' Name we pray". Natalie Grant's song "Your Great Name" has reminded me of the enormity of the power of the Name of Jesus. It is not something to be taken lightly. Jesus' Name brings salvation, healing, freedom, deliverance, and hope, among many other results of the power of uttering and believing in His Name. The line of lyrics that empower me is, "The enemy, he has to leave, at the sound of Your great name." When life's challenges attempt to rob our hope and peace, via the wiles of the enemy, we need to recall these lyrics and cry out in the Name of Jesus against those attacks of the accuser. Be blessed and listen to this song today: .

Lost are saved; find their way; at the sound of Your great name
All condemned; feel no shame, at the sound of Your great name
Every fear; has no place; at the sound of Your great name
The enemy; he has to leave; at the sound of Your great name

Jesus, Worthy is the Lamb that was slain for us, Son of God and Man
You are high and lifted up; and all the world will praise Your great name

All the weak; find their strength; at the sound of Your great name
Hungry souls; receive grace; at the sound of Your great name
The fatherless; they find their rest; at the sound of Your great name
Sick are healed; and the dead are raised; at the sound of Your great name

Jesus, Worthy is the Lamb that was slain for us, Son of God and Man
You are high and lifted up; and all the world will praise Your great name

Redeemer, My Healer, Lord Almighty
My savior, Defender, You are My King

Jesus, Worthy is the Lamb that was slain for us, Son of God and Man
You are high and lifted up; and all the world will praise Your great name

Relay for Life 2011

Photos Top to Bottom:

The luminaria ceremony with the luminarias honoring and memorializing
cancer warriors spelling out HOPE!

Part of our team cheers and claps for my Dad and me as we complete the Survivor Lap.

Our Relay for Life 2011 team photograph.

My two local oncologists - on the left is my radiation oncologist and on the right is my local
A couple of weeks ago our family participated in Relay for Life 2011. Our daughter Marissa worked diligently for the cause and our son-in-law Scott designed the orange (orange is the color for leukemia awareness) shirts for our team. We arrived home from RELAY FOR LIFE at 2 AM since we were scheduled to walk from 11 to midnight. I wonder how we drew that short straw. My Dad surprised me and he and my best friend (both cancer survivors) walked the Survivor Lap with me. The three of us who are cancer survivors wore the purple Survivor Shirts. The son-in-law with his hair spray painted orange is the designer of the shirts and our comic son-in-law. That is not his natural color!

Lil Man kept calling RELAY FOR LIFE "that thingy" . He thought "that thingy" was great fun - balloons, a track to run on, cupcakes, and all kinds of fun for kids. I thought how thankful I was that at his young age of two, his innocence protects him from the gravity of cancer.

RELAY FOR LIFE was held at a local university. The luminaria ceremony was inspiring, heart-wrenching, and hopeful - conflicting emotions all felt at the same time. Cancer patients' families and friends purchased luminaries that were printed with their messages. Some honored those survivors still fighting and others memorialized those who had lost their battle. These were placed around a track that circled the football field, illuminating the night skies. As we turned the third turn on the track, a row of 15 luminarias had my name and messages on them from families and friends. Thank you to all who donated in my honor. It was a memorable event for all of us.


This Mandisa song, "Stronger" is a new favorite of mine. In the midst of unrelenting storms of life, we can be reassured that He remains in control and ever-present. To stay afloat, walking on water, our focus must remain on Christ and not on the storms that threaten to swallon us. Enjoy!

Hey, heard you were up all night
Thinking about how your world ain't right
And you wonder if things will ever get better
And you're asking why is it always raining on you
When all you want is just a little good news
Instead of standing there stuck out in the weather

Oh, don't hang your head
It's gonna end
God's right there
Even if it's hard to see Him
I promise you that He still cares

When the waves are taking you under
Hold on just a little bit longer
He knows that this is gonna make you stronger, stronger
The pain ain't gonna last forever
And things can only get better

Believe me
This is gonna make you stronger
Gonna make you stronger, stronger, stronger
Believe me, this is gonna make you ...

Try and do the best you can
Hold on and let Him hold your hand
And go on and fall into the arms of Jesus
Oh, lift your head it's gonna end
God's right there
Even when you just can't feel Him
I promise you that He still cares
'Cause if He started this work in your life
He will be faithful to complete it
If only you believe it
He knows how much it hurts
And I'm sure that He's gonna help you get through this
When the waves are taking you under
Hold on just a little bit longer
He knows that this is gonna make you stronger, stronger

The pain ain't gonna last forever
In time it's gonna get better
Believe me
This is gonna make you stronger

To listen to this song: