“Oh My Gosh, He is Really Real and He Loves Me” Kind of Moments: God’s blessings even in trials.

pRAISE

“Storm Clouds” by cjohnson7 from Rochester, NY.

In many ways, this whole trial with Owen’s cancer has gone by so fast. But in other ways, remembering that day we discovered he was sick seems veiled behind some distant misty dream. Now we rejoice that the harsh chemotherapy treatments are done and look forward to getting through the radiation that starts in about a week. By Christmas time, we are hoping we can put this all behind us. But my husband made a good point tonight. We don’t want to put it behind us so we can forget it. We never want to forget it.

God forbid, we forget what we went through, forget the desperate need to cling to God and the abundant blessings and comfort and strength he gave us when we did. We don’t ever want to forget, and no longer seek Him because life is Good. There’s a bible verse somewhere I remember reading that I thought was so poignant.The person said to God, please don’t make me so happy that I forget you, or so miserable that I raise my fists and curse you. It is sad, but when life is good, when no trials come a long, we are so quick to push God aside and attend to our own pleasures, forgetting that God made us and every good pleasure we seek is a gift from him and a reflection of his character. In essence every good pleasure we seek is only a foreshadow of what we will experience and know when we stand in his presence in the dimensions outside of time. So we plan to make a memorial of this chapter of our life because we want to always remember.

And God is so good. He shows me how there is still so much to pray for. Just as we are seeing the sun set on this trial, I see so many others going through theirs. My former student is struggling to beat her battle with Hodgkin’s Lymphoma, one of our friends from church just got diagnosed with E-wing Sarcoma, a cancer that will put him through 2 years of treatment. And so many others. We’ve know loved ones who are struggling with miscarriages, parents who have lost their children to hit and run accidents on the way to school, sons with fathers in jail, friends whose marriages are on the rocks..the list goes on. And my heart aches for everyone.

Everyone goes through at least one big trial, one big life-changing event in his/her life. None of us know when it will be, with whom it will involve, or how it will turn out. But I believe most people hope that they will be brave and find strength to get through it with grace, coming out better in its setting than they were at its dawn. And I want to pray for that to happen for everyone. I know that Jesus himself prayed to the Father that we would not be removed from the world, which is full of trials, but that we would be protected from the evil one. He is the one who whispers defeat into our ears, that gets us to question God’s goodness or sovereignty, and fills us with fear during these types of events. My prayer is that all my friends and family, all of those in my network, do not believe those lies, but cling to Jesus, during their tough times, and find not only strength to get through, but benefit from the abundant blessings and miracles God performs for those who love him.

God creates beauty from ashes. He did it when he created man and he does it everyday in this world. God turned Owen’s cancer into a blessing. I’m not saying it was fun. I’m not saying we’d wish cancer on people. But I will say that in the biggest, life-changing event of our lives, God showed us very personally how much he loves us, how much he is taking care of us every step of the way, and how much he is changing us both into better people through the process. To be able to experience that, is a life-changing, faith-strengthening, “oh my gosh He is really real” blessing. And that is the blessing I wish on everyone.

Advertisements

A Day in the Life of Thymoma

This was Owen 2 years ago. This was when he first starting having symptoms of Cancer but we didn't know it then. This was Owen 2 years ago. This was when he first starting having symptoms of Cancer but we didn’t know it then.

A lot of people have been asking me lately how Owen has been doing and how we’ve been holding up. After sharing how things go on a typical cycle of chemotherapy for us, I thought I’d share with the rest of our friends and family who have wondered.

We have just started cycle 4 of the recommended 6 for Owen’s stage 3 thymoma. We recently learned that he has B2 Thymoma out of all the different classes and so we plan to do more research on what that means and what the prognosis is for that. Our doctors don’t seem to know much more than just overall statistics for thymoma in general without the varying differences between the subtypes, which I have learned on my research does make a difference. At the same time, we don’t want to make too much plans based on the research because we know that God is sovereign and he can make anything happen.

Regardless, we start today the 9 day trek what we have appropriately named Chemo
Week. And that means Owen sat today for about 4 hours in the infusion center down in Encinitas on a recliner, getting work done while the nurses there pumped him through his port, which has been surgically planted into his chest, with the following: one bag of saline, then one bag of Zofran to help him with the nausea that would develop from chemo, followed by one bag of cisplatin (basically a form of platinum and one of the strongest chemicals in the chemotherapy family), and then one bag of another chemo called Adriamycin. The Cisplatin is so strong in fact that they have him take Tuesday off just to give his body a break before he comes in on Wednesday for the next round of chemotherapy involving. This session is just two hours long. He gets one bag of  Cytoxin, and another bag of saline. Thursday he gets one bag of steroids called Vincristine and another bag of saline. And Friday he comes in for his shot of Nuelasta, which stimulates his bones to produce white blood cells and in effect makes his bones hurt so bad he feels like he got hit by a truck. The first day is typically okay. He gets a little weak by the end of the day.

This is Owen about 4 or 5 months before his diagnosis. He was losing weight, eating right. We had no idea what was happening inside.

https://owenandtheresa.files.wordpress.com/2015/08/owen_4_months_before_diagnosis.png”> This is Owen about 4 or 5 months before his diagnosis. He was losing weight, eating right. We had no idea what was happening inside.[/caption

On days 3-9 Owen  feels nauseous, tired, and weak. He takes this week off of work and basically when not at the clinic, catches up on all of his binge watching of his favorite shows, eats when his nausea medication is working (typically small portions of carb based foods, the only thing he really craves during this time). The first 2 cycles worked out great because I was home so he didn’t have to do anything other than that. Those are the cycles that took his hair on his head and his beard.

On cycle 3 I was back to work but Kanan, our oldest was out of the country that week, so Owen only had to take the babies to day care in the morning. But this week will be a challenge as he will have to take the babies and Kanan to their schools in the morning and help with pickup because they all have after school events– Kanan has soccer and karate. James has soccer and swim. And Benny has swim. Each day is a different schedule and I can only be in one place at one time. We shall see how it goes this week. I picked up Kanan today and took him to soccer while Owen picked up the babies and let them play at the house while he rested. Tomorrow he will need to pick up Kanan and I will pick up the babies. Thankfully by Wednesday when he really starts feeling sick, I’ll be able to pick up the kids the rest of the week so he will just have to muster the strength in the morning.

Because Owen is so tired and weak these 9 days, he is unable to help much more than that. And what I explained is A LOT for him. So I do my best to keep up the house and the child-rearing in when I’m home from work and on the weekend. It is tough, no doubt. The kids certainly act out when dad is asleep a lot. Sometimes someone will come by with a meal and that is such a gift! Just relieving me from the duty of making a meal that week is so helpful. It gives me that time to take care of Owen, be better at watching the kids and helping them, and just recuperating from the stress of the week. Days 7-9 are when Owen’s white blood cell count is the lowest, so the doctor’s recommend that he doesn’t be around a lot of people or kiss on the kids because of his propensity to get really sick if he does.

owenandtheresa.files.wordpress.com/2015/08/owen_after_3_rounds_of_chemotherapy_august_2015.png”> This is Owen in August 2015 after his 3rd round of chemotherapy. Cancer took 30+ pounds from him and chemo has taken his hair. But he is so strong and inspiring. I’ve never met anyone as inspiring as my own husband. I love this man and think he is still so gorgeous.[/caption]

Days 10-14 chemo is a limbo week. He is not energetic enough to do his Youtube courses yet, but he is able to get some work done–ads, some videos, goal-setting, etc. If he is feeling up to it or getting cabin fever and not feeling too sick, we might head out for a walk somewhere or a short errand. Nothing too much, but just enough to keep up Owen’s spirits.

The third week–days 14-20, we call Power Week. This is the week Owen feels the closest to normal as he can. He helps with the kids. He gets work done. Sees clients. Runs his courses. We do family stuff together this week. It is joyous! It is the good week of the month and we cherish it! This last weekend we got to enjoy the jacuzzi that my Aunt and Uncle recently bought for us, we went on a date, went to church, and we went to Legoland with the kids. It’s our only and last hurrah before Chemo week begins again as we are on 21 day cycles. This last cycle took Owen’s eye lashes. So we imagine this new cycle we have begun this week will take his eye brows. He does his best to cover up his bald head with a hat and puts on sun glasses or regular glasses to hide the dark circles under his eyes. He has gained about 5 pounds since his diagnosis so we are happy about that. Cancer took 30 pounds from him! It’s a slow climb back up.

Given that surgery removed most of Owen’s cancer except for a small quarter size amount, most of Owen’s feelings of sickness are direct effects of the chemotherapy, not the Cancer. I couldn’t imagine if they chose to give him chemo before a surgery. Having to deal with the effects of both sounds just terrible.

Owen doesn't let chemo take his mojo. :)

heresa.files.wordpress.com/2015/08/owen_cools_it_up_during_power_week-_.png”> Owen doesn’t let chemo take his mojo. 🙂

But next week

[/caption]But next week Owen gets another scan to see if the chemotherapy has worked. If it has, he will do one or two more cycles of chemotherapy for good measure and then a month of radiation to kill any cancer at just the cellular level that the scan wouldn’t pick up. If the news shows that the cancer didn’t go away or has grown, they will probably add another 4-6 cycles to this treatment plan. We definitely don’ t want that. We are willing to do it, but we don’t want it. And we have decided that after that, if it still hasn’t gone away, we will dismiss chemo all together and try completely alternative treatments.

So needless to say, we are praying that God just shrinks and destroys the tumor and doesn’t let i grow. He has done so much to bless us through our friends and family and through Owen’s business through this whole trial. We feel very strongly he has shown us that this trial is for our own sanctification and not a punishment. He loves us and is merely refining us into better people because of it. Owen has certainly developed more compassion through this trial and our own marriage has grown closer overall. When it is all said and done, I think we will appreciate the healthy life a bit more than we ever had. Praying that by Christmas we do. And we have decided that when this is all said and done, we want to do two things. First, throw a party for all of our friends and family who have supported us through everything with their donations, prayers, emails, texts, calls, gifts, meals, and acts of service. Then we want to go on a much-needed vacation.

What Cancer is Teaching Me

#LifeWins

Owen at the hospital on May 4th.

As most of my readers know, on May 4th my husband was diagnosed with cancer. We learned after some tests that he has stage 2 Malignant Thymoma. He has been in a lot of pain. He has lost a lot of weight. And so we eagerly await the surgery needed to remove the 10 cm sized tumor in his chest.

On the other hand, we do not look forward to the likely chemotherapy that he may have to take prior to the surgery or after.

Either way, given that we have an HMO, everything has taken forever to move forward. He finally has his appointment with the surgeon this Tuesday, June 2nd. So we’ve had 1 month of waiting. And during this 1 month, Cancer has taught me 6 Things:

1. That God loves us, and will be with us through this fire.

We know that cancer is a byproduct of living in a fallen world. God promises to redeem this world and one day, after all who will come to him come to him, he will recreate the Earth, and there will be no more death, crying, sadness, or pain because all the old ways will be gone. But until that glorious day, we get illnesses. But God promises to those who love him and are called according to his purpose, that he will be with them by either keeping them from the fire, or being with them through the fire. I don’t know why Owen has been allowed to have a type of cancer with a good prognosis while others do not. I do not know why Owen has been allowed to have cancer when others do not. But I don’t doubt God’s love for us or any other cancer victim for that matter. God love us all so much he sent his son to die on a cross, so that one day, we can rise again and live forever in his presence no matter how we have rebelled against him in our lives. We can put up with Cancer knowing what awaits us in eternity. But even here in this age, I know he can use Cancer to do good. And that he plans to do that with us. He is allowing it, to do good in our lives.

2. We have an amazing network of people in our lives.

Honestly, it has been quite humbling. You all make me want to be a better person. You have reached out to us and blessed us more than we have ever helped and blessed others. I’ll pray. I’ll make an occasional meal. I’ll make a small donation here and there. But that’s about it. I mean we have people who are not even friends reach out to us. One person, for example, whom we have nothing in common with and with whom we have even heatedly debated our differences reach out and not just give, but give generously. God has shown his love for us through all of your amazing and wonderful support. The calls, the texts, the food, the house cleaning, the donations, the prayers, the hugs…we feel it. Thank you, to everyone who has reached out to us.

3. My husband continues to impress me and I am falling even more in love with him.

The way he has endured his pain. The way he continues to work. They positive attitude he maintains. How honest he is with me about what he is going through spiritually, emotionally, and mentally. The amount of compassion he has developed for others with cancer or who have other health conditions that need medicine. I’m in awe of this man. And I’m honored to be his wife.

4. To show more grace toward my husband.

In the end–no matter what he has done or hasn’t done to irritate me, he is My Love. And I would be devastated if I lost him. When faced with the reality that without medicine, my husband would die from this cancer inside him, nothing he does or doesn’t do is worth fighting over, or pouting over, or holding bitterness against him. I love him. I’ll take him. Flaws and all. I hope he feels the same way about me.

5. There are things you shouldn’t tell people who have just told you they have been diagnosed with Cancer.

I don’t think I would have known these words until I’ve been on the receiving end (next to my husband, of course). We know people mean well. But man, some of us just don’t think. I hope I’ve never said some of the thoughtless things others have said to us. When it’s all said and done, I’ll make a funny post about it. 🙂

6. I’m stronger than I thought I was.

I can only guess this strength comes from God because I don’t know this new, strong version of myself. I’m a crier. I used to cry at least once every day about something. But God and my husband have been working on me the last 6 years, teaching me to have self-control, teaching me to trust God and not be so easily overwhelmed or offended. I think its been all in preparation for this. We are going to get through this. I can be strong for my husband. He needs me to be strong.

So what about you? For those of you who have struggled with cancer or who have watched a loved one through the illness, what did you learn? I know we are just at the beginning, especially if Owen does get chemotherapy.