A good weekend with family, we had. Saw Star Wars last weekend, I finally did. Write like Yoda, sometimes, I do (just for fun – it’s got nothing to do with the chemo, I promise, though I’ve often wondered how he got those ears…).
I apologize for not posting updates more regularly. I do feel indebted to all of you who take time to check the website for recent news, and I enjoy telling my story. It’s just that there’s so much life to live, and so little time to live it. While in the hospital, not only was there a greater desire to post changes in my health and in my heart, there were more changes to post, and more time to post them. Now that I’m home, there’s so much more life to live! Nevertheless, I desire to share my story and my heart, and I will continue to do so at least weekly. So continue to check in when you can, and know that your eyes and ears are much appreciated! The awareness that my condition and my words may spur someone on to seek God in prayer lends strength to our ability to press on and in through difficult times.
It’s interesting to me, too, that we as ordinary people are so willing to suffer (sometimes extraordinarily) so long as whatever benefits there might be as a result of that suffering are shared by many – or at least by more than ourselves. The apostle Paul writes about his and his companion’s suffering in the first several chapters of his second letter to the believers in Corinth. In chapter four, he writes, “We who are alive are always being given over to death for Jesus’ sake, so that his life may be revealed in our mortal body. So then, death is at work in us, but life is at work in you… All this is for your benefit, so that the grace that is reaching more and more people may cause thanksgiving to overflow to the glory of God.”
Contrary to the assumptions of most eastern religions, suffering in and of itself carries no power to change a man for the better. Suffering is a bad deal. It’s ultimately a consequence of sin and evil in a fallen and broken world. It’s a weapon of the wicked. And while it may serve as the context in which many, even apart from God, “build character,” it always and ultimately succeeds to destroy something. But when we submit suffering to God as a sacrificial burnt offering – ourselves and our comforts being the sacrifices smoking on the altar – He is able to make that particular chapter of our story the basis for so many beautiful chapters to come, in our story and others.
We do pray for the suffering to pass – to be lifted or removed – but when it remains, this is how we pray: that He would make the suffering (a weapon of the wicked, intended for our harm) into a tool of His own – a means to His ends – that His beauty, His goodness, and His glory would be known by many. And we continue to pray that the suffering would be lifted, knowing that He is able, in John Piper’s words, “to use Leviathan as His brush.” And because we’ve seen such strength demonstrated so clearly in the Cross of Christ, this knowledge gives us the strength to persevere and press into our Maker, in the midst of circumstances that would otherwise destroy our faith in the goodness and nearness of the One From Whom All Goodness Comes.
We have seen our circumstances in this cancer serve as the grounds for many to seek and serve God. And because of that, we are daily grateful to God for letting us play such a role in what is ultimately His Story. Rich Mullins wrote it once in a prayer, and I’ll wrap up this portion of my “update” with his lyrics here:
Jesus, write me into your story
Whisper it to me
Let me know I’m yours
The day following the writing of my last update, I received a phone-call from the oncologist on call at Regions saying they had found an infection in my IV port, and that they needed to admit me to the hospital for a couple of days immediately. With nicer words, I said NO WAY. I had fought a fever most of the week, and had kicked it just the day before with an immune system that was on the rise. I was feeling the best I had felt in a week! Jen and I had made plans to do IKEA for breakfast (great potatoes, bacon, and Swedish pancakes!), I was lined up to go see Episode III with a bunch of friends, and I was intending to play guitar with our praise band Sunday morning (which also happened to be Father’s Day). So essentially, I asked if there was any other way.
The doctor said she’d check with the cancer ward and infectious disease center and call me back. Jen and I prayed immediately. Within ten minutes the phone rang, and we were told I must visit the cancer ward once a day for IV antibiotics over the weekend, and head to ER if I got so much as a cough or a fever – otherwise I could stay home. Later the nurses on 8 East (the cancer ward) told me that was really quite remarkable – apparently this particular doctor always goes by the books and never changes her mind.
We had a great weekend (I did see Star Wars). And I’ve been on daily IV antibiotics since then. Another great thing was that they’ve let me administer it myself since Wednesday (it’s the coolest thing – pressure loaded grenades of the stuff that I can wire up to my IV and walk around with in my pocket). So Jen, Aedan and I drove north to Fargo and Grafton, and spent a good deal of time with my family. I love my family, and miss them already. It was Summerfest in Grafton, so Aedan saw his first parade. He loved it. And I had my Oof-da Taco and mini-donuts. So we both made out pretty good. (Not to mention the stiff North Dakota wind allowed us both to fly a kite for a few minutes!)
On the downside, there’ve been some pretty miserable mornings. I wake up some days in a lot of pain. But it all goes away in an hour or less. My back pain is gone all but evenings. And the antibiotics loosen up my GI a bit so I’ve been eating like crazy (gaining weight, too!). And the ladies at Emmaus have made downright sure we haven’t gone hungry (boy, can those Lutheran ladies cook!).
It’s very likely that my Round 2 of chemotherapy be postponed a week because of this infection. I wrap up my antibiotics tonight, then we wait three days before the next blood culture, and the results determine whether or not I’ll need a new IV port. Of course we’re praying that it’ll be all clear, but a preliminary blood test earlier last week suggested there hadn’t been enough of the antibiotic in my blood on a regular basis to clear the infection. So once again, we’re praying for a miracle.
If the chemo is delayed, my first day will be Tuesday, July 5th. If all goes good that first day, we may be able to turn in our plane tickets Wednesday for a pair of seats on a flight to Colorado – IF all goes good. It’s going to be cutting it close. We’ll be talking with my primary oncologist tomorrow to clear the way. I guess we’ll know more in a couple of days.
Again, thank you for taking the time to read this. If from time to time you check in, and I haven’t posted a new update for days, and you have the time, go on to read some of the rest of the site. I’ve been writing for years. Some of it’s dated – four or five years back – but it was genuine at the time. So treat it like you would an old snapshot. Many things have changed since then, but that was me once upon a time.
Please be praying for Aedan. Jen took him to urgent care tonight, and we were told he has a small case of pneumonia. He’s sick. Just got sick this afternoon. And man, is he sad. Pray he’d heal up quickly, and of course, that I wouldn’t get whatever it is that he’s got.
That’s it. Until next time…