Wednesday, June 22, 2016

7 Years Later

I was thinking about my journey through cancer today, and remembered this blog. I read through a few entries and skipped to the end. That's when I realized I never really finished. If someone were to stumble upon this story, they might assume the worst, so I figured I'd give an update.

The reason I stopped blogging was simply that I had nothing to say. I ended up going through five rounds of chemo. After each, I felt more distant and less human. There was the obvious physical battle, but there were also emotional and spiritual battles waging. Not that I was being more emotional or spiritual. I wasn't. In fact, I felt less and less with each round. It's a strange thing to hold onto belief in God and His plan, yet feel nothing. I read the Bible, and for the only time in my life, it's words seemed to have no meaning. I would put on worship music in hopes that God would wake me from my zombie-like trance. He didn't. Not for a while, anyway. I just laid there for months. Nothing.

Then, after the fifth round of chemo, i was told told the CAT scan showed significant progress. I was scheduled for one more round, but my doctor(God bless her) said I could skip it and move onto radiation. Surprisingly, it was very easy for me. It was like getting an X-ray, except it took longer and the hair on my leg still doesn't quite grow right. For some people, radiation is extremely difficult. This is largely attributed to the location of the targeted area. Many cancers grow close to, or in organs. This makes radiation very difficult on the patient. Since my tumor was in my femur, I had no problems.

After radiation, the cancer was completely gone. Dr. Harroff told me that if it doesn't come back soon, it is unlikely to come back at all, and here I am. Almost seven years later. No cancer!

Looking back, I've developed a thankfulness for the most difficult time of my life. I see how God used it to put me where He wanted me. A place I would not have wondered into on my own.

After I was physically well, I tried to act normal, even though I was still an emotional/spiritual zombie. I now understand what it means to be "spiritually dry." Nevertheless, I went back to work and decided to volunteer at church. I love to play guitar, so that's what I did. I learned some new songs, went to practice, and played on a Sunday morning. That first Sunday, it happened. Maybe, two or three songs in, it was like God gave me everything I was missing in an instant. He was with me. Of course, He had always been there but now I felt Him. I was full of life, full of Him. I learned, that day, just how important my faith was. Doing what we know is right. Serving in spite of what we feel. He is just as much in that as He is in the peace and joy that He generously gives. If we always felt like serving Him, it wouldn't require much faith.

To make a long story short, I went from guitar player to Youth Worship Leader to Worship Leader to Interim Pastor to Lead Pastor. I've now been pastoring Community Bible Church in Boerne, TX for almost two years. There's no way I would be doing this if it wasn't for my battle with cancer. I thank God for it. To tell the whole story would require a book. It's been an amazing adventure and I know there's more to come.

Almost seven years ago, I gave this blog the title- The Transit Elect. It refers to our way, our path, being laid out by God. The chosen way. It has proven to be a fitting title. Thanks for reading.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Round 2

The 2nd round of chemo has gone better, but it's still not easy. I was fine for the first few days, but on Sunday night that changed. I was sick all night. We were getting ready to go back to the hospital again and I improved a bit. Well, I wasn't throwing up. It's Thursday now and I'm pretty much in bed all day. This is still better than the 1st round. Hopefully my condition improves again next round.

Being sick for so long can really take it's toll. Optimism fades, faith is shaken. I get quite discouraged at times. I worry about the future. What will I do when I've recovered from this? I miss my kids that are in California. It's one thing to think about these things and have faith in God's plan at the moment. It's a whole new thing to lay sick in bed enduring cancer for months and still say "God, your will be done."

Monday, October 26, 2009

Bad Reaction

This has been a very tough week. I had a port put in on Tuesday and started chemo on Wednesday. My body didn't respond well. Because of this, I had to continue the treatment on Thursday. I felt fine for a few hours after chemo. Then it started. I'll spare some details. I'll just say that I couldn't keep anything down for 3 days. I went to the hospital to get some fluids on Friday morning and was admitted Sunday morning. It's Monday night now and I just had my first real meal since Thursday. It was incredibly good. Turkey dinner. I'm still in the hospital, but I should be going home tomorrow. This is really not normal for chemo patients. It's been a rough few days, but hopefully the next round will go better. Thank you for all of the prayers.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

The Plan

After more testing, I had another visit with Dr. Kwak. We finally got a definitive diagnosis. This was delayed a bit, because they originally thought that I had sarcoma(bone cancer). All of the testing was geared toward that. After the biopsy, which showed I have lymphoma, they had to do a whole new series of tests. One of these tests was a whole body PET scan. This would show if any of my lymph nodes, or anything else, had a problem. Thankfully there were no other issues in my body. So, the diagnosis is "stage 1 Diffuse Large B-cell Lymphoma". Next step- chemo.
I want to make sure that I'm being productive while this is going on, but I also have to keep the stress level down. Because I've had a growing desire to become a worship pastor, I'm focusing in on that. Here's the plan: Online Bible college and learn a song a week. This should be a great addition to the experience that I have. So, if anyone needs a fill-in worship leader in the San Antonio area in the next six months let me know!

Saturday, October 3, 2009

Break Out the Razor

So, this week I met with Dr. Kwak(pronounced with an "aw"). As it turns out, he is the head of the lymphoma department. I got the best Dr. at the best cancer center there is. He ordered a few more tests. It seems they get worse as I go.
The first test was a pelvis/abdomen/head/neck CT scan. They made me drink two huge bottles of some nasty stuff, gave me an IV and did something else that I will spare you the details of. That had me feeling pretty sick for a while.
The next mornig was my bone marrow biopsy. Luckily, I was sedated for this one. I won't lie. It was pretty nice. They took two toothpick sized marrow samples from the back of each of my hips. I'm still pretty sore from that one. They also did a heart scan.
Dr. Kwak also informed me that I'm looking at about six months of chemo and radiation after that. Once the hair starts to go I'll need some hat advice. Maybe I'll have a poll. What I won't do is try to hang on to what little hair is left once it starts to go.
The only spiritual thought that I'm having is that we all need to remember what a personal God we serve. He desires to be close to us and give of Himself. That's what love does-give. That's why he created us- to give His love to us.

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

What a Kwak...

Some pretty amazing things have been happening for me recently. Since I have Lymphoma, I probably won't need surgery. This was a huge relief. For the first time in months I am able to walk without crutches with minimal pain. There really is no explanation for this outside of all of the prayers so many of you have given. My calloused hands and left leg are very grateful.

One thing that I ask you keep in your prayer are our kids that we left in Sacramento. Even though it has gone as smoothly as possible, this has been the most difficult part of the whole process.

Because they originally thought I had sarcoma, I was assigned to a sarcoma doctor, Dr. Moon. We thought "Moon" was kind of funny. That is, until I was assigned to my lymphoma doctor, Dr. Kwak. We have already had some great responses to that. The best so far was Billie Dean with something like "MD Anderson promised the moon and gave you a quack!".

The rest of this has nothing to do with my cancer- just something that I've been pondering.

This may be something that many find elementary, but I believe it to continue to be a problem with Christianity today. I've been reading a series of allegorical novels that explore the way Christians view non Christians and vice versa. I'll make my statement and wait for comments. (If you want to comment and can't sign in here, you can find me on facebook. That's where most of my comments are given). Keep in mind that there are Christians and non-Christians that read this blog.

There are a lot of good people and a lot of bad people in the world. Being a Christian only affects the way that we believe we should behave. Simply being a Christian doesn't make us good, it makes us forgiven. We shouldn't view non-Christians as bad, but simply not forgiven. We have all sinned and we all need forgiveness from God.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Lymphoma it is.

Doc called this morning and said that they got the 1st biopsy back and it is lymphoma. They don't know yet if it is Hodgkin's or not. Guess I'm an old man. I wonder if it has anything to do with all of that fast food and energy drinks.......

This truly is a great answer to all of the prayers that so many of you have faithfully given. I still have a rough road ahead, but probably no surgery. God is good.