Sunday, December 18, 2011

Mom is healed and with the Healer

I write this with a heart broken into a million pieces, yet each of those pieces rejoice that my precious momma is no longer suffering. She has won the ultimate battle with cancer. It can't touch her anymore.

Mom passed so peacefully, in her home surrounded by her adoring family. Honestly, surrounded. You always hear that, but I never imagined it. Daddy was next to her, and the rest of us stood around her bed. She held on until her sister arrived from California and when Brenda arrived at 8:22 pm Friday evening, she opened her eyes for the first time that day, looked around at her family and took her last sweet breath.

She sat at the banks of the River Jordan dipping her feet in. And in this life, she was scared of the water, but at 8:22pm she know longer knew fear. She dove in, and crossed the River to the other side and she is free and experiencing love and radiance I can't imagine.

She is still with me. My son, Cody said that she will always be with us, because no one in that room that night would be who they were if not for her and her love.

But she is face to face with her Healer. And that brings me joy!

Please pray for my dad. He adores her and she was his life and he has to begin a new chapter. I have no doubt that God has amazing plans for him and is going to use him greatly. There is still work for him to do and I can't wait to see what that is.

There is more to write here, but my heart is still searching for words.

Monday, November 14, 2011


Today Mom and Dad will celebrate their anniversary in the doctor's office, as Mom receives chemotherapy.

I realize I have not updated lately, and I have no excuse, other than wanting to write wonderful news and waiting until we had some.

Unfortunately, the world doesn't seem to want to give us wonderful news.

We have been told that this tumor is inoperable because it exists in both lobes of the liver.
We have been told that Mom is not a candidate for a liver transplant.
And we have been told that without these options cure is uncommon.

So now, we treat. We treat with a chemotherapy that mom started last week. It was promising at first. The afternoon after receiving her first dose, she felt fine. The next day, she even thought she felt better than fine. Then on the third day she felt awful. By the 5th day, the tummy troubles were gone, but the weakness remained. And today she starts all over again.

She had a little complication this week that is common when you have a sick liver. Her abdomen filled with fluid which had to be drained. The doctor mentioned that this would make her weak, and she was already dealing with weakness from chemo, so we are praying that her weakness will not be as severe this time. I am also hoping that now that the doctor's know how she is reacting to the chemo, they can adjust the medications they give her to counter the side effects.

I hate this. I have to fight the urge to yell at God about fairness. She's been hit once before with this.. So had Daddy. Why a third cancer!?

And you know, God is just fine with my grumblings about His fairness doctrine.. because He always has an answer for me. He reminds me in his oh so gentle way that what is fair to Him is something I won't be able to comprehend until I'm sitting face to face, basking in His glory. I will ask Him why, and only then will I be able to understand. (Between you and me, I will probably follow up with a question about the duck billed platypus and what WAS He thinking there... but that question doesn't seem as weighty right now.)

Joni Eareckson Tada, who was paralyzed in a diving accident said this.. "God sometimes permits what He hates, to accomplish what He loves."

In the Bible, God permitted Joseph to be sold into slavery by his very own brothers, to be thrown into prison by the false accusations of powerful woman, and ultimately to be promoted to second in command of Egypt, where he was able to save nations!

In the same way, I believe that what has been permitted in my Mom's life, will serve a greater purpose. And we are seeing hints of that...

Mom and Dad have touched many people as they travel this road. The Bible says that God is with the brokenhearted and God is certainly with Mom and Dad. So much that it is noticeable. It is palpable. Doctors comment on it. Nurses comment on it. People commit to working on making their marriage stronger after spending minutes with my Mom and Dad. Cold hearts melt, and tears fall and people see God after visiting with Mom and Dad. They are changing lives as they are being used by God.

No, the world doesn't have much wonderful news to offer right now, BUT God can turn things around. He can contradict what the world says. He is Wonderful News.

In the Gospels, Jairus had heard of Jesus and had come to Him seeking healing for his daughter who was at home dying. I can only imagine his desperation as he forced his way through the crowd to reach Jesus. I can imagine his excitement as Jesus heard him and agreed and return home with him. And I can also sense his disappointment as Jesus stopped because someone had touched the hem of His garment. Can you see Jairus trying to hurry Jesus along as He is ministering to the woman with the issue of blood? He had the Master in his grasp.. he was heading to his daughter and now they were stopped. This isn't fair.. Jairus had him first. How does one respectfully tell Jesus to hurry! And then suddenly, all hope was lost. Members of his household came to him and told him it was too late. Leave the Teacher alone. The world had just give Jairus the worst news of all.

BUT, Jesus overhead all this and His news contradicted all that the world was offering to Jairus.

Luke 8:50
...Don't be afraid, just believe. She will be healed.

And she was...

Saturday, October 15, 2011

Home Sweet Home

The wonderful news is mom is back home right now. She is sleeping in her own bed and eating actual food!

The other news is that tests confirmed our battle is indeed against Cholangiocarcinoma. This is a rare cancer, affecting only 2 in 100,000, that begins in the bile duct.

We are still in wait mode as far as coming up with a plan of attack. While the surgeon here in Tulsa does not think surgery is an option, there is another surgeon in OKC that specializes in these types of surgeries and mom's oncologist has referred her to him.

After that appointment we will know more.

Mom is feeling well, aside from the pain in her side. She still has two tubes draining her liver and gall bladder and apparently having tubes going through your side and into two different internal organs can cause some discomfort. Who knew?

The immediate prayer at this time (besides a complete healing causing the doctors to be baffled and bewildered because what was once there is now gone) is for the surgeon in OKC to be able to remove it surgically.

We appreciate your prayers, that are literally coming from all over the world, and we can feel them.

I'll let you know when the appointment is in OKC so you can be praying then as well!

Monday, October 10, 2011

In which we wait....

We were really hoping to have some news on the biopsy today. But alas, the doctors are still studying it. They want to be thorough. They want to get it right, and we appreciate that.. but waiting is hard.

We are waiting to find out if the cancer started in the gall bladder or the liver.

We are waiting to find out if it is truly inoperable.

We are waiting to find out if it is cancer at all, or perhaps just inflammation.

The one thing we do know is all the liver function tests are back to normal.

We know that Mom needs to move and breath deeply, despite the fact that she has two tubes coming out of her side that cause some discomfort. And I use the term "discomfort" in the same way one would describe the French guillotine as causing a slight pain in the neck.

Mom also needs to eat, despite the fact that she's in the hospital, being served hospital food. And I use the term "food" in the same way.... well, you get the idea.

We may get biopsy results back tomorrow, but then again it may be Wednesday.

Until then we wait.

We wait for the report.
We wait for the treatment plan.
We wait for more tests.
We wait for tubes to come out.
We wait for Mom and Dad to get to go back to their home.
But mostly, we wait upon the Lord.

...those that wait upon Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles, they shall run and not grow weary, they shall walk and not faint. ~ Isaiah 40:31

Thursday, October 6, 2011


I wrote this for a writing contest a few weeks ago. The theme asked the question, "When did you first understand what love was?" Unfortunately, due to a crazy schedule I didn't make the deadline for the contest, but this was so in my heart I had to write it anyway. Those that read it told me that there was another place for it. Here, on this day, is the place for it. Because the dance continues.. and will continue, despite the music...

They were teenagers in the 50’s, the decade of sock hops and dance marathons. They married and started their family in the 60’s, the decade of dancing to the beat of your own drum. They have probably danced hundreds of thousands of dances together, but it was one dance that caught my heart. It was one dance that showed me what love was.

I don’t remember mom and dad being terribly demonstrative when I was growing up. I take that back, Daddy was. I remember vividly the whoosh of his recliner as it returned to its upright position. I remember him displaying his most exaggerated pucker lips as he left his chair and crawled on his hands and knees to where my mom was napping on the couch. He would smooch the air, until she woke up, took one look at him, and playfully demanded that he leave her alone. He was comically flirty, she fittingly coy. And this was their dance.

` They knew each other so well, they could anticipate each other’s steps. Mom instinctively knew just how Daddy would lead, and she would follow. They danced through life, having children, watching them grow and giving them up to new dance partners. Grandchildren came and with them came even more dancing - Goofy grandparent dancing. Their music was the joys of life. Sometimes the beat was slow and steady… sometimes a bit frantic and overwhelming but they always danced with grace no matter what life’s soundtrack brought.

To tell the truth I never really caught on that their life, their love was a dance. It wasn’t until a new more sinister beat began to echo. My dad heard it first. The doctor told him it was prostate cancer that had spread to the bone. The pain was unimaginable, and it stilled him for a bit. Mom put all her energy into taking care of him and it worked. He was soon crawling across the floor to the couch where she lay resting; blowing exaggerated kisses until she woke up and the dancing began again.

But just like a bad song on the radio, the sinister music hadn’t played out. And this time my mom was caught up in the beat. Multiple Myeloma brought more unimaginable pain. And it was then that I began to understand the dance.

Mom was truly in so much pain that she could hardly breathe, let alone move, but she had to move. As she stood up, pain hit her body so hard she couldn’t go anymore. She stood there weeping, unable to take another step and unable to sit back down. Daddy wrapped his arms around her. I thought he was simply going to help her get moving again, but he just stood there holding her. And after a few minutes, I realized he wasn’t just holding her… he was swaying with her. She relaxed and followed his lead. For several minutes they danced to some sweet melody that only they could hear. He had danced this dance before.. He knew the pain. And he was taking the lead now, holding her tight and not allowing death to cut in. He knew there was more dancing to be done and he was not willing to give up his dance partner.

I cherish the memory of this moment, and I thank God that I got to witness it. It was true love and true romance and true fight, this love that dances no matter the music.

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Here we go again....

Well, it's been over a year since I wrote what I had hoped would be the final post on this blog. Unfortunately, we have discovered that while mom may have bested Multiple Myeloma, another contender has stepped into the ring, trying to have a go at her..

Here's the latest news in a nutshell...

Sunday afternoon, mom and I had planned to go shopping, but I received a call from dad saying that she wasn't feeling well and had decided to go get checked out at our local ER. Mom has been doing really well since the days of MM, so her not feeling well kind of threw me. Mom just doesn't get sick.. and when she does, it's a doozy.

Still ,we weren't too worried as all her symptoms seemed to point to gall bladder issues. You must understand that the war between our family and gall bladders is legendary. The gall bladders attack each of us one by one, taking us down in a storm of pain and belching... but we rise victorious. We just find a nice friendly doctor and ask that the gall bladder be removed far from our bodies to be stored in some glass jar at some remote medical facility never to hurt us again. In fact, Mom and Mike are the only ones who still have their gall bladders. The gall bladder battle is so insidious that it crosses blood lines and even attacks family by marriage. My sister in law is fighting her own gall bladder even as I write this.

So my point is, gall bladder, not such a big deal.. We've all been there, done that!

And yet, mom's gall bladder seemed to not be so simple. The battle lines there were just not quite as clear, so it was decided that further investigation would be necessary and our little local ER moved mom to the big city hospital across town.

Still, we weren't too fazed. We were certain we could deal with any gall bladder issue.. We had experience on our side.

The big city hospital put mom on the oncology floor.. you know, the one reserved for cancer patients. I was almost thrown at this point, but mom offered that this was simply a precaution due to her history with MM and she actually appreciated it. I bought this explanation and pushed away any creeping anxiety.

Monday came and tests were performed. Unfortunately, the big test, the deciding test, the test that would change our little world as we knew it was ordered wrong and we had to wait until Tuesday to take the test and hear the results.

My brother, Mark, was with mom and dad when they got the results and he began the task of informing us. I am grateful that he called my husband Jim first, instead of me. Jim came to where I was working and was with me when I learned the news.

Cancer had returned.

But it wasn't the same cancer. Multiple Myeloma is still being held at bay. This was a new enemy. Cholangio Carcinoma.

A tumor was growing around the bile duct and eventually completely blocked it, causing mom's liver to quit functioning properly. This was causing her symptoms and dealing with this blockage became the priority.

On Wednesday, mom, who by now had taken on the hue of BigBird, underwent a procedure that completely and successfully unblocked her bile duct. Her liver could now do it's job! Not only is the duct draining into the small bowel as is it's job, but mom is sporting a new accessory bag where her liver is draining from her side. This is just temporary, but it's needed to get everything back in order.

The doctor's chose not to do a biopsy of the tumor during this procedure because they didn't want to traumatize the liver more than necessary. Instead she will have the biopsy tomorrow and get a matching tube and bag for her gall bladder.

This morning, she was all pink again and feeling better. Her bilirubin levels were normal, which is glorious word when dealing with what we are dealing with. The immediate danger has passed, but we still have the rest of that nasty tumor to deal with.

The biopsy tomorrow will confirm the Cholangio Carcinoma diagnosis and I'm praying it doesn't. But no matter what... mom says God is in control and together they beat Multiple Myeloma..and that same power, that same grace is still with her. I have no doubt that this new contender will be knocked out in the first round!

Saturday, September 11, 2010

The post that has been 2 years in the making....

I thought that some of you might like to know what's been going on these past two years since my last post. The answer is nothing. Absolute blissful, sweet nothingness. Oh, mom has continued getting Zometa, the medication that is making her bones stronger, and she goes regularly for check ups but every report has been better than the last.

Blood Tests - Normal
Full Body X-rays - Normal
Back to Shopping, Cooking and Generally Spoiling her Grandkids - Normal

That's not to say that everything is back to normal. I don't think anyone in the family will ever go back to the normal that was before the diagnosis. There is a new appreciation for God's grace and mercy that you don't acquire unless you go through difficult circumstances.

Job said it best. " My ears had heard of you, but now my eyes have seen you." (Job 42:5)

It is easy to speak of God's love and compassion, but to speak of it after you have gone through the kind of fire where you have to rely solely on Him, is more difficult.. mainly due to the lump in your throat. Times like these draw us closer to God, and we know Him more intimately and learn His voice and His ways. After you have seen God this way, things can never be the same, nor would we ever want them to be.

The change is subtle on the outside, but noticeable none the less... especially, it seems, by children.

On two different occasions, after Mom's hair had grown back in, two different little girls asked Mom what had happened to her hair. These little girls had never seen Mom before and even if they had, her hair had grown into the same short cut she always wore before her chemo, yet they saw something had changed about her. Something had. God had leaned in really close and kissed her. And you can't hide God's kisses.