I Have Not Written Since November!

Let me start off by apologizing that I have not written since November. Life seems to be so busy, but fun happens each and every day. Thank you to all who read My Blog. I can start off by saying that Roxanne and I were in Georgia for a week and during that time we attended the Nascar Races at Atlanta Motor Speedway. They had record cold temperatures so it was fun watching the races while it was so cold. But making memories are so important. We also saw and went for dinner with some couples that we had met previously. That was so much fun, friends are so very important. It was a great vacation and time away which was a big blessing.

We even had a chance to get to one of the locations where Sweet Home Alabama was filmed. That was so beautiful and peaceful. We look forward to seeing more pictures from there as one of our friends from Georgia took some pictures of us, Like I said earlier making memories is so very important.

Two days after getting home we went to see my Oncologist and he talked about the latest CT scan. There were some concerns with the lesion on my pelvis. Another “hiccup” The next day he called back and asked me to go to an Emergency Ward to get an MRI of my spine. This would speed things up as we would be doing it over the weekend.

We arrived at The fantastic Misericordia Hospital at 5PM Friday night. The reason we went there was that was the hospital we were at during the early stages of the beginning of my cancer journey. It is so very hard to believe that we are now at month 29. The storm may rage but I can say with confidence that The Lord is with me each and every day. I am not losing my joy while going through this journey. I also try to impact as many people as I can through each and every day.

We ended up being at the hospital for about 27 hours, the MRI was done and showed that the lesion on my pelvis had grown considerably since doing almost nothing for the previous months. Just another “hiccup” that we will get through. All the staff were amazing, and I was so blessed to have the same doctor that I had in December of 2020. She was amazing and she remembered everything about our first meeting, where we met and even my attitude and how it was so different from most patients. To have the same doctor was not a coincidence but I would say a divine appointment. Dr. G. if you ever read this, please know how impressed I am by skills and your amazing patient care.

She needed to talk to the Cancer Centre, as it it happened the radiation oncologist I had seen in 2021 was on call that weekend. Another divine appointment. No new stories to tell as he know me. These 2 interactions were proof that even when we go through storms, God can arrange the appointments. The Cross Cancer centre decided they wanted to start radiation that night.

Before leaving the hospital, and heading to the Cross I had 2 hugs from Dr. G. and Roxanne and I were able to thank most of the staff we had seen during our time there as I was leaving right at shift change. A big blessing to thank all of them.

I think I was looking pretty good after 27 hours at the Hospital. Off to the Cross we went and saw Dr. J. and the amazing radiation staff who were also on call. They started radiation that night, and I had to be back Sunday morning before Church. I have 8 more treatments in the coming days. I spent time in the Chapel at The Cross yesterday as well, and because the building was so quiet I could be as loud as I wanted to be…..I have also said this before but I love the name of the Cancer Centre in Edmonton. “The Cross” Cross is the last name of the person it is named after but we as believers know that we serve Jesus who went to the Cross for us. He loves each of you so very much.

It has been a while since I have written, so just a quick update on the other “hiccups”. All the other lesions are currently cooperating. Those are on the brain, lungs, and liver. As for my vision it continues to improve, I’m not driving yet but I know soon with glasses I will. Actually I think more about the Vision Loss caused by the Immunotherapy than I do of the cancer itself. Going from having perfect vision to being legally blind in a very short time, was another storm. But I praise God and I trust God for the improvement and His continued healing that is going on in my body.

I am learning more and more that nothing is too big for God. He restores health, He restores relationships, He restores broken hearts. What ever you need from Him in your life and the lives of your loved ones, reach out to Him and trust Him. He has known you since the day that He formed you n your Mother’s womb. We may choose to run from Him at times in our lives, but He will never run from us.

I wanted to keep it short today, with the quick update, and again apologize I have not written for sometime. Thanks for forgiving any spelling mistakes due to the eyes. I will write again soon and remember how much God loves you and He wants us all to be impacting people. Have a wonderful day.-

Live Thankful Lives!!!

Oil Kings Game-United Against Cancer

Our American Friends are celebrating Thanksgiving tomorrow that is why my post today is titled “Live Thankful Lives” In reality it is just a reminder that we should be living Thankful Lives at all times. Every moment is truly a gift and we can make the most of every moment to impact others.

Last Friday we went an Edmonton Oil Kings game. Junior hockey is amazing. Fantastic value and great entertainment.

Friday night was also “United Against Cancer” night.

While looking at the Scoreboard at the game and reading the United Against Cancer image we realized that exactly 2 years ago, was “The Day.” Two doctors stood in front of us and shared the diagnosis. Where have those 2 years gone? Time is flying so very fast.

As many of you know, treatments started shortly after the diagnosis and are still continuing.

While all my amazing American friends are eating turkey and watching football Thanksgiving afternoon, I will be having another treatment. But I will have my phone with me and will watch part of a game. Or I will listen to Christmas Music. Everyone knows I love Christmas. Then tomorrow night we will pull out of the freezer a Turkey Frozen Dinner and I celebrate with our American friends and Family.

Whether in Canada in October or The United States in November, Thanksgiving is such a powerful time. I will never stop giving thanks for all the wonderful blessings in my life.

I am so thankful for Roxanne, we are in this together and we both know that I am going to win this battle. It is so powerful to walk on this journey with Roxanne. She is absolutely amazing and a gift from God.

I thank The Lord for my friends and all their encouragement and support. Friendship is a wonderful gift. We can never forget the value of friendship.

I also thank medicine and all the exceptional people I have met while at all of my many appointments. Modern medicine is outstanding, and the people are all so dynamic and kind.

I will never stop thanking God for everything He has done and will continue to do to help us through this journey. It is Truly Powerful…His love is so amazing.

Grand Canyon

In October we celebrated 20 years of our wonderful and amazing marriage. We went to The Grand Canyon, A Las Vegas Hockey Game, A College Football Game, and a Nascar Race. It truly was a wonderful 5 days, and we met so many exceptional people. A fantastic blessing and a wonderful gift to be married to Roxanne for these 20 years. I look forward to so many more years together. Serving God and impacting people for Him.

Updates on medicine, a number of scans will be completed in the next 2 weeks which will let our doctors and both of us know where I am at in the healing process. We look forward to those as we know that God, my body and medicine are working to bring about a full recovery.

Today is going to be a shorter post as it is all about giving THANKS. I am thankful for each and every day. I have already said it, but I am blessed to be a child of God, I have the most amazing wife, my friends are all dynamic. I am also thankful that you took time to read this post. Roxanne and I have learned to start every day giving thanks and spending time in prayer. I look forward to doing that for many, many, many more years to come.

Psalms 100:4-5 (Living Translation)

Enter his gates with thanksgiving;
    go into his courts with praise.
    Give thanks to him and praise his name.
For the Lord is good.
    His unfailing love continues forever,
    and his faithfulness continues to each generation.

Psalms 106:1 (Living Translation)

Praise the Lord!

Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good!
    His faithful love endures forever.

Always Give Thanks!

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I directed someone to My Blog yesterday and I realized that I have not written in quite some time. It is Thanksgiving Weekend in Canada, this is a perfect time to write an update. It probably won’t be a long post but as I sit down in front of the computer this early morning I am reminded of the powerful words from Psalms 100:4-5.

Enter his gates with thanksgiving
    and his courts with praise;
    give thanks to him and praise his name.
For the Lord is good and his love endures forever;
    his faithfulness continues through all generations.

Thanksgiving is more than a day on the calendar. As those who follow Christ already know, living life with a thankful heart is how we should greet everyday day. Each day we should be Praising and Thanking God for His goodness. Are things always good? We know that they are not, we just have to look at the world today and see how upside down it is. But even with everything going on all around us and all over the world, we can always find things to be thankful for. Am I thankful that I had too much dessert last night while visiting friends, and now I am wide awake at 4AM? I am not thankful for that, but I am thankful that I have a computer, and technology to write another Blog Post. I am also thankful that in quietness of the early hours of the morning, I can spend time listening to worship music, thanking God for his goodness while looking at the amazing moon outside. I am also thankful that since it is 4AM, that all of you who are reading will forgive my grammatical errors. Even at 4AM I still have a sense of humor.

I want to give some updates as to where “The Journey” is at. Where does one start? I will start by saying that I Praise God that I have been given another day. Looking at the calendar I realize that two years ago this week is when I first started to feel the pain in my right side. Two years, the time has gone so very fast! It seems like just yesterday that I started feeling the pain. The last two years have been an amazing journey, A journey of learning about medicine, a journey of trusting, and a powerful journey of increasing my faith. Not only that, but Roxanne and I continue to shine the light of Jesus at all the appointments, and not just there but each day, with all those we interact with.

During these two years I have also learned to listen to the “nudging” of the Holy Spirit. If He wants me to talk to someone, encourage someone, pray for someone then I need to do it willingly, and without fear. I have also learned that “chance meetings” are many times not “chance meetings”. Some are “divine appointments”. I remember meeting a young couple at The Cross (Cross Cancer Institute) I still follow up with them, see how they are doing and pray for them. We can never underestimate the importance of divine appointments, and most times they are benefit to all parties. I will say it again be prepared for the “nudge” of the Holy Spirit. God has big plans for all of us.

My Face Book Friends know that I started doing a devotional “Live at 9:” when covid started. Twenty Nine months later I am still doing the calls, and from all the feedback I get they are still encouraging others. They also encourage me. When I think about it, I started doing the calls about 7 months before my diagnosis. During those 7 months I was increasing my faith, little did I know that “The Journey” was coming, So I encourage all of us to build our faith day by day, We never know when we will need it for ourselves or when listening and supporting others.

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After all the earlier writing I will give you an update. My oncologist retired last week, and I ended up being his last patient. It was amazing to be able to talk about “things” other than health. One of my eye professionals is expecting a baby, so she will be off work for a while. Twenty Two months of cancer treatments, you almost take for granted everything will always remain the same. But it never is. I have briefly met my new oncologist, and the first words out of his mouth were, “Hi. I’m Matt”. I look forward to learning more about him as I continue my treatment.

All the Metastatic Sites, continue to reduce and/or are stable in size. I need to Praise God for that, I will never stop thanking Him. Storms may rage, but as Job said “I know my redeemer lives”. Vision, it has come a long way. Even as I type this I am doing so with out any reading glasses. I will say the 32 inch monitor we bought is really helping. But in saying that i can now read the paper and books with reading glasses. For over a year I was not able to read anything in print, other than the headlines in the paper. Small steps everyday. The vision fluctuates dramatically almost daily but overall improvement continues and again I praise God for that. That is the update on the health, other than saying I will have a number of treatments and updated scans before Christmas, and I am trusting that all the “lesions” continue to reduce. In writing this Blog I always said if I can just encourage one person then that is what I am supposed to do. When things feel overwhelming remember the words of Isaiah from chapter 43 and verse two.

“When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; And through the rivers, they will not overwhelm you. When you walk through fire, you will not be scorched, Nor will the flame burn you. Isaiah 43:2”

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There is one more thing that I need to be THANKFUL for while writing this post.. This week Roxanne and I will be celebrating 20 amazing years of marriage. I could write volumes about how amazing Roxanne is and how wonderful our marriage is. She is a gift from God and our marriage is far greater than I could have every hoped for. One thing we have always done is keep God at the head of our relationship. I have been so blessed to be married to Roxanne for the last 20 years, and I look forward to at least 30 more years. Happy Anniversary in advance Roxanne. Thanks so much for loving me and for being my best friend.

It is after 5AM now, and time to wrap up today’s post. I know that many of you who read this are outside Canada, but find time to be Thankful. For all of us, give thanks for the big things, the little things, and remember and be thankful that God loves you so much.

“For God so [greatly] loved and dearly prized the world, that He  gave His [One and] ]only begotten Son, so that whoever believes and trusts in Him [as Savior] shall not perish, but have eternal life. John 3:16 AMP

Thanks everyone for taking time to read this post, and I look forward to writing again in the future about the amazing things that is doing during This Cancer Journey. Take care everyone, and HAPPY THANKSGIVING.

Let’s Try To Get This Story Up To Date!!!!

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Let me start today’s post by saying Happy Canada Day! It is so hard to believe that tomorrow will be the 1st of July. Time is going so very fast, another year is half over. Since time is going so very fast I have decided to try and bring The Blog up to date. As of the last post the story ends in August of 2021. So let me do my best to bring us current.

But before I start sharing the story I just want to remind everyone about the power of encouragement. For the last 18 months I have helped a small 3 store retail business with Sales Targets etc. It sure was fun coaching again, I did not know I missed it so much. I recently decided to step away from the business to change my focus a little bit. During the last week with the company a number of people reached out to thank me for the encouragement that I gave. It was a revelation to me as I realized that encouragement is a rare commodity in this day and age. The further revelation was that for some the only encouragement they get is at work, and if they are not getting encouragement at work it is likely they are not getting encouragement at all. So I would remind all the people leaders and business owners to take the time to encourage your staff. Encouragement is not hard to give but pays such great dividends. Let’s all try to live our lives ensuring that we are encouraging others.

It is time to carry on with the story of my journey. It is now the end of June and so hard to believe I just finished my 19th month of treatment. I am feeling great, we know that the treatments are working and between medicine and The Power of God we are going to win this battle. Every day I thank the Lord for bringing me this far, and for his goodness in my life. I so enjoy listening to “Goodness of God” by Jenn Johnson and “Evidence” by Josh Baldwin. Both songs are so powerful and remind me of the goodness of God. He is Faithful Each and Every Day.

I am also so very grateful that the only side effect I have had from the Immunotherapy is the vision loss. There are numerous possible side effects and many people have multiple side effects. It would have been great to have had no side effects, but I am grateful to only have one.

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I left off my last post by saying I had the first eye surgery. The Tuesday after Labor Day I had the surgery in my right eye. All went well and continued improvement was evident in the eyes. But because of the inflammation of the retinas caused by the immunotherapy, the improvement was not what I would have liked. Even today I am still not driving , but they are trying to get me a eye prescription that would correct my vision well enough to allow me to drive. I now watch TV with out the 3 pairs of reading glasses, so that is good. I am now also able to read with a pair of 3.25 reading glasses. Overall things are really looking up on the vision, I have come so far. In saying that I continue to have regular appointments with the ophthalmologist and he continues to give me injections. More people for me to visit with, and now I am on a first name basis with many of my doctors. I also know that my vision is still impacted so I don’t get too concerned about any spelling mistakes in the Blog, and have also realized I don’t get concerned if I miss a strip of grass when cutting the lawn. I will admit that Roxanne and I have a good laugh when she shows me the pieces that I do miss. But I have missed far less this summer than last!

A Regular Visit To The Cross

Appointments continue at The Cross Cancer like clockwork; blood work, oncologist visits, treatments, CT and MRIs. I will never stop saying how amazing all the people are. Outstanding and so kind. That leads me to a real epiphany I had while having a treatment between Christmas and New Years. The nurse’s name was Lori and it was the first time that I had her as a nurse. We talked like we had known each other for years rather than just meeting for the first time. A fantastic appointment. It was while there that day that I realized I was not a “Patient of The Cross” but I was a “Guest of The Cross”. What a revelation that was for me!!

I left the appointment and told Roxanne! I told her I was going to write a letter to the Director of The Cross. Roxanne is in health care, and she knows how busy everyone is, and told me not to expect a reply. I was a banker, I always expect replies! I wrote my 2 page letter, and even talked about the epiphany in the letter. I wanted them to know exactly how I felt. I emailed it off! Well much to Roxanne’s surprise I received a reply within 2 hours. The next paragraph is a portion of what was said.

“I was really touched by your letter describing your feeling of being a “guest of the Cross”.  I’ve never heard someone put it this way before, but I think it really sums up the experience we are trying to provide people who come through our door.”

After that day with each appointment I am reminded that I am “A Guest Of The Cross” They have difficult jobs and I want to shine the love of Jesus at each and every appointment. I want all the people to see that there is something different about me, Roxanne also feels the same way when she can attend with me. I may have Stage 4 cancer, but I Praise God that He continues to fill me full of lasting joy. Lasting joy that nothing can take away.

A Visitor At Our Hotel

In May, Roxanne and I were able to go to Jasper for 4 days to relax and celebrate her birthday. What a wonderful time it was and we made many wonderful memories. As you can see from the picture we even had a visitor one night while we were walking on the grounds of the hotel, If you are ever in Jasper National Park we recommend Becker’s Chalet. What an amazing property right on the Athabasca River.

Also in May I participated in the Melanoma Network of Canada’s Fund Raising Walk. It was great to be able to raise funds for this important cause and I thank all my friends for their support. The last time I checked I was the number 3 fund raiser in Canada. I look forward to the walk next May.

I said I would get the story up to date, and here we are, June 30, 2022. I want to thank everyone for their continued prayers. Prayer is powerful and a difference maker. If you have been reading this Blog since I started the cancer journey or reading for the first time, I am sharing the cancer journey to try and make a difference. If I impact only one person by writing, then I will Praise God, that I was able to impact that one person.

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As I said earlier tomorrow is July 1st Canada Day. We are having a great pancake breakfast at Church. I also want to wish our American friends a wonderful 4th of July. Both countries are having long weekends. Stay safe everyone, and make wonderful memories.

Thanks again for reading everyone, I want to close with Psalms 86:12 from the NLT version. With all my heart I will praise you, O Lord my God.
    I will give glory to your name forever,

The Journey Is Long But I Have Come Far

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Let me start of by wishing all the Mom’s and all the Ladies, an Amazing and Blessed Mother’s Day 2022! I have learned that so many women make such a powerful difference in people’s lives whether they are a mother or not. So celebrate and enjoy the day and let people spoil you. I trust that everyone will have the opportunity to make wonderful memories.

Now it is time to get back to late June 2021 as I continue to share my story. I ended the last post by saying I was going back to the Gamma Knife Unit. I had an updated MRI of my brain on a Wednesday, on the Thursday we had the call from the Neurologist saying they found a second lesion on my brain. We sure were not expecting that to show up on the MRI. But what was really interesting is that he asked me If I had a certain mild episode occurring. I was able to tell them I actually had 4 and they were in the last 4 days. Absolutely amazing what they can tell by looking at the brain. The skills and talents they have are astounding.

We had the call on Thursday and were back at the Gamma Knife Unit on the following Monday for treatment. We have been so blessed with such short time lines for all my medical procedures and appointments. I will confidently say that God is involved in the timelines.

The treatment occurred, I was the first of 4 people that was having the procedure that day. The procedure in the morning. In spite of the circumstances it was great to see the same staff again that we had met almost 6 months earlier. They are such caring individuals. When it was finished it was still early enough that Roxanne and I went and had a nice breakfast on a patio on a beautiful sunny morning. However I do have more wisdom now and I sat in the shade.

Let’s get to the next adventure! Dr. S3 the posterior Ophthalmologist referred me to another office and one his colleagues Dr. K an anterior Ophthalmologist. It was quite the appointment, he looked in my eyes and said “Poor Guy” I toned down his language a little for my BLOG as I want to keep it a family friendly BLOG. But we did laugh and joke and he told me about the seriousness of the situation. We knew I couldn’t really see, but he also said that the inflammation had caused my irises to stick to my lenses. He would have to separate the irises from my lenses during the surgery. My lenses were also shot by that point in time from additional drugs they had me on and they also needed replacing. I was gently reminded that I had never worn glasses in the past. Humbling but I know in the future I will be able to encourage others.

It was one more thing to add to the “mystery of the eyes” He said that I would need to have surgery at the hospital and that I was probably looking at a 9 month wait. He also indicated that he was going to do one eye at one surgery and the next at another surgery. He did not want to do both eyes at the same time due to the risk involved. He wanted me to see one of the booking staff before I left to schedule the appointment for surgery.

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Here is another example of a miracle scheduling! From the 9 months he estimated we were able to have the surgery scheduled in just over 3 weeks. WOW……We will never stop thanking God for that quick timeline.

August 10, 2021 the day of the surgery. Roxanne and I arrived at the hospital and due to covid they would not let her in. It was very surprising how all the hospitals in Edmonton had different rules regarding allowing people in. Oh well in I went.

I look at the picture of myself before the surgery wearing 2 pairs of reading glasses and realize how far I have actually come. Some days I don’t realize how bad the eyes really were. I needed those glasses just to see what was going on. Am I driving even now? No, but I can read the paper now with just one pair of reading glasses.

Dr. K visited with me prior to the surgery and said “I sure hope that I do not need to use 90% of the instruments that I have ready”. He also told me that if something went wrong and they needed to do retinal work that Dr. S3 was in the hospital that day. Dr. K also let me know that I set a record for his fastest surgery being completed after the first appointment. Quick time lines!

I think the hardest part of the surgery was getting an IV into me that day. I was so under that All I remember is praying before surgery and a few of them talking about life insurance. They said it went well and I would have a follow up appointment the next day. Praise God he didn’t need to use the majority of the instruments that he had ready.

I think that is enough writing for today, but as I was writing today’s post I have been listening to the “Goodness of God” over and over and over. I am reminded indeed that ALL MY LIFE HE HAS BEEN FAITHFUL. HE HAS ALWAYS BEEN FAITHFUL AND ALWAYS WILL BE FAITHFUL

I will end with a portion of 2 Thessalonians 3:3 But the Lord is faithful; he will make you strong and guard you.

Once again, thanks so much for reading, enjoy Mother’s Day weekend everyone.

The Victory Will Come!!

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It has been over a month since my last post, I decided that it is time to continue telling the story of the cancer journey. The world is in much turmoil at the present time and we have friends in Ukraine who have either left the country or are remaining in the areas they live in. We maintain contact daily with some of the people, and it is so amazing to see the positive outlook that they have. It has also shown Roxanne and I that are hearts are in Ukraine and with the people. We have been to nation 6 times on mission trips and we look forward to being able to go again in the future. Until then we will continue to pray for the situation and for all the people.

I left off the story of the journey in February 2021. At that time the oncologist decided to stop the immunotherapy treatments to see if my vision would be restored. I wasn’t making as many trips to the cancer clinic, those were being made up with appointments with Dr. S-3 the Ophthalmologist. We moved from weekly to bi-weekly appointments as he continued to watch what was happening. Steroid injections behind the eye were added to the list of things occurring.

March turned into April and the vision was fluctuating continually. Some days I could read letters on the eye chart, on other days I could see nothing on the eye chart. I had never worn corrective lenses so this all new to me. It truly was a shock to sit there and not be able to read anything on the eye chart. Somewhere during that time line, they considered me legally blind.

In April, a pain returned to my side, almost like the pain I first had when the diagnosis occurred. They ordered a CT scan and found that the tumor on my liver had started growing again, and was now bigger than when first discovered. This was caused by being off the treatments, the cancer was trying to win the battle.

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They restarted the immunotherapy treatments and they also ordered 5 radiation treatments. We were continuing to learn so much, and every medical worker remained so amazing and so committed to explaining everything that was happening.

Dr. J. the radiologist met with us before the 1st, 3rd and last treatment of radiation. The intent was to kick start the immunotherapy in the liver. After the 5 treatments, and the restarted immunotherapy everyone waited for the next CT scan. The CT scan was completed. The tumor was once again reducing in size. I won’t ever share in this post how big the tumor was, but I was shocked that something could grow to the size that it did. I really began to understand the aggressiveness cancer growth. With the tumor getting smaller we Praised the Lord, as we had confidence that medicine and God were working.

It was now late June 2021, no real progress with the vision, but time for another MRI of the brain. The call came the next day. “Gord there is another lesion on your brain” The call came on a Thursday, I was back at the Gamma Knife Unit on Monday.

Well that is enough writing for today, I want to thank all of you for continuing to read my BLOG. As I said before I am not a writer, I just want to be able to tell a story, and hopefully encourage some one, somewhere in this big world.

Isaiah 41:10 New Living Translation

10 Don’t be afraid, for I am with you.
    Don’t be discouraged, for I am your God.
I will strengthen you and help you.
    I will hold you up with my victorious right hand.

We Will Not Waiver In Our Faith

Quote:  “Faith believes in spite of the circumstances and acts in spite of the consequences.”  Adrian Rogers

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I ended the last post saying that I needed to buy 2 pairs of reading glasses. That was out of the ordinary for me as I did not require glasses to read. I was starting to struggle reading the paper. Something was happening, but I did not quite know or understand. At that point my distance vision was still working 100 percent. On January 11, 2021 I had a follow up appointment with Dr. S-2, the oncologist. He advised us to keep a close eye on the vision as the possibility existed that the vision loss could be due to one of the rarest side effects of the Immunotherapy.

In the last post I also advised that they put me on “Dex”. Thinking back now, that was an interesting 4 weeks while on that drug. I am a talker, but on that drug I never stopped talking. I slept on average 2 hours a night and I had lots of energy. In early January I spent my waking hours taking down the Christmas decorations, I watched many great movies during that time as well, and was on the treadmill at 3 or 4 in the morning. On one occasion Roxanne woke up and had to come and tell me to turn the volume down on the TV it was blasting through the house. The final equation, I was eating at all times, I could not get enough food. Dexamethasone is a powerful drug that helped to reduce the swelling on my brain, but it did make for an interesting month. I have since talked to others and they all say the same thing about the drug.

January 13, 2021 I had my third treatment of the immunotherapy drugs. Three hours , a great visit with the nurses, but when I wanted to read I needed to put on the reading glasses. As the month progressed I noticed that my distance vision was starting to be impacted as well. We remembered what Dr. S-2 said to keep an eye on the vision and it it continued to get worse to go to The Eye Clinic at the hospital. On January 23, 2021 Roxanne and I went for a drive in the country, and for the first time in my life I did not feel comfortable driving.

The next day after Church we ended up at the eye clinic. Once again due to COVID Roxanne had to leave me alone. During that visit they took a CT of my brain and found that the lesion had continued to shrink in size. That was a positive. Back to the eye-clinic on the Monday, and a follow up appointment on the Friday. They put me on three different types of eye drops to see if that would help. The eyes continued to get worse, and I was no longer driving.

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I sure missed getting behind the wheel of the car, driving around the city or even going on day trips out of the city. I learned that during this time that I did not make a good “side seat driver” while Roxanne was taking us to all the appointments and other places. I could not see properly but I was always giving instructions. It is funny to think about it now.

On February 2nd 2021 we saw the Oncologist Dr. S-2. We discussed the situation and he decided to stop treatments as he believed my vision loss was indeed a side effect of the Immunotherapy. At that time he put me on Prednisone in hopes that it would help and bring down any inflammation.

The next day I met Dr. S-3 for the first time. He is an ophthalmologist that specializes on the retina and other areas concerning the rear of the eye. It was interesting that all my doctors last name started with “S”. He advised me that I was his first vision loss associated with Immunotherapy. Seven colleagues in his office and none of them had ever encountered the situation. I had weekly appointments for most of February and he called other colleagues across Canada. He decided to give me steroid injections behind the eyes to see if it would help the retinas. At that time mine looked like a roller coaster.

Dr. S-3 and others started to marvel that I learned to “stack” reading glasses on top of each other to be able to watch TV and even shovel snow. I had to put aside any pride I might of had left to even wear 3 pairs to try and look at a menu in a restaurant. This is Daytona 500 weekend, last year on the same weekend, I remember wearing 3 pairs stacked (approx plus 10) to watch my favorite driver Michael McDowell win the race.

Throughout all the appointments, and all the questions, and all the unknowns our faith remained strong. Roxanne and I were trusting The Lord and seeking The Lord in greater ways. It was showing more and more that our trust was based on not only medicine but also God. The medical workers could see that there was something different about us. Even little things like never complaining. They say so many people complain at each and every appointment, we don’t do that. Because we know that the Lord wants us to share His love with others. He also wants us to grow out faith and not waiver.

I have taken way too much of your time today, thank you so much for all your support and comments. I appreciate you taking time to read about this journey, and please remember I am writing to encourage people. I want people to know that the creator of the universe loves them very much. Have a great week everyone, and remember God loves you.

James 1:6-8Tree of Life Version

But let him ask in faith, without any doubting—for the one who doubts is like a wave of the sea, blown and tossed by the wind. For that person must not suppose that he will receive anything from the Lord— he is a double-minded man, unstable in all his ways.

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Be Still And Know

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December 26, 2020, I ended the last Post indicating that I ended up in the Emergency Ward. Covid sure made a trip to Emergency interesting. Roxanne was not able to come in with me and had to leave me at the door. I know that was hard on her, actually really hard on both of us. It was the first time since my diagnosis that we were not able to be together while at an appointment or getting medical attention.

She went home and I waited. The wait that late Saturday afternoon actually wasn’t that long. Would it have been better if my stay was longer? Probably, but that is alright, it just allowed me to meet more people. They ruled out a stroke which I didn’t even think about and the doctor sent me home that night with some medication, believing I had Bell’s Palsy.

On Monday we called The Cross and they said go back to the hospital and ask for imaging to be done. So Roxanne dropped me off at the hospital. I was there Monday the 28th for 9 hours, as my entire face was essentially not working and I could not eat. I met the greatest doctor, Dr. C. who spent lots of time with me, asked questions and listened. The room I was in was also amazing. The best room I have ever seen at Emergency. He ordered a CT scan of my brain… The CT tech, Dianne, was also very kind, and made me laugh. It was 9:30 at night and she had been working all day, but kept me laughing the entire time. An hour or so later Dr. C. came back and showed me the picture of my brain……One lesion appeared. He apologized, I told him it was ok that it would be alright. So in addition to the organs that were impacted they now found a lesion on my brain. He spent time talking to the Cancer Center, and they discussed the possibilities of surgery. They wanted me to come back on Tuesday for an MRI as an MRI is always much better and the concern they had was that in fact there was more than just one lesion on my brain. It was the lesion on my brain that was affecting my facial muscles.

7 hours Tuesday (29th) back to the hospital. I had the MRI and waited. Another doctor, Dr. G. found me just before 4, we ended up speaking in a hallway as there were no vacant rooms….”she said there is only one”. My response “praise the Lord there is only one”. I am not making light of the situation or cancer, but I know that my attitude and faith and the many prayers that we are getting are paramount for beating this thing….Right off the bat she said it is so good to see that I had a positive attitude. She had apologized as well for the wait, as she spent several hours discussing my case. It was determined that surgery was not the best option, but they wanted to move forward with “Gamma Knife” treatment. She said I would receive a call the next day. Before I left the hospital Dr. C. from Monday came back, and said it was great that I was a candidate for “Gamma Knife” and then actually shook my hand. It was my first handshake since the start of COVID. The doctor also sent me home with a prescription for Dexamethasone. More about that in later posts.

As promised we did receive a call the next day from the neurologist, Dr. O. and one of his team. They wanted to get me in as soon as possible. We settled on Wednesday the 6th. Christmas Eve in the Julian Calendar, we celebrate twice because of my Ukrainian Heritage. Roxanne also knew Dr O. from work and she was glad that he was looking at our case.

The Wednesday morning (January 6, 2021) we had to be awake at 4:30. It reminded me of early morning wake up to catch a flight somewhere. No flight, just a 15 minute drive to the hospital We had no idea what to expect, but as I like to learn I can tell you I learned lots about the wonders of modern medicine and technology.. There were 4 people scheduled to get “Gamma Ray Knife” treatment that day. The process involved getting another MRI, and much to both Roxanne’s pleasure and mine they confirmed that it was just the one lesion on the brain. She clapped and I said Praise the Lord… They also found no “seedlings” which was another blessing. They had to then prepare a mask which I had to wear, and it was formed for me specifically. I was able to take it home for a “souvenir” or as they called it for “show and tell”. I have kept it as a reminder of God’s grace and power. They had to design a plan based on the MRI, and after it was approved by a number of doctors and physicists, into the machine I went. I asked for a few minutes for pray with Roxanne, they respected that and stepped back from us. When we finished praying, everyone left the room and the process started.

My Souvenir

It was approximately 30 minutes in length. I could sense God’s presence reminding me to “Trust Him” and also I could feel the prayers that people were sending up to Heaven on our behalf Not only could I feel their prayers, I could see many faces, The power of prayer is so important, never stop praying and never stop trusting and believing about that situation in your on in your life or the lives of others…..Nothing going on in your life is too big for God!

Out of the machine I came, the technician said I did a great job, A couple of times he said he was almost ready to call me on the speaker to get me breathing deeper. He decided not to. I believe it was during the times when my breathing slowed that I was hearing the prayers and hearing God’s gentle voice. I will never forget those 30 minutes. It was so great to see Roxanne when I was done. What a smile she had on her face as she visited with other nurses. It was another amazing team we met and we are so blessed to have such wonderful health care. About an hour later we were on our way home.

Early Morning At The Hospital

I have no idea who reads this BLOG but, I don’t mind sharing that they did show me pictures of my brain, both from my the hospital visit on the 28th and from January 6th. On the 28th I had the lesion plus a large amount of swelling on my brain. Because they put me on “DEX” a steroid the swelling had gone down substantially, which is also helped with my speech and everything else. A great positive as well, in spite of what had been going on they said I had a “good looking brain”. That was good to know. I was eating again, talking again, and God remains and always will be AMAZING.

It was about a week later that I had to buy a pair of reading glasses as I couldn’t quite read the paper. That was interesting because I had never worn corrective lenses in my life.. A few days later it was a stronger pair. Well I think that is enough for today. Thanks to everyone that stops by to visit this BLOG. It is the story of a journey but more importantly a story of God’s goodness.

“Be still and know that I am God” Psalms 46:10

11 For I know the plans I have for you, says the Lord. They are plans for good and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope. 12 In those days when you pray, I will listen. 13 You will find me when you seek me, if you look for me in earnest.” Jeremiah 29:11-13


Greater Is He

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Psalms 27:1  The Lord is my Light and my Salvation—whom shall I fear or dread? The Lord is the Refuge and Stronghold of my life—of whom shall I be afraid?

Friday November 27, 2020, Well this was the day, the first visit to the Cross Cancer Institute, and my first treatment. I have learned to appreciate the name of the Center. I just call it The Cross, Everytime I say The Cross I am reminded that Jesus is with us, as we go through the journey. I should say it was really our second visit, because the day before we took an informational session about Immunotherapy, and discussed some of the common side effects. It was interesting and jammed lots of information into our brains. I started to understand how Immunotherapy boosts the body’s immune system and it is your own body killing the cancer.. Throughout the session I asked myself why I had too many sunburns in my teens and early 20’s. But there was no turning back, and we would trust the Lord completely each and every moment.

I am sure some of you may find this amusing, but one of my biggest regrets about getting cancer is that I can no longer donate blood. I had over 150 whole blood donations and fully understand the power of my O- and CMV negative blood. If you are reading this and have never donated blood, can I please ask you to investigate donating. I guess that is my Public Service Announcement for today’s Blog Post.

My first treatment November 27, 2020

I had a newer nurse to The Cross and she was great to work with. She had a trainer as well, they were both amazing people and really put Roxanne and I at ease throughout the appointment. Ipilimumab and Nivolumab were the drugs used with the first treatment. They told us to watch for side effects during the coming days. Roxanne is a nurse and she said that she would. The treatment went well, we were there for about 3 hours and then we were on our way.

Three weeks later we were back for another treatment. The care and attention from all the staff continued to be nothing short of exceptional. The treatment was going great, Roxanne stepped out for a quick walk While she was gone things changed. I started to feel really cold, and started to shake. I was shaking so hard that the chair was even vibrating. I was having a reaction to the medication. I would learn that many people have a reaction during their second treatment. The body’s way of saying what is going on, what are you putting into me?

Roxanne returned about the same time the nurses noticed I was having a reaction. They stopped the treatment and put me on oxygen and a number of medications. I don’t recall how long it took for my body to return to normal, but it did and they restarted the treatment. That was quite the day and a real eye opener. It again showed me how wonderful the care and attention is at The Cross, and how wonderful the care and attention is from Roxanne. They phoned the next day to see how I was, and I said just fine.

We had presume that the drugs and my body were starting to work on the affected organs, as they had also found 2 small nodules under my skin, one on my neck, the other on my back. They were both gone by this point in time. We thanked God that He was working in conjunction with medicine, and that I would be healed. Our trust in the Lord was growing day by day, and 99% of the time I was my usual joyful, energetic, positive self.

Christmas was getting closer, it would be an unusual Christmas due to the COVID restrictions. Roxanne and I prepared to have Christmas by ourselves. Still no signs of side effects, For those of you who don’t know us, we really love Christmas, and love to decorate.

Christmas Is The Best Time Of Year

There was still no evidence of serious side effects but a few days before Christmas I noticed that I was starting to slur a few words. Not a lot, but noticeable to myself and others. The day after Christmas Roxanne and I were at the mall, while in the bathroom I noticed that one side of my face was drooping.. I had not noticed that before. Well later that day with more slurred words and the drooping face we were off the The Emergency Ward at the hospital close to us.

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Well I think that is enough for today, I will end today with arriving at The Emergency department. I want to thank everyone so much for stopping by and reading My Blog. I am not a writer, but I am learning, and I thank you so much for taking time to read The Story of The Journey.

I want to close with another Bible Verse and remind each and every one of you how much God loves you.

The Battle Belongs To The Lord

I trust that everyone is having a fantastic day. I know it is a beautiful day in Edmonton this morning after 3 weeks of abnormally cold weather. It is nice to be able to go outside for a walk and not be dressed in 3 or 4 layers of clothes.

Some of you have asked me to write the next edition of The Journey going on in our lives. Thank You to those who read the post from last week and as promised here is the next edition.

November 18, 2020, it was time to go visit with Dr. S-1 and the Oncologist Dr. S-2. As I said last week I am very comfortable with Dr. S-1 but this was our first meeting with Dr. S-2. It was a busy room, Roxanne and I, the 2 doctors and 2 residents. We had no idea what the conversation would entail.

It did not take long for Dr S.2 to say, “Gord, you have stage 4 Metastatic Melanoma.” He explained my time line for survival if we did nothing. Nothing like getting to the point and giving us the news all at once and in a quick manner. He explained Immunotherapy Treatment, which is a newer form of fighting cancer. It is intended to boost the immune system so your own body is fighting and killing the cancer. He shared all the potential side effects caused by treatments. Roxanne listened and wrote them down, I was thinking about the first comments that I would make.

Of course we said that I would start the treatments, but I went one step further.. I recounted the story of David killing a bear, a lion and finally Goliath with God’s help, I said to the crowd in the room, that the first Melanoma surgery was the bear, hip surgery the lion, and now the metastatic melanoma being the giant.

I think back on it now, I did not have any health issues until I hit my 50’s. I was rarely ever at a doctor prior to that, so the things that have occured have caused much learning.

Roxanne and I knew that there would be a battle in front of us, but we also knew that The Battle Belongs to the Lord. We knew that we needed to draw on Him like never before as we moved forward in the journey.

I did say as WE moved forward in the journey. One thing I have learned and will talk about it more in future writings is that both spouses are on the journey when one is diagnosed with cancer. Both have to be in unity, and in our case trusting our faith to be able to move forward with confidence day by day.

Roxanne, I and the doctors were all on the same page we would start the Immunotherapy Treatments. The first would be scheduled for the following week. I had no idea what to anticipate, but we were comfortable with the 2 doctors and fully trusting in The Lord.

A few days later we went to Elk Island National Park, which is the picture at he start of today’s post. It was a great day of just walking around, relaxing and seeing all the amazing sights.

Well that is it for today’s post, I have no idea who is going to read this but part of the reason I am writing is to remind people how much God loves you, and He is never too busy for you.

Deuteronomy  31:8 It is the Lord Who goes before you; He will [march] with you; He will not fail you or let you go or forsake you; [let there be no cowardice or flinching, but] fear not, neither become broken [in spirit—depressed, dismayed, and unnerved with alarm].

Have an amazing day everyone.