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 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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