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

 

This is the day!!!!!!!!

This indeed is the day that the Lord has made we will rejoice and be glad in it…. I shared the “BHAP” (Big Hairy Audacious Prayers) thought with a few people and they thought that it was great. So in our house going forward we will be praying Big Hairy Audacious Prayers). We serve a big God who is still in the prayer answering business.

With that in mind if you have any prayer requests, PLEASE send me a message. Roxanne and I will commit to praying for you daily.

Since I wrote the last paragraph our door bell rang, and it was a strong reminder that HE does answer BIG PRAYERS. Last spring one of our neighbors told us that they were wanting to have a baby but had not been yet successful in getting pregnant. We let her know we would be praying, which we did consistently. She eventually let us know when she was pregnant and this morning they brought over the little baby to meet us.

What a great reminder from the Lord of HIS goodness, and answered prayers. A powerful confirmation to me as I had started writing about prayer this morning, and then answer to prayer showed up at our door.

Once again if you need prayer send me your requests and we will pray for you.

Last week I had my 12 month follow for the bi-lateral hip replacement surgery. It was actually held at 11 months and I passed with flying colors. During one of the tests I walked at 1.79 meters per second which is one of the fastest paces they had seen. I don’t have to go back for follow for another 3 years so that is indeed a blessing. I also met 3 men contemplating hip surgery. I told them what I went through and I told them I could now walk any distance with no pain whatsoever…I told them I am now able to enjoy doing physical activities again. I am trying my best to walk at least 20 miles per week and I really enjoy being active.

Just a short post today and with the ringing of the door bell, I am reminded that this indeed is the day that the Lord has made. Trusting that all of you have an amazing day.

BHAP!!!!!!!!

Do you remember from the business world BHAG (Big Hairy Audacious Goal) and how it is is vital to a company and the employees????

Two weeks ago at a night of prayer at our church there were 6 of us in attendance. Myself, Roxanne and 4 others. I don’t know why but I started talking about BHAG and all of sudden the thought came to me. BHAP!!! For a believer we need to believe in BHAP. We need to have that mindset when we pray. IT MUST BE BIG HAIRY AUDACIOUS PRAYERS. We need to pray and then we need to believe God for the answer.

We need to believe that no prayer is too big for God. I have the 6 of us using the phrase BHAP now. I am wondering if this is something that can catch on? How many of you reading would say BHAP?

I have no idea where the original thought came from. Maybe it was myself and maybe God planted the thought in my head. Roxanne and I are choosing to pray that way going forward.

Not only Big Prayers, we also want to have Big Impact on People. With God’s help we want to make a difference in the lives of people.

What a way to start today’s Blog Post!!

I just finished driving my home from California, more about that in future writings. At this point I will say it was fun and memorable.

I flew to Palm Springs on the 29th, and we left on the 1st of February. Before we left Palm Springs one early morning I went for a walk and saw a robin. The robin was sitting in a tree enjoying the sunshine. Then I thought I wonder where that robin goes when winter is over? Does it fly to Alberta? Where does it go for the summer? I know it probably does not stay in Palm Springs but flies somewhere. Seeing the robin reminded me that it has a BHAG. It’s goal is so big, that little bird migrates. A small bird flies miles and miles and miles. It sets big goals and knows that it will achieve that goal. That confirmed to me that we need to have the BIG PRAYERS.

Watching that robin was a powerful lesson and I know that lesson came to me that morning from God. The bigger question is what am I going to do with that lesson?

Just a short post for today, but I wanted to share the story about BHAP.

Have a great weekend everyone, and I look forward to hearing from those of you who will start using the phrase BHAP in your life.

Thanks for reading today blessings to you.