Thursday, December 30, 2010

TC - Day 30

Over the past few months I have seen a number of amazing opportunities come forward in the life of the church and in my own life as well. They have been opportunities for growth in a variety of ways, including in my own spiritual life. So today I am thankful for opportunities.

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

TC - Day 29

We are nearing the end of the Thankfulness Challenge, only two more days left. So today I am thankful for this challenge. Over the past month I have heard from a number of people how this challenge has made them reflect on how they view what is happening in their life and look at the positive things that are happening with them. It has also helped me to slow down during this busy month and remember why it is we do what we do.

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

TC - Days 26, 27, 28

I need to play a little catch up again - so here we go :)

26 - I am thankful for safe travel. On Christmas we went up to Jennifer's sisters place and then on Monday we went to her aunt and uncles. It was nice to get together with the whole family, and I was very relieved when the roads were clear for travel as well.

27 - I am thankful for the noise children make. Throughout the entire weekend there was laughing, screaming, truck noises, and everything else you could think of. The girls were having a blast and the noises that they made were wonderful.

28 - I am thankful for grandparents who take the children for a few days. Jen's parents took Sierra and Scarlett for two days so that Jen and I could get some cleaning done around the house. Last night we cleaned the carpets, today we are going to do more cleaning and go see Harry Potter. I am very thankful for Joe and Dottie to take the girls for a few days so we can get this done.

Just a few days left of the challenge. How have you been doing with it?

Friday, December 24, 2010

TC - Days 24 and 25

I am combining these two because I know how busy tomorrow will be, and in celebrating the birth of Christ, it is rather east to have two things to be thankful for right now.

1 - I am thankful for Christmas, for the blessing of the Christ child, for the love of God, and for the new life that is born.

2 - for music - our services are filled with wonderful and moving music, music that brings the season to life in wonderful ways.

Have a blessed Christmas everyone!

Thursday, December 23, 2010

TC - Day 23

Today is garbage day in our neighborhood, and so today I am thankful for those who take care of the garbage for me. This is one of those things that I do not think about often, I just haul the cans to the end of the driveway and pick them up a few hours later. But to live in a place where the garbage is taken care of and not just lying in the streets - it is a true blessing.

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

TC - Day 22

Tonight I am teaching confirmation. We have a wonderful class this year. Tonight we are looking at the Third Article of the Apostle's Creed - the Holy Spirit. The conversation we have about the Spirit have been wonderful. So today I am thankful for the gift of the Spirit and these youth who are continuing to grow in their faith.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

TC - Days 18, 19, 20, 21

I got a little bit behind over the weekend, so today is my catch up day.

18 - I am thankful for decongestant. With a cold, this is a true blessing :)

19 - I am thankful for the new snow. Yes, I know this sounds weird, but as I was driving to school today all Sierra could talk about was playing in the snow and building a fort with me. That kind of time together is precious, and I thankful that the snow brought that to light.

20 - I am thankful for the creativity of my wonderful wife. She wrote the advent Sunday School curriculum and the Christmas program, which was last weekend. It was wonderful and her ability to tie in the story, crafts, and service projects to all of it was great.

21 - I am thankful for the Hands of Faith program. This is a program that houses the homeless in churches throughout the Beloit area. This week we are housing it, and with all the snow and cold, I am thankful that we can be a part of helping those who are in need.

Friday, December 17, 2010

TC - Day 17

Yesterday the church took a huge step forward in our mission by taking possession of a house that we will use for the seminary internship program we are starting next year. As I did some of the work with the donor and the church, I heard the story of what led to this donation. Throughout the entire story I saw the Spirit blowing through the lives of all involved. It is always wonderful to see the way God works in and through people and situations. So today I am thankful for the blowing of the Spirit and the ears that are open to hear the Spirit.

Thursday, December 16, 2010

TC - Day 16

There is a guy in our congregation who has been a huge blessing to me, our family, and the congregation as a whole. Over the past year he has taken care of our yard, hauled me and the dog to the vet when I was still unable to drive, and taken things to and from the church over and over again. Over the next week he will be taking care of the poinsettias, taking gifts to the nursing home, and making a few other trips to help us all out. So today I am thankful for Steve.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

TC - Day 15

The work out class that I go to at the Y in the morning is one the is filled with humor. With all of us getting up very early, the humor is something that keeps us awake and even having fun when we are punishing our bodies and trying to make them healthier. So today, I am very thankful for the gift of humor in my life.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

TC - Days 13 and 14

I have come to discover that writing on the blog on my day off does not happen. So once again I will list two things I am thankful for today.

1 - Throughout my cancer journey I was writing about what I was experiencing. A few months ago I sent my manuscript out to some publishers and last week I was sent a contract to have my book published. I am thankful for the opportunity to have my book published and hopefully it will help others.

2 - Monday night is swim lesson night for Sierra. She is progressing at a wonderful rate and it is a joy to see her having so much fun. So the second thing I am thankful for is the opportunity for the girls to learn how to swim and have fun in the water.

Sunday, December 12, 2010

TC - Day 12

Today I was up very early to get the driveway cleaned off before coming in. We are having one of those wet, heavy snows that leaves some ice beneath it all. When I got to the office I saw that our custodian and former custodian were already at work - the sidewalks were cleaned and the steps were salted. Today I am thankful for such a great staff. They work hard and make a huge difference here - so thank you.

Saturday, December 11, 2010

TC - Day 11

With the snow coming and the cold weather rolling in, today I am thankful for crafts. Being able to sit with the girls and decorate a gingerbread house or make Christmas ornaments is a true blessing and I treasure that time with them.

Friday, December 10, 2010

TC - Day 10

This morning I woke up to the sound of scratching in the attic. As I lay in bed, thinking of the kind of poison I would need to take care of that scratching little animal up there, I was reminded of the blessing of having that roof over my head. So today I am thankful for the shelter that protects me and my family from the weather outside (but not the little critter living in that roof).

Thursday, December 9, 2010

TC - day 9

Today as I reflect on the thinks I am thankful for my mind is wandering to technology. For indoor plumbing and heating, for phones to stay in touch and e-mail to converse with friends. For all of the wonderful little gadgets that help me to make better use of my time, and yes, sometimes waste my time as well, I am thankful. So as I send this out over the gift of the web, I am thankful that I can communicate with all of you in this way.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

TC - Day 8

Last night I was sore. My wonderful trainer worked us out hard yesterday, and I was paying for it this morning. But I got back up and went back today - which started with lunge laps, gotta love that at 5:15 in the morning. But as I was showering after the workout I was reminded that the soreness really is a blessing. It is a blessing because I am able to get up, go work out, and physically get healthier. So today I am thankful for the soreness and the ability to get up and go work out.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

TC - Days 6 and 7

Yesterday got by me, and so today I am making up for it by having 2 things I am thankful for.

So - number 6 - Sierra was riding in the back of the car earlier this week and started asking me all sorts of questions - the kind of questions that as adults we tend to pass right over and silly. But as I answered all of her questions the best that I could, I was taken back to those innocent and care-free days of life. So I am thankful to see the world through my daughters eyes, and see how beautiful life really is.

Number 7 - The past two days have barely gotten into double digits, so as I rushed out to the Y at 5 this morning, I was reminded of the blessings of warmth and warm clothing. I am thankful that I have the clothes needed to stay warm.

Sunday, December 5, 2010

TC- Day 5

On a typical Sunday, I am the first one up at our house. I get ready and then head into the office around 5:45 am. When I get here I go through my morning rituals - making coffee, prayers, drinking coffee, getting stuff set up in the sanctuary, drinking more coffee, and the list goes on. Then the rest of the family comes in and the girls have breakfast in my office before their sitter shows up, and then we are off and running for three services. This weekend we are having three baptisms as well - it will be a wonderful day.

And so, today I am thankful for worship - with its wonderful variety and different styles. To have the opportunity to gather with brothers and sisters, friends and strangers, and sing and pray and hear the life-giving word. Yes worship is a true blessing and I am thankful for that blessing this morning.

Saturday, December 4, 2010

TC - Day 4

I just got in from shoveling snow. It was wonderful outside, the air was brisk, the snow was light, and the world just felt a little cleaner. As I was out there I realized how thankful I am for the change of seasons. I would have a hard time living in place where there was not a change of seasons. I love all of them (with the exception of the humidity in the summer:). So today, I am thankful for the seasons and the weather that comes with all of them.

Friday, December 3, 2010

TC - Day 3

Today is the first day we are back at work after out nice little vacation. we had a great time, but I am also glad to be back. It is nice to get back to routine after some time away.

And that got me thinking about what I am thankful for today - the church. Over the past nine months the church has shown me amazing blessings, love, and compassion. We have seen the best of the church over and over again. I am truly grateful and thankful for this part of the body, the church, and for all that you mean to me.

Thursday, December 2, 2010

TC - Day 2

We just got home from a nice vacation down to Florida. We spent some time with my mom, sister, and nieces in Sarasota then went over to Orlando to take the girls to Disney World. Overall it was a very nice trip and a needed break.

With that on my mind, what I am thankful for is family. My family has given me hope and inspiration, love and forgiveness, and a multitude of blessings throughout my life. I am truly thankful for them.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Thanksfulness Challenge Day 1

Today I am starting the Thankfulness Challenge that will last through the month of December. Every day I will be posting on here on thing that I am thankful for in my life. And the first one is easy - God. I am thankful for the God who has claimed me, loves me, blesses me, forgives me, and empowers me to share his grace and love with others. I am thankful for all that God has blessed me with and for all of the relationships in my life.

Friday, November 19, 2010


I know that it has been a few weeks since I have last posted - all is well here, I have just been busy trying to get caught up with everything and everyone. It is amazing how long it actually takes to get back to where I was - not because of lack of energy or anything like that (I feel great) but because of all that is going on and all that is already planned for the future.

So in order to slow myself down, again, I am preparing to take the Thankfulness Challenge. Starting in December, I, and whoever wants to join me, will be reflecting on a Bible passage about thankfulness and writing down one thing I am thankful for that day. I have a journal prepared and will be distributing at church starting this weekend (if you want one and don't live around here, let me know and I will e-mail it out to you). This journal will serve as a guide as we reflect on the many gifts and people we have to be thankful for.

I will be trying to post daily starting in December and list the things I am thankful for here, on the blog. Some days I may miss, but I will catch up the next day.

So as we prepare for the Thanksgiving holiday, I invite you to start reflecting on all the good things in your life and giving thanks to the God who has blessed you and will continue to do so.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

CT Scan Results

Today I got to meet with Dr. Vogel to get the results of my CT scan from last week.

The scan was clean - NO cancer - things are looking good!

Dr. Vogel was very happy and hopeful with the results. He was also amazed at how well I have handled all of the treatments. More blessings upon blessings.

Thanks to all of you, for your support and prayers. I don't have to do anything at this point. My next CT scan will be in January.

God Bless

Tuesday, October 12, 2010


This week I am feeling a little anxious. On Friday I go in for my first quarterly post-treatment scan. The scan itself is not all that big of a deal, I have done plenty of scans and x-rays over the past six months. It is the anxiety of the results - which I will not get until the following Wednesday.

Overall, I am feeling great. I am working out more, I am eating better, I am spending time with family and friends, and work is going well. The only thing weighing on me is this darn scan.

Now I am quite sure that things will be fine, that the results will show a clean lung area, and I have nothing to worry about. But there are times when that little seed of doubt can flair up and get a person thinking way too much - and that happens sometimes with me.

So, the prayers for the week are two-fold: one is a prayer for a clean scan. The second one is a prayer for peace in my soul. I have to continually remind myself that every step I take, I am taking with God.

Thursday, October 7, 2010

New Video - The Blessings of Waiting - Oct. ...

Here is our newest video on the blessings of waiting.

Thursday, September 30, 2010

Steps Forward

Since the end of my treatments I have been attending a 5:15 am workout class at the Y 3 days a week. I really enjoy it, it has been a wonderful reminder of how out of shape I am. I remember when I used to do these same exercises in high school, and oh to be in that kind of shape again! But it does feel good to be back at it, and even though it is so early in the morning, I am a morning person by nature and love be up at that time of day.

It is also nice to be able to see the progress I make every time I am there. Some of the things that I could not do three weeks ago, I can do now. Every step is a step forward.

And that has been a bit of a theme for me as of late - steps forward. I have slowly been coming out of my treatment mentality of "what's next" when it comes to treatment and am moving forward with "what's next" in life. To be able to focus on the celebrations, the joys, the little things and not have my mind constantly thinking about the next treatment - that is a step forward as well.

I have also taken the time to write this whole journey down. That had some closure with it as well - being able to look back and see all that has happened, the steps forward that have been taken, and where I am now. Every step has been a positive one. Now I am trying to shop it out to publishers.

For me, so much of this has had to do with attitude - being able to see the positive, the blessings, the good things that have happened. And being able to take the next steps forward, celebrating each one on the way.

May you be blessed with joyful steps forward today.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Reality Sinks In

Last weekend Jennifer and I took a trip to celebrate our anniversary (which is today) and the end of my treatments. It was a wonderful time for us to get away and just relax for a few days. And it was the start of getting back to normal, whatever that may mean.

When we returned, I had a bit of an awakening on Tuesday morning - I did not need to go and see a doctor or give a blood sample. This was something I knew, of course, but it had not really sunk in until Tuesday morning. I dropped Sierra and her friend off at school and as I was about to turn to go to the Clinic, it hit me. I needed to turn right rather than left. I needed to go to the office rather than the clinic. I am actually done with all the treatments. Like I said, I knew this, but the reality finally sunk in.

So this week has been one of getting back into the groove at church. I have been making visits to the hospital, preparing stewardship materials and adult studies, working on a sermon, getting ready for a baptism, and numerous other things that go along with day-to-day ministry. But more than that, I have been celebrating every little aspect of the day.

I know that before all of this happened, I took the daily life for granted. This is what I did, this is who I was, and so I just went about my days as if they would always be like this.

But now, now I celebrate every little moment. Last night before we came in for Kid's Club, Sierra was doing some homework (writing letters on a worksheet) and I sat there and just took that moment in. My little girl, writing letters and learning how to spell and read. A precious moment that is too easily overlooked. At the hospital earlier this week I sat with a person who was going home after surgery and saw a person filled with a second chance that inspired me to keep moving forward with everything.

There are so many moments that I took for granted in the past that I now will treasure and make into memories. And I pray that your eyes may be opened to those moments as well and you may see the blessings of God poured out upon you.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010


After six long months, I am finally done. Today was my last day of radiation, which means it was the last day of my treatments. The radiation treatments went extremely well, there are still very minimal side effects and I have more energy now than I have had in months. The staff at the Cancer Care Center in Beloit was phenomenal and I will miss seeing them on a regular basis - I will not miss doing the treatments, but I will miss the people, they are some of the best around.

Earlier this week I had a regular appointment with my primary doctor. This is the first time that I had seen her since we started this whole process. It was on March 1, at my last appointment with her, that the CT Scan was ordered to follow up on some pneumonia that I had a few months earlier. I will never forget that night as she called me and said I had follow up tests to do with other doctors because of something strange on my scan. That was the start of this whole process.

I remember getting the news that I had cancer and the range of emotions that flooded over me at the time. Now, as I look back at it, I also see the hand of God at work every step of the way. The doctors, the tests, the nurses, those working in the labs, the congregation, my friends and family - through all of these people, through all of you, I have seen the face of Christ and experienced the healing touch of God. This has been one heck of a ride and it has also been a time when I have been forced to slow down. It was in this slow down time, in this time of waiting, that I have experienced the grace of God in ways I never expected. And I thank all of you for being little Christ's and walking this walk with me.

The next step of this journey is the follow up portion. I have my first CT Scan on October 15th. The following Wednesday I will meet with the oncologist and get the results. The prayer now is that the scans will all be negative and I will be done with treatments forever. I am quite hopefully that everything has gone just as it should and we have wiped out all traces of this cancer that was in my system.

I will continue to do at least weekly updates on the blog. This weekend Jennifer and I are going to celebrate the end of treatments and our 10th wedding anniversary by taking a short trip. I am sure that there will be plenty for me to write about after that. Thanks for all and God Bless!!

Friday, September 10, 2010

3 to Go!!!!

Another week, and another step closer to being done. As much as I like these nurses, radiation techs, and doctor, I really am not going to miss going up there every day.

This week was like the rest, the biggest difference is that my throat is actually getting better. It is not as sore as it was last week. When I talked with the doctor about it earlier this morning, he said that there are a few cases where the person's body notices what the radiation is doing to it and starts to repair itself. That seems to be what is happening to me - another sign that I am a rarity:)

The meeting with the doctor today went well, again. I asked again about why we are not doing the extra sessions, not because I want to but because I want to make sure we are doing everything possible to wipe any cancer cells out of me. He said that there are no studies out there that show that it is that much better to do the extra sessions and we are radiating that area already, so we will save the extra radiation for someone else.

Another step I took in my treatment this week as to get back into some regular exercise. It has been months since I have had a regular program, so I signed up at the Y for a 5:15 AM Fit Club. It started this week, and even though it is quite early, I am really enjoying it. I am feeling a bit sore right now, but it is a good sore, and I look forward to going and "getting my sweat on." It is also a sign, at least mentally, that I am getting back to normal.

I will finish treatments on Wednesday, then Jennifer and I will be flying out of town on Friday for a long weekend to celebrate the end of my treatments, and more importantly, our 10th Anniversary. When we get back I will not have to see a doctor for 4 weeks, and then I start my quarterly CT Scans to make sure that nothing is coming back. I will do quarterly scans for 3 years, then semi-annual scans for 2 years, then at 5 years annual scans. The magic number is 5 years, because when I get to that stage, and am still cancer free, the likelihood if the cancer coming back is minuscule.

So far all is still going very well. I continue to ask for your prayers as we start looking forward to the scans and making sure that the cancer does not return. Next week I am sure I will post a joyful end to all the treatments. God Bless!

Friday, September 3, 2010

18 down, 7 to go

Well, the radiation has continued to go as smoothly as possible. Every morning by 8:30 am I am being zapped and the side effects have still been minimal. I have a bit of a sore throat when I eat, but not bad enough to get me to stop eating, and the ice cream always makes it feel better in the end. I have not had the side effect of being tired at all. I actually have more energy than I have had since the operation and I even signed up for a 5:15 am class at the Y. I have been told that it will be torture, but hey, I am used to that:) Seriously though, I am glad that I am feeling so good that I have the energy to pursue this class and other things in life.

I was also informed today that I have completed 18 sessions and I only have 7 left. He has decided to not add the extra 2,3, or 5 sessions at the end. I asked him if this was because I was doing so well and he said yes. Gotta love it when the docs think the treatments are going well!

Radiation takes about 10 minutes, and during that time I am lying on a table while a machine rotates around my body and zaps me from different angles. I have started to turn this time into supplemental prayer time. It is a time when I know I will not be disturbed, since there is radiation being shot in there and people really don't want to hang out in that:) In this prayer time I just let the Spirit guide me, and in doing so the majority of time is spent in prayer of thanksgiving - thanksgiving for my family, congregation, the healing touch I am receiving, and a whole host of other things. This time of thanksgiving helps me to stay focused on the positive and the many ways God is continuing to work in my life, in the congregation, and in people all around me.

Everyday I am reminded about all of the good things in life, and I continue to try and celebrate them each and every day. This morning I took Sierra and a friend of hers to school, and as I looked out the mirror as I drove away I saw them run to the playground, laughing and smiling - that is a God moment, something to be thankful for. So today, may your eyes be opened to the blessings, the joy, the gifts you are given - for as one of God's children, you are loved, cared for, and needed.

Friday, August 20, 2010

Radiation and Continuing Ministry

This week I completed my first full week of radiation. Overall it went very well, and the nurses love to have Sierra come up with me and talk to her while I am getting zapped. I have started to discover what "cumulative side effects" are as well. The first one has started to appear, if only a little bit. Since they are shooting the radiation directly over my throat, I am starting to feel it a little bit, esp. when I eat. This was expected, and on Thursday the doctor told me to increase the amount of calories I take in (nave had a doc tell me that before:) because in a few weeks I will probably be at a negative when it comes to calories and the amount I burn. I am preparing to eat lots of soup and milk shakes soon.

But as I came in to work today, I was also reminded about how life, and ministry, go on in the midst of these treatments. We were preparing for the Lunch Ministry when I got here. Today, in just under 40 minutes, we ran out of sandwiches, serving 100 people in that short time. There are people who show up 30 minutes early just to have some fellowship and talk with others, many of whom this si the only interaction with other people that they have all day.

The more I go through these treatments, the more blessed I feel. I feel blessed because I am part of a congregation who is motivated to serve those in need. I am blessed because I can keep doing what I am called to do - reaching out with the love of Christ to all I come in contact with. I am blessed because I have a medical team who is doing everything they can to make sure I can do these ministries as long as possible.

Being able to see the blessings always helps me to focus on the positive things that are happening in my life, and in the community I am a part of. Today, I pray that you may see the multitude of blessings that surround you.

Saturday, August 14, 2010


On Wednesday I started the third leg of my treatment - radiation. So far it was been the simplest part as well, but I know that will change in a few weeks.

I will be have at least 25 sessions of radiation. They take place every weekday and last about 10-15 minutes. The first session was the longest, a little over an hour, because they had to shoot a few x-rays to make sure they were aiming the radiation in the right place. I told them to take their time and get it right.

There is a possibility that I will need an extra 3-5 sessions at the end. The doctor said that this might happen because when the surgeon cut out the tumor there was no cancer in the bronchial tubes, but there was some in the fleshy tissue surrounding those tubes. So the extra sessions would be done just to focus on that area in particular. It will not be decided until the last week of radiation and seeing how well I am holding up to the side effects.

Side effects should start kicking in next week. He told me that radiation is cumulative, so the effects are not felt right away. By next week he said I may start to feel a little run down and tired, this will continue until 3-4 weeks after radiation. He also said that since they are shoot quite close to the esophagus, there is a strong chance that I might feel the esophagus constrict a little and have to eat a lot of soft foods during the last few weeks of radiation and for 304 weeks afterward. Luckily I am big fan of soup and ice cream!

The staff at the radiation center is great. I have had to take Sierra with me and they have taken care of her wonderfully as well. So far, everything is going very well and I am still quite hopefully that all of this will do what it is supposed to and we will wipe this stuff out.

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

A for Effort

Today I did my second meeting with the radiation team that I will be working with and learned more about radiation as well as demonstrated an amazing showing of enthusiasm.

I had a CT Scan so that the doctor could figure out the exact areas that he wants to shoot the radiation. During this time they also pulled out a wonderful Sharpie and made marks on my chest, which they then covered with tape, so that they could line me up the same way when I come in for treatments. I had heard from some who had this in the past that they actually tattooed people, but luckily I did not need to have that happen. The only painful part will be taking the tape off next week.

We proceeded with the scan, then I got my schedule. I will be starting next Wednesday and follow up with 30 sessions. Each session takes about 10 minutes and I will be doing them daily at 8:30 in the morning, what a great way to start the day!

After that the doctor wanted me to have a breathing test. Here is where I got my A for Effort.

When they came to give me the test, they had me stand, put a breathing device in my mouth, and look at a screen of bricks. The goal was to blow down as many bricks as possible. So I did. I pushed out the initial breath of air and I kept blowing and blowing and blowing ... until I passed out.

I cam to a second later with three techs trying to get me into the chair. My first words were, "Did I blow down enough bricks?"

Needless to say, the rest of the test was done with me sitting and them telling me, quite forcefully, when to inhale a second time.

All the joys of medicine :)

Tomorrow I head off to the Cities to celebrate the end of my chemo. I will be back on Sunday evening.

Monday, August 2, 2010

Radiation Schedule

Today Jennifer and I met with the radiation team who I will be working with next with this whole process. They seem like some great people and the doctor was extremely personable. It turns out that Jennifer and I went to seminary with his niece as well, so that was a nice connection.

On Wednesday I will be going back to get everything lined out as to where they will be doing the radiation. They will be doing a CT Scan and marking the areas that they want to focus on. According to the doctor, they will be focusing on the lymph node areas, since the main tumor was taken out and the lymph nodes are of the most concern. The hope is that the nodes that were left as all clean now, but instead of taking any chances they will use the radiation on them.

Then I am going to go to the Twin Cities for a few days. I am going to meet with a few friends and celebrate the end of chemo. I will be back on Sunday night.

The following week is when I will start radiation. It looks like I will have about 30 sessions. Sessions take place daily and last 10-15 minutes. The side effects seem quite minimal compared to radiation, but it is also cumulative, so it will not really be felt until half way through the process.

With 30 sessions, this will take about 6 weeks to complete, so I should be all done with treatments by the end of September (something I am really looking forward to). I was encouraged by this appointment and I am looking forward to start this process, mainly so that I can get done with all the treatments.

All for now.

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Done with Chemo

Today I had my last chemo session - yeah!

It went ;like most of the other sessions, I had some wonderful people stop by and help pass the time. The nurses were great as usual and all the drugs tht needed to be given to me were. And when we were all done, I loving told the nurses I hope to never have to sit in their little green chairs again.

Before chemo I had my regular meeting with the doctor and learned a few things about the rest of the process. I will be meeting with the radiation oncologist next Monday. After meeting with him I will have a schedule and plan for the radiation therapy. In three months I will be have a CT Scan and meeting with the oncologist to see if the treatments are working. I will be having CT scans every three months for at least two years, maybe three. THen they will drop to every six months. The magic number is five - for making it five years after surgery and treatment with no relapse means that there is a very, very small chance that the cancer will return. I also learned thart because of the stage of my cancer there is at least a 50 percent chance of relapse. We are all hopefully that this stage of the treatment is working.

Overall I am feeling good. Tonight Jennifer and I will celebrate by going out to dinner and see RENT at a local theater. A nice little celebration before the meds wear off and I crash for awhile. Prayers are still appreciated and I will update when I learn more about the radiation.

Sunday, July 25, 2010

New Video

A couple of weeks ago we shot another video. Here it is.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Slower on the Uptake

Okay, this week I learned something new (I guess it is always good to learn something, right:). What I learned today is that after three sessions of chemo, the body is a bit slower to heal than it was at the beginning.

Normally I am feeling quite good by day 6 or so after chemo, this week I am on day six and I am still wiped out. The body is not doing what I want it to when I want it to, and that is a bit frustrating. So my whine for today is - C'mon body, get over it!

Now I know, in the big picture I am quite blessed with how well things have been going. To only have to worry about needing extra sleep and dealing with hiccups is very minor in all of this, but I guess I was spoiled from the beginning.

Wow - I just said I was spoiled during chemo. I never imagined that as a mindset I would have in my life.

So today I slept a little more, I took a few more breaks, I listened to my body. And all of these are good things. Maybe I am also being told to slow down in other ways as well.

Tomorrow I will be one step closer to being done with this part of the treatment. Today I will celebrate the fact that have this treatment to take care of the disease.

Yes, there are blessings - I just have to keep my eyes open for them.

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Chemo session 3 is done!

Well, I am 3/4 of the way done with my chemotherapy. Today was the third session, and it went as well as it has the previous times. I did my blood draw at 8:15 (everything was great again) and then met with the doctor before chemo. He was impressed with how well I have been responding to the chemo and the physical exam he did looked good again. Before he left I asked him about radiation and when I would meet with the radiation oncologist. He said I will me with the other doctor three weeks after I finish chemo, so that would be in mid-August. I was hoping to get the ball rolling earlier than that, but hey, he is the doc!

I also asked about how many session of radiation I will be doing, and he did not even hazard a guess. I have heard anywhere from 4 sessions to 25 sessions. I have learned that those sessions will do done 5 days a week and last about 15 minutes. One person I know who works with this said she thought I would be more around the 25 sessions. I will find out in six weeks.

Part of this is a bummer, because I was hoping to be done with everything by the end of August. Now it looks like I will run into September with some of the treatments. But, if this is what needs to be done to make sure there are no little cancer bugs hanging around, then lets do it right!

If the past two sessions are any guide, then I will be up late tonight because of the steroids. So I will be doing a little reading and writing and see how long the steroids mess with me. I am in the process of putting this whole experience down in book form, so late nights might actually help me get that done.

All for now, more will come later this week.

God Bless

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Moving Forward

The week after chemo went very well. The nausea was even less than last time and I was not as tired as I was before. I did preach over the weekend and three services on Sunday was a bit much, but I got through it. I will not have to that again since I am not on for preaching on the weekends following chemo the next two times.

Today I inherited a cold with a wonderful barking cough, so I do have a call into the nurses to see what I can or cannot take to help with this. It is always fun trying to mix medicines with what I can take with the chemo and what would affect it and the work the chemo is doing.

Mentally I have been very upbeat lately. With everything going as well as it is, I am feeling that the chemo is doing what it needs to be doing. If there are any cancer cells hiding in me, then the chemo is wiping them out and I will be cancer free following all of these treatments. I am also looking forward to radiation - the more I can do to wipe this stuff out the better!

I have also started some planning for the future. We are looking at a short family vacation before the last session of chemo - a little chance to get away and enjoy some family time. And I am looking at at a solo trip up to the Cities after all my treatments to catch up with some friends. It is nice to be able to look forward once again.

All for now - will update more later.

Monday, June 14, 2010

Round 2 Update

Round Two went very well today. Things got started a little later than expected because the place was packed. There was not a free chair for over 5 hours - and i knew a good number of the people who were there. One thing that was cool was that I was seated with people from church all day - so we had some great conversations.

I am also very grateful for the people who came to visit and just chat. These great people made the time go by much quicker, and after being there for 7 hours, it was a blessing to have friends there.

So I am done with two rounds - tonight I will be up a bit, the steroid they gave me have that affect on me. The next few days I will be taking the anti-nausea meds and a number of naps, but I am still planning to be at work when I am not sleeping and I am planning on preaching this weekend (the gospel lesson is the first recorded case of deviled ham - gotta love it).

Round three was moved to a Wednesday because of the July 4 holiday - so in just over three weeks I am at it again. I will have more later this week. God Bless.

Sunday, June 13, 2010

Monday - Round 2

Tomorrow morning I start round 2 of chemo. The morning starts with another blood draw (one of the great weekly joys I have nowadays), then a meeting with the oncologist, followed by 7 hours of having fluids and chemo pumped into the system.

The good news is that the last session went so smoothly that I am feeling very positive about this round. Days 3-5 afterward were the worst, but that just meant I was tired and felt a wee bit queasy. I know many people who have had it a lot worse than me.

I am also feeling good about how the chemo is working. My thoughts are that if I am feeling as good as I am, then it must be hitting the cells it is target (it may be wishful thinking, but hey - I am hopeful here:).

last week we had our first Cancer Prayer Support Group meeting and had a nice turnout of survivors, those of us going through treatments, and family and friends of those affected. It is always a joy to see the survivors because of the hope that they give to others. It is also nice to have a group to gather and shore stories. We also see how much humor plays a part in the healing process. Laughter is a true blessing in all of this.

I will report back later this week on how it is all going. And I am sure that I will have some humorous Facebook updates tomorrow. Have a blessed night.

Friday, June 4, 2010

Synod Assembly

This weekend we are going to the annual synod assembly - a weekend of meetings and reconnecting with friends throughout the area. It is going to be held in the Wisconsin Dells at one of the waterparks.

After being diagnosed I was thinking about this weekend. It is one of the few times that we pastors get a weekend off together and can catch up with others. I always enjoyed going, not for the meetings, but rather for the fellowship. I was wondering if I was going to feel up for it this year after surgery and a round of chemo. Luckily everything has been going very well and I am all ready to head up there. We are going a little early as well, so that the girls can splash around with us before the assembly starts.

The reason I bring this up today, one of the reminders I have been given through this disease is that times of fellowship are more important than we sometimes realize. The friends, the family, those who are important to us - we need to make the time to be with them because that time we have may be limited.

So today - celebrate those who are important to you in your life. Go out to coffee with a friend, go for a walk with a family member, spend some time with someone who is important to you. Celebrate this gift of life - for it is a real gift.

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Feeling Good and Looking Forward

Well the first week after the chemo treatment was much smoother than I ever expected. The side effects were quite minimal and after 6 days I am almost at 100%. I truly hope and pray that the next three sessions are as smooth as this one.

The three minor side effects I had were a small bit of nausea (which was well controlled with some great meds), being tired, especially days 3-5 (naps are a blessing!) and the one that surprised me - the chemo hiccups. It turns out that the chemo I was given and the steroid that went with it can cause hiccups in some people. I got that one. On Tuesday night I got the hiccups four times, each one lasting about an hour. Luckily I now have a new med that I can take if it happens again.

On Tuesday (yesterday) I went in for my weekly blood draw and all of the panels look great. My system is adapting to the chemo extremely well and I am up and starting exercise once again. I am continually amazed at how blessed I have been through this entire ordeal. I feel good and I am full of hope that these treatments will wipe out any cancer cells that are hiding in my system!

After going through all of this I have come up with a couple of ministry ideas as well. The first one I am putting into action is the Cancer Prayer Support Group. We will be meeting on the 2nd and 4th Tuesdays of the month at Our Saviors and it is for anyone who has been affected by cancer either themselves, family or friends. I also know that there are many people who cannot come to Beloit for this group meeting, so I started a group on Facebook that will tie in with it. On that page I will get the names of people who are battling cancer and we will hold them up in prayer during our regular group meetings. If any of you want some info on this please let me know.

Now may all you be blessed with open eyes to see all of the great gifts life has to offer you today.

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Chemo Treatment #1

Yesterday I had my first of four chemo treatments. Everything went quite well and I learned quite a bit about chemo and why my treatment is longer than many others.

As I mentioned before, I am taking two different types of chemo. These two, put together, pack an extra punch for lung cancer. When I first got there, they started an IV of fluids and potassium to fill my system and cover the loss of potassium from the chemo. Then I was given a steroid (Beware Barry Bonds - I am coming after your record!) to help with the process. The nurse said that the side effect with this is that it will jolt my body a little and I may have trouble sleep for the first three nights, since I have to take follow up steroids for three days. As you can see by the time of this post, she was right. Then came the first chemo and that only took about 15 minutes. After that I got a shot that was like a water pill and was told that I would be going to the restroom a lot in the next few hours - she got that right too! The purpose for that shot was to flush the chemo out of the kidneys so that it wouldn't sit there. Then came the big bag of chemo and that took 45 minutes. Finally, another bag of fluids and magnesium, and after who knows how many trips to the restroom, the day was over. It took about 6 hours this time. Next time will be a little longer because I will need to do labs and meet with the doctor before I get the chemo. That is in three weeks, and in between then I need to go every week for lab tests.

The big part of the day was just sitting there, reading, praying, talking with visitors, watching "West Wing" and looking out the windows. The side effects have been very mild so far (and will hopefully stay that way).

I am feeling very positive about everything so far. Some of my visits today were with cancer survivors, and that is always a boost - see those who have gone through these battles and come out on the other side doing very well. I look forward to being one who brings hope to others who are going through this as well.

Time to see if the steroids will let me sleep - good night, or rather morning, all!

Monday, May 17, 2010

New Cancer News

Today I had a very informative meeting the the oncologist. Everything is still on track with the chemo - I will start next Monday and it will take me through July. I will be there for 6-8 hours, so I am warming up the I-pod and Kindle. The interesting stuff had to do with an e-mail the doctor had gotten just before I had gotten there.

The e-mail was from the medical team at UW. They had run some tests and confirmed that the cancer was caused by a genetic mutation. It turns out that the tumor was caused by EML4-Alk chromosomal translocation. This is in less than 3% of the people who have non-small cell lung cancer and usually occurs in non-smokers. There is a company who is developing a drug that targets this gene rearrangement.

It is very rare to have this, and the doctor actually laughed when I said, Yeah, I keep telling people I am unique.

This does not change anything for my treatment right now because there is nothing approved by the FDA or in trials in the area right now to treat this, but he did say that if there were a relapse, then there probably be a new treatment that would be beneficial. The way he explained it - chemo is like taking a sledge hammer to kill a bug on the table - you will kill the bug and destroy the table as well. The new therapy would target the bug only and not harm the table.

The doctor agreed with me when I said that the prayer is that the chemo and radiation will work, but if there is a relapse there is a very good Plan B in the works. So, prayers are requested for the power of healing through the chemo and radiation. I will update more later.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Daily Steps

A few random thoughts for today:

The past couple of months have been a bit of a reawakening to me (Surprise, surprise:). I have run the emotional gamut of pity and sorrow to acceptance to fight and destroy over and over again. I have looked at my wife and girls and come to cherish every single moment that I have with them, and I have looked to the future and started making plans, at least in my head, for things I want to do years down the road. Overall I have come to see this cancer as something I can use to share the glory of God in new and exciting ways.

After the surgery there was only one real pain that I had, it was a knot in the middle of my back that occurred because of the way they positioned me during the surgery. Three days ago that know finally went away and I have been pain free. Again, I see a blessing here, for the recovery process is going extremely well and by the end of the week I should be able to lift Scarlett again, which will be a huge joy (Yes I listened to my doctors and have not lifted anything over 10 pounds for 4 weeks).

In June I will be starting a new ministry here - the Cancer Prayer Support Group. This is for anyone who has cancer, knows someone who is battling or has battled it, and anyone who wants to help pray for and support those who have cancer. I will also open this up for any prayer requests for people with cancer throughout the world. I know that I have been blessed b being on prayer chains all over, and this is one way we can reach out and support others in similar situations.

Overall I am feeling great and excited for the next step, and I continue to pray that the chemo and radiation will knock this crap out for good and that the docs and nurses will be the healing hand of God in my life and in the lives of others.

Blessings to all of you!

Thursday, May 6, 2010

Video - The Healing Hand of God through Others

Good morning - I am embedding the newest video we have for our Faith Step Videos about how I have seen God's healing hand through the surgery and recovery process. God Bless.

Monday, May 3, 2010

Chemo scheduled - and probably no wigs needed

Today I met with my oncologist and got my schedule for my chemo. Overall, again, it was a positive meeting. He did a physical exam and once again everything appears to be healing quite well. In a bit of a surprise, my blood pressure after the surgery has been better than it was before the surgery.

We talked about the second tumor that had been found on my heart. He said it was quite rare to have two types of cancer, but it had shown up on the PET scan, just everyone thought it was the same as my lung cancer. He also said there were some areas on my lung that we initially thought were cancer that after the surgery turned out not to be. So again, more positives because the cancer was not as wide spread as we originally thought.

We then started to talk about the chemo. I will be doing what is known as adjuvant therapy - this means that I will be having chemo after surgery to destroy any cancer cells that remain. I will be taking 2 types of chemo together, one session every 21 days and there will be 4 cycles. The two types are pemetrexed and cisplatin. With these two types of chemo, there is very little chance of hair loss, so I probably will not be getting to wear my cool wigs :(

With this type of chemo they think that overall I will be able to maintain a pretty normal work and play schedule. There will be times I am tired and worn out, and so I need to be careful I don't over do it, but the other side effects seem to be minimal, since so much can be covered with medication.

They did say that even though the actual chemo will only take about 45 minutes, there is a lot of stuff to do before and after the chemo, esp. hydration. So I should plan on 6-8 hour days when I do chemo.

I will be meeting with the oncologist one more time before I start - on May 17th. Then a week later, on May 24th, I will have my first session of chemo.

After my 4 cycles of chemo I will meet with the radiation oncologist and start that process as well, but that isn't for 3 months, so I haven't learned much about it as well.

I learned quite a bit today, and have lots more reading to do, but overall it was another good appointment. I am highly motivated to do this and get any remain cancer cells that I have in me gone! So three weeks, and the next step begins!

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Post-Op Report

Jen and I just got back from Madison a little bit ago, and I wanted to give a quick update as to how the post-op meeting went. The appointment was scheduled for 12 (noon) and we were only running about 40 minutes late, so that was great.

The incision is healing extremely well. They removed the one stitch and tape that was left and are impressed with how well the recovery process is going so far.

We got the pathology reports back as well. Overall the news was positive. The tumor that they had found on my heart is called a Thymoma and it was totally encapsulated, which is very positive and means that it has not spread anywhere else.

When they removed the lobe of my lung they also removed a number of lymph nodes as well. Some of these had been infected with cancer, and some had not. Some of the ones infected were only partially infected. So the good news here is that not all of the nodes were infected and they cancer has not spread outside of that lung area. They also did some scrapings of the lower lobe of the lung and there was no cancer there either.

They grade the level of cancer with a number and a letter, depending on the size of the cancer and how many nodes were infected. When I left the hospital they thought I was a stage 3B, but after this meeting they said I am a stage 3A, which is better. I talked with a family friend who is a doctor and he said that this is better than he expected as well. The surgeons team also said that they got all the cancer out, and now the chemo and radiation will be done so that we can wipe out any little bit that remains so that it will not return.

On Monday I meet with the the oncologist and will get my chemo and radiation schedule. Now I am asking for prayers to make sure that this is gone and through treatments it will not return.

Friday, April 23, 2010

Getting back to normal - sort of

The past week has been a good time of rehab. I have been resting, reading, getting out for walks, stretching my right side, and remembering that healing is work in and of itself. Overall there has been very little pain, with the exception of a cramp that keeps appearing in the middle of my back a few times a day. I have also moved from the recliner back to the bed, and that was a true joy, being able to sleep in my bed once again.

More than anything, I have a strange sensation where they did the incision. It isn't pain or even discomfort, it is just an odd sensation, esp. when I move that side of my body.

Tonight I will be easing back into work. I will be doing a wedding rehearsal tonight and a wedding tomorrow morning. I will be taking Sunday off, then next week I will be back for half days. I plan on presiding the first weekend in May and preaching the second weekend in May.

We have set up our follow up appointments as well. Next Wednesday we go back to Madison for a post-op with the surgeon. On the following Monday, May 3, I will meet with the oncologist in town and get the chemo and radiation schedule in place.

Overall healing could not be going any better. I keep reminding myself that having the larger incision is a true blessing, because they were able to find the tumor on my heart and remove it, and the chemo and radiation are the treatments that need to be done so that this will not come back.

Thanks again for all of your thoughts, prayers, and support. They mean the world to me.

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Home Again

I got home on Saturday, a little after 1:00. The docs and nurses all thought I was doing very well, so I have come back to continue on the journey here. Overall I am feeling quite good. I do not have much pain at all, physically everything seems to be getting back to normal after the surgery, and i am getting some decent rest and little bit of walking around in.

Right now the main task is recovery from the surgery. In just over a week I will be heading back to Madison to meet with the surgeon and learn about the new tumor that was removed from my heart. I will also be setting up an appointment with the oncologist in town to see about starting chemo. From what I understand that will be in 4-6 weeks.

Thank you to everyone for your visits, cards, prayers, and all the other support. You have all be a true blessing and I will continue to update.

Friday, April 16, 2010

Surgery and recovery

Well surgery went well yesterday, but there were a few surprises. It turns out that they had to do a larger opening on my side to get the lobe and nodes out, but that was a good thing because as they were about to close they saw another tumor sitting on my heart. It is a different type of cancer, which was good because the lung cacner had not spread. So they removed it as well. They also ran some tests on the lower lobe on my right side, but it turned out to be inflamation and not cancer. So the right upper lobe is all that they took of the lung.

The recovery has been going well. I was up and walking a couple of hours after surgery, got to eat dinner - grilled cheese, salad, and pudding - and actually got some decent sleep. The nurses say I am doing great and I may be able to get the chest tube out later today.

Thanks again for all the prayers. I will update as things develop.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Surgery Time Set

This morning I talked with the hospital and found out that my surgery time is 7:20 am - I believe it is the first one of the day, so that is good. I like the idea of being first so that I don't have to wait if others were delayed. It also means that I need to be at the hospital at 5:30 am. Since we have to be there so early, Jen and I are going up tonight after confirmation and staying in a hotel. Makes the morning a little less early than it would be if we stayed in Beloit. Jen's mom will be coming in tonight as well, so she will take care of the girls and get them to school tomorrow.

As I mentioned earlier, the surgeon is Dr. Weigel. I ask for your prayers for me, Jen, the girls, and the doctor and her team as they do this surgery. I will update when I can after the surgery. Thanks.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

The Breeze of the Spirit

The healing service tonight was wonderful. Our friend Mary came and led it for us and the congregation and she did a great job. I am so grateful that she agreed to come and all she did, and that Al come up with the idea to do the service - it was a moving experience tonight.

The healing services we do are a little tame compared to what many see on TV. But there is a part in the liturgy where people can come forward and the leaders of the service will anoint with oil, lay on hands, and pray for healing. Tonight Mary invited everyone to come forward and lay on hands with the leaders. I don't know how many people were laying hands on me and Jen, but I felt a lot of them there. And through this I felt the moving of the Spirit.

I know that healing comes in many ways, and tonight I felt that healing presence in a very profound way. I know going into the surgery on Thursday that God will be walking into that OR room with me, using the surgeon as his healing presence in my life, and that cancer will be removed.

Tomorrow i find out the time of the surgery, when I know I will post it as well. Thanks for all your prayers and support.

Monday, April 12, 2010

Healing Service and other thoughts

As I mentioned in the last update, tomorrow night we are having a healing service at the church. This started with one person asking if they could do this for me and has grown to be a service for all who are suffering in any way. I am blessed to have people who care so much to think of this and are willing to step in and provide care during this time. I am really looking forward to the service tomorrow night, and again, I invite anyone who is able to join us for it.

I was asked earlier this week how my prayer life has been through all of this. I think it is quite similar to many peoples as they go through trials - there is the crying out, the lamenting of the situation, the prayers for healing and health, and even the strait forward talk to God about how I trust in his will through all of this, but there is still some fear.

Lately the focus has changed. I spend more time praying for the doctor who is doing the surgery, Dr. Weigel, and her team - that they will be the healing hands that God has sent to care for me, prayers for my family, that they will have the strength needed to walk this walk, prayers for the congregation, and, of course, prayers for health and healing.

I truly believe that God hears our prayers and answers them, sometimes in ways we least expect. Tonight I pray for all I have listed above as well as for the strength to make it through the surgery and treatments and come out on the other side healed of this disease.

I thank all of you for your prayers and continue to ask for them. I will update after the service tomorrow.

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Back to Reality

We just got back from our annual post-Easter vacation. We had gone down to Florida with Jennifer's family and had a great week at the beach. My mom came over for a few days as well, and it was nice to see her too. It was a great week to just get away from everything that has been going on around here.

And now we are back. This week will be a busy one to say the least. Tomorrow will be clean up around the house, then on Tuesday we get back into the swing of things at church.

On Tuesday night we will be having a healing service at the church. Right after I announced that I have cancer, the president of the congregation asked if we could hold a service like this for me. After some thought Jen and I agreed that this would be good a thing to do, but not just for me. Instead it is a service for anyone who needs healing in their life. One of our friends who is a pastor in the area will be leading the service. I invite all who are able to come and join us. It will be on Tuesday at 7pm at the church. If you need directions, please let me know.

On Wednesday I find out what time the surgery will be. Jen's mom will be coming down to watch the kids on Thursday, during the surgery. As of now, Jen is planning on coming back Thursday night to take care of the girls. She will then bring them up on Friday after Sierra is done with school. They will spend the night at a hotel in Madison. Hopefully I will be coming home on Saturday or Sunday.

As i learn more, I will update everyone here. Right now I am feeling pretty good about everything. I am sure that the nerves will kick in later this week, but I am in good hands and have a lot of support. You prayers are still appreciated.

Until later ...

Saturday, April 3, 2010

Video - Diagnosis and Hope

Earlier this week we shot another video for our web page series - FaithSteps Videos. In this video I talked about everything that has been going on over the past month and the hope and blessings that I have seen. Today I decided to link it into the blog as well so that all of you who have been praying for me can see that I am doing okay.

Enjoy the video and have a blessed Easter.

Monday, March 29, 2010

Pre-op done, next stop - surgery

Today was the last of the doctor appointments that I have until the surgery, and it was nice to get it out of the way. It was supposed to be an hour and a half, and took just over 2 hours, so not too bad all-in-all.

Today I learned what I need to do before the surgery, what wonderful tubes I will have put into my body, and the basic recovery time for the process. As of now they think I will be in the hospital 2-3 days. When I come home I will not be able to drive for 2-4 weeks, all depending on how long I am taking the pain meds. But she did say I could get back in the pulpit in a couple of weeks, as long as someone drives me to the church.

The procedure that they hope to do is a "thoracoscopy," which is the one where they insert a camera into three small incisions. They will then remove the right upper lobe from there. If they cannot get everything that way they will do a "thoracotomy," which is a larger, vertical incision under the arm pit and remove everything from there. Time in the hospital is about the same for both. It will all depend on when they can get the chest tube out of me.

I am glad to be done with all the appointments that were scheduled. It has been a lot of trips to doctors and procedures in a short time, considering this started on March 1. The next two and a half weeks will be a welcome break from the medical arena.

As I mentioned before, surgery is scheduled for April 15th. I will continue to do semi-regular updates on here until then and after as well. They did say that all the rooms were private and they have Wi-Fi, so I will be blessed to have the computer with me during my time up there.

Have a blessed Holy Week. I am sure I will have at least one more post up before Easter.

Saturday, March 27, 2010

New Arrival - My First Wig

As I mentioned earlier, after the surgery I am going to need to have both chemo and radiation. As many know, quite often people who have chemo lose their hair, and, well, I don't have a lot to lose. This has become a running joke with a number of my friends.

Earlier this week I jokingly said to a friend from high school that when I lost my precious hair that I was going to get a wig and I was thinking about an '80's style mullet. Well, this dear friend decided to take me up on that and yesterday I got a package from him that was a wig. No mullet - instead it is a nice big afro.

I already know that humor is amazingly important when it comes to deal with cancer, so I am going to have as much fun with this as I can. I have heard of ball caps that have hair sticking out of the back, wigs of a variety of styles, and other ways to cover the balding that will come. Going bald is something that will probably happen, so why not have some fun with it as well.

My next appointment is on Monday, when I do pre-op up at the hospital in Madison. Then I am off until the surgery on the 15th. This week I am going to spend playing and having fun with the family and celebrating the act that we are Easter people and the resurrection of Christ brings us hope, healing, and the promise of new life. May all of you be blessed during this time as well.

Friday, March 26, 2010

MRI - Check!

Okay, I got through the MRI fairly well. I did the open MRI down in Rockford and I am glad that I did. I was able to have my arms out to the side and even though the plate above me was very close to my face, I kept my eyes closed and didn't freak out at all. I was in there for about an hour and 20 minutes, so God and I had a great talk.

After the MRI the tech came in and said that even though she is not a radiologist, she did not see anything that looked negative, so that is good news as well. This is not something I want to do on a regular basis, but it was worth it so that we can move forward with the rest of the treatments that are necessary.

So I have one work up left. On Monday I go to Madison and do my pre-op work-up, and then I am done until the surgery on April 15th. I am continually amazed at how much has happened in such a short period of time. My first doctor appointment was on March 1, so March has been a bit crazy with appointments and tests. it will be nice to have about 3 weeks off and out of doctor's offices.

Right now I am very upbeat about everything. The surgeon gave me a lot of hope, and I trust that through all of this that God will continue to bless me and the people around me with the strength and healing that is needed. I know that I have been put on a lot of prayer chains and have people all over the world praying for me, and for this I am very grateful. I will continue to need all the prayers I can get as we enter into the treatment stage.

And thanks to everyone for all your well-wishes and support. You are a true blessing to me, Jennifer, and the girls.

More updates to come later.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

The 3 and 1/2 hour wait ffor the surgeon was worth it

Yup - the doctor was a wee bit backed up today, but the wait was worth it. I was very impressed with the surgeon and her team. And she gave me a lot a hope as well, for she was the first doctor to say out loud that this was treatable. She said I was in the top 20% of the patients she has seen and they should be able to get the cancer out.

It still appears that the tumor is in the right lung, and it seems to be in the upper lobe. At least one node has been affected, but this is next to the same lobe of the lung, which is good news as well.

So the plan is to have a "lobe-ectomy" (sp?) Basically they are going to take out the upper lobe of my right lung. They will also remove all of the nodes in that area and test them for cancer. As of now she believes that at least one will come back positive, and then we will have further treatment. One of the best quotes of the night was, "Because of your age we will throw the whole kitchen sink at you, you will have both chemo and radiation." My thought is - if she can cut out the cancer, I will endure both chemo and radiation to make sure that it does not come back again.

There are two possible ways of doing the surgery. The first they will try consists of doing the majority of the work by using a tube down my throat. There will be a small (3 inch) cut under my armpit where the lobe will be removed. If that cannot happen, and that means that they cannot get to all the nodes that they need to through the tube, then they will have a 6 inch cut under my armpit where they will stretch my ribs and do the entire surgery through there.

Both types of surgery will require me to be in the hospital for 2-3 days. I will then have a few days recovery at home before beginning the chemo and radiation therapies.

We also set a tentative date for the surgery. It will be on April 15th. This was the first opening they had, and it works well for us too. This way we can do everything we need to for Holy Week and Easter, and we can take the trip to Florida with Jennifer's family that was planned earlier this year. I think this will be especially good for Sierra, because she is not liking me going to all those doctor appointments in a row and the time away just with us will be good.

It is a little longer to wait than I originally hoped, but the doctor assured me that in terms of cancer growth, this is nothing. She said the tumor has been in there for over a year and not much will change in three weeks.

So overall it was a very good appointment. I had a retired doctor, who is a dear family friend, with me to be my sounding board, and she was impressed and heard good news in the meeting as well.

The next step is the MRI, which will be on Friday. Then I have one more pre-surgery appointment in Madison. After that it is the surgery and follow-up treatments.

Thanks to everyone who have been praying for us. We all appreciate your support and ask for continued prayers as we continue down this path.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Meeting with the Oncologist

Okay - that one is over, at least for now. And we learned a few more things, so that is helpful too.

First, we learned the name of the cancer, it is adenocarcinoma. From what the doctor said, this is common type of lung cancer, but very uncommon in young non-smoking males. He thinks that I may have a genetic mutation which caused this, but is not sure. I am a real oddity for him on this.

Second, I will be having a MRI sometime in the near future, before surgery. They want to double check that it has not spread. At this point everything seems to be located in my right lung. There are a few nodes that have been affected, but they appear to be in the same lung, so that is good news as well. I will be doing the MRI in Rockford because they have an open MRI, which is much better for my claustrophobia.

Third, the hopeful plan is that I will have surgery to remove the cancer from my lung, then I will follow up with some chemo. The current plan is four doses, with 21 days between each dose. This seems to be preventative for the future.

Tomorrow we go to Madison to meet with the surgeon. I have heard great things about her, so that should go well.

Again I ask that you keep me in your prayers, and you are more than welcome to put me on any and all prayer chains that you have contact with. One of the interesting parts of meeting with the doctor today was that before we left he offered to pray with us. I have never had that before, and I really appreciated it.

More will come tomorrow.

Monday, March 22, 2010

Test Two Passed

So the delayed test two was completed this afternoon, and I passed with flying colors once again. This time it was a breathing test and I was between 85% and 121% on all of the tests, so they said that I am ready to go for surgery on the lung capacity part.

Tomorrow is the first meeting that I have with the oncologist. I have heard great things about him, so that is good, but I am still a bit nervous about having to go see a "cancer doctor." That will be taking place tomorrow morning. Then on Wednesday I head up to Madison to meet with the surgeon.

So far, everything is going as smoothly as possible. I hope and pray it continues that way.

Friday, March 19, 2010

Test Two Postponed

So I was all set to get up to the hospital and blow my lungs out for a breathing test today, and then got the call that the person who does the test went home sick, so that one is postponed until Monday afternoon - I guess that means I can get more work done n the office.

But here is what I am frustrated with right now - Yesterday I got a letter from the UW Madison Hospital with a bunch of info on my meeting with the doctor up there next week. There was also a form to fill out so that they could be prepared for the meeting. The frustrating part was when i was going down the list to mark everything that is wrong with me - and I marked "no" on them all.

Now I understand that I have this disease - the tube down my throat made that abundantly clear - and I am grateful that I do not have any of the symptoms of cancer as well, but I am frustrated because I am going to need surgery even though I don't feel sick. I know that the recovery time will be shorter with me being as healthy as I am, but if I felt something, anything, I could probably wrap my mind around this a little bit better.

So there is my rant for the day. Will update as more develops.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Test One Done

Okay - the stress test is done and I passed with flying colors. I worked up a wonderful sweat in a fairly short amount of time, but the doctor said that I did very well and am a great candidate for surgery - so that is good news.

The next test is at the end of the week, it is a breathing test and my doctor said that I should pass that one easily as well. Just another step in the process - all moving forward to getting this cancer out of me.

It is still a very strange thing to be sitting in a doctors office, talking about cancer with the doctors looking at me going - you never smoked, your only 38, this really doesn't seem right - and it doesn't. But I am continually reminding myself that even though it doesn't seem right, I am blessed to have the doctors that caught this when they did. I am now anxiously awaiting the meetings I have next week to see when the surgery can be scheduled and what the next steps will be.

Thanks again for all your prayers and support. More posts to come later.

Monday, March 15, 2010

Schedule for the Week

Now that the shock is starting to wear off a little bit for me (oh, it is still there, but not as much as it was a few days ago), I am now looking forward to the next steps that have to be taken to deal with this cancer.

This week I have two tests scheduled. Both of these are to see how fit I am for surgery. From what the doctor said, these tests are normally done for people in their 70's and I should have no trouble at all with them.

On Tuesday I have a stress test, so I will get to play on a treadmill for a while - I am wondering if I can put on the I-pod and listen to a little "Chicken Fried" while walking and running.

On Friday I have a breathing test. This will take about an hour, they say. I have already done one of these on a much smaller scale and my lung capacity is very good.

I think that is one of the most frustrating parts of all of this - I have no symptoms at all. I feel good, overall rather healthy. It is hard to wrap my mind around the fact that I have an illness inside me and I cannot sense it.

I appreciate all of your thoughts and prayers. To have a community who is as supportive of you is extremely moving - thank you! I will continue to update this blog every few days as I learn more - or have something coherent to say.

God Bless.

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Test Results

Over the past few weeks I have been undergoing a number of medical tests. They are tests I never expected to take because I don't have any symptoms of anything right now - but it turns out that it was a good thing my doctor insisted.

A little background - Six months ago I had walking pneumonia (and I had it for about 6 months). I did the treatment and the pneumonia disappeared. Last week I went in for a regular appointment with my doctor and everything looked great, but she decided to have me do a CT Scan just to check on the lungs. That night the doctor called me and said that she had set up an appointment with a specialist because she thought there was some scar tissue on my lung. I met with the specialist and he decided to run a PET scan. We did that and found out it was not scar tissue, but it look like it might be an infection in the lung. So more tests were scheduled.

The next step was a bronchoscopy, where they put a tube down my throat and looked around, they also took some pieces of tissue to biopsy.

On Friday we found out that I have lung cancer. This is a new thing for the doctor since I am under 40 and a non-smoker. He was very confused by it.

Now the good news is that this appears to be operable. There are three spots on one lung and they are in a row. There is a doctor I will be seeing in Madison who specializes in this stuff, so we will know more in a few weeks. It was also a blessing that we did the PET scan when we did, because we know that it has not spread - it is in one lung and it is very slow growing. There is an old X-Ray from 2008 which, when you look at it in hindsight, shows one of the spots. So this adds up to very good treatment options.

Over the next two weeks I will be doing a few tests and meeting with some doctors. As things develop I will be updating this blog.

Your prayers are appreciated.

Friday, February 26, 2010

Quiet Moments

Ahh, quiet moments, they are few and far between:)

The past few days have been a little hectic, and last night when I tried to go to sleep, Scarlett started crying. So after getting her settled down, I went out into the living room and just sat for a few minutes. What a wonderful gift that silence was.

With everything going on at church, with all the running from activity to activity with the girls, moments of silence and calm are very welcome. Just taking a moment and letting the brain and body rest, what a gift it is. I truly treasure this time.

Today the Jen and girls went to Milwaukee to see her family and so Jen could attend a funeral - so the morning was hectic again. But, you know, that is good. For the quiet moments give a sense of peace and calm, even when you have to give a girl a time out, and the day, as busy as it may be, will be seen through eyes of blessing.

So may you be blessed with quiet moments, and may your eyes of blessing be opened.

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Lenten Disciplines #2

As I mentioned earlier, one of my Lenten disciplines has to do with reading. I am currently reading a book by Rob Bell called "Velvet Elvis." It is a wonderful book about Christianity and how we live out our faith in the world.

The section I just finished had to do with the start of his church, how it grew rapidly, and the stress it put upon Rob. At one point her realized that he was trying to lead the church (over 10000 members) the same way he would try to lead a small congregation, and it was burning him out.

I think we can all relate in that we over-extend ourselves, put unrealistic expectations upon ourselves, and burn out. We want to please people, to be the best, to make sure no one is unhappy or upset with us, and the list goes on and on.

But when we do this, we tear ourselves down. We are not going to please everyone. We are not going to be perfect. We cannot read people's minds and anticipate every move. We are human.

And when we come to this realization, it is freeing. It is freeing because we can release ourselves to do what we do best - what we are God-gifted with. Sure, there are times we need to do things we may not enjoy, but when we free ourselves from unrealistic expectations, we see the world in a new light, and things are much more joyful.

So today, I invite you to give up some of the unrealistic expectations that have been placed upon you. Remember - you are human, you are not perfect, and you are the one that God loves and continues to come to, over and over again in your life.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

New Video

Today we shot another video for our Faithsteps series. Let me know what you think.

Friday, February 19, 2010

Lenten Disciplines

For a number of years when i was younger I would give up something for Lent - pop, chocolate, fast food, etc. But over time I came to the realization that doing these things never really enhanced my spiritual life. Instead I was just yearning for whatever I gave up and hoping Lent would come to an end fast.

So lately what I have done is picked up a spiritual practice of some sort. It might be a different style of prayer, writing in a journal, or focusing on a specific book in the Bible for this time of year. In doing this I started to grow more in that spiritual discipline and kept most of them even when Lent was over.

So this year I am working on a holistic discipline. I am spending these 40 days focusing on mind, body, and spirit. I have a book I am going to read a part of every day, a physical routine I will be doing, and a book in the Bible I will use as my focus. In doing these I am hoping to set up some standards that I will keep even when lent comes to an end.

So this year I challenge you to pick up a discipline during this holy season. Make some time to find ways you can grow in your life. And celebrate this season by celebrating the blessings you have been given.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Remember you are dust

Today is Ash Wednesday, the start of the Lenten season. For me, Ash Wednesday is one of the most moving services that we have because it serves as a reminder of our mortality. There is a time when we come forward, are marked with an ash cross on our foreheads, and told - Remember you are dust, and to dust you shall return.

This Ash Wednesday is taking on special meaning for me because of the funeral I have tomorrow. One of the long time members of the church passed away over the weekend and tomorrow we are celebrating his life and mourning his loss. The day before he passed away I was able to visit with him and he filled me in on all of his funeral plans. We then proceeded to talk about Psalm 23 and how God was in the process of restoring his soul and leading him to the still waters. It was a moving moment.

All of us will have times like this in our lives. We are mortal, and there is no way we can avoid that fact. But with God walking with us, taking our faithsteps with us, we are never alone. We are blessed to know that God will lead us to the still waters and give us what we need.

So on this Ash Wednesday, I invite you to take a few moments to reflect on the blessings you have been given in life, and then think of some ways you want to grow in your spiritual life. Throughout Lent, put some of those thoughts into action and see where God is leading you.

Friday, February 12, 2010

Reaching Out

Yesterday we had a conference here that had to do with Outreach and the mindset of the church. We had some great speakers, and one of the main things I took away from it was that here we are already doing many of the things that they were talking about. But the hardest part for many to grasp is the fact that God is active in the world, and not only in the church.

For years church-goers thought that it was here, inside these walls and inside this community, was the only place where God was active and that we had to go "out there" to bring God to a broken world. But realistically speaking, creation is a gift from God, and he is already out there, in the world, doing his work. And we, who are a part of the church, need to get out with those who God is blessing and working through. In doing this we are participating with God and his activity.

In many was, this is common sense stuff. God loves to create, to bless, to empower, to build relationships with all people. And we are truly blessed to be a part of what he is doing in the world and in and through us. So may we all have our eyes opened to see that wonderful work that God is doing and may our hands be opened as well, so that we may work with God in this wonderful creation of his.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010


This year I started teaching confirmation in January. Jennifer had it all fall, teaching the Old Testament, this winter and spring I get the new testament. After a few sessions with this group I realized what a great class we have this year. They are bright, enthusiastic, and willing to talk and ask questions. They are a real breath of fresh air.

It also awakened in me the joy of learning once again. For a number of years confirmation was just teaching a few of the basics to the class. This year, they have the basics down and want to go deeper and learn more. So I had to redo my own schedule, and do a little more research as well. I realized how much I miss being able to do that - to read, study, and grow in my own educational life.

It also served as a reminder to me to never stop reading and learning. There are times when things seem to be going so fast - the work life is so busy - that I just don't make the time to read for educational purposes. So this year I have a stack of books in my office and try to read a little every day. What a joy it is to have that time and continue learning from others.

So I invite you to do the same - pick a topic you want to learn more about, check out a book or DVD, and just have some fun. What a blessing it is to be able to grow every day of our lives.

Thursday, February 4, 2010

Faith and Social Media

Over the past few months I have had more and more friends get involved with social media sites, especially Facebook. During this time I have also seen a variety of ways that people are expressing their faith on these sites. Sometimes it is a post on something that they believe, sometimes it is a prayer request, and sometimes it is just a quick tweet expressing frustration or joy on something that is going on in their lives.

All of this is fascinating to me because it demonstrates the drive to find the spiritual in the world. People are searching and expressing their faith in amazing ways - sometimes healthy, sometimes not.

But in it all, there is that desire to be connected with something greater than one person alone. The desire to be connected with something spiritual in the world and in their lives. The question I have is: how can the social media sites help on this search?

I think that these sites provide a sense of community for many people and they feel safe in expressing their doubts and questions, as well as gain support for what they are going through in their lives. It does not have the stigma of a historic church where they might have been hurt in the past. It is freeing for them to be open about their search with people that they trust.

So how about you? Do you use social media sites and do you feel free to express your faith on them? I would like to hear about how your faith is impacted by these sites.

Saturday, January 30, 2010

New Video Series

We are starting a new video series that will be played on our website - Below is the first video - let me know what you think.

Friday, January 22, 2010

Oh the days we have

So I thought today was going to be a nice, easy day. I had a couple of meetings scheduled, time to do some work on newsletters and other paperwork, and maybe even a little bit of reading. But all that went out the window quite fast.

In the middle of one of my meetings I got a call that the mother of one of our custodians had died. So I went to the ER to meet up with him and walk with him during this time of grief and loss. When I got there he already had people with him to support and care for him, but it was a true blessing for me to be there as well.

During this time I was visibly reminded of the need for community. The need for others to walk with us during our times of sorrow and loss. The need of human contact and love. As humans, we were created to live in community, to live with others so that we can share in the experiences of others and they can share in our experiences as well.

So today, I invite you to reflect on the communities you are a part of. Reflect on those who give you strength, as well as the ones you are able to be with during their times of struggle. And also remember that central in these communities is God, the one who will always love and care for you.

Thursday, January 21, 2010

What's been going on since the last post

I know that it has been a while since I last posted, so I wanted to do a little update on what has been happening. December was a great month. At church we had a wonderful Christmas at Twilight concert - where the music was spectacular - and the kid's put on a great program the following week. It is amazing to go back and see Sierra's first Christmas program and compare it with this one. She is growing up way to fast! We then had some very moving Christmas Eve services and after Christmas our family took a little break for some R and R.

January came on fast. We started the year with four funerals, which was followed by five baptisms (three adults and two children). It was very moving to observe the transition from death to new life in a very dramatic way. We also started a new study on Comparative Religions where we are hosting leaders of other denominations and religions into the church so that they can talk about their faith. This has been very positive and we are making DVD's of their talks that can be checked out from the library.

Another new ministry is our video series - Faithsteps Videos. These videos will be on the church website starting on February 1. Hopefully we will have a new video every two weeks.

All of this has been exciting and exhausting. I am constantly reminded of the gift of rest - rest for the body and rest for the spirit. There are many days when I feel pulled to go, go, go - and it is in making time to rest in God that I am given the strength needed to keep up with everything around here.

So as we continue in this new year, I invite you to continue to make time to rest in God. Rest by praying, listening to music, going for a walk and enjoying the gift of creation. Rest in some way where your spirit can be uplifted, always knowing that GOd is continually coming to you - blessing you with his love and peace every day.