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.