Recent photo of my parents in my office

Recent photo of my parents in my office

June 9, 2007

Thanks for Life Itself (and all Your Support!)

I must head to bed on Saturday night, but I want to make note of how richly I have been aware of the prayers and support of literally thousands of people. I hear daily of people praying for our family who may not even know us. That is humbling, and also produces a celebrative awareness in me of our union with the entire worshipping church. The ministry of the Holy Spirit flows through us to lift us up to the presence of the saints in glory, and in that brightness of life and truth, we are called to meditate on the unseen realities of our Risen Lord.

The Gospel of John has been particularly encouraging to me of late, along with II Corinthians, Psalm readings, and many scriptural quotes that have come our way. I'll describe more in other postings, perhaps on more details as I have time and energy.

But today, I want to mention how important Margie and I have found it to view life entirely as a gift, rather than as something that we ever control -- even though we often operate as though we do, and perhaps, even NEED to operate as though we do (try raising a four-year old and a one-year old!) But the reality is, as the old song says, "Many things about tomorrow, I don't seem to understand; but I know who holds tomorrow, and I know he holds my hand."

I put on the old Betty Stalnecker LP today that I grew up with from age 6 (at least), and through the old pops and crackles, was moved to tears to hear her sing that old song with a passionate "Contralto" (I always admired that voice), filled with the sense that he is holding our hand. And that means that our lives are so overflowing with good gifts that we can never become embittered or angry with him. How much beauty, how many wonderful people, what a glorious life in the church, with family, wife, children -- is it truly possible that by facing suffering, one becomes more aware of one's love for this world?

I can't write anymore tonight -- Margie's calling, I need to shower. But here's an idea for a post to come: "These are a few of my favorite things."

Until then,


Health Update Concerning Radiation

So many things have crowded into my thoughts that I'd love to write down, but I need to keep them manageable and short. I hope the titles will be clear enough to help direct those of you who are interested in reading.

On Thursday afternoon, June 7, I was able to get together with my long-time friend Dr. Jonathan Limpert, a radiologist, to read through my CDs of the reports that Northwestern Hospital had done. I had already set an appointment the next day with Dr. Anne McCall, a radio-oncologist at Edward Hospital in Naperville. Naperville is much closer to us, and Dr. Raizer's nurse has a 20-year working relationship with Dr. McCall and a high regard for her work, so I knew we would be well treated there. But I valued greatly the opportunity to see my scans interpreted first by a professional friend who does that kind of thing daily, especially because he would see them from the perspective of a Christian believer who also knows the power and hope of God.

Jonathan pointed out to me the areas that would most likely be radiated, and indeed, those turned out to be the areas that Dr. McCall wants to begin treating immediately. After she examined the reports, she proposed a 15-fraction procedure for my spinal column from C6 down to T5 (though I may be slightly off in my memory of this -- she may want to go up to C5 and down as far as T7, but the central area is clear). In the midst of the 15 days, she also wants to include a 10-fraction process to radiate the lemon/small-orange size lesion that is pressing into my left pleura and displacing my lung, making breathing less congenial in that area.

Dr. McCall was very warm and spent more time with us explaining the process than I might have expected. Her sister is a Wheaton College alum, and one of her 14-year old twin daughters wants to attend (at least, she thinks so at this age!) There are already some personal connections and affinities there, obviously, though I hardly know her. She and her staff did another CT scan to set my position for treatment. The lesion by the lung has grown a bit, but the situation down the spine is basically unchanged since the last scan.

So, I start on Monday at 12:15 pm with radiation. Here begins another journey into an assault on a part of my body that is infiltrated with cellular dysfunction. By stopping the erosion of my spinal cortex, the radiologist hopes to avoid a collapse of the spinal column itself that would produce great pain and potential paralysis. The effects of this treatment are well-known, and she shared them with us very clearly. Since this is a three-week cycle of treatment, and since the areas of the back being touched will pass near my trachea and esophagus, I was told that I would likely have scratchy breathing/speaking/singing, and some swallowing pain for a couple weeks. These effects should heal, and there should be some good treatments to help me deal with them along the way. Then the post-radiation process remains a matter for discernment and wisdom with the neuro-oncologist in Chicago, Dr. Jeffrey Raizer.

Thank you for your interest and prayers for me and my family in this process. I was told to continue my regular schedule of work, and simply to plan on needing a bit more rest. That's an encouragement, especially compared to the post-surgical period of radiation I had in 2004 -- a much more draining experience.

Summary -- radiation to begin in Naperville, IL at Edwards Hospital Cancer Center for 3 weeks, Monday-Friday, starting Monday, June 11.