You Can’t Out Give God

I have heard this statement all my life and I have believed it for over half of my life. This week, Lori and I received a note via mail that had a check inside. The person who sent the card simply stated that after paying bills for the month, there was some left over and they knew that “you just can’t out give God.” The card ended saying that we were lifted up in prayer daily and wishing us well. We have never met the person who sent us the card. God sometimes works in ways that are mysterious or hidden to us. Other times, God just flashes like this and you can’t miss His handiwork.

God is also working on me, too, today. Since I have had the week off from chemo, I am really starting to feel a little closer to normal again. I am really glad that my thyroid medicine is beginning to help. My internal thermostat was out of whack due to radiation damage to my thyroid. I have hypothyroidism now and I would be freezing when it’s warm, pour sweat when it is cold. It was crazy. Finally, I am beginning to get stabilized. Other medicines I have been prescribed are starting to help also with my fatigue but that is only counteracting the lung issues (65% lung function). So things are relative. I am so ready to get my body back to a point where rehab can focus on stamina, strength, and range of motion.

Sorry I am really starting to ramble. So I will let this post come to an end. God bless you, God bless our anonymous benefactors, God bless those who pray for us, and those extend love to us in so many ways.

Love always,cross2

Alan

Only Constant is Change

First of all, we that know Christ know this is not ultimately true. But for all the temporal situations, relationships, etc … that we have to face while we tread this sod, it’s about as true as it gets.

Life has definitely changed for Lori and I, and within that change I can point out a hundred different ways it has changed within the main change.

One of these minor changes is what I am reflecting on now. This change has happened before and almost feels comfortable somehow.

As time passed and I healed from surgery and my body slowly ridded itself ofIMG_20130920_145145_067 Gemzar, the chemotherapy that had pushed back my cancer, my hair started to come back in. As seems be the case, my hair was different than prior to chemo. My hair was darker and wavy/curly. I said it looked like a poodle’s butt. We had to do something about that. Even a high and IMG_20130925_201902_816tight military cut could not completely rid me of the waves.

As we got our last PET and started working on what chemoIMG_20130925_210308_622 cocktail I was going to use, I knew that my hair would fall out again. It gave me pause to wonder what my hair would look like the next time (and last time) it comes back in. Would it be darker and curlier, redder and frizzy. Personally, I would prefer to have white hair and a white goatee. I feel that would be more 726px-Michael_McDonald_(singer)distinguished looking on me. Not that I am a huge fan of Michael McDonald, but if I had his hair I could do something with it.

On a more serious note, our friend Gene (Paw Paw) had rehab today. I even saw a picture of him walking up the hallway at the hospital. I am so glad to see him making some progress. Please continue to pray for him.

All this to say, life changes and is unexpected. My relationship with Christ is truly constant. I know that no matter what happens as this life ebbs and flows, that He is always there for me. In the times Lori and I have celebrated good news and the times when so much bad news has come it doesn’t even draw a tear, we know that He is with us. If you do not have this relationship please talk to someone close to you that does. Or you can reach me through this blog. If I can’t answer your questions, I have friends who can.

Please continue to pray for me as I start my second cycle next week. Pray that this is the Kung-Fu Chemo that we need to push back and kill the cancer this time. Pray for Lori as she is my care-taker, my wife, my kids’ mom, and I have no idea how she does all she does. Pray for Gene, the patriarch of the Johnson clan, sage and wise, a lover of Christ and a lover of all the people and children that God puts in his path. Also pray for our dear friends that are facing life’s changes, especially loss.

Love you guys! God loves you!

Alan

P.S. Thanks all of you for subscribing to my blog. I am over whelmed at the number of people who have signed up already. If you haven’t, at the top right side of the page there is place to enter your email and subscribe. I am trying to work away from Facebook as that is a much less efficient way to spread the word that I have added to the blog. Thanks again.

 

Subscriptions

Thanks to CJ we now have subscription capabilities. On the “Keeping Up” and “History” page, at the top right column, you can enter your email and will be notified via email when I make updates to the blog. I will continue to post to Facebook however, I will taper off as I get more and more subscribers. Please take time to add your email. I love to stay in touch with all of you.

Thank you!

Alan

Fall is here …

fall-roadYesterday was a decent day as far as the cancer/chemo goes. However, yesterday at 4:44PM was the Autumnal Equinox which means Fall is here! God’s art is expressed in His fall leaves. I love to see the beautiful colors and feel the change in the weather. Fall and Spring are my favorite seasons, Winter is next, with summer in the far distance.

Well, I’m in a recovery phase this week with no chemo. Thank God.We’ll be back in theFall-Leaves-4 swing of things next week. Love ya’ll. And I appreciate the prayers. Prayers are such a powerful tool. Amazing that Christ prepared a way for us to speak directly to Him.

Also, September 22nd was Lloyd Wilkie Black, Jr.’s birthday. He was born in 1911 and and passed in 2001. He was my grandfather and was an inspiration, and a living example of Christian life. We miss him terribly but we know Christ had a special place set aside for him in heaven. In his time of passing he suffered with COPDFall-Foliage-1-Large and had many days that were terribly difficult for him. But he tried his best to “suffer well” and he truly set the bar high for Dad, Uncle Pete, and I.

 

 

Sincerely,

Alan

PS. None of these pictures are mine, I just borrowed them off the web.

Some answers … More questions

God showed off today in the fact that I have had very little to no pain. The bronchoscopy went faster than expected and gave us some answers. After an unexpected extra day at CTCA, it is good to see the kids (smiles and hugs). Just can’t get any better than that last part.

Ok, like I said, we got some answers. The bronchoscopy revealed that I do have a paralyzed left diaphragm. Dr. Bechara did get a sample of the milky substance and he feels I have had pneumonia. I guess I couldn’t tell the difference when I was fighting the side effects of chemo, too. I have a sinus infection and as luck would have it, the antibiotics for the sinus infection will take care of the pneumonia, too.

Now to the questions …

We have gathered all the pieces of the puzzle and we need put them together. The nerve that controls the diaphragm come out of the spinal column in the neck, right where I have had all the cancer and surgeries. Needless to say, I have plenty of scar tissue, tumors, and radiated skin that can be pressing on that nerve. Well, if we find that scar tissue is pressing on that nerve can we risk yet another surgery in a previously radiated tissues. The other option might be to leave it alone and let God’s grand architecture, the human body, do what God designed it to do … adapt. At this point my lung function is 66%. Over time, that percentage would go up simply because I am relying more on my right lung. Plenty of people survive with on 50% after losing a lung to accidents or disease.

So to sum all this up, I am asking for prayers specifically for my doctors to use their God given intelligence, curiosity, and ingenuity to come up with some valid option and for me to have the courage to make the right choices when presented to me.

On another note, Big Gene’s surgery went well today. Last time Lori spoke with the family he was in recovery and doing well. Thank you for the prayers but he needs them to continue, for him and his family.

We have a week off on our chemo so that means more time to heal and recover. I know I am looking forward to having this week off. And I know my body needs it. This also pushes our “answers” back another week, but you know what, God’s got this so I am not too worried about when we get answers. I know they are coming and I know that they are squarely in the middle of God’s plan. However, that is not a call for you all to stop praying. Those are still earnestly desired.

God bless all of you. We love you more than can truly be expressed.

AlanGod First

A visit with Dr. Bechara

Lori and I were glad yesterday was almost over. Talk to our pulmonologist, get a rescue inhaler, have a rehab session with Kelly and retire for the evening. God had other plans. You see, I have been complaining for weeks about fatigue and more recently about shortness of breath. My oncologist asked for pulmonary function test, and a CT scan of my chest and my pulmonologist found something. he asked if I had been sick recently, pneumonia ,bronchitis, something like that. Well I haven’t. So that led to more questions. this floating, wispy, mass in my lower left lung did not show up on the PET scan so it’s not cancer but it has been there a couple of weeks so Dr. Bechara wants to get a sample to be able to determine what it is so we will know how to treat it. It’s 7:40. Prep is 9:00, procedure is 10:00.

I did find out yesterday I have a sinus infection so I got meds for that. That will make me feel a little better.

God smiled on me this morning. I woke up with ZERO pain. I was shocked. I had to move around a little just to see. So this has been the best (physical) morning I have had in a long time.

Thank you God for little surprises like that. Thank you most of all for family and friends that are praying for me. Thank for Lori who I could not fight this fight without. She keeps me straight, keeps, me on time, and gets me there, and loves me more than I deserve.

Pray for Big Gene today as he is having a surgery related to his cancer at 10AM, too.

Speaking of time, TIME TO ROLL!

Love all,

Alan

Old memories …

215px-GodspellDay by day
Day by day
Oh Dear Lord
Three things I pray
To see thee more clearly
Love thee more dearly
Follow thee more nearly
Day by day

Just a pleasant thought Christ gave me this afternoon. This brings back some wonderful childhood memories. If we earnestly prayed this prayer each morning, how could we go wrong?

 

It is the Lord who goes before you. He will be with you; He will not leave you or forsake you. Do not fear or be dismayed.” Deuteronomy 31:8 ESV

A Bad Day?

My mouth is filled with your praise, and with your glory all the day. Psalm 71:8 ESV

Today has been one of those days where I look back and realize just how much this beast has taken from me. I can no longer raise my left hand high enough to wash my hair on the left side of my head or easily get my deodorant on. I’m out of breath walking through the house. I live with muscle rub and heating pads on my left shoulder to ease the pain. It’s seems that it is harder to understand me now than right after the surgery where I lost 20% of the base of my tongue.

So where is God in this? Why does He not solve my problems and make this easier. I promised I would serve Him through all of this. I promised Him I would suffer well. If I praise His name on the bad days and good days why doesn’t he make His presence felt on the bad days as well as good.

I lift up my eyes to the hills, From where does my help come? My help comes from the Lord, who made heaven and earth. He will not let your foot be moved; he who keeps you will not slumber. Psalm 121:1-4 ESV

He stands by me no matter what. I never have to really look for Him. He is always close by and stands with me when I cannot. He cries with me when I suffer and He gives me strength to face each obstacle. He is all I need. He promised.

But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me.  2 Corinthians 12:9 ESV

So I will continue to praise His name for He does it all. I will boast of all my weakness for it is then that His strength is amplified, made more evident to around me.

Chemo Effects and Brother Gene

Three days from treatment and I’m feeling pretty good. A nice day at home with Lori and the kids. The side effects have not been bad this time. Slight heartburn some fatigue, but I got out moving around and it seemed to get me back on track. Looking forward I can’t wait to see Pete and Letty next week. I missed the annual opening day of dove season again this year. So to all my hunting buddies, I hope you had a good shoot and a safe trip out in the field.

Each time we change my cocktail it’s an adventure waiting to see what kind of side effects and when they will appear. I have to just guess on my first week. My hair will start coming out soon again. I have put in a special order. I want my hair to come in white, slight wave, etc … Anyway,  just as long as it comes back it will be OK.

alabama_crimson_tide300
In Honor of Paw Paw.

Update on our friend Gene (Paw Paw), he is facing surgery on Monday. He is a strong man (in faith and physically). We are expecting God to step up and work mightily through his doctors. Love you Gene and I can’t wait to see you after the surgery.

Heavenly father, we seek your comfort and wisdom in all the situations we face. We praise your name for guarding Gene and I, especially through our individual battles with this beast called cancer. I thank you for the faith that you have armed Gene and I with. I can’t speak of where Gene’s faith is exactly but I know him well enough to know that God has given him strong faith and is in the process of fine tuning that faith to exactly what Gene needs now. Lord you are so good to us even when we are sinners, unworthy, unfit, but all the while loved by You. I lift up Gene’s family as they love and care for him.  Amen and Amen.

New Cocktail to Fight the Beast

Let me set the mood … Lori is crocheting in the rocking chair, and I am blogging away. We are on  the 5th floor (Penthouse) of CTCA, an open breeze pavilion decked out with teak furniture, cushions and a wonderful breeze.

IMG_20130905_202036_836

Today we heard most of the things we were expecting to here from Dr. Randolph. The cancer under my arms and in my armpits is the same as the cancer we have been battling. This has some good ramifications. The Gemzar we were taking was effective on this cancer so we are starting our cocktail off with it. The Erbitux was allowing the cancer to grow so it is out. Abraxane is the new elixir we are going to throw at it. We are looking at 3 weeks  – on and 1 week – off. This will make one cycle. After two cycles we will have a PET scan to see if the cancer is retreating, maintaining, or progressing. If the cocktail is too hard on my blood counts, we have the option to drop to a 2 weeks – on and 1 week – off. If we do that, who knows when the PET scan will come.

Got some prayer requests that really need to be lifted up…

First is a dear friend, Gene. He has recently been diagnosed with cancer and is dealing with a lot of pain. Secondly, Lori’s niece Jessica was in the hospital last night and her symptoms point to the beginning stages of congestive heart failure .Also, Jessica’s husband Bryant was diagnosed with the same type of cancer I have except his is on his back. I am such a clod of an uncle that’s all the details I have on that. Next, our friend Doug I.. has taken a turn for the worse according to his wife. We don’t have any details beyond that. Also a distant relative, Jimmy lost his wife during surgery for cancer in her abdomen this week. Jimmy and his daughter can really use the prayers in their time of loss. Our dear friends Carroll and Sharon who lost their husbands to the beast this year. Jenny and Cran, and James in the too too soon loss of their son and twin brother John. Also, take some time to pray for the care givers at CTCA, specifically the following… Kelly, Shelly, Kim, Brion, Harris, Joey, Randy, Amanda, Richard, Claire, Taylor, Kathy, Leah, Marcia and many more.

I thank you for keeping up with what is going on. I really appreciate those who take time to pray for me and those I mention. God constantly shows us He is in control and I would have it no other way,

God bless, Good night,

Alan