Finally Home

John 14: 1-3 ESV       “Let not your hearts be troubled. Believe in God; believe also in me.  In my Father’s house are many rooms. If it were not so, would I have told you that I go to prepare a place for you?  And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and will take you to myself, that where I am you may be also.

Christmas Eve we got the terrible news that there was nothing more medically that could be done for him. The doctor said that he just had too much going on. There were no chemo or clinical trials that could help.  The cancer had moved to his spinal cord, in his bone marrow and bones.  We were devastated but still thanked Dr. Randolph for everything he had done for Alan.

After more than a year and a half of fighting this beast called cancer, Alan is finally healed. January 19th, God called Alan home to be with Him.  I know there was a huge celebration when he finally got to see the face of Jesus.  I’m sure that when he walked through the gates of Heaven and stood before his master, He said, ‘Well done, good and faithful servant.’   A man that through all of the pain, sickness, and suffering NEVER once did he complain or ask God “why me.”  He stayed true and faithful until the end praying that through his journey, he would be a witness for his Heavenly Father.  He had talked many times wondering what angels really looked like.  He was so looking forward to seeing them.  Now that he knows, I wish he could share it with me.

He fought a good fight, long and hard, and now it is time for him to rest and be made perfect and whole. I love my husband with all my heart and there was a mixture of joy and sadness all at the same time when he took that last breath. BUT, I will see him again and so will our children and until that day I will hold him in my heart and honor him for what a great, faithful christian man he was.  He was my strength, my rock.  I was so blessed to have known him, to have shared my life with him as husband & wife, to have two beautiful children with him.

He loved God.  He loved his family.  He loved do mission work.  He loved life.  He loved his friends.  He loved people in general.  He loved CTCA (Cancer Treatment Centers of America) and everyone there including patients and workers.  He loved to duck hunt with his buddies and had missed it the last couple of seasons.  I was told by several of his close friends that if God liked to duck hunt, he had just gained the best partner there to enjoy it with. 😉

Words from my brother Bob…
Our God is a merciful God. My brother-in-law Alan Black is with his Lord…a young prince of a man, dedicated to his family and a servant of his Lord. As he was dying all these months, he showed me an example of how to live. Throughout it all, he honored Christ and met the trials with faith that God could somehow use him in all of this as an example. HE did. God can change a curse into a blessing and take a tragedy and turn it to rejoicing! God is GOOD….ALWAYS!    Sadness and joy mixed. Kinda like rain and sunshine at the same time……

This became Alan’s favorite verse James 1:2-4 Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.

Just wanted to say thank you for all who followed him on his blog.  He enjoyed doing it.  Thank you for the prayers, he felt everyone of them.

Thank you to Dr. Randolph’s team at Cancer Treatment Centers of America in Newnan, GA. and everyone else there that became our family.  We know that God led us there so he could get the care he needed and be treated as a person and not a number.  The love and compassion you guys show to EVERYONE that walks through your door there is such a blessing in a time of need.  We love you ALL very much.

Thank you to Dr. Lawrence’s team.  I will never forget Dr. Lawrence praying with us and so thankful for what an incredible team you have.

Thank you to Dr. Knaak’s team for taking such good care of him and all the prayers said.

Thank you to our PVN church family and all our brothers and sisters in Christ for the many prayers and support.

I posted some pictures of Alan on Random Thoughts if you would like to check it out.

Too Long To Respond

I had to look back at previous blogs to see how long it has been since I had posted anything. Two weeks!!! Way too long! Let’s see, let’s talk about health first and get that out of the way. Last we spoke I was having a lot of problems with the gabapentin and Lyrica side effects. Those have now passed but I continued to have problems with dizziness, my stamina was gone, and pain was still an issue. After visits with Dr. N and Dr. S I have really shaken a lot of the side effect and can say that I really do feel better. I was very concerned that I may miss chemo this past week but my blood count looked acceptable so I got my chemo as planned and came home and missed Thanksgiving.

Let’s see who I missed that I am really thankful for… Most importantly, Lori as a wonderful and understanding caregiver, Christopher and Ashley as troopers, through this whole ordeal, Judy for all she has done, Dad and Sally for prayer and support, Bob and his family, The Johnson’s and the William’s. We will have to get together soon and call it Thanksgiving.

What did I miss sharing while at Thanksgiving this year… In the coarse of treatments this year I have met so many nice people I can’t mention them all. Good fortune is coming our way with this cocktail of chemo. Most recently, The surgery that I will have to have soon to repair my chyle leak will be orthoscopic, is very successful, and will have a very short recovery time. Next, an MRI that I had to help diagnose some of my side effects showed NO growth in my brain, ie, NO cancer in my brain.

Another story for Thanksgiving. I had been doing some research on a dog to replace the two fireballs I had to give up the year before. The labs were 170 lbs. total, 220 volts, and regardless of age combined their age was only 6 months. They were much more than I could handle at my present condition at the time. Well a Boykin Spaniel kept coming up. They have the right temperament trainable to hunt, but they are excellent inside dogs. Through the Boykin club I found a Boykin Rescue site that was affiliate. I was amazed at the amount of information I had to forfeit to become approved to adopt a dog. However, after seeing the quality of animals that they adopt, I understand. 1441203_10200754515681081_1389486235_n_editedI ran across Abby, a 2 year old female that was relinquished by her former owners at the veterinarian’s office. She had been living with her foster parents for a week. The rules for Boykin Rescue was a minimum of 14 days. I had planned on making the trip to Hattiesburg, MS and this was right in the midst of the worst of my side effects from that stupid medicine. I was crying because I knew this was going to throw off all the timing and was God’s way of passing us up on a dog that I felt attached to. 1467196_10200754516321097_620359865_n_editedWhen you have friends stepping up for you in the Boykin Rescue and a friend like Lucy that “volunteered” to drive 12 hours, 1 day to pick her up. Only by the grace of God, and the help of numerous friends did Abby make it from Hattiesburg, MS to Rome, GA.1476325_10200756351326971_1194788242_n_edited

Getting Back To Normal

Well, Lori and I had a talk with my pain management doctor and we got off the nerve pain medicine. I really feel for people that suffer from fibromyalgia, diabetic nerve pain, etc…The side effects of gabapentin and Lyrica is awful. My doctor put me back on my old regimen and I have felt better literally hour by hour.

Now this does not include the chemo effects, they still suck. I have felt like a heavily warmed over …. well you know. Today was a tough afternoon, I slept this afternoon which is a vast improvement over the early days where I was sleeping 2 days after each dose.

old coupleGod reached out to Lori and I this week. We passed a couple in the main hall of CTCA, both pushing walkers, both laughing and smiling each laughing and each pausing as the other needed the break.. The gentleman, probably in his later 70’s, was the cancer patient and the lady, also in her 70’s seemed to have something like cerebral palsy. While there were many things about this couple that were not evident to us as we met in the main hall, somethings were significantly evident. Like the smile on their face, the love in their heart, the great relation that they had. God had given them a long and happy relationship with each other. I can imagine a couple of kids some grandkids, the holidays and traditions made at the home. Houseful of friends at times, warm stories and memories made with best friends. A home like that filled with the love of God should be the goal of every new couple as they enter their life together in marriage. I see the fruit of marriages like this in my life. I was fortunate to live out this type of marriage through the Boyd’s, Black’s, Roger’s just to mention family. Not to say we don’t see it in numerous friends, too. And to imagine all the trials and tribulations that thesevlives have had to pss to get where where they are now makes you realize how they had to count it all joy to face these trials. God loves us tremendously to give great families. I posted the following on Fb on Nov 1 (mine and Lori’s 16th Anniversary).

“Do you want proof in God? Well, hear it is, 16 years ago Lori Black stood before friends and family and said “I do.” There is no way I could have found and married such an angel here on earth. No way our union could have been engineered here on earth without God’s divine intervention.

Happy Anniversary to my Angel here on earth. I love you Lori. More each day.”

I posted this because I belive that God has huge plans for Lori as our lives continue progress. We’ve already got the two kids, no hurry for the grandkids, good friends, got ’em.

Enough babbling, and that is what I am doing thanks to the reduced effects of Lyrica. I guess I’m just showing off that I can make a coherent sentence. Haha

News Flash

Lori took me to the doctor here in Rome today. I took several attempts to hand Lori my tablet after writing that last blog I was losing my balance and was falling around sort of drunk feeling, falling, etc…  Lori took me to see Dr. Spencer and they took my blood pressure (132/82) which was fine, and my EKG (122 bpm), which showed I had tachycardia, or accelerated heart rate. He gave me some meds to help. This happened once before several months ago. The CTCA was not too concerned at the time. So I’m not too concerned at the point. Lori keeps leading me around like an old man, it frustrates me to be led around, it makes me feels like an invalid. Bless her heart, I know it scares her to death to see me that way. It scares me, too. Lori thinks it’s my sleeping meds. We’ll back off these for a bit and see how and see how they effect my sleep. If I go back to not sleeping we will get them straitened out. Anyway, just wanted to let you know how bad this cancer sucks. I always seem to fluff up the truth and make it seems like I’m doing so good (the sin of pride is the toughest to lay down, even when I do lay it down it is just me trying to do the right thing), but in actuality it has been a tough row to hoe. This disease being so tough is why I love you guys so much.

I’m going to my friend house on Saturday afternoon, apparently to celebrate Maya’s birthday. but it is the LSU vs. Alabama game. Guess I need to crack out some gold and purple. Haha    No just afraid that the game will be better than the  Appalachian State vs. UGA.

Grapes in a Bunch

Friday and Saturday I felt really good. The ‘pre-meds’ and steroids helped me feel better. Sunday came crashing down on me like a wave. Not a good feeling. Chemo brain the shakes, everything. The next morning I had all that and mucus in my throat. Lori has me on Mucinex just to try and break it up. Well yesterday around 3:00PM Lori asked if I wanted to go pick up the kids from school and I felt well enough to jump on it. So here I sit, trying, to gather me thoughts, shake some of this chemo brain. Lori bought me a Mean Bean this morning to help get me going toady.

chalise

Enough rambling, we have lost a very dear friend this week. His cancer started in an un disclosed origin but it had worked it’s way to his brain. In August CTCA told his wife the there was nothing left for them to do. After spending about a week at home Doug had to go to a hospice center to get the care that he needed. Come to think of it grapes come in bunches, a small community, a family or people bound by something we all have in common. He was part of our group and I will really miss him, and I know that the others in the bunch feel the same way. He will be greatly missed. The sense of community that we have felt at CTCA reminds me of a bunch of grapes . We look at the bunch in it’s perfection. You take out one or two of the grapes in the middle and it leaves an awful gap.

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That gap in our bunch is beginning to look like a whole in our bunch. Sweet people are dropping out of our bunch. People look at our bunch and they may see the holes but what they are not seeing is the fine wine that the Lord is making out of each and everyone of the grapes that fall out. The wine Christ makes out of us is perfect and delicious. It is his perfection that covers us. Just like the water at the wedding at Galilee, Jesus just has to pass over us to make us perfect. Our friends have reached perfection already.

So today it makes me feel better to think about the sweet wine of perfection that Christ can make out of each us. I’m comforted by the way Christ loves us, the way God cares for us, the way the Holy Ghost walks with us.

 

Good News and Bad News

Crosses-Gold-and-SilverLori and I had a trying time at CTCA this week. After I had my CT/PET Scan on Wednesday I had a little physical therapy and the day was done. Lori and  I were praying for good news and spent the night relaxing in our room after supper.

Thursday morning came early with pain in my left arm. I was in excruciating pain. Lori and I spent the early portion of the morning waiting on Quality of Life to get in. If you look back a couple of post you will find Dr. Castro. Once again she came to the rescue. She provided a couple of shot and talked about rearranging my meds to make my medical regimen easy and more effective. I am ALL for easier and more effective. She helped me all day to help keep pain at bay so that I could make my schedule and stay on point.

During the day we met with Dr. Randolph to find out the result of the CT/PET Scan. Dr. R came in and said, “I have some good news and some bad news, which do you want first.” I said let’s get the bad news out of the way. The bad news is that I am probably going to have another surgery. It appears that my thoracic duct is leaking lymph fluid into the upper portion of my chest. It is causing the defect in my neck to leak profusely and really needs to be closed up. This has come at a bad time. Let’s talk about the good news.

keep calm

Here’s the good news. Our chemo recipe is a good one. The cancer is being pushed backed. We have our foot on the head of the snake. Each of the lymph nodes have shrunk and are not near as bright as they were on the last PT/CET Scan. We look like if we could keep pushing the lymph nodes would disappear completely. However, we have to stop to make time for this surgery, which can give the cancer time to regain it’s footing.

So that’s where we are at. God has provided a true blessing in the fact that the cancer is going away and we can see the light at the end of the tunnel. God has also provided what we see right now as an obstacle. It will be a point of praise before it is all over. We will see this obstacle through in obedience with God’s will.

We also saw Linda U. Her son Jonathan also got good news this week. As of right now, his cancer has stopped growing and that is a great praise.

God bless all of you. Thank you for the continued prayers. Please keep us in your prayers as we still have many obstacles to overcome to see God’s glory.

In God’s Love,

Alan

Quick Thought

I have been doing a lot of planning and thinking and worrying this week. I have to admit that I have forgotten the most important thing for someone in my position. God is in control and there is nothing that will happen that God has not already seen approved and ordained to happen just as He wills. Please help me to pray for His will to be done in my life in all the ways that I have forgotten about His supremacy.

I have decided I want a dog and I have chosen what I think will be the perfect dog. I need to leave this in His hands, too. If I take control the only result will be disaster.Crosses_tattoo_201

Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make straight your paths. Be not wise in your own eyes; fear the Lord, and turn away from evil. It will be healing to your flesh and refreshment to your bones. Proverbs 3:5-8 ESV

Help me to come to grips with this. I will pray that I can lay this and other worries at the feet of Christ and not pick them up again. And that really is that key. To have faith in Christ that he will have answers for my prayers in His time and with His answer. Better than anything I can come up with. Thanks for your help reminding me of this and helping me with your prayers. God bless!!

In His love!!

Alan

It’s Killing Me!!

Short and Sweet!!

Lori is busting her hump this week on two major projects. She is swapping out winter clothes and we are in a major push to get all of our junk off the floor. We are having the exterminators to spray the house. I have been struggling this week and I just can’t help her doing what she doing. It hurts my heart to just be here “in case”. She is an amazing woman and there is NO WAY I could have found one this good on my own. I had to be led to her by Divine Intervention. Just one more way God has steered my life long before I hit the rocks and really needed Him.path prepared

God is good and it is hard to see His timing until you turn around and look back. So have faith when God moves and you don’t understand what He is doing. One day you will look back and things will be crystal clear. Practice looking back to see what God has done. When you do this it gives you a confidence in His work. Lori, to me, gives me confidence that He has already prepared a way for me.

Short Post

It’s strange. This chemo has no discernible pattern as to how it is going to effect me. Last week an amazing week. I had no effects except on last Sunday. This week it split between Saturday and Sunday. I hope tomorrow will be a better day.

God stepped up this week and He asked a dear friend of my to help us out. Lori and I had let our truck sit too long. The battery had died, I thought it just needed a charge but our friend thought it might be more. Sure enough, it was DEAD. He fixed it. We really appreciate our friends, now and in the recent past that have silently come to our rescue, no doubt at the prompting of the Holy Ghost.holy_spirit_-_pentacost_jwi1

There is one especially that I would love to name but he’s not that kind of guy. He understands the prompting of the Lord and how that works. Some friends have rescued us by doing things for us, and there are those who have provided the means for us to do what needed to be done. We couldn’t have survived thus far without the generosity and I know we would not be able to survive the things to come without continued help from friends, family, and the Holy Spirit. These friends and family members are great examples for me. I can’t wait to be on that side of giving again.

Answer the calling of the Holy Spirit. Learn to say yes. My missionary friends said that it was hard, but as they learned to say yes, it became easier. It was easier to hear the Holy Spirit ask, and easier to say yes. During this time they saw the blessing truly begin to flow in their lives. So keep your heart open to the callings of the Holy Spirit and say yes.

Love to all of you!

Alan