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.

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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.

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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

Needle Biopsy … Blech!

It sounds almost as fun as it is. This one was actually a CT directed needle biopsy. I was able to use some twilight meds and some local anesthesia. The doctor who performed the test said my comfort was the primary focus.

My last needle biopsy was done in the basement/dungeon of the old Crawford Long Hospital in Atlanta. No anesthesia, 30 feet below street level pre-WWI architecture. A chair that was older than the building I was in, doctor from somewhere in Asia, could not understand her. World of difference.

Anyway, just had to have it on one side. They believe both sides are similar enough that one biopsy is all that would be required.

Next week we will meet with Dr. Randolph again to get the final results and start our new regimen of chemo.

Keep us in your prayers, it feels like we are starting over. I had the same rush of emotions this morning that I have had before. Sad that I have cancer, disappointed that what we’ve done so far hasn’t worked, mad that I have to endure more of this. God gave this time to clear my mind, filter my emotions and prepare me to move forward. When I collapsed in tears I could feel His arm resting on my shoulders assuring me I will never be alone in this fight.

I read an awesome prayer in a book* Lori gave me …

Father …

I’m overwhelmed.

My burden is too heavy.

Anxieties dominate.

I ask you, God, take my

Problems – replace them

With your peace.

 

Anyway, that’s what’s happening. Love you guys. Love the Lord and praise His name for all He does for me and my family. And I praise His name for what He is doing in your life and lives of you family friends. Please take time to be quiet and look around. Find what God is doing around you and praise Him for it. Share it with us if you wish. I would love to have some encouraging stories of His love to stay encouraged.

†    God Bless and Good Night ! !

* EVERYDAY STRENGTH – A Cancer Patient’s Guide to Spiritual Survival by Randy Bechton – 1989 Baker Book House

That’s Not Exactly What I Wanted to Hear, Doc

There are times in your life where you’ve gotten all “prayed up”, you have everyone that loves you praying for you, you even have that gut feeling that all was going to go your way. Only to have the legs kicked out from under you again.

So let’s look at this from a spiritual standpoint first and foremost. God was in control before the appointment just as He is now that we have gotten the news. Lori and I will still be faithful and will praise His name throughout.

OK, now for a “what’s going on” standpoint. Dr. Randolph told us the cancer has progressed and I am going to have more chemotherapy. The lymph nodes under my armpits are enlarged, lit up, and almost certainly malignant. The left side of my neck is lit up most likely due to the surgery I had a couple of months ago. I also have some action on the right side of my neck which is almost certainly cancer. On a positive note, the cancer is not in any of my organs. Brain is clear, along with lungs, liver, kidneys, et al.

Now what are we going to do about it. First we praise the Creator of the Universe. He alone is worthy of praise. Secondly, we lean on the common grace He has made available to us all through medicine. I will take Gemzar and Taxol. I will have treatment week one, week two, and will have a break on week three. This will make up a cycle. I’m not certain at this point how many cycles will be prescribed before another PET/CT scan.

What are we expecting as an outcome? That the glory of God will be made undeniably evident to someone who is involved in our situation and a soul would be saved. Secondarily, that this cocktail of chemo will be enough to purge cancer from my body and I will be able to grow old with Lori, see my kids grow up, graduate from college, marry, give us grandkids (IN THAT ORDER!).

So that’s where we at. Please keep us on you prayers as we are still in dire need.

Love you all!

Alan

PET / CT

This afternoon I was prepped and took my scheduled PET/CT scan. I prayed that moments like that were especially nice when you can lay back, relax, and know that God is in absolute control.

 

We are praying to hear good news tomorrow after the scan is read. After the last scan we had gone from so much to so little we are hoping that trend continues and none can be found.

 

Regardless, Lori and I are confident in the Lord and we know His plan will be done, His glory will be displayed, and we will be his faithful servants.

 

God bless all of you, good night and rest comfortably in the fact that God loves you more than we can fathom. I look forward to posting the rest of His will that he reveals to us tomorrow.

 

Love to all our friends, family, and prayer warriors.

Alan & Lori