Monday, August 25, 2008

One key word...


With that in mind, here's the deal as to what this means. With proton therapy, cure is a process (as is true with all cancers). Although the proton therapy has greatly inflamed my prostate, my PSA is already falling. That is a good thing, and doesn't always happen that way. Sometimes right after treatment it even goes higher than it was before you started treatment. To be honest, I wish it had fallen like a rock, but I will rejoice in the change that has already begun to happen. I will continue to have blood draws every 3 months to monitor what is happening with my PSA. It may go up and down for a bit, and will take up to 24 months to know exactly the outcome. As I stay committed to doing the things that build my immune system, and as the sterilized cancer cells continue to die off, I will see the total healing.

I so appreciate your prayers over these last few months, and hope they continue. As I said before, I will say more about proton therapy on the blog because I am so committed to its efficacy. I simply cannot say enough good things about my treatment here

May you have a blessed day. I know we are going to!


Saturday, August 23, 2008

What a difference a day makes...

The photo on the left is yesterday afternoon in front of our house looking toward downtown JAX. The one on our right I just took this morning. Amazing! Given the Clark County Clay that we assume covers the world, I'm not sure we will ever get used to the idea that you could have soil that was "solid sand!" That's the way it is here in Jacksonville. When you dig into your lawn to plant plants, it's like digging into butter: sand, sand, and more sand. As a result, it's hard to keep plants watered. Ah, but look at the upside - whenever you have a bad storm, the water clears quickly and completely.

We read in this morning's paper that Tropical Storm Fay set a new record in Florida: the first Tropical Storm to go out to sea and come back for a return visit four times! Weren't we fortunate to be able to be a part of this record breaking event? LOL

I drove by the Proton Institute yesterday when the rain quieted down for a bit to see how things were. It appears as though it was in great shape, and that treatment will continue as scheduled on Monday. That is certainly our hope so we can finish and get home on Tuesday. Since we arrive late, we may be a bit the worse for wear, but so what - we're home!

We got another card from home today. I wish I could communicate how helpful and encouraging those have been. Your love and warm wishes have truly blessed and strengthened us. The longer I live, and the more I read God's Word, the more I see how relationship is at the very heart of the Body of Christ. I think that is one reason why the Lord stands so strong against the things that work to erode relationship, either with him or one another. That's why he wants us to do those things that build one another up, and choose to avoid the rest. I suspect that's a part of "not conforming to this world," but rather having renewed minds and hearts.

Maybe later today I will get a chance to blog about Proton Therapy because I have come to be so committed to its efficacy. It has to be one of the greatest advancements in medicine, especially cure for cancer and other pesky maladies (like macular degeneration). You would be stunned to hear the stories of people whose lives have been written off who have left here healed! Wow!

May you have a wonderful day. If you're in Washington, you get to experience sunshine. Soak it in, because we will have more rain here (though it is 85 degrees!).



Thursday, August 21, 2008

In all things...

Sometimes it's not so easy to agree with the Psalmist: "I will praise the Lord at all times, his praise shall continually be in my mouth," especially when your last treatment has to be postponed because they shut down the center due to weather! Rats! They gave me the option to have 2 treatments today, but earlier my doctor told me it's not a good idea because it ramps up the potential of problems. So, since we have are scheduled to leave on Tuesday afternoon anyway, I will go in at 7:10 Monday AM and praise the Lord the treatment is available. Let's just pray that the weather is okay by then.

Tomorrow will be a quiet and very wet day.



One more day...

Wednesday was a bitter-sweet day. At our fellowship lunch, some of us who are "graduating" this week had an opportunity to share with the whole group. These are some of the guys I shared this time and experience with over the past few months. While it is exciting to be finishing, it is really hard to leave guys who have become "family." The only thing I can compare it to is guys who have gone to war together (which we did!). We had our dog tags (the black lanyard you see me wearing), our uniforms (self explanatory), and fought in the trenches together sharing our lives day after day. You really form a special bond through that kind of experience. Already today I have been called by one "grad" who is now home in L.A., and another who is now at home in Topeka, Kansas, guys who left one and two weeks ago. They were just "checking in." It will be great to get home, but I will take a whole lot of folks with me!

"Family" is what the church is all about. I received several calls from brothers and sisters in the church today checking on our weather, cheering on the last few days here, and generally just sharing and laughing with me. What a blessing. God made us for relationship, and that is what makes the tough things in life "do-able." The more you move into relationship, the more God uses and encourages you.

Because of Tropical Storm Fay around here, the weather is nasty. It is sheeting rain in pretty stiff winds. It's a bit weird for us because it looks like you should have a fire on when you're inside, but when you step outside, it's over 80! Something is very wrong with this picture! We're hoping and praying that Fay doesn't decide to visit this evening so we can get our treatment tomorrow morning (7:45am). I still can't quite believe it - just one more!

Thank you so much for all your prayers and encouragement. They mean more than you could ever know.


Monday, August 18, 2008

A peaceful place...

Sorry it's been so long since the last blog, but we have been somewhat
tied up in other things. On Thursday our friends Mike and Julie Scheel came to visit us from Vancouver. What a treat! We ate and laughed our way through a couple of great days before they had to leave for home very early Sunday morning.

They actually got to see what I have been doing 5 days a week for the last 7 weeks in treatment. The staff at the Proton Institute allowed them to come into the Yellow Gantry with me and watch the first part of the treatments (when I got onto the table to be laser straightened, swung out into the gantry, x-rays "magically" coming out of the walls, etc. We won't talk about the "etc"). Then they had to leave because of the x-rays before the actual treatment. But it was great for them to be there so they could see how amazing and essentially indescribable this treatment is. They thought "Star Wars" pretty much summed it up.

After an early treatment, we had breakfast, then left for St. Augustine. It was a fun day all around, touring the city in a Trolley, and eating at a place famous for Fried Shrimp (folks come from other states just to get them). On Saturday we went to Jekyll Island in Georgia, about 45 minutes from here. The Live Oak tree in the picture is one of hundreds on the island. This place is about as peaceful as you could ever find anywhere. We all loved our time there, walking the grounds of the historic area once "home away from home" to the world's wealthiest people (DuPont, Morgan, Rockefeller, etc.) The Federal Reserve was started there with about 6 wealthy guys hanging out, etc. What a place. Actually now it is simply a very quiet, peaceful place. When you visit there, standing in the midst of trees like this, you can't help but think of Jesus' words: "These things I have spoken to you that in me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation, but cheer up: I have overcome the world!" Emotionally he wants us always standing in the midst of his peace, like standing in the midst of these trees. Isn't that wonderful?

After M and J left for home, we went to church and "hung out" enjoying the Olympics with everybody else. Can you believe Michael Phelps? Wow!

Today I had treatment #37 at 7:10. Just 4 more to go. The challenge now is to get through this week with no power outages. With Hurricane Fay bearing down on Florida, this is going to take much fervent prayer. I just heard on the news that we can expect 3-10" of rain on Wednesday alone, and there could be spotty power outages. My hope is that the storm diminishes, and it turns out to be much ado about nothing. I also am getting a bit challenged by my "proton tan." That is what they call the 3" circles where the beam enters your body on both sides. Over time, it simply burns. It looks like a bad sunburn, getting worse by the day. Some folks actually blister. So I'm trying to do whatever I can to preclude that.

Well, my friends, may you be blessed in this new day!


Wednesday, August 13, 2008

When it rains...

Wow! One more time, I am blown away (no pun intended) by the storms they get here in the summer. Today it rained like crazy much of the day. After our fellowship lunch at the Center, Betty and I went out to pick up some stuff at OfficeMax north of here. On our way back home, we stopped at Publix (a grocery store chain) to get a few things. Just as we began finding the stuff on our list, all the power went off and the lights went out. Of course their generator brought emergency lighting up quickly, but everybody acted as if nothing was even happening, just kept on shopping. Obviously they are very used to this stuff.

When we finished shopping, as we were driving on the freeway back downtown to our place, we were passed by 12 Fire and Emergency vehicles racing by on the other side of the freeway. It turns out several things had happened all at once including 2-990,000# cranes being toppled by the 58 mph winds. Curiously enough, something that would be on our news for days was hardly noticed here.

Yesterday when I was waiting for my time in the gantry at about 6:50am, all the power shut off at the Center due to thunder and lightning, although it was only in that neighborhood. Their emergency generators immediately came on so most lighting came on immediately. But the cyclatron takes so much juice that they had to suspend treatments until everything was back up, the software rebooted, and they could begin again. Believe it or not, we were only behind about 10 minutes! But that's why they tell you to add a few days on to your scheduled time. You simply cannot predict what will happen as a result of the weather.

Isn't it great to realize that when you know the Lord, you have something secure to hang onto regardless of how hard the wind is blowing in your life? Isn't it even more amazing that he holds on to you? What a great God we serve!

We're excited to welcome Mike and Julie Scheel to our place tomorrow afternoon. They're taking a few days to fly here to be with us. What a blessing! If it works out, I'm going to take Mike with me into my Friday morning treatment so he can see it with his own eyes. I'd love to have this treatment seen through somebody else's eyes. It is so out of the ordinary my descriptions cannot do not do it justice.

At our lunch today, the head of the radiation therapists spoke. We learned things we hadn't known before. For example, for each new patient who comes in, on the Tuesday of the week his treatment starts, early in the morning his treating physician presents his profile to all the other physicians, physicists, and head of radiation therapy. They all ask him very pointed questions about his choices and decision to make certain the patient has the very best treatment possible. When they are confident that is the case, they sign off on that treatment protocol as it has then truly been peer reviewed. Pretty amazing, if you ask me. No assembly line operation here.

Well, 34 down and 7 to go. Hard for me to comprehend.

May you be blessed,


Saturday, August 9, 2008

Happy trails to you...

Recognize the lady in blue? She was on the Segway in front of me as we wound our way through the Kingsley Plantation on Amelia Island. What a blast! We first had
to take a bit of a lesson on how to pilot these little critters. It's both easier and more difficult than it looks. Some of the things you do almost instinctively are wrong, whereas other things you don't think to do are right. But it only takes a few minutes to get the hang of it. We spent a couple of hours winding our way through a very lush, old plantation, ducking under Gold Spider webs, avoiding Gopher Turtles, and learning how to climb slight inclines on our off-road Segways. I would do something like this again in a heartbeat. If it weren't so wet at home, I think I'd consider commuting to work on one!

In many ways I look forward to the weekends because I get a bit of relief from getting hammered by proton beams. Monday will come quickly, and we'll be back at it again for just 10 more treatments. These two weeks are going to fly by, among other things because I know of things that have to be accomplished during them. I remember how fast two weeks went by right before we got here, and we're just reversing the direction of the journey. Isn't it great to know that just as God led us here, so will he bring us home?

Those of you at Crossroads are going to enjoy HB London tomorrow. He's a great guy, with lots of hard-earned expertise. I know he will bring an encouraging message.

May the Lord bless you through this day!


Friday, August 8, 2008

After my treatment this morning (which was just plain weird, but
that's another story), Betty and I drove up to Savannah, Georgia, which is just 2 hrs from our house. It was a beautiful day, and we arrived in the historic area of Savannah just after noon. While looking for a parking place, we drove past Paula Deen's restaurant "The Lady and Sons," but saw a huge sign posted by the kiosk outside where they register customers that said, "Sold out for lunch." Bummer! There were also a number of customers milling around the entrance, whom we assumed were there awaiting their time to get in. So we drove on around the block and happened upon an on-street free parking space! Scoreboard! So we parked and decided to find out how hard it would be to get into the restaurant later for dinner. Nobody was at the kiosk except the attendants when we got there, and we asked them what we needed to do for reservations (meaning dinner). They asked how many were in our party, and when they found out just two, they gave us a little ticket and said, "Go right in. You can be seated immediately." So we did, and in fact had our meals more quickly than if we'd been at a neighborhood Red Robin!

We can now say we have truly "done" the South: collard greens, grits, fried everything soaked in butter...I think you're seeing the picture. But it was very good. Actually, I did the buffet, and the mac and cheese (yup!) was about the best I've ever tasted. And the collard greens were also fantastic. Can you believe that? The grits? I think that must be an acquired taste. In fact, I'm pretty sure it is!

After lunch, we took a trolly tour of the historic area, poked around a bit, and when it started to gush buckets from the sky, we decided to call it a day and head home. We ended up getting some Georgia peaches at a roadside stand, had dinner at St. Mary's (across from Cumberland Island, another historic area closer to JAX), then got home. What a bunch to squeeze into a day. At the moment I have my eyes propped open with toothpicks, but had to get this blog done just to show Lisa Hagelganz we really were at her "fav" place. In fact we called her from there! Here's the outside, Lisa:

As to the treatments, today was strange because they did a treatment, which took longer than usual, then I found out that the beam never really did come on because they forget to do a second set of x-rays (which only happens every 5th day, and must be signed off on by your doctor before that treatment), and their "fail-safe" procedures wouldn't allow the beam to be on, so we had to do all that all over again - after a 2nd set of x-rays! If you had any idea what all this entailed, you would understand the "challenges." Oh, well, it's a good thing God is in control!

We decided since we only have a couple of weeks left, we need to enjoy as much of the area as we can, though I have determined to say "uncle" when I need toothpicks to keep the lids open! Tomorrow we are seeing Ft. George on Amelia Island on Segways. That should be something! Stay tuned.

Blessings, my friends,


Thursday, August 7, 2008

When it's blue, it's blue...

This was what Jacksonville Beach looked like on Tuesday when we went there for a lunch with
a gang from the Proton Center. Like all the rest,
it was a very warm day. But the breeze at the
sea made it at least a bit more tolerable. The lunch was at one of the oldest hotels in Florida, which happens to be at JAX beach, the Casa
Marina. Actually JAX Beach was Hollywood before Hollywood existed, and the likes of Charlie Chaplin, Buster Keaton, Laurel and Hardy, Mary Pickford, Katherine Hepburne, etc. all stayed at this quaint hotel. In more recent days, folks like Bill Cosby have enjoyed it. It's actually quite a "normal" place, but with such a fabulous place on the beach and great history, it's a fun place to visit.

Tomorrow after my treatment at 8am, Betty and I plan to drive up to Savannah, Georgia for the day. Everybody tells us it is a treat to see another old city. That's where Paula Dean holds forth in her restaurant, but I doubt we'd be able to get in there. You usually have to stand in line for 2 hrs waiting, and often don't make it then. We'll see. Then Saturday we plan to do a Segway tour of a beautiful area on Amelia Island (yes, that's right, Betty and I driving those unusual stand-up scooters!). That should be a blast.

The treatments continue to chug along. 30 down, and 11 to go. After tomorrow, it will be just 10 more treatments, two short weeks. Amazing! I know when I leave here the cancer won't be completely eradicated. But it will be sterilized such that it will slowly die, no longer being able to replicate.

There are a number of things we have learned about approaching life after cancer, central to which is good nutrition. We may not be able to control our genetics or environment, but we can control what we put in our mouths. And as we all boost our immune systems, we raise the ability of our bodies to withstand the attacks of any of these critters designed to destroy our lives. It just reminds me one more time of how the thief delights in destruction, the exact opposite of Jesus, who has come to give us life, and that more abundantly. Having been placed in an amazingly supportive, constructive, and encouraging environment for the last couple of months, it's something I want to see extended in every area of my life and the lives of those in our church as well. We need to be sold out to those things that bring forth life.

It's tough to see some of our new friends already leaving to go home. We will miss them. Last night we had dinner with our friends Ernest and Gloria from SoCal, fellow Calvary Chapelites. We have spent a bunch of time with them and enjoy them very much. They left for home this morning, as did another couple we have been getting to know. Then again, that's what you want: people getting healed and able to get back into life, albeit with a whole different perspective.

Like our friend Rose said to us, after cancer, life simply looks different. Things change. You realize that the "biggies" in life aren't so very big at all. And many of the little things you took for granted become much more important.

Today it's 97, with a heat index of 110. Hot enough for you? It was 98 yesterday. We're told this is classic Florida summer. Fabulous!

May you have a warm and wonderful day in the Lord!


Monday, August 4, 2008

It was a great day!

At least for the believer, Sunday is always a great day. We had a wonderful time of fellowship with the folks here at CC Jax yesterday. I filled in for the pastor so he could have a week off with his family. Two of the couples from the Proton program were with us as well. That was a great encouragement, and a good time with a special group of God's people.

I have heard nothing but rave reviews from Paul Young's visit to Crossroads. Praise the Lord! Now if people will only take to heart everything he communicated. Isn't it remarkable how difficult it seems to be to understand that God really does love us, that his main goal as God is not to pounce on us for our failures? Isn't it refreshing to know that God delights in bringing us all to health and wholeness?

For those who didn't get a chance to hear Paul, make sure you visit our website and listen to both of the messages, because they were different from one another: When you go to the archived messages, both of them are up for yesterday. And make certain to listen to both because they are different from one another. One really enhances the other.

Because I've known HB London for many years, I know that the Crossroads folks are in for another treat next Sunday. Because he has been a pastor for many years as well as headed up the pastor's area for Focus on the Family for an equally long time, he is in a unique position to speak to the church. I can't wait to catch up on what he has to say!

Betty has the opportunity to hear Anne Graham Lotts tomorrow night. She is speaking at First Baptist JAX (about 6 blocks from us) as the kick off of a "Just give me Jesus" crusade she will be doing here in February. I think Fernando Ortega is going to be with her as well. What a team!

Well, 27 down and 14 to go! I had my 27th appointment early this morning as I entered into the last-three-week countdown. It went smoothly, for which I'm thankful. Since having the "boost" last week, I'm experiencing a few of the pesky side-effects again, but I know I will get adjusted to those one way or another, and they will go away after treatment ends. We just continue to be thrilled that God made this form of treatment possible, and are thankful for it each and every day.

Remember: this is the day the Lord has made, so rejoice and be glad in it!



Friday, August 1, 2008

One day at a time...

Well, it's 26 down and 15 to go. That means just 3 weeks!!! Wow! In some ways I supposed that can seem like a long time. But knowing what all goes on, it will shoot by like a flash. We don't know for certain we can actually finish on Aug 22nd, and in fact aren't scheduled to come home until the next week (because you have to allow for potential cancellations due to electrical storms, etc.). But we're hoping things just perk along, and we will then be able to change our flight time (depending on availability and cost).

At the same time we can't wait to get home, we don't want to "wish the time away." If there is anything we know to be true, it is that we are to "redeem the time," to take seriously every moment we have to make it count for eternity. That's easier said than done, especially when you're so caught up in what lies ahead that you neglect what's staring you in the face. We have learned so very much while we've been here, and we don't want to miss any of the great things yet to be learned. So we will take it one day at a time. Somehow I think that's how we're supposed to approach life all the time, don't you think?

I'm jealous for those of you at home because you get to hear Paul Young this coming Sunday. Aside from the fact that his book The Shack has been #1 on the NY Times fiction best-seller list, he is an incredibly cool guy. I am privileged to call him my friend, and as soon as you hear him, you will feel as though he's your friend as well. I know many of you are bringing friends, so make certain to get there early - lots of visitors are coming. As for us, actually our little church here is going to be having a guest speaker as well - me! Since I've heard me before, it won't be nearly as exciting as hearing your guest. But we are praying that the Lord will use the time powerfully. I've invited one of the radiology techs to come join us, and I'm hopeful she will.

Tonight we ate at a fantastic restaurant: Bonefish Grill. Betty and I both had Grouper with a mango salsa. It was a most delicious meal, actually made possible by a gift from a ladies bible study at Crossroads. God bless them! Man was the food fantastic. Actually it was the best meal we've had the entire time we've been here (aside from B's great cooking, that is!).

May you find God's richest blessing as you move into this weekend!