Day 33 Sunday

Today, my thumb and forefinger on my left hand are numb/sore. I wore my suit to church, for the first time post surgery, and found it a little difficult to do up the buttons on my shirt due to the numbness in my left hand.  The good news is that i was able to wear the suit without much discomfort, and I was far more comfortable in the pews this week.

After lunch I had to get blood work done again.

Day 34 Monday – Bleomycin

I awoke feeling fantastic.  For me “fantastic” is having about 85% energy, no pain in my groin area, and the numbness in my fingers is hardly noticeable today.  After walking the girls to the bus stop I had breakfast and tidy’d up the house.

At 9am Molly Maid arrived to clean our house.  3 ladies came this time and cleaned our house from top to bottom. This time they even cleaned out the fridge. One of the ladies was cleaning under the range on our stove and found a chunk of concrete…

Yeah…I don’t know either.

I hadn’t lined up a drive to my treatment so Teresa worked through her lunch and left early from work so she could drive me.  At the treatment the nurse told me that my creatinine levels were slightly elevated, which means that the chemo drugs are affecting my kidneys.  So I have to drink a lot more fluids during the day.  UGH. I already drink 3 litres per day.  Now I am up to a 4 litres…I pee a lot.

After my treatment we met Allyson at home who brought us pulled chicken sandwiches for dinner and a cherry pie.  The kids all loved it!

I drank a lot of fluid this evening in an attempt to avoid a day like had last Tuesday where I was not well.

The good news however is that today I finished the first round of chemo!  I am 33% done!

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Getting my Bleomycin Treatment

Day 35 Tuesday _Warning potty talk today.

If you recall, last Tuesday morning I awoke with ringing in my ears.  Well that didn’t happen this morning, in fact I have not had tinnitus in a few days now.  But I did wake up at 1am when Noah cried out. Then I lay awake for a long time. My mind would not shut off, it was like I was on some sort of stimulant…then at 400am it hit me…hydrocortisone! I am given intravenous hydro-cortisone with my bleomycin, in order to prevent a possible reaction to it.  Yes 3  hours later, I finally figured out why I was awake.

So I took some gravol and fell asleep.

3 hours later, at 7am, I groggily  awoke and went to the washroom.  I forgot to take a stool softener after the treatment, and paid for it this morning as I tore something down there…yeah, I know… TMI…but hey its part of the process! It hurt. Then I gingerly  washed up, even more gingerly walked the girls to the bus stop, had a smoothie, and went back to bed.

I awoke at 11am and I felt great.  I had a chicken sandwich for lunch and then had to go the washroom again…ugh. So this is something I have to be careful with, as infections are easily contracted in that uh..area…and I am immuno-compromised.  Looks like I get to enjoy a lot of warm baths in the coming days…

So while it is not a great day, it was certainly better than last Tuesday.

At 330 Jeremy came over to clean our living and dining room carpet. He did a great job; our formerly black carpets are now beige.  We also had coffee and pie and a nice chat.  It was good to see him again! If you need your carpets cleaned, he is the best. Check him out at this link Clean Evolve.

Day 36 

Today started as per usual, smoothie, walk kids to bus stop, kiss Teresa goodbye, and went back to bed.

I awoke around 930, when Kevin texted me.

Around 10am Kevin came over with Timmies coffee, and a Play Station controller.  We had a good chat and then played NHL16 and I won both games.

After Kevin left I decided to head out to Two EE’s farm market to get some fruit and veggies.

Today we had a meal delivered all the way from Aldergrove! Kathleen brought over a delicious chicken bacon ranch pasta dish, a veggie platter, and blueberry muffins.  The girls loved the pasta, and there was not much leftover when dinner was finished.

Day 37

I had a headache all day.  I did not sleep well last night, which is probably the reason.  I tried to do laundry but had no energy for it. So I spent most of the day just resting.

Around dinner time my headache was back, and my head was ridiculously itchy.  I then noticed that my hair was falling out.

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My hair is falling out.

Day 38

While Monday was the final treatment day, today is the official end of the first cycle.  So now I am officially 33% complete.

Today I meet with my oncologist to go over my treatment and the side effects etc.  On a positive note my surgery seems to have almost completely healed. I have no more pain and the bruising is now gone.  There is some discomfort when I over exert myself, but I still technically have 2-4 more weeks of recovery for that. The worst of the side effects are the fatigue, numbness in my left thumb, and the occasional ringing in my ears. On Monday I start the second round, which is a heavy week. But I have 2 days of feeling alright before that! 1 day at a time.

This evening Renee is bringing dinner, and tomorrow we are going to attempt a date night out.  I will need a nap before that! Details in the next post.

Anyway, I have to run, Oncologist appointment in 20 minutes! Teresa is waiting for me…

God is good.  Jesus Saves.  Look to him.

Day 27 Worship and Weight

It has been just about 48 hours since the last chemo treatment, and I felt pretty good when I awoke. Since it is Sunday, I tried on my suit. It is still too restrictive in the groin, so I wore shorts. This also prompted me to weigh myself, because I figured my suit should be loose on me by now.  The day of my surgery I weighed 169lbs. 19 days post surgery, and after a week of chemotherapy, I weigh 164lbs.

I have only lost 5 pounds.  Which is quite remarkable, all things considered.  So that is something to be grateful for.

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The Maranatha Church Building

It was a typical Sunday morning.  We struggled to get everyone out the door on time for church, but we made it. I felt pretty good today, but the pews still are not good for me, I find it difficult to sit still, and therefore end up moving around more than our kids do.  I have requested a Lazy Boy Recliner from the Committee of Administration…we’ll see how that works out for me. Pastor Ben preached a sermon on the supremacy and sufficiency of Christ.  I really appreciated this sermon as I am learning that Jesus is everything.  Afterwards we talked with a lot of people.  My coworker Mike showed up again which was nice.

After lunch I had to get my blood work done, so I went to the lab.  By the time I got back home, second service was already starting,  Both Teresa and Noah were sound asleep. I joined them…

I forgot to mention in my previous post that I had l started losing my sense of taste late on Thursday evening and by Friday evening after the 5th treatment everything tasted like I was chewing on a mouthful of dirty coins, unless I drenched it in barbecue sauce.  Then it tasted like coins drenched in barbecue sauce. THANKFULLY, my taste is just coming back this evening.

Day 28: Maid Service And Bleomycin Treatment

Monday. Today is the only treatment day for the week!  I am so excited!

I felt good today, a little tired, but that’s par for the course. My taste buds seem to be working as the smoothie I had for breakfast tasted extremely good compared to the last few.

mollyAt 9 am Molly Maid arrived to do a deep cleaning of our home.  Mom and Dad Dehaas have arranged for our home to be cleaned weekly. This is amazing, and both Teresa and I are very grateful. Two wonderful ladies were here for 4 hours, and cleaned our home from top to bottom, and they will come once per week while I am in recovery… I can’t even explain how much this means to me.  Teresa has taken on the entire burden of our family, including the burden of a sick husband.  So it is a massive load off of me to know that this burden is not on her.

I noted a little bit of tinnitus in my left ear around 10am, but it subsided quickly, it also coincided with the vacuum cleaner…

At 3pm Phil showed up to take me to my Bleomycin treatment.   About 8 years ago, Phil had an almost  identical  diagnosis to what I have right now.  It was also neat to see him interact with a couple of the nurses who treated him. While at treatment, pastor Ben came by and dropped off his Kindle, loaded with all sorts of books – fantasy, theology, pastoral…I am like a kid in a candy store.  I really appreciated that.

After being dropped off at home, I ate and drank some water and then promptly fell asleep on the couch.

For dinner Rob brought over some Linguine Alfredo with ham and peppers, an apple celery salad, some cookies and flowers. (Thanks Naomi!) It was delicious and a hit with all of us.  Noah devoured it, and even Meagan loved it. Everyone had seconds.

I went to bed stuffed and feeling quite well.

Day 29 Ringalingalingaling!

Today was not a good day.

 

Tuesday morning at 130am I awoke with ringing in my ears. I instinctively covered my ears with my hands and realized what it was. Tinnitus.  It was the first time it had woken me up. It lasted about 15 minutes and was quite maddening. If it had not stopped, I wonder if I would have fallen back asleep. But as it was, I fell back asleep sometime around 230am.

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This is a pretty accurate depiction…

In the morning, I ate my usual smoothie and had some toast with PB, then walked the kids to the bus stop.  At about 8am I developed a headache. I drank some water.  Then the headache got worse. By 9 am it was really bad, and I was not feeling well at all. Then the tinnitus came back.

A headache and ringing in my ears…

I checked my temp – 36.7 – and took some Tylenol. Being immuno-compromised means I cannot take pain meds unless I am fever free.  If I have a fever, I am not allowed to take meds and I have to go immediately to the ER, because a fever could be fatal.

Then, right on cue, my acid reflux came back.

Ugh.

Headache, tinnitus, and reflux…at least I don’t have a fever!

I stopped to think about yesterday.  I checked my journal.  I was feeling good, so I had not drank enough fluid before or after my treatment. Oops.  I am supposed to drink 2 litres before and after my treatment and I only drank 1. Plus I didn’t sleep well.

I took some Zantac for my tummy, and chugged 3 cups of water…not a good idea. It made me feel worse. So I tried to lay down, but my tummy refused to comply.  So I puttered around the house and organized some cupboards in the kitchen.

Thankfully the tinnitus stopped after about 10 minutes, and I sat on the floor of the kitchen for about an hour with my head against the cupboard door, just being silent. Around noon I felt a little better and had a small lunch. I again tried to lie down but the tummy would not have it, so I puttered around the house again.

By 3pm I was able to lay on the couch, and I dozed off.  The girls awoke me at 430 by coming home.

It was a short evening as I went to bed pretty early.

Day 30. I feel good…why not try doing everything?

On Wednesday, I awoke at 7am to walk the kids to the bus, but after my smoothie I went back to bed and slept to 11.

When I awoke I felt pretty good.  I guess I needed 13 hours of sleep.

I ate a small lunch and then decided it was time for an adventure!  I was out of bananas, berries, milk and a couple of other things.

So I decided to go to Superstore.

It took me 90 minutes to pick up 10 things.  I slowly walked through the whole store, often stopping to rest on the cart.  An awkward moment came when an elderly lady was trying to get a box off the top shelf, normally I would jump up and grab it for her…but this time I just looked down and felt silly as I slowly walked passed her.

After Superstore, I hit up a local Farmer’s Market for my produce. While I was there, I noticed some minor numbness in my left big toe and left thumb.  Ah great, another side effect… But once I got home it started to feel better.

I also decided to do the laundry.  Since I can’t lift more than 10 pounds, I sauntered up and down three flights of stairs 6 or 7 times…

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That awkward moment when you realize you have never washed girls clothes before…how do you fold this lacy stuff? There are no corners…

At dinner time, I cooked slider turkey burgers, and quickly realized that I had over exerted myself as I was completely exhausted.

That exhaustion manifested itself as I lost my temper at the whole family.  Everyone – all the kids and Teresa…Over basically nothing.  I apologized to everyone together at the table, and later that evening to each person individually. While talking with Kaityn, she said something like, “Daddy, I think God is using the chemotherapy to teach you patience. Sometimes we think we are better than we are. Jesus came to show the Pharisees that they were not perfect, and he is showing you that you are not perfect either.  He came to save sinners like you and me.  He forgives you. Me too.” Then she hugged me.

Needless to say I wept as my 10 year old pointed me to the gospel.

Day 31. Appetite is Back

Thursday.  Today I feel better than I have since I started Chemo. For two days I did not have a single visitor, I guess the Lord knew I needed rest – though I messed that up by doing too much! But today was certainly different as our home was busy all day.

I awoke and I was actually hungry.  So I made my usual smoothie, and had a peice of toast with PB.  Then an apple.

I did some more laundry today, but took it easy for the most part.  I did not need to over do it again especially with friends coming over.

For lunch I had 3 of the left over slider turkey burgers and a spinach salad. Did I mention that my appetite is really good right now?

After lunch, Alfred came for a visit and we chatted about all sorts of things from church to school to family, it was really nice to catch up with an old friend. I also had my first coffee since my heartburn issues. That was really nice. Then my neighbour Greg came over with pizza!  So the three of us sat around the table, listened to hymns, ate pizza, and chatted. I ate 3 slices…Did I mention that my appetite is really good right now?

Today also marks 1 month since I started this cancer journey, and since I last worked.  Our bank balance is bearing the bruises as the “total” column steadily decreases. The good news is that I received a call from Service Canada that my sickness claim is approved for the full 15 weeks which helps immensely. It is not near what I was making, but it will get us through the surgery recovery, the 9 weeks of chemo plus a few more weeks.  Hopefully by that point I will be well on the road to recovery and able to do some sort of work again.

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Me watching the bank account…

At 4pm Grace stopped by with some homemade cinnamon buns.  That was a really nice surprise! The kids are going to love these.  (I am going to love these…)

For dinner John and Maggie and the kids all came over and brought a beet and kale salad, a curry chicken dish with rice, and pie.  It was all delicious.  We had a great time visiting and the kids were shocked that we let them stay up until 930 on a school night.

Day 32 To the weekend.

Friday.  Today I awoke feeling really well.  I cant believe the week is almost over. I cleaned up the kitchen and had breakfast. I looked at the laundry and then decided to sit here on the couch and write this post.

Junho will be coming by later this afternoon for a visit, I am looking forward to that. He’ll be bringing dinner as well. I wonder if he’ll bring some Korean food?  We’ll have to wait and see!

The only side effect I am experiencing today is my left hand thumb and forefinger tips are definitely feeling strange like I spent all day playing guitar – but I didn’t, and you don’t use your thumb for chording. It is not so much painful as it is mild discomfort. So I assume it is just some nerve damage from the chemo.  Also, my head is itchy, which is a sign that my hair should start falling out in the next few days. I will be buzzing her soon…wait I should do that now. Be right back…

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I didn’t have that much hair anyway

Done.  I also showered and weighed myself… and good news, I weigh 166lbs.  So I have gained 2 lbs this week and am only down 3 overall.

The kids clothes still sit in baskets.  I am not sure how to fold them…

I expect this weekend to go well so there shouldn’t be much to report.  My oncologist said I may have a spike of energy just before the third week, and so far that appears to be the case. Just in time for rainy days.

2 weeks down.  7 to go. I know there will be some hard days head, but I am taking it a day at a time and today is a good day.

Thank you again for all the cards, emails, messages, gifts, meals and visits.  We have received so much support, and I want to thank each of you. I love you all.

God is Good.  Jesus Saves.  Look to him.

SDG

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Squirrel Nuts

Since being diagnosed with testicular cancer (TC) I have been doing a fair bit of research, and am becoming somewhat of an advocate for guys to check for it.

So.

Let’s cut to the chase.

If TC is caught early on before it spreads from the testicle, it has a 100% cure rate (and you won’t need chemotherapy)! Sure you will have to have surgery, and take a 4-6 week vacation, and you may become the punchline for a couple of the jokes at work once you’re healed up, but so what…?

Don’t be like me.

Check your nuts!

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Stainless Steel Nuts

So let’s look at some fast facts, TC is very rare compared to other cancers (0.7% of all cancers), yet it is the most common cancer in males aged between 15 and 35. Males of any age, from infants to the elderly, can develop TC, but more than half of the cases are documented between the ages of 15-35. TC is also most common in Caucasian males.

Here are some possible risk factors:

  • Cryptorchidism (undescended testicle),
  • Congenital abnormalities,
  • Inguinal hernia at birth,
  • Abnormal testicular development,
  • Having had TC before,
  • Having a family history of TC,
  • Having testicles. (Since I had none of the risk factors, I added this one.)
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Peanuts

So while there is no known specific cause for TC, I did come across an interesting statistic:

99.99% ( that is adjusting for an error of +/- .01%) of men between the ages of 20 and 40, who have been diagnosed with TC have consumed a chemical compound known as dihydrogen monoxide (DMHO).

DMHO is a colourless, odorless, chemical compound that is also known as dihydrogen oxide.  It is used in the production of almost everything, including meats, fruits and veggies, to beverages, including coffee, tea, fruit juices, and beer! It is even sprayed on those healthy organic veggies!!

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So please… If you are a man, and you have consumed DMHO, or even if you are not sure whether you have, you need to check yourself for TC with regularity.

Personally, I think it is easiest to check yourself in front of a mirror after engaging in a complete epidermal irrigation with thermally agitated dihydrogen monoxide.

Seriously though. If you are a guy… check your nuts!

Here is a link to a Testicular self exam “how to”, should you need some guidance.

 #Checkyournuts

#DMHOiswater

#cancersucks

So I never realized that there are hundreds of different chemicals to fight different cancers. The list is quite extensive! I am on only 3 of these drugs, known together as BEP, to combat my cancer. I will be on 3 cycles consisting of 3 weeks each.  All together I will receive 21 days of treatment in those 9 weeks. Each treatment lasts from 3-4 hours, the days with only the one drug is about 1 hour.

The 3 week cycle looks like this:

Day 1 – BEP
Day 2 – EP
Day 3 – EP
Day 4 – EP
Day 5 – EP
Day 8 – B
Day 15 – B

Rinse, repeat, 3 times.

Here is a short rundown of the drugs I am receiving for my treatment.

B – Bleomycin: Based on a bacteria called Streptomyces Verticillus that was discovered in 1966 when the Japanese scientist Hamao Umezawa found anticancer activity while screening culture filtrates of the bacteria.  It works because it breaks apart cancer cells faster than the other cells by attacking the DNA. One of the long term effects of this drug is a Lung Toxicity risk, so I am forever a card carrying member of the “no scuba diving” club.20160919_101456.jpg

E – Etoposide: Made from the root of the Wild Mandrake plant. It was discovered by a team of Swiss scientists in 1966 and approved for use in 1983.  It works by unwinding the DNA which causes it to break apart, and prevents the DNA strands from forming. This is the chemo drug that causes alopecia (hair loss)  as well as  the  loss of taste.

P – cisPlatin: This drug is created from Platinum. That’s right, I have platinum in my blood! This drug causes DNA strands to link together unnaturally and triggers their death. It works because it targets the fastest proliferating cells which are in theory, the cancerous ones.

So there you have it. Bacteria, a plant extract, and a heavy metal, all mixed up and poured into my blood. It amazes me that researchers can come up with this stuff. The Lord certainly has blessed us with these medical interventions. All three were approved for cancer treatment in the late 70’s and early 80’s.  I am blessed to be living today, when my prognosis is far better than it would have been 40 years ago.

So these are the 3 drugs that will fight my seminoma.

But Wait! There’s more!

 

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The rest of my meds…

There are a whole slew of other drugs that I am taking to combat the side effects of  nausea and vomiting that the chemotherapy drugs causes.  The anti-nausea meds I have to take cause me constipation and severe heartburn. So to combat that I take a laxative,  and a stool softener (cuz I just had surgery and can’t “strain at stool”) and antacids.  Even though I am exhausted from the chemo, I find that I sometimes lay awake at night staring at the ceiling, due to the steroid I have to take… so I also take Gravol at night to knock me out so I can sleep.  Then there is Benadryl in case I have a reaction to one of the meds…

So there you have the drugs I am on.

Alright enough with the dry facts…

How was my week?

Day 18

Last night was Friday and Teresa and I had a wonderful date night.  We went downtown Vancouver and watched the sunset on English Bay and then had a wonderful dinner at the Boathouse.

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God’s canvas: English Bay Sunset

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My hot date.

Today Uncle Bill and and his friend Daphne came by for visit.  Both of them have had spouses who passed away from cancer, so it was a really nice visit. They understand what we are going through, and both of them have fervent faith lives and spoke fondly of the Lord Jesus.  I really appreciated the visit and it was really nice to meet Daphne.

Then Mom and Dad had us over for dinner, and dad barbecued tenderloin steak for my “last meal”.  If heaven were a food, this would be it…I enjoyed two steaks, many potatoes, two helpings of Caesar salad and a glass of chardonnay to the glory of God!

Day 19 

Sunday.  We went to church in the morning and had Lord’s Supper with the congregation.  I have to say, that often I take Lord’s supper for granted.  But sitting there, the day before chemotherapy, with the family of Christ, partaking of the bread and wine, something hit me. It was real. It was nice. Afterwards we had a communal lunch in the basement and lots of fellowship.  It was a really nice way to spend a day before I start the second part of my treatment.

Day 20: Chemo Day 1

So how was the first week of chemo? I won’t lie. It started well, but ended rough.

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Day 20 of the journey. Chemo Day 1. hooked up and getting pre-hydration.

 

 

Teresa took the day off to come with me for my first treatment. I was nervous, I admit it, so it was nice to have Teresa there. I received the BEP, and it went well.  I had no adverse reactions, but I was quite tired that evening.

For dinner, Leanne made us these awesome baked tacos and salad, it was delicious and amazing!  I Lloved it.  In fact I ate the leftovers that night as well!  Feel free to send those again🙂

Day 21

Teresa had to work, so My mom drove me today, and stayed with me for the whole time. Since I had to drop all my classes, and she has a good knowledge of classical Greek, she decided to test me with Greek flash cards.  I need a lot of work!

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Can you read this?

 

I started developing really bad heartburn around 1130.  Not the beer and wings type, that only happens when you bend over or try to sleep, but the kind that incessantly bothers you no matter what you do.  It was so painful. The nurses gave me almagel which helped immensely.  After chemo, I had to go to the school and pick up Meagan who was sick with a stomach bug.

For dinner, Alix sent us this amazing healthy homemade minestrone style soup with beef, chickpeas and veggies, it was so good! She even sent fresh Parmesan cheese to sprinkle on it. Amazeling! She sent so much soup, that I have had it for lunch a couple times now as well. I need to get that recipe!

By evening, the fatigue was already kicking in and its only day 2.

Day 22

Nausea / heartburn was bad today, and twice I upset the kids because of my poor handling of it. When I came downstairs in the morning, I could smell the scented soap Meagan had used to wash her hands, and it turned my stomach. I asked Teresa, “What is that smell, it is making me sick.” Meagan was upset that she had “made me sick” and went and washed her hands with unscented soap…

I felt really bad.

At dinner time, I upset the kids again.  They were being so noisy, and I was feeling a bit nauseated, so I said something to the effect of, “You kids are going to make me sick with all this noise!”…I immediately apologized, “I am sorry, you are not making me sick, daddy is sick from the medication, I would just like some quiet time so I can feel better.”

Brain fog, or “Chemo-brain” is a real thing.  And on day 3 it began to manifest itself.  I am already forgetting things.  I forgot to bring my book to chemo, I forgot to put on deodorant…ugh…I and worst of all I forgot put the chicken in the crockpot for dinner, so once I was all hooked up, I sent Kevin, who drove me to chemo, back home to do it. Thanks Kevin!  Sorry about the mess!

The nurses gave me almagel again at chemo, and it is amazing, so I tried to find some for home use, but none of the pharmacies around here carry it.  I ordered some from London Drugs, but it will not be in for a week.  Tums it is…

Day 23

I awoke with energy today. But ugh Heartburn, why must you plague me? At Chemo, the nurses called the oncologist who recommended rinitidine for my heartburn. My mom drove me again, it was nice to have her there.

Today was also my follow up with the urologist (surgeon).  He was very happy with how I am healing, and said that his part his done. I still have to be careful not to lift too much or over exert myself, but it is good to hear some good news. After the meeting with him, I bought some rinitidine for my heartburn.  Oh what a blessing that has been! Way better than tums!

I went home and slept on the couch with out a sour stomach, with out pain, without tossing.

That evening Adryon came by with a feast of Salmon, Aspragus, Mashed yams, and beet salad!  It was all so good!!!!  I am so glad we figured out the heartburn issue before this meal arrived. I can’t wait for the next meal she brings by.

I did not have a ride figured out for the next day, but I didn’t care.  After dinner I was so tired, that I would have just taken a taxi…but Rob texted and asked if I needed a ride, and he arranged them for me.  I really appreciated that.

It is an amazing blessing to have people who pour love upon us.

Day 25

I had some energy when i awoke. But it is the last day of the week, and I did not want to go to treatment. Seriously.  I got up and listened to some hymns.  “Abide With Me” sung by Indelible Grace came on, and I wept as I sang along.  The presence of God is overwhelming right now.  I wish I didn’t feel so sick, but his presence more that makes up for it all! After getting up and eating and hydrating I felt pretty good, and by the time Allan arrived to drive me to the treatment I felt great.  My pastor came by to visit while I was there.  That was really nice.  Then Naomi drove me home. She has prego-brain, and I have chemo-brain…it was an interesting ride home!

When I got home, I listened to some hymns and noticed that I had some mild tinnitus, or ringing in the ears.  It lasted for a minute and then subsided. But I rapidly descended into lethargy.  Within an hour I was done.

Today was also Noah’s second birthday.  I was awake for his gifts, but I was gone shortly thereafter…

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Me done after a long week of chemo.

 

Day 26

For the 24 hours after chemo, I was  wrecked.  Saturday morning was very hard.  I again experienced some mild tinnitus, or ringing in the ears, which is a side effect of the chemo. It was mild and lasted only a minute, but I was not feeling well at all. I was grumpy, tired and bleh… But for lunch we had soup and sandwiches, which I forced myself to eat, and by 1pm, I had renewed energy.

It was amazing.

I even made chicken noodle soup from scratch. Yes, it is my thing, I love making homemade chicken noodle soup. I needed help with the heavy lifting, but I had the energy to do everything else.  We now have a freezer stocked with delicious healthy soup. Oh and I even vacuumed the living room – I shouldn’t have done that.  That evening, once the kids were in bed, I ate some of Noah’s ice cream cake from his birthday yesterday, and then hobbled up the stairs. I barely made it up to the bedroom, cuz, yes I overdid it today…  But having energy was such a blessing!

I was exhausted after all that, but it felt good to not have to be waited on hand and foot.

If I have learned anything this week, it is that the Lord is Good. His mercies are new every morning, and in His strength I will get through this. I am blessed to have a wife who is a warrior holding this family together – it has been hard to have to swallow my pride and accept that I can’t do this alone. We also have so many wonderful friends and loved ones who continue to pour love on us.  The food, the drives, the visits, the prayers…

We are blessed.

We are grateful, and yes, even joyful.

 

 

Thankful

Posted: September 17, 2016 in Uncategorized

The end of week one. I hope to write a bit about the week when I have some strength back. I am thankful for my wife, who is a warrior holding this family together and keeping things running smoothly. I love her with all I am. And I love all of you, and yes this introvert has become a hugger as well.🙂

One Christian Mom

We are at the end of week 1 of Ryan’s chemotherapy. It has been an exhausting week and in my entire life, I don’t think I’ve ever been so grateful that it is Friday. Finally.

Tomorrow, there will be no alarm at 6AM to try to get the kids on the bus at 7AM. Tonight, I’m not running around packing lunches and laying out outfits for the morning. Instead, I’m sipping a glass of wine and reflecting on the week. Week 1. Done. 8 to go.

Ryan is weak and tired. He has heartburn and isn’t feeling well the last couple of days. He sleeps or rests. A lot. 5 days of being hooked up to an IV for 4 hours a day with horrific drugs being poured into you will take a toll on a man.

I’m doing the best I can. We are staying in normal routine as…

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Cancer Lives Here

Posted: September 16, 2016 in Uncategorized

One Christian Mom

The last couple weeks have been filled with more information, more doctor appointments, and the start of chemo for Ryan. I’ve received a lot of messages, emails, telephone calls and visits and the number one question is, “how are you doing?” I used to lie and try to sound chipper and respond with “Good!” but I stopped that pretty quickly because it felt so … well, fake. I definitely wasn’t feeling “good” …. not to mention, it’s grammatically incorrect to respond with “Good”.

Last Friday was a scary day for me. Ryan had his appointment with his oncologist to go over the pathology and MRI results. I was fully expecting bad news and wondering how we were going to cope with it, and where we would go next. I was expecting the doctor to say they had missed it in the first tests, but the cancer had spread to vital organs. Or further…

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A common theme that underscores many conversations I have with others, is that my cancer diagnosis must be overwhelming. I understand why this is so. Cancer should be overwhelming. It is a terrible disease.  In my own strength, there is no way to stand under the weight of this shadow of brokenness and death. Let’s be honest, in my own my strength I would crumble. To face one’s mortality without any real hope is earth shattering.

And I admit to being overwhelmed in the first moments and hours…

But it no longer overwhelms me.

No, I do not want to walk this valley. I know that pain and suffering are looming on the horizon; I have felt it already with the surgery and the recovery. I struggle when I can’t pick up my crying 2 year old. When I couldn’t walk up the stairs to say night time prayers with my daughter. I have asked for this affliction to pass from me, that I might not have to drink this bitter cup.

But there is no fear in this valley, it is not overwhelming.

There is peace, that peace which Paul spoke of in Phillippians 4, that peace which surpasses understanding. That peace which comes from knowing that in life and death I belong to my faithful saviour Jesus Christ.

Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice!  Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near.  Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.  And the peace of God,which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. ~ Philippians 4 

Now, there certainly are things which overwhelm me.

One is the love displayed by the people around me. The people in my small church who have rallied around Teresa and I. The prayers of those in the larger Church abroad. The countless prayers offered on our behalf, the countless offers of help and assistance. The visits. The messages. The emails.

I love you all, and it is overwhelming.

And then there is that which truly overwhelms me:

Jesus Christ.

You see, at just the right time, when we were still powerless, Christ died for the ungodly. Very rarely will anyone die for a righteous person, though for a good person someone might possibly dare to die. But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us. Romans 5

God’s holiness overwhelms me, for I am a sinner and am not worthy to stand before the throne. The longer I walk this path with the Lord before me, and the more sin is put to death in the power of the Holy Spirit, the more aware of my sin I become. Yet Jesus stands in my place in perfect holiness and says, “I paid for that. You are forgiven, loved, and cared for.” When you believe on Jesus for salvation, the weight, the burden, of sin and guilt and shame is lifted off of you, and then the yoke of Christ put upon you…but He doesn’t leave us to pull that yoke alone. He gets into that yoke with you and He pulls with you.

That is overwhelming.

I am overwhelmed as he draws me closer to him in my time of affliction. It is such a drastic change from my depression when he seemed so far away, now his nearness is intensely real. All the theological talk on my blog of trusting in the promises of God during affliction, are suddenly not a “theoretical” faith, but a tangible life experience.

I am overwhelmed by his peace.

His beauty.

His love for us despite us.

His undeserved grace.

He is overwhelming.

So if you are burdened with sin, with affliction, with suffering…look to Jesus. If you have not been met by Jesus, please come, taste and see that the Lord is good! Come be overwhelmed by Jesus. He alone is the all satisfying fountain. He alone can save you from your sin. He alone can give us hope, in fact he is our hope.

Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! In his great mercy he has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead,  and into an inheritance that can never perish, spoil or fade. This inheritance is kept in heaven for you,  who through faith are shielded by God’s power until the coming of the salvation that is ready to be revealed in the last time.  In all this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while you may have had to suffer grief in all kinds of trials.  These have come so that the proven genuineness of your faith—of greater worth than gold, which perishes even though refined by fire—may result in praise, glory and honor when Jesus Christ is revealed.  Though you have not seen him, you love him; and even though you do not see him now, you believe in him and are filled with an inexpressible and glorious joy, for you are receiving the end result of your faith, the salvation of your souls. 1 Peter 1:3-9

SDG

Here is a song that has been rolling around my head as I write this.  Enjoy!

 

Day 11 Saturday

3 days post surgery. Today I awoke with an appetite and a tiny bit of energy, so I made omelettes. I had two bites and couldn’t eat it. A side effect of the recovery is a lack of an appetite.   I spent the day at home, blogging, responding to messages and just resting.

Teresa took Kaitlyn out during Noah’s nap, and Meagan went out and played with friends.  I was dozing in and out on the couch, when Phil stopped by with a pie.  We chatted for a couple minutes and he left. I appreciated that very much, it was nice to be awoken with pie!

By Bedtime I was zonked, even though I didn’t really do anything today.

Day 12 Sunday

4 days post surgery. We went to church in the morning.  I was in quite a bit of discomfort, as the pews are not designed for surgery recovery (or for comfort.) After the service a number of people wanted to talk, it was nice to spend some time with the church family.  My coworker, Mike, even showed up.  It was good to see him there.  Hopefully he comes again and again!

We stayed home in the afternoon, I was spent.

I rested and took it easy.

Day 13 Monday – Labour day.

I awoke with the ability to get out bed on my own without grunting! We went to Denny’s for brunch, it was nice to spend the last of summer break with the family.  Today I was able to walk a fair bit, but was very tired all day.

Day 14 Tuesday

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The kids are ready for school!

First Day of School.  I took the girls to school and enjoyed a pancake breakfast at the school, but I had to leave early to get a CT Scan of my chest. Funny how a 3 minute CT scan takes 2 hours…

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Me waiting for my CT scan…waiting and waiting…

Kevin came over around 1130 with coffee and we chatted for quite a while. Then he read from 2 Corinthains 1:3-11, about our God of Comfort.  It was a nice visit. Afterward I took a short nap and then walked down to the bus stop and waited for the girls to get home.

At bedtime, Meagan was freaking out about a crane fly that was in her room.  I ended up hurting myself while catching it…stupid.  Set myself back a day, but at least Daddy is still the big dragon slaying protector in her eyes, right?

I took some pain meds and went to bed shaking my head at myself.

Day 15 Wednesday – One Week post surgery.

After walking the kids to the bus stop, I just rested on the couch all day.  No visitors came over, so I took it easy to recover from my dragon slaying misadventure the night before.   I tidy’d up the house a bit but for the most part just took it easy.

Day 16 Thursday – 

We missed the school bus today.  The girls just didn’t want to move!  So I drove them and chased the bus for 10 minutes. After catching up to the bus, I went for blood work where I waited for an hour, and filled a prescription where I waited for another hour… I felt good to day.  I cleaned up the kitchen, and the bathroom.

Juhno came over around 1 today and we spent a good amount of time chatting, then we read Romans 8.  It was nice.  After he left, my neighbour invited me over, and we had a good chat (and some pizza).

Tomorrow we get the pathology report from our oncologist.  There is a little bit of trepidation, as we wait to find out the unknown…

Day 17 Friday Pathology Day

After dropping the girls off at the bus stop, I went back to bed.  Teresa took the day off to join me at the oncologist appointment and the Chemo Therapy lesson. We went to our appointment to learn the pathology report from the testicle…

and yet again…we waited…

…and when the Dr. came in she said, “So, Good news…you have Seminoma.”

Normally “you have *this* cancer” would not be a good to hear, but when you are expecting to hear something worse…I think I actually smiled.  To be clear, cancer is not “good”, but the pathology report could not have come back any better. It likely means I “only” have to endure 3 cycles of chemo, and probably have no further surgery. But we’ll see what happens in the next 6 months or so.

The prognosis is good…but God is more gooder.  As I have said before, my faith is in God, not the odds.

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At the chemo teach.

After the appointment we had a chemo teach, where we learned all about the side effects and what to expect during chemo. It was informative.  I really am not looking forward to Chemo.

Really not.

So there it is.

I am still recovering from surgery, and I start Chemo on Monday. A friend told me that the greatest lesson the Lord taught him during his battle with cancer was patience.  I pray that the Lord would grant me patience.  It is something I am lacking.  

Patience with my kids.  (Especially when we are getting ready in the morning)

Patience with my wife.

Patience with plans.

Patience with recovery…

Cancer has been called the “hurry up and wait” disease. I have noticed this is true. I have done a lot of waiting.  While in recovery, a mere week post surgery, I find myself going a little bit stir crazy.  I can’t really go out and do anything, yet how many screens and books can I look at in one day? So I pray that the Lord would grant me patience in all aspects of life.  Not a resigned acceptance of the inevitable, but a positive endurance in prosperity and affliction in the strength that he provides. 

Anyway, this evening, Teresa and I are going out to downtown Vancouver for date night.  I fully expect to eat some red meat and enjoy a frosty mug of some kind of ale to the glory of God!

I appreciate all of the cards and messages I have received.  Love you all!

God is Good.  Jesus Saves, find your hope in him.

SDG

 

This is part two of my cancer journey. Feel free to read Part 1 – Diagnosis and the first week

Day 7 continued

Tomorrow is surgery day. In the evening our elders came for a visit. Phil, our ward elder, read from Matthew 6:25-34. He went through TC a number of years ago, so it is a blessing to have him as our elder, as he completely understands what we are going through. We even have the same oncologist!  It was a joy to hear him speak of the nearness of the presence of the Lord during the hard times of his journey.

Later, our friend Rob came by with a meal for us (Thanks Naomi).  Teresa was relaxing in the bath, so Rob and I sat and chatted, and then he read from Isaiah 41.

When Rob left, I was tired.  BUT…I was not permitted to eat or drink after midnight, so I stayed up reading until 11:59 just so I could eat a snack and drink a tall glass of juice.

Day 8 – Wednesday

Today is surgery day!  So we shipped the kids off and then went shopping…

Yep. Shopping. Since I am still capable of lifting, we thought it would be a good idea to stock up on food stuff.

On the way Teresa stopped and picked up Tim Horton’s breakfast for herself…she is a tease! I am so hungry!

After shopping I went home and showered, and then we left for the hospital.

We arrived at the hospital at noon, and made our way to surgical admissions. The unit clerk asked if we wanted to pay extra for a private room…we were like, “Uh, this is day surgery, I am supposed to go home after it.” She looked at me, then at her papers, then at Teresa,”No, you’re being admitted…”

We resigned ourselves to being admitted, and thought it for the best – that way the kids certainly wouldn’t jump on me! After we met our surgeon, he sorted it out and said if it goes well I was going home after recovery. He said someone must have ticked the wrong box. I cracked a joke about taking the correct testicle. He then marked my thigh to make sure they took the correct one ( he was going to do that anyway.)

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Just before heading to the OR.

In OR the surgical team was playing some upbeat music, I asked a nurse if they had Erasure’s Respect – she burst out laughing. (#badscrubsjoke)

Diagram_showing_how_the_testicle_is_removed_(orchidectomy)_CRUK_141.svgSoon I was out cold and the surgery team was performing what is known as a radical inguinal orchiectomy. One might think that the testicle is easy access, but rather than going through the scrotum, they go through the groin. This is to prevent the spread of cancer cells, as the surgeon can tie off the blood and lymph vessels prior to removal of the testicle.

After I awoke from surgery, still groggy from the anesthesia I remember a nurse asking me how my pain was on a scale of 1-10, I said 3 or 4.

She gave me an oxycodone.

I have never been high before. It was kinda fun…

I hardly remember leaving the hospital, I do vaguely remember Teresa trying to get my socks on for me. I barely remember the dinner we ate, which Rob brought over last night, and apparently I read the Bible…(I don’t remember what I read)…and Meagan prayed.

I do remember going to the bathroom after dinner and being very happy about it. You gotta pee within 8 hours of surgery or go back to the hospital to make sure there is no swelling affecting that area.

The rest of the evening is quite the blur as I also popped some T3’s (as the nurse told me I should within 4 hours after getting home). I went to bed and don’t remember falling asleep…

Day 9 – Thursday 

First day post surgery. Warning – there is a fair bit of potty talk today.

330 in the morning I awoke. My bladder was completely full, and the pain meds had completely worn off. I tried to get out of bed, but couldn’t. I thought about waking Teresa, but her deep breathing was so peaceful that I couldn’t stand to wake her.  So I struggled for a few minutes, until I heard her breathing change, and she jumped out of bed to help me up without me even asking.

It is humbling, to have to rely completely on someone else. Perhaps the Lord is teaching me humility. I went to the bathroom, turned on the light and stared at the toilet.  I thought to myself, “How am I going to sit on you and get back up?” I somehow managed it, then popped some more T3’s for the pain, and gingerly crawled back into bed. I tell you, moving hurts right now.

I awoke at 7am and Teresa helped me out of bed and down stairs.  I sat on the couch with a cup of tea.  She made a delicious breakfast as you can see…

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Teresa took the day off work to care for me. We shipped the kids away, so that I could rest without fear of being jumped on, or punched…or head butted down there by our two year old…

I received a call from the surgeons’s office asking how I was doing. I also received a call from a nurse who checked up on me and gave me some advice for pain management and how to watch for signs of infection etc.

After speaking with the nurse, I decided to stop taking the T3’s after only 3 doses – because I am to refrain from, “straining at stool,” and codeine is constipating.  Now I am on extra strength Tylenol and Advil.  It seems to work just fine, unless I cough – boy does that hurt.

I spent all morning responding to emails and messages, and I even received a real old fashioned get well card from a lovely couple from my old church in Chilliwack.

My appetite was very good, probably the best it has been since the diagnosis, I ate a lot today.

We had no visitors today, and I spent most of the day relaxing or napping.

Day 10 – Friday

Day two post surgery. First day by myself.

I awoke in a puddle of sweat.  I was nervous that perhaps I had a fever and there was an infection, but Teresa assured me that I was just clammy not fevered.  I did have far too many pillows and blankets on me…

I still have trouble getting out of bed by myself, but the pain is significantly decreased today.

After Teresa and the kids left for the day, I made myself breakfast..not nearly as nice as the one Teresa made yesterday…

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I even ran the dishwasher today…but it was mostly loaded already.  However, getting the soap from under the sink was an adventure…one which I probably should not have attempted, as I was in a fair bit of pain after it.  I took some Advil and then sat on the couch and responded to some more emails and messages.

One of my concerns has been being able to have a bowel movement. Whenever I tried, I felt pain in the area, and was afraid of pushing too hard, but I managed to go today.  Which is good.  I never thought I would be happy about going to the bathroom. Also never thought I would blog about it…

My mom and brother Chris came for a visit today at 2pm, they had only planned on an hour visit, but at 530, when Teresa and the kids came home, we were all still deep into our conversation! At least the kids got some unexpected grandma time🙂 During the visit my elder Phil called to see how I was doing, that was thoughtful. The kids were all hungry and cranky, which did nothing to assist my resting.  My visitors left and we had dinner. After dinner we had devotions and then the family cleaned up.

It had been just over 48 hours since surgery and I was eagerly looking forward to feeling human again with a good, hot, shower.  Getting the dressing off was not fun, I inspected the incision and there does not appear to be any signs of infection, which is good.  I also noted that there is a fair bit of numbness on the skin below the incision and the bruising is showing up now.

The shower was heavenly.

I still have difficulty bending or picking anything off the floor…so I unceremoniously left my dirty clothes right there on the bathroom floor (sorry hun.)

After getting dressed, (getting dressed is an adventure as well!) and kissing Noah goodnight, I sat on the couch and promptly fell asleep.

Around 745 Brad and Rebecca came for a visit. It was a nice visit.  When they left I was ready for bed.

I walked up the stairs, still a bit gingerly, but much quicker than when I first got home.

Sleep came quickly.

***

So the first steps of my treatment have been taken. It is very real right now, this cancer thing. The recovery process is not pleasant at all. But even more real is the presence of the Lord, and the tremendous amount of support Teresa and I have received from so many people from our church, our community, and from around the world. It is really overwhelming.

I love you all.

Throughout this journey of pain and suffering we look to him for strength, for comfort and and “we rejoice in hope of the glory of God.  Not only that, but we rejoice  in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance,  and endurance produces character, and character produces hope,  and hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us.”

The Lord is good.  Jesus saves.  Look to him.

Oh and guys… check your nuts.

SDG

 

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My Dad and Me. 1980-ish. Look at all that hair!

15 years ago my dad was diagnosed with Terminal Renal Carcinoma (kidney cancer). It was a difficult time for him, and for us. So, late one night, I wrote him this poem entitled, “My Only Comfort”.

He printed it out and kept a copy with him.  He even tried to turn it into a hymn, but he passed away before he finished it. Now I offer it for all who suffer from cancer or in any other way.  May you also find your only comfort in Jesus Christ.

My brothers and sisters in Christ who are of the Reformed persuasion will recognize it. It is based on the first Question and Answer from the Heidelberg Catechism.

My Only Comfort

My only comfort in life and death,
Is that Jesus owns my every breath,
He owns me in both body and soul,
I am His, not in part, but in whole.

His blood that spilt upon the tree,
Has fully justified and pardoned me,
And from the Devil’s terrible power,
Christ my freedom won, in that glorious hour.

My Lord preserves me up to the end,
In His grace my faith will never bend,
No not even one hair, can be touched,
Unless He wills it, to be as such.

My Lord and Saviour has assured me,
That all things must work in unity,
For the Good of those who serve the Lord,
Yes He my salvation has assured.

By His Holy Spirit, whom he gave,
I know for certain that He did save,
All His elect from the sting of death,
When on the cross he drew his last breath.

Amazing love and mercies unknown,
Grace and pity, us he has shown.
That he would die, cursed upon a tree,
And give his life, for the likes of me.

To live for him is what I desire,
Us he has saved, from the muck and mire.
Now he commands that we live with grace,
As we shine with His light in our place.

My only comfort in life and death,
Is that Jesus owns my every breath,
He owns me in both body and soul,
I am His, not in part, but in whole.