From the fullness of his grace we have all received one blessing after another. John 1:16

Friday, May 13, 2011

about to blow...

It's been a little over 2 months...10 weeks...72 days.  In the past, I don't remember going more than 2 days without talking to my Dad....more than a week without seeing his face. 

Some days, I find I wake up and Dad is right there in my mind.  Lately, I've had nights where I lay down to go to sleep and realize I haven't thought of him much at all that day.  Other days I feel like a champagne bottle whose cork has worked itself half way out of the bottle and if you tap it or bump into it, it will blow.  Its contents will burst out of the bottle with force and spray all over everything around it.  The champagne, you see, is under great pressure...bubbling, expanding, wanting to "let it all out".  The cork, however, has been assigned to hold it all in and is straining against the force of the sticky, sweet liquid with all of its might.  Part of me is the cork...holding it all in.  Part of me is the champagne...brewing, bubbling.  All around me, is the delicate glass that I fear will break if something whacks against me and causes the cork to dislodge.  On these days, more times than I can count, I feel myself about to blow...

All in all, I would have to say that we're all doing fairly well...all things considered.  We've made it through Lura, Brennan & Eli's birthdays, Liam's first soccer game, our 20th anniversary, Good Friday & Easter, Mother's Day and a field trip to a landfill.  None of these were easy days.  Each held their own pain.  Each brought memories of Dad being the first to call, being an usher at church, making days special, stuffing plastic eggs with coins & candy, honoring the mamma's around him, calling to see how things went, offering advice, giving directions.  Some of these memories & reminders are so filled with joy.  Others bring stabbing pain.  Yet in each of these days, God has graciously given each of us what we needed to make it through. 

I am sure that I would not have made it through without the love of Christ and the full assurance that I will one day see Dad again.  I have to remind myself of where he is now, the new body that he's been given (free of pain & suffering), and even reassure myself that given the chance, Dad wouldn't want to come back.  He is in the presence of the One who laid down His life for us.  He is worshipping at the throne of his creator and he is experiencing a joy that, to us, is unimaginable.  These truths have made me long for my heavenly home in a way I never did before.

I would not have made it through without the love and support of my Godly, patient, understanding and compassionate husband.  I would not have made it without the sweet smiles and hugs from my boys.  I have been drawn closer to my Mom, my sisters, my in-laws, my dear friends, and most importantly, my God.  God has given me the gift of seeing how many lives my Dad's touched.  He has allowed me to see the impact Dad had on so many people around him and it's made me want to be more like him in so many ways.

I know that as time stretches on, the days of sadness will lessen and the memories that make me so sad now will make me smile.  I know that just as He has for the past 72 days, God will give me exactly what I need to make it through each and every day.  For this, I will be eternally grateful.

Friday, March 4, 2011

Memorial Service

A Memorial Service honoring the life and faith of
 Richard L. Blosenski
June 11, 1944 - March 2, 2011

Monday, March 7, 2011

Community Evangelical Free Church
52 South Brick Lane
Elverson, PA 19520

We would be blessed to have you share special memories of Dad with us.  There will be a time during the service for you to do so.

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

"When he had said this, he breathed his last."

 Luke 23:44 It was now about noon, and darkness came over the whole land until three in the afternoon, 45 for the sun stopped shining. And the curtain of the temple was torn in two. 46 Jesus called out with a loud voice, “Father, into your hands I commit my spirit.” When he had said this, he breathed his last.

At 11:35 this morning, our dear, sweet Dad went home to be with the Savior who laid down His life for him.  It was a very peaceful moment, as Mom, Melissa, Lura, Aunt Nancy, Uncle Bobby, Doug and I sat around him singing Be Thou My Vision while Melissa played her violin.  We know full well that because Jesus breathed his last on our behalf, we can be with Him for eternity.  This seperation from Dad is painful...he took a piece of each of our hearts with him, but it is not permanent.  We have a promised eternity together, worshipping at the throne of the Creator of the Universe. 

Our hearts are broken, our bodies are tired, our eyes are dry from crying.  This is a bittersweet time for us as we rejoice in knowing that Dad is with Jesus and yet mourn his departure from this world. 

Be thou my vision, O Lord of my heart,
naught be all else to me, save that thou art;
Thou my best thought by day or by night,
Waking or sleeping, thy presence my light.
Be thou my wisdom, thou my true word,
I ever with thee and thou with me Lord;
Thou my great Father, I thy true son;
Thou in me dwelling, and I with thee one.
Be thou my battle shield, sword for the fight;
Be thou my dignity, thou my delight;
Thou my soul's shelter, thou my high tower:
Raise thou me heavenward, O Power of my power.
Riches I heed not, nor man's empty praise:
Thou mine inheritance now and always;
Thou and thou only first in my heart;
High King of Heaven, my treasure thou art.
High King of heaven, my victory won,
May I reach heaven's joys, O Bright Heaven's sun!;
Heart of my own heart, whatever befall,
Still be my vision, O Ruler of all.

I will update again once arrangements have been made.  In the meantime, please continue to pray for our family as you have faithfully been.  We would have not been able to walk this road with the peace we've had without our dear brothers and sisters interceeding on our behalf.

Monday, February 28, 2011


We would like to request no visitors today. We are exhausted and need these last moments with Dad to be quiet and peaceful. We would appreciate your continued prayers as we walk through the valley of the shadow of death.

Psalm 90
1 Lord, you have been our dwelling place
   throughout all generations.
2 Before the mountains were born
   or you brought forth the whole world,
   from everlasting to everlasting you are God.

 3 You turn people back to dust,
   saying, “Return to dust, you mortals.”
4 A thousand years in your sight
   are like a day that has just gone by,
   or like a watch in the night.
5 Yet you sweep people away in the sleep of death—
   they are like the new grass of the morning:
6 In the morning it springs up new,
   but by evening it is dry and withered.

 7 We are consumed by your anger
   and terrified by your indignation.
8 You have set our iniquities before you,
   our secret sins in the light of your presence.
9 All our days pass away under your wrath;
   we finish our years with a moan.
10 Our days may come to seventy years,
   or eighty, if our strength endures;
yet the best of them are but trouble and sorrow,
   for they quickly pass, and we fly away.
11 If only we knew the power of your anger!
   Your wrath is as great as the fear that is your due.
12 Teach us to number our days,
   that we may gain a heart of wisdom.

 13 Relent, LORD! How long will it be?
   Have compassion on your servants.
14 Satisfy us in the morning with your unfailing love,
   that we may sing for joy and be glad all our days.
15 Make us glad for as many days as you have afflicted us,
   for as many years as we have seen trouble.
16 May your deeds be shown to your servants,
   your splendor to their children.

 17 May the favor of the Lord our God rest on us;
   establish the work of our hands for us—
   yes, establish the work of our hands.

Friday, February 25, 2011

Precious in the sight of the LORD...

Psalm 116: 1 I love the LORD, for he heard my voice;
   he heard my cry for mercy.
2 Because he turned his ear to me,
   I will call on him as long as I live.

 3 The cords of death entangled me,
   the anguish of the grave came over me;
   I was overcome by distress and sorrow.
4 Then I called on the name of the LORD:
   “LORD, save me!”

 5 The LORD is gracious and righteous;
   our God is full of compassion.
6 The LORD protects the unwary;
   when I was brought low, he saved me.

 7 Return to your rest, my soul,
   for the LORD has been good to you.

 8 For you, LORD, have delivered me from death,
   my eyes from tears,
   my feet from stumbling,
9 that I may walk before the LORD
   in the land of the living.

 10 I trusted in the LORD when I said,
   “I am greatly afflicted”;
11 in my alarm I said,
   “Everyone is a liar.”

 12 What shall I return to the LORD
   for all his goodness to me?

 13 I will lift up the cup of salvation
   and call on the name of the LORD.
14 I will fulfill my vows to the LORD
   in the presence of all his people.

 15 Precious in the sight of the LORD
   is the death of his faithful servants.
16 Truly I am your servant, LORD;
   I serve you just as my mother did;
   you have freed me from my chains.

 17 I will sacrifice a thank offering to you
   and call on the name of the LORD.
18 I will fulfill my vows to the LORD
   in the presence of all his people,
19 in the courts of the house of the LORD—
   in your midst, Jerusalem.

   Praise the LORD.

I turned over and hit the snooze button.  I laid back and thought, "What's on the agenda for today?"  I rolled onto my side.  That was when it hit a slap in the, we're taking Dad home to die.

Our time together at the hospital last night was bittersweet.  Dad has but one IV left, dripping fluids to keep him hydrated.  No other medicines are being given, unless he has pain.  He's asleep almost all of the time, with only moments of wakefulness and claritiy.  He knows when we're there, who we are, and how much we love him.  He knows that, today, he will go home.

Liam and Landis don't seem too aware of the graveness of the situation.  There are some indicators that they might but today, I need to really explain things to them.  God, give me the words and the strength.

Brennan is just quiet.  He knows all that is happening.  He'll go to the hospital with Nana this morning to wait for the ambulance to come.  Lord willing, he'll ride home in the ambulance with his dear, sweet Papa.  I'll go to Mom & Dad's with Liam and Landis to await the delivery of the hospital bed and the other equipment and medicines we'll need.

Yesterday, we celebrated Mom's 63rd birthday in Dad's hospital room.  When we left there, she went to the store to buy underpads, sheets, etc...  She said she stood in the checkout line thinking to herself that this is her birthday, the last one she'll have with Dad, and there she found herself buying things to take home to prepare for his death.  These are the common slaps back into reality that we're dealing with.

Something that has really struck us is that in the 35 days that Dad has been at LGH, none of us has heard one word of complaint come from him.  His doctors and nurses are now commenting on how sweet he is, how wonderful our family is to him, what good care we take of him.  God is allowing all of this for a reason.  The reason is beyond me but I know that it is good...everything He does is good.

I will post as often as I can.  In the meantime, please continue to pray as you have for our family and for Dad.  Pray especially for his 6 dear grandchildren.  If you'd love to visit, and we would love to have you do so, please call my cell at 610-220-8207 if you need directions and so that we can let you know if it's an okay time to do so.

I had this hymn pop into my head this morning and it is fitting.  Read all of the words.  They are comforting and true.  There is no safer place than beneath the cross of the One who died so that eternity with Him would be our reward...

Beneath the cross of Jesus
I fain would take my stand,
the shadow of a mighty rock
within a weary land;
a home within the wilderness,
a rest upon the way,
from the burning of the noontide heat,
and the burden of the day.

Upon that cross of Jesus
mine eye at times can see
the very dying form of One
who suffered there for me;
and from my stricken heart with tears
two wonders I confess:
the wonders of redeeming love
and my unworthiness.

I take, O cross, thy shadow
for my abiding place;
I ask no other sunshine than
the sunshine of his face;
content to let the world go by,
to know no gain nor loss,
my sinful self my only shame,
my glory all the cross.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

All the way my Savior leads me...

  1. All the way my Savior leads me,
    What have I to ask beside?
    Can I doubt His tender mercy,
    Who through life has been my Guide?
    Heav’nly peace, divinest comfort,
    Here by faith in Him to dwell!
    For I know, whate’er befall me,
    Jesus doeth all things well;
    For I know, whate’er befall me,
    Jesus doeth all things well.
  2. All the way my Savior leads me,
    Cheers each winding path I tread,
    Gives me grace for every trial,
    Feeds me with the living Bread.
    Though my weary steps may falter
    And my soul athirst may be,
    Gushing from the Rock before me,
    Lo! A spring of joy I see;
    Gushing from the Rock before me,
    Lo! A spring of joy I see.
  3. All the way my Savior leads me,
    Oh, the fullness of His love!
    Perfect rest to me is promised
    In my Father’s house above.
    When my spirit, clothed immortal,
    Wings its flight to realms of day
    This my song through endless ages:
    Jesus led me all the way;
    This my song through endless ages:
    Jesus led me all the way.

These words are running through my head tonight.  All the way, for many years, the Savior has led me (and my family) and He will continue to do so.  He simply can't stop leading us, being good to us, being faithful to us, loving us.

Today was a very difficult day.  Dad has pneumonia.  For the past few days, we've noticed that he coughs when he drinks anything.  More than likely, he's aspirated something into his lungs and now...pneumonia.  This coughing/choking might or might not be neurological.  Tonight or tomorrow, he'll have a brain MRI to check for changes since his last MRI.  He's now on honey-thick liquids so that he doesn't choke.  We've decided to discontinue the plasmapheresis treatments (there was to be one more, tomorrow) as that could put him at more risk with regards to the pneumonia.  He's on broad-spectrum IV antibiotics.  He's weak.  He's confused.  He wants to go home.

As of this evening, unless he improves significantly with the antibiotics, inpatient rehab is out of the question.  He could barely do anything in physical therapy today.  It took everything he had to get out of a chair and into the bed with the help of 2 nurses.  He did sit up in the chair for quite awhile and he ate a great dinner. He wanted a fountain Pepsi so I went and got him one and, once thickened, he had a few spoonfulls.  All in all, everything took alot of effort for him today.

At one point, Mom asked him if he wanted to talk.  He said no.  He said we should talk to Dr. Reddy, who was out in the hallway.  Mom asked if he wanted to talk to Dr. Reddy and he said yes.  "What do you want to talk to him about?", Mom asked.  "When I'm going to die", was Dad's reply.  "What do you think about that, Dad?", I asked him.  "About a week", he said.  Mom told him that only God knows and that Dr. Reddy had already said about 6 months.  "That would be great", he said...and then he drifted off to sleep.  When Dr. Reddy came in, Mom and I asked a few questions, talked to him about how Dad was doing, talked about the future a little.  Dad opened his eyes and smiled at Dr. Reddy.  I asked him if he wanted to talk to him about anything and he said no and just smiled at me.  I simply smiled back, not wanting him to know that right then, right there next to him, my heart was breaking into a million pieces. 

Tomorrow afternoon, we'll be meeting with the hospice team to talk about what the plan will be when we take Dad home.  They'll start gathering orders for all of the medicines & equipment he'll need at home.  If he doesn't improve with the antibiotics, enough to go to rehab, then we'll take him home.

Please pray for my Mom.  This is a hard road to travel.  She'll be 63 on Thursday.  I kinda think she's too young for this.  (I think my Dad's too young, too).  Pray for her safety, for peace, for deep & restful sleep.  Pray that she won't be overwhelmed when decisions need to be made, that she'll lean on Lura, Melissa & I to help her...and that she'd lean on Jesus even harder than she does on us.  Pray for Lura, Melissa & I to be good daughters to her & to Dad...that our time with them would be a blessing to them.  Pray that in all things, in all circumstances, we would honor God with our speech, our thoughts, our actions.  Pray for the nursing staff and the doctors, the hospice team, the PCA's...that the way we care for our father/husband would cause them to wonder what is different about our family...when compared to the people who have no one sitting by their side.  Pray that God, through us, might reveal himself to them.  Pray that we'd be reminded to read scripture to Dad and to turn the TV off more often.  Pray for our children.  They love their dear Papa.  Pray that we'd answer their questions gently and honestly.  Pray that our time with Dad would be sweet...I mean really, really sweet. 

Thank you for all you have done for us.  Thank you for your cards (Dad has more than any other patient on 8 Lime).  Thank you for your visits, too.  I've written down all your names (at Dad's request) and I'm pretty sure that there are nearly 90 names on my list.  Thank you for lifting us before the throne of grace.  Like Aaron and Hur did for Moses, you're holding up our hands.

Exodus 17:12 When Moses' hands grew tired, they took a stone and put it under him and he sat on it. Aaron and Hur held his hands up--one on one side, one on the other--so that his hands remained steady till sunset.

Friday, February 18, 2011

a quick update...

Dad had a really good day today.  After his plasmapheresis treatment, he had a little lunch, then saw his internal medicine doctor, his oncologist, his neurologist, had PT, and we even took him outside to soak up a little sun (and he wore his hat almost all day long!)

His abdominal ultrasound shows NOTHING ABNORMAL!!!!!!!!!!!!  This means no metastasis to the liver, spleen, kidneys, gall bladder, pancreas or stomach!  What an answer to prayer!

After PT, we saw the representative from inpatient rehab and she said that he's tentatively approved by his insurance, and has a green light from PT.  That being the case, after 2 more plasmapheresis treatments, he'll be re-evaluated and if he continues to do as well as he is, will go to inpatient rehab as early as Wednesday.  Our goal in all of that is to be able to get him home with more ability to get around on his own.  If that happens, Dr. Reddy will determine whether or not he feels Dad can withstand chemotherapy.  At that point, we'll decide if visiting nurses or hospice is the best way to go.

God has surely been nothing but good to us...every minute of every day.  Thank you for kneeling before the throne of grace on our behalf.  We couldn't ask for more.

...and am persuaded that He is able...

2 Timothy 1:9 He has saved us and called us to a holy life—not because of anything we have done but because of his own purpose and grace. This grace was given us in Christ Jesus before the beginning of time, 10 but it has now been revealed through the appearing of our Savior, Christ Jesus, who has destroyed death and has brought life and immortality to light through the gospel. 11 And of this gospel I was appointed a herald and an apostle and a teacher. 12 That is why I am suffering as I am. Yet this is no cause for shame, because I know whom I have believed, and am convinced that he is able to guard what I have entrusted to him until that day.

I'm headed out to the hospital to be with Dad this morning.  Brennan and Melissa will go with me.  I will do my best to update from the hosptial later if we receive any news.

Yesterday, Dad's liver enzymes were elevated for the 2nd time.  I stayed with him until about 9:30 last night as he had an abdominal ultrasound of his organs at 8pm.  Up until then, he wasn't allowed to eat or drink anything so I stayed to help him with his dinner after his test.  I found him to be quite clear in his thinking yet very sleepy.  PLEASE pray for him, especially, as we wait today to hear the results of this test.  My gut tells me that Dr. Reddy is thinking metastesis.  Oh, how I pray that's not the case.

Please pray for my Mom, too.  She left around 5 last night with the beginning signs of the stomach bug that has been passed around as of late.  Pray that it will be short-lived and that she'll soon be able to be by Dad's side, where she longs to be.  Pray hard that Dad would not get this.  He threw up on Wednesday night after a dose of Prednisone (given for unexplained hives on his face).  Throwing up with a fractured 9th rib is not a pleasant experience.

We will, hopefully, be meeting with the rehab evaluator today.  Pray that our decisions will be easy to make with regards to what happens next.  We'll also be meeting with the hospice director to talk about that aspect of Dad's care and will have to decide if visiting nurses or hospice would be the best route to take when Dad is able to go home. 

For those of you not on Facebook, here's a picture that Brennan posted yesterday.  Our dear neighbors, Duane & Nancy bought Dad a new hat.  He loves it!

I awoke this morning with the words to this hymn playing in my head.  It seems quite fitting for such a time as this.

Sunday, February 13, 2011

my God on whom I can rely

This morning, I went to church for the first time in weeks.  It seems, I've been needed most Sunday mornings at the hospital.  It was good to be with my brothers & sisters in the Lord, to be soaked in His word, to pray to our Redeemer, and to sing praises to One so deserving of our worship. 

I was reminded of how many of you are praying for my Dad...for all of us.  I received sweet hugs, dear smiles, many reassurances of your love for us and more and more promises of prayer.  I'm so thankful that we have all of you to stand beside us at such a time as this.  I can't imagine us doing this without all of you but even more, can't imagine how any family gets through this without our God, who loves us more than we'll ever know and who will never leave us or forsake us.  It must be so sad to walk a road like this without hope.

I haven't posted anything lately because not much is going on.  Our meeting with the Palliative Care Team on Friday was good but didn't give us much information.  I spoke with Dr. Reddy on Friday afternoon but there was not much news.  Dad did start his Plasmapheresis on Thursday, had it again on Saturday, and will continue on Mon/Wed/Fri of this week.  He's doing just fine with it.  He had good days on Friday and today with regards to his confusion.  Mom said yesterday wasn't good at all.  The doctors are changing around some meds and looking into other factors. 

Dad remains cheerful and hopeful.  He's fully relying on the God who loves him.  He is so blessed by your visits, cards and prayers.  If you want to write to him or go visit, let me know and I 'll give you all the info you need. 

For now, our hope is to have Dad finish the Plasmapheresis this week and then be strong enough (with the help of this week's physical therapy) to go to inpatient rehab for a week or so.  If not, he'll go home.  He's longing to be home.  Once we get to that point, I'm guessing we'll talk again with his doctors about treatment options, etc...  Until then, please continue to pray that Dad would remain content even though he hates being where he is and that God would strengthen his body so that he can walk and get to rehab (he can walk with 2 nurses & the walker but it's difficult).  He's also having alot of right-side pain near his ribs where he slipped getting up on to the walker and got a good bump on the bedrail.  Pray that would subside quickly as he's uncomfortable.  Pray that his appetite would be good and that he'd get good, peaceful, deep sleep when he's there alone.  Please pray for my Mom, too...this is all very hard for her...she loves my father dearly.  Ask God to keep her safe while she's travelling back and forth from home to the hospital and that she, too, would sleep deeply and awaken refreshed and clinging to her Lord each morning.

I will update again when something changes.  I don't want to keep you all hanging but don't want to ramble on when nothing new is happening either.  Please know that we love and appreciate each one of you.  God bless you!

Psalm 59:16 But I will sing of your strength,
   in the morning I will sing of your love;
for you are my fortress,
   my refuge in times of trouble.

 17 You are my strength, I sing praise to you;
   you, God, are my fortress,
   my God on whom I can rely.

Friday, February 11, 2011

a stronghold in times of trouble

Psalm 9 9 The LORD is a refuge for the oppressed,
   a stronghold in times of trouble.
10 Those who know your name trust in you,
   for you, LORD, have never forsaken those who seek you.

Yesterday, Dad had a port placed into his chest so that he could start Plasmapheresis.  He had his first treatment yesterday afternoon and tolerated it well.  The physical therapists came into his room and he was wanting to get dressed before his PT.  They made that part of his therapy and, while it took some time, he put on his shirt, PJ's, and even his slippers.  After that, with their gentle help, he walked about 50 steps, out into the hallway and back...with us cheering him on all the way.  It is good to see him making progress.

This morning, at 11am, my sisters, my Mom (and maybe Dad) will be meeting with Dad's medical team to talk about what's next.  Satan is working hard to keep us away.  Melissa has Bronchitis, Stella & Eli are sick, Chris B. is vomiting, Lura has a painful stiff neck that she cannot move, and I'm fighting a sore throat.  God is bigger than any of this and is certainly more powerful than the evil one.  Please pray for us today...for safety to/from the hospital, for Dad to continue to have clarity, grow stronger, keep eating.   Pray that we would make good decisions with regards to what is next for Dad as far as therapy, treatments, etc...  Pray that God, our stronghold and refuge, would be glorified through our lives as we interact with the staff at LGH.  We know that Dad is in a win-win situation (thank you for that reminder BG)...he'll either be healed on this earth or go on to eternal glory beside the Savior who loves him enough to have gone to the cross on his behalf.  To God be the glory...forever.

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

My eyes are ever on the LORD

Psalm 25
 1 In you, LORD my God,
   I put my trust.

 2 I trust in you;
   do not let me be put to shame,
   nor let my enemies triumph over me.
3 No one who hopes in you
   will ever be put to shame,
but shame will come on those
   who are treacherous without cause.

 4 Show me your ways, LORD,
   teach me your paths.
5 Guide me in your truth and teach me,
   for you are God my Savior,
   and my hope is in you all day long.
6 Remember, LORD, your great mercy and love,
   for they are from of old.
7 Do not remember the sins of my youth
   and my rebellious ways;
according to your love remember me,
   for you, LORD, are good.

 8 Good and upright is the LORD;
   therefore he instructs sinners in his ways.
9 He guides the humble in what is right
   and teaches them his way.
10 All the ways of the LORD are loving and faithful
   toward those who keep the demands of his covenant.
11 For the sake of your name, LORD,
   forgive my iniquity, though it is great.

 12 Who, then, are those who fear the LORD?
   He will instruct them in the ways they should choose.

13 They will spend their days in prosperity,
   and their descendants will inherit the land.
14 The LORD confides in those who fear him;
   he makes his covenant known to them.
15 My eyes are ever on the LORD,
   for only he will release my feet from the snare.

 16 Turn to me and be gracious to me,
   for I am lonely and afflicted.
17 Relieve the troubles of my heart
   and free me from my anguish.
18 Look on my affliction and my distress
   and take away all my sins.
19 See how numerous are my enemies
   and how fiercely they hate me!

 20 Guard my life and rescue me;
   do not let me be put to shame,
   for I take refuge in you.
21 May integrity and uprightness protect me,
   because my hope, LORD, is in you.

 22 Deliver Israel, O God,
   from all their troubles!

Good news or bad news first?  Ok, bad news...the 2nd biopsy confirmed Angiosarcoma in Dad's femur.  Good news...there are NO cancer cells in Dad's spinal fluid.  So...what does all this mean???  I have absolutely no idea.

Not much has changed since my last post so I'll keep this short.  Dad remains relatively clear and most of his confusion is gone except when he is very tired.  He is gaining strength daily in his legs and was able to take a few steps today with the aid of his walker.  It is good to see him sit up in a chair or in a wheelchair.  As I write this, his small group is visiting with him & Mom and I'm sure that's a blessing for him.

Mom, Melissa, Lura & I (and maybe Dad) will meet with Dr. Reddy, the Palliative Care doctor, and the social worker in care of Dad on Friday at 11am.  I won't repost before then unless something comes up.  In the meantime, we would covet your prayers on our behalf and on the behalf of Dad's medical team.  We want to make good decisions about what is best for Dad's future care and treatment.  We want to glorify God in our actions and words in front of these people, as well.  We know not what the future holds, but we know the One who holds the future...and He is good...all the time.

Monday, February 7, 2011

You cannot understand the work of God.

Ecclesiastes 11:5 As you do not know the path of the wind,
   or how the body is formed in a mother’s womb,
so you cannot understand the work of God,
   the Maker of all things.

Let me begin by apologizing for not posting in a few days.  Not alot has happened so I didn't want to just ramble on.  Also, I've fixed the time issue I was having (or rather, Melissa did) so the time you see is the time I posted.

After being with Dad on Thursday evening and speaking with the Neurologist, I didn't know what to expect to happen next.  It didn't make any sense to us how he'd gone from being clear and understandable to being delisional and confused pretty much all of the time.  We knew that the brain MRI revealed changes but could that much really change that fast?  What did this mean for Dad's future?

Melissa, Brennan and I visited for most of the day on Friday.  Dad was about the same as he'd been on Thursday.  I took Liam, Landis & Brennan on Saturday...still the same.  I arrived alone, looking forward to spending some quality time with Dad, on Sunday morning by 7:30.  He hadn't slept all night.  He was aggitated, confused, not making any sense, seeing things that weren't there, trying to get out of bed, thinking he was driving, not was hard to watch.  From talking with the Oncologist and Neurologist, it was pretty clear what they thought could be causing this...certain proteins produced by cancer that make their way to the brain, infection, inflamation, a spread of the cancer.  Finding out what it was wasn't going to be difficult but would take bloodwork that takes 10 days to get back, a spinal tap that would be hard for Dad to endure, waiting for that to come back, etc...  Mom and I met with the doctor from the Palliative Care team to talk about what to do.  He changed Dad's pain meds, told us that he would not release him in the state of delirium that he was in as it'd be impossible to care for him at home the way he was, and planned on coming back to try to communicate with Dad, along with Mom, about what he wanted in terms of a Living Will, code status, and things like that.  I came home last night weary and worn out.  We took the boys to a SuperBowl party and while I was there, I wasn't there.  (Please forgive me, Pam) 

This morning, my cell phone rang.  "I Just Called To Say I Love You" sounded in the kitchen and I thought that Dad must be alone and that when I answered, I wouldn't understand him.  But that wasn't the case.  I answered and he said, "Good morning!  Are you coming up today?".  I replied that I was planning on spending the day with Liam (since I feel like I've barely seen him) and that Doug had taken Landis & Brennan on a field trip to the Japanese market in NJ.  He said, "Oh, that's okay.  Your Mom is here.  Maybe I'll see you tomorrow."...I told him I'd definately be up tomorrow and he told me a little about his PT and how he could stand but couldn't walk.  We ended the call with "I love you" and I stood in the kitchen in a state of shock. 

Around 1, Mom texted to say that they were going for the spinal tap.  Later she reported that it went well.  Doug and the boys got home around 6:30 and the phone rang.  It was Mom saying that Dad was having a great day.  She said that the Neurologist said they found some protein and some white cells in the spinal fluid and that they'd know if there were cancer cells present in 48 hours.  She wanted me to talk to Dad.  When I got on the phone, I was talking to the man I'd talked to a week ago.  I put him on speaker for Doug and the boys to hear.  He was clear spoken, made perfect sense, asked when we'd be up, told me about having to lay flat for 4 hours and so on.  Why the change?  I can't say for sure but I know it is of God.  I told myself that maybe when they removed spinal fluid it took pressure off of his brain and that'd he'd be confused again tomorrow.  I think that's my way of preparing myself for disappointment.  Mom said that the social worker saw him and was amazed as was his Neurologist.  The social worker is again looking into having him moved to inpatient rehab to regain strength in his legs.

Amazing?  Absolutely.  Am I hopeful?  As hopeful as can be.  Frightened and scared?  Of course but God tells me to not fear, so I'll do my best and continue to beg the Lord to help me be strong.  I am not meant to understand God's ways.  I have to rest in the comfort of knowing that whatever His ways bring my way are for our good and His glory.

I'll try to post tomorrow night when we get home unless something comes up during the day that you all need to know.  God is hearing your prayers and we're seeing answers.  We love each of you for caring for our family the way you do.

Friday, February 4, 2011 that you may have great endurance and patience...

Colossians 1:9 For this reason, since the day we heard about you, we have not stopped praying for you. We continually ask God to fill you with the knowledge of his will through all the wisdom and understanding that the Spirit gives,10 so that you may live a life worthy of the Lord and please him in every way: bearing fruit in every good work, growing in the knowledge of God, 11 being strengthened with all power according to his glorious might so that you may have great endurance and patience, 12 and giving joyful thanks to the Father, who has qualified you to share in the inheritance of his holy people in the kingdom of light. 13 For he has rescued us from the dominion of darkness and brought us into the kingdom of the Son he loves, 14 in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins.

(***please note that the time blogspot says i posted is incorrect...i'm not sure how to change it.  yesterday's post said 1:30 but it was actually around 4:30...thanks***)

Doug, Brennan and I got the the hospital last night just in time for the Neurologist to come and see Dad.  Dad's confusion remains.  The doctor said that there are patches on the brain MRI and he's not certain what they are.  He said it could be a spread of the cancer, or a protein that cancer secreets, or fluid caused by swelling.  His plan is to check Dad's blood for protein (a test that has to be sent out and can take a few days) and if the protein is present, they would try to remove the protein from his blood...he said that this procedure has about a 50% success rate.  He also wants to do a spinal tap to check for infection & cancer cells in the spinal fluid but doesn't think that he can get Dad into the position he needs to be in for the test with the significant pain he's having in his right leg/hip.  He said he'd wait a day or two to do that.  So, again, we wait...

Doug, Brennan and I were blessed to have Uncle Michael & Aunt Roxanne, Aunt Joanne, Uncle Joe & Aunt Ada, Anthony & Colleen, Brianna, our dear friends Drew & Laura, Matt & Dawn, Al, Keith, and Travis all visit while we were there.  It is good to have company and it was wonderful to be able to just take a walk and talk with Dawn.  It is good to have the blessing of friends and family who love the Lord and who love us enough to remind us of His goodness.  It is good to have Godly men and women gather around Dad's bed and pray.  It is good when friends bring us cake :)  It is good, when we start to feel weak, to have strong people with strong faith who love us deeply stand beside us for us to lean on.  It is good to be hugged.

It is still very, very hard for me to leave Dad there.  To tuck him in, kiss his face, and turn and walk out of that room makes me feel sick.  I do think he sleeps better when he's alone at night since he's not trying to stay awake to check in on us.  But it's still so, so hard.

This morning my cell phone rang and it was my dear Dad.  Brennan downloaded "I Just Called To Say I Love You" as my ringtone for when Dad calls me.  I haven't heard it in awhile and it was good to hear it today, although my eyes fill with tears at the first note.  When I answered, he wasn't there but I could hear him pushing buttons.  I called answer.  He called again and said "Where are you?"  ...  "Coming soon, Dad", was my reply.  "I haven't seen a soul"...he said and then hung up. 

Please continue to pray for us as we wait with hope. 

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Bring The Rain...

Dad's brain MRI shows "significant changes".  Doug, Brennan and I are on our way up soon so that we can be there when the Neurologist comes in.  Dad's confusion continues and has even worsened even though he's not on pain medication.  I've decided to leave Liam & Landis with my dear Nancy & Duane.  I will update when I get home.  Please pray...

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

All through the storm...

"Faithful One, so unchanging, Ageless One You're my Rock of peace.
Lord of all, I depend on You.  I cry out to You, again & again.
You are my Rock in time of trouble, You lift me up when I fall down.
All through the storm, Your love is the anchor; my hope is in You alone."

Thank you, my dear Joan, for reminding me of this beautiful song.  It is so fitting for this walk we're on.

Not much to report today except that Dad was moved back to the wonderful 8th floor to the same room he'd been in and is back in the care of the most amazing nurses ever.  One of them helped him shave...he was growing quite a beard but it bothered him.  He did super during physical therapy. 

But...he was very confused for most of the day.  He tried to talk to me on the phone but I couldn't understand him.  This could be due to having general anesthesia twice in 4 days, or the side effects of the morphine combined with the muscle relaxers and Vicodin.  But it could also be the brain tumor acting up.  Dr. Reddy ordered an MRI which was done around 5pm and we should have the results tomorrow.  If swelling is indicated, he'll put Dad on steroids to shrink the swelling.  Please pray that he sleeps well and wakes alert and is no longer confused.

I didn't get too far on my researching of a 2nd opinion as most multi-faceted facilities want to actually see the patient and right now, Dad's just not strong enough for us to move him.  I did email back and forth with a Dr. at Univ. of Penn who said he'd be happy to have a phone consult with Dr. Reddy and I also gave Dr. Reddy the phone # for a Sarcoma specialist @ Fox Chase.  He said he'd contact them.  We're so thankful for his willingness to admit that this cancer is a bit beyond his knowledge.

So, again, we wait.  We're waiting for Dad to gain strength and would love to see him eat more than a few bites.  We're waiting for MRI results and phone consultations.  We're waiting for God to show us the direction that this road is leading but take comfort in knowing that He has already planned the path and that He will not lead us out of His will.  He is our faithful, unchanging Rock and Anchor and we have no choice but to trust Him every minute of every day.  To God be the glory...

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

we will not be shaken.

Psalm 64
5 Yes, my soul, find rest in God;
   my hope comes from him.
6 Truly he is my rock and my salvation;
   he is my fortress, I will not be shaken.

Today was a really hard day for all of us.  When we arrived at the hospital, Dad was in and out of it, morphine still dripping into his veins, mumbling in his sleep, and needing oxygen.  Being in that room, seeing him like that, made me feel cold inside and I couldn't stop myself from shaking.

Mom, Melissa, Lura & I met with Dr. Reddy.  He is still waiting for the biopsy results from the tissue they took out of Dad's right leg last Friday.  He's hoping that will confirm his Angiosarcoma diagnosis.  He said that his main focus is to get Dad rehabilitated...up and to go to either inpatient rehab or home and then start chemotherapy.  He said he thinks it'll be about a month 'till that gets started.  That sounds way too far off for me.  He feels that Dad is too weak to move somewhere else right now.  (I wish we owned a helicopter!)  He does not object to getting a second opinion.  We talked about things like living wills, durable medical power of attorneys, hospice, comfort, quality of life...all necessary but none of which I imagined having to talk about so soon.  Dad doesn't want to know details so I won't put them on here (for now) but he's anxious for his girls to get working on getting a second opinion.  Lura told him we're already on it.

They took him off of morphine after I left and Lura said he was doing great.  He was awake, alert, sitting up in the bed.  He ate over half of a sandwich (which is alot for him right now) and then ate some of his dinner when they brought it.  Physical Therapy came in and did some in-room therapy with him and Lura said she couldn't believe how well he did.  His pain is mostly coming on the right side even though he just had surgery on the left side yesterday. 

So, for now, we will work on making contact with the doctors whose names have been given to us.  Tomorrow, I will speak with Dr. Reddy about who we want to see, who he thinks we should see, whether or not Dad needs to be seen or if we can simply send someone all of this information and have them make a decision based on that.  Please pray for wisdom and clear direction for all of us.  It seems to me as though Dad is ready to start fighting. 

Tonight (and I'm speaking here for my Mom & sisters, too) we are all exhausted.  We're tired, emotionally & physically.  We're craving more detailed answers with more hope and we're not getting that.  Yet again, in all of this, we have hope and rest in our God.  He is our rock, our fortress, our mighty salvation.  We will not be shaken.

Monday, January 31, 2011

Bearing up our burdens...

"Bear up one another's burdens and thus fulfil the law of Christ."  Galatians 6.2
This is exactly what you have been doing for us.  You're praying when we don't know what to pray and that means so much to us.  Sometimes, I find myself lying in bed wanting to pray and I just can't...or I pray the same 10 words over and over...and then I relax...knowing that you're intereceeding before the throne on our behalf and instead of struggling to pray, I sing a song of praise as I drift off to sleep...
Last night, as tired as I was from being up all night with Dad, I couldn't pray...sleep wasn't coming easily.  I kept thinking about his surgery in the morning, knowing I wouldn't be there, wondering if I should just skip one more day of school with the boys and go...but I needed to be home.  Even without me there (wink-grin) Dad's surgery was very successful and he was back in his room by about 10.  He wanted to talk to me but the morphine pump kept him from really being able to do so.  He was prescribed muscle relaxers for the bothersome spasms he was having and will get a sleeping pill tonight.  Mom is staying with him and she needs to rest.  He just can't seem to sleep more than 15 minutes without calling out, needing a drink, etc...  Please continue to pray for peaceful rest for him, and for Mom.  Tomorrow, Lord willing & weather permitting, Melissa, Lura, Mom & I will meet with Dr. Reddy to talk about what comes next.  Please pray for safety.
My time at home proved to be useful as I was able to do some research on this blasted Epithelial Angiosarcoma.  There's not much out there.  I found a support group through whom I found a facebook group and am already in touch with a sweet woman, about my age, who is battling Angiosarcoma of the breast.  She put me in touch with another sweet woman from Lancaster (can you believe that!) who lost her husband to Angiosarcoma not too long ago.  I now have, thanks to Corrie & Brenda, an address for a Harvard doctor to send slides to for a 2nd opinion, and some good questions to ask Dr. Reddy.  I also found a website for rare cancers that is so helpful...when I emailed this site, I got an email back right away from a doctor who actually took the time to read my blog, send me a wonderful note of encouragement along with scripture, and is going to check with colleagues to see if anyone has anything for me.  He even asked me to let him know what the plan is after tomorrow's meeting.  Lastly, after emailing a sarcoma researcher at MD Anderson Cancer Ctr. in Houston, I was referred to a sarcoma specialist who emailed me back directly and recommended a specific doctor at Fox Chase who is not only a Sarcoma specialist but who is conducting research.  Wow!
I was so surprised to be able to get this much information when I started out finding nothing online but you know what?  I need to stop being surprised.  God has nothing but good in store for me, even when it hurts, and He continues to let these "mercy drops" (thank you, Sharon) fall on me every single time I'm at the point of feeling like I'm losing it.
Thank you seems like such a small thing to say to each of you for all you've done.  Please know that I mean it and that I love you all dearly.

Sunday, January 30, 2011

Morning by morning, new mercies I see...

Brennan and I spent the night with Dad last night and got very little sleep.  Dad is just not sleeping well...he's up talking, mumbling, checking the time, etc... every few minutes.  Our longest stretch was about an hour.  Brennan was on the hospital cot and I was on an air mattress.  Needless to say, I'm very, very tired.  We got home from the hospital about an hour ago.

Tomorrow morning, at 7:30, Dad will have surgery to implant a rod into his left femur.  I was suprised they're doing this so quickly as he is in alot of pain and finding it very difficult to move.  He could barely tolerate my pulling up his sock this morning.  Yet tonight, all of a sudden, he wanted to get up out of bed and into a wheelchair to take a walk.  It took about 15 minutes and the help of 3 nurses for him to do so but he did.  When we left, he was still sitting in the wheelchair looking at a book about cars (from our dear friends, Judy & Alan).  If you know my Dad, you know he loves cars!

Today was a good day with alot of visitors.  So many of you have been asking what you can do to help and you've done so much.  If you are able to visit him, he would love that!  Let me know when you're planning on going so I can tell you where he is...he's moved twice so far.

I'm sorry this update is so short but I need to get some sleep.  I will send a more detailed update tomorrow after he's out of surgery.  Until then, please pray for a peaceful night of sleep for him and Mom (she's staying with him tonight) and that God would be merciful as far as this second surgery goes.  Thank you all for your love, prayers & support...we love you all!!!

Great is Thy faithfulness, O God my Father;
There is no shadow of turning with Thee;
Thou changest not, Thy compassions, they fail not;
As Thou hast been, Thou forever will be.

Great is Thy faithfulness!
Great is Thy faithfulness!
Morning by morning new mercies I see.
All I have needed Thy hand hath provided;
Great is Thy faithfulness, Lord, unto me!

Summer and winter and springtime and harvest,
Sun, moon and stars in their courses above
Join with all nature in manifold witness
To Thy great faithfulness, mercy and love.

Pardon for sin and a peace that endureth
Thine own dear presence to cheer and to guide;
Strength for today and bright hope for tomorrow,
Blessings all mine, with ten thousand beside!

Friday, January 28, 2011

He has heard our weeping...

This morning started with a glimmer of hope.  A call came in to Dad's room saying that an orthopedic-oncologist was coming in to see him and that there was some chance that he may be able to remove the tumors from his femur.  Minutes later, he arrived in Dad's room, after reviewing his test results and told Mom & Dad that that was not an option since he does not feel the tumors in his hips/legs are the primary source of cancer.  He agreed that the best next step was to insert the rod into Dad's right femur and get started with chemotherapy and radiation.  He said that in all of his years of experience he's only seen 2,maybe 3, cases of this kind of cancer.

Dad had surgery early this afternoon and everything went very well.  There was mention at first of them implanting rods into both legs at once but the orthopedist later said that that would be too much surgery for Dad to handle in one day.  There were big concerns about blood loss since this cancer is a cancer of the blood vessels but Dad only needed a very small amount of blood during surgery.  The surgeon was able to get a large sample to send to pathology so that they can reconfirm the diagnosis and do some tissue-typing to see if the chemo team can get any hints into how to tread Dad.  He was in considerable pain after moving to his new room in orthopedics but once he had some pain medicine he was much more comfortable.  He ate a very small amount of dinner but drank his Ensure, as he promised us he would.  Dr. Reddy (his oncologist) came in to say that he wanted Dad to take the weekend to recover and start some rehab.  Mentions were made of having surgery on his left leg on Monday but I doubt that will happen at this point.  It doesn't seem nearly as urgent as the surgery on his right leg was. 

I did what I said I wouldn't do and googled Epithelial Angiosarcoma.  I didn't like what I found.  I should have just waited for the doctors to explain everything to us. Here's a small part of what I read:

Angiosarcomas as a class are very rare - they represent only 1 percent of all sarcomas - and epithelioid angiosarcomas represent only a fraction of the total number of angiosarcomas that occur each year. Since there are about 7,000 cases of sarcoma in the United States each year, the incidence of angiosarcoma is under 100 individuals, and that of epithelioid angiosarcoma even smaller - possibly amounting to only a handful of individual cases each year. Angiosarcoma in some parts of the body is so rare that less than a dozen cases have ever been described in the world scientific literature.

So we find ourselves asking where in the world this came from.  Dad asks if it was something he did, something he worked around.  Was it on the farm?  Was it in the trash?  This, truly, is not important.  What is important is that God has allowed this ugliness into our lives.  The One who loves us enough to die for us will never leave our side.  He has heard our weeping and our cries for mercy, and he has accepted our prayers.

Thank you for walking beside us down this dark road.  Thank you for caring for our children, feeding our pets, buying us groceries, shoveling our walks and snowblowing our driveways.  Thank you for letting us cry on your shoulders and for taking time to cry out to the Lord on our behalf.  Your prayers have been used to help us keep our heads lifted and God's mercies to us have been new every morning.

Psalm 61 LORD, do not rebuke me in your anger
   or discipline me in your wrath.
2 Have mercy on me, LORD, for I am faint;
   heal me, LORD, for my bones are in agony.
3 My soul is in deep anguish.
   How long, LORD, how long?

 4 Turn, LORD, and deliver me;
   save me because of your unfailing love.
5 Among the dead no one proclaims your name.
   Who praises you from the grave?

 6 I am worn out from my groaning.
   All night long I flood my bed with weeping
   and drench my couch with tears.
7 My eyes grow weak with sorrow;
   they fail because of all my foes.

 8 Away from me, all you who do evil,
   for the LORD has heard my weeping.
9 The LORD has heard my cry for mercy;
   the LORD accepts my prayer.
10 All my enemies will be overwhelmed with shame and anguish;
   they will turn back and suddenly be put to shame.

Thursday, January 27, 2011

no news is ... well ...

Surgery was postponed again today.  First we were waiting for clearance from Dad's cardiac group, which was closed due to the snow.  Then they did a STAT Echocardiogram that took 5 hours to get results from, and then a trauma came in that called for the orthopedic surgeon.  So, after 2 full days of fasting, Dad had a small dinner and will,  hopefully, get a good night's sleep. 

He is, again, an add-on for surgery tomorrow but we're hoping they'll actually schedule him.  It can't hurt to ask, right?

He's frustrated but doesn't want to be.  Please keep praying...

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

calm in the storm...

Just a quick update...

Lura & Jonas made it home safely to Reading.  Doug is home safely from Pottstown (although, he has to be back @ the hospital to open at 4:30am...please pray for safety).  I am safely home, checking emails, enjoying some quiet alone time with my favorite coffee.  Mom & Melissa are staying in Lancaster tonight.  LGH has graciously given our family the use of an apartment, free of charge, less than 1/2 block from the door of the hospital. 

Dad's angiogram went very well.  They were able to embolize (stop blood supply to) the tumors both at the top and bottom of his right femur.  They also inserted coils into the left leg to prevent blood clots.  He is having some discomfort in his right leg, as was expected, as well as where they inserted the catheter into his left groin. 

Tomorrow, Dad will again be an add-on for surgery to insert the rod into his right femur.  My wonderful in-laws took Liam and Landis home with them so that, once the roads are clear, Brennan and I can head up to be with him.  If I know the surgery time in advance, I'll send a quick update.  Otherwise, I'll update once Dad is out of surgery and back to his room.  I'm hoping that by then we'll have had a chance to talk to Dr. Reddy to get a better feel for what the next steps will be.

Until then, the storm rages on outside but we will rest secure in the promises of the One who is able to calm the storm.  God bless each of you for taking the time to read this and to pray for our family.  You mean more to me than you know.

 Psalm 10728 Then they cried out to the LORD in their trouble,
   and he brought them out of their distress.
29 He stilled the storm to a whisper;
   the waves of the sea were hushed.
30 They were glad when it grew calm,
   and he guided them to their desired haven.

unwelcome interruptions...

Surgery cancelled.  Angiogram ordered.  The doctors are concerned that what they thought was Carcinoma is more likely Angiosarcoma...a word that I'm fighting against "Googling".  Surgery was cancelled because this type of cancer normally has alot of vascular involvement and the surgeon was concerned about excessive, even fatal, bleeding if he continued on with surgery.  An angiogram will be performed sometime this afternoon.  At that time, they may even be able to block blood supply to the large tumor in Dad's right femur.

Dr. Reddy met with my sisters & I this morning.  He is a kind and compassionate man who has a big load on his shoulders with regards to Dad's care.  Should he work on getting Dad moved to a multi-faceted facility so that sarcoma-specialists, neuro-oncologists, and an orthopedic oncologist can all get involved, as well as a vascular specialist if needed?  Is this something he's knowledgeable enough to handle?  What treatments are available?  He told us that he spoke with an Angiosarcoma specialist at Univ. of Penn who advised him to do the angiogram, insert the rod into his leg, and begin rehabilitation to get him strong enough to move if needed.

Dad's insurance is accepted at Hershey Medical Center, The Hospital of the Univ. of Pennsylvania, and at Johns Hopkins.  Dr. Reddy is researching which of those is the best option. 

Please continue to pray for Mom & Dad...this hit them both quite hard this morning.  Dad found comfort in my reading Psalm 23 to him and inserting his name where David wrote "my".  Please pray for Dr. Reddy as he has big choices to make today that will affect all of our lives. 

As for interruptions...changes...diversions, I found the following devotional and found it so, so helpful.   

Much of Jesus’ ministry was a sanctified response to interruptions. Take a typical day: After teaching a large crowd for a long time, he breaks for time alone, only to have his disciples ask him to explain his parables (Mk 4:10). That evening, while traveling in a boat, they awake him to deal with an unruly storm (Mk 4:38), and when they arrive at the other side of the lake, Jesus is confronted by a man with multiple demons (Mk 5:1-13). In each of these cases, Jesus responds immediately to those who need his help.
Many opportunities, both for serving Christ and for experiencing his provision for our own needs, come packaged in unwelcome interruptions. We need to pray constantly for alertness to these openings when they confront us. Without such awareness, we’re likely to lag behind God’s timing.
We know that God's timing is perfect.  We know that Jesus is our Savior.  I'm thankful that we're not the ones in control...I can't imagine how badly I'd mess everything up.


Dad is scheduled for surgery at 9am.  I'm getting ready to leave for LGH now.  If anyone needs to reach me, you may call my cell or text me 610-220-8207.  I'll be checking email regularly, as well.

We covet your prayers as we travel these icy roads to be with our dear Dad.

"My God is so big, so strong and so mighty...there's nothing my God cannot do."

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

...for in You I take refuge

 We weren't planning on going to the hospital today.  The laundry had piled up, the house needed straightening, we had schoolwork to catch up on...and we got to most of that.  Then Mom called me with the preliminary pathology report...and when Doug got home from work, we went to Lancaster.

Dr. Reddy came into Dad's room this afternoon and his first question to Mom was, "Are your daughters here?".  She knew then that the news he was about to share with them was not going to be good news.

My dear, sweet Dad does not have lymphoma...nor does he have multiple myeloma.  Some form of carcinoma has invaded our lives.  We're not sure exactly what type of carcinoma it is yet...Dr. Reddy is unfamiliar with it and didn't want to speculate as he didn't want us to Google it and upset ourselves further until he has the actual biopsy results and has sent them for a second opinion.  He told Mom that he's been doing tons of research and that all of his associates are aware of Dad's "case" and are doing the same.  All that we have been told at this point is that the treatment options are very limited and the prognosis is usually not good.  He will more than likely be sending Dad to either U of Penn or Johns Hopkins but we don't know anything for sure yet.  We are so thankful that God knows everything.

While all of this uncertainty is unsettling, we all know that God knows exactly what is going fact, He planned it all.  He knows what the best treatment is, where to go for it, what Dr.'s we should see...  He will direct our paths...and He will never leave our side.

Two important things will take place tomorrow:

1/     At 10am, Dad, Mom, Melissa, Lura & I will meet with Dr. Reddy and he will give us more information and answer any questions that we have. 

2/     Dad will have surgery to implant a titanium rod the whole length of his femur bone on his right leg.  He is anticipating being in excrutiating pain (as he was after his spinal surgery in October).  The doctor said that the pain will not be nearly as bad.  He'll have 2 relatively small incisions and will have a morphine pump to use as he needs it.  Since Dad is an "add-on" for surgery, we do not know what time it will be but I will post a quick update with the time as soon as I know when it is.

On another note, Dr. Kager (Dad's neurosurgeon) told Dad yesterday that the tumor in his brain is in an area that they simply cannot get to.  Today, Dr. Reddy spoke with Dr. Kager and they believe that the tumor on Dad's brainstem is not the same cancer that is showing up elsewhere.  The brain tumor is thought to be a glioma which is a very slow growing type of tumor that at this point, they are not going to worry about.

As you can imagine, we are all in a bit of a state of shock.  2 weeks ago, we thought maybe Dad had had a mild stroke.  Now this.  But God has been so gracious and merciful to us through all of this.  Dad's femur is breaking apart and he does not have any pain.  His mind is clear, there is not one bit of confusion.  He is happy and not anxious.  None of this could happen apart from God.  The peace of God that passes understanding is ours for the asking...He will take away our fears, our anxieties, our sadness, and wipe every tear from our eyes.  What a blessing to have a God who loves us that much and a sweet Savior who was willing to die on a bloody cross so that we could have that relationship with His Father.

Thank you for your prayers, your love, your encouragement, your visits, your offers of help...  Thank you for your blog comments & emails.  Don't think that if I don't respond, I didn't get it.  I've gotten so many and time gets away from me.  I treasure each one and am keeping them all for Dad to read. 

Psalm 16
1 Keep me safe, my God,
   for in you I take refuge.

 2 I say to the LORD, “You are my Lord;
   apart from you I have no good thing.”
3 I say of the holy people who are in the land,
   “They are the noble ones in whom is all my delight.”
4 Those who run after other gods will suffer more and more.
   I will not pour out libations of blood to such gods
   or take up their names on my lips.

 5 LORD, you alone are my portion and my cup;
   you make my lot secure.
6 The boundary lines have fallen for me in pleasant places;
   surely I have a delightful inheritance.
7 I will praise the LORD, who counsels me;
   even at night my heart instructs me.
8 I keep my eyes always on the LORD.
   With him at my right hand, I will not be shaken.

 9 Therefore my heart is glad and my tongue rejoices;
   my body also will rest secure,
10 because you will not abandon me to the realm of the dead,
   nor will you let your faithful[b] one see decay.
11 You make known to me the path of life;
   you will fill me with joy in your presence,
   with eternal pleasures at your right hand.

Monday, January 24, 2011

We wait...again...

Psalm 33:20
20 We wait in hope for the LORD;
he is our help and our shield.

Lura stayed overnight with Dad last night. She said he was anxious this morning in anticipation of having the biopsy done. We do not yet know when they will do the surgery to place the rod into his femur and I think that's weighing on his mind, too.

This morning, after performing a biopsy of the large tumor in Dad's hip, they took him to have his Skeletal Scan done. They did 25 x-rays.

Dad is resting comfortably in his room now. Mom packed a bag so that she can stay with him tonight, tomorrow...

The pathology report on the biopsy of the tumor will take 2-4 days. So again, we wait...

Unless something else comes up, I won't post again 'till we know more.

Thank you all so much for taking the time to read my updates, for your calls of encouragement, for offering to do my laundry, feed Mom's cat, take my boys, etc... Thank you for your emails and comments on the blog. I'm printing all of the emails and comments to keep in a folder for Dad. Someday, he'll love reading through them. Please keep praying...especially for Dad's comfort and for peace for him.

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Yet this I call to mind and therefore have hope...

Dad was admitted to LGH yesterday in order to keep him immobile and to further evaluate what was happening in his hip and femur on the right side.  We soon learned from the orthopedic surgeon that a rod needed to be inserted into the femur to stabalize it and keep it from shattering.  We were told that this required urgency as the results of shattering would be devastating.  So, bloodwork was done, more x-rays ordered and a blood transfusion was started as Dad's hemoglobin was low.  He was very, very sleepy all day. 

Lura stayed overnight with him.  Mom came to stay over at our house so that we could get back early in the morning.  At 11:45 last night, the medical team called to say that they were clearing him for surgery and that we needed to be back at LGH by 10am.  Brennan, Doug, Melissa, Mom & I all headed back to Lancaster at 9am this morning. 

On the drive here, Lura called to say that Dr. Reddy (Dad's oncologist) had been in and said that the x-rays revealed some tumors in the left femur.  It is his feeling that, even though a biopsy hasn't been done so a definitive diagnosis is not possible yet, that Dad has Multiple Myeloma (cancer of the plasma in the bone marrow) and that, once confirmed, aggressive chemo & radiation will be necessary.  He is worried that doing the leg surgery today would make Dad even weaker and that he'll need all of his strength.  Talking with him once we got here, he made clear that the insertion of the rod into Dad's right femur is absolutely necessary but that he feels we should take today to think, rest and decide when we want that to happen.  Because Dad is weak, the Dr. wants us to wait so that he can talk with the orthopedist and discuss timing...rehabilitation, starting treatments, etc...  There is alot up in the air right now.  I think that we'll all feel better once they biopsy the large tumor in Dad's hip tomorrow and are clear on exactly what it is and how to treat it. 

Dad's neurosurgeon will be in tomorrow to talk with us a little bit about what is going on with his brain tumor/lesion.  Today's priority is finding out what's going on in his bones.

Sad news?  yes, indeed.  Scary stuff?  you bet.  Do we have hope?  absloutely.  God has been very good to us and His mercies are new every morning.

Lamentations 3
19I remember my affliction and my wandering,
the bitterness and the gall.
20I well remember them,
and my soul is downcast within me.
21Yet this I call to mind
and therefore I have hope:
22Because of the Lord’s great love we are not consumed,
for his compassions never fail.
23They are new every morning;
great is your faithfulness.
24I say to myself, “The Lord is my portion;
therefore I will wait for him.”
25The Lord is good to those whose hope is in him,
to the one who seeks him;
26it is good to wait quietly
for the salvation of the Lord.
27It is good for a man to bear the yoke
while he is young.
28Let him sit alone in silence,
for the Lord has laid it on him.
29Let him bury his face in the dust—
there may yet be hope.
30Let him offer his cheek to one who would strike him,
and let him be filled with disgrace.
31For men are not cast off
by the Lord forever.
32Though he brings grief, he will show compassion,
so great is his unfailing love.
33For he does not willingly bring affliction
or grief to the children of men.