Leslie's Journey.....

Thank you for being a part of the journey.

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

"Living with Cancer"

So we are test-driving our new routine today. "Living with cancer" has become a modern day cliche' it seems, but it's fitting nonetheless. We've established a sort of "nanny" hook-up through church, which looks to be shaping into quite the blessing. "Miss Yiz", as TJ calls her (Liz to the rest of us), has been a favorite of ours, in the realm of baby-, dog-, and house-sitting, for the past few years. She's available to basically hold down the fort Mon-Wed during "school hours" for the next several months. And our families have essentially offered to cover 24-hour shifts Thurday and Friday as needed. This allows me to get back into the work thing a little, and (more importantly), will allow a certain consistent and predictable routine to be established for TJ, Mommy, and even Daddy and Jack (our Labrador). Liz even has a new puppy to keep Jack company when she comes to "hang out". (As a side note, the puppy's name is Lovie, so Monday through Wednesday will be "Yiz and Yuvvy Days".)
Leslie's feeling pretty miserably today. We're pretty sure it's the "fanny-pack" chemo which is having its way with her, currently, which was just disconnected yesterday. Hopefully in a couple of days, these symptoms ("stomach-flu"-like) will subside. She's dehydrated as a result, and our favorite home-care nurse even came in on her day off this morning to aminister some IV fluids and take some labs, just to make sure all's "kosher". As another positive side-note, this PICC line actually works the way it's supposed to (as opposed to the last one Leslie had), so they can actually draw blood from it, and not have to stick her in the arm several times a week for this-or-that.
After the family cleared out yesterday, Leslie and I had some good catching-up time... The bottom line is, as far as the "Peace and Will" half of the puzzle is concerned, we are seemingly in very different "places". I'm puttin' up my dukes and ready for a fight, and praying my guts out and aware of miracles happening all around me... and Leslie... well... she's puking her guts out. The difference between us (if not glaringly obvious already), is two-fold: 1) She is just not well enough to think straight, most of the time-- almost having a hard time differentiating between dreams and conversations she actually had-- so this is going to take her a while. And, 2) I just process things more quickly. I'm a guy-- we tend to compartmentalize... "divide and conquer" anything set before us. Anyway, this discrepency has left us feeling a little disconnected from time-to-time, which is both terrifying and very frustrating. But the "catching-up" time yesterday was good for us-- not that it brought our current mental/ emotional states any closer together, but now we can at least understand and again have confidence in the other's position, faith, support, and general state of being, rather than just worrying (me) or being frustrated (her) with the other's attitude, outlook, or general discombobulation. We're learning what it is to live with cancer. Be married with cancer. Be a family with cancer. It ain't fun. We pray daily that "this cup" be taken from us. But today, for the first time in 3 weeks, it seems like we're starting to get back to LIVING with cancer, rather than "dying" from it/ being controlled by it. Or at least, that's how I feel, at this given moment. Maybe I should check with her later, again, to see if she's "on board". Shoot. Maybe I should check with ME later, to see if I'M on board...
Anyway... back to living... Tyson

Sunday, May 25, 2008

Quiet Sunday Morning...

My parents and sister all came in from Ohio to paint our 2nd floor rooms this weekend. It's been great to have them all, and it will be wonderful to have things a little closer to "finished" with the house. (Although I confess, the chaos of it all has been a little hard on me, but I'll get over it.) Leslie was first diagnosed with cancer 1 month after we moved in late last August, so we're not fully "settled in yet". She and I actually went out to Lowe's and Home Depot yesterday to pick out some light fixtures. It was a sweet (I don't care if it was short) "date night".Yes, she's feeling better. "Infusion Day" on Friday was very rough. The one drug made her throw up and react pretty violently by the time it was only half-infused, so the oncologist stopped it. I was concerned what it might mean to only get half of her "dose" in, and I guess we'll wait-and-see, but the nurse reassured us that if she's reacting like that, it's doing its job. They finally let Leslie go at about 7 or 8 that night, complete with a fanny pack full of the 2nd drug (which we go in to have disconnected tomorrow already), and a pretty high fever, some nausea (what's new?), and nearly unbearable fatigue and general "achy-ness". Nearly all those symptoms have subsided, at least somewhat, by now. It's kind of funny, really. Most of the side effects of the chemo were all things she was dealing with previously, with what the cancer was doing to her "naturally". So actually, she's feeling better now than she has in a few weeks (as evidenced by her getting out of the house yesterday-- we had to take a wheelchair, and she got to drive one of those cool shopping-go-carts with the flashing light, but still, it was quite the little victory.)She's still quite short of breath, and needs to sit or lie down to rest after getting up to go to the bathroom, or down the stairs to sit and watch TV or whatever. But she's sitting with us at dinner, feeling a little more conversational, and able to love on TJ quite a bit. We're so thankful. She was so afraid of what the chemo might do-- and it turns out that it's not as bad as living without it, oddly enough.I really don't have much to update beyond that, really. We're just getting some much-needed rest. Haven't really processed or thought about "what now" or whatever. Just "settling" a bit. All that will come in due time.Thanks again for your prayers and kind thoughts and gestures. Hope it's as beautiful wherever you are this morning as it is here, and I hope we can all enjoy it!-Tyson

Thursday, May 22, 2008


Leslie's lying down with a bag full of poison pumping into her arm right now. We arrived a little before 9am this morning to have a new PICC line installed, through which she will be receiving her chemotherapy, at least through this first 21-day cycle.
Day 1 of each cycle is the long one. She's receiving the first of 3 drugs they'll be introducing today. This one is the particularly nasty one, and since it is her first time, they're needing to infuse it very slowly. As I type, she's kind of freaking out that she might be having the "allergic reaction" they warned us about, which occurs in 3% of people who get this drug. It could be just her normal cough and discomfort... it's just hard to decipher, because the "symptoms" of a potential allergic reation are about identical to the symptoms she walked in with this morning. Anyway... We're keeping a good eye on her. It's likely not the allergic reaction, and even if it is, it just means today might take a little longer, so they can give her whatever it is they give her to help her "tolerate" the drug.
After the "particularly nasty one" is finished (a 2-hour infusion, assuming all goes "well"), she'll get an hour break, and then they'll start the "just plain nasty ones"-- one of which she'll carry home with her in the form of a "fanny pack", which she'll be attached to for the next 4 days. Each "Day 1" of every cycle will be like this-- about a 6 hour process in all. The good news about her particular treatment, is that only 1 drug needs to be "re-infused" through the cycle-- and that will only be about a 1-hour infusion, on days 8 and 15. Plus, the side effects of that one aren't as bad as the other two (allegedly-- I guess we'll "wait and see"). They're guessing that the first week of every cycle will be the rough ones for her, as far as side-effects go. If this is successful, however, there should be significant (even if only temporary) shrinkage of the masses that are giving her such a hard time in her chest and lungs. This will mean at least some ease breathing, and a relief from the constant cough.
The doctors' goal is to get in 6 "cycles" back-to-back. (About 4 months in all.) But it's really a wait-and-see type thing, whether there is time between cycles, or even if more is necessary, based on the cancer's and Leslie's reaction to the therapy. And Leslie has the ultimate say, at any given time, to continue or stop the treatment. The only way the doctors would "override" her wishes, is if she wanted to continue and they felt it was too dangerous for her to do so, or if there were no more measurable benefits to be seen from the drugs.
So today, we're absorbed with the "medical" side of things. Leslie did seem to have a certain peace about her, just before the infusion started, like I haven't seen in several days. Even a flash of "will". She's trying to sleep now, fighting off the urge to cough constantly. We're obviously apprehensive about how she's going to be feeling 24, 48, 72, (etc...) hours from now... but again, we're in "wait-and-see" mode... We'll check back in sometime this weekend to give an update on how she's feeling. Praying for the best, and preparing for the worst... (or trying to, at least)
OH! almost forgot... They've decided to "squeeze her in" to the schedule and make this an out-patient thing-- so no hospital stay!! Dr. Clark has already been in to check on her and prescribe the stonger meds that will be getting her through the pain, nausea, and cough these next few days. Thanks for your continued prayers and encouragement. You're definitely being used to "keep us standing upright" these days...

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Chemo Starts Thursday......

As an update-- Leslie will be admitted to Loyola to start her chemotherapy/ clinical study on Thursday. TJ comes home with "Gram" ("Dram", as he calls her) tomorrow. We will enjoy one last day together the best we can, prior to the chemo adventure. During her 2-day projected stay in the hospital, the doctors' plan is to find the right balance of drugs to counteract the chemo side effects, as well as her increasingly horrible cancer-related symptoms (severe/constant cough; severe pain in shoulders, back, and neck; severe shortness of breath leading to "panic attacks" and sometimes vomiting; and general discomfort).On the "natural/nutritional" front, our plan is solidifying. Much to my dismay, it's looking like an awfully "vegan" diet. No offense to my herbivorous friends out there... but y'all know how much I love my steak. :) High protein, very low-sugar, "raw" veggies-- especially carrots, spinach, kale, beets (complete with greens), and cucumbers. Yummie yummie. And some special natural supplements. This supports much of what we've found to support cancer-fighting body chemistry, via various feedback from oncologists, "alternatively-practicing" MD's & dietitians, and personal testimonials from friends and loved-ones. Via networking, we've established a new relationship with a "diet coach" that will be helping us out. We do have an MD on the line that will treat Leslie with IV and oral nutritional supplementation when we decide to stop chemotherapy, but his treatments may be detrimental if administered during the study-- so we're in a wait-and-see mode with him.On the "peace" and "will" fronts... what can I say? Today was a better day, I guess. Especially after noon-ish. (She spent the morning recovering from our big day out yesterday.) But we're still praying for that "peace". The "will" seems a little more tangible today, but we're still waiting... I'm kind of thinking we won't have a chance to truly process much of all of this on the emotional and spiritual fronts until after the chemotherapy starts to affect the cancer/ tumor. It's so hard to think straight-- or even pray that much, for that matter, beyond simply crying out for mercy-- when you can't breathe without coughing until you puke.Mixed bag of emotions tonight. Thanks for the prayers. Next time we check in, Leslie will be poisoning herself, in hopes that the bad cells die faster than the good ones.-Tyson

Monday, May 19, 2008

Progress (ion)

So, we have some answered prayer tonight-- a large part of the "treatment path" we've been consideration is established. "We read you loud and clear, God." We're going with the clinical study (cutting-edge combination of drugs, but otherwise a "traditional" method of chemotherapy) at Loyola. And we can't get started quickly enough. According to the head oncologist at University of Chicago, who we met today for a second opinion, he could tell from his simple "exam" that the tumor(s) is/are progressing very rapidly-- now affecting her neck and perhaps even her right arm-- with swelling and growth. We're very scared. Leslie's in a lot of pain, discomfort-- no... agony is a better word. After carefully considering some very specific "alternative" methods over the past few days, (and very closely today), the second opinion basically has "scared her into action". No more thinking. Time to get going and do this thing. We're still piecing together the "natural/nutritional" portion of the puzzle, but based on the "leads" we're working, we will most likely have all that put to bed tomorrow, as well-- the fact that we've established our "medical" approach will make that easier, now.It was a very hard day on Leslie, (consultations and appointments kept her out of bed all day), and now she's basically passed out in bed from exertion and the aforementioned agony... with a little help from our new friend Vic(atin). It is so hard to for her to think, cry, pray, or even breathe or just BE... the way she's feeling. So I can't say, honestly, that we're "ready" for this fight. There is no "peace". To be horribly honest, there's not even enough strength to be in some way rearranged as "will". YET. All in time, we are confident. What breaths we can utter are turned Upward. And we know He's there catching the tears that fall. We're just struggling to feel it and OWN it completely.Medical- Check. Natural- (pending). Peace and Will??? Still waiting on You, Lord. Just say the word. Breathe your breath, and there will be peace. Raise a finger, and there will be strength and "will" abundant. "...how long, oh Lord..."?Tyson

Thursday, May 15, 2008


Thank God we don't rely solely on medicine. "Stage 4 Squamous Cell Carcinoma" and "managing quality of life with chemotherapy" (I've paraphrased here), are medical ways of saying... "Gee, we'll give it our best shot, but we really don't have the answer... and it doesn't look like it ends well... and to be honest, our best guess would say that it ends sooner rather than later." According to the doctors, (re-cue paraphrase mode) "...you'll be fortunate to share Christmas with Leslie. And she'll be a medical anomaly if she sees TJ off to his first day of kindergarten." So, Doc, tell me something I don't know! I'm blessed and lucky to spend ANY day with her, and if there's one thing I've learned about Leslie, medically, over the past 7+ months, it's that she's definitely an anomaly. Nothing-- since and including her "polyp removal surgery" back in October-- has resulted in anything resembling the "norm". Why should she start now?Truth be told, the medical facet in only 1/4 the battle (see "4-part equation" blog from a few days ago). It's an important facet, yes-- and therefore it was an extremely difficult visit to the Oncologist yesterday. The last 18 hours have been some of our darkest. But, we know that there are "other forces" at work here. "Though I walk through the valley of the shadow..." I've spent today trying to decipher what is the apparent path leading to Leslie's entire treatment plan-- the approach that will address her body's physical ability to fight and destroy the cancer from the inside-out. That is, the "Natural/Nutritional" facet from the aforementioned blog entry. Fortunately for us, there are many more success stories out there than that which the traditional "medical" community has been privy. We're not foregoing the "traditional" method, but we have come to believe whole-heartedly that the lack of success they have "measured" with any kind of treatment they offer is due to the fact that they only TREAT CANCER. They're not in the body-curing business. No, that's what God is in the business of, via nature, miracles, the gift of strong bodies, etc... ("The only thing that has been proven to HEAL the body is the body itself", as many an alternative medicine practitioner will tell you.) We are just praying and pouring over our options as to what is the best dietary, alternative, etc... "supplement" to what the oncologist, Dr. Clark, will be doing to the cancer in the next indefinite period of time.All that being said, we're not falling off the deep end. We're not freaking out, or moving to a commune where we'll live the rest of our lives sustained only by wheat grass and freaky love. But the medical approach alone is not the entirety of the answer, here. As they admit-- there is no answer, as far as they're concerned. And to be sure, with this "medical" feedback from the oncologists, we are forced into coming to terms with the "PEACE" portion of the equation. We are in the midst of some serious mourning, here, and will be for some time, as this will be the process through which we can come to PEACE with God's promise of eternal healing. We are angry and hurt by the prospect of Leslie leaving us at a date which we would (in our finite wisdom and futility) deem "premature". But again, we've learned through the wisdom of others-- and it has resonated in our hearts-- that this PEACE (that "no matter what happens, Leslie wins") needs to come into balance with this WILL (her ability to "fight for her life"), should cancer ever be fully overcome in her life or ours.Maybe you need to read that all again, in order to come to grips with what it is I'm saying. I know I do. The news, from a medical standpoint, is the worst it could possibly be. But it is part of God's plan, and we are not accepting it as a prescription for death. However God chooses to move, it is our desire to be united with Him in his purpose and desire, for His glory. So we're "buckling in" for a crazy ride. Thank you a million times over for your continued prayers, which we PHYSICALLY can feel. The hardest times are in the wee hours of the night/morning, where our brothers and sisters are obviously asleep. (This is where our family "abroad" can step it up!) :)Again, we continue to receive questions and offers as to how me might need help. And again, I say, PRAY. Pray for, specifically, the four "fronts" to this battle. (Medical, Natural, Will, & Peace) Don't be afraid to pray for PEACE, even in the eternal sense of healing. That is all a part of this. Fighting with all the WILL in the world is only going to end badly if we cannot also balance it with the PEACE that surpasses all understanding. We have a lot of prayer warriors out there, who are CLAIMING HEALING in the corporal sense. I would say "THANKS! KEEP IT UP!" And then also I would pose this question... "What part of God's promise are you perhaps overlooking in your prayer?" We should not fear the eternal part of God's promises. NO! We should CLAIM them!Gearing up for battle,Tyson

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Baby steps...

This wounded, weak and weary heart is being awakened by the prayers of God's people. He is hearing you. He is faithful and loving me more than ever. My heart is gaining strength slowly, but surely, and is preparing to do battle. Now, if my body can just cooperate.Thank you for loving me so much. You are all dear and eternal friends, even those of you I will never meet until we are with Jesus. Zephaniah 3:17 The Lord your God is with you. He is mighty to save. He takes great delight in you. He will quiet you with His love. He will rejoice over you with singing.Leslie

Monday, May 12, 2008

New Week

Leslie came home yesterday afternoon. It was good for her to be in her own bed again. I must admit, it was a bittersweet thing, though, with the heaviness of this new reality on our hearts.Her family had been planning on coming up from Peoria and Indianapolis to join us here (Leslie's sister lives in nearby Wheaton, as well) for Mothers Day. It was indeed a blessing that Leslie was released ahead of schedule so we could enjoy being together with all of them. They moved the party to our house, and it made for a wonderful little homecoming party for Leslie. Again, bittersweet, but wonderful. The only ones whose countenance was not obviously affected by all that is going on were the little ones, TJ included. Most of the smiles for me that evening were brought on by cousins Max, Sam, Will, Ben, Tori, and Jonathan. And most of all, TJ. Thanks for the prayers. God is indeed either protecting him or keeping him strong through these events, or both. My mom and dad were there for the party as well, having brought up TJ from Ohio that afternoon, and, as an added bonus, our dear friend Ginny (our google blogger :)), whom TJ just adores. Again, it was a great little homecoming. I just feel that I couldn't fully enjoy it, wiped out emotionally and physically as I was. I know it meant so much to Leslie, too, although she couldn't "participate" much, with her shortness of breath, and side-splitting coughing bouts.She had a big coughing/breathing "attack" again last night between midnight and 2 am. It's so hard to witness that, in the delirium that is half-sleep, half-wakefulness. We are so susceptible to fear and defeat and all kinds of nonsense in those moments (which incidentally doesn't help Leslie to calm herself down-- something that is necessary to get through the attack). Amazingly, but not at all unpredictably, it was some out-loud and persistent prayer (in conjunction with a little more codine syrup) that seemed to finally settle her back down. She slept until 8, got up for a minute, and now is back asleep, after another minor "attack". It's hard not to be discouraged-- almost crushed-- to see her be so out of breath, so weak, after just walking to and from the bathroom, or up the stairs. "We're gonna get your side healed, and then the treatments are going to ease this lung thing a little. It's NOT going to be like this long-term, okay?" I just kept whispering in her ears between prayers last night. She nodded-- a sign I've grown to love from her, where words are few or impossible-- that what I was saying was "sinking in" and somewhat comforting. Today, the rain is gone and the sun is shining. It's a new week. TJ and I are taking a walk to the soccer park after I make breakfast. His innocence, energy, and joy are such a blessing right now. Leslie's primary job and focus, meanwhile, is to rest and get her surgical wound healed, so we can start doing battle. Her mom is here for the week to help with TJ and with Leslie's needs, and housework, etc... I called my boss and told him I'm no good to anyone, at least until we can get the pathology reports and our initial meeting with our Oncologist on Wednesday (hopefully). So we're just here... trying to breathe full and strong breaths (not just Leslie), trying to soak in as much sun as we can, trying to rest, maybe even laugh a bit. I don't plan to update unless a huge need arises, or if we get reports back ahead of schedule, etc... Otherwise, I'll probably blog a "shout-out" with an update on Wednesday.Relying on His grace and strength,Tyson

Saturday, May 10, 2008

4-Part Question....

Leslie's most likely coming home tomorrow. She may have an oxygen tank. We will not have "final pathology" results until sometime next week. She will not start her chemo, as it turns out, until the 19th at the earliest... (most likely). They just need to figure out WHAT we're doing as far as a treatment plan, before they just start blindly treating her. That's the update.
Emotionally, it has been the hardest 40 hours of our lives. Leslie can't cry much, because of the pain it causes her surgical wound, and it causes BIG breathing problems. I've been weeping and crying out to God for the both of us, mostly when I'm alone. Still, there are moments, such as this particular one, where your prayers are moving God to sustain us in varying levels of peace and strength.
I had an extremely encouraging talk with Leslie's dad this morning. He is a wonderful man of God, and a "survivor" in his own right-- having beaten 3 different cancers, officially, in his lifetime. We got talking about treatment-- "cure" versus "quality of life" models; the spiritual and emotional journeys involved; etc... He defined very concisely what we're discovering about the path that lies before us. There are 4 parts to the definition of-- and equation that measures the result of-- "SUCCESSFUL CANCER TREATMENT". These are the 4 "facets" you can all be praying for, as each poses a unique challenge, and a unique opportunity for God to be glorified in this:
1. MEDICAL- No duh. This is the chemo, radiation, and surgery part. The objective here is more of an "additive" approach-- "what can we do or give to Leslie to best destroy or weaken or reverse the momentum of her cancer?" As I mentioned, doctors are still trying to determine the best route to take. They won't know for certain until the pathology, CAT and PET scans all come together. If we had only the "medical" outlook to hold to, in heart-wrenching honesty, we'd be pretty close to defeated already. No "official" pathology has come back, but the words "no known medical cure" have been used or paraphrased for what they removed from her in surgery. It is aggressive, in her blood stream, and most likely NOT contained in just her lungs-- that's what the CAT and PET scans will confirm. This does NOT mean that people don't BEAT this kind of cancer once it progresses to this level-- they just don't know WHY the relatively few people that beat it actually DO. This simply means, by the docs' own admission, all they can do is weaken the cancer, and hope or "leave to chance" that "other factors" (anything from "Nature" to "God" to "Leslie's own body" or a combination thereof) can work to actually defeat it. But our darkest fears are confirmed, there is no medicine that has been proven to "cure" this cancer. Cue: 3 other parts to the equation.
2. NUTRITION/NATURE- We know that Leslie is "Beautifully and wonderfully made" by her Abba God. We also know that God gives us, in nature, all that our bodies need to sustain themselves, heal themselves, strengthen themselves, and so-on. We also know that "nature" gives us cancer-- which nature alone does not cure (which is why we do the chemo thing). However, by the doctors' own admission (once again), it's Leslie's natural body that's going to have to do the fighting necessary to win this war. So we'll need to seek help on the nutritional side (yes, even bordering on the "alternative" or "natural" side of things), to prepare and help Leslie's body to detect, fight, and defeat the cancer cells. We need to put her NATURAL (non-drug) self in the best position to win the war, one battle at a time.
3. WILL- "I'm a survivor", she sang to me again this morning. (Yes, we're still managing to smile these days.) "She's a warrior. My hero." I've told so many people. "She's a little spitfire," her big brother says. Up to now, all of our prayers have been CLAIMING victory over this-- God's total healing, physically. We have been full of "WILL", as we should be-- it hasn't been tested yet with the discouragement that chemotherapy will certainly bring. Still, we are preparing to maintain that will, with your added support and prayers, by the Grace of God. And there have been many scientific/ medical studies done that support the correllation between this "will" and somebody overcoming cancer.
4. PEACE- (This is the hard one, just to warn you.) In Leslie's dad's words, "If she's ever going to beat this, she's going to have to come to a place where she KNOWS that she has already WON-- regardless of what the medical or physical outcome is." Yes, that is to suggest that Leslie's body may not "survive" this cancer, but regardless, she can claim victory. "Mere" victory in only the eternal sense (as if there is anything trivial about that!) is not a prospect we were prepared to address, coming to the hospital this trip. We were just trying to figure out this "infection" in her lungs. Indeed, the path you can see me tiptoeing down here is not one with which we are in any way comfortable, prepared for, or steadfast. But, it's a process we're beginning to address. "What if...?" There is a mourning process that needs to go on here, before we can ever settle into this PEACE thing, regardless of the physical outcome. And we are weeping, indeed. We are not throwing in the towel-- our WILL does not allow it (nor does NATURE, or even MEDICINE, at this point). But we are simply opening up the door of consideration of the certainty of eternal healing, in conjunction with our hope and drive for the physical healing. Indeed, at some time in every life, this becomes a reality. It is a part of life, and it is healthy for a family and a marriage to address it at some point. This is just a bit sooner than we had intended to start addressing such things. We've only ever known that unrealistic "young and invincible" life stage. But there is so much that Leslie needs to come to peace with-- the idea of eternal healing; God's provision for TJ and me in her potential absence; etc... Indeed, these are things I need to come to peace with, should she outlive me. But faced with the prospect of her health, it is a very difficult task for Leslie, and for us to witness. And it is a process which is all the more necessary, in order for Leslie to "beat" cancer physically and/or eternally.
So there's where you can start doing battle in the prayer realm. All four facets need to come together for us to win here, and we don't have strength to do ANY of them on our own (except maybe the WILL one). There are choices to be made, tears to be shed, pain and suffering to endure both physically and emotionally... and in it all GOD TO BE GLORIFIED.
Whenever I'm finding myself being dragged down the drain by dwelling on coming to grips with the "PEACE" part of all this, I simply turn to God and give thanks for all that I love about Leslie-- all that He's blessed me with in her. And my spirits are lifted in the process. In thanksgiving and worship, there is peace-- a truth I've dwelt within for the last 3 years of leading worship at my church. I started a song this morning on my route to the hospital-- it came to me in the midst the shedding of some violent tears. I recorded it, melody and all, on the voice record function on my phone...

There is nothing that befalls us
That is anything but
An opportunity
To glorify
Our hope is that He brings Himself glory by chosing to move to physically heal Leslie, ridding her body of cancer. Ironic, isn't it, that part of that process, should He so move, will include our coming to "peace" with the thought of Him taking her home? What an awesome miracle and testimony it will be, eh? Tyson

Friday, May 9, 2008

On "Why"

I had a wonderful email exchange this morning from a dear friend of mine who, like many of you, is witnessing this from afar-- across a lot of geography. I am sympathetic to the hopelessness you must feel, not being able to be here and just hug and love on Leslie, to physically HELP in some way. I'm truly sorry that many of you (including our dear families) are in such a place, but really, that's the only place it is possible for you to be right now, so we gladly accept your prayers and tears from afar.
Anyway, my friend was just crushed and wrote a beautiful and authentic note of encouragement. Expounding on one of her thoughts, I started typing, and here's what ended up on my screen-- as an encouragement to all of us. This is in response to the encouragement that "God will not give you more than you can handle"-- words of encouragement we have heard from so many over the past months:
The scripture that talks about God not giving you more than you can handle is actually and contextually in regards to "temptation"... I Cor. 10:13 "No temptation has seized you except what is common to man. And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can stand up under it." (BTW-- I didn't know that reference/ verbatim off the top of my head... thank you http://www.msplinks.com/MDFodHRwOi8vd3d3LmJpYmxlZ2F0ZXdheS5vcmc=, a virtual "GoogleBible" of sorts.)
I only mention [this] point... because that's an encouragement we've received from a lot of people, and, while we feel God has us where He has us for a purpose and reason, one of the messages we want to hold firm to is the clarification of this idea that "God will not give you more than you can handle". It's a semantical difference perhaps, and not totally contrary to the spirit of your original words of encouragement... but here goes:
To say God will not allow us to suffer more than we can handle puts undue faith and impetus on our own strength. Indeed, the last 7 months have given us WAY more than we can handle. We would have no strength, no hope, and perhaps Leslie would have lost her life altogether by now, (if not her faith), if not for the strength of the Almighty God, through the grace of His Son Jesus, as administered within the compassionate counsel of His Holy Spirit. I just can't give myself that much credit. We've been crushed. Broken to pieces. Our weakness has been exposed. We cannot stand any longer. Brought to the point that our very breath has been taken from us... if not for the sustanance of our Father. "But in [your] weakness, [I AM] made strong." He says. "Come to me, you who are weary and heavily laiden, and I will give you rest... But take my yoke upon you. ['Bear my cross'.] For my yoke is easy and my burden is light... And you will be my people. And I will be your God."
Therein lies the purpose and meaning of suffering, the best I can tell-- to bring even more glory to Him and His Strength and thanks for His interaction in our lives. (Isn't that the real purpose of life in general, when you get down to it?)
There's your sermon for the day. And no, Ronn, I'm not coming after your job. The "update" is that Leslie and I are currently separated, due to "Surgical Recovery Room" policies, that they're apparently not as willing to overlook this morning. I can only see her for "a few minutes, every couple of hours". That was a hard blow to take this morning. But overall, there is a strong "vibe" of strength and peace about Leslie right now. That IS the power of God heeding your prayers. That IS what will sustain us amidst the path that lies before us.
She will be admitted to a "normal" room, as she stabilized overnight beyond the point of being admitted to the ICU. (They never DID get her a room-- she spent the night in recovery, which you've probably pieced together through context.) They're not expecting to have a full "prognosis" until late next week, or even the week after. They want her body to recover from this surgery a little before they start injecting her with the necessary PET-scan-related isotopes, which will be necessary to determine the location(s) of any other cancer cells or masses. After that, they'll be able to lay out a full plan. In the meantime, we're getting ready, in Leslie's words, to "fight like hell".
Which brings us to a real-time prayer request, in the short-term: God, show us the treatment You want to use to do Your work. Are we in the right hospital? Is there an alternative route? And give whatever doc's to whom You lead us the wisdom and insight, like only You can, in order to do Your work.
Please understand, we're not asking for suggestions. We have plenty of "leads" we're already considering, including some that Dr. Zender is discussing with me. We just need His wisdom right now to make the right decision.
Struck down but not destroyed...

Thursday, May 8, 2008

Thursday 5/8

Leslie is sleeping in Recovery. I'm with her. She's just as they said she'd be after this procedure-- a bit of pain in her chest where they opened her up. Week. Tired.
And crushed.
They gave us the news tonight that when they opened her up, they discovered that there is no "infection" in her lungs. The cancer that was in her head has spread to the outsided lining of her lungs, which is "squeezing" her lungs, giving her "pneumonia"-like symptoms.
I have never cried like I did tonight when I was alone after consulting with the surgeon.
Tonight, she recovers from the procedure. Sunday or Monday they will send her home with a new PICC line through which her chemotherapy will be administered, which is certain to be coupled with some sort of Radiation as well. Those are basically the facts as I can reiterate at this time.
There are a lot of "what-if's" and "what-then's", and "chances" and stuff that I'd rather not go into until they have some more results in the morning. They need to scan and scope her whole body now. What she has passes through the blood stream, and the docs' next foci will be her liver, bones, and endocrine system. Once they determine the extent that the cancer has spread (over the next couple of days), they will better know exactly how they will be treating it, what kind of "outlook" God has to overcome in order to heal her. (Not that God has much to worry about. He's fully able, as we still trust, know, and maintain faith.)
Tonight before being reunited with my girl, I had a real "come-to-Jesus" meeting with God. Pun intended. I finally screamed at Him and asked "WHY?". But, as I shared with Leslie, who's feeling quite let down by her Father tonight, (as am I), I have a HUGE sense of HOPE and TRUST that God WILL move and heal her. It's just going to be a much longer and harder road than we had hoped or asked for. I just can't stand the thought right now of what I'm about to stand by and witness her going through in the hereto unquantified amount of time that lies before us.
Oh, God, You have shown your infinite mercy through your Son Jesus. I'm begging you now, show a more finite version of that mercy now. Heal your servant. Show Yourself, Jehova Rophe. Spirit, move and settle on this family in Your peace, as Rophe does His work.
By the grace of Christ. Amen........................Tyson

Loss for words...speechless......

Surgery results have made for heavy hearts. Please pray without ceasing.

Wednesday, May 7, 2008

**UPDATE - 12:45PM

So the doctor just stopped by to say that there will be no tests today. Tomorrow for sure. The rigid bronch and some other procedure, also most likely "surgical" in nature, that they will describe later, apparently. At least now Leslie can eat...

Long Rainy Day

Yesterday was just like today, only sunny outside. Today is a perfect day for sleeping. Leslie's trying. She's been relatively more comfortable than she was at home for the aforementioned reasons. There's been virtually nothing to update. They STILL have not done the "Rigid Bronch", although they had her fasting all day yesterday in preparation. Miscommunication between the resident and the surgery staff, apparently... the Cardio/Pulmonary department never intended to squeeze her in yesterday, but forgot to inform the surgery department of the fact, so the General Doc had no choice but to assume she was still supposed to be fasting. So she was very hungry all day. Finally at 4:30, her General Doc realized that there was no use in the fasting, and they brought her some food. Now it is noon on Wednesday, and she is fasting again. (Which makes me wonder... do prayers uttered while fasting due to doctors' orders still count as "prayer and fasting" in God's eyes?) Today it IS looking like they'll get her in for the surgery/ procedure, but it's just getting pretty monotonous. She's still coughing. She threw up this morning. They brought in the Zofran (nausea med). More Codine. And so-on. She's just trying to sleep-- she had some catching up to do. We can't talk. It makes her cough more. Just waiting for them to decide it's time for the Rigid Bronch. As the afternoon hours approach, I'm trying to figure out how to control my anger if they don't get her in today. They say if she was coughing up blood or something, they'd probably have squeezed her in by now. Trying to abide in peace and patience...
I will say, on the positive side, the care has been excellent on the 6th floor. The Tech's and Nurses are wonderful, and Leslie feels well cared for. We're just eager to get on with this already...

Monday, May 5, 2008

"Room With a View"

The view is beautiful from Leslie's 6th floor hospital room. Quiet so far, too. No roommate, for now, and I'm doing what I can to keep it that way. I comically played the "frequent stayer" card (like how you can upgrade to first class using frequent flier miles). More seriously, I tried the "she has an unknown respiratory illness and a bad cough. Gee, I'd sure hate to be her roommate" move. We'll see how it plays out. So far it's gotten her a "free upgrade" to the bed with the window and a little more space. We'll take what we can get.Dr. Dilling squeezed her in to his schedule today at noon upon my "cry for help", to which I alluded in this morning's early blog entry. In fact, all 3 specialists I CC'd responded immediately and personally, all offering to accommodate her however they could. Dilling had "dibs", since, as best we can tell, this is a pulmonary issue at this point. As soon as he saw her at the satellite office nearer to us in Oakbrook, he had her admitted at the main hospital in Maywood-- our second home.Her chest X-rays have taken a turn for the worse. "Blossoming" is the word the doctor used to describe the progression of the spots on her lungs. Her breathing is much more troubled-- the coughing now to a point that her whole body is aching. She'd lost over 5 lbs since last week's visit. Upon arriving at the main hospital, they had to bring her to her room in a wheelchair since she was physically unable to do so herself. Perhaps the timing of this symptomatic turn of events was simply coincidental with the new drugs. We just don't know. Regardless, the doc's feel they have "waited this out" long enough and now it's time to get more proactive in getting her diagnosed and treated. She's getting worse, not better.So here we are. There was this strange mix of discouragement and relief as we drove here today. She is obviously bummed about being back in the hospital. But her anxiety has been relieved a little. At least we're DOING something about this now. And the on-site availability of the doc's, nurses, and "drug buffet" to keep her comfortable in the meantime has a calming effect as well. Tonight they will do a CT scan and some blood work to see what they can find. Likely they will need to do something called a "rigid bronchoscopy" which is a more involved version of the outpatient procedure she had last week, which will involve full/general anaesthesia. Anyway. We're here until Thursday at minimum. Doing better, emotionally, feeling that we're taking a step toward some sort of "closure", trying to "get comfortable". We'll keep you updated as we hear any results or get some hard data worth sharing. We appreciate the ongoing persistence of your prayers and encouragement against the anxiety and emotion of all this. Those prayers have been answered today. Thank you, loving Father. Tyson

Spread the Word - Asking for Prayer

Prayer Warriors.... Thank you for following this journey and being faithful in your prayers.
Leslie was admitted into the hospital today. The pneumonia has left her body very weak and is taking its toll on her physically, emotionally and spiritually.
We are asking the you spread the word and lift her up in prayer - ask for healing, direction for the medical team, peace, and comfort for her, Tyson and family.
Blessings to you ~ginny

Calling all prayer warriors...

Not that any of you have slacked in the least. But we had (or are having) a very rough night, starting late yesterday afternoon. The meds the ID doc's have prescribed turn out to have some pretty crazy side effects, expanding across both physical and psychological/emotional gamuts. We're calling Loyola as soon as the doors open in the morning to see how necessary this is... I'm really hoping we don't have to do this for another 30 hours before our next appointments.Leslie just needs prayer for peace and comfort. Physically, emotionally, spiritually. We're both feeling like our prayers are getting lost in a giant void right now. Falling on deaf ears. Feeling that way, at least. We "KNOW" otherwise. But we could still use the strength of your collective prayers.Tyson

Sunday, May 4, 2008

Antibiotic Darts

The ID doc's called today. The Head Honcho this time... Dr. Balmares. He's gone ahead and prescribed 2 oral antibiotics. He was quick to admit that they still really don't know what's causing the pneumonia, as the cultures and biopsies are still turning up clear. So they're making an educated guess as to which antibiotics will work-- incidentally, both are drugs she's taken at some point over the past 2-3 months. They're basically just throwing darts at a dart board at this point, hoping to hit a bulls-eye. Leslie's cough has persisted. She's not coughing up blood, and there is still no fever. But she is losing much sleep and it is taking its toll on her body, mind, and spirit. She's basically bed-ridden. It's all she can do to go down the stairs from our room and back up again.Tuesday we have appointments with Neurosurgery (Prabhu) and the Pulmonology (Dilling). Basically, they're to the point now that if these antibiotics don't start working, and if she doesn't start improving soon, they'll have to start talking about re-admitting her into the hospital... A surgical lung scope, more tests, etc... and just trying to get her well one way or another, because she's not appearing to "just beat this on her own", the way they had expected.That's all today. I'm going to go work out and blow off some steam. Or punch a hole in a wall. Or something.-Tyson