Monday, December 17, 2007

Glowing in the Dark

Dear Friends,

Deb and I are on vacation this week, so you would think we can take it easy, rest and fit a couple of naps into the schedule. Ha! Fat chance of that happening.

Well, as usual we did it to our selves. Lots of little things to keep us busy all week.

Deb started radiation last Thursday. She got zapped on Thursday, Friday, Saturday and today. While they had marked her with a sharpie pen, today they injected ink into the half dozen points in her torso (upper) where they plan to aim the radiation. This will form a permanent mark so there will be no possibility of a mark washing off, as can happen with the pen.

So today, Deb has radiation at 8:15am followed by an appointment with the doctor. We then met with Jackie Smith, the program coordinator for the Senior Services Associates of McHenry County. This is a program that matches volunteers, such as me, with seniors who would like a visit and conversation once a week for an hour or so. We had a good meeting and after they check me out, they will try and match me with a senior. This is something I've been looking at for some time. It would be a terrific church ministry, as there are lots of seniors that would really like to share a cup of coffee and some conversation once in a while. The world can be a lonely place, or as I typed first, a loony place. Take your pick.

Deb is now at the physical therapist to determine the appropriate therapy to prevent lymphedema, a swelling of the arm due to the removal of lymph nodes.

Later she will join some friends for dinner, but I'm betting that a nap is in there somewhere.

Christmas is coming ready or not, so we have the usual last minute fire drill to find just that right something for someone, as I'm sure most of you do too.

Radiation should last until the beginning of February. Then I'm sure the doctors will do some tests to see if any cancer remains.

In March, Deb and I will cast our cares to the wind, as we go on our first cruise together. We plan to fly into San Juan and take a seven night cruise to Aruba, St. Thomas and St. Kits, as I recall. We will be the two pasty white people slathered in sun screen and only going out in the dark. This is my first cruise.

Please keep Danny in your prayers, and also the Cagles and the Morans who both lost a loved one recently.

It makes no difference how deeply seated may be the trouble, how hopeless the outlook, how muddled the tangle, how great the mistake. A sufficient realization of love will dissolve it all.
Emmet Fox American Unity Minister, Metaphysician

By this all men will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another. [John 13:35]

This can be the time of year of piercing loneliness, smothering depression and deep hopelessness. You can make a difference to someone with just a smile and a nod. Whether in the grocery store, the gas station or a restaurant, remember to give the best gift the season has to offer; Love.

And so, as Christmas draws nigh, Deb and I want to wish each one of you all the good things this season has to offer. Abundant health, clear minds, and the riches of God's blessings all the new year.

Dan and Deb

Sunday, December 9, 2007

The Battle belongs to the Lord

Dear Friends,

The past two weeks since my last post have seen little medical development, but lots of emotional turmoil. After all, the Bears are out of the playoffs.

Deb went for the scheduled appointment with the radiation oncologist and had her body marked and measured. The marks will make sure the radiation hits the same spots every time.

She will start radiation next week, and while it is scheduled for all of January, it may go into the beginning of February too. We know that there may be some issues with her skin from the repeated radiation, but we have prepared for that as well as we can do so, with advice from several sources and a skin cream to help healing.

There will be testing to check the status after the end of radiation and the ideal report would be no evidence of cancer.

The other, more difficult part of this, is continuing depression and physical battles with weight gain and image. Deb's hair is coming in gray and is still short. It is too short to do much of anything with and after all the stories we heard about this before, who would have thought her blond hair would come back gray? The side effects of the chemo linger on, with the discoloration under her finger nails and the nails deformed, but growing out. Then there is the weight gain that makes it impossible to feel a positive self image. Image is mostly how we feel about ourselves, and right now Deb isn't happy with herself.

I'd like to say we have given all this to God and because of our strong faith, we are peaceful and accepting. But the reality is there is a gap between where we would like to be and who we are, and the gap is a fluid thing, some days very narrow and other days like the Grand Canyon. Yes, we believe that there is a plan and that whatever happens, God is in control, and further that Deb doesn't have to worry about where she will spend eternity, but we struggle day by day with uncertainty, and selfishness. Where will this all end. We want to be whole again.

We know many people have fought this battle before us and survived, and we know we lack perspective, so Deb is going to make a strong effort to find a breast cancer or just a cancer support group to join. If she can find one for couples, so much the better, because being the support giver isn't a day at the park most days either.

Deb and I love Christmas. The good cheer and music, being with friends and family, and the great memories from all the past years. We have received some wonderful Christmas cards, some with photos (we keep them all) and others with letters that bridge the gap between friends so far away.

We embrace the meaning of this season, a Child born to die for us on a cross, so that we may be reconciled with God and spend eternity with Him.

Please pray for Danny, who is still fighting cancer. My daughter Kathi will be helping her husband Jim Moran, bury his father tomorrow and they and the entire Moran family could use your prayers. My buddy Bobby G. Cagle was buried last week, so please remember his family in your prayers too. Then there is the twins, Amanda and Andy Kattner, who were born three months premature, but have survived six weeks and are growing stronger every day. Please pray for Heidi and Ron so they may have continued strength and hope and that the twins will come home well and soon. Our friends the Mariks were at Mayo Clinic last week. It appears that Chuck's back pain and leg pain isn't a candidate for surgical repair, so pray for peace for them. And my mom continues to live on the edge of life with my sister Diane and her wonderful husband Ken providing 24/7 care, as they have for two years. Pray for their continued strength and faith.

We all get so caught up in our lives that we forget to live. Someone you know would love to hear your voice. Call now. Someone you know could use a kind word or a hug. Don't wait. Someone you love needs to hear "I love you". Say it now.

Thank you for allowing me to share our feelings with you and for your love and prayers, which on most days are the difference between being sane or not!