Friday, October 28, 2011

Getting ready

October 29, 2011
By sherry

The past two weeks have been hard.  Probably the most difficult since we started this journey in 2009.  Terence has been pretty sick and in a lot of pain.  He's been pretty much either in bed, or on the couch.  The cancer in his pelvic/bladder region is causing great discomfort, so much so that basically only wears athletic pants (sweats) because jeans are uncomfortable.  He has difficulty sitting or laying down or standing- in other words, he has a hard time finding a comfortable position.  We have discovered though, that a light body massage relieves a lot of the pain and helps him relax and able to better enjoy the day.  Our friend Lisa (a physical therapist) has generously lent us a really nice massage table, which is now a permanent fixture in our family room!

 This pain in his pelvic region seemed to come upon him suddenly. Terence seemed to be doing really well after his TURP surgery only 5 weeks ago. The doctor believes this cancer really "took off" since the surgery.

On a good note, the surgery was a 100% success: Terence is retaining no urine and he is able to empty his bladder. Prior to the surgery he was having to self catheterize several times a day

My sister came down for a few days and though I didn't know I needed it, her companionship was a blessing. Plus, she is a dynamite cook and baker- which was a major bonus.  Not only were her meals delicious and her breads and cookies amazing (as always), I was tired and overwhelmed so it was nice not to have to think about a dinner menu.

Helping our grand kids cope
I'm doing everything I can to get ready for Terence's chemotherapy, but that's kind of hard since I don't know what to expect!  I'm keeping myself occupied by making schedules and creating useless lists.  I've been doing a lot of reading and trying to prepare and educate myself....I've noticed my (grown) kids are trying to find ways to prepare for chemo; we came home from Terence's oncology appointment and they had been busying themselves preparing the only way they know how; they shopped for things they figure we'd need: disinfectant wipes, lysol, sanitzer (for every entry point of the house) a heating pad. An electric razor was already set up in our bath room (since he won't be able to shave with a razor), our room was vacuumed, towels cleaned, laundry started, shopping list completed.  Facial masks, reading material, play list on the MP3 player updated (for those long chemo infusions).  We're not sure what the next phase of cancer will be like, but it looks like we'll be somewhat prepared!  In all actuality though there is an underlying sense of uncertainty in our family mood, and none of us really knows what to do.  That's where faith comes in. We can't see ahead and are not certain of tomorrow's events, but faith is the confidence that what we hope for will actually happen; it gives us assurance about things we cannot see.

Terence is going to let the grand kids shave his head!
We also noticed that our grand kids senses are somewhat "heightened", probably because Terence has been laid up for the first time and they've obviously noticed it.  Our youngest (Annie) has been especially aware of her "Papi" not feeling very good. Terence read her the book "When someone I love is sick" ( a terrific book for pre-schoolers dealng with cancer in the family)-  now she's full of questions.  She also looked at the pictures in Lance Armstrong's "Cancer guide" and noticed a lot of people had no most of her questions have been in regards to Terence losing his hair.  Terence decided that even though there is only a 75% chance he will lose his hair from chemo, he doesn't want it to be worrisome for the grand kids if it does happen, so he decided that he will let them cut his hair and shave his head before chemo even starts.  That way, they won't ever associate his bald head with being sick.  

I also want to thank those that have given financially to help us. I wish that we could spend time with each of you and thank you face-to-face. Today I know of you not so much for your gifts, but for the loving kindness with which it was given. God bless each of you! You have my thanks and that of my family.

~ Have a wonderful week end! 

Faith is the confidence that what we hope for will actually happen;
it gives us assurance about things we cannot see.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Lymph Node metastases

Terence, October 25th, 2011
october 25, 2011
by sherry 

We spent almost the entire day at University of Washington Medical Center (Seattle Cancer Care Alliance) yesterday- discussing Terence's scans and next treatment.  

In regards to cancerous tumors, Terence's bone scans have come back unchanged since June 2011- but he does show some bone degeneration (which causes some pain) in his sternum, shoulders, knees, hips.  Nothing to worry about, supplements and healthy food can help.  No further bone metastases which is very good news!

However, he does has significant lymph node metastases (cancer progression in his lymph nodes).  In layman's terms, here is the low down: the cancerous prostate has doubled in size; the encroaching tumor appears to be invading the bladder neck and rectal sling.  There are tumors in his lymph nodes beside both (kidney) ureters which is blocking some of the urine flow from the kidney to the bladder. Also, the existing nodules on the left and right lung are unchanged :)- 

 There are also tumors markedly enlarged adjacent to the left common iliac artery measuring1.9 cm. The left external iliac lymphnode now measures 2.0 cm from 1.3 cm.

And most concerning is now a large 6.5 M mass in his chest cavity behind his lung, next to his spine. 

My sister Charla with Terence yesterday.
We are waiting for a call from the chemo clinic- Terence will begin  therapy sometime next week.

The original plan was a 6 month 
cycle of Docetaxel/prednisone, but Dr. M decided  to try a 9 week cycle and then run another set of scans to see if the cancer is responding favorably to chemo.

If it is, he'll continue as long as possible; if  the cancer continues to progress, he'll stop the chemo and begin the next round of  treatment of Zytiga  (a new drug recently approved for post chemo treatment). we season, next phase.

“Now I want you to know, brothers, that what has happened to me has really served to advance the gospel.” –Philippians 1:12

Turning circumstances into platforms, Apostle Paul saw the storms of life as mere downpours of holy water. Terence & I find courage in his example today, physically and spiritually. Oh, we may not be in prison, but we are being tested.

God has given us a supernatural strength and wisdom to continue through the necessary process.  

Terence and I have learned to live by faith, and trust in the Lord these past few years in ways we never would have been able to if it weren't for the illnesses.  I'm still trusting Him for a healing here,  He's the Lord of my life, and I owe it all to Him!  


So.....we are cracking our knuckles, clearing our throats and making the most of the moment at hand.....


Monday, October 17, 2011

Photo journal of bountiful moments.

A Bountiful Life.
  Bountiful Moments

by sherry-
boun·ti·ful- adj.
1. Giving freely and generously; liberal.
2. Marked by abundance; plentiful.

A heavy heart leads me to meditation. I typically try to avoid pain.  But after 2 years of walking through a terminal diagnoses with Terence, I realize that doesn’t work. There is no escaping it.

Lately, I find that the Lord hasn’t removed or erased my pain or fears.  He has strengthened me through it.  Even though I would prefer the former to the later, I find myself grateful in the end.  Because even when my heart is really heavy and the emotional movement feels like a knife slicing through me, I don’t want to feel stuck with a heavy heart. Heaviness has tremendous gravity and will continue to weigh me down if I don’t learn how to deal with it appropriately.

What’s left is facing it. Facing the fear, walking through the stress but finding God’s comfort in the midst of it.  I realize, that the Lord has been generous, and in looking at my very own photo journal, I see the evidence of His goodness. I see evidence that even in the midst of turmoil and fear, the Lord has been generous to us.

These are truly bountiful moments.  I find my strength.  With Christ I can face all things, and He makes all things joyful.

Our life is marked with abundance:

Reuniting with family and best friends.
 Kemmerer Homecoming 2011

Being present in a time of need. 
Dean's heart surgery, October 2011

Re-uniting with best friends.

12 years of unconditional love.
RIP Kawika boy.

Dream vacation with old friends, and new memories, touching our lives in new ways. Hawaii, 2010.

Watching our family grow in love. 

Our boys- sons, Eric Andrew and grandson Ethan enjoying pizza!

Watching our kids mature and make good decisions. Eric and I in Chicago- 2010

Learning from our kids.

Our nephew Douglas, spent time teaching Terence how to surf the waves on a kayak. Hawaii 2010

Preaching the gospel, no matter what.

Regardless of how he feels, Terence has been determined and faithful to preach the gospel.

Guest speaker at God First Church, Seattle, WA

Deepening brotherhood.
Terence and his brother, Dan.

Uniting love.  Terence unites Travis and Stacy and prepares them for the rest of their life!
Summer 2011

Ohana.  My family.
Very special. Hawaii 2010

The past meets the future.
My grand daughter Annie, meets her namesake; my great grandmother Annie Stevens, Seattle, WA 2011

Enjoying the fruit of our labor.My sister helped me start a garden, so we enjoyed veges from our summer garden and fish from the river. Summer 2011.

Enjoying beautiful days with my grand babies. Fall, 2011. Singing "Candy man" with Annie bug.

Silly recreation as a family!
Eric, Bella and Paisley. Summer, 2010

Finding fun things to do!
Terence plays house with Annie.

Homecoming! Terence is reunited with his "puppy", Cead.

Just laughs and nonsense. My sister and niece make an attempt on the ukulele.

Lessons on life: "how to catch a fish".
Terence on the river with Travis and Stacy, September 2011.

Cead is home again!'
Annie "knights" Cead with her tiara.

...and welcoming a new season with open arms.

"You can never cross the ocean unless you have
the courage to lose sight of the shore."
Christopher Columbus

Saturday, October 15, 2011

October 15, 2011
by sherry
Me- at JC Penney's house in Kemmerer, WY

We're on our way home-back to Seattle...we're sitting (sleeping) at the Salt Lake City airport.

It has been a good trip.  It provided us an opportunity for us to get away and forget about cancer (to the best of our ability) for a little while.  It was good to see friends and regenerated our souls.

Terence has been fighting an infection off and on since we started this trip 10 days ago- he has been on (and still is) antibiotics- which initially helped him- but he started to run a fever and experience the same pain a few days ago. We'll follow up with a doctor appointment when we return.  We spoke with his oncology nurse yesterday and she thinks Terence may not be voiding his bladder completely (this was the sole purpose of the surgery he had)- so he will probably start having to self- cath again because urine retention causes an infection.

 Terence had a very difficult night last night (Friday) with pain. It made for a restless night for both of us, as the pain kept me from sleeping every time he would move or roll over.  He would get up out of bed to stand which would bring relief to his hips and back.  A hot bath in the middle of the night brought some comfort also!

Please understand, I'm not complaining.  I'm just being transparent with all of you who pray for him on a daily basis :)

We have been trying to take advantage of getting out and doing more of the things Terence loves to do, but it's becoming apparent to me, that he may have to limit his activities, and that really bothers him.  He naturally doesn't want to succumb to limiting anything. I try to be very supportive in giving him the space to do anything he wants to do, but I see how he deals with the aftermath, and that is difficult sometimes.  I usually ask him if the pain is worth the  activity and if he says 'yes' than  I don't worry about it!  I try no to worry any way- but I'm obviously not always successful at doing so.

It will be good to good to be home and settle back into the routine of life- we plan on joining the YMCA (Gig Harbor has a fantastic club!) so we can swim daily. 

Terence has an oncology appointment this month, we'll discuss when he starts chemotherapy.  He's not particularly looking forward to it, but he wouldn't mind slowing down the current cancer growth- it would make life easier and longer :)

His spirit remains strong.

Thursday, October 13, 2011

The power of friendship

Terence's good friend Dean is having open heart surgery today.
"Bear one another’s burdens.Galatians 6:2
 by terence- october 13, 2011

We're sitting in the waiting room at St. Mark's hospital in Salt Lake City. It's 6:04 Am and my friend is being prepped for open heart surgery.

I have been recovering from surgery and fighting an infection as a result of it.  Sherry and I have been on the road and I have been in and out of pharmacy's trying to get a grip on the infection.  I've been feverish and tired and weak.  

When I found out my friend was facing heart surgery, I wanted to be by his side. We drove to Salt Lake City to spend a few days with him in preparation for the surgery today.  Within minutes, I found the strength I needed to stand with my friend and bear up some of the heavy burden he faces at this time.

Friendship is an awesome thing.  "As Iron sharpens iron, so a man sharpens the countenance of his friend" (Proverbs 27:17).  Two strong men, even in their weakest moments can find strength in another.

That's the power of friendship. 

 Friends, do you have loved ones who are struggling with their health? If so, don’t just go along for the ride. Get involved.  God’s strength and wisdom will abundantly be activated in you when you stand by your friend.........and it always helps one to know that the road to recovery need not be a lonely one!