Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Wondering what the norm is.
by sherry


The holidays are here!  Around our house the holidays have always big, festive, creative and fun.  But cancer suddenly changed everything.  This is holiday #3 since we were first told Terence had only months to live and we're finally figuring our what our new normal is.


Terence & Annie hanging out, reading Christmas stories December 2009
News like that made for a funky first Christmas with cancer ("will he be here next year?"), we pretty much stayed inside, didn't go shopping but spent quiet days with the grand baby just trying to grasp the news and navigate through tears. Our kids, trying their best to keep up with our traditional family festivities planned our nomal events.  I couldn't focus on Christmas shopping (something I love to do)- so everyone got roller blades. No joke. I made one trip to Target and bought one  of each size and color size  and my Christmas shopping was done (that was a bomb!).  Terence tried playing his usual Santa- dressing up as Santa and climbing up on the roof on Christmas eve (grand kids were excited), but we didn't take into account that our dog would not recognize him in the dark and that Terence could no longer run like he used too---  that was a sight to see, Terence in a Santa suit, running in the dark with the dog on his heels-he ran right into he fence! Callie and I were the only witness to Santa's run in with the dog and the fence, and it makes for a pretty hilarious story.  We laugh about the roller blades and Santa's run in.

Ugly sweater Christmas eve, 2010
Our second Christmas (last year) was another desperate year of trying to maintain our festive family traditions - the kids worked real hard to make light of a real heavy situation. Terence had just been taken off the clinical trial because it became too toxic for him.  He faced the month of December pretty sick and in recovery from the drug (will he be here next year?").  Again, I was depressed and stressed, so the kids took the holiday over and we had a National Lampoon "ugly sweater" Christmas eve.  I still had no creative energy so I wasn't into decorating (again, that's something I love to do)-and I don't  even remember Christmas shopping. The ugly sweater Christmas eve was hilariously fun. We all tried to out-do each other and laughed all night long.


Year three: It looks like a chemo Christmas.  The kids holiday trip to Jakarta was canceled since Terence started chemo (
will he be here next year?").  Once again, we're not sure what to expect or how to plan.  Every year cancer has presented itself differently, so we haven't had a 'normal' Christmas like we have in years. Wonder what chemo at Christmas is going to be like any way?  Anticipation!



It seems that our new norm has become:
  "We're not sure if this is our last Christmas together, so we've become 
determined to make it about our experiences not the gifts".



Thinking about it; even before cancer, we never knew if it was last Christmas together or not
Why did it take a terminal illness to express what's really important?


Friday, November 25, 2011

Prayer for Terence today.......

Bella & Papi in the infusion unit
Cycle 2/day 25 of chemo
by sherry

The only true courage that matters to me right now is the kind that gets us from moment to moment.

Today, my heart is heavy for Terence. He is struggling through this round of chemo with it's side effects and cancer pain too. His body is requiring of him great effort and focus for the simplest of functions that you and I take for granted. 

He is tired and in pain. He is grieving because he cannot enjoy his family.  He is sad that his energy is focused on himself.  His world is focused on moment to moment and he hates it.

Last night as we lay in bed, I saw him holding back tears. I hugged him and told him I was here. His heart opened and his grief flowed like a river. The waters too swift, it crashed on the rocks of anger; waves of guilt and pain collapsed on the bank; and then he found a quiet pool where he could rest. 

He's reacting to a major loss. 
*Spending his time with his family and friends. Terence values  nothing more than this.
* His energy has been a great resource and gift to others around him and he has none to 
  give. 

He feels such a deep sense of loss, sorrow and heartache today.

I prayed for him through the night. And woke him this morning with his favorite scripture:

Isaiah 40:31
"But they that hope upon the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles; they shall run and not be weary; and they shall walk and not faint"

Our hope is in the Lord! 







 

Thursday, November 24, 2011

We are rich!

Thanksgiving day, 2011
Cycle 2/day 24 of chemo
by sherry

Today is Thanksgiving!  I am so thankful that Terence and I were able to spend it with all of our (grown) children, grand kids, nephews, friends and extended family.  How rich are we????

Terence had a rough go of it today- the fatigue is overwhelming at times. His pain is subsiding somewhat; it seems the first 24 hours of a chemo treatment really helps manage the pain. Terence is usually feeling great relief from cancer related pain. 

Terence awoke to feel the effects of the chemo and curled up with a blanket on the sofa. I read to him from my bible; It was a very timely scripture and I was very blessed by its encouragement:

"God, who is rich in mercy."
~ Ephesians 2:4 
 
 I am so grateful for his mercy~ He pours out upon us each new day. 
 
Our deepest thanks to you for your prayer support as T went through his recent chemo treatment- the area where they inserted the PICC line is understandably very tender, but appears to be healing nicely. He showers with saran wrap around it to keep it dry- I checked on him tonight, he was standing in the shower with his arm straightened up over his head, saran wrap unraveling and looking a little irritated!

He is experiencing several days of flushing of his cheeks. They get very hot and very pink and a bit swollen. This happened after his last round of chemo so I think it's a side effect. This round  has introduced some side effects today that are new to him. We would be grateful for your prayers for the nausea and to be able to keep down his food. 

God’s mercy is wondrous and I thank Him for it each moment. Your love is wondrous, too, and I thank you and Him very humbly for it.

Blessings to you all!
Sherry
This is our prayer (please join us in it):   
"Our hope is in the Lord- and Terence's strength will be renewed through chemotherapy; 
he will soar on wings like eagles, he will run and not grow weary,
and he will walk and not be faint". (Isa 40:31)



.





It's not about the Hair slide show

Day #19 on chemo, Terence started losing a lot of his hair. We decided to help our grand kids adjust by letting them help our son Eric cut Terence's hair. It peeked their curiosity and compassion. Annie, kept saying, "Nice hair cut Papi!!, Bella was careful to cut his hair carefully and gently while Ethan thought it was all cool and kept rubbing his head. I think it was good for them! video

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

We whisper scriptures

Cycle 2 , day 1 (day 21 0f chemo)-
by sherry
Well, it seems that Terence isn't having too many issues with chemo itself, thank God.  Ok, some hair loss but he doesn't really care about that.
He told me that it would probably matter more if he wasn't is so much pain.

It seems like the cancer is continuing to grow-
after having the TURP surgery (only 8 weeks ago) to  remove cancerous growth from his urethra, he is having problems voiding his bladder again, retaining about 450-500 cc's and in great pain.  He started self cathing again. 

He is having a lot of pain in his abdomen, pelvic and kidney area, all areas where the last scan showed progressive growth.  It came upon him kind of suddenly-about Thursday of last week.  He has difficulty upright walking and is tender.  

He has a chemo treatment today and we are hoping the chemo BLASTS those cancer cells today!!

My sister Charla came down from Bellingham yesterday and is in my kitchen cooking up a storm (her frozen dinners are amazing and extremely helpful).  But more than that, she makes me laugh. I enjoy her company.  It helps relieve some of the anxiety I face.  Seeing Terence like this makes me heart sick.

Terence and I are both facing our days with anxiety. But last night we fell asleep holding hands (his hot flashes keep us from spooning!)...

Facing each other.....we whispered scripture to one another until we drifted off:
T- "His grace is sufficient for you........"
S- "You will live and not die....."
T- " He is your Peace......" (eyes closed)
S- "The Spirit of Life dwells within you......"
T- " The  Lord promises peace to you".....
S- "Your days are numbered by God- they are 86 years..."(eyes closed)
T- "Don't let your heart be troubled and don't be afraid....(drifting off to sleep)
S- "The Spirit of God dwells in you and will quicken your mortal body....." (eyes closed)
S- "The Lord will restore health to you, and will heal your disease...."(drifting)
T-  (Quiet).
T- (eyes closed) "......Let the Lord..... have all your worries and cares...(drifting off)....He is always thinking about you and watching everything that concerns you...."
T- (Quiet).
T- (Quiet).
T- "..........stupid cancer"
S- "Amen"

.......Sleeping..........sleeping........


This is our prayer:  (please join us in it):   
"Our hope is in the Lord, and Terence's strength will be renewed ....
he will soar on wings like eagles, he will run and not grow weary,
and he shall walk and not faint......" Isa. 40:31










Sunday, November 20, 2011

"It's not about the hair"

Cycle One, day 20
by sherry

When it comes to chemo therapy I've heard many times that "it's not about the hair".  But on cycle one, day 19 at 8:45 pm it was about the hair.  For a minute any way.  It wasn't in a vain way.  Sort of  'in your face' way. A 'cancer in your face' moment. It feels like an affront.  Something else being stolen. 

At least that's how Terence feels about it .

Last night he wasn't doing to well, pain-wise.  I held his head in my hands to kiss him good night, and tufts of his hair came out.  Just came right out.  I said, "your hair is falling out".  He said, "I noticed it when I took a shower earlier".  I prepared myself, but it's still kind of shocking when it happens. He said, "If I wasn't in so much pain I think It'd matter". I said, "I'm sorry".  He said, "yeah, just one more thing cancer is trying to take from me. It's time to shave my head". I said, "at least you have a nice beanie and it looks good one you 'cause your eyes are so blue". He just smiled. "Call Bella in here" (the grand kids were spending the night).
So Bella (our 9 year old grand daughter) came in, sat on our bed and the three of us played 'Crazy eights' for a little while. Terence plays his hand and says, "Bella, let's  cut my hair tomorrow morning, ok?". She says, "Ok Papi" while she plays her hand. I said, "Look Bella," and I hugged Terence's head and hair came out on me and in my hands.  She stopped playing. Frozen. And her jaw dropped. (I knew she'd be surprised, but I didn't expect that!). I said, "Remember, it's the medicine that's making is hair fall out, it'll grow back"  She gained her composure and said, "My mom told me that. Papi, won't your head be cold"? (it's not about the hair!).

She's coming with us on Tuesday for Terence's next chemotherapy session.  We decided that it would be a good opportunity to put her in  'hospital context' with Terence while in a relaxed situation. In the chemo area kids are allowed, families watch movies together, they can picnic if they want. The nurses make it as enjoyable as possible. Bella's taking a day out of school and spending it in the chemo unit with her Papi.

It really isn't about the hair. It's about what the loss of it represents. You know how there are 'givers' and 'takers' in life? Cancer is a taker. It takes, takes, takes. Every day, it takes something.  With every cancer symptom or side effect there's a host of emotions to be dealt with it in it's wake, it's exhausting! Losing your hair to chemo really is just 'one more thing'.

I'm typing this in bed (it's 7:00 am and Terence is sleeping next to me)- his hair is still on my pajamas and there's hair on my key pad.  But it isn't about the hair. It's about the strength it takes to face cancer every day. Day in, day out; even when it continues to take, take, take. You just say, "God's grace is sufficient for me"... and you shave your head. 

Pictures soon to follow :)


This is our proclamation:
(please join us in it):   
"Our hope is in the Lord- and Terence's strength will be renewed through chemotherapy; 
he will soar on wings like eagles, he will run and not grow weary,
and he will walk and not be faint". (Isa 40:31)

Saturday, November 19, 2011

His smiley face pain chart says it all


Terence's smiley face pain chart.

There's good news and not-so-good news. 

The good news is
Terence is still facing no serious chemo side effects!
Absolutley no nausea, mouth sores or hair loss.
Hopefully this trend will continue!

  The not-so-good news is
He's in a lot of pain- again. It looks like the cancer has grown (back) 
in either his urethra (he had cancer tissue surgically removed last month), 
or the cancer is growing near his kidney/bladder and blocking off a  
whole new area, stopping him from being able to empty his bladder.  We're not really sure.  
He self-cathed for the first time since his surgery and 
found out he had retained 450 cc. That's a lot of urine left in a bladder.

Not good. His pain level is about an 8/9 on his smile chart :)
His entire abdomen feels like its on fire inside.

Terence  ended up sleeping with a heating pad to try and relieve some of the pain.
Resting today.


He woke up on the quiet side. 
I know that means he's in pain.


 Today (Saturday)- he is immobile.  
Resting and on lots of morphine.

He has 3 more days until his next chemotherapy session, 
so we 'll be able to talk to his doc.  Hopefully the chemo will bring some relief (by shrinking the cancer/tumors).  What he needs to do is make it through the next three days with very little urine retention because retaining it in his bladder could cause an infection.

Our life is full of many concerns stemming from the absence of certainty and control over our future. While we can never be completely free from worry, the Bible shows us how to minimize worry and anxiety in our lives. Philippians 4:6-7 says do not worry about anything, but with prayer and supplication with thanksgiving make your requests known to God and then the peace of God will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus.  


Join us in prayer?

~Sherry & Terence




Thursday, November 17, 2011

Jounral entry by Terence

Terence and Cead
Day 18- Chemo/cycle one
by terence

I've been feeling pretty good for a few days now. My blood tests came back normal....my white blood cell count has risen just in time for my next chemo treatment next Tuesday.  Since I've started the chemo therapy, I have been up and able to walk and much to Sherry's delight I can hold a normal conversation (pain has a way of dulling ones conversation skills). So Sherry has been really happy to have me back in the game somewhat- in fact as I opened my eyes this morning, there she was, standing over my side of the bed still in her pajamas, doing a happy dance singing "today's going to be a great day Terence!".  She has been looking forward to spending some quality outdoor time together ("not sucky sick cancer time" as she calls it).  Sometimes it seems that I have been sick for so long now and we've forgotten so much of our love for the outdoors.

Back packing, camping, fishing, hiking, kayaking, swimming in the ocean, biking, river rafting..snow skiing...in the past our days were filled with outdoor recreation.  As a recreation director, there wasn't much that I didn't do- always taking Sherry and/or the kids with me.  We are beginning to really, really miss that.
 
Sooooo.....unfortunately I ended up spending a better part of the day resting.... I still get really tired, sometimes it hits me suddenly and there is no way I can keep from finding the couch. Today was one of those days and fortunatley there was a monsoon outside, making it a good day to stay inside.....  typical of the pacific northwest, rains and winds were heavy.  Living off of the harbor, we can get a storm or two that leave the cedar trees somewhat 'disarranged'.  From afar, our property looks picturesque like it has been framed with cedar boughs.  In reality it's tree branches from our 90 foot cedars that have fallen around the property edges. 
We ended up making the best of the situation and rode out the storm....Sherry and I caught an old movie On Demand. On the couch. With a roaring fire in the fireplace.  If I have to be stuck inside, I couldn't think of anyone better to be stuck with!



(Some people are always grumbling because roses have thorns; I am thankful that thorns have roses).


Talk to you all later, and thanks so much for praying for me.



~Terence






Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Good days

Day 15, cycle one/chemo
by sherry

Terence has had really good days....almost NO pain and nausea, even the mouth sores and metal mouth ceased (anti-bacterial mouth wash and special tooth paste and prayer).

He still gets a little fatigued, but not much. He's been resting when he needs to. It's been a good 2 weeks.  He's in the doc's office as I write this (he can drive again, yay!), with his day 15 requisition for blood tests, and he will have another chemo infusion next Tuesday.  We are continuing to pray that even though chemo is 'cumulative', he will soar through it while it is blasting those rebellious cancer cells.

It's kind of funny, because once he starts feeling better, we both get bored and start feeling like we can/should/want to do more, and want to pick up the speed at which we used to live.  All it takes though is one bad day, and then we remember how exhausting and almost impossible that is when one is dealing with cancer to this degree.

I've been getting impatient with cancer, almost angry at times. I look at Terence and despise that disease.  We have been fasting and praying for about 3 weeks now and the longer I do, the angrier I get at the disease- it has driven me to the point where I have become very intolerant of it and refuse to let it take it's toll on us.  Stupid cancer.



 This is our proclamation:
(please join us in it):   
"Our hope is in the Lord- and Terence's strength will be renewed even through chemotherapy; he will soar on wings like eagles, he will run and not grow weary,
and he will walk and not be faint". (Isa 40:31) 







Wednesday, November 9, 2011

The chemo is catching up


The chemo is catching up-(but we're still praying!)- T is becoming sensitive/nauseated by smells, starting to get the mouth sores and super sensitive skin (our 300 thread count Egytptian bed sheets feel like sand paper on his skin!) and he's still really tired. Time to go back on   Zofran!                                                                                         An added blessing to the chemo is that it is helping in the cancer related pain- so T is still down to 30 mg's of morphine a day (compared to over 200 prior to starting).
 This is our prayer (please join us in it):  "Our hope is in the Lord- and Terence's strength will be renewed even through chemotherapy; he will soar on wings like eagles, he will run and not grow weary, and he will walk and not be faint". (Isa 40:31) 
Amen! Thanks Lord!
 
 

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

"Papi, why you sick"?

Cycle one, day 8 (of chemo)-

 Blood tests on days 8  (today), 15 and 22. 

Terence has been doing amazingly well, I am sure his blood tests will be fine. Did I mention that he is doing amazingly well? I am thanking God for this.

Since he's started chemotherapy 8 days ago,  he has cut his morphine dosage to almost nothing, has his color back, is not nauseated, is eating well, is dancing with me (2 weeks ago, he couldn't walk and had difficulty dressing himself- he was using a cane!), he's not really taking naps, cracking jokes (a week ago, he was so sick he didn't have much to say other than 'yes' or  'no' is response to a question), and he seems happy. *Exhale* What a relief.  I am happy to see him happy again!

We are continuing to  protect Terence from virus' and such- the whole family masks up as per our doctors orders since his immune system is and will be suppressed/compromised. 

The kids came over for a visit tonight (first time since he started chemo)- they were just full of questions:

Annie (our 3 yr. old grand daughter): "Papi, why you sick, Papi?  Are you going to fall down and die? Why you sick Papi??? Maybe you ate too much the other day. You will be OK then".

Ethan (our 7 year old grandson): "Where's Papi? What's wrong with him? He looks OK to me, is the medicine like a poison? Did he drink it?"

Bella (our 9 year old grand daughter)- Ran straight into the bathroom to wash and sanitize her hands,then promptly asked where the masks are, then came and gave us hugs. "Ethan, put your mask on! Papi can't handle all your germs! You have really bad germs you know. Hey, these (masks) are really neat; did you know that we don't have to cover my mouth when we cough"?

They've know he's been 'sick' for awhile, but he's never really 'looked' or acted sick (they just saw him sleeping a lot more), until recently- so all of this is sort of new for them.

They are very cute.

This is our prayer (please join us in it): 
 
"Terence's hope is in the Lord- and his strength will be renewed, He will soar on wings like eagles (through chemotherapy), He will run and not grow weary,                and he will walk and not be faint".                (Isa 40:31) 




Monday, November 7, 2011

Appreciating our need to go through trials....

Kitchen counter top cluttered with meds and supplements!
My thoughts for the day-
by sherry

 "Blessed is the man who perseveres under trial, because when he has stood the test, he will receive the crown of life that God has promised to those who love him" (James 1:12)

I don't know about you, but it is hard for me to appreciate our need to go through trials. In fact, trials in life are just plain  hard to tolerate!
This is especially true when we are in the middle of them.

But we have some key spiritual reasons to persevere under trials. One of the very best reasons to
hang in there when things are tough spiritually is God's promise to give us the crown of life that can't be taken away from us.

PRAYER:  Gracious God, thank you for promising the victor's crown of life to me. Empower me to persevere through the power of your Holy Spirit. In Jesus' name I pray. Amen.


 Medical update-

We haven't really started our day yet, T still in bed- he woke up in some pain- so I gave him an extended release (only 15 mg) morphine and his prednisone which will help him get up and about.  Must've been all the dancing last night (Dance Central with the kids!)- it was worth it though. We had a lot of fun- we've almost mastered the hip hop version of "Brick House",  just  just need to work a little on the attitude! O' yeeah.

On a great note- Terence has made it 48 hours with NO nausea medication (Zofran) and NO nausea. That is really good!

This is our prayer (please join us in it):
"Terence's hope is in the Lord-
  and his strength will be renewed,
  He will soar on wings like eagles
(through chemotherapy),

He will run and not grow weary,
and he will walk and not be faint"
(Isa 40:31) 

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Day 6-feeling better on chemo


CHEMO CYCLE: one, day 6
by sherry
Wow. Terence is doing really well. Other than a little nausea and fatigue, he is better than he has been in a year. 
If you remember, it was a little less than two weeks ago that he had gotten to the point where he could barely walk because the cancer had progressed pretty heavily in his pelvic/abdomen region and morphine wasn't even enough to even dull the pain.  Six days on chemo and we have been able to reduce his morphine dosage by more than half.

Go figure- that someone on is feeling better on chemo than if they were not on it!  God is so good.


I understand that chemo is cumulative and that with each cycle it will become more toxic to his system, but we are also praying that the Lord will carry Terence through this and we believe that He is.  

Since it's Sunday Terence preached at service- and made it through with out needing to rest.  I on the other hand, wasn't able to outrun an 18 hour virus so I isolated myself for a time.

Travis and Stacy came and are spending the week-end here; they took over my chores which enabled me to spend yesterday in bed- not having to worry about meals and cleaning. What great kids they are.

This is our prayer (please join us in it):
"Terence's hope is in the Lord-
  and his strength will be renewed,
  He will soar on wings like eagles
(through chemotherapy),

He will run and not grow weary,
and he will walk and not be faint"
(Isa 40:31) 

Friday, November 4, 2011

He smiles!


Cycle One, Day 4
by sherry

Day 4: Terence awoke with a smile on his face...even as I write this, 
I can hear him in the family room laughing with Eric and Travis. Yay!

Days one, two and three were tiring, and somewhat
confusing days for him, but today, he's soaring on wings of eagles,
as has been our prayer (Isa. 40:31).

My sister Charla left yesterday (I was sad to see her go, but I am sure her own family is happy to have her back!) and Travis and Stacy arrived this morning.  Dinner, more help with sewing terry cloth pillow cases (the hot flashes have gotten worse since he started chemo  so I've been changing the pillow cases several times a night but I quickly discovered that towels are more absorbent and comfortable for him) and wood cutting are on their agenda. What great kids!!!!!

Terence is eating pretty well today- had a small appetite at breakfast and lunch, but he's eating and enjoying it.  I believe he'll do well on this! I on the other hand, haven't really been eating since he started chemo (too busy, too nervous)- and I woke up this morning feeling really run downI scolded myself for not keeping up my immune system- if I get sick, I have to isolate myself from him until I'm symptom free.

One thing I realized this morning was that I don't have the privilege of sleeping in- since I'm the only one who understands Terence's medicine schedule (besides my sister)!!! So, as usual...I am ever mindful of delegating... I re-created it to where he and others could easily follow it, without having to chart all the smaller details. This will enable me to sleep in if I'm sick or tired- hoorah!

This is our prayer (please join us in it):
"Terence's hope is in the Lord-
  and his strength will be renewed,
  He will soar on wings like eagles
(through chemotherapy),

He will run and not grow weary,
and he will walk and not be faint"
(Isa 40:31) 
 
 

Thursday, November 3, 2011

The 'morning after' chemo

Tada! Chemo! And Terence is not amused!
November 3, 2011
by sherry

Update on Terence:

He had a rough day yesterday, the 'morning after' his first chemo treatment:  he battled nausea (but not vomiting), severe fatigue, confusion and hallucinations.  

We struggled "somewhat" with his fluid intake (he wasn't interested in anything....but he needs about 84 ounces of water because the chemo left him dehydrated and his creatinin count is a little high).

Today, he is still tired- and little bit grouchy (in my opinion :), more cognizant but still has no appetite. My sister is here cooking up a gourmet storm; fortunately she's freezing the food for when Terence is ready to eat.  For now, he's drinking his meals! 



This was my morning devotion:
For still the vision awaits its appointed time;
it hastens to the end—it will speak, it will not lie.
If it seems slow, wait for it;
it will surely come; it will not delay. (Habakkuk 2:3)


Mercy may seem slow, but it is certain. The Lord in unfailing wisdom has appointed a time for the outpouring of His gracious power, and God’s time is the best time. We are in a hurry; the vision of the blessings  (healing for Terence) excites our desire and hastens our longings; but the Lord will keep His appointments. He is never before His time; He is never behind.

God’s word here is spoken of as a living thing and will come. It is never a dead letter, as we are tempted to fear when we have waited long for its fulfillment. The living word is on the way from the living God, and though it may seem to linger, it is not in reality doing so. God’s train is not behind schedule. It is only a matter of patience, and we will soon see for ourselves the faithfulness of the Lord.

I believe with God all things are possible!
 ~ Sherry