Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Tenacity is more than endurance.

In the last 2 weeks, we've spent many hours in the hospital.

February 22, 2012
by sherry

The day after chemo.  T is tired and nauseated- emotional too.  Today he is face to face with his physical limitations and the fact that cancer really does suck.  He's had a long month; failed treatments, renal failure and  started another/new chemo regimen.
We had prepared for the next phase of this journey realizing that we have need of endurance ( Hebrews 10:36)- in fact just a few days ago Terence and I talked about how we felt like we were running a marathon.  Yes we decided, we need endurance.
 But we are realizing that we need more than endurance- we need to be tenacious....

Tenacity is more than endurance; it is endurance combined with the certainty that what we are looking for is going to transpire. 

Endurance + faith = tenacity.

Tenacity is also more than hanging on, which may be weakness of being too afraid to fall off.

 Tenacity is the effort of a man refusing to believe that his hero is going to be conquered.

Spiritual tenacity is not to hanging on and doing nothing, but deliberately relying on the certainty that God is  (doing something).

Today.....we are disappointed-we are processing the effects of cancer through a tired soul.  This is where we  need not only endurance, but tenacity.  To press in, hope in God, waiting on Him, even though we are tired, because with God all things are possible.

One of the greatest strains in life is the strain of waiting for God.

"Be still, and know that I am God ".
Psalms 46:10

Prayerfully, we'll we remain spiritually tenacious!

$3K and worth it

Terence received a 'Nuelasta' shot when he completed chemo last night.  It stimulates his bone marrow to make white blood cells so that he won't become nutropenic. I am glad for it, but It causes deep bone pain in his hip, femur and legs.

Neulasta reduces the chance of infection in people who have cancer and are receiving chemotherapy medications that may decrease the number of neutrophils (a type of blood cell needed to fight infection).  Terence has several sights on his body that would be prone to picking up an infection (nuphrostomy tube/PICC line and self cathing), so we are being on the safe side.

$3K and worth it.
Terence & Sherry & grand kids, 2009

Please join me in this prayer for Terence:

"Dear friend, I pray that you may enjoy good health and that all may go well with you, even as your soul is getting along well"  (3 John1:2).

Many blessings!


Saturday, February 18, 2012

Big heart, little girl

Bethany's new hair cut

February 18, 2012
By Sherry

Talk about bravery and love... this little girl melted our hearts 14 years ago and she still continues to do so.....

Our little friend  whom we have known since before birth Bethany Archibald (14),  loves her "Pastor Boo-Boo" (or "PBB", also known to us as Terence) shaved her head- she wants PBB know that he's not facing this alone.

His hair started growing back 2-18-12

Terence begins a new round of chemotherapy next Tuesday.  His hair has grown in since his last treatment, but he's preparing for another loss...but that's okay- he's not alone!

Thanks Bethany! we love you!!!

PBB and aunty Sherry

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Blood transfusion today

Drip, drip- five hours to transfuse today.

"I'd rather be a cruise with you than get hit in the head with a hockey puck"~ Happy Valentines Day

February 16, 2012
by sherry

We've been in and out of the hospital for a few days now~ oncology appointments/lab tests (8 pokes)/new nuphrostomy flushing equipment/ Foley catheter out/voiding tests/bladder scans and a blood transfusion today with a new chemo regimen starting next Tuesday. The Abireaterone ("Abby") wasn't working.  PSA up by 80 points, more cancer growth on the lymph nodes accompanied by level 8 pain (on morphine) in Terence's pelvic area and continued kidney  complications from tumors on the kidney ureters = off Abby and onto chemo.  

His hair was just starting to grow back.

 Receiving his 5 hour "drip"
We're both grouchy today. After 8 unsuccessful pokes yesterday, and three more this morning, I don't blame him.  He's still  scheduled for one more poke- to have his PICC line re-inserted to prevent more poking! (it is a peripherally inserted central catheter, a long, slender, and flexible tube that is inserted into a peripheral vein, typically in the upper arm, and advanced until the catheter tip terminates in a large vein in the chest near the heart to obtain intravenous access. It is similar to other central lines as it terminates into a large vessel near the heart). They do this by ultra sound, it takes an hour or so, depending.  His last PICC line was removed because they expected the ABBY to work which would mean that he wouldn't need a PICC line again for 6 months or's been 4 weeks.

I'm grouchy- just because.  I'm tired. Some days I reach my limit. I found myself irritated today at the slightest of things ..... (Terence:"Sherry, where are my clothes?" Me: "look with your eyes and not your mouth!!". I forgot I packed them and  put them in the car;  he wouldn't have been able to find them even if he tried). *Sigh* An attitude adjustment is in line, or it's going to be a long day. We just started the transfusion.

I'm not surprised he needed a transfusion. The symptoms were clear for about four days- Terence has been abnormally tired, dizzy, lightheaded, and weak (if you don’t have enough red blood cells, your bloodstream cannot carry enough oxygen to all of the tissues in your body. This can make you experience these symptoms).   He has also been a little confused. His romantic Valentine comment to me was "I'd rather be on a cruise with you than get hit in the head with a hockey puck....happy Valentines day my love".   Hmmmmm Okay. Me too.

 So we're here today and possibly tomorrow too. And back again next Tuesday for Chemo. Please pray that the chemo isn't too taxing on his one healthy kidney. 

Happy belated Valentines day and enjoy your President's day Weekend!


Saturday, February 11, 2012

A short story

 I'm working on my book----finally.  I've known for about 15 years that I've had a book to write but I've waited and waited and waited until I truly had a testimony birthed in me.

A life changing event should be exactly that- 'life changing'.  At the onset of Terence's initial diagnoses we prayed that this terminal prognoses would become a journey that would change our lives for the better.  We didn't want this terrible disease to take anything from us, but use it to allow the Lord to give us much. 

He did. He gave us Grace. 

But we are having to to un-tether ourselves from all the worries and strategies and plans and concerns and fears and................

Because grace by definition is a manifestation of God's favor that one hasn't earned, we needed to learn to rest and trust and continue abide in Him regardless the outward circumstances.

 Learning the unforced rhythms of grace is Jesus showing me how to take a real rest in the midst of trouble and trials. Walking with Him and working with Him—keeping company with Him and learning to live lightly without the heavy burdens that life can bring.  Walking in a grace that is (more than) sufficient to get me through the toughest of times.

It' a rhythm of grace that's unforced because it comes from God, who is the giver of grace. It's empowering too, because He is Grace.

Unforced rhythms of grace is much like the life and times of the lotus flower (above). The lotus flower starts as a small flower down at the bottom of a pond in the mud and muck. It slowly, naturally and gracefully grows up towards the waters surface continually moving towards the light. Once it come to the surface of the water the lotus flower begins to blossom and turn into a beautiful flower.

I should change my facebook post : "A little discouraging, but the Lord's grace is more than sufficient for us: we are feeling it and are seeing it in ways that we never would if it were not for this rugged road we travel..." to  "This muddy road we travel". 

We certainly are traveling a rugged and muddy road.  But we are learning how to rest in the Lord in the midst of life and death situations- and hopefully we, like the Lotus flower will gracefully and naturally to push through the muddy waters, on toward the light (Jesus) and blossom. 

Which is what we asked for. To be changed. 
Sometimes it takes muddy waters.


Thursday, February 9, 2012

Rough Road Ahead

February 9, 2012
by sherry

So.......Terence ended up not having the surgery yesterday- re-scheduled for next week.  It was an odd appointment.  Most likely not odd  for medical researchers on "clinic day", but definitely odd for normal people like us.

To start the day, we had his labs drawn. His creatnine count came down, showing that is ONE kidney(the left one) is doing good and it is draining and flowing well (Terence had a bypass done on that one; he has an external bag connected to his kidney which comes out of his back called a 'nuphrostomy').  His right kidney seems to have almost no function, no drainage; this is the kidney they were planning on focsuing on yesterday.

Since his labs show that his left kidney is doing what it needs to for his body to function, they said he doesn't need to have the bypass done on the other (right) kidney.

Terence said, "What happens if I don't get it done? Will my kidney die?".  Answer-  "Well, your right kidney already has so much dead tissue....and isn't functioning. But you can get the nuphrostomy tube put won't make it healthier, it will just keep it from dying.  It's a matter of quality of life. If you have the tube in, it's uncomfortable and hard to live with two will have them for a long time, probably the rest of your life....."

Terence: "why would I voluntarily allow my kidney to die for the sake of inconvenience?" Answer: "well, you don't really need it, and it's an painful procedure and difficult to live with".

So this is palliative care. The goal of palliative care is to relieve suffering and provide the best possible quality of life for people facing pain, symptoms and stresses of serious illness. It is a treatment philosophy that is not meant to cure, because you are not expected to live very long.

"Wait.  What?"

Wait, what? How does your brain (and heart) process this?????? Tough to swallow. So we're not.  That means we've chosen the road less traveled: the rough(er) one.

Terence decided not to let the right kidney die and to have the bypass. "It goes against everything I believe. I am fighting to live, and to let something in me die (by choice) just seems wrong"- he said.

So, he scheduled for the procedure next Wednesday.  The thought is that this procedure is not considered urgent since his L kidney is already doing the work), so it could wait a week, giving him  more time to heal and learn how to live with one nuphrostomy.

His PSA rose 40 points, so, hough he's still taking the Abiraterone "ABBY", it may only be for another week. Between this PSA rising and the cancer progression, he will start the next round of chemo within the next 14 days: Cabazitaxol/Jevtana.
I think his kidneys need a break before he jumps right in to chemo.

So, yesterdays visit was another blow to our hearts- the reality of palliative care hurts. The doctors assumption that the cancer will take you out. Perhaps that's the facts they read on the reports, but Terence and I  need to focus on truth and life. The truth is that we believe that with men this is impossible, but with God, all things are possible.  And Life? We choose life. No matter what. Otherwise fear and hopelessness will do us in quicker than the cancer will.

So......we are doing well. Overcoming a little discouragment, but the Lord's grace is more than sufficient for us: we are feeling it and are seeing it in ways that we never would if it were not for this rugged road we travel.


Monday, February 6, 2012

This post is about surviving. And not just surviving but overcoming

Acute renal failure. T & his surgeon pre-surgery.
February 6, 2012
by sherry

February 2
The day actually started the night before.   Terence had his labs done and it was almost 10 PM and we still hadn't seen the result posted to his online medical chart. We couldn't have a discussion with his oncologist with out them.

Our son-in-law Mike is privy to T's medical charts because he is one of main providers, in fact the one who found the original prostate tumor.  He came over that evening, and pulled up the charts.  It was then we knew that Terence was dealing with acute renal failure.

Early the next morning (6 AM), I was on the phone with the oncologist who still hadn't received the labs (we had the labs done close to home as opposed to going into the hospital in Seattle, so there are always opportunities for communication snafus, and this was one of them).  I told them what the immediate results were and our oncologist  made the decision to get Terence down there immediately. From there they did what they could to procure his lab results (plus they decided to do their own when he got there anyway).

Meanwhile Terence was lethargic, immobile from the lymphedema in his lower extremities and in pain.  I was trying to keep him comfortable, arrange for our trip (I was told to prepare to stay for a few days),  pack our bags, take care of things around the house since we would be absent...I did all this limping, since I was day 4 out of double knee surgery!

Enter the (grown) children: my two boys were here by 8 AM to go over the needs of the car/house/dog while we were gone and my oldest daughter Nadine was here by 10 AM to drive us to the hospital (no small feat there, she has 3 small children). By 10:45 AM we were off to Seattle....Terence slept all the way.

Wheel chair for T and crutches for me- we made it and Terence was admitted.  It was determined they would focus on only one kidney since the recovery is a little difficult. They told me he could live on one kidney for the time being.  Surgery was scheduled and after a whirl of medical "this and that's",  I finally found myself sitting in the waiting room waiting. Once I had settled in I felt a small ball of fear on the pit of my stomach. 

All I could hear in my mind was the receptionist question to me when I checked Terence in....."is Mr. Luttrell on disability due to end stage renal failure?".    

No. He has prostate cancer. Stage 4.  I was stunned by that question and the weight of it's implication.  Another diagnoses. ...with "end-stage" in it.

I called my sister Charla to let he know Terence was "in"...but once she answered her phone I couldn't really speak.  When I tried, I just cried. I hadn't cried in about 5 months- I had just plowed through chemotherapy and all of it's effects on Terence and the family and I was.  Charla was so graceful....she was saying "I know Sherry, it must be so overwhelming.  I'll be there  tomorrow. I'm sorry. I'll be there soon....."  

  One more phone call, and I was assured that our ministry team and intercessors were in full swing- praying and worshiping from afar in Terence's behalf........

After I hung up, I took some deep breaths to try and compose myself, but my body just shook. I felt like my heart was broken and I began to weep and I just couldn't stop.  My daughter Nadine and close family friend Stacy were next to me holding my hands and all I could mutter was "Lord, please have mercy on Terence.....I know your strength is sufficient to see us through. Give us strength.  Grace. Mercy. Grace. Mercy......Grace.....grace.....grace".

Once he was in recovery- instead of a pit of fear in my tummy, strength rose up within me and I moved forward...learning what I needed to about renal failure and how to care for all of Terence's nephrostomy tubes, etc. etc.  

Our close  and long-time family friend and pastor Doug Heck,  came and prayed for Terence and with me.  He is a great father in faith, and it was comforting to have him there.  After he prayed he shared  stories and testimonies of his latest trip around the world were he is seeing and experiencing miracles.  It built our faith.  
Before he left he told Terence "There are still many people to reach. The Kingdom needs you. I need you".

By 11 PM that night Nadine and I were walking through the empty hospital halls headed to our hotel room to catch some sleep.  Nadine made an interesting observation; "Mom, you're not even limping, you don't even look like you just had knee surgery".   Honestly, I forgot all about my knees!!!!

Five days later: brings us up to date:
  •  My sister Charla and her daughter Roxanne are here----cooking and baking up a storm (Kalua pig, Pad Thai. short bread cookies, biscuits, bread...........) doing laundry and taking care of peripheral tings while look after Terence......
  • He watched the super bowl yesterday (from his new recliner), joined by all of our children and grand kids,
  •  Our son Eric is helping me with all the technicalities of catheters and nephrostomy tubes.... (a navy corpsman and nurse in the ICU), son -in law Mike checking on Terences pain levels......
  • Daughter-in law Callie came and unpacked and organized our bedroom, getting it ready for live with tubes........
  • our youngest son Andrew- washed all the cars- getting Terence's truck clean and ready for him... when he's able to drive again.......
  • I'm resting this morning, legs, elevated, ice pack in place.
  We're looking forward to a very quiet week, no medical dramas and a full and quick recovery.

This post was about surviving.  And not just surviving but overcoming.  Experiencing supernatural grace that takes us from strength to strength as we "take hold of life that is truly life"  (I Ti. 6:19) which carries one triumphantly past the grave into the ages to come.


Friday, February 3, 2012

It's really tough to hear reports like this other news: 55 degrees and light showers in Seattle today...

In the wee hours of the morning, we are waiting to hear from our doctor.  Terence's blood work came back last nite showing he has "insufficient" kidney function" (acute renal failure) and low hemoglobin (in need of a blood transfusion; T will feel stronger  after the first unit of blood and a lot better after the second one.  Please help to keep these blood banks full. It is a great way to help your fellow man, even if you don't know who it might be). 

The extreme swelling of his lower extremities is most likely due to the lack of kidney function~or~ the tumors in his pelvic area~no one really knows at this point. 

This is kind of a devastating blow to our hearts; it's really tough to hear reports like this, especially when you're already tired and feeling worn down by all the other effects of cancer and it's treatments. Our son in-law Mike, came by late last nite to encourage us and pray for us. It certainly helped.

The Lord continues to strengthen us in our weakest moments.  He is with us, and will not forsake us.

2 Corinthians 12:9 And He said to me, "My grace is sufficient for you, for My strength is made perfect in weakness." Therefore most gladly I will rather boast in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me.

Thanks for your prayers,