Sunday, July 29, 2012

"Just breathe"- by Terence's son Eric

 by terence's son, eric

 Terence officiated Eric's wedding in 2008- here, Eric is singing to his bride.
It’s 12:30am here in Cambodia, and I’m sitting here looking at my Mom’s “blog”, and I can’t even begin to read any of the posts that are on here.  I get half way through reading one of them and I start to have a panic attack.  I have to get up from my seat, and go into the hallway and put my hands over my head and just breathe.  My heart is so dang heavy right now; it’s hard to get up in the morning, it’s hard to work out, and for those of you that know me that’s where I find peace.
Callie, Eric and Pop- July 2008
I still remember it like it happened yesterday, Nadine sprinting across my yard to my sliding door and telling me that Pop was diagnosed with stage 4 terminal prostate cancer.  It was like a slap in the face.  I had no clue how to process that information.  All that ran through my head was “You mean to tell me that the man who raised me, the man that taught me how to throw a curve ball, and the man that helped get me into college is going to die in 9-18 months?”  Are you kidding me?!   Now here I sit, somewhere in the middle of the Pacific Ocean in transit to Cambodia, and I receive the worst phone call anyone would ever want to hear. 
I don’t know what woke me up at 4am.  I was supposed to be on liberty that day as well. (Liberty is an R&R day for you in the military, day off from work) But I rose at 4am, right on schedule, checked my email and saw an email from my wife, Callie, saying “call me ASAP!”  Typically, that’s never a good email/text to receive.  So reluctantly I drug myself to the telephones to call Callie.  
Pop and Eric in Chicago, 2010

Looking back, 9-18 months sounds like an eternity, especially compared to the prognosis that was just given to Pop!  That may have been the worst news I’d ever heard.  It’s hard enough to have someone unexpectedly die, or even to know someone is on their way out of this life.  But to be told that someone you love only has 2-4 weeks left on this earth, and I’m on the other side of the world, totally powerless and at the mercy of someone or something that cannot sympathize with me in the least bit.  I have to tell you, my heart is as heavy as it’s ever been. 
I find out the Pop has 2-4 weeks to live, and the Navy can’t even get me home within 1 week to see him, and my heart continues to get heavier.  I see all the pictures that people send me, and the ones posted on Facebook of Pop, deteriorating, and my heart gets heavier. 
I’m here sitting in front a computer screen thousands of miles away, heavy hearted. 

Lord I pray peace and patience over my family.  I pray that you would fill their hearts with joy and replace any fear or doubts in their heart.  I pray for the strength to continue to walk in your word Lord, and to stand fast on the promise that YOU made Pop to live to the age of 86!  In Jesus name, Amen.
Fishing with Pop last fall

Saturday, July 28, 2012

"Tonight, my heart is broken"- by nadine

July 28, 2012
by his daughter nadine

These last few days have been my breaking point. Please....don't tell me to "have faith", that "it's not over", that "he's not dead.".  I want to scream!!!!! I know all of this, yet I sat at the foot of his hospital bed today and looked in his eyes that he could barely keep open. Eyes that are red and glassy. Eyes that are sunken into a pale saggy face.

I know he's not dead, yet I sat on the floor and held his hand while he slept and in a moment of pain,  he asked me to let go because his pain was so overwhelming that it hurt for his hand to be touched.

My 3 year old asks me very day if Papi is going to die. My 8 year old prays (with his buddy) for Papi to feel better. My 10 year old just gives me extra hugs.

I broke today...I rushed home to the arms of my husband, (my heart cringes because I have a luxury my mom is losing) and cried....wept....wailed into his chest. All I can say is "I don't want pop to die."
Tonight as I lay in bed, I'm fighting the urge to go to my moms house...I just want to touch pop. To tell him I love him. To tell him I'm sorry he has to suffer pain, and weakness, and emotions that come along with it. I want to hug my mom and do something for her, but what can really do to help?
I'm angry, too. I know we live in a "fallen world"....blah blah blah. I can live with the small struggles, a broken bone, a fight with a friend....but death? Death of my pop? That's too much. Why are we going through this struggle? God, I don't want this one. Please not this one....please not my pop. Please not the kids' Papi. Please not my moms husband. Please not Uncle Dan's ONLY family. This is too much for me. It's too much for Pop.
I don't think there is a hidden "message of hope" in this note....maybe tomorrow, for "His Mercies are new every morning." my heart is too broken tonight.

Alaska, October 2009

Inside story

July 27, 2012 by sherry

Not to be morbid or depressing, but I'm going to write about a few things that have actually taken part in our lives the past two weeks. It starts out depressing, moves into a hard read, but hopefully in the end your heart will be lifted by hope.

Cancer is a sickening thing to witness.  In just a matter of weeks (July 4th to today, July 27th) cancer has changed the landscape of my husbands body and face. He is weak and it shows. He is tired and you can clearly see it.  He is in pain and that too is written on his face.  The past week he has lived through 8-9 and 10 levels of pain (and that was with 1000 mgs of morphine a day).
For one entire day he went without even a smile much less a smirk  (he's a wise guy).

 Stupid cancer.

After about a week of this, I became so overwhelmed by his pain.  I prayed. I stayed by his side. I played my guitar. I made him banana splits, Sundaes, grilled steaks.  Nothing worked.  I cried in the bath tub.  I tired to make him smile, even my goofy dances stopped working.  After awhile my only response was to offer him more morphine. Anything to make the pain go away! How excruciating to watch and not be able to do anything!

Somewhere in there I started to become frustrated and angry. I was/am tired. His pain was/is relentless. The symptoms of cancer keep showing off and I can't turn away because the symptoms are in my husbands body.  I started to become short in temper with him, hurry up, speak up, sit up........Cancer in it's late stages has created a schism.  He's clearly the patient and I'm clearly not.  I found myself irritated even angry when I sprained my ankle and cut my fingers without so much of an acknowledgement from my husband.  He doesn't see when I'm exhausted and sweaty (his shower prep times with him is like being in a sauna), standing there in front of him waiting for him as he slowly contemplates swallowing all the pills that I put in front of him....wanting to re-cap what each one is and what it's for.......I get to a point I just want to tuck him in and go to bed myself.  I've been in a frustrated state.

So, with the help of prayer, worship, admonishment from my pastors as well as 'reminders' from my sister, I am getting over the frustrated/angry stage. Don't want a single regret. Don't want to waste time on the negative. *Inhale*/*Exhale*/*Praise*

Now; Terence is sooo sick, it makes me sick. Literally. It makes me throw up.  It must be anxiety.
I lay next to bed with him (I recently put our queen bed in storage, brought in a twin hospital bed then bought a twin for me and put the two together, so now we can finally sleep together). But between 10 Pm and 9 AM...I hear every moan for every ache that he has. I listen to his breathing patterns and when he stops breathing for more that 30 seconds I jostle him to wake him up.  Then he says "ow". So then I rub his back so he can fall back asleep.  I wake up feeling a little cold and realize that he's partially uncovered so I cover him. Then I feel movement in the bed- that'd be Terence, trying to get up to go to the bathroom, or to the garage to "work on a project"- it just depends. Either way, he's not really able to either on his own.  So we're up and at 'em taking care of business.....or fixing a flashlight in the garage at 3 am.

Lately though~ things ave changed- drastically.  He's very, very sick. The cancer as filled his abdomen.  He is not out in the garage trying to fix anything. No 'jaunts' out to check on his truck.  He needs help sitting up, standing up, walking, bathing, even eating.  This makes me very sad. I cry a lot when he's asleep.

THIS is Terence!
This is not Terence.  This is not Terence.  This is not Terence.  This is not Terence. This is not Terence. 

Our kids are upside down. Who know whats up any more? Our grand kids seem oblivious but they're not. Our baby (Annie, who is almost 4) sees Terence sleeping and asks, "is Papi dead?".  They are upside down too.

Terence's body is very slowly shutting down.  I had to visit the funeral home today.... go through the rigamarole.  My sister did the home work. I just sat there thinking "today would be a grrrrrrreat day for that miracle Lord. Please don't make me have to walk through this".

But....I prepare myself even as Paul prepared for shipwreck; the ship was lost, but there was no loss of life.  In the same way, our own desires and failed dreams may go down, but I hope and believe we will be positioned in another place of blessing where we will walk in the power of His Spirit and not in the power of our own strength.   (Acts ch. 27)

Old ceilings have become new floors for us as we rise to new levels of experience.  We are being challenged to exercise a higher degree of maturity and experience a greater calm in the midst of the storms of life....   Be strong says the Lord! 

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

"We are without fear or dred of evil".

July 23, 2012
by sherry

Not much to report on today; cumbersome  stuff; Terence's hospice nurse came by and flushed all necessary tubes and the doc increased Terences pain meds significantly.

Our oncologist is scheduling him to have the abdominal fluid aspirated as well as change out the left nephrostomy tube. Hopefully we can get it scheduled this week...our family is trying to schedule a week long trip to Ocean Shores--we are hoping Terence can recover nicely by a Pacific Northwest beach :)

They are talking about adding another drainage tube from his abdomen. Terence just told me he doesn't want it; that would be four tubes protruding from his body and four possible sites for infection. He has been very tired today- he spent most of the day trying to overcome pain.It's 11:04 PM and that's still a goal!

On a great note, our pastors and some 20 odd year mentors Doug and Ellen Heck with Kerry Smith came over tonight and spent some time ministering to us; (having been pastors for about 20 years, we're usually the ones 'pastoring').  For Terence, they prayed for continued strength, healing and hope to rise up in Terence,  and for me well......the fear of's been squeezing the life out of me, death has been an intimidating force working against me.  I was encouraged to find my voice again and speak truth over death and fear loudly and clearly.

So with that, in closing I say this:

“In Jesus’ Name, I make the confession and believe that no weapon formed against us will  prosper, we dwell in the secret place of the Most High God, and shall remain fixed and stable under the shadow of the Almighty, whose power no foe can withstand. 

We have the wisdom of God’s Word dwelling in us, and because it does, We are without fear or dread of evil.  His Word is life and strength to Terence's bones and to our soul.
We are strengthened with the mighty power of the Holy Spirit Who dwells in us. God Almighty is our strength and our refuge, and we confidently trust in Him and His Word. We are endued with power from on high through our union with God Almighty, which gives us the Supernatural strength to walk in divine health and live prosperously" Amen.

Monday, July 23, 2012

"O Wau Me Oe Kealoha A O Oe Kealoha" I am my beloveds' and my beloved is mine

Trying on my Holoku.
July 23, 2012
by sherry
This is a picture that my sister took with her phone today- I am trying on my 'Holoku' (Hawaiian wedding dress and Maile leaf 'haku' (head band) and lei.  The dress (which still needs altering) arrived today in preparation for the renweal of our vows when we go home to Hawaii in about 8 weeks.
It couldn't have arrived at a better time........ I've blogged these past few days/weeks, Terence has been having an increasing difficult time.  We had some tough news today. Terence has been dealing with acities (most likely from liver mets)..... the doctor told us today that he may have only a few weeks left.....

The dress arrived......and  I tried it on for Terence and that gave us a goal; our wedding, 8 weeks away. Of course our hope is more than 8 weeks, but that's what we're starting with.

Meanwhile, the Red Cross is working to try and bring our son Eric home (he is overseas on a Mercy mission with the navy).  Terence will be going back into the hospital to have the fluid in his abdomen aspirated (it's toxic fluid)  this week....and we are hoping that our family can get away to Ocean Shores to spend some quality time together- all this within the next few days.

Terence is full of faith. Never wavering, I love that about him. He's the love of my life and I adore him so.

 "O Wau Me Oe Kealoha A O Oe Kealoha" 
  I am my beloveds' and my beloved is mine
 Song of Solomon 6:3

Saturday, July 21, 2012

Here's how.

The week is finally over; here's how we made it.

Exhausted on Monday.
July 20, 2012 by sherry
Jesus said, "Are you tired? Worn out? Burned out? Come to me. Get away with me and you'll recover your life. I'll show you how to take a real rest"

Whew, it's Saturday.  Looking back down the week’s mountain, some of us wonder how we made it.  … Monday was...well...not very good.  Tuesday....not much better.  Wednesday maybe a little better.  Thursday was ........well, the entire week was a slippery slope down- Terence was very sick and very tired.  So you get the point.

Fatigued on Friday.....

When we look back at our week, we can clearly see the Lord's hand at work in our lives despite the week's difficulties.  Moses looked back at the sea he crossed and saw that the crossed on dry ground.  Daniel looked back at his bed in a lion’s den.  Despite the fact that Moses and God's people were being hotly pursued by their enemy, God had made a way.  Despite the fact that Daniel had been thrown into a dark den full of hungry lions, he remained  intact.

Spent on Saturday.

If we look back at our week we can witness with awe and wonder the Lord's hand at work.  Even though Terence  has not had energy (all week) to join us for family dinners (at home) or  join in on all the fun prep time for a family BBQ, or just be  'around' when the kids and I are all outside mowing the lawn, or helping me with my patio garden floor project :) while having  glass of iced tea- The Lord has still shown Himself in a mighty way by providing for us and keeping us close to one another during this season.   And Terence is getting some good rest.  He and I talked about allowing himself to rest, and not feel guilty.  I suggested he just rest, and rely on the Lord to restore his body through rest.  So he rested his weary body this week.

So we finished the week- still sane and still intact (somewhat. I sliced my fingers with a knife today!).  We try to remember that Jesus finished His week with victory-  and if he can, we can too because can do all things through Christ who strengthens us (Phil. 4:13).

               He's how me made it.

Matthew 11:28-30 The Message   

Jesus said,"Are you tired? Worn out? Burned out? Come to me. Get away with me and you'll recover your life. I'll show you how to take a real rest. Walk with me and work with me—watch how I do it. Learn the unforced rhythms of grace. I won't lay anything heavy or ill-fitting on you.  Keep company with me and you'll learn to live freely and lightly." 

Matthew 11:28-30 The Message  

by sherry





Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Give every day a chance!

July 17, 2012
by terence

I am continuing to press in and trust in the Lord for my healing & restoration.  I've been re-reading the book of Joshua & have been encouraged- Joshua is a man who fulfilled all the tasks set before him by his mentor Moses, obtained the promises of God for all of Israel.

Even after 40 years God still remembered his promises and fulfilled them.  How does that relate to me?  I stand on a promise of God waiting for the day of my personal healing and am persistent in his call on my life.

Our son in-law Mike prays over Terence regularly.
Every day I wake up I say, "this would be a good day to be healed, Lord!"  If the day ends and I'm not healed; it doesn't alter my faith because I know that God is still good.  I may be physically weak but my spirit is strong. 

 I look forward with expectancy to what tomorrow may bring.

Let me tell you- this is not an easy thing to do- every day is like being on a roller coaster- experiencing the ups and downs of extreme pain in parts of my body I've never felt before.
 Sometimes I can feel pain in almost every cell of my body.  For the most part I am immobile, weak and has confined me to the house.  I have to remain in constant in meditation on the good things of the Lord otherwise I could so easily focus on the devastation of cancer and be blinded to the blessings that have surrounded me.

I like what Max Lucado wrote: "Something to complain about"
If you look hard enough and long enough, you’ll find something to complain about! Adam and Eve did. Surrounded by all they needed, they set their eyes on the one thing they couldn’t have.
The followers of Moses did. They could’ve focused on the miracles, but instead they focused on their problems.
What are you looking at? The one fruit you can’t eat? Or the million you can? The manna or the misery?
The apostle Paul reminds us:

Whatever things are true, whatever things are noble, whatever things are just, whatever things are pure, lovely, of good report, if there is any virtue and if there is anything praiseworthy, meditate on these things” (Philippians 4:8 NIV).

Isn't it funny that even the garden of Eden looks gray to some??  But it needn’t to us. Jesus who began a good work in us will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus (Philippians 1:6)! 

Give every day a chance!

Friday, July 13, 2012

The gift of touch

Terence & Sherry

The past few days have been harder than usual-although Terence is recovering nicely from a raging infection that showed itself with a 104.9 fever last Friday evening, it's left him really weak and tired.

It's tough.  When he's feeling (relatively) well, the topics of our discussions are normal (the grand kids, the kids, the ministry, the yard.....) when he's not well it's tough for Terence to think of anything beyond "getting through the moment at hand".  It's true.

Today, simple tasks are taking so much effort and focus.  Bathroom, shower, eating, walking about, reaching for water......I immediately realize that my concerns about yard work, taking the trash out, paying bills.....are non-issues for Terence at times like this. 

This is when all he wants is prayer, water and a gentle touch. 

Sometimes when I see him struggle it makes me mad.  Not at him but at everything else.
When I am in that mood I become easily irritated and fall into a "work" mode; an intense need to get things done for Terence- but I catch myself totally missing what he really needs.  He doesn't need the lawn mowed.  He doesn't need the carpet vacuumed or laundry folded.  He only needs me to touch him.  Sometimes (like tonight) everything going on inside of him is so intense he can't stop shaking.  
A touch calms him.

Jesus frequently touched people.  In a world so devoid of human contact, especially genuinely affectionate and non-sexual contact, so many people just need to be touched.

Thank you  Lord for the gift of touch. To receive the affectionate touch from a friend or loved one is precious. To be able to share a gentle touch with my husband is such a great gift. Help me to use this gift generously.  In Jesus' name. Amen.

Friday, July 6, 2012

The heart knows

Cancer diagnoses Year: 2009

Cancer journey, year: 2010

Cancer journey, year: 2011
Cancer journey, year: 2012


My heart knows.
by sherry

"The Lord is near to the brokenhearted and saves the crushed in spirit"  (Psalm 34:18)

July 6, 2009 was a devastating day for me. It was for both Terence and I but since I'm writing I'll talk about my feelings.  It was the day we were sucker punched and caught off guard with a cancer diagnoses.  Oh wait, it was terminal too.  Worst case scenario type of thing.

I tried to remain in the doctor's office as the urologist was explaining to Terence the details of "terminal" (the entire meeting was 50 minutes long), but I couldn't breathe and though I had started to cry I was silent, not making any noise.  I felt claustrophobic and needed to get out of that small room. Such trauma to the heart makes one want to throw up.

I stepped out into the parking lot and called my daughter Nadine.  She called our son Eric.  I called my sisters. I cried some more, dried my tears and went back into the office and cried some more. After the doctor finished speaking with Terence he turned to me and handed me the kleenex box and said,  "I feel like I just damaged you".   My heart felt damaged. 

Shell shock is a good way to explain how we felt afterwards. Within the week, we thought that joining a cancer support group would be good.  We searched one out and like good students we showed up early.  The facilitator of this group (American Cancer Society)- welcomed us and inquired about "our story".    We shared the short version (the only version); cancer had completely surprised us and the doc gave T man about 9-18 months to live.  She looked at us and said
 "Sh*t, you're up a creek without a paddle".   It turned out the support group was canceled that night, but we never went back. We figured we could do without 'support' like that.

36 months later, here we are. Since hospice care started we've tried to stop counting.  We have actively forgotten and purposefully not reminded ourselves how long it's been snce he stopped chemo, or how long its been since he's been without treatment.  We've turned our brains off to any date that pertains to this cancer journey.  But I've come to realize that out heart knows.

 'Out of sorts' and 'sour' is a good way to describe how we've been feeling these past few days.
 It wasn't until about an hour ago I realized it's July 6.  It's been three years since "D" day.  
That was the day my heart was bruised.  
Although my mind didn't recognize the significance of the day, my heart did.

My heart knows the day our lives changed forever.  I hate that.

That's when I realized just how wounded our hearts have been.  
And how much cancer has crushed us. 

I wish I could tell you that cancer hasn't beaten us down (it has but we always try to get up), or how strong and positive we always are (we're not).  

Even though today was a beautiful day and the grand kids came over -playing in the sun and Terence got a terrific lymphatic massage......cancer never leaves us.....Terence was  outside enjoying some sunshine in his 'zero gravity' lounge watching the kids play, I stepped around the corner to check the sprinkler and I as I rounded the corner coming back- I saw Terence 'hurling chunks' (as he calls it) in my garden.  Three times. Today was the first and last time I forced Terence to eat pineapple.

The Lord is near to the brokenhearted and saves the crushed in spirit  (Psalm 34:18)

This journey.  Really hard.  Really tiring.  Really angry.  
  I am so glad we have a "heart doctor" and that He is near when we need Him most.

My flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the strength of my heart
  (Psalm 73:26 ).