Tuesday, September 20, 2016

September, 2016

Well, we’ve had a very nice summer (weather notwithstanding), including numerous road trips and activities.  We’ve all managed to keep our minds mostly off of the big “C”.  But, now it’s September and time for three of the four people in our home to go back to school and for all of to resume our “more normal” lives and schedules.  For me this new normal now includes check-ups at least every three months.  Whereas I’d had a PET scan approximately three months ago, it was too soon after the surgery, so there was nothing really to report.  So, last week I had another PET scan, and today was the day of the follow-up doctor visit.

Those of you that know me well enough know that decision making is not my strong suit.  Sue often describes it as non-committal.  Well, apparently I can’t really commit to cancer, either.  I can’t get rid of it, but I can’t get a full-blown case going either.  I suppose, in this case, that may be a good thing. :-)

The oncologist said that there was another tumour in the lungs.  It was small and still not lighting up the scan in any alarming way.  However, considering how healthy I seem and how easily I handled the last lung surgery, he suggested we follow it up (i.e. probably more cherry picking).  So, I now have a follow-up appointment with a thoracic surgeon next Monday.

The more interesting aspect of the visit with the oncologist today was something both Sue and I sensed:  somewhat of a change in tone.  First of all he was downplaying the tumour, and then he said “we’re nowhere near the point of needing more chemo” (or something to that effect).  Before today he always sounded like more chemo was either imminent or not worth it.  Then Sue said something about how we were happy for a bit more time, to which he replied something to the effect of “I still think we can hope for a long, healthy life”.  Well, given our previous experience with this oncologist, those were pretty amazing statements – he’s just always been much more pessimistic.

So, whereas the news is not all good, it certainly isn’t bad, either.

Anyway, now you’re all caught up. :-)

Saturday, April 23, 2016

OK, God, Back To You

When I started this cancer fight nearly three years ago, I said there were three possible outcomes:  1) God heals me “naturally” (i.e. through the medical process), 2) God heals me miraculously, or 3) God takes me home to be with him.  Well, the likelihood of #1 seems to be decreasing.

As you likely know, I had surgery two weeks ago in which the surgeon removed a piece of my lung and subsequently reported that it was cancerous.  Yesterday we spoke with the oncologist.  I’ll do my best to relate the way he put it, without making it sound too good nor too bad.  Basically he said that the cancer is back, as demonstrated by the piece they removed.  That means that the medical attempts to cure me seem to have failed.  Going forward, the medical attempts would simply be to lengthen my life or improve the quality of it.  If another tumor appears anywhere within a year, that would be particularly bad and there might not be anything worth doing.  If it takes longer than that, then more chemo and/or more cherry-picking might still be an option.

So, the news is not really as good as we’d have liked, but I don’t see it limiting God in any way. :-)

Besides, after the Christmas our family had, I had been thinking of Luke 2:29-30 back in January.  Yesterday I was reminded of that, and perhaps that is His plan for me. :-)

Wednesday, April 20, 2016

Perspectives

So, we got the results back from the chunk they cut out of my lung this time, and it turns out that it was cancerous.  It certainly would have been nicer had it not been, but it wasn’t unexpected.  At this point, of course, we don’t know what the implications are – I see the oncologist on Friday.  However, this conversation might provide some insight into the different feelings at our house:

Sue:  “That’s your fourth cancer diagnosis in three years.”

Brad:  “Yeah, but they cut it out so it’s not there any more.  They said they couldn’t see any other cancerous material.”

Sue:  “Sure, but when they finished the surgery on your mother that June, they said they’d gotten it all as well.  We buried her before Christmas.”

Brad:  “Well, that was a different kind of cancer.”

So, as you can see, there aren’t right or wrong thoughts/emotions, but certainly different ones.  Fortunately we both agree that God has it all under control. :-)

Anyway, as I said, I see the oncologist Friday and hopefully we’ll have a little more information about what the future holds after that.  Thanks again for your continued thoughts and prayers!

Saturday, April 09, 2016

What was that? A Mosquito?

I’ve had stubbed toes that bothered me more than that surgery!  I’m assuming all your prayers hurried the process.

OK, maybe I’m getting carried away, but seriously, that was the easiest one yet by far.  From the time I was admitted to the time I left the hospital:  48 hours!  I was up and walking around the ward just a few hours after the surgery.  In the entire 48 hours I was in the hospital, I don’t think my pain ever exceeded 3/10.  I only used the morphine pump on two occasions:  1) when the physio nurse recommended I do so because of some of the things she was about to put me through, and 2) when the nurse recommended I do because she was about to pull an eighteen inch tube out of my chest. In retrospect, I’m not sure I’d have needed to for those either.  I guess I’m just getting to be an old pro at this. I’m not sure if that’s good or bad! :-)

Anyway, I’m home and feeling (relatively) fine.  I still have that groggy post-general anesthetic thing going on, but that’s about it.

So, as I understand it, I should find out in a week or two whether that growth was cancer.  However, it seems life will go on quite normally again for a while.

Thanks again for all your thoughts and prayers!

Tuesday, March 29, 2016

Life is Good; God is Good

I’m writing this from a place that fills me with anticipation:  a departure gate at the Calgary airport.  Yes, I’m a lucky guy!  I’m on my way to San Francisco.  If you’re like me, you’ll likely get a twinge of jealousy because, despite the fact that the trip is for work and I know I’ll drop into bed exhausted from the conference every day, the conference is not in Calgary or even Alberta.  J
 
We’ve just spent a WONDERFUL Easter weekend with my sister, her family, and two young women from Nigeria.  In addition to lots of movies, it included a trip to Banff/Lake Louise – how can one go wrong?
 
So, you can be jealous of my Easter weekend and my trip to San Francisco, but you’re less likely to be jealous of what happens after that.  I get home from San Francisco on Sunday, get blood work done on Monday, and then into surgery on Wednesday.  It’s an exciting spring!
 
Unfortunately, last night our kitchen sink blocked up and, despite a couple of hours of working on it with Drano, a plunger, and a 25-foot snake, we had no joy.  So, in addition to the stress of school, my being away, and my impending surgery, I had to leave Sue to deal with a plumber sometime this week.  If you’re so inclined, please pray for her.  I may be living the life of my dreams, but much of it causes my dear wife stress.
 
Anyway, I expect my next update will be post-surgery.  Until then, God bless you!
 
Brad.
 
P.S.  I’ve always been jealous of people who get big offers to change flights.  I just had to turn down a $500 offer to change flights because the next one would take some hops and get me there too late for the start of the conference.  Why don’t I get an offer like that when I’ve got more time?!!

Saturday, February 27, 2016

Experience Junkie

I’ve never wanted a boring life, and God has blessed me abundantly.  God is good!  Life is good!  My sister, who shares my desire in this regard, calls us “experience junkies”.  We’re always looking for something new and exciting that we haven’t tried yet.  It’s one of the things that drives my insatiable appetite for travel.  It’s also the thing that, for example, when I go for a snowmobile tour with my brother-in-law and nephew as I did a few weeks ago, has me reluctant to admit just how much I love that kind of thing:  I’ve done it a few times and love it, but we can’t possibly afford to get into that kind of hobby!
 
A couple of weeks ago I had my normal, routine, every-so-often PET scan.  When we got the results, the oncologist was a little bit concerned:  there was a pea-sized “nodule” showing up in one of my lungs that had grown from the previous scans.  He referred us to a thoracic surgeon.  Today (Friday) Sue accompanied me to my appointment.
 
Here’s an interesting tidbit before I get to the gist of this post:  I don’t think I’ve ever seen a specialist (let alone had any other medical appointment) that was as timely.  My appointment was for 9:45 AM.  While I was walking from the car to the appointment, too busy to answer the phone, I got a voicemail from the nurse.  Time?  9:46 AM.  They were worried I wasn’t coming.  I got there at about 9:46:15 and didn’t even get a chance to sit down.  They whisked me through the usual height/weight/blood pressure directly into the “small back room”.  We hadn’t been there for more than about 10 seconds before the doctor entered.  Despite the subject matter, we were out of the office by 10:15, and didn’t feel like we’d been rushed!
 
Anyway, the doctor described the situation by saying they weren’t that worried about it, but given my history and the fact that it had grown, they recommended surgery to remove it.  They wanted both to get it out of there (stop further growth) and to determine if it actually is more cancer or something benign.  The surgery was described as relatively straight-forward, with just some small incisions and probably only a couple of days in the hospital.  It sounds like it will be much less invasive than the surgeries I’ve already had.  It helps that there’s only one “nodule” of concern, and that it’s right at the edge of my lung.  Also, when I got my first liver surgery, the doctor had explained how they sometimes “cherry-pick” these things for years.
 
Well, I can’t explain my reaction without referring to the subject of this post.  My first thought was “cool – I haven’t had a lung surgery yet”!  I have something new to look forward to. J
 
Unfortunately, it’s not quite as easy on Sue.  Especially given some of the other challenges she’s facing, she has a bit more trouble with this roller coaster ride.  So, if you’re so inclined and you think of her, please pray for her.
 
So… I’m headed for another surgery.  It will likely take place at the beginning of April, after my San Francisco trip (conference for work – another exciting adventure!).  As always, I’ll keep you posted.
 
By the way, I’d love to hear what’s going on in YOUR life, too!

Wednesday, August 19, 2015

August Update

Time files when you’re having fun, and I’m having so much fun it’s hard to believe!  I love God, my wife, my kids, my family, my friends, my job, …, my LIFE!  Between church, hockey, drives in the foothills and mountains, movies, tennis, canoe trips, soccer, weekends with friends, etc., it’s hard not to think of this as a good life!

What I hate is cancer, and its potential to separate me from all of those things except God.  But, for today I don’t have to worry about that.  Last week I had a CT scan and blood work in preparation for my 3-month check-up.  Today I went to said check-up.  One of the first things they do after you sign in is check your weight and blood pressure.  I lamented that I’d been gaining too much weight.  Their response?  Well, we’re glad it’s not going the other way.  Always look on the bright side of life.  ?  Then I got the really good news:  both the CT scan and the bloodwork were clear!  There is no sign of cancer returning.  My next significant scan, assuming all else continues normally, will not be for another six months (i.e. in the February timeframe).

It’s interesting, though, that God has a way of tempering joy and/or reminding us that it’s in His hands.  On our way out of the doctor’s office we met an acquaintance.  It seems she is not, from a cancer perspective, as fortunate as I.  She also had stage 4 colon cancer, but hers, as I understand it, has not only returned but spread.  So, while you’re thanking God for my progress, perhaps you can also petition God on Katrina’s behalf.