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Image  —  Posted: January 20, 2019 in Postcards from Cancerland.

Sweet and Sour.

Posted: January 16, 2019 in Postcards from Cancerland.

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We live on a broken planet.

That’s pretty easy to figure out.

You watch the evening news and realize that things are really screwed up.
Then it gets personal…
We have all been the givers and takers of selfishness and hurt.
Life can be pretty sour.
While we have walked through our cancer adventure, we have tasted something in stark, beautiful contrast to the sour.
We have tasted of the sweetness of life.
We have experienced the best of humanity.
We have been the recipients of kindness and care, goodness and generosity.
We have known love.
It is sweet.
Let me share our latest example…
Yet another story of the incomparable sweetness of life…
Our four year old next door neighbor and monster truck aficionado, Bryson, prays for us every night with his awesome parents.
He prays for “Wuke and Diana” and then he says “now I lay me down to sleep, I pray the Lord to keep all of my paw patrol stuff”.
Life is sweet…
so very sweet.

Buckle up.

Posted: January 15, 2019 in Postcards from Cancerland.

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Years ago, I went to Carowinds with some fun seeking coworkers.
We were there for some serious team building and corn dogs.
We rode some rides, and laughed, and talked, and then we found ourselves at the turnstiles of the Intimidator.
I was a little intimidated, but I was relieved that I was tall enough to ride. It’s a roller coaster named after Dale Earnhardt. I’m a NASCAR fan so I couldn’t wait to ride. I grabbed a seat right up front and waited. The teenage girl ride attendant came along and was putting everyone’s safety harness in place. She got to me and tried to shut my harness…
It wouldn’t click.
She pushed harder and literally put her entire body weight into trying to fasten it.
She was suspended in midair trying to buckle up my belt.
It wasn’t working…
I was too…umm…thick.
Too many corn dogs, I suppose.
And, I couldn’t ride without a safety harness.
I had to get off the ride and walk the chubby walk of shame.
It was embarrassing.
Safety harnesses are important…
A day ago, I went to the oncology clinic with my wife.
It felt like the first day of school.
We were ready to re-enroll in the school of weakness.
It’s like the second semester of college, I know a little more of what to expect.
It has almost become routine.
We had our school supplies…
Books and blankets.
Snacks and slip on shoes.
Diana’s work stuff.
But then one of the nurses came out to tell us that we were still waiting on insurance approval for this next “semester”.
So, we wait.
While we wait for a few days, I continue to recover from my biopsy surgery.
We met with the surgeon today and everything is healing up nicely.
The great news is that I can take bubble baths again…I’m man enough to loudly confess that I love bubble baths.
We are also trying to tame my wild digestive system. It has been behaving like an angry warthog.
This has been a crazy mental roller coaster, and i think I’ve established the fact that I’m not built for roller coasters anymore. But, here I am sitting right up front with my wife.
This time, our customized safety harnesses are firmly in place.
We wait to see what is around the next curve.
Here is one thing I learned during my first semester:
Life is both routine and risk.
You find yourself standing in the same places day after day.
But, on any given day the floor might fall out beneath your feet.
And THAT is why you need a safety harness at all times.
So buckle up!
and take a bubble bath if you get a chance!

Present.

Posted: January 14, 2019 in Postcards from Cancerland.

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As I wait for the next part of the fight to start…

I take a deep breath…

and I wonder and I wander.

I have gripped my wife’s hand and prayed in the night.

I’m surrounded by so many incredible people who are praying hard for me. 

We all cry out for healing. 

It hasn’t come yet.

I don’t know why. 

We don’t give up. 

We keep raising our voices and hands to heaven. 

But, I wonder…

As I approach Him, I realize that I’m a little like a kid approaching my dad after a business trip. 

I run up to my father, without greeting or gratitude and I shout out…

“What did you bring me Daddy?!?”

I become more interested in presents than presence. 

And once again I miss the point.

I believe He can heal me.

I believe that He will.

BUT, that can not be why I follow Him.

“What did you bring me Daddy?” must become “Just hold me Daddy.”

I desperately want and need healing, but I can’t follow Him for the stuff He does. 

I should desperately want and need HIM…that should be enough. 

Just being with the infinite One is infinitely more than I ever deserve. 

It is enough just to be with Him and being His.

Everything else is just gravy on the biscuit. 

I have the attention and affection of the Eternal One. 

That’s a BIG deal. 

A few days ago, when we got the latest news and plan, I also got a text from a friend. He didn’t know what was going on, he had woken up with me on his mind and and a Bible verse on his heart. He shared this sweet message from God with me…

“Don’t be afraid, for I am with you.

Don’t be discouraged, for I am your God.

I will strengthen you and help you.

I will hold you up with my victorious right hand.”

(Isaiah 41:10 NLT) 

The promise that God is present.

He is holding us up.

It will be alright.

I totally believe that healing is coming.

But…

While I wait, I’m holding His strong right hand and basking in His presence.

He has already been so good to me. 

Healing will come, it will be pure gift.

It will come from the hand of God.

I honestly can’t wait. 

But, the ultimate gift is the pure presence of the Eternal One. 

In that presence I find peace and joy. 

As I wait for the next part of the fight to start…

I take a deep breath…

and I am consumed by wonder. 

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Two “cutting” observations:
One of the incisions from my surgery last week is right over my belly button, I hope that doesn’t hurt my promising future career as a swimwear model.

Speaking of incisions, I discovered this week that maybe while Diana is eating a bagel isn’t THE best time to show her my cuts and ask “how do they look to you?”
As I have healed from the operation and as we have waited for some results, something fun happened. I suddenly have eyebrows again! I didn’t realize what a difference they make!
They make me look a LITTLE less freaky.
But, it turns out that they are going to be temporary.
things are about to get freaky again.
We went to the oncologist this morning and we found out that our fight is not over.
The belly bully is still hanging around.
So we are going to fight him some different ways.
things are about to get nasty.
I start “salvage therapy” on Monday morning.
I will have two cycles of really intense chemo where I will be introduced to some very gnarly drugs. One super intense drug has the possible side effect of a coma…
I’m not a fan of that.
things are about to get really hard.
My lymphoma has to respond in order to move on to the next step, which would be to talk to a transplant team, get a bone marrow test and stem cell transplant.
If that doesn’t happen, my oncologist, who is a Cowboy/astronaut/rockstar, already has another plan in place.
We WILL beat the belly bully.
It’s just not going to be pretty.
At this point, It’s going to be a long fight.
I will be out of commission for another six months.
I’m not a fan of that…
But I’m willing to do it if it means I will get to hold my wife’s hand for another thirty years and dance with our granddaughter at her wedding.
I WILL continue to fight with joy, it is my strength and superpower.

Simple?

Posted: January 6, 2019 in Postcards from Cancerland.

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Not too long after the discovery of my belly bully, a announcement came out that another man had been diagnosed with cancer. He is a very successful man in some shared circles, so it was a big deal. No details were shared, no type or treatment were made public. Then a few weeks later it was announced that the man had been declared cancer free, again no additional info.

Pretty simple story.
It made me wonder why can’t my story be that short, sweet, and simple?
It seems that nothing has been simple on this journey.
Maybe you feel the same way…your life is anything but simple.
You have a thousand moving pieces.
Life has sharp, jagged edges.
Why can’t things be simpler?
Why can’t things be easier?
I’ve thought about that…
My simple answer is this: I don’t know!
As far as I can see…
Complicated creates a bigger classroom.
You learn more from complicated than simple.
You learn more from hard than easy.
You learn from pain than pleasure.
It kinda sucks, but it seems to be true.
Complicated creates more stories if you are willing to share them.
Simplicity can diminish discovery.
Complicated creates a circle of friends who carry their own complications.
Sometimes life is simple…
Thank God for that.
Sometimes life is anything but simple…
Thank God for that.

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It was a rainy day in Charlotte.

We had to be at the hospital entirely too early.
It was the day for my BIG lymphadenopathy!
That’s a multi-syllable word for a biopsy to find out what is next on my cancer adventure.
We were surrounded by stories in a surgical waiting room.
There was some weird family drama going on next to us. There was an elderly mother yelling at a middle aged daughter. The daughter was still wearing Christmas pajamas…
They must have been comfortable.
We got to see our amazing friend, Sheryl, she had come downtown to pray for us. The hospital is a crazy place on a Thursday morning, but she is a friend who is willing to venture the unfamiliar. She has done that for us often during this adventure and we appreciate her so much.
After about an hour, we were led to a smaller waiting room, and then taken to small sanitary smelling room where I was asked seven hundred and thirty two questions and handed a lovely green gown and purple fuzzy skid proof socks. I was told to strip down to nothing else. The next few minutes a team of well scrubbed strangers came into my room lifted up my gown and looked at my privates (many of which have looked quite odd during this whole process).
that is unsettling.
I was given a “mild” drug to relax me before the big anesthesia, but that was seriously the last thing that I remember until they woke me up in the recovery room with some new initials carved in my gut.
At that point, the plan was to put on my clothes and go home…
But…
My blood pressure and hemoglobin were down after the surgery, and so my outpatient surgery turned into an over night stay.
yeah!!!
We were escorted to a lovely redecorated room on the sixth floor.
Hospitals never sleep.
Neither do the patients.
There is constant activity.
The lady across the hall from us was quite upset that her IV machine kept beeping, rather than using the nurse call button she started screaming at the top of her lungs: “GET DOWN HERE NOW!! TURN THIS THING OFF!!” all night long…seriously…all night long!
The same lady was yelling more and making some strange yakking noises that resembled a constipated goat the next morning.
I pray that she is okay…and that no constipated goats were harmed.
The nurses woke me up to check my stats every seven minutes, took blood a few times and then I had a blood transfusion at 4:00 am…
that was a first, I usually like to have coffee first.
Diana got to “sleep” on a crunchy vinyl couch. This journey has been so very hard on her, but she is the bravest and strongest person I know.
My rockstar sister, Hope, flew into town to help Diana and make sure that I take my meds without falling down. She is my “little” sister but she has been watching out for me for as long as I can remember. She is one of my best friends. My silly words cannot express the appreciation I have for her.
Our friends, the Landmans brought me a big incredible stack of comic book art signed by legendary artist, Joe Rubinstein. What a great gift and reminder to keep fighting.
We got to come home last night! I broke out of that joint in a blazing wheelchair driven by a sweet young lady with beautiful dreadlocks. I was clutching my lovely souvenir pink barf bucket.
I’m currently pretty sore, loopy, and nauseous, which is an average Saturday morning for some people. But, I’m not crazy about it.
Now, we have been told that we will find out results this Friday. That’s when we should know the next step on this ugly, beautiful road.
Giddy Up!