Thursday, May 26, 2011

A HUGE THANK YOU...

Today, I feel better than I have in a few weeks.   I guess the doctors know what they are talking about when they look at all the side effects going on in me and say “you need a break”. 
That happened on Monday.  I went in for treatment #25 and met with my doctor afterwards.  She took one look at my throat and the sores in my mouth and said you need some time off.  The problem is, I didn’t want time off.  I still have 12 treatments to go and every morning I wake up this week, I will still have 12 treatments to go.  I just want to be done.
I want to be done so badly that last Friday morning I wrote a letter to both of my doctors involved and said “I quit”.  I never sent the letter, but it sure did feel good to get it off my chest.  I was miserable and hating life.
That night I loaded up the car and went to a benefit dinner that Paragon Church and First Baptist – Rio Rancho held for my family and me.  I didn’t want to go because I wasn’t feeling well but since both my Father-In-Law (Chester) and Pastor Si were going to speak to challenge me, I thought I should go.   When I arrived, I was blown away by the support of each person there.  There were so many people helping and serving as well as eating, it just said to you – “YOU CAN DO THIS.  We’ve got your back!”  Since the dinner, Christy and I received all of the cards and gifts to encourage us to keep fighting this fight.   I cannot tell you how much that means to our family.  We feel so loved and supported.
On top of that, all of the volunteers have stepped up at Paragon Church to get the jobs done every Sunday.  One of my biggest worries about all of this was “what is going to happen to the church while I am down and out.”  God, like always, has had the whole thing under control.  He is constantly reminding me that “church” is not about me – it’s about Him, and with the true Leader leading, Paragon has not missed a step in the process of reaching Rio Rancho for Christ.
I ask for your continued prayer support for each member of our family.  Only 12 treatments left.  The last treatment day is June 15.  Side Effects last for a few weeks/months after that.
Even with that seeming to be a long way off… I have seen two quotes in the last few days that challenged me to go the next leg…
“Don't let the devil take what you have left just because you can't get over what you've lost.”
“Character is built on daily decisions. Never let character give way to convenience.”
Thank you all.

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

The week that was...

It’s Monday, and I sit here in my recliner, thinking about the week that was and I must say, I am really glad it is over. You wouldn’t normally say that when that week consists of your anniversary, your wife’s birthday, your son’s birthday, and Mother’s Day, but it’s true.

Let me explain. Last week was miserable for me. As you probably already know, I am in the process of going through radiation treatments to kill off any remaining cancer cells that might be left in my mouth. The treatments themselves are not bad, other than having my face locked to a table, but the side effects are killing me. Dry mouth, mucus, sore throat, mouth sores, fatigue and on top of it all, when I feel like trying to eat, my taste buds are shot. Then, I also had an infection/blocked gland in my cheek making my face swell up and the antibiotics they gave me didn’t treat my stomach well. None of those side effects work well with celebrating anything and I not only felt terrible physically, but also mentally. So much so, I was ready to quit and was building up a case so I could quit without feeling like a quitter. Even as I came home from church yesterday, I just wanted to be done with all of this. I wanted to feel awake, swallow normal and I wanted to eat food that tastes like it smells, instead of tasting like sawdust.

This morning, I went to radiation as I normally do (15 treatments down, 22 more to go). I felt a bit better because I slept a bit better. I met with the radiation oncology doc after and I told her how much I would like to be done. I asked her what would be the ramifications of stopping early. To put her long answer into a short one, she said “you have kids don’t you?” Me. “Yes” Doc. “Do it for them. The odds are much better that the cancer doesn’t return if you finish treatment.”

I then went to another dr. appt with my Ear Nose Throat doc and he told me the same thing. “We need to be aggressive with this because it was aggressive first.”

That wasn’t what I wanted to hear, but it was what I needed to hear. They were just echoing what my amazing wife had been saying all along.

When we got home, I jumped on the computer and I saw a friend from college, who is also a church planter (actually helped me a lot as Paragon Church initially progressed) with a new post about his health. I must say, it put my struggles into perspective. You see, he found out he is dealing with a serious disease that is knocking him out slowly and there are not treatment options at this point in time. I would explain more to you but he does a great job on his blog and he actually knows what he is talking about… so find out more at http://gregrohlinger.com/. Please be praying for him and his family.

I have heard more and more stories like this affecting so many people (and I have seen a lot taking place in ministry) it has helped me see life a little clearer. Yes, I have a disease that sucks. Yes, The treatment is a bit barbaric (if ask me) and even the doc said this is the worst of all cancers to have to radiate due to location. But as far as we know, the treatment will give me much better odds for the future and God has put a group of men and women around me, including my wife, that are and will continue to help me get through this. I am being prayed for, being encouraged, and people are giving of their time in all sorts of ways.

I think that the most important thing I have gained from all of this is… this church isn’t about me. God may have led me to plant it, but it is still His. He is in control of the life of Paragon and He knows exactly what He is doing with mine. I think my two greatest struggles with all of this are how my side effects would affect my family and how all of this would affect the church. Once again, I just need to realize that God knows what He is doing and we all need to trust Him with that control.