Friday, June 23, 2017

Scrambled Pieces

It is hard to describe a cancer diagnosis. Some days it feels as if I was in the middle of putting together a giant jigsaw puzzle and someone tipped the table over. I'm now picking up the puzzle pieces and sorting them in piles. Some of them look familiar, but I'm not sure that they will ever go back into the same position. I'm guessing the final picture will look different than what I started. 

There are many normal segments to my days.  As a mom, my every day life of cooking, cleaning, laundry, and childcare looks the same and we are finding ways to enjoy lovely summer weather.

I'm still the same Gina who enjoys a good book and a fun conversation. I was asked if I am having a garden this year. I said that if I had known, I would not have planted it, but since its planted, I'm caring for it. But then I walk through the rows, pulling a weed, pushing an errant tomato stem into the cage, and picking an onion for supper - and I'm so glad to have a garden this year. 

There is something almost therapeutic about the familiarity of dirt under my nails. I do enjoy gardening and this year's rain showers and sunshine has grown one of my prettiest gardens. (Or maybe the garden is always pretty in June before the bugs, drought, and neglect take its toll.) I've already decided that I'll be okay with wasted garden produce. I had a bumper crop of spinach and broccoli and missed picking some of it but that is okay. If I don't feel like canning tomatoes, I'll give them away or add them to the compost pile. 

Earlier this spring our boys had made a hut in the pasture with a few pallets and scrap wood. They worked independently and it wasn't fancy or square, but they have spent numerous nights in their hut. They were satisfied with a flat roof until they decided to build rafters and find some roofing material. One evening last week my brother brought them some roof metal left from his project and he helped them reinforce their hut. 

Ed's ketogenic diet is going better. The first week or two he felt hungry but by adding a few more calories and giving his body time to adjust, he is feeling more energy.  Because he is using the diet as cancer treatment, he is on an intense keto diet of only 2,000 calories and 20 net carbs a day. His body went into ketosis very quickly - just a few days - which I credit to specifically-prepared meals and the fact that he had already lost weight over surgery. The first few days he cheated a little, but now that he adjusted, he is sticking with the doctor-provided meals. 

But it is rough going to social events. We apparently don't know how to celebrate without food. It is just no fun to not be able to participate. But I suppose this too will become more normal with time.

Saturday was one of those times with the celebration of Ed's nephew's wedding. But I thought Ed did well in ignoring the food and focusing on the conversations. A few weeks before I didn't even think he would be able to attend the wedding so it was good to see him feeling well enough to enjoy it. Now he is hoping to continue to feel good for the next two weeks while his nephew is on his honeymoon since they work together in the same department. 

Since Ed's family was all around for the wedding, on Sunday afternoon we all went to a local park where our children and their cousins found the perfect activity on a sweltering afternoon.

But Ed was so tired after church that he decided to stay home and rest in the air conditioning. 

On Sunday night, Ed took his first chemo pill right before bed. He had been told that bedtime was a good time to minimize nausea. The doctor had told him to try the first chemo without anti-nausea medicine to see if he needed it. 

After a few hours of vomiting, it was obvious he needed anti-nausea meds.  It wasn't a glorious start to his treatments.

Ed postponed his first radiation treatment until later in the day on Monday until he was feeling a little better. His two brothers joined us at the cancer center to show their support. These two have went with us to many doctor's appointments the last weeks and their support on many facets has been priceless.

We can't go back with Ed into the radiation room so he had the tech take a photo for us on his phone. This mask was made to fit Ed's head so they can hold him in the exact same position for each treatment. Ed says he doesn't mind it and it only takes about 15 minutes.

We just stayed in the waiting room doing puzzles during Ed's radiation.

Since that first day, Ed faithfully takes anti-nausea medicine an hour before his chemo and he has slept all night with no effects at all. He is feeling great and driving to his radiation appointments early in the morning before going to work. Every day he gets a little stronger though he still tires quickly. We expect that as the treatments continue, he will feel more side effects and will be forced to rest more. But we are grateful for this good week. We don't take even one day of health for granted.

Thanks so much for your continued prayers. One friend emailed me to say that each morning she prays for us while she is in the barn cleaning up from milking. Unknown to her, that is the time of Ed's radiation treatments each morning.

We will never know what effect your prayers are having, but we do know that they are helping us trust that God will put the pieces of our lives into a picture that will glorify Him.

"That the trial of your faith, being much more precious than of gold that perisheth, though it be tried with fire, might be found unto praise and honour and glory at the appearing of Jesus Christ." 1 Peter 1:7


  1. I was thinking of you all and thought I would check if you had a new blog post. You did!
    I will continue praying. I have not followed your blog long but I am glad to "meet" your family. Praying for healing, precious time together and strength for each day. - Beth

  2. I often think of you and your beautiful family and pray for you all. Tough times, indeed, even with all the support you are receiving. Praying for healing and much strength and patience for you!

  3. the warmfireplaceJune 23, 2017 at 6:28 PM

    Keeping you all in close prayer, i always feel better for being out in Gods creation, and the gentle rhythms of routine and seasonal work. God bless you all. Sue xx

  4. Praying for y'all from FL. I bet there are folks all over the country praying!

  5. Dear Gina,
    We are praying for your family. May God grant you strength, healing, and His tender mercies as your husband goes through his treatment.

  6. I am happy to see a new post Isn't it amazing how much the ordinary, routine things can help keep sanity in trying times? It has always seemed to me that in what appeared as some of my darkest hours, that God would send a blessing just when I needed it most. Sometimes it might be as small as a lone pansy in an unexpected spot. Another was a grandchild's first tooth. You get the idea..He doesn't forget us. Keep looking, and remember that we are all praying for your family!!

  7. Prayed for Ed, you and your family

  8. A beautiful post Miss Gina, that idea of the puzzle pieces being fit together into something unknown, and hoping, that's quite a thought - makes me want to make puzzle pieces magnets for my fridge to remind me when I'm uncertain or confused! Don't know you but praying for peace for you and for your family

  9. So glad Ed is doing as well as he is! How wonderful to see his brothers pitching in. I love the boys hut! You both have such close, loving families, to nurture and love the family you and Ed have made. Precious gift, that! Prayers and heartfelt HUGS continue for Ed and the family.

    I think of our humble prayers, as something like this: we offer our Father in Heaven little seeds (even little mustard seeds!) that we find scattered on the ground, and He is greatly touched, and He is delighted to make giant mustard trees that shade all, and shelter birds and all the wonderful rest, and even giant oak trees and evergreens, and waving palms. He loves to get our little offering of seeds,our prayers, to make awesome and wonderful things of them.

    Another treasure gleaned from my garden: the Bible tells us that 'when we draw close to HIm, He draws close to us" I think of my bird feeders, that offer up lots of seeds and soon birds and squirrels are all around, filling my yard! Wonderful, colorful amazing birds, delightful, funny squirrels filling the yard! I think of our prayers as humble offerings, like little seeds, and those seeds of prayer, draw Him close to us, and He does awesome things.

  10. Gina thank you so much for an update. I am pleased to hear that the anti nausea drugs are working. I will continue to pray for God's strength and peace for you and your family.

  11. We are continuing to hold your family up in prayer. God is so awesome! Feel His love daily as you both go thru this trial. Praise be to God for each & every day that He gives Ed with His love! God bless you all.

  12. Gina and family, you are in my prayers every day. I am praying for God to sustain you and keep you all in perfect peace, praying that Ed will feel comfort and the children will feel love. Thank you for updating the blog. I know you probably have very little time to be on the computer - an update here and there is appreciated, as your testimony in the works speaks volumes.

  13. I was thinking about y'all yesterday, I'm thankful for the good days Ed is having, which I know brings peace to your household. Your strength and faith in the middle of this trial is, I'm sure, an encouragement to everyone around you I know you are to me. Continued prayers for Ed, you and the children for strength, peace and courage to continue the fight...
    In Christian Love,

  14. Praise God for anti nausea medicine and that it is helping with side effects. Thank you for the update. How amazing to think how many people are lifting Ed and your family up in prayer!

  15. So wonderful to see Ed doing as well as he is, and to see how the Lord is sustaining your family during this time.

    You mentioned puzzle pieces, and I have often thought of all the different facets of a trial as the colored bits and pieces in a kaleidoscope. They shift and move and eventually form into patterns that are as beautiful as they are unexpected. Just a thought, and similar to your own thought of a jigsaw.

    Have you read Elizabeth George's book Finding God's Path Through Your Trials? I've been through it (both reading, and the study guide) several times and highly recommend it!

  16. my husband and I are praying for you all. Elisabeth Elliot was, I think, one of the godliest women ever! As I'm sure you know, she suffered much - but, then, that is how she became so godly and wise. She quoted often from a poem (author is unknown), but the truth of these few words has taken me through many hard, hard things. May they do the same for you: Do the next thing!

  17. Your updates help us know how to pray for you. Thank the Lord that the treatments are going well

  18. Gina keep singing wonder hymns to the Lord. That's what keeps me going when times are rough. And meditate on God's Word!

  19. We continue to pray and follow along, I hope that knowing at any time someone is praying for you helps and gives you comfort!

  20. So good to hear from you again, and you've been in our thoughts and prayers often this week! May God continue to sustain you and your precious family!!

    Randy & Eunice

  21. Gina, I am privileged to have followed you for several years now. Your stirring faith and your unique homemaking skills bless and have blessed my life. Often, I find your insights and writings ring true in my life because I am also a mother of a large family. But the last few weeks as I watched and read about your family's life-changing and heart-wrenching experience with brain cancer, I have been inspired even more. Even though you have a devastating diagnosis to deal with on a daily basis, you have chosen and continue to choose the upward path. You are humble instead of hurt, trusting instead of bitter, faithful instead of fearful and loving instead of languishing. Your valiant actions are indeed a living testimony of your belief in Jesus Christ and his life-saving gospel. You choose to minister to others in the darkest hours of your trials. Thank you, thank you, thank you for this alive and real faith we can witness firsthand. Thank you for turning tragedy into a testimony. I love these children's hymns and thought of you --
    Mei Li

  22. I'm also thinking about and praying for you and your family.

  23. I wanted to tell you that we found ginger root to be an excellent help with nausea. I would peel a small section of the root, then cut it into bite size pieces for George to chew on slowly. Sometimes he would add a piece of peppermint candy with it. This always help him. We also keep crystalized ginger candy in the fridge for him too. Please know you and all your family are in my prayers. God bless.

  24. ^ Ginger mightn't be keto-diet approved but yes it seems to work sometimes and is such a treat to have around - I like the crystalized kind too. It's really nice to put in ginger cookies along with the regular powder!

  25. Thinking of you with love, and hugs and prayers.

  26. Chief Jonny's momJuly 7, 2017 at 4:11 PM

    Yes, garden dirt under your fingernails is therapeutic and good for your mental and physical health. I'm glad you have your garden to wander around in and that you don't feel obligated to use what you can't handle.


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