Saturday, October 7, 2017

Treasuring Each Day

I have been asked how a cancer diagnosis changes your life.  That question deserves a whole post by itself, but obviously a terminal illness helps you evaluate how you spend your time. There is many things that just don't seem important when cancer is in the picture.

Compared to God's time, our time on earth is limited to a few brief years. This awareness can help us treasure each day as a gift from God and hold onto moments spent with our family.

I had a lot of anticipation for September. Fall is one of my favorite seasons. Ed was feeling good and we looked forward to some fun family times.

On Labor Day we helped my parents harvest their potatoes. For the older ones it might be work, but for the younger crowd, digging potatoes is a finding buried treasure. 

Another Saturday was spent making applesauce. I didn't do much gardening and canning this year, but it is nice to have some jars filled for winter.

The first week of September was Ed's chemo week. Ed has five days of chemo every month. The doctor increased his dose to see how his body could tolerate it. Ed takes his chemo pills right before bed hoping to sleep off the side affects, but the first night Ed was very sick. The doctor prescribed a stronger anti-nausea medicine and the second night went well. 

But there was a mistake in Ed's chemo prescription and he was only sent enough for two days instead of five. After many phone calls, we finally got the right dosage, weeks later - too late for September. I was rather annoyed. I hate chemo, but since we have chosen to do chemo, it was frustrating to not get the right dosage on time. 

But after our son's accident, I wondered if God had it all planned. Maybe the full dose of chemo would have weakened Ed's body and he wouldn't have felt well on that stressful weekend in the hospital. It was one more time that I needed to lay down my frustration and accept that God's in control. 

Trent's accident required us to cancel our family vacation. We couldn't take a boy to the beach when his leg was wrapped up and couldn't get wet or dirty.

But by the Saturday after his hospital stay Trent was feeling good and we wanted to do something fun as a family even if it wasn't a true vacation.

We rode the Metro into DC which we haven't done for many years. 

Then we spent the day in the Air and Space Museum. Last year we had studied Astronomy in school and we had planned to end the year with a visit to this museum. Ed's illness in the spring had curtailed those plans so it was nice to finally make it happen. 

That Saturday went so well that the next Saturday we ventured back to DC, this time to the National Zoo. 

I was chagrined to find that our eight-year-old couldn't remember being at a zoo. The weather was sunny but cool and perfect for a day outdoors. 

Trent still has a brace on his leg so he can't bend his knee, but he can walk without pain. The surgeon is very pleased with the way his leg is healing. Two weeks after his accident, Trent was thrilled to get permission to take off the dressing each day to take a shower. 

As some of you predicted, I've had trouble keeping Trent down. He hasn't left a leg brace slow him down much. After finding him climbing a tree, this week I decided he could stand on a step-ladder and help me remove a wall paper border. 

Ed and I were dreading this week. Monday was Ed's MRI and this was also his chemo week. This time the chemo dosage would be increased even more. 

Sunday night Ed swallowed his pills. I kept waking up all night long, looking at the clock, and thinking, "he didn't get sick yet." Besides a little queasiness that first night, he wasn't sick all week. But by the end of the week Ed was tired. He came home early on Thursday and took a nap for the first time in many weeks. He says he feels tired and achy - like he was coming down with the flu. He is trying to rest more, but, like Trent, it hasn't slowed him much. Today (Saturday) he spent the day working in his shop and doing various home repair jobs.

The MRI on Monday went well. The machine was as loud as ever. Ed describes it as putting your head in a metal bucket and letting your children hammer on it. But thankfully he made it through without getting sick. 

Then we waited for the results.

The last MRI Ed had was in June right before he started radiation. We had waited several months to get another MRI because we were told that radiation would cause a lot of swelling and the tumor would be much larger just from the radiation swelling. We were hoping that by now the swelling would have decreased and we could get an accurate measurement.

Compared to his June MRI, the MRI this week shows a small (several millimeters) increase in the size of his tumor. The radiologist said that there is still evidence of swelling. Our doctor hopes that this increase in size is radiation-caused swelling and not growth. 

So we really don't know much more than before. Of course we hoped to find that the tumor has shrunk significantly. But until Ed's next MRI in December we won't know for sure if it is growing or shrinking. 

But besides being a little disappointed, Ed and I are not really upset about the results. It is just one more opportunity to trust God who knows exactly what's happening in Ed's head.

And one more opportunity to make the most of each day we have together.

And it could be that the peace we have had in the past weeks, with increased chemo, lawn-mower accidents, prescription mistakes, MRIs - is all a credit to your prayers and God's grace. Thank you.

With each story I hear of yet another person diagnosed with a terminal illness, of conflict in countless places in the world, of Satan working to destroy souls, marriages, families, and churches - all I can say is...

Lord, come quickly. 
(1 Thess. 4:13-18)


  1. Praying that the growth is due to radiation swelling. Radiation does cause that. On a different note, I love the picture of using the drill to rotate the sauce maker. I never thought of that. What type of bit are you using to turn it. I want to try that.

    1. We take the handle off the mill and the bit out of the drill and just chuck the drill right onto the shaft. The children love it because it is so fast.

  2. So glad life at your house is continuing to go on, joyously, beautifully, graciously! Prayers continue for you, Ed, Trent, and family. Psalm 107: 19-20 They cried out to the Lord in their trouble, and he saved them out of their distresses. He sent His Word and healed them, and delivered them from their destruction.

  3. We are praying for Ed, and your family.
    My own husband has PKD (polycystic Kidney disease) and with his kidney function now at 18%, he is on the transplant list at Mayo Jacksonville.

    I understand your waking up multiple times to check on him, as I do the same thing. Tony is now having symptoms of his disease, daily pain that sometimes causes him to miss work, occasional hits of gout, tiredness. I hate this disease, I want my healthy husband back!

    But God's got this. It's going to be alright, one way or the other. Hugs to you and your family.

  4. I love the picture of you Gina on the train to D.C. This is a time of many emotions for you. You switch between fight and flight to at peace so often. You are a wonderful reflective writer. All that is real is the current moment really. Prayers to your beautiful family.

  5. Thank you Gina, for sharing your beautiful, illustrated, family update. I hope you have learned the following advice, but you have not explicitly stated it, and one of your photos concerns me, so please allow me to offer a reminder. Country/farming folk seem more likely to ignore such warnings as such families more stress child independence. Also, one imbalance in a family, such as Ed's serious illness, can lead to other imbalances--distraction perhaps. Please more think carefully about actions within your family. Specifically: CHILDREN AND POWER TOOLS DO NOT MIX. Any ER physician or orthopedic surgeon will agree. How often we instruct a family to go back to their house and search the grass-catching bag of their lawnmower for body parts. A child should NEVER operate dangerous power tools--and are all dangerous, even an applesauce maker driven by an electric drill. Also, if an adult is operating a driving lawnmower, all children should be strictly forbidden and supervised to keep them far away from such deadly machinery.
    End of lecture. Love in Christ to you all.

    1. Are you serious? If do, I think you were unkind. If not, that's a poor sense of humor.

    2. I respect and appreciate your words ROM, but I see the matter differently. It appeared to me that there was adult supervision present and I think it's important for children to learn to enjoy doing productive activities with their family. Accidents can happen at any age, who better then the parent to access and know the maturity level of their child and when they are ready for new tasks. I was cooking at the stove by age 9 but another relative has barely introduced their child at age 15 to use of the stove. Power tools can be dangerous, you are right..and so can many other things. My brothers and I would chase each other and throw nails at one another..we were unsupervised and obviously not thinking clearly, we had a need for more guidance. We should consider safety issues in all that we do. Julie V

    3. Anoymous 1, Your reply is so odd to me, I can think of no response.

      Obviously there is a spectrum from 'helicopter' parenting to irresponsible negligence. Each family must operate within their comfort zone on this spectrum.

      Life provides plenty of risk and injury which we cannot control and must accept. Those areas which we can control demand careful consideration. From broad experience, please know that serious injuries from all power tools are quite common and particularly heart-breaking because most are preventable.

      Many of us have lobbied tirelessly for manufactures to include clear warnings in both their instruction manuals and on the equipment itself. Please at least take the time to read these warnings so one can make wise choices.

      When my father taught me to drive a car, one of his first lessons was, "Slow down to 15 MPH when any child is near because you never know what a kid is going to do." Wisdom. Take it or leave it.

  6. I am so pleased you are all able to get out and about, Gina. I will keep praying for you all. It is hard to understand God's will at times and I have given up trying :-)

  7. Hi - I just wanted to let you know I am still praying for your husband and family - I have posted to you before. My husband is a stage 4 cancer survivor. He had that terrible chemo sickness, surgery, radiation, lost a lot of weight. My he is recovering now - God granted him complete healing from his cancer! I pray God has it in Ed's plan for a complete healing. I think you are a lovely family and I very much enjoy your blog. My thoughts are with you tonight.

  8. Amen to your last thought ! I'm happy to see that you are keeping on with life even though your future is uncertain. However, aren't all of our futures uncertain? Thankfully we serve a risen saviour that gives us the promise of better things to come!! I pray that the rest of the autumn and the holiday season fill your hearts and home with joy!

  9. Having had mris, I found his description amusing and too true! 😃 praying the tumors are shrinking! Your DCdays sound lovely- air and space is on our to do list!Rosene

  10. "Lord, come quickly."

    Yes. And amen! May He bless you with much peace.

  11. I had to read Ed's description of that mri machine sound to Elvin. He thought it was perfect! The waiting....and wondering...and more questions. It's really hard! But I can see God's hand of love and grace all over your story and your pictures of your beautiful family. So glad you've been able to have some special family outings. Keep leaning on His wonderful promises and unfailing love!

  12. Yes, dear Savior, come quickly!

    I do find encouragement from you to simply put our prodigal daughter in the Lord's hands and leave her there, completely trusting the Lord as He leads my husband to lead us in how to deal with her. Just what I needed to hear. Thank you for taking us along in your journey.

  13. Beautiful pictures. I love going zoos even with our kids now grown we go to ours regularly. I haven't been to the Smithsonian in ages but fondly remember it.


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