Sunday, April 19, 2009

Lions,Tigers, and Bears...........Oh my!

20 Benaiah was the son of Jehoiada, the son of a valiant man from Kabzeel, who had done many deeds. He had killed two lion-like heroes of Moab. He also had gone down and killed a lion in the midst of a pit on a snowy day. And David appointed him over his guard. 2 Sam 23:20,23 (NKJV)

One of the books I am reading is In A Pit With A Lion on a Snowy Day by Mark Batterson. He uses the scripture above to define people that are lion chasers and then tells their stories. I hope I have raised my children to be lion chasers. Lion chasers are willing to take a chance. They realize that life is short and sometimes you have to risk it all to obtain the prize. Lion chasers win games, succeed in life, help others, and..........................plant churches.

This last week our son and daugher, Ryan and Amanda announced that they will become church planters this next fall. They are in Salsibury, Maryland. Ryan is serving as a youth minister at this time, but he has turned in his resignation. He will be starting a church. Is it a safe move? No; but it is needed.

When we talk about stewardship, most think that we are talking about our money. That is only one tiny part. We must be stewards of our imagination, our dreams, our talents, our energy, and even our humor. Stewardship is all-inclusive.

I am proud of our children who are lion chasers! Ryan and Amanda, we are proud of you and we will pray for you daily.

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Happy Birthday! A Kindle!

My birthday is approaching, more quickly than I would like, but it is not this month. Chris can never tease me again about not being able to wait. Years ago I bought Chris a complete cookware set from Pampered Chef. They were delivered to me in October and I planned on giving the gift to Chris when we moved into our new home in January. That evening, Chris looked at me and said, "What's going on with you? You have a funny look on your face." I answered with a "poker face," "Don't move! I bought you something and I can't wait to give it to you!"
Saturday morning, we were in the kitchen preparing breakfast for the kids and I walked out to the porch. Chris asked me to stay right there because they had something for me. My "other" parents (you might call them in-laws) and Chris had bought me a Kindle 2. What is a Kindle? It is an electronic device that will wirelessly download books, hold over 1,500 books and magazines, and will read aloud to you, if you so desire. Wow - unlimited access to literally tons of reading material!
By noon, I had twelve books downloaded on my Kindle, including two versions of the Bible - and I was in heaven. Wow! I sat and read for hours. I have always loved to read, but with my new life, I have been reading even more. Doctor appointments, waiting rooms, chemotherapy treatments, VERY early mornings...........all of these are times that a book helps me keep my sanity.
Thank you, Chris, for knowing and loving me! Thank you, Dad & Mom-2 (Danny & Zora) for giving me a special treat. Gotta go, I have books to read!

Pushing The Monster Back In The Box

In November, I was diagnosed with cancer. I had surgery to remove the majority of the tumor. This was followed by five weeks of radiation and I just finished my third cycle of chemotherapy. This is the halfway mark for the chemo and I should finish on June 19th. After that, I do not know what is ahead. I will have scans and tests and we will make the decision for the next step in this battle.

In my real life, B.C. (before cancer), I was a math teacher/basketball coach. I am now trying to fight cancer and still fullfill these responsbilities. As a basketball coach, we have our own special language. My wife, Chris, is used to going on "scouting dates," discussing things like hedge, double, slam, open, baseline leg, flex, motion,.....................Yes, we seem to have our own language. I have learned that there is also a language spoken at the cancer center. I have had to learn it. Port, accessing the port, platelet counts, white blood cell count, red blood cell count, chemotherapy, radiation, myeloma, solitary plasmacytoma, stem cell transplant, bone marrow biopsy, etc... but the word we, as cancer patients, are all striving for is remission. Remission is defined as the reduction of a sentence or a temporary recovery.

This is what we cancer patients & survivors are all waiting to reach. We sit in our infusion contraptions receiving our chemo, and someone walks through the door. Although they are not quite treated like a "rockstar," they seem to have a celebrity status; they are family. As the person is introduced, (and they are always introduced) you are told, "This is _______, he/she has been in remission for the last ___ years/months." It's like a goal to reach, the prize at the end of the journey.

Why radiation? Why chemotherapy? We want to put the monster back in the box! It takes two years of clear tests and scans to be awarded the title of "in remission." Of all the titles I have obtained in my life, this is the title I covet. I want the monster.......................BACK IN THE BOX!!!!

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

A Cancer Patient, Contender, & Survivor....SMILE!

I have had many of you say to me that I do not talk about my struggle with this disease enough on my blog. I do want to keep everyone informed, but I have enjoyed using my writings as an outlet. I guess in a way it is still hard for me to realize that I have cancer. Yesterday Mrs. Jones, a fellow math teacher, called me to her room to hand me a Relay For Life form. In my mind, I was already thinking how neat it would be to walk and participate, and then I realized that the form was for a cancer survivor. Reality..................I have cancer!

Why cancer? Why me? Instead of training and running to raise funds for others, I am the person with the disease.

What are the struggles? Some mornings, simply getting out of bed. Some days, failing to smile at others when the pain is intense. Some evenings, letting Chris rub my hands and feet because of the neuropathy that numbs,burns and stings. Some mornings, waking up at 2:30 a.m. when sleep is not an option. Some days, the chemotherapy makes me sick and I ache. Even through these struggles, I want to SMILE!

Reality of cancer is everywhere, but I choose to ignore it. Life is a vapor, and I choose to smile. I will let my daughter, Callie, share her feelings about a poem, Smile, that she read for her English class. This is her paper explaining why she chose the poem, Smile.
When I first spotted this poem, the only reason I really enjoyed it is was because it was so short. But as I read it over and over in the day, the meaning began to crawl out. I relate the word sunshine in the poem to time. Nothing big or fancy, just simply, time. It's a word that doesn't scare me by its meaning, but by not getting enough of it. I always dwell on having 3 long and boring more years of high school, and then right after that, 4 or more years of college! But I'm not so sure anyone stops to think about how quickly time slips away, not just by getting older, but by nagging about all the time. It's ironic really when in all honesty, we should be celebrating the fact that we have more time with our best friends, we have more time with our favorite sports, or in this case, I have more time with my father who has cancer. Time is a scary thing that people continue to take for granted. For others, time may be replaced with a certain object or a certain someone, but my time has been replaced by a cancer. It's a cancer that has a mind of its own. It's a cancer that has a ticking clock that can go off at any moment. It's a cancer that has its own time. So this poem opened my eyes to smile while time still hangs delicately in the air. So I say smile while you still can, smile while American Idol booms from your speakers, smile while it's your birthday, and smile while your father still lives! Don't wake up wishing you would have smiled a little more than the day before.


Smile, my sunshine,

for I am smiling, too.

All the while

that I've got you,

smile, my sunshine,


Innocent Once