Wednesday, March 27, 2013

We know WHO can...

Papa and Kasia
Hey, family & friends,
 I’ve decided to use LuLu’s Chronicles to give updates on our cancer journey. So if you want to find out how we’re doing, please check here from time to time. We’re home now. Gary had his first ‘ipi’ treatment last Friday at Mayo. It’s an immune therapy drug that, hopefully, will help his body stand up and fight the cancer. Not too many side effects so far.
Last weekend, most of our family came and we enjoyed some time together. Our daughter-in-laws have decided that fighting cancer means eating lots of cancer fighting foods. Hence, the delicious spinach lasagna we enjoyed last weekend, made by Sarah. And this week, Erin and the kids have stayed with us to make all kinds of juices from veggies and fruits. Who knew that chard would taste so good through a straw? She’s been working so hard to make main dishes fortified with cancer-fighting combatants like beets, broccoli and other good stuff. She’s made us this whole wheat bread filled with flax seeds and tree bark (just kidding) that would crack the marble countertop if dropped, but is wonderful tasting.  She’s freezing things like wheat and flaxseed and lemon pancakes and cleaning out all my ‘bad’ foods from the cupboard that contain sugar and other ingredients none of us can pronounce much less should be putting in our bodies.
On Monday, a friend from church who is a massage therapist, came and gave Erin and I each a one-hour massage. She said it was her way of helping us with the fight.
We received cards and emails and Facebook messages from all over the country that have warmed our hearts and made us truly feel that we are not in this fight alone.
The other day our doctor spent lots of time with us explaining and answering questions. He’s a Believer and even asked us if we needed time to pray about our next steps. We told me him ‘no’ that that was already covered by an army of folks. We told him we were ready for treatment. He continued to explain that melanoma is not curable, but that he’d do all he could to help us with this fight. He did say though, “If the next time we take a PET scan and find the cancer is gone, we’ll know that I had nothing to do with it.”
Our doctor cannot heal Gary’s cancer. But, we all know Who can. I can’t tell you what a blessing it is that our doctor with all his education, research and experience knows that too.
We’re doing okay for now. We feel loved, supported, and prayed up and down over. We truly do not feel we deserve such honor, but are so grateful you’re all willing to give it.
Love you all,

Thursday, March 21, 2013

I feel...


Sorry, folk. I've been remiss in my blogging. If you've followed me at all, you know my time has been taken over by the Hub's diagnosis of Stage Four Melanoma. This is an odd place to be. A strange, foreign land. I'm not prepared. If warned, I probably wouldn't be prepared. I don't think anyone is prepared for this type of illness. It just comes. It just happens. And... there you are in a fight for your life, sharks circling.

We're in Rochester, MN at Mayo Clinic this week. We've chosen a fairly new treatment plan with the drug ipilimumab. Yeah, I can't pronounce it either. For the past two and half days we've been waiting for our insurance company to approve this treatment. For the last 48 hours I've bounced back and forth between anger, frustration, fear, and weeping as I wait on these nameless, faceless folks to make a judgement on my husband's life. They don't know him. They have never treated him. And, their top priority to is save the company money, and then somewhere down their list of priorities Gary's name finally comes up. Yeah, I'm being too harsh. They do have names. They do have faces. They have families of their own. They are just doing their jobs. I will pray for them. What a terrible job it must be.

At this moment, the Hubs and I are sitting at a McDonald's biding time. I slept horribly last night even with two Tylenol PMs. My mind refused to shut down. Funny, I don't feel tired today though. What I feel is God. I feel His presence. I can almost feel his breath on the back of my neck. His knees under the table where we're sitting. The sun is shining outside. Snow is piled in the streets. Angels crowd the room. And I feel that we are going to be okay.

love you all,

Thursday, March 14, 2013


Well, it wasn’t a shoe…

They did find cancer in Gary’s liver and it is inoperable. There is also a cancerous lymph node in his pelvic area. With these new sightings Gary is now considered in Stage Four Melanoma.  We will come back to Mayo next week to meet with our new Medical Oncologist to map out a plan of chemotherapy. Fortunately, just this past January, two new drugs have been approved for the treatment of melanoma and they have had some impressive results thus far. Gary is also a good candidate for a research/trial that we will discuss with the doc next week. 

      I know it’s scary. Gary and I have felt the whole gamut of emotions in just a few hours. But a couple of things we have not felt are hopeless nor alone. A battle is ahead of us for sure, but with your love and our Father’s faithfulness, we will march into it together. 

     Below is my favorite quote. My greatest desire is to one day be able to pray this prayer with all sincerity and confidence. Please pray it with me now….

"Abba, I abandon myself into your hands.  Do with me what you will.  Whatever you may do, I thank you.  I am ready for all; I accept all.  Let your will be done in me and all your creatures.  I wish no more than this, O Lord.  Into your hands, I commend my spirit.  I offer it to you with all the love of my heart, for I love you, Lord, and I give myself, surrender myself into your hands without reserve, with boundless confidence, for you are my father."

I love you all,


Tuesday, March 12, 2013


“Trust in the Lord with all your heart and all His ways. Lean not on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge Him and He will make your paths straight.” Proverbs 3: 5-6
The above scripture has been the motto for our marriage before Day One. I even had it inscribed on the inside of Gary’s wedding band a hundred years ago. Those words of wisdom and inspiration have held us up through many a trial.  Today, as I sit in yet another Mayo Clinic waiting room, they have no less meaning and power than on Day One.
As I write this, Gary is somewhere behind these marbled walls drinking a barium drink and preparing for a CT scan of his stomach and pelvis area. He texted me a few minutes ago highly recommending the drink. Think I’ll pass.
Is the bright, shiny spot the PET scan showed up the return of cancer or something else entirely, like he swallowed a shoe by accident or something? I’m voting for the shoe. But no matter the outcome, I know our path will be made straight. I have every confidence that our Lord Jesus is walking out in front, kicking stones out of our way, and sweeping the path with sweating brow and scarred hands. Our names are on His lips as he petitions on our behalf before the Throne.
So, again, I wait… in a big room with lots of seats and lots of other anxious strangers I seem to now be connected to. Our longing and hope and worried glances toward the door tie us together-- make us community.
The clock ticks. The waiting to know is almost over.

Thursday, March 7, 2013

The waiting room...

Nellie Rose... something that was worth the wait.


“Waiting must be the precursor to hell.” I just wrote that in an email to a friend. I don’t know much about hell, really. Just the typical cartoon stuff like it’s hot, lots of fire and brimstone, Satan over in the corner with his horns and harpoon, or whatever that thing is they always show him holding. The only real truth that I know about hell is that God won’t be there.  How chilling is that?
Well, in this waiting room that I’m in right now, there are moments, only moments, mind you, that I feel like God isn’t here. My heart and my theology tell me something different. However, during those few brief lonely moments, I feel hell is just around the corner.
Waiting for news or for something to happen is an ugly place. I wished every medical student or nurse in training had to sit in this place that I am in just for one day. To feel the panic, the loneliness, the limbo that waiting for their call puts one in. Test results, a doctor’s voice, an appointment made, “yes, it’s cancer” or “no, it’s not”—the waiting for those things causes you to feel the heat of hell … just for a moment.
Then, my heart kicks in, my faith that God never leaves us alone, that His timing is wiser than ours, etc., I grasp those things with both hands and hold on. I reach out longing for the touch of His holy hand that I am confidant is already outstretched towards me.
The waiting room is an odd place. My heart tells me He fills every nook and cranny, yet…
If you are in that place, I pray your wait will be short.

P.S. Poor LuLu, she’s been waiting out the garage for the snow to melt for a while now…

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

A little bit of stress...


One of my favs, fried green tomatoes
Okay, if you’ve check in with LuLu and I over the last month, you know that we’re experiencing a little bit of stress. I’ve been in Tennessee the whole month of February caring for my mom who had surgery and my dad who is in advance stages of Alzheimer’s. I came home a few days ago because my husband’s recent PET scan indicates a return of his cancer. Yep, a little bit of stress…
I don’t mean to make light of it. My guts are churning. My heart is broken. And, I know all of this makes me extremely vulnerable for sickness myself. Even more reason to try and incorporate healthy habits during this time. So far, I’ve failed miserably. Don’t know what you know about the south, but once you reach the Mason Dixon line you are escorted across by the twins, Fried Chicken and Chicken Fried Steak. Then, there’s BQ, the real deal, slow cooked over an open pit, and let’s not forget fried okra. I gained almost five pounds while caring for my folks.
The good news is that I came home to a pretty empty fridge and cupboards. I think the Hubs was about to start smearing peanut butter on table legs for supper. This means I can once again stock up on the good stuff. Fresh veggies and fruits, lean meats etc., which I plan on doing… as soon as we get back from Mayo Clinic.
Mayo Clinic… another hurdle in the healthy life style agenda. Eating on the run is never a good idea. Eating under stress is like talking without a mental filter—anything could come out, and with eating under stress—anything could go in.
I need your prayers for many things right now, but if you get a minute, would you please add to your prayer list that I would be able to take care of myself as well.
Later, dear ones…