Thursday, April 23, 2009

2 down, 1 to go


Angela has been pretty busy and is quite tired at the moment, so you get me again. In short, both surgeries went well this week. Praise God! Thanks for your prayers!

If you want the long version, here you go:

Angela’s Gamma Knife surgery was on Monday. We went in at 6:30am. She and I were put into a pre-op room. There she was given a group of last minute questions, poked with a local anesthetic and an IV, and then I was whisked away so she could be fitted with the head frame. It sounds easier than it really was. Angela was given twilight anesthesia (which means that she would be easier to wake up) and they then proceeded to drill four holes in her head, which were used to lock the frame to her skull with some rather large screws. By the way, the anesthesiologist was about 6’5” tall and while Angela was in twilight, she asked him if he plays basketball. After that, she proceeded to ask him about volleyball. Must have been some good stuff that she was on! Anyway, after the frame was screwed on, they woke her up. She was fully awake by now and would remain awake for the remainder of the day. After a bit, she was taken away to get a high contrast MRI and I was able to watch. We were a little nervous about this MRI because we had been warned that since this was much more detailed than the regular MRI, it could reveal even more tumors. Fortunately, that was not the case. There was still only two, so in the words of her surgeon, “no surprises”. However, we feel VERY fortunate to have “discovered” this when we did because in just a couple of weeks, the one tumor had grown from the size of a grain of rice to the size of a dime. Who knows what would have happened if we had discovered this 1 month later. Thanks God!! After the MRI, Angela was taken into the Gamma knife room. That is where her head and the accompanying frame were locked down so tight that she couldn’t twitch even if she wanted to. Interestingly, she was able to move every other part of her body and was even told that it would be OK to scratch her face during the procedure if she would like. By this point, the computer had told them that the procedure would last 16 minutes. Still seems a little Sci-Fi if you ask me. As a courtesy, they showed me the Operating room, the Gamma knife machine, the camera monitors, and the computer control room before asking me to wait back in the waiting area. Sure enough, after about 20 minutes they led me back to the pre-op room, where Angela was already recovering. The doctor came through and told us that everything went well and the surgery was a success. Shortly thereafter, we were driving home. Angela will now go back for a post-op check up next week and then go back every couple of months for follow up MRI scans. So now she has 4 “very sore spots” on her head and is understandably tired - especially after getting up the next day to do it all over again with Benjamin.

Speaking of Benjamin – He had surgery on Tuesday. Benjamin also went into the doctor at 6:30am. Déjà vu?? After some paperwork, etc, he and we were led back to a pre-op area where Ben was given a gown and a bed. The nurses strung him up with monitors and explained a couple of things to him. Then the doctor cracked a couple of jokes and wrote on Ben’s shoulder with a magic marker. He was given a mild anesthesia (pre cursor to the heavier stuff) as Angela and I were asked to head back to the waiting room. About 90 minutes later, the doctor emerged announcing a successful surgery – everything according to plan! We soon were able to join him in the recovery room. By about 10:30 we were leaving the office. Ben was sent home with a really cool (no pun intended) cold therapy machine to keep his swelling down. He had a post-op appointment today and all is well. He will be in his sling for 6 weeks and will be out of sports for at least 6 months.

That’s about it. Thanks for hanging with me. Next up, Cambron on May 14th.

Talk with you soon,


Friday, April 17, 2009


April 17, 2009

Sometimes I wonder why I ever began these updates. Had I realized I would be doing them for years I’m pretty sure I would never have begun. Touché's too late now but today is most definitely one of those days where I wish I didn't have to try and get it all into writing. Sometimes it's just so challenging trying to get the brain to cooperate with the fingers. But these next few weeks are going to be so taxing that I felt it necessary to have prayer coverage and other types of human support. I would love to say that I’m not overwhelmed but now that I’ve had time to really sit in all that’s going on, I’M OVERWHELMED!!

Wednesday, we received the MRI results for Cam and Ben. It was Cam's second MRI and it came back as expected...he still has a tear in his muscle. He doesn't "have to have" surgery but if he doesn't, his shoulder will forever keep slipping out of the socket. So, we think he "needs" the surgery. It's hard to play intramural football and wrestle with your brothers if you're shoulder is slipping out! He will be in a sling for 6 weeks and then physical therapy. Cam's surgery could be delayed a couple of weeks but it would then cause problems with his transition into college so we feel we need to get it dealt with now.

Ben. Oh Ben. Will this kid ever stop damaging his body? In my last email I told you that he fractured his shoulder. reality his damage was far, far more significant. He actually tore his tendons and muscle away from his rotator cuff and has to have immediate and delicate surgery. It is delicate because growth plates are involved and since they are involved, the doctor does not want to perform arthroscopic surgery...he wants to cut him open so he can get a better view of the damage. Our doctor does about 400 surgeries a year and he has NEVER seen this kind of an injury in a 14 year old. Any of you who've had Ben in your house will not be shocked by the news that Ben did something unusual. The doctor told Ben that he was a special boy!! But we knew that already. He will be in a sling for 6 weeks and completely out of commission for 6 months!! Ben has to be virtually still for 6 months...r i g h t. He will then have to go through physical therapy for who knows how long. Sadly, this means that he will not be able to play football this fall. This is a big bummer to me but I am trusting that the LORD has allowed it to happen for a reason (cliché I know but completely true). You see, Ben did everything right when he was skateboarding the day the accident happened (and for my elder friends…this happened the weekend of the retreat!). He was fully padded, even his elbows. Seriously, the kid never hurts himself on the field just on the bike, skateboard, trampoline, scooter, walking, etc. He’s happy though because it gets him out of his piano recital.

Ok, ok enough of that. Onto the next thing. Today, Ben had a pre-op appointment and so did I. It was brutally hard sitting through so much in-your-face reality. Sometimes delayed reality is really nice. For Ben, there is the risk of infection and because he is prone to funky infections, the doc needs to be even more careful than normal. He also has the risk of the growth plates being damaged - causing his shoulder to grow improperly - and problems with the tendons adhering to the bone.

As for me and my procedure, I'm freaking a tad. I will have this weird contraption screwed to my skull...literally...and will be put into a tube so that gamma rays can be shot into my head. Right now we know that I have two tumors in my brain but there is a chance that more will be found the day of the "procedure". This is unsettling but it's better to find them now than for them to go unnoticed. Maybe they will just all be gone when I go in! We can hope. The good news for me is that I was told by the doctor today that there is a 95% chance of these tumors never coming back!

As for Cam, his pre-op appointment isn't for a few weeks.

So, here's our schedule...

Sunday, April 19...our 23rd wedding anniversary
Monday, April 21...6:30 am Angela's procedure (I’m supposed to be out around noon)
Tuesday, April 22...sometime in the morning, Ben's surgery
Wednesday, April 23...Ben's post-op appointment
Wednesday or post-op appointment
Saturday, April 25...Cam's 18th birthday party (this was planned prior to all this other stuff and I'm not about to blow off Cam's 18th birthday)
Monday, April 27...Reed leaves for Hong Kong and several other Asian countries for 12 days.
Thursday, April 30...1:00 pm my next chemo treatment
Tuesday, May 5…Jodie Hillyard’s birthday
Thursday, May 8...Reed comes home
Monday, May 11...Cam's pre-op
Thursday, May 14...Cam's surgery
Monday, May 18...Cam's post-op
June...Cam and Abe graduate

Insanity right?

To be honest, I am nervous and feeling the weight of it all – there are several “little” things that aren’t on the list - but I am confident that the LORD will bring us through this as He has everything else. Ben and Cam are completely at peace and are entertained by the fact that they both have to have surgery on the same shoulder. I am at peace in that we are doing what we are supposed to but will not be sad, at all, if the LORD decides he wants to heal us all miraculously instead of having us go through all these "procedures".

So, this is what I'm asking. Many, many of you have offered help in any way we need. We now need something specific. What we are planning is a time of prayer...for us! Specifically for my procedure and Cam and Ben's surgeries...or maybe we can just pray for miraculous healings!! Anyway, we are going to do this Sunday night, April 19, 8:00 pm at our house (20091 Kline Drive, Santa Ana Heights, 92707) and are opening this up for all who receive this email. This is the only thing that I really feel is going to get us through this craziness so I am choosing to be vulnerable by putting it all on the table. Please don't feel obligated to come, please only come if the Holy Spirit is prompting you. I know He will bring whomever He wants here.

A year ago this weekend, we had a big party for our 22nd anniversary. This year we are going to have a big prayer time for our anniversary! Wonder what next year will be? It needs to begin with a “p”! Picnic? Panning for gold? Potato farming? Playing with Play-doh? Pasta making? The possibilities are endless. We’ll just have to wait and see.

And just so you know that not everything has been icky in our household…Elijah was baptized on Easter Sunday!!! Plus, I finished my “artwork”. I haven’t had time to get a good picture yet so that will come later or maybe you’ll see it this weekend?!

Have a great weekend…maybe we’ll see you Sunday?!


Wednesday, April 1, 2009

the promise is still there

April 1, 2009


I’m stumped on how to begin this email so I’m just going to dive in. This week has been so crazy and it’s only half over. Tomorrow, I have my next treatment but that’s not really a big deal this week. Friday I get the pleasure of visiting a neurosurgeon. Why you ask?? Oh…because I have two tiny little cancer spots in my brain, each one the size of a piece of rice. Yippee!!! My doctor wants me to go to another doctor because this other doctor specializes in the “gamma knife procedure”. It seems like a pretty cool science fiction-y kind of procedure but I’m not really very excited about trying it out!!! I’ve never liked sci-fi. The only redeeming thing is that they sort of knock you out so I actually might get some sleep! In the midst of all of this, I have the extreme pleasure of taking Cam and Ben to the doctor for shoulder injuries. Ben fractured his shoulder doing a skateboard trick (Ben’s 14 and has had 7 fractures…not ONE from football!!!) and Cam has a shoulder issue that needs surgery. By the end of this week, I will have been to a doctor of some sort five times. I’m truly not bringing up any of this stuff for pity…only for the extreme entertainment value it holds. And, for you to know that if I’ve promised I would get something to you or call you, there really is a great reason as to why I haven’t (and possibly never will)!

The truly amazingly awesome thing that has happened though is that the LORD has spoken to me in some super powerful ways over the last few weeks. I know that’s a really bad sentence but I’ve been so excited to hear from the LORD again that it’s hard to put it into words. This last weekend, God gave me an assignment. Let me try to explain. A few years ago, a couple of dear friends - who now live on different continents - gave me the same exact scripture within a few months of each other. Both confidently knew that the LORD had put it on their hearts for me but didn’t really know why. I never truly understood the importance of the scripture in regards to my life but somehow gained strength from it anyway. So, I held onto it knowing that some day it would make more sense. It’s not a well known scripture and it’s in a book that’s not common so whenever I’ve heard it since, I’ve totally perked up. A week ago Tuesday, God gave it to me again but in a way that I couldn’t just glide over. It hit me so hard that I decided I needed to look up every translation to figure out if I could figure out what God was trying to tell me. I printed off all the translations I could find but wasn’t able to read them all for a few days. FINALLY, this last Saturday, I was able to get them all read and that’s when God made it clear to me what I was supposed to do. The scripture is Habakkuk 2:2-3 and it reads…

“Then the LORD told me:
‘I will give you my message
in the form of a vision.
Write it clearly enough
to be read at a glance.
At the time I have decided,
my words will come true.
You can trust what I say
about the future.
It may take a long time,
but keep on waiting –
it will happen!!!’ “ (CEV)

I was stunned when I read this version because I finally realized what God was telling me to do (this was confirmed by Reed, unprompted) but I’d never done. I’ve always read this to mean that I needed to write my story out and felt that I was doing that in the form of journaling and these update emails. However, in all the versions I could find, it is made clear that the “vision” I need to declare needs to be written in a way that can be read clearly and quickly. Journals and emails are hard to read quickly and it’s hard to find exactly what you’re looking for. So, I knew that I needed to write it big enough to be seen easily and quickly. This led to the assignment I received from the LORD. I am creating two large canvases to be displayed in a prominent place in my house…not only will I see it every single day but so will anybody who comes to my house. One of the panels has the Habakkuk scripture on it and the other has the vision promise that I still can see and feel so strongly. The LORD did give me a vision and with that vision was attached a scriptural promise. This literally occurred to me while I was in the shower a few years ago and has been confirmed so many times that I’ve lost count. I don’t know when that promise will be fulfilled but He’s making it abundantly clear to me that my job is to wait and continue believing. This has not been easy as of late but for some strange reason, the worse things get for me, the easier it is for me to believe.

This is what the other canvas says…

“This is the message
the LORD gave to me…
Daughter, you took
a risk of faith and
now you’re healed
and whole. Live well
live blessed, be
healed of your plague.”
Mark 5:34 (Msg)

So, in the midst of this crazy week, I’ve been given an assignment that has honestly been a huge challenge for me - and it’s not because I lack artistic ability. I’ve had to study these words in an entirely new way because I refuse to have something hanging on my wall that I don’t like. I’m not finished with it yet but am really getting excited at how it’s looking and the story it portrays. Plus, it’s already been a discussion starter with our piano teacher.

I’m finally done. Thanks for staying tuned !

Hugs (from a non-hugger who appreciates hugs!)…