Nov 29, 2011

Simply Christmas...

Coincidentally our church is advocating our members to consider simplifying their lives this Christmas season.  I say "coincidentally" because with our current situation of unemployment and now a family health crisis going on, it had already been on my mind to somehow celebrate the birth of the Savior in a more appropriate and thoughtful way than we have in past years.

I do love the entire Christmas season.  I love decorating our home, baking the cookies, giving and receiving the gifts, going to the parties and concerts and special church services, and the hundreds of other little things we traditionally do non-stop for about six weeks out of the year.

I'm not sure at this point what exactly I will do differently this year.  I'm still thinking about what that might look like.  I had the idea that I will do a brief blog post each day starting December 1st and going through the entire season~both for the purpose of keeping myself accountable and also to share with you my ideas.  I hope you will share some of yours with me as well.

"...I am the light of the world..." John 9:5

Nov 26, 2011

Life Interrupted...

My world has been knocked off its axis.  No, it isn't about the ongoing unemployment.  That's just been a little bump in the road.  We've been down that road before, and eventually it will smooth out.  There are options we haven't even begun to explore.  Something will come together and we will survive unemployment one way or another.

A few weeks ago Bob and I were enjoying dinner at Olive Garden with my brother and his wife.  They were treating us in celebration of our 35th wedding anniversary.  Don winced every now and then...his back was still bothering him and physical therapy wasn't helping.  He was disappointed because he had hoped to be training for his 12th marathon. At age 59, he was the picture of health and vitality.  He had been running for fitness and stress relief  for decades.  But this new pain in his back was bringing all that to a screeching halt, and he was having all kinds of scans and tests run to see what was going on.

One night he ended up having to go to the ER, the pain was so great he felt he couldn't move.  He was admitted to the hospital for more tests and morphine.  A few days later he sent us a text message late at night.  "got the test results.  news not so good."  As my husband read the details to me, I was at first stunned and then angry.  I wanted to start throwing things.  I felt sick to my stomach.  I thought I was having a nightmare and I just wanted to wake up to my normal life as it had been before this news.

I'd heard of multiple myeloma before. Our grandmother died from it 40 years ago.  It is an incurable blood cancer that settles in the bones.  It is very rare, representing only about 1% of all cancers.  And just a few years ago I had done a little research on the internet when I had a small tumor removed from my inner elbow area.  Mine was not malignant but I was curious as to the symptoms of multiple myeloma.  That was when I found out that in spite of many new experimental drugs, radiation and chemotherapy, not much progress has been made in finding a cure or in survival rates. Still, the doctors are saying this cancer is "very treatable".  So we hope.

In my brother's case, a tumor was found on his L5 vertebrae, and had in fact crushed it, causing the severe pain he is experiencing.  More scans, more tests...  The good news so far being the cancer has not metastasized in any other bones.   Chemotherapy begins in just a few days.

As I sat before my brother yesterday while he rested on the hospital bed that has been set up in their family room, he held both of my hands for a long time.  He is taking a liquid morphine every 2 hours so he faded in and out as we talked.  He wanted to tell me about the good things he sees happening already as a result of his suffering.  "God stories" as he calls them.  His faith is strong.  He is determined not to "waste his cancer".

We don't know where this road is leading.  It's not a journey any of us would choose to travel.  Only God knows the end from the beginning and the number of our days.  In spite of the shock, the pain, and the uncertainty, as individuals and as a family we will choose to say "Blessed be the name of the Lord."  And we would so appreciate your prayers for healing, for strength, for faith to remain strong through the storm.  Thank you friends.  I know you will.

 Don Lichi 
Sept. 2011