Friday, January 20, 2012

Time to catch up: Bad News

Wow, it has been a long time since I last updated my blog. In my defense life has been so good to me. I have been enjoying myself too much that I haven't made time to come back here to share anything new. The Last year has been a great one, I stayed out of hospital stays for a full year! We went fishing, camping, hiking, and spent a week at Bear Lake with the Family. I realize how blessed I have been to be able to take part in all of these things. Ethan and Wade have grown like weeds and it has been so much fun to be able to watch them play together and to be able to play with them. I am so blessed to have such a great little family, especially a fantastic loving wife. I don't think I will ever be able to express to her how grateful I am to have her in my life, she is truly my guardian Angel. She watches over me and keeps me in line, she loves me for who I am.

I am really starting this up again because the Doctors have found recurrence of my tumor. Once again this stubborn thing just doesn't want to let go, but neither do I. I started having some pain in my upper back that slowly got worse. I, of course trying to keep hope and think of the best, tried to ignore the pain, reasoning with myself that it was due to strained muscles from the hiking I had done earlier or the extra lifting I had done, or something else, something, anything but cancer again. It finally got to the point where the pain was too strong and had lasted too long to be "just" something simple.

I called and bumped up my regular scans to a month earlier than they were scheduled. They got me in within the next week and I underwent the regular barrage of scans that I had gone through every 3 months for the past 3 years. The worst one of them is the MRI. I have gotten to the point where I can almost fall asleep during an MRI but so do my elbows, my backside, and the back of my head. For those of you who are lucky enough to have never had an MRI they don't have a padded surface to lay on. They put down a "blanket" before you lay down but that is about it. During the hour and a half that you are in the tube, you cannot move at all. So obviously everything falls asleep. Anyways... I finished the scans and went home for a weekend of waiting, and trying not to think about what the results might reveal.

Monday morning, the 9th of Jan Amy and I entered the Oncologist's office and tried to stay positive. The results came back showing a small mass growing on the spine around the T1-T3 areas. This is the same place as before. They were positive and encouraging, reminding us that it was small and according to the last scans it looked like it was growing very slowly. They said that we had options for treatment but we found out that my Neurosurgeon didn't think that surgery was a good one because the tumor was located deep enough that they would have to go through the chest to access the spine from the other side. This would include moving organs and other vital parts out of the way. This was too risky considering the fact that there was no guarantee they could get all of the tumor out. They all recommended that we do more Radiation.

When I went in to meet with the Radiation Oncologist, I was hopeful. I Felt like we were going to make it out of this somehow. My hopes we shattered when after much discussion she told me that they wouldn't be able to deliver high enough doses of radiation to the site to effectively treat the tumor. She told me that because of the Radiation treatments I had before, the cumulative radiation dose would damage my spinal cord, possibly causing vital nerve damage that could lead to my organs shutting down, and eventually death. It was then that she told me that she recommended I go home and enjoy the quality of life that I currently have.

In my mind I knew what I heard but I really didn't believe what I had heard, I had just been told by a medical professional, I was going to Die!

I sat there and looked at the floor for a long time, I didn't know what to say... the Doctor kept talking but I wasn't paying much attention. I just kept shaking my head. I never thought, through all of the last 3 years, that I would have someone tell me I was going to die. Sure I often thought about it , "What happens if this is what ends up taking me Home? What would happen to Amy, Ethan and Wade? Would they betaken care of?" All sorts of thoughts go through your mind and you try to kind of ready yourself if that situation were to ever come. There have been times in the last few years that I have actually been at peace with the thought that this might kill me. But to actually be sitting in a Doctors office, and to hear that this tumor would really do it?!?... I had cold sweats come over me and I really started to feel a little queasy. I was glad my Dad was with me during the visit, I had almost decided to go by myself. That would have been a disaster.
As we walked out of the office there were nurses that came by and tried to offer their comfort, I was grateful for their concern but it wasn't helping. I didn't know what to think, or feel, or even say. I didn't know what I was going to tell Amy. I was trying to find a way out of this, out of the sentence I had just been given, the fear had hit me so hard.

Dad offered to take me to lunch at the cafeteria in the Church office building. We drove down the hill towards his work and Dad got on the phone to Uncle Dave in New York. He mentioned that we would probably want to get in touch with Josh Yamada for a second opinion. Josh is a Spine tumor specialist in Manhattan that we were connected with through Dave just before we started Radiation treatments a year and a half ago. Dave told us he would get in touch with Josh and have him call me.

In the Church office building after we ate lunch we went up stairs to Dads office. I sat there looking out the west side of the building directly across from the Salt lake Temple. As I sat looking at the Temple I felt a calm come over me, I was going to be alright. It was from this moment that the Lord started showing me little signs that he was aware of my fears and thoughts, he was in control of this and he would make sure, in the end, things would be OK. Dad asked a co-worker, Elder Gibbons in the Temple Dept to help him give me a priesthood blessing. I was overwhelmed by the words spoken in the blessing. I felt like the Lord had his arms wrapped around me. As we were walking out of Elder Gibbons office, we came to a bank of 6 elevators. In the church office building the elevators have scriptures that are posted up on the walls for you to read as you go to your floor. They are different in every elevator. The elevator that happened to open for us had a very tender scripture on the wall for us to read.

Proverbs 3:5-6
Trust in the Lord with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding. In all thy ways acknowledge Him and He shall direct thy paths.

Some might call this coincidence, not me, I know that the Lord cares for us and He knows our Pains and Sorrows, He is always there to let us know it. He was there for me just when I needed Him. I look back over my life and especially over the last 3+ years and He has always been there for me, to carry me when I couldn't walk any more, to boost my spirits when I was down, to hold my hand when I was alone, and to give me hope when I had none. Many people I know are not "Believers", that doesn't change the way I feel about them nor the fact that He is real, I have had too many special experiences for it to be coincidence, I have come to a knowledge of it being real. He waits for all to find out for themselves that He is real and He loves us.

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