Sunday, April 29, 2012

Hard Work And Determination Get You Graduated..

  I love this time of year. Graduation. All that work culminates into a diploma of some sort. Today was Deeda's Day.. Anita, Deeda is a endearing term I used for her from and early age, graduated with her BA in Nursing. Deeda will tell you that it's taken her longer then any living human to get this degree.

 I remember a few conversations about how she just couldn't finish. How being a single mom, work, school, raising a teenager made it just to hard. It had taken to long. How could she ever pass the tests, keep up with the reading, get the classes she needed. It wasn't possible. No one took 15 yrs. to get a degree.
15 yrs. I can't imagine. That my dears is determination. That is a "Never Quit" attitude. That is one of the things I'm so proud of. She had a few good reasons to quit. I won't go into them here, but believe me when I say she could have quit many times and no one would have found fault with it. No She didn't quit. She hung in there and she worked her hiney parts off..

I was blown away by the student speech that was given by another student that took a "few" extra yrs. to get her degree. She was also a single mom. She suffered a heart attack the first year. Then when she returned to school her oldest daughter was diagnosed with cancer. Later a younger child was diagnosed with juvenile diabetes. The daughter diagnosed with cancer had it return 3 times. My goodness.. If anyone had a reason to give up school and quit she did, but she didn't. Amazing.

Deeda's mama comes from good stock. She is Husbands Niece. I remember the extra years it took
"mama" to get her degree. Divorced mom, raising two kids, the list goes one. I remember the night she laid in the middle of her living room floor with her math book and screamed. "I can't do this".. She sobbed for an hour. She did it. She graduated. She wanted her kids to know that hard work and determination would get you someplace in this world. Deeda learned that lesson well.

One of Husband's favorite quotes to tell our girls when they were young and they wanted to quit was this.
"Quitters never did anything".  He is so right.

Today it was so wonderful to be part of the celebration. A celebration of 15 long hard years of work.
I am so proud of you Deeda. So proud of the woman you have become, and so proud of the role model you are to you children. Three cheers for you dear one.

Friday, April 27, 2012

Our First Trip To The Radiation Oncologist...

I slipped an extra post in today. I needed to. I'll fill you in now on the first visit to the Radiation Oncologist. It was just two days ago. Today (previous Post) Was TEST day. A bit of a struggle day, but we made it just fine.

I would like to say that The Treatment Center here is wonderful and everything folks told us it would be. The photo above is from the website. There really is a waterfalls and this is really what it looks like. There is also a quiet pool of water and lovely rocks and stonework. It's in the Courtyard. A wonderful place to walk or sit while you are awaiting treatment.

I told you in an earlier post there have been a few moments when I felt like I needed to hold my Breath. When that wonderful peace and calm I've experienced seems to disappear for a moment.. The last one of those moments happened at our first visit to the Radiation Oncologist; only 2 short days ago.

We got the paperwork together, grabbed snacks and coffee and headed off to the Center. It's where the Old St. Joe's use to be so we figured we knew right where it was.. LOL  we were wrong. They have blocked off streets and built stuff up. We don't ever drive down that way so we drove around for a bit. I"m glad I always leave for apts. a bit early. We weren't late and figured out a much easier way to get there.

I parked and we gathered up our stuff and walked toward the building. I don't think either of us walked to fast. I opened the door and the punch to the gut came swiftly. There was a pink Motorcycle plaque on the wall with signatures and a Pink Quilt. I couldn't look. The word cancer screamed at me from every corner of the wide expanse. I told myself to Breathe. I quickly said my verse.. "Be still and know that I am God".. (psalm 46:10) I refused to look. I didn't want to look at the quilt or the lady with the bandanna on her head. I didn't want any popcorn or coffee.. I didn't want to be here. not here. We didn't belong here.. here where people with cancer were. I just couldn't look not yet. I dropped my head and literally ran to the desk with papers in hand. Ken seemed to be fine. He kindly told the receptionist " I don't want to be here".   I quickly added " but we are so happy to see you".  She smiled and directed us to the elevator.

The doors opened and we followed the directions to the next reception desk. 3 big smiles greeted us. A man was signing in and told us to do the same. We did.. Ken again told the receptionist. " I don't want to be here". and I again quickly added " but we are so happy to meet you."  I chose the chairs near the TV. something I could relate to. Ken paced. I finally glanced around. More people with hats and bandannas, some people with lab coats. a fish tank, and pamphlets about cancer. We waited.

It wasn't long before a young women escorted us back down a hallway. She weighed Ken and put him in the waiting room. thankfully there were several chairs. No one had to sit on the exam table this time. A huge sigh of relief. I was kind of surprised to see that the walls were gray. the cupboards too. There were the typical Dr. type things.. little plastic replicas of what I assumed were body parts/organs, cotton balls, gauze pads. The exam table/bed was lavender. And the stool the Dr. would later sit on, was pink. Kind of fun.

there was another chair and what looked to be a TV. and an IV pole in the corner. x-ray viewer behind our chairs, and hard wood floors. A nice touch I thought. It didn't stink like a lot of Dr. exam rooms do. The first thing we both noticed were the wonderful ceiling tiles. 3 tiles (the white acoustic kind) above the exam table/bed were painted. It was obvious they were done by Children. 2 were signed one was not. The one of Superman in front of buildings was delightful. I loved it. There was another one of a flower.. a giant flower. and one more. A cat, in front of a window, overlooking some snow topped mountains. there was a flower border around the window.. I studied that one for a while. What a wonderful imagination that child had.

Soon we met Dr. O. He was one big smile. He quickly went over the information from the paperwork with Ken. Asked a few questions. Then examined him. I took this time to go out and stare at the hallway and play on the scale. I realized those paintings dotted the ceiling in the hallway too. Soon Ken and Dr. O. exited the room and we were off to the big conference room. it was a muted lavender with big comfy purple chairs. I thought of my friend Julie and how she would love one of those chairs. Ken wanted the Dr. to go over all the options again with him. So he did.. Dr. O. had brought one for the rubber/body part models and paper. He showed Ken what a normal prostrate would look like.. He explained on a body model how it all worked. He explained about each option and always gave Ken opportunity to ask questions at any point. It was good.

He explained that Ken's cancer is a stage 2.. and grade 7. He explained what all that meant with a chart and graph, but he did it in a way that was very easy to understand. He didn't whip any Doctor speak on us. I know a lot of it since my papa worked in the hospital and I spent a lot of time around physicians as a kid and teenager. I didn't have to stop Dr. O. one time to get him to explain anything he had said.

I think for the first time Ken felt more confident about his choice. He had questions and I was glad he felt comfortable enough to ask them. We weren't rushed and when we did leave I think we both felt better.
Ken got his apt. set up for the testing. that happened earlier today. As we made our way out of the building I was able to stop and look at the quilt. We both looked at it for a while. I could smile at those ladies with the hats. Ken got some coffee and teased the receptionist. I could breathe.

We called some friends and had lunch. We talked and laughed. It was a good day. Not as scary as I thought it might be. I think we are both feeling better about this. I know after the tests were finished today Ken felt a lot better. I think breathing will be easier now.

Trying To Find Some Good...

Oh boy, today is NOT a good day. Husband is Not in a good mood. He has tests this afternoon. Tests that he didn't ask about and now suddenly does not want to do. I think a lot of it right now is not only stress, but Cigarettes . Ken quit smoking 13 days ago. Today is really pushing him hard. He has snapped at me a few times today. Once was really hard. I had to remember that he is Angry. He is not angry at me. He is angry at the cancer. He is angry at the Dr.'s, and the endless tests. He is angry, and there are no cigarettes to help calm him. I'm praying that God will help him relax, think clearly, and remember that I am not the enemy. The Dr.'s aren't either.
    I will tell you that mine and the girls greatest fear is not the cancer.. but that he in all his anger will quit and do nothing for treatment. He says it a lot. I know he considers it but I'm not sure if he would really consider it. I know it's his decision. I know that maybe he needs time to think about it some more.
       I don't know where this is coming from but it's something I am not going to think about now.. I'm hoping it's like when I do something  I don't want to do. the whole time I'm saying I don't want to do this.. I think it's just a bad day. It's hitting him all at once. probably a punch to his stomach, and the words make it feel a little better.. I'm looking.. looking for the good thing today. Knowing I will find it.
    UPDATE:  The tests are done. They weren't fun, but Ken got through them. He's not feeling to great now. but was beaming from ear to ear when the receptionist told him the worst was over. Next week he goes back to make sure the tattoos he got are positioned correctly and then he will start the treatments after that.. We stopped at Arby's on the way home and got some lunch. On the way to Arby's Ken looked through the ash tray we keep in the Truck. He was looking for a butt to smoke. He said he had saved one in there for today..  LOL  Planning ahead I guess.. He found one, but then decided it wasn't as good a butt as he thought it was. So he just threw it back in. GO KEN... Day 13 ... woot woot..
    We got to Arby's and placed our order. It really is "Good Mood Food."   LOL He is home, his tummy is full, and he is in a much happier mood. There were good things today. We both had to look for them. Funny how they came in some humor and smiles. It's all going to be OK. There may be a few rough days ahead, but I know where the Arby's is and we'll just get some of that "Good Mood Food".. Thank you God for the little things that make us happy..

Storm Ahead...

      As I write this it's been exactly two weeks since we had our first consult with the Urologist. I talked about that appointment in the last post. You can see it Here...  I wanted to share with you about a few times that I didn't feel so calm. Amazing it has only been a couple of times.

     The first time that panic set in was kind of weird. You have to understand that I had made lots of phone calls and told a lot of our friends and family about the diagnosis, tests, etc. I didn't want anyone hearing it second hand. I still needed to make a few calls to friends in Ky.

     Out of the blue one of them called me. As we chatted she asked how Ken was doing. I started to tell her about the cancer and Wham! I felt like someone had punched me in the stomach. I lost all my air. I couldn't breathe, I started to tear up, I couldn't even speak. I took a deep breath. I repeated (in my head) the Bible verse "Be Still and Know that I am God. (Psalms 46:10a) The calm just seemed to wash over me. I took another breath and told her about the cancer. I even said the word.

    I guess that was the first time it was real to me. I think I had just been operating on auto pilot. Being very technical in repeating what I had heard not really thinking about it, but this time it was different. This time I saw myself getting ready to say the word cancer. My brain just started whirling.. Cancer, My husband, not the neighbor down the street, not one of the siblings, not one of our friends, not me, But My husband. My husband has cancer. That was a punch to the stomach.

     I think I recovered nicely. I'm not sure how long the pause was, but I don't think it was long. My voice had started to break. (by the way I'm a card caring member of the Cry Baby Club I cry over everything) But I didn't cry. Thank you Jesus..

      The next time the panic hit me was on Monday this week. A friend of mine from Church were picking me up to spend an afternoon with the "girls" at the movies. I was excited. It had been a while since "the girls" had gotten together. As I was waiting for my ride I flipped the channels and landed on a program I had heard about but had never seen. " Giuliana and Bill". It was the episodes about their discovery of her breast cancer and how they were not telling anyone except for their immediate family. I watched as I waited.

     The punch to the gut came again. As I watched Giuliana talk about how she felt. She said some things that really stuck with me. She talked about feeling like the floor had given way and she was falling.. and just kept falling. I quickly wondered if that was what Ken felt like. I don't think men talk a lot about feelings and stuff. I know Ken doesn't. I haven't really asked him yet how he feels. He verbalizes a few things, those who know my Kenny will know I won't need to repeat them for anyone here. LOL  But he really hasn't talked about feelings or what he thinks. I think if he needs to he will. I think for now, he is probably dealing with how he feels in a quiet man way. He'll tell me if I need to know.

    Suddenly my ride appeared and I was crying.. I grabbed my stuff and headed out the door.. I got in the vehicle and just let it all go.. how depressed I felt, how did Ken feel, how I couldn't watch that show again. I slammed right in at full force.. Not even a hi or how are you doing. Just whammo . I realized I hadn't even said hello and did so. I apologized for venting it all out on her in a 90 second avalanche. My friend was great. She told me that obviously I needed to tell her. I guess I did. My calm immediately returned after that 90 seconds. and I was good for the rest of the day.

     I have noticed that my moments of panic/fear come swiftly. They come when I'm not looking. They come when I'm just doing every day stuff. They come when I least expect it. The next one came when we went to our first Consult with the Radiation Oncologist. I 'll tell you about that in my next post. This is enough for now.

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Hard To Believe It All Started With The Yearly Checkup...

           It was time. Time for dragging Ken to the Dr.'s office for the yearly checkup. He hates going to the doctor. The only reason he goes is so he can get prescription refills. If they didn't make him do that once a year he would never go. It's never a good time for him so I make the appts. anyway. This year they were near the end of Feb. the 21st to be exact. You can see that it took me a while to get him to the doctor this year. We needed our refills and I wanted this all done so we could leave the first of March for Ky. I had plans and to wait any longer was just not possible.
      I encouraged him to get his " Welcome to Medicare" physical, but he was having none of it. So refills only it was. He did promise the Doc that he would come back in June to have that physical. The normal cursory exam stuff was preformed and we were off to the lab for blood work. We had our normal Celebratory breakfast and headed home. 
      The call came a few days later. Ken's PSA was elevated. They were referring him to a Urologist. Later that day we got a call from the Uro (I'm abbreviating it.) telling us standard procedure for the first visit was to do an ultra sound of the prostrate and a biopsy. 
      Our Trip to Ky. was postponed for a bit and we waited for the Uro visit on March 19th. We both kind of chuckled when we got to the office that day. A big room full of men. To be fair there were a few women there, but that day it was mostly men and they were all there for the same thing. None of them looked to happy or excited to be there. The Office staff was great and very efficient as was the Dr. The tests were done quickly and soon Ken appeared, a little wincey, but OK. As we were preparing to leave an elderly couple were heading for the door. The woman, who appeared to be at least 90, looked at her husband and said something hysterically funny. (sorry I can't remember it now) Husband and I tried not to blurt out laughing. As I glanced around that big room I noticed others had heard it too. It was a great stress reliever. We were told to expect a call sometime in the next 2 weeks with results. It didn't take that long. 
      The call came 3 days later on the 22nd of March. I had broken off a tooth the night before and spent 6 hrs. at the dentist office that day getting a cleaning, root canal, and a restoration. It wasn't a good day. When I got home Ken said the Uro had called. He had cancer. That was all he said. Then he sat silent for about 3 hours. I realized later that he was in shock and trying to wrap his head around what the Dr. had said. I was calming myself and making calls to the girls. I wanted to get my Prayer warriors praying for Ken, but first I had to tell our girls. I didn't want them hearing it from anyone but us. 
     They were difficult calls to make, but they were made. Prayer Warriors were notified, a few friends messaged. I prayed.. I prayed a lot those first 3 hours. I prayed for calm and peace for us both. I prayed for healing and for Salvation for Ken. I prayed that wonderful verse in Psalms.."Be Still, and know that I am God. "  psalm 46:10a. I have used that verse several times to remind me That He is God, and I can be calm and stand quietly knowing that He will take care of it all. 
      After those 3 hours Ken told me more of the conversation. He told me the Dr. said "it was early stage and very treatable and not to worry he would take care of it."  I told Ken, God would take care of it. I spoke it and knew as I said it that it was true. A peace and calm came over me that I still can not explain other then to say it was God. 
     Another apt. was made with the Uro. for April 12th to discuss options and such. By that time the Grandkids that were coming for dinner were told just in case grandpa talked about it. I didn't want sadness to permeate one of the few times we all can get together. Besides, We had our First Great Grandchild to meet and that could not be a sad day. We were to excited to be anything but bubbling with anticipation and excitement. A baby. woo hooo..  you can see him in a previous post.. 

     I will tell you know that I held my breath that day of the consult with the Uro. I did my homework. I googled everything I could find about prostrate cancer. I found charts and graphs and took out my legal pad and made notes. I wanted to make sure I understood everything we were going to be told and I wanted to be knowledgeable about options so I could ask good questions. I knew Ken would have a few questions too, but I wanted to make sure mine were answered too. I had told the girls about the consult and that it was open to the entire family if they wanted to attend. I also suggested they ask if their dad was OK with their attending before they came. They both decided to wait and just hear what the Dr. told us. 
     Holding my breath for 3 weeks was hard. I didn't really hold it all the time, but occasionally I would hold it for a few seconds if I thought about it. Instantly the peace and calm would come. So I waited. 
The day for the consult came. I didn't really start holding my breath until we were called back to the exam room. There was only one chair. The Dr. invited me to sit on the exam table. (which I did cause I felt so awkward) And then I really felt awkward. LOL  he told us about the Gleason score, and the options of surgery (which he does), robotic surgery (which a colleague of his does) and radiation. He explained to us about how age matters with treatment options and what happens if the cancer returns. He gave us statistics and answered all our questions. Ken chose Radiation, Surgery did not appeal to him for several reasons. 
     An Appointment was made with a Radiation Oncologist. The pages of paperwork were received, and I filled them out..  Feel Free to laugh here. I fill out all of Ken's paperwork. I ask him questions if I don't know the answer. He signs it. That's the way it works at our house. The appointment was made. April 25th. only a little over a week away. Good. The sooner the better. 
     So here we are in April and facing the apt. with an Oncologist. My next post will take us through the days before and that visit. I'm still feeling incredibly calm and at peace. I know it's God. 


Leaning To Trust God Even When The Word Is Cancer...

  Over the past few weeks I've realized how God has grown me in the Trust department. As those of you who know me have seen, my middle name is panic. I don't like it, but it's true. I've decided to share this Trust journey here. Probably more for myself then for anyone else. I want to write it. To express it or try to express it. I need to get it out and on paper. I need to have a record of this journey so I can go back and see each step that God led me through. I attempted to write it in a journal I keep by my bed. I just can't do it. My handwriting is atrocious and I doubt that in a year I'd even be able to understand it myself. If I write it here then family and friends, who want to follow the journey, will have an easier time of it.

   I will start here by saying that this is not my journey. It's my husbands journey. I'm walking it with him. Prostrate cancer was the diagnosis. Cancer was the word. I won't share a lot about husband's feelings. to be honest he doesn't say much. I really think it's personal enough that I should let him share it with you himself. I will from time share some of his thoughts.These writings will be about my journey with him through this. My time of learning to Trust God even when the word is Cancer.

   I do want you to encourage the men in your life to begin getting their PSA tests done when recommended by their Doctor. You can Click here for more information.
The PSA test (yearly blood test) results alerted our family Doctor of the need for a referral to a Urologist. I'll go into all that in another post, but I want to make sure you encourage your fathers, brothers, uncles, grandpas, cousins, all the men in your life to have this simple blood test done. Prostrate cancer is very treatable when caught in it's early stages. The next post will catch you up to where we are today with this journey. All the tests and referrals take time. I'm not so good with the waiting thing either, but God knows that and Thankfully He just works with me on one area at a time. This time it's being Quiet/Calm and Trusting Him, Even when the word is Cancer.

Monday, April 16, 2012

Introducing Our New Great Grandson.. He is Grand...

     Introducing our New Great Grandson..  Aydin Michael..  Isn't he a doll..  It's been a long time..
(almost 16 yrs) Since a baby has graced our home. This one is wonderful.. He is all snugly and just the right baby size.. a Whopping 6lbs. He had a bit of a rough start. He came about a month early, had some trouble with his lungs, and gave us all a bit of a worry and many extra prayers. God healed and now our little Aydin is doing just fine.
    It was great fun for all of us, even Papa to get a chance to meet him. Papa won't hold him just yet. He says Aydin has the doddals.. LOL  that means his head is all wobbly and husband is afraid he won't hold him right. Maybe next time, or definitely when the doddals are gone..
   It's funny how quickly one forgets how tiny feet can be.. how snugly warm, and wonderful smelling babies are. I can't wait to have a new little person sit at my table, help me plant pumpkins, take my hand and walk..
I can't wait.. Fishing, and cookies, and Grandma I love you.. The best most wonderful things in the world.
 I can't wait..
    Welcome to our family little Aydin Michael.. Welcome to our home and our hearts.. We can't wait to know you, to play with you, to love you..  

Friday, April 6, 2012

My Focus On This Good Friday...

  There are things calling my attention today. Cleaning that needs to be done, food that needs to be prepared, clothes that need to be ironed, eggs that need to be dyed, bunnies and baskets.  Lots of things; but Today, this moment, right now, I want, no I need to focus my mind on the day itself. Good Friday. This day along with very few others, This day I want to focus on my Savior and His Sacrifice for me.
I found a wonderful site here. It's a timeline of what His Jesus' final hours may have looked like that day.

To realize that only a week earlier Jesus was being welcomed into the city. To think about all Jesus had talked about and taught during His 3 yrs. of Ministry. To remember the last night He spent with His disciples celebrating the Passover, praying for His Father's will, and culminating in His arrest.. Mind boggling.

I try pretty hard not to think to much about the actual events. I can't imagine the horror of it. The pain, the humiliation, the sheer horror of the entire day. I can't imagine the panic as the earth grew dark and stayed dark for 3 hours. I can't imagine the fear that filled Jesus' followers, even his own mother. I can't imagine what love it took for Jesus to endure it all to the very end so that you and I could be reconciled to God.

Amazing Love.... Love that chose to suffer, that chose to die, that chose to Redeem all for all time. Amazing Love.

I have a special "Heart Song"..  one that conveys my deepest thoughts and my true heart ...
Casting Crowns song " Glorious Day, (Living He Loved Me)  you can see it here.

I leave you with the words to this wonderful song. I pray that you will focus today on a Love that will not let you go... Today I remember His Death.. but I also know Easter Morning is coming...  He is Not Dead..
 He Lives..  Praise The Lord He Lives..

Casting Crowns:  Glorious Day, (Living He Loved Me)

One day when Heaven was filled with His praises 
One day when sin was as black as could be 
Jesus came forth to be born of a virgin 
Dwelt among men, my example is He 
Word became flesh and the light shined among us 
His glory revealed 

Living, He loved me 
Dying, He saved me 
Buried, He carried my sins far away 
Rising, He justified freely forever 
One day He’s coming 
Oh glorious day, oh glorious day 

One day they led Him up Calvary’s mountain 
One day they nailed Him to die on a tree 
Suffering anguish, despised and rejected 
Bearing our sins, my Redeemer is He 
Hands that healed nations, stretched out on a tree 
And took the nails for me 

One day the grave could conceal Him no longer 
One day the stone rolled away from the door 
Then He arose, over death He had conquered 
Now He’s ascended, my Lord evermore 
Death could not hold Him, the grave could not keep Him 
From rising again 

One day the trumpet will sound for His coming 
One day the skies with His glories will shine 
Wonderful day, my Beloved One, bringing 
My Savior, Jesus, is mine 

Oh, glorious day