QUICK UPDATE

Many of you have asked that I let you know the results of my bloodwork that was done today.  Everything except white blood counts (the infection-fighters that often decrease as a normal part of chemo) are within normal range and indicate that I am in early remission.  However, to verify that, I do need to have  PET scan and that is scheduled for November 5th (two days before my next chemo).  If the PET scan shows any reduction in tumor size we will “stay the course” with three more of the same protocol that I have been recieving.  If tumors aren’t really being impacted, we will probably start a new mix of chemo or add other drugs.

It is likely that the tumors are being impacted given the good direction of my blood counts,  so this is just basically to determine where we are at this point.  Regarding the low white count, the doc wants me to lay low for awhile and avoid crowds and thus the risk of infection.  I probably will skip church (and everything else!) this weekend based on that.  I always miss being there, but it’s the prudent thing to do as an infection at this point could set me back.  I do feel more tired in this post-chemo week, and that is probably due to the low white counts.  By the grace of God, I’m feeling very content to stay home knowing that doing so is working for my good and that resting my body is the best thing I can do for it right now.  Marv and Reagan (the good old dog) are good company, and I continue to recieve all kinds of encouragement from contact with you all.  Please keep the prayers coming at this mid-point of my first round of moving toward complete healing!

Love and Blessings,              Joy

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YOUR PRAYERS ARE POWERFUL

Hello Everyone!

I’m happy to report that as of yesterday, I have completed three of the six chemo treatments that make up my initial course of treatment.  And even better, I’m feeling good today!  And better yet was the news that I got from my oncologist before I took my treatment yesterday, so read on!

The GREAT news is that tests indicate that my bone marrow, which is the source of this type of cancer, has “kicked in” and is producing good, new, healthy cells.  This is a major turn-around in that (1) it indicates that treatments are reaching the source of the cancer and (2) it is happening quickly.  My hemoglobin (a major indicator of things going in the right direction) is now in the normal range, and that hasn’t happened since it took a downward plunge last March.  This was unexpected progress!  I will have more blood work next week followed by a PET scan which will show how much the tumors have shrunk since I started treatment.  My doc said that he expects they have shrunk considerably and he wants the scan for reference to see how far we’ve actually come.

Needless to say, I am very grateful, and I know that this rapid progress has everything to do with all of you who are covering me in prayer.  James 5:16 says in part, “…The earnest (heartfelt, continued) prayer of a righteous man makes tremendous power available (dynamic in its working).” (Amplified Bible).  So many of you have assured me over and over that you are praying for me daily and words cannot express my appreciation.  I am humbled by your continuous love and support as I face this formidible enemy, and I know that the battle is being waged through your prayers.

I recently called my Pastor and asked him to get the Elders of our church together to pray for me according to James 5:14 which gives instruction on what to do when we as Christians face illness.  It says there that the Elders should anoint the sick person with oil and pray.  My Pastor arranged for that to be done in the context of our morning worship service last Sunday, and it was a very powerful time.  As I sat there being prayed for I could almost see all of your prayers converging upon me.  I don’t pretend to understand all of the dynamics of prayer,  but I do know that I laid hold of every prayer promise in scripture in that moment and my hope and faith was restored.  It was just three days and a blood test later that we got the good news of my great improvement, and I know that was no coincidence.  Prayer is powerful, and the Word of God can be trusted!

Again, I can’t thank you all enough for continued prayer.  It has and will continue to carry me as there is no way I could do this without you.

Love and Blessings,              Joy

The Eight Year Old Viewpoint

As most of you know, Marv and I have had a very special relationship with a family that we met about eight years ago.  At that time we began providing child-care for newborn, premature twins (Arielle and Ariyon) and they quickly captured our hearts.  They now call us Nanna and PaPa and we love them dearly.  Up until now we have had a very definate grandparent relationship right up to their having a bedroom in our home and spending many over-nights here.  We believed when we first saw them come out of the delivery room and continue to believe now that the intersection of our lives and theirs is full of the plan and purposes of God!

Recently, Arielle was given an assignment at school to write about someone in her family from another generation, that she  might want to pass on to another generation after her own.  She decided to  write about me.  What she wrote centers around our relationship and how things have changed since cancer came into our lives, as well as her hope for the future.  I’m including it the content of my blog today, largely because I am so proud of her ability to understand and write about what is happening to her!  She loves to write and I encourage her to do so all the time.  This little essay moved my heart to say the least, and I want to share it (unedited!) with you all.

 

NANNA

By Arielle Mitchell-Perkins 

“My Nanna has cancer.  I miss her a lot and barely get to see her cause of her treatments.  When she did not have cancer we use to have a lot of fun.  We use to go to the movies, the Olive Garden, and play games like Candyland together.  It was fun until I we found out that she has cancer.  I really miss those days.  I hope that she can get better real soon and get to hang out like we did before.  That is how it feels like to have a Nanna with cancer to miss the fun days.  I have been praying that she will get better so the fun days return.  I love and miss my Nanna a lot. I have this generation for my kids so that they will know that sometimes even when you take care of your hair, sometimes it can still fall out”.

     Someday I’ll share more about how much these remarkable children have blessed our lives.  Meanwhile, I too am hoping and praying that the “fun days” will return!  Even more, I am praying that through this experience these children that I love so much can learn bigger lessons.  I continually want to impress on them that whatever the circumstance, God is good and God is in control. If they know these two things they can build a rock solid faith that will assure them of His loving plan and purpose in their lives with every step they take.

Today may God strengthen the truths of His sovreignty and goodness in all of us!

         Resting in Him,            Joy

…MY HELP COMES FROM THE LORD!… (Psalm 121:2)

Good Morning, Everyone!

With my head firmly above water today I look back on what I last posted and thought I sure did let everyone in on my “pity party” regarding  last week! As I thought about that, I was reminded of some content from a book that has always been precious to me ( “Hinds’ Feet on High Places” by Hannah Hurnard).

This book is a beautiful allegory of the Christian journey and it contains a chapter entitled “On The Shores of Loneliness”.  There it explores the struggles and the blessings of the lonely times.  I found my old book and  re-read that chapter this morning with much pleasure. I believe I recieved some new awareness in light of my experience with the isolating loneliness that physical weakness can bring.  What stood out to me with this reading is that loneliness contains its own wonderful gifts when it is accepted as an opportunity to find greater intimacy with the Saviour.  I also was reminded that there are three major “stealers” that the enemy would like to impose on our lonely times which can rob us so insidiously if we allow them to enter into our spirits at all.  These stealers are the “big three” – bitterness, resentment, and self-pity.  How quickly, if we allow them access, these tools of the evil one move into our times of loneliness.  Looking back, I believe part of what I discovered was God allowing me to undergo loneliness as a gift for growth.

I find that when I am engaged in spiritual warfare at a time when my physical body is weakened, there is a mental response that decreases my ability to fight on a spiritual level.  Feeling “down” both physically and emotionally seems to deplete my spiritual arsenal, as it were.  I find at those times that if I can muster myself to pay attention to II Corinthians 10:3-5, I can get critical direction regarding the “how to” of dealing with the “big three”.  These three powerful robber-barons can easily become strongholds that hinder me in my walk with Jesus.  Thinking all this through has been a good refresher course for me as I looked back at last week.   I read II Corinthians 10:3-5  in the Phillips “New Testament in Modern English” and share it here:

“The truth is that, although of course  we lead normal human lives, the battle we are fighting is on the spiritual level.  The very weapons we use are not those of human warfare, but powerful in God’s warfare for the destruction of the enemies’ strongholds.  Our battle is to bring down every deceptive fantasy and every imposing defense that men can erect against the true knowledge of  God.  We even fight to capture every thought until it acknowledges the authority of Christ.”

I think I may have referred to this scripture in previous posts, but for me it keeps coming up as a concept which I continually struggle to apply.  You may even see it again as I may never lay hold of it fully!

This has gotten longer than I like, but I do want to also report on my visit to my oncologist today.  First of all, I was amazed how well I felt today less than a week after being so sick.  My doc confirmed that the infection I had was a “bad bug” that had the potential to be difficult to fight.  He pronouned me fit to enjoy the next ten days without restriction and said that I could proceed on schedule to my next chemo on October 17.  After my appointment,  I  spent all day running around and shopping with Jenni and Marv in the morning and taking in a movie in the afternoon!  While I’m certainly sure I will be able to sleep well tonight, it is now just after 10:00 PM and I’m no more tired than I would be after any other day.  I can only say PRAISE GOD FOR HIS AMAZING MERCY, GRACE, AND HEALING POWER!

I’ll sign off by saying that once again I am so aware of the powerful prayer and the love that has been shed all over me by those of you who are certainly standing in the gap for me.  The title of this post says it all, as I see God’s hand made visible through all of you!

Love and Blessings,                 Joy

 

 

 

 

WHAT A WEEK!

Hello Everyone!

Just a short post tonight at the end of what has been a very tough week.  Last Saturday evening, after a relatively good three days immediately post chemo, I took a nosedive.  It began with  a sudden high fever and chills and ended up with a hospital stay lasting until the following Thursday which has left me feeling very week and drained.  If you called or contacted me during that time I’m sorry that you probably didn’t get an acknowledgement as I was just too sick to respond.    It turns out that I had an infection which started in my infusa-port (through which I was getting chemo) and ended up in my bloodstream.  It took a load of IV antibiotics and more blood transfusions but the good news is that I am feeling much better after having the “port” removed.  On top of it all, I have a head cold that has left me with a cough which doesn’t allow me talk for any length of time!

I’m feeling so cut off from civilization right now and am missing all of you.  THANKS so much for the continued cards and messages that have taken away some of the loneliness.  In all my time in nursing  I’ve never been sick enough to realize just how isolating a few days of illness can feel.  I can’t imagine how people go through weeks and month in the isolation of illness.  My step-daughter, Jenni, arrived today from San Diego for a few days stay and it is so good to have her here!  She’s one of those people who carriens lots of sunshine with her in her personality!

I just wanted you all to know that I am alive and kicking even though my “kick” is still a little weak!    I have several days now to recoop fully before my next chemo (October 16)  and I’ll be in touch again soon.  Have a blessed Sunday.  I’m going to do my best to get to church tomorrow and am looking forward to it with great anticipation!

Love and Blessings,                 Joy

 

 

Hello Everyone!

This week has been one of feeling almost normal!  I still get frustrated with not having quite the energy that I would like, but all in all the second ten days post chemo far surpassed the first ten days in feeling good.  I think that maybe my course of treatment will be divided into “the chemo weeks” versus the “almost normal weeks”.  But we never really know, do we?!  Every time I try to figure things out for myself (thereby hanging on to that precious illusion of being in control of my life that I so cling to), God re-arranges things!

I want to share with you this evening one little piece of how I was prepared for this part of my journey.  It began in early May when I celebrated my birthday.  As is my custom,  I asked the Lord if there was a particular word or verse that I could in a sense “take to the bank” as direction for the year ahead.   I was impressed that this year would be year of joy (small “j”, not capital “j”!).  I even wrote in my Bible that “joy” was my word for my sixty-sixth year.   Not too many days later I joined a women’s Bible study on the book of James, and was soon looking closely at James 1:2-5 which says:

“My brethren, count it all joy when you fall into various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces patience.  But let patience have its perfect work, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking nothing.  If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God who gives to all liberally and without reproach and it will be given to him”.

The phrase “count it all joy” and “various trials” connected for me, and I believe I had my first inkling that this year might just be a year in which the “joy” that God was offering me around the time of my birthday could have a strong element of “trial” in it!  By the time I received a cancer diagnosis, I was sure of it, and  I was not unaware that God had been preparing me for what was to come.  And, I knew that this diagnosis which so surprised me did in no way surprised God.  He had in fact, in his mercy, let me know that He was in perfect control of what was happening.  In addition, I saw that the wisdom that is promised in James 1:5 was directly related to having wisdom within a trial.  When do we ever need it or seek it  more?  It is that kind of wisdom that for me has quelled the panic that wants to arise in me in relation to undergoing cancer treatment and allows me to think clearly.

I share this in order to encourage any of you who read it to be very sensitive to and aware of the fact that God is speaking individually into our lives, all the time.  For the last several years He has been impressing this on me.  We can usually  accept that God speaks to us through His precious written word and at times does the same through a teacher or preacher who brings something to light for us.  However, for me it has just been in the last few years that I have been able to accept that the God who created and runs the entire universe wants to be deeply and lovingly  involved with me and speak to me as an individual by His Holy Spirit.  I believe it is so important that in these days we attune our ears and listen carefully to what He is saying to each of us personally.  If you have never done so,  begin to ask Him to speak and to expect Him to speak, and you will hear Him.  And it is so very life-giving when you do.

I just can’t sign off tonight without again thanking everyone who has in any way touched my life with their  encouragement and caring in my illness.  Every word and gesture that you have offered me has made the way easier, and I have been flat-out humbled to get word that so many people are praying for me.  The presence of the Lord has been strong in this time and has  buoyed me up like nothing else ever could. I know that every single prayer that you all have uttered has been turned int0 grace, peace and presence.  It’s difficult to find the words to say how grateful I am for each of you.

Tomorrow is second chemo treatment day and I will be letting you know how it’s going just as soon as I can.  Thanks for your being with me on my journey!

Love and Blessings,                   Joy

COMFORT – John 14:18

Having just returned from a long walk with Reagan (my dog), it’s hard to believe that  one short month ago we were experiencing record setting heat and humidity to the point that getting out of the air conditioning for any reason at all just didn’t seem worth it.  Today is beautiful, with noontime temperatures in the mid 70;s with bright sun and a cool breeze.  This is the second day since my first treatment that I have had the energy to walk my dog and it was a delicious treat!

One week ago this morning I was discharged from the hospital feeling like a Raggedy Ann doll and looking even worse!  Over this last weekend I began to regain strength (just like my doc had said I would), and today I feel very near normal.  As I was walking I was in a state of praise for everything that my five senses were taking in just in the little area of my neighborhood.  In the few weeks since this part of my journey commenced I have gained such sharpened awareness of the simplest and and most wondrous things around me.

In thinking back to a week ago, John 14:18 ran through my head.  There Jesus told His disciples, “I will not leave you comfortless; I will come to you”.  These words roll down through the ages to us, His current disciples.  Jesus knew how much we human beings need to be comforted.  We have a conflict-filled day at work and we come home needing comfort.  Someone dear to us encounters trouble and we need comfort ourselves even as they struggle.  We undergo losses so small that it embarrasses us to even think that we need comfort to get through them.  We undergo losses so hugh that we wonder if there is any source of comfort anywhere big enough to put a dent in our need.

Last week, I needed comfort as I was in a great deal of pain and I found that comfort in many ways.  From Marv holding my hand and doing all he could to make me more comfortable to friends calling to say that they were praying even when I was too weak to take their calls, great comfort was extended to me and I was so very grateful.  While in the hospital there was a nurse who took care of me who was a radical lover of Jesus and wasn’t afraid to spend time talking with me about Him.  A Respiratory Therapist came into my room to give me a treatment and prayed for me as he did so.  All of these people were pouring out what they had to give even as they fulfilled the scriptures direction to “comfort one another”, and peace was with me even as they ministered to me.

While I recieved so much from so many sources and was  comforted, I also found that there was a comfort that surpassed them all and that was the comfort of Jesus through the direct ministry of His precious Holy Spirit to my beaten down spirit.  It only took a snatch of a Bible verse or even just the whisper of the name “JESUS” to a bring about a level of comfort that was like no other.  As I thought about that today I realized the wonder of what Jesus said when He told us that HE would not leave us comfortless, that HE would come to us.  What an incredible reality that the comfort of Jesus Himself can be with us with no more than the whisper of His name.

It’s one thing to know scripture intellectually and quite another to know it experientially.  What I learned last week is that there is no comfort like the comfort of Jesus.  And even more wondrous is the fact that it is to be had just for the asking.

I will have my second treatment on September 26th, and in the meantime I will enjoy the strength, energy and comfort that is mine each and every day because I am His disciple.  May you do the same each day as the wonder of His presence is just waiting to be discovered!                 In His Love,            Joy

 

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