Sunday, November 21, 2010

One Year Later

This weekend marks the one year anniversary of learning that I had cancer.  November 2009 was the beginning of an incredible journey of growth and healing.  I learned that in all things, God is good.  I learned of the power of community.  Roz and I learned of the importance of holding everything loosely.  I've learned of the growth that comes through trial.  I've learned that trusting God is easier during the trial.  You have no choice.  It's in the everyday that the struggle comes.  I'm so thankful for the trials of the past year.  I wouldn't trade these lessons for anything.

Thursday, June 3, 2010

Living Well

Hello again!  Sorry it's been so long since I've last posted an update.  There are a couple of reasons (read, excuses).  First, I've been working hard to finish my Master's degree (MBA)...which I submitted my last assignment for yesterday.  I have a week of class next week, then I'm totally done!  It has been such a great program...but I'm ready to be finished now :).

Second, I've been struggling with what to say.  This next part may sound strange, but it's been a tough transition back to health.  While I was sick, I really came to a place of incredible peace.  The fear of death was fading.  How I might die was no longer a mystery.  If I was going to be beaten by cancer, I was going to die well.  When the news came that the surgery was successful, we were overjoyed...and continue to be so.  There was also a sense of 'now what?'.  What does my experience mean for who I'm supposed to be moving forward.  I'm different, but will I stay that way?  Will I just slip back into the mediocrity of life and forget the vivid lessons that God entrusted me with?  And how long would I have to keep it up?  Death was once again a mystery.  I'm in no way suggesting that I was sorry for being healed, I just didn't know there would be an emotional period of transitioning back to health.

A few weeks ago, Roz and I went to hear John Piper speak at Trinity Western.  He talked about the need to live well and to die well.  I realized that while it took a lot to decide to die well, it was made a little easier by the fact that it was short-term commitment.  I was now faced with needing to make the decision to live well...which is a commitment for an unknown period of time and for unknown circumstances.  I could not just drift from being sick back to being healthy, I had to decide to live well.  That's no small decision.  I'm still trying to unpack what it means...I think it could take a lifetime.  I guess that's why God tells us to just worry about today! 

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Doing or Being?

Over the past few weeks, I've been reading through The Spirit of the Disciplines, by Dallas Willard.  If you're looking for a great book on spirituality, this is a good one.  Willard's point is that we keep trying to do what Jesus would do...but that we are continually frustrated because we can't do it.  Jesus says that his burden is easy and that his yoke is light...but most of the time it certainly does not feel that way.  As a result, acting like Jesus has become a lofty goal that we don't think we were ever really meant to live up to.  Willard points out that we are trying to get the results without investing in the process.  Focusing on 'what would Jesus do' is pointless.  The decisions that Jesus made were the result of a life devoted to becoming equipped to make those decisions.  If a child said that they wanted to play in the NHL one day, we would not take them to the rink, send them out onto the ice, and expect that they will know how to skate, shoot, and think like an NHL player.  They will become frustrated and lose hope in their ability to reach their goal.  In our spiritual lives, we think that we should be able to show up in a situation and somehow be able to be Christlike.  If Christ himself thought it necessary to spend a lifetime in training, how do we think that we will be able to do what he did without the training.  He modeled an entire lifestyle.  We've tried to replace that with a WWJD bracelet.

Our other strategy is to try and mandate the results.  We petition lawmakers to legislate the way we should live...or rather, how we think others should live.  Ban this, require that...make our nation Christian through legal and political decisions.  Seems like, 'go and make it illegal' is a little different than 'go and make disciples'.  Making disciples requires (after we have done this ourselves) teaching others about the disciplines that Jesus used to in order to be able to live like he lived.
In the Bible there is an account of Jesus spending 40 days in the desert.  After going without food, company, or comfort for that amount of time He is approached by Satan and is tempted.  I've often thought of this story as another example of Jesus doing something that I could never do.  Jesus was able to still resist temptation...even though he was hungry, tired, and lonely.  I can't even make the right decisions when I'm full, rested, and around good people.  I think that's the problem.  Perhaps the story is not showing us that Jesus could withstand temptation EVEN THOUGH he had just spent 40 days in the desert.  I now believe that the story is showing us that Jesus could withstand temptation BECAUSE he had just spent 40 days in the desert.  He was showing us the strategy, not showing us how he could do something that we can't.

Dallas Willard outlines the disciplines that Christ used in order to prepare himself to make the decisions that he made when it was game time.  Solitude, prayer, fasting, and thanksgiving are a few of them.  If we truly want to be Christlike, we need to stop trying to perform in game-perfect form.  We need to start with the simple,  yet profound, training that Jesus demonstrated for us.  According to Willard, doing what Jesus did will become the easy choice (the easy burden and the light yoke)...if we focus on becoming who Jesus is.  I'm certainly not there yet, but I'm excited to discover that there is another option to continually feeling frustrated by not being able to do what Jesus would do.

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Still recovering well

Hi all, sorry that I haven't written in while.  I'm still recovering well and have begun to transition back to work.  Once we got the good news about the surgery, the full weight of how tired we were hit.  We're just starting to surface from the exhaustion.  Just wanted to let you all know that things are going well.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

The Results Are In!

The phone rang this afternoon at 3:11.  The call display said that it was the surgeon, but we were not expecting to hear from him for several more days.  My lymph nodes were both clear and he was able to get a large enough clear margin around original cancer site!  The news is still pretty surreal, but it is starting to sink in.

The past 10 weeks have been quite the adventure.  We have learned so much and are thankful for every step of what we've been through.  In all things, God is good.

I'll keep posting thoughts and updates to this site.  Feel free to keep reading, I'm planning on being around for a while. :)

Friday, January 22, 2010

Quick Update

One week after surgery and recovery is continuing to go well.  After a brief return to the hospital for a post-surgery infection, I'm on the mend again.  If you're wondering where to find Victoria's nightlife...check the ER at Royal Jubilee!

Since arriving home 5 days ago, I have spent the majority of my time asleep on the couch.  I've had a few visitors, which has been great.  Now that I'm off the T3's, I can tell when I have real visitors and when they are part of my dreams.  Was Bono really here?

I know we've said this before, but we really can't say it enough.  Thank you to everyone for your love and support.  Your assurances of prayer, the meals that have been delivered, and the incredible displays of friendship have meant the world to us and our family.  We have been extremely well cared for.

We should get test results back toward the end of next week.  We are praying that the surgery was successful and that there is no further spread.

There are a few new pictures at for those that are interested.

Saturday, January 16, 2010

Recovering well

Well, the surgery is done! I'm recovering well, thanks to excellent post-op care and a healthy dose of T-3's :). Having the surgery in Victoria, a truly beautiful city, I felt a little like a dog who was being tricked into going to the vet...come on boy, it will fun..wanna go for a ride!!

My surgery day went very quickly (for me anyway). I arrived at nuclear medicine at 10:20 to receive a series of radioactive dye injections just below my right eye. After being injected, I was put into a very small machine where I lay for about 2 hours. There was about 1 inch between my nose and the roof, and, of course, the itching started early. The technician watched the screen the whole time, tracking where the dye traveled. When it reached its destination, I was marked with a couple 'x's, then taken up to the surgical ward.

I said goodbye to Roz and my parents at that point, and then changed into my hospital gown. I'm getting pretty good with those now, so there were no major incidents. A very fast-talking (but wonderful) nurse explained what I should expect after I woke up. I met the surgeon, who explained a few more details, then was wheeled to the OR. It was like a surprise party in there! The room was packed with people and equipment. They lifted me from my bed to the operating table, and started the IV. I woke up in the recovery room a few hours later. After a couple more hours of dozing, I was taken to my 'room' wall and three curtains to be exact.

Roz and my parents visited with me for about 30 minutes, then I was ready to sleep again. A shot of morphine and I felt like I was at the Westin! I was discharged the next morning and am currently being waited on hand and foot by an amazing team. Thanks Roz, mom and dad!

We were uncertain of the extent of the surgery prior to the injection of the dye. I ended up having my parotid glad (main saliva gland) and 2 lymph nodes removed. The surgeon also took a wide margin around my original cancer site to minimize the chance of future spread. The lymph nodes will be examined for cancer cells. We will have the results in a couple of weeks. The 2 major risks of the surgery were blindness (the incision is through my eyelid) and facial paralysis. So far, things are looking good (literally!), but I have no feeling in the surface of my right cheek or ear. With the number of stitches I have, that's actually quite a blessing :). The surgeon said that this would most likely be the case and that we'll know that if it is permanent after a few weeks.

Thanks to everyone for your thoughts and prayers, we truly felt them all.

I posted some pre and post op pictures for those that are interested. They are rather 'medical', so viewer discretion is advised.