Monday, April 29, 2013

Disease free . . .

I haven't felt like writing about it until today.

Last week on Wednesday, April 24, 2013 at 3:20 PM or so . . . my oncologist told me that I was disease free according to the scans and blood work tests I had 2 weeks previous.

He kept saying . . .

"That reading was zero . . . and so was that one . . . and so was that one."

"These two readings indicated "benign."

"Your cancer is in remission."

Then he shared that the only thing wrong with my scans and blood tests was that my body was wanting more thyroid hormone replacement than I was getting, so he gave me a new prescription. 

I will be "re-staged" in April or May every year for the next 5 years.  If those scans are all negative, then I can say I'm cancer free in 2018.

But . . . I can use words like "remission" or "disease free."  Both of which are big relief.

And now . . . I am caught between a rock and a hard place.

I've postponed getting ready for the upcoming VBS season in June, and also have delayed preparations for being at Philmont Scout Ranch in July as a chaplain.  I have a lot to do in 2 months, which also includes our Annual Conference meetings in Fort Worth, as well as a new list of "to-do's" as long as my arm.

I just couldn't get myself to start planning for some of these things until after I received some sort of an "all clear" from my oncologist.   I didn't want to say "yes" to people, and then have to say "no" if I had to go through another treatment.

Oh well . . . life is about responses.  I've learned a lot since we first found the lump in my throat back in late July of 2012.

I came out of this experience with a better singing voice . . . remarkably enough, after having had two neck surgeries, although their was a month or so I couldn't sing a note.

I have a better understanding now of some of the mental/ emotional aspects of cancer that I had no clue about earlier.  I will be a better pastor to those in cancer treatment as a result.

I'm know talking about, thinking about and doing more of the important things in life that really matter to me. 

About time.

I would still give myself a C- grade for how I handled it all.  But then again, that's still a passing grade, and I don't see anybody burning me in effigy just yet.

I never truly realized how much my family has gone through during my diagnosis, surgery and treatment.

My sweet wife of 37 years . . . what can I say?  I've fallen in love with her again and again and again these past months. 

My daughters and son-in-laws, my mom, my sister and her husband, my friends . . . all seemed to call me exactly when I needed them to.  Being able to call my friend Joe, a victor against cancer in a much longer battle than I went through, gave me some good info along the way.  My friend Floyd let me vent.  Jim Newton . . . my musical mentor . . . taught me some vocal exercises that made all the difference in how fast my voice recovered. Sean let me hide in the Grapevine Guitar Works back room whenever I needed to.

And, what can I say about the church staff and members of the First United Methodist Church of Grapevine??? 

Only that they are the greatest. 

John Mollet, Cindy Ryan, Nathan Firmin, Armando Alvarado, Amelia Beasley, Trudy Hughes, Wren Robinson . . . . all carried me a lot these past months . . . not an easy thing since I out-weighed several of them by 150 pounds!!!

All the support staff helped as well. And then there is Katherine Hunter, our Assistant to the Pastors. Thank you, Katherine!

People here in the community of Grapevine like Sharron Spencer and Martin Thompson, and so many others . . . always checking up on me.  

Whatever announcement I made about how things were going, the first call or card I received afterward from Carole Lee and the good people of our church cancer support group.

And then, there was Annette Sowell . . . thank you my dear friend!!!!  You were always there at exactly the right moment to listen.  It is amazing how much care you gave me without saying much in the process.  Liz and I love you so much!

I was well cared for during this process.  I am thankful.  I am blessed.

I will be a better person because of it.

And, I will live life better as well.

God's grace still amazes me . . . ><>

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