Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Faith of a Child

These days, I keep my blood pressure cuff and stethoscope on the bed next to Jane for taking her vitals signs several times a day. This evening, our granddaughter Lily came up and sat on the bed at Jane's feet, and put the stethoscope around her neck.

Then Lily looked at grandma and said, "grandma, can I . . . can I . . . can I . . . fix you?" Jane's eyes welled up with tears, as she marveled at the complete childlike faith of this little girl.

Shortly thereafter, I took Brent, Shelly and Lily back to the hotel again, and this time as I started to drive away, it hit me. Soon this week, we'll be saying goodbye to them as they return to Michigan, and Jane will be saying goodbye to them for good.

Just then, that invisible hand reached out and grabbed me by the throat again, trying to keep me from swallowing, squeezing the very water from my eyes. After a little while, the hand releases its grip, and I return to "normal."

So now, we're settled in for the night; hoping and praying that she gets a full night's sleep; resting in the assurance that if a child can have that kind of faith, maybe we can too.

Every Cloud Has a Silver Lining

I apologize to those of you who read both of our blogs; at the moment I'm duplicating them just in case some don't read both, and sometimes the postings will be different.

Yesterday afternoon Jane had a blood draw to check her renal panel (kidney function). The doctor called back this morning, and said that he was pleasantly surprised that her blood work looked good, and that there is no sign of starvation yet.

The hospice nurses arrived almost at that same time, and had the same news for us. They accessed Jane's port and began the IV infusion, which has been going now for the past 5-1/2 hours. She will be finished with the infusion shortly, and we will flush her port, and leave it accessed until tomorrow, when she'll have another infusion. We'll do this for the next 6 days if all goes well.

Jane is feeling fairly good right now, so that will be a blessing for her sister when she arrives this afternoon; we also have a couple more family members coming later this week and next week. Brent, Shelly, Lily and me visited the hospital today where I work. The nursing staff (my dear friends and colleagues) have been so wonderful to us, and they were all excited to meet my family.

I dropped them back off at the hotel, and came home for a nap. It's about time for us to disconnect Jane's infusion pump for the day, so I'll post later as things go on.

Rough Night the Norm?

Hello Friends. It's early morning (3:20AM) and I was up with Jane again for the past 45 min. or so. She had another bout tonight. We were talking afterward, and decided it's probably a good thing that it happens in the wee hours of the morning; that way the kids don't have to witness it.

Today, Jane will receive an IV infusion of D5 saline with some potassium to help hydrate her a little, and perhaps make her more comfortable. The infusion will start around 10:00am and go for about 6 hours (slowly). During that time Jane will be resting and maybe catching up on some needed sleep.

Everyone has been very gracious an honored our request to not stop by or call. I imagine it must be very difficult for you to have to stay away; Pam has told me that some have expressed a strong desire to see Jane one last time. We do understand that, but Jane is not up for that at this time. If things change, I will let you know.

"I anticipated the dawning of the morning, and cried: I hoped in thy words." --Psalm 119:147 ASB.

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Have I Made a Difference?

Hi friends. This is Doug posting for Jane tonight. If you have read my blog, you will know that Jane had a rough night last night. Up sick from about 2:15 -3:15AM.

After awaking this morning, I was talking with Jane, and I shared an email that my sister Pam received from a Korean lady that used to live here. Jane had a conversation with her at the Church picnic at the Osborn Aquatic Center. Here is the message that she sent to Pam:

"I'm very sorry to hear that Jane is fighting against cancer. I remember her play instrument in the service time. I can't forget a conversation with her in the "church picnic at OAC".

I asked what school her kids attend. She said her husband (your brother) got lay-off from his workplace, so her children had to transfer to public school from Zion school. I was so surprised at that time."

"It was very big and hard change for her and her family. But she was calm and sound. She said it's good opportunity for her husband to have music education." [She must have misunderstood Jane on that point. -Doug].

"I learned what is right attitude at a turning point of life-whether it's good or bad in our view- from her. "I thought it's because of power of belief."

"I'll pray for her. Please say my greeting to her."

Jane read the email, and began to cry. I asked her what was going on and she said, "I want to know that I've made a difference."

If you know Jane, or even if you're beginning to get to know her through our blogs, you'll probably agree that she has made a difference in so many people's lives. I recited the names of several people who Jane befriended during the years that I've known her. People that many have found difficult to love; people that have been rejected, unheard, unrecognized. But Jane has seen something in them that was worth loving; worth spending time with.

She has listened patiently during long conversations with those people; not judging them, but rather encouraging them, and inspiring them to rise above whatever situation they were in.

I also reminded her of how she met a Christian man 22 years ago, who was just coming out of a painful divorce, and how she endured his selfishness, lack of wisdom, and numerous other flaws, to watch patiently as God molded him into a man who could truly love her unconditionally.

I assured her from the depths of my heart, "you have made a difference."

Sunday, April 27, 2008

Fund Raiser at Woodstock's Pizza

Our dear friends are organizing a fund-raiser at Woodstock's Pizza on May 5th.
Friends of Jane and Doug can go to Woodstock's Pizza on May 5th, no matter the time, take out or dine in, and 50% of the money spent on food (pizza, drinks, etc.) will go to the fund to help support us. The fund-raising could not happen without the restaurant being so supportive and generous, our friends spreading word, and people coming to support that day.

Jane is hoping to feel well enough to attend the fund-raiser, so if you'd like to see her and support our family at the same time, please plan to attend. We will post the time we anticipate Jane will be there in a future posting on this blog and hers.

Thank you dear friends and Woodstock's!

Saturday, April 26, 2008

Some Suggestions About Etiquette

Blessings to our friends, from Doug! Jane will be trying to update her blog on a more regular basis (every other day or so). At times, I will make updates for her; and you are encouraged to read my blog too for a slightly different perspective on things.

Jane and I had a frank conversation with the Hospice nurse and the oncologist on Wednesday, and both agree that Jane may only have 3-4 weeks left. The hospice nurse told Jane, "It's up to you to prove us wrong." We laughed.

Some of you may ask as we did, why? One explanation for the seemingly sudden change is that Jane is not tolerating any food intake at all anymore; about the only thing she can keep down now is ice chips/water. This had been happening over the past month or more, but has really come to a head in the last 2 weeks.

We asked about TPN (Total parenteral nutrition) which is essentially IV food, and the oncologist is concerned about two factors: one is fluid overload, which could be detrimental to Jane's current condition, and the other, harsh as it may sound, is needless prolonging of suffering.

At this point, Jane is in little to no pain thanks to medication (The role of the hospice nurse it to keep it that way), and is in good spirits.

My son Brent and his family are coming sooner than originally planned. We were able to get an emergency exception to the non-transferrable tickets purchased for the 16th of May, and they will now be arriving on April 29th. This change was also a result of the accelerated sense of urgency.

Jane and I have developed the following "etiquette" list for interactions with our family in the next few weeks, and trust that each of you will understand, and be respectful of these wishes.
  1. Please, no drop-in visitors. We will be having a rather full house with family coming from various parts of the country, and it can get overwhelming.
  2. If you would like to visit, please call in advance and we will let you know if Jane is up for it.
  3. NOTE: One of the best types of visits, and something Jane thoroughly enjoys, is receiving little cards with a brief personal note.
  4. Jane has requested that people not ask her how me or the kids are doing. It's difficult for either of us to answer that question. Generally speaking, they (and me) are doing as well as can be expected.
  5. Finally, although we appreciate the intent behind nutritional (and even survival) suggestions, Jane feels confident that we are doing, and have done, everything we can.

We continue to be amazed daily by the unending outpouring of love and support from everyone, and we hope that will continue. This is true evidence of the Love of God that dwells in each of you.

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

April 22

Well friends, I wish I had better news to share, but I don't. The PET scan showed 'marked progression' of the cancer throughout my abdominal area. There are also new tumors surrounding the liver, stomach, and kidney. There is a thickening in the omentum (this is a layer of tissue that covers the abdominal cavity), which they say is probably diseased.

This does not come as a surprise to me, considering how I've been feeling. The difficulty in eating comes from what the doctor believes is the cancer pushing on my intestines and not from any significant blockage at this point. I am only able to drink liquids in small, frequent quantities. It's not that I don't have an appetite. I am very, very hungry and want to eat. But when I try to eat something solid, I pay dearly for it later in the day. I'm just not digesting well at all.

Doctor Neville said we could go back to the regime I was on last year (neuropathy, cold sensitivity) but he thought that would only have a 15-20% chance of helping. So, not a viable option for me. He said should I not do further treatment that we should call hospice as I have probably only a matter of months. We are meeting with a hospice nurse today.

I don't know what else to say. This all speaks for itself. I figured the hardest part would be controlling the pain. I never thought that I'd have to stop eating too, at least not at this point when I can still enjoy it. This is a real disappointment to me and I am struggling in accepting this aspect. I will be working with my brother-in-law who is a naturopath doctor in terms of getting the nutrition I need into my system. But there's nothing like biting into a nice steak or eating sushi (my personal favorite).

So friends, we obviously need prayers. I'm not sure how this will progress. At this point it's pain control and nutrition.

Everyone, everyone, has been incredibly gracious and generous to us. Your love has brought us to tears many times, the light of God showing through your loving acts of kindness. God has assured me that my family will get through this, still my deepest sadness comes from leaving my dear ones behind. My young but sometimes surprisingly wise 18 year old son Daniel stood at my side the other day and said, "mom, it's ok. These temporary times of sadness lead to eternal happiness." Blew me away.

Please continue in your prayers for peace and acceptance, come what may.

I love you all

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Reporting from the real Jane

The Way I See It #259

"People say, oh I could never do that! But when you meet cancer patients you understand the bravery and spirit those people show each and every day. Their struggles and spirit motivate you to test the limits of your endurance to cross that finish line. You'll be surprised at what you can do."

-John Kellenyi, eight-time marathoner and leading fund raiser with The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society's Team In Training.

Interestingly, this was on a Starbuck's cup filled with a latte (the last one I drank several weeks ago). My sister-in-law had not read the cup when she got the coffees.

I always maintained that I would never do chemotherapy if I got cancer again (I had lymphoma in 1975). And here I am, 15 months of chemotherapy later, wiped out and barely able to eat. It is amazing what we will do to survive. I don't think we're instantly brave or strong. It's the determination to go on, to feel we're "finished" with our task on earth that brings those strengths out of us. Not everyone is called upon to use them, but I believe everyone possesses them. No one can say "I'll never do that" or even "you should do this or that" because you just don't know until you're walking through these tremendously hard decisions yourself. And nobody knows but yourself when it's time to relinquish the fight, not out of cowardice, but perhaps from some eventual inner knowing that, in the grander scheme, it's time to cross that finish line that God has set before you.

These last several weeks have been the hardest yet. I've layed in bed thinking that I cannot do this much longer. What good is treatment if it's making you so miserable that you can't do any more than wander from the couch to the bed. And especially when treatment isn't making a difference. All this time, the treatments have only served to stave off the inevitable. And that is the real issue. They never told me this would be cured. When the cancer broke through to my lung area, I definately turned a corner, physically and emotionally.

We're not sure yet as to if these last few treatments have made a difference. I was supposed to get 16, I didn't even make it through 4 complete ones. I will have a PET scan this Friday and we'll see. For now, we are taking a "chemo holiday," and at this point, I'm not sure if I want another drop of the stuff. The doctor talked about going back on the same treatment I had last year, as we are running out of options. I think I pretty much gave him a blank stare.

At this point, I honestly can't say that I'll do more chemo, unless they come up with some miracle drug. I'm so burnt out from it. And oddly, I feel a sense of freedom. If I can have a few good months with my family, share another summer, savor the beauty of God's creation here on this earth, smell the sea, feel the coolness of the mountains, sit in a boat on a lake, even just watch the birds come and go from our bird feeder... this will be time well spent.

Pray with me, dear friends, for wisdom and peace, for the rest of my days to be as pain free as possible. Pray for my dear family, for comfort, for security, for peace that passes understanding.

I will let you know scan results probably next Monday.


PS: I am not checking any video attachments or web stuff that is sent to my computer. My computer is slow and these things take a long time to open. If you need to send this type of mail, please send to Doug's computer via his blogsite. Thanks! Love you all!!

Friday, April 11, 2008

Nice Week with My Sisters

(Doug Posting for Jane)

My sisters, Terry and Sue, came from California to visit me this week. They arrived last Saturday, and left just about 20 minutes ago. They were so helpful, keeping me up and walking, feeding me, having intimate sister conversations. It was wonderful, and tough to let them go.

My spirits were high all week long, and I have been up more in the past week than in the past month and a half.

I had a chemo treatment yesterday, only the Erbitux, and so it went pretty fast. The oncology nurses at Ambulatory Infusion gave us some wonderful gifts this week. First of all, the secretary at the center brought over two coolers with casseroles in them for the family, which came in especially handy feeding the 7 of us (my two sisters and us). Yesterday, during my treatment, I was given a card with a variety of gift cards, such as Pizza Hut (great for the kids), Fred Meyer, Safeway, etc. etc. These kind of practical gifts are wonderful!

So many of you have, and continue to support us physically, financially, spiritually, and emotionally. We cannot begin to thank all of you enough for all the love you have extended to us. And we want each of you to know that we LOVE you! Not only for what you DO, but mostly for WHO (WHOSE) you are! If it were not for Jesus being in your lives, all this could not have been possible.

I continue to struggle with pain in my abdomen, and difficulty eating (mostly because it causes my stomach to hurt). We are trying to get the pain to a manageable level, by taking hot towel treatments (that Doug applies) Epsom salt baths, etc. I am still tired most of the time, and my stomach is turning and churning a lot of the time as well.

That's about all for now. I am scheduled to have two or three more treatments, and then a PET scan to see how my body has responded. Please pray for continued endurance, and positive results from the PET scan.

With love to all . . .

Jane and Doug