Dad

Dad

Sunday, May 21, 2017

SIX MORE WEEKS

Well, here it is six weeks after that wonderful day in April when we heard those wonderful words, "Well, the PSA is zero." My feeling that day was that, as good as that news was, I really wanted to be past the pain. About three weeks ago it was as though I turned the corner and the pain faded out to nearly nothing. What a relief!
Though it was short rides at first, I have been getting back on the Rockhopper. It is like my old buddy. I call it my aluminum steed. I/we have ridden over 45 miles in May. I know it isn't much, but it represents a lot to me. I ought to be ready for a cross country ride by October. Don't believe me? Ok, how about a 20 mile ride by then?
But I have to do tomorrow first. Tomorrow will be very similar to the April 10 visit. Except this time I am able to get around with no pain and I'll just be looking to know the score. I'll put up the numbers after that visit.

Tuesday, May 2, 2017

Don't Miss the Journey

Back on April 10, as I prepared to go to Boston and the appointment to see what the PSA was doing, I was eager to know what the next step would be. I just wanted to be finished with this cancer business. Perhaps I was doing what many people and groups like sports teams before me have done; looking too far ahead and missing something. As I told several people, in the words credited to Roberto Duran, "No mas!"  Sometimes you just get tired of the fight.

So when my doctor came into the room and said, "Well, the PSA is zero," I wasn't prepared for how great it would be to hear those words. My mind was thinking of the next step...but there was no next step. As I later processed and thought about it, I believe the pain level was much less right away and I felt stronger, just knowing the cancer was gone. Now I know the 'Other details' is the periodic checking to make sure everything is still going well.

It is now three weeks since that wonderful appointment. The pain is less and I am doing most of the things I did before, just more slowly and for not as long.  I am so thankful for the incredible, competent care I have gotten from the medical staff of Dana Farber and Brigham and Women's.

I have slowly accelerated to nearly the speed I was going prior to surgery; 2 Bible Studies and 3 sermons each week and ministering in the Pierce Home as well as church. I haven't quite gotten all the way back, but almost. Yesterday, May 1, was another milestone. I rode my bike up the road and back for a total of 4/10 mile. In that microscopically short ride I proved to myself that I was nearly recovered, that it didn't feel too bad (without a special seat), and that I could begin building strength in my body that has been lying around most of the last 2 1/2 months. It was sort of an iconic return to living instead of just trying to find a position that was somewhat comfortable!

I see God's faithfulness every day. It is a joy to be alive. Praise His holy name!

His mercies are new every morning.
 Three Sky Pilots
 Ah, the life; watching others work!

Monday, April 10, 2017

It Is Finished

As Dr. Trinh did at our 10:30 appointment this morning, let me just get right the results:
PSA level is ZERO, which is the news we were hoping and praying for!  Good news!  Exhale and a fist bump from Tim!

Now, as Dr. Trinh did, let me back up and unpack this a bit.  Back at diagnosis in December, Dad was presented with basically two options: treat with hormone therapy or have a total prostatectomy.  After weighing the pros and cons of each and praying for wisdom, he elected the surgery.  It seemed logical- if the prostate is full of cancer, then get it out!

On February 23rd he had the surgery.  The doctor was very optimistic that day about things 'looking good' and initial pathology yielded good margins.  The date was set for April 10th to recheck PSA levels via bloodwork.  We were told that zero was the goal.  Anything more than zero would require further action to be taken by means of hormone therapy.

I know this has been a burden for Dad, after all, it's cancer.  And cancer is no respecter of persons.  It doesn't matter your age, gender, ethnicity, religion, creed, socioeconomic status, or even if you're a good, bad, healthy, or unhealthy person.  It doesn't even matter if you are a pastor.  It's terrible!  But since surgery day, I had confidence that he'd be ok.

Last night, we had our 2nd of 5 performances of "The Passion of the King" at my church.  During the performance, today's appointment weighed on my heart and I began to grow anxious about the pending results.  But then I watched the "whipping scene", and thought, "He took those lashes, those stripes for Dad."  Then during the crucifixion scene, as they dragged Jesus to the cross, Isaiah began to prophecy,

But he was pierced through for our transgressions
He was crushed for our iniquities
Our sins and transgressions fell upon Him
And by His stripes we are healed.

As the scene finishes, above the thunder and lightning and building music, Jesus screams three words.

It  is  FINISHED.

I didn't hear the audible voice of God, but He spoke to my spirit, "It is finished."  I burst into tears.  He took it ALL upon himself- sin, sickness, shame.  The work was complete.

So, we rejoice today!  PSA level is ZERO.  Dad walked out of the office like he was 10 years younger and 100 pound weights had shed from him.  Tim, Dad, and I went to lunch to celebrate.  (Christina was home sick.)  When he told the server his good news she literally danced for him.  Twirled and threw her arms up in victory and then threw them around Dad's neck and hugged him.  And then she danced again.  She did on the outside what I was feeling on the inside.

So now it is our responsibility to grow from this, to learn from this, and to give God glory through it.

Dad still has a ways to go in recovery.  Pray for him.  He's still experiencing some pain and other side effects, all of which the doctor assures us is 'normal' and should be resolving in the coming weeks.  Good thing because he's anxious to get back on his bike!  They will monitor him closely for a while to be sure nothing else creeps in.

It's unbelievable to think that our immediate family was touched by this twice in the last couple of years.  We are incredibly grateful for those of you who have loved us so well.  Thank you for the cards, visits, for standing with us, for meals, for filling the gaps, and mostly- for the prayers.



Have a blessed Easter as we celebrate the RISEN King of Kings, the HOPE of all the world.  Enjoy this song from another cancer survivor.
Click here.

At the cross the work was finished
You were buried in the ground
But the grave could not contain You
For You wear the Victor's crown

Love,
Amy

Thursday, March 30, 2017

Pain

 As the Easter week approaches, I have been thinking about how purposefully Jesus went to Jerusalem and ultimately to the cross. I think it is so amazing that He would do all that intentionally. He took all our infirmities and provided for our healing. I am trusting Him to continue the healing work in my body.

But I was thinking of  another healing that is maybe bigger than physical healing, and that is healing of hearts.  There are many people who walk around with broken hearts. I know there is a lot of pain with a broken heart, even though it is not evident to others. But He gave Himself for all our brokenness; broken bodies and broken hearts.

 My abdominal pain is pretty much a thing of the past. All that is visible is six small scars on my belly. I still have a lot of pain when I sit or walk. Riding in a car is especially tough, and that really limits my going and coming.  The surgeon told me the pain would last about two months, and I am counting on that! Today marks five weeks out from surgery at this point, so that is only another three weeks!  I have a very important appointment with him on April 10 to have blood work done and have my PSA level looked at. I will have a consult with the doctor then, too. Still dealing with the clot in the leg.

 Thank you all for praying for me and all the kindness you have shown. It really is a boost to know that people are standing with me. Many of them are people I do not even know, but they know my family or friends. What an amazing network!!  I love you all and I will update again soon.

Saturday, March 18, 2017

PROGRESS REPORT

8"-12"! 12"-18"! Maybe more than 24"! We heard some pretty dire snow predictions which, for the most part, didn't pan out, but still made disruptions in our week. Actually, it didn't disrupt me. I had no place to go anyway. We got about 10" (they tell me), but it sure is better than Lee's 24", or the place not far from him that got 42"!!

I appreciate everyone who checked on us before, during, and after Stella left for other climes. But I have an idea; let's do spring!

I am just over three weeks out of surgery and I think I am doing quite well. Of course, when one is in a position like this, it is never fast enough. I wish progress could be quicker, but I am slowly getting back.   The pain in my abdomen is almost completely gone, but I still have quite a bit of perineal pain. I guess that is not uncommon, and it varies from person to person. I wish it had skipped me! :-) I got an inflatable donut to sit on; hope it helps.

Tomorrow will be four weeks since I last preached on a Sunday morning at church, but I plan to do it! While I was out, I was blessed to have a retired pastor, Rev. Donald Nelson available to fill my pulpit for two weeks, and have my son, Maj. Timothy Bourquin preach last week.  I know I will be somewhat limited, but I  plan to at least be there tomorrow. It will be great to see everyone too.
One of the really great blessings in our lives in the last few days was that our daughter in law, Tim's wife Elizabeth, went on a short term mission to Africa and returned home safely. We are sooo thankful.

I really appreciate all the calls, cards, gifts, and well wishes from everyone. People have cooked, brought coffee, plowed snow, and offered to do anything they could for us.  Though my brother couldn't be too much further away (Seattle), he has been so supportive.  Each of my kids have been wonderful and called and made contact regularly. Thank you for commenting on this blog and even reading it in the first place. But especially, thank you for prayer. Please don't stop praying for me.

"Let's Do Spring"

"Survivors"

"Special Guest"


Friday, March 10, 2017

Heads Up!

Psalms 3:3 says, "But Thou, O Lord, art a shield for me; my glory, and the lifter up of mine head."

As the body recovers from any injury, sickness, or surgery there are some days that are better than others. Yesterday started out as a regular day and I was looking forward to seeing the babysitters Christina had lined up to come over, because she had to work.  First, there was a really dear couple who live nearby who popped in around 10.  Amy and Tim were going to come around 1 and do a kid exchange.  The day felt optimistic at the beginning, but as it wore on, I just felt glum.  It wasn't overwhelming pain, depression, or anything I could put my finger on, just a culmination of everything, including possible side effects from drugs?

In the late afternoon I was a little better.  One of our grandsons FaceTime'd to me to ask if we could think about setting up a time to go fishing. It was like a breath of fresh air, out of the box, from the lips of a seven-year-old. We took a ride out to pick up the balance of the new blood thinner medicine from the pharmacy.  As we were on the way, I got a call from the urologist's office to fill me in on the  lab analysis of the offending prostate that had been removed. They said they were pretty sure they had gotten all the cancer out.  That was a boost and I was feeling pretty good as we pulled up to the drive-thru at the drug store.  As the girl was getting the pills, she asked if we wanted to put it on the gift card.  We told her we had no gift card, and the poor girl became flustered as we tried to give her our credit card for payment and she was trying to convince us to put it on a gift card.

Finally, Christina and I figured out that someone had purchased a gift card with instructions to use it for the meds!  We tried to figure out who might have done it.  I told Christina, as we drove away in a daze, that God did that!  God and a very sneaky friend.  Maybe we will find out who someday, but I'm not counting on it.

As if to top that, we found out this morning that our Rx insurance will pay all but $27 per month going forward, rather than $408/month. These are the kinds of things I must remember if I hit one of those days when I'm glum or bummin'.  Indeed, He is the lifter of my head!

"One of my favorite people! Renna turned 5 on Monday!"

Wednesday, March 8, 2017

A Speed Bump

One of the main reasons for the existence of this blog is to keep people updated about my progress in my fight against prostate cancer. I think I am on track and in a normal place for this point in my recovery. I want to always be straightforward and honest in what I share, but some of the things I share are not things I enjoy sharing. Today is one of those times.

I had charley horse-like pain in my right calf so I let the surgeon's office know about it. I thought it was just a small detail that they might want to know about. Whenever they heard about it, they were very insistent that I get to a hospital and have an ultrasound, posthaste! The ultrasound revealed that, indeed, I have a blood clot in my leg. It is something that I will receive treatment for for about six months. The medicine is fairly new and therefore not covered by our insurance. Oh well.

I'm glad to be alive! I'm glad for all my family and friends who love me and are praying for me.  I'm glad for the songs and verses that move around in my heart and spirit, glorifying the Lord. Those "Psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs" are more than catchy tunes. They minister to my spirit and soul and lift me with their high praises. All glory to God who makes me always triumph through our Lord Jesus Christ!
 
The other day one of our daughters told me she heard the peepers! Any New Englander will tell you that hearing them is a sure sign that spring can't be too far away. This weekend is going to be cold. We won't hear them. But that doesn't mean that spring won't come. In the same way, having a reversal in life (like a blood clot) doesn't mean that God's will won't be accomplished. It's a speed bump, that's all.

I'll Be Back!