Friday, December 29, 2017

You Call This Cold?

We are in one of the coldest streaks in recent years, at least this early in the year.  It is one thing for it to be cold for a night or two, but for the forecast to say there will only be subfreezing temps in the foreseeable future is not too inspiring.  When I think of cold, my mind goes to a Sunday morning on January 9, 1977 at my first church in northern Wisconsin.  The winters there were always cold, with the Jump River freezing solid and the first snow in late November still being under the subsequent layers through the rest of the winter.  You could 'read' the snowfalls of the year when the snowplows cut the edge of the piles along the road.  Each layer separated by a thin layer of dirt told the story of the winters' snowstorms.
Cold weather was not foreign to us, either.  The place where I worked part time in a garment factory asked me to help do an inventory of material around Christmas time.  Since Bonnie and Lee were visiting from Connecticut, I asked Lee if he would like to pick up a little cash by helping with the inventory.  It was a very cold day, with temperatures hovering around -10* all day.  It is still hard for Lee to do any laughing at the mention of that day.  He says it was the coldest he had ever been.
But this Sunday morning was different.  When I looked out the window at the thermometer attached to the outside window casing, I knew my measuring instrument must be broken.  It couldn't really be -54*!  We turned on the radio (we didn't have a TV then either) and heard in amazement that the sheriff's office in Cameron, about 20 miles away, was reporting -60*!!  I called deacon Leland and together we decided it would be the only reasonable thing to cancel the morning service.  We divided the names of our small congregation and called everyone we could think of.  After I had done my calls I went outside to see what it was like.  The morning was eerily and completely still.  There was not a breath of wind.  I could hear no motors running.  I heard no voices.
For a preacher to shift gears from preparing, both physically and mentally to go to church and deliver words of life from the pulpit, to doing nothing but stay home made me feel strange and guilty.  Then about fifteen minutes after the morning worship was scheduled to begin there came a knock at our front door.  There stood Lionel and Marylou with their two small children, Jathan and Vanessa.  We pulled them inside as the icy air rolled in the door and across the room.  They told us Lionel had gotten up early and milked his cows, gotten cleaned up and loaded his family into his pickup.  The drive to church was 15 miles, with the four of them crowded in the cab of the red F-250.  But there was no one at the church!  “Where was everyone?” they asked.

                     This is the church building on a much later and a much warmer day. The congregation
                      has a very lovely new building across town where they meet now.

It ended up being a memorable day as we shared a meal together and enjoyed each other.  I have thought of that day so many times since, and how blessings can spring out of difficulty.  I am always conflicted about canceling scheduled services.  Who knows?  Someone might really need to be in church that day.
Speaking of that, I am so glad the congregation of the Putnam Baptist Church did what they had to in order to keep the services going during the time I was convalescing.
I am doing well, with more that 10 months behind me since surgery.  I know I am improving, but slowly.  I plan to post on this blog, but instead of trying to come up with medical stuff to talk about I would like to share other things that might interest my readers, also.  I will still share medical stuff when there is something to share.

Wednesday, December 13, 2017

About noon on Friday, December 9, 2016, my life took an abrupt turn. I can’t say it was a turn for the worse, but I will admit it was a defining point in my life. As with anybody, I had been through tough things before, but this was different. As the doctor nervously talked about things non-medical, I tried to be patient for him to get to the point and tell us the biopsy was fine and there were no problems. When he told us that I had a very aggressive tumor in my prostate, I figured that meant just watch it and keep exercising and eating right. When he further explained that I would need a scan right away, it began to sink in that this was something else, something I had to deal with right away. My wife and I were a numb couple as we left the office that day, clutching a book about prostate cancer that he gave me as I left.
In the next several hours we told family members, our congregation, and friends and coworkers our news. Within 45 minutes my guy Bill was at the door with a cup of Dunkin coffee. (He and I both believe that coffee helps everything!) Christina’s brother, Lou set out from Florida to come and be a rock of support for Christina and I. On Monday morning I called the Dana Farber Cancer Institute in Boston. This was uncharted water for us but Lou had even helped draw some of the charts, having been a physician at the very hospital we went to. He knew his way around “The Farber” and “The Brigham.”
One week after the diagnosis we spent the day, from early morning until evening at Dana Farber, meeting and getting examined by Dr. Kerry Kilbridge and getting scans, blood tests, and in general acclimating to a place that would be part of our lives for the next several months. I can’t say enough good things about that place. To a person everyone, from the doctors, nurses, lab people, scan techs, and receptionists…everyone was so kind and understanding and exuded an air of competence. I cared more about whether they were good or not rather than if they were nice or not. We got both!
Here we are a year later. I only need a blood test and checkup every three months now. I am pretty well and still improving. I am told it is a two year recovery from the surgery. I am working, bicycling, and taking trips, among other things that were put on hold for a few months.

This was one of the special things that greeted me 6 weeks after surgery. This was at our son’s house and the artwork was done by his children. Two hours before I had just found out that the first PSA was 0! A happy day indeed!

                Today, my prayer is for those who are going through dark and difficult places in their lives. Perhaps it is a grim diagnosis, a broken relationship, a lost job or other kind of loss. I am a living testimony of God’s goodness and faithfulness. I refuse to live in fear and let cancer define my life. I am surrounded by wonderful people who are still praying for me.

My wonderful wife, Christina has faithfully stood by my side with absolute kindness and care, my children have been caring and helpful throughout this trial, Lou has been and continues to be my strength and sounding board (he speaks ‘Doctor-ese’), and the amazing team of professionals in Boston continue to watch me. It is so overwhelming to know that our church prays, friends pray, people in other parts of this country pray, and even in other countries, people are praying. If God could deliver me, He can deliver you!

Wednesday, October 25, 2017

I Choose Blessing!

I am an optimist.  I'm one of those annoying people who always looks on the bright side.  I know I didn't get that way accidentally; I grew up in a very optimistic environment.  Phrases like, "Cheer up; things could get worse", and laughing a lot helped nurture that general attitude.  We were not allowed to poke at each other with hurtful comments.  If I said, "I was just kidding.", Mom would say, "It's only fun if it's fun for everyone."  We were taught to expect the best from people and not get bogged down in complaining.  Rather, we were always aware of our blessings.  Thanksgiving was just one more day that we were thankful.
Having said all that, I have been faced with chances to complain about the speed of my recovery progress or lack that I still have.  My poor Christina has had to hear it all.  But, once again, God has blessed me with a wonderful and optimistic person to be close to me.  She helps me choose blessing.  I am here.  I can do nearly everything I could before.  I can enjoy my children, grandchildren, and other friends and family.  I can bike, walk, work, make music, pastor, and love.  It is important to remember my sister Ruby's birthday or a memory or enjoy a meal.  It is part of life.  I relish it.
Every day we get up we are faced with choices.  After we decide to get out of the bed, we have the choice of looking for the good or not, believing in the good or not, etc; what we eat, what we wear, how we talk, where we go, what we read, what we watch...everything and every choice affects us and everyone around us.  How do we see ourselves?  How do we see other people?
Today I choose to be happy.  I choose to love myself and others.  I choose to brighten someone's life.  I choose to learn something or meet someone new today.  I choose to live life.  Not just live and be alive.  Life is too precious to be squandered on complaining.  Consider these words:  "This day I call heaven and earth as witnesses against you that I have set before you life and death, blessings and curses.  Now choose life, so that you and your children may live and that you may love the Lord your God, listen to His voice, and hold fast to Him.  For the Lord is your life, and He will give you many years in the land He swore to give to your fathers, Abraham, Isaac and Jacob." Deuteronomy 30:1-20 NIV.  Actually, the entire 30th chapter is an incredible read!!
God bless you all.  Grace and peace.

This is what I call REALLY livin'!

Come fly with me!

Thursday, October 12, 2017

Long Time Comin’

It has been a long time since I have entered anything on this blog. It might be thought by some that I gave up on it, or maybe that I just gave up. Neither is true. I guess it is just that my life has settled into a less dramatic mode; no surgeries, no blood clots, fewer blood tests.  It has become more about more biking, more fishing, and more feeling like a “regular man,” as Mickey Rooney said in the movie Bill. To him a toupe and hair made him feel good and normal.  I am trying to figure out what regular is. I think I have arrived there but then I get a bit better. And to be honest about it, I’m racking up quite a few years. So, I ask myself, am I slower because of the cancer deal or because I’m getting _ _ _?

Our July trip to Anna’s wedding on the west coast was wonderful and we were able to enjoy both our families, Bourquin’s and Birinyi’s.

August saw Christina go to Florida to visit her friend Sue.  They drove to Savannah to have way too much fun and take in the eclipse. I stayed home and rode my bike a fair amount.  September it was time for Lobsterfest #13, an annual event we do with our other special family members from upstate New York. (We had about 32 people this year!) Bourquin’s and Boyd’s, a great combination. We missed the Groves and Johnny.
Everyone was on edge around that time (late August into September) as Hurricane Harvey made Chris and Bethany flee their home in Houston with their four children and two dogs. They were fine and their home was fine, but so much of the city got flooded. Since then, they have spent many hours helping others who were flooded out.  Though the city was really devastated, it is recovering at a good pace, thanks to people like Chris and Bethany.
The weather, the violence, the fires, etc. make it feel like our world is reeling like a drunken man. To me it is a reminder that we need God! Anything that takes away from that truth is so shortsighted. Whether it is thinking we’re good enough already or we are too bad; we are too smart or not smart enough; too rich or too poor. It doesn’t matter. We all need Him.

I will try to write occasionally and keep in touch. I met someone not long ago who told me they pray for me every day. I said, “Don’t stop!” Thank you all for the love and support you’ve given us these past ten months. God Bless! You all.

Sunday, July 2, 2017

Outa My Way, Bully!

I have heard it said that when a member of the family has cancer, the whole family has cancer.  I have to say that I understand the truth in that, having learned it painfully from losing a sister to cancer in 1997, having a daughter diagnosed in 2014 and another sister diagnosed in 2015, and learning I had it myself in December of 2016.  It is still hard for me to even use the word, cancer!  It is an intrusive bully that dominates schedules, thoughts, and general wellbeing of all those who are close to the disease.

During those times when the bully distracts us from the important things in life, there are things that we can fight back with.  Someone gave me a list (I don’t know where she got it) of things cancer can’t do that I’d like to share with you.  It is titled, “What cancer cannot do.”  “Cancer is so limited…It cannot:  cripple love, shatter hope, corrode faith, destroy confidence, kill friendship, shut out memories, silence courage, reduce eternal life, or quench the Spirit.”  As I thought about it, that could be said about any adversary we face.  It could be health related, domestic trouble, church issues, job situation, etc.  They are all so limited. 

Here’s another great promise to hang on to.  “Who shall separate us from the love of Christ?  Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword?  As it is written:  ‘For Your sake we are killed all day long; we are accounted as sheep for the slaughter.’  Yet in all these things we are more than conquerors through Him who loved us.  For I am persuaded that neither death nor life, nor angels nor principalities nor powers, nor things present nor things to come, nor height nor depth, nor any other created thing, shall be able to separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.” –Romans 8:35-39

I received some great news from my oncology doctor on Monday.  The blood test showed, for the third time, that there is no detectable cancer in my body.  She said I am “way ahead of the curve” in my recovery, which will take up to two years.  That was a great encouragement, but I wondered, if I have another 19 months to get better, I will be a super-hero!  I feel great, with very little residual pain from the injured ribs as well as the surgery. 

I’m so blessed by all my official family, as well as my unofficial family.  The outpouring of your support, love and prayer is humbling and gratefully received.  I love you all.

Tuesday, June 13, 2017

Rib and Company

The power of prayer is really amazing! I have had broken ribs before and I know that the healing process is lengthy and painful. This time, it was very painful but I am nearly pain-free after only 2 1/2 weeks...without any pain meds!  I think that is absolutely amazing, and I give glory to God! We have been out on our bikes and I have to say that I have less discomfort than I have had since the end of February.  It is almost like I needed to do nothing but heal for a couple of weeks. Broken ribs sure slowed me down! Well, sort of.

Early Friday morning, June 2, we went to Baltimore with Bill and George, two men from church. We ate crab cakes, toured the stadium, and saw the Red Sox get beat by the Oriole's. The next morning we hit the road for home to take in a graduation party for C4.  We were tired!!  But what a great two days it was.  Being with our wonderful family and celebrating our awesome grandson's graduation was like icing on the cake!

"I told you I'd be back!"

Because of the blood clot, ribs, and my well-being in general we were hoping (guardedly) to go to Seattle to our niece, Anna's wedding, but trying not to get our hearts too set on it in case we couldn't. But with all the good news and progress, we are going to go! We will fly in and out of Portland, visit family around the fourth of July in Salem, then drive up to the wedding. We will visit Richard and Becky (Anna's parents) before and after the wedding. We'll also get to see Reynold and Doris (my brother and wife) before we head back to Portland and home.

The latest is that yesterday was forecast to be over 90°, the second day of a three day heat wave. Since we had the day free, we got in the car and headed for Cape Cod. We had seen on the weather channel that the temperatures would be lower out there, and that was correct. It was beautiful, and there were nice breezes.  We ended up riding our bikes toward Brewster and we found a seafood shack along the path where we could eat clam chowder on the deck. It was wonderful!  By the time we got back to the car, we had ridden 23.9 miles.  We couldn't believe it! And the amazing thing was, we were still able to walk and move around even after we rode two hours in the car to get home. What a fun day!

Wednesday, May 31, 2017

"Though he fall he shall not be utterly cast down."

 The steps of a good man verse from Psalm 37 is a wonderful promise. It gives us hope that the Lord is our safety net when things get out of hand, when things get out of control.  There is never a hint of a promise that everything will go perfectly, or that we will never make a mistake or slip. The promise is that we are not destroyed or wiped out when trouble does come because we have the Lord to turn to.
 I had been feeling so good after the prostate surgery 13 weeks before! I had gotten back to riding my bike and doing just about everything I did before, just a little slower and a little bit more calculating. So last Thursday I decided to take some tools up to the church and fix a leaky toilet.  As I was carrying my shop-vac down the rain-soaked wooden steps on the back of our house my foot suddenly slipped and I fell down seven steps. The pain was incredible on my entire left side, but especially in the flank area. After a short time Christina asked if I wanted  to go have an x-ray. I gladly agreed!
At the hospital they did not find anything broken but told me I was just bruised and sent me home with some medicine  for pain.  Since they said nothing was broken I figured my left kidney must be bruised, because that is where the pain was. Thankfully I did not hit my head, and I wasn't bleeding.
Since I was still a world of hurt, two days later we went to a walk-in urgent care facility near our house. They did more X-rays, and discovered I had three fractured ribs. Somehow my pain felt more justified, but the treatment was the same; wait six weeks until they heal. I wonder if they could wrap me in bubble wrap until everything is all set?
Anyway, I have been so aware of God's presence. All the calls, prayers, emails, and other expressions of compassion are deeply appreciated. Though my foot slipped, I know my steps are still ordered by the Lord, and He has a purpose in all this. I am not down for the count. I will rise again, because my Lord upholds me with His hand! I will be able to attend our grandson's (C4's) graduation on June 1. I will get better and be pain-free in the next few weeks.
I hope to meet many of you who have read the blog, followed my ordeal and prayed for us. Prayer has gotten us through. But if we should happen to meet sometime, somewhere, I do have a request. Please don't squeeze too hard.

Tuesday, May 23, 2017


Yesterday was a cold, drizzly day in contrast to some very warm days we had last week. Christina and I went to Foxborough to have my blood drawn to check the PSA. I had to take a number. It was 13. I'm not superstious, but when they called 13 it was not the number I wanted to hear!
Later in the day we heard the wonderful number that we did want to hear. We expected it and my surgeon expected it, but it was sweet to hear anyway. 0. Nada. Zilch. Nothing. Gone. As Amy had written earlier; it is finished.
Anyone who has been infected by the cancer of sin (that's everybody!) can hear that too. Our sin can be gone by the grace of God, through the blood of Jesus. God, the righteous judge, declares us clean and sin-free if we ask for forgiveness and cleansing.  Gone. 0. Ancient history! "If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us of our sins and cleanse us from ALL unrighteousness." I John 1:9  Ask God for your number.

Sunday, May 21, 2017


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.


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


Thursday, March 30, 2017


 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


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"


"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!

Saturday, March 4, 2017

Home on the Range

 I have been home from the hospital for eight days now, and I am getting stronger all the time. Though I have some pretty intense pain in my abdomen, I can feel that I am getting better, bit by bit.
 I had a wonderful answer to prayer, actually a miracle, that happened this week . On Wednesday I had to go to Boston to get the catheter removed. They told me (and I had read) that it would probably be a few months, but hopefully I would regain some bladder control. Well, we decided we ought to get a large box of Depends so that we would be prepared for the long-haul.
 That night I had a dry night! And the next night! And the next night! In fact, I have had almost complete control of my bladder since the catheter came out, with the exception being the afternoon of the removal.  Praise the Lord! I am so grateful. When I have told people about this they are amazed and say, "I can't believe that you have ANY control already."  I can confidently say, "God did that!" That said, does anyone need a box of Depends? Cheap?
 Yesterday we got the bitter-sweet news that one of our dear ladies at church had passed away after a long battle with Parkinson's disease. I plan to do the service on Monday, but only to actually do the service. I will not be able to do many of the things I would normally do for a funeral, but I will be at the service. She was such a wonderful, lovely lady. Life goes on, and we should appreciate all of life as it unfolds.  Being home makes me appreciate home so much more. I am thankful for normal, regular things in life, like food, showers, well water, temperature controls, etc. Indeed, I am thankful for life.

Sunday, February 26, 2017


I have to tell you that the time in the hospital was so much better than I thought it would be. Everyone at the hospital was so kind, and very professional. But still, it was a hospital!  My experience with hospitals has been visiting people in various hospitals. I know many of the facilities in New England, not just by name, but also because I have been in them at one time or another for a pastoral visit.

Last week the tables were turned. I was the patient. When I woke up from having had a radical prostatectomy I was very groggy, which lasted for the rest of the day.  Even the next day and the trip home were a little surreal as I look back. But I was very glad to be home! We used to have a saying, "Home again, home again! Flinigan-Flanigan!" Not sure what it meant, but I like it.

I'm really grateful for all who prayed for me. I am sure I will still need a lot of prayer going forward, too. (But then, don't we all!?) The  pain level is down some, and I am sure it will continue to diminish. As far as a specific prayer, I would appreciate prayer that I would not get any infection.

So, for right now, I am ensconced in the bedroom upstairs, away from the activity of the kitchen, and the goings and comings through the front door. It is very comfortable, and I can make the room as cool or  as warm as I would like it to be. It makes me happy when I think back to the days when I was building it.

Anyway thank you again and I love you all.

Thursday, February 23, 2017

Surgery Success

I'm happy to report that Dad's surgery went exactly as planned!  The surgeon (who we all thought was great!) was very pleased with what he saw and what he was able to do.  No complications, no surprises.  That is answered prayer!

He's resting comfortably and in very capable hands.  Christina will spend the night and they will hopefully head home sometime tomorrow.  Then the work starts of keeping him tied down to rest and recover!

Thank you to all who have been praying today and for your continued support through this journey.  Thank you for loving my Dad.  He's a pretty remarkable guy!

Now our prayers are specific.  We are trusting for his PSA levels to drop to zero (as in no.more.cancer) when they test in a couple of months.  We are trusting in God's goodness and faithfulness.  Tonight we rejoice!  We give God the Glory in all things.


The surgery is all done.
No surprises or complications.
We will be seeing him in an hour or two.
Praise the Lord!

Wednesday, February 22, 2017


As we ready ourselves for the surgery, I have decided the hardest part of this experience is realizing I am in this hospital because my husband is being treated for CANCER.  It hits me like a boom.  The first time it happened was as we drove into the parking garage of the Dana Farber Cancer Institute.   The tears immediately come to my eyes and I wish I could bend over and let the sobs overwhelm me. 
This cancer thing and it happening to Gil takes my breath away.  How could Gil have cancer?  He looks the same, he acts the same.  He still can carry in big bags of groceries and plow and shovel snow.  He can ride his bike for 30 miles.  He talks and walks and smiles and laughs in all the same ways that I have known all these years.  But, there is an invader inside his body that wants to make him sick, that wants to take him from me and our family and friends and church. 
In the beginning the first words in my mind were,”I can’t believe this is happening!”  Over and over, like a broken record.  As soon as my head would say that, then the thought would come, “What is so hard to believe?  People get cancer. “   It is a strange thing how emotion can dictate my thoughts, instead of reason.
Then I am reminded of some words from Lisa-that nothing is happening to him that has not been sifted through God’s loving hands.
Bad things happen to good people, bad things happen to bad people, good things happen to bad people, and good things happen to good people.  Jesus said, ”In this world you will have tribulation.  But take heart, I have overcome the world."

When I take Gil to the hospital tomorrow for his surgery, I will keep reminding myself-God is with me, walking beside me, strengthening me, lifting me up, giving me courage.  I am so grateful that I have the Word of God to remind me of His love.

Saturday, February 18, 2017

Here's lookin' at me

As the days are getting longer and the temps are warming, I marvel, as I do every year, at how God's faithfulness is shown in nature. People who do any kind of planting (farmers, gardeners, landscapers, etc) count on God's faithfulness.  The really great thing is, though, you don't have to grow a garden to see how faithful He is. I know it's time to tap maple trees, even though I am not going to be able to do so this year.  The key to knowing God's faithfulness is having our eyes open.  In Psalm 23 David recognizes that, saying, "Though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for Thou art with me."  He expected  God to show His faithful care and love, no matter where he was or what he was going through!  Hey, I'm with you, David!

I have a time for my meeting with Mr. da Vinci, the name of the $2M robotics machine that will work on me. It is 7:30am on the 23rd. I will be the first order of the day. I plan to leave the hospital the next day. The procedure should take about two hours. The weather for travel to and from Boston looks good at this time.  Since I won't be allowed to eat solid food from Wednesday morning to Friday noon, I told Christina we might have to stop at Five Guys on the way home! 😀🍔🍟
Thank you all for your prayers for me.  We'll be in touch!

Thursday, February 9, 2017

Good Medicine!

Throughout this medical journey I am on, there have been a lot of firsts.  I don’t know how many times I have been asked about my medical condition (none), medications (none), surgeries (none), allergies (none), and implanted metals (none).  I not only know all the answers, I have almost all the questions memorized, too. When I am doing a test and I'm asked if I’m okay with some sort of injection 'for contrast' or whatever, I shrug and say, “I dunno.  I guess so.”  I’ve lived a sheltered life, but I’m getting medical-wise. 
A few days ago Christina wanted to do something special for me and decided to make apple dumplings because she knows I love them!  There was a tiny Rubbermaid container on the counter that she assumed contained a mixture of sugar and cinnamon from the last time she made pies.  She sniffed it and said it smelled “citrus-y”.  “What do you think?  Do you think it's all right to use?” she asked.  I countered, “Could it be something else, like Metamucil?” I asked.  She put it into a glass of water, and sure enough; it was.
I am really glad the treat didn’t get ruined, but the thought did cross my mind that it might have been the most pleasing way I have received medicine in the last two months. Besides, it would have cleaned me out.  I would have been spared the fleet kit or enema or whatever else I might have to do.

By the way, the apple dumplings were really good.

I do not like it in a pie,
I do not like it in my eye.
I do not like it in the snow,
I do not like it! No, no, no!!

Monday, February 6, 2017

We have a plan!

 There is no one-size-fits-all plan when it comes to treatment of medical conditions, because everybody is different. What worked for uncle George or your grandpa may not work for me.  Anyway, knowing that I had to make a decision by Monday helped me think and pray, and talk to people a lot, too. I have decided that I will go with the robotic surgery  which will be on February 23. There may be additional radiation and hormone therapy that follows.

With all of the decisions of life  we try to do what will best fit our lives. This seems to be the best fit for me. Of course, the best would be not to have cancer at all. :-) Oh well.  I do and I need to make the best of it. There have been several bright spots along the road since I was sick, or at least since I knew I was sick. Our quick trip to Florida, a beautiful Christmas time with our family,  and an unbelievable Super Bowl just last night make for some lasting memories in our lives. But none was greater than getting anointed and prayed over by our church on December 18. I appreciate the total support of our church family. We have the best church in the world. I am so thankful I get to be the pastor of such a fine group of people. They know they are going to have to bend and adjust through this time to help get me through. But I have not heard one word of complaining.
 Whatever issue or dilemma you face I can tell you that God has a plan for you, too. Don't just seek the answer to your issue, but seek Him and you will find your answer in that search.  God bless you. Gil

Saturday, February 4, 2017


By the beginning of February many people are getting tired of winter, even though the heating season is only slightly past midpoint.  Groundhog’s day is a silly tradition of hoping winter will be ending soon. 
For me the beginning of February this year marked a special time.  I looked forward to the third because I knew that was the day I would hear the results of the tests, scans, and biopsies that would determine the treatment plan for dealing with this prostrate cancer.  I was presented with two options for treatment and told again that doing nothing was not a third option.  Though the cancer was again referred to as ‘very aggressive,’ I was told it had not escaped the boundary of the prostate; that is very good!
The first plan was robotic surgery, possibly followed by radiation and hormone therapy.  The goal would be to get the PSA number to zero.  If removal of the entire prostate didn’t do the trick, they would have to go after any stray cancer with radiation and hormone therapy. 
The second plan was doing only radiation and hormone therapy, but over a longer period of time.  It would include getting hormones for a couple of months, six weeks of radiation and then continuing to get hormones for several months after radiation.  Again, the goal would be zer-i-oh.

There is a lot to consider.  I believe I will have the answer  by Monday and we will set our sights on dealing with this.  I trust that God will make it clear, and I know He'll see us through.  I’m surrounded by a lot of prayer and love, and I have talked to good doctors and men who have gone through similar things. (Sorry ladies; it's a guy thing!)  I will let you know what is going to happen.

Wednesday, January 25, 2017

What am I worth?

Being in a position of having a nasty disease that has a reputation of taking out a lot of its targets has made me look at what I really value.  What about the future?  What would I be worth in my will?  As I ponder this, I am sure it really isn’t the money, position, or things that matter the most, but people and relationships.  
As I look at my sweet Christina I think what a rare and Godly treasure she is, always supportive of me, always wanting what is good for me.  Each of my children, along with their spouses, is my pride and joy.  My role as their father is an enviable position to any man.  I love it when someone exclaims, “You’re her/his father?!”  When our beautiful, smart, well-adaptedsocially outgoing grandchildren call me their “Pop” it makes my buttons pop!  What more could I want?
But there is more.  My sibs are all respected leaders in their individual circles.  My in-laws (I don’t like that term, but you know who I’m talking about) are highly respected people.  I am related to clergy and church workers, doctors, lawyers, military officers,engineers, financial experts, architects, communications experts, real estate brokers, sales managers, professional counselors, teachers and professors, business owners, incredible parents, dancers, singers, artists, athletes,  drama and film producerswriters…phew, I have to take a breath! To say it simply, I’m rich!!
I have another circle, too.  It consists of my congregation at PBC, past congregations of UBCA, AHPCCC, CLAG, GIC, SFGT, and AFAG.  Besides these, there are my friends and people I work with. Each of these groups has a special place in my heart.  This circle of my friends and spiritual family, with vocations and avocations more varied than you could imagine, make me very rich!
Besides all of this, I am a child of the King.  My sins are forgiven and expunged.  I wear His cloak of righteousness.  I have a grand, fine home waiting for me in heaven.  I have His Spirit in me and beside me, giving me guidance, courage and strength for anychallenge life can throw at me.  Cancer-shmancer!  I ain’t a-skeert!  The scans are completed and the results are pending, but I have no fear of the future!
Put it all together and I’d say I’m filthy rich!

Monday, January 23, 2017

The Appointment

We came up last night to spend the night with Lou (Christina's brother) and watch the Patriots beat the Steelers (sorry, Calvin) on the eve of a momentous day. Today is the day of the MRI! I have waited for this test for nearly two months. We will drive into Boston this afternoon. Again, I'm so glad the Lord orders my steps. Psalm 139:16, "In Your book were all written the days appointed for me." So, this is an appointment on an appointed day!
Last week I had a CT scan which, together with the MRI, should be a fairly good summation of what is going on with the cancer, which in turn should give directives for needed treatment. Just knowing it's there and feeling the occasional twinge makes me eager to be done with this. While I know this isn't the end, not even the beginning of the end, I'm hoping that I'm close to the end of the beginning. I am so appreciative of the prayer, emails, phone calls, hugs, cards, etc. I am especially aware of and dependent on God.

Monday, January 16, 2017

Tests Coming Soon

Hello friends.
Today our country celebrates the birthday of Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King.  I am thankful for the work he did in issues about equality.  He also shares his birthday (which was actually 1/15) with two incredible people.  They are Lisa and Colombo IV!  Their births made me a father and a grandfather!
We had a wonderful week going to Florida, and even though we were there only four days, it was a good break.  It was as much driving as visiting, but it was all enjoyable, even the four days in the car.  It is always nice to be with Christina’s brother Lou.  He is very knowledgeable about medical issues and willing to share what he knows.  We spent an afternoon with Bill and Anne at the beach.  We rode our bikes.  We had Eli’s barbecue.  Ahh!!  Life is good!
There are some changes since last week.  Around New Year’s I noticed I had some discomfort so when my doctor called last week, I mentioned it.  She immediately wanted a CT scan of my lower abdomen.  She also moved the MRI up a week, so this Wednesday, 1/18 we go to Boston and then again on Monday, 1/23.  My hope and prayer is that the scans reveal what needs to be seen so that this process can move along.
I still feel strong, with my spirits very optimistic.  I know I am in good hands, and I trust the Lord implicitly with my future and the futures of my loved ones.  I pray you all have a blessed day.