Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Male stubbornness

So much can happen in 3 days when you have cancer. I apologize for not writing to you sooner, but these last few days have been some of my most challenging.

As you know, Monday afternoon was my first radiation treatment. Most of you are probably wondering exactly what that entails. The treatment is given in a room much like a normal x-ray suite. I lie down flat on a table. Then, the custom-fitted mask that I described before is put in place over my head, neck, and shoulders and fastened to the table. Then, an x-ray-like machine rotates around my head and neck delivering the radiation. It is not painful other than the fact that I have to lie flat. Lying flat, which you may recall me saying, increases the pain in my tongue. I used a local numbing agent to help with that today.

Thankfully, I am not claustrophobic. Certainly, it would be much more difficult if that were the case. Still, though I'm not claustrophobic and have never been an anxious person, there is something about these treatments that is unnerving. I think most of it revolves around the uncertainty of how my body will react to the treatments. I have heard so many horror stories about radiation - terrible mouth sores, dry mouth, difficulty swallowing, hoarseness, stiff neck, skin burns, dental decay and more. So, each day, before going in for the treatment, it is almost impossible to remove these uncertainties from the mind. They have a way of looming over the entire process. Thankfully, it only lasts about 20 minutes. While I am lying on the table, I try to remember the verses I have shared with you about fear and all the encouragement and verses you have shared with me, as well. As I've said before, He knew this day would come long before I was born, and He is ready to supply my needs with precision. As one of my favorite songs reminds me, He is mighty to save. As a couple of you have reminded me, while I am receiving radiation beams for my cancer, He is also busy radiating His loving-kindness toward me. Three down - only 30 to go.

My first round of the more potent chemo was administered yesterday. The infusion went well. Unfortunately, today has brought some of my worst nausea. I have not actually vomited, though, which is a blessing, as it greatly increases my tongue pain. I am taking various anti-nausea medications and expect it to get better soon, especially with all your prayers. My next infusion is scheduled for 21 days from yesterday.

This brings us to the latest news, which I know Doug has already shared with some of you. Yesterday, Dr. Gilbert decided that it was time to place a temporary PEG tube. PEG tubes are placed directly into the stomach through the abdominal wall and allow for adequate nutritional and caloric intake when a patient is unable to maintain weight through oral consumption. Because of my intermittent nausea and often excruciating mouth pain, I have lost about 16 pounds in the last 2 months. Click on the link below for a very good explanation of PEG tube insertion and use. I think it will help to calm any anxiety this news might cause you.

http://www.oralcancerfoundation.org/dental/tube_feeding.htm

As you will learn from this article, placement of the tube is very simple and quick and not regarded as dangerous. Actually, I am relieved to be undergoing this procedure. Of course, I had hoped to make it through this process without a feeding tube, but that just stemmed from male stubbornness more than anything. At this point, I have embraced the fact that having the tube in place will greatly decrease the stress I experience surrounding eating on a daily basis. It is very difficult to plan meals around my pain, because it can be so unpredictable. Also, even when the pain is controlled, my appetite just isn't what it needs to be to maintain my weight much less gain any weight. The tube will be placed during a very short, one-night hospital stay. The procedure itself is scheduled for tomorrow (Thursday) at 1:00 p.m. following my radiation treatment at 11:00 a.m. I will be released around midday on Friday and will have my last radiation treatment of the week before coming home.

Some of you are probably wondering if this would be a good time to visit. I cannot express to you how much gratitude I have for every single one of you - for your prayers, your emails, your voice mails, your cards, your letters, your gifts, and your desire to help in any way you can. In light of that, I want to reassure you that you ARE helping me. You have no idea what it means to know that while I try to sleep or eat or just keep my chin up, that so many of you, in several countries, are praying for me! Given that I have felt so poorly this week, I don't think it is the best time for a visit. I would rather see you when I can actually spend time talking with you or at least writing you notes, and I don't anticipate feeling like doing much of that right now. I hate to be dramatic, but it has taken me hours to type this post tonight. I do look forward to seeing each and every one one of you once I am feeling better.

Since I mentioned pain quite a bit in this post, I wanted to try to be a bit more clear about my situation with you. It has been suggested to me by some of you that perhaps in an attempt to stay really positive and with many of my earlier posts centering around topics other than my cancer, I might not have given you a completely accurate picture. There is such a fine line between being accurate, being overly dramatic, and conveying my faith in God to deliver. Yes, at times, the pain is excruciating indeed. There have been days when the best I could do was sit as still as possible in my chair and pray for it to pass. What I want you to know is that I do get relief - my gracious Heavenly Father provides it as He hears your prayers and mine. Also, we are continually adjusting my pain medication regimen to try to find the optimum combination, but, of course, all of those possibilities come from Him, as well. So, if I have not portrayed the situation as precisely as I could have, it is only because I want us all to focus on Him and all the miracles of which He is capable. I realize, however, that for us to appreciate truly what He accomplishes, we will need a clear understanding of where he has brought us from. I will try, therefore, to be as clear as possible going forward.

There are so many things on my heart that I would like to share with you right now - thoughts that have been brought on by the cancer, but not necessarily about the cancer itself. Unfortunately, today I just do not have the creative energy to convey those thoughts in a way I would find acceptable. I trust they will keep for later.

I love all of you so very, very much and am truly grateful for you. Whenever you fret about something to do to help, just take a few moments on your knees. That is doing so much, and I will always be grateful.

"What time I am afraid, I will trust in thee." -Psalm 56:3

15 comments:

Anonymous said...

Daniel,
Thanks for taking the time to write and keep us all updated. Mike and I were just talking the other day about how you get it... "it" being that life is about praising and glorifying God. It is sad sometimes when even Christians don't see life that way. It is clear that God is using you to touch many people. We continue praying...
Virginia

Anonymous said...

Daniel,

I am so sorry you are feeling so poorly this week. I will continue to pray to our loving Father for comfort and healing of your illness. I am glad you are ok with the feeding tube....this is definitely to your benefit and hopefully will keep you healthy and strong for your battle against the cancer....you didn't have sixteen pounds to loose kid!!!
Love you too and will continue to have you in my thoughts and prayers.

Shelia

Mom2rayray&colten said...

Tammy had just asked me about you... I just told her your newest situation... She is praying for you.
At my Wed. night class I have with the kids tonight we said a special prayer for you. They were so precious I know you would have loved it.
I love you sweetie and I pray everynight that His will be done and that there is more good days ahead of you. You are a true Warrior of Christ and He will provide you with the strength to push through this.
Thank you for keeping it real, it only reminds me how strong God has made you.

MUH

Heather Burgiss said...

Dear Daniel,
What a beautiful post today. It puts everything in perspective to know what you are going through with such faith. I can see your face when I read, and I always see your smile. It is very hard to see you without a smile. Even if you don't feel like smiling right now, I know God is giving you strength. He is pushing you forward to meet this phenomenal challenge set before you. Know that you are loved. You are in our prayers.
Heather

jenpinkner said...

Just a note to say that I love you, Daniel...that you are in my prayers. I remember being terrified in the middle of the night as a child and clinging to Psalm 56:3 that you wrote at the end of your post. I pray that every portion of your fear and anxiety and uncertainty be met by the sufficiency and love of our Gracious Eternal Father. I pray his presence be felt by you throughout the day today...in radiation and before and after surgery.

Jenny said...

Daniel... I know we can't adapt the Bible, but I am certain that if we lived 2,000 years ago, you would have your own book. I am truly, truly AMAZED at your faith. I can't say the things you are saying with situations much, much less serious.You have already been used by God more than many of us will be in our entire life. Seriously. Jenny

wendya33 said...

Daniel,
I hope you remember me...This is Jenny's friend (Wendy)!
I believe the last time I saw you (many moons ago), we were stood up by a certain singer/entertainer, that's name will go unmentioned to protect the innocent... hahaha
I just wanted to send a note to you and let you know that I am thinking of you, and praying for you. Your attitude and disposition are inspiring. Your words are healing, for me. What a gift, to heal others when your circumstances are are so challenging.
I will continue to check in on you here, and I do hope to see you when you are feeling up for it!
Take care Daniel...

Wendy(Lee)Anzaldua

lynnette said...

First as always.... Love you mucho!!!!!! Second I am happy to hear about the feeding tube, my previous mother law is going through something similar and she had to have a tube put in and it was such a blessing. It helped her to get the nutrients that she really needed to stay strong and fight! I know this will be a blessing and help you stay strong. I will continue to pray and pray for as much peace as possible during this time. I love you!!! Keep fighting. Netter

Amy said...

You must have known that when I read you were spending the night at the hospital I was trying to figure out how I could get down there to see you. Lamar will be there tomorrow morning. Are you sure you don't want a visit from Mr. Bible?! He does have a lot of experience with PEG tubes if you need any help, though I know you're very knowledgeable and have great medical support.
I doubt you have energy to read our blog, but Luke prays for you every time he prays. That is a miracle. My miracle, praying for a miracle for you. God is good.

Anonymous said...

Daniel,
Your family here in Anderson, In has been praying also for you and will continue to do so.. Have been following your posts.
Jerry

Ashley said...

So, I have a lot of commenting to catch up on! I have sent this site to everyone I know. I have put you on the intercessors pray list at church and my family has done the same. We are on our knees daily for you. I am so full of thoughts and feelings I want to share with you. I won't do it all here (you're welcome!) Your blog has sparked something in everyone who reads it. Thank you. I am holding on to Matthew 18:18-20.
I love you
Ashley

The Moon Family said...

We continue to pray for you daily, Daniel. It was good to hear about your PEG tube. I am hopeful that it will serve as a tremendous blessing to you. Lily mailed you a letter yesterday. She addressed it herself....so if you don't receive it, it is probably because the mailman couldn't read the address very well. Take care, Daniel!

Robby, Teran, Lily & Jordan

Biter said...

Daniel,

How empathetic of you to share with us what your treatment entails... It really has served to lessen the mystery, and the imagination... Invaluable what you are doing through your blog, and who you are a reaching, in more ways than one...

Thinking of you constantly,
Amy

Anonymous said...

Daniel, I have been reading these posts to Connor and Davis and today, Connor asked, "did Daniel write a letter to us on the computer?" Needless to say, he was quite upset that there was no new letter from "uncle Daniel." Also, we have been watching a little wimbeldon and Connor still remembers playing tennis with you and prayed yesterday that "Daniel will play tennis with me soon!" You truely are one of our (Smith) family members... We all love you so much and are praying for you daily. ... Keep up your beautiful, good, strong fight!! You are an inspiration.

Leah said...

Daniel,
Thank you for keeping us all up to date. I pray for you each day and I am counting down the treatments along with you. Hopefully they will pass as quickly as possible. I pray for a settled stomach, strength, and less pain. I know God will supply all your needs. Know you are loved and prayed for daily.

Leah