Monday, August 18, 2008

Widely opened arms

Praise the Lord, O my soul; all my inmost being, praise his holy name. Praise the Lord, O my soul, and forget not all his benefits - who forgives all your sins and heals all your diseases, who redeems your life from the pit and crowns you with love and compassion, who satisfies your desires with good things so that your youth is renewed like the eagle's. -Psalm 103:1-5

Until now, several days between posts have meant that I wasn't feeling well physically or lacked the emotional energy to write. This time, it has meant something quite different. I have been filled with gratitude to the Father for the amazing things He has done. I should have shared sooner, but I suppose I have been stingy with the news - content basking in His deliverance.

If you read the last entry, you probably still feel like you need a shower after all the talk of mucus. I made that post last Tuesday. The mucus had stolen almost all the happiness surrounding the end of my radiation therapy - until Thursday. Something changed on Thursday. Don't misunderstand. There is still plenty of mucus, but it has become SO much more manageable. There is less of it, it is thinner, and it is causing much less nausea. While talking is still a challenge due to the constant build-up, I am beginning to be able to carry on a decent conversation (muffled, but decent) without spitting incessantly.

I cannot explain to you what a difference this has made in my outlook. I'm sure this must all seem a bit melodramatic if you have not had the experience personally, but you'll have to trust me. I realize I come from dramatic stock, but there has been no exaggeration of circumstances here. Not only has this improvement been a psychological blessing, but also it has been a physical one. I felt like having Dad take me for several drives in the past few days, and I made it to church again yesterday. As I'm sure you can imagine, it is very difficult to go from never stopping to sitting in a chair most of the day. That makes these little victories not so little. I am so thankful to my precious Heavenly Father (but not enough, I know).

I saw Dr. Gilbert, my oncologist, again on Friday. She remains pleased with my progress. Again, she feels like my tongue itself continues to look better, but remains concerned about the significantly swollen lymph node on the left side of my neck. You may remember that this node along with one other showed up as suspicious for cancer on my PET scan. The hope was that both nodes would be non-palpable by the conclusion of radiation and chemotherapy. Indeed, this seems true for one of them (thank you, Father), but there remains one rather large node. As I have reported in earlier posts, Dr. Gilbert expects this to be removed surgically as soon as possible.

My appointment with the surgeon, Dr. Netterville, is scheduled for August 28th. Medically speaking, there is still a possibility that the node will shrink by then, but it does not seem probable. Also medically speaking, it seems inevitable that Dr. Netterville will opt to remove the node and any other suspicious ones to be completely safe (it is unclear right now how quickly he would schedule this to be done). God speaking, He is my ultimate physician, and I still pray that surgery won't be necessary. I pray that especially where my tongue is concerned, but I pray it for my neck, as well. To my friends in the medical community, I do understand that it seems naive for me to think that I might not have to have surgery on my neck. We have to take off the stethoscope every now and then, though, and remember that with God all things are possible. Therefore, until a surgery is scheduled, I will pray that God spares me. If He does not, I will trust Him on that operating table.

Also noteworthy from Friday is the fact that I have actually lost more or at least appear to have lost more weight. Until this last appointment, I had been getting about 4 pounds worth of IV fluids just before my appointments with Dr. Gilbert. On Friday, I did not. Obviously, this was falsely inflating my weight somewhat, but even without this information, Dr. Gilbert was not concerned. She expects this is due to an increase in my metabolic rate and assures me that there is no cause for alarm. This makes sense, because I feel better every day. Also, I have increased my activity, but had not increased my calories. We have increased my tube feeding since Friday, and starting on Saturday, I began to try soft foods and liquids again. Swallowing is still difficult due to the scarring from radiation and my taste is still quite distorted, but so far I have been able to manage without any choking or significant nausea. Therefore, I hope to begin gaining weight again. Of course, I will have to be patient.

When last we talked about weight, I think I estimated about a 20 pound loss, but it appears I have lost more like 30 pounds total. A picture was taken while I was getting fluids on Friday. I decided to post it, because I thought most of you would be interested in seeing the change. I hope it does not make anyone feel sad. Remember, God has carried me through the rough treatment phase. Now, He will strengthen me.
Just to give you a comparison, here is a photo taken with some friends in late April shortly after my diagnosis was made.

From left: Angela Sadler, Ray Sadler, Sara Acara, Cindy


Comperry, Me, Randy Smith, Lizzy Smith. Front: Georgia.


That's more than enough appointment recall - let's get to the important stuff. I read a lot in the Psalms yesterday, because it is filled with worship offerings to our Great God like the one used at the beginning of this post. There are so many to choose from. I encourage you to pick out a couple and really sing, shout, whisper, pray, or cry them out to Him today. He deserves our unending adoration - our unending, audible adoration.

Here are a few more selections on which to reflect:

Shout for joy to the Lord, all the earth. Worship the Lord with gladness; come before him with joyful songs. Know that the Lord is God. It is he who made us, and we are his; we are his people, the sheep of his pasture. Enter his gates with thanksgiving and his courts with praise; give thanks to him and praise his name. For the Lord is good and his love endures forever; his faithfulness continues through all generations. -Psalm 100:1-5


Come, let us sing for joy to the Lord; let us shout aloud to the Rock of our salvation. Let us come before him with thanksgiving and extol him with music and song. For the Lord is the great God, the great King above all gods. In his hand are the depths of the earth, and the mountain peaks belong to him. The sea is his for he made it, and his hands formed the dry land. Come, let us bow down in worship, let us kneel before the Lord our Maker; for he is our God and we are the people of his pasture, the flock under his care. -Psalm 95:1-7


Better is one day in your courts than a thousand elsewhere; I would rather be a doorkeeper in the house of my God than dwell in the tents of the wicked. For the Lord God is a sun and shield; the Lord bestows favor and honor; no good thing does he withhold from those whose walk is blameless. O Lord Almighty, blessed is the man who trusts in you. -Psalm 84:10-12


I will sing of the Lord's great love forever; with my mouth I will make your faithfulness known through all generations. -Psalm 89:1


Bottom line: I cannot thank Him enough for what He has done and is doing. I simply don't have the words or ability to express adequately how He has come to my rescue in the last few days. I'm glad He can see the heart, and I hope He finds it bursting with gratitude. The road ahead is still uncertain, but as the wonderful old hymn says ... "I know who holds tomorrow, and I know who holds my hand." Thank you, Jesus, for holding our hands even when we doubt your presence.

The Psalm used at the beginning of this post spoke of God forgiving all our sins and healing all our diseases. While I am grateful that He has the power to heal all our diseases and I believe He is choosing to do just that with mine, it doesn't matter if all our diseases are healed but we miss the forgiveness of sins. I know many of you reading this blog already know Jesus as your Savior. I pray that you continue to grow in your relationships with Him. If there is anyone reading, however, who has not begun a personal relationship with Jesus ... please consider His beautiful invitation. Forget what you've heard about Him. Pick up the Bible for yourself and learn who He really is and what He desires for you. Start in John 3. He did not come to condemn. He came to know, love, and rescue us all. He waits with widely opened arms.

Prayer requests:


1. No surgery, especially on the tongue.


2. Continued recovery and relief from side effects.


3. Protection from nausea and choking as I try to get back to a normal diet.


4. Strength to return to work soon.


5. Mr. Carroll - his first chemo treatment is tomorrow. He is in a lot of pain right now.


6. My new friend, Robert Marascalco, who is also 34 years old and recently diagnosed with tongue cancer. He should receive some important test results today. He expects to be having surgery soon. He has a wife and two young children. Please keep him in your prayers as he begins this journey.

Praises:


1. Couldn't begin to name them all.

2. Less mucus!

3. Feeling stronger!

4. The obvious presence of the Father.

5. Insurance.

6. A family who serves and serves and serves.

7. Extended family and friends who love me so well.

Soak yourself in the blessings of every moment this week. Savor all the wonderful little things. God bless you all.

7 comments:

Travis and Beth said...

We are grateful for the good report and will continue praying for the requests you mentioned and will continue praising God for the praises you mentioned. As always, you are constantly in our thoughts and prayers.

jenpinkner said...

Thank you, sweet Daniel. You continue to be a vessel that glorifies our great God. I am so thankful that the mucus has gotten better...and even more so, I am so thankful your thoughts have been turned to Him consistently (both huge answers to prayer).

Rachel said...

So glad to hear that things are clickin' in the right direction. I will continue to pray for no surgery. God is begin enough to do it if he so chooses! You continue to be an inspiration to me.
Rachel McRae

XieXie said...

Danny Boy, Thanks for sharing the good news! Shanle and I continue to pray for you all the time. We know that our God is willing and able to continue to heal you. I was soaking me up some Psalms this morning, and I totally agree with you. Continue to find rest in God's word and his presence within you. We love you. Shay and Shanle

Amy Creech said...

Daniel, So good to hear from you and SEE you!! You don't look defeated at all! You have lost weight, but your face is still radiant! I am so thankful for that! You have been such a blessing to those of us who are following your progess. We love you and continue to pray and wait with you.
Amy

Anonymous said...

What a great inspiration you continue to be...and what good news to hear! And I'm so glad to see your face! You look mahvahlous -so that's my attempt at typing in Billy Crystal style lingo! I'm continuing to pray for you...and soon we'll recreate the other picture you posted. By the way, who is the hot chick you're hugging on - he he he! J/K...
Love you!
Cindy

Richard said...

Daniel,

Thank you so much for the update. Your blog is an inspiration of the value of faith to many.

Continue to trust in the Lord. You are in my prayers.