Saturday, January 5, 2008

God is Our Refuge and Strength

January 5, 2008

Our Dear Family and Friends...

I'm learning how to blog! This is just a copy of an email sent out today to see if I could actually post something here! Praise God for my teenager in the house!

Thank you for your comforting love and support during what we believe to be the greatest trial Paul and I have ever been in! Your supplications for us have held us up to trust and lean hard on our Loving God who always has our good and His Glory in mind. We know without a doubt that it has been the prayers of our dear brothers and sisters that have carried us through each day, this past week, as we have had to patiently wait till yesterday to meet with the oncologist to receive his diagnosis and treatment plan, if there was any, for my dear husband’s prognosis of cancer. Our God is so merciful and kind to us…

For those of you who didn’t get the news, last week on Fri, December 28th, Paul was diagnosed with Diffuse Large B-cell Lymphoma which is a blood cancer of the lymphatic system that is categorized under the non-Hodgkins Lymphoma cancers. (The lymphatic system is basically your body’s defense system against infection.) Paul took blood tests and a CT scan earlier this week to start determining the stage of the cancer’s development. Our oncologist, Dr. Schwartz at Kaiser Vallejo, informed us that this type of cancer falls under the heading of an “aggressive” lymphoma and not an “indolent” lymphoma because of its ability to rapidly grow and spread. Yet the amazing thing about it is that because of it being considered an aggressive type, they can treat it right away with chemo and radiation, as opposed to the indolent lymphomas which can be widespread throughout the body yet grow very slowly and given the treatment of “watchful waiting” which means they don’t treat it until there are symptoms.

The great news is that, according to the doctor, it was caught early and Paul is probably in Stage 1, which means that the lymphoma was only located in one area of his body, and is considered a cancer that is actually curable with aggressive treatment! We also found it very encouraging that 90% of lymphoma patients with this type of cancer have been considered cancer free after 2 years following treatment. We are so thankful to our kind and merciful Loving God, that amazingly, the blood tests and CT scan taken this week came back normal, an indication that the lymphoma wasn’t spread throughout his body. (The full body CT scan would have detected any other lymph nodes that may have been enlarged and abnormal.) There is a minor concern of his colon looking “a little collapsed or thickened”, but the doctor is ordering a colonoscopy to be done just to make sure everything is clear and that his colon is, indeed, not affected. He also went on to tell us that Paul will need to take other additional tests to complete an accurate staging assessment, ie. more blood tests, a bone marrow biopsy, & PET scan which will all happen in the next week or two, as well as a heart scan, chemo class, and radiation consultation (at Queen of the Valley hospital, Napa) to prep for the chemotherapy and radiation treatments.

As a minimum, the treatment prescribed is 3 chemotherapy treatments over a period of 9 weeks and then 10 radiation treatments over a 2 week period to his neck where that 3cm lymph node was removed on Dec. 19th. The chemo treatments may double if, indeed, the other tests which come back, show signs of cancer in other parts of his body, ie. colon or bone marrow. But we will continue to trust in Him and bless the Name of the Lord, knowing that all this is in the Loving Hands of our Great Physician who ultimately determined it to happen! We are confident that He will accomplish His good purposes in us and through us.

So now that you’re fully updated, we humbly ask that you please continue to join us in prayer for this next chapter of our journey. We don’t know what the Lord has in store for us the next 3+ mos. of treatment with all its side effects and if it will actually be effective for Paul, personally. But one thing’s for sure, just as He’s been our Refuge, our Strength, and our Very Present Help in time of need to this point (Ps 46:1), we are confident that our Gentle Shepherd will continue to lead and carry us through this dark valley and enable us to somehow glorify Him even in this trial, as we remember the words He said to the Apostle Paul in 2 Corinthians 12:9, “My Grace is sufficient for you, for power is perfected in weakness!” And may our response be the same as this apostle: “Most gladly therefore, I will rather boast about my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may dwell in me. Therefore I am well-content with weaknesses, with insults, with distresses, with persecutions, with difficulties, for Christ’s sake; for when I am weak, then I am strong.”

Again, we can’t even begin to fully express our gratefulness for all your love and concern and support! How sweet & precious it has been to experience God’s tenderest love and comforting embrace though your visits, words of encouragement & hope, your notes & cards, phone calls & emails, and hugs & tears…all which seem to come just at the right time! We have been overwhelmed & humbled by the fact that our many dear brothers and sisters from Community Bible Church, to friends, family members, and sister churches thr oughout California, to the many saints throughout the US in Colorado, Texas, Michigan, Georgia, & Tennessee and to across the world, have been praying for us and bearing our burden with us. We’ve been so greatly blessed above all.

Specifically, this is how you can help us..PRAY!!!

  • First of all, praise God that the surgery done on Paul’s right eye for glaucoma on Dec 20th, so far, has been successful!! Dr. Lee at Richmond Kaiser actually cancelled next week’s post op. appointment. (this is HUGE considering that additional procedures to his eye were tentatively scheduled weekly for the next 5 weeks in order to maintain his eye pressure!)
  • Pray for this week’s appointments: a chemo class, his heart scan, and his bone marrow biopsy.
  • Pray for the needed appointments to be scheduled soon: a PET scan in Walnut Creek and a colonoscopy (we were told that the schedules are full for the next two weeks.)
  • Pray that God will give us much knowledge & understanding as we enter the new world of
    “chemotherapy and radiation.” I know that it is our ignorance of this matter that has caused us to welcome it with open arms since according to our doctor, it is the only standard protocol used for the treatment of this type of cancer.
  • Pray that God would prepare us for what’s to come with this combination’s side effects on Paul’s body and immune system which is already compromised.

    Lord willing, as time permits, we will be able to share in detail all the incredible things the Lord has been bringing us through and teaching us these past months as there was so much that went on before given this diagnosis. I’m not sure if it’s even possible to back track and retrace this journey to this point as I know my memory would fail me and cause me to not fully give the Lord the glory due His Name, but Paul and I feel compelled to attempt to do so because of the many, many prayers offered up to our God on our behalf! It is our great desire to share with you so that much thanks and praise and worship would be given rightly to Him who is the Only True and Sovereign God, the Blessed Controller and Giver of Life, and the Lover of our Souls!

“God is our refuge and our strength, a very present help in time of need.” Psalm 46:1

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