Monday, February 11, 2008

The Lord is My Strength and My Shield

Before I proceed to share with you what’s been going on presently, let me backtrack a couple weeks, since I’ve been a little slow to sit myself long enough in front of the computer. We are so grateful for the body of Christ who has ministered to us and surrounded us with their help and prayers of daily needs that have arisen these past weeks. Though cyberspace is awesome, so glad that “word of mouth” is still the oldest & most personal means to get the word out of what’s been going on! (It was effective for Christ & his apostles and it definitely works for us, too!)

Like I mentioned on an earlier post, Paul’s chemo side effects were minimal, but what threw us for a loop was all the problems with now his left eye! After trying a new gel type of medication, the pressure still went up to 40. That was replaced with yet another kind, in pill form, and after a week his eye pressure went down to 28 but his reaction to it has been making him miserable…worse than the chemo drugs, not to mention that “28” still isn’t good enough to stay away from surgery. His fatigue is extreme, numbness in his hands and feet, and major headaches. Needless to say, his eye specialist and oncologist talked and agreed that surgery should not be delayed and the date is set for February 21st, timed right before his 3rd chemo treatment on Feb 29th, hopefully when his blood count is on the upswing. We, and many others were praying specifically that Paul would be able, if at all possible, to have this surgery done even while in the chemo process since recovery time for it is another 6 weeks with no lifting, straining, bending, etc. We praise God that the eye recovery time and chemo/radiation will (Lord willing) both end, simultaneously around mid-April. We couldn’t have orchestrated that any better….only God!

On the lighter side of family news, God never ceases to amaze us in how He not only knows and meets our needs (and generously, too, through families in our church), but takes note of the things that go beyond our needs, and looks at our heart’s desire. Our church youth group had their annual Winter Discipleship Camp coming up on the calendar (Feb 1-3), and our youngest daughter, Julia, finally became of age to actually attend. But because we’ve had to adjust financially during this time, we knew that we couldn’t entertain it. Yet God did, and the day before the youth group headed for the snow, we received a phone call from a dear couple who works with the youth, and they invited Julia to go, with her way paid in full!! Amazing, isn’t He!

Now we’re caught up to this past weekend! A few days ago, Paul underwent his 2nd chemotherapy treatment. It was two hours shorter than the first time, only 7 hours, and the first couple of hours went smoothly with a lot of goofing around!

I was trying to get a "normal" picture with him but I guess this is as normal as he gets! Oh well, I did warn him fair and square that this would make it into cyberspace if he didn't straighten up!

You see why I love him so? The silly boy keeps me laughing.

But the day seemed to grow longer as the side effects were hitting him quicker and harder while receiving the chemo. Just when Paul was sitting at the edge of his chair, getting a little stir crazy and wanting “out!”, the Lord sent two special visitors our way, Vern and Pat Hendrickson! What a joy to see them and fellowship with them right there in our treatment room. Our dear brother and his wife are going through a similar trial but with lung cancer.
There was nothing sweeter than to see the love of Jesus bubble out of them as they announced to our nurse who we called to take our picture, that “we belong to the same church…we belong to the same God!” Just like Vern was sharing with Paul before they took off, “The Lord knows how to give us exactly what we need!”

(Click on the link for Vern on the side bar as they, too, have given us updates on their journey.)

“R-CHOP”, the acronym for that wonderful blend of 5 medications, has delivered a stronger serving of side effects this time around for my husband. My poor guy! More fatigue, more nausea, heartburn, unsettled stomach, loss of appetite, loss of hair, scalp sensitivity, upper body

quivers, awful taste in his mouth, numbness in hands & feet… And to top it all off, the rest of the family has managed to take turns, each bringing home some type of sickness, be it a fever and severe sore throat (Silas), a fever and cold (Julia), runny nose (Jenna) and presently, yours truly, with a fever in the beginning and head congestion/laryngitis now. It seemed like the kids would come home from school miserably sick, but then Lord would heal them quickly, literally within a couple days. It was so just blows me away!! My cold, on the other hand, is sticking with me a lot longer, so by Friday, I decided it was time to move out of our bed and into the guest bedroom until I get better. Sad! But more sad I would be if Paul caught what I have! I’m reminded of the verse that Paul shared with me:

“The Lord is my Strength and my Shield, My heart trusts in Him and I am helped, therefore my heart exults and with my song I shall thank Him!” Psalm 28:7

He shared with me the fact that the Lord has been his strength from within and his shield of protection from without (I’ll say! Even from the microscopic cooties we breathe out into the same air we share!), and that he’s gonna keep on trusting Him, exulting in Him and thanking Him!

And on that note, let me share some praises:

  • Praise God for Paul’s protected health thus far from the germs we’ve managed to bring into our home! A recent lab right before his 2nd chemo treatment concluded that his white blood count is lower than the normal range; I’m completely baffled that he hasn’t caught anything yet!

  • Praise God that Paul’s right eye is completely off of all eye drops as of last Thursday and its pressure remains at 9!

  • Praise God for the scheduled eye surgery on his left eye on February 21st.

  • And here’s a BIGGIE: Praise God, that on February 13th, Paul and I will be celebrating 20 wonderful years of marriage! (Obviously not in Cancun, as we had planned 6 months ago, but nonetheless, gratefully rejoicing in our God’s great faithfulness to us and the deep love that grows sweeter and richer for one another and for our precious Savior with each new day!)

And because it exalts our All-Sufficient God when we come to Him with our requests, please pray along with us:

  • That we’ll be given “green lights” from all the pre-surgery labs, tests, and physical exam for his eye surgery to happen on the 21st of Feb.

  • That the Lord of all Comfort will indeed strengthen Paul physically and spiritually as he deals with all the side effects daily…(perhaps enough to go out on a hot date with his Love on our anniversary!)

  • That I will get better soon and have my voice back..and move out of the guest room!

  • For the two couples who have been close to our hearts and in our prayers as they battle against cancer in its more advanced stages. For Vern, and his wife, Pat. As well as for Paul’s older brother, Dave Miranda who has stage 2, (almost stage 3)-multiple myeloma, and his wife Debra. They have a long road before them and may God be pleased to glorify Himself through their lives as they embrace this opportunity to display to a hopeless world the power and joy of Christ in the midst of their sufferings.

    Paul’s February Calendar of Events:
    Feb 12: Pre surgery Labs and EKG in Richmond (RCH) @ 11:10
    Feb 13: Our 20th Anniversary….Hang out with the Love of his Life!
    Feb 14: Valentine’s Day…."ditto" the day before! ( I love this double whammy stuff!)
    Feb 15: Eye appt, RCH (Dr. Lee) @ 11:15
    Feb 15: Pre surgery Physical Exam, RCH @ 1:30
    Feb 21: Eye Surgery, RCH (Dr. Lee)
    Feb 22: Post-op eye appt, RCH (Dr. Lee) @ 9:15
    Feb 27: Lab tests, VJO
    Feb 28: Oncology appt, VJO (Dr. Schwartz) @ 9:30
    Feb 28: Post-op eye appt., RCH. (Dr. Lee) @ 12:00
    Feb 29: 3rd Chemotherapy treatment, VJO


Myra said...

Paul and Arlene,
Thanks so much for the update! We miss seeing you at church, and I know that you are missing the time afterward to fellowship, when you need to slip in and out. But know that we all love you so much and are continuing to pray for you. God is so great! He is leading you through the darkness, holding you safely by His side, and making you an instrument to proclaim Christ to the watching world. You are showing us that there is joy even when suffering and sorrows come, because you are trusting in the God of all comfort. One day He will indeed wipe away every tear! I loved the poem and the wedding pictures. We will look forward to the next update. Loved the new look of your blog, too!

Vevystefana said...

Praise God for His enduring faithfulness to you and your family!! :)
I miss seeing you every week, but look forward to the time when God brings me back to my wonderful church family.

You are in my prayers, increasingly.
Much love,

Punky said...

Uncle're so funny...that picture totally looks like Silas there....=) Love you guys!

Anonymous said...

just a short note to let you know we love you both and are praying that God will continue to uphold you and that your testimony will bring Him glory. we read your blog at least every other day thanks for keeping us posted. Love prayers always pat & vern