This is my Dad. I want to tell you about him. 2012 started with my Dad learning that a spot on his pancreas, originally identified as a cyst, was actually a malignant tumor. He also learned that some other spots on other organs, initially thought to be of little concern, would now be biopsied as well. He further learned that the tumor on the pancreas was wrapped around 2 veins, and inoperable and that he would need to begin radiation in hopes of killing the cancer, shrinking the tumor and/or keeping it from growing and spreading its nasty little germs. Happy New Year, right?!
So after crying for hours, I finally thought I had composed myself enough to call and be a comforter to my Dad so I made the call. Dad answered with his usual cheerful voice, and I asked, in my shaky voice filled with tears, how he was. He answered by telling me that he was fine, he really was fine, even if my sisters and I didn't believe him. He then told me that God has a plan for everyone, we don't know the plan and don't always understand it, but God has a plan and a purpose for everyone. I told him that I didn't want God to take him away from me. And he honestly answered that he wasn't ready for that either but that we all have a time to go and that God is in control of our lives and the plan for our lives.
In my blog in early January I wrote: "My Dad is the godliest man I know. His faith and his relationship with God leave me wanting more, and make me feel ashamed for questioning how God could allow something like cancer to affect my Dad. My Dad has devoted his whole life to working for God and to reaching people for God so that they too may have the special personal relationship that he enjoys with his Savior. Why would God want to take one of his greatest workers from the earth? And when that time comes, who am I to want to hold onto my Dad's ankle as God calls him home to Heaven? I am trying to be positive, trying to have the peace and faith that my Dad has, and praying constantly for healing. The practical, worldly side of me knows what cancer means and what cancer does, and I hate not being able to reach into my Dad's body and pull out every bit of the poison that cancer is. I want to fix it, control it and make it all better for him and my family. I will try to learn from my Dad, to listen to him, to learn from his example and to trust that God does indeed have a plan for each one of us, and a purpose for our lives which we may not always understand or see. Who are we to question God's plan for our lives and for the lives of those we love? In the meantime, while I'm learning, I will pray for my Dad, pray for his healing, pray for his courage and his strength. I will pray for the doctors, that they will know what they're doing and that they will do it well as we entrust them with our Dad. I will pray for my Mom and my siblings and our children that we can offer support and encouragement to my Dad and to each other. And I will thank God for this wonderful man that is my Dad, for the man he has been, for the man he is and for the man he will be. His example, his faith, and his peace are to be admired and followed. As my children have said on more than one occasion, "Grandpa works for God, and Grandpa is best friends with God." Who better to have in your corner than God? Who better to have as a BFF than God?"Since then, my Dad has gone through 2 rounds of chemotherapy. The first round consisted of 6 treatments, each one done every other week for 12 weeks. He had a good result and, although he felt tired and nauseous, he quickly found that a good nap and anti-nausea medication helped with that. There was a PET scan after that first round, and it showed much improvement so another round of chemo was scheduled. This time there would be 4 treatments, over a period of 8 weeks.
During these rounds of chemo, my parents took 2 trips to Illinois and 1 trip to the Grand Canyon. I commented to my dad that his cancer was really lucky to be able to go on all these great trips. But it's not luck, it's prayer, medical technology and my father's great health and tolerance for the chemotherapy that have allowed to him to, for the most part, continue living his life. He often writes that he is thankful for the prayers, for the way his body has been able to tolerate the chemotherapy and that he is anxious for God's plan for him as a believer with cancer. After the completion of the 2nd round of chemo, this is what my dad sent in his email to his prayer warriors:
" Having cancer is always on my mind. Our church worship teams consistently select music that reminds me of the glory that waits me on the other side. I’m beginning to think they do it purposely to have me shed tears of anticipation and joy when I lead the congregation in prayer. I am enjoying my time with Linda, realizing how few times may be ahead of us. I’m ready to be with the Lord but wouldn’t mind if he allowed me a few more years to enjoy him here and serve him here."
Last week Dad had his 2nd PET scan, and this is the news we received from him today:
"The scan revealed that there was no cancer activity in the pancreas, though there was thickening of the pancreas. The cancer in the abdominal cavity is still too small to be detected; so we don’t know where that stands, although the cancer has not settled in the stomach.
The doctor said we could take a break from the treatment and run the risk of the cancer reactivating or just continue with the treatment. I chose to continue treatment to maintain the positive momentum of the chemotherapy. So my next treatment is August 13th. The average number of my kind of treatments is 12 (I’ve had 10). The most treatments he has given is 18 and I’m going for the record!"
I know the ups and downs of cancer, I know that cancer doesn't discriminate between old or young, sick or healthy, man or woman, parent or child. I have watched cancer take my grandmother and take one of my best friends. But today I rejoice because today is an "up", today is a day that God has shown me that prayers work and that there can be healing. Today I am thankful, thankful to God for allowing me more time with this wonderful man, thankful to friends and family for their constant prayers and thoughts and support. And I am thankful for the gift of time, for each and every day, each and every minute that my parents have together and that I have with my Dad. He is truly an inspiration and his faith and contentment continue to amaze me and make me proud, so very proud to be his daughter.