My Radioactive Adventure

Radiation is a very interesting experience. I get to go into areas of the hospital with big scary warning signs. It’s pretty easy. I lie down on the treatment couch and slide off my pants. Sadly, I am all too familiar with displaying my nether regions to medical professionals. Then the radiation therapists move me around a bit to align the machine with my tattoos. Then they leave the room and turn on the machine. The machine is pretty cool. It spins around my pelvic region and zaps me a bunch of times. I don’t feel a thing though. I think I am still radiation symptom free (can’t shoot webs yet either) but I suppose it is still a little early.

I have a follow-up appointment with the radiation oncologist in a month to see how effective the radiation treatments have been.

Please continue to pray that God will work through the radiation to shrink Tony the Terrible.

God helped me through the port installation today. I almost died passed out on the table but otherwise everything seemed to go fine with the installation. I especially enjoyed the “classical” music selection playing in the background: Simon and Garfunkel, The Beach Boys, The Beatles, etc. The YouTube video I had watched beforehand to learn about the procedure helped me identify the various steps the surgeon was performing on me. It was a little unnerving feeling him pushing on my chest to squeeze the port inside the little pocket he made in my upper torso. I think I felt him feeding the catheter from the hole near my neck to the port device. I wasn’t too thrilled about the removal of my chest hair but it was either have it shaved off before the surgery or have it ripped out by the nurse who changes the bandages tomorrow. They were nice and let me keep my jeans on though. (Years ago for my eye surgeries they made me remove all my clothing just so they could operate on my eye!) Another bonus is that I am not allowed to shovel any snow for two weeks. (Sorry Leanne, or I guess the boy can do it!)

Pray that my chest incisions heal quickly and properly.

 

 

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Radiation Week

I found out yesterday afternoon that my radiation treatments are starting this Monday, Feb. 11. That was a bit of a surprise. However, the bigger surprise was finding out that I am scheduled to get my port installed on Wednesday, Feb. 13, and no one called to tell me about it. I only discovered this appointment accidentally when scheduling my radiation treatments around my other appointments.

Here’s what my week looks like…so far!

Monday: Radiation
Tuesday: Radiation
Wednesday: Radiation and Port Installation
Thursday: Radiation and Rectal Surgeon
Friday: Blood Work, Medical Oncologist, and Radiation

I still plan to fit in as many hours of work as I can.

I met with a naturopathic doctor yesterday. He provided us with some good diet suggestions and supplement recommendations while I undergo radiation. As soon as I know which chemotherapy drugs I will be on, he will have some more recommendations on dietary supplements and services to complement the chemo.

I suppose I am most concerned about the port installation. I’m not really thrilled about anyone digging around inside my chest and leaving behind a foreign object. (That may be a tad facetious.) I watched a YouTube video on the procedure and it was quite fascinating.

Prayer Requests

  1. Pray that the radiation will obliterate Tony (or at least shrink him as expected).
  2. Pray that the port installation goes well.
  3. Pray that God will continue to give me strength, as it’s going to be a long week.
  4. Pray that God will give me and Leanne wisdom while we research the various services and supplements the naturopath offers.

 

 

 

 

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2 Replies to “Radiation Week”

  1. Hi John and Leanne, my family and I are praying for you. My boys are praying for uncle John even though they do not know you.
    May God give you strength to endure everything, trust in knowing who He is, that He is bigger than cancer and than life itself, and peace in understanding His purposes, and that every trial is making us more pure gold. And confidence that He loves you and your family more than you will ever know or comprehend, in spite of the circurstances.

    1. I had a port installed for my treatments and it was a easy procedure. The use of the port is a lot easier then going directly into your veins. In the long run it is the best way to administer your chemo
      Best of luck in all your procedures and treatments. I am a breast cancer survivor who had radiation, chemo treatments and surgery 5 years ago and thank God everyday ?

Tony vs. Radiation

Leanne and I had our radiology date this past Wednesday. We met with my radiation oncologist again and I was pleasantly surprised by his demeanour on this visit. He seemed a lot more jovial than last time. He was even cracking jokes. This was in stark contrast to our first visit. Perhaps they are supposed to be more serious upon first meeting with a Stage 4 patient. In any case, he did walk us through the first part of the plan.

Radiology Date

Step one of the plan is to zap Tony. Sometime in the next few weeks, I will be getting 5 consecutive days of radiation, possibly with a weekend break in the middle. It should take 30 minutes out of my day (plus the travel time). Ideally, the radiation will shrink Tony, which should improve my symptoms (less frequent bowel movements).

The radiation side effects do not sound too horrible. The doctor explained that the radiation treatment is like getting an internal sunburn. The walls of my bladder and bowels will become inflamed which will result in more frequent bowel movements and urination. I may need to set up a desk in the bathroom as I already spend way too much of my day on a toilet. The side effects won’t be immediate; I’ll feel the worst of it about 7-10 days after the radiation ends. After that, my urination should gradually return to normal and bowel movements should become less frequent than they are now. I would expect less pain in my rectum as well if Tony has indeed shrunk.

Step two of the plan is chemotherapy to attack the rest of the cancer cells in my body. I should find out more details about that when I meet with the medical oncologist again on Feb. 15. Surgery is not currently part of the plan, so I am curious as to why I am meeting with the surgeon next week.

Before I met with the Radiation Oncologist I had my CT Simulation appointment. That was pretty easy. They put me inside the CT machine and while I was pretending to be a photon torpedo they moved me around a bit to position me correctly, then marked my alignment by drawing x’s on me. Once they reviewed the scans to confirm the alignment, they tattooed a little dot in the middle of the x’s. I received three tattoos, one on each of my hips and one about 2 inches below my belly button. I learned an important life lesson: Don’t mess with people that have tattoos, because they are tough! Tattoos hurt!

The tattoo on my right hip
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Tony the Tumour

I have been finding church most invigorating lately. I seem to be getting more out of everything, from the sermons to the music. I feel closer to God now than ever before. After all, I may be getting to see Him in person sooner than most. 

I’m so glad that I am still able to attend church. People are constantly coming up to Leanne and me to encourage us and tell us they are praying for us. We still get many encouraging emails, blog comments and even paper cards. I gotta say though, nothing says, “We’re praying for you,” like receiving a knock-off LEGO set in the mail. Thanks Allan! We are so blessed and very thankful to have people from many different churches praying for us and supporting us.

My doctors discussed my case at the Tumour Board meeting this past Friday. I have yet to actually talk to a doctor to find out the plan, but I have been booked for a CT Simulation appointment at the radiology department on Wednesday, February 6, and another appointment with the rectal surgeon is scheduled for February 14. This may be an indication that they will be frying big Tony and then attempting to cut him out before chemotherapy. This is only speculation at this point. We should find out the actual plan on Wednesday.  I’m also meeting with a naturopathic doctor on Friday to see what he can offer me. 

Please keep praying for my healthcare team.

Tony is now making me take an Ibuprofen almost every day for the pain. I suppose that is pretty insignificant compared to the stuff my Dad was taking during his treatments. I checked his notes, and before they put him on the really good stuff, he was popping 8-10 Advils a day. I loathe taking any sort of medication, but pain isn’t really my thing either.

Pray that God will continue to strengthen me both physically and spiritually as treatment is just around the corner.

 

 

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2 Replies to “Tony the Tumour”

  1. Praying John that God will lead your team to the best treatment for you and start it as quickly as possible. We are making known to Him the desires of our hearts.

  2. My prayer for you is that the pain will not get to much more and that God will help you tolerate the pain you have now. It sounds like the world looks different when you have something seriously facing you to bad we can’t see that way before our world turns upside down. My prayers are also for the whole family everyone suffers through a digonise like you got. May God bless you each minute each hour of every day.

In His Hands

Every doctor and nurse I have met with has, in a subtle way, attempted to make sure I know I am going to die. The conversation usually begins with, “I see that you met with Dr. So-and-so? What did they tell you?” At first I thought it was a listening comprehension test as I began rattling off every detail I could remember, regretting that I had not taken better notes. Then I finally figured out that they probably just want to make sure that no one dropped the ball and that I was aware of my impending demise.  Even my family doctor called me up, basically just to make sure I knew I was going to die. Cheery bunch, those doctors. I want to live if only just to be able to tell them, as Nelson Muntz would say, “Ha Ha!”

I know doctors are just scientists, and as someone who appreciates data and logic, I understand their thinking in not wanting to offer me potentially false hope.  Their data says I will die, but so what? God’s will can’t be determined by data and analytics. I’m reasonably confident the doctors can extend my life a bit, but they have all adamantly said they cannot cure me. I know God can. It is an incredible feeling to have to rely so much on God. I am absolutely powerless. I am totally in His hands and I know that is the best place for me to be.  

Prayer requests

Discomfort: I’m starting to feel greater and more frequent discomfort in my rectum. I guess it is getting closer to being classified as an ache or pain. I tried Advil today which seemed to help. 

Bowel Movements: As my tumour grows, pray that I will still be able to poop have bowel movements. It is possible my bowels may become blocked at some point. 

Warning: Juvenile Humour Below

If you find songs about cancer, poop or bums offensive, please do not watch the following video.

I admit you will get to see one of my cute little redheads singing her lungs out and it may be interesting for some of you who have not seen me play guitar before. But I realize some people just might not appreciate my twisted sense of humour. Really, I am taking my cancer very seriously, but why can’t I have some fun?

After being inspired by Mr. Padfield’s video, Daisy and I decided to write our own little ditty. The lyrics aren’t exactly based on scripture, but they do describe my situation quite accurately, albeit in a somewhat juvenile way. The music was flat-out ripped off and my sister told me not to post it.

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5 Replies to “In His Hands”

  1. Hi John, that was a unique little ditty aided by daughter, Daisy. Noted in the right hand lower corner of the video that Maggie got into the act also, her little hands were keeping time with the music. It is good to have these times with the family regardless of the opinions of others. God has blessed you with that talent. May He continue to support your journey.

  2. So encouraging to know that you have such a profound sense of being “in His hands.” A verse that you may not happen upon often speaks so powerfully to this and so I will share it: Isaiah 43:1-3a. May you and Leanne and Harrison and Daisy and Magnolia ever experience the Lord so walking so closely with you in these days …

  3. That was a great video 🙂 It showed a side of you I haven’t seen before. And it was great to see the kids having so much fun with it too. Leave it to Dads to bring out bathroom humour to entertain the kids 🙂 Thanks for posting it. Still praying with you, brother.

  4. Thanks for sharing your “poopy” song John. It is quite the catchy tune, and what adorable back up singers!

    We continue to pray for you and your family.

Medical Oncologist

Leanne and I met with the medical oncologist today. The doctor took pity on me and did not do a rectal exam this time. She did give us some insight on her plan for my chemotherapy. I will be starting on 3 chemo drugs as soon as she sees the results of a genetic mutation test done on the biopsies taken during my colonoscopy. The samples were sent earlier this week and are expected back within 3 weeks. The mutation test will help determine the best drug to fight my specific cancer. 

In the mean time they will be installing a port under my skin to make delivery of all the drugs easier. I hope the port is as cool as it sounds. I am picturing a Matrix-style Headjack. The other option was to install a PICC line in my arm but that would mean I could not get it wet or even lift my kids.  

Prayer Requests

Please continue to pray for my doctors, especially when they get together to discuss my case, likely this Friday or next.

Pray that there are no complications when I get my port installed.

Pray for Leanne. She is still working part time, taking me to my appointments, and homeschooling the kids. The many appointments are kinda nice actually; they are like little dates.

Thanks!

We are so encouraged by all the comments we receive. I regret that I just don’t have time right now to reply to them as I am incredibly busy with balancing work, appointments and family. I do read each and every comment and look up every scripture reference. I am planning on re-reading them all again, as I fear there are some dark days ahead.

I wanted to mention a special piece of encouragement I received from my friend Adam Padfield. Upon reading the news of my diagnosis he sat down at his piano and recorded one of his songs from his Psalm 23 “You are my Shepherd” album. 

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One Reply to “Medical Oncologist”

  1. Continuing to pray for you and the family. You are such a strong person, God will get you through what’s ahead.
    I love you referring to appointments as mini dates. What a wonderful attitude you have about your situation.
    Loved what your friend Adam did for you.
    Blessings

Radiation Oncologist

I feel strong. My state of mind is usually pretty stable but I think God is giving me an extra boost this week in response to all the people praying for us.

Thank you all so much for praying! We keep receiving messages from so many people saying they are praying for us and we find each message very encouraging.

Today I met with a radiation oncologist. It was just an initial introductory meeting and an excuse for another rectal exam of course. We are still waiting on the doctors to get together to discuss my case and come up with a treatment plan. It sounds like radiation, chemotherapy and surgery will all be involved.

I have another oncologist appointment on Wednesday.

Please pray for wisdom for my doctors.

Physically: 9.5/10
Mentally: 10/10
Total number of rectal exams: 4

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6 Replies to “Radiation Oncologist”

  1. Wow. Dear brother, my heart aches for you and your lovely wife and kids. Your testimony of God’s grace and your love for Christ is a refreshing wind in the sails of the saints of God who also struggle with the assaults of the evil one. You explicit trust in the Lord and your dependence upon him encourages us greatly.
    Let me encourage you. In 2015 I was diagnosed with male breast cancer. I ended up getting a mastectomy and radiation treatments (30). I live in Waterloo, and I spent 6 weeks in Toronto at Princess Margaret. I know the anxieties you feel and the whole mortality you feel, and the sense of being apart from those you love, and dealing with death as at one level, a joining with the Lord forevermore and the separation from your precious family. Death is most difficult on those who are left behind. Like your testimony, it is a thing not to be feared. Like you I prayed that I would live and have the days of my life extended. The Lord was gracious to extend my days and to restore areas of my life that needed His providential grace. I will be praying for you and your family. Be blessed my friend. Trust in the Lord. People are praying for you.

  2. Hello,
    I do not know you, but a friend of ours Adam Padfield shared your story and just wanted to encourage you in one who has witnessed and experienced healing of a cancerous tumour! My son was diagnosed at 11 months with a rare brain tumour. One that is highly to re- appear.
    His was on the 2-3 stage out of 4. He went through surgery, 2 rounds of chemo and 30 rounds of radiation. We have witnessed a miracle when on a regular routine MRI a spot that remained had completely disappeared!! Before he had even started his radiation and he only underwent chemo to prevent growth of what was left after surgery. The Dr’s were left dumbfounded.
    It’s been 2 yrs since his diagnosis without any re- appearance. We give God the glory!!
    We will defiantly be fighting in prayer with you!! Our God is bigger then Cancer!! He’s Got you!!
    I pray the same verse over you as you go through treatments of Mark 16:18
    “ Even though they drink deadly poison, it will not hurt them at all”
    We had several people bring this verse to our attention when going through treatments with our son. We claimed them over him!! Through his 2nd round of chemo and 30 rounds of radiation he didn’t suffer through any of the side effects. The nurses and Dr’s were astounded.
    Praying for peace that surpasses all understanding. Praying for complete healing!!
    We have experienced the power of prayer!! We had so so many people praying!! So many that we knew and didn’t know!! You are not alone in this fight!!

  3. Hello there, I just wanted to let you know that if you need me for anything at all, feel free to reach out. I know that we don’t know each other very well, in fact I don’t even recall ever having a conversation with either of you. But I understand the trouble cancer brings. If you need food, or a babysitter, or a shoulder to cry on, or a drive somewhere… I will make myself available as best I can. I’m glad people are praying for you, and that you are finding it affective…..in my own journey I have found that actions speak louder than words. So, let me know if there’s anything I can do.

    Nikki.

  4. John, we were so sorry to hear about what you are facing in this diagnosis. We have been praying for you and your family and will continue to do so. God is able to do more than we can ask or imagine…. We’ll be praying for your healing and strength.

  5. Hey brother,
    I keep thinking about you a lot. I can appreciate and relate to the mixed feelings you have about all this, with a wife and 3 little kids that need you. I also keep thinking about the story of the man born blind, not because of anything done wrong but so that the works of God might be displayed in him for God’s glory (Jn 9). I have no idea what God has planned but I loved hearing your excitement to see how God will use this situation to His glory! We’re praying with you too!
    Joe & Jenny

  6. I’m not very good at knowing the “right” thing to say. I shudder to think of the horror of going through what you’re going through, and admire the courage and positive outlook you’re holding.

    I know God holds you in the palm of his hand.

    He tends his flock like a shepherd: He gathers the lambs in his arms
    and carries them close to his heart; He gently leads those that have young. -Isaiah 40:11

    I have made you and I will carry you; I will sustain you and I will rescue you. -Isaiah 46:4

    But I know how painful and devastating our experience in this life can be.

    I am so sorry that you’re going through this.

    For I am the Lord your God who takes hold of your right hand and says to you, Do not fear; I will help you Isaiah -41:13

God is Good

Do you know what’s worse than being told you are going to die? Being told you are going to die and then having a rectal exam immediately after.

Unfortunately I experienced both this past week. I wasn’t quite expecting my cancer to be that bad. I only learned that I had a tumour on Dec. 19, 2018, and that it was cancerous on Dec. 24, 2018. (Merry Christmas!) I was led to believe I had a curable cancer and that my tumour could probably be removed somewhat easily, so I was a little surprised to see how much it had spread as the doctor scrolled through my CT and MRI scans pointing out the various “lesions consistent with cancer”.

I have stage 4 rectal cancer and it appears to have spread to my liver and lungs. The tumour in my rectum is a T3 in case you are curious. The doctor did not give me much hope, but so what? I know God can fix me.

Death is not to be feared for a Christian. I am not afraid of death; in fact, in some respects, I am looking forward to it.  One of my first thoughts after the diagnosis was that I get to hang out with my Dad again and meet our first little baby that died in the first trimester of pregnancy. But then I remembered that I have a few people here on earth who would prefer that I live for at least a few more decades. Being a husband and father was one of my primary goals in life and I want to be with my wife and kids as long as possible.

We are going to fight this disease as hard as we can and for as long as necessary. Our number one plan of attack is prayer. 

Before my diagnosis I had been learning a lot about prayer. I found John MacArthur’s sermon Pray Boldly particularly helpful and inspiring. The parable Jesus tells in Luke 11:5-13 is incredible. I don’t like asking people for anything, never mind asking the Creator of the universe over and over to do something. But Jesus tells us to pray boldly, to pray without ceasing, and to be shameless in our prayers.

Pray boldly for God to heal me and pray without ceasing.

This week I meet with two oncologists. Please pray that God will guide these doctors in their treatment plan for me.

I don’t want to give people the wrong impression. Lest you think I am bed-ridden in pain or something like that, I am not (at least not yet). With the exception of depositing blood into the toilet every few hours, I feel surprisingly fine right now considering what is growing inside my body. I have a little discomfort (not pain) in my rectum but that is it. I still work full-time (between appointments) and am fortunate to work two days a week from home. I am still doing other contract work on the side. I feel pretty good physically and excellent mentally.

I am excited to see how God will use this situation to His glory! 

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21 Replies to “God is Good”

  1. Thanks so much for sharing your story. We will be praying for you and your family as you go through this difficult time. We pray for perfect healing and that the doctors will have wisdom needed for your situation.
    Love and prayers
    Dale and Judy Albrecht

  2. John,
    We are praying for your health and your complete healing. Let’s trust God; as you are doing so well. After reading your blog I have to say that you are a true inspiration to me. You are very brave, positive and full of faith and humor. I’d like to have the opportunity to pray with you in person if that’d be okay. Please let me know if you guys need anything.
    Be blessed Brother,
    Matt Bannister

    1. John
      We particularly want to recognize your positive comments of Faith and Acceptance as you face this serious health issue. In your dilemma, you are an inspiration for us all. May God richly reward you for your Faith, Attitude and Courage.

  3. Sorry to hear this news John. Praying for you both – for peace, strength, wisdom for the doctors and wisdom for you.

    1. Dear John and family, be assured of the constant prayers of the people at Grandview Church who are interceding for you. Your Dad would be very proud of you right now. God is able!

  4. Dear John and family. Be assured of the constant prayers of the people of Grandview Church. Your father would be very proud of you right now. God is able!

    1. Hello! I don’t know you, but just got an email from Corey telling me about you and your family – so now I am praying.
      Nicodemus said, when he spoke to Jesus:
      “There is none like You.
      No one else can do the things that You do”
      (and the chorus completes it all):
      “I could search forever but never find
      anyone like You.”

      I’m praying for you and your family – for healing and help. God answers prayer.

  5. Dear John and Leanne, and family:

    You are very much in our prayers. This is a moment of both lament and hope. Ps 13 comes to mind. We care.

    David and Lorraine Barker

  6. John, we were very sad to hear the news about your cancer but it is so great and inspiring to see your trust and faith in God throughout this difficult time. We want you to know that we have asked a lot of people to pray for you and your family. We are looking to God for guidance and praying for healing during this time. Remember that God provides hope and God can make miracles happen! You and your family are in our thoughts and prayers.

  7. Prayer matters. God is good all the time. We are praying for you as you walk through this valley. No matter what the Good shepherd walks beside you and will guide you with his rod and staff (ps 23). Ś

    Dan & Ange

    1. Hi John:
      Wonderful on how you are handling this. The Lord promised us he would never leave us. He will give you the strength each and everyday. Take one day at a time.
      You are in our prayers.

  8. Thank you for sharing your story. You are so positive for what you know is happening in your body. Prayer is a very strong attack to a problem and that is what I will be doing over the next days and weeks. I have not meet you or the family but am a friend of your moms. My blessings go out to each of you.

  9. Thank you for sharing your story. You are so positive for what you know is happening in your body. Prayer is a very strong attack to a problem and that is what I will be doing over the next days and weeks. I have not meet you or the family but am a friend of your moms. My blessings go out to each of you.
    Sandra Brunk

  10. We are joining you in this bold and ceaseless prayer. We won’t stop! Thank you for your faithfulness and testimony to us all during this most difficult time. We’re with you.

    Ed and Brandy

  11. Sorry to hear the news and what your family is going through. You are all in our thoughts and prayers. Keep up the positive outlook!

  12. Hi, I got your story from the CCHE group. I just wanted you to know that your family is on my heart. I love your outlook and your faith is inspiring. I pray that you would continue to be encouraged and see from God’s perspective and I’m praying that you would be an overcomer and fully healed this side of Heaven, in Jesus’ name. I pray that your family would experience so much grace and support in every way that you need. I pray for peace that overwhelms your children, you, and your wife. I pray that you would have such wisdom from Heaven navigating all of the technical stuff and that the Lord would lead you practically and give you great discernment. I pray that His light would shine through you and that any time you encounter doubt trying to discourage you that you would be refreshed in God’s love, care and hear His voice and peace helping you one moment at a time. In Jesus’ name, amen! It is great that you are inviting people to journey with you so you can get the support you need.

  13. John & Leanne,
    Thank you for sharing your unexpected and difficult journey with us. You are a wonderful blessing to us as we see your faith being worked out in real time.
    We are praying for the health team God has given you and that He will lead them during the complete process to wellness, and for you and your family’s strength, peace, and comfort and healing. This is the desire of our hearts.

  14. Your shared messages speak to your profound faith. Thank you for a very inspirational blog. Know that you are occupying a special place in our hearts, thoughts and prayers.

    1. As former neighbors to Leanne and her wonderful, supportive parents we add our prayers to the many who have responded to your straight forward on-line posts.