I am really sorry but there is only one way to express my sentiments on this past year: It has been one hell of a year!
As I write this we are back in Portland for two weeks for tests and Christmas. As I reported earlier my Christmas present this year was cancer -free scans. In the past we have had to wait in a doctor’s exam room the day after a scan to hear the results. The wait is excruciating; you can hear yourself breath, (when you are able to take a breath), you hear your heart beat louder than at any other time, and the silence becomes deafening. Footsteps in the hallway become louder, yet they don’t stop at your door, they continue on past, and the wait continues. Suddenly the door opens and it startles you because it breaks the silence. The doctor burst in with a smile, gives a thumbs up and says “All clear, no cancer!” The elephant in the room finally gets off your chest and you can breathe again.
This time was different. I had the PET-Scan on Thursday and then Friday I had the colonoscopy. I was in recovery from the colonoscopy procedure when the nurse was trying to wake me up from the anesthesia. About five minutes later the doctor comes in and asks me how I am doing and chats for a minute or two, I think just to make sure I was coherent, and then he says “We were able to check the entire colon and there is no sign of cancer or tumors. The tumor that was there is completely gone.” I looked over at Jeri and said something like “Hey, all right!” You have to remember that I am still a little loopy from the anesthesia and I still haven’t heard the results from the PET-scan, which I mention to the doctor. He decides to check my records on the computer to see if the results are posted. It takes him a few minutes to bring the report up and to read it, because they break it down by body section. Anyway, he turns to me and says “It is a clear report also, no cancer tumors.” Again, I did not have much of a reaction at that time, it really didn’t sink in until the next day when all the anesthesia had worn off.
You’ll have to excuse me if I am a bit pessimistic but I have been through this routine too many times only to have something new show up a few years later. I am a walking time bomb. PET-scans use nuclear medicine, as in radioactive isotopes. They bring it in a lead box, with a lead lined syringe and inject it into your blood stream. I am amazed that I make it through airport security without setting off some alarm. I have lost count of how many of these scans I have had, but it is at least 18 over the last eight years. Top that off with 14 weeks of radiation and I am surprised that it took this long for lymphoma cancer to show up. I may be tougher than I thought!
We left Portland on the 21st of October, just before the cold and rain began and enjoyed warmth and bright sunshine for two months in Hawaii before returning to Portland for the tests and Christmas. Jeri’s sister, Judie, and brother-in-law Tom, arrived in Hawaii an hour after we did and spent 4 weeks with us. What a great help they were to us during their stay. The day they left, our son Andy and his wife, Lesley, came and stayed two weeks over thanksgiving. Our daughter, Kris, came for a week and also spent thanksgiving with us.
By the end of the year we will have been in Portland a total of 8 months and while I love Portland, I for one have had enough of it. Having lived in Eastern Oregon for over 40 years, I am use to wide open spaces, little traffic and less people. In Kona we live on a cul-de-sac, with neighbors, but for the most part it is quiet. There is the occasional barking dog and yard care people trimming shrubs and mowing lawns. One day they cut down a massive tree across the street from us. As the last limb fell to the ground, the four of us stood on the lanai and clapped our hands and cheered the crew for removing the tree that was blocking part of our view of the ocean. I have no idea why the owner decided to cut it down but I am not complaining.
The other morning at 5:38 am we were reminded what it is like to live on a live volcano with a 3.8 earth quake. It began with a loud and sharp “bang” and four or five seconds of shaking. For those who have lived in Southern California, that’s no big deal, but for us sitting on a volcano, it makes you take notice and one wonders what is next. As it turns out, nothing followed and all is good.
There were times this year when I didn’t know if I was going to be able to return to our home in Hawaii, or make it to Christmas or my next birthday in January. But we were able to return to Hawaii, I was able to celebrate Christmas with family, and there is a pretty good chance that I will make it to my next birthday, Lord willing. The only reason all this is transpiring is the power of prayer.
Each time I write on my blog I send out an e-mail notification to about 150 people. A lot of those people belong to care groups or home study groups, Sunday school classes that have been praying for me. They have added my name to their church prayer list. In the La Grande area alone there are at least three, maybe four, churches that have been praying for me. Add all these prayer warriors together across America and Canada, Tanzania and China and there must be thousands of people that have been praying over the last eight years for me. Not just for healing but for God’s will to be accomplished.
Are any among you sick? They should send for the church elders, who will pray for them and rub olive oil on them in the name of the Lord. This prayer made in faith will heal the sick; the Lord will restore them to health, and the sins they have committed will be forgiven. So then, confess your sins to one another and pray for one another, so that you will be healed. The prayer of a good person has a powerful effect. James 5:14-16 GNT
Over the past year the elders of First Baptist of La Grande and Grace Community of Kona have anointed me with oil, laid hands on me and prayed for healing and God’s will. Alister’s father-in-law from Australia laid hands on me and prayed one of the most powerful prayers I have ever heard, commanding the demons of cancer to come out of me in the name of Jesus Christ. God has heard all of those and your prayers and answered by ridding my body of cancer, for the third time. Yes He has used doctors and modern medicine to accomplish that but He still gets all the praise and glory.
Why pray? Isaiah 65:1 says it all. I was ready to answer my people’s prayers, but they did not pray. I was ready for them to find me, but they did not even try. The nation did not pray to me, even though I was always ready to answer, ‘Here I am; I will help you.’ I am so thankful that so many prayed on my behalf, and that God was faithful in His promise to answer and help.
With answered prayer comes responsibility. Psalm 66:1-3 Praise God with shouts of joy, all people! Sing to the glory of His name; offer him glorious praise! Say to God, “How wonderful are the things you do!” Also Psalm 33:1 All you that are righteous, shout for joy for what the Lord has done; praise him, all you that obey him.
This is what I am trying to do today, to give God all the praise and glory and credit for what he has accomplished in my life. And also to thank all of you who have so faithfully prayed on my behalf. We serve an awesome God who is so faithful in answering prayer. I am hoping that my journey will give hope and encouragement to those who are fighting cancer or any other adversity.