Into the Tube

Yesterday, Wednesday January 5, 2022 I had PET scan #9.

The PET scanner a HSC

The now familiar process went smoothly with the standard interview, IV fluids and the “sugar” injection, aka radioactive glucose! When the nurse does this she is gowned, masked, gloved and behind a shield. They did all of this before COVID, now it’s almost “normal” for most procedures.

After 1 hour of letting that stuff circulate, it’s into the tube for a 20 minute snooze as the machine scans my body.

After Shirley called yesterday and asked if there was any way of getting the results sooner than our appointment next Monday, I received a reassuring call this afternoon from Kelly our oncology nurse with an update on the PET scan results. “Nothing to worry about”.

We will still meet with the oncologist on Jan 10th for a full review of the PET scan and bloodwork results.

This process certainly has been a test of my faith. I believe I’m healed. I look at my tattoo and it reminds me that “the anchor holds” in the storm.

I can certainly relate to Mark 9:24 and the need to take every thought captive and win the war in my mind. Thank you Jesus.

Triple Header

Today is a three event special, blood work, an IVIG treatment and a visit with the doctor.

Also, a quick update on my Ride To Conquer Cancer bike ride. Thanks to many generous donors my ride raised $2,696.10 which qualified me for this sharp “Ambassador” jersey.

Ready to start the ride.

The overall ride raised $9.9 million for cancer research! I ended up riding 125km in the Kenora area on a Sunday afternoon. My ride took me from the Storm Bay road down to Sioux Narrows and back. I wrote about the ride details over here.

The blood work results were a surprise and a disappointment. At six months post treatment the various blood components are supposed to be recovering and things like white blood cells, hemoglobin and neutrophils should be returning to normal ranges. I was expecting a good improvement with the latest testing but it was not the case. Numbers actually decreased or held steady at a below normal level.

Hemoglobin (HgB) and Platelets (PLTs)
White Blood cell Count (WBC)
Neutrophils (Things that fight infections, kind of important these days. Also, the temporary spikes into the “good” zone were induced by Grastofil injections)

I know it’s just one data point and these things can go up & down but, still a big disappointment that needed a little processing, so I went for a bike ride. While I was out riding a song came to me and I sang it as best I could. Helped a lot.

Your promises still stand
Great is Your faithfulness”

Do It Again – Elevation Worship

The IVIG treatment, which should be the last, proceeded without any incident and took the usual two hours as they ramp up the infusion rate in stages, which kind of drags out the process.

The doctor visit is basically a check in to see how I’m feeling, if I have any questions etc. I?m feeling fine with good energy, appetite and sleeping well. Six months post CAR-T is fast approaching and they will schedule a PET scan to check on what’s happening.

With the cancer, it’s been pretty much top of mind for the last three years. I doubt if there has been a day where I have not thought about it. The only variable is how much I think about it. You try to blank it out, let it go, think on what is lovely and pure (Phil 4:8) etc. but it manages to creep in anyway. What helps is the amount of time between hospital visits. As the space between visits increased its easier to “forget” about what has happened, what is going on now, or what might be happening in the future. And then there are the big checkpoints like the PET scan which will confirm that I’m still in remission. Hard to believe it’s been six months. So much has happened in my and Shirley’s lives.

Choose today…

Back at PMH for Chemo 2/3, but this is about last night and some thoughts I had.

So, Iím up at 4:30am for the bathroom and I canít seem to get back to sleep. So, what to do? Iím thinking all kinds of random thoughts and then I decide to pray about stuff, mainly for other people as they came to mind. Then in my mind I recited some key healing verses for me and did a little mental worship. After a while I decided to just listen and asked God if he had anything to say to me, always an interesting moment.

The first thought that came to me was ďchooseĒ and then Joshua 24:15

ď… then choose today whom you will serve. Would you prefer the gods your ancestors served beyond the Euphrates? Or will it be the gods of the Amorites in whose land you now live? But as for me and my family, we will serve the Lord

Choose today who you will serve really resonated with me. When we were ďnew christiansĒ back in the day we were really excited about all kinds of stuff. We bought lots of bibles (which didnít see too much use ?), a cross to hang on the wall and a plaque which was Joshua 24:15 and itís still hanging in our house. Something like this.

I was reminded that so many things in our lives that happen to us are beyond our control, and some things for sure are not our choice. However, we always have a choice in how we respond, we can choose:

  • To have faith
  • To believe
  • To trust
  • To respond in love
  • To receive love
  • To rest in the shelter of The Most High God
  • To worry less
  • To pray more
  • To praise more

In short, all of life is a choice. So many choices and many times I make choices automatically without thinking, we all do, but are the choices the best for me? Thatís a mixed bag, am I right? Routines can be good, like not having to think about or choose how to brush your teeth, itís wired in your brain. However, if I make an automated choice in response to an issue and then experience anxiety and worry, thatís not helpful.

Iíve been enjoying Craig GroeschelĎs new book Winning the War in you Mind, Change your thoughts, change your life, I highly recommend it. The basic premise is changing the way you think and make choices by renewing you mind. He supports the way to do this with both scriptural doctrine and science. I wonít attempt to explain it too much and if youíre not a book person his sermons based on the book are available on YouTube. Full playlist here.

At a super high level itís about ensuring your thoughts are in line with Godís thoughts, and if they are not, how to go about replacing wrong thoughts with The Word. Itís about choosing how to think.

From a scientific point of view we can ďrewireĒ our minds by creating new neural pathways. Once these pathways get entrenched our automatic choices will follow the new pathways. As Rick Hanson says ďneutrons that fire together, wire togetherĒ. In the past it was thought that after a certain (young) age that the pathways in the brain were fixed. However, research has shown we can rewire our brains, itís called neuroplasticity.

For those of you who have attended Springs Church for quite a while you may be thinking this is nothing new. Carsey Treat had it right with his book and teaching on ďRenewing the MindĒ and then later on Dr. Caroline Leaf came a couple of times with her book and teaching Switch On Your Brain. Seems I needed a little repetition to have it more fully sink in. ?, plus I really like Craig Groeschelís style and delivery.

All that to say, I spent a lot of time thinking about my choices in the middle of the night. Iím excited to be in the process of rewiring my brain to come more and more in line with Godís word and what He says about me. Itís a choice… every day.

… choose today…. But as for me and my family, we will serve the Lord.

I will be with you

Iím not sure how to explain the experience or feeling I had this morning when this verse came up as the verse of the day on the Youversion app. It was pretty special. It was familiar. It was comforting. It was reassuring and much more.

Itís an old friend. Itís on my verse list. Itís one Iíve prayed out loud over myself on the journey many times.

I’m a big fan of the Youversion app and it’s what keeps my daily reading of God’s Word on track with lots of powerful and encouraging devotions for all aspects of life. Highly recommended.

So I don’t normally blog about this kind of stuff, I save it for my personal journal. But today, it really spoke to me, especially in light of my Journey. Perhaps it will speak to you?

Anyway, this verse was part of today’s Youversion “Story“, which was prefaced by this:

Think of a difficult situation you recently faced. Today, let’s reflect on God’s promises for our hard seasons. Before beginning, take a deep breath.

Yeah, take a deep breath. Given everything that’s going on in the world these days I think that’s a great idea. Catch your breath, relax a little bit, let the tension go.

I think everyone has or will experience a “hard season”, the question is how will you handle it? Alone? (Generally not so good) With the help of friends and family? (better for sure!) With God? (the best IMHO).

For me personally there were two big takeaways.

The first is that “I (God) will be with you”. What an awesome promise that the God of the universe is with me when I’m going through difficult situations, and good situations too!

The other is the word “through”. I’m going “through” any and all hard seasons. Not stopping here but coming out the other side. It may be long. It may have many ups and downs but I’m going through and there is an end and the ending is good.

Thanks for reading.