Saturday, September 27, 2014

Pressed but not crushed

Some of you have been “in the loop” so to speak, and many of you have not really.  I wanted to give you a brief synopsis of some medical/health challenges that have recently been a part of our life, so that you can join us in prayer more specifically. 

A couple of years ago Stephanie suggested that I go in for a routine physical.  The standard blood tests revealed a low white blood cell count, and so my physician asked me to have a second test run.  I eventually got around to that, and again, had a low white count.  Last March when I was getting a prescription for malaria meds for Haiti, my doctor and I talked about my results and set up another test and an appointment with a blood specialist etc.  Long story short, I ended up having some more blood tests and eventually a bone marrow draw!  That was intense, but not as painful as you might imagine.

A few weeks after that we had this really terrible Doctor visit where the doctor told us she was concerned that I might have a pre-leukemic disease called Myelodysplastic Syndrome (MDS). (google "leukemia and MDS and you'll find it.)  She explained that MDS always becomes leukemia and told us the facts about how relatively unsuccessful bone marrow transplants are.  That was a hard day.  Although she considered me a definitive 'rare case' because of my age etc. she was preparing us for the worst.  "By the numbers" she said I might only have 10 years to live.  WOW!

I am extremely grateful that I had read John Piper and David Paulison's article titled "Don't Waste your Cancer" years ago!  Seriously!  Everybody should really read that article, because statistically, everyone's gonna have a doctor appointment like that at some point!  
Our kids knew I'd been getting tests and we had been told that leukemia was an option even before that day.  We came home and shared with our children that the doctor thought I might be on a slightly faster track to heaven than most daddy’s my age.  We read some scripture and tried to convey to them some of the intensity in a way that let them into what was going on but also wasn’t completely alarming or anything.   Together, we spoke of the reality of God’s goodness, sovereignty and love for us. 

In July I went to Columbia University to what is arguably the best MDS lab in the world.  There, my new Doctor –Dr. Raza checked me out and determined that at this point, I do not technically  have MDS.  She cannot conclude at this point that I have it, but, given the blood and marrow readings, it’s quite possible I am headed that way –but not  for sure.  That day was actually quite encouraging because my blood levels were actually normal!  Yeah!  I truly consider it all an answer to prayer.  My white blood cell count was in the normal healthy range for once! Praise God. 

I’m scheduled to visit Dr. Raza in New York city every two months now.  After conducting an expensive genetic screen they’ve determined that I’m in a grouping that’s slightly less likely to end up with MDS – Leukemia!  (I DON'T have a certain genetic deformity which virtually ensures you'll end up with MDS.)  And that's awesome!  But again; it is still a very real possibility that what we are looking at now is the early stages of this thing called MDS.

I rest knowing that Jesus is the good shepherd and my life –which James reminds us is a “vapor” is truly in the HIS hands.  Every day is a gift from HIM, and I want to live it for his glory and his purposes.  We have joy in the midst of trial because of who God is.  We rejoice in the Hope of the Glory of God. 

Not only that (as Paul continues in Romans 5:3-5) but we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not put us to shame, because God's love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us.  

Please pray for 1. Healing and Healthy blood!  2. Faith as we walk through the difficulty  3.  Wisdom. I want to know what the Lord has for me in all of this. 

How do I feel?  I feel perfectly normal.  I've never had any "symptoms."   I feel great.  There is literally nothing "physical" that seems noticeably compromised.  In fact, even though the White Blood Cell count is "low" the doctors have told me that my Immune System is technically healthy and fully functional.   

So what are we doing?  Praying.  Thanking Jesus for every day. Eating lots of Kale and all kinds of green stuff.   Trying to exercise more regularly and pretty much keepin on keepin on.   (Dr. Raza has given me a specific diet recommendation.)  

Read "Don't Waste Your Cancer" online here.

Check out Dr. Raza on youtube here

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