Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Tough As Leather

When I was in middle school, I was able to take my first shop class. One of the things we were taught was how to tool leather. We learned how to take leather and put designs in it and learned how to stitch them together. I really enjoyed making things and continued to do so through high school and even into college. I made wallets and even some belts for family and friends. I was good enough at it that a local western store offered me an opportunity to sell belts in their store, but I knew how long it took to make a good one and did not see where I could make enough to make any money at it. Besides, when you start selling your hobby, it becomes work.

I put the tools away after college, but they have been stored in a closet in every house we have lived in. When Shane was in middle school, he wanted to know how to tool leather. I had some scrap pieces of leather stored with the tools, and we broke them out. I started teaching him how to cut and stamp the leather. Also stored with the tools was a wallet kit, and I started tooling it but did not finish it up, and we eventually put it all back in the closet.

I decided that I would take all of Thanksgiving week off as vacation this year, and then I saw the weather forecast. We were expecting cold, damp and rainy weather, and I had planned to do things outside. What was I going to do? The unfinished wallet came to mind, and I decided to get it and my tools out once again. When I saw the leather back of the wallet, I could tell that it was dried out. It had been close to 10 years since I started that wallet, and it would need to be prepared properly before I would be able to tool it. In leather work, preparing a piece of leather for working is called casing. The way I learned to do it was by using a sponge to apply water to the leather to get it damp and then sealing in a plastic bag. This lets the pores of the leather open up, and the leather will get soft. Without casing, the tools would not leave their imprints in the leather, and it would be difficult to work with. Once the leather was cased, I was able to finish cutting and stamping the leather. I am not as good at it as I used to be, but the wallet is almost finished and ready for stitching.

As Christians, I think that sometimes we believe we are as tough as that dry piece of leather. God can't work with us like that, and we won't accept his imprint on our lives. We need to be cased before he can really work with us. That's where our trials come in. We tend to think that God has forsaken us, but often times, hard times are not the absence of God but His presence in our life. It is during these times that God is preparing us to leave His imprint on our lives.

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Random Thoughts and Camera Shots

As we rolled out of the clinic parking lot after my September scans, I told DeLayne, "I'm just tired of this." For three years now, I have been getting poked, examined, and run through every type of machine they have. The last two years have been pretty much non-stop. We had not taken a vacation in two years. I was in desperate need of a break.

We decided that since my October exam would just be lab and blood work, we would take all of the week off and go do some sightseeing. We hoped that the leaves would be changing, but this year, October was still too early for that. The plan was to not have a plan. We would just go where we wanted, when we wanted, and just try to relax. I took most of my camera gear and hoped that I would have ample time to just play with my camera and bone up on some techniques.

For me, most of the fun in playing with a camera is seeing the results. Digital cameras have made that so much easier and cheaper. In reviewing my photos, I noticed a few things and had some thoughts about what I had photographed. Here are some of my favorites and thoughts to go with them.

To try and get away from cancer-related places, I decided to make hotel reservations at a different hotel than where we usually stay in Fayetteville. The hotel we stayed in is a converted mill. The original mill was built before the Civil War, destroyed during the Civil War, rebuilt after the war, and then destroyed by fire. It was once again rebuilt and then finally restored and transformed into the lobby for the hotel. Here is a picture of it at night.


While taking the photo, I failed to notice the reflection of the water wheel in the pond. I only noticed the reflection when I was looking back through my photos. This is a lot like life. While we are going through our trials, we seldom notice all of the details. We only notice them once we take the time to review our travels.

One place we decided to go is the Dogwood Canyon Nature Park. This is a 10,000 acre privately-owned park. They have a paved trail that can be hiked or biked. We decided to walk the path, which is 6.5 miles round trip. This would give us lots of time to take pictures and just enjoy the scenery. I'll admit, there were several times I thought that I had bit off more than I could chew on the hike, but the scenery made it worth it. Here is a photo of the stream by which I took my chemo for the day. Just pretend the leaves are orange, yellow and red.


Now, I'll be honest and say that I had to Photoshop this picture to sharpen it up. The original was a little blurry because I forgot to do something that I know how to do. Back when I used to do a lot of photography, it was all pretty much instinct to set up the camera the way I wanted and pretty much get the results I wanted. Now that it has been awhile, I am out of the habit and did not get the results I wanted. That is like reading the Bible and praying. When you skip a day or two, you get out of the habit, and before long, you aren't getting the results you expected.

Once we got home, I noticed that the flowers around the house were enjoying the fall weather and had started blooming again. I have never done much macro work and decided to go play some more.


See the little honey bee? He is going in head first to perform the purpose he was designed to do--collect pollen. Sometimes to perform the purpose God designed you for, you have to be willing to go all in, head first.

This picture is for free. I don't know why, but I like it.


Finally, these little blue flowers are in our front flower bed.


All but the center of the flower is out of focus. This is like life to me. I have to remember Who is at the center of my life and keep Him there. When I do not keep Him in the center, everything else goes out of focus.



Sunday, September 29, 2013

No Evidence of Disease

I started taking LDK378 in mid-January and now, eight months later, my scans, again, show no evidence of disease. With the help of the doctors, the nurses, the radiologists, the medicine, and the grace of God for the second time in three years, we have been able to defeat the beast in my chest. The thing is that no man can anymore explain why I have had such a good response to the medicines as they can explain why I have lung cancer. I am just one of those people; I am not typical. It has given me much to think about.

For the past three years I have, on average, seen a doctor every three to four weeks. I have had scans or some other test every six to eight weeks. One thing I have noticed about fighting cancer: There is a lot of idle time. I tend to spend my idle time in the waiting rooms and during tests thinking. I want so desperately to find the answers and to understand the reasons we are traveling the road we are on. But I don't have any more of the answers than I did three years ago. I think about people we have met on this road and how many of them needed to be encouraged. Had it not been for my journey, I would not have been able to encourage them. Often times, the people who need some encouragement are the people who have come to treat me. The thought came to me that these people deal with and see so much death, that they need to see life sometimes.

There are times that I believe God is trying to teach me something through this experience. As I sit and think about these past three years, I am beginning to wonder, "Did God allow cancer to enter my body so that He could more fully teach me the depths of His love for me?" That's a real mind bender. Does God allow trials to enter our lives in order to bless us and others through those trials? All I know is that if I not had cancer, I would have missed so many blessings. Without cancer, I would not see God the way I see Him today.

Long before I had cancer, I had another deadly disease--sin. As I have contemplated beating cancer a second time, I am struck by the parallel between my physical battle and my spiritual condition. In much the same way that, thanks to the medicine, when the doctors look at me, they see no evidence of disease. Spiritually, because of the saving grace provided me by Jesus' death on the cross, when God looks at me, He sees no evidence of the disease of sin.

Sunday, July 14, 2013

God and Pickup Trucks

It has now been three years ago that my journey to beat lung cancer began. On July 5, 2010 is when my family doctor looked at my chest x-rays and observed that I still had pneumonia and referred me to the pulmonologist. Just twenty-five days later came the official diagnosis of lung cancer. In these last three years, I have learned a lot about God, Jesus, and myself. When I look back, I can clearly see where God has opened and closed doors as necessary and carried me when I needed it most. He has truly been involved in the biggest moments of my battle. But what about the small and not so large areas of my life? Does God really care about what I drive to work each day?

My Avalanche was getting a little long in the tooth, as they say. I had had it for ten years, and it had been a good truck. However, I was beginning to have the feeling that I was rolling on borrowed time. The Blue Book value had dropped low enough that, if I had to have it repaired, the cost could easily be twenty-five percent of the value of the truck, and I would never get that money back. I also thought that it would be good to have another vehicle to drive to Fayetteville and stop racking up the miles on DeLayne's car. Since I was not in a rush to buy anything, I felt like now would be a good time to start looking. I started doing my research and looking at used trucks on the dealer web pages to see what was available and for how much.

I found a 2012 truck on a dealer lot in Frisco and decided to stop after church on Sunday to check it out. When we stopped there after church, I found two trucks that would fit my needs. I knew it would be mid-week before I would be able to go test drive them, so on Tuesday I sent an e-mail to their internet manager and arranged test drives for Wednesday evening. On Wednesday evening, we drove over to the dealership for our scheduled test drives--only to find out, once we arrived, that the guy we were to see was on vacation and one of the trucks had been sent for recall repair work. I will just say that things went down hill from there. This dealership did nothing to improve the image of the stereotypical used-car salesman. After we left that dealership, we dropped by another dealership just to see what they had. They had one truck like I wanted and we drove it, but as I told them, I just wasn't ready to buy that night and had other trucks I wanted to look at. After we got home Wednesday evening, I was feeling like I should just stick with my old truck, but as I lay in bed, I just asked God that if it was time to buy a new truck that he would direct us to the one for us.

Thursday, July fourth, I looked at more web pages of dealers down in Richardson and along I-75 in Dallas. I found one truck worth looking at and we drove down. Once we got to the dealership, DeLayne noticed some damage on the truck bed, and we found where the back of the truck was also damaged. I lost interest really quick and told the salesman that I was not going to pay that much for a damaged truck. We got back in the Avalanche and just started heading down 75 toward Dallas to look in other car lots. When we got to one dealership, I said to DeLayne, "I forgot about these guys," and out of the corner of my eye, I saw two Chevy trucks on the lot. We pulled in and were met by a salesman as we got out. I told him that I wanted to look at the used trucks, and we started walking toward them. When we reached the Chevys, he said, "Here is a 2013 with just 5500 miles on it." We looked it over and liked what we saw, and I asked if we could take it for a drive. He said he would go get the keys. While he went to get the keys, DeLayne and I discussed the deal that we would try and get and what we wanted the bottom-line number to be. After the test drive, I asked the salesman to work up a deal for us to look at and still saying that I was not sure I was ready to buy. He took the keys to my truck for them to do an appraisal, and I thought, "Oh boy, now the fun begins." After about fifteen minutes, he returned with a completed deal sheet and went through it. When he told us the bottom line number, I about fell out of the chair. Their initial offer was within $57 of where we wanted to be. He asked, "What do you think about that?" I wanted to say, "Sold!" but responded with, "You are really close to where I want to be." I quickly decided to see what would happen if I were to use one of the old car sales tactics on them, shaved $557 off of their number, and told him I would buy the truck that day, if they hit that number, including tax/title/license. He walked away and came back in five minutes and said, "Chris, you just bought a truck."

As it turns out, the truck I bought was only two months old. The original owner had bit off more than he could chew on the payments and traded it for a less expensive car. The truck is much nicer than the first truck we had looked at, and the final deal was much better than we expected--it was less than the quote we had been given for two 2011 trucks with almost 26,000 miles on them! I have stopped believing in coincidence a long time ago and believe that God was just as involved in this as He is in my fight against cancer. I believe it so much that I have nicknamed my new truck The Miracle Truck. God cares about every detail of our lives and wants better for us than we can imagine; even when it comes to what we drive to work.

Tuesday, April 30, 2013

When Dreams Intersect

May of 2011 seems so far away right now, but that is when I first told you about Chad's dreams of racing bicycles professionally. If you have not read it or need a refresher, you can find it here: Chasing Dreams.

Chad raced much of 2011 on an Elite Amateur team out of Ft. Collins, Colorado, and had considerable success. The Kelley Benefits team liked what they were seeing and signed Chad for the remainder of the 2011 season. He rewarded them by finishing third overall in his first stage race with them. The team later re-branded to Optum Pro Cycling, and Chad signed with them for the 2012 season. His dream of being a professional cyclist was coming true.

Chad started 2012 with high expectations of himself. However, he returned from races in Uruguay and Guatemala sick and having to fight off illnesses that prevented him from racing. He also was involved in multiple crashes and injured his knee in a race in Canada that needed time to heal. He finally recovered from his illnesses and injuries and was getting into late-season form. Then in July, he was entered in a stage race in Bend, Oregon. We received his call on Tuesday evening just after completing the prologue, a short time trial. He had won and would start the next day in the leader's yellow jersey--his first while on a pro team. Wednesday evening he called to tell us that he had been involved in another crash and had injured both his wrists. They thought that they were just sprained but were on the way to the hospital for x-rays. Just a couple of hours later we got the follow-up call: his right thumb and left wrist were broken, and both would require surgery. He was deflated and heart broken. His season was over.

The team made arrangements to have him flown back to Dallas on Thursday. His mother was able to make an appointment with a hand specialist for early Friday morning. We picked Chad up at DFW around midnight. After a few hours' sleep, we were on the way to the doctor's office. The doctor confirmed that surgery would be required to repair the injuries. By noon Friday, Chad was in surgery. They placed a screw in his left wrist and several pins in his right thumb. I was leaning on the bed rail when he started to wake up after surgery. He looked at me and said, "I was going to win that race." The only words of wisdom I could offer were, "Sometimes, life just sucks."

It would be at least six weeks before Chad would be cleared to ride on the road again, and he decided to stay at home to recuperate. Although he could not ride on the road, he could still ride on a trainer, and that's what he did. With his TT bike secured to a trainer, he rode with his elbows resting on the handle bars. I could tell he was working out his frustrations upstairs because the house would shake with the vibrations from the trainer. Having had to go through struggles myself was hard, but watching Chad have to go through his struggle was harder. I began to wonder if I had offered him good advice to pursue his dream and wondering if his dream was coming to an end. Optum reassured Chad that they wanted him back for 2013, and just a few weeks later, Chad was fitted with braces that would allow him to begin riding on the road again, but he would do no more road races in 2012. He returned to Colorado to resume his training and to start preparing for 2013.

While all of this was going on with Chad, I was still in the clinical trial for Crizotinib. The drug had been highly effective at stopping my lung cancer, and I had been on the drug for twenty-two months. I was beginning to dream of the day that God would completely remove this disease from my life. But just before Christmas, my CT scan showed signs that the cancer was returning, but they were inconclusive. A PET scan and biopsy would be scheduled for my next appointment in January.

Both boys were home for Christmas, and we did our best to ignore the latest report. But in January, there I was, going through those blasted tests again. The PET scan confirmed increased cancer activity, but we would wait on on the biopsy pathology report to confirm cancer had returned. We discussed with the doctor other treatment options. DeLayne and I had prayed that God would direct the path that we should take by closing the door to options that were not the right choice at this time and open the door to the trial He wanted me in. The most promising drug was LDK378, but it had just completed the Phase I trials, and no one had the Phase II trial open yet. There was another drug, HSP90, that was showing some promise. The closest place we were able to find it available was in a clinic in Fayetteville, Arkansas. My doctor made the call to refer me to the Highlands Oncology Group in Fayetteville. That evening after the biopsy, I was, once again, sick and in the ER. I was admitted to the hospital for several days. I was finally dismissed from the hospital on Sunday afternoon, and we started for home Monday morning. I received a call from the clinic in Fayetteville, while we were stopped for lunch. The clinical trial nurse was just wanting to touch base and give us her contact information in case the pathology report came back positive for cancer. I asked to confirm that this was for the HSP90 trial, and the nurse responded, "No, that trial just closed, and this is for the LDK378 trial we just opened."

We got the news that the pathology report came back positive on Tuesday morning. Chad had just left for Colorado to try and beat the nasty winter storm about to hit Dallas. I found myself having to fight back tears as I made the calls to the boys to tell them the fight was on again. The next call I made was to the nurse in Fayetteville. Two hours later, the clinic called back, and my first appointments were scheduled for the following week. God was clearly opening the door to Fayetteville, but why, of all the clinics in the U.S. that were trying to open the trial, was this little clinic first?

I was accepted in the trial, and just two weeks later became the first patient in the United States to begin taking LDK378 as part of the Phase II trial. The scans completed at my eight week follow-up showed that the drug was working, and the cancer activity was significantly reduced. My dream of beating cancer was on again. We called the boys to tell them the good news. While talking to Chad, we told him my next appointment would be the week of April 22nd. He said that if we could hang around a couple of days after the appointment that he would be in Fayetteville for the Joe Martin Stage Race. Since we had not seen him since January, and we had never seen him race in person with a pro team, we decided to stay.

2013 started with a bang for Chad, seeing success in early races and finishing second overall in a stage race in Portugal--his first European race. He returned from Portugal and then won the yellow leader's jersey in the individual time trial in the Redland's Classic in California. He held on to the yellow jersey until the final stage. He then had a couple of weeks to recover before heading for Arkansas.

There we were in Devil's Den State Park the day after my doctor's appointment. We were there to see Stage 1. A short 2.8-mile uphill time trial that would take the pros just barely over 8 minutes to finish. After all was said and done, Chad found himself in second place--behind by just two seconds and ahead of third place by five seconds.

While Stage 1 had been completed in almost perfect weather, Stage 2 would be an incredible 110 miles in nasty, cold, drizzly, damp, and windy conditions. The group mainly stayed together, but once they hit downtown Fayetteville, Chad's team put in an amazing pull at the front to deliver their sprinter to the finish. Their acceleration was so sudden, it created a split in the field. Their effort fell just short with their sprinter finishing second, but unbeknownst to them was that the yellow jersey race leader did not make the split. The team decided to ride back to the hotel, and we caught a ride back in the team van. On the way back to the hotel, phones started to ring. The team director was looking for Chad; he was now the race leader, and they needed him back downtown for the yellow jersey presentation.

Chad would start Stage 3, a 114-mile circuit race, in the yellow jersey. His second of the season. It was once again going to be horrible, cold, damp, and very foggy weather to race in. Since it was a circuit race, the team director worked out a plan for DeLayne and me to get a lap each in the team car. For me, it was a blast. For DeLayne, it was exciting, yet terrifying. It really was one of the most fun things I have done in awhile. To see what these athletes put themselves through and see the team working together was just amazing. Chad's team did their job protecting him, and he played it cool waiting for the rider in second place to make his move. When he made his move, Chad was still strong enough to go with him, and they would finish the day with the same time. The team had successfully defended the yellow jersey, and Chad would start the final stage in yellow.

Stage 4 would be an 85-minute crit in downtown Fayetteville. Sunday was a bright, sunny day. The weather was the complete opposite from the last two days. Chad would start the day in yellow, just five seconds ahead of Francisco Mancebo who was still in second place overall--the rider who had beaten him out of the yellow jersey on the final day just a couple of weeks earlier. The Optum guys started the stage out strong, controlling the front of the main group and keeping Chad out of trouble. A small group of riders was allowed to get a break that went out to 45 seconds at one point, but Chad's teammates kept them in sight and slowly began to bring them back. With just two laps to go, the break was down to 15 seconds, and Chad was still close to the front. On the final lap, the group was all together with Mancebo ahead of him, and it was up to Chad to not let a gap form between him and Mancebo. Chad and his team did their jobs and successfully defended the yellow jersey. Chad had just won the Joe Martin Stage race, his first National Racing Calender win.



After seeing Chad cross the finish line, I let out a big yell, saw his team director, and gave him a hug. I then started toward the team van where I knew Chad would be. Chad caught up to me about half-way there. He gave me a big hug and said, "That was for you. I love you and am so glad you are here to see it." Then I knew that there, in downtown Fayetteville, God had allowed our dreams to intersect. He is a pro cyclist and, if even for just that moment, I was healed of cancer.




Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Put Me in Coach

I love baseball. I have loved the game since I was six years old, and baseball was the first sport that I was allowed to play. Back then, T-ball and coach pitch had not been invented, so we played baseball just like the big boys. Some of my earliest memories revolve around baseball. To this day, I can still remember my first real hit and how the ball shot off my bat into left field. I think the movie Sandlot is loosely based on my childhood, because that was how we spent our summers. From sun up to sun down, we played baseball.

When Shane was home for spring break from college, we found some spare time to play catch in the backyard. We have not been able to play catch for a long time. I found that I still love the feel of the glove on my hand, the way the laces of the ball feel as they roll off of my finger tips, and how the ball feels as it pops the glove. I love the smell of the leather and the sound the ball makes when it lands squarely in the pocket of the glove. A game of catch can bring back some good memories.

In the early 1990's, John Fogerty released the song Centerfield. This is one of the greatest baseball songs of all time. The lyrics, "Put me in, Coach, I'm ready to play today" remind me of my more youthful days. That is how I approached every game, even the ones in the T-shirt league. I was ready to play when I got there. My coaches never had to ask if I was ready to play.

To me, fighting cancer is like the game of baseball; I have to get up every morning ready to play. There are no off days. Even in the clinics and doctors' offices, I have to be ready. I am constantly meeting hurting people with and without cancer, and I have to be ready to tell my story and the hope that I have in Jesus. Maybe, just maybe, cancer is the way God has of putting me in the game.

Just think how different life could be if we Christians would love hurting people more often. Could we make a difference if, every morning, we woke up and said, "Put me in coach, I'm ready to play today?"

Saturday, February 9, 2013

Armor Fitting

We all know the story about David and Goliath. It is the story that inspires us to go out, not be afraid to take on the big guy, and not shy away from our biggest problems. However, there is a part of the story that gets skipped over that has helped me bring my fight against cancer into a new light.

After Goliath has once again challenged the Israelites to send out their best warrior to fight him and David hears him, he goes to King Saul's tent to tell the king that he will fight Goliath. King Saul sees David standing there in his shepherding clothes and decides to give David his armor. Once the armor is placed on him, David tries to walk and realizes that the armor is not fitted for him, and he is unable to even walk. David decides that the best battle plan is to fight Goliath with his slingshot, five smooth stones, and his faith.

King Saul's armor would never have worked for David, and he would have failed, if he tried to use it.

In rereading this story, I can see that God has uniquely fitted me with armor for my battle against cancer. The past few weeks, I have received multiple comments about my attitude and how I am choosing to go through this battle. My only response is that that is just the way I am. I don't know any other way to do it. Trying to fight this cancer the way someone else has fought their cancer just will not work for me. My trying to fight cancer the way someone else has would be like David trying to wear Saul's armor. I just would not be able to walk this road.

How many times have we heard inspirational stories from people and then gone out on the mission we think God has for us, only to fail? We can gain inspiration from other people, but we cannot put on their faith or armor to fight our battles. Their armor is not fitted for us. God knows the plans He has for us and the battles that we will face; He will fit each of us for those battles with the armor that He knows we will need.

Sunday, January 27, 2013

Grapefruit

I really don't remember when I first began enjoying grapefruit for breakfast. I have an early childhood memory, perhaps early grade-school age, of seeing my dad eating grapefruit one Sunday morning at breakfast. I tried a piece and liked it. From then on, for Sunday morning breakfast, my dad and I would share a grapefruit. The rest is history, and I have continued to enjoy grapefruit at breakfast.

Why the sudden memory of grapefruit? Well, for the past twenty-two months, I have not been allowed to eat grapefruit because of the cancer medicine. This is one of the weird things about grapefruit. For some reason, it can affect the way the medicine is metabolized in the body. The day after beginning taking the medicine, we went down to the breakfast buffet, and there they were: grapefruit halves. I was really tempted, but turned my back and have not really thought about eating a grapefruit for these last twenty-two months. That is, until last week.

Once we knew the medicine was no longer working and started making preparations to begin the new clinical trial, I was taken off all of the cancer medicine to begin a clean out for seven to ten days. I have to do this before I can start the new medicine. Given the opportunity, I decided that I wanted grapefruit for breakfast, and for the past few days, grapefruit has been restored to my breakfast. I have already been told that once I begin the new medicine that grapefruit will, once again, be off the menu. So, I have to enjoy it while I can.

In an odd kind of way, these past few days, I have gotten just a small part of my pre-cancer life back. Even though, right now, we know that the cancer has returned, I still believe that in time, just like the grapefruit, God is going to restore the years that the cancer has taken.

Saturday, January 12, 2013

Mountain Tops and Valleys

On my journey to beat lung cancer, I have learned that not only are there bends in the roads, but also ups and downs. I have taken to calling the "ups" mountain tops and the "downs" are the valleys.

Mountain tops are the good days. Those are the days when you can see what you have and focus on that, instead of what you need. Mountain tops are addictive, and I fight like crazy to get to them and fight even harder to stay. The past two years, I have been able to enjoy more mountain tops than valleys. There is no way to go from mountain top to mountain top without passing through a valley. I have forgotten just how fast, rocky, and treacherous the descent into a valley can be.

Now here I am again in a valley. New spots on my lung and in the hospital with pneumonia. Hitting the bottom hurt, and from where I sit, all I can see are shear, jagged cliffs. I don't see an easy path to begin climbing back to the mountain top. I know that, eventually, I will get up, dust myself off, and start walking the road that is in front of me. I know one of two things will happen: I will either find the path back to the top, or I will find the rich lush part of the valley where the river that brings living water and nourishes the valley flows. There, too, I will be nourished and grow.

I am beginning to believe that God does not intend for me to climb my way out of every valley. Sometimes the best way is to learn to grow my way out of the valley.

Sunday, January 6, 2013

Picking Up Bread Crumbs

At my last visit to MD Anderson, we learned that my CT scan showed a suspicious spot on my right lung that is indicative of a new tumor. The doctors are unsure at this point if it is cancer but felt that the best approach would be to have a PET scan at my next appointment to determine if it is indeed cancer again. If the spot is determined to be cancer, that will mean that the cancer has found a way around the inhibitor drug that I have been taking for the past twenty-two months.

We were told from the beginning that there were no assurances of how long the medicine would work. But I have done my best to push those thoughts out of my mind. Beating lung cancer once is hard enough; beating it twice would just be harder. When you are fighting cancer, you just think about today and not what you may have to face tomorrow. However, now I have to begin thinking about what may lie ahead: Is there another bend in the road in this journey to beat cancer?

In trying to look ahead, I have been looking more backward than forward. I keep replaying these past two and a half years over in my mind. They have been nothing short of an incredible miracle. I have taken the medicine for twice as long as the average patient in any of the trials. I have done things that have the doctors shaking their heads and saying things like, "you are not typical."

As good as all of that is, there is part of me that feels like I have missed something. I am beginning to feel like the disciples must have felt in John chapter 6. Jesus had just performed an incredible miracle by feeding over 5,000 people with five loaves of bread and two small fish. Once everyone was fed and satisfied, Jesus told the disciples to go pick up the leftovers. He told them to let nothing go to waste. I don't think Jesus was only talking about the food. I think Jesus wanted them to see with just how much abundance He had met their needs. He wanted them to believe that they could depend on Him for their very basic needs.

So, as I have been going back through these past two and a half years picking up the bread crumbs, there is one thing that I am seeing consistently. Jesus has been far ahead of us the whole time. He has known from the beginning what was to come and laid the stones that we would walk on. He already knows what the results of the PET scan will be and is already preparing the path we will take.

O God, Our Help in Ages Past

O God our help in ages past,
Our hope for years to come,
Be Thou our guide while life shall last,
And our eternal home.