Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Thyroid Biopsy

Laura will have a fine needle biopsy administered tomorrow morning.  Looks like it will be a long morning undergoing what we thought would be a simple procedure.  Appears to be a little more complicated then what we anticipated. 

Pray for peace for her as she undergoes the procedure.  She is a little nervous about the uncertainty of the process. 
I realized the night we found out Laura had cancer that I was going to need some guidance in how we would walk through this. 

We were at a hotel in Lexington, Ky.  I was sitting on the bed in one room with Laura, and outside our door in the other room were our four kids. 

Fully aware that the cancer news was going to impact us all I decided to find a resource that might provide insight.   

I knew it would be a matter of days before we would walk into a surgeons office, and discover the scope of the cancer.  As a result life was about to get rearranged.  In addition to all of that, I had a 12, 10, 8, and 3 year-old that would need a bit of insight as well. 

I came across Marc Silver's book on Amazon.  I spent a little time looking at the reviews and purchased it that night for my Kindle.  It took me just a couple days to read it and what I discovered was tremendous insight for dealing with the bulk of the matters we have faced, and are going to face. 

You need this book if you are a husband who has a wife with breast cancer, and you are just beginning this journey.   I have always said that when you are in the midst of a crisis you need others to guide you through it.  Silver's book provides some of that clarity you will be looking for. 

Monday, November 28, 2011

Round One!

Laura started her chemotherapy this past Tuesday.  She has three more infusions which will take place every third week.  December 12th will be our next round.  Once she has completed these four rounds she will then have one injection for twelve weeks.  This should get us pretty close to May where there will be a slight resting period before the surgery.

The wait is still on for the biopsy results from the D and C that was performed a week ago last Friday.

The first round of chemotherapy was completed avoiding a great deal of complications.  Laura was tired most of the week.   She spent a lot of time in her pajamas, but was able to enjoy most of each day.  The nausea medication served its purpose and kept the edge off a bit.

We were reflecting that in one week she had surgery to put the port in, as well as a D and C.  She started chemotherapy, along with throwing a birthday party for Lydia, Thanksgiving at our home on Thursday, and a birthday party for Bella on Friday.  We also managed to get the Christmas tree and make an effort to put it up on Saturday.  It was too full of a week. 

Going to church on Sunday provided her with an added boost of energy from all the encouragement she received.  We are so blessed to be a part of such a great church.  Pathway has surrounded us with so much prayer and support.  It was great sitting with my wife, singing a few songs, and being inspired by the Word.  So rich.

Sunday afternoon a great deal of cramping set in.  Do you know there is a significant difference between stool softeners and laxatives?   If anyone ever needs to know the difference - simply give me a call.  I became somewhat of an expert in just a few short hours.  It really does make a difference how things come out in the end.  Ha!

Tomorrow we will make a final wig shopping run and without a doubt make a purchase.  I am not looking forward to the day when all her hair disappears, but I also know that my emotions pale in comparison to Laura's.  It simply will be another hurdle that we will get across - and cross together as a couple and a family.

On Wednesday she will have a fine needle biopsy to determine if a nodule on her thyroid is cancerous.  I have no doubt that she is at her limit begin poked.  My prayer is that we are at the end of the discovery phase. 

In this journey I am finding my eyes becoming so wide open to who my wife is.   I have always appreciated everything Laura has done to make the home function.  She is like so many moms who manage the order, keep the kids moving, and attempt to remain sane.  In addition, Laura has provided the oversight to their education, which does add a little more of a burden to the plate.

She is walking through this with such grace.  Her faithful witness before our kids is an education many little ones would never receive, and we have no doubt it's all for a reason.  She is diving into her bible every day - if not several times a day, and I can't wait to sneak a peek or two of what she is writing in her journal.   God's Word is even more alive and more active in such times like these. 

I have sensed the kids have felt a little disjointed these past few weeks.  We are working to reestablish a daily pattern and get life back to a normal routine.   What I have learned rather quickly is that I fully understand why God gave a man a work to do!  Enough said about that.  

We are trusting and doing our best not to allow "cancer" to consume us.  Laura's circle of friends is expanding and our hearts and eyes have become much more open to those who are on this journey with us, especially the families who are battling cancer as well.

One of those individuals is Devon Grabaski.  He is ten-years old and his dad Mike and mom Debra attend PCC.  Devon had a cancerous brain turmor removed several weeks ago.  He came to church Saturday night and I was blown away by his faith and strength.  Devon starts his first round of chemo tomorrow and I would like you to pray for him as well as encourage him.  His Caring Bride site is: http://www.caringbridge.org/visit/devongrobaski

Go to it.  Write him a short note and let him know you are standing in the gap for him.

My nose is in the book of Ruth preparing to teach this weekend.  Again, the Word of God speaks with such conviction and clearly conveys that we serve a God who is fully engaged in every step of our life.  I am thankful His arms are strong enough, and hands are big enough to handle it all.

Ron - Isaiah 40:10-11

Thursday, November 24, 2011



Thankful today to our Lord for taking us on a journey of deepening our faith and trust in Him. He holds true to His promises. We are experiencing daily the peace that He has so graciously poured out through His presence, power, and people who have surrounded us during this part of our journey.

"Taste and see that the Lord is good; blessed is the one who takes refuge in Him." Ps. 34:8

Thankful today for how Bella is being used to increase our level of patience.  She is truly all consuming.  We are so grateful for the constant reminder of God's love for rescuing us as orphans and adopting us as His own. 

Thankful today for Sophia who is demonstrating to us how a sensitive faith reveals itself in hardship.

Thankful today for Lydia who turned 10 on Monday and shows us how to live life with spontaneity and full surrender.

Thankful today for the manner in which Dawson reflects tenderness and kindness to his mom in dad. 

Thankful today for my wife who lives what she says she believes.  She is demonstrating daily a deep and abiding faith in Jesus Christ with determination and conviction.    

Tuesday, November 22, 2011


11/22/11 : There’s a great line in Joshua that I came so close to teaching on this past Sunday.  It’s one of those lines in Scripture that speaks volumes especially when you are walking through the battle.

Joshua had conquered Jericho as well as the Northern and Southern kingdoms.  Thirty-one kings in all were defeated and I’m certain that the people of Israel felt great jubilation as well as exhaustion.  It’s then that Scripture records this one line: 

“Then the land had rest from war.” (Josh. 11:23) 

We learned at the onset of Laura’s diagnosis that the word “cancer” brings with it great emotion.  No matter how anchored you are there are certain words in this world that have the ability to shake you up.  Such words are disturbing, frightening, confusing and create inner turmoil.  They present you with uncertainty about the future and leave you spinning and at times feeling out of control. 

You find yourself suddenly in an unexpected battle with a known enemy, but the movement of where it’s advancing is so unclear. 

As a result you end up walking down roads that have not yet been created.  You begin to question, ponder and at times draw conclusions that may or may not transpire. You awfulize the future, and if you are not careful you end up becoming consumed with the unknown. 

Pastor Stan Buck who leads Sunrise at Aboite is walking through his own cancer battle with brain cancer.  He along with his family have been confronting their conflict with a deep seeded conviction and trust in the Lord.  He said something that Laura and I are holding onto these days. 

Cancer is a small “c”, but Christ is the capital “C”. 

In other words, the person, power, promises and presence of Christ trumps everything else.  Christ gives us hope and Christ leads us to, into and through the battles we fight.  He does not abandon us.  He does go before us.  He does fight for us.  He is there to intercede on our behalf and He leads us.  His words give us perspective and keeps us grounded.  The hope we have is anchored in Him and Him alone. 

Yesterday we went wig hunting. Several days back I thought it would be an emotional moment for us, but it wasn’t.  We made it a family experience, which allowed the kids the chance to vote their preference – and they did.  Together we came to the same conclusion of what looked great on Laura. 

As a dad I was so proud of my family yesterday.  We joked a bit about the wig and laughed a little.  I don’t know what Laura was feeling, but I felt a tinge of sadness.  Yet, there was a level of comfort about the moment for all of us.  They kids encouraged her and their optimism inspired us a bit.  Overall, it was a good day. 

We also had Laura’s ultrasound on her Thyroid yesterday.  I’m no radiologist so I’ll hold my thoughts on what I saw.  We both know there is something, but right now our concern and focus is on the breast cancer.  The Lord will guide us through that battle if it even exists. 

Today we walk through that unknown front of chemotherapy. 

We both slept with a sense of peace last night.  As a family we huddled in our bed last night and reflected on the story of Ruth.  We talked a bit about the way God provides for us.  Lydia prayed for mom and the chemo this morning that she would not get sick, but most of all she prayed for the Lord to heal her. 

Life is a series of battles: One battle after another.

Each day we seem to be finding a new and brighter perspective.  We are discovering peace in a profound way as well as the strength of Christ’s sufficient grace.  God is giving us rest.

We know that one day there will be “rest” in the land. 

Brad Krupp sent me a great note this morning laced with some incredible truth to hang onto this day.  He is leading our men’s group on Saturday mornings through Louie Giglio's Passion talks and he shared a few of his notes from the past few week's series on Hope.

When trouble comes, our anchor is the cross.  At the cross, God loves us most (1Jn4:7-12). At the cross, God shows us He always maintains control. At the cross, God shows us that He can use the worst for eternal good. At the cross, God shows us that He paints on a canvas bigger than we can see or understand (things didn't look so hot on Good Friday).  At the cross, God understands our pain.

When trouble comes, we are handed a megaphone.  We speak loudest to the world when we suffer, just as God spoke loudest at the cross. It is a megaphone for what we believe. Suffering is your servant, not you a servant of it.

What a great truth to hang onto today as we venture into our new front.

Friday, November 18, 2011

Guest Writer

This is Laura and I am hacking into my husband's blog!  Shhhh don't tell any one!  This morning I had my port put in and a D&C.  Everything went well and I am at home recovering today.  Life is good when your husband makes you lunch and your kids work on their school work around your bed!

Isaiah 40:31  "but those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength.  They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not faint."

Thanks so much for your prayers.  Day by day, trusting God,  Laura

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Next Steps For Laura

Laura will have her port put in on Friday morning along with a D and C.  We are both ready to get moving with the next steps of her care and plan.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Facing Our Storm

11/15/11 – This was my last weekend on vacation from PCC so as a family we ventured out to a church north of FW that is led by a good friend.  We found ourselves engaged in the worship and listening intently to the message.

As always Laura took copious notes detailing every verse referenced and grabbing hold of those nuggets of truth designed to carry her through the day. 

We were both reminded in Luke 6:46-49 of the importance of building a strong and firm foundation so that when the storms come the house will stand. 

“”Why do you call me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ and do not do what I say?  I will show you what he is like who comes to me and hears my words and puts them into practice.  He is like a man building a house, who dug down deep and laid the foundation of rock.  When a flood came, the torrent struck that house but could not shake it, because it was well built.  But the one who hears my words and does not put them into practice is like a man who built a house on the ground without a foundation.  The moment the torrent struck that house, it collapsed and its destruction was complete.”

Certainly our storm is upon us, and we are determined that the house will stand and the foundation will become even stronger through this. 

Over the years we have worked diligently both independently as well as a couple to build on a solid foundation.  Our marriage has been based on a covenant and not a contract.  We both committed to love, cherish, honor, remain faithful in richer or poorer, in sickness and in health, and to death do we part.  Neither one of us have ever questioned our vows or made light of them.  If anything, I believe we have worked extremely hard to honor our promises, and the cancer does not minimize our commitment, if anything it reinforces such promises. 

There have been some difficult times these past seventeen years when God took us through the fire to test us and refine us.  Some of those moments have revolved around ministry challenges, relational difficulties, or conflict.  We walked through some years of battling infertility, as well as the three-year wait for our China adoption process with Bella.  Each one of those events in our lives became opportunities for God to demonstrate the depth of His promises and character to us.  He has been faithful each step of the way. 

Now we face cancer and the battle does not include just Laura and I.  Our kids are very much a part of this battle.  They pray for mom’s healing.  Tonight they prayed for the doctors who are caring for mom, as well as the upcoming surgeries.  Together we prayed that we would not grow distant from God, but that He would use this to take us deeper and reveal the depth of His character to each one of us. 

Laura and I long to see our kids deeply impacted not only by our example, but also the example of those walking closely with us.  We want them to see the beauty of the church coming alive before their eyes.  We pray they will grow in their faith and understanding of the goodness of God in the midst of our suffering.  In no way do we want them to turn bitter, but for all of us to become better as a result of this. 

Our intent is for them to grapple with this. 

We are doing our best to field their challenging questions and we both know that once treatments begin and surgeries commence that the physical evidence of the cancer will become evident to them all.  This will be the time when the storm will potentially gain momentum and our home might feel a little more shaken.  We have no doubt deeper questions will surface, and as they do we are going to work extremely hard to drive our three inquisitive minds back to the truth of God’s Word and His Character. 

The cancer is compelling us (Laura and I) to go deeper in our faith in Christ.  It is not pushing us away or causing us to distance ourselves from Him. 

We are praying and longing for our children to experience the same.  So we are giving room for questions.  We are openly asking what each one of us are praying for as it relates to Laura and our family. Finally, we are praying opening and boldly that God would reveal Himself by addressing our prayers. 

Today was a great example of how this all come to fruition. 

I have not been to the office in three weeks and today we ventured into our all staff meeting.  Our leadership team is so strong at PCC and the depth of concern has impacted Laura and I deeply.  We brought the three oldest kids with us (Bella is so strongly opinionated these days that we felt it was best to find a safe place for her to play for a few hours – “thanks Jana Beck!”.)

Gordan facilitated the time by leading us in worship and then gathering the entire staff around us.  He directed the prayer time by placing a little oil on each of our heads.  When he came to Laura he was having a bit of a challenge getting the oil out of the small bottle he was using.   He shook it a bit resulting in most of the oil making its way onto Sophia’s arm and leg.   Her little arm was covered in oil!  It provided a very funny moment for all of us, and cut the edge a bit. 

Gordon did a fantastic job explaining that there is nothing magical in the oil for the kids, but that the Bible instructs those who are sick to allow the body of Christ to come around them, lay hands on them, anoint them with oil and pray. 

It was truly a tender time for all of us as the staff began to pray over each one of the kids by name and then Laura and I.  I have no doubt it etched a beautiful picture of the body of Christ in action in the minds of Dawson, Lydia and Sophia.   They will remember this moment forever, and the way in which God enters into our storms by surrounding us with those who deeply love and care for us. 

See, I am learning through this that when you come to God you have to take ALL of who He is and what He promises to do in our lives.  This includes storms that do come our way.  Storms not to destroy us, but to strengthen us.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

The Next Course

We had our consult on Monday at IU Med.  The doctor was exceptional with Laura.  She did a biopsy on her lymph nodes and found that 2 maybe 3 had cancer.  The Pet Scan also lights up on her thyroid, but we are not making that the focus of the plan at this point.  It will have to biopsied in the near future.  If the thyroid has cancer it is unrelated to the breast cancer. 

The tumor is large - and the doctor believed that the best course of action is to do chemo first.  The purpose is to see if we can get the tumor reduced in size as well as see if the chemo is in fact working by looking more closely at the lymph nodes in question.  (Most women have the cancer and lymph-nodes removed and then start chemo, which leaves in question if the chemo is working.  By going this route first we are able to attack the cancer as well as any possible cells that have moved to other parts of her body.)

We met with our oncologist Tuesday and Laura will have a port placed in next week by our surgeon so she can begin the chemo.  

Laura will have surgery in the near future which will include a complete mastectomy with lymph nodes removed as well.  It will be followed up by reconstruction. 

We had a quiet and long drive home from, but the Lord continues to show us that we have met with the right people who have directed us to the right process of finding out good information.

We loved on our kids a bunch and we are ready to fight the battle that lies ahead.

  • Pray that the chemo will do its job of attacking the cancer.
  • Pray for Laura's body that it would not respond too negatively to the chemo.
  • Pray for our kids as they begin to watch mom change a bit.  We are praying that God will use this hard time to strengthen their faith in Him as well as develop a deeper love and appreciation for each other. 
  • Pray for Laura's complete healing.  We have a God who can and who does do mighty things.
  • Pray that Laura and I will learn all the Lord wants to teach us through this journey.  We are holding on tight to His presence and promises.  We know He is leading and guiding and taking us through this so that our character will be refined to look a little bit more like Him. 

My intention is to finish off my vacation this week and then for us to see how the first round of chemo goes.  I am fully committed to walk with Laura through each phase of this including being present at every chemo and doctor appointment. 

Today Laura held onto Deut. 31:8 - "The Lord himself goes before you and will be with you.  He will never leave you or forsake you.  Do not be afraid.  Do not be discouraged." 

We are holding fast to the goodness of our Lord.

Ron and Laura

God Walks Before Us

11/10/11: Yesterday morning we sat down with the kids for a little family devotional time.  My intention is to gather as a family on a daily basis to go over what lies ahead for the day, discuss assignments, remind them of chores, but most important to drive their hearts back into the Word.  Laura and I want our kids to grab hold fast to the truth and embrace the fullness of God’s promises. 

We both know that this is an extremely difficult time for all of us.  The two of us are grieving in our own private ways as well as what we are embracing together.  Our kids are also going through this, and each in their own way. 

Dawson is quiet in his expressions.  His questions are out of concern for mom’s well-being as well as desiring to understand the treatments and process of surgeries to come.  We have been forthright with him in all things sharing a lot of context but not a great deal of content. 

He gives us words of encouragement and physical affection.  He loves just being with us.  He has thanked me for cleaning the floor, fixing dinner, going on walks as a family.   He will come up beside us and lay his head on our shoulder and rub our back.  He has no idea what his presence means to both of us.  

Lydia has her moments but tends to move to the next thing pretty fast.  She really is our spider plant girl with extensions going everywhere.  Lydia loves to draw.   The other night she made a portrait of her mom.  It was lying at the top of the stairs when Laura and I came home.  It simply said – “The Best Mom Ever!”  Lydia is also keenly aware when one of us has been crying or our emotions have reached the surface. 

Sophia loves just being at home.  She is tender and kind, and yet very thoughtful and somewhat analytical.  There is a unique depth to her thoughts and questions and her mind is so sharp.  She memorizes so quickly and packs so much truth in her little mind. 

Her questions come randomly, as do the other two.  One of the most heart stirring questions came the other day when I was sitting at the table enjoying some of Laura’s Ezekiel Bread. 
“Dad, if you knew mom was going to die from the cancer would you tell us?” 

My head is already spinning from the news of the disease.  I’m ready for the easy questions, but this one pushed me back a bit. 

I sat for a moment and told her that we are going to do all we can while mom is going through this battle to keep life as normal as possible at our home. 

I asked her “who” ultimately knows when we are going to die?  “God’” she said. 

“That’s right, and none of us really know when we are going to die or what we will die of, but if the doctors ever tell mom or dad that one of us is going to die then we will certainly let all of you in on it.”

She seemed quite content with the answer. 

We know that questions are going to come our way.  We are also fully aware there will be some very challenging days before us.  Therefore, we want to be certain that we as a family have our anchors in place and continue to build our homes on the foundation of God’s truth found in His word.  We refuse to move our home to Sandyland. 

So the morning family meetings are critical.  Our intention is to do all we can to fill their minds with truth.  We know that there will be times when the lies of the evil one begin to sink into their little minds.  We desire that they grow-up through this and we know as they do that hard times are growing times. 

Aunt Sue bought verse journals for each child to hold onto and write verses that have meaning to them on its pages. 

Yesterday we started out with Deut. 31:8 – “The Lord himself goes before you and will be with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you.  Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged.”  

This has become our family verse.  It was a verse I wrote down a few days after we learned of the cancer, and it pulled at Laura’s heartstrings as well.  One she too penned in her journal days after the diagnosis.  Neither one of us were aware about the personal impact of this gift of promise.    

I was asked the other day about the ways God has surprised me so far?  It was a great question. 

One of the ways is how God is speaking to Laura and I about the same things without either one of us talking about it.  When she told me that Deut. 31:8 was her verse I told her that the Lord had given it to me as well.  It simply confirms God’s place in all of this. 

So, we asked our kids to reflect a bit on the verse.  What does it mean?   They were quick to the punch. 

Lydia: “God is with us”
Sophia: “God will never leave us or forsake us.”
Dawson:  God goes before us.  He’s going to take us through hard times.” 

I asked Dawson to explain what the hard times are for.  “Why does God take us into and through hard times?”

“To change us,” he responded. 

“Right on.  To change us from the inside out.” 

God’s desire is that we would trust in him with all of our heart, soul and strength.  He is going to use Laura’s illness to shape in each one of us character that has yet to be revealed. 

We all know there will be hard days ahead for us.  There are so many unknowns with this diagnosis.  Such uncertainty can drive you a bit crazy, but we are holding fast to what is certain in our lives: God’s presence, God leading us, God taking us to and through this journey, God’s faithfulness, and His kindness in the midst of hard times. 

Today we will focus on Ephesians 3:20. 

”Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us.”

First Update of Laura's Condition

The following is our first communication to the staff and elders at PCC.  This gives you a glimpse of some of our journey so far.  
We have spent the past few days with doctors getting a perspective and plan for our next steps.  From what we presently know, the proposed course of action is for Laura to have a lumpectomy as early as next week.  This will be determined on Friday when we meet with the surgeon to go over her MRI and see if the tumor has clear enough margins.  This will impact Laura's decision to either go with the lumpectomy or mastectomy.

During surgery they will be able to determine if the cancer has spread to the lymph-nodes.  It will be five to ten days post-surgery before we have any further details - which includes the final plan for treatment.

To say the least, it has been a whirlwind of activity attempting to get all the pieces together over this past week. We have been gaining as much information as possible, and at the same time keeping our focus on where the Lord is at work. We feel so blessed that we had several days in Gatlinburg with the kids gaining our bearings and having some fun. We are also grateful for those in the body who have been able to direct us to a great surgeon we have a deep sense of confidence in. We are especially thankful for all of your support and prayers through this time.

We told the kids all the details necessary so they are fully aware of what is transpiring. They know mom has cancer. There have been some tears, but for the most part we are enjoying our time off as a family. They have been real troopers.  We are proud of each one of them.

I want to clarify that we have no "stage" determined at this time. Our prayer is that the cancer is isolated and has not spread at this point. What we do know is that the tumor is not tiny, but from what the doctors are saying the size does not determine it's spread; however, it may determine the course of treatment.

We are holding onto Ephesians 3:20 and Romans 8:28. We know that the Lord is present in our problem providing us with His sufficient grace and peace. We believe the Lord is allowing us to walk through this for a purpose, and we don't want to miss drawing closer to Him through the journey. We are not angry, but walking hand-in-hand with each other and especially the Lord's presence. We truly believe the Lord will use this to shape our character, and develop a deeper dependence on Him and His promises. 
Thanks again for your support and prayers.