Saturday, July 19, 2008

Our Right Hand

Loved Ones,

Ray is doing better energy wise than I expected. Very tired at night, but not as bad during the day.

He does however, have no appetite. He's been losing weight since Thursday so I'm expecting we'll have some repair work when he finally gets his appetite back. But, I just feel like this is because the chemo is working! So we are encouraged!

Ray had visitors today which was wonderful. Whenever anyone comes, we can hardly let them go, it's so nice to talk. Every visitor: thank you for coming!

We renew our prayers as the chemo does its work on Sunday!

We read a devotion about this verse as Ray began his chemo on Wednesday. It talked about how the "right hand" of old was the most trusted advisor, counselor. We liked that.

"I have set the LORD always before me. Because he is at my right hand, I will not be shaken."
Psalm 16:8

not alone and not afraid --

kristin and ray

Friday, July 18, 2008

Round 4 Concludes

Loved Ones,

Today was a good day. Ray was able to go with us to Nora's graduation from "Safety Town," and out for ice cream.

He finished up Chemo Round 4 today and got a liter of IV fluids. It seems like the chemo is working, his appetite is gone and this evening he's so tired! Those seem to be the tell-tale signs!

Though it is always hard to watch the chemo hit him so hard (Saturday and Sunday are usually the hardest days), we are so glad for the work the chemo is doing! We try to focus on that part and keep our prayers going for continued miraculous impact!

We are however, also praying for protection of Ray's healthy cells from chemo side effects. That's been on my mind today because they've told us to expect side effects from the chemo on Ray's nerves on the 4th or 5th round. Another very common side effect is fatigue.

Side effects so far have been manageable but each one has an impact . For example, the chemo gives him a metallic taste that lasts until about the day before we go back! This impacts his appetite.

We have been praying that side effects will be minimal. Side effects (and the level of toxicity they convey) can impact the chemo schedule -- which we want to avoid. They can also make it a lot harder to have good days. So we really want to avoid that!

Of course side effects pale in comparison to healing! But they can be a big part of day to day living, so I wanted to mention our prayer request that they be manageable.

As part of my ongoing research I had a great conversation today with a top person at the National Cancer Institute. We are so thankful for conversations like this as they further educate us, give us questions for our doctor, reinforce our treatment path, and bolster our spirits.

We are in the waiting time. Praying for miracles and waiting for God's answer. At the same time, our eyes are also firmly fixed on the joy of each day -- each moment together. We thank God for all of our blessings.

"Sing to the LORD, praise his name; proclaim his salvation day after day. Declare his glory among the nations, his marvelous deeds among all peoples."

Psalm 96:2-3

not alone and not afraid --

kristin and ray

Thank You for the Swingset

Special Friends,

Ray and I and the girls just wanted to say a huge thank you for the swingset. This was such a wonderful gift. There are so many quiet days for Ray where I need to be closeby. The swingset is such a wonderful outlet for all of us. Truly, we play hard on it every day. The girls decide on which push they want an underdog and we just play.

We thank you all for your generous gift.

In this journey we have been so thankful for the thoughtfulness, care and compassion of our friends. And, we are most thankful for your prayers.

Much love,

kristin, ray, nora, maggie and lucy

Thursday, July 17, 2008

All Things Work Together!

Loved Ones,

Today was a very quiet day for Ray filled mostly with naps. One of the pre meds before chemo is a steriod which makes for a late night on the first night of chemo and a tired day the following.

Though his appetite is impacted, he still did a good job eating, maybe not the beet soup, but good fruit and veggies. More soup for the rest of us!

The girls had a great day playing and going to the pool and thanks to Nana and Miss Sue, Mommy even got a nap! Thank goodness!

We've thought a lot today about how exciting the progress is in Ray's liver.

When we first started treatment we were disappointed that because of Ray's high liver enzymes we weren't able to be part of a clinical trial that is running at Northwestern. The trial was for people who weren't expected to do as well on traditional chemo, but was fairly toxic and thus his liver disqualified him.

This is a clear example of God's protection for us. If Ray had qualified, we would have no doubt taken part in this. I should say, this lady right here would have pushed really hard for him to be on it!

But as it turns out, Ray has done incredibly well on more traditional chemo treatments, accomplishing remarkable progress with less toxicity.

Our prayer through all of this has been that God would heal Ray -- giving the chemo a miraculous impact -- super power to eradicate the cancer while protecting Ray's healthy cells.

The chemo is great medicine, but we believe the progress we saw yesterday is God's answer to these prayers.

We have a long road ahead, but we believe God's answers will be no less miraculous than what we've already seen! We say this to give credit where credit is due and to remind us all how important our prayers are, and how POWERFUL our God is.

"And we know that in ALL things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose."

"What, then, shall we say in response to this? If God is for us, who can be against us?"

Romans 8:28, 31

not alone and not afraid --

kristin and ray

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Good News

Loved Ones,

We had a good day today. Ray's fever lifted and we were able to begin the 4th round of chemo. They are cautious and took some tests to ensure that there is no infection, but they too wanted to stay on schedule. We are so thankful for all of this.

When we met with the doctor, she pulled up the scans on the computer so that we could see the progress for ourselves. The liver looks great. There are definitely still some cancer spots, but the progress was remarkable. As we looked she said, "this is even better than I remembered." Praise the Lord!!

Likewise, Ray's liver numbers continue to improve. His bilirubin is now normal! And the rest of the other numbers are on the way down.

Ray's doctor is very pleased with the progress and is optomistic that it will continue. She cautions us however, that this is a long journey and that progress could slow or change at any time.

So. With that in mind, these are our prayer requests for the next few weeks:

Our next scan is in 8 weeks, after 4 more rounds of chemo. We are praying for a clean scan! Just seeing the progress with only three rounds, we know this is possible. We continue to pray for total healing and that the chemo will have a miraculous impact -- eradicating the cancer completely!

We did ask about checking the progress of Ray's stomach tumor and the doctor said that as long as the liver seems to be improving, she probably wouldn't do another scope for now, these things should go together.

It was a very long day as the additional tests for the fever delayed us and we didn't meet with the doctor until the very end of the day.

Your prayers and the one who answers them, hold us up. We are so thankful to God for the wonderful progress and we beseech heaven on Ray's behalf for complete restoration.

"It is good to praise the LORD and make music to your name, O Most High, to proclaim your love in the morning and your faithfulness at night... For you make me glad by your deeds, O LORD; I sing for joy at the works of your hands." Psalm 92: 1-4

not alone and not afraid --

kristin and ray

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Doctor Visit and 4th Round of Chemo

Loved Ones,

Ray continues to struggle with a fever today. Though controlled by Tylenol, we think it may delay his chemo treatment on Wednesday. We are in touch with our doctor and we will still go to our doctor visit, but the 4th round of chemo may have to be delayed. We are praying that the fever will pass soon so that we can keep on schedule. But we know God's timing is perfect! So we are not going to be discouraged!

Because of the fever, Ray is a bit more fatigued than normal and somewhat achy. But, he is still doing his best with eating. And, he's been able to talk with the wonderful visitors we've had today.

Our hearts and minds are preparing for tomorrow. Because of the encouraging feedback from our doctor, we are not anxious, but hopeful. We have our list of questions ready and we are praying for clarity, wisdom and guidance from our doctor. Most of all, we are praying for miracles.

We so appreciate your prayers. We are scheduled to meet with our doctor sometime between 11 and 12:30. We are always comforted by the many hearts that accompany us on our travels.

"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."
Deuteronomy 31:8

not alone and not afraid --

kristin and ray

Monday, July 14, 2008

Another Good Day

Loved Ones,

Another good day. Ray recovered from all of yesterday's activities and had a nice visit with his mom and sister.

Our culinary adventures continue with cabbage, beet and tomato soup. Let me know if you want the recipe!

Ray is fighting a fever tonight which tylenol has brought down for now. This is a prayer request for tonight. While fever is always a concern, this gave me a chance to talk to his doctor who said he's just another man with a fever right now given that his white blood cell counts are ok. My favorite comment from his doctor was when she answered my concern about tylenol with his liver with "His liver's FINE." Oh, I can't wait till Wednesday!

While I'm on our Wednesday doctor visit, I will tell you our prayer requests. We have been praying for results from the scan that are far beyond her expectations and ours too. We are hoping that this may even open up potential new treatments. Of course, we are praying for total healing! But that may take some time. In the meantime, as we meet with our doctor we are praying for wisdom, guidance, patience, and courage. We also have a ton of questions about things we've researched, and many practical things so we are looking for wisdom and guidance from her in many areas.

We cherish your prayers! Thank you for them. Their power is so clear to us. We know they keep us strong and free of fear.

“For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. Then you will call upon me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you. You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart.” Jeremiah 29:11-13

not alone and not afraid --
kristin and ray

Sunday, July 13, 2008

A Good Day!

Loved Ones,

We had a good day today! Do you have a Sunday routine? We have one: church, then to the bagel store. We did this for the first time on Sunday. My goodness, was it nice! We cherished our "routine." It felt so normal.

Other highlights from today included a matinee screening of Kit Kittredge, An American Girl. We all loved it. Even Ray.

We also walked around the block! So it was a busy day and Ray did great. I've been pushing the snacks. So he's been eating well also.

We received so many emails from many of you celebrating the preview of good news on Ray's scan. Thank you for those and for your continued prayers. We know they give us continued peace, hope and patience.

Two verses for today:

"But let all who take refuge in you be glad; let them forever sing for joy. Spread your protection over them, that those who love your name may rejoice in you." Psalm 5:11

"The LORD gives strength to his people; the LORD blesses his people with peace." Psalm 29:11

not alone and not afraid --

kristin and ray