Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Lights and Shadows

When I said a lot has happened over the past week, I really meant it.

Not only are we up to our eyeballs with a house renovation...

Not only did we have my friend Gail fly in on Thursday...

And our son's future in-laws flew in on Friday for a first time meeting...

We also got a call on Friday evening about Bernie's younger brother Mark.

This is what we learned; none of us had suspected a thing:

Mark was diagnosed with Retroperitoneum Sarcoma in his left upper abdomen on Friday Feb. 13. Mark is to go into surgery prep Thursday, February 19th at 10:00 am.


His actual surgery is scheduled for 12:00 PDT. The doctors feels the cancer is malignant. The mass is extremely large and involves the left kidney, spleen, pancreas, stomach, large intestine, rib muscles, and is obstructing his bowels.

During the surgery the doctor plans to remove the kidney, spleen, approx. 1/3 of the stomach, up to 1/2 of his pancreas, colon (large intestines). He will do a possible transverse/descending colon removal/resection. Because of the extent of the damage, the surgery will be quite long.

The doctor said Mark will be in ICU, then transferred to his own room. The hospital stay will be 7-10 days.

4-6 weeks after the surgery he will begin Chemotherapy for approximately 5-6 weeks. The doctor is requesting the maximum dose for Mark because he wants to kill any other cancer cells in his body.

At the same time he will also undergo Radiation treatment for 5-6 weeks.

Mark became a Christian about seven years ago, and is a part of his Fresno church's worship team, playing drums and writing music. He is also a radiation therapist, he is all too familiar with cancer treatment. Both their church and the hospital staff where Mark worked are "there" for Mark and Kathie.

Please be praying for Mark and his wife Kathie, Bernie's parent Barbara and Hal, Bernie and his sister Shari in KY too.

My dad has also had surgery this past week to remove large skin cancers from his face and scalp. He has been battling skin cancer for years, but this surgery was larger than usual.

Bernie has been down with a flu like condition since Sunday, he is better today.

Yeah...a lot and more has been going on. The mixture of happy and painful happening in the midst of household renovation has been surreal. My brain hardly knows what to focus on.

All I can say for certain is that I know all of what is happening in our life has come to pass and not stay. And that a lot of other people face joy and pain today as well.

All of which is to be experienced best simply one day at a time, with patience and grace, and the loving support of friends and family who also care.

Our daughter, Mark's niece has been a cancer nurse for many years. She posted the following prayer guide on her blog; I'm copying it here for anyone to use for Mark and for anyone else who faces such kinds of surgery:

Today is a big day. It starts with me doing my first "civic duty" in being called to jury duty. Admittedly, I am glad for the break from work.But bigger, and way more significant that that, my uncle Mark is about to be placed under anesthesia, and his life is going to be placed into the hands of doctors, nurses, anesthesiologists, and scrub techs. He is going to have a massive tumor removed from his abdominal area, and to spare all the non-medical people out there the gorey details, it is going to be massive.So my heart is heavy, and because of his medical background, he and I both know exactly what he is up against. Sometimes knowledge is a blessing, sometimes it just makes it that much worse.I can't imagine what he is feeling, and how emotionally and physically drained he is.But I know this. He is a strong Christian man. I know he has the best surgeons on his team. I know God has His hand on Mark.I have peace amongst the fear, even though I don't know how the next few days will play out. I know the plan, I know the medications they will be using, I know how the surgeons will pass the scalpel. I know how they start the IV's. I know how they will call the "time out" and I know how they will be composed.And then I know God will do what needs to be done next.So I pray. I pray for the hands of the surgeons. I pray for the pre-op nurse to get the IV in without any trouble asceptically. I pray that the wait time is minimal. I pray that the team in the room is anointed, and blessed by the Holy Spirit. I pray that no bacteria come into the room. I pray that sterile technique is maintained throughout the surgery. I pray that the team in Marks room slept well last night, and is at their peak today. I pray that God reveal anything that needs to be revealed during the operation. I pray that Marks veins and arteries remain intact, and that he does not bleed any more than absolutely needed. I pray that the edges of this tumor remain intact, and that the tumor is able to be removed. I pray that while Mark is under the anesthesia, that he is at peace. I pray that his organs operate in the way God intended them to work, and that he does not drop his pressures, and that his cardiac rhythm remains in sinus rhythm. I pray that when the doctors have removed the entire tumor, that there are no unseen cancerous cells left in his body. I pray that he comes out of anesthesia comforted, and that he does not become nauseated or have pain. I pray for the discernment of the nurses to recognise any symptoms before they manifest themself, and take swift action. I pray that God uses this terrifying experience to bring healing and blessings to everyone involved. I pray for my grandmother, that she have strength to get through this, and say just the perfect words that need to be said at just the right time. I pray for my grandfather through this frightening experience. I pray for Kathie that the peace light upon her and she can be a pillar of strength through all of this.Thank you for joining me in lifting up Mark and our family in prayer. It is good to be me, and to have such a wonderful support through this blog. So thank you, everyone who is reading this, for being a blessing to me.


Anonymous said...

This seems like so much has been dumped on you and your family all at once. It's good that you have the house as a distraction when you need to "escape" the bad news around you. When Doc was going through his surgery and chemo, my best friend was painting and papering her entire house. She said she made a ritual of it and that each roll of paper was hung with a prayer...that kept her from going crazy with worry.

I'm in prayer over here on the east coast today! Glad to hear that B is feeling better.

Lovella ♥ said...

I had a phone call from a friend last evening telling me that a little great nephew that she used to babysit has a brain tumor. . .eight years old. Some days, it seems we can't bear one more bit of bad news. I expect that is how you feel with all that you've been through.
May God grant you and Bernie the assurance in your heart of the promises that God gives us in his word. . .for today and tomorrow.
We'll be thinking of Mark and Kathie as well.. .and B's parents.

Anonymous said...

Thank you for your thoughts and thank you for the thoughts and prayers of all who read your blog. I already know how much you and Bernie are praying for Mark, but again, thank you. Love you both so much. mom S.

Anonymous said...

Hi Jill, I am so sorry to hear of Mark's situation. I am a sarcoma survivor and recently co-authored an article that might be helpful for you and any of Mark's friends and family. It's called A Guide to the Sarcoma Universe for Those who have just Arrived. There is also an article called Helping a Friend who has been Diagnosed with Sarcoma. For some reason, the site is loading very slowly right now, but I hope it will be back to normal soon.

Much hope,

Julie said...

Oh.. I say a big AMEN to Laura's beautiful prayer ...

Life is soo often a 'mix' isn't it... Without God I don't know how people balance it...I don't think it is possible!

Anonymous said...

Dear Jill,
I am writing this at 11:51 am PST and have just prayed with you the prayer that Laura wrote. There are no more words needed but I just wanted you to know that people whose lives you have touched through your blog are joining with you and your family to pray during this uncertain time. We truly are 'family' when we share the same beliefs. My prayers and thoughts will be with you and your family through out this day and the days to follow. I too am a cancer survivor and know the peace that prayer can bring.
Love your friend in blogland,
Debbie M. (From B.C. Canada)

Anonymous said...

Thank you all, in the community formed from this blog, for your prayers and support. When Jesus spoke that we would do greater works than him, I think this is one of those times. With one electronic message, believers around the world can join in one accord. Bernie