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Friday, March 8, 2013

Practicing What I Preached-My Dad Has Cancer

Get a coffee, this is a bit of a long one but I hope, worth the read.

Sometimes when I write, it's simply a relaying of information, keep you in the loop as to the happenings here.

Sometimes it's because I get 'inspired', I feel something welling up in me and almost feel anxious until I have the time and the quiet (which is hard to come by!) to allow the words and feeling in my heart and head to spill out onto the page.  I believe that God does guide my words and my ideas,  and my hope is that some of these writings cause you to pause and think, or to be inspired and spoken to, even if just one of the 1,000 hits per month speaks to one of you in the place you needed to be touched, then my work is not for naught.

Sometimes, I think God inspires me to write because he is preparing my heart for something on the horizon.  This past week when I wrote 'Trusting the Father With My Father' I believe that's exactly what was happening.  God knew what was about to happen to my dear Dad and the news that was about to turn me upside down.

As I was at the back of our house with some of the kids who come to enjoy the daily play time here on the chacara, Phil said, 'Your sister is trying to facetime you'.

My heart immediately began to race and I felt a bit sick.  Lately, when someone is trying to get in touch with me outside of a time when we've agreed to chat, the news isn't good.

This time was no exception.

"Hi" I said, "What's up?"

"Where are you right now?" She asked, and my heart raced more wildly, my legs turned to jelly and I feared the news she was about to deliver.  I knew in my soul that it was about my Dad.  Almost like I had been expecting this call.

When I was finally sitting, her voice began to crack as she said the words I dreaded to hear.

"It's what we feared Jen.  Dad has cancer."

I am a 'feeler' I feel things deeply, for myself and for others.  Sometimes it's a gift, sometimes it sends me spinning.

For the next 30 minutes, my sister relayed what she knew.  My Dad had cancer of an unknown source, but they suspected greatly there was a tumour in his vertebrae pressing on his spinal cord and causing the pain, also weakening his bones causing them to break and to not heal properly.  There was no prognosis, not even a name for the type of cancer it was, just that big scary 'C' word.

We wept openly with each other as we shared our fears, the old feelings coming up from when our Mother was diagnosed, and prayed together.

When I got off the phone I fell apart again, the full reality of all that she'd said landing on my like the weight of an elephant, the possibility of what this could mean whirling through my mind and my heart.

Hey Jesus? Are you sleeping down there in the boat, because these waves? They are HUGE! And this wind? It's tossing the boat so hard I'm not sure I can keep it afloat!

Was it any coincidence that it was that particular scripture I used in my last writing?  I don't think so.  And now, I was being challenged to practice what I preached.  Tough stuff.

The next 24 hours was a whirlwind of online chatting with my large family ( I have 4 brothers and a sister-many nieces, nephews and in laws)  as information  was relayed from the hospital where my Dad had been taken to us in Ontario, New Brunswick and Brazil.  So thankful for technology!

After six months of my Dad being in agony and feeling like nothing was being done things were happening at lightening speed.

He was sent for another MRI and a bone surgeon was discussing surgery to strengthen his spine.  No radiation could be done on the cancer until the spine was in good shape.

They waited for an OR to be ready, surgery would be done THAT NIGHT!  Over the two and a half weeks preceding my Dad has lost feeling in his legs.  The cracked vertebrae and possibly the tumor were putting pressure on the spinal column.  Without surgery, chances of my Dad being permanently paralyzed were 100%.  The surgeon could not guarantee that his pain would be reduced by the surgery nor could he guarantee that feeling would return to his legs.  This was hard to hear.  Finally something was being done, but it might not mean the end of the pain.  I prayed hard that he was wrong.

Nine hours after arriving in the ER my Dad was wheeled into the OR so they could remove the damaged vertebrae and replace it with screws and bolts.  My Dad joked that he would need a new license plate, currently his says, '5 ft 10' "I'll be shorter when this is all done", he said.  I truly love that man.

I'm so thankful for the sense of humour my Dad has, and that he passed it on to us, his kids.
The last time we were all together October 2012
all grown up and we still can't get a good picture!

Five hours later he was taken from the OR and into the ICU, where he was kept sedated for some much deserved, pain free rest.

The not so good news:

  • He has to have another surgery, they were unable to close the gap at the front of the spine as much as is needed. (He's not going to be happy to hear that)
  • He will need lots of rehabilitation to get his body working again
  • We wait for news about the cancer.  They still don't know it's origin but we pray that it was isolated to the tumour and treatment will be easy and short.

The good news:

  • His legs have full feeling again!! 
  • They were able to remove the whole tumour (they believe it's cancer but need the biopsy confirmed)
  • As of today his pain level is down to a 2 out of 10.  For the past six months it's been about 18 out of 10.
  • We now know what we are dealing with and can attack it with medicine and prayer!
  • His sense of humour is intact! 

I feel like I'm asking for prayers all the time these days.  For someone who likes to help others it's hard for me to ask for help, repeatedly.  But, I know we can't do this, get through these issues without help.  Help from all of you and help from above.  I lived heartache and loss without God and honestly now, looking back I don't know how I did it.  He is my comforter, my big fuzzy blanket on a cold night, the one that I hold on too when the storms are raging, and lately it's felt like an ongoing hurricane.

I leave you with Psalm 23 in the good old King James version, it just sounds better.   It was my Mothers' favourite, and I find it brings me great comfort these days:

Psalm 23

The Lord is my shepherd;
I shall not want.
He makes me to lie down in green pastures;
He leads me beside the still waters.
He restores my soul;
He leads me in the paths of righteousness
For His name’s sake.
Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death,
I will fear no evil
For You are with me;
Your rod and Your staff, they comfort me.
You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies;
You anoint my head with oil;
My cup runs over.
Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me
All the days of my life;
And I will dwell[a] in the house of the Lord


Brunskill Family said...

I am so sorry that your family is going through this. There has been so much for your family in the last year. We are walking through a cancer journey ourselves and I know that God answers prayers. Especially specific prayer requests. Continue to update so we can lift your father up to the Lord.
You are in our prayers,
Megen and family

Craig Frere said...

If you feel like you are "always asking for prayer these days" then you are in the right place. I was reminded this week by one of the wise people on our Leadership Team that we are most open to the Holy Spirit's work in us when we are becoming poor in spirit. When we are poor in spirit, we are realistic about who we are and about who God is as well as what He is able to do.

Our prayers are with you, your father and your whole family.

Shelley said...

What Craig said.

And when you ask for help you are including others in your life! Thank-you!