Thursday, December 30, 2010

Just being random

Well... 2010 is almost over. Can you think back on the good, exciting things and the challenges you've had this year? Can you think about the accomplishments you've made this year? Do you remember the people whom you've made a difference in their lives? Knowing that we all have sinned, but surely you have done some good this year, do you remember? I guess these questions have come to my mind because as you all know 2010 has been most eventful for me and I have been sharing it with you. But, more so, people have responded to me in such a way I never would or could have imagined. I think God wanted to show me that while I was searching my soul on how I could make a difference in somebody life, by happenstance I have been doing so along the way, but I hadn't realized it. As you make New Year's resolutions, don't focus on the obvious and the same ones you make each year, i.e. loose weight, stop smoking, start exercising, etc. That's old! How about we focus on our spiritual walk. That is are you exemplifying a Christ like behavior regardless of who, what, when, where, or why. I try each day, and often fall short, but I keep trying. Well I wont have New Year's resolution, I will still be focusing on what God would have me to do with my life given this challenge placed upon me.

This week has been a productive and positive week. Physical therapy is going well and they are really working me out. I was able to throw away the walker and bought a pretty purple/flowered cane. That's a "shout if you know how" moment. Wednesday was my last day of radiation. Now if you couldn't muster up a shout the first time, this is definitely it. Today I had a catheter placed so that I can begin my chemotherapy next Wednesday. While I am not excited about the chemotherapy, I am glad to be making progress which will facilitate my healing and my emotional well-being. The potential side effects of the chemotherapy are what have me a little hesitant, but we will pray ourselves through this situation as we have been doing for the last 6 months.

Lastly, as I have been reading and listening to scripture, one of the things that must happen for anyone to receive what God has for them is to forgive anyone that you feel may have done something wrong to you or perhaps someone you may have wronged (Matt 5:23-24). Plus, God instructs to forgive as He has forgiven us, and lastly who are you not to forgive when the Great Almighty can forgive you multiple times? I have been pondering in my mind if I hold any grudges toward anyone and honestly I can not think of anyone. However, if there is anyone I have disappointed, felt that I have done something wrong to them, or who is upset with me, please reach out to me so that I may hear your concerns. Let me forewarn, that I will apologize for making you have a negative feeling toward me, but there is no guarantee that I will apologize for a decision made. Going on this journey is very revolutionary and is making me look at every nook and cranny of my spiritual walk. You try it!

Living in Love

Friday, December 24, 2010

Keeping you up to date

Well I thought I would let you know how things are going with me and the medical plan.

I have started my physical therapy. I had two days last week, I'll have two days next week, and after that I will be going 3 days per week. I am so ready to throw this walker away. What I will be working on the most is gaining control and strength in the lower part of my legs (from knees on down), learning to hold my head up, and strengthening my core. My diaphragm is a little week which is why I have been short of breath when talking; but it is getting little better.

I had 10 sessions of radiation ordered and I now have 3 more to go (Monday - Wednesday of next week). It has not been too eventful but it has caused to have some difficulty swallowing because of the location of the radiation. Radiation is being done to my chest area to attack the cells that metastasized to my spine; it in turn effects the esophagus. That's just great! It's the holiday season and I am going to have difficulty swallowing!?! Psych! I'm gonna eat! It may hurt going down, but my taste buds and tummy will be happy!

I will go to the hospital on Thursday for day surgery to get a long term catheter put in for the chemotherapy. On January 5th, I will begin Chemotherapy (Carboplatin and Taxol). The nurse reviewed the side effects with me and oh boy! Everything and anything you can think of the medications have the possibility of causing. Needless to say, one of them is hair loss. Of all of the side effects, my vanity is getting in the way and wondering what I will do with no hair. I know, I know, I know....there are nice looking wigs or I can go bald...ugh, the thought of going bald is interesting, yet scary! Anyway, we'll get through and hopefully have fun doing it. There are many other side effects like peripheral neuropathy (loosing the feeling in your fingers), dehydration, achy bones, among other things.

Needless to say, your prayers are still needed. We are progressing through our treatment plan, but still have a ways to go. Chemotherapy will last about 6 months. Initially I will start out one a week for 3 weeks and then off for one week; eventually I will go to once a month or every other week. Physical therapy is open ended and I can go as long as I need.

In love...

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Thank you so much for asking...

Many people tell us to call them if there is something they can do for us or ask us to call them if we need something. Allow me to just say thank you for extending yourself to aide us. We will call and let you know if we need something. Honestly, we have been so overwhelmed by the generosity of our neighbors, church members (Good Hope Baptist Church), friends, family, Jack and Jill, and Frost Bank (Mike's job).

One day last week, as Mike and I sat together alone holding hands, we both became emotional in our own way just thinking of the generosity of everyone. I don't know if any of you will truly understand how the numerous acts of kindness, bringing dinners and snacks, helping with the children, and many of the responses on the blog, in our emails, and the expressions on voice mail have meant to us. You all have really jolted something in us. As we sat together we said, we haven't done anything great for anyone; we've just been ourselves. We both began to just review our lives and our relationships, and we just pondered and were perplexed on how we are continuing to blessed by so many. Even at Michael's job, it is truly amazing that a corporation could be so extremely supportive of him during this time.

This is what I do know. We try to make sure that our steps are divinely ordered. Whenever we have an issue, we wait. Wait on God to show or reveal to us what we should do. Our favorite saying is "It is what it is". We have resolved that God is in control of our lives as we have given ourselves to Him. If there is a situation we can do something about, we do it; otherwise we wait on God to provide the path we should follow. Mike is very good at reminding me to wait on God because patience is not a virtue I have, unfortunately. At the same time, we try to do right by anybody and everybody; but that's not anything more outstanding than many other people. And so we ponder on how and why people have been so generous towards us. We are truly amazed and in awe; at the same time WE THANK YOU WITH ALL OF OUR HEARTS".

We hope that through this trial, not only are we being blessed but you are being blessed as well. While this physical trial is more than I ever could have bargained for, I believe we were chosen to endure this trial not only for our benefit but for yours too. We are real and regular people, just like you. We are not famous and do not hold titles. We don't have anything named after us and don't come from an affluent blood line. We are just God's children trying to continue to hold up the blood stained banner, go through life wearing the armor of God, and just trying to do right by those we encounter.

Lastly, there are absolutely no words to express our gratitude; you have been amazing. Many people want to know what they can do; there is one thing that everyone can do. Please continue to pray for me and my family. This is not a sprint, this is a marathon. I ask, whether it is everyday or every week, or just one time, please call out out names unto the Lord that He may bless me with a healing, patience, and strength and bless my family with endurance and peace.

Love to you all...

Monday, December 20, 2010

Everyday Is A Challenge - But God!

First let me say that we are sorry for not updating the blog since last Wednesday but as you may image we have been busy with the kids (mid-terms, multiple athletic practices & games, etc...), Yolanda's treatment schedule, my work schedule (when and if I get a chance to go in depending on how Yo is feeling) and attempting to restore some level of normalcy to our daily lives, two out of three is not bad!  What a tremendous blessing it is to have my mom living with us.  I know that this family would not be able to function without her presence.  She has been a God sent and we are so eternally thankful to have her in Houston.

Since Yo has come home, we have all been learning to adjust to our current situation, but through it all we say PRAISE God because there were/are/is so many other alternatives.  I thank God daily for Yolanda and I continue to be amazed daily by her strength and determination.  Allow me to give you a glimpse of how we are REALLY doing:

Yolanda has started to feel those rods and screws in her back (from December 1st surgery) and it is extremely uncomfortable for her to rest.  Sleeping in the bed is a thing of the past (for both of us).  I refuse to leave her side, so where ever she sleeps so do I....restful sleep has no meaning any longer.

Throughout the day and night, we/I continuously have to adjust her pillows and her positioning to find that "right" spot in the chair so that she can maybe get a couple of hours rest.  But again, we say Thank You LORD for your tender mercies.  We take comfort in all of the small blessings along the way.  So, instead of complaining about the lack of sleep we enjoy our new found quite talking time.  There is a silver lining in everything, if you look hard enough! In a perfect world I am one of the hardest sleeper you will ever meet, just keeping it real.  Nothing could wake me from my dream, but God has blessed me with ultra sensitive hearing during this time.  If Yolanda so much as breaths too hard I hear her and instantly wake up to see what I need to do to assist her in any way.  Now, I do have to take a much needed to sleep break at least once a week to recharge my batteries which I typically do at some point on Sunday's after church (and my COWBOYS) :~}.

Yolanda has not yet regained complete strength to her lower body.  Her quad muscles are so weak that she is still using a walker to get from point "A" to point "B", but again we say PRAISE God.  We thank God for not taking the use of her legs away from her. We remain confident that physical therapy will help and she is going tomorrow morning for her second treatment.

As of today, she has had four radiation treatments to her spine.  PAIN management remains the biggest issue.  Just so you all know - there are good moments, not good days! Everyday she is battling pain in her back.  Today for example, was good early in terms of managing pain until around four o'clock.  While sitting, Yolanda started to experience a "new and different" pain in her spine and it continued to intensify as the minutes and hours inched by.  After multiple doses of Morphine she was finally able to find relief around 7pm.  I think Forest Gump said it best, "Life is like a box of chocolates, you never know what you are gonna get."

Yolanda also has to wear an abdominal band to support her diaphragm because her core is not as strong as it was before her last hospital stay.  By the way, in case you didn't know, this is the primary reason why she has difficulty talking on the phone of entertaining guest for any length of time.  Feel free to send her all the text messages you like, generally speaking she will respond quickly unless she is not feeling well.  Trust me when I tell you she is not avoiding your calls.  Yolanda simply does not have the strength, energy or voice to carry on several conversations during any given day.
In closing, I will leave you with this thought:  Live life like there is no tomorrow.  Enjoy ever moment with your loved ones.  Don't pass up a chance to love and above all put and keep God at the center of your life!

Good night and may God Bless you all!! 

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

The latest


I am going home today. I made a pact with the physician to be here early. I have been in the hospital since Saturday which is, in part, why we haven't been able to communicate as regularly as we had in the beginning.

I had gone to the ER on Friday initially due to shortness of breath and I didn't want to take a chance going into the weekend with difficulties. They performed x-rays, drew labs, etc. They sent me home with go litely and said have fun. Well, I followed instructions, but by noon on Saturday I was in the worst state of pain in my life. I have birthed and recovered from children and I have had other operations, etc....but this was by far the worst pain ever. We called 911 and away we went. Encountered more tests to reveal that, preliminarily, I was diagnosed with an obstructed bowel.
My thoughts were the cancer had spread to my intestines or the back surgery had damaged the nerves traveling to my stomach. The final diagnosis was a narcotic induced ileus. With all the pain I have been in, the pain meds had slowed my stomach movement down so much that I was unable to digest. This is a Hallelujah moment!!! Why? Think of the alternative.

On yesterday 12/14, I had a colonoscopy (UGH!!! - Somebody should have warned me) which
my colon was clear and healthy....HALLELUJAH!!!!

And so......
my staples have been removed from my back surgery and the incision site looks good ---- PRAISE GOD
colonoscopy clear ----PRAISE GOD
I will start radiation today (I will have 10 treatments) ---- Give HIM the PRAISE
I will receive my first infusion of ZOMETA (drug to strengthen my bones) ----PRAISE GOD
I will be free to start my physical therapy (today or tomorrow) ---- PRAISE GOD
AND...I'm going home to be with my family who I miss immensely.

I'm giving God the praise for each step of the way. No matter how big or small, you have to praise Him along the way. If you just sit up and wait for the ultimate "blessing" then you miss out on opportunities and lessons He has for you. When you don't praise ALONG the way, its the same as saying to God "That's good God but I'm still waiting on..." So if you not gonna praise Him along the way, the blessing that he is preparing for you, which by the way you are not ENTITLED to, may never become a reality.

Today is a good day and I am very positive; it's a beautiful day, I am encouraged and excited to facilitate the healing.


Monday, December 13, 2010

Taken for granted

Often times we take for granted things that we have or things that we can do because quite obviously it has become the routine. For instance, you expect that when you get up in the morning your car will run. Or, even better, because you had food in your cupboard last night, means that your breakfast oatmeal will be available to you this morning. We take for granted our expectations, however in reality, our expectations are our customization to the usual. Because they have become so much of the norm, we can hardly recognize them as a blessing.

You've heard some rendition of a saying that you don't know how good you got it until its gone. While this is not an earth shattering statement, it bares mentioning again. We often don't realize that we are the daily benefactors of a multitude of "expectations" that are truly blessings. Wow...this may sound heavy but here is where I'm coming from. The fact that YOU have the use of your legs to get you out of bed, your dominant hand to brush your teeth, and running water, makes you wonderfully and highly blessed. Here's a wonderful experiment for you: Just take 3 things, any 3 things that you "need" on a daily basis (be very specific) and try to be without those for 1 day...just one day. Be sure to perform all of your regular duties with the same deficiencies.

I am so grateful that I have the returned use of my legs. And just to show you how each minutia of your day is a blessing (and our blessings are too numerous to be counted) ... I can have the full activity and sensation of my limbs, but what if i had no or minimal balance, which is in part my issue today. Well, yes I will have mobility, but it would not be the ultimate level of function I "wanted". I think you will find that there are so many things we take for granted because they are usual and customary. It is so amazing to think of God in His infinite wisdom to the best our brains can conceive to realize that his blessings are so involved and intricate.

When I think of the times we had to make grand rounds to review our stroke patients, a team would consist of a neurologist, neurosurgeon, dietitian, pulmonary rehab therapist, rehab MD, speech therapist, case manager and the nurse. God only needed himself to orchestrate the physical capabilities of his subject which would include balance, strengthening, conditioning, occupational capabilities, etc.

Ultimately, I am attempting to convey that we really need to begin to look at every aspect of our life that the limitations of our mind will allow. Understand that God has blessed us with so many things that we truly take for granted. We need to STOP and reflect on what we can and realize what they are. When we are able to do that, we begin to see our lives, people, and situations in a very different perspective. One which is more spiritual rather than materialistic or as an expectation.

Hope this helps somebody......

Sunday, December 12, 2010


I will start with the good news, Yolanda is doing fine and resting in the hospital. Now let me catch you all up.

Yolanda has been experiencing severe abdomanal pain over the past week or so. On Friday evening her breathing was constricted and a family friend brought her to the ER. After they gave her something for the pain and took some e-rays, we were released around 1am. We woke up to a true miracle Saturday.....Yolanda was able to WALK WITHOUT ASSISTANCE since in over a month. What a blessing!!

We were on our way to having a great day, but we hit another stumbling block. Yolanda's stomach pain return with no sign of releif in sight. We came back to the ER and they admitted her to relieve the pain. As I said at the outset, Yolanda is resting and feeling better at this point. As always your continued and prayers and positive comments are most welcomed and appreciated.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

We're home...I cried today!!!

Well family.... It's been real. Even more so, now that I am home, reality is setting in for me. Physically, I am not what I used to be, but I am still here with "The great I AM" and you. I continue to be encouraged by your words of wisdom. inspiration, and well wishes. I am comforted in knowing that so many are letting their guards down and analyzing what you say, who you say it to, and how you say it. So many are looking at their own spiritual walks and just your daily lives. You are passing on messages that may impact others walk as well. And now we are ministering together.

Physically, I am able to walk and function about the house. I am on a walker, for now. However, the feelings in my extremities are essentially numb, as if I have slept on them. I have started attending physical therapy to regain strength and endurance to be able to walk without assistance. I am somewhat limited in performing my ADLs (i.e. brushing teeth, washing face, etc), but thank God He divinely created a man who seems to have owned the process of caring for my needs. Needless, to say, my appetite is good; I sure haven't missed a meal. My mother-in-law is staying with us for a couple of weeks now and she too has been just a wonderful God send.

This event makes things so surreal because my physical disabilities are the same as my patients that I have taken care of in the past. I can now appreciate their anxiety and anger as I would push my patients to move and perform to regain their own strength. I never knew how hard it would be to just "press on" through the limited motion and pain. It is humbling to have to be dependent on another individual to help perform things that we honestly just take for granted each day. I am guilty, even as a health care provider, in not truly realizing the importance of how or the usefulness of the joints, muscles, etc. Even after one visit, I have a new healthy respect for physical and occupational therapists. My team will have to deal with a person (talking about me) who is used to their independence and autonomy, but who will have emotions and pride getting in the way. Eureka! At least I'm acknowledging I have a problem going in. And, I am scared of what is to come. Just to give a you a visual: I have 2 metal rods extending from the base of my neck to approximately the midpoint of my back. I essentially only have sensation in my body from the breast line down BUT I AM ABLE to move all extremities just with weakness and therefore not a lot of control. (PLEASE PRAY for return of normal sensation throughout my body and controllable normal strength of all extremities.)

Emotionally, well I cried today. Just keeping it real, y'all. When I think of what I used to do independently, I couldn't stand the thought of the road ahead. I truly realize right now how we take for granted the ability to perform basic functions. I need assistance with preparing a plate and setting up to eat; but I can feed myself. I need assistance in getting dressed, putting on shoes, etc. My beau has the responsibility of keeping me clean and tidy (this gives a new meaning to "in sickness and health" stated in our vows). Even during those very humbling times, we are able to bond and connect in a way that many couples will not have the opportunity to experience. I wish I could even offer you a simulation to experiment with to just have the experience of truly having to yield your very private, individual functions / activities over to another individual to perform. Although married and united as one, there are still things that you just do for yourself.

As a woman, well you know we take pride in the physical appearance and y'all it ain't there. Ain't tryin' to say I was your drop dead beauty queen before all of this happened; not trying to say I still had my young bride look working for me (18 years of marriage and 2 babies does change things); ain't trying to say I had heads turning everywhere I went, HOWEVER, for me, I am struggling with whole altered body "disfigurement" of which at this point I can do nothing about. Those who know me, know that I love to shop, dress up, etc and now I just can't see that (And I just bought me some red high heeled, opened toe shoes.) Hopefully, in time, with rehab and regaining my independence and functionality, that will not be a problem. Forgive me if it seems that I brag, because I REALLY AM NOT, BUT my beau has been great since the beginning of this ordeal in June in letting me know that he did not marry me for physical appearances only (THANK GOD). To be more very accurate, Mike told me in the examination room on the day the doctor told us we had to have a mastectomy, "Don't you know? I didn't marry you for your breasts; I married you for you." Somebody wise must have already told him that gravity is a real force in nature and those girls from wedding day weren't gonna hold up forever (smile).

Please know that my tears were not pity party tears (I don't do those). They were tears of the unknown. I don't know what my ultimate function will be and therefore do not know what limitations I will have; at what capacity will I be able to function. I don't know what "fight" I am entering and just wondering do I have what it takes. Whereas my mind is thinking very high level, i,e, looking for a job, business ideas, etc. , in reality, I only need to be thinking about how to perform basic functions. This is basically FEAR OF THE UNKNOWN.

I continue to find peace in the versus that are sent that just remind me to be patient (not my forte'); that remind me that God is in control and not me (lol!); and that ALL of this will work together for the good of those who love God (that's me).

Loving you and keeping you in my prayers.

Monday, December 6, 2010

Food for thought – How well do you really know your/or about your own temple?

As I review the events that are transcending through this journey, there’s one remaining question that I have had the privilege to discuss with some of you. As mentioned several times, I do not know why I am going through any of this; therefore, I will occasionally take the opportunity to just a write a “food for thought” which to a degree is just a revelation that has been placed on my heart.

My question for you today is do you really know your temple as well as you SHOULD? Understand this, physicians have gone to school and have undergone extensive training to learn about the HUMAN BODY. They are trained experts on the anatomy and physiology of the human body. They have, in many cases, had the privilege of dissecting cadavers, studying the activities of “like human test animals” i.e. rats and monkeys, or studying various systems of interest.

I believe, whereas physicians have studied the HUMAN BODY they have not studied YOUR BODY. But the bigger question is “Have you?” In going through this journey which started May 2010 with a routine annual well-woman visit, initially resulted in 2 biopsies, 2 surgeries and multiple tests/procedures. While I was in for my visit, I communicated that there was something abnormal. Instead of further investigation or following-up, my doctor responded with just take some Vitamin E and let me know how you feel in a couple of weeks. The reported results of my mammogram were normal. Understand that pain of any kind, is meant to signal you there is a problem in your body. Two weeks later, I was back in the MDs office with the same complaint, increased pain and a second mammogram leading to an ultrasound, which then leads to a surgeon. Until June 29th, which was when I was diagnosed with cancer, did anyone take me seriously that whatever was going on needed more than “over the counter” attention. On July 29th, I find myself being wheeled off to surgery for a total left breast mastectomy.

By the end of September, I am confronted with yet another pain which needed attention after I had tried and failed to get relief from “over the counter” remedies. My primary care physician (PCP) loosely diagnosed me with pleurisy and suggested I take Aleve and I should begin to feel relief within a couple of days. Approximately two weeks later my PCP ordered a cardiac workup. Over a week later, because I had not received any comfort, I visited an urgent care center, found another PCP and my arthritis doctor, ordered more tests. Out of the four physicians, six prescriptions were written to treat a possibility and not a definitive diagnosis. I refused to take any of the medications because I was not comfortable with pain relief without a specified diagnosis; i.e. shooting in the dark. Still adamant that the piercing chest pain (like someone stabbing you with a large knife from your back through your chest and twisting it at the same time) that I was having was real, I returned to my original primary physician for her to say, “Well you have been diagnosed by several physicians with the same diagnosis therefore, we are confident that your treatment plan is correct but the only thing we haven’t checked is an upper GI, which we can do IF you want to.” Basically she was saying, in my opinion; let’s order this test to pacify me (i.e. to shut me up).” Knowing that my pain was real, I as adamant to have the test performed.

Be persistent about your care! She had received the results of my test in 48 hours, but had not bothered to call me about the results. When I truly thought I was just on my last leg which was about one week later, I asked Michael to call my doctor to get the results of the of the upper GI. Her response was disappointing as she shared with me that I had an ulcer and that I needed to be scoped. “Really, now was my thought!!!” She didn’t even bother to inform, we had to call her several days later? Here I am sitting at home in increasing pain over that last week, having to make yet another trip to the ER. While in there I rejected any further testing offered by the ER because my PCP diagnosed me with an ulcer.

On the following Monday I was scoped, only to find out that I do not have an ulcer. My GI doctor was immediately concerned (he is a close family friend and he knew that I am not the type of patient who cries wolf) and ordered a series of tests (MRIs, Ultrasounds and CT Scans of various parts of my body), which were done that evening. The next day (Tuesday), we find out from the investigative concern of a wonderful GI physician, I had a tumor surrounding by spinal cord!!! Praise God for placing this awesome friend and medical doctor in my life and in me path along this journey. All of this leads to an open body biopsy, more tests and now this major and very urgent surgery.
Why am I briefing you on the details? Because if I had not been persistent about the PAIN that I was feeling, either one of these incidents could have led to a much worse outcome. “DO YOU KNOW YOUR OWN BODY?” A better question is do you know what usual pain feels like versus what it means to have abnormal pain? Take responsibility for yourself. Do not let the so called “experts” treat you and they really don’t know what they are treating. God made us “wonderfully and fearfully,” He made us in His image. We were/are created awesomely but our body works together in harmony so that it is in sink and makes sense. If you remember there used to be a little tune that we sang that speaks to each body part is connected to another part and how it all works together. That is the CREATION that only God could perform. All we have been able to do is clone what God has created but we cannot recreate his CREATION. God has, through various signals, given each of us the ability of being our own physician for your own body. The insight of that which we can’t see (i.e. PAIN) is one of our primary signals that say “Hey a part of the temple/creation is not working very well.” Man can recover, repair, clone and mimic but we cannot create as God has already done.

Lastly, not only are we created in his image but we are wonderfully and fearfully made as individuals. And so I ask, do you know your own body? What does the pain signify? Is it new or unusual? Take care of this awesome temple that God has created. He has given you charge over your temple and gave you the ability to inform the “medical professional” when something is not going right internally. Be persistent, steadfast and never stop pleading your case when you know something is not right and you question if you are not receiving the correct treatment.
We are all unique and sometimes the quick answer/treatment is not the correct one.

With Love for you all, I am humbly grateful to have this opportunity to share my journey and to help someone grow stronger in the Lord. May God continue to bless!

Friday, December 3, 2010

I'm coming around

Well, as most of you have read, my protector and my guard has limited my visitation with only the greatest concern for my well being taken into consideration. This was a mutual decision, because if you know me, I will tend to over do it and then I will set myself back. Therefore, I am still very limited to texting and email.  Most of my commucnication will come via the blog.

I can not and will not ever be able to find the words to explain my appreciation and my gratitude to each of you for your words of affection, encouragement, and outpouring of love that has been demonstrated toward me and our family. All I can say is that I hope and pray I can be there for you in your time of need as you have been there for us.

As I stated before, the expressions of love and someone actually praying for you speaks more in volume than someone just saying they love you or "I will pray for you." You have done just that! I am honestly in awe of all of you.

I told one of our associate ministers, as a revelation to me, as I looked out amongst a group of my church members, I said to him "You know, this cancer is not about me at all. This is bigger than me; this is for someone else." At the time, these were the words that graced my mind but I could not at the time tell you exactly what that meant. When I gave a testimony at church the last Sunday in October, I then again could not articulate why this was happening to me, what was to come out of this and know who was to benefit.

Today, I can share that this journey was meant for you and for me. I am learning so much about myself as it relates to my strength, my belief and my Christian walk. I am learning more about love and prayer, as well. I am learning and growing in my marriage and my relationships. Many of you have shared through this blog, emails and text messages how this physical event in my life has/is impacting your spiritiual life. I think we have come to a crossroad together that is not about any one individual but it forces us to rely on the ONE AND ONLY HOLY GOD to supply our rescue and need.

My pastor preached a sermon one Sunday, and one of the questions was, "Why me" and better yet, the question we should be asking is "Why not me." I honestly consider myself privileged to be chosen by God to be an instrument He found worthy enough to use for his people. What has been most intriguing to me as of late is this; prior to going to surgery, without provocation, my surgeon said to us "Listen, I am a believer. I am just an instrument." Then the first nurse in the recovery room that I was able to clearly commuicate with expressed her Christianity to me and as she left for her shift, she said to me "I pray for a healing for you and I feel great vibes for your life." Throughout the stay so far, people have just poured their blessings upon me by wishing me well, etc. And so now, I do not ask "Why me", I say "thank you God for choosing me and I hope that I am serving you well for the extent of this journey."

We are still on the journey unknowledgeable of what the end will bring. I will tell you that we have scary moments thinking of the worst, we have funny moments just laughing at ourselves as we often do, and we have just moments thinking of what we still have left to do.

What's next: Well the plan is that in about 10-12 days post surgery we will start radiation therpy on my spine for about 5-12 days.  Afterward we will begin chemotherapy. I still don't know how long or the frequency of the chemothaerapy, but we suspect that it will not exceed 6 months.

Loving and Praying for you all...


Yolanda Is Out Of Recovery

Good evening all.  I just returned home from visiting Yolanda. The recovery team transferred Yolanda to her permanent room around 7pm this evening.  She is resting well and trying to get her pain (from the procedure) under control.  As expected, she is in no position to entertain visitors at this point. PLEASE respect our wishes and do not drop in unannounced. Yolanda is not prepared physically to have guests tomorrow. 

When I do finally allow visitors, I would ask that you respect her recovery and not stay to long.  She needs to rest.  I would also ask that you contact me via my cell to inquire as to when you would like to come by to check on her. Please allow me/us to plan and be prepared for your visit.

Although Yolanda is "close" to being herself again, she still needs to rest as much as possible. 

I am thanking you in advance for you cooperation regarding visitation.

Be Blessed!!

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Recovering Well

Yolanda's mom and I went to visit her this morning.  She is still in the PACU recovery.  She was awake, alert and asking questions which is a great sign.  Praise God!  Yolanda reports that while in pain from the surgery, she has no pain in her back for the first time in awhile.  It was music to my ears!  I was only able to stay 10 minutes, but I left there with a BIG smile on my face. 

They estimate that she will be transferred to either the ICU or a permanent room sometime later this afternoon.  As soon as I know, I will post the information.  At this point I am sure she will not prepared or capable of taking on an onslaught of visitors this evening or even tomorrow (assuming she is transferred to a room).  The most important thing for her at this point is rest.  I will let you know when she can possibly have regular visitation.

Be blessed!

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Surgery Update

Yolanda came out of surgery around 8:30 this evening.  I was finally able to see her around 10:45.  Dr Kim gave me a good report and said that he got a lot of the tumor cells out of her body.  He placed rods from the bottom of her neck down to T7 vertebrae on both sides of her spine.  She is resting in PACU recovery now and will remain their through the night.  They plan to move her to ICU sometime tomorrow morning.  She will be in the ICU for approximately 24 hours.  It appears she won't be moved back to a room until sometime late on Friday.  It looks like she will be in the hospital through the weekend, at a minimum. 

Thank you again for your prayers, thoughts and words of encouragement.  God bless you all, good night.

Two Weeks Later

Good afternoon to everyone.  Today is 12/1/10 and Yolanda went in for major surgery at approximately 2pm today.  The surgery is expected to last 6 to 7 hours.  On 11/19/10 (almost of two weeks) she had an open biopsy to scrap and collect some tumor cells from her vertebra (from T2 down to T5).  We were preparing to move into the next phase of her recover (radiation treatment and later chemotherapy); however, her pain continued to spike as I had to take her to the ER twice in the past five days.  After taking her to the ER on this past Sunday evening, the neurosurgeon (Dr. Kim) and her oncologist (Dr. Osbourne) decided to keep her in the hospital and run a battery of test. 

When Yolanda woke up on Sunday morning she noticed some weakness on the right side of her body and was not able to stand or walk without assistance.  She also felt a tingling sensation in her right arms and legs.  The MRI revealed that her T2 and T4 vertebra has totally collapsed and that the cancer is growing at a very rapid rate.  Per Dr. Kim, the MRI shows that the tumor's growth is "impressive" compared just TWO WEEKS AGO and it is very aggressive. (NOTE:  Dr. Kim is the leading upper body and spinal neurosurgeon in the country. Not only is he the Chair of Neurosurgery at Baylor College of Medicine he has also written over 19 text books on the spine.)  Dr. Kim told us just before surgery that his job is the remove as much of the visible cancer cells as humanly possible and to stabilize her vertebra.  With the collapse of T2 and T4 vertebrae, Yolanda spine is no longer strong enough to support her head and neck. Dr. Kim also said that the tumor is creating so much pressure on her spine that if we would have waiting one more week she would have become paralyzed from the breast down. Her medical team has been outstanding.  Dr. Osbourne has even given us his personal cell and home phone numbers.  The doctors are on the case and have spent numerous hours discussing over the phone and emailing about Yolanda's case.

My GOD, I never knew Yolanda was/is this strong.  She is my hero!  Her strength and devotion to our Lord JESUS Christ is amazing.  People ask me all the time "how are you doing Michael" and my response is always the same - I am doing fine. The reason why I am doing fine is because my wife is channelling a light from God that gives me hope and strength.  I can not explain in words how easy it is for me to continue to be upbeat, positive and strong for my wife and girls.  I know now that, when you have COMPLETE faith and know that come what may "God's Will Be Done" the worries of the moment don't weigh you down.  Now, so that I am clear and honest, I am not saying that I am not concerned for my wife's well being and her quality of life going forward but I am saying that I/we have accepted what has already been written long before Yolanda and I were conceived, meet, married and had children.  God already wrote the book and we as Christians have chosen to trust in his word and walk by faith and know that there is a reason for Yolanda's Journey. 

There is a celebration in her/our testimony even if it is not for us. God (in all of his wisdom) is using her/us to help someone else.  Possibly someone we may not even know.  Our pastor teaches that we should not be so small minded to think that God is only working in our little small spec of a corner of the world.  God is all knowing, all seeing, perfect in every way and he does not make mistakes.  So we submit to his will.  We are thankful in every way, praise God!  It is our pray that someone is bless by our testimony and comes to know the Lord JESUS as their personal saviour. 

Let me stop and say:  If you are questioning your faith or you are not a Christian, please stop and ask JESUS to come into your life and dwell as the head of your life.  JESUS is the truth and the light.  John 14:6 reads: Jesus saith unto him, I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me.  You can chose to let JESUS be your captain.  I pray you consider Christ today. AMEN!

Please know that Yolanda (we) is/are encouraged by your comments and feels the outpouring of love that you are showing through your words.  Less than two weeks ago she went under the knife for an open biopsy and today this nasty cancer has taken two of her vertebrae, but she is not going to let this speed bump stand in the way of her blessing.  Yolanda is a fighter and we are already planning a victory celebration.

Be blessed and thank you all for keeping my wife and us in your prayers!

The battle is not over

We still must fight and pray to win this race. I thank God most of all for knowing Him as my supreme father and He knowing me as his daughter. I thank Him as well for having not only all of you praying for me but also those who have your friends, church & family members and ...etc (people who don't even know me personally) praying for me. I believe that the prayers of the believers will prevail. In all of your prayers I know that we are praying for a miracle and my complete recovery and that would be for my physical body, but I ask that you also pray for a healing of my spiritual body, faith and confidence.  I would also ask that you pray for God's will to be manifested through this trial.  I know that this is only a test and to God be all the glory and honor, but I must admit I am somewhat concerned!

The last two days have been extremely difficult. Monday I woke up with tingling sensation down the entire right side of my body. By midday I needed assistance to walk. Later that afternoon, the pain in my body became excruciating and the weakness had also increased. My oncologist began to order more at home narcotics and anti flammatory drugs. Nothing was working. I even had my mother touching, rubbing me. She talked to me coaching me through extreme pain spasms and it was not working. Finally, I was admitted to the hospital through the ER and was started on a heavier intravenous narcotics. This was one of those times anybody would vote "Yes" on the California bill legalizing medicinal marijuana (smile).

The plan for Tuesday was for me to get an MRI and CT mapping to outline the shape of the tumor for radiation (which was to begin on Wednesday). After the MRI the doctors discovered that the tumor was actually growing at a relatively fast rate and was larger then what it was almost two weeks ago when Dr. Kim went in for the biopsy. It is now pressing significantly on my spinal cord which is causing the numbness. The mapping for tumor was canceled and my cancer team thought it more urgent to remove as much of the visible tumor as possible instead of radiation as the first option.  Therefore, I will be going into surgery first thing Wednesday. For now, tentatively radiation will follow the surgery in approximately two weeks. This of course is not the direction we thought we were headed but I will play the hand that I was dealt.

I will be candid with you all, while I am still strong and faithful in God I am human and truly perplexed by this whole ordeal.  I continue to say to myself that God will not place more on me than I can handle; I will continue to stand strong on his word; I continue to rely on his holy scriptures, like Mathew 6:25-34 - that tells me not worry;  I continue to believe God will supply all of my needs; I continue to believe that his WILL will serve a greater purpose than my will - but sometimes its hard to understand not just the "why" but it is even more difficult to grasp the "how" (you are going to make it through)."  The toll that this one ordeal has on me also effects my family, friends and others that are close to me.  This news today was like a bump in the road and so for awhile today I was weakened.  Please pray for my strength and continued courage to fight the good fight.  I read Galatians 5:22-23 several times today.  I understand why it is call the "Fruit of the Spirit" and not the "Fruits of the Spirit" - I need all of the Fruit (love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control) to make it through this journey.  The Fruit is all inclusive and is visible evidence of living a true Christian life. 

Thank you so very much to all of you for praying for me and my family.  I need you all to know that I say a special prayer every day.  I ask God to bless each of you and that you receive God's fullest blessings upon your life.  Thank everyone for joining me in this battle.  As my pastor (Rev. D.Z. Cofield) says "if you see a good fight you ought to get in it".  I would not be able to make this journey alone.  With the help, support and encouragement of my husband, family, christian family and prayer warriors like you guys I am confident that I will be able to keep my head up and endure the trials alone this journey.

Pray my strength in the Lord and may God continue to bless you all!