Friday, January 31, 2014

Vanderbilt Again

Hi, this is Rita.  Ray had been home for three days post surgery when he developed a systemic infection and had to return to Vanderbilt.  After several hours in the ER, he was transferred to the SICU.  Doctors said at one point that he was the sickest man in the ICU. Thanks to God and the wonderful team at Vanderbilt, he has made great strides.  It is not clear, at this point, when he will be able to return to regular posts but he is anxious to do so.  He so enjoys reading your messages.  We thank you for your prayers and kind words.

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Oh Happy Day! Home Again!

  Hello Family, Friends and Prayer warriors,

  This is a good day !!  I was released from Vanderbilt mid-day and got home about 2 PM. A huge thank you to Dan and Jeanene B. for the ride home! Thank you to all who visited, brought goodies, sent cards, and all the phone calls, texts and emails. Most of all, thank you for the prayers which sustained us.

  In short, the Whipple is one of the most complex surgeries out there, only a small percentage of pancreatic tumor patients even qualify for it, and God brought me through it in a record time recovery with very little pain. I am eternally grateful.

  God isn’t through yet! Pathology came back this morning and it is mostly cancer. less pancreatitis. I will begin a course of chemo/radiation/chemo in February for 5-6 months. Dr. Parekh says we will “hit it hard”. He isn’t one for much speculation or percentages, but he is the best, so we will trust God to lead him to the most effective treatment.

  It is wonderful beyond words to be home. It is very cold outside but toasty in here! I will be writing more in the days ahead, but that’s all for now.

  Again, thank you for the thousands of prayers and keep praying that treatment is effective.

  God Bless you all!


Saturday, January 18, 2014

Update on Ray

Hi, this is Ray, posting from Vanderbilt with Rita and Wendy's help.  Surgery was long, and more complicated than expected, but went well.  When they began surgery, they discovered pancreatitis as well as the tumor they were expecting.  The pancreatitis surrounded the tumor, and the surgeon removed the whole mass.  Frozen sections were sent to pathology which determined that is was cancer, but we are waiting on pathology results from other areas to determine the extent and stage.  It did not appear to have spread.  I'm doing very well in recovery so far.  I have very little pain.  I am just waiting for the stomach to wake up, which can take awhile after major surgery.  In about 5-6 weeks, I will have to have chemotherapy and maybe radiation.  This will last for 5-6 months.  I will update as soon as possible and answer emails when I return home. Love to all of you.  I appreciate your prayers and support.

Sunday, January 12, 2014

Last Update Before Surgery

Hello family, friends and prayer warriors,
  Just 2 1/2 days until check in for surgery. We cannot thank you all enough for the literally thousands of prayers and emails, phone calls, cards and notes of concern.  It is so comforting to know of God’s Army out there praying for us. We wholly trust Him for the outcome.
  Just a few notes of how we are doing. The past 4 nights have been the best sleep since early November. The jaundice is greatly reduced and the itching has abated to the point that I have slept those 4 nights with no ice packs and little lotion. I have maintained a great appetite, have eaten well and had no pain or nausea throughout this ordeal, and Praise God for that. The weight loss has slowed though total weight loss since 1 year ago is now approaching 60#. My body just can’t utilize food until we correct the problem and get the enzymes and digestive juices flowing correctly. We look forward to post surgery and treatment, to gaining strength while maintaining a healthy weight.
  We have been blessed this past week with a visit from old friends Pat & Kathy. Pat is a 7 year survivor of Stage 4 Burkitt’s lymphoma and we had a wonderful time of sharing and prayer one evening. I visited by phone with Terry, husband of Melanie whom we met at Vanderbilt. She prayed openly with us on our very first visit to Vanderbilt. Terry had the same surgery I will have 2 1/2 years ago and I appreciated his input.
  We were blessed with wonderful soup and bread and another Sarah Young book from our friend Paige, with milk shakes and a quick visit from Tom and Dottie, and with a 10th birthday party with family for grand-son Jackson. Plus cards, letters, emails, blog comments and phone calls from so many more. God bless you all.
  Lastly, I trust God completely during this time. I want the last words on my mind before anesthesia to be “Help me, Jesus” and the first words when I awake to be “Praise you, Jesus!”
  Please pray also for an added measure of strength, peace and grace for my beloved, Rita.

  Surgery: Wednesday January 15,  8 AM central

Tuesday, January 7, 2014

Red Maple in front of house

  Hello Family, Friends, and prayer warriors,
  Today I had another CT scan and a follow-up with the surgeon before surgery on Jan. 15. The last CT was nearly 2 months ago. Dr. Parikh said the pancreatic tumor is about the same as it was Nov. 15! Praise God! It is great news that it has not grown during that time. I so very much appreciate the prayers of so many. God is good and all is well. We place our trust entirely in Him.
  Surgery will be at Vanderbilt Wed. Jan. 15 at 8 AM CST. On Tuesday afternoon we will go to Vanderbilt for a few more pre-op screenings. Since we live over an hour away and our check in time Wednesday is 6 AM, Son Dave suggested we stay in a hotel Tuesday night. Then he promptly searched the internet on his phone and found the Scarritt-Bennett Center which is just blocks away from Vanderbilt. It is a beautiful retreat and education center which at one time was a Methodist school. They rent rooms overnight for $50, so we have a reservation there next Tuesday night. What a blessing! Click this link if you would like to see their web site.
  The surgery will begin at 8 AM and is a 5-7 hour surgery. Hospital stay is about 7 days, plus or minus. I will try to send another short email next Mon or Tues so that, in the words of my cardiologist Dr. Jackson, “We will ramp up the prayers” !
  Rita will try to text or email as many of you as she has contact info for after the surgery.
  God Bless You,

Saturday, January 4, 2014

New Year Update

  I posted this picture because it represents hope for me. God's beautiful flower creation which I hope and pray to again admire in a few months.

Hello friends and family,
Here is a weekly update and a look forward.
I have been feeling stronger and much more normal this past week. Though the itch persists, we have learned to manage as well as possible.  My weight has stabilized for which we are very thankful, so I can be strong going into the surgery. I have lost about 55# in 2013, but needed to lose that much; the challenge will be to maintain after surgery. My appetite has been great, I have enjoyed eating more than ever, which is a blessing, since many with pancreas problem cause nausea and loss of appetite.
I have been able to get around much more this past week. Yesterday, I went out in 21 degree weather, tended the chickens and started the tractor so it would fire right up for Steve when he came to feed. It is a cold blooded diesel and does not like to start in cold weather. Praise God, it started with just 1 shot of starter fluid.  We needed to go to town and I drove for the first time in weeks. It felt so good! We splurged and stopped at Captain D’s for a wonderful fish and cole slaw meal. I probably “overdid it” some but the heart is now strong.
We are expecting near record low temps the next 3-4 days. Though it is 45 right now, there is a cold wind blowing about 15 mph. Tomorrow is to be over 50 with rain, then temps plunging with 2” snow, Monday morning 9 with a wind chill of –7,  11/3 on Monday, 20/12 on Tuesday then warming some and the rest of January near normals of 40s hi and 20s lo.
I go to Vanderbilt on Tuesday for another CT, then an appointment with my surgeon. Surgery scheduled for Jan 15.
Seems as when it rains it pours. Dave and Katie are at the hospital right now (Saturday 1 pm) as Katie has abdominal pain most likely related to her surgery last Spring. Please pray for them and for a good outcome. Caring for Caleb right now is an issue as Dave, Steve and Wendy all must get back to their jobs, my surgery approaches and Rita has her hands full with me, plus she is having shoulder and wrist problems that keep her from lifting Caleb. And in addition to that, Steve and Wendy;s refrigerator went out overnight. They have Jackson and Caleb with them right now as they are out shopping for a new fridge.
Please pray for:
* Katie and Dave that the outcome of these tests going on right now will be good, for their peace and God’s rest, and for solutions for caring for the boys.
* For Steve and Wendy – they are always “on call” and such willing servants; pray for God’s continued strength and peace for them.
* For Rita, for relief from shoulder & wrist pain and continued strength. She is my angel !
* For our church family at New Heights Chapel, whom we miss so much and so look forward to again worshipping together. The Chapel had a water leak yesterday that did some damage, but services continue, Praise God. So many of you have prayed, called, sent cards, offered help. God bless each one of you.
* For good news after my CT and consultation Tuesday. We are expecting a Praise God time.
God continues to teach me so much through all this. The devotional book “Jesus Calling” by Sarah Young has been recommended by many of you and Dave got me a copy a few weeks ago. What a blessing! God is in control. All is well.
I will send an update after Tuesday.
God richly bless each one of you!