Friday, May 29, 2015

Well done, good and faithful servant…”

The time has come to submit the final chapter in Ray’s blog.  He wanted to write it himself but the disease process began to move quickly after his Thanksgiving post and he found he could no longer convey his thoughts well enough to write.  We thought it proper to let his last post, “Thankfulness”, stand until such time as we could write a final tribute.  He did, after all, leave this world with a thankful heart.  

Ray was a wonderful husband, father, grandfather, brother and friend.  And, he was the “wind beneath my wings”.  I am forever grateful for the 47 years we spent together.  He was my best friend, my trusted confidant, and a most honorable man.  In life, he did not waver in his commitment to remain true to the things he believed in and the beliefs he held dear.   In death, he stood firm in his unequivocal belief that God was in control—never questioning the sequence of events or feeling sorry for himself.  The Bible tells us that we are created to bring honor and glory to God in all things.  That includes the hard trials we often face in this world—yes, even death.  Ray honored God in life and if possible, with even greater conviction in death.  We believe that his blog gave testimony to that fact.  This was Ray’s ministry on earth—one of boldly submitting to God through suffering and sharing his faith through his writing. 

Ray wanted you, his readers, to know the ultimate peace that comes with resting in the arms of God through the most difficult times.  He pressed on, unafraid, never doubting that each obstacle he faced along the way would in some way bring glory to his Savior.  Observing Ray’s unconditional trust in God turned a bittersweet journey into one that would result in increased faith and spiritual understanding for all of us as a family.  We could not have walked through this journey with him and come to the end with unchanged lives.

Ray went to be with his Lord and Savior on January 12, 2015, after a fourteen month battle with pancreatic cancer.  Many of you have followed along as he fought this battle with a brave heart.  He was diagnosed on his birthday, November 15, 2013, and he continued to work on the farm and write his blog as he began treatment.  It appeared at first that chemotherapy and radiation might give Ray a remission of symptoms and our family hoped and prayed for more time with him.  But at the completion of his treatments, it became clear that neither had accomplished the hoped-for result.  Ray began to go downhill quickly.  Even then, he did not complain or show disappointment, but fully accepted that every detail of his journey was in God’s hands and that his days were indeed “numbered”, as is written in the book of Job, chapter 14 and verses 5-7.  Ray was sure that were it not the cancer, then something else would have brought the completion of his life on earth.

Job 14:5-7New Life Version (NLV)

A man’s days are numbered. You know the number of his months. He cannot live longer than the time You have set. So now look away from him that he may rest, until he has lived the time set for him like a man paid to work.

“For there is hope for a tree, when it is cut down, that it will grow again, and that its branches will not stop growing.

 We grieve and mourn the loss of our beloved Ray.  It has certainly left a gaping hole in our lives, but our family takes sweet comfort in knowing that we will see him again in Heaven.  In the meantime, we have been greatly comforted and loved by family and friends and above all, by the Holy Spirit who makes His presence known in our midst.  In the meantime, thanks to the thoughtfulness of our son and daughter, I can hold in my hands a beautiful full-color book, which includes all of the entries from Ray’s blog, in remembrance of our life together.  Our children graciously had this book printed for me for Mother’s Day and I still cannot find the words to fully express to them, my thankfulness…..

Rita Tanner

Some of you have asked about the two alternative treatments Ray was using, Frankincense oil and the Budwig Protocol with flaxseed oil and cottage cheese.  The Budwig Protocol certainly did give good results.  We just did not start soon enough.  We had confirmation from two different physicians that Ray's blood work had returned  to almost normal values after being on the protocol for six weeks.  This occurred while his cancer was in stage 4.  Given enough time, the protocol could prove to be invaluable for building red cells.  However, we had a late start and Ray was soon unable to tolerate the volume of cottage cheese required to follow the protocol.  We did not have enough time to evaluate the Frankincense fairly but believe it may have been helpful. 
Here is the book our children had published for me.  I am including a few pages from the book so you can see what a cherished heirloom this is.


Saturday, November 29, 2014


   Thanksgiving has always been my favorite holiday. I have many good memories from childhood on the farm; harvest season is over, great cooking from Mom and Aunts and Cousins. The annual Harvest Festival Dinner at our little Baptist church in Eagle, Idaho.  Pumpkin pie eating competition with my cousin, Dick Olson. A time to give thanks for all our blessings.
   I am thankful for Jesus and the eternal and present hope that He gives me. I am thankful for a loving family, for the most dedicated and loving wife imaginable; for children and grandchildren who love Jesus and have such good hearts. Wonderful kids!

   We saw the doctor on Monday. The CT showed no tumors and no growth in the lung nodules That's good. However, my abdomen is swollen with fluid again and the Ca 19-9 marker is elevated all the way back up to 30,000. Not good. He laid out 3 options:#1 - there is 1 more drug they could give me, but he said it is "nasty".  #2 - a clinical trial at Sarah Cannon, or #3 -  do nothing (in which case he estimated 6 more months of life). We added option #4 - a natural solution called the Budwig diet. It is flax seed oil emulsified (with an immersion blender) with cottage cheese. That makes the oil more easily absorbed and the Omega 3 oil strengthens healthy cells to fight off the cancer cells.
   We have a first hand account from the best friend of our friend who's marker fell from very high to normal in just a few weeks, and it has remained low. I have been on it 1 week now. You combine it with healthy eating.....avoid sugar, animal fats, processed food, etc. We are praying that the Lord will bless this and make it effective.
   I will give another blood sample on Dec. 4 and see the doctor on Dec. 10. Please pray that the marker test is reduced, not elevated.
  I will call the doctor Monday to schedule an out patient procedure to drain fluid again.  Please pray that it will not return rapidly as it did this time.
   Thank you so much for your prayers.

In All Things, Give Thanks.

Thursday, November 20, 2014

Not So Good News

 Caleb and Grandpa

   I spent 2 days in the hospital last week as they removed 2.6 liters of fluid from my abdomen and gave me a unit of blood. I saw the Dr. today and the Ca 19-9 marker is elevated and all indications are that the cancer has spread. I will have a CT tomorrow and see the Dr. Monday to see if I am eligible for a clinical trial treatment at Sarah Cannon in Nashville. It is, along with M.D. Anderson, one of the top cancer research facilities in the nation. 
   Most likely I have peritoneal seeding, where cancer cells are in the fluid in my abdomen.
   I feel good except for some pain in the abdomen, which may be caused by pressure from the fluid.
   We will keep fighting while still submitting to God's will for me. He knew my days from the beginning of time and I trust Him. Thank you for your continuing prayers.

I know not why God’s wondrous grace
To me He hath made known,
Nor why, unworthy, Christ in love
Redeemed me for His own.

  1. I know not what of good or ill
    May be reserved for me,
    Of weary ways or golden days,
    Before His face I see.
  2. I know not when my Lord may come,
    At night or noonday fair,
    Nor if I walk the vale with Him,
    Or meet Him in the air.

But “I know Whom I have believed,
And am persuaded that He is able
To keep that which I’ve committed
Unto Him against that day.”

Saturday, November 1, 2014

Ready for winter ?

   This is a basket of Jimmy Nardello sweet peppers. We started them from seed very late last spring but they took off and are extremely prolific. Rita likes them raw, or they are great in stir fry and salads. This was effectively the last garden harvest. We had a freeze last night and supposed to be in the 20's tonight.
   We have not been able to get the garden in winter shape as we normally would, but I just tell myself that it will still be there next spring!
   We gave the red hens to a friend today. I just did't want to deal with caring for them through the winter.
   After such a dry Aug and Sept, we had over 9.5" of rain in October. "Shake and shake the catsup bottle...first comes none and then a lottle!"
   My chemo and radiation treatments ended about 3 weeks ago. I am still dealing with side effects.....mostly neuropathy in feet and legs and what I call "wooden legs", making walking difficult. I am eating well but only have an appetite for certain things. I had a CT scan last week and it showed that the small nodules in my lungs have increased in size since the July CT. The Dr. says it is "concerning" and we will monitor closely.
   Please pray that these stop growing and prove to be non-cancerous.
   Thanks again for reading the blog and for praying.

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Overdue post update

  We'll start this off with a picture of 18 month old grandson Caleb. What a smile! What wavy locks ( too cute to cut yet, I'm told!). He is a bundle of energy....runs everywhere and climbs on everything.
   Weather... after only .4" rain in August and .2" in September we were bone dry. But in the last 10 days we received 1.75" with more on the way. We needed it. We have done very little outside work lately. Rita had successful surgery a week ago, hospitalized one night and bounced right back. Thank you, Lord. I couldn't do without her.
  Rita and I are working part time at Dave's store. We are handling the shipping of all the Amazon orders. About 2 to 4 hours a day. We are really enjoying it. Keeps us busy, it's a great atmosphere and we get to see Dave 5 days a week.
   I had my last chemo today I have 4 more radiation treatments, ending Tuesday the 14th. Then we will just monitor the blood tests and markers and an occasional PET scan. I am so looking forward to letting my body recover from 7 months of chemo and radiation. I have been lower than usual the past month. I can't gain weight no matter how much I eat and my walking has become more tedious and stumbling. My body needs a rest from all the poison and it is coming.
   Good hair is growing back!! My goatee is back to normal and on my head, the hair is 1/2 to 3/4 inches long. Might be able to brush it back in a couple weeks.
   We are still trusting in our precious Lord for a complete healing. Please pray that my body will bounce back quickly when the treatments end next week. I need to gain weight to gain strength.

Saturday, September 13, 2014

Fall Has Arrived

  This was taken 2 weeks ago and now even the green corn is dry. The garden is done for the year and only some cleanup remains. We are still eating the last of the sweet corn, tomatoes, peppers and cucumbers, but that is it. Temps have cooled into 70-82 highs and 50's lows. Pretty nice weather.

   My radiation and chemo was suspended last Tuesday because of side effects. A very mouth-sore bottom lip and also diarrhea that caused a weight loss of 22 pounds in 8 days! And I certainly didn't have 22 to lose. I have regained a few, but at the lowest point last Thursday, I was 106 pounds less than what I weighed pre-diagnoses. The lip and mouth sores are marginally better and the antibiotic I am taking seems to be taking care of the other problem. They still don't know what it is; took more blood to culture yesterday.

   My guidelines are to call the doctor if my temperature exceeds 100.5. Wednesday night at bedtime it hit 101.3. Per Drs. orders we took Tylenol and by morning it was normal. We went in Thursday for blood samples and an IV fluid transfusion. Thursday night......same thing, only this time 103.5. The Dr. almost sent us to the emergency room but said take Tylenol and come in first thing next morning. Again, it was normal next morning; they still didn't have any results on the cultures, so I got more IV fluids as well as IV antibiotic. Sent me home with a week of oral antibiotic, too.  I feel good today; even mowed pasture for an hour or so this morning.

   The plan is to resume radiation Monday and chemo Wednesday, although maybe change the chemo drug. We are anxious to resume and Lord willing, 4 more weeks of treatment will be all that is needed.

   This is a picture son Dave got for me recently. The old rusty Farmall with Jeremiah 29:11....... 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."

   I believe that verse is for me. 

Sunday, August 31, 2014

Dave's New Store is Open

   Our son Dave opened his new store yesterday. There is still lots of work to do before the grand opening in October but it was a very successful day. We are so proud of him; this is his long time dream.

Sign at the entrance to the shopping center

Kid's book corner with video and Thomas table

Lounge and reading area

Check-out counter. G-daughter Brittany on the left; Dave and I on the right.

Here I'm talking to a lady who was waiting in line. 98 cent greeting cards on the right.

   Dave worked so hard with his crew this week to open on time. He pulled several all-nighters. In fact, Rita stayed for an all-nighter Friday night!

Medical update

   After 5 months of the chemo, my marker test moved up just a little...chemo was no longer effective, so we moved on to next phase. Last Wednesday I started daily radiation and I am wearing a fanny pack with an infusion pump that pumps a different chemo into my IV port 24/7.  This will be a 6 week treatment course. Side effects are mainly fatigue and nausea. After the first few days, I feel pretty good. I know that the effects are cumulative, so please pray that I will be able to tolerate it.

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

A New Toy

  So we went shopping for a lawn mower and came home with this beauty. Decided to go for the 6o inch heavy duty model and use it to keep the front pastures trimmed which means we'll go ahead and sell the John Deere tractor and bush hog. They delivered it this morning and I took a few trial runs around the pasture. Learned right away that the zero turn will take some getting used to. And the top speed of 8 mph is way too fast for a slightly bumpy field!! But it is a grass gobbling monster.
  The garden is definitely in late summer mode. Still getting sweet corn, Fortex green beans, sweet peppers, cucumbers and some tomatoes. The butternut squash is about ready to harvest and store. The watermelons and pumpkins are a bust. Won't plant those again; what little we eat annually of those 2 things can come from Kroger or Wal-Mart. I still have a lot of cornstalks to cut and compost, then start preparing the garden beds for a winter rest.
  We need rain badly....very dry. Storms the past few days were supposed to bring 1-1.5 inches but we only received .3".
  Our son Dave is about ready to open his new store in Murfreesboro. Called Christian Publishers Outlet, he will offer over 25,000 new discounted Bibles and books. I'll make another post when he is open in about 10 days.
  This is the second week of school and Wendy is again teaching 3rd grade at Blackman, Katie is a freshman at Eagleville, Jackson has started 5th grade home schooling and Brittany starts at Middle Tennessee State U.
  I saw the cardiologist yesterday for a follow-up and will see the oncologist tomorrow. 6 weeks of radiation treatment will start very soon. I'm feeling better after 4 weeks post chemo, but my feet are still bothering me a lot and making it difficult to walk.
  Until next time, stay well!

Friday, August 8, 2014

Summer ebbing away

  With today being the first full day of school and the garden harvest dwindling, summer is seemingly drawing to a close. It seems way too early.
   We have been giving away produce by the sacks full, but harvest is rapidly dwindling. We still have green tomatoes, but the plants are showing stress and not ripening as fast. I have been eating tomatoes once or twice a day for several weeks. The melons all came on at once as you can see in this picture.

   I am harvesting the last of the Cloud Nine sweet corn. All the corn that is later than this is Kandy Korn. Next year, we'll plant only Cloud Nine. It is a tall, strong stalk that doesn't bend in the storms. A sweet, white corn on a large ear,the husks are tight and it is not bothered by bugs or worms.

   The Summer Dance cucumbers are another keeper. Healthy vines and generous production of thin, long fruit that is tasty whether peeled or not. 

   We are still picking green beans from the Fortex and Annihilator plants. The yellow squash is about finished but a 3rd late planting is still to come. The Yukon Gold spuds and Walla Walla sweet onions are all dug and in storage and being enjoyed. Soon we will pick and store the Waltham Butternut squash. We planted some Jimmy Nardello long sweet peppers very late from seed, but we have 12" long fruit on the plants....waiting for it to turn red and try these for the first time. 
   I still have some blackberry pruning to do and lots of corn stalks to cut and compost, so there is no lack of work.
   Here is a shot of me returning from some bush hogging. 

   Quick medical update: I am feeling pretty good, starting the 3rd week off chemo. We see the radiologist for an initial screening next Monday and likely start radiation soon after. I still have the "concrete shoes" syndrome from the chemo, but my appetite is good and I'm maintainimg weight. The last CT was unchanged to improved, so that is positive. We just move ahead trusting God for whatever He has for us.

Sunday, July 27, 2014

Summer on the Downside

  It's hard to believe but the summer gardening season is on the downside and school starts in 10 days!  We have been harvesting large quantities of produce from the garden. We are giving most of it to family and friends, plus 2 large bags to the chemo doctor's office for doctors and nurses. Dozens of ears of corn, honeydew and cantaloupe, tomatoes, cucumbers, beans, onions, potatoes, sweet peppers and even still gleaning a few blackberries. We don't preserve much anymore, but Rita has frozen some cut corn, blackberries, peppers, onions, and made freezer jam from blackberries and peaches. Wendy and the girls made a 4 day trip to Orlando recently and brought us a box of delicious Georgia peaches.
  Yesterday was lawn mowing day but I was under doctor's orders to lay low, so Wendy and Steve came over and mowed for us and then stayed for some pinochle .
  I had chemo last Wednesday, then returned Friday feeling puny. My electrolytes were low, so got a liter of IV fluid. Also, my hemoglobin was low, on the verge of needing a blood transfusion. I got a shot of Aranesp, which builds hemoglobin, and return Monday for another blood test.
  The chemo has been progressively affecting my feet and legs and some of that can remain permanently, so the doctor thinks it may be time to stop the chemo and start radiation. I have a CT on Wednesday and return on Aug. 6 to see where we go next.
  Please pray that my blood levels will normalize and that I will tolerate the radiation side effects.

Sunday, July 13, 2014

Great Garden Harvest Continues

Closeup of zinnias and glads in the front garden bed

Beautiful sunset after a 1" rain last week

The Honeydew melons are just loaded with large melons

Cantaloupe are a bit later but loaded as well

Summer Slice cucumbers are plentiful and tasty

We are inundated with sweet corn. Seems it is all maturing earlier than suggested maturity date. The Cloud Nine is the best followed by Peaches and Cream, then Kandy Korn. I won't plant Spring Treat or Quickie again. I pulled about 50 nice sized Walla Walla sweet onions this week, like this one.

This is after 3 minutes in the microwave, then I enjoyed it!

The Butternut squash are loaded too

The near row is butternut....I count 10 visible in the picture.

Medical Update
  We had another great report last week...the cancer marker test declined again down to 527 (originally 36,000 and a month ago 1788). Just 500 points to the normal range now! Praise God!  Chemo continues.

Sunday, July 6, 2014

Blackberry pie and 4th of July

  We enjoyed a great Fourth of July. All the family was here plus Katie Bug's friend and her mother as well as Brittany's friend.

   As usual, there was about three times as much food as we could eat! Check this out....

   We are inundated with garden produce and are giving it away to anyone who stands, friends, neighbors, the mail lady.  Sweet corn, tomatoes, blackberries, cucumbers, squash, green beans.. There are several honeydew melons 8" diameter already. I'll get some new pictures for my next post

Saturday, June 28, 2014

Garden Bounty

   First some beauty......first row of the garden beds with glads and mini zinnias.

Tall zinnias on the back of the calf shed.

A 4"x4" Yukon Gold already! An early Girl tomato and a Walla Walla sweet.
Harvest is in full swing; the past week included Quickie sweet corn, yellow squash, green beans, tomatoes, cucumbers, and loads of blackberries.

The back garden; setting on lots of Butternut squash, cantaloupe and Honeydew measuring several inches. Just planted the rest of the bed in the foreground to the last planting of  Kandy Korn sweet corn and Connecticut field pumpkins. 

This picture is too distant, but l to r, flower row, then Annihilator bush beans, then onions and potatoes, all of which are maturing rapidly, then first and second plantings of sweet corn. We'll have Cloud Nine corn maturing next week, followed by Kandy Korn and Peaches and Cream.

Even a bunny shaped tomato!

Medical Update

   Pretty much "same old...same old".  Finished month 4 of chemo last Wednesday. Next week is an off week and then start month 5 of the same. Will have the next cancer marker test in less than 2 weeks....we pray for another decline in the number.
   The cumulative effects of the chemo are catching up to me a bit, but it's nothing I can't bear. It is working and that is the main thing.
   I thank those of you who continue to remember me and pray for me. It means so much.