Managing Change

It’s always easy to be in the routine and just keep plugging along without interuption. But when things get tough it sets us back and puts us in a situation where we can sink or swim.

As a long-term cancer survivor I have been very aware of the way things could go. And, I must add, I have no way of changing that course if it what is supposed to be. All I can do is what I know to do and what my medical team tells me to do. That’s it – the rest is in God’s hands.

The month of February was a month that proved to me just how precious one day is. I faced news that really made me think!

List of events

  1. February 3, 2009 — The Important Things
  2. February 10, 2009 — Enjoying the Good Things in Life
  3. February 16, 2009 — Making Adjustments
  4. February 22, 2009 — Intentional Living
  5. February 25, 2009 — Keep Going – No Matter How I Feel

  1. February 3, 2009 — The Important Things
  2. In the journey I have walked, for the nearly the past thirteen and one-half years now, I have faced many life and death issues. There have been many ups and downs as the rollercoaster ride has continued. Perhaps that is why I am very well aware of a passage in scripture that goes like this:

    A Time for Everything

    There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under heaven:

    a time to be born and a time to die,
    a time to plant and a time to uproot,

    a time to kill and a time to heal,
    a time to tear down and a time to build,

    a time to weep and a time to laugh,
    a time to mourn and a time to dance,

    a time to scatter stones and a time to gather them, a time to embrace and a time to refrain,
    a time to search and a time to give up, a time to keep and a time to throw away,

    a time to tear and a time to mend, a time to be silent and a time to speak,
    a time to love and a time to hate, a time for war and a time for peace.

    What does the worker gain from his toil? I have seen the burden God has laid on men. He has made everything beautiful in its time. He has also set eternity in the hearts of men; yet they cannot fathom what God has done from beginning to end. I know that there is nothing better for men than to be happy and do good while they live. That everyone may eat and drink, and find satisfaction in all his toil—this is the gift of God. I know that everything God does will endure forever; nothing can be added to it and nothing taken from it. God does it so that men will revere him.

    Ecclesiastes 3:1-14 (New International Version)

    Because of my parents teaching, and many man-to-man talks I had with my father over the years, I learned very well the importance of keeping my eyes off man and focused upon God. To do that I also learned that I had to read for myself the Bible.

    It’s not enough to just attend church services. It’s not enough to just talk with people that claim to share your common belief system. You must maintain a constant personal relationship with God in heaven. Or, as I have come to know him, Abba Father better understood in today’s English as “Daddy God.”

    The reason I share that with you is because I have learned that no one can nor will they be with you as you endure the things life will throw at you. Even those people closest to you that do their best cannot be there when things go wrong. But God is when you believe in him. That is why I placed my eternity in his hands at a very young age of eight years old when I trusted in Jesus as my Savior for all eternity.

    All that gives me hope, which for anyone who has read my book means Holding Onto Promises Everlasting. That is why I continue to focus upon my faith to fuel my hope so that when the bad news comes I am not overwhelmed. The few years I spend on earth are not the end of my life, but rather just the beginning.

    With all that as background I want to share my most recent news. Yesterday, at approximately 2:00 p.m. Deborah took a telephone call from Margaret at KUMED to give us the information about me not being accepted into the clinical trial that promised the possibility of remission. Deborah then contacted my Bone Marrow Coordinator (Beth) to make sure she was up-to-date. As of now it appears my best chance of beating this cancer is a bone marrow (or stem cell) transplant. I am still on the list waiting for that perfect match donor.

    This seems to be one of the many valleys in my life, but I am focused on taking care of business and spending time with my beautiful bride. The doctors and nurses continue to do their best; and I always remember what Dr. Kashyap told me over the years, “I only give you the medicine and the rest is up to God.” What comforting words from a man who cared about his patients more than most doctors will ever conceive of. For now, to use an aviation term, “I am in a holding pattern.” waiting for something to happen.

    One of my friends once told me during a conversation about life that, “Every day is a good day, some are just better than others!” My friend Steve was also a cancer patient and we both offered encouragement to each other. Today is a good day and I pray I have a lot more to come following this one. But in the end 100% of us finally see the words I shared above come true.

    Today I choose to have a smile on my face and to enjoy every moment I have to share with my wonderful wife and friends. I pray you do the same. Smile! God has a plan and he is in control of everything.

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  3. February 10, 2009 — Enjoying the Good Things in Life
  4. One of my favorite activities is listening to music. I also love to watch stories about musicians, watching music videos, and attending an occasional live music event. And it may surprise people to learn I enjoy several genres.

    Perhaps the reason music is so important to me is the calming or uplifting affect it has on my soul. The other observation I have made over the years is the fact that a really successful group or artist doesn’t do their craft alone. It is a true team effort when they perform. What an example for the rest of the world that believes life is all about one person – themselves.

    When I considered what I would share with you today I also thought about my recent exercise sessions at the Merriam Community Center where Deborah and I workout approximately five to six times each week. I have a much more varied routine these days; one that has me in the basketball court walking as a primary exercise. The people there also remind me of teams at work.

    If you consider what a team consists of I think you must remember the parents that take time out of their day to spend time mentoring their children. One example is a man and his son I have recently met. This daddy spends time with his young son teaching him the fine art of goal oriented practice. As many of us have learned having a mentor to keep us focused and to show us how something is done makes a significant difference in our lives. The other fact is experience yields perfection. And when these children have the opportunity to spend time with their dad like I did the reward is more than just learning a sport like basketball.

    We also have a young man’s team practicing there on a regular basis. The coaches and I have talked about the parents and children’s dedication and commitment to becoming one of the best teams in town. One of their goals is to teach the parents and the kids about those two life skills. Even though they are young they are winners and you wouldn’t believe the shots those short guys can make! This reinforces the fact that with the right training and practice, that experience pays off!

    In my quest for survival of cancer I have practiced these same skills. Building relationships with new people and living a life-style that will lead to success. I also keep my mind focused upon God Almighty and realize he is orchestrating something special in my life. It is a blessing to have the opportunity to represent God and to tell you and other people on a regular basis how my medical case flows up and down.

    The latest news I have is that we are in a holding pattern, quite literally praying for a miracle drug to come through to stop the cancer inside my body. To date I am chemo resistant with everything we have attempted to use. Tumors continue to grow and unless they can be stopped even a transplant will not work at this point in time. I am relying on my medical team to be diligent in the quest for up-to-date scientific information that may save my life. But I know full well that God has everything under control no matter what the doctor’s say. We’ll just see how the next chapter plays out.

    I want to focus everyone’s attention that follows my story on the man I mentioned earlier. He spent time last week to get to know me personally. And he blessed my heart when he told me Monday evening that he had added me to his prayer list in their church. I was so excited to hear that news, and to have another human being do the best thing any of us can do for someone else: Pray! I must also add his son is really coming along in his practice sessions. As they say “Practice makes perfect!” My team is expanding and that is such a blessing.

    Perhaps the best advice I can give anyone that prays for someone else is to hold their names up in the way you feel compelled to do that, and ask God to provide their needs for the day. Remember we live one day at a time. While there is no way even I can tell you what I need today I know God already has that planned out. And when you support those of us with illness by asking God for that special help I believe he takes note that you care about people just like he does. One lesson I have learned is God loves me more than I can find words to express. My friend I pray that you will also learn how much God loves you!

    So always take time to say a special prayer for other people like I do. And you, too, will receive a special blessing from God Almighty. Because God’s goal is for each of us to have a personal relationship with him all day long each and every day of our lives. My prayers for others always include the medical teams that care for us and my family and friends. The result is people’s lives being changed. Especially my life as I serve in this special way. May you have a GREAT and godly day.

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  5. February 16, 2009 — Making Adjustments
  6. One day many years ago I was told I had to attend a training course. It really frustrated me that my supervisor would insist that I stop my work and take a training course by the name of “Managing Change.” Little did I know at that time that the information I learned during that week would be so useful in my entire life. Let me share the information with you here that made an impact on me.

    Overall Wellness

    To move closer to a state of being known as overall wellness is another relatively painless reason to change.

    Overall wellness is more than physical or even mental health. It is an active process, a style of living that promotes physical, intellectual, emotional, and spiritual well-being and satisfaction. Overall wellness speaks to the quality of life and also to a passion for living.

    When you work towards overall wellness, you: This information is very timely for all of us that live in this fast-pasted world. And just think, I took the training back in mid 1994 when things were much calmer than today. The steps identified there are all good advice for living a lifestyle that is pleasing to God and respectful of one another in our inner circles.

  1. Get enough TIME ALONE – time to meditate, relax, reflect, daydream, or be still. You manage to “stop the world” for a little while and get some distance from its frantic pace
  2. Exercise and be conscious of good NUTRITION, controlling what you consume, ingest or inhale.
  3. Have at least one GOOD LISTENER in your life. Whether a professional counselor or a close friend, this person hears what you have to say and helps you gain an objective view of the world and make decisions. A good listener offers comfort, compassion, alternatives, or a gentle push in the right direction when you are stuck.
  4. EXERCISE on a regular basis.
  5. Participate in a solid SUPPORT GROUP. The purpose of the support group can be professional or personal. It can meet formally and on a regular basis or casually and occasionally. A support group lets you know there are other people whose concerns are similar to your own and give you the benefit of other people’s viewpoint and experiences.
  6. Have a satisfying INTIMATE RELATIONSHIP built on mental respect and understanding.
  7. Employ effective TIME MANAGEMENT techniques to avoid feeling overwhelmed and to make time for the things you want to do as well as the things you have to do.
  8. Maintain a sense of PRODUCTIVITY and accomplishment by pursuing challenging work, hobbies, and or interests.
  9. Take RISKS and stretch your limits physically, intellectually, and emotionally.
  10. COMMUNICATE your wants and needs as well as say no to what you do not want or need.

This information is very timely for all of us that live in this fast-pasted world. And just think, I took the training back in mid 1994 when things were much calmer than today. The steps identified there are all good advice for living a lifestyle that is pleasing to God and respectful of one another in our inner circles.

For those of you following my medical case I am due for another doctor visit early next week when I will learn about some new options Dr. Skikne has determined are appropriate for my Bone Marrow Transplant medical team to proceed with at this stage in the game. From what my coordinator Beth told Deborah this morning, it sounds like I will be starting another chemotherapy regimen soon.

I have to remind you that your prayers mean so much to Deborah and me. And I want you to know that as I share about my friends that need your prayers and you hold them up before God Almighty, they, too, are benefiting from your caring about people. One of my friends Lori just got good news. And I know Emily and Lindsey are both doing well. I have a lot of friends I regularly pray for and keep in contact with inside this community of cancer survivors. And I believe it is prayer that keeps us all going. So thank you from the bottom of my heart – from all of us.

Let me close by reminding everyone what a true hero is as evidenced by the recent emergency landing pilot Chesley “Sully” Sullenberger made when he faced an unrecoverable bird strike. I was intrigued to watch the stories as they played out. This pilot seems very humble to me and I was impressed by his family’s support. I couldn’t help but noticing how proud his wife was of his heroic act; just all in a day’s work for this professional airline pilot. This proves what I often tell people, “there is only one thing you cannot buy and that is called EXPERIENCE!” Just think of the lives this man and he entire crew touched by doing a great job that day.

Don’t ever forget the most important person in the world is you. And when you team up with God all things are possible. Thank you for being there and supporting us as we take every day just one day at a time.

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  • February 22, 2009 — Intentional Living
  • In my last post (Making Adjustments) I provided a list of items that have been useful to me over the years. I didn’t want to take the time to go into any additional detail on one of the items listed there at the time, but I do want to clarify that for you today.

    On the list I provided item number six says, “Have a satisfying INTIMATE RELATIONSHIP built on mental respect and understanding.” In today’s culture, and the way many people have grown accustomed to using the word intimate, I believe some explanation for my use of that word is in order.

    I like to do word studies by looking them up in the dictionary. One handy place to do that is on the Internet at www. m-w.com. So that’s what I did to prepare this information for you today.

    When you look up the word intimate in the context I used it you will find the definition, “an intimate friend or confidant.” I want to share how important that is to living a well-balanced life and maintaining Overall Wellness.

    Using my life as an example one of the first lessons my father taught me was the importance of people. I cannot place those words in a sentence without saying the first lesson was the importance of me maintaining an intimate relationship with God. Now I know that for some people that will be uncomfortable, but I always ask people to seek the truth and nothing but the truth; like any good investigator does. Often you will hear it said to let the evidence lead you to the facts and ultimately to the truth (You cannot start off with any preconceived ideas and seek to reinforce them you must follow the trail to the truth).

    With that background I have made it a point to identify many different people throughout my lifetime that I could talk to in confidence. Sometimes this has been a pastor, other times this has been a manager or person I have made friends with at work, and still yet at other times this has been someone I have had a mentoring relationship with. Make sure you get the point that it has to be a two-way connection between people done for the purpose of me helping someone else, or just each of us helping one another.

    This next week I will be receiving news about my next steps as a long-term cancer survivor. The early news I got seems to indicated that I face yet additional rounds of chemotherapy. My intention is to do exactly what I talked about here, and that is to rely upon the intimate relationship I have with God and the network of people I have in my life.

    This is all accomplished by me living an intentional life. One of my favorite teachers is Dr. Randy Carlson and he supports this philosophy on his Web site. I love to listen to him on the radio and learn more about this lifestyle.


    Thank you for your support and remember to enjoy today. I will post an update when I get the information and know what the plans are.

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  • February 2, 2009 — Keep Going – No Matter How I Feel
  • Yesterday afternoon I saw my BMT doctor and transplant coordinator. I had blood tests drawn and learned the plans based upon our conversation about how I was feeling. Then it was time to leave and get on with life.

    One of my favorite radio ministers teaches that we have to just keep doing the right thing no matter how we feel. I have personalized that and pushed myself beyond my emotions over the years; by doing that I have been able to keep going. It has really paid off for me!

    Even though the immediate future holds yet another PET scan, and my blood tests yesterday show I have an elevated count on the cancer markers they watch, I plan to keep doing what I have done for years. I plan to keep going – no matter how I feel for as long as I can.

    My status on the donor list is still the same – I don’t have a good match. The cancer seems to be progressing – based upon the blood test results. And I am told to expect the PET scan will probably indicate there is additional growth based upon the results of my blood tests. But I am feeling great!

    The plan is for me to get a chemo regimen when I need it. I am charged with monitoring my body and immediately getting to my doctor if anything changes. For now I don’t have any symptoms except for fatigue. And I am not that far out from the autologous stem cell transplant and chemo. Over all, if I manage my physical activities, I do very well.

    Things at work have been very busy and I have been able to help my team there. I maintain my workouts at the gym with Deborah at least five days a week and lately I have added another day to tweak my emotional state and stretch my muscles. It gives me the feedback that my life is counting for a lot. That helps me keep focused and keep going.

    For now I want to tell you I have been so blessed in my life as a long-term cancer survivor. That includes my recent visit to the cancer center where I got to share my story with yet another patient that is just getting started navigating life as a cancer survivor. Even my doctors, nurse practitioners, nurses, and I get to share our lives in a special intimate way. I always try to express my gratitude for their efforts caring for me. They give me, and all their patients, so much.

    Let me close by saying I am excited that I can choose to be happy and reach out to people. Some people can never get past their sorrow. But God has blessed me in such a wonderful way. Yea, I guess you could say I have a bad day once in a while. But that’s OK because I am here to have that day. Smile – God loves all of us!

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