"Precious in the sight of The Lord, is the death of His saints." (Psalm 116:15) Pastor Rudy from Sandra's church shared that passage with us today. He talked about two ways that earthly death is precious to God. First precious in the sense of cost to God in sending his Son to die for our sins. Second, in how dearly God loves His child, Sandra, and is glad that she is there with Him.
At approximately 2:50 pm today, April 2, 2013 Sandra took her last breath on earth and went home. She was surrounded by her family and was at peace.
I noticed her last breath was taken about the same time as the bell would ring to mark the end of the school day. It was almost as if she finished teaching and was ready to go home. As Audrey said, it was as if class was dismissed here on earth and she was already surrounded by a bunch of kids in heaven.
We will be updating the blog as funeral arrangements are made. Right now we are thinking it will be Monday or Tuesday of next week to allow travel time for family and friends.
Thank you for your prayers, love and support through this long journey. While we will miss Sandra very much, there is also a sense of relief and joy for her that her suffering and battle with cancer is over. She is healthy, unhindered by tubes connected to her body, singing and directing children, while laughing and smiling that big beautiful smile. --written by Ardie
Today we celebrate Easter. It has been beautiful spring (almost summer like) weather here in BC for more than a week. Signs of new life are everywhere in the buds on the trees, cherry blossoms, beautiful spring flowers and gorgeous sunrises and sunsets as the days are getting longer. Those are all good things to celebrate. But Easter's true meaning has never meant more to me (and I think I speak for the rest of Sandra's family) than it has this year.
Easter is truly about Jesus Christ conquering death and sin's curse. While Sandra's body is physically dying, her life will soon be new again in the presence of God! This time, as hard as it may be, is like a long cold winter. We pray for the relief of new life for Sandra's body when she can join in the heavenly chorus. For her that will be such a thrill! She is ready for that. We all cling to that hope, assurance and joy!
Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! In his great mercy he has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, and into an inheritance that can never spoil or fade. (I Peter 1:3,4)
The passage reference I posted this morning with the Palm Sunday story was mis-typed. It should have been Matthew 21:1-11 not chapter 11. I apologize for any confusion or inconvenience. This correction and the original posting were written by Ardie. Blessings to all!
Over 2000 years ago, a crowd lined the streets of Jerusalem to witness Jesus riding a donkey. He was celebrated as a hero. The people shouted "Hosanna!" which I found one dictionary to say is a Hebrew blessing--kind of like applauding someone. In my imagination, the translation into today's time would be like a new celebrity (sort of unknown yet) walking (not riding in a limo) into Hollywood and being swarmed by the paparazzi and adoring fans. Weird to think of it that way. But the crowds were fickle then as they are today. Read Matthew 11:1-11. The crowds asked of Jesus, "Who is this?"
I'm thankful, though, that Jesus didn't waver on his journey to death on a cross and his resurrection. The victory he won for us gives Sandra and us hope today. Sandra has had a difficult week as she is slipping from this life on earth bit by bit. In the hard times, what gives us hope is that Sandra relaxes and responds to reading of the Bible and talk of heaven. Those are the most peaceful times, resting in the Jesus who saves.
Please continue to pray for peace and comfort for Sandra as we continue to hope in Jesus, our only comfort in life and in death.
Today is the first official day of Spring Break at Abbotsford Christian Schools (ACS) where Sandra taught for the past 20+ years. Words cannot adequately describe the amazing support Sandra and all of us as family have received from the ACS community in the past years of Sandra's struggle with cancer. Not only the staff and students, but parents and alumni have been so supportive and giving. One of God's daily little miracles happened when we brought Sandra to the emergency room back on January 10 of this year. There were 2 nurses on duty in ER with ACS connections who gave care to Sandra--a parent and alumnus. The porter that day was an ACS parent, The nurse consultant in the early days regarding the pick line was an ACS parent. Sandra's had blood drawn by ACS parents several times over the years. She had a nurse on the oncology ward who was a former student. The quality of care and love from all of them has been overwhelming as consistently they have gone above and beyond the call of duty to provide comfort and exceptional care for Sandra. I can't possibly list all of the ways Sandra and we as a family have been blessed over the years by the ACS community. Every instance of encouragement and prayer have been appreciated. Thank you, thank you, thank you!
It is common to travel over Spring Break. Sandra loved to travel. Her last big sightseeing trip was in the summer of 2011. She flew to Newfoundland and attended Festival 500, the international choral festival with her niece. They attended workshops, sang in the mass choir and stayed with a dear friend of Sandra's. They had a few days also for sightseeing on that beautiful island. Here are a couple of pictures from that summer.
Sandra the coal miner with that great smile on her face
Sandra and her niece in beautiful Newfoundland
In this time of travels--geographically, physically or spiritually, I want to share this prayer with you from an Irish contemplative--appropriate with celebrating St. Patrick's Day yesterday.
Help me to journey beyond the familiar into the unknown.
It has been a precious week of family times. Once again we gathered as a family for a meal at Christine Morrison on Tuesday evening. Sandra's parents, all 4 of Sandra's siblings were there along with all but 1 spouse (we missed you Brian!). Mel & Mary have now returned home and Sharon has been spending long days at Sandra's bedside. Sandra doesn't leave her bed much anymore. She dozes a large part of the day now. There are moments when the smile is bright. Sandra has become known for her smile at the hospice and before that already by the doctors and staff at Abbotsord Hospital. We love to see it when it appears.
Verses sent by a dear friend of Sandra's really struck me as appropriate this week. From 2 Corinthians 4:16-18:
Therefore we do not lose heart.
Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day.
For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all.
So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen.
For what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.
Thank you for your faithfulness in prayer, comments and emails. Just a reminder, the email address is firstname.lastname@example.org.
The tube change last week went really well. Sandra was put out for the procedure so was so sleepy afterwards she slept right through a couple hour visit from her nephew on his way back to Fort St. John.
Sleep has become a bigger part of the day in the last while, but Sandra was able to join us for a family meal around the big dining table at Christine Morrison last evening. It's been great having Mel & Mary out visiting. Sharon arrives tomorrow as well.
One of the days recently in our devotions, we read Psalm 28. Sandra really liked verse 7, asking me to read it over again:
We tend to be creatures of habit. Sandra always had
routines and patterns in her life such as laundry on Wednesdays and Saturdays. The
last few months, though, routines have been harder to stick with. Sandra is
settling into Christine Morrison well, but with her health needs changing from
day to day, routines aren’t always adhered to. The nice thing about hospice is that Sandra isn’t pressured into a routine that isn’t helpful to
her. Even though meals are brought
around at certain times, the nurses don’t insist on waking Sandra up if she’s
sleepy in the morning. The bowl of cereal and milk can wait a couple of hours.
Or if she’s hungry at different times, fresh sandwiches are kept in the refrigerator to be brought out as needed. It’s definitely a kind of place where resident and
family alike are made to feel welcome and at home.
Sandra’s routines have often consisted of dozing late
into the morning, getting cleaned up and into the wheel chair late morning, to
go fix a puzzle or get wheeled around until lunch. Then it’s time for more
strolling for the afternoon. Sandra loves to be wheeled up and down the
hallways—she finds it soothing. But lately, she seems to be sleeping more. We
do know the cancer is advancing and she is experiencing some difficulty now in
the bladder area. There is concern of a possible infection.
Tomorrow (Thursday) Sandra will have sort of a field
trip. She will be transported by ambulance back to Abbotsford Hospital for a
routine procedure (tube change) that happens every 6 weeks. She should be back
in Mission by mid to late afternoon.
Specific prayers for Sandra:
·That all will go smoothly with the transport and
·That if any infection is present it will be cleared up
It is our prayer for Sandra and for all of you dear
Right away when Sandra heard that name, she said, that's it! A few days later, we listed all of the names submitted and went through them again. Sandra said Thelonious is the name! The original bearer of the name is Thelonious Monk, great jazz pianist and composer. As I write this I'm listening to some of his music. We were kind of surprised by the pick as Sandra is not a huge lover of jazz. But she does own a cd by him and he is a pianist which is Sandra's instrument of choice as well.
Thank you again for all of the submissions! Even if your submission didn't get mentioned in the blog, please know that your emails, comments and suggestions were all heard by Sandra. They were all cherished because of you the sender and what you mean to Sandra.
So the winning submitter is cousin Anna from Holland. Since we can't deliver the prize in person, here's a virtual chocolate chip cookie fresh out of the oven this morning at Christine Morrison Hospice. And if you ever make it out to BC, we will treat you to a fresh out of the oven cookie!
Thanks again to all of you blog readers for your notes of encouragement, emails and especially prayers for Sandra's journey. Keep it all coming!
Thanks so much for suggesting creative names for Sandra's new pet monkey! We certainly have had fun, lots of chuckles and a sense of being loved in reading all of the meanings and reasons behind the names.
Many of you submitted appropriate monkey names such as George, Sam and even Monkey. There were Dutch names and Latin names submitted. All were good suggestions.
The most common suggestion was Cookie or some variation on that name such as C.C., short for chocolate chip. It seems like writing about fresh out of the oven chocolate chip cookies here at Christine Morrison made a lot of people hungry!
Some of you thoughtfully provided comfort or assurance through Biblical names such as Shiloh, Gabriel and Daniel.
The final category was musical names like Kodaly, Chorus, Thelonius and Melodious. The suggestion of naming the monkey Chippity Doo Dah, combining the chocolate chip cookie theme and music together, produced the most laughs by far!
Thanks for your participation! Stay tuned to find out the winner....
Sandra has been given a day pass for tomorrow, Friday March 1. This will be her first time home in 51 days! I think we are all feeling a sense of excitement but trepidation at the same time. A wheel chair taxi has been arranged.
We want to make sure no one drives to Mission during the day only to find out Sandra isn't there. It is Sandra's wish to have a quiet time at home.
Please pray for Sandra and the family. This will be an emotional visit for all of us.
Psalm 130:5 " I wait for the Lord, my whole being waits, and in his word I put my hope."
Nathan and I ran into Sandra's hospice doctor in the elevator today. She felt Sandra was settling in well at Christine Morrison Hospice and seemed to like it there. It is a very friendly, supportive community which has been good for Sandra and the family.
Sandra has been a part of many amazing communities. It is so beautiful for Sandra to receive emails and notes of encouragement from all over parts of North America, The Netherlands, and even Australia. I began to list today some of the communities Sandra's been a part of:
- Born in Ocean Park, BC Sandra grew up in the Langley/Surrey church and school communities. She had a visitor from that community today!
- Sandra first left home as a young adult to attend Dordt College in Iowa. She became a part of 2 different apartment communities there. They called themselves the Spiderweb and Koinonia. The Koinonia women together sent flowers this week in addition to their emails.
- As a new college graduate and certified teacher, Sandra moved to the community of Woodstock, Ontario. She made some wonderful, lasting friendships there. Those friends have been very faithful in their support.
- Then there's the community in Lacombe, Alberta where Sandra taught for many years. They walked alongside Sandra in her first battle with cancer in 1984 and continue to show an outpouring of love so many years later.
- More than 20 years ago, Sandra moved to Abbotsford to begin teaching at Abbotsford Christian School (ACS). Watch for a blog later on the amazing ACS community.
- Sandra's church community in Abbotsford has also been great--she had 5 visitors from church today. Many women from her church stepped up and stayed nights with Sandra this past year when we as family needed a break.
- An online support group for women with breast cancer continues to support Sandra even though she has been absent from their weekly time together since early January.
It doesn't matter what community you know Sandra from--whether it was included above or not. (I know I've missed some and apologize profusely!) She knows you and loves you! The notes on the blog, the emails of encouragement are loved and well received by Sandra. Please keep them coming at email@example.com.
Since it's not possible to thank everyone, please accept this verse as our thanks.
"The Lord bless you
and keep you;
the Lord make his face shine on you
and be gracious to you;
the Lord turn his face toward you
and give you peace." (Numbers 6:24-26)
P.S. Keep the monkey name suggestions coming. There have been so many good ones. Watch for a blog posting soon about how the naming is going.
Friday was a rainy, miserable day weather wise. Yet, just before Sandra moved, the sun popped out and shone into Sandra's room at the hospital. On the way to Christine Morrison Hospice, while Nathan rode with Sandra in the hospital transport vehicle, Audrey and I traveled behind. We saw a beautiful rainbow pop out over the mountains. Once in Sandra's room, the sun poked it's head out from behind the clouds again. It seemed like the sunshine and rainbow were signs and promises that this move was being blessed by God's hand.
When we arrived at Christine Morrison, we were given a tour. We smelled cookies baking in the oven. After getting Sandra settled, one of the volunteers brought a plate of fresh out of the oven chocolate chip cookies to Sandra's room. We all indulged--even Sandra! She hasn't had a sweet treat like that (especially not anything with chocolate) since well before Christmas. It stayed down and she indulged again since then. They are freshly baked every day for residents and visitors. Sandra favorite thing so far is working on a puzzle in one of the living rooms.
A new companion was awaiting Sandra's arrival, producing a smile and hug from Sandra.
But we need a name for this roommate. We would like your help in naming the monkey! Please submit your suggestions through comments on the blog or via email to firstname.lastname@example.org. Sandra loves every note and comment!
Today Sandra is moving to the Christine Morrison Hospice in Mission around 3 pm. We only had a short notice today, but some of God's daily little miracles were happening last night already preparing Sandra for this move. She had a nurse last night who often works at both the Langley and Mission hospices who was able to answer a lot of Sandra's questions relieving some of the apprehension about the move.
I will update sometime this weekend to let you know how the move went.
Sandra has spent a lot of time in waiting rooms over the years of her battles with cancer. Sometimes those waiting times were restful with a book to read, knitting to do or Sudoku puzzles to complete. Other times those waiting rooms have been places of anxiety before a test or procedure.
We found out today that Sandra is first on the waiting list for the move to hospice. Sandra's still in a waiting room so to speak. The earth is like a waiting room of sorts where we only get a glimpse of the splendor of God. If you think of the beauty of the waiting room God created for us, imagine what the full glory of God will be like after our time on earth?
Thanks to a parent of Sandra's students who snapped this beautiful picture of Mt. Baker on her drive home from school. This picture and the verse she added have been a great encouragement to Sandra. We hope it is for you as well. We are so blessed to live in this beautiful corner of the waiting room!
Picture by Tracey Tuin (posted here with permission)
I continue to be amazed at the timeliness of encouragement, comments, prayers and verses for Sandra placed on this blog or sent through email. Thank you so much, and keep it coming! (email@example.com)
This morning Sandra received an email that said, "There is absolutely nothing to fear about tomorrow; for God is already there." Sandra paraphrased that to say, "God is already in tomorrow because there is no time with God. He's already there." Little did we know that within hours Sandra would need that reassurance.
Big changes are happening. Today Sandra's IV was removed because she's doing so well with eating and drinking again after that setback last week. She hasn't been without an IV attachment for over a month. What freedom to have one less attachment to the body. In fact she's doing so well, she doesn't need to be hospitalized much longer. Yeah! However, Sandra is still not strong enough to go home and needs a lot of care from her surgery. After the meetings with the family and the Palliative Care team, the decision has been made to move Sandra to hospice in Mission. We don't know exactly when that will happen, but it probably will happen this week. (I will let you know when the move is made.) Sandra really wants to go home. Just because she is moving to hospice, doesn't mean that can't happen yet. Right now, we all agree that hospice is the place to provide the best care at this time with the ongoing medical needs.
Please pray for peace for Sandra and assurance that as she faces uncertainty about tomorrow, she can rest in the God who is already there.
Yesterday morning was a good one. Sandra had a good night of sleep the night before, she was able to have the compression machine hooked to her legs removed, and she was sitting up and looking forward to continued variety of foods. But then early afternoon, she started vomiting again. We had a family meeting with her doctor and learned that the progression of the cancer is going to be like that. Up and down, day by day and moment by moment. We made such great strides earlier this week only to have a set back. Sandra's had to say "See you later," to solid foods again. This path of dealing with cancer is a crooked one--never straight and easy.
Today Sandra is getting one of her nephrostomy tubes changed. It has not been working a while--another crooked path of intermittent struggle because of the cancer. That reminds me of one of my favorite chapters in the Bible, Isaiah 40. Verses 4-5 say: "Every valley shall be raised up, every mountain and hill made low; the rough ground shall become level, the rugged places a plain. And the glory of the Lord will be revealed, and all mankind together will see it."
Thanks for your prayers, comments and emails. They are very much appreciated and the love has been felt!
There are 2 sides to taking antibiotics--the good in that it takes away the infection. The powerful drugs Sandra has been getting are working. Her infections are getting better. The other side to antibiotics are the effect they have on the digestive system. Sandra has struggled a lot with that in the past year and is starting to feel some of the more unpleasant side effects again. In spite of that, she has been sitting up the past few days for a while each day and progressed past jello to a bigger variety of foods. Soups and soft sandwiches, puddings and yogurt are on the menu now.
With that in mind, I want to share with you specific prayer requests again. We really appreciate everyone's support and prayers for Sandra and the rest of the family. Today's requests are:
- Praise for the progress in healing of the infections!
- For relief from the side effects of antibiotics.
- For wisdom and clarity in meetings Sandra and the family this week with doctors and social workers to determine future care.
Thanks for your thoughts and prayers. Keep the comments and emails of encouragement coming to Sandra at: firstname.lastname@example.org.
On Thursday, a room "happened" (the words of the doctors) to open up on the Tertiary/Palliative care ward. We would call it another one of God's little miracles. Sandra was transferred there because the surgical ward wasn't able to handle all of her complications. Unfortunately she has developed 2 infections in the past 48 hours. One is in her blood. It did respond well over night to the heavy duty antibiotics she was given.
Sandra has always been a picky eater. The many chemo drugs she's had over the years have taken a toll on her taste buds. Sometimes her tastes change. She has gone from loving apple juice to not wanting it and back again. Water often tasted terrible to her. She hasn't liked chocolate for a long time now. (Can you imagine?) Sandra really wanted to eat again, so the surgery was performed this past Monday. On Thursday, her NG tube came out (yeah!) and she was able to have liquids. Her first taste after surgery was lemon jello. She loved it and ate it with gusto. Today she was served it again, and didn't eat it. Personally, lemon jello would not be my first request after a couple of weeks of not eating. I guess the hospital cafeteria hasn't wavered from lemon, green and orange jello. Bleh! She is liking water now and eschewing apple juice. No matter how fickle our taste buds, we have a faithful God whose taste in his love for us never wavers.
Today's invitation to worship in Sandra's devotional once again was so appropriate. "Praise be to The Lord, to God our Savior, who daily bears our burdens. Our God is a God who saves; from the Sovereign Lord comes escape from death." (Psalm 68:19,20)
Today's devotion passage was Psalm 34, Sandra's favorite! Verse 8 says, "Taste and see that the Lord is good; blessed is the one who takes refuge in Him." What a reminder that we can experience God fully with all of our senses. How appropriate as the goal of the surgery was to allow Sandra to eat again.
Even though Sandra can't eat yet--healing of the bowels has to occur first, we are hoping she can in a few more days. She had a fair bit of pain this morning. She is also still very sleepy from all of the pain medication and anesthesia. The plan right now is for the NG tube to come out in a day or two and then once the doctors are assured the bowels are working she can start with liquids a day or two after that. Still just ice chips and the TPN are sustaining her.
Even though the surgery went better than expected, the surgeon did find a lot of cancer in the back lower abdomen that she was not able to remove. We know the cancer is there and is fast growing. Sandra still remains at risk for complications from surgery as well. Her temperature was slightly elevated today.
Today's prayer from Sandra's devotion was just what we needed to pray. (Another one of God's little miracles!)
"Providing God, I easily doubt that you will provide whatever I need for body and soul, and I can't imagine how the adversity you send my way could be turned to good. Help me to let go of my need to control and instead entrust my life and future to your care."
(from Seeking God's Face, by Phil Reinders)
I am thankful to report that the surgery went better than even the surgeon anticipated. Sandra will be in recovery tonight yet a while before being transferred to a room.
Just before going into surgery, Sandra and I recited some verses from memory. One of the verses Sandra recited was, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me." (John 14:6) We recited Psalm 23 together and many other verses from the Psalms as well as Romans 8:28. Of course Psalm 27 and 34 were in that list!
I know without a doubt that your prayers today were felt by Sandra and all of us as family. I have been at Sandra's side before major surgeries, dozens of procedures, blood draws, etc. I have never seen her as calm as she was tonight. We all felt the prayers of God's people today from all over the world. Thank you all and praise be to God!
Sandra just went into surgery about 40 minutes ago. There was an emergency C-section that bumped her surgery time to much later, but she was still able to go in tonight. The family prayed with her right before she went in and she felt very much at peace.
Please pray for continued peace and rest throughout the surgery and following.
Sandra is on the surgery schedule for Monday to remove the bowel obstruction. She is penciled in so to speak. That means that while her surgery is planned, she could get bumped from the list because:
- A new x-ray on Monday could reveal new fluid in her lungs that would have to be drained again.
- Sandra's scheduled for the end of the day, so any emergency surgeries could take precedence over her.
Surgery appears to be the last medical intervention that can happen for Sandra. She is a fighter and wants the surgery. In the wise words of Sandra's dad and sister, we won't stop praying for a miracle, and neither will we stop praying "Thy will be done".
God's will is never penciled in. He writes in ink and we know that His plans are exactly what we need.
Several of you mentioned that you appreciate having specific things to pray for. I asked Sandra yesterday and today what specifically she would like people to pray for. She came up with this list:
- Patience - Sandra has now had a little over a week of TPN. As a result, she is feeling a little more energetic. But that also means she is more alert and thinks more and wants more to happen. But we are waiting on God's timing.
- The ability to sleep well at night - Up until recently she has always slept well at night. Last night she wasn't able to sleep more than a half hour at a time. Not sure if that's a result of the TPN or other medications.
- Peace - Enough said!
Yesterday we were concerned that it appeared Sandra's port had become plugged from the food (TPN) going into her veins. A nurse was able to flush it resulting in it working beautifully again. Sandra called that one of God's daily little miracles. Later that night there was serendipitous timing in connecting with her brother Mel in Wisconsin--not planned.
Today's daily little miracle was when I inadvertently missed a page in Sandra's devotional book and didn't read today's scheduled reading. Instead I read tomorrow's, Psalm 27. (What a beautiful Psalm!!) Just after we finished reading it, someone sent a message to Sandra at the new email address we set up on Sunday. They shared Psalm 27:1 with Sandra. I think we needed to hear that Psalm today! Another of God's daily little miracles.
Keep the encouraging notes coming in to Sandra at email@example.com. We won't be responding to the emails, but it's an avenue to provide encouragement for Sandra. Also feel free to leave a comment on this blog. And don't worry if the message is in Dutch, Tante and Oom. I'm not the only one at the hospital or reading the emails to Sandra. There are many family members spending time at the hospital (Audrey especially!). The last couple of days Sandra's been doing a fair bit of reading herself, which is great.
We love seeing God's little miracles. Maybe you'd like to share some of God's daily little miracles you're seeing today with Sandra?
One of the greatest joys this week has been devotions with Sandra. We as family members have all taken turns (depending on who is there in the morning) to have devotions with Sandra. She has been using Seeking God's Face by Phil Reinders from Faith Alive Christian Resources. It is subtitled Praying with the Bible through the Year. Sandra has especially been enjoying the Psalm portion. I'm amazed at how often the Psalm of the Day is so appropriate. Today's Psalm was 24, and the Bible Reading was Matthew 5:1-10, the Beatitudes. I invite all of you to read those passages and be blessed.
Sandra also loves Psalm 34 and has requested that we read it to her again and again. She loves the whole chapter, but has focused several times this week on verse 7: "The angel of the Lord encamps around those who fear him, and he delivers them." We have prayed for Sandra to feel that encampment around her this week.
Many have asked for updates. There isn't a lot to update right now. The TPN has been started. Sandra gets "food" (TPN) through her IV port 20 hours a day. She gets fluids the other 4 hours along with other medications. She has a pick line into her upper arm for one of her anti nausea medications. She is generally not in pain. She is wearing a pain patch permanently which has been very effective.
The NG (nasal gastro) tube remains in place. Even though she is not eating or drinking, Sandra's body continues to build up mucus, gas and waste that normally would work its way through the bowels but can't. The NG tube relieves pressure and keeps Sandra from pain and vomiting.
Her chest tube is still in, but draining very little any more. That should be taken out early this week.
Sandra is weak--remaining bed bound. She is able to rest comfortably and sleep well overall. She does appreciate the posts people have been leaving on the blog and wants to encourage as many people as possible to do that. (We read them to her.)
If you are having difficulty posting on the blog (which I understand has happened frequently) feel free to send Sandra an email to: firstname.lastname@example.org. We have sent up that email address specifically for notes of encouragement to be sent to Sandra.
Thanks again for all of your prayers. We are feeling the support.
Yesterday was a rough day. But last night went much better after the lung was drained and her NG tube reinserted. A nurse even said Sandra could suck on frozen pineapple today as a treat, just to satisfy the longing she's had for a week now for that taste.
A few more pieces of the puzzle have fallen in place today. Sandra's oncologist had been on vacation and she is now back, which helps, as she is a vital member of the team of doctors reviewing all of the information gathering that's been happening the past few days. This is what we know so far:
- The cancer is spreading and causing the bowel obstruction.
- Surgery is not a good option at this time for fixing the obstruction for several reasons.
- Sandra is very weak nutritionally.
- Chemo is not really possible with an obstruction.
- It is not unheard of for an obstruction to open up--but we are getting towards the end of the window for that to happen.
This is what's planned for the next few days:
- Tomorrow (Thursday) the nephrostomy tubes should be changed.
- TPN (Total Parenteral Nutrition) should begin to help build up Sandra's strength in hopes of possible intervention yet later.
- More research is being done for other options that might be in Sandra's best interest.
Sandra is resting quite comfortably (or as comfortable as you can be with 6 tubes attached externally to your body at once). We've had many tears and discussions lately about what's next. Sandra is looking forward with great joy to singing (or directing the singing!) in heaven. However, she has very real fears about what happens between now and then. She doesn't want pain and doesn't like the unknown of the journey between now and healing in heaven. She (and her family) is requesting specific prayers:
- For a miracle opening up of the blockage on it's own so she can eat again.
- For freedom from pain.
- For her fears to be taken away.
- For the God of peace to fill her.
Thank you for upholding Sandra and family in your prayers. What a mighty God we serve!
Sandra is having a procedure this afternoon to have her lung drained again. They're also hoping to squeeze her in for another procedure at the same time. In addition she needs her nephrostomy tubes changed this week. All of that needs to happen along with more testing before we can deal fully with the obstruction. So much just happening all at once--so it's like a stack of procedures to be checked off this week.
Pray for patience, relief from vomiting and strength.
I've been thinking about Matthew 5:6, "Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be filled." Sandra is currently feeling the physical sense of hunger and thirst in an extreme way. She has not had a meal (that's stayed down) since Sunday. She will remain in the hospital until at least Monday (possibly longer) when her doctor anticipates the results of the CT scan conducted yesterday. That will hopefully direct the doctors how to clear up this obstruction. In the meantime she is not allowed any food or drink orally. She is relying on IV fluids to sustain her. She is being fed ice chips, but that doesn't alleviate the thirst or the hunger she's been feeling.
While I would never wish this experience on Sandra or anyone else, can we all say we hunger and thirst for God that way? I know I can't.
A lot has happened (or maybe I should say hasn't happened!) since the last post just two days ago. The nephrostomy tube change was postponed until next week because of an emergency procedure at the hospital, bumping Sandra in the priority queue.
What also hasn't been happening the last few days is the ability to keep anything down. This morning we took Sandra to the emergency room and she was diagnosed with a bowel obstruction. She has been admitted and will stay at least overnight if not longer depending on what they find out tomorrow with a CT scan. The scan will hopefully help determine what's causing the obstruction. Please pray that it's something that can correct itself and that no surgery will be needed.
Sandra's weekly chemo, scheduled for tomorrow (Friday), has also been cancelled. So there's a lot that's just not happening right now.
Tomorrow afternoon I go into the hospital to have my nephrostomy tubes replaced again. Those six weeks sure go by quickly. Today I've been very tired so I did a lot of napping. I did manage to fit in a scrabble game with one of my neighbour-friends. Yesterday my sister and I were wondering who was making a hammering sound. We thought one of the neighbours was working in their place. But no, it was a flicker with his big long beak attacking the suet at my birdhouse. Flickers are related to woodpeckers and their long beak gives them away. He was getting some nice pieces the way he was pounding away at the suet.
My sister shared this beautiful verse from Exodus with me. "My presence shall go with you, and I shall give you rest." (Ex.33:14)
Had another chemo treatment yesterday. It has made me very tired. I feel like I could just nap and nap all day. But my work ethic says I should at least get a few chores done, like filling up my pill box for another week and cleaning out one drawer of papers. This sunshine is just gorgeous, too, so maybe if I bundle up enough I could take a small stroll outside. How quickly we forget the rain when we have beautiful weather again. We'll just have to enjoy this while we have it, eh?
It's so cosy here in my recliner that if I don't start writing this blog I just may fall asleep. Today was a good day - the third day in a row in which I have not vomited at all. That's a record for me, I think, and I have felt hungrier as well. Maybe somehow the new chemo drug is working on my stomach. I do have a few more aches and pains but so far it's not been too bad. I'm just so thankful to be feeling better. Yesterday my sister and I went on a shopping trip and today I went out with both my sisters to do groceries. My younger sister from Alberta just arrived here for a 10 day stay. I finished knitting a scarf today, too, and made it into an infinity style. It was a very unique knitting pattern and makes the scarf drape nicely.
Time to eat a mandarin orange. Take care and have a good day!
Well, now it's Saturday. I had my days all mixed up. I thought yesterday was Saturday. So much for looking up the date. I'll just call it chemo brain, and that will be my excuse, O.K?
The chemo went very well. Thanks for all your prayers. I didn't get sick from it at all. Earlier today I was even rather hungry but that has passed on by. I will probably lose my hair (for the third time in my life), and I'll probably get tingly or numb fingers and toes. We'll just have to wait and see. So far this drug has been alright. Keep on praying that all stays well.
Tomorrow is a new day but I look forward to it with a little fear and anxiety. I began a new chemo drug (taxol) today but I have no idea as to how it will play out in my body. Will I lose my hair now? Will I get tingling and nerve pain in my toes, fingers, hands, and feet? Will it make me so fatigued that I just have to call off a session? Sometimes, even now, it takes me a long time to go upstairs because I'm just not as strong on my feet anymore. Time will tell, I suppose, and for now I will sing of my Redeemer and with His blood He purchased me. "How on the cruel cross He suffered, paid the debt, and made me free."
Sabbath blessings to you and may you be blessed and encouraged as you partake of the Lord's Supper tomorrow.
Happy New Year, everyone! May our Immanuel, God with us, protect you, guide you, and bless you richly in this year of our Lord, 2013.
Time for me to find some new pictures. All my Christmas decorations came down this morning so it had to come down on this site, too. My quilts go back to where my tree was placed. And it's back to routines and ordinary days,and those kind of days are good, too.