Updates on Pastor Steve:

August 3rd

Got a neat story related to a Mayo x-ray I got a couple weeks ago.  I have been meaning to post it but time just got away from me.  I was waiting for an x-ray, following my visit regarding my spine pain (arthritis).  My name was called by a young man who led me from the waiting room to where I was to change in preparation for the x-ray.  As we walked, I noted that we were making several turns and that I was glad he knew where he was going.  He replied, "Do we ever really know where we are going?"  BAM!  The opportunity hit me right between the eyes.  I said, "I know exactly where I am going and where I will end up."  He said, "I guess that's true for anyone who knows Jesus."  Now...I don't know if I was priming him for a gospel encounter or he was priming me for a gospel encounter.  In the end, we both were seizing the moment and in the end we realized we were brothers in Christ.  Look for the opportunities...they present themselves all the time.  You may not be able to share the gospel, but you can share a brief Son light to someone who is searching.  God will use your effort in His grand plan for this world and the people we encounter.  If you read this before 8/6, please pray for my blood work and that it indicates the chemo continues to work.  We see the oncologist on the sixth.  The rest of my prayer needs are shared below.  I will give an update of my visit later this week.

July 22nd

We got a call from my oncologist yesterday evening regarding the results from my biopsy last Friday.  He called to tell me that the samples pulled were non-cancerous.  I am scheduled to see an endocrinologist next week, but he thought I would be interested in hearing the results in this case.  Well….YES!!  This was an answer to our prayers and I want to thank you all for continuing to lift us up before our Heavenly Father.  Some of you may be saying that God is a good God in answering our prayer…and that is true.  But something God has been showing me is that He is a good God in all circumstances…even if the tests returned with the exact opposite answer.  And I am reminded that our prayers are often lifted with our desired outcome at the forefront.  Jesus concluded His request of His Father in the garden before his arrest that the Father’s will be done over Jesus’ request for the cup of suffering and death to pass.  We need to always desire God’s will in all that we ask…even in our request to heal cancer.  That’s tough sitting in my chair, but our desires and requests should always be in accordance with His will.  There are some who teach that if we have enough faith, God always desires our physical healing and by His word He is obligated to do so.  I don’t find that anywhere in scripture.  So….His answer of our request was according to His will, and we celebrate that today.  A big Woooo Hoooo for God!!  Maybe a PTL!! is more appropriate for a pastor, but I think God understands my feelings and He is ok with it.  😊  

Prayer needs:


  • Praise that Plasmacytomas shrank and one is gone!
  • Answered - Thyroid nodule and related lymph node biopsies were not cancerous  PTL!
  • Spine and pain issues can be managed - get MRI and meet with Dr. this week
  • Safe travel to Jacksonville each week for care and/or Dr. visits
  • Successful drug regimen with goal to move cancer to remission and no side effects
  • My oncologist, Dr. Ailawadhi - guidance in my care and treatment
  • Continued wisdom in how we proceed and then God’s peace
  • Our witness to those we meet throughout our journey
  • Healing of cancer

July 19th

I am covid free as I was tested again as part of the normal protocol at Mayo.  I also had my biopsy done on Friday.  They used a needle to pull material from the nodule on my thyroid and from a lymph node.  The procedure was relatively painless.  I likened it to getting a tooth worked on.  The most painful part was when he injected the local to numb the area he was to biopsy.  Before the Dr. came in to start the procedure, the nurse got things ready and she told me that psychology would also be in for the procedure.  My mind began to process that...did I act in a way that I needed that?  Was I under observation because of something I said?  Was this normal?  I asked her why someone from psychology needed to be in the room?  She said, not psychology...cytology.  Someone will be there to receive the material the physician retrieves to make sure it is enough and of the right type so the biopsy is only needed one time.  Whew!  We both laughed at my misunderstanding.  It was the masks...hard to understand sometimes.  
I had the opportunity to speak with the man from cytology.  Wow...my mind is wandering now...as I just wrote that I went back to my youth watching The Man from UNCLE.  OK...back to my story...there was a delay in the biopsy, so we had a chance to talk.  He and I were the same age, looking towards retirement.  He was from NYC and spent time in the Army traveling.  I said I also traveled earlier in life in my business career, but I am no longer in business.  He said "really...what do you do now?"  That was my que...well, I am a pastor.  From that jump off point I found out that his father was a pastor and we began talking about our faith, scripture, and how we are to inject the gospel into our relationships...even at work.  Kind of cool how God showed me a brother in Christ.  After the biopsy, we were talking and he asked that I keep him in my prayers and he turned to the nurse and said that I was a pastor.  She immediately asked if I would pray for her too.  Hopefully, he will be able to continue spiritual conversations with the nurse as he runs into her again.  Both being originally from NYC may be something that will give them a reason to talk.  God is working in all this and giving me opportunities to speak with people...and find other believers at Mayo!

Prayer needs:

  • Praise that Plasmacytomas shrank and one is gone!
  • Thyroid nodule and related lymph node biopsies show as not cancerous
  • Spine and pain issues can be managed - get MRI and meet with Dr. next week
  • Safe travel to Jacksonville each week for care and/or Dr. visits
  • Successful drug regimen with goal to move cancer to remission and no side effects
  • My oncologist, Dr. Ailawadhi - guidance in my care and treatment
  • Continued wisdom in how we proceed and then God’s peace
  • Our witness to those we meet throughout our journey
  • Healing of cancer

July 9th

I met with my oncologist today to discuss my blood work, the PET scan, and the ultrasound as mentioned in my last post.  Basically, my oncologist was happy that my numbers continue to come down.  There were a couple that didn’t move from the last blood work, but I am just starting the third round and time will tell if they only had a temporary pause.  If there are some stubborn cancer cells that are resistant or becoming resistant to my chemo regimen, I may enter a clinical trial that my oncologist is managing.  The idea is to get my blood indicators down to near perfect before my stem cell transplant.  If my current regimen can't get me to where I need to be, then the clinical trial may be needed.  The PET scan showed that the tumor in my clivis region continued to shrink and the tumor in my upper spine was gone.  That is great news!  My oncologist was sure that the clivis tumor will continue to shrink to nothing.  The PET scan also showed that the upper neck and lower back pain was due to degenerative arthritis.  He referred me to a specialist who will manage that part of my care relating to pain.  The Ultrasound did show a nodule on my thyroid and some lymph nodes around my thyroid that are questionable and concerning.  The results of that ultrasound suggested a biopsy.  My oncologist agreed and he ordered a biopsy for the nodule and lymph nodes today and also made a referral to an oncologist specializing in thyroid cancers.  This is not related to my MM cancer, but could be a secondary cancer.  Diagnosis and any necessary treatment will be through this new oncologist.  So…for the time being, I will be under the care of two different oncologists.  I continue to do well with my current treatments, suffering only mild side effects…primarily fatigue.  Rhonda and I continue to seek God’s strength and comfort.  I do feel good most of the time and I am trying to focus on ministry and family.  God will take care of everything and He has things under control.  Of that, I am confident.

Prayer needs:

  • Praise that Plasmacytomas shrank and one is gone!
  • Thyroid nodule and related lymph nodes are not cancerous
  • Spine and pain issues can be managed
  • Safe travel to Jacksonville each week for care and/or Dr. visits
  • Successful drug regimen with goal to move cancer to remission and no side effects
  • My oncologist, Dr. Ailawadhi - guidance in my care and treatment
  • Continued wisdom in how we proceed and then God’s peace
  • Our witness to those we meet throughout our journey
  • Healing of cancer

June 24th

It has been 10 days since my last post.  I had a PET scan and Ultrasound this past Friday and got the results Sunday.  I won't see my oncologist for a couple weeks, so I thought it best to share what we know and point out what we need clarification on.  The PET scan showed that the large tumor in my clival region was drastically reduced to a max SUV of 2.6.  Smaller but not gone.  I will have follow up questions on that.  The secondary region of my C4-C5 was identified with no mention of the tumor.  No news is good news?  I will make sure I understand that the tumor is gone.  The questionable lymph nodes decreased in size, but a couple other lymph nodes on the other side showed increased prominence...I will have follow up questions on that.  
The Ultrasound was to follow up on a spot on my thyroid that appeared in the first scans but was not of primary concern, suggesting later tests.  This Ultrasound was the suggested later test and it showed a suspicious nodule on the left side and an aspiration biopsy is recommended.  In addition, there are some surrounding lymph nodes which are abnormal.  I will definitely make this a subject for follow up with questions.
The short of it is this...the tumors shrunk and the blood work shows my MM is responding to the chemo, but there are areas of concern that need follow up and further testing/answers.  

Prayer needs:

  • Answers to questions regarding thyroid, clivis, and lymph nodes and that the cancer has not spread
  • Safe travel to Jacksonville each week for injections/Dr. visits
  • Successful drug regimen with goal to move cancer to remission and no side effects
  • My oncologist, Dr. Ailawadhi - guidance in my care and treatment
  • Continued wisdom in how we proceed and then God’s peace
  • Our witness to those we meet throughout our journey
  • Healing of cancer

June 14th

I had blood drawn and received a chemo injection on Friday.  My commute to Jacksonville is becoming routine…well, maybe the word is tolerable.  It is difficult to engage people and comply with Mayo’s social distancing protocol.  However, I am able to speak with technicians, nurses, and those who help in my treatment.  The woman who drew my blood was who I had last time and as we talked, she remembered me.  Another relationship I can initiate and foster…she is a believer and sister in Christ.  As I left her and headed up to the second floor for my chemo injection, I pushed the elevator button and as the door opened, I allowed a couple standing with me to enter.  It was obvious that she was in the middle of her treatment and she showed no concern that people knew from her bald head.  As we exited the elevator, her husband mentioned that she was three weeks out from her stem cell transplant.  That got my attention.  Three weeks and she looked great and didn’t act like she was deathly ill.  I thanked them for sharing as I will be facing that procedure in September.  She finished checking in and as they headed for a seat, she turned and said, “good luck.”  I checked in and found a seat to wait for my toxic injection.  A few minutes later, this same woman approached me and said, “I told you good luck, but I don’t believe in luck.”  I don’t know what prompted her to approach me…maybe it was the “He Can Heal Cancer” shirt I was wearing – if you scroll down you will see a picture of me in the shirt.  But in any case, she talked about what she went through for the stem cell transplant and then asked if she could put me on her church’s prayer list.  She said luck is nothing, prayer is everything.  We exchanged names and I found another kindred spirit who will join others in her circle to pray for me.  I told her I would do the same for her.  So, I am asking you pray for Bonnie Mayer who lives south of Daytona Beach.  She has Lymphoma and recognizes that prayer is our source of strength and power.  God put her on my path to ease my concern over what I am facing in the stem cell transplant and to show me that even in the midst of social distancing, relationships can be fostered.

Prayer needs:

  • Upcoming PET and ultrasound tests will come back negative - no active tumors
  • Safe travel to Jacksonville each week for injections/Dr. visits
  • Successful drug regimen with goal to move cancer to remission and no side effects
  • My oncologist, Dr. Ailawadhi - guidance in my care and treatment
  • Continued wisdom in how we proceed and then God’s peace
  • Our witness to those we meet throughout our journey
  • Healing of cancer

June 7th

I didn’t update you on Thursday after my visit with the oncologist because Rhonda and I had the opportunity to leave Jacksonville after my injection around 4 and head to Palm Coast just south of St. Augustine to spend a couple days with our grands.  Sorry, but our grands won out in that decision.  Most of my blood work came back before my Dr visit and the results he saw pleased him.  My blood numbers are improving slightly – good for the first round.  My potassium is low, but he would rather try to get it up with my diet because pills or liquid supplements cause nausea.  He now thinks I will only need 4 rounds before my stem cell transplant. The Velcade injections have been starting to bring on neuropathy as my fingertips are numb.  He doesn't want that to progress, so he is cutting the dosage back, but says it won't decrease the effectiveness over the full course of treatments.  It is difficult to speak with other patients due to social distancing, but in previous visits I have had a woman from Russia draw my blood.  I tried learning a couple phrases in Russian to continue trying to develop a relationship with her.  I didn't get her this time, but I was able to talk to my new phlebotomist as she took my blood.  She shared with me that she knew Christ and got up every morning at 4:30 to spend time in the Word before her day.  BTW....she was very good at what she did...I didn't even know when she stuck me!  And...I found I had another sister in Christ.

Short of it...he and we are pleased with the results so far.  Originally, we were looking at 4-6 months of chemo and now we will go through only 4 total…I have 3 rounds left beginning the first of this week.  And for the most part, I am tolerating the chemo well.  It now looks like I will get the stem cell transplant around mid September. That will be a rough couple of months, but I am ready to face what I need to face with confidence that I am in God’s hands.  The Dr also ordered a PET Scan to check for any hot spots and to make sure my original tumors are not coming back.  He also ordered an ultrasound to check the spot they saw on my thyroid on the first PET and MRI.  

Prayer needs:

  • Upcoming PET and ultrasound tests will come back negative - no active tumors
  • Safe travel to Jacksonville each week for injections/Dr. visits
  • Successful drug regimen with goal to move cancer to remission and no side effects
  • My oncologist, Dr. Ailawadhi - guidance in my care and treatment
  • Continued wisdom in how we proceed and then God’s peace
  • Our witness to those we meet throughout our journey
  • Healing of cancer
June 3rd
I completed three weeks of daily chemo pills and weekly steroids.  The third drug is a weekly chemo injection that will continue to be received with no week off.  I am now in the middle of my off week and will begin the next round on Monday...hopefully.  I just got back from Mayo this morning after getting tested for COVID-19...a monthly requirement for Mayo patients to see their physician and continue treatments.  If you have never received the nasal test, you are missing a real treat and adventure.  The person doing the test uses what looks to be a 10 inch long stick with a piece of cotton on the end.  The stick is rammed up your nose and when the cotton ball is inserted and up against your brain, they twirl it around for what feels like about 30 seconds.  They then send you on your merry way, coughing and sneezing and eyes watering.  Oh, the person also wished me a great day.  After that experience, anything else I will face today will be great.  Unfortunately, I am unable to get the test locally because I don't show symptoms of the virus.  So...once a month I will make two trips to Jacksonville until things settle down or until I no longer need to be treated.  Tomorrow will be the second trip to Mayo.  I will give them blood for tests and when the results come back in a couple hours, Rhonda and I will meet with my oncologist to see if the chemo is working and to discuss my current condition.  After that, I get my weekly injection.  Please keep us in your prayers.  I hope to continue developing relationships with my oncologist, nurse, and phlebotomist in hopes of moving conversations into the spiritual realm and Christ. Social distancing doesn't help in having real conversations.  I also ask that you pray for us in dealing with whatever the results indicate.  We hope and pray for positive movement towards remission, but that is in God's hands.  I have a better understanding of what cancer patients deal with as it relates to periodical tests and the difficult time waiting for results.  Listen to me...even now I refer to cancer patients in the third person.  I have so few issues that I don't look at myself as a cancer patient most of the time.  And then it sometimes hits me...I have a terminal cancer.  But I am determined that will not define me.    Fortunately, my test is a blood test and we will wait only a couple hours for the results.  However, tomorrow has been weighing on my mind for the last couple weeks.  Thanks for your continued support and prayers.

Prayer needs:

  • Blood test indicates that chemo is working
  • Safe travel to Jacksonville each week for injections/Dr. visits
  • Successful drug regimen with goal to move cancer to remission and no side effects
  • My oncologist, Dr. Ailawadhi - guidance in my care and treatment
  • Continued wisdom in how we proceed and then God’s peace
  • Our witness to those we meet throughout our journey
  • Healing of cancer


May 27th 
I am nearing the end of my third week of chemo.  I will continue taking the daily pill form of chemo through the end of this week and I received my third chemo injection this afternoon at Mayo in Jacksonville.  We see the Dr. next week to see if things are progressing and the chemo is working.  My weekly trip to Jacksonville...  It is becoming part of my weekly routine.  So far, there have been few side effects.  Fatigue is my main issue...so far.  I have shared earlier that in some ways I feel I have been living a dream.  Outside of the pandemic related changes, I have been living each day as normal.  That is, until my weekly trip to Mayo.  I arrive on time, check in, and as in most medical facilities I wait...60-90 minutes to get an injection that takes a whole 5 seconds to receive.  But it is my wait that brings me back to the reality that I have cancer - a disease that is trying to kill me.  I am reminded of that fact, not in how I feel, but in the company I am with in that large waiting area.  There are many who must use a wheelchair.  Many who are wearing hats to cover bald heads.  Most are bearing the scars...the evidence that their body is in a battle...and I am forced to face a few things as I sit there.  First, I am greatly blessed.  I am living relatively free of the effects of chemo and cancer.  Suddenly, my frustration of having to wait is melted away.  No matter what, there is always someone who is going through something more difficult than me and I pray that I always find joy in Christ with praise in my heart for what He did on my behalf and how He has blessed me.  Second, I need to always remember that I am in a battle...actually two battles.  I am in a battle for my physical life, but I am also in a battle for my spiritual life.  Satan prowls this earth looking for whom he can devour.  He is after my witness and will use anything he can to destroy it...including doing what he can to attack my body.  I need to avoid complacency with my cancer and with my spiritual battle.  I may lose my physical battle, but I am determined to never lose my spiritual battle and with God's help, I will finish the race strong.

Prayer needs:
  • Safe travel to Jacksonville each week for injections/Dr. visits
  • Successful drug regimen with goal to move cancer to remission and no side effects
  • My oncologist, Dr. Ailawadhi - guidance in my care and treatment
  • Continued wisdom in how we proceed and then God’s peace
  • Our witness to those we meet throughout our journey
  • Healing of cancer

May 14th

I am now mid-way through my first week of chemo.  I am taking two of the meds orally and one by injection.  The injection is given to me Wednesday of each week for the next 4-6 months at Mayo in Jacksonville.  One of the oral drugs is apparently toxic, as we have to take a variety of precautions in handling it…and I am ingesting them!  There are several potential side effects with all three drugs, and I am taking a few other things to offset some of the potential side effects.  At this time, I am not experiencing anything except fatigue.  Unfortunately, I also picked up a head cold which has added to my fatigue factor.  Hopefully, that is all that I have to deal with.  I also wanted to include a pic of the signs that were made for us Easter weekend and placed in our front yard.  They continue to be a visible source of encouragement to Rhonda and me.  Thanks for your continued prayers.

Prayer needs:
  • Healing of cold and related symptoms
  • Safe travel to Jacksonville each week for injections/Dr. visits
  • Successful drug regimen with goal to move cancer to remission and no side effects
  • My oncologist, Dr. Ailawadhi - guidance in my care and treatment
  • Continued wisdom in how we proceed and then God’s peace
  • Our witness to those we meet throughout our journey
  • Healing of cancer


May 7th

I am a week out from my last radiation treatment and while my face and ears are still red and peeling, I am feeling stronger.  I’m now preparing for my drug regimen that begins this coming Wednesday.  It involves two pills and one other drug I must go to Mayo to receive via an injection.  There are some other medications I must take to prevent or minimize possible side effects that the 3-drug cancer regimen may cause.  Barring any problems, I will be taking these drugs for 4-6 months.  As I indicated in previous posts, Rhonda and I can see God’s hand in this and His guidance.  We so much appreciate your prayers…prayer works.  I also appreciate your calls, emails, texts, and cards – see the pic below.  I am encouraged and comforted, knowing so many are taking the time to drop me a note and to pray for Rhonda and me.  The other pic is me with a beautiful quilt.  It was made for me by a friend and former co-worker from Alabama.  She told me that God moved her to make it with her mother.  They embroidered my name, the year 2020, and the words, “BECAUSE HE LIVES”.  She let me know that the song inspired them and that every stitch was sung and prayed over.  Little did she know that the radiation treatments caused me to be cold, even when the temperature in our home was 76 degrees.  The quilt gave me warmth and the meaningful words on the quilt gave me a spiritual reminder along with a different kind of warmth. 

Prayer needs:
  • Successful drug regimen with goal to move cancer to remission and no side effects
  • My oncologist, Dr. Ailawadhi - guidance in my care and treatment
  • Continued wisdom in how we proceed and then God’s peace
  • Our witness to those we meet throughout our journey
  • Healing of cancer




May 2nd

Well, my last radiation treatment was yesterday and the third radiation day in a row.  I am glad to be through.  I have a rash/burn on my ears and cheeks near the ears.  My throat is sore and I am constantly experiencing a dry mouth and throat.  I hopefully will begin my drug regimen next week.  I will receive a shot once a week and two different pills…along with other medication to counter some of the side effects.  I will continue this regimen for 4-6 months. 

The radiation techs congratulated me and gave me a completion certificate!  I felt like I was in school again and just completed drivers training or something.  I just had to get a cheesy picture of me holding a piece of paper acknowledging my great feat of laying on a table and allowing them to shoot radiation into my body and burning up a couple tumors, not to mention the previously identified body parts.  As I mentioned a couple weeks ago, I got to keep my mask as a parting gift.  I don’t do Halloween and I can't recall the last time I went to a masquerade, so I don’t have much use for it…other than to maybe scare the grand-kids. 

Prayer needs:
  • Radiation to continue to kill the tumors
  • Successful drug regimen with goal to move to remission and minimal side effects
  • My oncologist, Dr. Ailawadhi - guidance in my care and treatment
  • Continued wisdom in how we proceed and then God’s peace
  • Our witness to those we meet throughout our journey
  • Healing of cancer





April 29th

Today was a big day.  I had my 8th radiation treatment at 7:45 in Gainesville.  I came back to Live Oak and within an hour or so, Rhonda and I headed to Jacksonville to see our oncologist regarding the results from tests done this past Friday.  The PET scan showed the large tumor in the clivis region of my head.  It didn’t show the tumor on my C2 vertebrae, nor did the multiple lesions that the CT in Gainesville showed.  It looks like the radiation eradicated the C2 tumor and who knows what happened to the lesions on my spine.  Maybe prayer had something to do with it…😊

The bone marrow biopsy and blood work indicated my stage to be 1 with a standard risk.  Results of the genetic aspect of the biopsy will not be completed until next week.  The oncologist believes it will confirm stage 1.  From here, I begin a regimen of 3 drugs over the next 4-6 months.  I will get another PET scan in about 2 months to check on the tumors or hopefully, the lack thereof.  As I near the end of the 4-6 months of drug therapy, the oncologist will discuss with us whether or not we should proceed with the strong chemo to destroy my bone marrow and then re-insert my stem cells to rebuild my marrow.  If I move to…check that…when I move to “remission”, I will be put on a maintenance drug for the rest of my life with the hope of keeping me in remission.  I will finish my radiation this week…my last 2 treatments will be tomorrow and Friday.  Hopefully, I will start my drug regimen next week.

The median survival for my stage is 7-8 years.  However, the oncologist also said that with my age, the early stage of my cancer, and the lack of other health issues which raise the risk, it is not unreasonable to expect remission to last 10 years or more.  I asked the oncologist if this was good news and he said, “Yes”.  When Rhonda and I got into the car, we had a big yea God moment!!  We are very thankful for everyone who has covered us in prayer.  It works.  It would even work if the prognosis was different.  God has given me a peace that I can't explain.  He led us to this oncologist who specializes in MM and he is part of a health organization that treats more MM patients than any other organization.  He has worked behind the scenes and He has gone before us, clearing a path to where we now find ourselves.  I am confident He will continue to prepare the way for us as we travel this road He has for us.  He is in control and His will is perfect.  Praise God from whom all blessings flow!!  

Prayer needs:
  • Radiation to kill tumors with minimum side effects
  • Successful drug regimen with goal to move to remission and minimal side effects
  • My oncologist, Dr. Ailawadhi - guidance in my care and treatment
  • Continued wisdom in how we proceed and then God’s peace
  • Our witness to those we meet throughout our journey
  • Healing of cancer

April 27th

I received my 7th radiation treatment today and the Dr. suggested I finish them this week.  So I will have my final 3 treatments on Wed-Thurs-Friday.  I am beginning to experience some side effects...my cheeks and ears are getting red and irritated.  The radiologist gave me ointment that should help.  In the mean time, I don't need to put on blush.  The oncologist called today to set up an appointment at 1:30 on Wednesday.  He must have the results back from my PET scan and bone marrow biopsy.  Hopefully, he will tell us where we are as to cancer stage, and the treatment regimen he thinks will give me the best prognosis.  Wednesday can't get here fast enough.  We are learning very quickly, like all cancer patients and families before us, that your life is quickly oriented to tests...and waiting for the results.  Thanks for your continued cards, emails, texts, calls, and prayers.

Prayer needs:
  • Maximum effect of radiating the tumors
  • Minimum side effects and the headaches to remain gone
  • Test results which show no bone lesions and MM in very early and treatable stage
  • My oncologist, Dr. Ailawadhi - guidance in my care and treatment
  • Continued wisdom in how we proceed and then God’s peace
  • Our witness to those we meet throughout our journey
  • Healing of cancer

April 24th

Well…today was a busy day.  After our visit with the oncologist yesterday, he wanted me to have a PET scan and bone marrow biopsy today.  As of this morning, the bone marrow biopsy had not been scheduled.  I started the day headed to Gainesville for my radiation treatment. As I was leaving the facility, Mayo called and was able to get both scheduled, but the PET scan was moved up to 11:30 and it was 9:30…and I was in Gainesville.  I headed straight to JAX and made it there with about 5 minutes to spare.  I got the PET scan and went straight to where the bone marrow biopsy was to be performed at 1:15. 

I've heard horror stories about bone marrow biopsies and how painful it is.  As I I was waiting for the lidocaine to work, I asked if a needle was used and was told “yes….a BIG one”.  Yikes!  Then she asked me if I was a wood worker.  Hmmmm.  I cautiously said yes.  She said “well the needle I use is like an awl”.  Double Yikes!!  Here is what an awl looks like…gulp.

 

It was not as bad as I've heard, but it wasn’t pleasant.  Fortunately, the “discomfort” was only a few seconds of the whole procedure which took about 15 minutes.  My hip is a little sore, but I will be good to go tomorrow…or Sunday.  😊  Results will be back in a week or so.  I did not want to spend the entire day in the car and having tests, but I was happy that my oncologist wasn’t wasting any time getting the information he needs to begin a treatment regimen.  I praise God for that!  Your prayers this morning worked...what wasn't scheduled got scheduled and I had time to get there.

My daughter Emily made this shirt for me. 

 


I proudly wore it today.  The back has my life verse – Galatians 2:20.  Nothing is impossible with God…He can heal cancer.  Thank you so much for your continued prayers, cards, and words of encouragement.

Looking forward to Sunday!!


April 23rd

We met our oncologist today at the Mayo Clinic in JAX.  Mayo treats more Multiple Myeloma patients than any other organization worldwide.  I am now a patient at the Mayo Clinic - ANSWERED PRAYER!!  The oncologist ordered blood work that was drawn today and I will be getting a PET CT scan and a Bone Marrow extraction very soon.  With these tests, he will be able to determine how far my cancer has progressed and the necessary treatment.  He reiterated that there is no cure.  The best I can hope for is management of the cancer – hopefully keeping it in remission, but he also said that I will relapse at some point.  Rhonda and I both came away from our meeting confident that he knows what he is doing, specializes in and understands MM, and is the man God led us to for treatment - ANSWERED PRAYER!!  We found him to be caring, informative, patient, and knowledgeable.  We should have a better understanding of my stage of cancer, our plan to treat, and prognosis within a week or so – well before my radiation treatments are complete.  He is a man of action too.  Speaking of radiation…I will receive my 6th treatment tomorrow.  My headaches seem to have subsided in the last day or so....ANSWERED PRAYER!!

I thought you might want to see the largest tumor being radiated.  I have circled it in red.  I also made a white arrow pointing to another area in my skull.  This proves, contrary to rumors, that I have a brain.  I know, I know…the MRI does not indicate how much of it (or how little of it) I utilize.  That remains open to debate.


Prayer needs:

  • Rhonda’s grief in the loss of her father
  • Maximum effect of radiating the tumors
  • Minimum side effects and the headaches to remain gone
  • PET CT scan and somewhat painful Bone Marrow specimen extraction
  • My oncologist, Dr. Ailawadhi - guidance in my care and treatment
  • Continued wisdom in how we proceed for treatment and then God’s peace
  • Our witness to those we meet throughout our journey
  • Healing of cancer

April 20th

This past Friday, I sent my patient files to the Mayo Clinic in Jacksonville, in hopes of seeing one of their oncologists that specializes in MM.  I was told it takes two days for the team to review and make a decision.  On Saturday, I attended an on-line conference dealing with Multiple Myeloma treatments, clinics, and patient testimonials.  The conference provided a great deal of information which I am still digesting.  It was also encouraging to see patients that had survived 10, 12, and 18 years.  I also found out that the Mayo Clinic is recognized as a center of excellence in treating MM and two of the hematology oncologists were rated as top MM oncologists in the country.  One of them is the man I prayed to see.

This weekend was also a tough one.  Rhonda’s father passed away from complications related to an aneurysm surgery last week.  He has dealt with a number of health issues over the last several months.  He knew the Lord and is now free of pain and in His presence.  We celebrate his home going but grieve his loss, none the less.

I received my 4th treatment this morning and spoke with the radiologist concerning some pain I have experienced.  Nothing Tylenol didn’t help relieve.  He said that the radiation is shrinking the tumors and is very pleased with the progress. 

This evening, I received a call from the oncologist I prayed would see me.  We briefly discussed my case and my desire to be treated at Mayo.  He told me he would set me up with an appointment this Thursday!  I was told on Friday that if they agreed to see me, my first appointment would be 2-3 weeks out.  My God worked it out for only a 3 day wait!!  Seems to me that 3 days is mentioned a time or two in the Bible…there’s a sermon in there somewhere.  😊 

Prayer needs:

  • Rhonda’s grief in the loss of her father
  • Maximum effect of radiating the tumors
  • Minimum side effects and the headaches to be gone
  • Acceptance as a patient at Mayo Clinic
  • Continued wisdom in how we proceed and then God’s peace
  • Our witness to those we meet throughout our journey
  • Healing of cancer


April 16th

We met the oncologist today at Orlando Health.  He filled us in on MM and said radiation was the best treatment for the tumors.  Currently, the median life expectancy for MM is 5 years.  He did say that I could live beyond 5 years with current treatments.  There is no cure and the best to hope for is to keep it in remission. 

 He said that after my radiation, he would go with the latest treatment available that offers the best outcomes for MM.  Treatment involves drugs, chemo, and harvesting stem cells from my bone marrow to put back after the chemo destroys the bone marrow.  From there I will be on a maintenance drug for the rest of my life to keep my MM in remission.

He did suggest we try to find an oncologist closer to home because treatments are over a long period time and would involve many trips to Orlando.  He suggested three potential centers that we should check out.  Before we left this morning, I was put in contact with a woman who was diagnosed with MM a little over a year ago.  I spoke with her on the phone this morning before we left.  She lives in another state but was possibly moving to FL and her oncologist gave her some suggested oncologists should she have to move.  There were two on her list that matched what the oncologist in Orlando gave me.  i will be checking things out tomorrow and trying to set up a visit real soon.  By the way, the woman i spoke with will be celebrating one year since her initial treatment...and she is in remission.  There is hope.

For now, I am heading to bed and then off to Gainesville in the morning for radiation treatment number 3 of 10.


April 15th

I received my second radiation treatment and as of this evening, no side effects like i had after the first treatment. I did take some Tylenol as a precaution, but I attribute the reduction of side effects to your prayers being answered by our Heavenly Father.  2 down and 8 to go!  We head to Orlando tomorrow to meet with an oncologist!!

April 14th

The tests confirmed my diagnosis - Multiple Myeloma.  I have multiple lesions less than 1 cm each down my spine.  I have a 1 cm lesion growing from my C2 vertebrae, and a large tumor in the center of my head running from just behind my eyes straight back to my brain and then down to the top of my spine.  The immediate plan is to kill/shrink the two tumors that threaten my body functions and life.  I went through my first of ten radiation treatments yesterday.  It takes longer for them to get me positioned and locked down than it does to radiate the two large tumors.  I attached a picture of what I looked like just prior to my treatment.  I look like a cross between Alien and Jason.  I do get to keep the head mask as a parting gift at the end of my radiation treatments.  I’m not sure what I will do with it…maybe wear it to scare the grands! 

 I had some swelling from the treatment in my jaw on both sides and a little pain crept in, but Tylenol worked for the inflammation and pain.  I also received a call from the Orlando Health Cancer Center today.  I now have an appointment to see an oncologist - answered prayer!!  We will meet him on Thursday and hopefully get the answers we need as we move forward in this fight.

Please pray:

>     Maximum kill of the tumors with minimum or negligent side effects of radiation
>     Dr. Said Mohamed Baidas - oncologist – wisdom in treatment
>     Continued wisdom to us in how we proceed and then that we have God’s peace
>     Our witness to those we meet in all this
>     Healing of cancer

 


April 7th
Many of you have called, texted, emailed, and FB posted words of encouragement and prayer over the last couple of weeks.  Thank you so very, very, much.  Your prayers are felt and I believe are working in ways we don’t fully understand.  Pastor Phillip suggested that Rhonda and I take a few minutes tomorrow to briefly give an update to you my friends and church family in a way that is better than any post like this could do.  We would like to share with everyone at the beginning of our Common Ground web broadcast tomorrow – more info on that in a moment.  That will allow us to walk through it once, so that everyone gets the same information and it will prevent accidentally omitting something if we tried to speak to everyone individually.  I believe it provides a more personable and intimate conveyance of our hearts to you.  We will look for ways we can keep you up to date in the future, because we still have many questions, and this difficult road before us just began.
 
Please join us tomorrow, April 8th, at 6 p.m. eastern time in our broadcast using this link: www.fbcliveoak.org/livestream or through Facebook Live.  Thanks.