Wednesday, June 30, 2010

All is Well

He lowers us to raise us
So we can sing His praises
Whatever is His way, all is well

He makes us rich and poor
That we might trust Him more
Whatever is His way, all is well

All my changes come from Him - He who never changes
I'm held firm in the grasp of the Rock of all the ages

All is well with my soul
He is God in control
I know not all His plans
But I know I'm in His hands

He clothes us now then strips us
Yet with His Word equips us
Whatever is His way, all is well
And though our seasons change
We still exalt His name
Whatever is His way, all is well

I'm headed home tomorrow and if all goes according to plan, will land in Toronto at 1425 hours.
This journey has been....wild and wondrous in so many ways.   One of stretching and growing.
Mom is steadily improving and I confidently leave her in my sister's capable hands who, along with me and mom, are covered in His hands.
Upheld, carried, accompanied.  
Thanks sister Pouse for sending this song All is Well to us.  It's a great comfort -- a good pointer for proper perspective.   I've loaded the whole album onto my Ipod and anticipate many hours of blessing for the long flight home.  
To everyone who journeys with us - who walks along the way with us - thank you very much.  
We are one.  It is a marvelous feeling.

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

With Gratitude

Family and Friends!  Your ears please.
Tuesday June 30 has dawned bright, blue and hopeful.
My baby sister has arrived safely which makes our battalion a threesome - 
(counting those only present in the body, I am quick to add!)
Mom is slowly but surely climbing back out of her chemo crash.  
SO thankful for your support and encouragement in prayer, e-mail, phone and blog comments:
Christ-centered counsel
            Exquisitely timed        
                 Making more of us 
                     Ordained by Him   
Enough said.  Except to borrow from another acrostic, Psalm 145....

Your kingdom is an everlasting kingdom,
   and your dominion endures throughout all generations.
The LORD is faithful in all his words
   and kind in all his works.
The LORD upholds all who are falling
   and raises up all who are bowed down.
The eyes of all look to you,
   and you give them their food in due season.
You open your hand;
   you satisfy the desire of every living thing.
The LORD is righteous in all his ways
   and kind in all his works.
The LORD is near to all who call on him,
   to all who call on him in truth.
He fulfills the desire of those who fear him;
   he also hears their cry and saves them.
The LORD preserves all who love him,
   but all the wicked he will destroy.
My mouth will speak the praise of the LORD,
   and let all flesh bless his holy name forever and ever.          

Sunday, June 27, 2010

A VERY Quiet Sunday

The day dawned bright and beautiful - complete with the wonderful tolling bells 
signaling the call to worship!

We spent the entire afternoon outside under the awning.  Chemo recipients are warned to stay out of direct sunlight and naturally, they make sure you can here at Leonardis.  

I went for another stroll with my camera when the 'infusion' of six-dice reached saturation point. :)

I can't decide if the unique 'natural' look here around the Leonardis is intentional or stems from neglect.  There are other highly manicured properties round about that suggest the latter.  

This farmer has been hard at work bringing in the hay since the rain has finally stopped.

For a long time today, I was on my bedroom balcony following the antics of a large hawk, 
circling hungrily above the farmers freshly cut field.  

I captured this view of the mountain range on our return from Munich the day of Mom's CT scan.
It was taken at no less than 160km/hr from the front passenger seat of Victor's mad-cab.  LOL.

After Mom's rather harrowing experience with the CT scan (the needle dislodged partway thru the process) Victor thoughtfully made a drive-by viewing of the Castle he so desperately wanted us to see while we still had the chance.                              
This is the former summer residence of the rulers of Bavaria and is located in the west part of the city in the middle of one of Munich's most beautiful parks. Five generations of Wittelsbach rulers were involved in the construction of this Baroque castle.
The building of Nymphenburg Castle  began in the reign of the Elector Ferdinand Maria: overjoyed by the birth of his son and heir, Max Emanuel, he had the central section built for his wife in the style of an Italian villa (Agostino Barelli, 1664-74). In about 1700, Max Emanuel commissioned Enrico Zuccali and Antonio Viscardi to extend the castle by adding galleries and pavilions.

Hit the link above for a cyber tour of one of Europe's most famous castles.

A glorious sunset for mom one evening as we entered her room... we view it as a heavenly benediction of our second sabbath 'rest' here in Germany.

And now, a progress report on Mom:
Once her blood sugar and blood pressure levels stabilized she actually had her best day 
(based on how she 'felt') on Friday the chemo day.
From there, three days have passed and she is steadily declining in how good she feels.
Metallic taste, loss of appetite, an overwhelming fatigue, nausea and over-all body soreness.
I just put her to bed and to sleep (I think) with a foot massage and she said even her teeth hurt.
This is not unusual of course to chemotherapy but I think we had both naively invested too much stock in the alternative meds countering those effects. 
As the saying goes:  This too shall pass.  
Be assured that she is carefully monitored to see her through these next few days as she climbs her way back out of the chemo reverie.  She sleeps a lot and I sit beside her reading a lot.
Prayer for regaining strength in body & spirit are always much obliged.

Friday, June 25, 2010

Chemo Day!

How on earth does an 'end stage' cancer patient wake up and face a second round 
of poisonous chemo with a smile on the face?  
Well, sit back, pour yourself a glass of red wine, dig up a piece of that 'sinfully delicious' 70% cocoa chocolate you've got stashed away in the back of your sock drawer 
(relax, both items are scientifically sanctioned as cancer fighters - Woot!) 
and I will give you an eye-witness account:
First of all, we asked for specific prayer for a restful, rejuvenating sleep after our harrowing experience with the CT scanner in Munich yesterday and voila! .... Mom rec'd the best nights sleep she's had in months!  I tiptoed into her room at 7:30 am and accidentally woke her up....
Then I sheepishly - hastily - retreated to my own room, berating myself all down the hallway for doubting the power of your prayers.
Lesson 101 in Letting go and Letting God means exactly that.  
So shut-up Joanne and take your lumps!
Add to this scenario - a sky full of brilliant delicious warmth and a terrace breakfast bathed in sunshine and Mom's near perfect readings for blood pressure and sugar levels
and I am humbled to the core.
The grounds behind the Leonardis clinic
Mom's arm is getting back to a new normal and spends the whole morning outside with her IV pole hovering over us - soaking in the herbal chemo infusions with one side of the body and packing a mean six dice round with the other.  Trouncing me, truth be told!

I decide to get ruthless.....
I wander off below with my camera and leave her reading instead. 
 Enough punishment!
In it's heyday - this clinic must have grown all its own organic veggies and herbs.
It looks like it's still being used despite it's decrepit state....
This appears to be a neglected chicken coop?  The eggs we eat at breakfast at definitely free range - very orange coloured yolks.  But I don't think the layers live around here anymore.
I'm approaching an official Norfolk Pine growing in it's natural habitat.
That's cool.  I once had one in my living room back home.  Picked it up from a Garden Centre and managed to keep it alive for, oh say -  about 4 months.  :)  
No green thumb here.  Never was and never will be.

So I can't keep them alive if my own life depended on it, but I can admire them in the place they were meant to grow.  That's got to count for something!
Coming back up thru the environmentally protected area to check on Mom and see if she's noticed that I've abandoned her yet.  LOL.  
Then Doctor D came by to visit us.  He outlined the afternoon procedure and told us
to prepare for a 3 to 4 hour marathon in the chemo chair - said he'd wire Mom up to EECP (Enhanced External CounterPulsation) which is admittedly, a somewhat outdated method of enhancing peripheral blood circulation during the chemo treatment.  Wait till you see what THAT looks like! (below)  
He proceeded to confirm what Mom had already long suspected:
the CT scan shows that her tumours have already grown & multiplied from last months' CT images
taken at the Juravinski Centre.  Her cancer is terminal and very aggressive.

Do you know what my mother did when he left our table??

She smoothed out the tablecloth with resolute precision, turned to our interrupted game of six dice
and said,"Who's turn is it?"
Why am I so continually surprised by this woman?
When am I ever going to 'get it'?
Chemo IV's have a distinct ominous look about them but nothing compared to this EECP bed that she allowed herself to be strapped into.  It fired up with a loud drone and pulsated so strongly, Mom's body jerked up a few inches every few seconds.  The surprise was so great we laughed hysterically till I couldn't decide if Mom was laughing or crying.  But no.  She was laughing and of course, felt the need for a bathroom not too long afterward.  She hung in there for another half hour only because I threatened to scour the cupboards for the depends supply ... so with one chemo down and one to go - she voluntarily disengaged herself from that indignity and decided to get her blood circulating with a good old-fashioned walk around the block after chemo instead!  
Pfft!  Stupid thing looks like some kind of execution device!
It only testifies to Mom's strong constitution and commitment to putting up the best possible fight 
despite all odds for increasing her survival time.
I think we'll stick to this room with the full body massage water bed. Yes sirree! 
We're going to spend a lot more time on this side of the lower level for sure.

Do you see the ant in this peony?  
Did you know that a peony needs ants to open up its bud and blossom?
Such infinitesimal breathtaking detail in our fallen world.
Can you imagine yourself under the constant watch and care of such a Creator?
This is how my mother faces second line treatment for metastisized breast cancer 
with a smile on her face:
She lives out Lesson 101 on Letting Go and Letting God.
All you prayer warriors out there?  Keep at it, cuz it's working.
  Praise be to God!

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Wednesdays Sun

We were'nt the only ones soaking up a long absent sunshine.
Charging shamelessly 25 paces ahead of me.

We stopped by the local Goldsmith at the recommendation of another in house patient, a miner from South Africa (struggling with colon cancer) who said the man's prices were still reflecting gold values of 2002.  What do we know?  Sounds good.  Looks like gold, smells like gold, so it must be.

Isn't this the cutest little conifer?  It was in a planter pretending to be an annual or something.  
It was bearing cones!

Behold.  My favourite annual in my favourite colour.
The local market sells fresh fruit & veggies, all sundry and includes a delicatessen and a considerable wine collection.  Bellingham Shiraz/Cab blend from South Africa 2008 takes a prize.  At $4.79 it tastes like more.  We came for the wine, some better shampoo for me and some crackers for mom which will come in handy when she starts her chemo.
One of the big 'Clydesdales' and her offspring finally enjoyed a day out as well.
Clearly, the bottle on the left is shampoo.
Clearly, the one on the right is not.
I used Google Translator on every single word on that bottle and not ONCE, did the word shampoo pop up.  Words like coiling, hair care to tips, and then Haarpflege which is conditions.
Ugh.  That accounts for a whole week of bad hair days.  
But whew, now I can stop thinking about the chemo wig too.

Sunshine on My Shoulders

I awoke this morning and actually had to squint to see out the windows!

The sun has finally broke through the clouds here in southern Germany.
What a difference that makes to the view - literally and psychologically.
I stepped into the hall to check up on Mumsie, her door was open and indeed -
a brilliant shaft of light was streaming through her room as well.
Sun on both sides of the building!
 - we are amazed and thankful!  :)
Went down to breakfast and ordered our 7 minute boiled eggs on light rye bread.
Alas - we had to reorder the eggs since neither one of us could handle they way they 
ran out of their shells. 
We laughed ourselves silly demonstrating to each other 
what happens to our gag reflex when we even see that 'stuff' on our plates....
Mom starts her day off with the alternative therapies.  For all you purists out there, that translates into:  
Selenium, Glutathion, Hepa Merz, Vitamin C, L-ornithin aspertate.
Today we're starting a 7 day cycle of two herbal cancer fighting agents:
Paw Paw (Canadian grown!) and Artemisinin (not available in North America) 
I am knitting a pair of socks and here I am modeling them...
No actually, I'm just pretending to be on some kind of wooline intravenous here.
But seriously now, 
I am modeling a close-up of them because I am so pathetically proud of myself  :)
Mom is resting comfortably at the moment as we're about to take a stroll in the sunshine 
- to the local convenience store to buy some wine.  
*YAY* again!