Overdue Update

I am more than overdue on an update, although most everyone close by probably knows, so I’ll keep it short.

In case you aren’t up to date, I got out of the hospital on Easter Sunday. I spent the next four days at a house near Emory because I had to stay within 30 minutes, just in case any issues popped up. They did allow me to come home that Thursday, instead of having to rent a hotel for the remaining few days.

Since then, I have basically been under house arrest and just trying to recover. I feel great, but my white counts will not get past 2 (4.2 is the low threshold) and they are too low for crowds. I have snuck out for a few small group meals, but no church or work yet, due to the low counts.

I continue to appreciate the prayers and thoughts. I appreciate those that call/text and check on me and I can’t count the offers of any help offered. Hopefully, next Friday, the white counts will be higher and I can get back to work- this is not a vacation by any means.

Tomorrow will be 40 days of missed work. It feels like 100. I’m so thankful that I’ve been blessed with enough health to have plenty of sick time so far.

Bottom line… I feel great. My myeloma paraprotein marker is already at 0. One of my other blood work levels was nearly 1700 (500+ is high) the week prior to the hospital stay. As of May 3, it is actually low, but barely so.

Day 11- An Update Worth “The Ride”

Well, my last update was on Day 6, at which time, I was doing well and all signs pointed to getting out on Day 10. I think it was around day 7 that I began running a fever. So days 7-8 found me sleeping except for the four hour tests, vital checks, meds, etc.

First, I’ll explain the tests. One of the side effects of getting the TCells back into my body is that it can cause neurotoxicity. They test me for this reaction by asking me several random questions, having me identify objects and/or touching my nose, etc. I also have to count backwards from 100 by 10 and write out a sentence. They use these to watch for signs that things are heading south, mental-wise, for me, which for anyone who knows me, knows this is no easy task to begin with.

Ok, funny side note. Way before any issues, I called one night to place my dinner order. The lady answers with, “I see you have your dinner order placed, how can I help you?” I’d already been planning to order a grilled chicken sandwich. As I told her I hadn’t placed a food order, she began telling me the existing order of “grilled chicken, a coke and a side salad”. I told her it wasn’t anything I had ordered and she placed me on hold to cancel it. She came back and took my order, which I changed so she wouldn’t think I was crazy. Then I sat there thinking that maybe I was having an episode, I had placed a wrong order and did not remember it. I later found out that Food Service was having more than a few episodes that day. At least it wasn’t me.

Let’s get caught up, slept for two days… so yesterday, I’m feeling much better. So much that I actually sit up in bed and watch TV. The nurse pops in for the usual questions and for the first time, I stumble on the counting backwards. This is ironic, because after the first chemo round, I have had issues with numbers. Try telling me a phone number and I may have to have it repeated. I once listened to a voice mail four times to write down the call back number and the worst case was I saw a 6 and kept thinking and telling the other person that it was a 9, all while they kept saying 6.

No big issue in missing one point of these tests, but I later stumbled on the counting again in that from 50-10, my mind had it going from 10-50. When I finished, I told the nurse I had realized that I had messed it up and she told me I had done it correctly. Weird, but you should try experiencing it. Then I misspelled the same word twice in writing my sentences, but also realized it both times. I can’t even count how many mistakes I have made typing the last sentence.

Fast forward to this morning. Oh, I forgot to mention in the land of Glennard. So, you know the expression about tearing up and anvil with a rubber hammer? Well, that is me. So when they were trying to get a vacutainer to the picc line, a piece of it broke off inside the picc line. I know, at this point, you’re thinking I’m in an episode and am imagining all of this. No, this is just the world that surrounds me. As a matter of fact, several nurses came in to see it because everyone kept saying, “I’ve never seen that”.

So this morning, I’m feeling pretty good for the 2nd day in a row, but with an IV to push meds and fluids in. The nurse pops in and starts one of them. She isn’t gone long, when there is a dull ache around the IV. It isn’t the sharp burning pain of a blown vein, but different. I press the assistance button and by the time a different nurse is checking on it, the pain is gone. She checks the IV and she leaves. No faster than she leaves the pain returns and it is getting worse. Assistance is pressed again and I wait. I wait some more as my thumb begins to tingle and all the while, I’m wondering what is going on because anytime I’ve had to ask for anything, it’s been less than a minute for anything. Finally, after what felt like ten minutes (I honestly don’t know how long), my door opens and it’s Food Services. And just behind are my nurse and the new on-coming nurse. As soon as they enter, they realize it is the medication I was getting and I complete the dose as a citrus flavored cup of water.

I’m now just about to start this blog, and have probably only typed a few sentences, when the nurse comes in to start another medication. She hooks up everything and let’s me know she’s headed to get a computer and will be right back. Not five seconds out the door, I have way more fiery pain at the IV site. This feels more like the blown vein pain, but different. I immediately press the button because with my luck, there’ll be five people flagging her down for random questions or something. Another nurse comes in just before my nurse gets here and they determine that the medication is again the source. A try at, I think half the dosing, still brought pain, but we found a rate which has no pain, but it takes 2.5 hours. An IV solution has been plotted for the next dose.

They say that whatever doesn’t kill you…. well, I don’t think “they” ever went through chemo. I’m just glad I can find humor in both rounds. I have memories I wouldn’t have otherwise. Everything from Kelly having a lizard in the room (not Emory) in the middle of the night to what we think was a patient died a few doors down and the family was very emotional and loud (according to Kelly, because I was in the basement period). From getting a postcard (the only one mind you) for a cemetery plot just a week or so out of the hospital from my initial diagnosis and me saying that anyone can beat one cancer, I’ll beat two at once.

Memories that tell a story. A story that has some definite roller coaster ups and downs. Would I have chosen it? No. But boy have I and my family ridden it. Do I know why I got this ride? I do not. I don’t know all the answers and sometimes don’t even know all the questions, but I do know who does. This is what matters. How fitting that this Easter weekend. Cancer’s pains are often healed and/or treated through ways that are painful to endure. The story of redemption of mankind’s sin is wrapped in pain.

Jesus was born a baby who grew into a kid who suffered every scraped knee, stubbed toe and hammered fingernail that any of us have endured. He had a few trusted close friends. He cried when one of them died. Around a dinner table with the one He knew would betray Him, and He chose to eat with him one last time. Let that sink in. He would soon experience excruciating pain in the torture of the cross. All for us and again, let that sink in.

All that He went through was part of a plan that was bigger than any of them could see. The part they played in telling others somehow wove it’s way through time to where we are today and what we know about Jesus. And so, we find ourselves playing a part in telling others so that they will know. Our part has not diminished because of its distance in time and, now I believe it is even more vital than ever. The stakes are that high. Do your part in telling someone about Jesus.

Day 6 Update

Well, I’m on Day 6 of the T-Cells procedure. So far, I’m one of their most boring patients, which IS a good thing. I do not want to be needing constant monitoring or attention. My white counts have dropped and several lab levels are low, but these are all to be expected. Currently, unless things change drastically, I should be discharged next Wed.

Thank goodness for technology. I’m able to watch what I want on Netflix, Hulu, etc. as I brought a Roku with me. I’m also able to talk, text and/or FaceTime folks from time to time. These are huge distractions from just the TV which, if I watch several shows, I find myself sleepy and just wanting to nap. I also have a book I’m filling out. It’s a book of questions you answer and then give back to your kids so they learn things about your life growing up, your school days, your first crush, etc.

It struck me today making a lap around the floor just how good I have it. I walked by a door and could hear a person just groaning inside. My heart hurt for them. I know how bad I hurt the first go around and how the pain patch I wore kept me from hurting even more. I can’t imagine being that bad and then being alone. I also can’t imagine how their family feels knowing they are this sick and are here alone.

Don’t take things for granted. Work an honest day’s time, but make time for your family too! I’m always telling people, “You get one chance to raise your kids”. Work, golf, hunting, fishing or anything else will be there tomorrow. Sometimes, your family need you today. None of those things are bad, just don’t overlook the impact you can and should make on your family.

If you have prayed, called, texted, offered or given help, etc. we all appreciate it so much. I think everyone wants to help and often feel helpless when someone goes through something like this.


On Monday, I received my genetically engineered T-Cells back. It was a simple bag of fluid, not unlike the prior stem cell transplant and about as dramatic. There were two nurses present who watched my vitals while the “IV bag” emptied. Exciting, I know….

Since then, I’m mostly alone, left to entertain myself with my phone, TV/Roku (thank goodness for technology) or a book. Oh, I sometimes people watch out the window, but from nine floors up, that isn’t as exciting as it sounds. About every four hours, I have to write out a sentence and answer basic questions any conscious person should know and/or identify a few items in the room.

So far, I have been passing these each time. Unless I’m having an episode, since the last time checked, this should be making perfect sense. If not, hopefully the nurse will catch it soon, before I hit the Publish button and send this out.

What has struck me is the quietness of the room. Apart from the occasional ambulance and the rumbling outside the room, when the TV is off, it is quiet. I rarely mute a TV at home, so there is always a noise source. Here, I mute it when someone comes in and often, I will be texting a while and realize the TV is still muted. This is when the silence is realized. Currently, I can hear the AC, the ticking of a clock and the faint drone of something outside which seems far away. And… someone just dropped something out in the hall.

We rarely have things this quiet. Even camping in a remote place, there are forest sounds. Now that droning sound is driving me crazy- I have no idea what it is. Quiet… That’s where I was. We rarely are still and quiet for any amount of time. It will usually drive me nuts with no sounds, but I’m finding it oddly peaceful in short bursts.

I can’t begin to thank everyone for the prayers and thoughts. The calls/texts mean a lot to know that you are thinking of us during this time. Many have given snacks, money and offered way more than we have needed at times, but we all appreciate each and everything you have done or offered. In times like these, I realize just how blessed I am and how much worse it could be.

It Is Well

Friday, I hung up my work gear for awhile. It is kind of strange that I don’t really remember doing so in 2017. I know I worked close to the time I went in for the Stem Cell Transplant, but there continues to be memories from that time frame that are skewed or just plain missing.

I am fortunate, because I have several families. I have my biological family that I know will be praying and worrying for me. I have a church family that will also be lifting me up. I am also very fortunate to have a work family that I truly will miss. Right now, I am thinking I should have pranked someone before I left. If you are reading this, maybe I did.

Today kicks off with a COVID test, some lab work and ends with a good old hip bone biopsy. With all the sarcasm I can muster, I have missed getting one of these and am glad it is time for another. Wednesday begins three days of chemo, which is supposed to be a very tolerable mix, so we will see, but I am hopeful.

Here is a portion of the lyrics, from a song we sang yesterday (thanks Betsie):

“And far be it from me to not believe/
Even when my eyes can’t see/ And this mountain that’s in front of me/ Will be thrown into the midst of the sea/ And through it all, through it all/
My eyes are on You/ And through it all, through it all/ It is well”

It is well. People often ask me how I feel and truly, I am not overly worried. Knowing, from experience, and I mean really knowing and believing that God is in control helps keep the worry at bay.

Shannan painted a good visual picture in Sunday’s sermon. A toddler, when thrown into the air by their father is thrilled. An adult tossed into the air by a friend is terrified. My life may seem to be tossed right now, but at least I know who is waiting to catch me.

I just want to be squealing with joy and not terrified out of my mind. Who’s doing the tossing and catching makes all the difference!

Calm… A Few Weeks Out

I am three weeks out from another hospital stay. Multiple Myeloma is so far, still incurable, but helpfully, this T-Cell procedure will knock it on its butt.

I often hear that someone comments about how calm I am through this. Even my wife just a few days ago ask me if I was worried at all. My answers are usually “No” because for the most part, I am not worried or concerned.

This is not false bravado I assure you. I guess, “it is what it is” is a good motto for dealing with this or anything else. You weigh the options and then set on a course of action to deal with it.

I have faith (reassured repeatedly at this point) that not only is God is control, but that my doctors are capable. They do not rest on their knowledge, but look at new options. But, even if I was not certain and faithful that my doctors know what they’re doing, God is the cornerstone.

Knowing God is in the center of this path of my life, what is there to worry about? He knows the why. He knows the how. He knows and with this, I do not need to worry.

I can look around and see uncertainty everywhere. I can look around and see things everywhere that you would agree are things to worry about. The problem with this is that I am looking around instead of looking up. When I look to the Father, I do not look around at other sources of hope, trust or faith.

A knife drawn against a stone or against a strop of leather with a gritty abrasive is sharpened and honed into a useful tool. A dull knife is useless.

Cancer is not easy. Between bone pain and being tired, I could lose faith, but I am not focused on those things. I want to look past the gritty abrasive junk to the finished product and be changed, perhaps useful.

Life lesson? Make sure you are focused on the right thing. God is in control, your circumstances are not. Look through the pain, the addiction, the trial you find yourself in and see what you could be. Do not short-change yourself. You can get up one more time and plod on.

2021 Multiple Myeloma Update

The paraprotein marker in my blood is still on the rise. The first post 0 level was .57, which was barely above what the levels were knocked down to just prior to my 2017 Stem Cell Transplant. Early January shows that marker has risen to 1.01. When graphed out, it looks like a steep climb.

At first, we were going to treat the return of the MM with a three-drug regime. The Friday before it was to begin, my Emory Dr. called with news of a clinical study he wanted me to consider. I didn’t have long, but decided to pursue it.

This put me on a fast track to get to Emory for a battery of required tests. One of the requirements for the study was two levels of 1.0 or greater of the paraprotein marker. With one (barely, at 1.01 already), another one landed at 1.19, which is about the only time I wished for a greater “level” of MM in my bloodwork.

While I had felt more at ease when we opted for the three-drug routine, it wasn’t a 100% all-in and at peace with things deal. It’s hard to explain, I felt it was the right direction, but there was a nagging feeling that just wasn’t totally “in” yet.

So, last Friday, I should have heard already whether I was in the study or not. Late Friday evening, it seems the lab had not processed one more test- COVID and the snow storm were to blame. The only advice was, be there Monday for the apheresis draw at Emory. A mid-day Sunday call from my Emory Dr. confirmed I had a spot in the study, but it might be a little delayed, but again the advice was to be there Monday.

So yesterday, I arrived at 7:30 for the apheresis procedure. The lab still had no conclusion, so we waited. Finally, close to 10:00, we got the go ahead from the study lab for the apheresis draw to start.

To do this, they insert a needle into each arm. In the middle is the machine which takes from one side and puts back in the other. In between, it pulls out the T-Cells and other blood items and collects them. 3-4 hours later, after laying with outstretched arms I couldn’t move, we were done.

Somewhere in my blood, are T-Cells and they hope to re-program mine to attack the MM which threatens me from within. The cure is already in the blood, we just have to teach it to fight.

Solace at last. Solace is defined as “comfort or consolation in a time of distress or sadness.” It is the peace while the storm is still raging all around you. Actually, the word sounds soothing as I repeat it in my head.

While it is disconcerting to have the MM return, there is solace that God has provided another study. One that shows a lot of promise and if it delivers, could be a game-changer. No matter the path, He illuminates it and makes the way known. Therein is the solace, the calm and the surreal all at the same time.

Catch Me Singing- Thanks Nick and SHCC Worship Band

Recently, Nick led a song by Sean Curran and no offense to Mr. Curran, but Nick is way…… better. The lyrics are powerful and I guess I needed them.

You always finish what you start / You always finish what you start / What you have grown into a garden / You planted in the dark / You always finish what you start / Good things just take a little time / Good things just take a little time / Your hands are working in the soil / And bringing me to life / Good things just take a little time

God ultimately began His work in me a long ago, but He is not through with me yet. 2017 was a dark spot although it didn’t feel like it then and that is really weird as I type those words. A cancer diagnosis is dark, unsettling and about the worst news one can get. Good things indeed, do often, take a little time. God is still there, working the soil all along.

I will trust you in the famine / I will bless you in the feast / When I’m standing in your victory / When I’m on my knees / I will praise you with the rising / And the setting sun / You’re gonna catch me singing / when the spring time comes

I had trusted during that famine. I’ve often described it as a surreal peace that God gave me. I trusted, but did I praise God during the feast when it was over? Was I caught singing when the spring time came?

This story has an empty grave / This story has an empty grave / Jesus the process is a mystery / But your promise never fades / This story has a empty grave / We will be walking through the fire / And dancing on the waves / This story has an empty grave

Tragic news can feel like an empty grave, an inescapable fate. Our hope of redemption through the empty grave of Jesus gives hope and life. It’s the mystery in the middle that leaves us perplexed and searching for answers instead of just resting peaceful in the Savior’s arms. Daniel and Peter walked with Jesus and did amazing things. So can I. [Leave it to God to show up- my devotion after type in this, involved the story of Peter walking on the water]

You’ve been God for a long time / You’re the final word/ You’re the finish line/ Everything’s going to be alright / You’ve been God for a long time 

The final lines of this song hit me the hardest. “You’ve been God for a long time…” Let that sink in. He has seen it all- all there was, is and is to come. There are no surprises. There is no mystery to Him. “Everything’s going to be alright / You’ve been God for a long time”. What better news could there be?

Again, I know God has this. If you know me, I am not a worrier. I just love how God can show Himself and reassure me through a song, even though, I didn’t know I needed reassuring. God is ageless, powerful and loving. This is His course of action, mine is to be obedient and faithful.

And this, my friends, is why I am not a worrier. My garden was planted in the dark, grows without any doing of my own and will bloom someday. Is it a flower? A vegetable? I don’t know what will bloom, but I do know the Gardner. He’s been God for a long time.

Cancer Update- Two for the Price of One

My last post was back in June 2018. Mostly, I’ve been coasting… but here goes, so buckle up!!!

Since Feb. 2018, a protein marker in by blood work has been at zero. Two hip biopsies ago, they could detect some myeloma cells in my marrow only and not in any bloodwork. One biopsy ago, they found myeloma cells in the marrow and blood, but still none detected in any bloodwork.

On Monday, I learned that the PET scan (from late September) showed no active myeloma, but for the first time since Feb. 2018, the bloodwork showed a protein marker level of .57. For reference, just after diagnosis, it was 3.92 and just before the stem cell transplant, it was .53.

On Tuesday, I got the results from a prostate biopsy (also completed in September). They found 5 of 12 samples cancerous, but at the lowest/least aggressive “level” and it has not spread.

Needless to say, after two visits in two days with that kind of news, if I had another doctor visit, dentist or anything scheduled this week, I’d be cancelling it.

I do ask for prayer as we consider options for treatment. The myeloma is a back burner issue I think, as we are gonna regroup on that in December and see what the blood work looks like. I also suspect another bone biopsy may be in order, but my doctor didn’t say this.

My first order will most likely be dealing with the prostate cancer and deciding how to go after it. Fortunately, it is very curable (not like the MM) and probably done in town.

Pray for my family too. They worry. They worry a lot. They worry way more than I do and I have to hear it. Seriously, they struggle with worry and I don’t, so they probably need more help dealing with this than I do. For me, just pray God’s will.

I don’t know what His will is, but I want to be inside it. While I hope for healing, I’ll take whatever He sees fit. But since you’re praying, pray boldly for healing.

2020 continues to dish out surprises and while I wasn’t expecting this, it’s now at my door. I’ll keep putting one foot in front of the other, praying and asking you to keep us in your prayers.


It’s been awhile on updates, but it’s basically because I am and feel pretty much healed. My blood work continues to indicate I’m healthy and no signs of any cancer.

Friday, I began the vaccination process with 5 shots. Some will need boosters in a few weeks. Others will follow at about two years post stem cell transplant. The joys of being “one and a half”.

I got to thinking about these immunizations. They are designed and given to prevent disease. They were thought up and designed by those much smarter than I am. They hurt when given.

What are you “taking” or doing to immunize yourself against sin? There are all kinds of Godly things you can take in- Godly books, music, TV shows and movies to name a few. If all you’re doing is “going to church”, then that’s like going to a foreign country plagued by malaria and taking a box of Kleenex to ward it off. That’s not a perfect analogy at all, but hopefully  you see my point. Church attendance is important, but it isn’t a “cure all” or the only spiritual food you should be taking in. Invest in your spiritual life or growth won’t happen.

God figured and planned all this out and He is a lot smarter than we are. We try and do things ourselves or even substitute things in His place. Simply follow His will, His plan and His ways for a life with less to worry about. We are like our kids at times. “You can’t tell me what to do” or “I think I know better” becomes the way we live our lives if we aren’t careful. Too many times people put (insert whatever you “love” doing the most) before God. Whether it’s family, work, hobbies or any other often good thing, if it takes your eyes off God, then you need to do some thinking about spiritual priorities.

Shots hurt. So does living a lifestyle in which we are trying to prevent the world/sin from taking hold in our lives. It can single us out. It can seem odd to others. It may cost of friends or times with them when the temptation is there and we skip an outing to not be tempted. Pain inflicted in training helps prepare one for the game/fight/race or whatever one is training for. The pain we may suffer in trying to vaccinate our lives from sin is useful and worth it to our spiritual health. 

I love those “Stay thirsty my friend” commercials, so “Stay spiritually healthy my friends” by vaccinating your life against sin.