August 28, 2004

Hello Friend,

Thank you for your continued prayers and support as my family and I walk this challenging path that God has placed before us. As I've told many of you, I'm convinced that the lessons I'm learning aren't intended just for me, but also for those near me who are aware of my situation. My goal is to shine a light and point to Christ through any circumstance that comes my way. I hope you are encouraged by what I share with you, and in turn have the ability to share that encouragement with those around you. God is so good, even in the midst of difficult circumstances. I pray that you are able to experience his goodness today. I've found that it's a matter of choice, not a matter of circumstances. Rise above the circumstances of your life today to do what you were created to do: praise your Heavenly Father.

Psalm 103:1-5

"Praise the Lord, O my soul; all my inmost being praise his holy name. Praise the Lord, O my soul, and forget not all his benefits- who forgives all your sins and heals all your diseases, who redeems your life from the pit and crowns you with love and compassion, who satisfies your desires with good things so that so that your youth is renewed like the eagleís.Ē

If you get a chance, read the rest of this Psalm. Itís a great reminder of Godís love.

Hereís a brief update on my health:

This past Tuesday I started a new course of radiation treatments. Previously I had been receiving radiation treatments on my head. A recent MRI of my spine revealed that some cancer cells had spread to my neck and a portion of my spine down toward my lower back. So my current radiation treatment covers not only my head, but also my spine. I am scheduled for 22 of these treatments, and Iíve had four so far. During these treatments I will not be receiving chemotherapy. The doctors were concerned that the increased radiation coupled with chemotherapy would make me so sick that I would have to be hospitalized. So for now itís just radiation, and the chemo will probably start again after the 22 treatment are completed.

The treatment sessions are relatively quick. Iím usually lying on the table for only about 15 minutes. They formed a plastic mesh mask to cover my head. They clamp the mask over my head to another piece behind my head to keep me in place. They also have my chest marked with permanent marker and even some small tattoo markings. This enables them to be precise with the spine treatments. When I first found out that I had a brain tumor, my prayer was that God would remove the tumor but leave at least one of my minor symptoms as a reminder of my encounter with him through this situation (much like when Jacob wrestled with God and came away with a limp because God wrenched his hip). Now that I have a couple little tattoos, I can pray that God takes all the symptoms away; I have another permanent reminder instead!

Now that Iím not on chemotherapy, the radiation treatments have not been making me as sick as they did at first. I still get tired, but not nearly as nauseated as before. At last check, Iím actually gaining weight! That is probably from all of the great food that friends have been bringing in every day for supper.

About three mornings ago when I was taking my shower, I noticed for the first time that hair was falling out of my head everywhere. The doctor told me this would happen, but it didnít happen as quickly as I expected. I was actually hopeful that maybe this side effect would not apply to me. However, each day revealed more and more of my scalp. Yesterday, I actually had hair all over my shirt and in my plate at mealtimes. That was enough of that! Yesterday evening I washed my hair, and about 75% of it fell out. For the rest of it, I got out my hair clippers and trimmed it off. The doctors had recommended not cutting it. They were concerned that it would cause the radiation mask to loosen and make it more difficult to find the precise location for treatments. But that didnít completely make sense to me, because it was falling out on its own. It was only a matter of time before I would be completely bald, anyway. Now I donít have to worry about hairy food, and Gwen doesnít have to worry about a mess all over the house.

As for the rest of my symptoms, I havenít encountered anything new. Praise God! There is always the possibility that the spread of the tumor could bring further symptoms and limitations. So far this hasnít happened. There is also the possibility that the radiation could damage good cells and good tissue, causing more symptoms to appear. So far this has not happened either. God may not have removed the tumor yet, but He is answering our prayers. Iím encouraged that Iím still doing so well. Even the doctorís are amazed that Iím functioning and looking as good as I am. Keep praying! It is working! God is working!

Thank you again for your prayers and encouragement. I would love to be able to pray specifically for you, too. I find my self praying more often now, and have been trying very hard not to focus on myself. If you have a specific request youíd like to share, email me any time. I would enjoy helping to support you as you have supported me

I know that many of you have shared my story with people you know who are also praying. Feel free to forward this message to anyone who might want to be aware of whatís going on and would like an update.

-Jeff

 

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