Friday, April 27, 2007

Thanksgiving service

Give thanks to the LORD for he is good;
His steadfast love endures forever!

- Psalm 136.1

Personal update and an invitation
We've now had a week or so for the good news of the latest scan to sink in. After initially finding ourselves exhausted and relieved, we're now starting to look ahead to a life of new and renewed possibilities. Before we get there, however, it is appropriate to mark this point in our journey with gratitude for God's goodness to us through so many people. And so we would like to invite you to a special service of thanksgiving.

Saturday May 19th, 10am
All Souls Anglican Church, Leichhardt
(cnr Norton & Marion Streets)
Morning tea will be provided following the service.
RSVP would be appreciated. All welcome.

From here, I will continue to have scans every few months for at least two years. I will post any further updates on this blog. Thank you for your support, prayers, love and generosity. God has blessed us so much through you all.

We've been reminded that life is so much more than the abundance of possessions, as Jesus says - indeed, it is more than the abundance of health. Our society often seems obsessed with health; could this be an expression of a deep fear of death? The Christian hope is not simply to avoid dying for a little longer (as good as that is!), but for death itself to be overthrown in resurrection.

May God fill you with hope and joy because Jesus is risen, and so the end of death has begun.

Monday, April 16, 2007

Update: 16th April

The breath of God has made me,
     and the breath of the Almighty gives me life.

- Job 33.4

Good news!
It has been a month since I had a CT scan that revealed the growth in my chest had shrunk to about a quarter of the size it had been in early December.

This morning, I had a PET scan at RPA Hospital. This involved being injected with radioactive glucose* and then being scanned to see where I was radioactive. The glucose is taken up into cells with high activity: the brain, liver, active muscles - and active tumours. The pattern of radiation thus reveals whether any tumours are active.
*Technically, radioactive tracer in a glucose solution, since the sugar itself doesn't undergo radioactive decay.

But my scan was clear. There was 'no evidence of viable tumour activity' . This means that the remaining tissue revealed last month on the CT scan is simply dead scar tissue. Praise God! This is what we've been praying for and the best outcome we could have hoped for after the diagnosis in December.

From here, I will continue to have tests every few months to check for relapse. If I remain clear for two years, the likelihood of it returning becomes much smaller. But for the moment, I have been spared. And for this, we are thankful.

I know there are many others who do not have such good news today, but who continue to struggle with illness and a variety of difficulties. Why have I been spared at this time? It is not a reward, but pure gift, like all life. We remain thankful for every day.

What has changed? In one sense, not much. I will still die sooner or later and I continue to trust the God who raises the dead. I still follow one whose path of faithful obedience meant suffering amidst a groaning and broken world. Health remains a good gift from God's Spirit, but not the goal of life. There are worse things than sickness and death.

Yet, of course, today's small mercy is worth celebrating: more life together with you; more opportunities to serve God, his world and his people; more time to tell of God's goodness to us all. I am looking forward to celebrating with friends and family, not having any more needles (at least until the next scan), and starting to once more think about the future beyond next week.

My health continues to improve after treatment ended two months ago. I have more energy and am able to eat most things. I am beginning to work at improving my vocal volume with the help of speech therapy. I have lost all my convenient excuses for avoiding the exercise regime that Jessica and I have been promising each other for years.

Thank you for all your prayers, love, cards, food, gifts, kindness and presence (even in spirit). We have really appreciated your company on this leg of our journey and look forward to more adventures together (hopefully for many years!).

At this milestone, we think it's appropriate to give thanks and celebrate God's kindness to us. And so, Jessica and I would like to invite you (and any interested others you know), who have supported and prayed for us, to a thanksgiving service. We haven't yet worked out any details, but we'd love to acknowledge that we are and remain recipients of undeserved grace from you and our heavenly Father. We'll let you know date and time soon.

Of course, we'd still love your prayers:
Give thanks: for so many things - I'm sure you can think of some!
Pray: for those who face disappointment and not joy today; for patience and discipline in trying to strengthen my voice; and that we will not forget the lessons we have learned.

Friday, April 13, 2007

Update: 13th April

PET scan next week
Just got a call to say that my PET scan will be on Monday morning 9 am. I fast for five hours beforehand (so that I'm ready to go really slow for a few hours...). This scan is to determine whether the residual mass revealed in my most recent CT scan is still active or is merely scar tissue. I get an injection of radioactive glucose (sugar) and sit very still for an hour. Sugar is picked up by cells that have been active (which is why I sit very still - so that as little as possible goes into other muscles), particularly the brain and active tumour cells. I then lie inside a large tube that functions as a 3D Geiger counter, measuring where radiation is coming from (i.e. which cells have been picking up the glucose). I probably won't get the results for at least a couple of days. I'll post an update here as soon as I know.

Speech therapy
In other news, yesterday I went to my first session of speech therapy proper and have been given a variety of amusing sounds to practice. I would have been really good at being a speech therapist before I lost my voice - I used to love practising silly noises.