Monday, October 11, 2010

Finally Free of the Mental, Physical, Spiritual, and Emotional Straightjacket Every Patient Gets

(Hey guys, how's it going? Anyways, I'm sorry this took so long to post, but the pain in the fatigue alongside constant appointments kept me busy and useless. Now I'm regaining my fighting spirit and health, so I plan on writing more periodically. But, don't expect a post everyday. I'll try my best though. Any how, hope you enjoy and miss all of you. Your support is amazing and stunning. We are staying strong! Praise God!)

Freedom tastes so sweet it's almost indescribable. I savor it's flavor with extreme content; and I plan on not leaving drop of sapidity left. I am a glutton, I'll admit at least that much. But,after my second term of two weeks in the hospital my greed is justified, or at least in my mind it is. That's right I've finally escaped from M.D.Anderson. Today is currently my fourth day of liberation. Don't get me wrong though, it's a great place full of hope, but it's got some problems too. Such as, nurses and doctors with their constant checkups, bad scheduling, and uncomfortable furniture. All these things can accumulate and leave a person an empty shell of exhaustion and pain. The checkups always seem to come when your the most uncomfortable or just the opposite. Plus, they have a real knack for ruining your sleep. So forget a full, good nights of rest. Patience is the key to success in a hospital. All the bad scheduling, that changes like a torrent of raging whitewater, has taught us this. The final problem is the furniture. It's all so hard it feels as if the hospital received donations from Texas' most degraded prisons. They then bleach. Next, they proceeded to strap a fancy electronic that was theoretically supposed to "relieve pressure". YEAH RIGHT!!! This exquisite furniture left me with a bad back, which I'm still coping with eve now. So...if I ever find out the sadistic bastard's name who selected the hospital furniture I'll kill him. Also, along with all these troubles I've lost at least 20 lbs, which I a, slowly regaining. All of this doesn't matter though, because I am free; at least for now. Praise God!
Another occurrence that has taken place recently was my friend's and my family's visit to Lakewood Church which is run splendidly by Pastor Joel Olsteen. You might have seen it broadcasted on the tube. Any how, it sure was an experience let me tell you. Stepping into the ministry room of the church, I felt like a gladiator marching into The Colusseum in ancient Rome. The room swallows individuals with it size and sheer number of other those attending. The worship team was humungous at must of consisted of at least 40 people (Joey and our worship team is still better. It's about quality not quanity). Then Dodie Olsteen, Pastor Joel's mother who is also a cancer survivor, prayed over me and my friend, Ryan, who has had cancer twice and 12 surgeries now, (Keep him and his family in your prayers please). Mama Dodie's testimony was so amazing though, because her doctor's gave her four weeks and she pushed though. God is good!
The last major event that took place was my dad's and my attendance of the Titans' game versus Giants. It was my first live professional football game, live and in the stadium. It was amazing and I enjoyed the game. We had pretty good seats: 3rd floor and in the handicap spot so no one was blocking our view. The only downside was the Texans couldn't play offensively or defensively. It was ok though, because I'm a Broncos fan anyways.
This might not seem like a major occurrence to you, but to me it's monumental. I got my first shower in a month. Stop, stop don't freak out I've been taking sponge baths by myself. So I've been clean, but it's not the same. Anyways that shower was a gift sent from God on high.

Saturday, October 2, 2010

The Hard Journey and What gets Me Through

Lying flat on a cold, hard table with my body locked into place by bean bag molds, I waited for it to begin. Now you may be wondering what "it" is. Well... "it" is radiology. Radiology, for those of you who don't know, is the examining of the inner structures of opaque objects using X rays or other types of radiation. These opaque objects are quiet obviously the tumors. So, to kick the procedure off they shoot X rays throughout your body to pinpoint the exact locations of  the tumors. Then they take paint markers and doodle all over these exact locations; leaving you looking like a toddler's project. After all this they fasten you into place using bean bag molds and shoot the rays into your body. you know a small part of what I'm going through. And I have to do this everyday for six weeks. It's going to be hard, but God will get me and my family through this hardship. 
      My friends have come through many, many times along this journey so far. But, something truly amazing happened am few days ago. My brother and Richard and Kris ,two of my friends from my Haiti, came to visit. Their actions blew me away. The fact that anyone would fly down for one day just to see me shocked me, and to say the least the visit was emotional.  Sadly though, their visit had to an end and tearful goodbyes were exchanged as they walked out the door. It's support like this that will keep my family and I strong. So thank you so so much for everything you guys have done for me and my family.

Monday, September 27, 2010

The First Round: Day 7,8, & 9

(Sorry this post took so long everybody. I was really busy just getting admitted into the hospital and preparing for treatment.)

Show time is today. There's no more prep time. Regardless of the fact that all my ducks might not be in a row, the journey begins now. The side effects will be torterous, but I will push through. This is what I must tell myself. And due to God's work this thought is becoming more and more of a fact to me everyday. Someone with lots of experience with my predicament once told me that to get through this I would need to get mean. And that's exactly what I plan to do. But, I am not prepared, I know at least that much. How can anyone truly be prepared the first time around though? Hearing the probable and possible side effects is enough to leave one weak kneed. I myself grew emotional when I heard the totality of side effects from my trio of treatments. This is all before treatment even starts too. If one's foundation is strong enough, though, then they will make it through stronger than ever. And my foundation is rock solid. My family, my friends, my Savior, and people I've never even met before are all pouring out their love, and let me tell you, it's like a flood. It's overwhelming too see all the support that seems come from everywhere. This is how I know I'll make it through. The say that the first round of chemo is the hardest. Well, first round of chemo, here I come with everyone behind me.

Friday, September 24, 2010

The Prison With No Walls: Day 5 & 6

I'm incarcerated in a prison with no visible form of confinement. Pain is the guard,the gatekeeper, and the warden. Escape is impossible, and thinking about such a thing is the act of a madman. My prison has no walls, because it needs no walls. Trying to move beyond its borders can leave one broken and bawling uncontrollably for all to see. And they all do see. I am surrounded by a sea of people who are all aware of my suffering. The tears streaming down my cheeks are spelling out an SOS, but no one comes to provide aide. I am plain view, but I'm invisible. I am truly alone. Strangers stop and stare. I hate their eyes on me. I feel like a caged animal who is poked, prodded, and observed by all. And all I want to do is escape. Escape! Escape! Escape! The thought fills my mind and I am slowly becoming the madman I mentioned earlier. My craving for release from this confinement is eating me up like battery acid. Have you figures out the riddle yet? Do you what my prison is? My prison, my cage is.... a wheelchair.
Yes, I'm surrounded by people so I'm not truly alone. But, only a few of these people actually take action to help me. These are the people that I love, cherish, and appreciate for all their help and support. The majority of the people I've interacted with though, are uncaring and stare with the cold, dead eyes like those of the fish in a fish market. There are few bright lights out in the world that give me hope though. They make me weep, because of their unexpected kindness. While others are oblivious and wrapped up in their own worlds these amazing people see a need and provide help. My dad and I witnessed this today when we were struggling with some doors at the movie theaters after seeing The Town (Highly recommend). At the inner doors of the building, people stared, as my father wrestled with the challenge of holding the door upon and trying to pull me in a wheelchair through the door. Meanwhile, I'm clutching me knee in pain and trying to not thinking about the current, bumpy ride I was on. No one came up to lend a hand. NO ONE CARED! This thought hit me like a smack in the face and got my blood boiling. But, then something amazing happened. Upon reaching the front door, a woman (who had been sitting and resting on the handlebars of her walker and was clearly very tired) saw or predicament, got up, limped over, and helped us. I was shocked and amazed. I never thought help would come from such a place. I mean she could barely even walk. God had shown me yet another lesson.
By the end of this I'm sure my outlook on life will different, but not only because of the cancer or the pain. The experiences I have had and will have and the people I have met and will meet I will be a changed human being.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

What is it to be Strong?: Day 4

Ever since this whole ordeal began people have been telling me to stay strong. But, what does that even mean? Is staying strong crying out in pain in the middle of the night? Is staying strong grinding your teeth over every little bump your wheelchair crosses over, because it sends vibrations rocketing up your kneecap? Or is staying strong taking refuge from the pain and grief with God and those surrounding you with their love? To stay strong is not trying to find your rock. It's finding your foundations in those who support you.
In Judges the Bible tells of a man named Gideon. In Gideon's tale the Israelites are constantly being supressed and mistreated by invaders as punishment for their sins. Finally, God decides that enough is enough and decides to use Gideon, the least powerful man in the smallest tribe, to drive out these invaders. But, Gideon tried to first use his own strength to expel them and failed miserably. He tried to do things his own way and got kicked to the curb because of it. He then realizes that it's only possible with God fighting alongside him. And so with God's helping hand and only three hundred men he was able to expel the invaders for good. This story shows that with God all things are possible and I am learning this fact more and more everyday. I started like Gideon, but lately with alot of pain and grief it's become crystal clear. God is using this experience to teach me and those I love how to live our life with God.

Our Residence/ Dealing with a Little Pain: Day 2 &3

(Hey guys this was supposed to be posted yesterday but due to wifi complications I was unable to do so. Sorry for the inconvenience. Hope you enjoy.)

Thunderstorms come and go here in Houston like a thief in the night. Lightning smashes into the pitch-black sky to leave white cracks that are only visible for an instant while rain hurtles itself against windowpanes. God is nourishing the land and keeping it alive. And all of this is happening right outside our room's wall of windows at the Ronald McDonald House. This "house" resembles a cathedral of hope more than anything else though. Upon arriving here a few days ago, my family and I were struck dumb by the generosity and support that has collected in this place. At ten dollars a night for room, board, and food it's a godsend. We are surrounded by families from across the continent who have all been struck and struck hard by some form of cancer. They all hold each other up and carry those that stumble. Little kids wearing clinical masks run around playing cops and robbers with toy weapons. These children become oblivious to their conditions in these few precious seconds and find refuge in friendships. Older residents talk or watch a little Tv and laugh in chorus when a joke hits the right spot.  
     Despite this encouraging atmosphere where hope is abundant like a rabbit's offspring my pain decides to persist. My pain has become so much a part of my being that I'm considering giving it a name. Perhaps, Toto because it is so loyal, I haven't made my mind up yet (outside input is appreciated). Like an imp it causes trouble and sends shooting, shocking pains in my back, knee, and shoulder. But, with the help of newfound friends, pain meds, and God's healing the pain is becoming less and less prominent. It's no longer blinding. It's hold on after eight weeks is slowly loosening! Your prayers are making a difference and my whole family feels the love. We are making it through this jungle of anguish and hardship. But, for now I'm going to go and try enjoy my bed which has an amazing view of the monstrous medical center. Good night one and all.    

Monday, September 20, 2010

It's Starting to Sink in: Day 1

Yesterday, we arrived in Houston via Southwest. It was a painful journey and my knee was on fire with pain, but due to some sympathetic flight attendants the pain was softened and became somewhat bearable. Touchdown is when it finally hit me. The realization that I had cancer. It was a cold slap of reality that shook me to my very core. Why had God done this to me? Me of all people. After all, I had just gone on a mission to Haiti and brought people to the Lord for crying out loud. And this is how God had decided to repay me. I thought to myself what type of God treated his followers in such a cruel and unmerciful way. After all isn't God supposed to be benevolent and loving?
A split second after all this destructive thought stopped flowing a second stream of thought broke loose. God wasn't punishing me; he was testing me. He was making me stronger. He was showing me more love and support than I could handle. Family, friends, and people I had never even met before were coming out of nowhere to share their love. I felt smothered and it felt good. Their love and support created a cocoon that protected me from downfall. With this amazing amount of support there is no way I can fail. God is showing me everyday thing I've never noticed and my outlook on life is slowing changing. God is good!