Monthly Archives: April 2009

Constantly amazed

I’m constantly amazed at how things are proceeding at present. It’s hard sometimes to remember the seriousness of my situation and I guess one tends to learn to live with it. 

Last Wednesday I had my 9th course of chemo (2nd here in Nelson). During the week leading up to the treatment I had been working in close proximity with a builder who had a cold and chest infection. Bronwen also succumbed to it. Rebekah, whose house we are staying at while our house is without power and water, also contracted the bug and the grandchildren also had bad coughs.

With my defences always struggling to make par, I was amazed to discover that the blood test before the latest chemo showed platelets at 81 (min 75) and neutraphils at 2 (min 1). Some tests have had my neutraphils at between .98 and 1.2 but this time, surrounded by infections and bugs, I’ve been able to stay free and score more than usual in the tests!

This week I return to Christchurch for another update CT Scan and visit with my primary Oncologists to review the state of the metastases.


Posted by on 26 April, 2009 in Medical


Staying bouyant in the storms

I met with my new Nelson doctor today for appraisal and formal transfer from the Hanmer Springs clinic. He was our old family doctor and he also attended Bronwen’s mother in her final battle with cancer back in 1990/91. He was pleasantly surprised at how well I look and encouraged me to continue to hold a confident outlook towards the future.

I also had my second fortnightly visit with the Nelson Oncologist. She laughed when she heard how I have so far managed to avoid the virilent infection that has invaded our household, and that I have instead been attending the sick. Her amazement stems from the fact that my immune system takes a hammering with each chemo treatment and barely recovers to the minimum levels required for further treatment each two weeks. I interpreted her laugh as a laugh of praise to ‘the unknown God”, and another indicator of the gracious goodness of the God I know. 

To cap it off, my blood tests today showed that my platelet and neutraphil levels have actually recovered two days early so that I will have treatment on schedule again this Wednesday.

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Posted by on 20 April, 2009 in Devotional


Praying for a miracle

A religious man discovers that he has testicular cancer, and decides to pray for a miracle. 

The next day he visits a urologist, who tells him he must have surgery immediately. He tells the doctor “I do not want you to remove my testicle, I am praying for a miracle from God”. 

Then he visits a radiologist, who tells him that he must begin radiation therapy immediately. He tells the doctor “I do not want you to expose my body to radiation, I am putting my faith in God.” 

Finally he visits an oncologist, who tells him that he must start chemotherapy immediately. He tells the doctor “I do not want you to inject me with caustic chemicals, God will heal me.” 

A few months later he dies and goes to heaven, where he is very upset and asks God why he didn’t give him a miracle. God replies “I gave you three miracles, a urologist, an oncologist and a radiologist, but you chose to ignore them.”

I thank God for His many agents of healing, and whether its through them or by some other means, I’m still praying for a miracle.

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Posted by on 20 April, 2009 in Humor


Is God merciful or what?

Each time I go for blood tests I only just manage to achieve the absolute minimum levels for platelet counts and neutrafils (the antigens that fight infection). Because of my vulnerability to infections I am supposed to keep away from anyone who is not well, but what happens if the infection is within the family circle?

This morning, only Abe, Phoebe and I attended church. Bronwen has been laid low with a heavy chest cold and throat infection since Friday, and yesterday Rebekah went down with it too. Abe and Phoebe have been coughing a bit but are not listless like their mother and grandmother. All last week we have been working around our builder who has been battling the same infection and been on antibiotics. (I tried to avoid being too close to him but it wasn’t always possible)

Having only had chemo 10 days ago, my platelet count and neutrafils would have been well below the critical level, yet God in His mercy has so far preserved me from getting the infection myself. I am not presuming on His goodness, but give thanks that at least one of us is fit enough to tend the others and the children.

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Posted by on 19 April, 2009 in Medical


No time for introversion

Since coming to Nelson two weeks ago, we have had no time to sit around navel-gazing. We had planned to settle in for a couple of weeks and plan the alterations we intend to make to the service areas of the house. Instead, the friend who is supervising and helping with the alterations came to look at the job three days after we arrived and decided he could start immediately. We arrived on Wednesday evening: by Monday evening the pantry was gone.

Things have moved at great pace and we have been making decisions about joinery and appliances on the run. Fortunately we had a good idea of what we wanted before we came. Renovating an old house requires other ‘on-the-spot’ decisions as well when unusual discoveries are made beneath the wallboards.

Presently we are living in a caravan on the property our daughter, Rebekah, is renting while the electrician, plumber and carpenters apply their skills. We have also been blessed with voluntary help from friends with various other tasks as well. It has been busy, busy, busy, but refreshingly so. I have chemo again this coming week, depending on my blood tests. Having stuff to do certainly keeps one’s mind focused away from any physical ailments lurking under the surface.

God is gracious and life is good

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Posted by on 19 April, 2009 in Uncategorized


Nelson hospital

Had my first visit to the Nelson hospital yesterday when I met the local oncologist. She is an old friend of my Christchurch specialist and they roomed together in London. 

Today I went for my 8th chemo treatment (out of 12) and the first in Nelson. Surprisingly the Nelson set-up seems more modern than the Christchurch treatment room. The room, and the machines are better and its like an open-plan classroom. I counted 14 being treated around the room yet each person was able to be private if they wanted to. I have been appointed my own oncology nurse for the duration and she will follow me up and even visit me at home! Wonderful service.

As for the meals …! In Christchurch we had to buy our own from the hospital cafe although the Cancer Society provided a $6.50 subsidy and a volunteer took the orders. In Nelson I was presented with a menu and it was all free. Glad I haven’t lost my appetite. I had a chunky vege soup and wholemeal bread, fisherman’s pie topped with mashed potato, followed by yoghurt and a banana.

The best part of it all was being able to leave home at 10.45am for an 11am appointment and being home at 2.15 after leaving the hospital at 2pm.

Once again I only just scraped in with my blood tests. My platelets were 79 (min 75) and neutrafils 1 (min 1)! The 46 hour pump that administers the Folfox dose has to be strapped to me until Good Friday but Bronwen is able to remove the line from my Portacath rather than me having to go back to the hospital. She has all the toxic waste containers and gear to do the job. She does it very tenderly too.


Posted by on 8 April, 2009 in Medical