Friday, August 10, 2007

Thursday, July 20, 2006

July 18 update

July 18, 2006

Dear Family & Friends,

I send greetings from Carol. I have been sharing your email notes and cards with her as we have had time between therapy sessions (about 200 notes). We are so grateful for your prayers and encouragement. You have blessed us immeasurably.

Today was Carol’s best day yet in therapy. She has been working hard to regain balance and to sit and stand without assistance. She has also been working on regaining coordination in her left hand and arm. We have seen considerable improvement in those areas over the past two days.

Until today she was able to take only a few steps with a walker and with heavy assistance from her therapist, but today she walked about 20 feet with her walker and with only moderate assistance. That was a significant breakthrough. Also, her pain level seems to have decreased a little so she isn’t requiring as much pain medication. That’s significant not only because it indicates healing at the surgery site, but also because she is able to participate more fully in her therapy sessions when she isn’t as groggy from pain meds.

Some of you have asked for more specific information about her tumor. It was diagnosed as a Glioblastoma Multiforme (GBM), also called grade 4 astrocytoma, which is the most malignant form of glioma or astrocytoma. If you would like to read more about it, you can do so at http://www.cancerbackup.org.uk/Cancertype/Brain/Typesofbraintumour/Astrocytoma.

The data is not at all encouraging, so rather than reading it, you may prefer simply to pray that the Lord will show special mercy and grant a healing miracle. As I shared with you in my last update, I know He has the power to do that, but He may choose otherwise for His own purposes, so please also pray that our wills will be perfectly in tune with His, whatever the outcome may be. We don’t have to understand His will, but we do need to be in the center of it with thankful hearts and prayerful spirits. That is our greatest desire.

Having said that, I want you to know that the Lord is sustaining us each day, just as He promised to do. However, despite the special strength and hope He gives us in our weakest moments, the fear and uncertainty can seem overwhelming at times, so please pray that we will remain focused on His grace and love instead of on the circumstances. This is the greatest spiritual test we have ever faced, and we don’t want to fail it or to squeak by with a “C+.” We want high marks, but we know we have no capacity in ourselves to achieve them. Your prayers and the ministry of the Spirit of God will have to accomplish what would otherwise be impossible. Thank you for such a profound ministry on our behalf.

I will update you again soon. In the meantime, I pray that the Lord will bless and encourage you each day.

Dennis

Friday, July 14, 2006

July 14 update

Dear Family & Friends,

Much has happened since my July 6 update. Carol spent three days in ICU and was then transferred to a section of the hospital that specializes in physical and occupational therapy. On July 10 she was transferred from Cottage Hospital to The Rehabilitation Institute at Santa Barbara, which is a wonderful 25-bed hospital that provides specialized rehab. services (www.risb.org).

Things have been a little rough for her at the Institute because they are still trying to find the proper balance of pain control and functionality. She still has considerable pain from the surgery, but the more pain medication she has, the more loopy she becomes, which diminishes her ability to participate in therapy. At the same time, if her pain level is too high, she is unable to concentrate on therapy. It’s a delicate and difficult balance to maintain at this stage of her treatment.

I was encouraged this evening because for the first time she showed signs of having an appetite and was alert enough to feed herself. Perhaps she has reached something of a breakthrough. Time will tell.

Her left hand, arm and leg mobility is improving daily, but her left side vision is still gone. Her therapists are focusing primarily on life skill activities, with the primary goal of increasing left side involvement in each activity. They are anticipating her being at the Institute for two or three more weeks.

Carol’s sister Gloria and our daughter-in-law Kelly were here for a few days and have now returned home. It was wonderful having them here, and we are so thankful for their ministry to us. We have also had visits, calls and emails from many dear friends like you. Your compassion and concern are overwhelming and deeply appreciated.

Our friends Al & CC Doctolero live just a few miles from the Rehab. Institute and have made a room in their home available to me for as long as Carol is in rehab., so I don’t have to make the long trip home each day. May the Lord bless them for their kindness. I have my work with me, so being away from my home office is not a significant problem. Finding time and concentration to do the work is the greater challenge.

I do have some prayer requests to share with you:

That the Lord will be honored in our lives each day as we progress through this trial.
That the people whom Carol has talked to about the Lord will be receptive.
That Carol will continue to improve so she can return home as soon as possible.
That she will get well enough to travel to Virginia to see our beloved grandchildren.
That the Lord will prepare our hearts, and those of our loved ones, for whatever He has in mind for Carol in the future.

There are many more requests, but the hour is late and I must close for now.

With deep appreciation for your prayers,

Dennis

Thursday, July 06, 2006

post surgery

My mother had to have emergency surgery on the 4th of July. Here is the update from my father.


Dear Family & Friends,
I'm sorry for the delay in getting a surgery update to you. Things have been a little busy here and I don't have direct access to the Internet. The hospital medical library has kindly let me use their computer for this update.

Carol's surgery went well in that they were able to remove most of the tumor without any noticeable damage to sight or memory functions. Actually, the ICU nurse told me Carol is the most talkative patient on morphine that she has ever had (why am I not surprised?). Her recall of events, names, places, dates, etc. is normal, with the exception of last Tuesday, which is a blank to her because of her weakened condition on that day.

The deficits Carol was experiencing when she went into surgery (weakness in her left arm and leg, and left side vision loss) are still present and may be temporary. They could, however, be long-term. They will be addressed through therapy at the appropriate time.
She is still in ICU but will be transferred to a hospital room later today. If all goes well, she should be released from the hospital on Monday, either to go home or to a temporary therapyfacility, depending on how she progresses between now and then.

As I mentioned, her surgical team was able to remove most of the tumor, but it had some feelers extending into areas that could not be addressed surgically. Pathology confirmed that it is cancerous but unrelated to her breast cancer. From what I understand, it is unusual for a second type of cancer to appear in a person so quickly after the first, but that is what has occurred here.

They will treat what remains of the tumor with radiation therapy and then an oral type of chemotherapy. I don't remember the medical name for this type of cancer, but it is not one for which they have a cure. Typically it will recur within a year, sometimes sooner. At that time a second surgery may be appropriate, depending on the precise location of the recurrence, but given the fact that the remaining feelers are located in such sensitive areas of the brain, a second surgery does not seem to be an option.

My prayer is that the radiation and chemo follow-ups to this surgery will be very effective, or that our Lord will, in His infinite wisdom and mercy, heal her for His own glory. In any event, I praise Him for the unspeakable gift of 38 years together, and will treasure every moment He gives us in the future.

I will get another update to you when I can. I have not had a chance to read all the emails we've received since Carol's surgery, or to respond to them, but eventually I will, and I will read them to her. I deeply appreciate your thoughts, prayers and good wishes.

Many of you have asked how I am doing. Thank you for your concern. Emotionally I'm a mess much of the time, but I have times of great encouragement and strength. We have many dear friends who are making sure I am taken care of and that I'm taking care of myself. You've all gone through trials and griefs of your own, so you understand the blessings of family and friends at a time like this.

Above all, I have the comfort and encouragement of the Lord in my heart. In His wisdom He doesn't always shelter His children from pain, but He always uses the pain to refine character and to produce deeper faith and a greater longing for heaven. Frankly, I don't like what is happening, but I take great comfort in its eternal significance. Maybe the Lord will even use Carol's condition to turn some hearts toward His great love and salvation. We talked about that before she was hospitalized, so I know that's Carol's prayer too.

I know that not all of you share the trust in the Lord that Carol and I have spoken to you about over the years, but I want all of you to know that the Lord is utterly faithful toward His children, and His promises are absolutely true. I know that He has the power to heal my precious wife, but the option is for her to be in His glorious presence. I am thankful that I
do not have to make a choice between the two; that's His choice to make. But in either case, she wins. I will pray for her healing but ultimately I will defer to the Lord's will for her. That's how it should be.

One final thought: Carol is still pretty heavily medicated, so I have not shared with her the precise nature of her medical condition. I will do that at the appropriate time. But for those of you who call or visit, please be guarded in what you say about her condition. I have shared that information with you because you love her and I want you to know for the purpose of prayer.

Thank you.
As always, I write with great affection for you all,
Dennis


Dennis P. McBride
PO Box 1500, Solvang, CA 93464
http://www.communitychurchsyv.org
http://www.yoyomaster.com

Monday, July 03, 2006

Update

July 3, 2006

Dear Family & Friends,

Thank you so much for your gracious responses to our last email. We appreciate your thoughtfulness so much!

We received word today that Carol’s surgery is scheduled for next Monday, July 10 at 1:30 pm. The additional week will give her medications more time to work on the tumor and hopefully to shrink it a bit. It will also give us more time to pray and to address the various issues and implications of the situation. We are thankful for that time.

We will keep you posted on developments.

With sincere thanks,

Dennis & Carol

Prayer request for my mother


July 2, 2006

Dear Family & Friends,

Some of you haven’t heard from us for awhile, but we often think of you and the encouragement and prayer support you gave us during Carol’s cancer treatments. You have a special place in our hearts for having shared that experience with us in such a personal and beneficial way.

Carol has been doing remarkably well since that time, but now we are facing another challenge that we want to make you aware of. She has developed a sizable tumor on the right side of her brain, and her medical team has determined that it is cancerous and will require surgical removal. The surgery date has not been set yet, but it will likely be mid-week (about July 5). We will know more tomorrow when we hear from the surgeon’s office.

This situation arose rather quickly, following a few weeks of minor symptoms (i.e., mild headaches and low grade temperature). She has also had some visual disturbances and occasional disorientation while in familiar surroundings. Her most recent blood and cancer marker tests revealed nothing abnormal, but her symptoms, coupled with her need for an updated contact lens prescription, prompted us to visit our optometrist, who discovered an abnormal visual pattern and encouraged us to see an ophthalmologist. The ophthalmologist determined that her problem was neurological and consistent with stroke activity rather than with the eyes themselves. A subsequent MRI revealed a 4cm x 6cm tumor in the area of the brain most closely related to sight and memory.

The tumor is most likely linked to her previous breast cancer episode, although it does not have some of the typical characteristics of metastatic cancer, so it may be a new cancer unrelated to the breast cancer. In any event, it must be removed very soon.

Currently she is on anti-seizure medication as well as a medication to help shrink the tumor. From what we understand, radiation therapy is beneficial in shrinking a tumor in many situations, but in Carol’s case the tumor is too large to qualify for pre-surgical radiation therapy.

The surgery and potential side effects are deeply concerning to us, but the surgical team is optimistic and we know that ultimately Carol is in the hands of her Lord. Even at that, we are experiencing a great deal of fear and grief. Please pray that we will bring honor to the Lord through this situation, and that His grace and peace will govern our hearts, minds and actions. Pray also for the medical team as they do their amazing work. Ask the Lord to bless them not only with great skill, but more importantly with His divine favor and grace upon their souls.

I should add that Carol was hospitalized Friday night and was given a full-body CAT scan that detected no other cancer in her body. That is a great praise. She is now home and feeling well. The strong medications she is on have her a little more loopy than usual (she’ll forgive me for that comment, I’m sure), but otherwise she is doing well.

With deep appreciation for your prayers and concern,

Dennis McBride

Friday, June 23, 2006

God in a box?


Last week, my wife was telling me about a conversation she had. The person she was talking to dismissed her side of the discussion by saying, "You can't put God in a box."

I have always been bothered by this statement. The Stand To Reason blog posted about the same "God in a box" statement here.

So what do you think? "God in a box", is it a valid argument or a last ditch argument for someone who has no Biblical support?