Tuesday, December 26, 2006

Hard news...

Hard news…
12-26-06 Dear friends,
It is the day after Christmas and the snow is melting. We had a very nice family Christmas and especially enjoyed having Heng Hua who just flew in from Taiwan yesterday afternoon and her Taiwanese friend Paul, who was here for Thanksgiving also, join us for dinner last night. We had a very nice time playing games and trying to keep Heng Hua awake as jet lag was hitting her. We love our Taiwanese friends! (Hi to any of you in Taiwan reading this- We miss you!)
I am feeling very tired, but then I have been really pushing it and not resting as much because of the holidays. My burns are healing pretty well, but it is still red and sensitive and sore deep down in there. I saw a PA at the oncology office today and she can feel scar tissue forming where the radiation was given. Things seem normal and she didn't feel anything unusual. My doctor is on vacation for 2 weeks, so at least until he gets back, I can just keep healing and we will decide soon about what drug I should use long term in the Tomoxifen family. More about that later.
The biggest news is that Greg was informed by the board last Wednesday that he is being removed from leadership at Initiative360 (formerly Caleb Project). No reasons were given. We are absorbing this news and trying to discern what God wants us to do after 26 years in that role. The board has generously offered us a sabbatical to give us time to transition. Greg and Laura are both putting together resumes. She graduated from college last week. We would appreciate your prayers for us in the wake of what feels like a tsunami year. We really do wish you all a fantastic new year. I am looking forward to looking back next year to see what God does.
God bless you! Nancy Fritz

Thursday, December 21, 2006

Denver blizzard 12-21-06 update

Thursday, December 21, 2006
Dear friends,
As I sit here, I am looking out the window at somewhere around 2 feet of snow from “The Denver Blizzard of 2006.” The city has been shut down since yesterday at about noon. Laura was scheduled to fly in yesterday afternoon. She was finally able to get another flight for Saturday afternoon. We were hearing rumors of her not being able to get a flight until Monday, so we are very grateful! She had driven with her roommate to fly out of Akron, OH. Megan’s family lives there. They are graciously hosting Laura for these several days of waiting for the airport to reopen and her Sat. flight. We are eager to have her home!
The equivalent of Make a Wish Foundation for cancer patients in Denver (Diana Price Fish Foundation) gave me 4 tickets to take the girls to go see Phantom of the Opera tonight at a dinner theater. They allow me to do something each month during active treatment. They signed me up in Oct. since they can only have so many people doing the program at a time and I had to wait for an opening. January is when it will stop for me probably. I am using Dec. and Jan.’s gift for us to see Phantom. Well, I was so disappointed that Laura wasn’t going to get home in time to see it, but it worked out well since the theater isn’t open yet due to the snow. So we will reschedule hopefully before Allison goes back to college Jan. 10th. It is such a nice treat to be able to do something special each month.
I finished radiation one week ago. I was told the tiredness would continue for 2 weeks and then next week I will start feeling less tired day by day, until 2 1/2 months from now, I can expect to feel like my old self. I was doing pretty well this week with a few extra naps. Greg and I went to stay at a beautiful guest house in the mountains Sunday and Monday nights and just rested. Greg slept more in those 2 days than in the last week or 2 put together. It was a very nice respite. Anyway, today I got up late and took a 3 hour nap. I am achy and have a headache. I’m not sick, so I figure it must be from radiation.
My radiation burns are peeling and healing. I think it is interesting that I have a square on my left back of dark freckles and tan. I asked the doctor about it and he said it is from the radiation that I had on my front left clavicle area- just to the left of my neck. It went right through me to my back. He said the freckles would fade and I don’t have to worry about skin cancer. I just thought I would tell you since I think it is an interesting side effect.
I appreciate the understanding I have received from everyone regarding my energy level. I haven’t done my neighbor baking yet, and I am behind on sending out Christmas cards. They are almost done, but they should go into the mail tomorrow. Even the mail stopped here in Denver due to the blizzard. I usually get them done at the beginning of December, so this feels odd for me. We have had friends bringing some meals over the last few weeks and that has been a huge blessing.
I hope you get where you want to be for Christmas, that you are with your loved ones and that you experience the joy of the Christ child and what He did for mankind- for each one of us. I will send you the poem I wrote this year in a few days. I am including it with your Christmas card if you get one of those from me. God bless you! Nancy Fritz

Saturday, December 16, 2006

Some Pictures...

1) This is a picture of me with Sister Marie Paula who is the nun who does hospitality in the radiation waiting room on Monday, Wednesday and Friday afternoons. When someone finishes, she does a little graduation ceremony with them. Here I am with her in my graduation robe.

2) This is a picture of me with Janet Lencioni who has gone with me for cancer treatment stuff 4 times. She has been one of the many friends who have ministered to me in that way. She got to watch the radiation treatment being done and ask questions about it. What a blessing my friends have been. Several are bringing dinners now on these tired recovery days. Thanks Jenni, Christa, Cindy, Candy, Greg and Lisa for driving me these last 8 times!

3) Here are Jenni and her best friend Lauren in their madrigal costumes at the school Madrigal Feast dinner theater. They got to wear the special dresses because of being in the Gold Tones special vocal group. It was a fantastic evening!

4) This is me with one of my new friends, Carol, who I met at radiation. She gave me her email today so we can stay in touch. She is half done with hers and is a widow. I'd appreciate your prayers for her and her family. I feel like God brought us together for a reason. By the way, my hair is about an inch long. It covers my head but doesn't have any 3 dimentionality to it yet. In the radiation waiting room lots of us don't have much hair, so it is nice to be one of the bunch!

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

Only One to Go 29 done!


29 Done and 1 to Go!

Dear friends,
As these weeks of radiation have passed, they have seemed to take forever and also in a strange way, I am going to miss the routine. I am so excited to be done! Friends at church who have prayed for me throughout this whole treatment process gave me a beautiful rose plant at the Christmas party Monday night as an expression of their love and prayers. What a nice reminder that I have almost finished!
The last 7 times I have gone as well as tomorrow, friends have driven me to my treatments. I found that fatigue would come and go in waves, and sometimes when I had to drive. It was nice to have company and get to visit with friends on the way. Janet went last week and got to watch them give me radiation- the room, machine, the monitors and how they set it all up. She is a PA and since she knows so much medical stuff, she enjoyed learning about how they do it all.
Today was my last day when my little nun, Sister Marie Paula, was going to be there, so we did my graduation a day early. She put me in a graduation gown, I had a hat with the tassel, music, the whole nine yards. I was given a diploma and had my picture taken with her and with Janet who wanted to go with me today for my graduation. It is nice to be almost done! Tomorrow I go with my friend Candy who I help with children’s missions at our church. She and I have shared cancer experiences and she is a dear friend.
There is one lady named Carol who has become a friend. I want to share my faith with her tomorrow as it will be the last time I’ll see her. I would love for you to pray for her. I think she is very open to my story. It as been a continual “to be continued” conversation since when they call you for your treatment, you need to go right away. I told her I’d see her tomorrow, and she is looking forward to it.
I saw the radiation oncologist on Monday this week and they gave me pain meds for the burning pain and some cool (literally) radiation sticky gel sheets I can put on the burn under my arm to ease the burning. They feel so good as they keep the skin from rubbing or getting too dry at the worse areas. I am having the last 5 treatments focused on the one area under my arm where the cancer was found. It is electrons for that which is different from what they did on the 3 previous views the other 25 times. The area under my left arm is very burnt, but not blistering so far. It is the equivalent of a severe sunburn at this point. He told me the skin will keep burning for the next week to 10 days before it starts healing. The process is likened to a sun burn showing up the next day. The other areas we finished last Thursday seem to be starting to heal. I am still doing lots of caster oil during the night. It is too gooey for during the day. The doctor and nurses seem to think I am doing extra well, so they are making note of my use of caster oil.
Dr. Jacobs told Greg and me on Monday what to expect from here on. For 2 weeks I will be especially tired and possibly grouchy or emotional- (“don’t be surprised by tears”). Then I will begin to notice my strength coming back. My skin should start healing then and in a month he will recheck to see how I am doing. The long run is that in about 2 ½ months my strength should be back to my normal level, and my skin will probably look normal again too.
I wrote a poem for those who have helped me there. I gave it to my main techs-Don & Lacy, and to Sister Marie Paula and the nurses. Here it is:
To My Friends at Saint Joe’s

God uses you guys to help us in our trials,
And many of us have to drive lots of miles.
But when we get here, we know that we’ll find
Staff who are helpful, loving and kind.

You have been so kind to me each day
I’ve traveled here to get those rays.
In some ways it’s felt like it would never end,
But yet when it does, I’ll miss my new friends.

I appreciate you taking the time
To explain to me it’s worth the climb,
To fight my cancer and that I have hope
To beat it forever, and with my burns how to cope.

I’ll miss you and yet it is bittersweet,
I hope I see you in new circumstances when we again meet.
God bless you and I wish you Merry Christmas a ton-
And I hope that your New Year is filled with much fun!

Don came and found me after I gave him his card and gift with tears in his eyes to thank me and give me a hug. He asked if the card was his, because even if it wasn’t, he was not going to share it with anyone. It was too special. I had made other copies for the others.
Next Thursday I will see my oncologist to check in on how all is going and to talk about long term hormone therapy (I think Arimidex?) It is post menopausal medicine like Tomoxifen. I reacted badly to Tomoxifen, so I am not sure how this other will do for me either. Other tests my be indicated, but I will have to wait and see what Dr. Bourg thinks. Mainly, now I get to recover. Friday I get to take all my vitamins again.
Tonight I attended the funeral for the pastor of caring from our church. There were over 1000 people there and it was an incredible service. What a testimony Johnny Patterson had. It was a privilege to know him. He died suddenly of a heart attack last Thursday night. He leaves a wife and 4 kids, and a whole church full of people who will really miss him. He has ministered to so many in my support group as we have been in the hospital and seen some of our friends go to the Lord.
On a different topic, Initiative360 is still in a difficult spot. We still need to see serious money to come in. A new leadership team has been set up to help Greg work with the hard work of getting us out of the problems we’re in. I can tell he is stressed and not sleeping well, as the pressure is great, but at the same time, he is confident in wanting the Lord’s will. Please continue to pray that some foundations considering gifts at the end of the year, would make up their minds to give in our direction if it is the Lord’s will.
Well, it is night time and like usual lately, I am totally bushed. I am sleeping late every morning until 9, 10 or one day even 12! It just takes sleep to recover, but it doesn’t leave time for much else! Thank you again dear friends for reading all of this! Allison home Saturday and Laura (for good) on the 20th. Jenni and Jesse (the J-sters) finish finals tomorrow. Jenni is battling fatigue of left over mono she had some time this fall. Blessings- Nancy

Friday, December 08, 2006

Only five to go & we could use prayer 12-8-06

Dear friends, I only have a minute before getting ready to go to radiation. I am now having friends drive me every day as waves of fatigue hit, and I never know when they will happen. Jenni was home sick on Tuesday and ended up driving me, and friends have volunteered to do it with me every day until I am done next Thursday. I have finished my regular radiation and now have only 5 "boosts" to the exact area where the cancer was found. Ironically, I travel 40 minutes there, do one minute of radiation and come back home. I am pretty red under my arm now- like severe sunburn, just short of blistering. That is where these boosts are going, so I am hoping the burning doesn't get much worse. They said my skin will continue to burn for 2 weeks after I am done. Just keep on praying for me to get this done. I am very tired of going! Sister Mary Paula is planning my radiation graduation for next Wed. The sad news is hitting us on two fronts today. One is that a friend and pastor from our church died suddenly last night of a massive heart attack. His wife and I used to do kids missions together and he came to the hospital to visit with us before my surgery. We have been on the phone and he has encouraged me and so many hundreds of others over the years as the grief pastor. As you can imagine, his wife and 4 children need our prayers. His name was John Patterson. I am comforted to know that he is with Jesus right now. The other sad news is that we are still experiencing a large financial shortfall at Initiative360. I would appreciate your prayers for Greg who has such a huge burden on him right now as he leads the organization. God's will regarding the continuation or conclusion of our ministry is in the balance. We are resting in God's grace and desiring His will with our whole being. We don't feel we have presumed or made bad decisions regarding the merger, so we trust Him to do his perfect will. Please join us in praying for that. We have been at this for 27 years, and this seems like one of the biggest crossroads I remember. Thank you for standing with us before the throne of God! God bless you! Nancy

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

22 done and 8 to go 12-5-06

Dec. 5, 2006 Dear friends, Oh, how I have a new appreciation for the concept of tired. I have finished 22 out of my 30 radiation treatments. I have 3 more regular ones to go and them I have five "boosts." The boosts are aimed right at the specific area where my cancer was found. The other day when they were doing the set up and checking the angles for the boosts, I figured out that they were aiming at the wrong place. The wording written in the report mislead them to the spot they checked for but didn't find any extra cancer in June. But by God's grace we figured it out. They got everything readjusted yesterday, so we are ready for Friday-next Thursday for the boosts. I met my new radiation oncologist yesterday as well. The one I really liked left to join another practice last week, so I will finish up with Dr. Jacobs. He seems excellent. They are all noting my use of caster oil as it seems to be working pretty well. I am very red, but have not blistered so far. My skin will keep burning for 2 weeks after the treatments are done, but I will keep using the oil, and hopefully it won't get much worse. Soft clothing is the ticket. I have to wash the oil off every day before I go, and put lotion on as soon as I'm done. I am taking a small dose of antidepressant to help with hot flashes and they have decreased to about 1/5th of what they were. That is a huge blessing and help. My neck is still swollen and very sore from the Neupogen I used to keep my white counts up during chemo. I have been told that the residuals from that can take quite a while to work their way out of the vertibrae. I am going to the chiropractor for that as often as I can manage. I am amazed at how much time it takes to get everything done. I can only do little bits each day- besides the 2-3 hours it takes to go for my treatements. It took me a week to put up Christmas decorations. I am lowering my expectations on what I can get done and those around me are being very understanding. I am sleeping about 12 hours a day. Allison gets home from college on the 16th and Laura on the 20th. And Laura will be home for good- as she will be done with college. She is still in job hunt mode. She has replaced her phone for $20 and has new glasses ordered. She was able to see a very good eye doctor in Pittsburgh last week. Jenni participated in the school's madrigal feast on Friday and Sat. nights and the dinner and music were fantastic. She loves to sing and to hear so many beautiful voices blending is a thrill. Jenni and Jesse are fighting colds, so we are doing all of the cold prevention things we can think of. It is the week before finals, so missing school is a bad idea. I have a sore throat, but the doctor told me it is a side effect of the radiation and will go away in a few weeks. Greg is healthy and had a great experience last week at the Lib-a consultation in Miniapolis. Continued prayers for the finances of our ministry would be appreciated. Each step we have taken with the merger has been in deliberate obedience to the Lord. The leadership team feels very confident that we have made each decision the Lord wanted us to. He either will provide and keep us going, or has other plans different from the new organization. As you can imagine, this weighs heavily on Greg and the leadership team. God is big and can do a miracle, but beyond anything, we want His perfect will. Thank you for praying for me, us and for our ministry. God bless you! Nancy