Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Medical update, and VBS ideas

Monday evening
We are having a quiet evening at home after spending a lot of time at the triplexes over the weekend. I wrote last time about the 6 townhomes Greg and I have bought as a retirement investment. I helped clean on Friday evening and painted on Saturday afternoon. I stayed home to rest yesterday, partly because of a stomach ache. Two of the older girls have moved in and are so excited. They plan to mentor the younger ones. We are emailing back and forth with parents and they are so grateful for this set up for their daughters just a few blocks from the Moody Bible Institute campus at 4th Memorial.

I was tired yesterday, but have been limiting myself when I feel tired. I see my oncologist tomorrow and will get the CAT scan results- more than "stable" and also the blood work results. Maybe he will be able to figure out why I got the blood clots. I am supposed to be in little danger of them traveling now that I have been on Coumadin for over a month. I am allowed to go on walks again, but we do go shorter distances, don’t go up or down hills, and we walk more slowly. My right leg is still having pains sometimes, so I put my leg up a lot and am resting it more. I am also wearing my compression stockings quite a bit. They are supposed to keep blood from pooling in my legs and forming more clots.

Wednesday medical update
I saw Dr. Sienko, my oncologist yesterday. It was a VERY encouraging appointment. He said all of my blood tests came back normal. I have no blood condition causing clots that they can test for. There a few other tests they can do after I get off Coumadin. He plans to have me on Coumadin for 6 months, so I get to stop in mid Dec. He explained that since my clots are just happening without any discernable cause, he wants me on it for a while, but not indefinitely. Some people just get clots for no discernable reason, and I am one of them. My CAT scan showed only little things that I have had for a long time and haven’t changed, and my MRI showed no cancer either.

We had a conversation about my last cancer being considered a metastasis as opposed to a recurrence. Recurrence would be when your cancer comes back in your beast tissue, and is much less threatening than a metastasis or growth of it in a different part of the body. He told me that we could think of mine as a recurrence. It was near my original cancer-in my left armpit, near my left breast cancer, and it was removable and treatable with radiation, chemo, and Femara- a type of hormone therapy. A metastasis would be something like brain, bone or liver cancer that wouldn’t be as removable and that is farther from the original tumor. A metastasis is automatically called stage 4 (out of 4) and can only be treated but never cured. So although he will see me again in 3 months, and we will remain vigilant and watchful, I am encouraged. My initial cancer was stage 2B or 3A, depending on how certain factors were considered. I had two types of cancer- both invasive (lobular and ductal), moderately aggressive and hormone receptive for estrogen and progesterone. My tumor (or the string of them) was 6 cm long, but it was also skinny- the largest one was about 2 cm’s. So that clarification on how to think of metastasis was very helpful. I just feel less “stage 4” than I did yesterday before talking to him. Thank you all for praying! God, as always, is the author of my days and for now I get more of them free from cancer!

About VBS-
I was asked for a description of what we did to promote missions during our VBS
this summer at Whitworth Pres. here in Spokane, Washington. We did a missions focus on Ghana, since we have adoped Partnership International's work there as a focus. We decided to aim for getting a plow, two bullocks (cows) and seeds for a church planter in Ghana through the Partners International’s Harvest of Hope catalog. A plow and cows would provide an ongoing income for a church planter's family. They could use it for their own plowing, but also rent it out to earn more income. The female cows also provide milk for the family. And seeds would get them started with food to eat and I assume, more seeds. This project of $1555 was pretty ambitious for the 275 kids in our VBS, but we thought they could do it. And why not try?!

I made a coloring sheet of the picture from the HOH catalog for the preschoolers to color. Greg spotted an old plow in a garden in our neighborhood and I asked the people if we could borrow it. With their permission, we brought it to church and put it on the lawn outside the door where the kids came into the building. It looked very much like the one we were trying to earn. We put it into the church shed every night to keep it safe.

I put up our camping screen room and we pinned signs on it like, "Ghana Hut," “Plow now brown cow!” and, “It’s no yoke, we’re earning a plow!” There were other decorations also- missions related. We put 2 card tables inside and on one had a 3-fold board with pictures of the project and a map of the world with Ghana on it and giving sheets from the Harvest of Hope Catalog. On the other table we had packets from Compassion International for families to choose a child to sponsor from Ghana.

I wrote a ½ page note to go home with the kids every day that tied our giving project into the VBS curriculum. We made bookmarks for the kids that had “B2baB” (Blessed to be a Blessing) on them, and Ghana ’08 on the back. We have 2 Whitworth students who also go to our church and asked if they could be around as much a possible at the beginning and end of VBS each day. At least one of them is the son of one of our Partners leaders in Africa. We made these two college guys the stars of the week. They played the drum when we did our skit and also out in the Ghana Hut, where they also autographed the kids’ bookmarks for them and let the kids play their drum. Kids were lined up at the door of the “Ghana Hut” to meet these guys! It was amazing. They each had a folding lawn chair to sit on, and I had one outside the door. As goofy Hannah from Ghana, I had our drum from Uganda there and let the kids play it while they waited on line. Kofi and Elam have been at our church all year, but now the kids have gotten to know them.

Julie and I were the “Ghana Sisters.” Julie was Gerti and I was “Hannah from Ghana” (pronouncing Ghana like you would pronounce Hannah) and they corrected me every time, telling me that I was “Haaaannna from Ghana” (pronounced like Ghana). The goal of this was to get them used to pronouncing and remembering the country name.

Also every day I wore clothes from different countries that I have collected over the years. India, Uzbekistan, Malaysia, Japan (borrowed) and at last on Friday I got it right and had an outfit from Ghana (also borrowed). So every morning during the opening we would do a skit. I would model my amazing outfit for the kids and then tell Gerti where it was from. We had a map on the power point and pointed out the countries my clothes were from and Gerti would patiently correct me and show me how far away from Ghana I was. The idea here was to get them to know where Ghana is in the world. By Friday they really knew! They would correct me every time I said it wrong and encourage me to try and find clothes from Ghana.

I came out for our skit with a big bag with something in it every day. The first day I had little things I thought they could give a bunch of- toothbrushes or toothpicks, or little plastic tops, etc. Gerti insisted that they could give BIG. So I acted doubtful all week and told them I didn’t think they could do it. I also had in my bag a stuffed animal from the thrift store for each day. Monday was a large pink elephant, Tues. a squirrel, a kangaroo, a moose and finally on Friday a stuffed cow. So each day I would go stick it into the plow outside so they would see it when they went to their activities. They were concerned that its’ feet couldn’t reach the ground and enjoyed the goofiness of it- always telling me I needed to find a COW.

On Thursday a mom helping with music came and told me the Lord was prompting her to bring her cow on Friday. We have farms in our area and they have a Scottish Highlander white long haired cow with horns like the ones we were earning. The long hair was the only major difference. They set up a pen, got a friend with a trailer to help, and the kids were extremely excited on Friday to see a real cow! Of course, Hannah from Ghana took most of the credit!

We gave the kids the idea of doing a lemonade stand with a Ghana promo sign on it. Tuesday morning 2 girls came in with $75 from their lemonade stand! They went to neighbors around their house and told them about the stand. Most gave $5 or $10 and told them to keep the change for Ghana. They shared their story Tuesday morning and others did the same. It was a hot week. Someone told me she spotted a few more Ghana stands when she was driving around. By Friday we had over $2000 dollars, and on Sunday, with some extra giving from the congregation, we ended up with $650 over our goal- $2205! We were able to give enough for Partners ministries to start a small business in Ghana also. WOW! It was a memorable week. I do think the pastor who offered to get “slimed” if the kids raised the money didn’t hurt. He had 4 gallons of apple sauce from Costco dumped over his head on Friday when Hannah from Ghana made the announcement. Partners staff came over from our office and took pictures of all this to go onto our website and maybe into a publication to give other churches an idea of how to pick a project and make it part of VBS. I also wrote up a few ideas for a VBS focus on giving to one of our Dalit HOH projects for Partners. Check out the Partners website ( to get a hold of that. Let me know if you have trouble finding it there.

Well, enough for one day. I figured you would either want to know all about VBS or nothing, so you could skip that part of you weren't interested. Allison's job is requiring her to be in South Korea by August 21st, so she is going to fly home on the 6th so we can get her ready. Jesse is in Los Angeles right now in the inner city doing his mission trip. Please be praying for them this week. His leaders told me they were going to rely heavily on him for music for VBS and other leadership things. Thanks as always for your interest and prayers. God bless you- Nancy

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