Monday, November 17, 2008

No Cancer on My Left Chest Wall!

Dear friends,

It is Sunday evening. The last time I wrote I was on my way to Seattle for Kidzana training. The training was excellent. We were trained for 2 ½ days in how to do children’s ministry in a way that is transferable to any culture in the world. Many times Americans go overseas and take all of our “stuff” to do children’s ministry or VBS’s. We learned that doing this can discourage national leaders in other countries. They know they can’t compete with American bells and whistles, and don’t feel empowered at all. This training covered all the basics of evangelism and discipleship, parenting, special needs kids and how to be creative in planning lessons without the stuff. One strategy they have is to go on a trip overseas to train teachers rather than kids. The teachers can then teach their own children, and you have multiplied yourself in them. The teaching can then go on as they train other teachers as well.

I guess you can tell that this was exciting for me! I went with Arlene who works at Partners International with Greg. What a perfect match this ministry is with our focus on indigenous ministries in the 10/40 Window! Many of our partner ministries have probably gotten some of this training, but we plan to be purposeful in getting it to the rest. I was told tonight that China is asking for exactly this kind of training. Now, that excites me even more! We are making arrangements to have the Kidzana director visit our headquarters in Spokane and we will talk about Kidzana becoming a “like-minded ministry.” That would give us a formal tie to this great training. We will have to see where this leads, but for now, I have been invited by our family pastor to give this training to our youth group in preparation for their mission trip to Mexico next summer.

Jesse to Africa
Someone else I am arranging to teach these concepts to is Jesse, my 17 year old boy, Allison, my 22 year old English teacher in S. Korea and Jesse’s friend, Taylor. Jesse and his Taylor have bought their tickets to go to French speaking Africa. Jesse is scheduled to leave on February 1st and return on June 17th, 2009. They will have amazing opportunities to serve under the leadership of our ministry partners in several countries in West Africa. Jesse is starting to feel like this will really happen now that he bought his plane ticket and has appointment for his shots! Anyway, Jesse, Taylor and Allison, when she is here for Christmas to be in a friend’s wedding, will go through the basics to have some great resources to take with them.

Allison was on Skype with us last night for an hour. We had such a nice visit and asked each other lots of questions. She is learning Korean two nights a week and the class happens to be at her own school. Some others are traveling an hour to get to there, so she is grateful to be close. Also two teachers from her school who she really enjoys are teaching it. She said she can phonetically read anything in Korean now, and sometimes she even knows what it means! She can say the basics and get around and figure out prices at the store, etc. She is doing very well.

Medical update on me
I saw my excellent surgical oncologist on Tuesday last week. She checked the scar tissue I have been noticing on my left chest wall, and agreed that it has changed since June. She asked me to go for an ultrasound of that area and explained that any cancer cells would have a blood supply. Scar tissue would not. My concern was that if there was already a blood supply, aren’t we already looking at cells traveling, etc? She explained to my satisfaction that the blood supply they would see is 2-3 mm. That is extremely small! No cancer growth would even be discernable to the touch until it was much larger than that. So this test was REALLY a good way to make sure I don’t have cancer on my chest wall right now.

I had the test on Wednesday and ended up with two ultrasound techs and a radiologist. Everyone looked very carefully and there were NO BLOOD VESSELS there! We had a happy time in there! I just can’t help praising God at times like that and one of the lady techs even gave me a hug and told me how happy she was for me. I am so grateful I don’t need any surgery there (or chemo, or radiation, etc!)!

This Tuesday I have several doctor appointments- dentist, gynecologist, and my orthopedic surgeon’s Physician’s Assistant to try and solve the problem of what is going on with my left knee. When my leg folds/bends at the knee it is fine to a point, and then when it gets past that point, it shoots with pain. I’ve tried extensive icing, no daily walks for 2 weeks, etc. There is a small swelling there. We know from an ultrasound that it is not a Baker’s cyst and that it isn’t vascular. But what is it? This orthopedic surgeon is the one who did my shoulder last year and he is the best in town. I have no idea what needs to be done, but if it requires any surgery, I need to try to get it done before the end of the year since I have paid my whole deductible for the year. My gynecologist may do a small surgery before the end of the year also- a cystocele. I did 2 ½ months of pelvic floor therapy over the summer which didn’t fix my worsening bladder problem. The tricky part of all this is that I get off of Coumadin on December 6th, so that it will be out of my system on the 9th when I get back. My INR (clotting indicator) was 4.3 the other day. My blood looked like pink water when she took a drop for the test! So I decreased my dose for a day and skipped another day, and get that checked on Tuesday also. I am relieved that I get to stop taking it and that I can eat what I want to again! Grapefruit and mangos and ginger cookies and green tea! Anyway all these appointments are Tuesday because on Wednesday…

East Coast Here I Come!
I leave on Wednesday for Pittsburgh. I will see a few folks, get Jenni who finishes her last test at 2:30, and weather permitting, drive to Baltimore to stay with Laura for a few days. On the 26th I will pick up Greg in Pittsburgh and we will head to his parents’ for T-giving. Laura and Jenni will get Jesse at Baltimore airport and also head for Greg’s parents. So we are looking forward to a fun time with everyone. We haven’t been together for a long time. I have a grand nephew to meet.

Greg and I will go see my mother on Sunday the 30th, Jenni will go back to school and Laura will take Jesse back to the Baltimore airport. He will be home with a college guy we know until I get home on the 8th. Greg and I will go for a day up to Niagra/ Hamilton to see friends for a day and then down to Pittsburgh to do some speaking. He has 5 engagements. I might meet with some people also. I will head home after he begins his Perspectives classes on the 8th, and he will follow me home a few days later.

Since I didn’t know when medical things might be happening when I get back, I asked Greg to help me put up the Christmas lights outside the house today. I still need to do the front porch, but he did a great job on the high stuff. We have offered our home to the Moody Bible Institute Spokane girls from one of our townhouses for Thanksgiving. One of their dads is coming and they are excited to have a place to cook with all the equipment they need and a place to relax. It is nice to have our home be a blessing to them.

Well, I need to sleep now, finish packing tomorrow and take care of little details, do the doctors on Tuesday and fly out on Wednesday. My 51st birthday is approaching. I was thrilled that there was no cancer showing up, because I just don’t have time for cancer now. There is too much on my plate. I would love to mentor other young teachers in teaching missions to kids, and I am finding them gradually. Again, our days are in His hands! He knows how many I have, and I pray I will use them for his Glory. I will try to write before I leave about my knee mystery. God bless you! Nancy

Wednesday, November 05, 2008

Off to Seattle tomorrow

Dear friends,

What a busy day! I went to Bible study this morning, and then home to work on the curriculum on Money and Missions I am writing for 2 missions organizations. I am close to done with what I have to get done before leaving at 10:50 for the airport in the morning. I am going to a training conference by a group called Kidzana to learn how to teach children in other cultures. Hopefully what Arlene and I can learn can be put to use at Partners International with our partner ministries working with children in the 10/40 Window.

I have been making lots of doctor appointments. The swollen area behind my knee is going to be checked next by the orthopedic surgeon who fixed my shoulder last year. I have an appointment on the 18th. If it isn't vascular or a cyst, what is it that is causing the pain when I bend my leg? He will decide what test to do to figure it out. Hopefully it will heal on its own or be easy to fix. I have been told a few times that the chances of it having to do with cancer is very, very small, but I do know someone who had cancer in his knee. I just can't let my mind go there.

My left side scar tissue (due to radiation mainly) which is getting ever lumpier and more sore, will be checked next Tuesday by my breast surgeon. She is an excellent doctor. She has had me have 2 MRI's this year. She says that if it is cancer it will develop blood flow. My main question for her is, if there is cancer growing there (my particular type of cancer looked and felt like scar tissue) and we wait for it to develop a vascular system, hasn't it already got a highway to metasticize all over my body? I think the cancer we found 2 1/2 years ago was small, and that was in my favor. I am wondering if she can talk to my Denver surgeon to get my background. I guess I will see on Tuesday.

I am also going to the dentist for a check-up and then to a dental surgeon to get checked as I have some sore areas in my jaw. My INR was high the last 2 times I went, but I think it was due to my eating some Newman's ginger cookies. They have a lot of ginger in them and it never even occured to me that I am supposed to stay away from ginger while on Coumadin. It is on my "never eat" list. So, hopefully the mystery is solved.

Greg and Jesse brought home no plunder from the mountains, but they did have a great time together. They are not excited about cooking for themselves this weekend, but I left them well supplied. I need to finish packing. I hope you are well. Blessings- Nancy