Friday, July 31, 2009


Many of you are already aware that my mother passed away peacefully under hospice care at 6:00 this morning. Knowing the end was sooner rather than later, local family members got to spend a lot of time with her this final week. My daughter Emily and I spent several hours with her last night, holding her hands and talking to her. My sister Vanita and her husband were there quite late, as well.

This picture is from Sunday afternoon. Vanita spent an incredible amount of time caring for Mom in the final days. This picture shows Vanita feeding her and my grandson holding her hand.

My Mom was a believer in Christ, and is now in a far better place than she has ever been in her life. She had just turned 90 10 days before she died. Scroll down to "older posts" to see her early celebration we had just 3 weeks ago.

Monday, July 27, 2009

End of Trip

July 26, 2009

Almost home, we stopped to see my mother at her nursing home. Hannah helped my sister Vanita feed my mom her liquid nutrition. Currently unable to speak or see, touch is very important to her, so Hannah and Austin both held her hand.

Saturday, July 25, 2009

July 25, 2009


En route back to Texas this afternoon, we took a slight detour to visit the campus of my Alma Mater. The University was, of course, thrilled to see me. I snuck back onto campus on a Saturday afternoon in summer.

July 24, 2009

Laurel Falls, elev. 2820 ft.
Great Smoky Mountains National Park
July 24, 2009

Picnicking along the Little T River in east Tennessee.
(The icy cold water felt really good on my sore and burning feet)

July 23, 2009

Today we drove through Kentucky and east Tennessee, and saw some real geology. This afternoon, we swam in a mountain lake. As Bill Cosby has observed, the water in mountain lakes generally comes from melted snow, and it never really gets warm. I am trying to estimate how far I swam, but think one should get double credit for meters swam, if they were done with a passenger on the back.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

July 22, 2009

Went there, did that, had a lot of fun. We also visited Lincoln's Birthplace National Historical Site, but it was raining too hard to take a picture there.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

I got the results back this morning of my latest blood work and the news was good. In short, the bad numbers are down and the good numbers are up.

The very worst of the bad numbers, the M-Spike, is down to 0.8, the lowest it has ever been measured. Total proteins and other indicators of myeloma in the blood are also significantly down. The best of the good numbers to be up is my red blood count, which is now in normal range.

Some of the nicest news, however, is the fact that quite a few of the things they measure moved into the "normal range" for those parameters this month for the first time. Praise God for that.

What it means is that the cancer, though not gone, has been significantly decreased, my bone marrow is making much healthier blood, and other parts of my body are healthier, too. My doctor was just about ecstatic with the results.

We thank God for all these good results, and thanks to you for your love, caring and prayers.

PS - Don't stop praying or start celebrating just yet. I'm still a ways from being out of the woods.

Saturday, July 11, 2009

Happy birthday, Velma!

In a few days, my mother will be 90 years old. This evening, all of her children, grandchildren, and great-grandchild who live in the Dallas-Fort Worth area had an impromptu get together to celebrate her birthday. Here are a few pictures of the event.

Monday, July 6, 2009

Seriously Now

So teach us to number our days, that we may present to You a heart of wisdom. PS. 90:12

The doctor stonewalls at making a prediction for how long I will survive. Likewise, I dodge at giving an answer to friends and family, in large part because I don't know. Then there are so many variables. I would hate to tell someone that I was going to live for five more years and then still be going strong at seven, and them think I had lied to them, or for some, broken a promise. Likewise if I told them 20 years, and then died from the cancer after three.

From the outset, we have declared our lives are fully in the hands of an omnipotent and loving Heavenly Father, who could heal me of the cancer by whatever means He chooses, could prolong my life for however many years He chooses, or could take me home next week with a bad case of the sniffles. It is all in His hands.

From a human perspective, however, attached is one helpful piece of information that Carol and I obtained from the myeloma conference that we attended two weekends ago. It is a chart that tracks overall survival of myeloma patients by decade, from the time of their diagnosis. Here are some facts or conclusions that can be drawn from the chart:

  1. There has always been a small percentage of myeloma patients, about 10%, who have made it past 10 years beyond diagnosis, and seem to go on indefinitely with this as a chronic condition. These are the outlier data points, but there seem to be quite a few of them. At the conference, one of our speakers was a seemingly healthy man who had been in treatment for 19 years, and a report was given of a person who had been a patient for 31 years. Geraldine Ferraro has been a myeloma patient since 1998, 11 years.
  2. The average survival period for a myeloma patient over the past decade, however, is only about 4.5 years after diagnosis. Again from the human perspective, it reasonable to assume that I would do better than average because that number obviously includes all myeloma patients - those diagnosed in late stages of the disease, those who are elderly, those who die from other causes / complications, etc. I was diagnosed very early in the disease before it had attacked my skeletal frame or any organs of my body, at a relatively young age, and in otherwise excellent health.
  3. That average 4.5 year survival period over the past decade is a vast improvement over the 2.5 years after diagnosis for the preceding decade. This means, among other things, that the treatments are getting better. The longer a patient can survive, the greater his chances of overall survival due to new drugs and therapies being developed.

Conclusion: We don't know. Review the chart and make your own conclusions if you like. I was diagnosed in September 2007, almost two years ago. My plan is to substantially beat the average and hopefully become an outlier data point, but leave it all in God's hands and not waste a single day in the meantime.

Thursday, July 2, 2009

Grand Pics

(Updated 7/6/09): This blog needs some pictures of grandchildren. Here are three of my most favorite recent pictures of Alyssa. The first is from when we visited my mother at her nursing home, with Mom asleep in the background. The second is of Alyssa in a little pool in our back yard when we kept her one evening while her parents went out for dinner. Finally, a picture of her helping us on our Saturday shopping expedition for a patio table and chairs. Note she is checking not only the comfort of the chair, but also its price tag. From our various shopping expeditions we have learned that she enjoys Garden Ridge, Lowe's and Home Depot, she is okay with Target, Wal-Mart and grocery stores (if she gets to hold the shoppong list), but doesn't care too much for Big Lots.



Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Bad Squirrel George

A few weeks ago, I wrote about George, the friendly squirrel who lives in my back yard.  I spoke of how George kept me close company while I was potting some summer plants, and how particularly pleased I was with three new pecan trees I had found sprouted in some of the flower pots.  I spoke of recognizing George’s likely involvement in the process, and of thinking him, and rewarding him with peanuts.

Ten days ago, I walked into the back yard and saw George with the most guilty look I have ever seen on a squirrel’s face.  He took one look at me, turned and bolted, and hid himself from my presence just as surely as Adam did hide himself from the Lord in the Garden. “George, where art thou?” I called, but I received no answer in return.

I looked around the back yard to see what could be wrong, and saw an old dead branch, about 6 or 8 feet long and as big around as my forearm, laying on the ground.  It had not been there 2 hours earlier when I mowed the grass.  I could imagine George and some of his adolescent squirrel pals jumping up and down on the branch, laughing and having a big time until it broke and they all came crashing down to the ground. “Oh, well,” I thought, “squirrels will be squirrels. No harm done.” Besides, that dead branch had been outside my upstairs office window, and I was glad to see it down without my having to climb and cut.

Then I saw the REAL CRIME.  George had uprooted the new little pecan trees to get to the pecan nuts still a part of the root.  He knew it was wrong and that is why he looked so guilty.  Truly, all creation has fallen and gone corrupt.

George, if you  read my blog, please know that I still love you and I forgive you. If you will plant me some more pecans next winter, I will try to grown them again next spring, but I will put them in a squirrel proof cage for their first year to help you resist temptation.