Wednesday, April 30, 2014

ONE week of treatment.... FINISHED!

It's a short entry tonight.... but one worth sharing.  Today was a special day... one worth celebrating! A. Ketty finished her first week of treatment!  Amen and Thank you Jesus! 


 Thank you for being part of the journey! She has KNOWN the prayers of so many....

Isaiah 43:1-2

"But now thus says the Lord, he who created you, O Jacob, he who formed you, O Israel: Fear not, for I have redeemed you; I have called you by name.  You are mine.  When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and through the rivers, they shall not overwhelm you; when you walk through the fire you shall not be burned, and the flames shall not consume you."

Friday, April 25, 2014

Some Radiation, Some Chemo, and the assurance that God's got her!

It's the end of a day.  I am sitting in the living room of a guesthouse.  There are a couple of individuals still up... there is the occasional turn of a page as one lady sits on a cushion reading a book and the tapping away as a man nearby brings thoughts to the keyboard.  I can hear the creaking of old floor boards and the faint sound of cars driving by.  It's calm and it's peaceful.  And I am thankful.  It's still sorta crazy to think that I am in Nairobi.  It's a beautiful city... with hints of my home in Uganda and hints of the home I left back in the States.  Today, as we drove to the hospital, we passed a Chase Bank and a Bank of Africa.  I see signs for LG products and watch at the surprisingly fast pace of individuals walking around.  It is clear that many of them are on a mission... that their pace is consistent with an agenda.  Reminds me of my days in Chicago.  And there are equal reminders of life here... which is good.... considering I am here.  There are young men selling random items on the street, glass bottles of soda, and a warmth of individuals that is inspiring.   

Thumbs Up! 
We have spent a decent amount of time at the Kenya Cancer Center which is affiliated with the MP Shah Hospital this week.  It took me a little while to call it that.  For the first several days, I kept referring to it as PF Chang's... It's not... but it is clearly a nice place.  And it's been a blessing.  It's also stirred a little of my heart...and truth be told more than a little.  Yesterday, as I stood with A. Ketty in the hallway of the radiotherapy area.  My heart did a little pause as I looked up and saw signs noting that there were two rooms for radiation treatment.  I hadn't realized that this one facility had two radiation machines.  I saw and I technically didn't have to ask... but I did.  The tech confirmed that there were, in fact, two machines.  TWO.  That's Bili in Luganda.  Deux in French.  And Dos in Spanish.  You might be wondering why this made me pause.  I paused because the one and only radiation machine in Uganda is not working.  The pause was the flesh against the faith.  The rawness of the reality.  The reality of the many who are not receiving treatment right now and the reality of God's graciousness in paving the way for Ketty to come here.  And the equally important reality that God is good and He is sovereign.  His goodness does not change because there is or there is not a working machine in Uganda.  Does it pull at my emotions?  Yes.  Does it make me pray for the many needing treatment?  Yes.  Am I choosing to rest in His goodness?  Yes, with His help I am.  He IS good.  And so I smile a smile that doesn't want to leave my face as I stand beside my sister Ketty.  He's got her.  However that looks, He's got her.  And for right now, His having her includes radiation and chemotherapy... and a keen awareness of HIS presence.  And that calls for a thumbs up... or a Holla Holla! A. Ketty was a little timid with the Holla Holla expression.  By the time we leave Nairobi... I'll have her raising both hands up in Holla Holla fashion! ( c :   It's a little of my Chicago spirit bleeding through to my family here.... And so A. Ketty got on that machine yesterday afternoon. 
And a slightly timid "Holla Holll" 
And as I left her with the attendant, I found myself smiling and not being able to stop.  A. Ketty was receiving treatment!   She was on the machine! I started texting everyone....and as I did the smile only grew.  I saw people looking at me... and I didn't care.  A. Ketty was receiving treatment! I am still smiling about it even now as I type.  Just as I know many all over are.  

And the agenda for today was chemo.  And so we went in early and after a short while, we were welcomed to the chemotherapy suite.  And within a short while, her chemo journey began.  She was given pre medications, fluids, and ultimately her first round of chemo.  She did great!   She was on a drip for a little over 6 hours.  Her nurse was Irene and it was clear that she absolutely loved what she did.  She was warm, engaging, and encouraging.  It was amazing! Once it was all finished, A. Ketty walked herself to her second round of radiation... and walked herself out.  I just woke her up a short while ago for some medications.  She is resting well and will God-willing sleep through the night.  In the meantime, I thank God that He's got her.  He's got Ketty Okoth safely in the palm of His hands. And He has good for her.  

Zephaniah 3:17 
"The Lord your God is in your midst a mighty one who will save; he will rejoice over you with gladness; he will quiet you by His love; he will exult over you with loud singing." 

Thank you to all for your sweet presence on this journey.  I know I say it most times when I write a blog post...but I am truly thankful.  You all are a gift to me.  

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

The ball is rolling.... and that is HUGE!

It's a little after ten and A.  Ketty is sound asleep  We got home shortly after seven tonight from a long day at the hospital.  Though today's long day at the hospital was quite different from recent times.  We walked away having met with the oncologist, having some pre-treatment tests, and anticipation of radiation starting... most likely tomorrow! This is huge and such an encouragement for a journey that has been met with multiple hurdles.  Our oncologist, Dr. Abwao, was warm, engaging, and straightforward.  He listened, explained, and spent time going over previous scans and examining A. Ketty.  We both walked away thankful, peaceful, and honestly, excited to start treatment.  And that could very likely be tomorrow! We will return to the hospital in the afternoon with the anticipation of seeing the doctor and having her first radiation treatment.  It is very possible, she will have her first chemo treatment on Friday.    Thanks for joining the journey.  It is an honor to be with her.... to watch God taking care of His daughter in such sweet ways.  
A selfie of ourselves early in the morning...
having just arrived at the hospital.  
A new place and one that we will surely become very comfortable with in the coming days and weeks! 

The end of a LONG day.... and what a trooper A.
Ketty was! She did great! Eager to walk through this journey with her and get her closer to going home!

More later.... thank you for journeying along... For sure, another update soon! 


Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Preparing for the Next Steps....

We have arrived! It's just shy of 9 and we just turned out the light.  A. Ketty wanted me to share the pictures she received. I have found her looking at them multiple times.  Welsey, one of the missionaries at New Hope, did a photo shoot Sunday morning before church.  The gift of these pictures is priceless.  Tomorrow, is a big day... we are heading to the hospital first thing... and hopefully 24 hours from now, we'll have the next steps.  Thankful that He is with us on each step of the journey.  Thank you for standing with A. Ketty.  More later... just wanted to get a few of her pictures up.  

May we ALL rest in HIM tonight.  May we each hold on to Him and HIS goodness for us.  

Friday, April 18, 2014

He's got it....

It's early Friday morning... a candle is lit close to me casting a shadow inside the darkened house.  The birds are singing in the day and as I look out the windows, the sun is beginning to break away the darkness outside.  It's early in the morning.  And the day is just beginning.   A new day.  And a day that is known by my God.   It's been a month full of... life.   And while there has been a lot of what has become normal life... seeing patients in the clinic, spending time with my family group, and living  life with those around me.  It has also been a month of journeying alongside two different individuals both facing serious medical situations.   One a young man; another a lady with a few more years under her belt.  One a student; the other a mom of 7 children.  One aware of the seriousness of her illness; the other more fully grasping it after being hospitalized.  Both so different and yet each journeying alongside with strong community and with a faith in Jesus.  Watching the community at New Hope stand and surround these two individuals has been an absolute beautiful thing.   And I've been able to hear directly from the lips of these two individuals the effect that the care, support, and love has had on them.  It has left me speechless.  And it has undoubtably greatly impacted both of these individuals.  

He's up and moving now... just need to
snap another picture.  
Wizeye Joseph, a young man and a student at our secondary school, was diagnosed this last month with End Stage Kidney Disease.  His kidneys are currently failing him.  It's a hard diagnosis to digest... especially when how you feel doesn't match how sick you really are.  Besides headaches and occasional blurriness, Wizeye has felt fine.  His blood pressures, however have not been fine.  He has had blood pressures as high as 218/152 and just recently came down with typhoid.  A huge hit to an already struggling body.  His creatine, a test which measures kidney function, rose to a very hi level while he was in the hospital.  He was discharged a few days later, and a repeat test, showed an improvement in this level.  It is still higher than it was when he was diagnosed with kidney failure, but an improvement nonetheless.  He'll have his creatine rechecked next month and is slated to go back to the nephrologist in Kampala at the end of this month.  

Ketty Okoth was diagnosed with Poorly Differentiated Squamous Cell Carcinoma of her Esophagus last month.  It's been a month of waiting for pathology results, obtaining all the necessary foundational medical tests, setting up radiation, and having treatment put on hold because of a broken machine.  There is one radiation machine in Uganda and it has been down for most of this week.   (Yes, ONE machine.... it's a hard reality to swallow....)  It has been recommended for her to receive both radiation and chemotherapy concurrently. With a machine not working, a hesitancy here to do concurrent chemo and radiation, and a cancer that needs to be addressed urgently, it has been decided to head to Nairobi for treatment.  The plan is to leave New Hope on Monday and hop a bus Monday evening.  We should arrive Tuesday morning (after an all night drive))  and are slated to be seen Tuesday afternoon at M P Shah Hospital.  God-willing, A. Ketty will begin treatment early next week.    

Will you join us in praying for Wizeye and for A. Ketty?  For Wizeye's mom and siblings?  For A. Ketty's husband, Okoth and their seven children?  Thank you! Will you join us as we trust God in however He leads?  Yes, we are asking for a miracle... for each of these precious individuals.  I am asking that no matter what, their hearts, our hearts would be drawn closer to Him.

I don't know how long I will be in Kenya for. Realistically, it will be for at least a few weeks... but it could be shorter and it could be longer.  The Lord knows.  Trusting in His provision of my every need as I have the honor of walking with A. Ketty in these next days and weeks.  What an honor it is!

More later....


(Both Wizeye Joseph and A. Ketty Okoth have given permission for their stories to be shared).