Tuesday, May 27, 2014

A day....

It's evening time... just a little past 8 PM.  Just checked on A. Ketty and she is sound asleep.  Trusting that she gets some good rest tonight.  Tomorrow is a busy day.  There are errands to do, a doctor's appointment, and her second to last radiation treatment.  It's crazy to think that in 48 hours time, she will be finished with her first round of treatment.  Friday morning, we are slated to board an early morning flight and return to Uganda.  Three days from right now, God-willing, she will be with her family.  It will be a moment of celebration, I am sure, when they all see each other face to face. I'll be honored to be in the background watching this sweet moment.  God has surely sustained her these last five weeks and it is amazing to see how well she is doing overall.  Yes, she is weak.  Yes, she is tired.  But she can swallow.  She has no radiation burns.  And she still has a glow to her that has not been squelched by weeks of body draining treatment.  It's pretty neat.  It's actually pretty amazing.

It's been an emotional day... standing beside a sister finishing up her last week of treatment and standing from afar beside a brother who is really sick.  Feeling the pull of being here at the same time wanting to be there.  It's wanting to be with his wife, my friend, Alair.  It's wanting to be with their boys and with their sweet baby Norah.  It's knowing that things are changing.  And that while God is in control, it's hard.  And so, it's a day of mixed emotions.  Strong emotions.  Feeling absolute happiness watching a sister finish up her first round of treatment at the same time watching friends journey through a medical crisis.  Very Early Friday Morning, Caleb will board a plane with a nurse at his side, and begin a journey back to the States for specialized treatment and stabilization.   Several hours later, A. Ketty and I, will head to the airport in Nairobi and board a plane back to Uganda.  An ending to one chapter in her journey with cancer.

For now, I choose to walk with A. Ketty and all that these next days hold.... at the same time standing beside my friends in prayer.  They are surrounded by beautiful individuals who are actively walking alongside them now.   God's got them.  He's got Caleb and Alair.  He's got Ketty.  He's got me.  He's got it.  He's GOT it.

And so, I bring this blog post to an end.  A glimpse into my heart today.  The words haven't flowed as easily as I wanted to.... A day of feeling torn.  An opportunity to trust.   And an opportunity to embrace today and all that He has planned.


Monday, May 19, 2014

A late post... but an update nonetheless!

The internet has been nonexistent this last week from where I am now living.   Will have to work on getting internet to my new home... but for now... here is an update from Mary Britton.  She wrote it late last week.  Sorry for the late posting.  I will be heading back out to Nairobi late Saturday night.  Will write more.

Greetings from Nairobi!

I have been here with Aunt Ketty since Saturday afternoon. On that day, soon after I arrived via 15-hour bus ride (!) Aunt Lucy introduced me to the guest house staff and gave me a very good tour of the place.  She had been cooking in the kitchen and knew all of the kitchen staff very well. They welcomed me with smiles and greetings. Since then I have cooked a few meals for Aunt Ketty alongside the staff. They are a joy!

I have met a variety of people from numerous countries who serve in very distant places. It has been a rich time of fellowship!

Aunt Ketty is doing very well overall. The medical staff at MP Shah Cancer Care Center are amazed that she continues to eat without problems. After three weeks of hard-hitting radiation treatments this is God's miracle! In fact, on Wednesday morning she said she thought perhaps she was developing a wound because it was becoming a bit more difficult to pass food. We prayed to God to clear any wounds and today she reports a vast improvement. The only pain medication she is on at this point is 500mg of Tylenol (Panadol) three times a day!

We met with the doctor Thursday and I found him to be friendly, caring, knowledgeable, thorough and kind. He took a great amount of time with Ketty and answered each and every question she had. I had also come with some questions and he was very gracious with his answers.

After we had left him I realized I had forgotten to ask something and when I returned he welcomed me and gave me another five minutes of his time. I am thankful to God that he led us here and that Ketty is receiving her care in a place where there are many believers.  Her chemotherapy nurse is a sincere believer and they enjoy sharing together when they meet on Fridays.

Here are the news details from yesterday and today:

--Weight: Ketty is 49kg. This is down 1kg from 3 weeks ago, but is to be expected. The doctor did not see a serious problem especially since she is still eating 3 meals a day and a few snacks in between. She just doesn't eat her normal amount at each meal, but her nutrition is balanced.

--The doctor prescribed a lozenge to soothe Ketty's esophagus if wounds begin to disturb her.

--The chemotherapy is beginning to cause extra noise in her ears.  He assured her today that this will subside once the chemotherapy is finished. Possibly it could take a month to fully dissipate.

--Ketty was given a 30 day stay at the Kenyan border, but the doctor said he will write a letter explaining the reason for her extended stay. A border guard assured me when I crossed over that such a letter will be sufficient for a supportive document.

--The chemotherapy that she is receiving now over the five weeks of this first round of treatment is what the doctor termed a "radiation sensitizer" meaning it maximizes the effect of the radiation. This is not an amount of chemo that kills the cancer, however. So, at the end of these five weeks, and after a month off back in Uganda, Ketty will return to Nairobi for evaluation.

--The evaluation will include an endoscopy with biopsy. Even if the biopsy comes out clean of cancer, she will undergo a second round of chemotherapy. This second round will be two different drugs, different from what she's just received. They are carboplatin/paclitaxol and they are designed to kill any lurking, lingering, hiding cancer cells. The most likely schedule for the next round is 1st week: chemotherapy, 2nd week: monitoring blood work, 3rd-4th weeks: rest. This same cycle will repeat 6 times. If she begins in July, she will finish toward the end of November. Of course this also means a lot of traveleing back and forth and all the chemo side-effects thrown in there, too. Being praying for us as we work out the details!
--If the endoscopy does not come out clean, they will also do brachiotherapy which is targeted radiation placed in a "pipe" and inserted in her esophagus. It will only touch the specific areas where lesions remain.

--He continues to agree that she is not a candidate for surgery due to the placement of the cancer in the middle of her esophagus.

Today was our LONG day. We left at 7 a.m. and our first stop was the lab for her blood draw.  Her labs have looked fairly good so far, but today showed some wear and tear. Her white cells were significantly down so I will give her an injection tomorrow afternoon which will boost her white cell production. One of our David Family sons lives here in Nairobi at present and he visited us last Sunday. Unfortunately, we had to tell him he couldn't come this Sunday for another visit due to her low white count. 
Following the labs, we reported to chemotherapy where we spent 7 hours and then finished with radiation. Last week she began having trouble breathing after her radiation due to the cold nature of the radiation room. She got an inhaler and has not has that struggle at all this week. Today's nurse turned the AC off in the room while Ketty was being treated and she did very well. 
Unfortunately, it took us 2 hours to get home after we were finished due to hectic Nairobi traffic.
If any of you heard about the bomb blasts in Nairobi, I want to assure you that we are fine. The blasts were on the other side of town. We also heard from our David Family son and he also is fine.
She was really shivering last night, which is mostly the cold Nairobi night air, but is also partly because of a descending red blood cell count. We will remedy that with more roast beef and greens, as well as an iron supplement prescribed today.

Yesterday marked her third week complete and we celebrated with banana bread with a sparkly number 3 candle placed on top, balloons, streamers and all the cards that she's received strung all over the room.  I think I wore her out!

Thanks for waiting so long for this update, but truthfully, she is doing so well and continues to stand in such strong faith, there wasn't much news to report until we met with the doctor today! As I post this she is in tears of joy praying to her Father God, thanking Him for His goodness to her!

Thanks for your prayers and text messages. She truly loves all the messages on facebook and the cards you've sent!

Thanks also for your financial support. With another round being a sure thing now, we realize we're going to need much more than we originally thought. Unfortunately, I don't know the exact amount.

Blessings to each one of you!!!!!


Tuesday, May 13, 2014

An Update from Mary-----

Mary Britton headed out to Nairobi on Friday night... She has arrived safely and is settling in.  She'll be there till early Sunday morning... then she'll head back to Uganda.  Here is her update...... 

Here I am in Nairobi of all places!

It was a 15 hour bus ride, in part because of the safe driving of the driver! He drove very slowly and never overtook unless it was very safe to do so. For that I am grateful! We arrived at the border exiting Uganda around 3a.m. And entered Kenya about an hour later. After standing in line for an entrance visa I looked around for the "facilities" and found only locked latrines amidst darkness. The border guard suggested I go "just behind there" to ease myself. "Behind there" was the darkness beyond a row of lorries and containers to which I said "no way!" a woman alone venturing into that darkness???? "I can hold it!" apparently he was more compassionate than I supposed him to be as he pleaded my case to the driver who stopped the bus just for me only a few minutes further down the road. I was called off by the conductor who lead me to the washrooms. "How embarrassing" I thought to myself, "the whole bus knows where I'm going, truly I could have held it!" but, when i exited the latrine I found a line of my fellow bus passengers waiting their turn. I guess instead of being embarrassed I should have been happy to have been the catalyst for others' relief!
The ride was a bit uncomfortable, but not impossible. At 2p.m. I arrived at the designated stage and finally met Aunt Lucy, who said she was alone.  Suddenly as we were loading the taxi, aunt Ketty came jumping up behind me and gave me a wonderful big hug with lots of joy-filled squeals. They had tricked me into thinking Aunt Lucy was alone!  Aunt Ketty did not look or act like a cancer patient. She looks healthier than 3 weeks ago for sure! And her energy as she related a conversation from today with a guest house worker shows that at every opportunity she is continuing to share the gospel. She freely also shares each day at the hospital. Her treatment is coming along very well as she is improving with every day. She spends every day mon-fri getting treatment and is sleeping well at night without pain. The one struggle this week was a mild asthma attack dispute to the cold temperature of the radiation room. After using an inhaler, she was fine.

Once back at the guest house they fed us our saved lunch and as we laughed together, a woman greeted us as she poured a cup of tea. We learned she is also from Uganda. She is on her way to Ethiopia to train some people to work with the scripture union.  As she walked away Lucy said, "safe journey, Beth!" and I suddenly realized I knew her. No, I had never met her, but another missionary had forwarded me the blog address about three months ago of two dear friends who are working in Kampala with scripture union. In some of their blogs they talk of the sweet blessing they have found in co-worker, Beth. I was extremely impressed with the heart of this woman, Beth, of whom I'd read, and now, in God's timing I am meeting her in person in Nairobi! But, that brief meeting was not all, but she ended up at our table for dinner! 

Thursday, May 8, 2014

He will NOT delay!

I've already managed to type out a full blog and then when it came to uploading pictures... I lost most of what I had written.  So, here is take two.  It's Thursday early afternoon and it's a drizzly sort of day.  It's a surprisingly cool day that calls for long sleeve shirts and the warmth of a warm drink.   Maybe a hot coffee later... maybe not.... I guess we will see.  I hopped on a bus early Monday morning.  The bus took off from Nairobi shortly after 7:30 AM.  After a long, yet peaceful bus ride, I arrived into Kampala shortly after 10 PM.  It was good to be back on Ugandan soil... and to see friends.  I do find myself thinking about A. Ketty and praying for her.  Today, she finished up her second week of radiation.  Tomorrow, God-willing, she will complete her third round of chemo.  It is amazing all that has happened in the course of 2 1/2 weeks.  It's amazing! One of the songs that A. Ketty and I listened to many, many times while we were together was "Always" by Kristian Stanfill.  I'll let the words speak for themselves.

Christian Song Lyrics
Always by Kristian Stanfill 

My foes are many, they rise against me
But I will hold my ground
I will not fear the war, I will not fear the storm
My help is on the way, my help is on the way

Oh, my God, He will not delay
My refuge and strength always
I will not fear, His promise is true
My God will come through always, always

Troubles surround me, chaos abounding
My soul will rest in You
I will not fear the war, I will not fear the storm
My help is on the way, my help is on the way

Oh, my God, He will not delay
My refuge and strength always
I will not fear, His promise is true
My God will come through always, always

I lift my eyes up, my help comes from the Lord
I lift my eyes up, my help comes from the Lord
I lift my eyes up, my help comes from the Lord
I lift my eyes up, my help comes from the Lord
From You Lord, from You Lord

Oh, my God, He will not delay
My refuge and strength always
I will not fear, His promise is true
My God will come through always, always

Oh, my God, He will not delay
My refuge and strength always, always

We cling to this truth... that our God is our refuge and strength.... always.  Whether we are journeying through easy patches of life or walking through heavy storms.  Last week, after A. Ketty finished up her second chemo treatment, we began our journey home.  What should have taken thirty minutes or so... quickly turned into an hour and a half commute! Part of the delay was when our taxi car broke down on the side of the road.  I guess humanly speaking, we should have been nervous... Nairobi is often referred to as Ni-robbery.  But, after a prayer and a slightly unsure giggle as we watched our taxi man walk quickly away from our vehicle in search of water for the overheating car.... we found ourselves laughing away.  We laughed and laughed and before we knew it, the car was fixed and we were headed home.  Saturday was a full day. A Ketty had energy and was ready to LIVE the day.  We walked for a while, hopped a public taxi, and went and picked up lunch and french fries for lunch.  A. Lucy joined us Sunday afternoon.  After a quick power nap, dinner, and a discussion over details of A. Ketty's care, we decided to take a group picture.  This proved to be the highlight of the evening.  We laughed and laughed until the tears nearly came.  It is amazing how much energy A. Ketty has.  She also made a video message and hopefully, after a little editing, will get it up on this blog.  I'll leave with you some of the pictures that we took.  Mary Britton will relieve A. Lucy this weekend and will be there for all of next week.  Looking forward to her updates as to how things are going.

So thankful to all who have journeyed along with me on this journey of faith.  Not only on this journey with A. Ketty, but on the journey that He has me on.  Thank you.  I will try to get up a blog post sometime in the next couple of days on things that I've been learning personally over the last several weeks... it's been rich, full, and convicting.

Love to you all!


P.S.  Just got a text from A. Ketty.... she is doing well.  Just saw the doctor.  She is slated to have chemo tomorrow! Happy Two weeks of treatment A. Ketty!

The face distorter on the Mac opened the door to some serious laughing! 
Group Shot....

Holla Holla and Hello!