I’m officially done!

Praise the Lord!  As of last Thursday (October 8th), I am officially done with my Proton Therapy treatment regimen.  Yay!!!

Since the beginning of treatment, I have had the privilege of meeting fellow patients from Canada, New York, New Jersey, and Montana, as well as every region of the Pacific Northwest – including Oregon and Idaho.  Without exception, they were all some of the kindest and friendliest folks I have ever had the opportunity to meet. I became friends with several individuals and their families, and we plan to stay in contact.  One friend, named Pat, is a fellow Christian who lives in Salem, Oregon.

ME AND MY BUDDY, PAT

Pat and I would talk and tell jokes to the point that, at times, people around us would say were having too much fun.  We were trying to lighten up the atmosphere a bit.  On numerous occasions, the Lord allowed Judy and I and Pat opportunities to encourage folks who were having a very difficult time and share God’s love with them.  Pat and I became good buddies, going out for lunch and praying for one another.

I can understand why the Seattle Procure Center is ranked #5 in the USA for adult cancer care. Their customer service skills are top-notch.  The entire staff was always very kind to both Judy and I, and they even saw to it that I was provided with a daily supply of Tootsie Rolls – my favorite! The Center hosts a graduation party for every graduating class.  They laid out a big spread of food for my graduation class and awarded completion certificates and a Challenge coin to every graduate.  The Challenge Coins are modeled after the ones the Military provides to soldiers.

THE CHALLENGE COIN I WAS AWARDED - I AM THE 637TH GRADUATE OF THE PROCURE CENTER.
THE CHALLENGE COIN I WAS AWARDED – I AM THE 637TH GRADUATE OF THE PROCURE CENTER.

During the weeks I was undergoing treatment, I would meet with my physician and assigned nurse once a week to go over my weekly activity.  I had the opportunity to express any concerns and ask questions about problems I was experiencing related to the radiation therapy.   They were very knowledgeable and quick to help and offer suggestions.  I was always treated as if I was a very important person; they made me feel as if I were the only person there.

My radiation therapists were also very knowledgeable, compassionate, and capable individuals. They would ask me about my interests and find subject matter to talk about. Of course I would talk about food, meat smoking, and barbecuing.  They asked what my favorite music was, and I would ask to listen to jazz as the proton machine was humming in the background.  Often I would dose off and wake myself up with a snort!

The extensive radiation treatments I received targeted the cancer tumors in the prostate, the areas where the cancer had spread outside the prostate, and the lymph nodes in my pelvic area.  The radiation kills the cancer, which the doctor and Judy and I believe has been accomplished.  Moving forward, I will need to continue the Lupron hormone injections for the next 18 months.  The purpose of continuing the hormone injections is to “mop up” any stray cancer cells that might possibly exist.  The doctor will continue to monitor my PSA level through blood lab work every 3 months or so.  As long as my PSA level stays low (which it is right now), I am golden.

One of the Bible verses that Judy and I believe and confess is Nehemiah 1:9:  “God has made an utter end of this (cancer,) and affliction cannot rise up a second time.”  I have a lot of peace, and I am ready to move forward with my life.  I will be taking some time over these next two months to rest and recover from the radiation therapy.  I am thankful that I experienced minimal side effects, although I am finding that I am dealing with quite a bit of fatigue.  The doctor says this is normal for this situation and that the fatigue will lessen with time.

Judy and I want to express our heartfelt gratitude to all of you for your faith-filled prayers and support during this process.  We have been overwhelmed by the love you have shown us.  We’re especially grateful for all the phone calls, e-mails, cards, texts, and gifts.  Having this outpouring of support has really encouraged and strengthened both of us.  THANK YOU!

We would appreciate your continued prayers as I process through the next months.  Thank you again for being there for us.  Support is everything!

Blessings and love,

Bob and Judy

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I’m at the halfway point!

Dear family and friends,

I want to thank everyone for your continued prayers.   Judy and I find such strength and encouragement in your prayer support.

As of Saturday the 5th, I have completed 22 radiation treatment sessions. I only have 22 more sessions to go.  Yeah!  I’m halfway there.

I am beginning to experience some mild side effects.  My most recent blood lab work indicates some anemia.  I will be getting Vitamin B12 injections to boost up my blood.  In addition, I’m experiencing some mild bladder and urination issues.  (I hope this isn’t too much information!)  The oncologist says both of these issues can happen with the hormone and radiation therapy.  At any rate, I would appreciate your prayers regarding those things.

The week before last was a little rough.  I had to go for radiation therapy six days in a row to make up time for when the machine had been down.  On Saturday, August 29th, we had a very bad wind storm.  Trees were blown down all over the State of Washington.  The north end of Seattle, where the treatment center is located, was particularly hard hit.  It took almost three hours of driving to go 60 miles, as the traffic was bumper-to-bumper most of the way.

This past week, I had the opportunity to stay overnight in Seattle.  The American Cancer Society arranged for reduced-fee lodging at the Talaris Conference Center.  It’s a beautiful 18-acre complex situated right in the heart of Seattle.  It was a relaxing and restful place to stay, and it was nice to eliminate a day of driving back and forth.  Here are some pictures of the Center.

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The U.S. News & World Report recently published an article, ranking cancer treatment centers in the USA.  The Seattle Cancer Care Alliance (where I am receiving treatment) is ranked as #5 in the US for adult cancer care.  Judy and I feel blessed to live as close as we do to an outstanding treatment center.

I hope you all had a good holiday weekend.  I had some time off therapy over this long weekend, too.  It’s been nice to just rest and lay around.  I’ve been watching some Westerns on my iPad, and I had fun smoking some country ribs for our Labor Day dinner today.

Judy and I want to thank you for the outpouring of support.  We both appreciate the cards, e-mails, and phone calls.  Thanks so much!

Blessings and love, Bob

Second week of treatment highlights and update

Greetings everyone,

Thank you all for your prayers and support throughout this week. It’s comforting and strengthening to know family and friends are upholding you with prayer.

This week the proton radiation machine went down for several days with electrical problems, and the extraction magnet wasn’t aligning correctly.  As a result, I missed 4 days of treatment.  An expert was called in from Chicago to troubleshoot the problem, and we were back in business finally on Friday.  The doctor informed me that I am still in the early days of treatment, so this will not have an adverse affect on me.  I will, however, have to make up the lost days by adding several Saturdays to my schedule until I get caught up.  I discovered that driving in the weekend Seattle traffic is just as hectic as the weekday traffic!

One of the friends I met at the proton center travels from Salem, Oregon every week, and there are others who travel from across the U.S.  They have to arrange and pay for housing during the week.  It was an inconvenient time for everyone, including the medical staff.  But, we’re moving forward now.

I am not experiencing any physical problems associated with proton therapy, just a bit more tired.  As long as I take a nap during the day, I am okay.  As of this Saturday, I’m almost a quarter of the way through my treatment plan.  Yay!

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Me with a sampling of our home-canned goodies.  I really enjoy spending time being creative in the kitchen!

In between my doctor and therapy appointments, I spend lots of time in the kitchen. I find cooking relaxing and enjoyable.  Plus, I get to be creative, and it occupies my time.  Friends of mine from the Christian Motorcycle Association have plum and apple trees on their property, and they told me to pick as much fruit as I wanted.  So I picked a bunch of plums and nearly 200 lbs. of apples.  Thus far, Judy and I have processed and canned 55 quarts and 96 pints of delicious goodies, including apple sauce, apple butter, jalapeno apple jelly, apple salsa, plums, and peach preserves.  This picture displays a sampling of our inventory.  My next project will be to make and can Cowboy Candy, which is a spicy/sweet brine poured over Jalapeno peppers.  Oh, and are they good!  I’m also looking forward to making Watermelon Rind Preserves from a vintage recipe.

Lastly, on a side note, I would like to ask you to pray for Washington State.  The eastern part of our state is being overswept with unprecedented wildfires.  Several firefighters lost their lives this past week, and many people have had their homes burned to the ground.  Hundreds of thousands of acres have been or are currently in flames.

hazy sun_wildfire smokeThis is a picture I shot of the sunrise here this morning.  The hazy red sun is the result of a lot of smoke being blown our way from the fires.  Our air quality here this afternoon is still not good.  We’ve had an exceptionally dry summer here this year, and we are praying for a good cleansing rain and/or wind .

Again, thank you for your prayers and support.

Blessings and love to all of you,

Bob & Judy

My first week of treatment

Greetings family and friends,

I’ve had several folks ask me how am I feeling as I go through proton therapy. The drive to north Seattle (where the proton facility is located) has been taking one hour and fifteen minutes each way on a good day, or two hours and thirty minutes on a bad day.  So far, that’s the most stressful part.  My appointments were scheduled for 8:00 p.m. this past week., so fortunately, we missed the heavy rush hour traffic.  The radiation treatment lasts about 30 minutes.  It’s not painful, and I normally listen to jazz or fall asleep.

I had the opportunity to meet another brother in Christ this week at the treatment center. He’s from Salem, Oregon and is also being treated for prostate cancer.  We’ve had an opportunity to chat a bit, and I am looking forward to getting to know him better.

lost_no_more_large_1So, how am I doing with this?  My faith is very strong; I don’t waver.  I take the Lord at His word.  He said I would be completely healed.  I am not worried, stressed out, frustrated, or distressed about my situation.  I know that God is in control, and I’m resting in His faithfulness.

I have a great helper and supporter in Judy.  She has my back.  Judy always goes the extra mile.  She is an awesome prayer warrior, and I can always tell when she is praying for me because I feel God’s presence.  I am very blessed to have her as my wife and helper.

I want to thank each of you for your prayer support and encouragement.  I am honored to have you all on my side.  It means the world to me.

Blessings, Bob

Hello family and friends!

Thank you for checking out our new blog.  We’ve created this as a place to post updates and information relevant to Bob’s healing journey.

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Bob often says, “The doctors are managing my health, but God is the one who is healing me. He is working in this situation to increase my faith.”

Bob began proton radiation treatments at the Seattle Cancer Care Alliance’s Procure Center on Wednesday, August 5th.  His treatment plan calls for 44 treatments, which will be administered 5 days a week for the next 9 weeks.  The radiation treatments will target the affected areas of Bob’s body in 3 stages, starting with the areas where the cancer has spread outside of the prostate capsule and then working inward toward the tumor(s.) The treatment is painless.  The patient doesn’t see or feel the proton beam.  The machine makes some sound, but that is all.

Understandably, Bob had a few jitters going into the first treatment.  The doctor, nurses, technicians, and staff are all very experienced, as well as friendly and supportive.  Bob sailed through his first treatment with no hitches.  He even fell asleep during the actual treatment time!

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The lounge/waiting area at the Procurement Center

The Procure Center is located north of Seattle, so this will require us to make a 3 to 4 hour round-trip commute each day.  Nonetheless, we are blessed to be so near the only proton treatment facility in the entire Pacific Northwest.  They do amazing work.  If you are interested in learning more about proton therapy, you can visit the SCCA website at: https://www.sccaprotontherapy.com/

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The treatment room and proton machine
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Close-up of the proton machine

We very much appreciate your prayers and support. At this time, these are some of our specific prayer concerns:

1. For travel safety/grace for the long commute each day.
2. That Bob will tolerate the treatments well with no adverse side effects or reactions.
3. That God will use these treatments to completely eradicate the cancer.
4. That we will be faithful witnesses/testimonies of God’s love, grace, & mercy to the doctors, technicians, & staff at the proton center.
5. For financial provision to cover all the extra travel expenses, including gas, hotel lodging and meals for Bob two nights a week.

Again, we appreciate your love, prayers, and support!  It means everything to us.

Blessings & love,  Bob & Judy