Please see the timeline in "My Story" for a quick summary.
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08-04-09 Surgery to remove lump on right side of neck.
08-06-09 Diagnosed with melanoma cancer INSIDE the body in a lymph node, stage 2 cancer.
08-27-09 Had a “Modified Radical Neck Dissection” where they removed 30 more lymph nodes. No cancer found in any of them.
Aug. 2009 Joel was placed on Short Term Disability, began paying COBRA payments for family health coverage. Converted life ins policies to private, began paying for them.
Sept. 2009 Had a port surgically implanted in chest.
Sept. 2009 Began Interferon, an aggressive treatment that caused horrific illness. It was given via the port for about 2 hours every day, Mon-Fri, for 4 weeks. Then Joel had to go to the hospital 3 days/week for another 11 months to get Interferon shots (lesser dosage). He remaind very sick the entire time (6 mths).
09-30-09 Joel was terminated “involuntarily but in good standing” from his employment of 7 years.
Oct/Nov 2009 Port was surgically removed.
Nov. 2009 Joel was changed from Short Term Disability to Long Term Disability.
Jan 2010 COBRA ins coverage increased to $900/mth.
02-09-10 Joel’s PET Scan showed the cancer had spread to 3 places in his brain. He was told he could not drive because he was now susceptible to seizures.
Feb/March 2010 Joel had “Full Brain Radiaion” for about three weeks (14 treatmnts) in Fort Wayne. He began taking steriods & started quickly gaining weight. He became incredibly ill with spells, vomiting, headaches, fever, chills, and more. Radiology nurses & doctors could not tell us why.
March 2010 Called the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, MN. They made appointments to see Joel one week later to see if they could help.
03-28-10 Drove to Rochester, MN, ten hour drive one way.
03-30-10 Joel missed his appts at the Mayo Clinic because he became so ill he had to be rushed to the ER. He was admitted to St. Mary’s Hospital (Mayo) on a Tuesday. They began many tests over the next few days.
04-01-10 Dr. Lachance, a neurology-oncologist, came into Joel’s room around 5 pm and advised that 2 of the 3 tumors could be surgically removed. AND that they had an opening the very next morning at 6:30 am! They would cut Joel’s skull in 2 places and surgically remove the 2 larger tumors. After praying, Joel decided to go ahead with the surgery the next morning…which happened to be Good Friday of Easter weekend.
04-02-10 Joel was gone from about 6:30 am to 4 or 5 pm in surgery and recovery. We saw him for about an hour afterward but he didn’t really know who we were. He was in ICU for 24 hours.
04-04-10 Easter Sunday, Jadyn and I went to church and spent the remainder of the day with Joel in the hospital. We had no family for friends with us, we were 5 states away from home.
Apr 2010 Joel had many appts over the next week w/various Mayo doctors for follow-up after the brain surgery.
Apr 2010 A couple weeks after surgery Joel had gamma-knife radiation on the 3rd tumor in his brain. He was released to drive home the next day. Joel could not drive until he was seizure free for 6 months.
May/June Various appts with oncologist in Ft. Wayne.
June 2010 Our friend drove us to Mayo Clinic again for tests & an 8 week follow-up. All looked good inside Joel’s brain. Cancer had not spread.
June/July Various appts with oncologist in Ft. Wayne.
Aug 2010 Drive to Mayo again for 8 wk follow-up & tests. Cancer spread to brain. To return in Oct to watch it.
Aug/Sept Various appts. w/oncologist in Ft. Wayne.
Oct 2010 Drive to Mayo again for tests and follow-up. Cancer in brain grew, performed gamma-knife radiation on it. To return in 12 weeks.
Jan 2011 Friend drove us to Mayo again for follow-up. Cancer spread 8-10 places in body.
Jan/Feb Various appts. w/oncologist in Ft. Wayne.
Mar/Apr To Mayo again for tests & follow-up. Cancer spread 12-15 additional places in Joel's body. Makes a total of approx. 25 so far. A 5th one was found in brain, gamma-knife done again.
04-27-11 IN NewsCenter did story on Joel & new drug Yervoy.
4-28-11 Joel among first in U.S. to receive Yervoy!
KNOCK IN THE NOGGIN
Oct 24, 2013 10:14pm
Exodus 20:3 says, “You may worship no other god than me.” (Living Bible)
Exodus 20:3 says, “You shall have no other gods before me.” (ESV)
Exodus 20:3 says, “Have no gods other than me.” (NLV)
Isn’t it funny how often times we don’t see something that is right in front of us? There have been times when I’m looking for something, and it's on the counter right in front of me. I think to myself that if it were a snake, it would have bitten me! I feel so silly when I find it. Or, there have been times I have tripped over something while walking. I literally didn’t see it! I always wonder why I just didn’t SEE those things. Something similar has most likely happened to all of us at one time or another.
There are times when I will read a particular scripture and so totally not understand it. I mean, I seriously do not get it! Then later on, it could be weeks, or months, I will be brought back to that exact same scripture and completely understand it and even apply it to my life.
Have you ever been knocked in the head…really hard? Even to the point of being thrown to the floor? I have, very recently and believe me, it is not funny. It’s quite frightening.
Big, or little things, can happen in our lives that we could compare to being as if God were “knocking us in the head.” Perhaps He’s trying to get our attention, or He wants us to understand what He is trying to tell us, show us, or teach us. We’re probably too focused on ourselves and our problems and we just do not get the message. Maybe then God does something drastic to get our attention? He does this in many different ways.
Life is just so frustrating for all of us sometimes, isn’t it? I don’t always react appropriately. I tend to take my focus away from the “Big Picture” according to God’s Word, and begin to focus on me, me, me. What I want, how I feel, what I think I need. You ever do that? Then we have satan, who is always in the mix somewhere, steering us off track, and telling us lies. Before things get out of hand, the Lord “knocks me upside the head” in some way, and I get my focus back on Him and the things I need to be doing, saying, and thinking about. This doesn’t usually literally happen. I don’t think God goes around literally “hitting” people on their heads. Or does He?
I had an experience a couple of days ago that totally and completely freaked me out! It was sort of like God DID, in fact, knock me on the head in order to get my full attention. Well, it certainly worked. My focus on insignificant matters, my point of view, my selfishness, all of those negative things instantly disappeared. I was grateful to be alive, and have a wonderful family who immediately ran to help me! What happened, you ask?
On Wednesday I was walked through the garage to get into my car which was parked outside in the driveway. I hit the garage door opener and the door began rising. There have been a few times in the past that the door has opened completely, and immediately began to shut again. Just a fluke, sometimes it does that, not often.
I was looking down and getting my keys from my purse. The next thing I knew, I WAS FLAT ON THEGROUND! Okay, I was actually lying more on my side, but my nose was touching the cement floor of the garage. The grubby, dirty, extremely cold, cement floor. For a few seconds I didn’t understand why I could feel the cold hardness of that floor beneath me. Naturally, I wasn’t thinking straight. When it happened, I think I yelled and began to cry. Not exactly sure, things became a little hazy at that point. As I was falling, I do remember hearing the clinking of my keys flying away and landing on the floor. I recall seeing my legs going up in the air in slow motion. I remember laying there being STUNNED! Of course, this all happened so fast. Joel was in the kitchen. He heard an extremely loud BANG and came running out. Jadyn was back in the restroom, her friend Hannah was in the bedroom. They both HEARD a very loud bang and came running.
That loud bang was the garage door coming down directly ON TOP OF MY HEAD!! Yes, it was! And it hurt like the dickens. I was in disbelief, and at first I couldn’t comprehend why I was lying on the garage floor. It really shook us all up.
It all happened so quickly. Joel helped me up and got me inside. We both made sure the girls were okay. They were upset and scared. My head hurt like crazy! Also, I had pain in my neck and my back. I’m thinking, oh no, what if I have bleeding inside my brain? What if I have a concussion? What if I fall asleep tonight and don’t wake up? Don’t misunderstand me; I’m not afraid to die. I want to be in Heaven with Jesus Christ one day! But I’d like to have the opportunity (God willing) to at least raise my daughter into adulthood first.
After a while I was in so much pain I took a pain pill and that helped a little. I got some advice from a friend who previously worked in the medical field. So then Joel and I knew what danger signs to look for. Needless to say, I didn’t sleep well that night. I was up until after 3 am. I was afraid to fall asleep.
I woke up the next morning and other than a very sore head, a headache, and the occasional soreness in my neck and back, I was okay. Surprisingly, I felt pretty good, considering what happened. I could have been seriously injured…or worse.
I’ve been thinking…there are times when I feel like I could use a good “knock in the head” from our Heavenly Father to make me see a little more clearly. I need to be reminded about the important things in life. Like putting God first, submitting to my husband as described in the Bible, serving others, being a good wife and mother, and loving others.
Well, every time I turn my head today and feel that twinge of pain I’m reminded that a couple of days ago I could have died from a serious blow to the head. If that had happened, would I be ready? The answer is a great big yes! I don’t want to die, but am ready if and when it happens.
Do I think so “highly” of myself, that I am confident that I’m going straight to Heaven? Nope! For those of you who do not know, that isn’t the way it works. I know I’m going to Heaven because I believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of the Living God. Also, because I’ve accepted Him as my Lord and Savior. I’ve been baptized through immersion, and I came up out of that water a new person in Christ! Jesus died on the cross for the forgiveness of my sins, for ALL of us, for you and for me, if we follow God's plan of salvation. It's a free gift to us! What a glorious and incredible thing!
Since I was hit hard on the ol’ noggin, I’m re-thinking my priorities. I usually have them in the right order. But I slip into old habits now and again. We all need reminded once in a while of what is most important. God first. Period. No exceptions. My husband next; my family after that. Then my job. I may not get paid, but I certainly work hard at managing my household; homeschooling; designing, creating, and selling jewelry; caring for Joel and Jadyn; and so much more. So that is my "job," so to speak.
Isn’t it strange how sometimes it takes being “hit upside the head” to get us back on track? Or, to make us see things more clearly. Perhaps things that are right in front of us. Fortunately, it doesn’t always happen literally!
At the top of this post, I show three versions of Exodus 20:3 and they use different ways to say the same thing. Do you know what Exodus 20:3 is? It’s one of the Ten Commandments. The definition of “command” is: an order or instruction given by somebody in authority. God is the Creator of the Universe and everything in it. I’d say He’s pretty much the utmost authority over all of us, He created us. Exodus 20:3 means that we MUST put God first in our lives!
I got that reminder loud and clear, Lord! I humbly, meekly, and genuinely, thank you for reminding me.
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