Welcome! May 23, 2011 we found out my brother Joe had stage 4 cancerous tumors filling his abdominal cavity. He is receiving treatment at the University of MN and at Mayo Hospital. Recently he had surgery and they were able to mostly remove the tumor. However, he still has a long journey to being completely cancer free. Please keep him and our family in your prayers. We have been so blessed by all the care and prayers we have received. As hard as this is we know that the Lord has a plan and is working powerfully through Joe and this situation. The Lord is good and he is faithful!
Nov 27, 2013 5:13pmAs we are now upon the Thanksgiving holiday here is a treat for you all: a message from Joe himself...
As I’m sure you are all aware tomorrow is thanksgiving; so I thought I’d take a little time and share some thoughts on what I’m grateful for…This is actually something I’ve been thinking about doing for a couple months now but I decided to wait till it was seasonally appropriate ;)Gratitude has been on my mind a lot lately because to be completely honest it’s something that has been pretty challenging for me. It turns out having cancer for 2+ years can wear on you a little bit…I guess that’s probably obvious.
The last few weeks I’ve really felt worn down; over the last few years there’s been times where it has been really difficult physically and times that have been really difficult mentally but lately it’s a combination of both that’s been hard. Physically this chemo hasn’t been the nastiest that I’ve had but it’s pretty bad. I’ve lost almost 30lbs since we started and while I don’t throw up daily it has become a common occurrence again. The only way I’m able to do a round every three weeks is because I get two pints of blood, a transfusion of platelets and a shot to boost my white blood cell production. Basically my body isn’t able to recover quickly enough on its own so the doctors rebuild it for me and tear it down again every three weeks. So I spend a lot of time exhausted and in pain with some nausea and stomach cramping mixed in. It’s pretty normal for my energy levels to be so low that if I go upstairs to take a shower I have to lie down for five minutes when I reach the top of the stairs to make sure I don’t collapse in the shower. Normally I start to feel like a normal human being a day or two before I start the next round.
Obviously my physical condition impacts how I feel mentally and emotionally as well. When you spend a lot of time lying around feeling like crap it makes it challenging to stay positive and upbeat. It’s hard to be 25 and living in your parents basement when most of your friends are doing more “normal” things with their lives like; living independently, working full time jobs, buying cars and houses, getting married, and having children. When life doesn’t work out the way you want it to it’s disappointing.
The reality is there are a lot of hard things in my life right now and I think it is fair to acknowledge the challenges, to struggle, and even to be disappointed. That being said there is a difference between recognizing and struggling with things that are hard and throwing a pity party. And that is where the gratitude comes in.
Because too often over the last couple months I’ve gotten stuck on myself; thinking about how bad I have it or how I wish things could be different. Which is a very unhelpful road to go down. Because the truth is life isn’t all cupcakes and daisies, there is no promise that life is going to be perfect and fulfill all of our dreams and expectations. The truth is that suffering, struggles and disappointments are a part of being a human being living here on planet earth and how we deal with them makes all the difference. All the time that I spend focused on “poor Joe” is time wasted. All it does is cause me to miss out on the blessings and opportunities to love that are all around me. That’s why I’m trying to focus on being grateful because it takes the focus off of my struggles and helps me to realize how blessed I actually am and to care for and appreciate all the people around me.
And the truth is I have so much to be thankful for. For starters as frustrated as I am with my body it could be and has been so much worse. I have full use of all my limbs, all my senses work, these current drugs have left my mind clear and I can think and express myself clearly (or at least it seems that way to me-others might disagree). I no longer have a tube in my back or my chest, I throw up way less than I used to, I can eat and drink pretty normally without a bunch of sores in my mouth, I can stand up without having to pee immediately, I don’t have to pee every 20 minutes anymore, I no longer carry around a bag filled with my own pee, peeing in general is really awesome. I can take showers, I can drive a car most of the time, and I can read books again. I could go on for paragraphs about simple everyday things like having food, or a house, or heat in that house. Even though most of my friends have their own places/ lives they still hang out with me; I get to visit their homes play with their children and when I am feeling sick vomit in their bathrooms. My family is amazing; they haven’t kicked me out, they put up with my shit and even go out of their way to love me.
The support and love that I receive is what I am most thankful for; these last two and a half years have been long and hard for me but they have been long and hard for everyone, yet that hasn’t kept all of you from loving me. The prayers and support of all of you amazes and humbles me. I really don’t know that I could be as faithful in support as others have been to me. That so many people continue to walk this journey with me and love me is a blessing I can’t even begin to understand much less articulate. The thoughts, prayers, letters, random gifts, messages of love and support continue to inspire me and help me to persevere. I do a terrible job of replying/sending thank you notes/generally expressing my gratitude yet you keep supporting me. Please know how blessed I am by all of you. Obviously I am blessed by those closest to me, my family and close friends and I need to do a better job of telling them in person how much I love them. But I am so thankful for the people that support me from a distance, those I rarely see, and those I’ve never met.
Most of all I am thankful to Christ for his never-ending love and grace that gives me the strength to get up every single day and keep fighting. But the way that he gives me that love and grace through all of you by bringing you into my life and the ways that you care for me.
So yes life is hard right now and yes I wish things were different but instead of getting caught up in the suffering and challenges I’m going to try to be grateful. I’m going to focus on the amazing blessings in my life and try to spend my time living and loving.
I’m so blessed and I love you very much,
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