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Steve’s Story

During Easter weekend I began to feel out of sorts and experienced some unusual symptoms. On Monday morning I went to the doctor, who did tests and made a preliminary diagnoses that I was having gall bladder issues. He sent me for a ultrasound, which turned out to be negative for gall stones, and then a CT scan, which revealed a small mass on the head of my pancreas. On Wednesday I was able to get in to see a wonderful surgeon at Emory who was 95% certain that I had a malignant tumor. Because of the location, the tumor was blocking the bile duct and causing me to become jaundiced, but it is also operable. The decision was made to do a Whipple procedure  which is a complex, but effective surgery.  That surgery is now scheduled for Tuesday, May 6.

My wife, Sharol or I will be posting updates under the "Journal" tab of this page on a regular basis. We will also be monitoring comments in the the "Guestbook" section.

Latest Journal Update

October 31 - When you can't plan tomorrow

Steve here:

Throughout my life I have been a planner and an activist. I have methodically kept a calendar of upcoming activities and carefully planned my days in order to get as much done as possible.  I describe myself an activist because I envision tasks and then set out to get them completed. I don't procrastinate and I generally finish tasks before deadlines. I work quickly. Some people see these qualities as virtues. I merely see them as personal characteristics, although they have certainly contributed to my ability to accomplish a lot of work in limited amounts of time.

While these qualities are still a part of my mindset, my cancer has landed me in a very unfamiliar place. These days, I can't reliably plan for tomorrow or next week.  I don't know whether I will have the energy to accomplish what i would like to do.  And my body is simply not physically dependable. Some days I feel good enough to conquer larger tasks, but I can never do any heavy lifting anymore.  Some days I can endure work that takes longer than anticipated.  Other days, my plans just have to fall by the wayside.  

I've always counted it a privilege when I had periods of time when I had nothing at all planned--when what I did was entirely discretionary. But these were considered a gift and not the nature of my daily patterns.  For the most part my daily schedules have been carefully shaped toward maximum productivity, whether that was relational or administrative. 

So now I have to live with a lot of uncertainty.  My body is not dependable.  My energy level is not predictable.  And even my mind frequently succumbs to what some call "chemo brain" when I am forgetful, unable to concentrate, and lack the ability to think things through as carefully as I once could.

I'm being forced to learn that when you can't plan tomorrow you have to develop new skills to seize today in whatever form it presents itself. Instead of putting tasks on the calendar, now I have to simply put them on a list of possibilities.  When I assess how I am feeling on a particular day, I have to run through my list and do my planning on the fly.

I've lost a lot of efficiencies, but I am also gaining new skills in reflection and in more spontaneous activity.  I'm realizing that keeping my schedule "full" is not the only healthy way to live, and that a slower and more thoughtful pace can be just as faithful.  Listening to my body, listening for the Spirit, and listening with an ear to the possibilities are important life skills, too.

The Apostle Paul's admonition to "make the most of every opportunity, because the days are evil." (Ephesians 5:16) takes on new meaning for me. It's not that the days are bad but rather that they can present us with wasted opportunities if we aren't prepared to seize the day and live into God's call.

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Comments

36 Comments

Greta Reed
By Greta Reed
Teaching all of us as you journey. Thanks, Steve.

Love and prayers,

Greta
Pat Means
By Pat Means
It's amazing and encouraging to see how you find the time and the energy to communicate despite the limitations you're facing every day, Steve. Thanks for keeping in touch; it helps me pray with more feeling.
Marge Anderson
By Marge Anderson
Steve thank you for your great insights!!

Much love,
Marge and Richard Oliver
Charlie Raynal
By Charlie Raynal
Thank you, Steve, for sharing word of your giving up planning and your "new skills in reflection." I have seen your skills in reflection nourish your vast capacities for leadership and inspiring others for as long as I have known you, so God continues to bless us through your gifts. Charlie
Kathy August
By Kathy August
Dear Steve, For many years I lived as a recipient of your wisdom formerly through your ministry at UPC and informally as you ministered to our family through your dear friendship with my parents. I am so privileged to, once again, receive your wisdom through your posts. Thank you for being a faithful servant of the Lord right up to the point of meeting Him face to face. Thank you, Steve!
Art and Sonia Beals
By Art and Sonia Beals
I, too. have spent a lifetime and career in being an ACTIVIST and a PLANNER! at age 82.5, I am finding that the aging process has much of the same malignancy attached to life at 82.5 years….our HOPE rests in the LORD "Who made heaven and the earth." Persevere in the journey !
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Phil Caldwell
By Phil Caldwell
After witnessing what you're going through from the front row several years ago, as two very dear people went through the same thing, I find reading your insights to be both deep and comforting as I still try to understand it all (how it fits with my faith). Thank you so much for taking the time to reflect, because it's doing far more for some of us than you can ever imagine. I first heard you speak in 1974 at Malibu BC, and followed your career at UPC and onto later ventures to Georgia, silently reading and learning from you. The way you still find ways to teach is both amazing and an example to the rest of us still blessed with years left. Such a powerful reminder that God can use us no matter how fragile our bodies become, and hence there really is no excuse for not pushing the ball up the court. Thanks for that Steve! You're an amazing guy, even to those of us who you may not remember, and I'm just awestruck at how you keep finding ways to let God use you no matter what condition your physical health is in!
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jim watkins
By Jim Watkins
As Sarah well said, you continue to teach as you investigate an unknown country. You take others along with you. You have helped me sum up what our faith has to say to us as we journey. Don't be afraid. You are not alone. Prayer and good thoughts from SC.
Ann Woodward
By Ann Woodward
Sending prayers continually and much love!
Luan Vinson
By Luan Vinson
As one who is experiencing the limitations of age and physical ability, I can relate. I too have always been a list maker and a doer. I love the idea of keeping a list of possibilities and planning as time and energy permit. You bless us with your postings. Thank you for sharing your insights, your faith and your limited energy with us.

Praying daily for you and your family,
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