Oct 29, 2017 Latest post:
Sep 17, 2020
To fully understand my story you will need to know some very important details upfront. First of all, this is NOT primarily about what I have in terms of an illness. It IS about WHO has me. I know how my story ultimately ends. I have a Heavenly Father who waits for me and I am so grateful for His Son, Jesus Christ, who gave His life to give me life. So take heart, in this I am more than a conqueror, I am a Beloved Child of God and He is good. You are invited to journey with me as I wait and watch for God to be glorified and for my family and friends and I to be amazed as He works.
Now, the less important details...I have recently been diagnosed with Stage 4 Mantle Cell Lymphoma. I know I am old as I keep telling all of my students but I am not nearly as old as the typical person who is diagnosed with MCL. Usually males in their later 60s are the ones dealing with this disease. MCL is also a very rare form of non-Hodgkin Lymphoma. This is not a curable cancer. Leave it to me to have something rare and unique. It makes for better story telling.
After a consultations with the University of Michigan Cancer Center and my Cancer and Hematology doctor, I have chosen to be treated with Chemotherapy and then go to U of M for a stem cell transplant. If you like, you may Google "Nordic Protocol R-CHOP with alternating High Dose Cytarabine." The treatment plan is for six rounds ( 21 day cycles) of the R-CHOP and Cytarabine. The prayer is that this will cause a remission. Then my own stem cells would be harvested and treated. After six weeks of isolation I would be released from U of M hospital and I can begin a year of avoiding all germs and rebuilding my immune system. I would also be on 3 years of maintenance chemotherapy every 2 months.
I have a very dearly beloved mother, Marie Doornbos. It will be her 85th birthday on October 29. She is amazing and precious and works too hard taking care of me. She has already been the care taker for my dad. He died from Glioblastoma brain cancer in 1980 at the age of 49. She lovingly helped take care of my older sister from the beginning of her hospitalization for a very rare autoimmune disorder until she was called home in August of 2011. Whenever you pray for me, please pray for God's protection and care for my Spiritual Giant, my dear mom. I am so blessed.
I have one big brother twin, Robert. He is the twin of my heart, I was born not quite a year after he was. You can ponder how that works. We absolutely claim to be twins and are each others biggest fans. He is the most intelligent, sensitive, caring, my brother can do anything, kind of guy. He is an architect who thinks like an engineer and he can fix anything including go karts and little sisters. He has a zero-turn mower and allowed me the privilege of mowing his lawn this past summer. He is generous and funny and kind. I am in this fight for him because we have many more shenanigans we need to be a part of together. Please pray for peace for my Big Brother, Twin. I am so blessed.
Robert's wife, Mary, is as I have told her for years, the 2nd Mary Doornbos. She is not just a sister-in -law but she is my dear friend. Mary is a Professor of Nursing at Calvin College. She has spent countless hours helping research MCL and accompany me to appointments. Her own plate is full and she gives so freely of her love, talents and time. I am so blessed.
I have 3 nieces and 2 nephews and 8 "greats" and wonderful "In-law spouses" of my nieces and nephews. They have offered their love, their prayers, their support and have gifted me with Noise-Canceling headphones for the journey ahead. Yes, they are wonderful. I am so blessed.
I also have "my people" who are dearly beloved friends who are more like adopted family. They have listened, held me when I cried, mowed my lawn, prayed, offered to set up this page, and have shared with me their lives, their love and their faith. They know who they are, and I pray they know how much they mean to me. I am so blessed.
I have had the joy of teaching at Calvin Christian High School for the past 100 years or so. I love my student, present and past. You have listened to my stories and allowed me to learn with you about our Great God. To the present staff and all of those I have ever taught with, thank you for being the Face of Christ to me all of these years. We have laughed (Think Teacher Concerts) we have shared, we have struggled at times. We have brought each others concerns and celebrations before the throne of God. I miss each one of you and pray for you as I know you pray for me.
Please remember to build into your lives a day set apart to grow your relationship with God. It is a gift from God and it will sustain you but the foundation for it must be built on solid practices and time. At this point in my life I have assurance that NOTHING will separate me from the love of God. That is better than any chemo or transplant.
To each person who has sent a card, a text message and email or whatever, I am deeply humbled by your love and care and offers. Who am I that I have received so much and that you are taking your time to encourage me. I read and re-read what you have written. I am so blessed.
There are needs that I will have to learn to ask for help with accomplishing. I may not be able to thank you in person or individually as time goes on. Please know of my sincere and heart felt thanks for each and every act of kindness and help. Wow, Wow, Wow, I am so blessed.
As this coming week unfolds we are waiting for the insurance company to approve a PET Scan that has been turned down 3 times already. I cannot proceed with chemo or the transplant without it. On Thursday of this week I am scheduled to have a chemo port put in. I would like to name it and am open to suggestions. My dad taught our family the Latin phrase "Deo Volente" which means "God willing." He always finished his plans by saying "D.V." and in doing so modeled for me the trust he had that our lives are not our own. As we come upon the 500th year of the Protestant Reformation, I am so grateful to have been taught the truth of Heidelberg Catechism Question and Answer # 1 "What is your only comfort in life and in death?" And my voice echoes with the voices who have also claimed, "I am not my own, but belong- body and soul, in life and in death- to my faithful LORD and Savior Jesus Christ. He has fully paid for my sins with His precious blood and has set me free from the tyranny of the devil. He also watches over me in such a way that not a hair can fall from my head with the will of my Father in heaven; in fact, all things must work together for my salvation. Because I belong to Him, Christ, by His Holy Spirit, assures me of eternal life and make me wholeheartedly willing and ready from now on to live for Him."
At the last chapel I attended at school, the last song we sang that day contained these words, "You unravel me with a melody, You surround me with a song Of deliverance from my enemies Till all my fears are gone. I'm no longer a slave to fear, I am a Child of God. I'm no longer a slave to fear, I am a Child of God. My prayer is that each person who reads this also can claim that powerful promise and know what it means to be a Child of God.