Journal

Journal entry by Sheryl Gehrls

This beautiful June evening seemed like a good time for me to put an updated message here. We've passed two months now since Dave went to be with the Lord, and in some ways it still seems like yesterday.....and in others it seems like time has gone into slow motion. Obviously the update on Dave is that he is now in perfect health and, like Billy Graham, more alive than ever before! We're so thankful he's in a place where he can breathe, talk, eat, taste, drink cold water, move without pain, and dance before the Lord -- assuming Jesus also gave him an improved sense of rhythm!

I wanted to update a few other things for those of you who may have followed our journey here, and for whom I may not have email addresses. First of all, please feel free to email me at any time at Sheryl@gehrls.net or you can text me at (402) 490-1831. Any updated contact information that you may send me will be an added blessing, as I've loved being back in touch with so many of you.

I'm in the midst of healing and recovering from cataract surgeries in both eyes. They do them separately a week apart, and I have another 4 weeks before we can update my prescription glasses. I have to say that I had no idea how bad my eyes really were, and that this process has been a small miracle in and of itself! I was a bit anxious but felt that it was time to begin taking care of personal things that had to go on the back burner this past year. My distance vision is now nearly 20/20 and I'll need only slight correction for mids and reading. And the colors are so bright and beautiful...it's like having new eyes! Right now, though, I've become one of those old ladies who wears her readers on top of her head half of the time!

Other great news is that my kids bought me a puppy for Mothers Day....and, yes, it was a surprise! He's a 12 week old Cavalier King Charles Spaniel and is fast becoming a wonderful companion....and I've never really been a dog person....before....  He keeps me very busy, and walks me around the block twice a day now, plus he gives me someone to talk to in a very quiet house. And most recently, can be found at my feet wherever I'm working.

Most days are good, and God is definitely giving grace to keep moving ahead. I will say it's pretty complicated to die, though. Every time I turn around I'm taking his name off something, or changing something. Most recently, the cable company won't stop billing Dave or change the contract to add me without charging me $40. I ask you, how do they expect to get paid? We're gradually getting resettled one step at a time.

Our plan at the moment is to do a private family burial here in Omaha on our 50th anniversary, June 28th. Somehow it seemed a fitting time to me, a completion of a circle, finishing a season of life. His heart was here in Omaha, so he would have wanted to stay here. Plus, the kids and grandkids will be here and I won't have to spend the day alone.

I've been very thankful for personal donors who have continued ministry support through this transition time for me. You may have been asking yourself what my future plans are in terms of ministry. I've had to take a bit of a hiatus in order to get everything in order financially, etc. I'm feeling like this month is the time for me to begin stepping back into a few things that had to be shelved for a time. There's a great deal of work to do here on the house, as many things didn't happen during the past year, and Dave was one of those people who saved everything "in case" he might need it. I think he was counting on the rapture, but planning to be here just "in case"....we could easily survive a few years if he was here to improvise with all his "stuff"! At any rate, I'm sorting, selling, and giving away....and probably creating a new section in the local landfill.

I feel like the Lord has told me that my heart needs to heal, but that time is short and there is still much to do and many who don't yet know Him. So, my instructions are to not get stuck here, as it isn't healthy to stay living in the past...Dave has gone on ahead of us. In light of that, I'm evaluating what future ministry might look like. I will continue to stay as a Christ For the City Int'l missionary for the time being. Donations towards my monthly support can be sent there, just contact me for information. I am taking a look at everything that Dave was involved with, as well as everything I was doing prior to his illness. I'm waiting on the Lord to see what things I should pick back up, and what things I need to let go. Obviously, I won't be able to do the work of two people, but there are a couple of new things Dave and I had talked about that I'm still praying on. I will, however, have more free time and more flexibility, so need to find out how the Lord wants me to best use that.

Additionally, I'm planning to finish my certification as a Gallup Strengths Coach this month. It would be wonderful if this would produce some additional income for me, but it seems that all the ministry leaders I'd like to help with this coaching also don't have a lot of money to spare. If the Lord speaks to you about being part of my monthly support in order to help me be able to provide this for other ministry leaders, please let me know.

Thank-you so much for all your many, many hours of prayer, and your encouraging notes and cards over the past year. We were blessed by every single one of them, and I will keep them to read from time to time when the days are tough! If you're interested in staying updated on where I go from here, please get in touch with me, as I probably won't continue to use this site for this purpose.

Moving ahead one step at a time,
Sheryl
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Journal entry by Sheryl Gehrls

Dear Family and Friends,
For those of you who may not have heard yet, Dave left us last night and was received into the arms of Jesus. His body was just too beat up to continue, and the Lord chose to spare him any more suffering. During the last week, we learned that he had pneumonia in his lungs, as well as new metastasized lesions from the cancer. The MRI showed that the tumor had continued to increase extremely rapidly regardless of every treatment we tried. It had completely surrounded the carotid artery, and we ran the risk of it puncturing the artery and causing an internal bleed. It had about a week ago penetrated between 4 cervical vertebrae in his spine and was putting significant pressure on the spinal cord. 

We spent last week in the cancer center hospital again, and every day was another hard hit. Friday, when he was released to go home, we took him in his Durango -- his blue baby with a winch on the front. It was
a great conversation starter with all kinds of guys! He insisted he was not going home in an ambulance, and although it took some head-butting, we finally were able to do it that way. He really wanted to be home, so we got him here. We had hospice support, and have been extremely thankful for them.

Once in his own room, he began to relax. All of the kids and grandkids had planned to be here for the weekend for a birthday party we had planned several months ago....in God's providential timing. He was able to acknowledge, hug, and bless each one of his grandchildren Friday evening and Saturday. Sometimes there were 15 of us hanging out in the bedroom with Dave. He was in the center of chaos for much of the weekend....just where he would have wanted to be. 

By Sunday morning he had turned a corner and become pretty much unresponsive to us. He was in a deep sleep Sunday and Monday and was very, very peaceful and relaxed. His friends and co-laborers in the city had opportunity to come by and visit and pray with him on Monday, and when evening was coming, he was welcomed into heaven...very peaceful and quiet on our side, but with great triumph and rejoicing on the other side.

It was a long and intense battle with many enemies, but it came to an end very quickly during this past week. We're so thankful for the thousands of prayer hours you all logged on our behalf, and for the many ways you have supported and cared for us during this time.

Dave's Celebration of Life service will be held Monday morning, April 1st, 11:00 a.m. at Good News Church in Omaha. If it can be arranged, we will livestream it for those of you who cannot be present with us. Visitation will be 9-11 just prior to the service.

For us,
Sheryl

Journal entry by Sheryl Gehrls

Dave says "pray together in unity for healing." He says he does not sense death and that the Great Physician hasn't yet spoken a final.word. I think this is called rallying the troops for battle.

We will take him home probably tomorrow with hospice support. We will care for him there, as it's his desire and ours to be home where we can control the spiritual environment. 

The tumor that has no spiritual right to be in his body, has grown quite large. It is wrapping around the carotid artery and beginning to compromise that. It has also invaded his spine and is putting pressure on the spinal column such that he is losing the strength in his arms and legs. There are also now new metastatic lesions on his lungs in addition to the pneumonia.  

His situation is extremely serious and the doctors say "days to weeks" as that cancer could at any time perforated the artery causing an internal bleed.

Now is the time for one final push in prayer. If God does not heal soon, we will begin to ask for a.peaceful transition and a joyous reunion in heaven for him.

Love to all,
Sheryl for us

Journal entry by Sheryl Gehrls

This is a very difficult post for me to write, so please bear with me? Dave was doing very well with walking and getting around, and we thought was on the way to improvement....until Saturday night. During the night, he got up to use the bathroom, and collapsed on the floor, his legs no longer able to support him. It took us nearly an hour to get him back into bed and settled again. All day Sunday he continued to get weaker with no apparent explanation. He was able to get up to walk to our bathroom and back twice with the help of a walker and my assistance, but was extremely unsteady on his feet.

This morning, our friend Annette (who is a home health nurse and has been stopping by to check in on Dave nearly every day) stopped by. She didn't think his color looked good, so she put an O2 meter on his finger. His oxygen saturation was at only 68, so she pressed me to call the ambulance squad right away. We brought him to the UNMC emergency room, where we spent the entire day....finally getting admitted to a real room in the Buffet Cancer Center at about midnight tonight.

Several things happened today, including finding that he has pneumonia in his lungs, for which they are treating him over the next several days. The really difficult news is that the tumor we were hoping would shrink has in fact continued to grow in spite of the treatment. We just can't seem to find anything that will kill it! We've tried a horrible surgery, chemo, radiation at maximum dosage, and now immunotherapy. It seems to feed on everything that's supposed to kill it. 

The situation is very, very serious....and life threatening. We need you all to pray now more than ever before. We need God to intervene with a miracle, as we're out of medical options. Immunotherapy will be discontinued. Neurosurgeon says that he doesn't think he can do anything that would help. ENT surgery is not possible. Additional chemo is not possible. Additional radiation could be done, but if the intense previous treatment didn't kill it, it's not likely that a lower dosage treatment would do anything more. We have no more options except God.

That's all I can write tonight except to ask you to continue to pray over the next couple of weeks that God would hear and answer our prayers.

Love to all,
Sheryl

Journal entry by Sheryl Gehrls

Quick update this morning....

Not a lot of new information, other than that we're thankful Dave continues to remain pretty stable at this point. Since removing all the heavy duty pain meds, he has continued to improve with mental clarity and coordination. He is dealing with more pain than before, so we're looking into options for alternative pain management. Still, it's better than having him so close to a vegetative state due to all the meds!

Nothing much has changed with the airway so far. Please keep praying that the internal swelling goes down so that his normal airway can open. If the swelling inside his throat would go down, there are options available to help with the vocal cord function. The Flexitouch pneumatic massage equipment seems to be helping some -- at least with the external swelling.

He still has the tracheostomy at this point, so we deal with frequent suctioning and airway management. It's very, very difficult for him to talk....and even more difficult for us to understand, especially for those who are used to hearing and talking with him. I serve as his interpreter during most conversations. He was particularly frustrated yesterday when we had water pouring into the family room through the sliding door. He would have jumped up and fixed it, but of course was not able to do it himself....and could barely tell our son-in-law where to find the tools to do it. So thankful for kids who were here all afternoon and evening ripping out carpet, dealing with water, and cleaning up the mess for me. Thankful, too, that Dave could communicate enough to tell us where to find the outdoor pump, and the shop vac, and the necessary equipment they needed.

His coordination has improved some since losing the meds, such that he's able to do the stairs with very minimal supervision. This was huge for me in terms of being able to care for him here at home. We're thankful we didn't jump the gun and have the stairlift installed, as that saved us nearly $6,000!! Much less costly to wait a bit and get rid of the narcotics first!! We're making him get up and walk loops around the main floor of the house several times a day now. I came out the other day and found him walking circles around the round coffee table...I think he was counting laps....although very SHORT laps!!

Yesterday afternoon he had an MRI done on his cervical spine in the hopes that the oncologist would be able to see if the new tumor is pressing towards the spine. His opinion is that it's the new tumor causing the shoulder pain and loss of the use of his left arm. The ENT surgeon believes that the new tumor may be pressing on the nerve, but that the muscles have atrophied since the first surgery, and they are causing much of the pain. So we're hoping to get some PT started with that sometime soon. We don't have those results yet, so still waiting.

Next Tuesday afternoon will be Dave's 4th Immunotherapy infusion. Two weeks later, they will run another complete of CT with contrast scans that should show in great detail specifically what is happening both with the new tumor in his neck and the spots on his lungs. Our prayer is that the growth has at least stopped, and that it actually has been reduced. Of course, our real preference would be that it's completely gone and that a miracle has taken place by then.

I wish we had more to share with you...it's always good and bad mixed together at this point. The situation could be overwhelming and hopeless, and very frightening if we allow ourselves to dwell there. We choose instead to trust that God has this all under control and isn't being taken by surprise with any of it. Please join us in prayer and fasting next Tuesday during the infusion? We saw the first positive turn arounds when we took him off the meds immediately following the first day of prayer and fasting.

Thanks so much for all your prayers and care for us in so many ways!

Sheryl (and Dave)

Journal entry by Sheryl Gehrls

Our third Immunotherapy infusion yesterday went well with no adverse reactions. In two weeks he will have another infusion, and two weeks after that another complete set of scans to see if there are any changes since January. So, we have four weeks to pray that this is taking hold, and that God steps in with a miracle.

We had some small bits of encouragement this week in our appointments with specialists. The trach got changed out for a cuffless one, which gives Dave a bit more room to breathe. The surgeon says that his tongue flap seems softer and moving more than it was 3 weeks ago when we saw him. There's still an ulcerated area that needs to heal. On April 1st we'll see the reconstructive surgeon again, and it's possible that he may clip Dave's tongue free and/or trim the new tongue to fit better. They don't want to create another area of healing right now that would distract the immune cells from their primary search and destroy mission with the cancer.

We've been using the Flexitouch pneumatic vest to treat his lymphedema in the neck area, and that seems to be helping. Swelling is somewhat reduced, and the area is softer than before. Thanks so much to those of you who contributed to help buy that for him!

The Oncologist was surprised to see that we already have him off most of the hard drugs for pain. The change has been unbelievable! He's talking and communicating, walking short distances without assistance, doing the stairs by himself (although we don't trust him yet to not do a nosedive!), and most telling of all -- running his cell phone, TV remotes, and electronic connectors!

We met with the Dental Oncologist, who checked all his teeth very thoroughly. He said they looked very clean, and didn't see any signs of impending infection....for which we were extremely thankful. A jaw infection right now would be one of the really bad things that could happen. He has guards that he can wear at night to keep from biting the ulcerated area on his tongue, so that's good.

Please continue to pray into the following:
1.) Pain management without the really hard pain drugs that he had before. Last night was a little rough. The pain is particularly located in his left neck, shoulder, and arm. No one is sure if this is being caused by the new tumor, or if it's nerve damage from surgery. The assumption is that the new tumor is pressing on the nerve that controls that shoulder. However, the muscles are quite atrophied and not doing a good job of supporting the arm. We're hoping to get some PT started next week to build some muscle support there.

2.) Airway swelling to go down, and vocal cords to assume their rightful function. The swelling seems to still be an after-effect of the radiation. If the swelling would go away, there are some options for working on the vocal cords. Plus, it would be a blessing to both of us if we could get rid of the Tracheostomy.

3.) Pray that balance, stability, and muscle strength would continue to increase. He's walking and moving much more, but still not outside the house very much.

4.) Pressure sores are becoming an issue. Please pray that a questionable area heals quickly and doesn't turn into a bad sore.

5.) Pray that our nights could be a bit more peaceful so that we can get good sleep. He's generally awake (which means I'm up with him) from 3:30 a.m. to about 5:30 a.m. That would be fine, except that I'm waking up for the day around 6:30 -- so am running on a low battery all day! He thinks I should just go to sleep during the day when he does, but forgets who does the meds, and tube feeds, and laundry, and dishes, and pays the bills, and makes the appointments! It's a little challenging to do that while sleeping!

Next week, he'll have an MRI of his upper cervical spine to see if they can tell what the tumor is doing in relationship to nerves and spine. Please pray that they can't even find it! ...the tumor, that is!

Overall, Dave is very much at peace, but would love for this to be over! He has places to go, people to see, things to do, and projects to complete! Please feel free to  come visit as long as you're not sick, but know that you'll have to carry much of the conversation. Just call ahead to make sure we're here and it's a good time to come. We're looking forward to the day when this is behind us, and new Kingdom ventures are in process!

Thanks so much for caring, praying, fasting, supporting, and loving us,
Sheryl and Dave

Journal entry by Sheryl Gehrls

I'm sitting here in the living room gazing out the windows at a beautiful, sunny, very cold day and thinking what a long year it's been. Much has happened in the past two weeks since I last updated you all here, so it's time to check in again.

The second Immunotherapy treatment went well with no unusual reactions. We were very thankful for that. Some specific reactions would mean that they need to discontinue treatment. His third infusion will happen this week on Tuesday at 9:45 a.m. Please pray that these continue to go well, and that the little warrior immune cells are empowered extra by the Holy Spirit to attack this cancer. We've been praying here that Dave's body is a temple of the Holy Spirit and this polluting, rebellious cancer has no place on holy ground! Please consider joining us again in another day of fasting and prayer on Tuesday? The intentional focus of the Body of Christ is critical at this point.

After 4 treatments, the oncologist will order another set of scans to tell us whether or not the treatment is having any impact on the cancer. We're investigating to see if there are any additional clinical studies that Dave would qualify for, should this treatment not work. I don't see this as a lack of faith at all, but feel that we need to do everything we can while we wait for a miracle to happen. God has gifted and prepared this medical team, but they do not have the last word on life and death. We've seen evidence that sometimes they are just operating according to their best guess!!

We've also seen much improvement over the past 2 weeks. We've been able to back Dave off from many medications that were demonstrating a lot of undesirable side effects. He's gained a lot of ground since the last day of prayer and fasting, but we have a long ways to go! He can now walk short distances with the walker, and sometimes without. He's sleeping and resting much better, and yesterday even did the stairs by himself....something that would not have happened 2 weeks ago.

The new hearing aids are working well, and we've finally figured out how to stream the tv directly into them for him. Many of you would know that Dave has always been the electronic gadget guy, while I barely know one end of a connector from the other! He's had all his "stuff" wired and connected....and I had no clue how to turn any of it on or off! It's been one of my personal huge challenges to get this figured out for him when he can barely talk! 

He welcomes short visits, but just be aware that you will need to carry the conversation, as he's unable to talk very much. Please also feel free to send us anything you feel the Lord might be saying as you pray for us. 

The Flexitouch equipment has arrived and is helping to reduce the swelling in Dave's neck. Who would think that microscopic lymph nodes could cause so much of an issue in the body when they are missing! Which brings me to what he has asked to be the primary prayer focus:

We need the swelling in his airway to go down, and the vocal cords to begin working again. He said to me a few minutes ago, "I need to find a way to talk. Please ask people to make this a primary prayer focus!" The other thing that is of huge importance is that he's gradually been losing the use of his left arm. This has something to do with the nerve, and may be caused by the new tumor pressing on it. We're praying that the immunotherapy causes the tumor to shrink and free up that nerve. The shoulder and arm have been very, very painful....so please pray that pain can be managed without all the heavy narcotic drugs.

Our kids have been amazing, taking turns leaving their families so that I don't need to be here alone overnight with him. They have helped in so many ways, and we are thankful. I also have been compiling a list of friends who are willing to sit with Dave for an hour or two so that I can run errands, or just take some personal time. As we get this figured out, it will also be a huge blessing to me.

Dave shared some things the other night that he has asked me to pass on to you. He had some spiritual encounters during the night earlier this week. He firmly believes that he will not die soon. He says "God has not promised some things, but He HAS promised some very unique things." He believes that there is a huge battle engaged, and that it's a critical time for the Body of Christ to engage. He said, "It's not that I'm special; it's that God is about to do something special." He has heard from the Lord that he's been given a period of grace so that we have time to engage. He doesn't know if it's days, weeks, months, or years, but he does know that it's important for us to pray and learn about spiritual warfare. Please join us in intensified prayer and warfare! He says it's easy for all of us, including him, to get sidetracked and lose our focus. He says "Make a plan for prayer and stick to it!" 

I've been amazed to watch the peace and grace he's had through all of this. He told a friend last week, "This has been frustrating because my whole life was talking!" Please pray God gives that back to him. I'd give nearly anything just to hear his voice again!

We've been very, very thankful for your amazing financial support during this time. So far, all of our many financial needs have continued to be met as you have responded to the prompting of the Lord. I'm minimally involved with outside ministry at the present time, but have been able to continue with a few things. I'm soon going to be able to finish my certification as a Strengths Coach, and hoping to get back to that. I DO know that the Lord has told me my assignment right now is to love and care for Dave....and honestly, it's pretty much a fulltime assignment.

Thank-you so much for your many words of encouragement, your love and support in so many ways....even what seems small. Last week I had some note cards to send out and was just about out of stamps. I was thinking, "How will I get to the Post Office to get stamps?" In the mail that day came a card from a friend who enclosed 20 stamps..."because we always need them!" God pays attention to the smallest details that concern us. I was nearly out of saline solution for Dave's trach care, and in the mail came a small package that (among other things) contained a number of small vials of saline solution. He knows....and He cares.

Please continue to pray, especially this Tuesday as we head into another infusion treatment. Tomorrow we get the throat scoped again and the trach tube changed out for a different kind. We'd love to see that swelling going down and those vocal cords responding.

Will try to keep you updated, much love,
Sheryl (and Dave)

Journal entry by Sheryl Gehrls

Time seems to disappear from me these days, and I realized that it's been over a week since I last updated the information here. While I want to be as positive as possible, some of the information I'll share here has the potential to be discouraging. I feel, however, that it's important for you all to understand how very serious this situation is. We are in a battle for Dave's life at the present time, and need your prayers and support more than ever before on this journey. We firmly believe that while our specialists are excellent and have good opinions...they are not God. They can only project what they believe to be true in the natural. We know the Creator and Healer, and are leaning hard into him.

We had an appointment with the Head and Neck surgeon last Monday to check on the condition of the new tracheostomy and make sure there was no infection. Dave had been struggling with a lot of mucus and running a low grade fever for several days, resulting in starting a course of antibiotics. The disconcerting thing about this is that all the research we've been reading lately seems to indicate that antibiotics work in direct contrast to Immunotherapy, resulting in diminished results. The scope looked like everything in the trachea was clear and in pretty good condition. Therefore, the doctors immediately discontinued the rest of the antibiotics, for which we were thankful.

Please understand, though, that this area of the trachea is completely separate from the airway surrounding the vocal cords. We still need for that swelling to go down, and the function of the vocal cords to return. The supposition is that the new mass in his neck is impacting the function of the left vocal cord at this point. We won't know if the immunotherapy is helping that for several weeks yet. However, it appears that the left one is not working at all and the right one is barely working. So, while he has an open airway....he still only has it because of the trach tube in his neck. It's not naturally functioning. 

There's still a lot of swelling on the left side of Dave's head and neck. The surgeon believes that most of this is fluid, and should be helped when we get the Flexitouch lymphatic massage equipment here and working. We did the trial run with the rep last week, and the equipment is now ordered and should be shipped on Monday. The demo went very well, and helped significantly with the swelling. We're so thankful for those of you who helped meet the need to pay for this for Dave. We were able to write the check and pay in full, resulting in a 15% discount! Thank-you!

The new hearing aids arrived and have been a blessing! Thanks to others of you, we also have the cash to pay for these! Dave is hearing much better than he has in a long time. We stopped by last week and had 3 new programs added to them, and as he feels better, he will have more options to enhance hearing in a variety of situations. These new ones are Bluetooth compatible, and can stream the TV or his cell phone directly into the hearing aids! The technology is amazing. Again, thank-you!

We met with the pain management doctor last Thursday morning and were very impressed with her. She was exactly on the same page as the kids and I regarding all his medications. We've been gradually taking him off one after the other, with the goal being to use as few meds as possible and yet manage his pain levels. The new regimen seems to be working, and today was a really good day. His head seems much clearer, and tonight he was talking more than he has for the past couple of weeks. We've gone from about 16 different medications down to about 4 primary ones, so we're encouraged with that.

This Tuesday coming up is another critical day for us. Dave will have his second Immunotherapy infusion. I believe I explained a bit of this in my last journal post. So far he's had no bad side effects from the first treatment. Please pray that those immune cells are empowered by the Holy Spirit to chase furiously after the cancer cells and completely destroy them! This treatment was just approved for head and neck cancer last August, so we're on the cutting edge. Our daughter has been doing hours and hours of research and has learned some amazing things in the field of cancer treatment. We will be checking into clinical trials at MD Anderson Cancer Center in Houston to see if there's anything more that Dave would qualify to be a part of. We'll keep you posted on that. Meanwhile, he will have a total of 4 treatments two weeks apart. After 8 weeks, they will do another set of scans to see if the tumor is being impacted at all by the treatment Please pray that the answer is yes!! If so, he will continue the infusions as long as there's progress. The doctor's prognosis is less than a year even with treatment, so we really need a miracle. 

Dave has been very, very weak, and walking has become impossible without assistance. We've been working hard to simplify the house, and get equipment that will make it possible for us to care for him here at home. He has lost strength and balance, and while he can still walk with a walker, someone needs to be right beside him to keep him from falling. We've had a couple of scares in that regard, such that I'm at the point where I'm not secure with being here overnight with him alone.....just in case we had a real emergency. Thankfully, we have kids, grandkids, siblings, and cousins who are stepping up and helping as they can. I have a consultant coming Monday morning to see what we might be able to do regarding a chairlift in our home. We have a split entry, which means we need to do 14 steps with Dave every time we need to go to the ground level for an appointment, etc. If we decide to go this route we'll be looking at another $5,000 - $6,000 for the installation. It seems to me that it would be money better spent in ministry if God would just heal him quickly!

Our kids and grandkids have been here this weekend, and that really seemed to perk him up! He's been better today than he has in the past two weeks....even listening to TV and trying to talk with us. He loves the kids, and they have blessed him this weekend. I had someone in today to walk through the house and try to give me an idea what we might be able to list it for should we need to sell. After many years in the ministry, we have very few resources, so the future could be a bit challenging. My intent would be to continue in ministry regardless of the immediate outcome, so deeply appreciate your continued financial support and prayers for wisdom during this very difficult time for us. Our deepest heart desire is that Dave would be restored for another 15 years (or more) like King Hezekiah was! He has always said he wanted more than anything to be a part of what God will be doing in these last days! 

A number of you have mentioned fasting to me over the past couple of weeks. In light of that, we would like to ask that you consider fasting next Tuesday when he has his second Immunotherapy Infusion treatment. You may feel free to fast in whatever way the Lord leads you, but the invitation is to join us in this spiritual discipline that helps us to focus for a period of time on worshipping and hearing God, and bringing our petition before him as One Body. Here's a list of the things you can specifically pray for:

1.) The new cancerous mass to be destroyed by the body's immune cells empowered to be warriors against it! That it will be restricted and unable to continue growing.
2.) That the nerves in his left arm will be restored. He's been gradually losing the use of that arm, and has been in a great deal of pain through the arm and shoulder.
3.) That the new med regimen will be effective, and that his mind would begin to clear and work properly again.
4.) That the airway swelling would clear, the vocal cords begin to respond, and swallow ability would return.
5.) That remaining ulcerated areas in his mouth would heal immediately.
6.) That swelling in his neck and face (resulting from lymphedema) would recede and that range of motion would return in his neck.
7.) That he would begin to regain weight, have increased energy and movement, and that strength would return to his body....especially his legs. That he would regain balance and be able to walk without falling.
8.) That there would be financial supply for every need that we're facing.
9.) That things in the house would not break down....plumbing, appliances, vehicles, furnaces, etc.
10.) That we would be able to sleep at night, and that I would have strength and wisdom from the Lord for many, many decisions ahead of me.
11.) That God would empower me as a Caregiver to be able to give Dave the most loving excellent care possible, and that my body and strength would hold up as we wait for a miracle.
12.) That we would be able to find a way to manage the stairs in our house.

I have one more request that I'd like you all to pray about. I'm at a place where I need to begin thinking about having some additional help from people who could stay with Dave for a couple hours at a time, or especially who would be willing to spend the night on occasion in our guestroom so that I'm not here alone with him all the time. These people will need to be comfortable with helping him from the couch or bed to the restroom, and be willing to learn (or be familiar with) suctioning equipment. Ideally, nurses or former nurses would be excellent.....or several guys who would be willing to spend some time with him so that I could get some personal errands done from time to time. I'm starting to compile a list of people I could call, so if you would be willing to help us out in that way, please let me know and we can talk about it. I'm kind of picky about who takes care of him right now, so we're not ready for hospice nurses....unless you're already a friend of ours. Our networks are extensive, so we're praying that God brings just the right people to help us during this time of need.

We have hope in our hearts that God will perform a miracle for His glory. He certainly knows that Dave would tell of it far and wide! Look how many people had to see the pics of his near deadly heart artery! This would indeed be an amazing story to tell. He has so much that we've only heard small pieces of....I think there's a book in there somewhere.

So, thank-you to so many of you who have been sacrificially helping to meet our financial needs....the checks and Amazon gift cards have been so helpful! So far, we've been able to meet all the expenses. Now, don't stop praying! I can't emphasize enough how serious this situation is. If we don't win this battle, we will lose Dave here in this life....although he most certainly won't be exactly lost! It's been a long, long journey, and an exceedingly difficult one. But we have been blessed and carried by hundreds of you who have come alongside in so many ways. (I have to say that I got more roses and candy from guys acting on behalf of Dave this year than any Valentine's Day in the past 50 years!!!  Thanks to you all!)

Join us in Fasting on Tuesdays, praying for complete healing and restoration of damaged body parts, and ask the Lord if you could help me care for him.

Much love to you all!
Sheryl (for us)

Journal entry by Sheryl Gehrls

Several have asked for mailing address. 5018 N. 115th ST, Omaha, NE 68164

Dave is doing well but very very weak. We need a very big miracle and are praying not only for healing but for total restoration of the damage done to his body by surgery and treatment. 

Journal entry by Sheryl Gehrls

Never in our wildest imaginations did we ever think we'd be dealing with cancer! Doesn't that only happen to "other" people? Yet, here we find ourselves in the midst of meeting new specialists, learning a new vocabulary, and becoming familiar with new hospitals and cancer centers. Thank-you for joining us on our journey, for your prayers, and the many ways you continue to care for and encourage us. 

Over the years, we've been familiar with Caring Bridge as friends have walked through their own life crises. It's been easy to track with them, and to see ways in which we can help them. For a number of reasons, we've chosen to use a Caring Bridge site as a way to communicate with friends and family. It's a little less public than Facebook, yet allows you to know what we're facing and how you can help, without our having to respond individually to literally hundreds of phone calls and emails. Again, thank-you for your love and care!

For those of you who may not know where we're walking, please allow us to update you with a brief history. Last summer, Dave had a chancre sore in his mouth that simply wouldn't heal. After being bounced back and forth for several months between doctors and dentists, he finally contacted an ENT surgeon who had done a couple of surgeries for him in the past. Dr. Dobleman immediately did a surgical procedure to remove what he thought was an ulcer on the bottom side of Dave's tongue. As it turned out, the biopsy showed positive for squamous cell cancer. A week later he underwent another surgery to remove the entire area with margins. We thought we'd be in the clear, but alas! Once again the samples were positive. So, a third surgery was performed just before Christmas 2017 to remove just a little more margin....until we could get a clear sample.

In January 2018, we got the good news that labs were clear! The medical team did not recommend either radiation or chemo at that time, as everything looked good. We breathed a sigh of relief and moved on with life....only stopping for those monthly follow-up appointments.

Soon it was May, and time to schedule the 6 month PET scan to make sure everything was still clear. Back in December, there was one lymph node that lit up on the scan. A needle biopsy was performed, and everything came back negative. By the time we got to May, that node wasn't feeling quite right to Dave, and it had changed into a small lump on the left side of his neck. Additionally, a small, unhealed area had once again developed on his tongue. We were hoping that this was all due to some ongoing dental issues, but checked in with the ENT surgeon again and pushed for the PET scan nearly a month early. 

So, once again we went through the pre-op clearing process, and another surgery to remove the affected lymph node and to biopsy another small section of Dave's tongue was performed on July 5th. Unfortunately, those lab results were not so good. The biopsy on the tongue came back positive for cancer again in the same area as last winter. The node could not be removed, as it was 3X the normal size, and was growing into the muscle in his neck. That biopsy also came back positive for cancer. Our ENT surgeon immediately referred us to another cancer surgeon at the University Medical Center in Omaha.

On the advice of our surgeon, we decided to go ahead with a week away up on the Gunflint Trail in northern Minnesota, very close to the Canadian border, and in the Boundary Waters Canoe Area. Our kids loaned us their RV for the week, and we stayed on a beautiful private lake/campground owned by some friends we've known for nearly 35 years. We had no cell service, and very limited internet access for the entire time we were there. It was a prescription for disconnecting, getting quiet, reconnecting with each other, and processing information.

As anyone who has faced a serious health issue knows, emotions can be all over the place. It takes a few days to process what could be ahead, and a few more to stabilize faith. What one thinks they know in their head simply takes a little time to work its way down to the heart...or maybe it's that the heart needs time to convince the head! What we know is that we were extremely thankful to have those few days of quiet and solitude to let things settle.

Upon returning to Omaha, we began a round of appointments with surgeons, oncology, radiology, speech rehab, dental, cardiology, pre-op clearances, and on and on. The bottom line is that there appears to be a tumor growing inside his tongue that will need to be removed. Depending upon what they find during surgery, they may or may not do some reconstruction at the same time. During that same procedure, they will remove lymph nodes on both the right and left sides of his neck, called a bilateral dissection. Surgery is scheduled for August 30th at the University Medical Center/Buffet Cancer Center in Omaha. Following about a month of recovery, he will begin 6 weeks of radiation therapy. Hopefully, we'll be in the clear by Thanksgiving, and will have MUCH to be thankful for!

Please feel free to leave comments here, to call, or to email, as we'd love to hear from you. We'll try to keep this updated fairly frequently so that our many friends and ministry partners know more specifically how to pray for us.

Thanks for walking with us! More to come....
Dave’s Story

Site created on July 27, 2018

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