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The gift that keeps on giving…

Hi everyone,

Obviously, it has been a while since we have blogged! It seems like another lifetime when I read the posts from the past four years. Life is busy, exhausting, and full of wonderful moments right now. Clay started working at Protective Life Insurance about nine months ago, and it has been a great fit for him. I am working two days a week now, which gives me three days home with our son. He will turn two years old on Monday. He is full of energy, loves balls, books, and learning new words, and will still let us rock him to sleep. We are blessed in so many ways.

Clay has been doing really well in terms of his health, and we hoped that we were “done” with the cancer cloud that has been hanging over us for so long. His scans still are clear, and we’re so thankful for that. About six months ago, he developed some hip pain and stiffness. He finally went to see an orthopedic (sports medicine) doctor about a month ago, and was diagnosed with a labral (cartilage) tear and avascular necrosis, which is worse in his left hip. Avascular necrosis is basically when some cells die in the bone of the hip joint. That’s where the cancer comes in; the doctor said that it is probably the result of the steroids and chemo that Clay took for two months. Lots of people with AVN end up with total hip replacements, and that might eventually be the plan for Clay. For now, an orthopedic surgeon (Dr. Emblom at St. Vincent’s) is going to repair the labral tear and do a core decompression of Clay’s hip. That means that he will drill into the bone and place two metal rods to help stabilize his hip. Hopefully that will buy us some time, or possible even correct the problem. The surgery is scheduled for September 28, and he will spend one night in the hospital. Thankfully, he can work from home for a week or so, until he is able to go back to work. 

Over the past couple of weeks, I have half-jokingly called testicular cancer “the gift that keeps on giving”. Sometimes we have to laugh about it, because I think that there is a big part of us that would love to be “done”. But the truth is, we will probably never be done with testicular cancer. It has impacted us in ways that will effect us for the rest of our lives. Some of the effects have been eye-opening and glorious, and some have been really terrible. As I was reflecting on this a couple of weeks ago, God brought to mind a passage in Romans 8. ” For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory that is to be revealed to us. For the creation waits with eager longing for the revealing of the sons of God. For the creation was subjected to futility, not willingly, but because of him who subjected it, in hope that the creation itself will be set free from its bondage to corruption and obtain the freedom of the glory of the children of God.” (Romans 8:18-21) God reminded me gently that nothing on this earth is realized in the way that it (we) will be realized when Jesus comes back and the new heavens and new earth are formed. The birds on earth aren’t birds in the same way that they will be birds on that day; they will be fully what they were created to be. Music will be more beautiful, creation will be more harmonious, and we will be given perfect bodies. God also revealed to me that because of the fall, we are all wounded. Whether it is an emotional wound, a physical wound, or a spiritual wound, we are all struggling in some way. This earth is not our home.

These are the things that have been on my heart. We would certainly appreciate your prayers, yet again, for Clay’s surgery. But truly, we have so much to be thankful for; first and foremost, that Clay is still here! I don’t want to take that for granted. We are provided for and have a wonderful son, church, and people in our lives who we love so much. We have so many blessings, and we are so grateful that God has not left us or forsaken us during the past four years. We praise Him for his great kindness.

Love to all,

Lauren (and Clay)

 

 

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Bittersweet news

Dear loved ones,

I don’t consider myself to be a writer, but today I just can’t seem to contain the words; they need to flow out of me. I pray that God would take our words and our experiences, meager as they are, and use them for His purposes.

Almost exactly three years ago, my husband was diagnosed with testicular cancer. It was one of the blackest days of my life. Our God and our community were so faithful to uphold us as Clay went through chemo, two surgeries, confusion, fear, and the loss of some of our dreams. It was a place of huge growth for us, but still a place that we were eager to leave behind.

This week Clay had his follow up CT scan, and today we went to his appointment with Dr. Yeilding. Aside from a few lingering side effects from the surgery (mild lightheadedness/dizziness), Clay has been doing great. Dr. Yeilding said that the scan showed no evidence of metastatic disease. I said, “So would you say he’s cancer free?” Dr. Yeilding replied, “I would say that he’s not only cancer free, but cured.” We have waited so long to hear that, but as much as we thank our gracious Father, we were reminded today that medicine is not where our hope lies. A member of our church family went home to heaven last night after years of battling cancer. And as Dr. Yeilding rejoiced with us about the news of Clay’s scan, he mentioned that another patient of his received a really poor prognosis. Although we don’t know this patient personally, or even know his name, he was also diagnosed with testicular cancer and Dr. Foster operated on him. He underwent the same procedure, at the same time, as Clay did; but his cancer was a different cell type and surgery and treatment aren’t working. It was really humbling to hear that another young man with Clay’s diagnosis probably would not survive.

I’ve been thinking a lot today about the fact that our life here on earth is really only “the title page” as C.S. Lewis said. It is amazing to think that our church member was here yesterday, suffering, and is now whole, and in perfect communion with the One she was created for. I don’t understand why my sweet husband was spared, and so many others aren’t. I don’t understand God’s plan so much of the time, but I rejoice in the fact that He has conquered death, through His son’s sacrifice.

“He will swallow up death forever, and the Lord GOD will wipe away tears from all faces, and the reproach of his people He will take away from all the earth, for the Lord has spoken.” Isaiah 25:8

Amen and amen! All praise to our Savior King.

Your prayers have sustained us over the past three years. We thank God for you all, and love you-

Lauren

Healing is hard work

It’s been three weeks since I had surgery in Indiana and I wanted to post an update on how things are going.

I am feeling much better and I have been out of hospital #2 for almost two weeks now. Things are working like they should for the most part. I got my staples out a week ago and I don’t miss them at all. It turns out that having an incision from below your sternum to below your belly button requires a large number of staples to keep it closed. My oncologist is very happy with the results of the surgery and believes that I am cancer free. I am a little hesitant to go there with him, but I have another appointment in April and will have a CT scan shortly after. I think that if the April scan comes back clean, then I’ll believe it. It really is hard to walk by faith and not by sight. (see 2 Cor 5:6-7)

My energy level is slowly returning to were it was before surgery. I still get pretty tired in the afternoons. I am very thankful for my employer. They have been very understanding through this whole process and have been great about working with me.

It turns out that healing from major abdominal surgery is hard work. I don’t think that my expectations were realistically set for how long it would take to get back to my pre-surgery baseline.

I do want to take a minute and thank everyone who was with me through the past few weeks. I especially want to thank my wife, Lauren, for walking with me every step. I also want to thank Lauren’s dad and sister and my mom and aunt for making the trip to Indy with us. I know it was a comfort for both of us to have family there. I also want to thank all the people who partnered with us in prayer. God used your prayers to sustain us and keep us encouraged when our faith was weak. I have been overwhelmed by the number of people who have told us that they prayed and are still praying. We truly appreciate you.

Grace & Peace,

Clay

“Wait for the LORD; be strong and take heart and wait for the LORD.” Psalm 27:14

Hi everyone,

I am pretty tired tonight, but I did want to write a brief update. Everyone has been so kind about checking with us and praying, so I am doing my best to keep you informed.

I hope everyone had a good Valentine’s Day; I was thankful to be able to see my hubby, although the setting wouldn’t have been my choice! Dr. Yeilding came to see Clay this morning and made some changes to his care plan. He put Clay on a medicine called Reglan, which both helps to control nausea and hopefully will stimulate his bowels also. He is getting it every six hours via IV. He is also getting fluids and electrolytes, since he hasn’t really eaten anything substantial in a week. Dr. Yeilding also started him on clear liquids today. He was positive and encouraging about the ileus resolving fairly quickly, so that was uplifting for us.

Clay drank some clear liquids and ate a few bites of broth, popsicle and jello today. His appetite still isn’t good, but at least he is able to tolerate a little bit of food without vomiting! He is still pretty uncomfortable, though. He also walked more today, and one positive is that his pain level and mobility are much improved since the surgery. He doesn’t have much endurance, though, and gets tired easily.

I used this verse in Psalms as the title of this post because I need to hang on to this promise today. Clay and I were both discouraged today, so ready for him to feel better and to come home. He was telling me that he doesn’t understand God’s plan right now, and I am struggling with that as well. Like the psalmist, we are struggling and wrestling with God’s purposes, but by God’s grace He continues to point us back to the truth that He is sovereign and good. I HATE this cancer more than ever, but I have to hold on to the promise that God is love, and He is good. He is the ultimate lover of our souls. Now that is a reason to celebrate Valentine’s Day!

Love,

Lauren

Day 3 and outta there!

Hi everyone,

Clay was just discharged from the hospital and we are back at the hotel. He was able to take a shower for the first time, and I think he feels more human now! He is still pretty sore and it will definitely take a while for him to build up his endurance, but he has made a lot of progress. Once again, we can’t tell you what your prayers and encouragement have meant to us!

Clay was able to walk some more this morning. He is able to get around with less discomfort, although it will be a while before he can walk without any discomfort. He has a really long incision from his chest to his belly button, with a lot of staples. He also still has a drain in his abdomen, which he will have to travel home with; the doctor says we can remove it ourselves when the output is less (meaning the blood and fluid it is draining from his abdomen). He still doesn’t have much of an appetite and will have to stick to bland foods for a while. He was having some problems with the pain medication, so the nurses told him that he could just alternate Tylenol and ibuprofen, as well as nausea medicine when needed. He will have the staples removed in two weeks, and of course he has restrictions about lifting and driving for a while.

We will leave Indiana tomorrow morning and start the drive home, travelling with Clay’s mom; not sure how far we will get! We will just have to see how Clay is feeling and decide if we need to stop. I’m so ready to get home, and I know we are both missing our son. Missing all of you too!

I am so thankful for the excellent care that Clay has received here, and in Birmingham. Our gracious Father has definitely watched over him during this surgery and recovery. Please pray for the trip home, that his discomfort would be minimized as much as possible and we wouldn’t have any complications.

Love,

Clay and Lauren

Day 2

So far today has been much better than yesterday.  The doctor can by early this morning and said it was time for the Foley catheter to come out.  He also removed the IV pain pump and placed me on oral pain killers.  The hardest adjustment today was getting out of the bed to walk around.  I am learning how to get out of the bed with the least amount of discomfort.  I was able to get up a total of three times:  2 times to the bathroom in my room and once a short walk down the hallway.

I am so appreciative of all the support I have received through this blog and other forms of communication.  I know your prayers are one of the reasons I am doing as well as I am.

The doctor just came by and said everything is going well.  He inquired if I would be interested in being released tomorrow if tonight continues to go as well as today.  He said he would be by early in the morning to talk more about it.

Much love,

Clay and Lauren

Day 1 and great news!

Hi everyone,

Before I start this post, Dr. Einhorn just came in to say that Clay’s pathology report came back, and the tumor was pure teratoma. That is great news, because he expects that the surgery will be a 100% cure, and that Clay will not need any more treatment! We are praising God that He led us to this team of doctors and that the surgery was curative! God has been faithful to us throughout this whole process.

Clay has had a good day, relatively speaking- praise God for that! The doctors came around this morning and recommended that he sit up some and have clear liquids. He sat up twice in the chair today and did pretty well moving around, although it is painful to move. He was a little nauseated this morning, but he was able to drink lunch and keep it down. He still needs medicine for nausea and pain medicine fairly frequently, especially since his pain block has worn off now. His pain has been manageable, though.

We are so thankful that he was able to come to IN for the surgery; the doctors and nurses are taking great care of him! The nurse just removed the central line in his neck, so these are all good signs. 🙂 The surgeon said that today will probably be his worst day, in terms of pain.

Clay wants me to thank you all again for your prayers and encouragement to us. We appreciate all the support from home and hope to be back soon!

Love,

Clay and Lauren