Archive for April 2013

Oncology Doctor

April 8, 2013

Bonnie & Louis Sharing a Chocolate MaltI apologize for making two updates in the same day. (However, I did not make any report yesterday; maybe that will make two updates today all right.) Unexpectedly, our oncology doctor came to the room today; this was the first time we have met. Yesterday, brother Chris Bates, who is a cancer survivor from similar cancer, recommended Dr. Tammy Young. All we did was indicate to our surgeon Dr. Edward Copeland of our desire to stay with doctors associated with Baptist Health Systems (the hospital where we are now) and specifically mentioned Dr. Young.

Dr. Young came to us with a congenial personality, caringly and armed with final information from the pathology report. Bonnie has stage 3 pancreatic cancer. The cancer has escaped the pancreas into Bonnie’s nerves at the pancreas and into Bonnie’s lymph nodes. Surgery was extensive and removed discernible cancer. However, surgery alone will not result in a cure; this type of cancer characteristically returns. Therefore, about six weeks from now, Bonnie will been chemotherapy for six months. One day a week for three weeks, she will go to Jackson, MS for an infusion intravenously. The fourth week will be a respite from chemo. This cycle will continue throughout the treatment.

One Day at a Time

April 8, 2013

Sunday was an eventful day, according to Bonnie. Rebecca and I left for an anticipated three hours for Bible class, worship and lunch; we worshipped with the Siwell Rd. Church of Christ in Jackson, MS. We were warmed with encouragement for Bonnie during this medical trial. As it turned out, we were gone for five hours!

While we were gone, Bonnie sat in a chair for an hour – not big deal you might think, but tell that to her. She had her hospital sponge bath, and her dressings were changed. One small victory was when the tube through her nasal passage to her stomach was taken out. Bonnie still has numerous tubes and devices attached to her, and every time one more goes away, it is another significant threshold before she can be homeward bound. Last but not least, while Rebecca and I were away, Bonnie had installed a picline to receive anything intravenously and from which to draw blood; her veins never cooperate, and her arms are bruised from turning her into a pincushion. So, the picline is a good thing; it goes from just below her shoulder in her right arm into her chest.

Monday morning Bonnie sat in a chair for two hours. Later in the morning, a physical therapist took her for a walk down the hallway and back. I have been advised (threatened) not to take pictures. I think she is beautiful no matter how many tubes and machines she has collected, but naturally, she doesn’t feel that way. The worst part of the ordeal that we take for granted (i.e., sitting or walking) is to get back into bed. Her incisions, and she has several, no longer seep blood, and she has the shiniest staples!

Later today, Bonnie wants to get out of bed and sit so she can rest her back before lying on her back for the night. Her back pain tries to compete with the pain resulting from surgery. While out of the bed, her bed will be traded in for another one because the current bed is missing a bolt in a part of the bed that flexes.

We have not seen the oncologist yet, but the surgeon has discussed Bonnie’s case with the oncologist. The pathology report indicates that the cancer has escaped the pancreas and is in the nerves of the pancreas. We do not know the details yet, but it is beginning to look like Bonnie will take chemo pills and possibly radiation as well; we will speak to that more after consultation with the appropriate medical professionals.

Rebecca will return to the hospital after work on Friday. Our son Ray also called today. Our youngest son Robert called Rebecca on Thursday. We continue to receive calls, emails, texts and visits. The emails come from across the planet; Bonnie is sorely missed and loved by brethren in Asia and South America as well as Stateside. The first two cards through the mail arrived today, also.

Bonnie is too weak to take phone calls personally, and though we like visitors to come, that can be very tiring on her, too. There is a constant flurry of activity with about 10 people attending to Bonnie at one time or another and in one way or another per shift. The facilities are excellent, and the care is proficient, gentle and friendly. Add to that the wonderful encouragement and prayers by fellow Christians the world over, and it all helps us to make the best of a difficult time. Bonnie’s body is battered, and her morale is conflicted (and I, too, am on this emotional rollercoaster), but we have greater rather than less confidence and trust in our God as ever before. We simply request of God a little time yet to serve Jesus Christ; we do not believe that we are done yet, and we are the most able to serve in a meaningful way than ever before in our lives. In any case, though, may the will of God be done!

Bonnie’s Update (Saturday, April 6)

April 6, 2013

Baptist Medical CenterAbout 2 p.m. CST, Bonnie was moved from SICU to a regular room (#5736) at Baptist Health Systems, 1224 North State St., Jackson, MS 39202. Bonnie is not up to receiving personally phone calls, emails or texts just yet. However, you may continue to contact me especially by text (662-739-3035) or email at rushmore@gospelgazette.com. You can still contact Bonnie by text (662-283-9946) or email at bonnie@gospelgazette.com, though she may not respond until she begins to feel some improved.

A few moments ago, Bonnie started receiving “food” (aside from IV’s) through a feeding tube. If her stomach doesn’t object by resulting in nausea, then tomorrow she can begin taking some clear liquids. Just now, she began a breathing treatment with medicine in it. Shortly, Bonnie will resume some breathing exercises.

My dear wife still experiences a high level of pain and is on a morphine pump. Though awake more, she is exhausted and drifts off to sleep and back. She did not awake fully from the anesthesia during surgery on Thursday until 3 p.m. on Friday. Overall, Bonnie is progressing well for what she has been through, to the extent that she is responding beyond doctor’s expectations. Still, we anticipate about 10 days of hospital stay, before returning to Winona, MS for further recovery from surgery. We will have to excuse her from warehouse duty for some time to come in the World Evangelism Building even when she feels well enough to grace us with her presence at the office.

When I resume my weekend appointments, Bonnie will not be able to travel with me. Other dates and activities weeks or even months ahead of us will be reassessed closer to time for them. In the weeks ahead, we with doctors will agree upon a form of oncological treatment.

We covet your prayers and moral encouragement. We continue to appreciate the well wishes coming to us via personal visits, emails, texts and phone calls from throughout the States and across the globe. Thank you.

Surgery Day

April 4, 2013

Baptist Hospital Jackson, MSAs I write this, it is a little after 6 p.m. on Thursday, April 4th. Bonnie is resting comfortably in Surgical ICU (SICU). She is sedated and medicated, and she is asleep. Bonnie was not awakened after surgery, but taken directly to SICU and will be permitted to gradually wake up on her own. In addition, she is on a ventilator to make it easier to breathe following a lengthy surgery. The purpose of the sedation is to permit her to sleep through the discomfort of tubes, pain and ventilation, as well so that Bonnie will not remember this part of her ordeal. She is restrained gently, too, for her own protection along with the sedation to lessen the likelihood of her instinctively attempt to remove ventilation and tubing.

All of this follows a six-hour surgery when a three and a half hour procedure was anticipated. Bonnie and I arrived at about 5:45 a.m. at Baptist Hospital in Jackson, MS. At 7:45 a.m. Bonnie was taken into surgery. Surgery began at 8:29 a.m. and continued until 2:30 p.m. Rebecca and I have visited Bonnie briefly twice in SICU, and we will be staying the night in the waiting room.

Surgery included cutting into Bonnie’s stomach, intestine, pancreas and bile duct. The goal of the surgery was to remove an unidentified linear mass in her bile duct. Much of her pancreas has been removed, as well as part of her bile duct and part of her intestine. It has been confirmed that Bonnie has cancer, but as far as we know all discernible cancer has been removed. In a few days, a pathologist will notify us of the type of cancer involved, which will determine the type of treatment to be pursued weeks from now after Bonnie recovers from the surgery.

Bonnie will probably remain in SICU for at least today and tomorrow before being moved to a room. Overall, Bonnie will remain in the hospital from eight to ten days. Weeks later, she should begin to feel somewhat back to normal. Weeks later, she may be able to travel with me for weekend appointments. She will miss her speaking part in the upcoming India Mission Conference later this month.

Last night, Bonnie and I stayed with brother and sister Andrew Dulaney following meeting with the surgeon yesterday and undergoing preadmission registration and procedures. Several brethren from various congregations have visited us in the hospital throughout the day. In addition, we continue to receive phone calls, texts and emails from throughout the country and across the globe. We appreciate the moral encouragement and prayers.

Medical Update

April 2, 2013

Here is a summary and an update about Bonnie’s medical journey of late. She has been ill since the middle of November 2012 upon our return from 48 days in three Asian countries. First, she had her gallbladder removed. Next, she underwent a series of ERCP procedures & another procedure through her side and through her liver to open up her blocked bile duct. Initially, a temporary stent was installed, weeks later replaced by a permanent stainless steel stent. Numerous biopsies and tissue samples have been unable to identify the linear blockage in Bonnie’s bile duct, though the suspicion is that it is cancerous.

Bonnie was given three options: (1) Do nothing and wait to see if it spreads. (2) Begin cancer treatment to see if the growth shrinks. (3) Have the growth surgically removed. We have opted for surgery. This way the obstruction can be removed and definitively analyzed. If found to be cancerous, subsequent and appropriate cancer treatment can be pursued.

My dear wife has endured surgeries, hospitalization and procedures in Grenada, MS; Oxford, MS and Memphis, TN. Wednesday of this week, she will meet a second time with a surgeon, and tentatively surgery will occur sometime on Thursday of this week in Jackson, MS. The surgery will take a minimum of three and a half hours with two surgeons and support personnel attending to her. Part of her pancreas will be removed as well as the affected bile duct. In addition, her stomach and intestines will be cut into to obtain access to the bile duct. After surgery, Bonnie will spend seven to ten days in the hospital.

This surgery has some mortal risks, but Bonnie’s age and health should permit a likelihood of a successful outcome. To date no treatment has been possible, other than to mediate the obstruction, not knowing the nature of the growth. An operation promises to identify the type of treatment needed and to remove the immediate problem of the blockage.

We are thankful for your interest in Bonnie’s well-being, your words of encouragement and prayers. Bonnie and I look forward to when she can resume her role with me on the foreign mission field; she was sorely missed recently those three weeks of seminars this past February in Guyana, South America. We have a full schedule ahead of us stateside and abroad later this year, health permitting.

April Fool’s Day Workday

April 1, 2013

Workday 1Monday, Mark Shiers and Harris Foundren from the West President St. Church of Christ in Greenwood converged on the World Evangelism Building a little after 9:00 a.m. Brother Mark preaches for West President, and brother Harris is a promising and budding preacher/teacher, though he is only in 9th grade. In addition, brother Allon Brumley from Waynesboro, MS and Betty Choate joined Bonnie, Rebecca and me at the building, too. Together, we packed 105 preacher boxes for an upcoming overseas shipment. There was a flurry of activity between building empty boxes, retrieving boxes of books to lay on the table, placing one each of about 40 titles in each box, sealing the boxes, securing the boxes with strapping tape, numbering the boxes, handtrucking them to a pallet in another room and stacking them there. Hours later with scraped knuckles, stubbed toes and aching joints, we reached our goal for the day. (Somehow, Bonnie avoided being in any of the pictures we snapped!)

Workday 3In the middle of it all, we had visitors who came to Winona to personally pick up some books for use back at their congregation; little ones accompanied them, and we amused them with a coloring book and colored pencils (some of what we take abroad for children’s classes). Also, book orders came by phone, which needed to be filled and taken to the Post Office.

Of course, no workday would be complete without a meal or two together intermingled with being fellow workers. We ate a simple meal for lunch at the building, and all but brethren Shiers and Foundren who returned home, enjoyed supper at the local Mexican restaurant. We are thankful for brethren who come periodically to assist us in one endeavor or another that we cannot easily do alone and at the same time keep up with our other varied duties.

Workday 2 Workday 4