Fill the void

“Remember your leaders, those who spoke to you the word of God. Consider the outcome of their way of life, and imitate their faith.” Hebrews 13:7 (ESV)

As I reflect on the loss we experience in life, I’m interested in the generational loss. If the Lord had taken me, or still wills it sooner than later, there will be an unavoidable void. It cannot be overlooked. Yet, I praise the Lord that He will provide.

With all the activity happening in our community and around the world, I’m seeking to engage where it matters. I’m passionate about it all, but can’t let myself jump into every issue. I will fail, and get distracted. Forgive me.

I DO however, really want to engage the issues that matter. Those issues that have eternal impact. My filters must depend on the Holy Spirit for that to happen. It’s only then that I believe I can fulfill my role right now.

“Let the one who is taught the word share all good things with the one who teaches.” Galatians 6:6 (ESV)

You see, as the mature veterans in our communities move on, some retiring away, but most passing on from this life, we’re faced with the reality that they create a void. We miss them. We need them.

“Not many of you should become teachers, my brothers, for you know that we who teach will be judged with greater strictness.” James 3:1 (ESV)

We could choose to turn into ourselves, become depressed, and make it about “me”. That is failure. That is selfish. Yet the maturing, those aware of the void, and aware of the need, will embrace the truth that those voids are meant to be filled! They’re meant to be filled by us! We grow into those roles, to care for the next generation. It’s our responsibility to let the Lord mature us into that new generation of elders.

“So I exhort the elders among you, as a fellow elder and a witness of the sufferings of Christ, as well as a partaker in the glory that is going to be revealed: shepherd the flock of God that is among you, exercising oversight, not under compulsion, but willingly, as God would have you; not for shameful gain, but eagerly; not domineering over those in your charge, but being examples to the flock. And when the chief Shepherd appears, you will receive the unfading crown of glory.” 1 Peter 5:1-4 (ESV)

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I am home.

My journey has not been as long as we expected. I was back at UCLA for my transplant on June 23rd. That week I had experienced a few pre-treatments, to prepare me for the upcoming work. Then, my first week in I did some more. All of it was designed to get me ready for the transplant.

Then on July 3rd, my scheduled transplant day, the unrelated donor’s donation arrived. They processed it at UCLA, and brought it up to me in my room. For me it was a little anti-climactic. It was basically a blood transfusion. They started it late that evening and it finished in the early morning hours of the 4th. For a bone-marrow donation/stem cell transplant, that made the 4th like a new birthday. In fact, I’ll be free to celebrate July 4th as a new birthday for the rest of my life! This stems from the idea that I have been made new, through the donation. They tell me that I’m like a new born baby. Especially as it pertains to my immune system. At some point, I’ll even get new immunizations.

My recovery has been kinda quick. They told us a while in the hospital, after the transplant. That went quick. One month. Then they said that I’d spend a week or a month released, but at the Tiverton House across the street. Weekly visits to the clinic, until my numbers grew to support my health and comfort. I spent a week there. So now I’m home.

There’s more, but that should sum up where we’re at now. One last thing, I realized that at UCLA visitors were limited by access to me and the distance from home. But now that I’m home, it will be easier for many to come see me. Overall, I’m good with that! Seeing and hearing the encouragement is uplifting and raises my spirits.

However, my personal limits directly effect my growth and health. I won’t be venturing out a lot, with out a little protection like a mask, etc. I won’t be attending church or eating out or going places where my path will cross with large groups.

So if you want to come see me, please above all, I need to know beforehand. No one should show up unannounced. Message or text or email me, with some notice and expect to be grilled a little before I hand over the approval. :-)

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UCLA Discharge…

Well, I’m discharged, sorta. Not headed home yet though. In case you forgot, I’m tied to this outpatient program, with nearly daily appts in the clinic.

But we’re staying in a special hotel, owned by UCLA Medical, designed exactly for what I need. It’s called the Tiverton House. So far, I’m impressed!

Deanna had to head home this morning, to switch the kids from one caregiver to another. She’s back with me bright and early tomorrow. My mom stepped up and really came through for us today.

This journey is FAR from over. But, we have crossed a major hurdle. Today’s Milestone is a major step towards proof that the graft has worked. It’s a little more complicated than that, but I’ll take it. The fact that my numbers are recovering AND climbing, are great news. It shows that my body is making all the important things; platelets, hemoglobin, white blood cells, and the all important ANCs! Those steps had to be crossed, before we could be right here. So for that I am grateful!

God is good. He sustains.

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It is happening!

As I type, my bone marrow donation is slowly infusing, as if it were a regular old blood transfusion. In one sense, it’s a bit anticlimactic. But it truly is a wonderful gift and a miracle!

The gift is from a 28 yr old girl, who willing endured a yucky procedure, so that I might live.

The miracle is in the science that takes her gift and transforms it into a blood product that my body will use to rebuild itself!

I am most immensely humbled by what’s happening. This gift I do not deserve, will save my earthly body, into prolonged life.

This is not unlike the undeserved gift the Son of God offers us. He willing spilt His blood, unto death, so that others would go on living, into eternity, as Children of God.

“…without the shedding of blood there is no forgiveness of sins.” (‭Hebrews‬ ‭9‬:‭22‬ ESV)

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A Mini-Milestone has passed…

This is a short update, yet good news for me. Just a while ago I finished getting my last pre-transplant treatment, some chemotherapy. It won’t be my last chemo forever, but it does usher me into the next phase, which is the actual transplant!

Tonight and tomorrow is dedicated to just chilling.

Then, on Thursday, I get my transplant!

In the mean time, be praying for my donor! He/She is most likely nervous today, as they prepare to be harvested tomorrow. I pray that the procedure is effective and that it is at least tolerable. I also pray for special blessings over them.

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Quick update…chemo time!

OK, so yesterday marked the end of my radiation therapy. Yippy! It made me generally yucky; nausea and headache. My taste started to depart as well.

But this morning, I move on to the next step towards my transplant; chemotherapy. I’ll start a high-dose chemo today, for two days. Then I’ll get another one for two days after that.

Together, the radiation and the chemo are my main pre-treatments before actually receiving the bone-marrow/stem cell transplant. They’re designed to completely wipe out my immune system, so that the donated cells will be utilized to rebuild.

Chemo makes me sick.

So, please continue to pray that I can maintain a comfortable status quo.

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Well, the time has come…

The time has arrived for my bone-marrow/stem cell transplant. The actual transplant won’t take place for over a week. There’s some prep-work to get done first. Most of it isn’t very fun, however.

There really isn’t much I can share that you readers of my blog don’t already know. Today I’m being remanded readmitted to UCLA. As I type we’re sitting outside of Admitting, waiting for my room to be finished. (Since I’ll be on the Leukemia/Hematology Wing for a while, they’re cleaning up a good room for me. One with a decent view.)

Tomorrow I should start my full-body radiation. That’ll go twice a day, for 4 days. Then I’ll get several days of high dose chemotherapy. Then I’m supposed to get a day off of “rest”, then the following day should be the stem cell transplant. Last we heard, that’s scheduled for July 3rd.

Assuming this schedule is still accurate, the donor, whom I do not know, will have their bone marrow harvested on July 2nd, and it’ll be shuffled off to UCLA, via LAX. As I’m typing, I’m overcome again that some skinny young guy is choosing to endure this donation, for me. What a gift.

I’ll try to keep the updates coming, but this journey is bound to get harder before it gets easier. So, bear with me, and ask questions if you have them. Feel free to post them in the comments, or to me on any of my social media profiles.

We continue to covet your prayers, as this journey continues. My unbelievable wife has cared for me in the most amazing ways, and honestly, I’m not that easy to wait upon. She too benefits from your prayer support. Our kids continue to be hosted primarily by my parents, but the upcoming couple of months will go back to being a little creative, like last year. My father-in-law will be caring for them a little. One of my closest old friends has volunteered to host the boys for a long weekend of what I can only imagine will be some great fun and memory-making. And at some point we may even do the musical-house-thing back at home, with our church community hosting the kids again. Deanna will be trying to stick to taking the kids home each weekend, for the normalcy of regular church attendance and a chance to touch base and connect with them. So, pray for her miles and miles of traveling as well.

I yearn to continue to NOT…waste my cancer. It’s my goal and mission, no matter where this journey takes us.

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Who wants a transplant?

This guy!

If you haven’t heard, a bone marrow match has been found! I have to wait a whole year before I get to find out who is doing the donating, FYI.

I’ll be readmitted to UCLA on June 23rd, and the actual transplant should take place on July 3rd. There will be some outpatient fun, next week. And then once I’m remanded admitted, I’ll have a fixed schedule of activities, all for the protocol of prepping me for the transplant. Because my relapse back in April showed some leukemia in my CNS (central nervous system), I’ll be getting some radiation on my head and then some full body radiation as well. Then, for a few days before the transplant, I’ll get the highest doses of chemotherapy I’ve had yet.

All of that is designed to truly wipe out any remnants of leukemia anywhere in my body, then wipe out my bone marrow as well. Once that’s achieved I’ll get the new stem cells. (They’ve decided to transplant donated stem cells and not actual true bone marrow.)

Interestingly enough, this is when the difficult part of the journey begins. There are risks that I could get sick, with such a diminished immune system. So, the medical peeps will be working hard to avoid all that. Some of my treatment will be preventative. And of course, any setbacks will be addressed. But after the transplant, I’ll go onto a gazillion different medications. There’s this concern about rejection, aka Graft vs Host Disease. Everyone gets a little GVH, so I should expect it. And, they’ll treat anything that arises. But that’s the biggest concern. Assuming all goes well, after around a month to a month and a half I’ll be discharged. However, I won’t be going home. I’ll be staying at what is basically a special hotel across the street from the UCLA hospital. Staying that close will allow me to be super close in case of a setback or worse. Also, I’ll have nearly daily appointments at the clinic. My stay there should be about a month long. Obviously all these ballpark timelines could be adjusted. Hopefully shorter! :-)

But even after I get back home I’ll have a while to go on this journey. Many things will have to be put off, for now. I’ll start off with a lot of limitations, even going out in public will be limited with some “rules”. Assuming I continue to recover, I’ll get better and better. My post-transplant care will extend to several important milestones. First will be 90 days after transplant. Then 100 days after transplant. Then 6 months, then 1 year. Many of my new meds will continue for the bulk of that time.

I’ll keep you updated and posted with any changes and updates, fo sho!

Thus far, we’ve had just enough to meet our obligations. But that’s only been when so many of you have helped out. Thank you! For those interested in helping out a little more, feel free to click the button below.

So, I have a nice long stay at UCLA ahead of me. It’s going to get harder before it gets easier. My wife especially has a tough job for the next few months. She’ll be my primary caregiver, 24 hours a day, for quite a while. She has literally thousands of miles to travel, to and fro, Camarillo to UCLA and Santa Maria to UCLA, and back and forth and back and forth. There will be much eating out, for her especially. The poor kids will be in a bit of limbo, crashing at my parents’ and sister/bro-in-law’s and getting to go home on the weekends, sorta. Hopefully our summer will be the bulk of it, and I’ll be headed home at the end of August or early September. Only the Lord knows.

Thus far, we have been truly blessed by all the levels of support, starting with the massive network of prayer that continues today. Of course the financial support has been fantastic as well; starting with so many of my coworkers donating their vacation hours, to help us bridge the gap from my sick time ending and our long term disability kicking in. Additionally all the logistical help has served us well. At home there has been many who helped care for our kids; staying at our home with them and feeding them.

We thank you so very much. The Lord has been so good to me. I have the most incredible wife, you truly do not know. I have the kind of wife that young men truly hope in their hearts they are blessed to marry.


Loved ones, I have an update on my schedule next week. We’ll be crashing at my parents’ place Tues-Thurs, at least. I have 3 days of radiation at UCLA, and that decreases our commute.

We may end up needing to go down on Friday too, that is yet to be determined.

Then we’re back for the weekend, before heading down to UCLA for the long journey that will be my stem-cell transplant, and recovery.

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Bone Marrow Match

Assuming all of the details are worked out over the next few weeks, it appears that I have a matched bone marrow donor. It’s pretty good news! We’re a bit excited around here.

I’ll have a few visits with my doctor, down at UCLA, as we and they prepare for my readmission. I’m also going to have some exciting treatment, to prepare my body for the transplant. Of course I’ll get more chemotherapy, yeah. They need to drain my bone marrow, so that when I get the new-to-me bone marrow, it can be the source of my recovering immune system.

If you recall, I had a little leukemia in my CNS, this last time. (That was why I had to have all that chemo inserted into my spine!) Well, in order to make sure it’s really gone, they’re gonna irradiate me. This will be my first radiation, so yippy for that. I’ll get a little especially for my brain, before I’m readmitted. Then I’ll get full body radiation once I’m admitted.

Everything is tied to the donor’s schedule, for now. So, with a tentative date just over two weeks from now, my readmission might be then or a little after.

So, join with me as I pray for Wolverine’s powers. I’m good with bone claws, BTW.


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A real update…

This time around I’ve kinda dropped the ball on keeping y’all updated. Sorry. The reasons are simple; my first week or so here was horrible!

Let me catch you up. I last left you with the how and why, about returning to UCLA because my leukemia had returned. I touched on some medical stuff and a bit of our financial stresses. Since then, an overwhelming number of you stepped in to help us out, and it has been such a blessing! We are humbled by the care so many have offered. And it’s not just the financial help, through PayPal. It’s also the meals being made, at home when Deanna is there with the kids, and meals made in Camarillo, when the kids are with my parents. We are also grateful for all the overwhelming prayer support that we know is being offered round the clock.

I’ve spent that last month tucked away in my hospital room, at Ronald Reagan UCLA Medical Center. In fact, last Wednesday marked my one month anniversary. Yippy!

One other thing I need to catch you all up on is my treatment plan. Since my setback last month, I’ve been through another aggressive induction chemotherapy treatment. On top of IV chemo, the leukemia was found in my CSF, so I received a whole bunch of chemo, via a spinal tap. Guess what…THAT SUCKS!

In the next few days I’ll be headed home for a rest. Then, in a few weeks, I’m headed back to UCLA for a bone marrow transplant. Yeah, you read that right. I’ve heard that there are matches in the “bank”, but they’re still waiting for results from a possible family match.

I’ll try to keep you all posted, as we have more information.

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