Happy Valentine’s Day!

Red hearts, red roses, chocolate in heart shaped boxes, tiny hard heart shaped candy with cute sayings: ‘BE MINE’, ‘LOVE YOU’,’ KISSES FOR YOU’, etc., romantic cards, candle light dinners, red drink glasses and plates, chocolate flowers, jewelry, and more chocolate. I remember grade school when my mom would get us a bag of those inexpensive valentines cards and I would spend the evening before writing my name on each one, picking out one or two special cards for the pretty girls in my class and not so nice looking ones for my buddies.  The next day I would exchange all those valentine cards with my classmates and laugh about the funny ones I would have recovered from my buds.  I would also find that one special cards from that girl two rows over that I never paid much attention to and wonder what I had done to be so deserving.  

Linda has always made the day special, with cards and candy, but even more special by setting the table with unique dishes, goblets and flatware that could only mean it was Valentines Day.  The kids and I are always treated to an extra good dinner, like the steak and shrimp feast that she will have for us today. Our girls are married now and are off continuing this tradition with their own families, but Nick still gets a special Valentine Day card and has been reminded “You bet you will be my Valentine until you meet your future wife”.

Over thirty seven years ago I asked Linda to be my wife. My permanent valentine. This last Sunday our pastor spoke about the importance God placed on marriage and how that besides Him, our spouse should be #1 in our lives. Not just on anniversaries or birthdays or holidays or even Valentine’s Day, but everyday!  
My diagnosis in January of 2010 forced me to reexamine my priorities. It became very clear that Linda should be, and I needed her to be, my #1. I did not have to look far for a role model.  My multiple myeloma attacked my sacrum, that boring bone that connects our spine to our pelvis and just as important, shields all the nerves for the lower half of our bodies from the pressures caused by sitting bending and twisting. The myeloma ate away about 70% of my sacrum so I have diffulcutty performing mundane tasks like sitting, putting on socks and shoes, tying shoes, clipping toenails or applying lotion to my very dry lower legs and feet. For the last three years Linda has done all of these menial tasks with a smile on her face and love in her heart. Just like Jesus did when He washed His disciple’s feet. What a fantastic role model. As Tom Cruise said in one of his films, and in so many many other ways, “She completes me.”  I realize now how very blessed I am to have her in my life.
Linda, thank you for being my Valentine. I could not ask for a finer wife, caregiver, friend, lover and permanent Valentine.  Happy Valentine’s Day!

A Snowy Retreat in Boone

It has been a while since I posted, and several of you kind blog readers have emailed us on how we are doing. In short, we are doing quite well. My numbers in November were continuing to improve and Dr. Kritz decided that I only needed to come by for a check up every two months.  What a difference from going to the Cancer Center daily for radiation, or being hospitalized for 31 days, or having blood work and bone strengthener every month. It may be old age or chemo brain, but I am having difficulty remembering the last time I had a Cancer Center checkup. Linda just reminded me that I do have one coming up February 22nd.
January was a busy month, so Linda and I decided to head to Boone on Friday, February 1st. The forecast called for snow, and what’s better than being by a warm fire in a cozy cabin in snowy Boone? We met with good friends on Friday evening and enjoyed a wonderful meal together. Our friend John snapped a photo of me when I was out on the porch enjoying the cold weather and a view of Grandfather Mountain:
Here are the ladies:

We ventured out as a group on Saturday evening to Char, a restaurant in Boone, and after a wonderful dinner the skies opened up and the blizzard began.

Our MDX has four wheel drive and we had no problem getting home, but slipping and sliding for others was in full mode, and even our friends had trouble getting back to their mountain home. The snow continued that evening and into the following day, and we got a total of about five inches of the fluffy white stuff:

Linda and I ventured out each day for a walk with the dogs and they had a great time:

By Wednesday, most of the snow had melted when Linda and I ventured over to Bass Lake near Blowing Rock to enjoy a cool winter evening there:

The time always goes quickly and the time to pack up and leave always comes way too fast.   Heading home on Thursday we stopped by Chapel Hill to have dinner with son, Nick, and finally arrived home about 9pm. This morning I snapped a shot of Milo recuperating from his snowy time in Boone. I think I will join him and go take a nap.

The Best Strawberry Pie!

It’s that time of year again…time for fresh strawberries! I love the fruit stands that are popping up all over town to sell fresh strawberries, but more than that, I love to go strawberry picking. I clearly remember the days when our three were young…seems like they always ate just about as many as made it to the scale, but that’s the joy of going with children. Tara and I went along for the fun as we watched the Nats and Sams pick strawberries for our delicious strawberry pies! In spite of the many berries that were ingested, we came home with quite a haul. This first picture was probably taken just before Samuel took his first bite, after all who could resist such a big, beautiful strawberry?

And now for the Best Strawberry Pie, here is the easy recipe:
1 pie crust (homemade or in my case, the Pillsbury one you simply roll out onto the pie plate)1 cup water 1 cup sugar3 T cornstarch4 cups sliced strawberries3 oz. package of strawberry jello
Preheat oven to 450. Roll pie crust onto a deep pie plate, prick with fork and bake for 8 minutes. Set aside to cool.

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Two Years Post Diagnosis

On January 29th, 2010, I was diagnosed with Multiple Myeloma. On January 29th, 2012, I stood before the congregation of my home church and testified to God’s faithfulness in my life. What a privilege it was to share, from my heart, what the past two years have meant to me.

My brothers and sisters at Stony Hill Baptist Church faithfully prayed for me when I was hospitalized for a month, endured chemo and radiation treatments, had my stem cell transplant, and recovered from my hip pinning surgery. I have been blessed beyond measure by their compassion, kindness, sacrificial acts of service, and prayers. I love the people of this church and was humbled and honored to stand before them on that beautiful Sunday morning.
Two years ago my world was turned upside down in a matter of days, and I went from being an executive in a small company with a stable income and a “normal” life, to someone who was unemployed and in for the fight of my life with a blood cancer. However, with the love and support of my family, my friends, my doctors, and my church, I have gotten through some really rough times and been blessed in more ways than I can count. My prayer is that God would use me to glorify Him and encourage others who are in need. I cannot imagine cancer without Christ.
For me these verses summarize what I have learned on my journey thus far:
I’m not saying this because I am in need, for I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances. I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. I can do everything through Him who gives my strength.

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Update: Leukemia and Lymphoma Society Co-Pay Assistance Program

Linda and I just returned from the Cancer Center after again paying the doctor’s co-pay. We dropped off a prescription (again), then waited (again) for it to be filled and then (again) said “yes, please” as the pharmacist (again) asked us if we wanted to use express pay for the prescription co-pay. Medical insurance covers the bulk of treatments and prescription costs, but the continuous stream of co-pays really creates a strain on any budget.