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Saturday, February 26, 2011

Fun Fact

The word checkmate in chess comes from Persian phrase Shah-Mat, which means "The king is dead."

Monday, February 21, 2011

(Fun) Fact

Close to seven hundred thousand land mines were dug up from the banks of the Suez Canal after the 1973 war between Egypt and Israel.

Saturday, February 19, 2011

Fun Fact

Aerosmith's "Dude Looks Like a Lady" was written about Vince Neil of Motley Crue.

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Throwback Time: in honor of this time in our lives, 5 years ago.

Tuesday, 07 March 2006

* What's normal?  I've been contemplating that ... originally it was a child-related thing:  "this is the new normal sleeping pattern" or eating behavior or locomotion, etc.  Now it's, "how does a normal life look?  Just me and Ian and Audrey going through life"?  What adjustments are necessary to be MORE normal?

Don't get me wrong; I have no intention of participating in false fronts and an act of happiness.  That type of living is futile and pretty much the Antithesis of Rachel.  Still, for my husband's sake, this THING must not turn our lives upside down.  I respect his wish of "normal."  I just have to figure out, day to day, moment by moment, what that looks like.  The upside?  God and I have a much more constant dialog going on.  If you have to decide whether to check email or sit on your husband's lap, you can ask God.  So I do.

* If you only had 2 years, what would you want to do?  see?  be sure to leave?  If your husband only had 2 years, what would you want him to do?  How would you spend your days?  It's something to think about of course... it's not an original thought; we've all heard the platitudes before:  "if you were to die tomorrow, would the people closest to you know how much you loved them?  Be sure to call them up today and tell them... etc."  Well it's not a trite platitude anymore.  We don't have a firm number; there isn't one, and that's mostly a blessing.  Still, it's fair to say 2 years is the short end, and it's something to think about.  Peanut will be Audrey's age.  Audrey will be getting on her 4th birthday...

* Today is the first day of radiation and chemotherapy.  Those of you who know Ian know he has the same bounce in his step today as any day.  We got to treatment EARLY, and it was like he was arriving early for a concert.  Add to that the scientific intrigue of the whole thing, and he's virtually excited.  And even though to me it's a child-like innocence, it's a quality in him I very much admire and respect.  He's facing this thing head on, with trust in God and the doctors.

* The other day while we were waiting to talk to a doctor, we heard a baby screaming.  Now that we're parents, and we're in a hospital with the occasional obviously sick child, our hearts ache; there are BABIES with cancer.  There are 10 year olds getting chemo and radiation.  There are parents who were once where we are now; blessed with happy babies and a fairly lovely life, and then the big C comes down and claims a BABY.  And it puts some of this in perspective.  A flawed one, but a perspective nonetheless.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Throwback Time: in honor of this time in our lives, 5 years ago.

This is a string of emails - my apologies for the overlapping timeline and differing authors.
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feb 10, 2006 (Ian)

Hello all,

Ian writing here, just borrowing Rachel's account, since in her slight OCD-ness, she has made a nice mailing list for everyone!

I know that there are some of you who are new to this mailing list, so let me give a brief synopsis:

Three days ago, on Tuesday, I was informed that I have a brain tumor. I had been seeing various levels of eye doctors since early January due to some mild symptoms that were initially diagnosed as Ocular Migraine. There was no pain involved, just some moderate flashing and blind spots in the peripheral vision of my right eye.

As each successive doctor found nothing wrong farther back in my eye, I was sent for an MRI to rule out the possibility of a tumor or other obvious nerve damage. Or in my case, find one.

The tumor is about the size of a golf ball, right against the back of my skull on the left side. It is currently diagnosed as a low grade oligodendroglioma (wow, I think I spelled that correctly), which is very operable. The doctors will not know if it is cancerous until partway through the surgery, but it does not show up as cancerous on some of the more advanced MRI pictures.

I am scheduled for surgery next Wednesday, the 15th of February, to start pre-op as early as am, hopefully to be out of surgery by 4pm. I will then spend one or two nights in the ICU, and one or two more nights in the hospital ward. I will then come back home to six weeks of convalescent leave from the Navy, and up to a year of limited duty.

We are unsure as of yet as to how my Naval career will be affected, but it is almost certain that my flying days are over.

Throughout all of this, God has truly shown me his grace and strength, and I would encourage everyone reading this that I am in very high spirits, although periodically wishing I could ask Him why He has chosen this particular manner in which to bless me!

Over the next few days, lots of family will be arriving in the Norfolk area, kicking off with my Mom and Grandparents, then my Dad, and later Rachel's parents. We are all going in to the hospital on Tuesday afternoon to meet with my Neurosurgeon, Dr. Tina Rodrigue, for a question and answer session.

Phone calls, emails, and letters are always welcome, as if nothing else, this gives me a great opportunity to talk to some people that I have had a bit of a tendency to lose touch with.

Brief Prayer List (Expand as you see fit)

Me
Rachel
Audrey
Jim Maize (my dad)
Carol Reece (my mom)
Mark and Ellen Jones (Rachel's folks)
Grandparents galore
Dr. Rodrigue
Associated Nurses, techs, etc.

I hope this letter finds everyone well, and rest assured that I am also well, and in good spirits and most certainly in the shower of God's grace!

Love,
Ian (and Rachel and Audrey)
----------------------------------
feb 15,2006 (Rachel)

There is nothing more beautiful than the sight of your head-bandaged husband after a long 10-hour day.

Ian's surgery was a success.  He will have a follow-up MRI in the morning to see if any left-over tumor  can be detected, but the doctor seemed confident that she was able to remove it all; she said it was well-defined and separated from the healthy brain tissue.  She also said that there had been a great deal of swelling, and Frank was soon to have been a big problem ... so in other words, we got it just in time.

When I left the hospital, Ian was groggy, had a horrible-sounding throat (from the breathing tube), could feel where he would be getting a headache, and has a puffy, squishy face from being face down for so long.

BUT

Praise God, my Ian is safe.  He sang as much of the alphabet song as his dry mouth could take, and even smiled a bit.

Thank you everyone for your thoughts and prayers.  We don't know what this recovery will look like, but we know it will be accentuated by your fervent prayer.

Please don't be strangers!  Ian will I'm sure appreciate calls, letters/cards, and visits.  He's not looking forward to lying about, so having people show their support will mean a lot.

I will continue to update by the day, as much as possible.

Love you all,
Rachel
-------------------------------
feb  25, 2006 (Ian)

Good Evening All,

Well, it has been a week or so since the last major update, and certainly some new information has come to light.

First of all, my recovery from surgery is going, by all accounts, exceptionally well. I was out of the hospital less than 48 hours after surgery, am almost completely off of the pain medications prescribed, and am back to showering without a shower cap now that my stitches have been pulled. My hair is growing back, and although the horseshoe scar is still visible, it's already becoming less so.

The other great news is that Rachel is, in fact, officially pregnant, verified by blood test at our local medical center. They have assigned her a due date of October 20th, although Rachel believes that she may be a bit further along than that. We shall see.

Unfortunately, all is not rosy. During my appointment on Thursday to have my stitches removed, my surgeon informed me that some preliminary pathology information had come back from the material removed during surgery. What had been initially thought to be a low-to-mid grade tumor is in fact more malignant, now being classified as a Grade 3 Anaplastic Astrocytoma.

What that means is that my battle with this tumor is just beginning. This type of tumor is almost never completely curable, and I will begin to undergo my first series of treatments to control it, hopefully effectively and for quite a long time. I am expecting to start both chemotherapy and radiation therapy within the next two weeks, although I will have more detailed information on both treatment plans after meeting with those two oncologists starting next week.

What I also know is that this road will not be easy, either for me or Rachel. We truly covet your thoughts and prayers as we cope with this new information and enter a new life as cancer survivors.

There. I said it. The C word. It is still a bit surreal, as other than one night in the ICU, I have felt fine up to this moment! Yet the fact remains that I am in the early stages of treatment of a very significant medical issue.

I remain confident in the knowledge that God means this for His glory, and His positive influence on my life has not left me. If I could ask one thing of each one reading this, it would be to let me know if I seem to be losing that positive attitude. I have been given the gifts of a successful life accompanied by a wonderful wife and a beautiful growing daughter (and 2/9!), and I will try not to let any aspect of my cancer or its treatment take my thoughts away from the blessings I have right here.

In closing, I would like to refer everyone to two resources that have already been very helpful to me in finding information and support. The American Brain Tumor Association (http://www.abta.org), and the Lance Armstrong Foundation (http://www.livestrong.org) have both been exceptional sources of both information and inspiration.

I will plan on trying to send out at least one update weekly, with additional updates as required for important information. If anyone would rather not remain on this mailing list, please let me know; I won't be offended. Conversely, if you know anyone who is not on this list who would like to be, please also let me know; I'm an equal opportunity emailer.

Please feel free to reply, write, or call anytime to me or Rachel. We are slowly coming to grips with this situation, and knowing we have external support is always helpful.

Sincerely,

Ian Maize

---------------------
march 6, 2006 (Ian)

Good evening all,

I waited until tonight to send this update, because I wanted to have information on both of my upcoming treatments before sending it out.

I've had three appointments at the Radiation Oncology clinic at the Naval Medical Center, all of which have been informative, but only two of which I would call neat. The first was my meeting with the oncologist, Dr. Wilds. He was very helpful in explaining the concept of radiation therapy, and my course of treatment.

The other two appointments were what I suppose you would call practice. The first was my introduction to the mask. It was a plastic sheet that was heated and stretched over my head, then connected to the table I was on. It sort of ends up like chicken wire, flexible enough that I can breathe, swallow, etc, but stiff enough to keep my head stabilized during the treatments.

Today's appointment was a 'simulation' of the radiation, marking the projections of the radiation on the mask to ensure that the plan works properly. The actual radiation treatments will start tomorrow morning, and continue for six weeks, five days a week. Each treatment will only last about 30 minutes. The therapy will cover the area where the tumor was, plus a border of about two centimeters (statistically, if or when the tumor regrows, it typically does so within one centimeter of the original tumor area). This is done by shooting radiation from four different directions during each treatment.

Supposedly, the major side effect of radiation therapy is fatigue. However, my hair will probably fall out in the affected area, and I'll start having to wear hats to avoid sunburn.

I also met today with my Hematology Oncologist, Dr. Reninger. The other half of my treatment is chemotherapy, which I sort of always thought was what is actually the radiation therapy. Turns out, chemotherapy is actually a drug (one of many), given either orally or by IV, depending on the type of cancer and stage of treatment. I will be taking an oral chemotherapy, a drug called Temador, which has been very successful at treating brain tumors in particular. I will take Temador daily during the six weeks concurrent with radiation therapy, then five days out of every 28 for the following six months.

During and following the two treatments, I will be getting regular MRI check-ups to see if the tumor is trying to grow back, or if the treatments are being effective at keeping it at bay.

Other than the impending treatments, things are going really well! I've been enjoying the opportunity to be a full-time husband and dad, slowly finishing the last stages of our bathroom remodeling project, and generally eating well (we're still finishing leftovers from all of the meals brought to us after the surgery - a special thanks to all who were able to help out!). Another side effect of the treatments is loss of appetite, so I'm storing up :)

I have gotten so much enjoyment and uplifting from all of your calls, cards, and emails, and I confess my lack of attention to writing personal notes back. Thank you all for being better communicators than I am!

Well, it's almost 11pm here, and our 19-month old alarm clock doesn't allow for much sleeping in. That, and I do have an important appointment at 9:30 am to start fighting whatever tumor cells are left!

God bless you all, and thanks for your continued attention!
 -----------------------
march 11, 2006 (Ian)

Good afternoon!

For those of you not in the greater Tidewater area, you are missing out on some exceptionally nice weather! It's probably about 75 degrees today, sunny, with a light breeze blowing (I think even Rachel would call it a nice breeze!).

Audrey got a visit to the zoo today, courtesy of Verna McCrillis, which left Rachel and me to a blissfully quiet morning doing mostly nothing! The zoo report was that Audrey walked almost the whole time, one hand on the stroller, and that almost all of the animals in the zoo were actually out in sight! I guess they were enjoying the fine weather as well.

On to the medical update. As of today, my first week of radiation therapy is over, and I have taken four doses of Temodar, my chemotherapy drug.

As of yet, the radiation has been a complete non-event each time. The staff at the Portsmouth Radiation Oncology clinic is great. All of the nurses, doctors, techs, and other staff are very friendly, knowledgeable, and professional. The treatments are short - about 20 minutes - including the time to check in, get lined up on the table, get the four shots of radiation, get unhooked from the table, and get out. I also appreciate that almost every office I walk into has a Bible on the desk! Perhaps it's a result of working around cancer patients every day, or seeing God's hand at work in those patients, I can't really say for sure. But I know it has helped reaffirm my faith that so many of my medical team are also working from a position of faith.

As for Hematology Oncology (the fancy term for chemotherapy doctors), it has also been going well. I got my pills with the admonition that they are likely to cause nausea and possibly vomiting. So, I was also issued a prescription for anti-nausea medication. Well, under the theory that fewer medications is generally better, I decided to tough it out the first night without the anti-nausea medication. After all, I don't get sick very often, and even things that generally make others nauseous (roller coasters, airplanes, spicy food, etc), don't have the same effect on me. Well. Here's for listening to the doctors. Tuesday night I was pleased to spend about an extra hour of quality time in the bathroom over my normal night. Ha. After about 45 minutes, I went ahead and took the dose of anti-nausea medicine, and, voila, I slept the rest of the night. Each night since, I've taken the anti-nausea stuff 30 minutes before the chemo pills, and have been nausea-free since.

So, overall, as my first week of treatments draws to a close, I'm really feeling pretty well. I would say that the treatments, or the remaining surgery recovery, or some combination, has made me fairly tired. I now take a nap most afternoons, which although I probably felt like taking on normal days at work, I think I actually need now. I am also a bit prone to minor headaches, which are usually attributable to some overexertion or other miscalculation on my part. But on the whole, I am feeling very well. I still snore at night, Rachel still kicks me for it or wakes me up to tell me to roll over, so I can't be all that sick :)

I know it's a tough leap (maybe St. Christopher helps here), but Rachel and I want to really emphasize how important our faith has been throughout this (to us) epic ordeal. I mean, how else could we face the possibility of this prognosis? Day by day, God proves His faithfulness, pouring out grace in infinite quantities. Somehow, we manage to find enough of it each day to get by. There will be easier days, and harder days, but we are always confident that He will provide. If anyone reading this is struggling with any questions about God, faith, and your own life, I would welcome the opportunity to talk with you about it. I believe that the most effective way to share the love of Jesus Christ is with someone you know and care about. After all, I think you all believe that I'm being honest and open about cancer; how could I not be just as open about something infinitely more important!

Sincerely,
Ian, Rachel, and Audrey.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Throwback Time: in honor of this time in our lives, 5 years ago.

Thursday, 23 February 2006

Ian's pathology came back, and instead of a 1 or 2 tumor, it appears to be a 3 (that's out of 4).  What this means is that he will undergo chemo and radiation, and that any treatment is "not curative"; meaning it will be merely treating and hopefully preventing any further growth.  The translation there is that ... I don't know.

Basically we don't know how long we have.  That's the easiest way I can type it.

As always, keep us in your prayers.

---------------------------------------------------------------------------


Saturday, 25 February 2006

Things here are going as well as to be expected.  Ian has still not written "the email" detailing the last round of news.  I imagine after that the calls and letters will start up again... which isn't a bad thing.  Just... I feel for people who don't know what to say, 'cause there isn't much to say.  And that's ok.  Sometimes just calling to not say anything works just as well as having the golden words flow.

Did we live today fully loving one another?  If tomorrow is our last, am I pleased with the way we spent our day today?  Such things to ponder.  I know the answer can't always be yes, but it sure can get closer to more yes's.  Priorities resort themselves, emotions rise and fall, and we love one another unconditionally.  The challenge is SHOWING that love, in heart-felt, tangible ways.

------------------------------------------------------------------------------


Tuesday, 28 February 2006

Huh.  I have my own case manager now.  I have my very own social worker to hug and squeeze and call... Marge.

From my mom's motto calendar this am:  "Needing someone is like needing a parachute.  If he isn't there the first time you need him, chances are you won't need him again."

Pondering the amazing network of friends and family we have been blessed with.  Far away, "I know I'm all the way up/down/over here, but if there is ANYTHING I can do..."  and close by, "call me ANYTIME, I'm serious, even if you just need to get out and leave Audrey with someone..."

If you're far away, here's what you can do for me:

1. Get to know the God of the Universe, who will carry you through times like these.

2. Get your will, advanced directives, and power of attorneys taken care of.  It's NEVER TOO EARLY.  And you don't want to be in some dire circumstance, where you're hanging on to hope and joy, and going to some laywer's office to fill out who will take care of the kids if you both die.  Just do it now.  I can't stress this enough.  Mark it on your calendar each year to review it, just in case things have changed.

3. Keep us in your thoughts and prayers.  While this initial news hitting part is difficult, I imagine the weariness of treatments will take a greater toll on all of us.  Maybe mark your calendar several months from now to send a card, flowers, give a call, whatever.  Just check in.

4. Don't worry about knowing what to say.  "Get well" cards are perfectly acceptable for someone recovering from brain surgery, getting cancer treatments, etc.  Find a funny cartoon? clip it.  Have a favorite book, one that's changed your life?  Or one that just rocks?  Send it along or send the reccommendation (check out half.com).  Remember Rachel, Audrey and baby... we'll be struggling, too.  "Hey, how are you guys," is better than silence.  Even when I'm overwhelmed with calls and company, I still greatly appreciate the support and tangible demonstration of God's love through our network.

Today is MOPS, our meeting with the oncologist (I thought only old people saw those), then Bible study tonight.  Sometimes it IS a blessing to be busy.

Monday, February 14, 2011

Throwback Time: in honor of this time in our lives, 5 years ago.

Parts 3 and 4


Tuesday, 14 February 2006

NerveBall

I'm tense.  I'm on edge.

Audrey is crazy.  She's loving the attention, but already she's acting like a true granddaughter; trying to get away with every possible thing because Grandma Carol is here.  I'm trying to let other people take over running the show with her, but then she does something I don't want her to...

And all of this on top of the real reason I'm tense, of course.  It just doesn't come out and SAY, "this is why you're irritated with everything and everyone"; it hides and underlies everything else.

-------------------------------

Friday, 17 February 2006

DUH...

Oh, RIGHT.  On EDGE.  Don't fit into JEANS.  Not SLEEPING.

Yup, you may have guessed it, even before I did.  We're expecting!

Since this was ALL God's idea (I was on the pill), I have NO idea what He has up his sleeve... I don't even know how pregnant I am?!

Oh, and my husband, who had brain surgery less than 48 hours ago, comes home this afternoon.

Amen and amen.

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Throwback Time: in honor of this time in our lives, 5 years ago.

Part 2:


Sunday, 12 February 2006


Clarify:  In the second tumor picture, the large, separated area at the bottom of the skull, getting closer to the neck, is NOT the tumor.  Frank is the black spot up higher.  Just to be clear.

Family here.  Ian in good spirits.  God has granted the two of us His perfect peace.  Ian's dad arrives tomorrow.  Family meeting with the surgeon on Tuesday (after golf, weather permitting).  Valentine's day night out on the town (or at least at a restaurant), while Audrey plays with the family at Chuck E Cheese.  They have NO idea what they're getting into, but I'm ok with that.  Haha.

Friends - amazing.  Church today was just more affirmation of God's design for the fellowship of the Body of Christ.  The elders did an annointing and lots of people made a point to wish their wishes to Ian and to me.  I have a fistfull of phone numbers of "if you need ANYTHING, and I mean ANYTHING, you CALL me" people.  And we would have certainly been innundated had we attended one of the more-attended services.  Ian was excited; he's famous and made the first line of the prayer requests in the bulletin.

I think I have at least 10 states, that I know of, in the prayer chain, as well as Iraq, Japan and France.  I have I think 8 congregations praying that I can recall; some random scrapbookers over the internet have added us to THEIR church prayer lists... the love is outpouring.

I imagine I will not likely update this until after the surgery.  Those of you who don't particularly know me, but read my blog, shall have to wait for news until I get myself back here.  But if you're really desparate for information, you can click on Allistusse or ListentoKristen in my subscriptions, and they should be able to fill you in.

The morning we found out, God had me in Psalms 5:3 (In the morning, oh Lord, you hear my voice; in the morning I lay my requests before you and wait in expectation).  The other morning, he gave me the sweet gift of a renewed perspective on 2 Corinthians 1: 3-11: (with apologies to the inevitable copyright issues in quoting scripture from the NIV)

"Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves have received from God.  For just as the sufferings of Christ flow into our lives, so also through Christ our comfort overflows.  If we are distressed, it is for your comfort and salvation; if we are comforted, it si for your comfort, which producs in you patience endurance of hte same sufferings we suffer.  And our hope for you is firm, because we know that just as you share in our sufferings, so you also share in our comfort." [...]

"But this happened that we might not rely on ourselves but on God, who raises the dead.  He has delivered us from such a deadily peril, and he will deliver us.  On him we have set our hope that he will continue to deliver us, as you help us by your prayers.  Then many will give thanks on our behaf for hte gracious favor granted us in answer to the prayers of many."

Amen.

Saturday, February 12, 2011

Throwback Time: in honor of this time in our lives, 5 years ago.

Today and following, a brief look at the beginning of our "C" journey, five years ago.  This February 15th marks the 5-yr anniversary of Ian's tumor removal and successful recovery.  Despite the painful, sobering stats on paper, "we" have beat the 3-5 year life expectancy odds and enter into year six.  God is GOOD.

---------------------------------


Friday, 10 February 2006

Wow.  So Monday I was posting that I was excited the Steelers won.

And on Tuesday we reeled at the news: Ian has a brain tumor.

It's amazing how you go along in life thinking everything is fine, and then all of a sudden it's not.

We've had a few days to digest.  Family and friends have mostly all been informed.  The more prayer the better!  We are making arrangements for family visits, Audrey care, and Ian's will and final directive.  We are keeping ourselves busy, doing things around the house we won't be able to do later, going and doing things when we feel like it, hugging.  I've had a few people say, "you sound ok?!"  How else am I gonna be?  How do I feel?  Like I should be hiding in my closet until it all goes away.  Like staring at a wall and not eating.  Like crying for hours at a time, with continually swollen eyes.  Like screaming at everything and everyone.

But the reality is, not only do none of those things achieve anything for us (and would of course make it worse), they are not necessary.  God is protecting us; he always has.  I have faith and at most times, peace.  It is convenient that Ian is the upbeat guy that he is; he makes me laugh when I'm feeling particularly melancholy.

Surgery is Wednesday.  We bid adieu to Frank around 10 am.  We get to the hospital at 6 and he won't be done with surgery probably until 4, but I think surgery should begin around 10.  So if you happen to be thinking about us Wednesday, please pray at 10.  Maybe set an alarm to do so.  You can pray for the surgeon, Tina Rodrigue's hands, for the family's peace, for God's wisdom in how to even FEEL about any of this.  And of course for a speedy recovery, pain-free post-op, etc.

I will update this post later today and include a picture or two.  Ian's brain is Fran, the tumor is Frank.  Fran is kicking Frank, the freeloading bastard, to the curb.

    

I can't help it; this last one looks like Terminator, doesn't it?  I think it's the eyes.

Friday, February 11, 2011

Foto Friday: This Moment

{this moment} - A Friday ritual. A single photo - no words - capturing a moment from the week. A simple, special, extraordinary moment. A moment I want to pause, savor and remember. -SouleMama