Thursday, February 8, 2018

Out of Sight - Out of Mind!

Finally, after two years we are back on our snowshoes! Bring it on!
Last month we began our 10th year since diagnosis (most of that journey is posted within this blog!) There have been ups and downs, times of terror, times of joy — “the best of times and the worst of times” and yet she is still here sitting next to me yesterday during our three-week cycle of a day-log immunotherapy infusion at the Carbone Cancer Clinic at the University of Wisconsin Hospital.

This is progress! And these “extra years” something of which I will be eternally thankful.

Ten years ago we had the blood cancer diagnosis... two deer in the headlights! We not only had a blood cancer in which to struggle and manage (Multiple Myeloma) but also kidney failure as a result of the cancer. And that meant dialysis five days a week (thankfully we were able to do home hemodialysis after a number of surgeries to establish a fistula). This gave us some flexibility in our life as I shifted into being a medical provider along with being a caregiver, pastor, author, police blogger, and now part-time college professor!

These activities and duties kept me somewhat safe and sound over these years.

So yesterday, we were in Dr. John Sheehan’s at the clinic awaiting our check-up and infusion. The infusion is a day-long event of labs, doctor’s visit, and IV immunotherapy (daratumumab).

Sabine’s mother is in a nearby nursing home and our youngest son and his “SO” and baby are residing in the “hill house” next to our farmhouse.

What kind of life is this? A full and rewarding one! We human persons are adaptable, flexible and with a positive, faith-based orientation can take just about anything and still thrive and be thankful. That’s the truth. We've lived it!

So, being “out of sight and out of mind” this past year has been a good sign from us. After all, when this started I was told that Sabine had about two years to live. That’s eight extra years! Such a wonderful gift!

Tuesday, January 9, 2018

Update for 2017












Oh, my gosh! Where did the year go? My last post here was last FEBRUARY! As I have always said, "No news is good news!" And so it was true for 2017 and now as we start our TENTH year since diagnosis.

For most of last year, and thanks to the miracle immunotherapy drug, Daratumumab, Sabine has maintained low cancer numbers with an all-day infusion in the clinic and a shot of Velcade plus the ever-present therapeutical dexamethasone.

For a quick update, here's our family Christmas newsletter:

A New Journey Farm Letter: Christmas 2017
From the beautiful, unglaciated region of Blue Mounds and Southwestern Wisconsin


David, Sabine, and their new Labradoodle,
Mocha, Too (2)hiking at Blue Mounds State Park.
A Slippery Beginning
2017, a year of changes, yet great fun! The year started out a bit rocky with Sabine slipping on an icy driveway and breaking her hip in two places. But every cloud does have a silver lining, and it was Brother Rainer coming to the rescue and helping out for three whole weeks. Between cooking and building disability equipment, so Sabine could negotiate the stairs and get to the dialysis machine, she made a wonderful recovery. Unfortunately, their two donkeys were too much for them to handle, but they found a new home for “the boys” in a farm just west of them.

New Residents
Once Rainer left, son Josh, Rachel, and newborn Alex, moved into Charlotte’s home to help out. Charlotte had been diagnosed as having dementia last year and their presence made life a lot easier for everyone.
 
The Cousins at Malani's baptism:
[clockwise] Malani, Malea,
Seger, Alex, and Taylor.
Preaching and Teaching Justice
David and Sabine have continued to serve at St. Peter’s in North Lake (for 12 years now!) and enjoyed a moving church season of Lent which included trips to a Hindu temple, a Jewish synagogue, and an Islamic center. It was an enlightening experience and reminded them how connected we all are to one another. Yes, diversity is both a strength and blessing. David has continued to teach both freshmen and seniors at UW-Platteville (a 40-minute drive west of Blue Mounds) by introducing them to our nation’s system of criminal justice, how it might be improved, and a seminar in police transformational leadership. The proximity to Dubuque also permitted them to spend even more time on Kokomo. They wish each one of you a blessed Holy-day!

Charlotte ("Buddy") at Malani's
baptism, David presiding, at
Barneveld Lutheran Church.
Buddy’s Journey
In the summer, Charlotte fell and broke her leg and had to move to Ingleside in nearby Mt. Horeb for rehab. The fall and rehab also advanced her dementia and she now resides there fulltime. Josh, Rachel and little Alex continued to stay at her house to keep things maintained and farm-like. As a result, 37 free-range chickens (my girls!) and three goats have taken up residence.

An Unwelcome Loss, and a Welcomed Addition
Fall brought us heartache with the death of David and Sabine’s 14-year old dog, Mocha Latte. It was a time of much grief for both of them. So, seeking recovery, they were moved to adopt a new puppy; a Labradoodle named “Mocha, Too!” While all three of them attend puppy school in nearby Dodgeville, they found that raising a puppy is not as easy as they thought it would be.

Family Visits (Here and There)
New Journey Farm was blessed to have visits this year from sister Barb and husband Ken, daughter Sumi, Scott and Taylor, other granddaughters Heather, Gracie, and her mother, Heather, and niece Teak, kids Seger and Malea. Daughter Sarah and Joseph live fairly close and are always welcome guests. These are always great adventures for everyone. (Did I hear “bowling?”)

Daughter Yumi, Malani, and
husband, Matt.
Another Addition
Other than short trips on the mighty Kokomo, David and Sabine managed two others by airplane and automobile: by air to meet their newest granddaughter, Malani, in San Antonio (and parents Yumi and Matt), and by road to Teak and Kelly’s home in Kirksville, Missouri, for what they called “a redneck Thanksgiving!” Such a gathering involved trap shooting, disc golf, a hayride, delicious meals, and a trip to their neighbor’s winery. More than enough family fun to spread around.

An Epitaph
I am usually up by 3:30 a.m. most mornings exercising my fine voice. So, I hear David and Sabine often chatting as they walk up for dialysis (oh, did I wake you?). They say it is so wonderful to live here on this farm which gives them trails, woods, sun and sky along with enjoying world-class thespians from the American Players Theater in Spring  Every morning, I hear them say, “it’s a wonderful life, isn’t it?” And they wouldn’t give up any of their family members, friends or church community. They say they have been blessed by prayers and good thoughts from many of you and are pleased to report that, so far, excellent medical care has enable Sabine and David to enter the 10th year of cancer – still crazy in love!
The Editor, her two kids, and
chicken friends.
Green, boating on the Mighty Mississippi, and hot tubbing under stars and falling snow.


Ed. Note: This year’s editor was New Journey Farm’s late, great, “Roaster Rooster.” He who penned this letter last night just before he entered their new “Chicken-Plucker,” the Grand Poultry Palace -- and then, deep freezer! -- R.I.P.]