Saturday, April 26, 2008

Has it really been a week?

This week went by too quickly! We had wonderful weather (70+ degrees) for a few days and then torrential rain (yes, our driveway got it again!) and this morning we see little snow flakes flying around. Has spring come and gone?

This weekend we had scheduled our second weekend away. We were headed up to St Paul to watch our granddaughter, Samantha, play in a high school softball tournament when we got a call from her father, Peter, telling us the games were cancelled! So we re-scheduled and ended up at the historic St James Hotel in Red Wing on our way to Northfield where Sabine grew up.

Sabine had her lab work done last week in preparation for our meeting with our oncologist/hematologist, Dr Sheehan, this coming Wednesday. Thankfully, this last round of chemotherapy has been fairly well tolerated by Sabine and we are looking forward to some good news on Wednesday anticipating the chemotherapy knocked out some more of those nasty bone marrow cancer cells.

I had the opportunity to meet with the director of the UW Cancer Center last week and give her some feedback on my experience with the "system." I pointed out some things I thought the Center was doing well and some areas that I thought could be improved. The good things were the nursing staff and their getting back to us when we had questions and the free valet parking system that enabled us to physically get in and out of chemotherapy with few hassles.

On the improvement end, I was pleased to find out that the improvements I was recommending were in the process of being implemented -- a method to provide face-t0-face contact with patients and their families coming to the Center for diagnosis and treatment. While the Center has a lot of helpful information regarding various cancers, their treatment protocol, and support groups no one makes a personal contact with newcomers. What they are considering is a volunteer to contact each new patient and help them negotiate the system -- where the restrooms are, that the coffee and treats are free, what support systems are available, what they might encounter during this visit, etc. I think this will give a human face to the cancer fighting system and help improve things for patients and their families.

Tomorrow morning we plan on attending All Saints' Episcopal Church in Northfield which was my grandfather's first parish after ordination in the early 1900s. It was also the church associated with my call to ministry in 1991 when Sabine was attending her 20th year reunion at Northfield High School.

These weekend times away are very important to us. It seems that our weeks are filled up with dialysis, medical appointments, chemotherapy and lab tests. Weekends give us two days off from the routine and time to recuperate and connect.

We are still keeping up on our woodland wildflower project and will have some new wildflowers to post this coming week. We appreciate your checking in with us personally or through this blog. As we have said before, we feel your prayers and love. I know you all will be with us in spirit this Wednesday at the Cancer Center.

Winding up today, I found two things that I would like to share with you: a poem and a prayer:

The poem is called "Prayer Chain" and it is by Tim Nolan. I found it on Garrison Keillor's "Writer's Almanac" on America Public Media ( )

My mother called to tell me
about an old classmate of mine who

was dying on the parish prayer chain—
or was very sick—or destitute—

or it had not worked out—the marriage—
or the kids were all on drugs—and

all the old mothers were praying intensely
for all the pain of their children

and for life—they were praying for life—
in their quiet rooms—sipping decaf coffee—

I bet they've been praying for me at times—so I'll find my way—
so I won't rob a bank—

I'll take them—the mystical prayers of old mothers—it matters—
all this patient and purposeful love.

And today's prayer comes from the Pentecost, 2008, edition of "The Anglican Digest" (

Help me to live this day,
Quietly, Easily,
To lean upon Your great strength,
Trustfully, Respectfully,
To await the unfolding of Your will,
Patiently, Serenely,
To meet others,
Peacefully, Joyously,
To face tomorrow,
Confidently, Courageously.