Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Full Recovery!

Yesterday was quite a day for me and all our family. It was my fifth chemo treatment (that leaves only one to go) and the day I would receive my latest scan reports from my oncologist, Dr. Murphy. He came into the exam room with a big smile on his face so I was hoping that meant good news. The news was not only good, it was great.

Dr. Murphy explained there were four levels of response to the treatments I have been taking that range from no recovery to full recovery. He quickly told Patti and me that I was a full recovery patient. I asked him if that mean I was cured. He said we could only use the word cure after time has passed. There will be additional scans in the future to monitor things, but we fully expect to be able to use the cure word one day. For now he says I am in full remission, no cancer cells anywhere in my body. Furthermore he stated that many full recovery patients do not ever experience cancer again in their lifetime. So the news couldn’t be much better!

After just a few minutes short of five hours of chemo the nurse came in to tell me that my potassium was extremely low, 2.9. If you have followed this journey, then you might remember that low potassium is how this entire journey began. So now we will go back and give this some attention once again. Small potatoes compared to where we have been. Right now I am taking some strong potassium supplements to build the levels back up once again. So you might keep praying about this one for us.

I will be preaching for the next three weeks and then taking off for about five weeks to simply rest and let my body begin to rebuild its immune system - and maybe even grow a little hair.

Words cannot express my thanks to the thousands who have prayed for me and our family. I have had a great medical team, but the Great Physician has been in charge all along. I believe that I have been and continue to live out a miracle. We have seen the hand of God in so many ways and experienced His mercy, grace, and faithfulness on a daily basis. It has been a life-changing experience. I would not have chosen it, but in all truthfulness it has been the best season of my life. I pray I will be a good steward of all that God has done and continues to do in me as a husband, father, and pastor.

Patti has been my rock through this whole experience. She is one of the strongest women I know. Matt and Carrie, Derek and Tori, and my sweet Hope have been wonderful companions through this journey. I love them all more deeply than I can express.

To my church family, The People’s Church of Franklin and Spring Hill, Tennessee, I thank you. No pastor could have been more loved and prayed for over these past months. You are the best, and it is a joy to be your pastor. To friends who have written cards, prayed prayers and expressed love in a myriad of ways, I am in your debt. I would consider it an honor to serve any of you in any way I possibly can. I will keep this blog going on a regular basis and hope you will visit frequently. Hopefully the subject will change, but the relationships and community that has been shared here will only increase. It is good to be in full recovery - thank you Lord!



Tuesday, May 18, 2010

May 9, 2010

May 9, 2010. I've thought about this date for months now. I've known it was the date of Parent Child Dedication service at TPC since well before I had Lillie. I've known it was the day after Sophie's play in Atlanta since her school schedule came out last August. For months, I've known that, once again, Mother's Day and Dad's birthday were landing on the very same day(the second weekend in May can be an expensive one in our family)! I've known that May 9 would be an overwhelming day for our family for quite a while now.

But only in the past three months did I half-dread May 9, 2010. Since we had just been through my aunt dying of cancer only four months after diagnosis, I wondered a little over three months ago if we would be celebrating Dad's 59th birthday. I wondered if he would ever get the opportunity to spend much time getting to know his newest grandchild and whether he would live to see her dedicated to the Lord. Then after I felt like he might live, I wondered if Dad would be too sick to participate in the dedication service. I wondered if Lillie would be the only of my children that wasn't dedicated in a service led by my dad. I was overwhelmed with questions.

Watching Dad holding Lillian Hope on the stage at TPC on May 9, 2010, we were definitely overwhelmed, but this time overwhelmed with gratitude. We were grateful for all the precious celebrations of the day. We continue to be grateful that all signs point to healing in Dad's body. We are grateful that he has been relatively strong throughout this journey. Again, we were grateful for the opportunity to celebrate life - mothers, babies, and birthdays. Most of all we are grateful for the faithfulness of our God who has sustained us throughout this journey. All celebrations are a little sweeter this year, and while we are learning that every day is special, we were particularly thankful for May 9, 2010.

Friday, April 16, 2010

The Celebration Continues

Thank you so much to everyone for all of the prayers and encouragement to dad and our family. We are overwhelmed by all the love that is being shown to us. The last few days have been wild. We are all still processing that there really is a light at the end of this tunnel. We feel so blessed that dad has been healed. In the words of my sister, Hope "only God". We are grateful to his wonderful doctor and nurses, but we are most grateful to the Lord- the great healer. Thank you to all who are celebrating with us.

News Channel 2 wanted to get in on the celebrating, so they joined dad today on the golf course. See the full story here.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Celebrating Life

We are celebrating life as we walk this journey with my dad! Though Sophie spear-headed the coloring of Tato's head, the entire family joined in the fun! Patti-Grams even put the finishing touch - a red lipstick kiss - on Tato's forehead! Though we were a few days before the "official report," we were also celebrating Dad's good doctor's report on Friday. The "official" report came in yesterday, revealing "no signs of lymphoma!" Thanks be to God! We couldn't be more thrilled or more thankful! Though he must continue his treatment, we are hopeful that the Lord is using the doctors and medicine to bring about Dad's complete healing.

Our hearts are singing! We will not be silent! O Lord our God, we give you thanks forever! Psalm 10:12

Good News; No, Great News!

Last Friday I went in for my CT Scan prior to my third treatment, which took place on Monday, April 12. Dr. Murphy spent a few minutes with me looking at the scan and said he would see me on Monday and that I could expect a good report based on what he could see. Well, l left on Friday, trying to interpret what would a good report would be exactly.

Fast forward to Monday morning, April 12, the morning of my third chemo treatment. Patti and I went into the exam room where they access my port and then waited for the doctor to come in. Dr. Murphy came in holding two pieces of paper which I assumed was the report. He began by telling me that in the scan he had discovered I had a small kidney stone (which was news to me), some calcification in the aorta (also news to me), spinal canal stenosis (which was not news to me), and then the biggie, no evidence of lymphoma (which was the best news I have had in months). Well, Patti and I were somewhat stunned for a moment, to say the least! No evidence of lymphoma, after two treatments.

So I went into high gear with the next question, wondering if this meant I was finished with chemo. No, I have to finish the protocol (three more treatments to go). After treatment four and before treatment five, I will have another nuclear PET Scan. Dr. Murphy said that if no cancer appears at that time there would be a good chance that I will never have to deal with this again.

While I am grateful for a gifted and dedicated physician, I am even more grateful for the Great Physician. I believe that what is happening in my life today is the result of the grace of God and an army of prayer warriors around the world. We have been carried by your prayers, love, and support. I want to ask you to not stop praying at this point. All the news is good, but let’s keep praying until we cross the finish line. Please know that God’s mercy is renewing us every morning. To God by the glory!


Monday, April 5, 2010

Post Easter Report

Several weeks ago I was wondering if I would be able to speak on Easter Sunday 2010. I was looking at the different alternatives before me, unsure of where I would be at this point in the journey. As it turned out, yesterday was a great day for me. I spoke in the Saturday evening service, attended a community sunrise service early Sunday morning, spoke in our two morning worship services, and then attended an afternoon service with our friends at Strong Tower Bible Church. I had good energy throughout the day and slept well last night.

I even felt like playing a little golf this past Friday - didn’t finish the full eighteen but played most of it. I loved being outdoors and spending time with close friends Dave, Ken, and Scott. Now I am going to take a couple of days and go down to The Master’s for the Wednesday practice round and par three tournament.

So how am I feeling and what is going on with the lymphoma? As I mentioned, I am really feeling pretty good. I will have a scan on this Friday, April 9 and hopefully that will tell me something about the progress of the treatment. My next chemo treatment is scheduled for Monday, April 12. That will be the half way mark of the six treatments. Obviously we are all praying for a good report and continued strength.

I had a strong reaction to one of the drugs after the first treatment that continues with me even now. I broke out on my torso, arms, and legs with a terrible rash. I spend most days itching and try to fight the natural instinct to scratch. I take Benadryl at night and use a topical steroid, but it is still very annoying. So as you pray, you might add this to your prayer list. That’s about it for now; I will post again after I get the scan report on Friday.

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Williamson AM Article

Here is the article by Harriet Vaughan from this morning's Williamson AM.

Monday, March 22, 2010

Some Long Days Are Still Good Days: Treatment 2

Well, today was treatment number 2. That means 2 down and 4 to go. Today did not go exactly as we thought it would, but it was still a very good day. We arrived at the office of Dr. Patrick Murphy at Tennessee Oncology and were greeted in the waiting room by my friend Ken Davis. Now you gotta know that any day that starts with Ken is going to be a good day regardless of where it goes. He accompanied me to the lab, examination and infusion rooms. We had great conversation about his dad and his service to our nation in the Philippines. Ken has written some about this on his blog. We had some good laughs, and then Ken left like a little boy who had no clue where the door was. He did let me know later that he made it home.

Before I tell you about the rest of the day, let me just say what a pleasure it has been to be associated with Dr. Murphy and his dedicated staff. They go over the top to care for every patient. Their personalized care is amazing. I have never met a nicer group of medical professionals and would recommend them to anyone who might need their services.

Now to the long day - it really goes back to last week when I broke out with a skin rash that itched so bad I scratched like a cat for four days straight. Dr. Murphy decided that I needed to have a biopsy of the rash to make sure that we know what we are dealing with. So, I went straight from the oncologist to the dermatologist for an unexpected biopsy. Not too bad, just a few stitches at the skillful hands of Dr. Paul LaTour, and now we are just waiting for path report.

The chemo treatment lasted a bit longer than expected, and we also paused just before the Benadryl drip to do an interview with Harriet Vaughn from the Williamson A.M. They have also decided to follow the journey. It’s a good thing we did the interview first, because the lights went out pretty quickly with the Benadryl drip, but I’m looking forward to reading her story later this week.

Going Slick With Rick got picked up from NewsChannel 5 by CNN and HLN. I have heard from friends all across the nation that saw the clip. Thanks Steve Hayslip, (I think you had a hand in all this.) Let’s just pray that the story encourages some person who really needs it right now.

I also met a wonderful older couple today in treatment. She is a cancer survivor from 1966, and he is in treatment for bone cancer right now. Be sure and pray for Mr. Harris. They were people of great courage, hope and faith. It was a pleasure to meet them.

So how do I feel after treatment 2? Much better than I expected - I had really good energy all day today. Patti and I feel so blessed in this season of life. Prayer warriors are fighting the fight on my behalf. We feel absolutely surrounded by the goodness of our God. We are seeing grace sufficient for each day and each challenge. The love that has been directed toward us has only strengthened our belief in God’s church. There is no other institution in the world like it. We are dispensers of hope and love to men and women when we stand for the gospel of Christ. What a privilege He has given to us-to represent him in the world in which we live.

OK, so that’s about it for this very long, but good day. I will do labs on Wednesday morning and have my first progress CT scan on April 9, just prior to treatment 3 on April 12. So blessings and thanks to each of you walking the journey with us.


Sunday, March 21, 2010

Slick with Rick Media

Well Slick With Rick has gone national. We just found out that the story was covered on CNN. The link is below. Thanks to everyone for all of your prayers and support. Our entire family is overwhelmed and blessed.

CNN Story

Slick With Rick from The People's Church on Vimeo.

Saturday, March 20, 2010

TPC: Fastest Balding Church In America!

Well, it’s official, The People’s Church is the fastest balding church in America! At least that’s the way it seems these days. Tuesday night, March 16, was quite a night for me. I arrived at the church just before 7 p.m. for what was deemed “Going Slick With Rick.” One of the guys in our church came up with the idea that he would challenge others to shave their heads in order to support me in my battle with lymphoma. Now frankly when I first heard about this I thought –not.

Who in the world would be willing to shave their head? Well, now I know at least 42 guys who said “I’m in.”

It was a fun night with a very festive atmosphere; in fact it had the feel of a frat party minus the booze. Guys of every age lined up as our five professional barbers did the shearing.

We laughed at each other and simply had a great time. Now, truthfully, a few of the guys had little to sacrifice since Mother Nature had already taken her toll on them. Others, however, went away with a lot less than they came in the door with. Some of my “little brothers” were fun to watch as they joined their dads in the time of shearing while some of their moms watched with just a little tear in the eye.

News Channel 5 and News 2 were on hand once again to capture on film what was taking place. It was shown on the 10 o’clock news on both stations.

A reporter from one of the Nashville papers also presented to do an upcoming story. One of the reporters asked me on camera, “how does this make you feel?” Honestly, I am not at

a loss for words often in my life, but this experience brought me pretty close. There was a mixture of emotions going on inside of me all at one time. Rather than trying to explain them all to you, let me just say I was deeply humbled. How do you express your thanks to a bunch of guys who just lined up and shaved off all their hair just to demonstrate love and support for what you’re going through? I think I could write for the next week and never really capture in words what I would like to express to this very special band of brothers.

Now, while I am thanking my brothers, I also need to say there were a number of ladies present who left with a green streak in their hair (lymphoma color) to also show support. My good friend Mary Barnes told me she really wanted to shave her head since her husband, son, and grandson had all joined in. Thankfully, Mary restrained herself, but her heart was right there with us. Also our Women’s Ministry furnished snacks for all who were in attendance.

Someone who has survived this disease wrote me earlier this week and said: “you will never experience more love from people and more of God’s presence as you will during this journey.” This person was absolutely right. Patti and I have experienced things in the past few days where we turn and look at each other and say “only God.” The kindness of our God surrounds us each day and is expressed in so many ways.

Tuesday night it was expressed by 42 shaved heads. Thanks guys. I am in your debt.



Friday, March 12, 2010

They Call Him Tato

To those who knew him way-back-when, he’s Ricky; thousands call him Pastor Rick, Tori, Hope and I call him Dad, but to the grandkids, he’s known as Tato.

“Tato” is Ukrainian for father, and though Hope originally gave Dad this name, Sophie, Will and Lillie don’t know him any other way. They don’t think it is weird to see his face on a big screen when we visit TPC on Sundays, and they don’t even wonder why we can watch him speak on the internet. (I guess they think that’s how it is with all granddads…)They aren’t impressed by what he does nor do they have unrealistic expectations of who he is. I think they are more accepting and place less pressure on him than anyone else in his life. Knowing Dad as “Tato” is different than knowing him as Ricky, Pastor Rick, or even as Dad, so I thought it would be fun for those of us on the journey with Dad to see him through the eyes of his grandkids.

Q: How old is Tato?

Sophie: 53 (just a little off…)

Will: No, two, two!

Q: What is Tato’s favorite color?

Sophie: yellow (score one for Sophie)

Will: No, blue, blue! (That’s Will favorite, not Tato’s)

Q: What is Tato’s favorite food?

Sophie: oranges (well she got the color right…)

Will: Cheetos! Cheetos! Cheetos! (that’s more like it…)

Q: What are your favorite things to do with Tato?

Sophie: Go to the movies with him like Alvin and the Chipmunks and eat popsicles and popcorn in the bed.

Will: I sleep [with] Tato! (Mom and Dad’s bedroom turns into a frat house when Will spends the night, and girls are not allowed! During these frat meetings, Will has been given his first cheeto, and I believe his first coke, (though this last fact has neither been confirmed nor denied))

Q: How do you know Tato loves you?

Sophie: His hugs and his smiles

Will: He sing me “Bird Song” (He Loves Me Too with about 55 verses added; and far be it for Will’s mother to not sing this song exactly as Tato sings it!)

Note: Lillie would like to point out that she is only seven weeks old and therefore unable to answer any of the above questions; however, she would like for it to be noted that she was the only one of Tato’s grandchildren to be present for his surgical biopsy, follow-up appointment with the surgeon, or meeting with the oncologist. She would like Tato to know that while her siblings “talk the talk” of supporting him, she’s the one “walking the walk.”

Tato can rest assured that Sophie, Will, and Lillie are loving him and praying for him on every step of his cancer journey. They are so excited about rubbing his new bald head and maybe even decorating it a bit! They are so very thankful

that of all names he goes by, they get to call him Tato!

News 2 Story

Here is the link to the News 2 story from last night.

Church rallies behind pastor battling cancer

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Nothing Like a Good Haircut

As long as I can remember, I have always enjoyed a good haircut. For the past twenty years, about every two and a half weeks one lady has taken care of all my hair care needs. My friend Teresa Hughes has kept my hair clean, clipped, colored, and styled. Today she gave me my big haircut.

In anticipation of what the chemo treatments were going to do in the next few days, Teresa cut all my hair off today.

She took meticulous care even in this assignment. It might have been more of an emotional moment for both of us (as this is not the first time cancer has brought us together; I buried her husband, Gordon, twelve years ago), but this was not a private moment. In her salon, was Jamey Tucker from WKRN, Channel 2 News, set up with his camera recording the entire event. Off in the wings, were my kiddos Tori and Derek offering all the moral support a dad could want, and they were joined by my good friend Ken Marler, who has walked beside me in friendship since my early days in Franklin. The first couple of minutes were staged for camera purposes, but the remaining time was just Teresa doing what she has done for years, only a bit more off the top than usual.

Well, now that it is behind me, it wasn’t so bad after all.

Nothing has changed other than the blonde hair is gone for a season. I am told that when it comes back several months from now, it may be curly or a different color - more new adventures to anticipate!

The rest of my day was spent getting ready to teach from Acts 6, Lessons Learned in a Crisis, this coming Sunday. By the way, don’t forget it is time change and we need to spring forward one hour. Don’t stay out too late, and be ready for a great day of worship.

At the end of the day, Patti and I met with Dr. Patrick Murphy, my oncologist, for a progress report. He was pleased with how I had tolerated the first and longest treatment and said that my blood counts were really good. While we were in the waiting room, my friend Ken Davis called to check on me and assure me of his support. He did say, however, that as much as he loved me he would not be joining the “band of bald brothers” next Tuesday evening. Instead, he has decided to simply dye his pee pink on the days I have chemo; what a friend!

Well, that’s about it for Thursday, March 11, 2010 except to say “thank you” to everyone who has called, written, prayed, brought food, and expressed kindness in many different ways. And most of all thanks be unto God who has saved me, called me, sustained me, and heals me all because of His great mercy in Christ Jesus the Lord.

Blessings all,


Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Tuesday, March 16 from 7-8 p.m. in the Family Room

Calling all guys who are willing to shave their heads to support Pastor Rick in his journey with cancer.

Everyone is welcome to join us and watch some heads go slick!

If you would like to put your name on the “Slick List,” contact Derek Jones (djones@thepeopleschurch.org).

Monday, March 1, 2010

Treatment 1

Neither of us slept very much last night in anticipation of the events of this day. I officially became a cancer patient today and began my first day of treatment. Overall, things went very well. Patti was right by my side the entire day. We arrived at 8:45 a.m. and were greeted in the waiting room by a friend of Patti’s dad who was there with his son for a CAT Scan. We never even sat down, but went straight to the lab and then on to the infusion room. After picking out a chair, we set up shop for the day. A wonderful lady who was a former member of TPC was one of my main attendants for the day. She took lots of time to explain to us every step in the process. There were a total of about 10 medicines that made up my “cocktail.” I referred to it on Twitter as “Happy Hour at the Chemo Bar,” and I had mine shaken, not stirred.

First, were the anti-nausea drugs, which seem to have been very effective. Soon after, I was given “the red devil.” This one had to be pushed slowly, and we were told this was the one that would take the hair around day 17. To be honest, I really do dread this part. My mom was always proud of my blonde hair. I know it will come back, but it really is one of those things that I will struggle with. Oh, one more thing about the “red devil…” They told us to be prepared when I went to urinate because it would be red or pink. So today’s slogan is “real men pee pink.” That’s my story and I am sticking to it.

Our dear friends Ken and Jan Marler brought us some lunch and provided great support for us. Unfortunately, I had just had a strong dose of Benadryl and slept through most of the visit. Ken has been my close friend for more than 20 years and has been like a brother to me. He will walk this journey with me, and I will be better for it.

Pat Justice from our church was also in the infusion room for treatment, and we had a good visit together about her treatment. We really need to keep Pat in our prayers as she goes through additional treatment for ovarian cancer. Her spirits were high, and she was certainly an encouragement to me.

It was interesting looking around the infusion room and looking into the faces of people all fighting the same or similar battles against cancer. Most appeared to be hopeful, but a few had the look of hopelessness. I hope I can bring some hope to them as I get to know them. Patti and I are overwhelmed with the support system provided to us through family, friends and our extended church family. We have been contacted by thousands of people from all over the world who are praying for us. Again, I am so thankful for God’s church across the world and blessed to be part of it.

Well, the journey has started, and we are on our way. I can tell you from personal experience that God’s mercies are new every morning. We have a peace of His presence unlike we have ever known. We are expecting to be transformed by this whole experience. This we know, God is good, all the time. All the time, God is good. Thanks for walking the journey with us. I am going to have some extra time on my hands, so I will be happy to share in your prayers needs as they arise.



Thursday, February 25, 2010

Get Involved

So many of you have been asking for ways that you can get involved with Dad’s journey with lymphoma. So, here are three ways to get involved…

  1. We will have “Pastor Rick’s Journey” bracelets to sell this Sunday for $2. They are lime green, silicone awareness bands that say “Pastor Rick’s Journey,” and the proceeds will go to support our projects in Malawi. They will be sold on both the Franklin and Spring Hill Campuses.
  2. Coming Soon... “I went slick with Pastor Rick!” Let the head shaving begin! We are gathering a group of men who are willing to shave their heads with Dad. We will keep you posted on when this will take place and how to attend or sign up to participate.
  3. Many people have asked about the shirt that Dad wore last Sunday (Lymphoma Sucks). Anyone who wants one will have the opportunity to order/purchase one at the bracelet table on Sunday morning. They are $10 each. The proceeds from these will also go to support Malawi.

Dad had his port put in today and had a bone marrow test. He is gearing up to start chemo on Monday. Keep praying that he will be encouraged in this journey.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Returning Home

Whew! I just returned home to Atlanta, and I feel like the air has been let out of a balloon. I've been gone just shy of three weeks, and it is hard to believe all that has transpired. I am so thankful I was able to go with the family to meet Dad's oncologist, hear more about his lymphoma, and most importantly, to hear the plan of attack that will bring about his cure.

Just after the appointment, our family went to lunch to debrief and "rehash" as Dad says we girls like to do. I felt like I had "caught" the confidence that Dr. Murphy exudes. Though I am the least "half-full" member of our family, I listened as the doctor encouraged us to view the glass as he does, "all the way full." Now I don't know that I'll ever get there, but I was at a solid three-quarters full after the appointment. At lunch I noticed that my normally "half-full" father looked like someone had drained his cup.

Now, I pride myself on always being the first one to find something to worry about, so I couldn't figure out why Dad didn't seem as positive as I was. So, I quickly, and not-so-subtly began investigating why. "OK, did I miss something, and this appointment actually went worse than I thought?" How could I, the ultimate worrier, have missed it?

Dad assured me that his outlook overall remained positive, but that the practical reality of the situation was also setting in. He used an analogy I understand all too well. He said, "it's like when I've had to go on a trip I really didn't want to go on. I don't want to pack for the trip, I don't want to get ready, and though I know it won't be that bad once I get there, I just dread getting on the plane."

Boy, did that speak to me. In fact, I was already mentally preparing for (and dreading) having to leave my family in just a few hours to return to Atlanta. I just didn't want to get in that SUV.

Setting off on journeys has always been a challenge for me, particularly if I have to take the journey alone. I think one of the downsides to having an amazing family is that it can be very difficult to leave them. I don't know how many times I've cried driving off, even when I was going places I wanted to go. I've always loved learning, but I've cried my eyes out heading to Girls State, Presidential Classroom, and (more times than I can count) to the University of Alabama. I adore travel and the way it changes your view of yourself and the world, but I've tearfully departed for Ukraine, China, Thailand, and many cities in the U.S. I love journeys, but I hate to leave the people I love. I really don't want to go it alone. In fact, I've been known to start an argument with someone in the family in order to get mad enough to have the strength to leave! (That never really works, though I've tried many times!) And as much as I love to travel and as much as I value opportunities to learn and grow, there is nothing like returning home.

I feel like my dad is about to leave for college. I know he is going to learn amazing things on this journey. I feel like he is about to travel oversees. I know his perspective on life will be changed for the better. But I know that like leaving for college or an oversees trip, he is about to encounter brand new difficulties, and though we talk about the "family" going on the journey together, the "family" isn't getting a port inserted in our chests on Thursday. It is sort of like the royal "we." We used to kid Dad about saying, "We need to clean this kitchen for mom," when what he meant was "you girls need to clean this kitchen for mom!" Well, now it isn't really "us" that will begin chemotherapy Monday morning. It isn't "our" hair that will begin falling out. And it isn't "our" bodies that have to fight this terrible disease. Though we are as united as we can be as a family, (and I would hate to see us if we got any closer), in many ways Dad is having to go it alone, and I can't do one thing about it.

So tonight as I am getting back from a three week journey, I am praying for my dad as he embarks on an 18-week journey. I am praying Deuteronomy 31:6 for Dad, that he will be strong and courageous, neither afraid nor terrified for the Lord his God goes with him (even into the chemotherapy treatment room); and He will never leave nor forsake Dad. I can't wait to see and hear what Dad learns on this journey; I know, to a great extent, we will learn along with him. I can't wait to see how his perspective on life changes, and how that changes ours. But most of all, tonight as he prepares to leave for his journey, I am praying that God brings him safely through this adventure, and I am already looking forward to his healthy return home from this journey.


Tuesday, February 23, 2010

The Plan

We had our first visit with Dr. Murphy, Rick’s oncologist, this morning, and we are all very thankful that Rick will be in his care. Dr. Murphy received quite a surprise as he opened the door to find Rick, Patti, Hope, Carrie, baby Lillie, Tori and me (son-in-law, Derek) waiting for him in a small exam room. We spent an hour with the doctor as he thoughtfully answered every question to our very full room. Dr. Murphy is not just a “glass-half-full” kind of guy. He sees the glass "all the way full," and that’s how he encouraged all of us to be. After our time with Dr. Murphy, we toured the area where Rick will go for treatment. The nurse gave us more information and kindly noted that it would be best if only one or two people sat with him during treatment, so we assured her that we wouldn’t bring the whole family every time he walks through their door.

The plan of attack set by Dr. Murphy is a chemotherapy treatment known as CHOP-R. It is an effective combination of drugs that our doctor is confident in. Rick will go one Monday every three weeks to receive a four-hour treatment, followed by a Tuesday shot to boost his white blood cells. He is scheduled to have six of these treatments.

A lot is going to happen in the next week. Here is the plan for now:
-Wednesday, (2/24) Rick will have a test to make sure his heart is healthy and working properly.
-Thursday, (2/25) He will have a bone marrow test and a port installed in his chest for easy access to draw blood and give medication.
-Monday, (3/1) Chemotherapy will begin.
-Tuesday, (3/2) He will go in for his first shot to boost white blood cells.

After hearing the full report from Dr. Murphy, we were encouraged to hear that Rick can do most anything he feels like during this time (except maybe going to Africa). He might not get to give as many hugs or shake as many hands because of germs, but he should be able to preach most Sundays, lead our church as he has been called to do and continue to be the same great husband, dad and grandfather he has always been.

We can’t tell you how much your support and comments on this blog have meant these past few days. Keep on sharing your stories and praying for health and joy for Rick in the days and weeks ahead. Also, keep praying for the four special girls in his life, Patti, Carrie, Tori and Hope as they love and care for him throughout this process. Thank you so much for continuing this journey with us.

Saturday, February 20, 2010

New Diagnosis

Dad went for his appointment yesterday with the surgeon that did his biopsy. We were all ready to hear more about Hodgkin lymphoma and treatment options, but that is not what happened.
We found out that the first diagnosis of Hodgkin lymphoma was wrong. Dad actually has non-Hodgkin lymphoma. More specifically he has T-cell Rich Large B Cell lymphoma. To say we were all a little rattled is an understatement. We all immediately started researching this new diagnosis to much disappointment. There is not a whole lot of information on the Internet about this type of lymphoma. The information that is there is very old information. So, Dad called the office of his new oncologist to see if anyone could give us some information. Late afternoon on a Friday, we really did not think that he would get any answers, but he did! The doctor himself got on the phone to explain things to us and calm some of our fears.

So, here is what we do know about T-cell Rich Large B Cell lymphoma
  • It is an aggressive non-Hodgkin lymphoma (aggressive lymphomas actually have a better cure rate than non aggressive)
  • This type of lymphoma is often mistaken for Hodgkin lymphoma.
  • It is a rare sub type of Large B Cell lymphoma.
  • It can be treated with chemotherapy.
Dad is going for some more tests on Monday and Tuesday to confirm this new diagnosis and come up with a treatment plan. We will keep you updated as we find out more information. Thanks for taking this journey with us.

Thursday, February 18, 2010

You're Invited

Hi. My name is Tori Jones. I am Rick’s middle daughter.

After Dad was diagnosed this week with Hodgkin’s Lymphoma, he asked me to help him set up a blog where he could include you on this journey he is currently taking.

Our family is committed to keeping you informed on this journey. Sometimes Dad will write the post, and other times, it will be other members of our family. We want this to be a place where we can centrally communicate to you - our extended family. So that you will know from whom you are hearing, Dad thought it would be a good idea to introduce our family.

My sister Carrie is the oldest child in our family. Carrie and her husband Matt live in Georgia. Matt is a Student Pastor at Crossroads Community Church outside Atlanta. They have three beautiful children- Sophie who is five, Will who just turned two and Lillie who is four weeks old. We are so blessed that they do not live too far away and are often able to make the trip to Franklin to visit.

I am the middle sister in our family. I am happily married to my husband Derek who is the TPC Kids Pastor at our Spring Hill Campus. I am also on staff at TPC in the Communications Department.

My sister Hope is the baby of the family. Hope was adopted almost 10 years ago from Ukraine. She is a true joy in the life of everyone she knows. Hope is a freshman in college. She attends Williamson Christian College and a massage therapy school, both located in Williamson County.

My mom, Patti, is just that- the mom. She takes care of all of us…always has, always will. All three of us girls have an amazing relationship with our mom. She is not the typical pastor’s wife. Mom is very behind the scenes, but rest assured she is always there supporting Dad.

Our family moved to Franklin almost 28 years ago. Some of you, our family knows personally, and some of you, we have never met. However, by being part of TPC, you are part of our family. My sisters and I have lived most of our lives here and at TPC. We have celebrated birthdays, graduations, marriages and the birth of children here. Through all of these milestones in our lives, TPC has played a role. Our family has been loved well by TPC.

We don’t know for sure what this journey has in store. We know that there will be times of sadness, fear, confusion, uncertainty, and yet also times of great celebration. We ask for your continual prayers as we all walk this journey together as a family. We know that we worship a God that is the great Provider and the Great Physician. We desire to walk this journey with dignity and grace. No matter what this journey brings, we will say Blessed Be His Name.

On behalf of my family, we invite you to take this journey with us.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Biopsy Results

Over the past several months I have shared updates with you regarding my health, and most recently, I communicated the need for a biopsy on some suspicious activity in about four lymph nodes. My biopsy was performed last Friday morning at Williamson Medical by Dr. Henry Russell. I am grateful for all your prayers. Tuesday the results came back, and Dr. Russell communicated that I have Hodgkin's Lymphoma.

Certainly, this is not the kind of news I had hoped for. However, I have been assured by several in the medical community that there is actually a high cure rate for this type of cancer. Treatment will most likely require chemotherapy and radiation. There is no timeline for treatment as of yet, but I am certain it will begin soon. Patti and I will be meeting with doctors over the next few days.

In the meantime, I will remain active and preaching, while also taking time when needed for self-care. As you pray, please ask the Lord to show me anything and everything I need to know and experience from Him. I am so very thankful for the leadership of our staff and support teams during these days. Our mission and new initiatives are moving forward as planned, and I do not want TPC to miss out on what is before us. I know I can count on you to pull together as we walk this journey.

Please know it is a joy to be your pastor.