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.