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 (

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.