Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Just Waiting

Pam just wrote this for the blog.....

It has been a difficult, difficult two days with Janet. Either we were dealing with writhing pain or a morphine stupor, and both conditions were agonizing for us to watch.

But this morning about 5 a.m. things took a turn for the better. Janet is suddenly feeling more energized and needing much less morphine. I'm pretty sure this is due to increasing her primary medication yesterday, which the doctor said would take about 18 hours to take effect. 5 a.m. would have been 19 hours since the change... Wow....

So I have been sitting with Janet for the past 90 minutes, and taking advantage of these precious moments when she is clear headed, coherent, and chatty. We have said important things to each other and shared silent smiles. I will treasure the memories of this glorious morning forever.

This morning we had our first "Jesus sighting." As we were talking, Janet suddenly reached her arms up and said, "Oh! He's beautiful...."

I stopped talking and then she turned and said quietly, "Pam that was Jesus..."

"It was?" I barely whispered, as I felt I was on holy ground. "What does He look like?"

She was quiet and thoughtful for a long time and then said, "I don't know... He's gone now. But He was telling me a joke..... He's funny. "

Then she looked heavenward and said, "Father, I really, really, really want to wait for Becky." Becky arrives tonight at midnight, about 18 hours from now. And then she looked at me and said, "I'm just in a hovercraft right now for a little while before I go up. "

I am blessed to share these moments with this woman. It is singularly the most difficult and the most rewarding experience of my life.

Monday, June 29, 2009

Another Red-Letter Day

Sunday was a special day for Janet. The teens from her church in Mae Wong came to visit, bringing with them a banner that they had painted to express their love for her. There were about twenty people crowded around the living room. Janet was able to talk to them about her faith in God the Father in the light of her home-going. Thais don't like to talk about death or dying as they feel it will hurry it along but she encouraged them to talk about it and especially to not fear it if they have trusted in Jesus for salvation. She said that there isn't anything to fear--all death means for the believer is going to live in heaven with Jesus forever! Janet and the kids shared happy memories together, then they all sang a couple songs and prayed together. What a joy it was to watch Janet interact with the kids and with the leaders of the Mae Wang church!

Janet with church leaders and teens from her Mae Wang church

Mary Aspinwall (in the pink shirt), born and raised in Thailand, was able to share truths from the Word of God in their heart language, Northern Thai

Roxie was right in the middle of everything, but she was not too excited about what was going on!

Janet practicing her Thai with one of the church leaders

Click on the arrow to watch a bit of what went on Sunday afternoon.
Janet with Wanlop and Muuy
Some scenes from the banner they made for Janet

Their love for Janet was so evident in the pictures they painted.

Janet had another difficult night Sunday night. Her pain medication has been increased and she's had a more comfortable day. She was hungry for potato salad so we fixed a bowl of it for her and she said she really enjoyed it. Pray that she will have a more comfortable night tonight. Pray for wisdom and strength for Pam and the others who are caring for her.

Saturday, June 27, 2009

Worshiping Together

Janet got a better night's rest last night than she's had in a long time! Today was tough for her as we had some trouble keeping her pain at bay. Pray for a good night's rest for her tonight and that we'll be able to keep ahead of the pain tomorrow so she can have a more comfortable day.

One thing Janet really wanted to do was have a time of worship with some of her young friends. It was scheduled for a couple days ago when Janet was feeling better but because of some miscommunication it didn't happen then. The kids came today and Janet really wanted to go out to sit in the living room with them. When she sat up to put on her robe she was in a lot of pain so she just settled back down on her bed and we all came to her. Janet said she would just listen and not sing with us but she couldn't help herself on many of the songs! We had a wonderful time of worship together and our hearts were so blessed by the peace and joy that are so evident in Janet's life!

Janet & Pam

Janet and Pam-- in this together!

Roxie the dog was not impressed with our singing!

Thanks, Daniel, for leading the music.

Praying together for Janet.

Pam is Back

Pam arrived yesterday. It's good to have her home! Gwen, who has been staying with Janet for the past 10 days or so is returning home today. Things with Janet seem to be different from day to day but these are major changes that she's going to have to adjust to. Pray for Pam as she adjusts to the time change and as she cares for Janet.

Janet had a rough morning yesterday, with some pain. She perked up as the day went on. She typically has a harder time in the mornings and feels better as the day goes on. I'll try to get some photos of her posted in the next day or two! If you call Janet please be aware of the time differences. Thailand is 12 hours ahead of Central Daylight Time in the US and you can figure out the time difference from where you are from that. Try to call her late morning or early evening Thailand time.

Thursday, June 25, 2009

A Look at Her Glob

Janet had a good day today. She was up in her chair more and got some things sorted through. Her color is good and she has a bit more appetite. She also got to look at her 'glob' for the first time! She especially appreciates the blog because her family back home can be kept up to date with how she's doing. Thanks to all of you who have commented on the blog! Pam gets back tomorrow morning and we are all excited to have her home again! Pray that she will have a safe trip and that she'll adjust well to being on this side of the world again. Pray, too, for all of us as we coordinate the care that Janet needs for the coming week.

Janet read a note today about 'the difficult time she's going through' and she stopped and looked at us and said, "What difficult time? This has been the best time of my life!" She said she knows she's going to see her Savior soon and in the meantime she is surrounded by friends who love and care for her. Only the Lord could give her such peace and joy in the midst of suffering!

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Home Again, Home Again, Jiggity Jig!

talking with Pam on the phone yesterday

Janet was released from the hospital early this afternoon. And she arrived home early this evening! Oh, the joys of waiting for paperwork to be processed! Roxie was so excited to see Janet!! She's not allowed on the bed but this was a special occasion! Thanks for praying that Janet would be able to return home. She is still very weak but the doctors thought she was strong enough to make the trip home. She is so, so happy to be back in her own bed again!
a happy reunion with Roxie

Janet has had a lot of visitors during the past few days and she is always bright and cheerful while they are together but as soon as they leave she goes back to bed exhausted. She enjoys so much spending time with dear friends but it is very wearing! Some friends are believers and they encourage each other. Some are not, and that leaves Janet with a longing that they would come to faith in Jesus Christ. She expressed again today her desire that the Lord would somehow use her illness and homegoing to draw others to Himself. Pray with her that the Lord would make Himself manifest through her life in the coming days.

Janet visiting with Peter, Ochie, Daniel and Maria this afternoon. It's hard to get a good photo of Janet, she's such a clown!

Monday, June 22, 2009

One Day at a Time

Janet will spend another night in the hospital. She seemed weaker today. She spent less time sitting up, did less talking and more resting. She didn't even have the strength to have her hair fixed for her, and that's not a good sign for a woman!! The stent is working and her bile is going where it's supposed to go now. Her blood work came back much improved, but still not as good as it should be, so please keep praying. Other than one short period of severe pain last night she hasn't had much pain. The doctors had stopped her IV yesterday but started it again today to see if that would give her a bit more strength. She was craving a hamburger and ate a few bites of one this evening! She doesn't have much appetite so when she says she's hungry for something we do our best to get it for her! She did sit up for about an hour and a half this evening and visited with a group of friends, and she enjoyed that. She's tucked back into her bed and ready for good night's sleep!

Janet can have visitors but we ask that you call her cell phone number before visiting to see when a good time would be. We are trying to spread visits out so it's not so tiring for her. We realize that she has many good friends who want to come express their love and concern for her, and she needs that, so just call to arrange a time. Janet won't be answering her phone but some one will be around to answer for her. If you can't get through you can send a message. Please do comment on the blog if you wish and we'll get those comments to her. Tom, I got your comment but for some reason it says it was added but it's not, so you can resend if you want and we'll try again.

Janet said again today how much she appreciates the love and concern that so many of her family and friends have expressed to her. And she especially appreciates your prayers! The Lord is giving her amazing joy and peace as she walks through the valley! (Deb)

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Singing I Go

Janet with some dear Thai friends. Pray that the love she's shared with them will draw them to the Savior.
They've adopted "Paa Janet" into their family!

Janet hasn't lost her sense of humor! This was right before they took her to surgery.

It has been a joy to walk along with Janet these past weeks since her cancer diagnosis. We've known each other and been coworkers for 18 years, and have had many good times together. We have laughed together (or was it crying??) as we tried to get her computer to do what we thought it should, enjoyed many conferences and ladies' retreats together, but haven't really spent much time together. That has changed! It's been such a blessing to spend time with Janet the past three weeks since she got back from Israel. We've learned more about each other than we probably ever wanted to know! I know she's got mind of her own, she knows I'm bossy. I know she snores, she knows I'm like a zombie when she wakes me up out of a deep sleep! I know she has a deep, abiding love for the Father and her faith is only growing stronger through the trials she is going through. And I trust she knows that I love her dearly and count it a privilege to help do for her what she can no longer do for herself. There are a group of us who work together so that Janet always has someone with her, see that she gets to her appointments with her doctors, give her back rubs, make sure she has what she wants to eat when she wants it, schedule her visitors, help her take care of business matters, sort through 'stuff' with her, listen to the stories that are a part of herlife, laugh with her, cry with her, pray with her, sing with her.....

Yesterday Janet had a stent put in her bile duct. She has been jaundiced since she returned from Israel but it was getting worse so her doctors recommended that a stent be put in so the bile can drain properly. She also had a nerve block done to help control the pain in her abdomen. The surgery went well as far as we know and hopefully we'll start seeing some positive results in a day or two. She is very weak, has little appetite and has had some pain today. When her doctors decide she's strong enough she will be able to go home. She is also praying about whether or not to do radiation therapy on the tumor on her spine. Her doctors have recommended the treatment because the cancer will weaken her bones and she may well become paralyzed. The growth on her spine in on the T11 and T12 vertebrae. The radiation treatment won't prolong her life but may give her a better quality of life until the Lord takes her to be with Him.

The most precious part of our day yesterday was when a group of us were standing around her bed before she went down for surgery. Instead of praying together she wanted us to sing 'The Lord's Prayer'. Janet has such a beautiful voice and her face just glowed with joy as we sang together! I heard the nurse tell the others who were waiting to take her down to the OR that they needed to wait while we worshipped together! Keep praying for Janet, that she will find her strength in the Lord as her body continues to weaken. Pray for Pam as she decides when to return to Thailand from the States and for safety as she travels. Pray for those of us who are caring for Janet, that we'll know best how to meet Janet's needs from day to day. (by Deb Shimmin, Janet's personal 'glob blogger'!)

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Another Good Day

Gwen and Mary helping get lunch ready for Janet. The dog, Roxie, is looking for a handout!

Janet and Deb trying to get some paperwork done

Janet had another good day today. She was up in her chair most of the day except for a nap this afternoon. The highlight of her day was meeting with the Thai staff of Grace International School this afternoon, around twenty of them! I'll try to get photos of them together put on the blog tomorrow. She finished some important business matters and found some more that need done. It is amazing when the Lord brings things that need done to light. If we knew at the beginning all that would need done it would have been more than overwhelming! We finish one thing, then find out another thing that needs done....

Tomorrow Janet has a check up with her oncologist. Pray for strength for Janet as she hasn't been out of the house for a week now. Pray that Janet will have clarity of mind to ask the doctor the questions that she's been jotting down. Pray that the doctor will be able to give Janet an idea of how things seem to be progressing. Janet's Thai friend who is an RN is going along, and that will be a big help to Janet.
Until tomorrow!

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Doing Much Better

No, this isn't how Janet takes her medication! She had just taken the last and had added water to rinse out the bottle. She didn't want to waste a drop!

The night afer her biopsy Janet had trouble sleeping. She dug out her IPod and the first song that played was 'On My Way to Paradise', sung by Bob Carlisle. She has laughed about that many times since then. How like the Father to give her a fun song to enjoy as she started on the last phase of her journey home! We listened to the song again this afternoon and Janet was bopping around on her bed and singing along. This is the Janet we know and love!

Janet had a much, much better day on Tuesday. She was able to be sitting up in her rocker most of the day. In fact, one of her caregivers (me!) was worn after a busy morning and when Janet laid down for a nap, I grabbed a pillow and stretched out on the couch. Guess who woke who up?? About 35 minutes later I heard Janet calling my name. At first I thought she must be uncomfortable but all she wanted was a mango smoothie! It hadn’t been that long since she’d eaten a bowl of soup and some ice cream for lunch so it was encouraging that she was acturally hungry again! Our new and ‘growing dearer every day’ friend, Sue, had brought over the yummy chicken vegetable soup, with every slice of vegetables done with love for Janet. (I know it was yummy because Janet insisted that I have a some of it for lunch, too!)

Pray that she didn’t wear herself out today. She got more of her ‘stuff’ sorted through as well as some important paperwork taken care of. Thank you all so much for praying for Janet. The Lord is so gracious to give her days like today that she could enjoy instead of just endure.

Monday, June 15, 2009

Slowing Down

Monday Morning, June 15

Janet is slowing down and has been spending nearly all of the past few days in bed. She needs someone in the house with all the time now. She is still relatively free of pain, thanks to the medications she's been prescribed. Sunday was a rough day for her. She was not necessarily in pain but very uncomfortable. This morning she said that yesterday was a horrible day but that "it all came out okay in the end" and she was able to sleep last night. She did get up long enough this morning to shower but went right back to bed. Do be praying for her, that she will continue to graciously accept her circumstances and give us the joy of serving her in the coming days. There are still business matters that she needs to attend to while she's able, so pray that we can get that accomplished.

One thing that Janet would like to do is answer emails but it is uncomfortable for her to sit up to use her computer. She doesn't have the strength to, anyway, so know that is why your emails haven't been answered. She does appreciate all of you and your prayers on her behalf.

After Janet got done showering this morning, she stretched out on her bed with a big smile on her face and said, "When I die I want to be awake. I don't want to miss it!" She can rest assured that she's not going to miss it!

Deb, for Janet

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Janet's Testimony

The following is the testimony that Janet shared with her Thai church last Sunday….

Sawasdee Kha! (Thai greeting) I bring you greetings from your Christian brothers and sisters living in the land of Israel. I returned last week from three months in Israel and expected to worship with you last Sunday-- did you see me here? No, because I was in the Ram Hospital. I am so glad I could come today.

My time in Israel was wonderful. I lived in Jerusalem during the month of March (thought I would freeze to death there) and then stayed in a little apartment just outside of the city for April and May. I met so many lovely believers in Jesus Christ—like here in Sampatong/Maewong.

The three weeks before returning to Thailand I got sick, lost my appetite and was in a lot of pain. I thought it was a problem with my gallbladder. The doctor in Israel thought the same but told me to have some tests done at the hospital here if I continued to have pain. So, I returned Thursday night and went to Ram Hospital Friday morning to see a doctor. I had three days of tests and returned on Thursday morning to find out the results.

I was in shock. My gallbladder is fine but I have pancreatic cancer. I have adequate pain medication. My main symptoms are fatigue, no appetite and very dry mouth.

But my spirit is blessed with peace, peace of the father in the Lord Jesus Christ. I’m okay with it and you can be okay with it also. Don’t be afraid to talk with me about it. The Hebrew word for peace is Shalom so I have been using that greeting because it is so true in my present condition.


Janet enjoying some Israeli food before she lost her appetite!

Janet and her friend, Janet, in Israel

How Lovely Are The Feet of Those Who Bring Good News

From Pam Davis....

Janet decided today that she wanted her first ever pedicure, complete with flowers painted on the toes, because she wants pretty toes for when she "goes up!" And so off we went to Nice Nails.
She is doing well physically, although she tires very easily and is having more frequent instances of "breakthrough pain." Her spirit continues to be a stunning witness to the community of how one might die with dignity and courage. Yesterday she said, "Oh this cancer is a gift, because it could have been a heart attack or a stroke--but in being pancreatic cancer I have time to say goodbye...."

Now who else has ever called pancreatic cancer a gift? Only Janet! I knew then that I was in the presence of holiness. What a privilege to walk so closely beside this courageous woman of faith.

Saturday, June 6, 2009

Recent Photos

Farewell at Janet's Thai church before she left for Israel
Breakfast in the hospital after Janet's biopsy (May 31)

News from Pam

Pam Davis is Janet's housemate and closest friend. Pam wrote this and asked that it be added to Janet's blog.....

Hi Everyone,
Just a quick update regarding Janet's visit with the oncologist this morning. We met with a gracious woman named Dr. Rattiya who has 3 years at the Mayo Clinic in New York as part of her repertoire. Janet and I both felt immediately at ease with her kind spirit and gentle voice. Her English is flawless and she has a calming presence. It was no surprise to us to have confirmation that Janet has Stage 4 (final stage) Pancreatic Cancer. We were, however, surprised to learn that the cancer has also already spread to her bone. Because of the widespread nature of the cancer (pancreas, liver, bone, and also possibly the bile duct), the oncologist has said that there is no treatment apart from pain management. At this point, chemo would only be useful to alleviate pain, but neither chemo nor radiation would be effective at prolonging her life at this point. We spent over an hour with the oncologist, and she very patiently answered questions, made suggestions, offered comfort, and simply listened to us. Although Dr. Rattiya said she could not say "how long" Janet might live, she did offer us statistics. 50% of people with Stage 4 Pancreatic Cancer live 3-6 months. The other 50% either live less than 3 months or longer than 6. Only 5% of people live longer than one year with this diagnosis. It feels really important to Janet to wait for two families that are very special to her to return from America, so we are asking God for mid-August or beyond.

Currently, Janet has been offered the very best pain medication available, and so she is not in a great deal of pain. There are still many loose ends to tie up, and so we are grateful that we have some time. We are both heartbroken and overjoyed all at the same time. How glorious to be with Jesus. How sad to suffer. Thank you so much for your many, many prayers and kindnesses. We are asking visitors to try to come only on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday afternoons, and to please check with Melanie Reimer before coming. Mel's number is 083-318-0386.

We are so grateful and so humbled by God's amazing goodness to us in all of these events. I am stunned by all the ways that He continues to wrap us in His love and care.

Friday, June 5, 2009

Biopsy Results

Janet, along with Pam and Deb, met with the GI specialist Thursday morning to get the biopsy report. The biopsy confirmed that she does have cancer. The GI doctor referred her to an oncologist and Janet was able to meet with her right away. She said that Janet has stage four cancer, meaning the cancer has spread from the primary tumor on the pancreas, to the lymph nodes, and on to her liver and spine. Janet has chosen not to do chemotherapy as it wouldn't cure the cancer but only give her a little bit more time. Janet's pain is being controlled with medication, for which she is very thankful. Pray that the side affects of the pain medication will be minimal. The days since Janet returned from Israel have been so busy that Janet hasn't had time to process all that is going on and all that needs done. She hasn't even had time to read her emails, much less answer them! Please pray that she will have some quiet time with the Lord to work through things. Pray for her and for Pam as they try to get as much done as possible before Pam leaves for the States next week. Pam plans to be gone for six weeks. Janet is encouraged by all the love and support she's been given and appreciates so much your prayers for her! The Lord is definitely going before Janet as she was able to go get a necessary document at the consulate Thursday morning, go to immigration and get her visa and be at the hospital at 11:00! Our Thai secretary, Kai, 'just happened' to be at Immigration Thursday morning, too, and when it looked like they were running out of time she was able to tell them Janet's situation and they saw to it that it was done so she could make it to the hospital on time. Thanks for praying for Janet!!

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

New News

This blog has been set up as a means of passing on news concerning Janet and her health concerns. Keep checking for the latest news!