Wednesday, October 22, 2008

When KEEP BELIEVING begins to take on new meaning

Yesterday, we heard from the tumor board. The board is suspicious that the growth is more likely tumor and not radiation effect due to some characteristics and something about organization and a few other words that may as well have been, and probably were, in LATIN for all I know. What I do know, is that we were not surprised by this news. We have not seen this much growth in such a short time. The Petscan results are not in yet, but honestly, I would be surprised if they showed anything different. I think Brian would, too.

What DID surprise us was that one of the surgeons mentioned another surgery as a potential option. He said that he thought he could get in and debulk the mass without hampering the motor cortex and without causing Brian much problem. Our next step is to have a conversation with this surgeon. What he would want to do first is map the brain and ensure he was not going to touch or hurt any important areas causing Brian further detriment before he attempted to debulk.

There are a few issues with this. First of all, how likely would this surgery be to cause Brian harm? Because we are being faced with a decision – how much of one’s life is one willing to give up for the sake of living longer? Brian lost a lot of function after the last surgery. He doesn’t want to go through that again. And Brian knows that whatever he wants is okay with me. It truly is. Brian doesn’t want to be a burden. I have assured him that he is not a burden and even with further issues, he would not be a burden to me. I would take care of him if this is what he wants. He isn’t sure if this is what he wants because the second issue is that they are unsure how much long term benefit this will have for Brian. With a debulking of the tumor, the surgeon would be unable to get it all. They will never say they got all of a brain tumor due to its “fingers” unseen by even advanced medical equipment. And it appears the tumor is growing regardless. Would debulking provide much benefit and for how long? Is it worth the risk? There is simply no way of knowing if this would keep Brian here longer or how much longer. It is an agonizing decision. A decision for which I believe there is no “right” answer. Simply a personal choice. It is Brian’s choice. I support him no matter what he decides.

So, Brian and I have begun “the talks.” The talks where I assure him I am not afraid of living without him and he assures me he is not afraid of dying. And I really am not afraid of living without him. I am coming to terms with it slowly. I am angry and my faith is faltering and I am heart-broken, but I am not scared. While that could be the pharmaceuticals speaking on my behalf, I believe it is the peace of Jesus within me. And for Brian, he is at peace with dying. He is not happy with the potential timing and the impact it will have on his children, but the actual process of dying isn’t frightening him anymore. Honestly, the talks are liberating. To be able to openly discuss that which lays heavily on our hearts, but that which we feared would break the other person, without that fear is priceless.

His concerns with dying are the following: Most importantly, he says, he doesn’t want me to lose my faith and he knows that many days I am faltering lately. How tragic is it that the one who is facing his mortality every day is the one reassuring the surviving of the grace of God? He says it is very important to him that my faith stay strong so I can continue to pass that on to our boys because it will be easy for them to stray from faith, too. Secondly, the age of our boys. They are simply too young to have a heart to heart with about the things he wants them to get out of life - the things he would teach them throughout their years and in life lessons. He will most likely not be around to instill values and morals in their adolescent years. That is the one thought that brings him to tears. And I don’t know what to say to comfort him. The hard truth is the boys are very young. They will have little memory of these years, but I will try my damnedest to embed these years into their long term psyche. I know anyone that has been touched by Brian will help me do that. They couldn't help BUT do it.

So, don’t get me wrong, Brian is not giving up. He is going to stay the course with speaking with the surgeon first, weighing that option and then trying a new chemo regardless. We have some tough decisions ahead again. Brian wants to continue to live. It is just becoming more apparent that barring a miracle, which we both know could always happen, Brian’s cancer is growing and we have little remaining weapons. Prayer, which is our strongest weapon, will always remain in our arsenal.



  1. Angie -
    Brian's faith is amazing and you will gain new strength from it. We will continue to pray for all of you and for that healing miracle. If there is ANYTHING I can do from here, please don't hesitate to call me.

  2. dearest angie and brian,
    you are such an ispiration to all of us, teaching us along the way how to face the issues in front of you.
    Start Praising the Lord, sing songs to Him, for He is Our Heavenly Father, when Paul and Silas were in their darkest hour at midnight stuck in the prison. their praises opened the doors to a new found freedom and many others came to know the Lord.
    Praising God for who He is and praising Him for the awesome family He has put in front of us, teaching us the way of life.
    Praising God for the healing, within the storm of the cancer growth, the false tissue that don't belong there in the name of Jesus,
    Cancer "be still" you have no business being in that brain any more enough is enough. We Praise the Lord in Thanksgiving.

    God bless Love you

  3. you are two of the most awesome amazing beautiful people i know! adding my weapons to your arsenal!

    'prayer is the tongue of faith' ~e.m. bounds

  4. Just like others have prayers for you, it is okay to let others have faith for you too.

  5. Always praying here Angie. Just one thought or suggestion. If Brian can still communicate by talking or writing, can he make a video or write a letter to each boy to give them something when they are older to listen to? Something that enables him to have that "heart to heart" when they are older to understand. Just a thought. KEEP BELIEVING ANGIE. XOXO

  6. Dear Angie,
    I cannot guess what you are feeling. I won't pretend to even know the right words to say. I've never been in your shoes, and I won't try to give some platitude to make myself feel better for being sympathetic. The truth is, no one can make you feel better, no one but God. You are an amazing person in every way I know, and you are a blessing to your husband and your family. When this trial gets so very very hard, try to lean on God even when it's not easy. When we try to solve our problems by ourselves, we fail miserably. Partly because we think we know the right answer but really God is the one who knows. But mostly because we think we are stronger if we are independent and don't need anyone. Admitting that we need help is the true mark of strength. So, if you need help, please ask me. I know you have an incredible support system pysically all around you, but your extended support system is praying constantly. Please know that if you need anything, I will be on a flight immediately. Love you.

  7. Angie- I am so amazed at your faith. Look at what you are doing for Christ. You two are walking testimonies! You are praising Christ, yet being honest about the hurt you have and how you are angered my this disease. YOU are being honest, and I don't think God would want it any other way! The Lord knows Brian's path, and where his path will end... and the Lord made you to follow this journey with Brian-- and what a wise choice you are for Brian.

    I will be praying for you all! :)

  8. Still reading and still thinking of you all.

  9. When my Mom was diagnosed with cancer(s), someone once said to me 'take comfort in what you can not control'. Only now do I get that.

    You know I heartcha. Peace and love my friend.

  10. Just wanted to give you some 'love'. You, Brian and the boys are in my prayers daily. It was nice to talk to you - I'm not so great at leaving comments or sending emails as often as I should. But know that I think of you and pray for you constantly. I tell others to pray for you too.

  11. My heart breaks for all that your family is going through. You are right, the decisions ahead of your family are agonizing and I agree, I do not think there is a right answer with how to proceed. Whatever the future holds, I pray that you will feel the comfort of the Lords arms you.

  12. Angie,
    I was going to sugget Brian to make a video for the boys, but i seen someone already did suggest that. i have known some that have done that for their childeren and that seem to help the children deal with it better. my thoughts and prayers go out to all of you.

  13. Angie,
    I also wanted to add that your blogs have really touch my heart. I have only met you,Brian and the boys a few times at your moms. But your whole family is just amazing and I want you to know that your whole family is in my thoughts and prayers. I met you through Kelly she married my cousin Jeff. You may or may not remember me. I try to get on your blog a couple of times a week to keep up with you guys. May the lord be hearing all our prayers and you cont to stay strong. your such a wonderful wife and mother. you are an inspiration to all of us.

  14. Still praying...

    I love that picture of the two of look so peaceful.

  15. I wish there were something I could do or say. All I can offer you are my thoughts and prayers and hope that these will comfort you. You guys are so strong and have such a wonderful love.

  16. What an honest post. I agree sometimes it is easy to feel like what is going on Lord??? But keep praying, keep singing to the Lord, listen to the song I sent you. Have the LORD help carry you through all of this. And most of all, Keep Believing!!

    I was going to ask, if it is not too forward of me, if you won't mind sending me a picture of you all to put on the sidebar of my blog. I would like to remind the people who visit me, to keep you all in their thoughts and prayers too. If you would rather not, I totally understand.

    Your in Chet and I's thoughts and prayers daily. :)

  17. Keep turning it all over to the Lord, even your doubts, fears, anger and heartache. He is big enough.

  18. I wish I could hug you right now!

    Stay strong. You and Brian are an inspiration.

  19. And ... I will be praying and hoping for a miracle, as I have seen many miracles in my life and believe they do happen! Take care - Kellan

  20. Wow Angie...I'm praying for you guys as big decisions are ahead. God Bless...

  21. Angie-

    I keep up with your blog, but never comment because I have NO words. Please know that you are ALWAYS in my prayers....I WILL keep believing!!! You are an amazing woman with an amazing family - truly a witness to so many!

  22. I so wish no one had to have those kind of talks.

    I love the pictures.

    Please know that you and Brian's story have touched more than you could number. I have been thinking about you all week.

  23. Angie, I am Gretchen Willis' MIL just wanted to suggest Brian write or tape what he would like his son's to know in the future. Maybe things about his growing up, the way life can be, making good decisions, etc. Just a thought. Pat Willis

  24. I was going to also suggest Brian leaving videos and letters to his boys. Perhaps several could be written or made to be given to the boys at the different milestones of their lives: graduation from Jr. high, graduation from high school, marriage, and any other important occasions in their lives. He could include the fatherly advice he would like to give them as they reach these different important transition times in their lives.

    I believe in you to "keep believing." Your strength and faith rings through in your words, even through the doubts you sometimes must be feeling.

    You and your family are on my mind and in my prayers.

  25. Hugs and prayers to you and your guys.

  26. Your strength and Brian's is so evident in the way you share this news. There is nothing I can say but to assure you that there are people you've never even heard of that are pulling for your family no matter what direction things go.

    Having been through cancer with my mother, my sister and my very good friend, one thing that I know is that people don't "give up." They make the decision that's right for them.

    You're in my heart today and every day.

  27. Angie, I'm praying for you from WHitehouse, TX. I hope that Thursday is a blessed one for you guys.

  28. Angie & Brian,
    I'm all out of words and tears at this point, but I'm NEVER out of HOPE...We all will KEEP BELIEVING in the power of your love for each other and those two amazing and precious boys...The AWESOME HEALING of this evil cancer is possible with our GOD...but just knowing that you are all able to communicate everything that needs to be said right now is such a gift...but one that I know you wish you never had to open...Love you both, and adore those boys...and continuing to pray! I'll be there in a heartbeat for any reason for either of you...I hope you both know that!

  29. Good Morning Brian and Angie, Gavin and Grant

    We wanted you to know that we are thinking of you and sending positive thoughts and prayers your way.

    Love Joe, Beth, Sara and Adam Girardi

  30. God bless you and keep you.

  31. Angie and Brian, all i have to say at this point is "well done good and faithful servant". Keep Beleiving!

  32. Angie, I am praying for you and Brian and the boys. What a woman of wisdom and grace you are. Your family and friends can be your extension cord right now plugging into HIS power, even if your own faith and stamina falters. HE can hear your deepest prayers even when they are just a groan.

    Keep Believing!

  33. We are praying every day!!

    Love, Mike, Kathy, Jessica & Nicole

  34. Sweetie, I just want to grab you through the monitor every time you write and give you a huge hug. And your boys, and Brian. His courage and faith is wonderful and your boys are learning it from him. I wish there was something I could do help, but prayers are all I can do. And will. Hugs to all of you!

  35. Please don't think I'm weird, but I love y'all.

  36. Scratch that. I don't care if you DO think I'm weird. I love y'all anyway.

  37. Pinky 'brought me over here', though I believe I read your blog once before. I'm so glad she did.
    You'll all be in my prayers......
    You can't beat the peace of Jesus...
    Wonderful that you know that; but I sure don't blame you for having some doubts these days.
    May His peace continue to keep you with Him.
    Hug Brian for me.

  38. Pinky sent me over. I can only guess at a little of what you're feeling. My husband suffered a massive stroke at age 32, when our daughter was 14 months old, and was given only a 25% chance of living. I remember thinking some of your same thoughts, only my faith didn't falter--it came to a screeching halt.

    God took care of us anyway, because His Love was greater than my anger.
    But I didn't have the peace that you have. I will pray that you all continue to feel His presence, His peace, and His strength.

  39. fabulous pictures!

    there is a right choice. It's whatever Brian decides...there is no wrong choice.

    As to the boys. It may help Brian to write each of them letters...saying all those things he wants them to know.

    everyone I know who's lost someone spends time pissed with God...then that time passes as they heal, fear not if your faith falters right now, even Jesus asked for there to be a way to avoid Golgotha.

  40. I don't know you, but I am praying for you, for strength, comfort, increased faith, peace and a miracle. None of us is assured of having one more minute here on this earth, so I pray that God's blessings would flow down over you all during whatever amount of time you have together. And to believe that it just could be a long time because He is able to do more than we could ever ask or imagine.

  41. Hi, I came via Pinky also.
    My thoughts and prayers go out to you and your family. I cannot even begin to imagine the range and depth of your emotions and strength.
    I pray that the Holy Spirit will be with you to comfort and lift you.
    I know the Lord doesn't give us anything we can't handle, but it sure is tough sometimes.
    All my best,

  42. Hi don't know me. I came from Pinky's. Your situation is vastly different but I also had a bit of faith shaking and began to wonder about htings when my aun (who I was very close to) suddenly became ill, then got better then abruptly fell in the night while at the hospital, depriving herself of oxygen til she became brain dead. We prayed and prayed and believed yet I saw the Lord allowing her to go be with Him. I had no desire for that to happen. She was so young! It was hard because I know in my heart of hearts that at any moment He could have changed things. Then doubt began to creep in as the enemy hits you when you're at your lowest...maybe none of this is healing even possible at all? If so why not my AUnt? we're all counting on GOd adn He's not coming through - why??? It was very hard and has still left me with questions yet I trust Him. I will surely be praying for you. Truth be told, none of us know how long we will be here. We have to buy up each moment.
    What if you made videos of your husband given the boys all his godly dad advice? They might never need the videos but it would be there if they did.