Dear Family and Friends,
You may recall from our March newsletter that we unexpectedly left Ethiopia two weeks early to return to the U.S. in March because, by all accounts, my (Gary’s) mother did not have long to live. Well, now we have returned to Ethiopia and seven weeks later she is, as of this writing, still alive. God’s ways certainly are not our ways, and His plans are not our plans. Even though she is very weak and has congestive heart failure, she continues to live day to day (just as we all do).
Many sons (especially missionary sons in faraway countries) do not enjoy the privilege I had of spending many hours at the side of my mom in what undoubtedly are her final days. Since we returned to the U.S. two weeks earlier than scheduled, there were no meetings or other obligations set up during that time. That meant that for those two weeks Peggy and I were able to visit her in the nursing home every day. (Her nursing home is about 45 minutes’ drive from our home in Bloomington, Illinois.) It was during that time that she was more alert and able to carry on limited conversations. She ate nearly every meal in the dining room and we spent many of those meals with her.
As time progressed we eventually hit the meetings, dinners, travel, etc. that had been set up prior to leaving Ethiopia and our visits were not so frequent. During that time she also trended downhill and it became more difficult for her to stay awake, to eat in the dining room, and to carry on any conversation. She let us use her car while we were in the States, so when I returned it to the nursing home the morning prior to our return to Ethiopia, I was privileged to see her one more time. Whether that is the last time we will see each other on earth we, of course, don’t know.
Each year when we return to the U.S. Peggy and I schedule physical exams. Usually they are very routine and we simply check it off the “Things to Do” list. This year my PSA (prostate specific antigen) result was a little high, so my doctor wanted me to have my prostate biopsied. We were coming down to the wire, with a very short time remaining prior to our return to Ethiopia. Thanks to the connections of my brother Keith, who is a doctor, I was able to schedule the biopsy with an urologist right away.
I had been biopsied in this area quite a few years ago, so I kind of knew what to expect. However, when I got up off the table this time, I had considerable pain. Sparing you the messy details and to keep the story short, I started running a high fever which would not respond to normal antibiotics. I ended up spending two nights in the hospital with sepsis infection (in the blood) with strong IV antibiotics during that time. After I got out of the hospital, everything seemed to be going well and my temperature was holding around normal.
That left only two days to pack and prepare for our return trip as I was trying to regain my strength from that nasty ordeal. Then on the above-mentioned trip to return my mom’s car, I got a call from the urologist saying that they found cancer in my prostrate. This was only hours prior to boarding the plane. So, along with our son Sam, who had gone with me in order to have a way back home, we took an extra leg on our journey to Peoria to see the urologist. He outlined some options for treatment, filled my troubled mind with lots of information, and sent us on our way. (By the way, for those of you who have dealt with prostate cancer, here are my numbers: PSA 4.4; Gleason score 6; two of 12 biopsies malignant).
We continued with our plan to return to Ethiopia a few hours later due to the tasks that were calling us and the loose ends we had left behind by leaving so unexpectedly. We are researching the different options for treatment. If you have been through this and have some suggestions or advice I would welcome them.
We apologize for a depressing report this month, but it shows that God, not us, is in control, and not everything works out according to our plans or our wishes. We are sure you understand why we sincerely ask for your prayers. We are blessed to have a wonderful team standing behind us.
May God bless you and your families,
Gary and Peggy
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