Journey with cancer 22 Dec 2011

Dear family & friends

It’s not quite official, but barring any further complications David should be out of hospital and home with us for Christmas. Not quite God with us, but another beautiful gift from Him.

Thank you so much for all your prayers from around Canberra, Sydney, Australia, the world. Our God is indeed the God of all the nations. The imagery in Revelation of all God’s people gathered around His throne in praise and prayer is very true. Whilst God does not enjoy our circumstances I think He must be overjoyed with the barrage – battering – of prayer he has received on our behalf!

Thank you too for all the bible verses, kind messages, thoughtful acts: food related, emotional and practical that have inundated us. We have felt very loved and very blessed. Our kids have been well cared for with breaks away from the stress. Thank you.

The repeat procedure, done late Thurs night has been successful, and not complicated by infection, re-accumulation of fluid or collapse of his lung. Xray today will help confirm that the pleurodesis (sticking his lung to the chest wall) has been mostly successful, and hopefully the build up of fluid again shouldn’t be an issue.

His pain has been more under control, though David now has a new benchmark of 10/10 for pain. The second drain came out yesterday evening. We still await the results of the receptor tests, but at least have met the oncologist and have a follow up appointment with him sometime mid Jan.

CT scans have so far shown there is no spread beyond the pleura. We had a bone scan and are awaiting results. We’re also waiting to have a PET scan.

Thank God for all the positive news so far after the initial shock, and continue to pray it will be receptor positive so that more specific targeted chemotherapy can be used.

(It’s easy to type all this, but it’s still just so unbelievable and ridiculous!)

The plan will be to get him home, get him some decent rest, some good food, fresh air, and a rehab of exercise to rebuild his strength (physical, emotional) and muscle tone.

Pray for these things, but also for patience, love and gentleness with each other and with our children in the day to day. Pray we can enjoy the moments, laugh over the ridiculous and have fun together.

Underneath the drama of the last 3 weeks is the realisation, that this was only the preliminary round, and there is still the real fight to come. We feel punch drunk from this round, so please pray we can build up strength and resilience for what is to come. There have been constant irritating reminders that we live in a fallen world affected by sin and sinful people.

However the armour of God (Ephesians 6:10-20) has stood firm. The cardboard versions I made with my kids in Supa club just this last term, wouldn’t have! But I can attest that the shield of faith is a wonderful thing to hide behind and has remained dent free, despite the battering. I know that God doesn’t allow us more than we can bear, though sometimes I wasn’t sure I could cope with another turn of the screw! We’ve needed the full armour of God and we thank you for your prayers in this. We thank God that we’ve seen his word proclaimed in ours and other people’s lives. God’s word will not come back empty handed.

We’ve also seen the amazing love people are capable of, inspired by God, but also just random acts from total strangers. It is so amazing to see God at work in the people He has made and to feel so loved and cared for.

Whilst I’ve been very conscious of Hebrews 12 (the author was not wrong in verse 11), I am glad to be loved by God and experiencing and hoping to continue the harvest of righteousness and peace. Philippians 4:7 continues to prove true, especially if I don’t get anxious, panicky or cranky, but pray and rejoice!

However for David, Romans 5:1-11 has been important, along with many other great passages. We can thank God for teaching us perseverance and building character in us, but mostly we are so grateful for the hope of the gospel, the certain hope of forgiveness through Jesus’ death, and the certain hope of eternal life with God.

At this time of year when Immanuel, God with us, is proclaimed, please take hold of the message of hope and reconciliation, not only with God, but also with each other. As one friend wrote to me: “You don’t know what a wonderful person you have near until you are on the brink of losing them.”

David’s ministry can be summed up by 2 Corinthians 5:13-15. What Focal Point hasn’t included a talk from this passage?! Be reconciled to God (2 Corinthians 5:20-6:2) and to each other.

Once again, thank you soooooooooo much for all your wonderful prayers and support. Enjoy your families and friends this Christmas. Continue to practice random acts of kindness, as you don’t know whose life you’re going to bless!

Please pray 1 Peter 4:19 for us.

Love, gratitude and prayers

Fiona (and David)

P.S.  We heard at 3pm yesterday that there was a  70% chance our container might have been coming back to today, but then a couple of hours later we heard that due to floods in Darwin, it’s wont be back until next Thursday. Gotta laugh. Also puts earthly treasures in perspective. Praise God that he has worked a miracle with defence housing and friends of ours have been allowed to move into the place we’d be living in Darwin!

God is good, all the time. All the time, God is good.

Journey with cancer 12 Dec 2011

Dear friends and family

Thank you so much for all the prayers, love, offers of support offered and given. We have felt overwhelmingly loved and cared for. Thank God for his love, expressed not only in the hope of the gospel but also through the love of people. Our friends and work colleagues have just been amazing in their love and support, as have our brothers and sisters at church. And we thank God for our amazing children and their love.

While it is frustrating not to be able to ‘do something’, your prayers have sustained us all in a state of God-given peace and calmness. Philippians 4:7 is very real, so I know that Philippians 4:4-6 is true. The prayers of the saints are powerful. I’m beginning to think one of the purposes of our family is to get people praying!

The news that David does not have mesothelioma was a big relief. However, David does have a primary lung cancer (not the smoking related one) which has spread to the pleura, the lining of the lung, causing the fluid build up around his lung. At the surgery last Monday, he not only had biopsies done, but treatment to try and prevent the fluid building up again, called a pleurodesis. The surgery knocked him around with subsequent infection, reaction to the procedure, re-accumulation of fluid, and the collapse of his left lung. The need for pain medication has subsequently caused problems with his gut and made it hard to eat and drink.

Despite all this he has worked hard at trying to do his breathing, coughing, walking exercises, with tubes in his veins, a chest tube with drain, and an oxygen mask – quite a procession!

Unfortunately, there has been a reacummulation of the fluid, with the chest tube not draining properly. On Tuesday he will have the fluid drained via a small needle. Hopefully that will reveal some treatable cause for why the chest tube drain isn’t working. If not, then he might have to have repeat surgery. Obviously, that is not what we would wish. Please pray that tomorrow’s simple procedure will resolve the issue. We would just like him out of hospital and home. David does not enjoy the long nights in hospital. Pray he would cling to Jesus, and that appropriate bible verses would comfort him. Pray he can rely on God’s strength to get him (& us) through each day.

We now must wait 2 weeks for very specific testing to be done on the biopsies, to determine which course of chemotherapy will be most useful. Please pray it will be a receptor positive cancer as that has special designer chemotherapy that will be more effective. (God understands!) Hopefully we will get to talk to the oncologists in the meantime so as to have greater understanding. Please pray we do so.

Chemotherapy will probably not be initiated until January some time, and not before there is healing of the surgery site. Please pray we get an oncologist who is a good communicator. Thank God for our surgeon, Dr Tharion, who is a very caring man.

Please continue to pray for a miracle. Both our youngest children are miracles in their own way, so we know God is able. We don’t doubt His amazing love for us or His ability to do what is best for all of us. Pray God will give us patience, trust in Him, love for each other, and gratitude for all that is being done for us. Thank God for the opportunities David has had to share Jesus with friends. Pray that we, and you, will have many more. Thank God for the encouragement of friends. (There’s not one of ‘Job’s friends’ among the lot of you!) We thank God for all who have helped, are continuing to, and will continue to look after our children.

Thank God for His word, and that so many of you have sent us encouragement from it. We have been able to read God’s word together as a family and pray. Psalm 102 was one particularly apt passage a friend referred us to that led to good discussion with our younger two. We encourage you to keep reading God’s word, or to begin if it’s not something you usually do.

Although it’s only been a week and a half, in that short space of time we’ve had to change our thinking from Darwin to Canberra. We’ve had to come to terms with David, fit and healthy, now having a life threatening illness. We’ve all had to grieve for the change of plans and adapt to God’s perfect plans, hanging on to him in the somewhat difficult, challenging journey ahead. (James 1:2-12)

Love from Fiona (and Dave)

Journey with cancer 6 Dec 2011

Dear family and friends,

I’m sorry that you are receiving this news electronically. I wish that I could speak to you all personally, but in this age of instant communication I would prefer that you heard the news from us, rather than by the grapevine.

As many of you are aware, David was admitted to hospital last Friday with chest pain it was discovered that he had a large volume of fluid around his left lung: Cause?

Monday afternoon he had a VATS, where a camera was inserted into his left chest cavity and biopsy samples taken. Visually it was seen that David has cancer, involving his left lung and his left pleura or lining of the inside of the chest cavity. He was treated so the fluid won’t accumulate again.

Later this week, when the biopsy samples have been looked at, we will know whether it is mesothelioma of the pleura or a primary lung cancer. Either way it is surgically inoperable and we will now be referred to oncology to receive chemo &/or radiotherapy treatment, appropriate to the type of cancer it is. He will also have further scans to see if it has spread anywhere else.

This is a great shock to us all, given the lack of symptoms and our plans to move to Darwin. However, we can praise God for His timing, that we are still in Canberra, amongst friends and within our church family.

Thank you for your generosity, support, love, meals, and beautiful gifts. Whilst it looks like we might not make it to Darwin, please pray that our vision and David’s opportunity to communicate at various conferences will have spurred on others to take up the challenge of church planting in Darwin. Much groundwork has been done that people could build on.

In the meantime, please pray for us as a family as we adjust to this new path. Pray especially for our children, as that is what concerns David and I most. Pray that we will be able to love and care for each other, and continue to trust in the God who cares for us, who has our best interests at heart (Romans 8:28) and who has things under control, even when it seems to be out of control (Hebrews 11:1). Pray that we will continue to honour His name and bring glory to Him. Pray for the miracle of healing. That’s what we want, so please ask God. And please pray for contentment with the answer.

Please entrust David to His will, care and mercy (Nahum 1:7). Thank him for the hope of heaven (Revelation 21:3-4) and the joy and assurance of our salvation (Hebrews 10:19-25) and the comfort of his presence  (2 Timothy 4: 17-18).

Thank God for efficient, wise, caring medical staff and pray we will continue to receive prompt, efficient, wise, caring treatment as we proceed with oncology. Pray that we will be able to continue to witness to God’s love with all the new people we encounter.

We thank God for all of you, for your friendship and fellowship.

Praise God that Crossroads has a new senior pastor, chosen without the angst of this new situation. Please pray for Marcus in his first, challenging senior pastoral role as he cares for his mentor, brother, and friend. Pray for his family with this extra burden in taking on the new job.

Please pray and care for each other.  Let God know how you feel (Hebrews 4:14-16).

Let this episode in Crossroads life be to His praise and glory, and let our church be known for its love to the saints and to outsiders.

Thank you for your ongoing love and support (Psalm 23:4).

Love and prayers

Fiona (and Dave)


What are macarisms? And why have I called this blog by that name?

The silly answer is that people call me Macca and these are going to be things that I want  to communicate! But the deeper answer lies in the meaning of the word. It is simply an English version of an ancient Greek word meaning ‘blessing’ or ‘to be blessed’. There are various forms of this word in the New Testament, the most famous being Jesus’ words in the sermon on the mount (Matthew 5): Blessed are the the poor in spirit… those who mourn… the merciful… and so on. The specific word ‘macarism’ is found in Romans 4:6-8:

David says the same thing when he speaks of the blessedness (macarism) of the one whom God credits righteousness apart from works:

Blessed are those whose transgressions are forgiven, whose sins are covered. Blessed is the one whose sin the Lord will never count against them.

My desire for this blog is that people will be blessed as they read and think about life. My hope is to help people to reflect on the good life, to stop and consider what’s really worth having.

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