Another-Written by Dan Erickson April 14, 2014

This blog post is part of the continuing story of our family’s journey facing my husband’s cancer with grace that only the Lord Jesus can give. If you would like to read the story from the beginning, go here. This one is my favorite and was written by my wonderful husband for his blog. There is a link to his blog at the end of this post.

Pretzled together like a couple of young lovers my wife and I enjoyed our Sunday afternoon nap. I awoke and admired this gift from God snuggled next to me…again. Gratitude is frequently my reaction to everyday events that once passed by barely noticed. The gift of another day for me is hardly ordinary. Every day is all wrapped with a ribbon on it and I begin them all with anticipation and gratitude.

It’s been a year and a half now since my diagnosis of Stage IV non-small cell lung cancer. It came as a surprise and the prognosis was even more of a shock: Six months left to live. You might say that now I have been on borrowed time for a year. I have much to be thankful for, and I am.

I am captivated by the everyday gifts of “another,” that have come my way since diagnosis. Here are some of them:

  • Another birthday
  • Another Thanksgiving and Christmas
  • Another spring, summer, fall, and winter
  • Another anniversary
  • Another celebration of my children’s birthdays
  • Another bike ride
  • Another walk
  • Another hug
  • Another kiss
  • Another day at church
  • Another prayer meeting
  • Another coffee time with friends
  • Another car to be bought
  • Another case of the flu
  • Another pill
  • Another Dr. Appointment
  • Another scan
  • Another card game with Mom and Dad
  • Another time reading my Bible
  • Another time in prayer
  • Another time listening to someone with big dreams
  • Another time listening to someone with problems
  • Another time encouraging someone in their faith
  • Another check to a missionary or gift to someone in need
  • Another book to read
  • Another book to write
  • Another laugh
  • Another cry
  • Another date with my wife
  • Another vacation
  • Another Bible story and prayer with the kids
  • Another phone call with a loved one
  • Another visit with a loved one
  • Another bill to pay
  • Another computer problem
  • Another movie
  • Another day
  • Another heartbeat
  • Another breath from these lungs

The list could go on and on. Everything is a gift, (even the pills) to be thankful for. I was not expected to experience any of these things in the last year, but I drank in every moment. How could I be a man less than constantly grateful?

I am on borrowed time, but then so everyone is. We are all one doctor appointment from a major life change and one doctor appointment away from a major attitude change. Make the most of every opportunity. Life and everything in it is a beautiful gift. Don’t just set it aside until you have time to unwrap it. Tear the paper off today, and behold, your gift of life. Don’t just exist. Live life today, and give thanks.

You can learn more about Dan Erickson, his family, and his ministry at his blog,”Dan’s Pulpit.” Follow “Facing Cancer With Grace,” to read our continuing story.

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A Year Later- Part 2 Heather’s Perspective

This blog post is part of the continuing story of our family’s journey facing my husband’s cancer with grace that only the Lord Jesus can give. If you would like to read the story from the beginning, go here.

In October of 2013, Dan would have three major scans on the 16th with results a few days later. A CT scan from the neck down, a brain MRI, and a nuclear bone scan would give us a good view of what was going on after a year of battling the cancer

October 22 marked one year since Dan felt the hardened lymph nodes which alerted us to the fact that something wasn’t right.  We celebrated a year of life with breakfast at “Fat Nat’s Eggs,” off of 85th and 252 in Brooklyn Park. We highly recommend it!

Then we went to the Cancer Center for Dan’s monthly appointment. We were greeted by a smiling Dr. E who said that Dan was NED. This means that the scans showed, “no evidence of disease.”  This is the goal that all lung cancer patients in treatment are striving for, but it’s also a confusing term for many people. Many of our friends were asking why Dan was still in treatment when his scans aren’t showing cancer. They would often ask when he would be done with treatment. Unfortunately, the answer was that he would be in some form of treatment for as long as he lived.

In Leukemia and Lymphoma patients, the term “remission” is used.  In most other types of cancer, they use the term, “NED.”  Because of what doctors know about the way lung cancer behaves, particularly in someone who has had extensive lymph node involvement as Dan did, they tread the waters with care. They can’t be sure there is no cancer lurking in the scar tissue, or other areas at sizes too small to be seen by the scan. Dan’s type of cancer has been known to respond to treatment, and get small enough to be imperceptible on scans, only to return later, even within a week of stopping the treatment. This is why, even when Dan was given the news that he was NED, he continued to take the daily chemo pill, we all continued to pray, and we rejoiced in his new status.

The Tarceva he had been on for 11 months would be continued indefinitely until the day he would become resistant to it.  Dan had adjusted quite well to it.  His rash is gone, and most of the time he felt quite well.  He began taking iron because his iron stores were depleted, but they soon came back.

Dan still had his limits.  When he exerted himself, he would feel nauseous and he was still plagued by the daily headaches he’d had for the past couple of years.  We prayed for continued NED status. Dan’s survival would not be possible without the Lord’s help. Because of this, we were so thankful for the prayers of our friends and family, as well as those from people we had never even met, but had heard our story. We were thankful to God for a wonderful year of life!  We haven’t taken a single day for granted.

In late May of 2014, we planned another road trip, this time to Kentucky. The trip was again a surprise for the kids, and once again, we stayed in a KOA cabin. We kept the schedule loose in case Dan needed to crash for a day or two.  This worked great in Kentucky. We visited friends and saw the sights. We also got to see the two homes where Dan had lived in Kentucky over two decades earlier. One of them he had built from the ground up! Like in South Dakota, we had daily picnic lunches. Near the end of the trip, it was easy to see that Dan was losing energy and stamina. We decided that it would be best to spend the last day just hanging out at the KOA. It was a great decision! It really helped Dan to recover so that the trip home would be a good one.

We are part of a cancer support group, where we see all kinds of attitudes and reactions about cancer and its treatment. Thanks to knowing God, we find much to be thankful for and encouraged about. God does not cease being a good God when a life situation begins to deteriorate. Adverse circumstances are a land of opportunity in which to grow in our faith.

When Dan was diagnosed, we didn’t know if we would have another Christmas together.  A year into the battle, we are looking forward to many more.  The Lord had opened our eyes to endless possibilities, and our hope is in Him alone.

At a recent support group meeting, we heard one woman put this so succinctly. We were all introducing ourselves, and saying something about our journey. She looked at the group and said, “I never quite know how to explain this without sounding crazy. I have experienced such tremendous joy in the worst of trials. How do you express that? As things became so difficult, I began to cling to Jesus with all of my might.” Tears began to leak from her eyes as she continued, “I experience the greatest joy in His presence. I don’t know if I ever would have gotten this close to Him without the cancer.” This woman made a profound impact on everyone. She was genuine, and she was right.

You can learn more about Dan Erickson, his family, and his ministry at his blog,”Dan’s Pulpit.” Follow “Facing Cancer With Grace,” to read our continuing story.

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A Year Later- Part 1 Heather’s Point of View

This blog post is part of the continuing story of our family’s journey facing my husband’s cancer with grace that only the Lord Jesus can give. If you would like to read the story from the beginning, go here.

When Dan was first diagnosed, one of the things that hit us was the fact that we may never again be able to do the things we had always enjoyed as a family. We hesitated to even make plans because we worried that the time would come when we would have to cancel them to be left with the reminder of how much cancer had taken from us.

There is a wonderful poem that speaks of, “what cancer cannot do.”  It is very inspiring, and we really appreciate the sentiment, but it really isn’t accurate. It can shatter hope and corrode faith. It does eat away peace and destroys confidence. Every decision we faced was dependent on the next scan. Anything beyond the next scan was uncertain. Once we could see from the scans that Dan was very much improving, we began to feel safe making plans, and living again.

We made some modifications to the way we did things. We stopped camping with our pop up camper. We had always had such wonderful times as a family heading off to some state park, or even out of state with our “Palomino” pop up. The last time we used the camper changed all of that. We had spent the week at William O’Brian State Park. Dan frequently wore out if he did too much walking. Then when it was time to go home, we packed up the camper like we always had, but it was just too difficult. He was the one who needed to clamp the top down after cranking the camper back into traveling mode. I could see every ounce of energy draining from his body. He became pale and nauseous. At that moment, I knew that we would never use our camper again. We sold it the following summer to a Native American woman who wanted a camper to take to Pow-Wows. We hoped that her family would have as many good memories in it as we had.

We still had a desire to have our family vacations. We have always enjoyed the special family time that comes with a getaway. It is a time of bonding, learning together and getting away from the reality of day to day life of fighting cancer. We did some research on camper cabins and decided to try one out in the Black Hills.

In September of 2013, just after Labor Day in order to avoid the crowds, we told the girls to pack their suitcases because we were going on a road trip! We didn’t tell them where, or what we had planned. We kept the details of any plans we made, a secret from the girls. We started this practice when Dan was diagnosed.  Part of the reason for this was if plans needed to be amended, or canceled due to his health issues, the girls would not be as disappointed. We have found this to be a helpful practice, and fun once it came time to tell them where we were going that day.

We stayed in a “KOA Kamper Kabin.” It was perfect. We had the camping experience without all of the extra work that comes with bringing and setting up the pop-up camper. The trip was amazing! We drove the scenic highways and saw many of South Dakota’s claims to fame. We brought plenty of food along in a cooler to have picnics in some of our nation’s most beautiful places. We even had a picnic in the Badlands where it was 105* in the shade- and there was no shade! Within seconds of removing the bread from the bag to make the sandwiches, it dried up like pieces of toast. Our favorite part of the trip had to be when we encountered a herd of buffalo. We were on a road in Custer State Park when hundreds of buffalo surrounded our van. We remained at a standstill as they migrated from one place to another. These giants were a reminder of what a mighty Creator we have.

You can learn more about Dan Erickson, his family, and his ministry at his blog,”Dan’s Pulpit.” Follow “Facing Cancer With Grace,” to read our continuing story.

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My Dad Has Cancer- Part 2 Summer’s Perspective

This blog post is part of the continuing story of our family’s journey facing my husband’s cancer with grace that only the Lord Jesus can give. If you would like to read the story from the beginning, go here.

We drove to the camp that was held at Camp Eden Wood, in Eden Prairie, Minnesota. Mom and Dad dropped us off. The volunteers were all very friendly as they settled us in and showed us where to go. I walked up the hill toward the bunkhouse, feeling uncomfortable and nervous. Eventually I got to know some people’s names. I was too caged up to really get to know anyone personally though. It was going to take something big to get me to open up.

There is a powerful exercise that they have us do at the beginning of camp. The instructor says that they are going to play a game. She will say something, and whoever the statement applies to should stand up. She may say, “I have a dog.” The kids and volunteers with a dog would stand up. “My favorite color is blue.” “I live in Minneapolis,” and so forth. Kids are standing up and sitting down like a “Whack-a-Mole” game. Then she said it. “Someone in my family has cancer.” As I looked around the room, every child and volunteer rose to their feet, some hesitantly, but all did and saw that everyone there knows something about what I was going through, I knew that my time at camp would be unlike anything I had experienced before.

That first night, there was a big storm and all the power went out. It was hailing and most of the teens stayed in the cabins. Because there was no light, I had no idea who anyone was. I sat in the living area of the girls’ cabin and someone else came in. Even though we didn’t know each other, we started chatting and found that we got along pretty well. I met my first real friend at the Angel Foundation that night. The next day as we did activities together, I opened up a bit more to people, and gained several more friends. My sisters were also making new friends of their own!

Over the next few Angel Foundation events that our family attended, I got to know people even better. At the end of every event, we do a “Rate Your Week,” where we tell the absolute truth about how we felt that week. No one lies, nobody covers up, and everyone knows that what we say stays there. It’s safe, and we know that we care about each other. Nobody judges you because we are all going through the same situation. There might be differences, but at the core, we’re all teenagers trying to get through the same problem. Our parents have cancer, and while we can’t do anything about it, we can have each other’s backs.

You can learn more about Dan Erickson, his family, and his ministry at his blog,”Dan’s Pulpit.” Follow “Facing Cancer With Grace,” to read our continuing story.

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My Dad Has Cancer- Part 1 Summer’s Perspective

This blog post is part of the continuing story of our family’s journey facing my husband’s cancer with grace that only the Lord Jesus can give. If you would like to read the story from the beginning, go here.

When my dad was diagnosed with cancer, I didn’t really know how to react. I have always gone through life watching other people’s reactions, and learning how to deal with things by their example. Ordinarily this works quite well, but with Dad’s cancer, I had no examples. I knew absolutely no one who was going through the same thing as me, or even anyone who could understand. My best friend would say, “I have no idea what you’re going through.” She was right! I couldn’t expect her to understand, nor did I want her to.

Because I didn’t have an example, or support other than my mom and a friend, I chose not to respond. It was just simpler that way. I didn’t want to take the chance that my response would be wrong, or that it would place stress on anyone else in the family. My motto was “If it makes it harder, don’t do it.”

One thing that has helped me and my sisters deal with Dad’s cancer has been the Angel Foundation. I didn’t know anything about the Foundation, but my parents explained that the Angel Foundation is a non-profit organization whose purpose is to support families with children under 18 years of age, who have a parent with cancer. They were initially referred to the Angel Foundation by the Cancer Center, to apply for a one-time financial gift of up to $600 to help pay for anything we needed. Not long after receiving the money, we got an invitation to an Apple Valley waterpark.

The foundation had gotten the entire park for an evening. All of the Angel Foundation families were invited to come enjoy the park as well as games, food, and a free gift bucket filled with snacks and other assorted fun items. We were so blown away by the love that we were shown. We had a great time, and surprisingly, so did Dad and Mom! Dad was sliding down water slides, tubing down the “lazy river,” and swimming in the pools, when only 24 hours earlier, he was dreading the prospect of going, fearing that he would never have the energy to make it through the evening. And while I didn’t get to know many people, I really enjoyed myself.

While at the event, my mom talked with one of the volunteers and found out about many of the other things that the Angel Foundation does. Topping the list is a summer camp experience. Everyone my parents talked to, whose kids had attended said they made it a priority because of what a good experience it was for not only their children, but them as well.

When Mom and Dad asked if we wanted to go to the Kid’s Camp, we all said, “Yes!” I’m not really a camp or retreat person, (or an anything that involves leaving the house sort of person), but this time I was willing to try it, after all it was free, and I had enjoyed the waterpark.

You can learn more about Dan Erickson, his family, and his ministry at his blog,”Dan’s Pulpit.” Follow “Facing Cancer With Grace,” to read our continuing story.

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The New Normal- Part 3 Dan’s Perspective

This blog post is part of the continuing story of our family’s journey facing my husband’s cancer with grace that only the Lord Jesus can give. If you would like to read the story from the beginning, go here.

My new normal, facing cancer, meant that walks were no longer a given. Bike riding, something I had always enjoyed, was seldom an option. We decided to sell our camper because it became much too difficult to camp anymore. We were no longer involved in extra church activities, because of an inability to cope with the demands.

One thing that was been added to my life is my internet ministry. I spent 2012 putting a Bible verse up on my Facebook status every day. After several months of this, my cousin Mike sent me a message, encouraging me to expound upon the verses a bit more. This inspired me to begin a new series of daily Facebook statuses in 2013 called, “ABCs of the Bible.” I posted about 200 topics starting with “Abraham” in January and ending with “Zoa” in December.

There was a lot of positive feedback, and several people suggested that they might make a good book. I began working not only on the book project, but also on a blog that I called, “Dan’s Pulpit” In January of 2014. My blog began as a series of spiritual insights, like written sermonettes. I had a desire to write, not only to share these insights, but also for posterity. I wanted to leave behind my thoughts for my children and my grandchildren; whether I was to live 5 more months, 5 more years or 50!   ,   In February, 2014, I decided to write about some of the insights I had gained from my cancer battle. These were some of my most popular blogs as people sought to understand how I could reconcile what was happening in my life with my continued faith in a gracious God.

Heather added her own thoughts by writing a couple of guest blog posts. This gave us the idea to turn the cancer blogs into a book as well. I had a lot on my plate, and Heather had a desire to work on the project. She had gone to school to be a writer and because of raising a family, had put those goals on the back burner. She had the idea of writing the book from different perspectives, hers, mine, and our children’s. She took my blog posts and expanded on them by filling in the details that wouldn’t be practical to fit into a weekly blog post. She turned it into a narrative explaining our story, with the hope that it would help others who were faced with cancer, whether in their family or in a friend that they would like to know how to comfort.

“Dan’s Pulpit” was soon having dozens of people reading it every day. I had thought that when we closed the church, I would no longer have an opportunity to minister. Now I was able to touch lives daily, even as I battled the cancer. God has a wonderful way of taking things we thought we had lost, and giving them back to us even more beautiful.

People die every day from cancer. Christians aren’t exempt from this.  We are at the Lord’s mercy and are comfortable resting there. With stage IV lung cancer, they don’t use the word cure or even remission. They say I am doing well, “today”. We learned to say, “Today, I am thankful and will let God take care of tomorrow’s details.”

You can learn more about Dan Erickson, his family, and his ministry at his blog,”Dan’s Pulpit.” Follow “Facing Cancer With Grace,” to read our continuing story.

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The New Normal- Part 2 Dan’s Perspective

This blog post is part of the continuing story of our family’s journey facing my husband’s cancer with grace that only the Lord Jesus can give. If you would like to read the story from the beginning, go here.

After several months of this “new normal,” I began to not feel as well, so I continued to tweak my lifestyle in order to not overdo it. The trouble is, it didn’t take much to overdo it! The Dr. said that it may have been partly due to the summer heat and the medication. As well, the scan revealed a buildup of excess fluid on my heart that may have been responsible for the shortness of breath and chest pain I had begun to experience. This was not a good thing.  The next week I had an echo-cardiogram, and my doctors decided that the fluid around the heart was minimal, and we would take the “watch and wait” approach. Life could be challenging with so many curve balls to deal with, so Heather and I have always appreciated the prayers of our family, friends, and even strangers. We really do feel them and the faithful attention of our loving God.

With a good report from the echo-cardiogram, my next goal was to get rid of 18 mouth sores! This was still way short of my record- 30. Thank you for your prayers. We are leaving Friday for our annual Erickson week at the resort on Big Thunder Lake that we have visited for nearly 20 years. It is always a great time with great people. What a blessing to have a Christian family that are just plain good friends. We don’t take it for granted. Please pray for some energy so as to enjoy the week and spend some good time reading. The kids and Heather love this week so they will no doubt have a ball.

I had settled into a new normal the after a year of treatment. Every morning between six and seven o’clock, I would get up and take my chemo pill. About two hours later, I could eat. My appetite remained good throughout the entire time I was treated with Tarceva, which is a huge blessing, since a large number of cancer patients die due to complications from malnutrition. Sometimes I would take a nap after breakfast and sometimes I would wait until afternoon to rest. Some days I would only take one nap, and some days I would spend nearly all day in bed. We always had to be very flexible with our schedule, since we didn’t know what any given day would bring with it.

Another side effect which showed up was inflamed fingernails and toenails. Were they ever sore! This side effect, while weird, was a common one with many types of chemo-therapies. One on my toenails became ingrown, and was so painfully infected, that I could no longer choose to ignore it. I went to a podiatrist who made an attempt to trim them back. I followed up with antibiotics and foot soaks, but the nail so severely infected, it would have likely have remained a problem. So I returned, and he performed a mini surgery on my toe. He permanently removed an eighth of an inch of the nail on one side with a local anesthetic, greatly relieving my pain. Afterwards, I applied antibiotic ointment on my toes each night before bed to keep the inflammation under control.

Unfortunately, I no longer looked forward to most things on my schedule. Instead, I tried to figure out how to endure them. Everything just seemed overwhelming. Thankfully, once I ventured out to do something, I was usually able to enjoy it. Because of the treatment’s side effects, after 17 years of selling Real Estate, I could now only work part time. Heather became licensed to be able to work part time too. We were glad that we decided to have this partnership in the business, and our bills could continue to get paid.

You can learn more about Dan Erickson, his family, and his ministry at his blog,”Dan’s Pulpit.” Follow “Facing Cancer With Grace,” to read our continuing story.

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The New Normal- Part 1 Dan’s Perspective

This blog post is part of the continuing story of our family’s journey facing my husband’s cancer with grace that only the Lord Jesus can give. If you would like to read the story from the beginning, go here.

After a year of taking Tarceva life had become fairly routine. The side effects were there but a new, tolerable way of life had emerged. Some days were up, some were down, but life was good. Most importantly, the regular scans kept coming in with NED (no evidence of disease). In some ways, it was almost like not having cancer at all. The new normal had set in. In spite of a good “remission” type experience for over a year, I was still considered terminal, and given little or no hope for survival. While I respect the medical field and appreciate all it was doing for me, I decided to leave my prognosis up to my God. Because we came across other patients on Tarceva who were NED for several years, we hoped and almost assumed that was going to be our story too.  A five percent chance of survival at five years is much better odds than zero percent! It’s not the easiest job, but someone has to be a five percenter!

I love the verse, “Through our God we shall do valiantly, it is He who will tread down our enemies…” We are so blessed to experience trials as believers, rather than as unbelievers. We encounter many people fighting cancer or some other horrible challenge, who don’t have faith in the Lord, and it generally isn’t pretty. Thank you, Lord, for your ever-presence.

Like any cancer patient, we live from scan to scan. I had three major scans marking one year of battling the cancer devil. I call it what it is. Cancer is the very nature of the devil, which steals, kills and destroys. We usually feel fairly good about the future, but every three months, when CT scan time comes, it hands us a dose of reality.

Throughout this time, I have also received yearly brain MRIs. Lung cancer patients frequently get metastases to the brain, There is something known as the “blood-brain barrier.” In order to protect the brain from toxins in the blood, there is a layer of protection, preventing not only normal toxins, but also chemotherapy such as Tarceva, from reaching the brain. In a healthy person, this is a great mechanism that God had given us to protect one of our most important, and vulnerable organs. When you are trying to fight cancer, this protection can sometimes cause a problem. The cancer can decide that the brain is the safest place to be, since the chemo can’t reach it there. Many lung cancer patients have brain metastases i.e. mets, which are the development of secondary malignant growths at a distance from a primary site of cancer. This is also called metastatic growth.

Since late 2011, I have had migraines nearly every day. Because of this, we wouldn’t know if a headache is my normal migraine or a symptom of brain metastases.  Since the median lifespan after brain mets are diagnosed is only four months, our hope is that by getting more frequent brain MRIs we can catch any mets at an early stage. The brain MRIs also gave me the chance to prove to my kids that I do indeed have a brain, and it is operating well.

I also had my annual bone scan because bones are another place where an aggressive cancer tends to spread. For the bone scan, I was injected with a radioactive tracer, several hours before the actual scan so that it could adhere to the bones. I was asked to lay in a variety of positions on a table during the one hour scan. A camera then moved slowly, along my body, recording the images. I was able to actually watch as the images appeared on a screen right next to the table that I was laying on. It was a long hour, but other than a full bladder from all the liquids ingested before the scan, it was painless.

I got the results of another three month CT scan and the word all over it was “stable”. That became my new favorite word! I continued praying and taking the same dose of medicine every day.

You can learn more about Dan Erickson, his family, and his ministry at his blog,”Dan’s Pulpit.” Follow “Facing Cancer With Grace,” to read our continuing story.

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Continuing to Live- Part 3 Heather’s Perspective

This blog post is part of the continuing story of our family’s journey facing my husband’s cancer with grace that only the Lord Jesus can give. If you would like to read the story from the beginning, go here.

Things as common as the flu can quickly become very frightening. Dan began to feel unwell for a couple of days, and it quickly progressed into what seemed to be a nasty cold. He had a sore throat, a cough, and a fever.  Because the chemo lowers a person’s white and red cell counts, their ability to fight infections and viruses is substantially compromised.  It was important for Dan to rest as much as possible, but his cough has kept him up most of the night.

Dan continued to feel worse and we were unable to bring down his fever. I told him that I thought we should call the cancer center.  “No, I’ll be fine.” He tried to assure me. When the thermometer continued to climb, despite Tylenol and Advil, I called Ann, Dr. E’s nurse. She insisted that I bring him to the ER. When I told Dan this, he said he couldn’t imagine getting out of bed the way he felt, and that he was staying put. Suddenly I realized that if he didn’t cooperate, there was no way I would be able to move him against his will. I pressed him on the subject, telling him that he needed to get fluids and to make sure there wasn’t something serious causing him to feel so sick.

He finally agreed, and in agony, got dressed for the trip to the local ER. When we got there, they took the situation seriously because he was a cancer patient. There was a large flu outbreak at the time, and even though he had been given the flu vaccine, they tested him for the flu. When a person gets the flu vaccine, they can still contract the flu, but often it is far less severe than it would have been if they hadn’t been immunized. Also, the makers of the vaccine can’t take into account every strain of the virus, so while it is the best prevention along with avoiding people with the virus, and good hand washing, it isn’t foolproof. Sure enough, the test came back positive for influenza A. Because he had become so dehydrated, they gave him IV fluids, which made a dramatic difference in how he felt. He was given a prescription for cough medicine and Tamiflu, an anti-viral medication which is known to shorten the duration of the flu virus when it is taken in the first 48 hours of the onset of flu symptoms.

Dan was glad to be home after our time at the hospital, but he was also glad that he had finally agreed to go.  His fever began to break, and while he felt pretty rotten for a few days after, he made a relatively fast turnaround. We all laid low the following week since we were all exposed and the flu is highly contagious. It is for that reason that we also want people to know that if they at all suspect that they may be ill with a cough, cold, or the flu, that they avoid public areas as much as possible, and to observe good hand washing practices so that they don’t inadvertently spread it to someone whose immune system isn’t equipped to handle it. Eventually, four members of our immediate family, suffered with the flu virus.

We finally began to get into a rhythm. We learned to take each day as it comes and Dan learned how to set limits. If he did too much any given day, or pushed it and didn’t give himself time to recover the next day, he would feel it for sure.  He had improved a lot in the six months that it had been predicted he would be fortunate to survive. He was now, “on borrowed time.” But, aren’t we all?

You can learn more about Dan Erickson, his family, and his ministry at his blog,”Dan’s Pulpit.” Follow “Facing Cancer With Grace,” to read our continuing story.

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Continuing to Live- Part 2 Heather’s Perspective

This blog post is part of the continuing story of our family’s journey facing my husband’s cancer with grace that only the Lord Jesus can give. If you would like to read the story from the beginning, go here.

While our income was drying up, expenses didn’t stop flowing in. Along with our normal bills, our truck was on its last leg and needed to be replaced.  The air conditioner and furnace would soon need replacing. Yet, just when it was needed most, someone would bring us a bag of groceries. Sometimes someone would send us a check in the mail with an encouraging card. Someone would press cash into the palm of my hand to bless us. Because of God’s provision and the generosity of His people, we never missed paying a bill in spite of the very challenging financial circumstances.

Dan’s brothers and sister initiated a fundraising effort related to their exercise habits. Dan’s brother Kevin set up a website called iti4dan.com so that people could donate money. His siblings and their families ran races, biked, walked, and swam, all to bring attention to our situation and funds to Itri4dan.

They also put on a benefit concert. Our son Josiah and his friends who were in a band together played while Dan’s parents and siblings served a hot dog lunch.  Our broker at the Greater Midwest Realty provided some beautiful gift baskets that were raffled off, with the proceeds going to I Tri 4 Dan. Our nieces and daughters created handmade cards to sell as well. The benefit concert was a great success in spite of frigid temperatures and a cold, strong wind. Around 140 came on a very unseasonably cold July day and toughed it out in order to dine and visit. Lots of money came in to help pay some bills too! We were so grateful to everyone who came, prayed and gave, as well as for those who couldn’t come, but still sent money and their well wishes. One day we came down to a wet basement. Our water heater had rusted through. We were so grateful for the itri4dan account which enabled us to buy a new water heater and call out the plumber to install it.

We have always gone to a lakeside resort annually with the Erickson family. The whole family pitched in to pay for our cabin that summer. How thankful we were to have that week with them, to revive our tired spirits. Over and over, blessings flowed into our lives.

We anticipated a decrease in prayers for us as time went on as Dan’s condition improved.  To our surprise, we would often run into people who told us that they are still praying faithfully! Occasionally someone we don’t even know still contacts Dan to tell him that they are still praying for him and our family. Much love and concern still come our way regularly. We have experienced the great benefits of being part of the family of God.

Not everyone is as fortunate as we have been when trouble strikes their lives. Some get lost in a large church. Some aren’t involved in a church. Many do not have the benefit of a loving Christian family. We have never taken our blessings for granted.

You can learn more about Dan Erickson, his family, and his ministry at his blog,”Dan’s Pulpit.” Follow “Facing Cancer With Grace,” to read our continuing story.

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