Back From California

Gorman and I have been out of town for nine days, which is why I haven’t posted anything but you know I always tell you that no news is good news from this blog. We went to Santa Monica to visit our older son, Charlie, and his dear wife, Kathleen, but best of all we got to be with Ryland, our adorable five-year-old grandson. That is really balm for my soul; he is so funny and loveable. The only bad part is that now we miss him so much but enough about grandchildren. Thank heavens for cell phone photos, videos and Skype.

Yesterday we went to the Ash Wednesday service at St. James. It is very sobering when the priest makes the sign of the cross on your forehead with ashes but afterwards Gorman and I kept talking about the Litany of Penitence that we recited in the service. If you are not an Episcopalian, you would do well to get your hands on The Book of Common Prayer and turn to page 268 where we confessed, among other things, “our intemperate love of worldly goods and comforts, our self-indulgent appetites and ways, our negligence in prayer and worship, our waste and pollution of your creation, and our lack of concern for those who come after us”; very sobering words. We decided that we need to read those words daily and may just do that during Lent.

It was cold and rainy in Southern California, believe it or not, and it is cold and rainy here in Fairhope. If not for the fact that we get to have a fire every night, this weather would be driving me crazy. Gorman and I are longing to get out in our yard and prune back all the plants that turned brown during our frightfully cold Winter. I know Spring is just around the corner because next week is the Fairhope Arts and Crafts Festival and that usually brings balmy, sunny weather. My sister is coming to visit us next week and that’s always an upper, both for Gorman and for me.

Gorman is feeling good and enjoying life but is sometimes frustrated. While in California, his debit card kept getting rejected and then we found the problem. Just before our trip, he was doing some on-line banking and accidentally sent someone $10,000 instead of $1,000. He said he was not sure if the problem was the result of two brain surgeries or old age. We try to keep a good sense of humor!

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Living Life Two Months At A Time

Ten days later, Gorman and I are still thanking God for a clear MRI. Everyday is a gift.

We’ve been enjoying some out-of-town company and are making plans for a couple of trips, including one to California to see our precious five-year-old grandson (and his parents, of course).

Gorman went to the dentist this week and learned that he has to have a fairly pricy dental procedure. His response was, “That’s okay. My MRI was clear”. Living with cancer has a way of putting everything in the proper perspective.

Good News

I just spoke with the oncologist, Mike Meshad, who said he has not seen a report from the radiologist yet but he has looked at Gorman’s MRI and he sees no change since the last one. Gorman and I are calling that good and we are celebrating!

He has an Avastin infusion Wed., plus an appt. with oncologist and I hope to get a better idea of how this MRI/radiologist process works because, once again, we waited all day and ended up calling oncologist at 4:30. Believe me, it makes for a pretty grim day. But we’re so happy it’s hard to get too upset.

Thanks to each and every one of you for your prayers. Oh, how they keep us going. Thank you, Lord.

Wonderful Ordinary Days

It has been very cold in Fairhope; therefore, Gorman and I find ourselves huddled in front of a fire in our cozy living room most nights. I have told him he is saving a lot of money these days when we rarely go out to dinner but choose to stay home. We are enjoying these lovely ordinary days and we treasure each and every one, actually saying that to one another frequently. He feels so good that he couldn’t possibly be so sick, right?

Gorman’s next MRI is scheduled for next Monday, January 27 at 9:00 am in Mobile. We are boldly praying for another clear one and ask you all to please pray too. But in the same breath, I am thanking God that we know He will be with us, no matter the outcome, and we know that He will see us through whatever we might face, just as He has done for the past two years. That is the source of the peace we feel, mixed in with some anxiety but we keep trying to rise above that.

Thanking God for 2013

Well, it was time to make up our calendar for the new year. As I’ve mentioned, I try not to look too far ahead and here’s why. As I looked out to June, July, August of 2014, I began to wonder if Gorman would still be with me through the Summer. When I got to next Thanksgiving, I wondered what that would look like; would he have had another recurrence or even would I be alone. So, enough of my little calendar pity party. I thought back over 2013, a year I never thought I’d get to spend with Gorman. And what a wonderful year it has been. How can I feel anything other than gratitude to God for the gift of a wonderful year?


Easter flower cross

fishing 2, 7-2013

Gorman with football 4-2013

Highlands, 10-2013

home with Toosie, 2013

home, 2013

Long Island

Longwood Gardens, Pennsylvania

Poudre River Canyon, 9-2013

No News Is Good News

Since Gorman’s early November clear MRI, we have been traveling and enjoying life, with Avastin infusions every other week.

Recently we ran into the radiation oncologist who did Gorman’s radiation last year. He was so happy to see us and said Gorman was an “outlier”. Well, that sounded good to me but I looked up that word to be sure it meant what I thought it did. In statistics, it is an observation that is well outside the expected range or values in a study or experiment and which is often discarded from the data set. In other words, Gorman is their star patient, having survived longer than most people with this GBM diagnosis. So we are grateful for his two skilled neurosurgeons and for the location of the tumor, both initially and with the recurrence, such that surgery was possible. And we are grateful for all the doctors who have treated him. We are grateful for that clinical trial at UAB. We’ll probably never know if that trial drug helped him but like to think it did. More than anything else, we are thankful for all those who pray for him. I like to say that I hope our dear Lord is hearing Gorman’s name all day long so please keep those prayers coming!

My sister who lives in Florida was here last week and our younger son, Grady, arrived Sunday for a six-day visit. Gorman and I have another Christmas together so all is merry at the Schaffers’ home.

We wish you all a blessed Christmas.

Grateful For Twenty-Two Months

While our nation pauses to remember the assassination of John F. Kennedy, in our little Schaffer world, today marks the twenty-two month anniversary of Gorman’s diagnosis. That Sunday afternoon in January, 2012,is forever etched in my mind when Gorman couldn’t stand up or keep his balance and I took him to the emergency room.

Recently I was on the internet trying to research a clinical trial and I read that the average survival time for a glioblastoma patient is 14 1/2 months. This is why I don’t look at the internet; I always end up reading facts that I’d rather not know. My first thought was, “Oh my gosh, we are really living on borrowed time” but then I began to think that this information was really no surprise; it just takes me aback to see it in print. Here’s the reality: our dear Lord has given us almost two years of blessings. Gorman has mostly felt good and we have been able to travel, see our children, visit with friends and, on a lot of days, act like normal folks. Hovering nearby is always the fear and dread of the cancer returning but God continues to give us strength, courage and resilience and so many praying friends and for all of this, we are grateful.

Gormn and I are really looking forward to Thanksgiving. On Monday we are flying to Palm Springs, CA, where we’ll meet Charlie, Kathleen and precious little Ryland and spend five days with them. At Thanksgiving I’m especially happy that Charlie and Kathleen are both professional chefs and that Gorman loves to cook. That means I can spend all my time playing with Ryland.

Happy Thanksgiving to each and every one of you!

Good News!

After a very, very long day I ended up calling our oncologist, Mike Meshad, at 5:30 to see if he had a report on Gorman’s MRI. He had no report but said he would check on it in the morning. Gorman and I just looked at each other and said, “Well, another faith-building opportunity tonight”. Five minutes later Mike called me back and said he got into the hospital computers and found the radiologist’s report that had not yet been sent to him. The report said there has been no change since the last MRI, totally clear.

Thank you, dear God, thank you, thank you, thank you………

Home Again

Gorman’s shoulder and neck are much better. He’s been a very good patient and has done the assigned exercises everyday, even while we were traveling. I think he’ll continue seeing the Physical Therapist another four weeks or so and he should be well. I only wish there was a Physical Therapist for cancer.

Highlands was great, of course. The leaves were beautiful and the weather mostly chilly and sunny and we enjoyed the fireplace every night. It’s nice to be home again but we miss Highlands.

The MRI is this Wednesday at 9:00. Hopefully we’ll get the results that day. “Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding….”

It’s Always Something

We had fun on our quick trip to Jackson. Didn’t get to see all our friends but had fun with the few we did see.

Gorman’s shoulder has been bothering him for months, ever since the PICC line was removed. He hardly used that left arm for seven weeks for fear of disturbing the line so it kind of “froze up”. Plus he has ongoing trouble with his neck so after many months (his typical way of proceeding), he finally decided to see the doctor. As a result we are now going to physical therapy and he’s doing prescribed exercises three times a day. Yes, it’s always something.

To end this post on a positive note, we are leaving this afternoon to spend several nights in Highlands, NC. The forecast is sunny and chilly, our favorite kind of weather and I made sure we have a fireplace in our room. We’ve been told the leaves should be at their peak, which makes the trip even better.

After we return, Gorman will have an Avastin infusion and see our oncologist, Dr. Meshad, on Oct. 30 and the next MRI will be scheduled soon thereafter. But we have lots of fun ahead of us for now and we’re not going to think about the dreaded MRI. This morning in church we both were praying for God to strengthen our faith and forgive us when we become anxious and afraid.