Archive for November, 2010

Surgery Tomorrow
November 29, 2010

From James:

So Young wishes you could see her now with little white stickers all over her face! They will provide a map of her brain for the doctor as he performs the biopsy tomorrow. We are calling them barnacles or Life Savers.

Tomorrow’s surgery will start at 12:30 p.m.

Pray that the surgeon will have steady hands, that we will have no complications, and that the preliminary results will indicate that it is benign. Pray also for So Young’s physical and emotional well-being. We are trusting that God is good.

I finally opened up my tweets on Twitter (@wjgage). They were locked down until just now, although last night I attempted to unlock them from home with no success. If you requested to follow me prior to this post, try again. I probably got an e-mail about it, but Twitter isn’t allowing me to accept your requests via e-mail from the hotel. However, since I’m opened up now, you should be able to follow me with no difficulties.

“Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.” (James 1:2-4)

Pre-op Tomorrow
November 28, 2010

From James:

Shannon is feeling better. She hasn’t had a fever today. Nanna cared for all three kids while we went to church.

Erica graciously accompanied So Young and I to Reston Town Center after church to do a photo shoot. It was supposed to be a family photo but ended up being couple shots. Poor Erica endured a great deal of goofiness from us.

Bill and Laurie made us dinner today. I can smell it cooking in the oven right now…

Tomorrow morning, we are leaving at roughly 4 a.m. for Baltimore for another MRI, various other lab tests, and pre-operative paperwork (“consents,” as they call them).

The surgery will be on Tuesday. I probably won’t post here on Tuesday or Wednesday, so if you want to know what is going on, you can follow me on Twitter at @wjgage. I hope to figure that out on my phone before Tuesday. My Twitter account is locked down so that I have to accept any follower requests, so if you want to request to follow me, you may want to do it by Monday.

Note that we won’t really know much about the type of tumor for a couple of weeks.

Trouble Comes in Threes
November 26, 2010

Ever hear the expression, “Trouble comes in threes?” Well, Shannon has pneumonia. Poor kid. Bed rest and antibiotics.

Happy Thanksgiving!
November 25, 2010

From So Young:

I am so thankful today. How appropriate since it is Thanksgiving. Enjoyed turkey and all the trimmings with James’s Mom and Dad, my brother-in-law and his lovely wife and adorable kids. Met Ariella for the first time. Shannon, Lindsay, and Audrey had a blast with their cousins from California. Mark and Yvette: Thank you for the blessing of you today. My heart overflows with your gesture of love for me. How can I say that I consider it pure joy when I may not wake up from the surgery on Tuesday or worse… wake up a different So Young. (OK, Laurie and Jin I know, I know, be positive right?!) I was sharing today at the dinner table that I am more and at peace than any other time in my entire life. It’s because you all are lifting me up in prayer. Keep ’em coming.
This scripture passage was a great encouragement to me, and I got to share it with the dearest and the best today:

“Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice! Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near. Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things. Whatever you have learned or received or heard from me, or seen in me—put it into practice. And the God of peace will be with you” (Philippians 4:4–9).

With Me Every Step of the Way
November 25, 2010

From James:

Happy Thanksgiving! Read our previous two posts to find out what we are thankful for.

So Young asked me to post the attached Word document on the blog. It’s an article she wrote earlier this year about why she runs. It also contains a few practical tips about long-distance running. She wants to post it because it has special meaning for her now that she is running an even bigger race.

“Every Step of the Way”

A couple of interesting things to note about how fanatical So Young is about running:

  • I wrote a journal entry on October 6, 2007 that says: “So Young ran 20 miles today and painted the dining room and foyer.”
  • So Young had a dream the night after we found out about the tumor. She dreamed that she ran one marathon and two half marathons, all in a row. When she woke up, she said, “I can’t believe I ran that far, and I’m not even sore!”
  • She knew she had found the right neurosurgeon when he told her he believes in God, he’ll pray for her, and above all else, that she can run. Short distances. Never alone. You have no idea how overjoyed she was about that.  “He gave me hope,” she said. She already plans to run a half in May 2011.

Thank you!
November 24, 2010

From So Young:

Thank you James for making the font ginormous/huge just so I can see what I am writing.

Thank you, thank you, thank you from the bottom of my heart for all your prayers and comments! All along I have asked for prayers, because I truly believe that my heavenly Father hears and will answer. I am a testament to this truth.  I feel your prayers! I am NOT a calm person and the first to freak out  over the smallest thing, but  as I have been strengthened by your prayers, I feel at peace to accept God’s will for my life.

I have the very best friends and family in all the world. Do not be sad for me. I am abundantly blessed.

Thank you most of all to my Savior Jesus Christ.  I have been telling everyone, “God is good, all of the time.” Surprisingly, no one has punched me yet. How do you do that to a lady with a brain tumor?!!

I have so much to share, but I will leave that for another day.

Gratitude: “My Fridge Overfloweth”
November 23, 2010

From James:

I had hoped So Young would post for the first time tonight, but she is exhausted and has fallen asleep. She’ll have to fill us in when she feels up to it. Her eyesight seems to be getting worse, but otherwise her health is excellent. Her loss of eyesight is almost imperceptibly gradual. That doesn’t mean anything is growing. It just means her body reached a “tipping point” recently. She hasn’t had her morning headache in two days, since a couple of ladies at church prayed for her. We believe that the tumor is shrinking.

Meanwhile, I feel like presenting an extremely large thank-you card to everyone who has helped, offered to help, or just prayed quietly for a moment without us knowing. The list is long, and I already know I have forgotten a few. And it has only been just over a week.

There’s my mom, who has devoted herself practically fulltime to assisting with So Young and the girls and basically running the house while I’m gone.

There’s Dad, who has his crosshairs set on knocking out a couple of pressing home repair projects around here, including overhead lights that will enable So Young to see better. Who can stop Col. Gage?

There are so many people bringing us meals. We  literally have not prepared a meal (apart from utilizing the microwave) since last Thursday, November 11. So Young and the kids are blessed that they don’t have to rely on my cooking skills alone (chili, spaghetti, chili, spaghetti). The first family to bring us a meal drove something like 50+ miles roundtrip to do it.

Many, many people are praying for So Young and our family: our families; our church, including the Dads’ and Moms’ Small Groups (which we lead and co-lead, respectively); our friends, new and old; our coworkers; relatives’ churches in Florida and elsewhere; So Young’s MCM running group; 37 nuns in Chicago (no joke); a church in Indonesia; teachers at the kids’ school. So many prayers lifted up.

Two older Korean ladies prayed for So Young at church on Sunday in her “mother tongue,” as So Young called it. It was a seemingly random meeting (the women weren’t supposed to be there) that is now a milestone in So Young’s life. I hope she’ll write about that later.

Our neighbor Laurie… I wrote her a thank-you card a couple of days ago, but I want to write a few more. She made us meals and brought us flowers. She took care of Shannon when it was really hard. She (and Karen) fixed up our yard. On and on. I told her daughter, “Your mom is a very special lady.” I hope she realizes that.

Innumerable friends have come to keep So Young company or have called. Some took phone calls from So Young early on that most counselors would have a hard time handling. We have someone here almost every weekday. When you can’t see and there’s this vague sense that your life is in danger, friends mean a lot.

Hayong is doing so much for us behind the scenes, including organizing the meals and visits at http://lotsahelpinghands.com. She and Rose gave So Young a “makeover” of sorts last week as well.

Amanda and Ashton sang a song for So Young on Sunday. That was unspeakably kind. Thank you, Lucia, for setting it up.

I see now why I have developed so many close friendships over the past few years… Kenji, Lawrence, KT. You guys understand that right now I have to be more about action than talk, yet you are like a rock for me and are there when I need you.

The above list is incomplete and wholly inadequate to express what I want to say.

The thing is, people aren’t doing these things to be nice or because it is the “right thing to do” — not out of obligation or duty of any kind. They are doing it out of love. And I’m not being grateful to be nice, either. It comes from the heart.

It’s like how Jesus loves us and how we love him back. He reaches out when we are afflicted and helpless, stuck in frightening circumstances. We see his gracious hand and reach out as well, full of gratitude. I think I get some sense now of how organic that is supposed to be, how naturally it ought to come to those who believe.

So in lieu of a card, thank you, dear friends.

And thank you, Jesus, for giving us all these people to be your hands.

Biopsy Next Week
November 23, 2010

This post is from James…

Yesterday, we received the recommendation of Johns Hopkins’s “tumor board” about So Young’s case. The tumor board is a cross-disciplinary panel of neurosurgeons, oncologists, radiologists, etc. who meet to “talk tumor” (whatever that means) and reach a consensus on the best approach for each patient. They recommended a needle biopsy, which is a routine procedure (for brain surgeons, anyway) that involves taking a sample of the tumor cells and testing them to determine their type. The type of cells will indicate for them the next course of action, but currently everybody is thinking that the cells are of the Type 1 or 2 variety, meaning that they are more benign, slow-growing, and responsive to chemotherapy and radiation.

Since they are sticking a big old needle (or something like that) in So Young’s head, the operation isn’t trivial and requires some preparation and recovery. She will likely undergo surgery on Tuesday, November 30, and be released Wednesday, December 1.

So Young and I are trusting God that this is the right thing to do. We are praying that:

  • The tumor will be benign, begin shrinking before medical intervention, and go away quickly.
  • No further, more invasive surgery, with all its accompanying risks, will be required.
  • There will be no complications resulting from the biopsy.
  • God will give the doctor a steady hand as he performs the biopsy. He said that he will pray for us.
  • God will calm So Young as the surgery nears. Emotions are high right now, and they range from acceptance to anger for all of us. We just pray that God helps us respond right to these circumstances.
  • So Young’s vision will be restored fully and that she will experience no further “impairments” from the tumor.

My New Marathon
November 23, 2010

I’ve created this blog for updates about So Young Gage, marathoner and mother of three diagnosed with a brain tumor in mid-November 2010. Thanks so much to everybody who drops by!