vowsConsidering so many of my past blog posts have been bleak on the medical side, I am so happy to write this today. Before we get to the medical update, I want to report on one of the best weeks of my entire life. My mom generously offered her condo and car in Florida for Amy and I to get away together. On top of that, my amazing mother-in-law, father-in-law, and sister-in-law made room in their lives for a full week to watch our three daughters back home. Also, my Uncle Jack and Aunt Shirley shuttled us to and from the airport and even took us out for an amazing dinner.

So, we went down to West Palm Beach and South Beach Miami and had the most romantic getaway. We renewed our vows framed by the ocean. It was 81 degrees and sunny almost every day of our visit. As many of you know, money is super tight with my being unable to work right now. Your gifts have been so generous and have helped sustain us as a family, so we knew we had to use our ingenuity, and we relied on a ton of free stuff from a hotel in Miami who knew my medical situation to pull this entire thing off. My next blog post goes into more detail about the Surfcomber hotel that we stayed at and how they hooked us up with the VIP treatment.

But as for today, I just want to say that renewing my vows with the woman I married 16 years ago has given me so much more energy and will to live. I have to survive this cancer. Things are just too good for me right now. Even as I battle the chemo (I was up vomiting for 8 hours all Sunday night), strangely enough, lying on the cold bathroom floor, I was still flooded with obvious reasons to be grateful. I get out of bed early enough to have breakfast with my kids. I watch them. I think about their future. I’m blessed. I was chosen for this. I am choosing to embrace this situation not as a tragedy but as my birthright. I was born to endure all this. It’s changing me.

One of my all-time favorite documentaries is a film called “General Orders No. 9.” It is wonderfully narrated and contemplative in style (think director Terry Malick). It is a masterpiece. I call it, “R. Maria Rilke meets Joseph Campbell.” While I don’t consider myself over-the-top religious, my life and my struggle with this illness does remind me of a Book of Job-like quote from that film…

The Lord loves a broken spirit. Pray that we are well broken…

If interested, you can check out the film trailer HERE

So, now for some good medical news! My doctor let slip an incredible bit of information during my visit yesterday. He said, “Since starting treatments, your blood’s tumor markers are declining in a nice downward slope.” Amy and I knew something must have been going on. I am finally getting some energy back. I continue to eat and gain weight magnificently. But since my terminal and incurable diagnosis in August, this happens to be the very first sliver of good news we’ve ever gotten. That’s the equivalent to a four-month crossing of a desert of bad news. All else was terrifying. All else was hopeless. Yesterday was a happy day and I couldn’t wait to rush to share it with you all, my beloved friends and supporters. Not to say that I am out of the woods or I don’t have bad days, but we will take every bit of good news that comes our way.

While it isn’t a cure by any means, it shows I am making some kind of progress, and that my insistence on the additional medicines and all the horrible side effects may not be in vain. I’ve got the tiger by the tail; I do not intend to release him.

With Fierce Hope,

Jim

PS: Special thanks to all of you who have been sharing my latest posts on Facebook and twitter. It’s really helped this blog reach a massive readership. (almost 2000 subscribers in just a few months)

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