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race for hope 2011

This past Sunday was the Race For Hope in Philly to raise funds and awareness to find a cure for brain cancer.  Just like last year, Tim’s mom organized a walking and running team.  Tim’s Noodle Team continues!  We are so blessed to have so many friends who continue to think of and pray for us.  Thanks to those who walked, ran, and raised money.  Thanks also to those who are our unseen prayer and support team.  We love you all!

Tim's Noodle Team 2011

Michael, Mom, and Christopher

Feeling Productive

In an effort to feel productive today, I will post on this blog:

I have been thinking about what are good and bad movies to watch
when you have cancer – because there are some that have thematic elements that
catch you as you are watching them.  The Time Travelers Wife – bad cancer movie –
about a man who knows he is going to die before his daughter’s fifth
birthday.  There was some movie I watched
last year before Emma was born where the father was taken prisoner and he was
not at home to see his daughter being born.
That was a bad cancer movie as well.  I recently watched Love and Other Drugs with Anne Hathaway and Jake Glydenhall.   Aside from
Hathaway being naked for the majority of the first half of the movie (which may
or may not be a plus for you), I thought it did a good job of putting a voice
to many of the thoughts that I have had during my sickness.

I have been trying to figure out a good way to describe the state
of my cancer journey.  I am not a
survivor. There is still a mass in my brain that is the same size it was the day
after surgery – I am just hoping all of the cancer cells are dead.  If that is the case, then I would be a survivor.  However, I won’t have that proclamation until
probably a decade from now.  I am not in
remission – that term has more to do with Leukemia and stuff like that.  I think that I am just in a waiting
game.  The doctor said that my tumor is
stable.  That is really an un-sexy term
for being told that I am through chemo.  The
word I would best use is that I am surviving – which is interesting because
they don’t sell any T-shirts that say Surviving” on it.  Just “Survivor” or “In the fight” or
something like that.  Unfortunately, I
will have the prospect for brain cancer many years into the future.  But I am surviving right now and looking to
start living once again.

The Race for Hope is coming up in Philly this weekend.  My mom is putting together a team if you are
interested in participating.  If you go
to the website and type in Diane Schwartz, you can donate or participate in the
team.  I also have other friends and
supporters running in the race – I am betting that someone will win on my
behalf.  Please donate – it is amazing to
know how many people are affected by brain tumors.

Quick Update

A quick thank you to all who have been praying for us as we have been battling my brain cancer over the last 20 months.  It has been quite a journey and we recevied some good news this week.  I have completed 18 rounds of chemotherapy and was told by the doctor this week that there is no more need for me to be taking chemo – that phase of survivorship has been complete.  The tumor is stable right now – all scans show that it is not growing and has been significantly affected by the chemo.  We can’t be certain that it has been eliminated, but all signs look really good.  The doctors will continue to monitor it on a regular basis for the years to come.   We are excited that I will be able to start feeling better and regain the energy that I have lost while on chemo.  We are praising God for the diagnosis and all
of the prayers that have been lifted on our behalf over the last 20 months.

The Bachelorette

Been meaning to post this for the last week:

I just got done thoroughly enjoying the latest season of the Bachelorette.  A couple of reason why: first, the girl was from Philly.  I like remembering home.  Second, it is one incredibly silly show with an incredibly silly premise – gather 30 guys who look alike together with one girl, take them to the most exotic places in the world, and she will find the man to marry.  Third, the show revolves around a conception of love that lends towards shallowness.

I write this because my wife and I have just celebrated our fifth anniversary last week.  I think we would both agree that it has been a long five years – with many ups and downs.  Clearly the last year has had the highest of highs and the lowest of lows for us – the birth of child and being diagnosed/living with cancer.  In the midst of this past year, I have come to know love.

The saddest part about cancer for me is that my wife has shouldered the heaviest burden.  Surgery didn’t cause too much pain.  Most of the time I can handle chemo – sometimes it is rough, sometimes it affects my body, but most of the time I am okay.   But Jenn has walked with me every step on this cancer journey.  She was there when I first had a seizure.  She sat in the waiting room for 13 hours on my day of surgery.  She went to work full-time while 7 months pregnant so that I could have health care.  She had a baby while I was on chemo.  She takes care of the baby at night and in the middle of the night so that I can get the rest that I need.  She puts up with me when I am moody.  She puts up with my fatigue.  She puts up with my good days and my bad days.  She cares for me when I don’t want to be cared for.  She is a tireless laborer for the sake of our family.  She carries quite a burden.  She keeps going and going – even when I can’t contribute my part of the marriage.  She has been a rock for the last 18 months.

 Because of Jenn, I have come to learn more about love in the last 18 months than I have ever known before.   Sometimes I wonder why she doesn’t just walk away – she has put up with so much.  Yet she is still here – laboring on for our marriage.  She has sacrificed for this family in the last 18 months in ways that people never should have to and she is steadfast in affirming love and unity as a family. 

 I am grateful for five years of marriage and look forward to many more.  I tell people I don’t know where I would be without Jenn (I really don’t).  She has saved my life, is saving my life, and who knows where the future will take us!   I am thankful for the person that God gave to me in Jenn!  Happy Anniversary to her!

Planet of the Apes

I am right in the middle of round 16 of chemo.  Three days in, two more to go.  All of the regular chemo symptoms are back and biting harder, but I am a fighter, and things will be good. 

There is a movie theater around here that shows matinees for $2.75 – so I went to see The Rise of the Planet of the Apes today.  Here are 5 things that I learned in this movie:

1.  Sad monkeys are militant monkeys.

2.  When driving my car toward militant gorillas or orangatans, I want to be sure they are not standing near man hole covers or parking meters – for they are strong monkeys and can use such things as weapons.

3.  If you tase a monkey enough times, it will talk to you.

4.  Draco Malfoy is as mean to monkeys as he was to Harry Potter.

5.  Gorillas can handle 8-10 bullets before jumping off a bridge to attack a helicopter.

Here are some other things that I have learned in the last couple of days:

1.  Chilis – holy crap.  The food at that place is a constipation buster.  We went there for lunch yesterday and things are flowing much better today.  It is unreal.

2.  I started chemo on Friday night and ended up napping twice on Saturday.  At about 6:00 pm on Saturday, I think I had been awake for 4 hours in the day.

Both my mom (Diane Schwartz) and my brother (Christopher Schwartz) are riding in the American Cancer Society bike-a-thon this weekend.  You can sponsor them at www.acsbike.org.  My mom has raised almost $50K in the 9 years she has been riding the race.

It has been awhile since I last wrote on this blog – I think I took the whole month of June off in order to stick it to the man (just kidding).  I would like to apologize to those who have made it a habit of checking the blog.  Here are some reasons why I haven’t posted: we moved in the last month – and I put myself in charge of most of the moving; been taking care of Emma on a daily basis – she doesn’t let me sit at the computer for hours on end and develop really smart thoughts; I am sick and still healing from cancer; I have been trying to help establish a new ministry here in Galveston – Galveston Urban Ministries; etc.  I am not sure if any of them are good excuses, but there you have it.

So here is the quick update – I am doing good.  I think last you heard I went to the doctor’s and he reduced the dosage of the chemo in order that I would not have the side effects that I was having – basically feeling lousy 3 weeks out of the month.  Amazingly enough, that has worked for the last two months – the chemo continues to kill cancer cells and I don’t feel like a train hits me most of the time.  I have been through 14 rounds of chemo, round 15 starts Thursday night.  I had a MRI and doctor’s appointment last week.  The nurse practicioner showed me on the MRI that as far as they can see with that technology, there was no blood going into the tumor.  That means to some extent, the tumor is not growing anymore.  That does not mean that the tumor is dead or gone, just that we are on the right path.  So that was real good news to hear.  I had her repeat it a couple of times in order that I heard it correctly.  Four more rounds of chemo to keep killing cancer cells and then we go from there.

Other quick thoughts – I have been seriously considering shutting this blog down.  I have been humbled to have so many people following my journey with prayer, thoughts and love.  I have heard that some others have gained courage and strength through what I have been through, but I don’t like being the center of attention.  The blog allows you to know a lot more about me than I know about you – probably because I have shared way too much about the journey and my thoughts.  I think I would rather have more even interactions and friendships.  So, what I think I will do in a couple of weeks is put any brain cancer updates on the blog that Jenn and I have about ministry and life in Galveston (timandjenn.wordpress.com).  Until then, I will share some thoughts about what I have learned in the last 18 months. 

Grace and peace!