Update 38 – March 26

The LORD is good, a refuge in times of trouble. He cares for those who trust in him.
Nahum 1:7 (NIV)

Dear Family and Friends,

It’s been a month or so since our last update, and seems an appropriate time to fill you in on our news.

5-day radiation regimen concluded

I concluded the five days of radiation to the spine a little more than three weeks ago. This treatment was to try to halt cancer growing in the spine, which could eventually result in nerve damage. While I did have some constriction of the esophagus, the most difficult side-effect was muscle related. There was a period when transitioning from sitting to reclining, or rolling over, was very difficult. I believe that most of those discomforts have passed. Thank you for your prayers!

Still struggling with fever issues

For the last several weeks, I’ve been experiencing a fever cycle. I start the day with a normal, or even low, temperature and then it climbs throughout the day, reaching as high as 102 degrees. As it climbs, it saps my energy and motivation.

Dr. Mo, my oncologist, suggested taking a double-dose of Aleve twice daily. I tried that last week with great success. My temperature normalized, and I was able to function much better. In fact, I was able to direct a special concert of the homeschool choir on Friday night. What a blessing for that relief.

Unfortunately, the higher dose of Aleve also caused stomach cramps and bleeding, so I’m off of that regimen and all other non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, such as Ibuprofin, until the stomach heals. I’ll be trying some Tylenol to manage the fever.

Due to the unpredictable nature of the fever, its brutal effects on my energy and my mobility challenges, I find myself wanting to hibernate at home, my safe place. In fact, there are times that I don’t even want to venture to the basement, because getting back up the stairs could take so much energy. I’ve been unable to attend church for the past three weeks, and am missing the comfort of participation. (Now maybe you can understand why the brief window of no-fever last week that allowed me to direct the choir concert was such a blessing to me!)

Please pray that we’ll find another way to reduce the fever cycles, that my energy level will be increased, and that I won’t become anxious to leave home.

Signed up for Hospice Care today
(and only a few tears were shed)

Though it seems a little early to me, we signed up for Hospice Care today. We’ve been told that most people wait too long, and the nurse said that this was about the right time, even though I am still under the care of my oncologist and may undergo additional treatments.

Hospice provides several services to those with end-stage, incurable diseases and their caretakers. This includes palliative (that is, comfort) care for me, training and respite for Lu, and other practical services. Hospice also provides us with a local medical provider in the event there is a medical emergency, or even if we just have questions.

Our beloved former family doctor, Dr. Bell, is the medical director, so that’s an additional blessing for us.

The visiting nurse today listened to my lungs and cough, and thought the lungs sounded fine. She did rightly diagnose that I’ve been breathing shallowly. (It’s probably due to muscle discomfort in my rib cage muscles, whatever they’re called, and possibly a tumor below my diaphragm.) She suggested that I start taking some pain medication (not Ibuprofin!) regularly to see if that helps with both my cough and deeper breathing.

Please pray that I’ll be breathing deeper, and avoid the shallow breathing that I’ve been doing.

Expecting to return to UIHC next week

We haven’t been notified of specific appointments, but I think we’ll be returning to UIHC next week for some medical trial pre-screenings and some scans to gauge how the disease is progressing. Following that, we’ll need to decide whether to try any additional treatment options.

Please pray for wisdom as we consider options and weigh potential benefits and side-effects.

Working with disability insurance

Since I’ve never been what I’ve considered fully disabled — I’ve been able to work at least part-time during most of my treatments — I didn’t think that my disability insurance policy would offer any benefits. However, the agent that Lu and I worked with since we were married until his retirement recently called and suggested that I have the new agent pull and review the policy to see if I was entitled to any benefits.

It turns out that my policy includes benefits for not only full disability, but also residual disability. Residual disability is a disability that results in loss of income, even if I am continuing to work. Every one at the local level agrees that I’m qualified for benefits. So, I’m working through the claims process, providing mounds of documentation, and interacting with people who are less-inclined to provide benefits than the local agents who sold the policy.

Please pray that the claim will be swiftly approved.

Give Thanks

  1. Matt was home to visit a few weeks ago during his spring break (unfortunately, Dani’s spring break was several weeks earlier).
  2. Bethany is home this week on her spring break.
  3. Bethany will be presenting a harp recital on Friday, and both my parents and Lu’s parents will travel here for that.
  4. Lu’s father is recovering well from a recent, unexpected surgery.
  5. For the recent homeschool choir concert, and that God provided a fever-free window so that I could fully participate.

As always, we conclude by thanking you for your continued expressions of love and concern.

Jeff and Lu

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10 Responses to Update 38 – March 26

  1. Don Herr says:

    Thanks for the good news Jeff and be encouraged that you and your family remain I our prayers.

    Don and Carol

  2. sam tabiendo says:

    Thanks, Jeff, for your thorough & concise news. You give me much encouragement & courage, brother. I am grateful that your family can be with you. Please send Bethany warmest greetings for me. I would love to hear her play the harp. It is the most beautiful instrument. Praying for God’s grace upon you & his glory to be revealed to you, in you & through you during these days.
    because of Jesus – sam for the tabiendos

  3. Jeff Allard says:

    Thank you for the update Jeff. You and Lu are in our prayers daily. Let Kelly and I know if we can do anything for you, anything. Gods grace and peace be with you always.

  4. Lorraine says:

    Dear Jeff, Lu, and family;

    Your courage and honesty, in the face of adversity, is an example of (Immanuel) God with us; shared for His honor and glory which shines mightily in Jesus’ sacrifice for all believers. You are giving “a sacrifice of praise unto the LORD” through your suffering which is lifted up as an offering. It is an honor to pray for you and yours as you have requested. I agree with Sam’s beautiful concluding statement.

    Praying for God’s wisdom to be with you and the medical team @ UIHC next week.

    “The LORD is my portion” says my soul, “Therefore I have hope in Him.”
    (Lamentations 3:24)

  5. Dean Borg says:

    Jeff: You are an inspiration! Thank you for modeling courage and unquestioning faith.
    I first met you and Lu as College and Career Class students, but you are now mentoring me. I shall pray that you will again experience the joy of conducting the homeschool student choir.

  6. Fred McClurg says:

    Dear Jeff:

    During this time I often feel at a loss of how I can help. I gave blood the other day hoping that my small contribution will make a positive difference in your health or someone else’s.

    Unknown to me Moriah also gave blood (for the first time) at Iowa State. She voiced that she had a similar thought.

    My boys at AWANA continue to pray for you every week. Even the week’s that I fail to mention it, they remind me.

  7. Dan Wiersema says:

    Thank you for helping us to see the path as we walk together. Our prayers are you all.
    Dan, Londa, and Lily

  8. Liliana Pingel says:

    I thank the Lord for allowing me to be blessed by you; through your testimony, Godly counsel and faith.
    In 2009 my husband and I were in a desperate needed of a Godly advice in our parenting journey and you took time to listen to my husband and I concerns. What you told us that day I still remembered it as if it was yesterday. This is what you told us: “Take care of the Moral Character and the Academics will fall into place on its own.” At the same time Lu shared some materials to begin my journey.Your advised gave the courage to step up in the roll of homeschooling. Today we are so pleased to have taken your advised and put it in practice. You know today I am already passing on the wisdom you passed on to me, because it has blessed my family. Forever Thkfl

  9. Liliana Pingel says:

    As we await for the Lord to reveal His answer to us. Let us be steadfast holding on into his promises, and daily proclaim them. For He is the one that has the final word concerning our being. We unit with you all in prayer and supplication and praise.
    The Lord’s peace be with you. The Holy Spirit mourns before the Almighty on our behalf in ways that we cannot imagine. Thank you Jesus. It is so good to know that.
    My favorite hymn that gives me strength among others and that satan hates is “One day at the time Lord Jesus,” Oh I just love to thing this song with all my lungs, maybe we can sing it together sometimes. Love in Christ. Liliana

  10. Kathryn Church says:

    Jeff, in working with MHSAP students, I heard some of them saying how important it was to them to go to the Home School Choir Concert to, “Honor Mr. Wheeler who had done so much for them and was such a fine mentor.” I agree whole heartedly as do my children. I thought you should know. It was a miracle of His Sovereign Grace to open a window of relief so you could stand and serve once more as the director of the Home School Choir.

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