First entry

Final Report, 15 July 2009

Dear Friends,

yesterday I got rid of the last evidences of my illness; on this occasion I would like to give you a final report.

The last hole on my body has been closed: three weeks ago my port (it was needed for the chemotherapy directly into a thick vein, at the worst periods of the therapy also for artificial feeding) was removed (under anesthesia: I had to stay for two days in the hospital), yesterday the PEG (my stomach tube) was detached. (The condition for this was that I have been feeding myself for three months in a natural way and didnt lose weight.) There was significantly less complicated than I had expected: I thought my abdominal wall would be sewn in three layers, daily bandage changes for weeks like after the port explantation, etc. But the hose was simply cut off; the inner holding plate was pushed into the stomach (it should naturally disappear) and done. Tomorrow I can go swimming a welcomed prospective in this summer heat.

The inner evidences are not quite so far, even though I can not complain. I eat almost everything; although I feel many tastes not yet as comfortable eating is still more work than pleasure. My condition is still far from the old one, although I run daily 2-3 miles with the dog and Nordic walking sticks. My sports (bicycling, etc.) are unfortunately restricted by the nose, through which I still do not get enough air. Sometimes I get awake at night, that they do not aerate. Then I blow fortunately enough fluid is produced, my mouth is also not as dry as before.

Generally, when I look back, I am very grateful for to have gone so far. Not only my health, also emotionally do I much better. Not only compared with the time during the disease, but even than before. I have now, after all this stress and being so close to death, a different view on life. I consider every day, every moment as a gift and receive it with gratitude. When I walk with the dog I enjoy the clouds, the trees (we live next to a beautiful castle park and lake) and the air much more consciously than ever before. Especially my family. The tremendous hardships forged us together. Our marriage is better than what we ever could have imagined, and my relationship with our four children (16-22) is excellent. I got rid of many of my views, convictions and efforts that used to be so important and now they are extraneous. That is a relief for me and for the whole family.

But the main thing, my relationship with God became much closer. Of my dependence on him I was fully aware also at the beginning of my illness.  I have experienced His help during the therapy very much. However, I missed Him and His intervention fairly much in the worse time, after I came home from the hospital. Now retrospectively I see myself in the well known story Footprings in the Sand: I recognize how He carried me in the most critical moments: He led people to lend me a hand throughout the crisis. In the first place this was my wife, who nursed me with an incredible commitment: she dropped a part of her work in the medical practice and her whole social involvement for my sake. She visited me every day in the clinic for seven weeks. When I was back home, she got up oftentimes at night to help me where I was panicking or tormented by malicious thoughts.

But there were also people from our church who were always ready to give me a ride to the doctor, to give me spiritual guidance or drop in to pray for me. There were also many friends from all over the world who read these pages and called back by email or phone that they pray for my healing. Also our church did this, and God answered these prayers. It is my conviction that the collective faith of all of our friends played an essential role in my healing. I would also like to take this opportunity to say thank you.

We did that also in our radio interview that will be broadcast in August.

The story is however not yet fully finished: Medically, I am cured, when I have been cancer-free for five years. Four and half are still missing.

In addition I would also like to get my nose fixed, to be able to breathe properly. For this purpose there will be in December another MRI, and if again no tumor is visible, I will come into a surgery in January or February. In addition to the originally planned surgery (nasal straightening, as the tumor was discovered) the adhesions in the nose will be fixed. So late, because the tissue in ENT area shows a poor wound healing through the irradiation (I have the maximum possible amount of radiation received): The later the surgery takes place, the better the chances for no complication. So, your prayers are still needed.

Working? I do not know yet exactly. According to my oncologist after such a treatment you are incapacitated for a year and a half. However I have noticed that I miss my work. In the coming winter semester, I will certainly teach no classes, but perhaps next summer. Perhaps only a small lecture but Im already looking forward to it.

Just as I also look forward to our daughter Esther returning in a few weeks from her year in Toronto, in order to finish her medical studies in Berlin. Judith comes home from Freiburg (in the south-west of Germany) only for the vacation; she will carry out an internship for her psychology studies here in the neighboring village. Thomas, who graduated from high school just recently, is also going to go study in Berlin, biotechnology. Philip, however, we will miss for a year: He will spend the 11th Class in Orlando, Florida (where Thomas was, and we all six years ago). How good that Ingrid stays at home!

The best, however, is that God is here. He has made me healthy and He will lead me through the ups and downs of this wonderful life that He gave me. To Him be honor and glory for it.