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2004-03-22 Very bummed last Thursday when I found out that the Canyon trip was canceled due to many participants having to work. However, was able to get a hike in with Todd, Hooli (John), Rich and daughter Candice. We went up the Barnhardt trail and had lunch in a stand of Ponderosas. Nice hike! Nice company!

PSA undetectable!

2004-04-07 Haven't made an entry for quite some time. I have been way too busy. Bought a new Nissan Frontier a little over a week ago. I was working on the old truck and getting quite frustrated. Long story short, I went and bought a new one. Been looking a while at these trucks and find them to be a good buy.

Russ hiked with me Saturday morning and we had breakfast at Denny's afterward. Had great prayer time on the top of H2. It's good to be empty. Discussed some future doings on E-Bay.

Took Sarah and Emily to see The Passion of the Christ. We sat in the second row and it was quite intense. I hope it made an impact on them to see what Jesus went through when he took on the sin of the world. Good movie, but still not the entire story. Would have been better at the end if there was more emphasis on the resurrection.


Sarah, Emily and I backpacked in to Reavis Ranch in the Eastern Superstition Mountain range on Friday the 16th. We met up with Todd, John, Tracy, Tom, Rocky, Mary, Brian, Tim and Rob from the Arizona Hikers Group. More on this hike can be found at the site Both Sarah and Emily did very well on the 13 1/2 mile round trip. This was Emily's first backpack. We had an excellent time exploring the old ranch grounds and walking around in the apple orchard. Friday night Todd cooked Shrimp with Pasta and I furnished Angel Food cake smothered with strawberries and whipped cream. This was quite the meal for being out in the rough. It was fun getting to know new Arizona Hikers and everyone enjoyed Sarah and Emily and were quite amazed at how well they handled the rigors of this moderately difficult trek. We hiked out on Sunday the 18th. On the way out we met Jim and Susan doing the out and back as a day hike. We all gathered back at the trailhead and caravaned to Dos Gringos in Apache Junction for some excellent Mexican food. This was a very good trip and I was extremely proud of my girls.

2004-04-29 One year ago today I was diagnosed with Prostate Cancer. Wow!, it seems longer than that. We had just finished dinner, sort of hanging out in the kitchen when the phone rang. Emily answered it and told me it was someone from church. I don't know why. Anyway when I answered and it was Dr. Kletscher my heart started beating quite a bit faster in anticipation. After a round of small-talk he told me the biopsy indicated I had cancer. That induced an adrenalin shock that I likely will not forget. I had cancer! A strong sense of mortality suddenly invaded my I'll-die-someday-but-not-today space. After I got over that initial spoonful of adrenalin and came to the remembrance of who I was in Jesus Christ, He covered me with a strength that I had not experienced prior to that time. I started this journal one year ago today and by the grace of God it will continue.

I have thought long and hard about many things that I assuredly would not have if this obstacle had not come along. It is my hope that my life would please God. But even in trying to please God I become entangled sometimes in the snare of busyness that becomes a passion for the work of ministry, not God. Fortunately He surrounds me with warriors for Christ who intercede for me and encourage me and counsel me. I can say for sure that God has shown me much in the last year. I have more purpose now than at any other time in my life. I am less afraid, more confident, less bitter and angry, more willing, less ambivalent, more free and more aware of God's will going on around me every day. I'm more apt to join in than I ever have been. What does all of this mean? This entire process of going through cancer has been a stirring in my life that has lead to a stronger and closer relationship with my Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ, Emanuel, the Son of the Living God.

My recovery from the radical prostatectomy has been sort of a miracle. I have found myself even feeling guilty (not for long) because I haven't experienced any of the complications that I have read about from other prostate cancer patients. I think in some of the letters and posts in forums I have made, I erroneously stated that the original biopsy showed a Gleason 7. That is incorrect. It was a Gleason 6. I think in my mind I just started saying 7 because I used it as a hypothetical 3+4 Gleason when trying to explain the way the Gleason is determined. Anyway, It was a six, and that is what DR. Kletcher told me that night and that it was curable. I have learned much about prostate cancer, but not as much as many with the desease. I've probably forgotten much because that initial desire to learn all I could about fighting prostate cancer has diminished. I made some decisions, had the surgery and made a remarkable recovery. I was in the hospital for two nights. The stitches came out in a week; the catheter in two. I was back hiking in a little over a month, playing basket ball in two and a half. I have no problems with urination whatsoever, in fact it has never been easier in my life. I have a full stream, can hold through the night and very very rarely leak; only when I've been exerting myself to a high degree like on the epic Superstition Hike I did back in October or the West Fork Wade in September. Erectile function is good. Every one of the three PSA tests I have taken since the surgery is negative; NO DETECTABLE PSA! I feel very well!

What does all of this mean to me? I'm grateful to God. Grateful because he has shown me much in my affliction. I know this: I don't believe myself to be any kind of superhuman-physical-speciman. I really never experienced any pain from the cancer other than the subsequent surgery and recovery; and even that, I didn't count as very extreme. When I think back on the time off for said surgery, I have memories of relaxing and meditating on God's Word and what he would have me do as a result of my experience with the big "C". God is giving me direction all the time and I'm trying very hard to get it. I seem to get in His way a lot. I have established the online ministry "Men of Courage . Net" It has taken several twists and turns and screeching halts, but this journal has remained and it is my firm belief that God's will is that I share my experience with all that have an ear. I can truly say that annual PSA checks should become a part of every middle aged man's life. I had been having mine checked for almost ten years prior to the rise in PSA. I'm going to continue this journal; I'm thinking for the rest of my life, but can't say for sure. It's something for my family and anyone who has an ear. God is calling men to Himself, to be strong in the faith and have courage. Sadly, very few have an ear inclined to His call.
2004-05-20 It's been awhile since my last entry and much has transpired. I have made some decisions to earn some extra income since I am struggling big time to make ends meet. I have been unable to pay much of the mounting medical bills for both Janet and myself, as well as numerous for the kids. St. Joseph's Hospital in Phoenix where I had the surgery has already submitted the unpaid balance to collection even though I thought I had arranged a payment plan with them. I have seriously considered bankruptcy, but would rather take care of my obligations as overwhelming as they seem. In the midst of all of this I bought a new truck because I figured I'd better get something decent while credit was still there.

Enough woe-is-me. I have initiated an Ebay account and have begun to sell items that I have acquired here and there or have had for some time. So far I have sold a few things and made about $200 dollars. Can't remember if I mentioned it or not, but some time back Janet had told me of a backpack she had seen for $6.00 in a thrift store. So I went to the thrift store to check it out and sure enough it was still there. It was a Kelty model from LL Bean dating back to the 70's. The actual price was $6.99, but the evening when I bought it was actually a tagged 1/2 off item. It cost me a little less than $4.00. Anyway, I ended up selling it on Ebay for $81.00. Maybe I can continue to find good items that will sell. I used to hate garage sale and thrift sale shopping, but have since taken on a new perception. I am also at this time considering some sort of e-commerce; not sure what when or how just yet. Just have some basic ideas floating around in my mind.

I seem to have become way too busy and I like to reflect on this time last year leading up to my surgery and subsequent recovery. When your life is on the line with the threat of cancer, busyness seems to take a back seat to the priorities in life: God and family. I've got to keep that as my goal. It is so easy to find a million things that I just have to do, when in reality I don't. I know what is important in my life and still I struggle to keep on track. I must devote my life to Jesus and quit getting side tracked by all manner of things good and bad. If they keep me from living and breathing for Him, I am not fulfilling my purpose for being. I will make amends.

Finally did the Canyon Lake to Peraltal Trailhead hike with Todd, Steve, Ron, Diane, Jaimi, Tony and Tom. It was 100 degrees plus, but had a great time. We had dinner at Dos Gringos of course and celebrated Jaimi's birthday as well.

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