Thursday, February 16, 2012

An Update...and other stuff...

Hey everyone...thanks in advance for always giving me the space to be Ollie.
I don't want to make this a long, drawn out thing...but I also have to share all the rest of my heart in this process.

For as long as I remember, at my dad's church, we used to sing this song (which I always felt was kind of cheesy...and I REALLY struggle cheesiness, especially when its applied to God)...but we used to sing this song called, "I Just Feel Like Something Good Is About To Happen."
Several months ago, that song popped into my brain's music rotation. From out of nowhere, I suddenly, and constantly found myself singing this big cheese pizza song, seasoned with overwhelming hope.

"I just feel like something good is about to happen...and brother, this could be that very day."

I was singing this song...unable to shake it. It's not really my genre...but it was lodged in my heart and head...for months.
Until it reached a crescendo of excitement and emotion...on January 26th. On that day, I just happened to be on a layover in Lagos, Nigeria.
I didn't have internet service in my room, so, on this layover, I generally sit in the hotel lobby where free wifi is ever-so-slowly available.
I sat in the lobby, chatting with Cristi. I had told her several times about this song stuck in my head...and told her again this day, "Baby, I don't know why...but I simply just feel like something good is about to happen!"

We were both so very encouraged! I've been working on this book, we're really focusing on living our dreams...we feel such a passion for not just "life" but for TRULY LIVING A FULL LIFE! And this song seemed to be just the encouragement we needed to push us over the edge and, well, just make us know that "life" was actually happening!
So after a bit of chatting and dreaming...and a plate of fish and chips...I went to my room to get ready for my flight home.

I showed up for pick-up...and really felt physically, emotionally, spiritually AMAZING! I had spent some time working on my book and dreaming...

I couldn't wait to get home and see where this excitement for life was going to take Cristi, the kids and me.

But I didn't quite make it home that night...

Shortly after boarding the plane, while preparing to receive passengers, my brain decided to teach me a crash course in expressive dancing...I put my right-side in, did the hokey-pokey, and shook it all about. (I had a few seizures.)

I was transported to an incredible facility on Victoria Island in Lagos called Reddington Hospital. I had amazing care from a Harvard-trained neurologist, a first-rate cardiologist, and some amazing, highly trained Registered Nurses such as Victor Michael. (I really recieved a truly holistic care...medically, emotionally, spiritually...while in Nigeria.)
I also want to say how truly thankful I am to the crew I was working with on that trip! Georgia, Karen, Carlis, Beverly, Bridgetta, Jeffrey and the pilots! When I came to, and was surrounded by a crew of praying fellow co-workers...telling me I was loved...I knew everything was going to end up just fine. ("Vanilla Thunder" loves you all VERY MUCH!)
I also want to thank all the people at Delta OCC and the supervisors (Philip, Lantz, Lori and Sam) as well as the staff from InternationalSOS, who provided such amazing care in getting me home and communicating with my family. (I especially want to thank Dr. Barbara Hanke who escorted me home. I've never experienced such a seamless balance between medical professionalism and just genuine nurturing in my life!)
As frightening as the experience could have been, I feel so fortunate and purely blessed, through it all.

As soon as I arrived in Atlanta, I was transported immediately to Atlanta's Emory Hospital for MRIs and other evaluations. There, the tumor that was diagnosed in Nigeria was confirmed, and I was scheduled for brain surgery.
The tumor was removed (although, I'm honestly not sure if it was ALL removed, etc.) on February 6th.

So, yesterday, I got the pathology report from the staff at Winship Cancer Institute at Emory. The diagnosis is Stage 4, Glioblastoma. It's supposedly an aggressive form of brain cancer.
I have another appointment on Tuesday, February 21st with the entire medical team...and another with the oncologist on February 24th. I'll know more about the process of treatment on these dates. But, the initial plan is, of course, for six weeks of radiation and about a year of chemotherapy. And, I've been told I'm a prefect candidate for a new, aggressive, clinical trial.

I know this may all sound daunting...but I have to be honest with where I am in this whole process...emotionally, physically, spiritually, etc.

I'm really okay. Really.

I don't think I've ever felt more secure and at ease with anything in my life! I simply feel like my Daddy has everything under control and is taking me on this journey. And I couldn't be more excited to see what he has in store!

My theme for the last several years has been this overwhelming, unquenchable desire to change the world. I mean, I want to change the world. I want to see people realizing all the fullness of life...I want to see people living out of their passions and knowing the thrill, the pleasure, the joy of being ALIVE!

I've really been examining my heart, to try and discern if I'm just taking on an unrealistic "pollyanna" type approach...and my answer? No...I'm not. I sincerely feel my Daddy is taking me and family and my friends on this journey because he wants to show us he loves us. And I'm overwhelmingly convinced, he knows what he's doing.

Realistically, I've thought about some of the health related issues I've encountered in the last few years. I've have had Atrial Fibrillation twice (actually, three times, I guess), I had to have my gall bladder removed and had arthroscopic knee surgery...and the way I see it, if God and medical science can deal with those issues...God and medical science can deal with brain cancer just as well.

I don't feel any sense of stress, or panic, or desperation...I just feel secure. I feel loved. I feel ready to take on every single moment of life and live it to the fullest!

And we need your prayer...(and please don't take this wrong) we don't need sympathy or desparation.We need encouragment and as much of life as possible to maintain some normality.

We may all freak out tomorrow and fall apart...if we do, support us. But mostly, we need your love and support.

I'm planning on living every single minute I have...I WILL NEVER, NEVER, NEVER, NEVER GIVE UP!
I love you all...and I'm grateful to be on this journey with you!

I feel like something good is about to happen.

Thursday, February 2, 2012

I Simply, Smile.

(Please forgive my gratuitous emotion and cheese...
But I won't live a dishonest life.
I will not withhold my passion.)

Barren of leaves,
This windblown tree.
Withstanding Winter's toll,
Firmly planted in the security,
Of this gentle river flow.
Let your violence buffet, howl.
And bring your bitter snow.
You'll succeed to only dig in my roots,
To fertile soil below.
Your deepest threat,
Your fear...dark and grave,
Your empty, hollow chide,
Evokes a smile, in my resolve...
Exposing this passion that resides.
Your power to take, Is taken away.
Your plan revealed futile,
For as you scheme to strip away,
Fruit finds production...
And mocks you...
All the while.
So bring your winters' harshest,
Though I tremble,
Though I quake,
And this fullness of life,
This exuberant dance...
Is found here in your wake.
Full beyond containment...
I simply, smile.