Sunday, December 30, 2007

Canadian Interlopers...

We arrived home from church this afternoon to find an armada of Canadian Geese paddling around in our back yard. I counted 38 of them, the most we've yet seen around here. As I stepped outside with the camera, they all swam toward me, looking for a handout. Since there was no Molson or LaBatt's in the house, Anita scrounged around and managed to find a few old biscuits for them.

Friday I will have my 21st Proton treatment, which will mean we're half done. They say that time flies when you're having fun; it seems that as we grow older, it flies even without the fun.

Hope you all had a very Merry Christmas, and we pray God's eternal blessings to you and yours in this New Year.

Thursday, December 27, 2007

One-third of the way...

Last evening (Wednesday) I had my 14th Proton treatment, which leaves only 28 to go. Hopefully these will go by as quickly as did the first 14.

Each week I meet with my doctor to review progress of the treatment. Side effects have been minimal and tolerable to this point. My vitals have been pretty constant, except for my weight being up a couple pounds last evening. I guess I have to blame that on Al and Elaine Fricke and on Clive and Hyacinth Stephenson, whose generous hospitality we enjoyed on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day. Anita and I give thanks to God for the bringing new friends into our lives. We've gotten to know a lot of other patients at UF Proton Therapy Institute, folks from all around the country. We've been worshipping with the folks at Ortega Presbyterian Church and have enjoyed a wonderful fellowship with them. Reminds me of Pauls words in the Epistle to the Romans, chapter 8:28: "..we know that all things work together for good for those who love God, who are the called according to His purpose." Surely it is a very good thing to find new brothers and sisters in Christ.

We will complete my course of treatment, God willing, near the end of January. We'll return home for a time and depending on how soon my routine returns to normal, will be planning a visit to Wisconsin to see my mother. She still has a feeding tube but is responsive to stimulii and we have hopes for recovery from her stroke. We understand that she enjoyed Christmas worship with my sister and her family; for that we give thanks. Your continuing prayers on her behalf are very much appreciated.

As mentioned above, we had a sweet time of fellowship over the Christmas Holiday with some of our new friends. we shared greetings with many old friends, and we greet those of you who are reading this. "May the Peace of God, which transcends all understanding, guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus. Amen."

Sunday, December 23, 2007

Ten more Days...

I'm not as good as I should be at updating this thing. It's ten days since my last post and I've now completed 13 (of 42) of my treatments -- over 1/4 of the way through now. I've been doing a lot of reading and found an excellent used bookstore nearby.
I mentioned before that we live near the Naval Air Station here in Jacksonville. They fly a lot of these aircraft -- P-3 Orions -- around this area and evenings apparently are their times of choice to do their practice landings. I stepped out the back door the other evening and made this photograph of one turning final. I should mention that often, instead of doing the normal "downwind leg - base leg - final approach" to the runway, they will make what some know as a "Carrier Approach" in which they come downwind and then make a sweeping turn to short final. It's neat to watch.

Mimi and Bert tell me the bird pictured below is some variation of Muscovy Duck, and I happily defer to their superior knowledge. Thanks, friends. There are a lot of Canadian Geese around here, but they prefer the river to the parking lots.
Anita spoke with a cousin last evening, and found out that he too has been diagnosed with prostate cancer. Seems to be a lot of that going around, but I suspect it's being discovered more often now with modern diagnostics and blood tests. We'll be praying for Dennis, that he too finds the best course of treatment for him. I've put up some on my web site, at; please take a look.

Thursday, December 13, 2007

Jacksonville Residents...

I pulled into a strip mall parking lot today and found this guy taking a bath in a puddle there. He acted like he owned the place, not moving even when a car approached. Once he finished drying his wings he strolled off to a nearby drainage ditch. If you know what breed of bird this is, let me know. He's certainly not one of the most attractive of God's creatures, but makes up for it with his attitude.

Sunday, December 09, 2007

Life in Jacksonville...

Psalm 136 closes the "Great Hallel" and contains the refrain, after each of its 26 verses, "for His Mercy Endures Forever." I feel amazingly blessed by Him as I go through treatment for the cancer that He, in His infinite wisdom, has seen fit to allow into my life. What could be more amazing than that He would lead us to Proton Therapy -- -- when even my urologist didn't tell me about such treatment.

Some of you may remember that I like trains. God used Christian friends to lead us to a place to stay here in Jacksonville that is close to a busy rail line. I can listen all day (and night) to train horns at the nearby grade crossing. What could be better than that?

Let me tell you. God also gave us a place to stay that is close to a PCA church filled with caring people, people who understand the meaning of prayer, and Christian Fellowship, and what it means to be children of our Heavenly Father. We have found amazing connections with the people of Ortega Presbyterian Church -- -- and are looking forward to worshipping and praying with them during our stay here. Surely "..His Mercy Endures Forever."

I've completed three treatments (Wed, Thu, and Fri) and have had the weekend "off." Yesterday Anita and I went up to Amelia Island. It was a perfect Florida day, sunny and warm, and we found a lovely restaurant for lunch, a lonely beach to wander on while collecting sea shells, an historic town (Fernandina) to wander through, and last but not least, a train to chase as we left town. Psalm 23 comes to mind: "Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life, and I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever." Amen and Amen!

Here's the Prince of Amelia Island.

Wednesday, December 05, 2007

Forty-One to Go...

I just got back from my first Proton Treatment, the first of a total of forty-two.

Prostate cancer is a funny thing. If your doctor ever tells you you have it, get all the details, do some research, and then go off and get a second opinion. I did, and am I ever glad.

(Technical stuff follows; feel free to ignore if you're a girl or if you haven't been diagnosed positive) My initial diagnosis was "3 of 10 biopsy samples positive for cancer, Gleason 3 + 3, T-1-C". When I found out about Proton Therapy, I came down here and had a major "second opinion" which included a battery of tests including a bone scan, CT scan, MRI scan, another biopsy (this one was mapped, with twelve rather than ten samples), and evaluation by my urologist and six of his collegues. Today I found out that only 2 of the 12 samples were positive, but that my Gleason score was placed at "4 + 5." This places me into a "high-risk" catagory, as opposed to what was hoped for based on the initial diagnosis All scans were normal, and verified that the cancer had not spread beyond the prostate; that is a definite positive. I guess the rest is, as well: I will need to have 42 treatments (the initial biopsy led me to hope for a lesser number), each treatment will be a higher intensity, and after the proton treatments end, I will need to have some hormone treatments as well, to ensure that they get "the whole enchilada."

Anyway, I must say that I'm pretty happy with all of that. Also happy with the place we found to stay while we're here. We're having problems with our computers (the power supply in Anita's CPU died en-route to JAX, and the display on my laptop has developed a problem) but the former will be fixed soon under warranty, and the latter doesn't keep me from necessary duties. Did I mention that we're happy with our new digs? Thanks, Randy Stair, for your suggestion.

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Back home again...

Anita and I got home late this afternoon from our trip to Wisconsin (we left Tennessee on Tuesday, Nov. 20), where we visited with my mother (as best we could ) and Anita's father. Mom has developed a blood clot in her leg, in addition to the one that caused the stroke, and that has become an ongoing concern. Blood thinners will take time to reduce it, and so she must remain in bed. We spoke late this afternoon with her faithful daughter, my sister Rita, who lives nearby and has been such a help to her over the years. Mom is set to go from the hospital to a nursing home tomorrow (Wednesday). There she will get the ongoing care she needs as the long recovery (God willing) continues. On Sunday we went to her church (where Anita and I were married 39 years ago) and all her friends expressed their concern. It was wonderful to be with them again.
On the way to church, I got a picture of these geese (Chinese Geese, according to their owner) walking on the ice-covered pond at the former Tom Tobola farm. My Dad did a lot of business with Mr. Tobola over the years; he owned the local Ford dealership. The new owner has a lot of exotic livestock, and intends to get a camel this summer.
Over the next several days Anita and I will be preparing for our eight-week sojourn in Jacksonville, Florida, where I will undergo treatment for my prostate cancer. We'll drive down on December 4 and begin treatment the following day. Thank you all for your prayers, both for me and for my mother.

Sunday, November 18, 2007

Another Prayer Request

My sister in Wisconsin called this evening to tell me that our mother had suffered a stroke. She was given a CT scan that was inconclusive, and will undergo further tests on Monday. Presently she appears to be resting comfortably, and the doctors say she is stable. But she can't communicate and has weakness in her right side.

She had just celebrated her 88th birthday on November 10; a birthday that she shared with Martin Luther. Please pray that, if it be His will, God would lay his healing hand upon her and give her many more years with her family.
In 2003 my wife organized a surprise birthday party for me, and Mom, my siblings and their families came to help celebrate. Above is my Mom and her children. From the left, baby sister Roxanne, myself, sister Rita LaNou, Mom, and brother Rod.
This is our extended family. From the left, my son Jeff and Amy Kohlin, John and Roxanne Sule, myself, Rita and Jim LaNou, our mother Harriet Kohlin, Rod and Jill Kohlin.

Saturday, November 17, 2007

Home away from Home

We completed our preparations for the course of treatment on Wednesday and Thursday. Because the samples taken in my September biopsy had not been mapped, I had to undergo another on Wednesday morning. I was mightily impressed with the young doctor who conducted the procedure, and with his nurse. They made what could have been an ordeal almost pleasant. He also implanted the three target markers that will be used to guide the proton beam to the correct location. Wednesday afternoon I underwent a diagnostic MRI scan. Those things sure are noisy.

Thursday morning was spent at the Proton Center going through CT and MRI simulations. This involved going through the same steps that we'll take during actual treatment, so that the patient knows and understands what is involved. We were done well before noon, and given an appointment for our first treatment: Wednesday, December 5, at 1:20 PM. Between now and then our doctors will complete plans for the course of treatment, review them, and construct the specialized focusing lenses that allows the proton beam to treat only the cancer.

With our prep work completed, we continued our search for a place to stay for the two month period of treatment. After looking at several more places, we finally decided to take the place on the Ortega River. Actually, it's on a canal just off the river, and is quite close to the Naval Air station (which is on the St. John's River). It had a lot of attractions, not the least of which was being in a gated community with off-street parking. There is plenty of shopping not far away, it's not too far from the Proton Center, and it has a spare bedroom and bath should we have overnight company. Here's a picture of the canal-side of the place - our unit will be the one just left of center, on the first floor, with the lawn furniture.

Once we had a place to stay lined up, we were able to relax a bit. Every Thursday evening the folks at the Proton Center lead a restaurant excursion for patients and spouses. We joined them at a wonderful little Italian place in the downtown area and got to know some of them - lots of fun. Folks on proton therapy sure enjoy themselves. No loss of energy or hair, unlike some of the people I've known who opt for surgery and/or radiation.

Friday morning, both Anita and I were awake early so we decided to head for Chattanooga. We were on the road by 7:00 AM, heading west on Interstate 10 then north on I-75. We got home about 3:30 PM after 490 miles of boredom (only a few seconds of sheer terror ;-). Now we're back in the "wait state" and making a list of all the things we can't do without for two months.

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Prep Work

Anita and I drove from Tennessee to Jacksonville yesterday, and today I began the preparation for my up-coming treatment for prostate cancer. I had a bone scan and a chest x-ray today; tomorrow morning I will have a biopsy taken, and they will implant target seeds for the proton beam. In the afternoon I will have an MRI scan.

Thursday morning will be spent in "CT and MRI simulations." I'm not sure what all that entails, but I do know that when we get done, I'll know when my course of treatment will begin and how long it will last.

Today we had lunch with some of the folks in the program, guys being treated and their wives. They come here from all parts of the country, each with a different story. It was a pleasure to meet them, and we look forward to getting to know more of them as we go through the program.

Anita has been looking for a place for us to stay for the estimated eight-weeks required for treatment. We looked at a pretty nice place this afternoon, near the Naval Air Station and just off the Ortega River. We'll see what happens. Our current plan is to return home Friday. Praying for travel mercies.

Saturday, November 10, 2007

Workin' on the Railroad...

I spent today working on the railroad. Well, part of the day, anyway. Got up early and headed east to Etowah, TN to help out with the morning train on the Hiwassee River Rail Adventure. After my tour of duty was over, I headed to Reliance, TN and got this picture of the afternoon train coming across the river. See for more information.

I got home in time to gather up the wife and head to the home of friends for dinner. One of the great joys of life is good friends, and time spent together with them. Thanks, Mark and Mary, Steve and Mary, and Linda for your prayers and the Christian love we share.


Tuesday, November 06, 2007

Onto the Schedule...

At 6:10 PM EST this evening, we received the long-expected phone call from the University of Florida Proton Therapy Institute. We are now scheduled to have the prep work on Tuesday-Thursday, November 13-15. This is an answer to prayer, perhaps to specific prayer, since today was for us a day of prayer and fasting for the ministry of the PCA Foundation. God is good!

Once this prep work is done, we can expect another wait before treatment can begin. We don't know how long it will be, but hope it won't be another month. Once started, the course of treatment will take about eight weeks, five days per week, about 30 minutes each day. Where's that time machine when you need it?

Sunday, November 04, 2007

Times of Transitions...

Our church, First Presbyterian Church of Chattanooga, is doing a new pictorial directory. Our picture will be included; we joined the congregation on November 12, 2006. This morning our Senior Pastor, Dr. Mike Milton, announced that he will be answering a new call from God. He leaves us to become President and professor of Practical Theology at the Charlotte campus of Reformed Theological Seminary. An announcement at We pray for God's continued blessings on his ministry, in and through his life.

Last Tuesday, I spent time with friends pursuing Railroad History. I've put up some pictures at for those who might be interested in seeing locomotives and passenger cars dating back to the 1950's. Like these, crossing the railroad bridge over the Tennessee River at Chattanooga...

Anita and I are still waiting to be contacted by University of Florida regarding my upcoming treatment for prostate cancer. I've put up a web page with links to various resources, at May I suggest that any men reading this consider the simple PSA test that will tell you whether or not you might be at risk. It is one of the most common of cancers, but also one of the most treatable.

Best wishes...

Thursday, November 01, 2007

The Wait State...

Whenever you're working on a computer, and writing a program for a computer, you deal with and have to account for periods of time in between actions taken by the Central Processing Unit (CPU). Those time periods are known as "Wait States." Usually the computer is waiting for an response from the human user. Other times one program (or part of a program) is waiting for an action to be completed by another program (or part of a program). More rarely, the user is waiting for the program to complete an action, or series of actions. In any case, someone is waiting for someone else to do something, and provide some sort of response so that the party of the first part can go on with their part of the job.

Right now I'm in the situation of the user above. I've done what I need to do in preparation for the next step in treating my cancer. Now I'm in a "Wait State," waiting on the University of Florida Proton Therapy Center to work me into their schedule. When they get down to my number, I will be scheduled for a three-day period of preparation for the eight-week course of treatment. Originally they said "a week to ten days" after our initial visit, but apparently a lot of men are finding the option of Proton Therapy attractive, and when we last talked to them they said, "within a month." It's been two-and-a-half weeks now; I think Anita is more antsy than I am ;-)

At any rate, friends and family have been asking, and now I'll be directing them here. As of today, we're still in a "Wait State." As an old hand at computer programming, I'm aware that they'll get to me whenever they get to me; as Jesus reminds us in Matthew 6, worrying about it won't be of any use. So I've committed everything to His hands, and am trusting that, as Paul tells us in Romans 8, "..all things work to the good of him who loves the Lord." Thanks for your prayers, and thanks (Rita and others) for reminding me to provide the updates. I love each of you who has expressed your concern and offered your prayers. May God bless us, every one...

Friday, October 26, 2007

Changes and Times of Change

Having a Blog presupposes having something to say. Obviously to this point I haven't had much to say. Sure, there's been a lot going on in my life but until recently, putting it on the web hasn't been a priority. In fact, I'd all but forgotten that I set this thing up nearly two years ago.

But now, I have found something to say. May not be useful or even of interest to most folks, but I've decided this would be a good place to keep a diary of forthcoming events. So, here goes.

On September 19, 2007, I was diagnosed with prostate cancer. The diagnosis wasn't completely unexpected, since I'd been dealing with an enlarged prostate for some time. However, a biopsy in 2002 came back negative, and my family history (my father had his prostate removed, but it wasn't cancerous, only enlarged) gave me reason to hope.

Anyway, the diagnosis led to my urologist explaining some of the various courses of treatment available to treat the disease. Radical prostatectomy, robot-assisted prostatectomy, lapriscopy, radioactive seed implants, cryogenic treatment, radiation -- all were viable options, alone or in combination. Rather than suggest one over another, he suggested we do research and let him know what we wanted to do. He would do the seed implant or cryogenic options himself if I should choose either, and if I chose another course of treatment he would refer me elsewhere. We came away with lots of options, no recommendations, and concerns about the viability of each possibility.

Over the next week, we scoured the internet for information about each option. In doing so, none seemed more promising than any other. All held the possibility of potential complications and side effects, all would involve either a long period of treatment or a long period of recovery. None was more appealing than the others.

Somewhere along the line Anita came across a course of treatment called Proton Therapy. It's done at Loma Linda University in California, University of Florida in Jacksonville, M.D. Anderson in Houston, at Mass. General Hospital in Boston, and at Indiana University in Bloomington. We sent off for a packet of information; it arrived the next day and I spent the afternoon reading a book they included, written by Robert J. Marckini, titled You Can Beat Prostate Cancer And You Don't Need Surgery to Do It. What an eye-opener! And my urologist hadn't even mentioned that Proton Therapy was a viable alternative.

Long story short, we got back in touch with the folks in Jacksonville, got my medical records and biopsy slides and sent them down for examination, and had blood drawn for another PSA test. After church on October 14, we headed south for a consultation with Dr. Randall Henderson at the UF Proton Therapy Institute. In between and since, we've been dealing with insurance people and looking forward to when we can return to Jacksonville for the required three days of preparation prior to beginning treatment. There's no doubt in our minds, no question that this is the right course of treatment for me.