Sunday, September 11, 2011

Gary Carter

Gary Carter , Hall of Famer
Nothing seems to wrench one from self-absorption and pity parties like the realization that there are others whose battles are raging more fiercely than your own.  This is especially true for me when I read the journal Gary Carter's daughter, Kimmy, as she relates her dad's fight with cancer.

Gary was my 1st friend in Major League Baseball back in 1975 and he played such an important part in the early days of my ministry to pro ballplayers.

Please take the time to read Kimmy's account.  God has gifted her in marvelous ways and her account of her dad's battle is both gut-wrenching and God-honoring at the same time. - David

Kimmy writes:

I have learned how to appreciate people, time and everyday life more these past four months than ever before. It’s the simple things that make me smile like when I make a phone call to a friend or family member and I hear a simple,  "Hello" on the other side. It brings me true joy to have a conversation and catch up. I encourage all of you to say "I love you" more, give more hugs and jump on every opportunity to spend time with the ones you love. There may not be a tomorrow.

"For I know the plans I have for you," declares the LORD, "plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. Then you will call upon me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you. You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart." 
Jeremiah 29:11-13

On Friday, I had another opportunity to share dad's story at PBA's chapel. This time it was for FCA (Fellowship of Christian Athletes). I actually don't feel comfortable speaking in front of people but I had a peace knowing the words that came out of my mouth were straight from the Lord. Daily, I ask Him to use me for His glory even if it is out of my comfort zone. 

This day was a tough day for dad. He was sad and very down. To lift his spirits, mom ordered pizzas for the family to enjoy and bring us together. I think it helped but dad was still not having an upbeat day. He was exhausted and the day just dragged on. 

"Behold, GOD is my salvation; I will trust and not be afraid: for the LORD 
JEHOVAH is my strength and my song; He also is become my salvation."
Isaiah 12:2

Saturday was another difficult day; however, through the sadness, dad still got out of bed and swam laps in the pool. That evening, my mom and dad (with my daughter) ate dinner with my sister, Matt and the boys. My sister had prepared a nice meal and invited them over for an enjoyable evening. Dad lasted just over a hour before he needed to go home.  While my family was enjoying a nice meal, my husband and I (with friends Ronnie and Marissa) drove to Port St. Lucie for the Mets game. In between the doubleheader, dad's good friend Jack Brenner presented a nice check to the Gary Carter Foundation. The money was raised through Jack’s encouragement and we thank him for such a nice gift. It was a special, emotional evening to honor dad.

Sunday we went to a nice church service and came home to grab a quick bite to eat at my parents’ house. Before dad rested, we (dad, my husband and I) went to PBA for about 2.5 hours to clean out dad's office. Aside from being a little worn out, dad was sharp and doing well as we helped him organize his things. He felt there was some accomplishment, which made him feel good. On the way home, dad and I played our “song game”…be the first to name the artist who is singing the current song on the radio. We have played this since we were little. Before we arrived to my parents' house, the song "Can you feel the love tonight?" by Elton John began to play. Of course we both knew the famous artist and I began to sing the lyrics. It was awesome that dad remembered every word and sang with me in the car. Again, it is the little things I treasure each day.

On Monday, dad slept pretty much all day as the exhaustion was really taking over his body. He got out of bed a few times but for the most part, slept a good portion of the day. I was proud of him though that he was able to swim 14 laps in the pool. What a fighter! That evening we were all looking forward to a nice evening at a Mexican restaurant called La Bamba. We had received gift certificates from our precious friends the Hobgoods and we decided to make it a fun night out! Unfortunately, my sister's oldest, C.J. got very sick so they stayed in for the night. Mom, dad, Kyle and I still went to dinner and enjoyed a nice night. Unfortunately, C.J. was the first of many more family members that got sick for the next few days. Thankfully my dad and husband did not get the “plague”. We were hit hard and are glad that is all over.

On Tuesday, mom and dad went to Wellington to meet with the doctor. They were told that dad looked good and that he was able to still have his Avastin treatment in a couple days. You see, Avastin is wonderful to destroy these tumors; however, the downside is that Avastin can create blood clots. Dad will continue to give himself a shot everyday in his stomach to dissolve the blood clots. So, dad has to fight extra hard so we need extra prayers! His breathing is much better. He doesn’t need to sleep with oxygen anymore but it is still in the house just in case. Dad will have his next appointment with the doctor in two weeks. 

After the doctor’s appointment, my parents went to a movie and spent some time together. It is always good to get dad out of the house and have something fun to do. Before he went to sleep, dad enjoyed that crazy show Wipeout and he roared with laughter, something we haven’t heard in a long time. Again, it's the little things.

On Wednesday, dad met his good friends Dave Van Horne and Tommy Hutton for lunch. Dad was very aware and had a great day overall.

On Thursday, dad swam laps in the pool before Mead Chasky and Ronnie Strawberry came by the house for a few hours. When they left, dad rested before going with my husband to PBA at 5pm to watch his baseball guys test for strength and conditioning. Kyle told us that dad watched a few exercises and then made his way from the balcony down to the gym floor (it was moved inside due to the south Florida afternoon rain). Between exercises, the players all walked over to dad and each guy gave him a hug or shook his hand. They surrounded him and he said a few words to greet them and shared how he has been feeling. It was a special moment for dad being welcomed so warmly by his guys! 

Throughout the workout, he was interacting with the guys and joking with some of them (mostly inside jokes from last season). It was a blessing for Kyle to see him "in his element" around the baseball team. At the end of the workout, Coach (Kent) Bottenfield asked dad to come over and say a few words. As he spoke, it was, for a moment, as though dad was 100%! His fatigue had been lifted (although temporarily), and he was firing up the guys and sharing his expectations for the spring season. Kyle took a picture of this moment and texted it to me, mom, Christy and DJ to share the good news! I am hoping that being around his guys more often will really help dad gain more energy.

Yesterday, mom and dad had a conversation with the doctor and it was a good report. His white blood count was good as well as his vitals (bp, heart, temp, breathing, etc.) and he was able to get his Avastin treatment today. Praise the Lord!

Mom has been dad's greatest encourager. They have been married for over 36 years and are a great team. Mom has done many things to make things better for dad...driving him around, cooking him nutritious meals, going to every doctor's appointment and daily encouraging him to stay positive. I love that mom and dad are fighting together and pray together each night for comfort and strength through this battle.
"I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me." 
Philippians 4:13

Prayers for the upcoming week:

Blood clots to go away in the lungs and leg
A strong week of activity, energy and motivation before he starts his
5 day chemo treatment the following week
Exhaustion...pray he gets rest but then FEELS rested. He has the time to rest but is frustrated when his body shuts down and has little energy.
Continued functioning of his body...besides exhaustion and bruising/cuts on his legs and arms, everything else is working as it should.
...October 11th will be a good result for dad's next MRI in DUKE

My sister's family and sweet C.J. It is not an easy road for them as they are battling autism. Their journey is difficult and they have many many bumps each day.

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