The diagnosis of cancer has started a new direction for me. We all have our own journeys, but the invitation is to walk beside.
Posted on August 21st, 2011 by Cam.
Categories: Let's talk.
A memorial service to celebrate the life of Cameron Marshall Harris will be held on Wednesday 24 August at 2:00pm (WST) at the Riverton Baptist Community Church, 38 Modillion Avenue, Shelley. We hope to have a live stream video of the service available – I will post the link and details soon.
Ash & Harris Family
Posted on August 19th, 2011 by Cam.
Categories: Let's talk.
As I held his hand in mine and with his love inscribed in my heart, our beloved Cameron passed away peacefully at 12:38pm today Friday 19 August 2011. I have no words to add to what everyone has already said about this amazing and inspirational man. I was in awe of him from the first time we met and my admiration for him grew deeper every day. My heart is shattered that we did not have more time together on Earth but I sigh with relief and take comfort in knowing that he has finally put the pain behind him. Cam better save me a seat next to him in Heaven or I’ll give him a talking to when I get there!
I adore you and love you deeply my sweet, beautiful, darling husband. Your Christlike love, joy and tender care has flooded my life for the past year and will continue to do so forever.
We will inform everyone about funeral details shortly.
With much love and appreciation,
Posted on August 18th, 2011 by Cam.
Categories: Let's talk.
Home feels empty and lifeless. Bed is cold and superfluous without Cam by my side. A king bed seems too big for one. It’s a new mattress that we picked out together. It only got delivered last Friday so we haven’t even been able to lay on it together. We spent hours in 40 Winks two weeks ago having a great time trying all the beds to find a perfect match for us. It was a long decision making process for us: Too hard, too soft, not the right technology, not the right material, we roll into the centre too much, we roll off the edge a bit, test it on our back, side and tummy, try this one and then that one and then this one again. Oh we tested every bed thoroughly. Our mattress testing technique must have given the staff a giggle. Most importantly it had to have the best anti-partner-disturbance technology because one of us sleeps like an inflatable dancing tube man outside a furniture store sale on a really windy day (I won’t say who, but evidence suggests it might be me).
Cam has been sedated for four days now. We didn’t think he’d make it through Tuesday. We all said our “see you soon” goodbyes and went home late that night. We thought perhaps he was waiting for us to go so he could let go. Our darling Cameron certainly has a strong heartin more ways than one. He’s still hanging on, still sedated and is sleeping peacefully now. Midazolam was one of his favourite drugs so hopefully he’s happy with the doctor’s choice of sedative.
Dr Davray explained that because he’s young, he can hold on for longer but it’s only a matter of time – maybe hours or days. All they can do is make him as comfortable as possible by giving him a constant supply of sedatives and pain relief through a syringe driver.
Cam has had a couple of lovely days of visits from extended family and close friends. He would have absolutely loved and treasured that time dearly. We’ve shared time with Cam playing his favourite music, talking to him, reminiscing and laughing. With Dr Davray’s suggestion, Cam’s family and I have agreed that visits will now be limited to immediate family only so as to reduce stimulation for Cam and maintain a peaceful environment in his room. We all know how he loves a good chat and would hang around just to give his time to those who love him.
Despite all indications pointing to death, I still have hope for a healing miracle, if for no other reason but because I have to believe that God’s power is greater than we can understand and I don’t want to limit His power within my limited understanding. But whatever the outcome, I just want my beautiful husband, our friend, brother and son, to be set free from the torment of this disease and to finally be at peace.
I know Cam feels blessed and overwhelmed by all your prayers, love and kindness and he always takes the time to make sure you all know it. I want to add to that and say your prayers are also carrying me through this, in a time when all I can pray is “please God”. So with all of my heart, thank you.
I won’t write another blog now until Cam is healed or taken, or unless his condition changes in another way.
Posted on August 14th, 2011 by Cam.
Categories: Let's talk.
Cam is sleeping now. My heart feels like it’s shattering piece by piece with every passing day that Cam does not get better. I keep thinking, how did we get here? This can’t be happening. He can’t be dying. This was not in our plan. Our plan is for healing to take place for the glory of God, to spend 50 years together, have kids and watch our grandkids grow up. Isn’t this God’s plan too? Those dreams seem so far away yet still so fresh in my mind. It’s a strange place to be.
This morning the infectious diseases doctor confirmed that last week’s tests show there is no infection in Cam’s body. Although we recognise this is great news, unfortunately Cam’s condition is worsening.
Two days ago he started to get twitching and weakness in his hands and arms, which is also worsening. Cam has been struggling with the frustration of this more than the pain because he can’t hold or type anything. The simplest tasks are causing great frustration and distress. His clarity of mind has been rapidly declining over the last few days and communicating with him is becoming increasingly difficult. He is also experiencing illusions. They’re not frightening or disconcerting illusions, but it was enough for the palliative care doctor, Dr Davray, to call in a neurologist. The neurologist put it all down to drugs and toxins from the cancer running through is body and scrambling his brain. He said the brain is seeing things that are there but it is misinterpreting it causing the illusions.
The recent blood test results also show that his liver is not doing so well. Dr Davray said it was a bit off when he first came in a week ago but it has since declined. She said they will to do blood tests to monitor it.
I have a bed set up in the hospital room with Cam and I’ve been sleeping here overnight for a week. The bed is not the most comfortable but my comfort is in knowing that I can be by Cam’s side at all times. Any movement is painful, difficult and exhausting for him now. Sleep is the only rest he gets from the twitching and confusion. I’ve been playing an audio bible to him, hoping it will bring some comfort.
We were able to get leave out of hospital last night to go to Riverview church, with the aid of a wheelchair. We were hoping to get out this afternoon to go to The Mission Church but I don’t think that will be a possibility today.
I believe God is our Healer. I still believe Cam can be healed. I still believe God is faithful. Whether Cam is healed or if he dies, we both take comfort in knowing the promises of God, knowing our eternal inheritance through Christ and knowing that either way, Cam will have a new body. Cam believes God is with him and he believes He loves him and knows what’s best for him. Although I don’t understand why Cam is suffering this way, I’m thankful to God for so many things. Thankful for the care that Cam is getting, thankful that I’m here with Cam and that he is not alone, thankful for Cam’s incredible love for me, thankful that we were able to get married, have a beautiful wedding and celebrate with so many wonderful people and above all I’m thankful that God gave me a life-long blessing in Cam.
I wrote the above this morning and since then, Cam’s condition has continued to decline significantly. We didn’t see Dr Davray today as it was her day off, but by 5pm, Cam’s responsiveness and disorientation was getting worse, I asked the nurse to call Dr Davray to let her know. The doctor asked to speak to me on the phone and I knew what she was going to say. His liver is failing. There are toxins running wild in his body causing the disorientation. Dr Davray then told me what I knew I didn’t want to hear, that Cam has only days left. After I told Cam what the doctor told me, I said to him my money is still on God’s healing.
Cam and I and his family thank everyone for their love and support. We know you will appreciate that this time is incredibly difficult and we thank you for understanding that this time with Cam will be spent with family.
Posted on August 10th, 2011 by Cam.
Categories: Let's talk.
Big hello from Hollywood! The lights are not as fancy as they rave about but they will do for now.
I will be taking a back seat for a little while from writing for now as my eyesight has depleted to where it is quite difficult to type with double vision. In the meantime, Ash’s editing skills will be on high alert.
I will continue, however, to take credit for any humour that appears in the text, unless otherwise stated. I will now hand over to Ash to fill in the detail of what has been going on and the plan from this stage.
A continuous thank you for all your support, love and prayers for us.
Go the Eagles! (Yes, things are worse than we first thought).
Over to Ash
This blogging thing is new to me so I’ll do my best to fill you in with as much detail as possible and I’ll try not to bore you. Updating the blog makes it easier for both of us to keep everyone informed without having to repeat ourselves too often. Firstly, thank you to everyone who has sent text messages and emails. We apologise to those we have not been able to reply. Please know that your love and support is definitely needed and deeply appreciated, even if we don’t reply. To know that so many people are praying for Cam and I and sending loving thoughts is held dear to our hearts more than you will know.
We had a really lovely time away in Margaret River. The villa we stayed in was cosy and warm and tended to our every need with an eco fireplace by the lounge and a jacuzzi on the deck overlooking one of the lakes. Surrounded by 66 acres of trees, lakes and grassy paddocks, we had no phone reception and it was just what we needed to get away and have some time out from ringing phones, hospital noises and doctors appointments. Cam was feeling quite upbeat and reasonably well for the first few days. We were able to go out for lunch and dinner most days and spend some time out and about exploring wineries, the Calgardup Cave and of course the Fudge Factory (that one may have been my influence).
On Thursday night, Cam started to comment about having double vision double vision (stole your joke Carms… thanks!). I had noticed his left eye was puffy for about a week by then and wasn’t getting better. The next day, the double vision still remained and Cam slept all day as he felt very run down. The double vision was causing nausea and headaches. My heart dropped when Cam said to me, “I feel like my body is shutting down.” Not the words anyone wants to hear their husband speak. By this stage, it was too late to leave Margaret River and head home so we decided we’d drive home first thing Saturday morning and arrange for the Silverchain Hospice nurse to meet us at home that afternoon. The nurse came and completed all the initial consult paperwork and when she did the usual checks over Cam, she found a temperature of 38.5. Cam didn’t feel feverish so it came as quite a surprise. The nurse called the doctor and they were both concerned and agreed that it was necessary to get Cam admitted into hospital so she arranged for a bed in Hollywood immediately.
The last few days have been spent between doctors and tests to work out what’s causing the double vision and temperatures. He’s had blood tests and blood cultures taken, an x-ray and two CT scans. The double vision is being caused by a small tumour behind his eye in the orbit which is putting pressure on his left eye. Once the doctors work out what’s causing the temperatures, they can decide whether radiation is an option to blitz the nodule in the orbit. In the meantime, Cam’s adopted a new pirate personality, complete with eye patch and all. The eye patch (creatively created by Rach) helps him to see one of everything through his right eye. But I think, who wouldn’t want to have two of me around?? Cam should feel doubly blessed to have two wives take care of him!
As for the temperatures, the doctors say it’s being caused by one of two things. It’s either the myeloma itself, affecting his central nervous system. The CT scan of his brain has shown a few extra lesions on the skull. They said they can’t see it in his brain but unfortunately that doesn’t mean it’s not there. The other possibility is that he has caught some sort of fungal infection. It takes quite a few days to test for this so although they’ve taken blood cultures earlier in the week, it still hasn’t been confirmed. The doctor informed us that the easiest way to test for fungal infection is to do a lumbar puncture, but understandably, Cam doesn’t want to have that done. So the next best thing, is to take a biopsy of the lesion on his chest to test for infection, which is being done today. It will then take another 2-3 days for this to be tested and confirmed if an infection is present or not.
Just have to sit tight until then and keep Cam functioning with prayers, as well as fentanyl patches and hydromorphone for pain relief combined with coloxyl, movicol and lactulose to counteract the constipating side-effects of the pain drugs; dexamethasone to reduce the swelling in the tumours which also perks him up, temazepam to counteract the dexamethasone so that he can sleep at night; combined with a cocktail of other drugs to help with one function and then more drugs to counteract the side-effects of the other drugs. I honestly don’t know how his body copes. His body is like a walking pharmacy at the moment. So heartbreaking to watch. And I can see it’s taken its toll on him emotionally. The poking, prodding, needles and answering the same questions over and over is beyond exhausting. How many times can one be asked “have you opened your bowels today?” before you crack? I can’t help much, but I do my best to answer what I can for him, take any load off him that I possibly can, just be there and do whatever I can to make life a little easier during this most difficult time. It’s so hard to not be able to do any more than that. I don’t even know how to pray now. All I have left is let Your will be done.
Mrs Ash Harris (love writing that!)
Posted on July 26th, 2011 by Cam.
Categories: Let's talk.
Just a short one tonight – I still feel like I have just woken up from this morning. It was a bit of a mixture of overdosing on sleeping tablets last night (trialing a new variety) and coming off my morphine driver. Not a fabulous mix, but I am hoping I feel like I should be feeling better tomorrow.
That is it for now, I can hardly type a sentence without using the delete button 14 times. Thank you for everyone’s support. Ash has been here all day whether I sleep or wake – I have been spoilt.
Posted on July 25th, 2011 by Cam.
Categories: Let's talk.
Yesterday at Church, The Mission, we had our friend James from Sudan come to speak with us. What this guy has lived through has been amazing. He has been imprisoned in jails in Sudan, the Holy spirit opened the doors and he went back into the jails to tell the guards of God’s love for them. He just won’t give up until God shows up. He has basically lived through the book of Acts in the Bible, and believes completely that the same God is here for us today.
Ash and I had a chat with him after the service and he was so excited for us and encouraged us to keep believing, praying, and thanking God that Healing has already taken place – and this is the constant message that we have been hanging onto for quite some time now. I continue to get distressed when I see the physical manifestation of the cancer in my body. The tumour is now considered large by medical statistics, yet we believe that the promises of God state that healing has taken place. I could not do this without Ash or the belief of my family and church, as it is so discouraging at times.
The truth is, Thursday night I was on life saving morphine, had a collapsed lung and couldn’t breathe much more than to say “call the ambulance”. I filled out my will, had discussions with my family to say goodbyes etc. etc. etc. The next day I could breathe without discomfort at all, most of my pain had gone. Whatever your thoughts, I know that a big change has taken place.
So much so that the hospital folk said yesterday that I could leave for the afternoon, and will probably out by Wednesday completely. We are just going to wait on the report from the X-ray that they took this morning to make sure there is no significant danger that it would happen again.
Dr Brad popped in tonight just to say hi – what a man! It is not even his main hospital. I was so honoured that he was able to make it to our wedding so I hit him with a man-hug and showed him the wedding pics. He was married at the same church back in the mid 90’s so he was stoked to be back again. We just had a good time. I admire that guy so much.
So after our chat with James last night, we feel like we are back on track for complete healing. Ash is feeling a bit run-down from all that has been going on, but she is a total inspiration to me, one that has taught me so much about the power of God’s word in a very short amount of time. I am flabbergasted, and I believe more and more that there are great things to come. One of the elders at the church is coordinating some fasting and praying for us, and we believe that there is power in this, so bring it on – so thankful.
I don’t know when to shut up about all this, but I know that it is not now. We have renewed the car registrations for 12 months instead of 6 months, we have kept our booking for a honeymoon, and we are planning to share our stories with our grandkids. I have lost count of how many death-beds I have lay in, lost count of how many palliative care units I have walked out of with a smile on my face, and lost count of how many hospital gowns I have (partially) worn that elderly ladies have got their much needed kicks from. But who’s counting – I do what I can – my service to humanity.
The whole point of our experience for us is that if God’s promises are not worth anything at a time like this, then they are not worth much at all. As far as I am concerned, enough of God’s promises have come good thus far, so I am one convinced believer, I just believe there is more to come also.
Posted on July 24th, 2011 by Cam.
Categories: Let's talk.
A Psalm that Ash sent me this morning.
1 Hear my prayer, O Lord ; listen to my plea! Answer me because you are faithful and righteous.
2 Don’t put your servant on trial, for no one is innocent before you.
3 My enemy has chased me. He has knocked me to the ground and forces me to live in darkness like those in the grave.
4 I am losing all hope; I am paralyzed with fear.
5 I remember the days of old. I ponder all your great works and think about what you have done.
6 I lift my hands to you in prayer. I thirst for you as parched land thirsts for rain.
7 Come quickly, Lord , and answer me, for my depression deepens. Don’t turn away from me, or I will die.
8 Let me hear of your unfailing love each morning, for I am trusting you. Show me where to walk, for I give myself to you.
9 Rescue me from my enemies, Lord ; I run to you to hide me.
10 Teach me to do your will, for you are my God. May your gracious Spirit lead me forward on a firm footing.
11 For the glory of your name, O Lord , preserve my life. Because of your faithfulness, bring me out of this distress.
12 In your unfailing love, silence all my enemies and destroy all my foes, for I am your servant.