Friday, February 29, 2008

Free Press Story

Family shared grieving on Internet
Ill daughter's final moment observed across world

By: Kevin Rollason
Updated: February 29 at 02:00 AM CST

An East St. Paul woman's life began in a bubble and ended on the Internet.
Renee Dueck, 23, may have been born with the same lack of immune system that caused American David Vetter to spend most of his life as "The Boy In The Bubble," but it was her four-month battle to survive her latest bout with leukemia that she ultimately lost on Tuesday night in a New York City hospital room.

Prayers poured in as blogs kept a record of Renee Dueck's final struggle, and a video of the city woman's last moment has been posted on the Internet in what a counsellor describes as a positive way to mourn.

But you didn't need to be in the hospital to witness the moving experience of her passing. Anyone with a computer and Internet link can join with family, friends and supporters to see a comatose Renee in her hospital bed while her brother, Justin, accompanied by a music therapist on the guitar, sings Amazing Grace.
"She was comatose, but we believe she knew," Dueck's father, Raymond, said during a telephone interview from New York City.
"She knows what was happening when she went over."
Raymond said he, his daughter, and his wife all set up separate websites to keep people informed about her progress and to get support.
Raymond, who on Thursday night was preparing to return to Manitoba with his wife, Martha, said the video is just one of numerous videos, photos, e-mails, and other thoughts his daughter's family, friends and acquaintances put on the web.
"There's tons of information out there on our blogs," he said.
"We had 800 to 900 people on the e-mail list and each e-mail they sent was posted. (Renee) had a map on her blog and it showed people were sending e-mails from around the world."
Jody Nicholson, vice-president of the Manitoba Funeral Service Association and a funeral director and manager at Glen Lawn Funeral Home, said more people are using the Internet to help them grieve.
"On occasion there have been demands for the funeral services to be webcast," Nicholson said.
"In our global age, families are halfway around the world and unable to get home, but they still want to take part. And in the last three years or so we have posted obituaries on the Internet and families and people share their stories with family.
"It's definitely a different world... in the old days we never would have imagined things like this."
Carmen Nembhardp, a social worker who has done grief counselling, said the way the family has used the Internet is positive.
"With grief, you have to work through a process," Nembhardp said.
"They're doing stuff to help other people because it helps with closure. When the novelty of going on the Internet fades, they should put it in print because this can help other people with grief therapy."
During the months filled with good times -- and not-so-good times -- Renee, her dad and her mother kept their separate websites up to date.
In fact, in what turned out to be his daughter's last few hours, Raymond kept updating his website ( ) to let people know what was happening.
"Pray for Renee's stabilized blood pressure, breathing as she should, lungs to work, heart to keep pumping, infection to go away -- 8:23 a.m."
"I had my PDA with me and I just wrote stuff and e-mailed it to the blog," he said.
"The hospital here is very progressive and they don't mind cellphones being on."
Dueck -- like three of her four siblings -- was born with severe combined immunodeficiency (SCID), the same disease that affected Vetter.
Dueck was predeceased by her two older siblings, but she survived after receiving a bone marrow transplant from her mother in New York City shortly after she was born. One sister was born with it and was also given a stem cell transplant from her mother while another sister doesn't have it. She is also survived by a brother.
She went to school in Riverton -- her father owns Vidir Machine -- and after graduation she joined Youth With a Mission, a Christian mission organization. She later took a film production course at Capilano College in Vancouver.
Dueck fought her cancer at the same hospital she was brought to when she was four months old.
Raymond said after their first two children died of SCID, and while his wife was pregnant with Renee, they read a story in Reader's Digest about a treatment for it at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center in New York.
"The doctors always told us less there was less than a 25 per cent chance of our children getting (SCID) but out of five births only one of our children (doesn't) have it.
"But (after Renee's treatment) she was a very healthy kid -- always the healthiest on the block," he said.
Since October, the family has lived in a $4,500-per-month New York apartment to be close to her.
Her father hopes her website helps her memory -- and writings and opinions -- live on.
"She wrote there should be more prophets in society," he said.
"She has written all kinds of plays and drama productions. She wanted to be in the Christian film industry.
Dueck's funeral is on Sunday in Riverton.
The family is asking for donations to go to support the work of Renee's favourite organization at

Winnipeg Free Press

Front Page Story in the Winnipeg Free Press

My gratitude list

Martha has made it a habit to spend a few minutes writing about the things she is thankful for. I hope that someday she will publish her journals. She could bless so many. I am thankful for the wonderful partner she is.

Does grief blind us to thankfulness or does thankfulness bind the grief?
I am thankful for the priviledge of being a parent to Renee for 24 years. I am thankful for the priviledge of being a parent to Justin, Alayna, Karalee. And I am thankful that sometimes the children express their gratitude.

I am thankful for Teresa, our newly adopted daughter, and her love for the Lord. I am thankful for Tomoko, our Japanese daughter.
I am thankful for the teams of people that have worked so diligently to keep the homefires burning making it possible to provide the world's best health care for Renee. I am thankful to BC Health for paying the hospital bills.

Gratitude 2

I am thankful for all our family and friends and for Renee's friends that are helping to carry our pain.
I am thankful that Teresa, Bernie, Mary, & Gloria made the trip to New York to visit and comfort us in our sorrow.
I'm thankful for the many insightful blogs, poems, songs, and plays Renee wrote. The pictures and videos she took. Some day soon, I hope, we will get them published.

Ottawa Winnipeg

the only connection we could make through Ottawa
We are on board for arrival in Winnipeg at 9 am
Shirley Mary Gloria Justin Martha and me are on this flight. I bet Shirley was surprized to see us here.
Bro Bernie picked us up at the airport last night so we stayed at their house, had a chance to talk to Caroline. They are off to a well deserved vacation in St Maartin.
See you in Winnipeg

Thursday, February 28, 2008

On the way home

Justin Martha and I are on an aircanada flight going home to a funeral. Of our wonderful daughter. Our other wonderful daughters flew home on an earlier flight.

Our flight stops in Ottawa for the night. Brother Bernie will pick us up. We get to Winnipeg at 9am for an appointment with the funeral director at 10am

Oh! for the awful emotions. Loss grief fear anger happy memories all rolled together flowing rolling ebbing

Celebrating Renee Amaryah Lalani Dueck

On the evening of February 26, 2008 Renee Dueck passed away peacefully with her parents, her brother Justin, and friend Teresa, by her side after a two and a half year journey through leukemia at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center in New York. Her sisters Alayna and Karalee arrived shortly after.

She was born on March 18, 1984 in Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada. She was predeceased by 2 brothers, and her grandpa Reimer.

Renee was born active. Before she was a year old we called her twizzler. When she was 7 she decided to move to the bedroom downstairs, and in no time she had moved. After her high school grad, she joined Youth With A Mission, and traveled to Asia with her group working in Thailand, Singapore and visited Angkor Watt in Cambodia. She travelled to Jordan and Greece. She was on the YWAM wave tour through the US in 2005 when she was diagnosed with leukemia and successfully treated at MSKCC.

She went to Capilano College in Vancouver for a 1 year course in Film Production. She enjoyed all the jobs she got in the industry and was devastated when in October 2007 she relapsed and had to go to New York for treatment. She has been under the wonderful care of Dr Steinherz and Dr O?Reilley since then.

Thank you to all the wonderful caring doctors, nurses, and staff at MSKCC. I would like to extend a special thank you to Jane Mather, chaplain, for being a friend and counsellor to Renee.

Renee's blog
Martha's blog

Memorial Services times
Feb 27, 6 pm at MSKCC chapel
Saturday Mar 1, 7 pm at Eastview Community Church 3500 Devries Ave Winnipeg - on the north Perimeter
Sunday Mar 2, 3 pm Riverton Community Centre
Internment at the Mennville Cemetery
A memorial service will also be held in Vancouver at a later date

Donations will gladly be received in her memory for the work of

FRIENDS FUNERAL SERVICE 2146 Main Street 339-5555

Raymond and Martha Dueck

Raymond 204-782-2112

See our pictures at
We live in E St Paul MB Canada R2E 0L2 and attend Eastview Community Church
See Renee's hospital at
Visit us at
Support our favorite charity

Wednesday, February 27, 2008


Sorry to hear about your loss. It's hard to imagine that Renee is really gone. I just thought I would share the poem she wrote and read at her baptism on May 17,1997.
I'm exhausted
tired and confused
Don't want to
give in, give up
Sorry, just can't
the best angle is
the TRY angle
used it
I try
and give it all
to you
but then I snatch
it all back
maybe I can
really fix it myself
can't do it myself
can't give it to you
too exhausted
can't even think
tired of darkness
I like the light
I'm stubborn
Gotta keep going
running in circles
can't stop
getting nowhere fast
I know
still can't stop
I don't know why
my life is void
I need to fill it
nothing has worked
so far
all I ever wanted was
a good time
I'm not getting it
not like I hoped
running circles
is getting kind of boring
maybe I should
get out of this rut
go follow you
lay down my life
lay down my pride
pride won't let me
I'd ask you to take away my pride
give me peace
my will's too strong
I want
what you give
why can't I let go
I'm exhausted
-Renee Dueck
Praying for you and your family. Eloa

Celebration of Renee's Life

On the evening of February 26, 2008 Renee Dueck passed away peacefully with her parents by her side after a two and an half year long journey through leukemia at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center in New York.

She was born on March 18, 1984 in Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada. She was predeceased by 2 brothers, and her grandpa Reimer.

Renee was always active, when she was less than a year old we called her twizzler. When she was 7 she decided to move to the bedroom downstairs, and in no time she had moved. After her high school grad, she joined Youth With A Mission, and traveled to Asia with her group, including a visit to Angkor Watt in Cambodia. She was on the YWAM wave tour through the US in 2005 when she was diagnosed with leukemia and successfully treated at MSKCC.

She went to Capilano College in Vancouver for a 1 year course in Film Production. She enjoyed all the jobs she got in the industry and was devastated when in October 2007 she relapsed and had to go to New York for treatment. She has been under the wonderful care of Dr Steinherz and Dr O’Reilley since then.

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Renee has been promoted to glory

Thank you for your wonderful emails and support. It means more than you know.

Tentative plan
Memorial service at MSKCC tomorrow sometime after 5 pm
Travel to Manitoba Thursday
Memorial services in Winnipeg and Riverton/Mennville possibly Saturday and Sunday

What would Renee like to say at these memorials? How would she like to be remembered?

If you have stories, pictures, incidents, to share that will reflect Renee's love of life and help to honour her memory, we'd love to hear from you.

More later - please check my blog daily

We cry - we don't understand - we already miss her excrutiatingly - I don't know what to write
Raymond and Martha Dueck

Justin, Alayna, Karalee

359 E 68th Street Apt 2A, New York, NY 10065
Martha 917-751-0421
Martha's blog

Raymond 352.235.4688
See our pictures at
We live in E St Paul MB Canada R2E 0L2 and attend Eastview Community Church
See Renee's hospital at

7:25 pm Renee promoted from pain into glory

She held out for a long time waiting for her sisters to arrive. Their flight was cancelled so they arrived 30 minutes after she passed away. During the wait, Kyle and Justin sang for her. Kyle and Renee spent a fair bit of strumming guitars and singing together.

13 hours after the Call

121 heart rate
84/32 BP
92% oxygen

Waiting waiting waiting
oh the waiting
2 more hrs for Alayna Karalee
More for Bernie

Oh God- Please let Renee survive this!

Raymond Dueck

Almost 12 hours since the call

127 heart rate
92/32 blood pressure
90% oxygen

Sheila, the social worker just brought a CD player. Right now we are listening to Martha's favorite CD.

Teresa has arrive. Alayna and Kara's flight was cancelled and they were re-booked on a later flight so they should arrive by 7pm. Bernie's flight was cancelled. He should arrive at 8pm.

Raymond Dueck

8 hrs since the Call

Heart rate 124
BP 98/35 (very low)
Oxygen Saturation 88-91%
We take turns sitting at her bedside and holding her hands.
Justin and the music therapist sang several duets. Including Amazing Grace. She concluded with the song she and Renee sang and played in November at their first music session. Home On The Range.

We are playing the music Renee selected for mom. "You love me now and forever more - you call out my name - time is an ally to prove your love"

Teresa is arriving at 3pm Bernie at 4pm Alayna and Kara at 7pm


Renee is in multiple organ failure
doctors expect her heart to quit in the next few hours
everything that can be done is being done
she is fully sedated

Alayna and Kara are coming to NYC arriving 6 pm


Father in Heaven,
Here we are right now almost blind to what is going on with Renee and the pain and the anguish, the doubt and uncertainty her family are engulfed in yet You see. Yet You are present and they will never be alone. They never need fear what the next minute or hour holds for You are holding Renee safely in the palm of Your hands. Lord my heart cries as a mother's heart cries for her child. My heart cries for You to spare her life. To bring her healing. To bring an end to this
terrible cancer that is ravaging her body. To heal her once and for all and show the power that is available to all who believe and call on Your name.
I think of Jesus on the cross and how He agonized with what He saw coming ahead as well and how He recalled to the people that He could call upon a thousand angels that would save Him, that His Father hears His plight but Jesus surrendered to His Father's will and knew that even
though His Father's answer was no, He was there. He was watching and waiting for Him and He would never ever let Him go. Father I ask for another way. I ask for a miracle of healing. I ask Lord that Renee's life be spared. WE are but a moment here on this side of heaven, but
Lord she is so young and her life is just beginning. I ask that You would calm the war that rages in her body. I ask that You would fill her mind with messages of You and that Your presence would permeate every member of that family. They have been down this road so many times. Give them grace and peace and strength for each moment and help them to look only unto Jesus. You alone know what the next hour, minute holds and into Your hands we commit Renee and her life and we trust You Lord. We trust that Your ways are not ours, neither is Your thoughts ours. We say Lord not as we will but thy will be done. Give us the peace and the courage and the strength to submit and surrender to Your plan for her life. Through the precious name of Jesus Christ we come and we pray amen.

Pray for a miracle

we were called to the hospital at 5:30 am
pray for Renee's stabilized blood pressure
breathing as she should ..
lungs to work
heart to keep pumping
infection to go away
... our family
Raymond and Martha Dueck

Monday, February 25, 2008

Caring doctors and nurses

11:24 pm
Renee is in this science fiction ICU floor 11 room 12. Her doctor and nurse came to hug us and assure us of their prayers. The best hospital in the world has people that really REALLY care!
These facilities must have been built in the last year or 2. It is hard to describe. Maybe I can sneak a picture. Now Martha and I are sitting in the ICU listening to some comfort music on her iPod.

A Dozen Professionals

Worked an hour to stabilize Renee. Her CO2 was too high so they gave her oxygen masks and lines and a ventilator that pressurized inhalations. "Like Merrit had", she said. She fought that. Kept pulling the mask off. Finally they brought the big guns with a big red cart and a mechanical Ventilator. They put her to sleep and installed the Ventilator. Now waiting to get blood pressure up so they can move her to ICU.
Martha and I are sitting outside the room observing. Praying. Worrying.

Please Pray for Renee

Renee has been having a lot of pain all day.. heart rate up/down...
breathing issues..not been eating for days...
they are moving her to intensive care right now
Raymond and Martha Dueck

Martha 917-751-0421
My blog

Martha's blog

Raymond 352.235.4688


Hello my name is Chris. I'll be doing your x-ray today. Wonderful friendly staff are doing all they can to make a horrible experience as bearable as possible.

Renee has about puked and diaharead herself out already. Can't eat anything. Feeling awful. Palpitations. Misery.

Martha is in the blood donor room. Blood line oat one arm going to a big machine, blood going in the other arm.

Why don't you come over to the dark side

Third Sunday in Lent

Pain and suffering are part and parcel of our planet, and Christians are not exempt.
-Philip Yancey

ONE OF THE MAIN QUESTIONS PEOPLE ASK me about prayer is why every prayer is not answered. That seems to fly in the face of what Jesus says and does. And this is one of the Lenten surrenders we can make. We can work to surrender our doubts about prayer.

Consistently, we associate Jesus with answered prayers. Jesus' teachings on prayer are straightforward and simple: "Ask and you shall receive; knock and it shall be opened to you." Jesus wants us to have a kind of sublime confidence. He often says that healings are more likely when people's faith is strong. Jesus makes us feel that God is always listening.

This confidence is especially keen before the raising of Lazarus. Jesus says, "Father, I thank you for having heard me. I knew that you always hear me, but I have said this for the sake of the crowd standing here, so that they may believe that you sent me." Lazarus has not yet been raised, but Jesus already knows that his prayer has been heard and answered. And Jesus wants us to know that the Father's generous response is not just for him, but also for us.

At the same time the Scriptures caution us against overconfidence in prayer. When Jesus struggles with Satan in the wilderness, Satan taunts Jesus into using prayer as a kind of magic bullet. He seems to want to distort Jesus' intimacy with God. "If your God is so terrific, and you're so close to him, why don't you just turn a few stones into bread? Why don't you jump off a high place and see if he'll save you? Why don't you come over to the dark side, where it's so much more fun?"

And Jesus replies that we should not test the Lord our God.

One of the deepest surrenders we are called to make (I'd hardly call it small) is when we must accept the death of someone we love.

Lieutenant Colonel Ken Brown, a chaplain with the United States Army 101st Airborne Division, serving in Iraq, has some insights on this theme. He wrote an entry in his war diary on April 9, 2003. He was commenting on soldiers who come face-to-face with death for the first time, when they see their comrades wounded or killed.

Some of these soldiers came to Chaplain Brown to talk about death.

"I had a young man come to me a couple of weeks ago . . . he talked to me about, if he had just been a couple of seconds sooner at a certain location, he could probably have prevented this or that." Soldiers feel guilty, Chaplain Brown says, because they didn't or couldn't prevent a buddy from dying. They feel guilty that they are still alive.

When soldiers actually see death, Brown says, their priorities change. He doesn't try to tell them that all this can be so easily explained. In the same way I think all of us feel a real anxiety about the things we can't seem to prevent through our prayer.

But Chaplain Brown tells his soldiers about a philosopher named Boethius, from the fourth century, who made a famous remark. When we come up against an evil, when God doesn't seem to be in charge, God is writing straight with crooked lines.

How do we reconcile this with the statement of Jesus, "I know, Father, that you always hear me"?

Jesus tells us to believe in a God of enormous power who surrounds us with his love. But sometimes it seems to us that this all-powerful God is not listening, is not responsive to our prayers. What then?

This experience-of sustained, unanswered prayer-is well known in the spiritual life. Sometimes it is called darkness. Sometimes it is called aridity, or dryness in prayer. It comes when we're not sure God is listening, when we think God doesn't care about us, when the outcomes we want are not forthcoming. This is a great test of faith.

The path leads both to the raising of Lazarus and to the Garden of Gethsemane. As Philip Yancey writes, "Pain and suffering are part and parcel of our planet, and Christians are not exempt." When we face this undesirable reality, when we accept that there will be pain and suffering in spite of our prayers, we accept God's wisdom as higher than our own. We trust that God is writing straight with crooked lines.

Even so, we continue to believe and to pray. We have faith that where our knowledge fails, God's knowledge does not.

This is an old map, one that has been folded and refolded many times, so creased it seems about to fall apart. Yet it leads us to hidden treasure, a deeper reliance on God. Where our treasure is, there will our hearts be also.

Sunday, February 24, 2008

You- have No Power

To know oneself, is above all, to know what one lacks. It is to measure oneself against the Truth and not the other way around. Flannery O'Connor, The Fiction Writer and His Country.

Dr Timothy Keller
John 18:33-38. 19:8-11
2nd sermon St John's Passion

The Confrontation of Pilate and Jesus teaches us about
the Sovereignty of God. God is completely in charge but the more deliberate your sin the more guilty you are.
The story is about Jesus and Politics
1. Limit of Power
2. Problem of Power
3. Transformation Of Power

1. Limit of Power
Pilate asked - Are you a political leader?
Politics is about legislating to make and enforce laws: making people behave
Jesus's Kingdom is not a earthly. No one should force people to do anything in the name of Christ.
Only one place - Europe Christianity is fading. They forced got Christianity on the population. Christendom does not work. No human government should be identified as the City of God on earth.
In 1908 women were terrorized. You could not change that with laws.
For the first 3oo years Christians had no political power. They changed their communities. Female infanticide was banned in Christian Communities. Before that there were 140/1 men/women. Christians said- No sex outside of marriage. That made the church become strong. Women were protected. Families became strong. Charities created a new counter-culture. The church said all people are created equal. That made a more attractive culture. Constantine chose to accept what had already changed and become the favoured culture. Enduring charge only happens when culture changes.

2 . Problem of Power
Everyone listens to Jesus. Pilate wanted to know if Jesus was a political threat. What is truth? Pilate didn't care. His question was - Are you a threat?
Voakoff Hevel delivered a Political Power speech. Google it. He said every politician has 2 motives: 1. To achieve power in the service of truth. 2. Power as an end in itself to meet deep inner needs. For self affirmation. Those 2 motives are always there. But once you get power you gotta hang on to power as long as you can and the second need takes over. But no politician would ever admit to that. They become conceited.
Conceited means glory vacuum. Only God can fulfil your glory Vacuums.

Jesus came from elsewhere to bear witness to the truth.
John 17 The Trinity has been glorifying each other. Give glory to others.
Sin is self centeredness. I'm as good as you.

3. Transformation Of Power
Giving away his power. In self giving we touch heaven. C.S. Lewis
Jesus dying on the cross assures you that he delights in you.

Live - changed by the truth. Jesus says I'll bring down the Roman empire through my suffering. And he did.

Would a Loving God Allow Suffering?

James Leonard (his wife Elizabeth was diagnosed with colon cancer 6 months after they got married)
Acts 27:15-38

All of us at some point have asked - why God? Elizabeth's brother was killed in an auto accident shortly after high school grad. James's sister died under similar conditions.

The Book of Acts records people responding. Many of them responded to the gospel because they saw how Christians responded to suffering.

Luke is a great writer and evangelist. A Greek that uses Greek storytelling methods.
3 points
1. How to respond to suffering.
Stoic philosophers believed everything is fate. Epecurians say everything is decided by your actions. Stoics embrace suffering. Eps avoid suffering as much as they can.
Neither view is right. Paul says 2 things: Keep courage, God is in control but we have a responsibility to respond to God. Don't embrace suffering. Don't avoid suffering.
During every Alpha course here at the church, someone comes up and says I can't believe in God because of all the suffering in this world. The flaw in this argument is: If God is big enough to control the suffering, He is also big enough to know more than we do.
We have a stupid cat. We keep him because we love him. We have a 44 oz brain. We think we can understand everything? We tell a 3 year child to buckle up- because we said so. He is having a fun time jumping up and down and we spoil the fun. Try to explain why he has to buckle up- he won't understand.

2. How do we respond? God is absolutely in charge. Even though he is not the author of suffering he uses it for His benefit. Paul had gone through storms before. He is one of God's key people. Jesus said in Luke 21, you will not lose a hair but you may loose your life. Have complete confidence in God.

3. Paul knew he was a Christian. He was secure in God's love. That is our opportunity to witness.
Alpha group helps people connect and make friends. God is good to you in the midst of our storms. God lost his son in a storm. Because He loves us.
God is right there in the midst of our storms. He uses suffering to make us people of substance. God is with us in our deepest suffering. God loves us.

Renee on Feb 24

Renee's counts are way down….very susceptible to infection….a slight fever on Friday….lots of abdominal pain and nausea….diarrhea….admitted to isolation room in the hospital….started antibiotics….two more days of chemo…continuing the anti-fungal med….lots and lots of anti-nausea medications….IV potassium, etc.…two units of blood yesterday….lingering pain from the lung surgery.
Thank you for praying.

Martha has a port in each leg….2 doses of GCS-F once a day for 5 days… cost $3,384.79….to grow lots of stem cells…. bone pain and injection site pain….harvesting cells Monday and Tuesday….stem cells ready on Wednesday to give to Renee…. so counts will recover faster after this round of chemo.

Lynne left Friday….Alayna left yesterday…. Justin arrived an hour later and stayed the night with Renee.

Circumstances are not the barometer of God's love and goodness - the cross is.

Saturday, February 23, 2008

Mary Poppins

I did something I haven't done in a very long time- I read a children's book!

Mary Poppins was written in 1934 when P. Travers was 35 years old. She wrote 8 Mary Poppins books and lived to be 97.

The book is significantly different from the movie and includes the story of the cow that jumped over the moon, and the old woman and her 2 big daughters that pasted stars into the sky.

Hell again!

This week has been a week of chemo. Renee has a line from a portable pump loaded with enough poison to make her real sick. This pump works unattended 24/7 delivering a steady stream of chemical to the central line on her chest.

Each day she had to go in to the day hospital for more intravenous meds including a daily dose of anti fungal.

Yesterday and today they gave her another kind of chemo, that made her nauseous and nervous.

---- Saturday -------
Now she is in Room 930 for the weekend. Someone needs stay with her for the night. That was me. Mommy wanted to spend some time w Alayna. She is leaving this afternoon.

The night was rough. Puking retching and diarrhea every hour.

Justin woke us up this morning. He missed his flight. After a few calls I had him rebooked on a later flight. He should still make the connection in Montreal.

Monday, February 18, 2008

Update Feb 18, 2008

To all our friends, family and supporters:

In regards to the celebration we had last week...called Valentine's Day...people set themselves up for disappointment. Ray found a podcast this morning, that addressed that issue. I sure can say "amen" to that. But now it is all good! Ray got me a bunch of beautiful roses yesterday....they are a lot cheaper here than in Manitoba...and he found the card he had planned to give me! Now I have forgiven him, for seemingly having forgotten. I could totally understand, because he had so much on his mind that day. He went to visit his old office. It turned out a lot better than he could have expected....definitely an answer to prayer!

The following quote kind of ties in with the theme of this month. "We cannot love anybody with whom we never laugh."

One of the devotionals in the Daily Bread from the week we found out Renee had relapsed was, "Keep Laughing". Sometimes it is hard to know what needs to come first...release emotions in other ways...before you can laugh again.

Here is a joke I found today in the Canadian Living magazine I got for my birthday from my sisters-in-law:
"Ham and eggs - a day's work for a chicken; a lifetime commitment for a pig." - Unknown
What might seem funny to one person, might not be funny to another. I found that out with the Valentine e-card I sent Ray.

Suffering is universal. Everybody goes through hard times sooner or later, to some degree or another. We see so much suffering everyday, and it takes a lot of emotional energy.

This is the week when real serious chemo starts again. Just to read the details about the drugs is enough to get us sick. Renee has her friend, Lynne for company this week. It was terribly crowded at the PDH today. There was no room for us to sit, so Ray and I went for lunch and there is always stuff to do on the computer like playing scrabulous. Ray was working on the LifeLight website. Renee came back from the hospital with her companion... the portable chemo pump.

Friday is the day the GCS-F will start for me. On Monday the cells will be harvested or whatever they do. By Wednesday the cells will be ready. Hopefully everything will go well with all the procedures.

Alayna is coming tomorrow... we look forward to spending some time with her. Justin is coming the following week.

Thanks again for continuing to remember our family in prayer, the ones at home and the ones here in New York. We appreciate it so much and are humbled that so many of you care enough to stay on the email list.

We all need to keep standing, as it says in Ephesians 6..."Be prepared. You're up against far more than you can handle on your own. Take all the help you can get, every weapon God has issued, so that when it's all over but the shouting, you'll still be on your feet." (The Message) Tim Keller at Redeemer Presbyterian talked about what it means to stay standing. Very thought provoking!

Thanks again,

Martha for all of us

Sunday, February 17, 2008

Refuge or Rescue?

Club or LifeSaving Station? Is Trinity a life saving station? A place of rescue? The story of Paul is not the book of thoughts - it is the book of Acts.

Life is messy. Are we change agents?

Acts 18 Paul had as invitation to keep on preaching but he declined. why? the timing was not right. Paul goes to the young churches to encourage them.

Paul leaves Ephesus and comes back later. We need to be sensitive of how and when to share the gospel. Most of us are afraid to share.

People need to see that we care. Go to Ruwanda? 2nd mission trip. Elderly woman approached Robin by bending low- the highest form of respect. Because we came back. Show we care. Give of ourselves. Sensitivity. Encourage.

Ch 19:8 Paul spoke boldly for 3 months. Effective change agents need to be bold and persuasive.

Am I as bold as God wants me to be for the cause of Christ? What does God want me to do?

(This week I shared a Scripture with a 19 year old university student. She was on her way to Paris with her boyfriend's family. She had a long layover in Toronto, and was happy to receive The Living LifeLight.)

Paul's teaching brought others to a point of decision. Paul took the believers and discipled them daily for 2 years. As a result everyone in Asia heard the name of the Lord. Who are you investing in? Write down a name. We all have to reach out and touch everyone. Who is investing in you? Reach out and touch someone. Ch18 Apollos got discipled by other leaders. Aquila and Pricilla. He made a difference.

1. Sensitive
2. Be Invested
3. Be Bold and persuasive.
4. Call others to decision
5. Invest in others

Keith Ledger's death was sad. Where will he spend eternity? Where will your neighbour spend eternity? Are you reaching out to your neighbour? The Son of man came to seek and to save the lost. Are we rescuing others? Are we the holy hug? The Frozen Chosen?
Pray for us. Martha was too discouraged and tired to go to church this morning.

Friday, February 15, 2008

Student Films Take Flight

Do you have what it takes? Enter Air Canada's 2008 enRoute student film festival for the chance to show your work to millions

Movieola The Short Film channel

Travel travel travel

Ronald asked me how many flights I had taken in my lifetime. I have no idea. 50 per year for 20 years makes 1,000. 1,000 miles per flight makes a million miles or 40 times around the world!

The paper this morning says that the U.S. 5% of the world's population produces 25% of all the manufactured goods produced in the world. China's 25% population produces 10% of all manufactured goods. Succeessful companies have 1 out of 14 employees doing R&D 1/14= 0.07 (7%).
U. S. net worth now at 112000MM/300MM= $373,330 per person (373×4= $1,492,000 per family) an increase of 27% during Bush's presidency. Canada's net worth? 25% of that?

I had a good week. I have a 3hr layover and a 1hr flight before I can hug my Beloved.

The top picture is of the sunrise this morning at the Winnipeg airport, and the bottom picture was taken of the sunset at New York this evening.

From 2008-02-15Ray...

Monday, February 11, 2008

Flying, Birthday Celebation, Etc...Etc.

Kara left NYC yesterday and got home at 2.a.m. I booked a free flight for today and the only thing available was 1st class via Denver! 4 hrs west then 2 hrs east. What a life!

My sister Gloria arrived on Saturday. We made a special birthday dinner for Martha on Saturday. See Martha's blog. I will miss her birthday on the 12th.

Gloria, Martha, and Kara went exploring downtown yesterday! Rice to Riches for dessert, followed by pizza for lunch and then the South Street Seaport. See Martha's blog for some pictures.

Other visitors we expect this month include Alayna, Justin, and 2 of Renee's friends.

Renee keeps getting anti-fungal meds, and recovering from the pain of lung surgery. By the end of the week, the doctors would like to start a 2nd round of chemo, followed by a booster stem cell transplant, using peripheral blood, not bone marrow, from her mom. Eventually, after she recovers from that, they want to do the real bone marrow transplant.

I'm on my way to Manitoba for a series of meetings with staff and advisors. Decisions have to be made to grow the future of Vidir Morris, Innovaat International, WeEat, as well as BEST (Biomass Energy).

What does the future hold? Only God knows. And a God that is big enough to hold the future is a God that's big enough for us to trust. See my blog from

I'm writing this on the way to Winnipeg via Denver. They just started showing an episode of The Office.

The book I'm currently reading is "The Lord & His Prayer" by N.T.Wright. Life changing! Enlightening! many good books...need more time for reading. My next book is Entrepreneurial Leaders by Richard Goosen

Elizabeth the Virgin Queen

The movie on the flight from LGA to Denver on the way to Winnipeg - Elizabeth as a young Queen is the military strategist that defeated the Spanish Armada that was sent to destroy her after she ordered the beheading of Mary Queen of Scots. Spain and the Inquisition wanted to capture England for the Pope. How different world history would be if Spain had succeeded!

Sunday, February 10, 2008

Job - a Path Thrugh Suffering

Dr Timothy Keller

The ancients approached God as the accused approaches the judge. For the modern the role is reversed. We are the judge, God is in the dock. We will be a very reasonable judge, if God would simply have a very reasonable explanation for why he permits war, poverty, and disease. We are all ears. We are ready to listen! We may even be willing to acquit God if the explanation is reasonable! But the point is, we start out today assuming that is the order of things - we are on the bench - God is in the dock. C. S. Lewis

Lent - the 40 days leading to the commemoration of the most momentous event in history.

Job 38:1-3; 40:8-12; 42:1-10

My Servant Job - Dr Keller

Job is angry. I don't want to suffer without vindication. I want explanation. God talk to me. Finally God shows up.
Got says surprising things.
1. Arguments
Examples from nature. Who made it. Who do the thunderbolts report to? You know so much? Who are you to tell God what he can or can't do? if God is big enough to stop it- he is big enough to have a reason for it.
If you look into a small tent and you don't see a St Bernard there probably is not one there. If you don't see a No-seeum that does not mean there is not one in there because you can't see them.
Elizabeth Elliot lost 2 husbands by the time she was mid 40s She suffered. Rest in God's will. It is beyond the largest notions of God you can have

2. Silence
God never gives reasons to Job.
There are reasons given to in Chapter 1 He allows enough suffering to discredit Satan.
If God had given the reason to Job the whole purpose of suffering would have been lost.
Musician / playwright Saliary saw Mozart cheating on his girlfriend while Saliary remained chaste and then Saliary denied God. Ultimately he become a murderer. Saliary thought he could be justified by works. Works righteousness will destroy you in suffering. He wanted God to pay him back with fame and fortune.
God has to say trust me. For the sake of trusting him.

3. Terrible Wonderful Storms
Job wanted vindication explanation.
When God showed up he became YAWEH
When you suffer- you need to say- I was redeemed by someone who suffered for me.
Job says I retract. I trust you. I love you God. I am content. I don't need vindication. Or explanation.

God moves in mysterious ways.

Thursday, February 07, 2008

The Surgery went WELL!

Thank you so much for your prayers and support. We have so many friends that are standing with us making our burdens lighter.

The surgery went really well and Renee is very encouraged with the way she is able to get on her feet and move around. Renee spent a fair bit of time on the phone. She finally had a little bit of positive news to share with her friends..

Renee is Recovering from Surgery

She had a huge breakfast this morning and she took a record breaking long walk around the hospital this afternoon. She had Thai chicken/coconut soup for lunch and is busy watching all the movies she had always wanted to watch.

Martha is resting at the apartment, trying to catch up on all those weeks of short nights. Karalee called from MSP. She is waiting for her flight to NYC this evening. Alayna would like to come here for a few days week of the 17th, reading week. Justin would like to get a few days off to come here as well.

We still have airmiles points available for Renee's friends. Please advise if you can come to visit.

Wednesday, February 06, 2008

Surgery Done

Dr LaQualia came to report to us. Surgery went well. Part of right upper lobe removed. Everything looked good. Renee is sleeping good. 4" incision - just enough to get the hand in. Still has chest tube. Will likely get a fever. Walk as much as possible. Pain Control is going to be the challenge. She might get out Sunday.
Robotics are a waste of time. Sexy. Not a wave of the future. Takes too long to set it up

Renee is waking up. Itchy. Irritation.
Wants oxygen off. Will try for a while. May need it again.

Need that special lotion - Sarna Fragrance Free - so I went to Rite Aid to see if I could find it. Martha is staying with Renee for the night. Renee wanted her to read for her.

Renee's room is one of three in the POU - Pediatric Observation Unit - staffed by 3 nurses and all the latest and greatest support equipment. She should be OK, for sure!

Renee's Operation

I spoke to a mother who had done a lot of research to find Dr Michael LaQualia MD Surgeon. Her daughter's cancer was declared inoperable by other doctors. Dr LaQualia managed to take it all out and give her a new lease on life. He's the best anywhere.
Dr LaQualia said he would move the muscles on Renee's back and go between the ribs to remove the cyst. He said it would be important for Renee to walk right after the operation.
Lung surgery is serious surgery. Renee would get
general anesthesia and titrite self-administered pain control with morphine when she wakes up.


Renee went into the O/R about 4:30
We were asked to wait in the 1st floor waiting room. The O/R nurse called a few minutes ago to tell us that Renee's operation started at 6:15 and she would call again in an hour.

Tuesday, February 05, 2008

Pray for successful surgery

Just a quick note:

Renee's surgery...scheduled for 3:30 EST tomorrow remove an abscess from the lung about the size of a quarter or maybe a bit smaller. Renee was admited to the Pediatric Observation Unit today so they could get her electrolytes balanced before the surgery.
It is easier to get the potassium through IV than the oral potassium...big horse pills. Renee will be in the POU for a few days after the surgery as well. She got a unit of blood yesterday and another unit today. So hopefully that will be good for the surgery.
They will also put in a new line since one of the three ports in the line she has now has not been working and they might need all three later.

I had been feeling very weird since Saturday... feeling very agitated, depressed, and like my head was filled with lead or something. I don't know if it was from the acyclovir that I was taking for my cold sore, or coming down with some bug, or just from the lack of sleep caused by all this extra stress that was dumped on us this last month.
I stopped taking the acyclovir today and Dr. O said I didn't need it anymore. Had a sore throat today. Dr. O had it swabbed to make sure I was not coming down with strep and told me to go home, take an aspirin and rest and not to worry. By the time they would need my cells for Renee, I would be in good shape. It is more or less better by now.

Thanks a lot for praying. This surgery is a pretty big deal, but it has to be done... will be a long day tomorrow. Martha
359 E 68th Street Apt 2A, New York, NY 10065
Martha 917-751-0421
email phone Renee (917) 750-4128

Sunday, February 03, 2008

Where can wisdom be found?

Dr Timothy J. Keller

Job28 The apex of the book
Suffering is about the subject of wisdom.
1. the importance of wisdom. Gold and Silver are like pebbles when compared to wisdom.
Lots of choices are knowledge based. Key life decisions usually require wisdom. Technology and human science can't find wisdom. Wristwatches are not for hammering nails. What is it for?
What are we here for? What is a good human being? What ought to be? Science doesn't get there. MacIntyre says it can't be found in human reason. v20 where does wisdom come from? From God. Science can never give you a reason for suffering.
C.S. Lewis- how would Hamlet ever find out about Shakespeare? Only lf the playwrite gave some revelation about himself inside the play.
God set things up so there is order in the world.
1st part of Proverbs says be good get rich. 2nd part says nothing ever works that way.
Job's friends were out of touch with real life.
Why do some people get better under suffering while others are destroyed. Pain comes our way. It will happen. Shock about the pain can be over whelming. You should not be shocked at pain. Be wise learn from the Creator. Deal with shock thru the wisdom of the Word.
Pain and shock. Will the shock take you out.
4. How do you handle the pain? the fear of the Lord. To trust God in spite of the darkness and confusion. Elizabeth Elliott talked about the shepherd that seems to drown the sheep when treating them for bugs. God is the great shepherd. Absolute trust is required. God wrote himseelf into the play. Jesus is wisdom. Watch him. Jesus felt forsaken. He did that for me. That's proof that God loves me.

Standard People

Acts 16:16-34
An acknowledged measure of comparison
Standard Person is a person who is consistently able to live a life of Excellence and integrity which forces others, by the quality of their life, to choose to either live up to the standard or simply bail out.
Lombardi was a standard person who called others to a high standard some could not live up to.
God's standard should be reflected in his people. You are called to be a standard person. If you rent it you can't change the basics. If you own it you can change it. God doesn't rent you. He wants to renovate you so you will look like Jesus
Paul was a standard.
3 responses to standard People
1. Rejection by the money makers. Our culture is the same. OK to worship Christ as long as you are not causing the boss to loose money. Paul faced false accusations. Extreme rejection. We need to expect rejection. Joseph's brothers said we are what we are (shepherds) and we don't plan to stick around.
2. Bewilderment. In jail. v25 Singing while others listened "I've got the Joy. Joy. Joy" 30,000 gods in that culture.
3. v31 joy Respect- what must I do to be saved? The plan of God was to get Paul into jail so he could bring redemption to the jailer.
3oo# guy Ken Ray in Snook TX became a Christian when Keith was in high school as a result of Keith's witness.
500 people in will impact 10,000 this week. Are we going to show Christ to them? Are we going to be standard people? As Jesus would have us to be?

Saturday, February 02, 2008

Feb 1 Update

To all the friends and family members that receive this:

Wishing you God's richest blessings as you let your light shine for him in your small corner of the world!

The TENTATIVE plan is now to do surgery next Wednesday to remove the abscess caused by the infection Renee has in her lung. CT scan showed that it was smaller than before. From the initial results of the BM aspiration it looks like the leukemia is not very aggressive at this stage, giving them the option of doing the surgery first, before chemo.

The next step after the chemo would be to give her some booster cells from me. That would ensure a quicker recovery. Dr. O'Reilley said it was like being between a rock and a hard place. He said Renee was stronger spiritually than any other kid he knew. It was good to hear that from him.

Dr.O'Reilley expressed his concern about how was Ray was doing in our meeting with him yesterday. We really don't have the energy to dwell on the business past too much, which is a good thing.

I'm on acyclovir for a cold sore, that I'm sure is stress related. This might not seem like a big thing to you, but it is when you are around so many people with cancer. My concern is that I will be able to stay strong and healthy to donate cells. They are not going to use BM cells, but peripheral T cells. I hope I got that right.

Thank you so much for continuing to uphold us in prayer. It means more to us than words can tell.

Martha for all of us.

Friday, February 01, 2008

Heal Thyself

Dean Ornish, MD

The mind is a mighty force. When you close your eyes and imagine some thing stressful, research shows your body reacts: arteries constrict, blood pressure goes up, muscles tense, breathing rate increases. But if you think of something healing, healing tends to happen - physiologically. This may explain why compassion and forgiveness are so powerful not only for the recipient but also for the giver.

Our emotions resonate with one another, for better and for worse. My anger may raise my wife's blood pressure as well as mine. On the other hand, my loving feelings may lower it in both of us. Acting in ways that are loving, forgiving, compassionate, altruistic and nurturing can help free us from disease and premature death.

In short, we are hardwired to help each other. When we forget this fact we often suffer needlessly.
Reader's Digest