Tuesday, December 22, 2009

CLEAR!


Merry Christmas from us, Tim and Christa!

We find ourselves in a state of celebration and shock all at the same time! As we mentioned in our previous post, Tim had his routine PET scan and we were waiting on the results.

Well...

He is 100% Cancer Free!!!!! There are NO active cells in his body, nothing abnormal, he is completley and totally healed. The doctors note said; "Patient has responded successfully to treatment."

100% Cancer free means 100% of the glory goes to God. We were always confident this day would arrive, we just didn't know when. To have this news is the best Christmas gift anyone could ask for.

We will keep you posted with the adventures that come along in our lives...next stop, big huge party!!

Love,

Tim and Christa


Wednesday, December 9, 2009

December Already?


Hey Everybody!



We haven't updated you in a long time, so last night we decided we should!



Tim has been out of the hospital since the middle of July, with no returns to it! We have celebrated our six month wedding anniversary, and things are going really well. Tim continues to have his monthly check ups, which is amazing because most patients are from the summer are still visiting once a week! He has faced his fair share of colds, which was expected, and was told he had H1N1 in August...which his immune system beat without any medications as the doctors caught it while the virus was in its final stages. Wow huh? A guy with a brand new baby immune system beats the swine! God is on our side for sure. He is getting healthier and stronger each day, his weight is returning to normal and those muscles are coming back.



His PET scan results have been great thus far, with another report on the way. We will visit the hospital in a few weeks to get more good news! :) This entire process is 100% easier when we both know that healing belongs to Tim by the grace of God!



Tim is heavily involved in youth at our church, he is so excited to see so many youth coming out to events. His passion is youth ministry, so he is thriving in it!



We are getting ready for Christmas! Our tree is up, full of decorations and the outside lights are beautiful thanks to Tim. I spent an hour wrapping all of his gifts, he is like a little kid, he will go hunting if they are not safely under the tree. We are spending Christmas in Airdrie this year with friends and family, and taking a much needed break from school, work etc!



Christa has been signed to John Robert Powers, an acting academy with locations all over the world. She had one audition and was asked to join! She will embark on 5 months of practical training and professional auditions. What an opportunity!



We will continue to keep you all updated! Thank you for being so faithful to our story, and supporting us in ways we can't even properly say thank you for.



-Tim & Christa!
(this is us in Saskatchewan on the way to Winnipeg, our road trip in October this year. This is one of the places we stopped for ice cream during Tim's ride for childhood cancer across Canada in 2007, we had to relive the moment!)










Thursday, August 20, 2009

Significantly Simple

A very simple thought on serving people:

What an interesting time it has been to sit back and ponder the past season of our lives. Sometimes I cannot help but play the scene over and over again from Black Sheep with Chris Farley where he is at the top of the mountain trying to find cell reception and slips his foot off the rock and begins a very long, painful, dreadful, discombobulating summer salt down toward the valley...and then after gaining his senses, throwing himself upward into posture he exclaims, "What in the hell was that all about!" (If you haven't seen this movie...it's a must...it's on my to do list of life actually...it's an annual event that I have with me, myself, and I.)

But sometimes that's how I look at many situations in life and wonder what the purpose of it all was. I cannot count how many times I have tried to sit here at this stupid HP Pavilion laptop computer of mine and try to focus on writing the thoughts in my head which have been brewing for quite some time about different things, people I've talked to, things that have happened...and for some reason just not having the clarity to phrase myself. I just sit in a daze wondering what the purpose of it all was. Where is this going? What is being done? How does this effect me?

To be honest I'm not really sure what it's all about sometimes. (the cancer, how certain things have worked out in our lives, jobs, meeting people, serving, and life.)

Lately Christa and I have had the opportunity to meet and hear some very influential people. This past week we had the honor to sit in and hear Charlotter Gambil speak on the importance of building the local church - and how for some odd reason we have this mentally that the church is all about this religious building where we gather on Sunday mornings because of family tradition or religious beliefs and practices. Depending on your thoughts and viewpoint of the word religion you may disagree with the next statement - but she was saying that the role of the church is to reach out to people and meet their needs. We aren't to run around jamming the bible down peoples throats or telling them what to do and what not to do. It is important for us to invest time and ourselves in joining up with others to help meet the needs and reach out to other people, through whatever means possible, including ourselves, our experiences, and with all the junk that we haul behind.

The problem, however is that so many people want to be the top dog. Everyone wants to be on the stage, have a mic in their hand, run the company, be the president, run for mayor, be team captain, give the orders...it's their way or the highway. And this is why sometimes groups and organizations, including the church fail...because people don't want to greet people, or clean washrooms, or help with parking, or go into the hospitals and spend time with the sick, or offer a ride to someone, or care to listen to someones shotty (yes I said shotty...it's the new thing so get with it) life...because what we have to do is more important, and if I (not me...I as in plural...even though it can't be plural...I know.) am not running the show, if I am not noticed, if I am not rewarded, if I, I, I, I, I...then it just won't be worth it. And this is wrong thinking!

At first I took this as a slap in the face because I thought to myself...are you telling me that my tour across Canada was waste of my time and that I just want to make it to the top and be noticed? Are you telling me all the TV shows I've done and interviews was selfish ideas? Are you saying my goal to write a book is complete junk? Are you saying the homeless outreach that Christa and I lead for the street people of Calgary isn't impacting and reaching out to the needs of others? Are you telling me that loving that person who is just unlovable, or investing my time and energy doing something for someone else wasn't significant?

At first this was how I actually thought about this...and the whole way home Christa had to knock some sense into my wee little brain to remind that that's not what she was saying at all. What I soon learned was that all those things are great...but when we invest our time and money and energy into the lives of other people...that's what it's all about. If your on the top, great. But if your on the bottom step...you are just as...if not more powerful and useful then the guy on the top. Because the guy on the top may not have the opportunities and gifts to reach out to people like the guy on the bottom.

Even though there are days that I sit here and stare at a white, blank word document page which sometimes reflects my view on life thinking to myself, "what the... ", I have learnt that there is a huge joy in teaming up with a group of people and meeting the needs of others. Rather it be through a church, a community organization, a company, or even in a social group of people. We don't all have to be the guy on the top, because if we are all the guy on the top....it's boring!

I have discovered that if I can shovel someones walk, or feed the homeless, or help lead a youth group, or say hi to the guy in the food court who looks like he needs a picker upper, or whatever it might be. I have learnt that through my experiences, with all my junk and garbage I can serve people and meet the needs of others...just as I am. Too many times I think of people who work themselves up and go on a self pity trip and create all the drama in the world because what nice thing they did for someone, or nice thing they said to someone, or their hard work went unnoticed. Too many times people think that if they aren't noticed then it doesn't count or it's not significant. But we must remember...it's not about us. We all have the opportunity to reach out to people in any given situation -therefore, big or small, it is significant, it matters, and it just might bring hope and meet a need of someone you never thought it would have.

...Tim

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Change.

Two weeks ago, the fire alarm rang out in our church service, once before church and once right before Pastor Leon was to preach. Of course, even though we all thought it was nothing, we evacuated, and eventually after some debate decided to have the service outside. How perfect that the title of Leon's message was "Change." While sitting out on the grass in the perfect summer air surrounded by a few hundred amazing people who devoted time every day to pray for Tim and I...life was suddenly put into perspective for me. Embracing Change. How many of us do that?

I've been through twenty years of change. Little changes, like crawling to walking, diapers to the potty, a crib to the big girl bed...grade 1 to grade 12, brown hair, red hair, fake nails, red nails, insecurity, pain, happiness, death, life, rejection, acceptance. I've had my life all planned out and seen it change in a matter of hours. I remember the emotions and excitment of our approaching wedding day being knocked aside by the terror of a disease. If anyone has experienced drastic change, overwhelming unwanted change, it has been Tim and I.

But...

Why wallow? Why sit there and wish for the "old" days, when a new journey is infront. I could have ignored the change and ran away from it, but I would still be in the same place, the same unchanged place. Instead, no matter how painful, unwanted and stupid the change was...I embraced it, and accepted it for what it was. It turns out when things change in a big way, even though we don't want them to, they turn out to be the greatest stories, the most amazing memories. What if you never took those first steps after all? Where would you be? Unchanged and annoying! Who wants a 20 year old baby in their lives?

I don't. Nor do I want to be.

Now. As Tim and I look back on our time in the hospital, the treatment, the unit, even the day of diagnosis, we celebrate each moment and find the joy in it! Why? Because change is a GOOD thing. It brings forth the true qualities in a person and shows the world where their focus is. I want people to see my focus is on Christ. I am a strong woman, I will perservere and accept any change that comes my way, no matter what it is.

Each day now is amazing. Each day is full of change. Tim is back at part time work, and loving it! He finds new challenges in his day, adopts them and succeeds. He is such an asset to his team, and according to them has been very missed! I am back at work as well, with two of the most incredible kids. Each day they greet me with excitment and joy, they don't care where I have been or where I am going, even at 2 and 3 years old, they have accepted the fact that Tim was sick, now he is better, he has no hair, and heck, they love him like crazy! Why at two and three can they accept drastic change, embrace it and move on and we "adults" start cursing, throwing up our hands, and for some reason cannot even sit still when traffic is re routed? Trust me, if that sounds like you, here is a little warning; get your priorities straight, because if life ever throws you a curve ball...well, I don't even want to know what will happen to you.

Leon taught us how to accept and embrace change that Sunday night, Tim's battle taught us how to find joy in every situation, and Weston and Sawyer teach me every day to appreciate the little things, to laugh, to giggle, play hide and seek and enjoy CHANGE.

Christa

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

One Step

July 23rd:

This video contains pictures and memories of our journey and what we have endured, together. As this chapter of our life closes we look to the future with eyes focused above in anticipation and excitement of what is yet to come.

Thank you to all for your prayers, support, and encourgage. We could not have done it without you guys!

Tim & Christa Harriman


video

Sunday, July 19, 2009

Victory is ours!!!

Well - here we are in what seems like the blink of an eye. On Monday the 13th I was officially discharged from hospital with a follow up appointment the next day on Tuesday. It felt great walking into clinic that day. There was a total different feeling and vibe floating on Christa and I. About a month prior we had just walked into that very same building and seeing the big blue block letters on the front which read - TOM BAKER CANCER CENTER. So many thoughts went through my head that day as we walked into that building hand in hand to learn what my exact diagnosis was. I remember meeting one couple that day who was just finishing up treatments. He had stage 4 and a stem cell transplant as well and they were doing great - however it seemed so far away, not even worth dreaming about.

But walking into that building this past week was refreshing, and now we had a chance to talk to people who were just starting this journey and to give them a glimpse of hope when everything around them seemed so hopeless.

I know I've spoken a lot about attitude; and it's true, attitude does go a long way and does play a vital role in recovery, but...it isn't everything. We still have other responsibilities in looking after ourselves and doing what the doctors, nurses, and staff say. I remember one morning that I just wasn't feeling up to anything. Just leave me alone, let me sleep, don't talk to me, just pop some gravol into my line and knock me out. I felt like I wanted to hibernate for a month and wake up when this is all done. In walks the nutritionist to see how I was holding up and if I was eating enough - which was obvious I wasn't. I was dehydrated and had lost about 10 lbs and just didn't feel like eating squat. But she came in a bagged me to drink a protein smoothie. Knowing that they weren't the best taste in the world I knew though that this was for my own good. I had to try. Pinch my nose and do anything I could to get something into my stomach - I knew that the sooner I started eating and getting my weight up, the better chance my body would have at fighting off this infection and then the sooner I would be released.

I cannot just lay in bed all day and tell myself 50 times that I am going to do well and feel better. Nope, I have work to do to. I have to get out of bed, shower up even when I feel like being a slob, go for a walk around the unit even when my body aches from the medications, order my meals even when I feel like crap, and eat my meals even when my stomach just wants to hurl...I have to fight too! And let me tell you - it ain't always easy.

It blows my mind away at how much the body can take. Even though I had my treatments almost 3 weeks ago, still my body is recovering. The first round of chemo didn't even touch me. We went for walks, ate lots of food, went camping, biking, throwing the frisbee around, I was driving everywhere...you name it. This round of chemo - not so much. I still have dry mouth from the chemo and radiation which feels like Ive been sucking on a mouthful of soda crackers all day. Everything I ate yesterday ended up in our city's sewer lines. And I feel like I have weighted bean bags hanging from my body - I move like a snail. But each and everyday will get better. I will get stronger. I will continue to stuff my face with food and keep it down. And life will return to normal.

It was a great feeling leaving that clinic on Tuesday. The doctor and nurses all said how shocked they were to see me so soon and that I just had to go and prove them all wrong. Even on Friday I had my central line removed and the nurse who was helping do the procedure said, what makes you so special to get your line our so soon? haha!

Friends - it has been a blast and a half. Thank you for your support and love. Thank you for checking in and fighting this battle with us. Thank you for the visits and phone calls, emails and messages. I feel honored to have done the things I have done. I never thought my life would include 2 battles with cancer, a ride across the country, speaking to thousands all over, and inspiring many. And who knows - maybe a jog across Alberta will be my next adventure...just to prove yet again to myself that cancer cannot get me down. Wherever my future leads me, I am excited to do it now with the most amazing person ever - Christa who has a powerful story herself. We are people, we are human - and we are being molded and crafted each and every single day...and we just want to be tools to build what we are called to build!

And remember: Victory is ours...and yours :)

Tim Harriman

Monday, July 13, 2009

Code: Red - July 12

Code Red! Code Red! Code Red!



As I lay there in my almost deepest form of sleep I can hear fire bells but I think I'm dreaming. All of a sudden I hear what sounds like a very loud drum roll sound through the hallways which turns out to be every single door in the building slamming shut from the fire bells. Half drugged I open an eye trying to gain my senses. Over the intercom I hear it again: Code Red, 3rd floor and then again...and again. Am I dreaming? What's going on? I don't hear a thing. I don't hear screaming, yelling, or other people scrambling around...I must be dreaming. Just go back to sleep Tim, it's probably like 2AM - these sleeping pills are really getting the best of you. And in about 2 seconds this is what goes through my mind: Wait a minute...3rd floor! That's below me. Fire = heat. Heat = rise. Fire burns up. Floor caves in. I'm on top floor. That's a long fall. Oh dear!!!

What do I do.? No one's come for me? How do I unhook all this stuff on me? Do I stay here and turn on the news and watch myself die on TV (which could be interesting) or do I make an escape for it?! Tim - WAKE UP! The place is on fire and your in it....GET OUT! Oh, right. This is a fire. Stop, drop, and roll baby!

As I roll over and get out of bed feeling like an astronaut walking on the moon I make my way to the door. I can't open it. Did they lock me in here? Those sick, cruel, people! Alright, nice God. Good plan. So I'm not gunna die of cancer. No way! I'm going to die in a fire where I am supposed to be treated for cancer. Great.

Finally I summon the energy and grab the door handle and just reef it open, drag my IV pull into the hallway for a little observe. Everything seems normal. No smoke. I don't see any flames. But the doors! Everything is locked down. The people...where is everyone? Did they forget about me? Elevators - your not supposed to take those during a fire. Stairs! I'm on the top floor. AND I'm hooked up to this thing! Is this actually happening? Am I in the rapture and just missed the man himself - what's happening?!

Just as I was getting ready to call my people and tell them I am breaking a window and jumping out on the back side - bring a trampoline or something to catch me cause it's a long way down...I see life. A nurse walks around the corner. Are you wondering what's going on? What's going...I have a good idea of what's going on...but maybe we should think about leaving! (I felt like James Bond now - on a mission to save the girl). It's okay Tim, it's just on the third floor, you can go back in your room. We will let you know if anything changes - she responds.

Okay...phew. Building isn't on fire Tim, but you just go sit and your room and everything is gunna be alright now. In an way, as I lay there in my bed - I was thinking man, that would be awesome if this place burnt to the ground. 1. I'd be done with this crap and just go back to life and act like it never happened. 2. I think that it would be some good entertainment for some good stories...and 3....well I don't know - I survived cancer....twice...and a fire all at the same time!

Ha-ha...until next time!

Tim Harriman

July 9 - Day 39

Deep thoughts:

As fast as this whole process has gone – even though some days feel like eternity – it has been a time of many ups and downs, questioning, learning, embracing, feelings joy and at times even feelings of anger.

I don’t think I will ever be able to put this experience into clear, detailed, understanding words for one to even grasp slightly what this journey means to us. As we prepare to meet with a book publisher in the near future my mind begins the planning process of writing a book. How many chapters, what is our overall theme of the book, what’s our message, what things we will share and/or keep to ourselves for our own personal memories...these questions all lead me to excitement as our future unfolds and we see where new things take us. I am pumped!

I will admit that this course of treatment has been a little harder than the last course – which doctors explained to me. I knew walking into this round that my faith would be tested and this would be a challenge against myself to practice what I preach. Waking up some mornings just gasping for air, trying to find the energy to roll out of bed and brush my teeth even though the sink was literally two feet away, ordering my meals for the day while feeling nauseous just by looking at the menu, sitting with my head buried into my heads which hold on so tightly to my IV pole repeating to myself – I CAN do this, and I WILL do this over and over.

Still, compared to what I have been through in the past – this course is still a walk in the park. I remember my treatments last time (when I fought Leukemia) and how every single day was a battle to keep pressing on. 365 days a year for nearly 3 years I fought day in and day out to just keep going. To get one more breath of air, to keep one more meal down, to keep myself from losing weight, to keep myself from throwing up, to stay strong, even through the pain, to be joyful when life was hell, and to choose to be a fighter when everything in me wanted to give up. A few weeks in a hospital is nothing compared to the years I called Children’s Hospital my home away from home and considered the doctors and nurses part of my family.

This round has had its challenging moments that at times remind me of those painful years. I have to remind myself to take time to sit and reflect and sometimes even allow myself to be mad and not bottle it in dealing with it on my own – because it’s okay to be mad and ask questions sometimes. Why again? Was the first time not good enough? What am I being taught; did I not already learn something? Is this my fault? Could I have done something to prevent this? But at the end of the day when I really focus and ponder the day’s challenges – I remember this: Life is good – Always!

And rather I like it or not, life will always deal me its share of challenges. Sometimes challenges seem to be so painful and lengthy and when I think i’ve had enough it just keeps going and never seems to end. But through all chaos my purpose never changes, like the 5 dollar bill illustration I had talked about. My value is still the same. And why do bad things happen to good people? Because they are just that...good people making a difference in the world and the devil don’t like it. A friend of ours taught us a very powerful thing and I want to add an extra bit to it: If i’ve learnt one thing about the devil in this battle and what he thinks of us, it’s that when our feet hit the floor in the morning, he says, “Oh crap, their up”.

I sometimes picture this battle not only like a walk through the park but a walk through the deep woods. I can see the peak of the mountain and where ive been and where I am I headed, but between me and the peak is unknown as the deep woods are filled with mush, debris, valleys, hills, rivers, and ponds – which I must trek through. The peak is appearing to be closer but there is still a little bit of the unknown to trek though.

i’ve had very few bad days and for that I am very thankful. And even with the bad days that i’ve had – they have been few and far in between and I am still able to say – Life is good...it could be a lot worse.

Though it sounds bizarre I am so grateful for this experience and the things that it has once again reminded me, taught me, and help me learn what challenges Christa and I might endure as a married couple.

I will continue to press on and the day will come when I will stand on top of that mountain peak and shout to the valleys below – I am victorious! I am a winner! I am strong! I WILL WIN!

Until next time,

Tim Harriman

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

July 8 - Day 38

Hi Friends,

The past few days have been a little rougher so I am only getting to you now. Thanks for hangin in there ;)

The doctors did say before starting this round of treatments that they expected it to be slightly rougher than the first - and since I received radiation on top of the chemo it only intensifies the effects that much more.

When I was released last weekend I felt great on Friday and then Saturday morning the effects hit me. But again, I wasn't brutally ill. I felt a little more tired and weaker then usual and slightly nauseated but overall was still doing fairly well. However, at my appointment on Monday the doctor said I had lost 10 lbs and said if I didn't pick it up and wasn't feeling better by my next visit (Wednesday) then she would want me to stay over night. So, long story short Tuesday morning I was still feeling a little rough and decided that instead of trying to fight this on my own to just come into the hospital and get the fluids and meds I needed to speed up my recovery.

Doctor was in this morning and said she sees light at the end of the tunnel. I start my G-shots (which help stimulate my cell growth) tomorrow morning and should be back up at at er by next week. This is a very serious part of the whole treatment though since I've now received my transplant and don't want to screw anything up. I'm not supposed to be around anyone under 10, avoid camping and intense outdoor activities for one full year, no mowing the lawn or any outdoor yard work, no flowers and plants in the house (poop, I sure love my plants...if you know what I mean...kidding people...geez.) So basically life will return some what the normal but still have to be very cautious that I do not get any infections or viruses.

As for that, the past week or two has been interesting. Even though I've had a few rough days it still is not like anything that some patients go through. I've definitely had the good end of the stick and pray that things continue to go well :)

We thank you all for your support, cards, letters, emails and phone calls. Even though we haven't had a chance to respond to everything know that your love, support, and encouragement means the world to us! We are so grateful for friends, family, and even strangers who are rooting us on!

Cheers to you :)

Tim Harriman

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

12:55pm

Hey guys, just a quick update. Tim is sleeping beside me, his toes are twitching, and we are back in the hospital. The doctors have put him on some fluid because he hasn't really had an appetite the past few days, he is starting to bounce back though! (I just watched him gobble a pb&j, soup, tea and some fruit!) The chemo he had last week is hard stuff on the body, but at least we know it is working like it's supposed to.

I'm sure he will write an update soon with more detail, but otherwise things are good!!

-Christa

Thursday, July 2, 2009

July 2

Now as Tim shared his view on camping...I want to share with you mine. What is camping to me? Well, something I’ve only done one other time up until our camping trip last week. The last time I went it was warm, we went swimming, and I didn’t have to wear my WINTER COAT all weekend. So, we’re driving down the highway and in the distance are some Chronicles of Narnia\Harry Potter rain clouds hovering over the very mountain we are supposed to camp below.

We pulled into Mount Kidd’s parking lot and headed for the office to check in. The sun was out, but the air was chilly. After checking in we drove to our beautiful site and began to set up. As we pulled out the tarps and the tent, Tim pipes up and says “I know the rain is going to hold off, I know it...”

It didn’t.

It poured, I don’t know how long it poured for, but the two of us sat in our car waiting out the rain, soaking wet from attempting to set up the tarp to protect our tent.

From that point on, I had a chill, deep into my bones that didn’t leave until hours before we left our camp site two days later. Tim was fine, strutting his stuff in shorts while I suntanned in my red and white winter jacket.

The rain eventually stopped and we finished setting up, only to have it rain once more. We then moved into our tent for a nice picnic on our mattress. Tim made us tuna sandwiches, which somehow became completely soggy, Tim liked his . . . I could only stomach one half.

That night, we were pumped to start a nice warm fire, roast marshmallows and chat..but it rained AGAIN. We decided to drive into Canmore for dinner, and after driving around forever and testing Tim’s patience with my indecisiveness, we finally chose the good old Boston Pizza.

O by the way, did I mention I wore my winter coat the entire time we ate?
I’m a baby.. I know.

The rain let up, and even though it was a little bit chilly, Tim and I decided to make the best of our time together and like I said before, start a toasty warm fire and talk! Unfortunately, the store was closed, so our fire would have to wait until another night, plan B; A walk!

As I grabbed more warm clothes from the car, I swear I don’t know how it happened, but I locked the keys in the trunk! I searched my pockets, the tent, and even under the car. HOW could I do this? I never do this! We’re in the middle of the mountains!! O! My spare key, is in. . my wallet in the CAR!

A little girl who was camping with her family across from our site overheard our dilemma and told her mom, who then told her husband a firefighter from Edmonton. As Tim dug around in the car with a marshmallow roaster attempting to get in, our own personal fire rescue team (including two little girls) came and got us back into our trunk.

Because of my silliness we met an amazing family who welcomed us with open arms, and showed us what camping is really about. We’re going to hook up with them next year and camp at Mount Kidd!


Okay, so from there it really wasn’t so bad.

Tim and I sucked up the cold nights and enjoyed the sun when it was out. We went on a beautiful hike, bike ride, drive, roasted marshmallows, cooked on our Coleman Stove, read, and discovered qualities in each other we never knew existed. It was an awesome trip. I would do it again in a minute babe, believe me!

In a way, even though it wasn’t everything we expected, I was sad to leave. I can’t wait to go back and stay longer. Maybe I’ll leave my winter coat at home next time.

Today, I’m sitting beside Tim as he reads the bible; it has been an exciting day! Last night my amazing friend Amber let me stay at her apartment which is a two minute drive from the hospital. I woke up early and arrived just in time for Tim and I to head down for his one and only dose of radiation. We’d been prepped, but the process was so interesting. They packed Tim from head to toe in Vaseline and tapioca held in plastic. That is to equalize the radiation so it hits each part of his body without one area getting more than the other. We then headed into the radiation room where they got Tim into position and we all left. The staff taught me so much about the dose, the machine, what all the numbers meant and what exactly the radiation does to the cells in Tim’s body.

Later on, the team arrived for the transplant! Today was really his “second” birthday as he received his new immune system. We decided today that Tim and I would from this point on always celebrate his June 15th birthday and the birthday of his brand spankin, always healthy NEW immune system!
You can check out pictures of the camping trip, transplant, chemo and radiation at:
http://www.facebook.com/album.php?aid=135900&id=567125201&l=9ef205f5a5

The smell on the other hand is dreadful. If Tim even turns the wrong way I get a horrible whiff of cream corn. The preservative they use to harvest the stem cells stinks as it leaves his system through his pores. It’s honestly like really strong, hot and steamy cream corn. I just have to keep remembering my vows “for better or for worse...” in good smells and in really really bad.

What a relief all the treatments are done! Its time to relax and recover and everybody on staff expects Tim to do incredibly, so do I! God is bigger!! Dr. Stewart says Tim will be fine, and everything is going exactly how he wanted it to.

It blows my mind every single day that all the things I’ve been taught the past few years at Springs Church are really truth. I grew up thinking that God’s will was to sometimes heal, but his perfect will is healing ALL the time. Not sometimes. Not maybe. Tim and I are seeing that each and every day. The cancer is gone, the side effects are zilch, and God is growing us into people of purpose. Tim has adopted a new mind set too, so have I, our faith has stretched, and we cannot wait to help others who are facing the same thing.

The doctor just came in and Tim and I are outta here until Monday! He is doing so well they are letting him leave. We will keep you all updated! Don’t stop reading.


-Christa

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

July 1 - Day 31

Well here are we are - heading in for battle number 2. The past few weeks off have been amazing spending time relaxing and just hanging out - and finally being able to go out instead of being locked up.

Last week Christa and I went for a little camping trip in the Kananaskis Country and who would have ever thought camping could have such a unique twist on marriage and teach you things you never knew. But it doesn't take camping to realize this one. You know you are married when...

Your clothes have gone missing from their usual spot and have now been placed elsewhere, making room for "guess who's" clothes. When your closet used to be yours but now it is taken over by purses and clothes which definitely aren't yours. When the bathroom cabinet is filled 2/3 with products that aren't yours. When the toilet paper roll for some reason always seems to be empty. When the mail box is full - but not one piece of mail is for you. Ha-ha...but it's all good...it is absolutely worth it!

I am sure Christa will share her experience of camping on her blog - but I personally thought the trip was awesome. But this is what I discovered about the word camping. When a man says or hears the word camping - he thinks of tenting, BBQing some burgers, cooking over the fire (he created), exploring the wilderness, and enjoying it no matter what the weather. This is what women think of when they hear or say the word camping. Having internal chills, miserable weather, sleeping in a spider filled tent, eating food that taste like charcoal, and using toilets that appear to lead us to the core of the earth but are actually so filled with waste that it just so happens to appear like a distant black space.

Thursday we pulled out and we weren't far down the road before the rain started. This isn't bad I thought as I played back the memory of when myself and a few buddies went camping in Kananaskis a few years ago and it poured rain on us almost all weekend but yet we cooked outside in the pouring rain, played some football, and even brought out the guitars for a little koom-by-ya.

However, setting up the tent in the rain and cold condition isn't quite what Christa would call ideal camping conditions. However we made the best of it, shared some laughs, and put the weekend in our book of never to do again (in the pouring rain that is...) and our other book of stupid memories (which I'm sure will be refreshed into our minds quite often).

Mind you, the rain and colder conditions wasn't the only thing that brought a unique twist. On Thursday evening Christa and I thought we would kick off our romantic retreat (or so I thought) with a nice hike in the wilderness before sun set. Nope. Not happening. While dressing in layers and bundling ourselves up (I will refrain from using names to protect the sacredness of our marriage), somehow our wilderness tour turned into a scavenger hunt for our car keys. Back tracking our way through the campground they were no where to be found. By the grace of God there just happened to be a little girl skipping just along our campsite and heard me asking Christa where our cell phones were - in the car of course. I knew we were in the middle of no where and a tow truck would cost 4 arms and 4 legs so I tried the old man's trick with a roasting stick and a screw driver. No luck. Next thing you know...Fire and Rescue pulls up (the little girls father who so happens to live up the road from us in Edmonton) and by my amazement happens to somehow peal the rubber back on the driver window and to push his roasting stick in far enough where he managed to loop it around the trunk lever and pop it open. Where were the keys - sitting right there in the trunk. How did they get there? I have no idea :)

The rest of our camping trip turned out to be decent as the sun came around and we built a great friendship with our lifesavers who invited us over for a fire and tea as we learnt each others stories and shared some good times.

Camping is definitely one of my getaways as it gives me time to reflect and enjoy the peace of the outdoors and it surely was a great time to spend with Christa and recharge ourselves for battle again.

This morning I received my last dose of Chemo which I must admit - was so strong that as it was going in I could taste the strong sense in my mouth and felt like my body had a 100 pound weight thrown on it. The feeling eventually subsided but showed me how powerful this drug really is - but like before, we are continuing to believe for a power and strength to keep fighting and push through this round as strong if not stronger than last time; with minimal to no side effects and hopefully be released earlier then expected.

And as for the good news your all waiting for me to share: During my check up last week at Tom Baker the nurse kept referring to me as their poster boy as she says they have never really seen anyone push through everything so easily before. She was shocked to hear that I haven't been sick, I've been maintaining my diet and weight - in fact I am actually starting to get a little chunky in the face and the belt seems to be switching holes every so often. Besides from loosing my hair I have been feeling great and actually feel better than before I was diagnosed - strange. Not only is that good news but we also learnt that my PET/CT SCAN came back showing that the cancer has been killed and the Doctor thinks I will cruise through this round again with very little symptoms - this is play stuff compared to what I've been through in the past. AND, when once thought I would have 4 -6 months of follow up treatments I could now possibly be released by end of next week with no more chemo treatments and will have my central line out in a month or two and be back to living a normal life. Wow!

So thank you for your continued prayers and support. We greatly appreciate them. This has been a softening time on my heart and has been an experience that I will never forget for I have learnt SO many things in such a short time frame. My hope is that our story will continue to inspire and encourage us all to live life to it's fullest, appreciating it for what it really is, and even continue to remind me of some very important but simple things that help bring such a greater meaning to life!

As for now, 1 chemo down, 1 radiation to go tomorrow morning, stem cell transplant in afternoon and score board says:

Tim 2
Cancer 0

Cheers friends!

Tim Harriman

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Hey Friends!

Just wanted to let you know that we have not forgotten about you! We are headed off to go camping for a bit before my next phase of treatments and will update you on some awesome news we received at the hospital this week when we return this weekend!

In the meantime check out http://www.airdrieecho.com/ArticleDisplay.aspx?e=1627988 an article that featured Christa and I.

Have a good week!

TH

Saturday, June 20, 2009

June 20 - Day 20

Value. What does it mean? Who has it? How do we get it? Do we deserve it or is it just ours?
This is a question that I pondered for quite some time when I had my first battle with cancer in 2002 - 2005. What did I ever do to deserve cancer? Was it a curse on my life? Did I do something that cancer was the tool in order to teach me a lesson and put me back on track? Did I still matter to people and society? Would I ever be an asset? Could I be used? Would my opinions and thoughts matter? Will I be successful?

I brutalized myself when the answer was so clear and it was directly in front of me. I worked day and night to keep up with my school work, I had a summer jobs, I did two grades in one year in order to graduate with my friends, I played on a youth band as well as the high school band which was one of the best in Alberta and even had the opportunity to go down to California and play at Disneyland and record with Warner Bro's (for fun) to Pirate's of the Caribbean (though I didn't go because of treatments), I was counselor at a summer camp for several summers, and I accepted speaking engagements whenever they came my way...I did all of this while going through chemo and radiation.

Did I do because I was searching for an answer - was I insecure that life might be swept from underneath me if I didn't cling to it? Was I trying to cover up my illness and focus on other things? I don't think so. I remember always going, going, going. My illness never kept me down and held me back from life and doing the things I loved to do. I discovered a passion and a desire to live life and live it to it's fullest. I had a passion and desire to serve and be a tool to any event, function, project, or mission...I discovered that even though challenges come my way and I have my ups and downs in life (like we all do), I discovered that those things do not interfere with my purpose and my destination as long as I do not let them because I know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope. Therefore I am valuable and so are you.

I often use this illustration when I speak to a group about being the change and knowing that you have whatever it takes to do whatever your heart desires and dreams of. Here it is:

If you were walking the streets of your city and you found a 5 dollar bill on the ground, would you pick it up? Yes. Why? Because it's 5 bucks. It has a value. You can buy things with it. If you were walking down the same street and you came across that same 5 dollar bill on the ground but this time it was stomped on and a little dirty, would you pick it up? Yes, because it still has value and after a little brushing off of the dirt and making it look decent it is still 5 bucks and it still has value and can still be used. That same street, your walking down and you find that same 5 dollar bill. This time it is stepped on, dirty, wrinkled and ripped; would you still pick it up? Yes! Because you put it in your pocket, take it home, brush off the dirt, flatten the bill, tape it back together where it's been ripped and it can still be used. It still has value to it and it can still be used.

The same is true for our lives. Life isn't always fair. We are dealt with disease, poverty, being fired from a job, a loved one turning on us, wars, and race turning against race. If you step back and take a look at our world - you can sometimes just shake your head at the things people are going through and you can ask why is this happening...OR...you can choose to rise up against it and be the change, knowing that you have VALUE. You've been stepped on, spit on, your full of dirt, and you've been ripped in so many places. But the truth is suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope. Therefore, over time if you allow yourself, you will be brushed off, cleaned up, flattened, and mended back together. Nothing can interfere with your purpose and your destination if you don't allow it. I have value, you have value, we have value and we can achieve great things and be the change!

Yesterday afternoon Christa and I had an interview with a newspaper and the reporter asked how do I go from a state of being mad, hearing the prognosis that my cancer had come back, thinking I am going to die, to a state of mind with a positive energy, a passion to fight with all that I have, knowing that I am going to be okay, and not allowing this to get the best of myself.

My answer was very simple and the reporter seemed in awe that this is actually possible. The first time I went through cancer I was only 14 - so you can imagine the shock and the fear that I was experiencing at that time in my life. Not having a clue about cancer, the treatments, the pain, or anything I was about to undergo I immediately thought I was going to die. I had a death sentence and I felt like it didn't matter what I did it wouldn't change my outcome.

You never really have time to accept that type of news...things just happen so fast and all of a sudden your thrown into the ride of your life of a roller coaster and you have no clue what to expect. You haven't had the chance to stand on the ground and observer this thing. You don't know where the loops and twists and turns are, you don't know if the bolts are securely fastened - you don't know anything. It's just buckle up and here we go! But over time as I became comfortable and understanding of my situation there were times when my attitude was running on high and I was full of fighting power. During those times...my treatments were successful. Side effects were minimal, my counts started to come back up, my appetite came around, my energy increased, and my overall emotional and mental strength rose higher. But during the times that I was discouraged and focused on my situation and allowed my mind to be filled with feelings and fear and anxiety - those were the times the treatments weren't doing what they were supposed to do, the times I was hospitalized with infections and my counts dropping to a severely low level and my mind had no drive to fight. I was done.

This time around - because I have been through cancer before I knew what to expect but I also knew that my attitude would be a large percentage of my battle. And say it's just coincidence or just how things happen - but this time around I have seen those patients who have a terrible attitude and are allowing their illness to get the best of them and they are struggling. They are having a hell of a ride and they are filled with fear, anxiety, worry, and depression. And I have seen the patients who have a strong attitude and a desire to beat this thing out of their world. Like the lady who walks around the unit all day every day choosing not to lie in bed all day and soak in her disease. Or the guy who walks on the treadmill with his IV hooked up to him, or the other guy who is bald and has chemo pumping through his system but still works out and maintains a fit body and chooses to bring his meals to the common area and eats in front of the TV rather then staying in his room all by himself and being lonely. Those are the ones who are having a walk in the park with this and have chosen to take an obstacle in their life and say - BRING IT ON! It is evident that our attitude plays a vital role in the challenges that we face in life - not just cancer or disease, but in any obstacle or challenge that comes our way.

Before I wrap up today's journal I must acknowledge the continued support and encouraging energies that are being sent our way. We are so blessed and grateful for those who have stood up behind us and are cheering us on running with us to the finish line. We have continued to receive countless emails from people across this country and have even learnt that people are dedicating their Canadian Cancer Relay For Life event in honor of Christa and I and one person is also doing the Bike Ride to Conquer Cancer in support of us as well!

We are so grateful for the support and look forward to participating in some of those events in the following years!

Take care friends!

Tim Harriman

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Laundry

When it’s exciting to sit down as a couple and sort laundry together, you know you’ve been deprived. Actually, deprived isn’t the right word, because Tim and I have shared some pretty special moments in the past month of being married, but it’s amazing the things married couples take for granted, like waking up beside each other, cooking breakfast together, creating two sets of toothpaste spit in the sink, changing the toilet paper...again, having the sheets stolen, and doing yet another load of laundry.

At the end of the day, when my back hurts from lugging around that vacuum cleaner, and sweeping up the crumbs, I look over at my husband and grin. This is it. This is married life. We are here, and we are enjoying it. There is an awesome speaker I listen to named Joyce Myer, and many times throughout the day I can hear her in my head. “Maybe you don’t need to wash the floor today, maybe you need to put the wife duties away for a minute and spend time with the one you love, or just go relax for a few!” All of us need to relax, enjoy the toothpaste spit and soak up each moment we have with our families.

As Tim said in his blog, his stem cell collection was in every way a miracle. Sitting beside him as his blood pumped into the machine was the most incredible thing I’ve seen. The blood in those tubes allows him to breath, fight infection, laugh, run, smile, cry, and live. All I saw was purity, newness and a fresh beginning. As they freeze those stem cells, I know without a doubt that when they are infused back into him, his body will once again start fresh, and all because of the prayers of hundreds of people and a God power flowing through Tim.

It’s funny how negativity can try its best to creep in. It tries, but it always fails. Tim is always telling the nurses, “nope, that won’t be me that experiences that side effect...” and he doesn’t.

Tim, you have taught me how to apply that principle to every area of life. Example; I’ve just begun upgrading for nursing in the new year, and I am not a strong math person. Just looking at the cover of the text book is daunting. What if I fail math? What if I can’t go on to nursing? And then I remember a moment at the hospital as the nurse looked at Tim as she was infusing his last bag of chemo... “When you stand up you may feel dizzy, and some people have an allergic reaction, if you notice hives, shortness of breath or anything different, call me right away.” Tim fires back.. “That won’t be me!” The nurse laughed and said “Good!” and his treatment continued that day with no complications. This is the weapon he fights and wins with every day.

Don’t get me wrong, you can’t walk around life expecting everything to be perfect, you cannot expect that when you slice your hand along a fresh piece of printer paper that you won’t get a paper cut, because you will, and if you don’t you need to lay off the yard work, but instead of living life focused on the “what if’s” and “maybe’s” fix your eyes on the one who is greater than all of this earthly business. He is our answer each day, and Tim and I know that each step of this battle has been made perfect by HIM! We can’t do this on our own, nor do we want to, this is a three person team.

Tim’s amazing perseverance pushes me past my own limitations. Tim will conquer cancer again, and his attitude and strength within will carry him through. If the patients at the Tom Baker can fight with everything they have, and Tim can call this battle done, anybody can accomplish anything they fight for. Tim has dreams, and so do I. We will do whatever we must to get there!

The next two weeks together will be amazing, and the weeks following them will be even better.

Why?

Because it is a choice, an attitude, and a faith that cannot be broken. We will win!

More pictures!!!

There it is! My Stem Cells. My life in a bag...haha! That's random
Christa surprised me and brought cake to the hospital and also threw a big bash for me once we got home!

Hanging out during my collection.

More shots of my stem cell...

The machine to the right is what seperates my stem cells and returns my blood back to my body...a very interesting process.





Tuesday, June 16, 2009

June 16 - Day 16

Wow! It amazes me how fast time really does travel. Here we are on June 16th...only 1 more month away from the finish line. It is in view. I can see it. I am picturing it. I am running for it. I will not give up! It's amazing! I see incredible things. Though it is slightly blurry and I can't make out everything...I know it will be so overwhelming and tears of joy will fill the eyes of those present.

In my last few blogs I have talked about this strength that we must search deep within ourselves, grab it and pull it out. How we must find that passion and desire within us and allow it to rise up against obstacles and challenges that come our way. Finding peace in the midst of storms. Building perseverance when all hell breaks loose. And CHOOSING to fight with all that we have.


As challenging as a few days were (mentally), it has paid off. Yesterday was like passing the biggest test I've ever had to complete in my whole life. When that stem cell machine beeped marking the end of the collection process this massive wave of peace and a big breath of fresh air filled my lungs. It's almost as if this whole time I've been fighting, fighting, fighting and just kept fighting with all that I have and just when I felt like taking a break and just pausing for a second the horn went. The battle was over! We conquered it. We beat it! Yesterday was filled with so many emotions. Excitement, tears of joy, feelings of strength and courage, a peace.


So here is a recap of how everything has gone this past week:


Why was I even admitted to hospital anyway this week? I felt great! I was eating lots, doing a relatively good job at maintaining my body weight. Haven't been sick...so why the heck am I hear. I get these day passes and then have to come back at 9PM to sleep in some bed that I feel 10feet high in and then wake up and come home. I'm not hooked up to anything except for 30mins at 11PM, 5PM and noon. Knowing not to go against my doctor's knowledge (unlike Mr know-it-all who thought I had shingles...pff) I thought I better dare not question her doings. But finally, I had enough. This was becoming challenging on Christa and I since it's our second week of marriage and I feel great. I want to be home with her. I don't even know why I am in hospital, and I'm starting to get pretty bored...Oprah and Dr. Phil can only do the trick for so long...and even then I feel like they are my best friends at this point for I know them now oh so well thank God for television, friendships are enhanced to even greater levels. Updating my facebook status and checking updates only becomes exciting once and then die's off pretty quickly...and those scuff marks I was talking about on the hallway floors...they will always be there.



So getting back to my story, I said to the doctor - Listen, I don't want to mess anything up and I know I am here for a reason, but can you explain to me what's going on. I want to go home. Turns out I'm neutropenic (no immune system) so I had to stay there on antibiotics just as a precaution so that I didn't get any infections or viruses, after all I've come so far and was on schedule with everything with NO side effects or any symptoms...so why screw anything up.



However, even though I haven't had any side effects from the treatments you have no clue how much opposition has come our way pressed on every single side that the enemy is using to try and get me off track. He knows I've been through this before, cycled across Canada, spoken to thousands if not million's through media and speaking engagements and am now battling cancer again. The enemy knows that I am out to make an impact and will do whatever it takes to get in my way and interfere with my 'I Must'. But I tell you, nothing will shake my grounds! I am built on a strong foundation. I am not built on sinking sands. My feet do not waver. My eyes are focused. My autopilot is set. Fear does not consume me. Worry does not come upon me. When doctor's and/or nurses told me that I would not be ready for collection and that I probably wouldn't have enough cells and would have to do the test over two days. When I was told I would be in the hospital for at least 3 weeks. When I was told I would have 6 - 8 months left to live...I sat there in that doctors room, hospital bed or where ever I was and CHOSE to accept the facts but rose up and said NO! NOT ME! I am different. There is something different in me! Watch me. Get out your history books docs, because I am in there. Statistics...pff...who are they?



Sunday night Christa took me back to the hospital and we both walked into that hospital prepared and ready for battle because we knew that the next day would require some armor and lots of battling gear. The nurse came in and said - so doesn't look like we are going through with the collection tomorrow...your counts just aren't coming up fast enough. This is when I felt like saying Lady...I'm not normal. We know that. Doctor's always tell me they can't figure me out. I'm crazy. I just baffle their minds. I am not normal. But instead I choose to just lie there in my bed and put everything up to the big guy who is in charge.


At the last minute the doctor decides to up my G shots and see if they can help my body a bit. What do ya know? 8AM Monday morning...my doctor walks in and says Tim - Your ready! The team is waiting for you...let's go.


People I am telling you no word of a lie...yes I had a little help with some medications but these doctors do stem cells transplants every week. Tom Baker performs over 70 stem cell transplant a year. They are experts. When they say your not a go and things aren't coming along fast enough (there coming along...just not quick enough...this is still good news...it's not bad) they are usually if not always right at predicting and saying your not ready, the test isn't happening yet. There are people who are still on the ward and have been waiting for 45 days for their stem cell to happen and their body is still waiting!



I went down for collection - they hooked me up to the machine which was supposed to take 8 hours and possibly 2 days. The nurse who did my collection said she has been doing this for a long time - and she said the color of my cells looked amazing. They looked strong and healthy. They needed 365 million cells and within 2 hours they had over and beyond what they needed! I was unhooked and on my way home.


Not only was it my birthday yesterday but it was the day to mark the beginning of a new life. Stem Cells is what feeds our body. Life flows in our cells. Seeing my life flow out of my body and into a machine which then flow into a bag and is frozen for weeks and matured before given back to me - is so powerful. To express how I felt seeing my life flow through lines and through all these pumps and machines and dials and to know that they are clean. They are being restored. No cancer flows in those cells. It will come back to me free of cancer, free of disease, free of any defects or illnesses and come back into my body and give me life once again - would be like trying to explain outer space and our solar system. It's so complicated but yet such a connecting emotional experience.


I am home now well and alive! I had an amazing birthday dinner cooked by my one and only Christa Harriman followed by friends and family for cake and time together with laughter and joy!



The next few weeks will be spent camping it up and enjoying the outdoors, living life and soaking it up, and will probably include the first writings of our first book together which we hope to see on shelves in the near future!


We received an email the other day from City of Airdrie who was hoping to stop by and visit us and deliver a bulk order of magazines to us but the lady told us that since they published the story, the emails and phone calls have not stopped about our story.

It is our hope that our story brings a message of hope. That it can counsel those who are going through some horrific or to someone who is yet to experience something tragic in their life. We all have things that come our way. Life doesn't always deal the cards we were hoping or expecting but we must choose to play wisely because how we play this hand can really determine the next hand and how we will play that one.

Stay strong, press on, and keep on keepin on!

Tim Harriman

Sunday, June 14, 2009

A few pictures...

Here are some pictures for you to enjoy...
Supper last night. The plate was a little slippery. Ooops.

Get er' done! Buzzin' it off...yes, i'm going for a new look these days.

Enjoying some outdoor weather on a day off.

Me controllin the wheel for a change.

Welcome to my office. This is where it all happens.

Friday, June 12, 2009

June 13 - Day 13

OOOOOOOOoooooohhhh....Do your ears hang low do they wobble to the floor, can you tie them in a knot can you tie them in a bow....

....Sorry bout that ;) I don't even know what I'm singing. Going a little crazy here in this place. Just Kidding ;)

Alright, another long story to tell but this one is funny. Who da man?

The very first day when I had my central line put in I told the surgeon I was allergic to a certain dressing (the bandage that goes over IV sites)and said that I would break out. For at least 24hrs I had to wear the kind of dressing that I would react to but after I could change it to the one that works for me. I said to Christa, "Watch, literally within a day I will break out with spots all over my chest, you watch."

My gosh boy ol' golly (add a little southern farmer tone in there) what happens? Within a day, I look like a leopard. Next thing I know infectious disease is in my room, doctors and nurses are standing around my bed dressed from head to toe in gowns, masks, and gloves up to their arm pits wondering what's wrong with me!

(These are my thoughts. I would not be as stupid to express them verbally at the time.) Excusing me...can you not see I'm watching TV...your interrupting a very important moment in my life. And then one dude, who looks like he's part of house cleaning who is not wearing any identification that I can see of tells me I have shingles! Shingles! Are you crazy! Do you even know what the definition of shingles is? Shingles...pff...cry me a river and I'll build ya boat.

So anyways, enough with all the craziness. After they all they leave, one of my nurses comes in the room and I ask her - who was that dude? She kind of gives me the look with the impression like 'I know what you mean'. Apparently he was the Nurse in Charge for that day. I thought to myself - Nurse in charge...okay...listen here Eddy Stelmach or whoever is in charge up there in the big E city. I know were desperate for nurses and very short but I mean where are we getting them from. For all I know this guy walked in the back door down at the kitchen, clocked junior in the head, threw him in the dumpster, put on his uniform but of course forgot the dudes ID card and walks around from unit to unit calling all these crazy shots.

Oh and that's not the end of it. The TV girl comes to renew our TV for the day all while Mr. Know-it-all and his 'peeps' are hanging outside of my room 'brainstorming' what to do with me. The lady says how long would you like to renew your TV for? Ah..1 day should be good. All of a sudden buddy interrupts Christa and says oh, you'll need it for more than a day. He's not getting out of here until end of next week for sure. He's neutropenic (which means I have no Immune System...and that's true)...but then he goes off to say I am infection disease, I'm not going to be ready for collection on Monday and just runs down the list of all these crazy things. Alright Captain, thanks for coming out but we'll let the doctor be the judge of this one.

A little while later: Low and behold, who walks in? Doctor. Hi Tim! How are you doing? Great! Want to go home for the day? Oh sure! I would love that!

Ha! Take that Captain! Guess ya failed that one. And, oh. where have the spots gone? Gee I don't know. Maybe there disappearing because I said I am allergic which means my skin doesn't like that type of dressing. Shingles. Pff. *Shaking my head*

So. Like I said, the doctor did give me a day pass yesterday with hopes that my counts will start to climb (which they have control over because they can just increase my dose in the G shots). Yesterday my doctor said they will review my chart again and if my counts are starting to climb then they don't see why I won't be allowed to go home again for a little while. And this morning when the nurse came in with my blood test results it showed that my White Blood Cells are starting to rise! That's what we want! Now we just need to get em a little higher so that my body will be ready for Stem Cell Collection on Monday. Then I have a few weeks off (might take up some camping with my beautiful wife)and we return for the first week of July to do the transplant and then guess what. I'm finito! And will be out of here by July 16!


To be honest with you, this whole process has not been what I expected at all. I haven't even felt the effects of chemo, I'm actually considering getting a hair cut cause it's getting a little out of control, and I've actually felt a lot healthier then I felt before. Most nights I have a great sleep and wake up feeling refreshed and charged for the day...

Just waiting for the doctor to make his rounds which will let me know if I can have another day pass or not. And from what I know, if my counts came up today (which they did) they might consider discharging me :)

Have a great weekend! It's been a blast as always!

The one and only Timmy H

PS. We will get some photo's up soon:)

Thursday, June 11, 2009

June 11 - Day 11

Well G'day folks :)

Yesterday was the first day that I started my G-CSF shots which will boost my stem cells and prepare me for mobilization - the stage before transplant. While here at the hospital (which was only supposed to be a quick little visit) turned into me being admitted because my White Blood Cells are too low (0.2) which literally means I have no first line of defence in fighting any viruses and infections that come my way. So even though I feel good I have to lay low in bed at the hospital for a few days until my counts come back up. With the G-CSF shots it shouldn't take long for my counts to come up since that is the purpose of the shots.

I was once asked if I was being a little over optimistic and if I really am feeling well or am I just saying that I feel well. Honestly, I feel really really good. I've had maybe one or two days that I've felt a little under the weather but it was actually because I was taking a medication every 6 hrs and I was only supposed to be taking it as needed, not every friggen day every 6 hours. So the docs changed my meds, reduced some stuff and within the next day or so I was back to eating and being my normal self. Even here in the hospital this time around the nurses sometimes pop in just to say a quick hello because we often joke around and just talk about non-sense. I'm not being proud, but I will definitely say that leading up to my initial admission to the hospital, Christa and I were bracing ourselves. But it's been great. Since we can't act like a normal couple and go out for dates nights and movies and just hang out and do the married thing we've actually had to re-discover our friendship and have quite enjoyed just hanging out all day and talking about anything and everything. Christa and I have had some of the most meaningful, thoughtful, and deepest conversations during this time. We have laughed together so hard that we've been kicking our legs crazy till the point we are crying. We have been very amused by the TV show Trailer Park Boys which is down right stupid stuff but to us, apparently it's hilarious! We've walked around this unit so many times that every day I've seen scuff marks come and go. We've watched movies together, played games, and at times even just hung out and not said a word to each other. Christa and I know that this experience is already building into our relationship and we are learning a great deal of things we may never have learnt if it weren't for this experience. When I am all through, our marriage will come out the other side stronger and deeper because of what we have walked through and faced together in our first few weeks of marriage.

Got a very cool story to share with you:

A couple of nights ago Christa and I prayed before we went to sleep that we would
just have a good sleep and that we would have dreams that we would receive a message or a very clear meaning. I'm not one to have dreams and if I do, I NEVER remember them.

Not only was it great to sleep pretty much the whole night (because the last few nights I've been up several times) but I had an incredible dream that is crazy.

Before I share the dream I must give you a little preview. Back in October of 2008 Christa and I were in Winnipeg for a conference and a guy by the name of Rick Godwin was speaking. And he was telling us that when catching the plane to come up to the conference the lady beside him made a few comments about what if the plane goes down. Rick said, Lady, if this plane is going down your in the best seat of this aircraft, right beside me, because everything is going to be fine because of the power that is in me. I have not finished living my life. My "I Must" and purpose is not yet completed...we're not going anywhere!

So, that brings me to my story:

In the middle of my sleep I had a dream that was the most clear, real, and descriptive dream I've ever had. I had a dream that Christa and I were travelling by plane. From the time we checked in to the time we got to the gate we were interrupted with distractions, people budging us in line, and then once we got to the gate we discovered we didn't even have our tickets...we had somebody else. Once we got that sorted out we barely made it to the gate only to find out that the plane had been over booked. A few people offered to stay behind and catch the next plane and Christa and I boarded and got our seats. It was a very small charter plane with about 30 passengers. (I'm telling you - I don't dream. This may seem silly but I felt like this was all actually happening.) As we begin to taxi towards the runway all of a sudden the pilot throws the plane into gear and we take off. As soon as the plane leaves the ground the plane does a fish tale and the pilot struggles back and forth to bring the plane under control. The whole time I have such a peace and am totally confident that even if this plane goes down...we're all gunna be fine. Eventually the pilot looses all control of the plane and we head for the ground. I instantly grabbed Christa's head and brought both our heads to our knees and cover our faces because I knew the thing was gunna blow up. The back of the plane and tail blew up in flames and all of a sudden we are barreling down a major freeway destroying anything in sight. Eventually the plane leaves the freeway into a residential area and takes out 5 houses before it comes to a complete stop. No one was injured. Everyone walked away injury free.

After I woke up and I told Christa the dream...she was just like, oh...that's crazy. But it wasn't until we were halfway down the deerfoot highway on our way to the hospital that I jump and tell Christa - I forgot the most important part...the point of the dream and the message behind it.

It doesn't matter what plane we are on or what our destination is (because all of our purposes are slightly different from each other. Even though planes might all look the same, there are different people on those planes with different stories and a different "I Must") and even though our plane might crash, nothing can get in the way of our purpose and "I Must" because of the power that is in us.

Even though my plane crashed (my cancer), my purpose and "I Must" isn't done. I have not finished living. I am not done here yet. I will get better. I am a cancer survivor! I am not a patient. My body is not consumed with cancer. It does not belong in me. It has no right in my body. I will go on to inspire many and do crazy, wild adventures...because my purpose isn't completed!

Last night Christa had a friend come visit her who is a nurse on the floor below me. She works on the palliative care ward where basically patients are coming in to die. They have no more medical options for them, doctor's can't do anything so they put them on these wards and the nurses give them medication to make them feel as comfortable as possible until their last breath. But the fascinating thing is: Christa's friend was saying they come in with such a good attitude and positive spirit proclaiming that they will get better and better each day and will walk out of this hospital with no disease and feeling well and alive. What's fascinating is that they often do walk out of this hospital and live well and alive for years to come! That right there is evidence of what a good attitude and the power in you can do.

Friends, whatever your going through...you decide your outcome. When I was on tour I spoke at a teens camp in PEI (the triumph video) and told them that we must be fighters. Through everything we must fight with all that we have. Losers are not an option. It is our choice how we will walk out the other side. Our attitudes are crucial. How we handle situations and trials and the attitude we have plays a big part in our outcome. We are the deciders of our progress. I have heard story after story of people who have been given up to die, and how people would come in and encourage them with words and tell them other stories of people who've had it worse and something inside of them rose up and they all of a sudden developed a keenness to fight and within sometimes days to weeks their body has slowly turned around and they've walked away completed well.

A famous speaker by the name of Willie George said it best when I was listening to him at that conference in Winnipeg. "Our minds start playing out with thoughts and if we don't discard the negative thoughts immediately eventually our thoughts go down a little elevator and stop on the floor called mouth. And what we let out of our mouth eventually keeps going down into our heart. Whats in our heart becomes who we are. How we talk, how we treat people, the things we do and the things that we believe. We must take control of those negative thoughts and get rid of them immediately. Not even giving them a second chance to become part of our DNA.

Put it this way. I am on the top floor at the hospital. I know below me are several floors and right below me is the palliative care ward. (Disregard the previous example about the palliative care ward because that was used to illustrate something else) If I take the elevator down to the main floor, walk out of this hospital, get in the car and go home, then I never know what was really on those other floors. I may know which wards are on that floor and I probably have a good idea of what happens there because of what I've heard...but if I've never seen it or never stepped foot on that floor, I don't have any mental pictures and thoughts or smells about that floor. However, if I choose to stop on the palliative care ward and walk around there, now I have those thoughts and pictures and smells in my mind and the only thing I can remember is dead people - completely negative. So I must choose to not even go there. I don't even allow myself to think about stopping on that floor.

It's the same thing with out thinking and out attitude. We choose where we will allow our minds to go and not to go. We choose what gets into our heart. WE MAKE THE CHOICE.

Friends, I don't try to sound all professional and act like I'm a psychologist or anything like that. I write the way that I write, I speak whats on my heart, and often when I speak I sometimes find myself speaking right to myself while speaking to others as well. But I ask you this: What are you doing about your situation? Are you becoming consumed and stressed with the simplest things in life? Are you surrounding yourself with negativity and negative people? Do you have people in your life who have similar goals and a similar purpose and can join each other as you pursue that? We are the DECIDERS! We have more power in us than we think we have. We just need to learn how to use it.

Until next time!

Tim Harriman
PS. While your at it, Christa and I were surprised when we discovered that we are on the front of AirdrieLife Magazine with an amazing story on page 61. Check out www.airdrielife.com to order your copy now!

Tell your friends about our blog, spread the news, and lets join together because together we are headed towards a great purpose!

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

The things that don't matter.

So, the past few days have been a huge eye opener to me, not only me but to Tim as well. When someone you love has an illness, its amazing how quickly and drastically life changes. It can either be the worst time in a persons life, or the most incredible. For Tim and I, this journey is incredible. Here is why...

Some things just don't matter anymore. Life isn't this rat race like we once thought, its not about being perfect or looking perfect, its not about living for other people, its not about aimless priorities... its about enjoying and soaking up each amazing moment...blessing other people, taking walks in the cool evening air, watching the wind blow through the trees and sitting out side munching on watermelon after dinner. Tim and I have discovered the beauty of life, our marriage, and each other.

We talked about it today, when this journey comes to a close at the end of July, we will no longer live as busy, stressed out people. Instead, we will limit our once long list of "priorities" and start to soak up this amazing beautiful world we have been given. We have each other, and we have a long life ahead to experience the amazing and the wonderful!

Guys, seriously, Tim has been doing SO well! Its AMAZING how God has just totally come through for Tim in huge ways. He is not experiencing all the "side effects" the doctors said he would, and he is feeling super great...even better than before his treatments began. I hear people talk about how awful this is for Tim and how they can't believe he has to face it again...and honestly, its true, Cancer sucks, but our eyes have been opened to how far the technology of treatment has advanced. Its not about locking a patient up and "hoping" they come through anymore, its about getting them in, getting them well and letting them go on and live their lives. We could not ask for a better experience, and through it all we're gonna come out totally victorious!!

Anyway, Tim is sitting here waiting for me to hurry up and finish so HE can have the computer...so demanding. ;) Just kidding babe. I love you!!

Bye guys,

--Christa

Monday, June 8, 2009

June 8 - Day 8

G'day folks :)
Sorry for not having frequent updates lately. Being at home has been nice for a change. A time to relax, go for walks, watch movies, and enjoy life. The support that we have received is amazing. Emails, phone calls, and mail has poured in from all over the country from family and friends who are cheering us on - we are so grateful for your support and cheers.


On Friday after I was released from the hospital we swung by Innovative Fitness (my training sponsor when I was on tour) and picked up a few very unexpected gifts that mean so much to Christa and I. Innovative Fitness has kindly donated two 1 hour massages for Christa and I. One is a more cancer therapeutic treatment for myself and the other is a more relaxing and cleansing massage for Christa. On top of that, Rogers Mobility has kindly sponsored us an air card for my laptop so that we can receive Internet where ever we go, any time, for the remainder of my treatments - wow!

Before news even broke out about my diagnosis Innovative was on the move and putting together support for Christa and I. One of my past trainers Stan Peake (who cycled with me from Banff to Calgary) is doing an epic adventure and will be cycling from Edmonton to Calgary in one single day in hopes to raise support for Christa and I.



Ill leave him share the news:

The Battle of Alberta - July 25, 2009


Friends,

I am writing you today to tell you a story in hopes that it touches you.

What & Why:
Tim Harriman has a story that has touched me and motivated me to do something to give back (as he has done, read www.spokemantour.com). Tim is a cancer survivor. In September 2002, at the age of 14, he was diagnosed with Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia (ALL), a form of cancer in the blood common in children. At that time Tim was told he would need to undergo 2 ½ years of treatment. After nearly 3 years, he beat cancer. A cancer survivor himself, Innovative Health Group President Vince Danielsen was inspired by Tim's story and sponsored him, having the team at Innovative train Tim for 2 years free of charge. His destination upon completion of those 2 years? He rode his bike from Victoria BC to St. Johns NL in the summer of 2007 and in the process raised over $170,000 for the Childhood Cancer Foundation of Canada. His tour was a great success and Tim continues to share his story and inspire those with cancer, cancer survivors, and their families (as well as all who meet him) to embrace a more positive attitude and make the most out of their life.

Tim's New Battle
Tuesday, April 28th Tim found out that his cancer may have returned in the form of lumps on his neck. May 21st the diagnosis of aggressive lymphoma was confirmed. Tim's spirits are very high and his attitude is nothing less than that of a champion as you can assess yourself in his blog http://www.timandchrista.blogspot.com/. Tim and Christa were actually scheduled to be married in front of their friends and family July 4th and they have had to change those plans as a result of this news.

How to Support Tim
The reason I am writing is like I try to do in my own life, Tim is all about paying it forward. This is a young man who found not only peace but purpose in his battle with cancer and used it to help others. The way I see it I have the ability now to help Tim through my network of great people like you, and through a little pain and suffering myself that won't even come close to what he is going through.

That being said, on Saturday July 25th, I will be riding my road bike from the Stollery Children's Hospital in Edmonton to Innovative Health Group in Calgary. This one day ride will cover 300km and go from 6am to about 9pm. My purpose for this ride is threefold; 1) to raise awareness and I hope support for both Tim personally (neither him nor his wife Christa are working through this process), 2) to benefit the Childhood Cancer Foundation if people would rather donate money to a formal charity than to Tim himself, and 3) to benefit others while challenging myself while I am in a privileged position to do so. The target amount for this ride would be to raise $12,000 so that Tim and Christa can dedicate 100% of their efforts to beating this cancer and surviving once again.

This is a personal quest for a friend, and as such I am not asking or demanding anything. I want to share his story and allow him to continue to do so for many years to come. In order for him to do this, I would love to be able to help support him even slightly so that he can focus on survival and continuing his legacy.

How:
Well this is up to you, if you should feel a personal connection to his story and a reason to give. If you don't- no problem because there are certainly many great causes out there and you don't have to be affected or motivated by what motivates or affects me.

Some ideas are:
a distance-based sponsorship (donate a penny, dime, quarter, or even dollar or more per kilometer)
If you run a business and can help with groceries, goods & services a family in their situation can benefit from
gift certificates for clothing, groceries, or even the Bay, etc
ride with me (must be able to maintain 27km/hr on a road bike) all or part (ie Red Deer to Calgary is ~145km) and pass on this email to your support network
a support vehicle & driver - we already have a few volunteers here but an RV or similar would be perfect!
supportive emails for Tim on his blog or via myself to him
anything else you feel will be beneficial

This may be a lot to ask and so I am sending it with the decision up to you- I'll never hound you for this as it's not right. I will simply follow up with those of you who express interest so that even a little support can help Tim and Christa in their journey so they can go on and help others for the rest of their lives together.

If nothing else, thank you for taking the time to read this today and if it should prompt you to any action whatsoever, thank you from Tim, Christa, myself, and all those who stand to benefit from the positive example of a survivor.

Best,

Stan Peake - General Manager

email: fitnessreception@innovativehealthgroup.com

tel: 403.244.7405

We are so very grateful for what Stan the people at Innovative Fitness are doing for us. I told Stan when picking up the gifts that even that wasn't expected. They are going over and beyond...and like he said...when this is all through...we will continue to pay it forward!

Cheers Friends!

Tim