Saturday, November 29, 2014

He's A Constant Reminder To Be "Latcherated"

The handsome young man pictured here is Canon Josiah Adkins.  (yep another C.J. Adkins).  Canon discovered America ten years ago today, at Oschner Medical Center in New Orleans.  On that day he was revealed to the world as the second son of Jay and Michelle Adkins, and the third grandson for Linda and I.

Every grandfather who is worth his salt loves his grandchildren and any reader of my blog or follower of my on Facebook or Instagram accounts has probably gathered that I have that characteristic, myself. I adore each of our five grandsons.  Each one so unique and special to me in different ways. Canon has a sweet loving spirit, and is tremendously gifted in musical ability and visual artistic talent. But that, alone is not what makes him so special to me.

Canon holds a special place in my life, and his birthday is always an occasion for celebration, introspection, and thanksgiving for me.  Not just because he was born just after the Thanksgiving holiday, but because of our family's  circumstances accompanying his birth.  Canon and his birthday are an important "marker" for me.

A decade ago, when Canon's birth was imminent ,Linda had flown to New Orleans to be there for the joyous occasion and to help out while Michelle was recovering from the C Section.  Little did Linda realize on that happy Monday, that just two days later, instead of caring for Jay and Michelle's family in the little parsonage on Avenue B in Westwego as planned,  she would be sitting with me in Our Lady of Bellefonte Hospital here in Ashland, learning that I had a huge mass in my colon that was malignant.

A week later, my gifted Christian surgeon, Dr. Staten,  removed a three foot section of my intestines, a number of lymph nodes and took samples of my liver for biopsies.  The results of the biopsies and an accompanying MRI were staggering.  My malignancy was extremely aggressive and had metastasized from my colon to the lymph nodes and had invaded my liver with numerous tumors of various sizes. Dr. Staten told us that the malignancy had spread "all through my liver as though someone had sown grass seed".

The diagnosis was sobering.  "Stage Four.  Incurable.  Hopefully manageable for a while with aggressive chemotherapy. Average survival time, 18-22 months."

My friends know the rest of the story, and I will not take the time or space here to go into it again, but I mention it here today to give my Gracious God thanks for the wonderful medical care I received and for his His healing touch on my life.

The story doesn't end there, though.  About the time (according to the average statistics) that I was "supposed to die", at the age of two, Canon experienced an inexplicable fracture of one of the bones in his little leg.  Tests revealed the existence of a non malignant tumor in the bone. At that young age, this little guy had to endure a surgery to remove the tumor and get used to life in a cast and a wheel chair or pint sized walker.  Over the next four years Canon suffered a couple of other fractures to the bone and had a total of four more surgeries on the leg along with several bone grafts.

The little guy had a number of casts, special boots, used a little wheel chair and child sized walker off and on for four of the first six years of his life.  Finally, the doctor at New Orleans Children's Hospital pronounced that Canon's leg was sound.  The final bone graft had "taken" and that Canon could take part in any of  the physical activities that any 6 year old boy might want to do. His tumor has never returned.

One of my favorite stories about Canon involved when he was in the midst of his four year ordeal.  He had been working on some type of art work with crayons on a piece of paper in the family's living room.  With the paper in his hand, he limped into the kitchen where Michelle was working on dinner and called for her attention.

She stopped what she was doing and cast a look his way,  He pretended to be reading from the paper and said, "Our Agent Code is 'Latcherated'!"
""Latcherated?" Michelle said.  "What does that mean?"
 Canon, with a serious look on his face tacitly announced, "Never give up!"
With that, he turned and limped out of the kitchen to go back to his activities.

Over these past 10 years, Canon and I have both learned the importance of being "Latcherated".

I am still under the care of Oncologist Dr. Kirti Jain at the Ashland Bellefonte Cancer Center. I have my medi port flushed and lab work eone every three months.  I have scans done now once or twice a year (as opposed to quarterly like we use to do). I see Dr. Jain or his assistant three times a year.  He still resists giving me the status of "Cancer Free", but I remind him on each visit that one day I will, indeed, be cancer free. Only 15% of people with my type of cancer survive for five years, and yet, 10 years later, by God's grace I am still here, working every day, and enjoying watching my (now) FIVE grandsons grow into wonderful young men.

Whenever I see Canon's smiling face, and note how much he has grown, I am reminded of how much God has blessed me with 8 "bonus years" beyond my prognosis.  The tears of joy flow freely, and I thank Him for His blessings to me.

Lord willing, on Monday evening, I'll be taking Canon and his family out to "The Joint" for a belated birthday Barbecue dinner for "my little marker" and will share a special evening with the one who has helped teach me the joy of being  "Latcherated" .

Happy birthday little buddy.  See you Monday!

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