Update Asking for Prayer

Asking for Prayer

Dan has had significant shortness of breath in the past month or two, so we were very concerned about the results of a scan he had last Monday, 3/12/18. We were asking for prayer that we would have wisdom as we proceeded to deal with whatever the doctor had to say. I feel that God has answered and will continue to answer that prayer. Last Friday, 3/16/18, we had a very sobering conversation with Dan’s oncologist. The results of his scan were a mixed bag. We saw some definite improvements in the scan, enough to continue his current treatment.

There was also some progression.

She spoke very frankly about what needs to happen next. She’s referring him to the Mayo for a second opinion because once Dan is done with this treatment; she has nothing more to offer him. The hope is that Mayo might have a trial that isn’t being publicized (We regularly look for trials on a national trial finding website and haven’t found any that fit Dan).

The Mayo also has oncologists that specialize exclusively in lung cancer. She feels like having another set of eyes and experience could be helpful in finding an approach. Perhaps a traditional single agent that Dan hasn’t tried could buy some time. We are asking for prayer that there would be something for him at Mayo that would be helpful, There are concerns about symptoms he’s experiencing (vision changes, back pain from a spinal metastasis and terrible pain under his armpit which she suspects is from one of the spinal metastasis pressing on a nerve).He needs to have 2 MRIs done next Tuesday on his brain and his thoracic region to investigate his symptoms. If they find out what is causing the armpit pain and vision changes, they can treat it with radiation.

She referred him to palliative/hospice care for a consult.

He will see them on Thursday when he has his next chemo. She wants us to review his health care directive and bring it with that day. She is concerned about the possibility of a blood clot preventing him from breathing properly. Cancer cells throw off clotting agents. So, she wants him to consider what we want emergency services to do at that time. I won’t go into any more of the details, but suffice it to say, it was a difficult conversation. We’ve approached this point before, but it isn’t any easier the second time around. We are asking for prayer that the palliative care consult will benefit his quality of life.

How Are We Doing?

Some people have asked how he is doing. It’s difficult to say. How are the kids doing? That’s also hard for me to know. I’m really not sure of how am I doing as a caregiver, a wife, and mom. So, how can I know how they are doing? It’s something we aren’t really talking about right now, which may seem strange, but sometimes it’s good to sort out your feelings before you try to talk about it. Still, I really appreciate friends and family asking. I wish I had a better answer. I’m sure at some point I will be better able to express it in words.

I can tell you that I’ve been having a hard time sleeping. When I do sleep, it’s fitfully, with nightmares. It’s hard to get out of bed in the morning because I’m experiencing some symptoms of depression. I’ve been surprised at how angry I’ve felt, recently. I am SO angry. I can’t even put my finger on what I’m angry about. Sure, “cancer” would be the obvious answer, but it feels more generalized. I try to keep it bottled up, but that doesn’t really deal with the issue. I anticipate I will transition to some other stage of grief at some point. So, I am asking for prayer for these issues to be resolved.

Where to Go from Here

In the past, our family has always taken a vacation. We can’t do that this year. Instead, we are doing something we’ve talked about for a long time—a staycation. We’re looking for fun, low-cost things to enjoy doing as a family, and have quite a list going. We’re asking for prayer that we can have a wonderful time making memories as a family.

I’ve also made some decisions about how I will personally proceed from here. I’ve decided that I will concentrate on caring for my husband and kids. So, I’ve bowed out of a few things that I normally do. They will be there in the future. I will still facilitate monthly Jack’s Caregiver Coalition caregiver klatches. I have to keep my sanity, somehow.  I’ve been praying about this and I’m at peace with it. I will of, course, still write. Once I get my new orthotics, I will perhaps take a walk each morning if my feet hold up.


On a more practical level, I may have a cleaning party if we need to call in hospice. We will need to rearrange some things to make room in our smallish townhome. Dan has talked about putting together a honey-do list and having his own manly version of this. It seems overwhelming to think about. Any caregiver will tell you that a lot of stuff gets glossed over on the home front.

We are also asking for prayer for:

  • cancer to die and Dan to live
  • continued wisdom as we make decisions
  • all of our kids to be at peace during this time
  • Summer to be able to keep up with work and school while coping with this emotional blow
  • nothing to slip through the cracks


I’d love to hear in the comment section, below. I appreciate my readers as well as the writing community. To show that appreciation, I use Comment Luv. Just leave a comment below and your latest post will get a link next to it. Thank you!


In 2012 doctors diagnosed my husband, Dan, with stage IV lung cancer. Since then, our family has been learning what it means to face cancer. I’ve focused my writing and speaking on helping cancer patients and their families advocate for themselves and live life to the fullest, in spite of their illness. My goal is to help people face cancer with grace.

My book Facing Cancer as a Friend: How to Support Someone Who Has Cancer, is available on Amazon.com

I also blog at Heather Erickson Author/Writer/Speaker

Originally posted 2018-03-19 00:48:57.

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16 comments on “Update Asking for Prayer

Vicki Heller

First of all thank you for sharing this difficult journey. Your frankness your strength your ability to inform in a way we can understand is remarkable.
My heart goes out to all of you. I will continue to pray for all you’ve requested.
Please know you can call me anytime. Stay strong dear friend God’s got you all in his arms.


Thank you, Vicki. Please give my love to all the ladies at TOPS. I miss you all and think of you daily. I will keep in touch until I return. Thank you for your prayers, my friend. <3

Chris Resch

My most precious sister Heather. You have articulated very clearly how things are and I hear you. I continue to stand with you my sister Heather and brother Dan.
I want to remind you of one of the things I learned about Hospice this past fall and that I shared with you at our meeting at Caribou a few months ago. The sooner a person gets into Hospice, the longer the statistics say they live and the more comfortably as well. So I graciously urge you to continue to go forward one step at a time following our Good Shepherd. I am here with you as best I can. With much love, prayers , hugs and hope!


Thank you, Chris. I’m going to trust Dan with ultimately making that decision. We both believe in the benefits of hospice for both patients and their families. I really appreciate your prayers and your friendship. Bless you!

Rachel Russ

As I lift Dan and the family up in prayer I can’t help but be grateful for your honesty and your words that come from the heart. I hear and see Jesus. Yes, even in the anger. As a child growing up with cancer in the house, I can tell you covering the anger won’t heal it. Pretending it isn’t there, won’t make it go away. At some point, and acknowledgment is step 1, letting the anger out fully will reveal the whys and the how comes. I didn’t deal with my anger regarding all the cancer with my mom until I was in my 20’s. Then again when she died. My own anger towards having cancer is still ongoing at times, but really Heather-I would guess to say, it’s part of the package. Love brings dreams. Cancer brings uncertainty. And all it’s baggage. Please know you are more than what the anger threatens to represent. In my ❤️-and in prayers! Love to you 🙏


Thank you, Rachel. I’m moving through this stage but feel like it’s important to let people who haven’t been through this know that anger is, as you put it so well, part of the package. As someone who doesn’t normally feel angry, it is such a mystifying experience. I think the tricky part is dealing with the anger, expressing it, in a way that doesn’t hurt those around you. Because everyone is hurting right now, that’s tricky. so, often this is when things get bottled up until I can sort out a healthy way to express my feelings. I have a dear friend I can vent to. That’s very helpful. Bless you!

Louann and Charlie Cherrier

Heather I was so glad to see your transparency about every detail of how you are all doing and coping. It allows us to pray in a greater depth for all of youm We love you.


Thank you, Lou. You and Charlie are such a blessing to us. It was so wonderful to see you both, recently. Bless you!


Heather, thank you for sharing your story in such a gracious way. I know Sweet Emily here in CA. I want to encourage you to express your anger. The oncologist gave me this advice when when our daughter was diagnosed with advanced lymphoma at 17 yrs old and it was so helpful. You don’t need to know where it is directed (when I don’t know I aim both barrels at the enemy – he deserves more than I have to give). Walk outside or go park your car in an empty lot and scream. Rail into the wind. Yell at God – he can take it and he understands. One day I pelted pinecones at the side of our garage until it looked like a pinecone massacre had happened– because it had. The longer I tried to suppress it the more I got depressed. When I started letting it out I started feeling like my mind was more able to do what needed done, make the million decisions that have to be made.. and I slept better – not great but better. I had more to give her when she needed it. My daughter is now 36, married and has 3 kids. I am praying for the miracle of Jesus’ presence to overtake all of you. Every mutated poisonous cell to die and Dan to live.


Thank you, so much Angie. I’m glad to know I’m not going nuts. You read about the stages of grief (anger being one) but when you feel them, it is a terrible feeling. What you described is exactly how I feel. I need to go find some pinecones 🙂 We are so grateful for Emily and her sweet family. She is a wonderful daughter. I’m glad to hear that your daughter is doing well. What a blessing that is. Thank you for your prayers and for reaching out. Bless you!

Ellen Reyzer

As a caregiver for my hustand, I have dealt with alittle of what you are experiencing but not to the full extent of your circumstances. I too woke up this morning angry and frustrated for interrupted sleep (checking drainage bag and CPAP/breathing apparatus) and not being able to go and do what I would like to do – like go to the gym. There are only a few select people in my life where I can be brutally honest with responding to the “how’s it going question”. Hopefully you have those that will listen, give hugs, give encouragement, and yes sometimes correct us in our attitudes. My husband’s last hospital stay started on Valentine’s Day in the ER and he came home 8 days later.. When the DNR band (do not resuscitate) was put on his wrist, reality hit hard. We had discussed this in length when the attorney drew up the will and our health care directives, but that DNR lettering burned an image in my brain that was difficult to accept. I still cling to the hope we have in Jesus Christ, that peace that surpasses all understanding, and the assurance of eternity. Praying for you and Dan as you search new areas for physical healing and also for emotional/spiritual refreshing and healing. God has used you both to encourage and point others to Christ. You are a blessing.Gary and I know Marv and Doreen through CREF. My husband is a quad. Just “celebrated” 50 years of being in a wheelchair.


Thank you, Ellen. Your words mean more than I can express. This post was difficult to put up because I’m not used to being so personal, so open about the darker aspects of this life. It’s wonderful to praise the Lord for His goodness and blessings. It’s much harder to admit when things aren’t going so smoothly. We hit an emotional roadblock. Yet, though it all, Jesus does give us peace. And it truly does surpass all understanding. It’s amazing how long He can carry us through these things. We feel like we might not make it, but He carries us. You must know my sweet sister-in-law, Marion. She has been God’s gift to me through this (really all of the Ericksons have been). I will keep you and Gary in my prayers. Love and blessings to you!


Dear Heather, Thank you for sharing your story here. You may know me, I am Dave and Jill Pavlenko’s daughter. I have prayed for Dan in the past, but seeing this post makes me start praying again. I pray for God’s presence to be felt. I pray that God would take the cancer away and heal Dan. I pray that the Mayo lungcaner specialist will have another treatment for Dan. I pray for wisdom for the family and the doctors. I pray for strength for Dan and Heather and the kids. I pray that you would protect Heather’s dreams and that she would be able to get good restful sleep tonight. Thank you that you promise to never leave us. Thank Lord, for this wonderful family! Amen! Praying for you tonight. With much love, Denise


Dear Denise, Thank you so much for your prayers. I am thankful to report his brain MRI came out looking great. His thoracic had a couple of things on it but nothing of great concern. We’ll take it day by day and get through it with the help of the Lord and the love of His people. Bless you!

Denise Steinbrink

My husband was DX with NSCLC IV in Sept. 2017. He had been sick for a long time. After many tests, surgeries and hospital stay they found cancer. It is also in his lymph nodes. He is terminal and non curable. Is doing chemo, but not a candidate for rad or surgery. It has been a nightmare to our entire family. It’s so hard to watch your loved feel horrible every day. He is signing up for palliative this week. They will try and help with pain and breathing issues. I quit working and am able to be with him all the time. I have much anger and don’t know where to direct it. I hate cancer but that changes nothing. I never sleep good, I hear every breath he takes and get up with him for comfort. Our 2 children are a great support for us, but they are hurting also. I feel as I should be able to control all this, but I find myself getting so depressed every day. My husband retirement was suppose to be relaxing and travel. I can’t think of the future because every day he is here is a gift. I’m afraid of the future, it is not good. My prayers go out to you and your family.


Hi Denise. I am so sorry for what you and your family are going through. The things you have expressed so eloquently in your comment are things I have felt (and still feel) so I very much appreciate your prayers. You have mine as well. Everything takes on a different meaning after cancer. It is so frustrating and maddening not to be able to do something that can make things better. Bless you!


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