John & Paula Oliver
New Tribes Mission
Oliver Family Updates - 2011
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    December 2011

    We celebrated Thanksgiving early (on Sunday, Nov. 20), on our back porch here at NTM U.S. headquarters, with my mom & stepdad and my sister and her family.

    Paula was then able to take a lovely and peaceful four day retreat break, staying with some dear friends in Greenville, SC, and also spending some time with my dad & stepmom.

    She’s halfway through her six week radiation treatment now. She still has the tourniquet-type nerve pain in her arm (from the mastectomy), but she's noticed that the neuropathy (numbness and burning in her fingers and toes, from the chemo) is getting better, so that's good news.

    Nicholas has finished his English I (dual-enrollment, which means that he receives credit both for high school and toward a college degree) class at Seminole State College, and is planning to take a College Math class next semester.

    Nicholas also had a special opportunity this past month (on Nov. 17) to spend a morning "job-shadowing" the mayor of Sanford, Jeff Triplett (who Nicholas and I helped campaign for last year). We appreciate Mayor Triplett spending the time with Nicholas, who is very interested in government and politics.

    At NTM headquarters, our programming team just got smaller, as one of our fellow programmers (who's been here since 1990, one year longer than Paula and I) has recently left, due to insufficient financial support. So, our programming team, which had five programmers a while back, is now down to just two programmers - my co-worker, Rodd, and myself. Fortunately, our NTMAA system, which we've designed, programmed, and installed at various NTM locations (here in the U.S. and around the world), has been running well.

    NTM is continuing to make plans to move the headquarters offices to the new building (0.8 miles down the road from our current building). They plan to start renovating the new offices soon and likely complete the office move during 2012. Then, our current headquarters building (where we live) will go up for sale, which will mean, of course, that we (and a number of other NTM families) will need to move. It's not clear yet whether NTM will provide us with any housing options or if we will need to find a home in the local community.

    We wish you a Joyous Christmas season and an excellent New Year!

    P.S. (12/04/11 Update) Paula's been under the weather for the past couple days, fighting what appears to be the flu. She had a fever over 101 and since her immune system is somewhat compromised still (due to all the chemo), her oncologist called in a Tamiflu prescription for her. Her fever is down today, but she's still feeling lousy, so we would appreciate your prayers for a swift recovery. Thanks!

    November 2011

    Paula’s done with chemo – Yeah!! Her final chemo session was cancelled because Paula was having increasing neuropathy side effects. She’s having some numbness and pain in her fingers and toes, but the eye twitching is gone, for which Paula is thankful. She continues to have a tourniquet-like pain in her arm (from the mastectomy), but is finding a TENS unit (a device which sends electrical pulses to distract from the pain) to be somewhat helpful.

    We appreciate your continued prayers for her recovery (from the cancer and the treatment) and for protection (from further problems, like lymphedema) as Paula is now scheduled for six weeks of daily (Mon-Fri) radiation therapy (to kill any remaining cancer cells near her chest wall), starting tomorrow (Monday, Nov. 7). The radiation center is here in Sanford (only about three miles from us), so that's nice and close. Paula also continues to receive Herceptin IV infusions every three weeks (for a year) down at Florida Hospital in Orlando.

    During NTM’s annual headquarters Staff Appreciation banquet here on Nov. 1, we were honored as one of the families that have been serving here with New Tribes Mission for twenty years now. We want to thank you all for being part of the team with us - through your love, prayers, and encouragement.

    October 2011

    Here's some of our latest news & updates from the Oliver family:
    • We're thankful that Paula's last chemo treatment is scheduled for Oct. 10 (Canadian Thanksgiving). Paula had postponed it since she's been dealing with some eye twitching & neuropathy (numbness around her toes, fingers, and mouth) - chemo side effects which we hope & pray will be completely healed in time.
    • We had a special visit from Paula's mom and two of her sisters, Betsy & Heidi, who live in Arizona. While here, they were able to celebrate Nicholas' 18th birthday (on Oct. 1) with us and join us for a Golden Corral birthday meal with my mom & stepdad.
    • At NTM, I've recently added an NTMAA Notices feature to help inform our fellow missionaries (who use our system) about NTMAA Topics and other beneficial features & enhancements.
    • Meanwhile, the kids are keeping busy with their various classes. Nicholas, a senior, is also taking an English class at Seminole State College. Joy & Hannah have added some fun classes (Art, Photography, P.E.) at Lake Monroe Christian Academy. Nicholas & Joy have also joined a local speech & debate club.

    September 2011

    We wanted to give you an update on Paula’s cancer adventure/trial. As you may recall, she had her mastectomy on May 12, but is still having a tournaquet-like pain in her left arm, likely due to nerve damage. Paula has tried some pain medicine (that didn’t help) and is currently trying a TENS unit, an electronic device that sends distracting pulses through her arm; we continue to hope & pray for eventual healing of the affected nerves.

    Paula has now completed 4 of her 6 chemo sessions; after two more chemo sessions, the plan is to then continue treatment (every 3 weeks for 8 additional months) with IV Herceptin, a drug that specifically targets her cancer.

    Meanwhile, Paula is scheduled to start radiation in late October; the tentative plan is for six weeks of radiation, 5 days a week.

    In the midst of all this, we desire to trust in the Lord and His grace. We invite you to visit (or subscribe to) our Pilgrim’s Pathway blog, where Paula shares her heart and thoughts.

    In other family news, our kids are starting up with all their classes, and Nicholas is looking forward to his 18th birthday on Oct. 1, as he advances into the privileges and responsibilities of adulthood.

    Thanks for your love, prayers, and encouragement!

    August 2011

    Here’s some of our latest news & updates from the Oliver family:

    • Paula had her third (of six) chemo treatment on August 1; these have gone pretty well. She would appreciate your continued prayers, especially for the significant nerve pain in her left arm.
    • Nicholas recently returned from a special three week vacation with friends & family in Arizona. Thanks to Pastor Todd and the Desert Son church family for inviting Nicholas to their summer youth camp, mentoring him, and investing quality time in his life.
    • Meanwhile, Joy & Hannah were able to participate in a week long CHAMPS basketball camp at a local church. They had lots of fun and Joy even won an award as the most improved player.
    • At NTM, I’ve been working on an NTMAA Tips & Topics feature, to provide additional online help to our fellow missionaries who use our NTM Accounting & Administrative system.
    • We recently toured the six story Sanford Tower, NTM’s newly purchased future headquarters building. We’ve included some photos of the old & new headquarters buildings on our website at www.JPOliver.com/ntmhq.

    Thanks for your love, prayers, and encouragement!

    July 2011

    Here’s some of our latest news & updates from the Oliver family:

    • We’re thankful that Paula’s first two chemo treatments (6/16 & 7/11) went pretty well, albeit not without the typical side effects. Her hair is pretty much gone now, so she's enjoying a variety of wigs, hats, and scarves.
    • Paula is still having an ongoing turniquet type pain in her left arm (likely due to nerves being affected when lymph nodes & tissue were removed during her mastectomy), so she would appreciate your prayers for relief of this nearly constant pain.
    • Joy celebrated her 14th birthday on June 28, then we had a nice family vacation at Daytona Beach (a Christmas gift from my mom & stepdad) where they celebrated my July 4th birthday with fireworks (as they do every year, whether I'm there or not).
    • Nicholas has completed his summer dual-enrollment class, Introduction to Business, at Seminole State College and has flown out to AZ to spend three weeks with friends at Desert Son Community Church in Tucson.
    • NTM has decided to purchase the six story downtown Sanford Tower for our new U.S. headquarters, so our aging NTM HQ bulding here (where we live) will likely be sold at some point.

    Thanks for your love, prayers, and encouragement!

    June 2011

    Paula had her mastectomy on May 12. The surgery apparently went well, but she's been having a lot of difficult pain in her left arm (like a tournaquet on her arm), as lymph nodes and tissue were removed from her underarm, affecting nerves and also leading to excess lymph fluid in her arm. She would very much appreciate prayer for relief from this nearly constant pain.

    Meanwhile, Paula is scheduled to have another surgery June 7, to insert an IV port in her right arm, prior to starting her 18 weeks (six 3 week cycles) of chemotherapy. After chemo, she will likely still be looking at radiation, a year of IV Herceptin treatments, and five years of hormone therapy. Come quickly, Lord Jesus!

    We invite you to visit (and/or subscribe to) our Pilgrim's Pathway blog (at www.JPOliver.com/wordpress), where Paula shares her heart and thoughts along this journey.

    In other family news, Hannah recently received her AWANA Timothy award (and was honored by being selected AWANA Girl Clubber of the Year). She was also part of a children's choir musical (at a local church) on May 22, and then had opportunity to recite Ephesians 6:10-20 on the following Sunday evening. Her older sister, Joy, also has a big day coming up, as her 14th birthday is June 28.

    May 14, 2011

    Greetings! We wanted to give you an update on Paula's mastectomy surgery, which was scheduled for 9:45 AM on Thursday, May 12.

    EXECUTIVE SUMMARY

    The surgery went well, with no apparent complications. Paula came home yesterday (Friday, May 13), is dealing with pain and the side effects of the pain medicine, but has been doing somewhat better today. Thanks for your prayers!

    THE DETAILED VERSION

    We've written a rather detailed version of this update and posted it on our Pilgrim's Pathway blog. We invite you to visit our Pilgrim's Pathway blog (at www.JPOliver.com/wordpress) to read the full update; if you like, you can also subscribe to our blog (to be automatically notified when we add a new post).

    Thanks for your love, prayers, and encouragement! We appreciate your continued prayers as we continue down this path.

    May 4, 2011

    Here’s some of our latest news & updates from the Oliver family:
    • Hannah turned 12 on April 18 and celebrated by inviting friends for a pool party. Nicholas is 17 and Joy turns 14 on June 28.
    • Nicholas has completed his AP Government & Politics class, as well as a dual-enrollment class (College Success) at Seminole State College (SSC); he plans to take Introduction to Business at SSC this summer.
    • At NTM, I’m working on some enhancements to our inventory system: label printing for our NTM Aviation center in AZ, and emailing of invoices for our bookstore here at NTM U.S. HQ.
    • We learned that NTM is considering the purchase of a bank building here in Sanford, in which case our aging NTM HQ bulding here (where we live) could be sold at some future point.
    • Paula has finished her 8 week trial of the Gerson cancer therapy. Unfortunately, the tumors have continued to grow. Paula has thus reluctantly decided to go with breast removal, chemo, etc. A mastectomy is tentatively scheduled for Thursday, May 12. (For more details, we would invite you to visit (and subscribe to) our Pilgrim's Pathway blog at www.JPOliver.com/wordpress.) We appreciate your ongoing prayers as we head down this difficult path.
    Thanks for your love, prayers, and encouragement!

    April 7, 2011

    Greetings! In the midst of dealing with Paula’s breast cancer, we had some good news that we wanted to share with you.

    In our last Paula Health Update (on 4/2) we shared the good news that Paula did not have a new 6 cm tumor (as the ultrasound report had initially indicated), but that apparently it was only 6 mm and a typo had been made. So that has given us a bit of a reprieve to see if God will be pleased to use the Gerson therapy to help Paula’s immune system defeat this cancer.

    Our good news today does not relate directly to Paula’s breast cancer, but it is encouraging nonetheless.

    First, some Background:

    You may recall that Paula has had problems with excessive uterine bleeding in November 2009 (which resulted in a D&C) and October 2010; these were apparently due to her uterine lining becoming excessively thick, perhaps due to a hormone imbalance. As a result, her gynecologist prescribed progesterone for Paula to avoid continued problems in this area.

    In January of this year, however, when the breast cancer was biopsied and analyzed, we learned that progesterone feeds this particular cancer, so progesterone is no longer an option; in fact, the progesterone (that Paula was on) very likely contributed to the growth of the breast cancer.

    So, Paula and her doctors realized that, since (due to the breast cancer) she could no longer be on progesterone, her thickened uterine lining may again lead to excessive bleeding and thus possibly necessitate a hysterectomy.

    In late 2009, a medium-sized complex cyst (with a solid component) was also discovered on Paula’s right ovary. Although surgery was an option, the doctor indicated that it was very unlikely that it was cancerous and so Paula elected to instead have it monitored periodically (via ultrasound) to keep an eye on it.

    OK, now onto the good news!

    As Paula had been preparing for a possible mastectomy, she wanted to know how her uterine lining and the ovarian cyst were doing (in case she would need to consider a hysterectomy or ovariectomy as well). So last week she had an pelvic ultrasound done – and the report came back normal – with no mention of a thick uterine lining nor a complex ovarian cyst!

    Now that kind of surprised us (but who ever heard of a radiology report being in error), so Paula spoke with the radiologist, who offered to repeat the ultrasound for free. We received the official ultrasound report and it was in agreement with the first ultrasound. Her uterine lining has decreased in thickness from 2.1 cm (in Oct. 2010) down to 3 mm, and there is no longer any cyst showing on her right ovary!

    For this, we praise and thank the Lord! It could be that He’s using the Gerson therapy to get Paula’s body back into normal functioning, and we hope and pray He will help her body fight off the breast cancer as well.

    We appreciate your continued prayers for Paula’s healing, and we also thank everyone who has or is continuing to help us with juicing, produce washing, coffee brewing, etc. Our Paula’s Partners volunteer calendar is active again, so we would invite you to visit our Paula’s Partners site by clicking on Paula's Partners (on the left-side menu) and to visit (and subscribe to) our Pilgrim's Pathway blog at www.JPOliver.com/wordpress.

    Thanks again for your prayers, help, and encouragement!

    By His Grace, John & Paula :)

    April 2, 2011

    Greetings! In our last Paula Health Update on 3/25, we shared that, as a result of a "bad news" ultrasound report, Paula had decided to abandon the Gerson cancer therapy and resort to Plan B (Breast removal) and possibly Plan C (Chemotherapy, radiation, and/or other drugs) as well.

    It was Paula's original intent to implement the Gerson therapy for 8 weeks and then evaluate to see if it appeared to be effective in her situation, but this mid-point ultrasound had shown a large new breast tumor (6 cm in length), which was of sufficient import for Paula to change plans half-way through her Gerson trial.

    This past week, as Paula was starting down this new dreaded path (of breast removal and chemo, etc.), we saw Paula's oncologist on Monday and then went to the breast surgeon on Tuesday, prepared to sign the consent form for the mastectomy.

    An interesting thing happened, though, on the way to Plan B. Upon examining Paula and using her own ultrasound equipment, the breast surgeon indicated that she could not see any new 6 cm tumor. In looking through the ultrasound photos that had been taken of that area, she concluded that there had been a (typo or transcription) error in the radiology report, as she could see a tumor that was 6 mm in size, not 6 cm.

    With this new information, Paula has thus spent the last several days re-thinking her decision, trying to decide whether she should continue to proceed down the Plan B/C path (that she had just resigned herself to) or resume the Gerson therapy (to give it the fair trial, that she had originally intended). During the week, Paula also had some additional testing done.

    After much prayer and agonizing, Paula has decided to continue with the Gerson therapy for at least four additional weeks, hoping that it will indeed be effective (by God's grace), and trusting the Lord either way.

    Since we (Paula specifically, but it involves our whole family) are now back on the Gerson therapy (hourly juicing, five-times daily detoxifying, etc.), we could again use (and would appreciate) some help.

    We have re-activated the volunteer opportunities (to help with juicing, produce washing, coffee brewing, providing an occasional meal, etc.) on our Paula's Partners LotsaHelpingHands site and appreciate the continued assistance that our friends and co-workers are able to provide.

    If you would like to join Paula's Partners, you can click on Paula's Partners (on the left-side menu). We would also invite you to visit (and subscribe to) our Pilgrim's Pathway blog at www.JPOliver.com/wordpress.

    Thanks again for your continued prayers!

    By His Grace, John & Paula :)

    John & Paula enjoying a sunset walk along the Lake
      Monroe riverwalk

    March 25, 2011

    First of all, we want to thank everyone so much who has been praying for us and/or helping us by:

    • juicing, produce washing, or coffee brewing
    • encouraging and training others to help with juicing
    • helping with laundry or cleaning
    • providing meals, cookies, bread, muffins, or distilled water

    With 13 hourly juicings and a five-times-daily detoxifying process, as well as various supplements, the Gerson therapy has been quite difficult, almost overwhelming. It's been very encouraging to us, though, as different ones in the body have come alongside to help.

    It was Paula's original intent to implement the Gerson therapy for 8 weeks and then evaluate to see if it appeared to be effective in her situation. She recently had some mid-point (4 week) lab work done and also an mid-point ultrasound this past Monday.

    We received the ultrasound report yesterday afternoon and, unfortunately, it was not good. We were hoping to see some improvement, but it appears that the main tumor has grown and another significant tumor has now appeared in the same breast.

    As a result, with great sadness and heaviness of heart, Paula has decided to abandon the Gerson therapy and proceed to Plan B (Breast removal) and possibly Plan C (Chemotherapy, radiation, and/or other drugs) as well.

    As we start to move down this scary path that we had hoped not to take, we appreciate your continued prayers, help, and encouragement.

    We plan to continue to use our Paula's Partners community website to coordinate offers of meals and help (especially as Paula recovers from breast removal surgery and possibly deals with chemotherapy as well).

    If you would like to join Paula's Partners, you can click on Paula's Partners (on the left-side menu). We also plan to continue updating our Pilgrim's Pathway blog at www.JPOliver.com/wordpress.

    Thanks again to everyone for your help and continued prayers!

    John & Paula :)

    March 2, 2011

    Paula has returned from Seminole, Florida where she and a friend spent two weeks in a borrowed condo, getting started on the Gerson cancer therapy. The Gerson protocol is quite rigorous (overwhelming at times) and involves juicing organic fruits and vegetables on an hourly basis 13 times per day, as well as a five-times-daily detoxifying process, and a number of supplements.

    Meanwhile, the kids and I drove down to Boca Raton (2/18-22) for a missions conference at our home church there; I appreciated the opportunity to share a family/ministry update with one of the Sunday School classes, and the kids were also able to participate in a weekend Disciple Now (DNow, for short) youth conference.

    We would appreciate your continued prayers for:

    • Healing - that God would use this Gerson therapy. These first eight weeks are especially critical, as we wanting to see if the Gerson therapy will be effective in Paula's situation.
    • Paula (and all of us) to rest, trust in, and walk with the Lord.
    • Strength & endurance, as the cancer & protocol are difficult.
    • Folks to come alongside and help us with juicing, etc.

    February 8, 2011

    Greetings! It's been a couple weeks since our last update, so we wanted to give you an update on Paula's health situation:

    Paula has an aggressive, multi-focal, invasive, ductile cancer in her left breast. A PET scan showed that at least two lymph nodes are involved as well, but did not show cancer elsewhere, so that is good news. Bone & CT scans also came back good, except for a faint 5 mm nodule on her left lung that was considered too small to be characterized, but the radiology report recommended that it be monitored. She is still having discomfort in her ribs and back, which is also of some concern.

    Paula, with the help of some friends, has spent the past couple weeks researching various options to decide on a plan of attack. She has decided, as her Plan A, to implement the Gerson cancer therapy, designed to help strengthen her God-designed immune system and help de-toxify her body so that it can better fight the cancer.

    Paula is planning to follow the strict Gerson protocol for at least eight weeks to evaluate whether it is effective in her situation, with her breast surgeon and oncologist monitoring her progress. If the Gerson therapy does not appear to be helping, then Paula would consider the more drastic/invasive options of Plan B (Breast removal - lumpectomy is not considered an option) and/or Plan C (Chemotherapy, Radiation, and other drugs). If, by God's grace, the Gerson therapy does appear to be effective, then Paula will likely continue following the Gerson protocol for the full recommended period.

    Over the past weeks, Paula has contacted six other women in the U.S. and Canada, who all had breast cancer, who followed the Gerson protocol, and who are now cancer free. One of the ladies, a naturopathic physician, who was diagnosed with breast cancer at age 38 and given three months to live, is now 79 and still going strong. It was also encouraging that several of these ladies, with similar stories of breast cancer survival using the Gerson therapy, are fellow sisters in Christ.

    If you would like to learn more about the Gerson therapy, you might enjoy watching the documentary Dying to Have Known online.

    The Gerson protocol is quite rigorous and involves supplying freshly juiced organic fruits and vegetables to the patient on an hourly basis 13 times per day as well as a daily detoxifying process, medication, and a number of supplements. We are buying a new, more powerful juicer to help facilitate the frequent juicing and expect that our whole family will be involved in helping our dear Paula.

    Paula is planning to head to Seminole (near St. Pete) next Tuesday (2/15) for two weeks with a friend who is planning to follow the Gerson therapy along with Paula. By the time she returns, we're hoping to have the new juicer in place, and another friend has also offered to help coordinate offers of help, meals, etc.

    I (John) would appreciate your prayers at this time also, as I've been fighting something for the past week (I'm not sure what, but the lymph nodes on the left side of my neck are swollen and tender), so I would appreciate your prayers for healing also.

    We've also recently started a blog (where Paula can share her heart and thoughts along this journey) on our ministry website at www.JPOliver.com/wordpress, so we invite you to stop by our blog (and leave an encouraging comment as well, if you'd like).

    I should also say that, whether God uses Plan A or Plan B or Plan C, or even if God chooses to take Paula home, we are wanting to trust in Him and look to Him for her healing and care, as He is the great Healer and the Lover of our souls. We appreciate very much your continued prayers for healing and guidance as we continue down this pilgrim's pathway.

    January 22, 2011

    Recent Bone & CT scans came back good, except for a faint spot on Paula’s left lung. (This faint 5 mm spot on her left lung was considered too small to be characterized, but the radiology report recommended that it be monitored.) The back pain and pressure under her ribs continue, but the cause remains unclear.

    We also met with an oncologist and a breast surgeon this week, to get their input. Paula now is researching various options to decide on a plan of attack. We appreciate your continued prayers for guidance, healing, and to rest in the Lord.

    Thanks much, John & Paula :)

    P.S. We knew our son, Nicholas, was interested in politics, but wow, a video shout-out from "Sarah!" Yea, Nicholas!

    "A cheerful heart makes good medicine..." Proverbs 17:22a

    January 10, 2011

    Paula's PET scan results show cancer in her breast and some lymph nodes, but not elsewhere, so that is good news!

    But Paula still has significant unexplained pain in her back and pressure under her ribs, and so would appreciate prayer for wisdom, guidance, and healing, both for the cancer and these other issues (which may or may not be related).

    We’re thankful that God love us and He is in control!

    January 7, 2011

    The doctor called today with the biopsy pathology results: invasive multi-focal breast cancer, also found in the biopsied lymph node. This is not good news, but there is a certain relief in knowing what we're up against, and now the battle begins!

    On Monday, Paula is scheduled to have a PET scan to see if it has spread. Then Wednesday, she plans to visit some friends in South Carolina for a few days to think, plan, pray, and de-stress. We would appreciate your prayers now for guidance & healing.

    January 5, 2011

    Paula saw a breast surgeon today, who biopsied the tumor and a suspicious lymph node; pathology results expected by Monday.

    It looks like cancer, but we're praying it's not. The doctor has also ordered blood work and MRI & PET scans to see if it has spread. Thanks for your encouragement and continued prayers!