The Blog of Pastor Mike Wilkins

In The Long Run

"The long run" referred to in the title of this blog is, in the first place, the many years Mike Wilkins served as West London's solo pastor, and then its Senior Pastor, since he and his wife Deb moved to London (and this church) in 1984.

In these past few years (beginning November 2011,) Mike's various health challenges, particularly a serious and ongoing case of cancer, has added another layer to the "long run" metaphor, and lots to blog about. Mike is currently on an extended Sick Leave, but generally worships with the church family on Sunday mornings.

With the publication of a book he wrote in 2016 entitled "Glory in the Face" (now available electronically and in paperback from Amazon.ca, and other online venders), Mike has just launched a new website, which will serve as a sort of scrapbook for readers of the book, with relevant background photos, for example, of That Last Final Solo Canoe Trip in May, 2011, as well as additional information about the book, and--coming soon--a new set of blog posts, mostly about the peace of God and the joy of the Lord and the face of Christ and the strength to face anything. You'll find the new website now at www.gloryintheface.com.

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  • It's been a week with some big lows and some big highs. 

    It began with an unusually great day. On Monday, July 22, Deb and I went for a lovely drive to Muskoka for a week at a very nice cottage. Both our daughters drove up on their own a few hours behind us. The radiation and chemo had been over for five days and I felt strangely altogether well.  It was Monday and we were in the Muskokas for a week. So far, so very very good. [Very High Point]

    Tuesday, my only real side-effect returned with a vengeance, so while I was really very happy to be watching the girls enjoying the lake and the boats and all the cottage glories, I was pretty much a spectator, tied for the week on a very short leash to the cottage's small room, just me and a thing called diarrhea. All week long. All day and all night long. [Very Low Point]

    We drove home on a wing and a prayer on Saturday, with a few impomptu field trips along the way. What some people don't see when they drive on the highway with their eyes wide open. [Low point]

    Saturday evening, Deb, thinking more rationally than I, (It happens sometimes. A lot of the time, actually) decided that I was going to "Emerg" rather than to bed. We arrived at about 9:00 p.m. "Wait time" was 3 to 4 hours: not bad for a Saturday night. By 3:00 a.m., I was admitted to Victoria Hospital's 7th floor, the Adult Cancer Floor where Joanna has worked since graduating in 2008. The immediate problem was dangerously low sodium counts, the result of a long week of intense you-know-what.  So there I was, early on a Sunday morning, a hospital patient again, for the first time since January 2012, on a big big Sunday at West London, with a Morning Service that I very much intended to participate in. [Low Point]


    My side-effect continued non-stop, as my conscientious oncologists had assured me that it might. "For two full weeks after the conclusion of your radiation," they had said. And there were still four days left of the "fortnight." [Low Point]

    Later that Sunday morning, a CT-Scan was arranged for that afternoon (A very unusual Sunday thing, apparently) to see if --Woe would be me!-- a full rectal blockage was what was going on. The surgical team entered the picture and revved up their engines. Yikes. I had the Scan and kept up my frequent trips to the nearest small room as we awaited the CT results. I was placed on a completely liquid diet which I didn't at all mind, knowing very well what eating food always leads to.

    That Sunday evening, I went to sleep quoting Psalm 16 and Psalm 63. Just about exactly half-way through the night, the side-effect suddenly, unexpectedly quit. Imagine my surprise. I woke up early Monday to the experience of living a day without my side-effect filling my agenda. Late that morning, the CT Scan Result was released. It showed no extreme blockage, just some understandably disturbed nether parts. The surgeons turned down their engines, backed off and signed out. [High Point]  

    My two "chemo-rads" oncologists paid me a visit to announce that, not only the rectal tumour but ALSO the cancer in the liver had decreased in size significantly. The cancers are all still there, but the doctors hadn't been expecting any change in the liver and weren't entirely certain that the rectal tumour would be improved, that is, significantly damaged. In fact, both good outcomes had come about, for which Deb and I are gloriously grateful to God. Our prayers and the prayers of many faithful friends and our marvelous church family had been answered "exceeding abundantly above all that we had asked or thought." [Very High Point. And on a Monday, too.]

    Monday evening, I got started on solid food. My GI tract declared a truce and began taking the changes in stride. 

    And now it is Wednesday, July 31, exactly two weeks since I ended the chemo-radiation. And I have just arrived home from the hospital, a cancer patient with nothing much to do about it for the next six weeks. And it's still summertime.  [High Point]