Monday, February 28, 2011


I am excited for tomorrow night at 7pm.  Concert Pianist Martin Berkofsky will be performing here at CTCA!  We heard a little bit from him tonight as he practiced.  Here is some information about him.


Melissa is involved in a clinical trial treating her Ovarian Cancer at Cancer Treatment Centers of America in Tulsa, Oklahoma.  It is called "OVax".

It is a feasibility study using a DNP-modified autologous ovarian tumor cell vaccine in ovarian cancer patients.

And what does that mean?  Well, just that they create a vaccine made up of Melissa's own tumor cells and some form of tuberculosis and then give it back to her.  The purpose of the study is not only to see if the idea actually works, but if there are any adverse reactions to this sort of treatment.  The study she is involved in is what is known as a 'double-blind' study, meaning that neither Melissa nor her doctors/nurses will know what level of dosage she will be getting.  This is done to keep all of the variables within the study to a minimum.  A doctor may treat one patient different from another if he/she knew what level of medicine the patient were getting and so it remains unknown.  There are three levels of doses that the study is giving to its volunteers and we cannot be certain as to which level Melissa has been chosen to receive.

This week she is having her skin tested and once they are certain that she has an immune reaction to TB we will come back next week and begin administering the first of several injections of this vaccine.  We have a schedule of all of the times we will have to be in Tulsa and it is broken up into 18 separate visits beginning today and runs all the way to December of this year.  Needless to say, it will be quite a busy year for Melissa and I. 

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Today's blog will be a sort of history lesson for anyone concerned about the title of this blog.  Where the idea for the name came from.  The name of this blog is: "If the Son has set you free...".  

I imagine that many know this came out of the Bible.  Fewer may be able to say it was out of the book of John and still fewer maybe know it was Chapter 8 and verse 36.  

It reads in the ESV, "So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed."

And so one might ask, "Why did Joe add the word 'has' in the title of this blog?  

Well, to be honest, I did not get the title from the Bible.  I quoted a man named Jason Bellard but I am sure he got it from the Bible.  He is a Christian musician, who plays guitar and sings.  And it was one of his songs where I found this variation of John 8:36.  The exact phrase I got this from was a song titled, 'Save us indeed'.  Mr. Bellard has recorded many songs that are God-honoring and is not selling them for profit.  You can find his mp3's on the internet for free download.  I really enjoyed this song when I heard it and sing it often.  A truly inspiring song.  It is at the 1:46 mark in the following video where I got the name of this blog from.  I thought you all might be interested, especially those who noticed right off hand that I hadn't quoted the verse exactly the way it appears in the good book.  Enjoy!

Sunday, February 27, 2011


Melissa and I will be heading out to Tulsa, Oklahoma this afternoon to begin this clinical trial treatment for her cancer. I am excited because we have been hearing a lot of good things about this treatment and that there has been some measure of success in past clinical trials that involved the same sort of treatment.  A vaccine for cancer...who would have thought of that?

I get to take an entire week off of work, which is good, but sometimes I wish I did not have to take off work.  I care about my job and they are already short on supervisors, so it does not help that I cannot run a shift or department for them.  They have not even expressed discontent toward me though and for that I thank God.  He truly does provide for His children.  

Driving to Tulsa so many times in the past year has burned the route into my mind and it will forever be a memory of my life.  Yes, this trip to Tulsa has become a part of me now.  Every inch of road we drive down.  I can count the McDonald's Restaurants along the way.  I can tell you where to stop to use the restroom and where not to stop to use the restroom.  There are certain things that you do in your life so many times that when you get to a point of remembering those things, you can recall them as if you just did it yesterday.  The trips to Tulsa will be just that.  I remember when I was in Baghdad, riding down the same roads over and over and over again on patrol in the Al Rasheed District.  I can remember the routes like I just left the war yesterday.  Or in California, the trip to and from Richmond everyday.  I drove past the Oakland Coliseum and the Golden Gate Bridge every single day.  All distant things now, but I have taken a part of them with me and tucked them into the recesses of my mind to be pulled up and remembered at will.  This trip to Tulsa is no longer apart from me, but has become a piece of memory for me.  

I do not really know why I wanted to write all of this.  I suppose a part of me realizes, like all other things in life, that nothing lasts forever.  One day, I will not be taking trips to Tulsa anymore.  Melissa will not have cancer or she will die from it, but there will soon be no need to make the trip.  And like all the other things, the trip will be a memory for me to pull up and ponder. 

Saturday, February 26, 2011

In the beginning...

My first blog.  And I do not mean my first blog on, but my first blog ever.  This is huge.  One of those events in every man's life (at least in the 21st century) in which you cross a threshold and when you do, there is no turning back.  I will forever be a man who has blogged after I click the coveted, 'Publish Post' button.

I guess I ought to explain why I decided to begin web logging.

First, I decided to begin blogging because I have benefited from reading other blogs in my past.  I see this as returning the favor.  We are told to love our neighbors and I view this as a way of doing just that.  It will be one more piece of information, made available to the world, that wasn't available had it not been for me taking the time to express whatever it is I have expressed. 

Secondly, I will endeavor to bring the truths found in the Bible to light in the hopes that God may use the information found here to kindle a fire within others, that they would begin seeking God with their whole hearts.  Essentially, what is being said here is this:  God is worthy to be lived for.  Not just on Sundays or at bible study or when we are at home, but in every moment and in every sphere of our lives.  I pray that we all would begin serving Christ where it hurts.  Let us proclaim Him in the areas where we are sure to be ridiculed.  At work, school and in those areas where we still express our shame of Him and our love of ourselves by not speaking of Him when we know we ought to.  Let us mourn ourselves and go to Him in repentance and when we have found it, leave the cross, empowered to truly be honored with the privilege to suffer for His sake.

Thirdly, I will be posting my own thoughts and feelings on here.  I do not want to just 'teach' doctrine on this blog.  I would like others to see that nobody has it all figured out.  I will pose questions that I, myself, have not yet answered to the end that we would all come to a greater knowledge of Jesus Christ. John Piper encourages us to make much of Christ in our thoughts and dreams and plans and in this way they will not be wasted.  This blog is one of the ways in which I see myself honoring God with my thoughts.  By using them to possibly edify others in their walk with God.

In the beginning, Joe began to blog...