I resumed infusions on Friday after a three month break to get over the side effects. This time it was a shorter process since I am only doing one medication (Opdivo). Our prayer is that the side effects were caused by the discontinued Yervoy. My nurse was super – and I confirmed that she is a believer, so we shared stories as she was prepping me. I write this 24 hours later so I can say there is more fatigue this time. I keep thinking a nap would be nice – but there is so much good stuff to do that I don’t really want to. I will have an MRI on Tuesday and a CT scan on Thursday to establish a base line for this round of treatment.
Western celebrated our 95th commencement – my 42nd. There was no way we could be sure we could gather anywhere for our normal grad banquet so began with a reception in a huge tent on our lawn. It started with sun, turned to a downpour and ended with more sun. It was pure Portland. the meet and greet was full of connections with students with whom I had close relationships. There were countless photos, of course. This one is some of my Costa Mesa Cohorters: John Hwang, Richard Cimino, Garrett Baker standing tall, and a Portland photo bomber, Jordan Grimms.
Saturday’s ceremony highlighted a presidential citation and commencement address from Dr. Than Le, a Vietnamese pastor who came to Western in the early 80’s after escaping the fall of South Vietnam in a small boat with about 70 people packed in. Than and I had many meals together in addition to class conversations. His moving address was a pastoral lesson around his story from boat to pastorate to teaching and coaching pastors from Vietnam to Ukraine. It is unfortunate that I did not get a picture of us together.
A personal highlight was hooding the very first Master of Applied Biblical Leadership graduates. The stories they represent were running through my mind as we exchanged a warm hug as they left the place of hooding to receive their diplomas – well just a cover to be accurate. They all have one more class to complete this summer.
Final Prep for Immunotherapy: After I talked with Dr. Mashru to review my liver numbers and general status, he told me to continue the “wean down” from prednisone to 10 mg and then go to none in the middle of the coming week, looking forward to resuming immunotherapy with Nivolumab on Friday, afternoon, April 22. I am hoping that the side effects are results of the other med which I will no longer be getting – but who knows.
Western Commencement: Immediately after my infusion we begin our Western commencement celebration with an on-campus reception from 4-6 and then our commencement on Saturday. I am glad to say that I will get to hood the Master of Applied Biblical Leadership, the program I direct. It will be a blast to honor these women and men with whom I have worked for the past three years.
Exiles in Babylon: I got to be part of the conference put on by Preston & Chris Sprinkle in Boise where a great group of speakers spoke to issues of race, politics, sexuality and hell in Boise. It was a blast to meet them and to have an on stage conversation with Chris Date who “converted” Preston from the traditional “eternal conscious torment” view of hell to annihilationism. My goal was to model positive conversation between two proponents of significantly differing views who respect and like each other, but disagree, sometimes sharply on what could be a divisive issue. I can happily say, “mission accomplished! The resources for the hell conversation are in the “exiles in Babylon” tab above
I really wanted to meet Derwin and Vicki Gray, founding pastors of Transformation Church in suburban Charlotte, NC. It is one of the largest multi-ethnic churches in the US and profoundly Gospel oriented. Among other amazing things, it has campuses inside several correctional facilities (AKA prisons). Dr. Gray is the author of several books, most recently How to Heal Our Racial Divide: What the Bible Says, and the First Christians Knew, about Racial Reconciliation. We connected at the speakers’ dinner, had a great conversation and then when I mentioned my cancer, they asked if they could pray for me – a huge blessing.