Thursday, December 16, 2010

My 2010 Christmas Letter

2010 – Quite An Event-full Year

Two things I’ve promised myself to do in the near future: #1, write a Christmas letter (I’ve never been very consistent at this), and #2, plan a 50th birthday for myself for next June (I’ve always shied away from these events, but this one I plan to embrace!)

My cancer is “The elephant in the room” for 2010, but as I decided months ago not to let cancer define who I am, so I’ll get to that later.

For a full year prior to 2010, I had been exploring a major choral work to do with the church choir and orchestra.  I finally decided on Mendelssohn’s Elijah, and found it to be the musical high point of my career.  As a Jewish believer in Jesus, Mendelssohn chose wonderful biblical texts to reveal the holiness of God, God’s power to answer prayer and the victory we can have through Christ.  It was a great joy to lead 100+ voices and an excellent orchestra in some of the greatest choral music ever written.  (view YouTube clip here)

Many Price family events converged in May, changing our lives in many ways.  The first of two performances of Elijah was on Friday, April 30.  It was a wonderful evening, then we were up before dawn to drive to Chicago for Blaine’s graduation from Judson University.  He received his Bachelor of Architecture on Saturday afternoon.

Blaine (B.A.) has been working very hard all year since getting his degree.  He sent scores of resumes to architectural firms, but found that the depressed economy has greatly affected the design industry.  He set his sights on preparing for the GRE (Graduate Record Exam) and applying to grad schools (UVA, Va Tech, NC State, Clemson, USC, etc.).  I get the impression he wants to move back east.  Given my health situation, it’s been great having him back home for a year.  He’s now working 30+ hours at Kmart in Rochester, but was just contacted by an architectural firm in Va Beach, VA about a possible position beginning in early 2011.

Back to the Elijah part of the story, we got up early on Sunday morning, driving back to Rochester from Chicago for a 6pm performance of Elijah.  It was another wonderful experience that was fulfilling both musically and spiritually.  I decided to take a week of vacation after the demanding weekend…time to get some rest.  I had been having some light rectal bleeding for a few weeks, but assumed it was due to the increased stress of a major performance endeavor on top of my already busy job.  When the symptoms did not subside after a week, I saw my doctor who called for further testing.

On May 28, I was diagnosed with grade 2 (moderate cell growth), stage 3 (lymph nodes minimally invaded) rectal cancer.  Because I wanted as much prayer as I could possibly get, I decided not to “suffer in silence,” choosing rather to let our entire congregation know about the diagnosis.  The outpouring of love, prayer and support continues to be overwhelming.  I started this blog to allow people to travel this journey with me.  Fortunately, as many have noted, I have lost neither my hair nor my sense of humor. 

Blair graduated from Mayo HS on June 11.  He had taken all his classes at RCTC for his senior year, focusing his attention on courses in psychology and guitar.  He is continuing those studies at Liberty University in Lynchburg, VA.  Next year he will probably double major in psychology and guitar…he seems to enjoy both very much.  (view YouTube link of Blair’s guitar exploits herehere and here - hey! I'm a proud dad!  Sue me!)

July was spent receiving chemo and radiation.  Fortunately the painful side effects subsided early enough for us to take Blair off to college and for Charlene and I to enjoy our first two-week vacation together.  We said a brief, tearful good-bye to Blair and headed straight for the Blue Ridge Parkway/Appalachian Trail.  It was one of our best vacations ever.  A week of strenuous hiking, followed by visiting friends and family in SC, NC and VA, finishing off with a couple of days at the beach.  This may become an annual trip as long as Blair’s at LU.

Major surgery took me completely out of commission in September, and I’ve spent much of the fall and winter recuperating and undergoing additional chemotherapy.  The surgeon was very optimistic about having identified and removed the cancer cells; the second round of chemo is double-insurance for the future.  The chemo in Oct-Dec has been much more difficult to take, especially with the onset of cold weather.  Our friends have been wonderfully encouraging during this time.  Of course, Charlene has been an angel…we’ve never been closer, even (because of?) in the midst of emotional agony, physical distress and concerns about the future. 

A less invasive surgery is planned for January 10, then I’ll complete the treatment phase with three more rounds of chemo in Feb/March.  I’m really looking forward to Easter and having all this behind me. 

This is already too long.  In the space of this letter I can’t capture all the blessings I’ve received this year, all the lessons learned and all the prayers answered.  I am so grateful for friends all over the country who regularly pray for me.  It’s great to have been part of so many wonderful churches and have so many godly friends. 

Realizing early on that both were needed, I’ve been continually praying for spiritual renewal and physical healing.  I believe God is working and will continue to work in both of these areas of my life.

Now, to get started on that 50th birthday party...

Grateful for innumerable blessings and abounding grace,

Bill Price
December, 2010

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