HEALTH UPDATES

Pastor Tim Health Updates

In May of 2019 Pastor Tim Cowen was diagnosed with Multiple Myeloma (MM) and began a year long treatment regiment. When there are major milestones in Tim's health, or when he has thoughts he wishes to share, we will post an update to this site.  If there are no recent updates you can assume things are continuing as described in the last update.  Also note that some test and treatment results may take time for the doctors and/or the family to process and evaluate next steps, so there may well be a delay between any upcoming date listed for a procedure and the report of the results.  Tim and his family very much appreciate your ongoing prayer and support!

If you have questions about this page or need additional information please contact Pastor Mark.

June 14, 2019

Dear friends,

Tim completed his first week of MM treatments yesterday. So far, so good! His white blood cell counts remain in the decent range while his red blood cells took a dip as expected. A drop in red blood cells is inevitable as the chemo drugs will take out some of those along with the plasma cells they are especially targeting in this treatment.  This means that some fatigue was present these past couple of days—a very common side-affect. Other than that, the most interesting side-affect included a 10-hour continuous bout of hiccups, which made for sore ribs and probably caused more irritation to Karen as she had to endure them along with Tim!  A med was prescribed that put an end to them pretty fast. (Who knew there was a drug that accomplishes that??) Pastor Aaron resorted to jumping out from behind a door to try and scare them out of him—which accomplished little less that startling him half to death…  Some adjustments in his dosing will be made in the coming weeks, but the doctors seem pleased with things for the moment.

For the Cowen’s, the highlight of the week was Tuesday evening when the elders from Grace (representing the congregation at Grace) along with a few others came to our home at our request to pray for us (James 5:13-20). The evening, led by Pastor Aaron, was really a time of worship—where sins were confessed to one another by many of those present, communion was celebrated with awesome unity, and prayers were offered  to the Sovereign Lord as Tim and Karen committed themselves afresh into the safe, all-wise and loving hands of the Savior who animates them. We also sang several hymns together, culminating with the rich hymn whose words reminds us that "Our hope is built on nothing less than Jesus’ blood and righteousness. We dare not trust the sweetest frame, but wholly lean on Jesus’ name. When darkness veils His lovely face, we rest on His unchanging grace; In ev’ry high and stormy gale Our anchor holds within the veil. On Christ, the solid Rock, we stand—All other ground is sinking sand, All other ground is sinking sand."

These are not hollow words for us. They are truth—truth that we know and rely upon. It is God’s truth and it will not—CANNOT fail.  In that hope we rest and in that hope lies our faith. And our faith is growing with each new day on our voyage with MM.  This is a journey we would not exchange for another.  For it has been used of God to cause us to see His hand of grace in some incredible ways.  We will keep on moving forward looking to accomplish the mission God has planted us here to do—and we will endeavor to be on His mission in faithfulness regardless of the length of time He grants.

Thanks so much for your prayers and support in so many ways.  You have been a source of rich blessing to us and our family.

All is well…

Tim & Karen

May 31, 2019

Dear friends,

So the kidney procedure went without a hitch.  The stones are now all gone as near as we can tell and all stents have been removed.  Back to life as normal in regard to this end of things.

So we have had some good news concerning the main therapy drug that will be used to combat the myeloma.  First of all, it is completely covered by our insurance! Additionally, I have spoken with the specialty pharmacist where we are getting the drug dispensed and she reported that this drug has been highly successful in not only keeping the cancer from growing, but has actually been active in killing the cancer cells creating the havoc in bone marrow. I will begin taking the drug this coming Thursday. We praise the Lord for all of this!

The side affects might include fatigue and possible upset stomach but we are looking forward to proceeding with treatment ASAP.

We are again appreciative of the positive potentials that we have been hearing in regard to all of this but are certain that God will accomplish all that He deems best and good.  Our hope remains on Him and trust His wise decisions in our lives.  We have been buoyed continually by the Spirit Who has accompanied us at every step and given power and comfort throughout this trial.

Thanks for your faithful prayers and encouraging notes! The Scriptures especially have been alive to us these days!

Yes, all is well.

Love,

Tim and Karen

May 26, 2019

Dear Grace Church,

Karen and I received the news this past week that I have been diagnosed with Multiple Myeloma (MM).

MM is a cancer that resides within the bone marrow in which plasma cells grow at an abnormal rate and crowd out the red and white blood cells. A normal body maintains a plasma cell level of around 2% , while the red and white blood cells make up the other 98%. (at least this was what was  explained to us in a general kind of way—and don’t worry, there won’t be a quiz at the end…) Currently, 90% of my bone marrow cells are plasma cells—which of course is not good. So my red blood cells especially have been decreasing for the past 4 years (something my primary care physician caught and now I have been monitored by a hematologist/oncologist for the past two years…)

Let’s jump to the bottom line. Currently there is not a cure for MM. Average life expectancy hovers around the 5 ½ year mark. Having said this, we were surprised to hear my doctor tell us that great strides are currently taking place in this field and more and more of the specialists are believing that "control" of MM is very near if not here and cure is not far away. This is not what you will read on the internet concerning the disease.

While this is heartening in one sense to us, we actually are pinning our hopes not on medical innovation but on the Sovereign Lord who has already numbered our days. He is our Rock and our Salvation. We will not be moved; We will cling to Him. If He chooses to heal—let Him be glorified.  If He chooses not to allow such healing—let His name be lifted high!

I still have a pretty good size stone in one of my kidneys which will hopefully be dealt with this coming Wednesday with laser lithotripsy. The following week we hope to begin a specialized therapy treatment plan aimed at eradicating these rogue plasma cells and allowing for normal red and white cell growth to take place.  This is a therapy that will last for one year which involves a pill a day, a shot a week, and another pill several times a month.  There are plenty of side effects with these drugs so life will be quite interesting and a bit unpredictable.

So we covet your prayers for us. Fatigue will definitely play a role in all of this and is already taking a toll on my body as I am anemic. So please pray for strength and patience in our lives. Pray to that we will rest in the Lord throughout this journey. And there will be many opportunities for the Gospel to be spoken and lived out among those we meet on this journey. Pray that we will be confident in sharing our faith with others. (By the way, my oncologist introduced me to his staff as "The Reverend"!)

Aaron shared these verses with us recently to which we clung as we received the diagnosis: "Fear not, for I have redeemed you; I have called you by name, you are mine.  When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and through the rivers, they shall not overwhelm you; when you walk through fire, you will not be burned, and the flame shall not consume you.  For I am the Lord your God, the holy one of Israel, your Savior." Isaiah 43:1-3

Indeed, God has been very present with us through all of this! Your prayers for us are being answered and peace has accompanied us at every step. So yes, we can say that it is well with my soul!

Love you all deeply!

Timothy