Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Triple Celebration

I know some of you may have heard, but I wanted to make sure you all knew about Scott's PET scan.  We found out last week that his scan did come back clean (meaning no active cancer)... so we are celebrating an early Christmas present... yes, Christmas, not holiday :)!  He does have some scarring where the tumor was in his chest, but the radiation oncologist said that it was scar tissue and not active.  

Scott is still dealing with some effects of the radiation and chemo, however.  He has been having increasing shortness of breath along with some numbness and tingling and chest pain.  He has had a lung function test done and they determined that he is only functioning at about 67% of his lung capacity.  We met with his oncologist last Friday, but he is unsure as to why this is happening.  So, Scott has an appointment with the pulmonologist on this Friday to hopefully get some answers.  We were also hoping he could discontinue the Fragmin (daily blood thinner injections) that he has been taking since June when he was hospitalized with blood clots in his lungs.  However, his oncologist is referring him to a specialist to determine if those clots were directly related to his chemo, or if Scott will need to be on the medication for life.   I hope not because they are very painful for him, as well as having the potential to be costly.  Right now we get the meds discounted through the hospital, but if we didn't have that, they would cost around $2,000 per month.

Who knows, though, if the new health care plan goes into effect, there will probably be a cap on treatment, and then Scott will be forced off the medication :)... haha.  Anyway,  I wanted to thank you all for praying!  It has been a tough season for us, but we are beginning to see the end.  

We are so thankful to the Lord for this good news... not that our faith depends on good news of being cancer free, but it is a gift and a blessing that we know comes from Him.  Of course, we have been a little more contemplative this season of the good news for all mankind... Jesus Christ's coming to earth to pay for our sins!  So, we feel especially blessed to be celebrating our Saviour's birth, Scott's cancer free report, and... Aspen's first birthday.

Just a side note... Aspen said her first words on the day that Scott found out his scan was clean... she said "dada".  It was an especially memorable day for Scott :).

So, that's where things are at right now.  We are awaiting the word (which will hopefully come after these next two appointments) so that Scott can have his port removed.  It has been painful for him during the course of his treatment, and we are anxious to get it OUT!  Of course, after that comes the big NO CANCER party... so be looking for the announcement, because you are all invited!

Enjoy and treasure your family and your time with them this Christmas.  While I still wonder at times why Scott had to go through all of this, I am reminded of the verse that the kids have memorized... Romans 8:28, "And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love Him, who have been called according to his purpose".  Someday, maybe not until heaven, we will see the good that the Lord has worked in us through this trial.  We have already seen many "good" things, and we hope that we can use this suffering to encourage others in years to come.  

So, may you find your peace and comfort in Him... the one who created the universe, yet knows every intimate detail about you; the one who left his throne in the heavens, came to earth to suffer in our frail humanity... in order to die on the cross to pay the penalty for our sins, yet now is ALIVE and sits at the right hand of God!  Now, that's a Christmas present!  Merry Christmas... we love you all!

Cinnamon for all of us

Sunday, November 1, 2009

ER Update

Thank you all for praying for us!  Scott and I returned home from the ER yesterday morning at 3 AM.  We had two dear friends that stayed with our kids until we got back.

After waiting for almost 4 hours, we were finally admitted to the treatment rooms in the ER.  Then it was hurry up and wait for a complete blood work up (including cardiac enzymes), EKG, and CT scan.

After falling asleep in the room waiting for results, we woke up and decided to call the nurse and find out what was going on.  We were then able to talk to the resident and he told us that everything was looking normal.  His blood work looked good, the enzymes showed no signs of heart attack, the EKG looked normal, and the CT scan was negative for any blood clots in his lungs.  So, Praise the Lord that everything looked fine!

I did tease Scott that he really didn't know how to show a lady a good time.  After all, the downtown ER is NOT the place to take a date on a Friday night... however, the hospital seems to be where we spend our time alone :).

Now the plan is for him to see his oncologist on Wednesday and then we'll go from there.  My initial feeling is that they will want to do another cardiac and pulmonary function test to determine where he's at... but I'm just guessing.  So, we will wait and see what the oncologist says and then I will let you all know.

Thank you so much for your prayers!  We are so grateful that he did not need another hospital stay, or that there was anything serious going on.  Please continue to pray that the shortness of breath will be something that will resolve on its own over time.  Thanks again.  We love you all! 

Friday, October 30, 2009

Not Finished Yet

Well, I'm writing this as a quick update to ask you to pray.  Just as we thought we were done with trips to the ER we are finding ourselves there once again.  

Scott has been having some shortness of breath for the last two weeks.  He had some chest pain yesterday.  Today he called his radiation oncologist and they now want him to go to the ER for blood work and a scan.  The impression of the oncologist is that Scott could possibly dealing with more blood clots, a pulmonary embolism, or he could be pre-heart attack... all side effects of the radiation treatments.

So, at this moment he is driving back from Fort Collins where he runs his route everyday.  He will go to the ER at the University of Colorado Hospital, where he has had his other stays and treatments.  I will be looking for someone to watch the kids and then I am going to try and meet him down there.  I definitely do not want to take the kids due to all the sickness and flu!

Please pray that all will go well with Scott and that we will have answers quickly.  Also pray that both Scott and myself will remain healthy despite coming in contact with so many sick people in the hospital.  (For those of you who think the hospital is a "clean" place, I'm here to tell you that it is just about the dirtiest place you could encounter!)  In addition, please pray that the children (especially Aspen) will do well while I am gone.  It is so difficult for me to feel like I need to be in two places at once!  I know the kids need me, but I know that Scott needs me to be with him also.  Pray that I can be strong for everyone, because right now I am feeling very weak.  I just wanted things to be finished!

Thank you for loving us and praying for us!  I had hoped that this would be over soon, but apparently the Lord is still having us learn and grow as we continue to walk through the fire.  I will let you all know what the outcome is.

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Good-Bye, Radiation!

I think I'm just a once-a-month blogger!  Anyway, we are celebrating here in Denver, as Scott finished his radiation a week ago this past Thursday!  It is so wonderful to have put these treatments behind us... and not have to look forward to any more!

Scott officially finished the major treatments, but he still continues to receive a daily injection of blood thinner medication via me.  I always feel bad when I have to give him his shot as it is quite painful for him.  I need to give it subcutaneously... which means in a fatty area... which means if you know Scott you know that there is no such thing as a fatty area on him!  Thus, it can be painful for him.  

We are looking forward to December for a number of reasons.  First, we love celebrating the Advent of our Saviour's birth!  I love giving gifts to everyone as the Magi brought gifts to Christ.  I love seeing what I can handcraft for my family... and I love seeing their faces when they open the gift... especially my sister Becky's face about 2-3 Christmases ago!  Second, this Christmas we get to celebrate our newest little one's birthday.  Aspen will turn ONE this December!  It's so hard to believe, especially with all that has transpired in our lives this past year.  Third, Scott will be done with the painful shots... and I'll be done inflicting that pain upon him!  And fourth, Scott will get his final PET scan to determine if the cancer has been removed from his body.  We are trying to live these next few months just resting in the goodness of our Lord, and waiting on his results.  We know that he can give Scott a clean scan, and believe that He has more planned for Scott and our family.  So, with all that said... I can't wait for December :).

We are trying to get life back to "normal" after all of this, although, in some ways I hope we never get back to "normal".  Scott and I were talking last night about how this has affected us, and how we need to learn, change, and move forward as different people and a different family.  My own hope and prayer is that many people would be changed by our story and that they would see that just because "bad things happen to good people" doesn't mean that God has abandoned us.  In fact, it has been just the opposite.  This life is hard, but without Jesus as our Saviour, it's impossible.  It's times like these when we see the grace and mercy of Christ in our lives.  I'm listening to the Natalie Grant song "Held" right now.  Some of it describes this very thing.  Part of the song says:

This is what it is to be loved and to know 
That the promise was when everything fell
We'd be held

And that's really what the Lord has done.  When we've felt alone, overwhelmed, frightened, angry, and more, the Lord has cradled us in his arms and given us a peace that is difficult to describe.  Not necessarily the "feeling" that everything will turn out fine, but a knowing that whatever happens, we will "be" fine, resting in Him and in His word to us.  We're not promised a life free from trials, but we are promised that the Lord will walk with us all the way.

So, we are waiting and praying right now... and we are also going to Scout meetings, doing school, going to work, attending theatre practice, and going camping!

At the end of this week we are taking a family camping trip over to Moab, Utah.  Since our summer was filled with sickness, struggle, and treatments, we decided we needed a few days together as a family to debrief.  Hopefully I will have some pictures to post when we return.  I'm excited and hoping that it will be a time of spiritual reflection and renewal for us as a family as we look ahead to what the Lord has in store for us.  

Thanks so much for continuing on this journey with us!  I will keep updating you all on what is happening with us as I'm sure you will eagerly await the results with us!  We thank the Lord for each one of you!

Sunday, August 30, 2009

Family Fun Day Fundraiser

Well, everyone, sorry about the hiatus!  Is this the longest time between blogs?  Anyway, these last few weeks have been filled with swimming, anniversaries, scans, back to school, and an super fun Family Fun Day!

August 14 found Scott and myself at the hospital so he could get a scan before starting radiation.  It also happened to be our anniversary.  It was somewhat bittersweet.  It was bitter in the fact that we had been hoping to be getting prepared for an anniversary vacation within this next year, as this was our 15th anniversary.  I had a few moments where I cried over the fact that this would not be the case, and that it would have to wait a few more years.  It was sweet that we were at least together and had weathered some of the toughest, sickest times of this storm.  It was bitter in that we had to spend a portion of the day at the hospital getting a scan.  It was sweet because we were done with the chemo and moving on to the radiation... and also because they were actually running on time that day, so we didn't have to wait very long!

We received the results of the scan that next week.  It was not a clean scan, so we were concerned as to what this would mean for his treatment plan.  In saying "not clean" I mean that there are still areas that are suspicious for cancer.  He may still have cancer that the chemo did not eradicate.  I guess we both felt that the chemo would remove the cancer and then the radiation was more of a perfunctory measure.  After talking with his radiation oncologist, however, we were told that he would not need to go through more chemo and that the radiation should take care of anything that is left.

So, last Monday after all that news, we started school.  When Scott asked me how it went, I told him that it's days like these that make people say they would never home school.  Thankfully we have 179 other days to make up for it :).  By the way, the rest of the week was much better!

That week also found Scott and I at odds with each other.  We both gave in to the built up stress due to his cancer, and neither of us responded to the other appropriately.  That week I struggled with coming to terms with my attitude towards my husband.  I have always battled my attitude, but this week something seemed different.  Scott called me out on a few things, and my spirit was determined to remain hardened.  After a few days of holding onto the sinful desires of my heart, I had to let go.  Even though we reconciled with each other, I think the full effect wasn't realized until Sunday.

Saturday was the Family Fun Day Fundraiser that our church sponsored.  It was a wonderful, family day!  Through our church we have truly seen the body of Christ at work.  They have given us food, finances, prayers, encouragement, and hope!  Our church and our friends have been our family here in Colorado.  There were many people who came to participate in the fun activities.  There was a live band, Schofield, who are friends of ours, as well as a raffle with all sorts of neat prizes.  There were donations from Starbucks, Supper Solutions, Massage Envy, Chipotle, Chick-Fil-A, Super Cuts, and many, many more!  We had a chili, pie, and salsa cook-off in which we were the judges.  (By the way, I will need some recipes from those of you who made all the yummy food.)  Our dear friend Christina became Bubbles the Clown and practically ripped her cuticle making and tying balloon animals.  Her face painting creations were great!  There were so many people from church who set up and tore down and basically ran the show.  I can't tell you all how many people were impressed that our church of about 120-150 people pulled this entire event off.  A special thanks to Stephanie, Erica, Laura, and Lindsey... probably the four most exhausted women in Denver on Saturday night!  You are all amazing!

Well, after all that, I went home ashamed of my attitude towards Scott.  No amount of stress really gave me the right to conduct myself as I did.  I hadn't thought of Scott better than myself, as Christ would have wanted me to do.  I realized that all I thought about my rights and how difficult this has been on me was what I should have laid at the cross in order to consider Scott and his struggle.  Interestingly enough, about a month ago I was asking the Lord to show me a specific sin that I battle with... one that I consistently fail to leave at the cross... one that hinders my relationship with the Lord.  I realize that there are many sins that fall into that category, but I was looking for the specifics.  Well, I believe after this past week, I can definitely place my finger on it!

More of this came into focus on Sunday morning.  During worship the Holy Spirit gripped my conscience and a flooding realization of my depravity and sinfulness before the Creator of the Universe rose up before my eyes.  We were singing the phrase:

I see the Lord seated on the Throne
He is high and lifted up and full of glory

I just felt overwhelmed, and knew that I deeply needed forgiveness from the Lord.  It was a moment that I cannot adequately put into words, but one that changed my spirit.  I hope that with the Lord's strength, I will be able to live this out with Scott and the kids.

So, what a week last week was!  Scott has had a few radiation treatments and is feeling some tiredness, but he is still going strong.  It amazes me how he continues to go to work while feeling the way that he does.  He does look like he is getting stronger, and his bouts with the chemo nausea seem to be getting fewer.  Right now he is receiving treatment on a daily basis, with time off over the weekends.

We are getting ready to go camping this weekend with our church.  We are looking forward to it as we have not been able to really get away or do anything as a family this summer due to Scott's treatments.  So, we will be enjoying time in the mountains, albeit without running water and flush toilets :).  It will definitely be a time of fellowship and rejoicing in God's goodness.  May you all have a wonderful time with your families as well this weekend.  We continue to thank you for your prayers!  We have felt God's loving hand and have seen his goodness during this trial.  We have come to understand that God's goodness doesn't depend on our circumstances.  He is good no matter where we are at in life or how we are feeling at the moment.  What a comfort to know that our God is faithful and never changes!  And with that thought, have a wonderful holiday weekend!  God bless you all!

Friday, August 7, 2009

Last Round of Chemo!

Wednesday, August 5th, 2009 was officially the last day of chemotherapy!  I was probably more excited than Scott... he knew the nausea was yet to come.  In fact, he began to get nauseous that morning.  The nurse explained that it was "anticipatory nausea" and she gave him half of an Ativan to calm his nerves.

The treatment went as smoothly as the others.  He is now in the throes of nausea, with bone pain to come in a few days.  This is due to the Neulasta shot that he must take 24-48 hours after the chemo.  He is a determined person.  He managed to go to work the past two days, even after chemo.  His dad flew in Wednesday night and went to work with him.  We are so thankful that he is here!  Leonard/Grandpa already has a whole weekend of work planned out!

So, nothing really different from the last treatment.  We're praising the Lord that he didn't need a hospital stay this time, and we're praying that the same thing will happen for this last treatment.  

On a different note, my heart is aching and burdened for my son, Hunter.  I've seen him change during this whole process.  I've seen him become more quiet and withdrawn.  Lately I've seen him pull away from Scott... it especially happened when Scott's brother was here.  Hunter didn't look at Scott, didn't hug or touch Scott, rarely talked to him, etc.  

These past few days I've noticed some issues that are stemming from whatever is growing in his heart.  My friend was telling me that it looks like fear that has given way to anger and bitterness... and I think her assessment was accurate.  I know that Scott is the one who needs to deal with Hunter.... dad to son... but I'm worried and at times I feel as though we are going to lose our son.

Hunter is at such a crucial age; an age when he needs his dad... but his dad is lying in bed, frail and sick.  Hunter has just seen what cancer has done to his grandma, and he might be thinking that it will take his dad as well.  Actually there's been some interesting comments from the kids during this past week.

Forrest says, "If Dad dies, are you going to get remarried?"
Hunter adamantly says, "Dad's NOT going to die!"
Canyon, rather flippantly, remarks, "Dad didn't die yet."

What do I do with statements like that?  I think it has given me some insight into what the kids are thinking.  I can understand the little guys and why they say some of those things... but it is Hunter that my heart hurts over.  I am mourning for his childhood that has been blemished by this fear-stain of cancer.  I don't know how to help him, yet I realize that the help needs to come from his Heavenly Father and his Earthly Father.

My prayer is that this trial will be what helps him become a godly man, not a cynical or bitter man.  I am afraid, and I'm finding it difficult to give him over to the Lord, and wait for his time.  If the Spirit stirs you, could you please pray for Hunter, and pray that the Lord will give Scott the physical strength to discuss these matters with Hunter?  We are both broken about this and we want to see Hunter grow into all that the Lord has for him.  

Thanks so much for all your prayers, notes, letters, etc.  We are so grateful for all of you!  Now, the plan for next week is for Scott to have a scan on Friday (our anniversary).  After that radiation will begin, we're just not sure what day.  I will write and let everyone know how he is doing and when we are starting treatment.  Thanks again for all your prayers!  We love you all!

Saturday, July 25, 2009

Chemo Round Three

Before I begin this entry, let me first say how amazed I am that so many of you are so faithful in reading this blog!  I am not a very good blogger, as it seems to be a long time between entries.  I guess I am just busy with life right now, so please forgive me if my blogs aren't always extremely up-to-the-minute current!

Scott did indeed receive another round of chemo this past Wednesday.  His brother, Corey, flew in on Tuesday night, so he was able to come with us.  He has definitely been a huge blessing.  He buoyed Scott's spirits during the treatment... so much so that Scott was actually laughing for part of the time.  Through his encouragement, Scott was clowning around and managed to put a latex glove on his head (sort of like a rubber chicken thing).  I know, I couldn't believe it either... and I was there.

Anyway, it wasn't long afterwards that Scott came down and found himself in the midst of the worst nausea yet from the treatment.  We were hoping for a bit easier round, as he had a four week hiatus from the chemo.  However, he has actually had more severe nausea and vomiting this time... even while taking three different anti-nausea drugs.  

Scott took Corey to work with him these past two days, and forced hard labor upon him!  Without Corey's help, I know Scott would not have made it through the day.  His color looks so poor these days... especially after chemo.  He has this yellowish-grey cast to his skin after the treatment, and during his very sick moments.  He told me today that he didn't know how I coped with the continual nausea and vomiting with each of my pregnancies.  I'm pretty sure that pregnancy nausea and chemo nausea are horses of two bipolar opposite colors!  And besides, I get the best prize ever at the end of the pregnancy... what does he get?

Well, we have been continued to be blessed by our fabulous church family and our amazing community of friends!  I can't even begin to tell you all how much we appreciate all of you and everything you have done for us!

Which leads me to mention the amazing fundraiser that a few of the men at church lined up this past Friday night.  Corey was able to attend the card tournament and said the giving attitude of all the people involved was amazing. The fundraiser was a huge success and I can't thank you enough, guys, for thinking out of the box on this one!  The money that was raised will definitely help pay off those large medical and pharmaceutical bills (which deserve their own separate blog entry)! 

This whole cancer experience has enabled us to see the Body of Christ in action.  We have been loved and cared for by this incredible body of believers that stretches across America and extends to other parts of the world.  I have had many moments when I have felt like a single mother, wearing the entire burden of caring for my children alone.  I know this isn't the case, and I realize the the task single moms bear is tremendous.  However, the Sundays when I have had to gather my flock and head out to worship alone, leaves an ache in my soul.  Corporate worship seems to be where the tears come easily as I attempt to leave that burden at the cross and really reflect on who the Lord is.  However, throughout all of this, my church family and friends have cared for me, watched my kids for me, reminded me that they are always here to help me, and encouraged me that I am loved by the Lord and that He is good.  I will be forever grateful to you all.  You have encouraged my spirit more than you will ever know.

And on that note, Scott mustered all his strength today to attend worship.  He has missed so many Sundays due to sickness and hospital stays.  He desperately needed the comfort found in corporate worship and hearing the Word of God spoken to his soul.  I think as difficult as it was physically, he was refreshed spiritually.

So, on that thought, I will end this entry for now.  I just wanted you all to know that we love you all so much, and without your assistance we would not be able to carry on as we have been doing.  It is because you live out the scriptural commands to love each other and give up your lives (time, resources) for each other.  Please continue to pray for healing and for strength for Scott.  He is attempting to work as much as he possibly can in order to provide for us.  I am amazed that he does what he does in the condition he does it in!  

Pray that the nausea will quickly subside.  Pray that his brother will return safely to his family tomorrow... we are so indebted to his presence here this past week.  Please pray that my love for my Savior will continue to grow and that daily I will choose to serve my husband.

I hear the kids and their uncle playing the game show "Wipeout" in the living room... they set up their own obstacles (which is Uncle Corey).  So, I'd better go get a good seat before the show is over!  Thank you all for everything!

Saturday, July 11, 2009

Wishing for the Hilton, But Getting the Hospital

Scott called me this morning saying that he has another room with a view.  Maybe someday we'll take the money we spend on his mountain-view hospital rooms and go take a real vacation with better views!

Well, the docs admitted Scott to the hospital last night... actually early this morning.  They took a chest x-ray to rule out pneumonia and did some blood cultures to check for a bacterial infection.  He started on IV antibiotics early this morning.  He then woke up around 5 Am with severe itching and shortness of breath.  So, now we know he's allergic to that antibiotic... I just need to find out which one that was!  Anyway, he's slated to stay for at least the weekend to take care of any infection, if there is one.  

Satan chose to attack me last night as well.  I had so many fears... many of them imagined.  I usually don't run in that vein, but while I was weak, Satan took the advantage.  Thankfully I had a dear friend yesterday that mentioned Psalm 91 to me.  I read over it numerous times, prayed through it, cried over it, and slept beside it last night.

He who dwells in the shelter of the Most High will rest in the shadow of the Almighty.
I will say of the Lord, "He is my refuge and my fortress, my God, in whom I trust."
Surely he will save you from the fowler's snare and from the deadly pestilence.
He will cover you with his feathers and under his wings you will find refuge; his faithfulness will be your shield and rampart.

You will not fear the terror of the night, nor the arrow that flies by day, nor the pestilence that stalks in the darkness, nor the plague that destroys at midday.
A thousand may fall at your side, ten thousand at your right hand, but it will not come near you.

You will only observe with your eyes and see the punishment of the wicked.
If you make the Most High your dwelling--even the Lord, who is my refuge--then no harm will befall you, no disaster will come near your tent.

For he will command his angels concerning you to guard you in all your ways; they will lift you up in their hands so that you will not strike your foot against a stone.
You will tread upon the lion and the cobra; you will trample the great lion and the serpent.

"Because he loves me," says the Lord, "I will rescue him; I will protect him, for he acknowledges my name.  He will call upon me and I will answer him; I will be with him in trouble, I will be with him and honor him.  With long life will I satisfy him and show him my salvation."

I am praying the last part of that Psalm for Scott, and that through this physical trial, he will see the Lord's hand and rest in it.

Friday, July 10, 2009

ER Trip

As I write this, Scott is sitting in the ER at University of Colorado Hospital.  We had decided that for his safety he should go and stay with couple in our church, to avoid our germ-infested house.  Well, just tonight he called me and was complaining of chills.  He said he was wearing jeans, a t-shirt, and a sweatshirt.  Just hearing that made me sweat.  He said his temp was 100.3

A few minutes later he called the oncologist and relayed what was happening to him.  After that he called me back, told me his temp was now 101.4, and said he was headed to the ER.

Because his immunity is so low, the oncologist is concerned.  He is definitely in a "danger zone" so to speak.  He did receive an injection of a drug (Neulasta) in order to stimulate white cell production.  The problem is that he might not have enough white cells to mount a defense if he is indeed experiencing an infection.  That is very dangerous.  

So, they will most likely draw blood, check his WBC (white cells), culture the blood to check for infection, and determine if he is indeed producing any more WBC's.  I don't know what the plan of treatment will be yet.  I can't be there with him due to all the sick and recovering kids I have around here.  I'm sure I'm crawling with bugs!

Anyway, that's all I know at the moment.  The only thing I can do for him is pray.  Why is it when that's all we can do is when we feel the most helpless; the most useless?  Is it because I measure everything in terms of what "I" can do, and not in what "God" can do?  Isn't this where God wants us... when we can't "do" anything, and we leave it in his hands?

I think this is my struggle... to accomplish it on my own, to find strength in and of myself, to be self-sufficient and therefore self-reliant.  Is this what it takes for me to learn?  I'm sorry, Lord for the sin of my heart; the pride of myself.  Please forgive me and send healing to my husband.

If you read this, please pray that Scott will be healed and that he will be spared another hospital stay.  Also, pray for me as I stay here alone with the kids this weekend. 

Thursday, July 9, 2009

Delay of Game

Yesterday we went to the hospital ready to knock down the third chemo treatment.  After that, only one more to go!  That's not what happened.

As we were waiting for Scott to be called in to the infusion treatment center, his oncology doctor's nurse came in to talk with us.  She informed us that he would not be able to receive treatment due to a low blood count.  

When he receives chemo, it lowers his immunity.  In order to have the treatment, his immunity must be at a certain level.  Yesterday his immunity was below the allowable level.  He received an injection called Neulasta, which will stimulate his bone to produce the much needed cells.  It is similar to the injections he received in the hospital... for the same purpose.  

The difficulty of this medication is that fact that it causes severe bone pain.  When he was in the hospital he took morphine for the pain.  Here at home he has Vicodin.  

The nurse cautioned us to keep him away from crowds, sickness, watch for signs of infections, etc.  He doesn't need to be hospitalized, but we need to be careful.  Well, to further compound matters, that afternoon Aspen came down with a 101 degree temp, and has been visibly miserable.  Then, last night, Forrest was lethargic, said he felt warm, looked miserable as well, and began exhibiting a croupy cough.

I'm not too sure how I'm going to keep all this away from Scott other than by the grace of the Lord!

So, Scott's next chemo treatment has been put on hold until two weeks from now (which would have been that last treatment... sigh).  We will wait for his body to build an immunity and attempt to keep him from contamination in the meantime.  

The kids and I read through Isaiah chapter 40 on Tuesday.  It's a good reminder for me right now of the power of the Lord and where my strength comes from!  

Well, I need to go because I have a sick baby that needs me!  Please pray that my children get over their respective colds, and that Scott would NOT get sick or an infection!  Thanks so much for the prayers! 

Sunday, June 21, 2009

A Weekend in the Hospital

This one is just a quick update on what has happened to us this weekend.

Scott reported to the clinic on Friday to have some blood work done and to hopefully find out if he was having a Crohn's flare up.  He had been having some intense abdominal pain, which is usually an indicator of a flare up.  

The clinic felt like it was chemo related, so he was sent to over to his oncologist's office.  After seeing him, they admitted him to the hospital.  His blood work indicated that his white cell count was extremely low at 1.  They also tested him to determine if he was actually producing any white cells.  Apparently the number they like to see is 1.5... but Scott's was 0.1.  So, needless to say, they kept him and sent him to the bone marrow transplant floor (where it's pretty sterile and bacteria free).  If you've ever seen my kids, you can pretty much guess that they we NOT about to let those, dirty ragamuffins on the floor to see their Dad!

This all took place on Friday.  They also did a scan to examine his abdomen to determine why he was having pain there.  The scan showed NO inflammation in his bowels, but it did show that he had TWO blood clots in his lungs.  

We got these results on Saturday morning.  They had moved him from the bone marrow transplant side of the floor to the oncology side.  He still had to be very careful, but this allowed the kids to see him.  They then started him on Heparin to dissolve the clots (all this can be caused by the chemo).  Anyway, after the first dose of Heparin it was discovered that his clotting time was too high (his blood couldn't clot soon enough), which is dangerous.  So, they decreased his dose of Heparin, and attempted to get that under control.

Scott has also been getting an injection of a specific drug that will stimulate his bone marrow to produce white cells.  This has caused some severe bone pain, for which he has been receiving Morphine.  He's also lost a bit of weight... he's now down to 126 lbs.  I tease him that he'll be able to fit into my pre-pregnancy clothes before I can. 

So, we've had a pretty rough weekend.  Scott is still on schedule to receive his next dose of chemo this Wednesday.  I am concerned that he will lose more weight this next round, and that his white cells will again tank.  

If you are praying for us, please pray for these items:

1) Scott will be healed!
2) This next round will not be as devastating as the first.
3) That Scott will not lose weight but he will gain instead.
4) The white cell count will remain normal and there will be no infection
5) His Chron's will remain under control
6) There will be no more blood clots
7) That we will trust and see the Lord provide for all our needs.

In respect to the last request... Scott will be spending a few days at home this week, so once again, we will be seeing medical bills escalate while Scott is unable to go to work.  We are trusting that our Lord will provide all that we need.  At times, that comes easily, and other times it is quite difficult.

So, that's been the weekend for us.  Hopefully Scott can come home tomorrow (Monday).  We continue to pray for healing, but we know that when the Lord calls us to suffering, it is for our good and his glory.

"My son, do not make light of the Lord's discipline, and do not lose heart when He rebukes you, because the Lord disciplines those he loves, and he punishes everyone he accepts as a son... No discipline seems pleasant at the time, but painful.  Later on, however, it produces a harvest of righteousness and peace for those who have been trained by it." (Hebrews 12:5-6, 11)

We know the Lord loves us, we know that he is good, and we know that he is preparing us for his work during this time of trial.

Please continue to pray for us.  I can't tell you all how much we appreciate the prayers, meals, childcare, and gifts you have given to us.  We continue to be overwhelmed each and every time we receive these blessings.  Thank you so much!


Tuesday, June 16, 2009

First Round of Chemo

Well, we did indeed begin chemotherapy as the title states.  Wednesday, June 10th was the day Scott received his treatment.  It was a hard decision for us to make.  We cringe at the type of drug that this is, but yet we know that if we choose only alternative treatments, an even longer road stretches out before us.  So, we decided to combine both.  He will receive four rounds of chemo while at the same time we are continuing with the juicing and natural supplements.

The questions of "why" still arise from time to time... especially this past week as I watch Scott muster all his strength to get to work while in the throes of nausea, mouth sores, muscle weakness, etc.  At the same time, I have my moments of weariness as I care for him and the kids alone.

As Scott was receiving his treatment on Wednesday, I was reading in 1 Peter, where it talks about suffering.  It was a good reminder that during our suffering, our faith is refined... faith that is "more precious than gold".  In chapter four, it states that we suffer for a little while and then we are "done with sin" and ready to do the will of the Lord.  

When I read that I took it to mean that suffering produces a different attitude within us.  I think we still sin, but when we have come through our time of suffering, those things that seemed so paramount are now trivial.  Then I looked at what those things actually were and realized that many of them had sin issues attached to them... pride, wrong priorities, wrong attitudes, etc.  I think that our suffering changes what we deem as important in life... and if our suffering has been "fruitful" and we have allowed the Lord to work in us during that time, then we are willing to live solely for God and to do his will.

So, that is one of my prayers this week... not to waste this time of suffering!  I'm also praying that the Lord will heal Scott and give him strength daily.

I thought of an older song this evening as I was feeling weary with the weight of taking care of the kids alone without Scott's help (it's all he can manage to go to work, and he shouldn't have to try and instruct/discipline/feed/clothe/etc. the kids).  Some of it goes like this:

I can do all things
Through Christ who gives me strength
But sometimes I wonder what He can do through me
No great success to show
No glory on my own
Yet in my weakness He is there to let me know

His strength is perfect 
When our strength is gone
He'll carry us when we can't carry on
Raised in his power 
The weak become strong
His strength is perfect, his strength is perfect  

We can only know
The power that He holds
When we truly see how deep our weakness goes
His strength in us begins
When ours comes to an end
He hears our humble cry and proves again

His strength is perfect when our strength is gone
He'll carry us when we can't carry on
Raised in His power, the weak become strong
His strength is perfect, his strength is perfect

So, that one was for you Almeda :)!  I listened to it on youtube and it brought back good memories... through the tears!  By the way, I miss you sister!  Anyway, I'm clinging to the fact that God is good, He has a plan for us in this, and that as my strength quickly wanes, He will fill me with His strength!

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Expecting a Miracle

I asked myself today if it is wrong to desperately hope for and expect a miracle tomorrow... because that's what I'm doing.  Here's why I say that.  

About a week ago we met with Scott's radiation oncologist and his primary oncologist.  We saw the radiation oncologist first.  She explained the whole process of radiation and told us that when the radiate the areas that held the cancer, they have to also expose a margin of healthy tissue as well.  They have to base their exposure on the PET scan that Scott had done a few weeks ago, and on the scan that they will take after his chemo treatments are completed.  She explained that the chemo will literally melt the tumor away about 24-48 hours after treatment.  

She then made the comment that she rarely gets to see the patient before they start chemo, so it would be great if she could give Scott one last scan before he takes the treatment.  That way she would have an exact marker of his tumors and the margin of healthy tissue that would need to be exposed would be lessened.  

Obviously this sounded great to us, so we scheduled Scott for that.  Well, that week I gave an update to our Ladies First Thursdays (Bible study and prayer time).  As we were praying, one dear sister in Christ began praying for Scott and myself.  She then seemed to cry out from the depths of her soul for Scott to be healed and that they would see that on the scan.  My heart wept with her as we poured out this request before the throne.  As I'm writing this, I can still hear her weeping and petitioning the Lord.

I talked with her a few days later and she explained that the Holy Spirit simply laid it on her heart to bring that before the Lord and to pray in that manner.  It wasn't anything she or I had thought of until that very moment that she began praying that night.

So, all that to say that that has become our fervent request.  Tomorrow we go for that appointment.  Scott will be scanned and then he will receive chemo.  If you read this anytime soon, please join us in praying for and expecting a miracle tomorrow.

Many of you might be thinking, "What if he still has cancer after the scan and still has to go through chemo?".  The best way I can answer that is with a verse that the kid's and I were reading last week.  It's found in Daniel 3:17-18.  It takes place as King Nebuchadnezzer orders Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego to bow down to the large golden image that he (the king) had constructed.

"If we are thrown into the blazing furnace, the God we serve is able to save us from it, and he will rescue us from your hand, O king.  But even if he does not, we want you to know, O king, that we will not serve your gods or worship the image of gold you have set up."

We believe that God can heal, and heal completely.  But even if he chooses to make us go through the fire, there are two things that we know:
1) He will be the fourth man in the fire... meaning, he will walk through it with us.
2) We will bow to him and to no other gods.

One thing I read this morning and shared it with the kids was this:

"Therefore, since Christ suffered in his body, arm yourselves also with the same attitude, because he who has suffered in his body is done with sin.  As a result, he does not live the rest of his earthly life for evil desires, but rather for the will of God." 

If the Lord chooses to have us walk down this path of suffering, may we use it as a tool to be done with sin and to live the rest of our lives not for our own evil desires, but for the will of God.  So, I'm praying with expectation that the Lord will miraculously heal Scott fully and completely and we will see that tomorrow as well as all the doctors and staff at the hospital.  May the Lord receive all the glory and praise for that!  In the meantime, if the Lord chooses a different path for us, we will accept that and look forward to the fruits that will come after this time of pruning.

Please pray with us in these next few hours and we wait hopefully and expectantly for a miracle. 

Monday, June 1, 2009

An Ending and a Beginning

Well, first let me say that I am very sorry this post is long in coming!  The past few weeks have been some of the most difficult of our lives... and blogging was the last thing on my list.

On May 14, 2009, my dear mother-in-law went home to be with her Saviour.  It was the end of a very long struggle with cancer.  However, as this was taking place, Scott was just beginning to take the first steps of his journey with cancer.

We flew to WI rather quickly when we received the word that Scott's mom only had days left on this earth.  We arrived on a Friday night and were able to spend a few precious days with her.  However, that Wednesday Scott had an appointment with his oncologist back home in Denver.  While his mother was on the brink of death, we were forced to make a decision... should he return to make his appointment and meet with his oncologist for the first time, or should he cancel his appointment and remain with his mother?  It was difficult, because we had been waiting for this appointment for over three weeks.  If Scott missed this, it may have pushed treatment back at least another month, and we weren't sure what stage his cancer was in.

Scott and his dad decided that he needed to return and go to the appointment.  So, Scott did the difficult and said good-bye to his mother before boarding a plane to return to Denver.  The kids and I stayed behind in WI, knowing it would only be days if not hours before she passed away.  It was during this time that I was privileged to be able to care for my mother-in-law in her last hours.

The day of Scott's appointment, hospice came to my in-law's home to care for Bergetta (Scott's mom).  The nurse asked her if she was ready to pass on, and Bergetta said,
"No... I'm waiting for my son to return".
Needless to say, it was more than I could bear to hear.  

Later on that day I was able to talk with Scott and received the news from his appointment, which didn't sound promising.  His oncologist staged his Hodgkins at a 2A... meaning that the cancer has spread from his lymph node and is now in his upper thoracic area (chest), above his diaphragm.  The oncologist also took a bone marrow biopsy (which we weren't expecting), to rule out any cancer in that area.  he told Scott that he would need chemotherapy for four months and radiation for two months.

After hearing all of that the only thing I could do was weep.  My father-in-law and I sat on the couch and he held me as I poured out my anguish over everything that was happening in our lives.  Scott's brother, Corey was on the phone with Scott repeating his mom's remark, and lining up an immediate flight back to WI.

Scott rushed from the clinic to the airport and made it back to Wisconsin by midnight.  As his family gathered by his mom's bedside, her last words were,
"Everyone's here."
The next day her decline was rapid and she was ushered into the arms of Jesus that evening. 

We took the next week for the viewing, funeral, and burial as well as writing out thank you cards, etc.  It was a difficult week in the fact that we had to put grief for one life event on hold, while we grieved for the other event.  I have to admit that at times, it felt so unfair to have to do that.  I just wanted to grieve for how our lives were about to completely change due to this new diagnosis... yet I had to grieve with and for my husband's loss of his mother and my kid's loss of their grandmother.  I felt like after this, almost everyone could return to their normal daily lives, except for us.  We just couldn't come back home and carry on... we were about to have a new normal.

So, this past Friday we hadn't been home yet a week, and we were at the hospital for a full day of surgery, scans, and diagnostic tests.

Scott had a CT scan of his spleen done in addition to pulmonary and cardiac function tests done to record a baseline before the chemo.  Because the chemo drugs can damage heart and lungs, it was necessary to know where he was at before taking the drugs.  After that, he went in for a port placement.  This was a surgery where they out in an IV access into his superior vena cava (his big heart vein), and placed the access site under his skin.  This way, whenever he needs his treatment, they can access that instead of sticking him every time.  This is also the preferred vein to place the chemo into, as it will not cause damage to his peripheral veins.

I spent the day there with him, struggling with my emotions and attitude.  If you know me you know that the less drama I experience in life, the better.  I have had sweet moments of being able to lay this burden at the cross and walk away.  Yet, I have also had many moments of picking it up and clinging to it tightly.  There have been many times that I'm not even sure how to communicate to, express with, or treat Scott.  One moment I know that I can't do it all, and yet the next moment I feel that I'm the one that needs to hold it all together for our family; for our kids.  One moment I'm free, and the next overwhelmed.  Some days I live moment by moment with this trial we have been called to bear.

And that brings another "why" thought.  Why does the Lord want us to walk this path?  Why now when our children are so young?  What is His purpose in all of this?  What am I supposed to learn?  

All these questions and more surface as I watched Scott tighten his belt to another notch in order to make it tighter.  He's lost muscle mass and inches as the cancer feeds off of the protein in his body.  He's in pain from the tumor that is pressing on nerves as well as the new port that has been forced under his skin.  He's not allowed to lift anything this next week... including his baby girl.

Today gave us a few more definite answers.  We met with both the radiation and chemotherapy oncologists to set up a treatment plan.  We are thankful to the Lord that his chemo will only be two months and radiation will be one month.  The chemo was changed to half of the projected time due to a new study that was just released in Germany regarding Hodgkins patients and the current treatment.  Our doctor was willing to go with those results due to the fact that Scott's age, stage of cancer, etc. places him in a more "favorable" category for treatment.  Both oncologists were very patient with all of our questions and were very willing to work around Scott's work schedule.

I felt a renewed sense of hope as I sat through the appointments.  As I was waiting for Scott to schedule his treatment dates, I read 2 Peter 5:10-11.

"And the God of all grace, who called you to his eternal glory in Christ, after you have suffered a little while, will himself restore you and make you strong, firm and steadfast.  To him be the power forever and ever.  Amen."

I saw that that's what I want to be... strong, firm and steadfast.  

During this last weekend of emotional struggle for me, the words of Jeremy Camp's song "Walk by Faith" have deeply pierced my heart.  It says:

Would I believe you when you would say 
Your hand will guide my every way 
Will I receive the words You say 
Every moment of every day 

Well I will walk by faith 
Even when I cannot see 
Well because this broken road 
Prepares Your will for me 

Help me to win my endless fears 
You've been so faithful for all my years 
With one breath You make me new 
Your grace covers all I do  

May I walk this broken road with perseverance and determination to come to the end as a strong, firm and steadfast believer in the one, true God who knows our every footstep before we even take one.

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

A Miracle and a Trial

"We have heard with our ears, O God; our fathers have told us what you did in their days, in days long ago."    Psalm 44:1

I read this verse after witnessing a financial miracle on Monday night.  I have been worried about how we are going to pay for all the doctors, treatments, supplements, etc.  It has been a concern due to the fact that Scott owns his own business... which means when he can't go into work, he doesn't get paid.

I had asked a friend to pray about the financial situation Monday afternoon, but honestly, not expecting anything anytime soon.  That night we came home from our Life Group meeting for church and noticed a package on the front steps.  In that package was a monetary gift from some very precious friends.  Scott explained to the kids that God had been answering our prayer before we had even prayed.

My first reaction was tears and the thought , "How could I have doubted you, Lord?".  It was a reminder that the Lord still works miracles and that all that I think I have/own is still his.  I am only a steward, not the owner.  It was also a reminder to,

"Be still and know that I am God; I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth.  The Lord Almighty is with us; the God of Jacob is our fortress."  Psalm 46:10-11

However, the next day we faced yet another heartache as we found out that my mother-in-law, who has been fighting cancer, only has a few days left on this earth.  I am ashamed to say that I am spiritually related to the Israelites in the wilderness.  One day I can lay burdens at the cross and trust the Lord to care for me, and the next I hurry back to the cross... only to place the burden on my own shoulders.  I have found myself worrying about taking care of everything here, Scott's diet and treatments, finding money to fly to Wisconsin to say good-bye to Scott's mom, and more.  

I always wondered how the Israelites could see the pillar of fire or cloud and still doubt God.  They had the presence of the Lord right in the midst of their camp, and yet they were fearful, doubtful, and unfaithful.  And yet, I am the same.  I have seen the Lord work a miracle and I have the Holy Spirit as a believer, yet it only takes another trial and I turn from what I know about God and what I have seen God do only the day before.  I am a wretched human!  Please forgive me, Lord.

No wonder Isaiah says that "he sits enthroned above the circle of the earth, and it's people are like grasshoppers" (Is. 40:22).  He is Almighty, and I am only a frail human whose life is but a vapor.  

My dear friend from college sent me the lyrics to a song that was popular when we were at Cedarville.  It says,

"God is too wise to be mistaken, God is to good to be unkind.  So when you don't understand, when you don't see his plan, when you can't trace his hand, trust his heart".

Thank you Shandy (if you read this), for sending that to me!  May I live every day in that knowledge... that God is truly in control, and even when I can't see what he is doing, I can still trust his heart. 

Sunday, April 26, 2009

Making Changes

Well, this entry needs to be quick, but I just wanted to let you all know that we finally procured an appointment with the oncologist.  It is scheduled for May 13... which seems far away.  We won't be able to get a body scan to determine if the cancer has spread until we see the oncologist.  So, we still won't know the staging (how aggressive the cancer is) of the Hodgkins.  I realized that by the time he has a scan and it is read, it will have been over a month since his biopsy.  Seems like a long time doing nothing... therefore, we made some decisions this past weekend.

We met with a dear sister in Christ from our church this past Friday.  She has been a cancer survivor for 35 years!  She shared some information and encouragement with us.  It was a joy to talk with her.  After our discussion, Scott and I decided that there were immediate changes we could make in our lives while we wait for his appointment. 
We decided to go vegetarian.  No, we're not joining PETA, we just trying to eat more organic foods and limit his intake of meat and toxins.  We're also going to be juicing carrots and greens, in order to flush his system and provide a cleanse.  This tumor in his lymph node has alerted us to the fact that his lymphatic, blood, liver, and intestine probably need a good cleaning as they have been overwhelmed by toxins. 
I'm feeling overwhelmed, as it means a lot more work in the kitchen for me... and a lot more creativity.  If you know me, you'll understand that I'm not the most creative person when it comes to food.  When I find a recipe that works, I usually never go about changing it!  
We ran the numbers and decided that we will need to purchase about 70# of carrots per week!  Now, you can all pick yourselves off the floor because you fell off your chair laughing at that visual, I won't look quite that comical leaving the grocery store.  I can buy carrots at Costco in 10# bags... so I'll only need 7 bags per week.  At least I'm not leaving Costco with 7 flats of toilet paper!

That said, we are wanting to take steps to get Scott healthy again while we wait to see the oncologist.  I am reminded in 1 Corinthians 3:16-17:

"Don't you know that you yourselves are God's temple and that God's Spirit lives in you?  If anyone destroys God's temple, God will destroy him; for God's temple is sacred, and you are that temple"

It just reminds me that we should have high standards for how we treat our bodies... not only nutritionally but emotionally, psychologically, physically, spiritually, mentally... all those and more.  I think that the Lord wants so much more for us than we want for ourselves, and if we would look at how we treat ourselves, we might find cause for the Lord to discipline us.  I'm not just writing about how we eat, but what we think, say, do, watch, wish for, etc.  I'm being challenged right now to treat this temple of God, and my husband's temple of God, the best that I possibly can.  I know I can't do this by my own measure of strength... it takes reliance on the Lord. 

We watched "Facing the Giants" yesterday... the two little boys love it, and they play "Facing the Giants" after the movie.  For those of you not familiar, it is a movie put out by a church in Georgia about a high school football team.  Revival was sparked in the heart of the coach and ultimately to the team and the community... which is how revival starts anyway.  The theme in the movie is that, "Nothing is impossible with God".
As I look at the amount of work, juggling, planning, and preparing food, as well as all the regular duties with the kids, school, etc. that I have, I realize that I face a huge task.  I am remembering that Matthew 19:26 says, "With man this is impossible, but with God all things are possible".  On my own this would be insurmountable, but with God I'm pretty sure that he will enable me to overcome and to "walk on the heights".

Please pray that:
1. God would provide miraculous healing and that all who see it would believe and be in awe.

2. That we would fall passionately in love with Christ.

3. That I would not become overwhelmed with food prep and that the Lord would give me strength.

4. That our kids will understand why we are doing this, and will be gracious and cooperative.

Well, I guess this wasn't as short as I thought it would be!  Thanks for all your prayers.  We feel truly blessed!

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Our Journey with Cancer

"Yet this I call to mind and therefore I have hope.  Because of the LORD's great love, we are not consumed, for his compassions never fail.  They are new every morning; great is your faithfulness.  I say to myself, 'The LORD is my portion; therefore I will wait for him.' " (Lamentations 3:21-24) 

Well, I'm starting this blog to record this path the Lord is allowing us to walk.  I want you, our family and friends, to be able to use this to journey along with us.  If you are reading this, you are probably already aware that Scott has been diagnosed with Hodgkins Lymphoma.  The last week has been an emotional one for us and our children.  We have asked many questions of the Lord, but we always come back to the fact that the Lord loves us and he sees everything, while we only see a minute portion.  While I wish we didn't have to travel this road, I am looking forward to seeing how the Lord uses this in our life and in the lives of others.  This isn't what I would have chosen for us or for our children.  However, Scott reminded me that the Lord might be using this in a powerful way to develop our children into something even greater than we ever anticipated... and in us individually as well.  Obviously the Lord feels we need to go through this trial and testing of our faith.  1 Peter 1 and James remind me of why we go through trials.

I don't have anything new to report as of yet.  Currently, I have been spending the day trying to get Scott in to an oncologist and trying to update everyone on the biopsy report.  I gave a full report to his liver doctor and I received a referral to the oncologist from them.  I still have to obtain copies of the CT scan, biopsy, and pathology report.  I told a friend that if I had a nickel for every time I heard "press 1 for more options" these past two days...  Hopefully we can get an appointment soon.  Scott will need to get a scan of his whole body to determine if the cancer has spread any farther than that one lymph node.  

I was able to spend some time last night and then this morning with various dear friends.  It has been good for me to be able to talk and receive encouragement from them.  I have to admit that this road looks long and I find myself feeling weary before we even begin.  Please pray that I will not grow weary, that I will be able to keep life "normal" for my children, and that I would serve Scott with a joyful heart.

If you would like to pray for us, here are a few other things to get you started :) :

1. We are praying with faith that the Lord would completely and miraculously heal Scott, and that all who see it and hear of it would be in awe of our God.

2. Pray that we would make the priorities the priorities.

3. That our children would openly discuss everything with us, and that the Lord would lead them gently through this while their character is built and refined.

4. That we would fall deeply in love with our Saviour, Jesus Christ.

I was reminded recently of a trial in my own life, that after I went through and came out on the other side of the fire, the Lord bestowed blessing on my life and gave me a baby girl (Aspen).  I held my blessing in my arms almost a year after that trial.  What a picture for me to hold in my mind as I look ahead to this trial.  Thanks for praying.. we love you all!