Saturday, July 30, 2016

Steps in the Right Direction!

Thank you for reaching out to us and for caring about Caleb and our family.  Our family, friends, colleagues, & everyone's prayers have helped keep us sane this past week!

 Things are definitely looking up, though Caleb is still at high risk.  His fever finally broke the higher numbers and is hovering around 100.  He's starting to eat and laugh again, which is comparable to a harmonic symphony to our ears.  :)

The IV medications are OVER!!!  He is thrilled to no longer be "tethered" to a pole!

Here's the biggest announcement of all:  he's going to recover now at home!  Specialists feel like he has stabilized.  The important blood counts they're watching are still at "0" and his fever is considered low-grade and no longer a threat.  They have cultured everything imaginable, and all of the tests have come back negative - which is HUGE and fabulous news!

Texas Children's Hospital recently changed their protocol with children in similar situations.  Since Caleb's blood counts are not recovering in the hospital, they feel like he will recover faster in the comforts of home!  His own bed, sleeping through the night without interruptions, all of his favorite homemade foods, and a little sunshine are officially what the doctor ordered.  It is a HUGE responsibility, since he is so vulnerable to infection right now.  We are in the shock 'n awe phase, because in just a matter of days, we've gone from talk of the possibility of an ICU transfer to him going home! We think doctors are spot-on with this idea!
As soon as Caleb found out he was going home, he busted out a filter on my phone and started being silly again.  Surely laughter will help build those white blood cells.  I will begin my research of foods to prepare.... I'm thinking super high protein... to help strengthen his fragile body.

THANK YOU for helping get us through this crisis.  When I was sitting in Caleb's hospital room, & he was sleeping all of the time with a high fever, I felt so helpless.  For the first few days of his hospitalization, we tried to keep it quiet and just deal with it.  When things weren't looking up, and we felt like we were going to lose it, we reached out, and you helped get us through it.  Once we started the prayer chain, a peace came over us.  Knowing others "had his back" made us feel like warriors.  It wiped away that awful emotion (called fear).  When we found out that Caleb's favorite radio station, KSBJ had a moment of prayer for him, even Caleb told us he KNEW everything was going to be OK, because he loves their motto:  "God Listens."  We can't wait until this cancer journey is over for Caleb, and he can just be a kid and not a patient, and we can concentrate more on helping others in crisis. 

A Chaplain from our church spent time in Caleb's room encouraging us and praying over Caleb.  It is amazing how God put people on this Earth who know the right things to say and strengthen us in such a beautiful way.

 As a friend reminded us, 
Do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand. Isaiah 41:10

Caleb's new favorite board game is Disney trivia, so I've got to go now, so he can beat me again!  '-)

Wednesday, July 27, 2016

Prayer Chain, Please

Caleb had to be admitted to Texas Children's Hospital on Tuesday.  His blood counts have continued to hit an all-time low, and his white blood cells have now bottomed-out. 

Doctors are racing to test everything possible to figure out why, as he has been off of chemotherapy now for 9 days, to help the numbers go back up.  They just started a fourth IV antibiotic, in an attempt to treat whatever is causing this and to help keep his fever down. 

A blood transfusion does not help white blood cells, so there is nothing anyone can do now.  We just have to wait for his levels to start to rise on their own.  

Caleb is not allowed visitors, as his body is too vulnerable right now, so his family of four is there by his side.  I slipped out of his room, before the sun came up, for work this morn.  My managers are amazing!  It's a huge blessing that they allow me to leave right after the newscast to be with Caleb, so I will be back at the hospital before he even wakes up.  His dad and big bro are by his side until then. 

We are praying that God wraps his arms around his body, protects him from germs, and raises his blood levels.

Thank you for always being there for our family.  We keep reminding Caleb:  only 5 months of treatment left!  We're almost there.  God bless you. 

Sunday, July 24, 2016

Tell Your Heart to Beat Again

That's what my family keeps telling each other.  Do you know the story behind singer Danny Gokey's song "Tell Your Heart to Beat Again"?  If not, I highly encourage you to watch this quick clip and listen to the song.

It has been an interesting few months for Caleb.  

His health has given us a few big scares, and his cancer has made us cherish family more than ever. 
 Because of that, we have spent the past few months packing up our home that Caleb has grown up in and moving closer to my parents and all of our family.  We expected to spend so much more quality time with them.  Then, we got the shock of a lifetime.  Last weekend - Caleb's grandfather, my dad, was taken by ambulance - lights flashing- to the hospital. 
A few hours later, he was diagnosed with a rare terminal illness.
Caleb adores his granddad.  He has always been the picture of health.... never sick a day in his life... the only person I've ever known in their 70's to have never needed a prescription medication.
This is a brilliant man, who takes the time to teach the boys all kinds of things!
 How can it be - that doctors are now numbering his days and apologizing that there is no cure?  We have had to dig so deep to stay strong, rely on our faith, and keep our eyes on Jesus.  
My dad is a loving man to his children, grandchildren, and has been a wonderful husband to my mom for 53 years!
I cannot emphasize enough how very important it is to cherish loved ones every waking hour of the day.  We all know that tomorrow is not promised to us, but until you're hit with something like this, I think it's easy to take loved ones for granted. We think they will always be here with us. 

We are asking for prayers to help make my dad, Don Wilson, comfortable.  To get him off of oxygen.  To allow him some more time on this Earth.  To keep him positive.  To keep him strong.  He's one of the Godliest men I've ever known, and that is going to get him and all of his family through this.  

Caleb is unexpectedly off of chemo this week.  His blood counts took a big nose dive.  We are working to lower his stress levels.  He can't go anywhere in public, as one germ could be detrimental for his health.  It was tough for him to not go to the hospital to see his granddad, but luckily we're hospital-free now and my dad spent the evening with us last night.  

To backtrack, Caleb wrapped-up baseball season, and we were so happy he got through it. 
The smile shows you how much he loves it.
Unfortunately, many games ended up like this - with him sick and recovering for a while afterward.  He has decided to take a season off and try out for spring season.  He'll be off of chemo by then and on the road toward building strength and new muscle tone.
One of the biggest scares of his treatment happened in May.  Doctors feared he had contracted meningitis, the form that few survive. 
He was so very sick and our attempts to cheer him up didn't work for days.  It ended up "just" being a spinal tap leak, and we have never been so thrilled, relieved, and thankful in our entire lives. 
Caleb was shocked that doctors gave him the "green light" to eat sushi.  Crazy kid loves fish so much in any & every form. 
The start of the summer was fun for Cal, as he turned 9.  Our precious friends, Mark & Heather, threw a surprise party for him at their ranch. 
Heather is the amazing friend who came up with the "Courage of a Lion" for Caleb at the first of his diagnosis, and he relies on that all of the time!
One of my besties, Beth, also came up with an all natural dye-free paleo cake and spent hours making it for him!      
 When we moved, Caleb wanted his new room to be as bright and happy as physically possible.  He chose bold red chalkboard paint.  
He loves being able to "legally" write on his walls!
We really enjoyed going to a celebration of life and end of chemo for Cal's friend, Nolan (far left.)  All four of these boys have been cancer fighters.  They have so much in common.  It's powerful seeing them together and knowing how strong they've all had to be. 
Caleb just attended his 10th golf tourney that I host for Children at Risk.  How is 10 possible?  Because he was there with me when I was 9 months pregnant with him, too!  ha ha.  

The Houston School of Massage therapists on the course REALLY spoiled him this year.  Now he's ready for next year's tourney RIGHT NOW.  
My thoughtful boss also provided lots of fun entertainment for the boys!
Daddy David gets creative when Caleb isn't feeling well - and takes him on a walk anyway... the manly way to do it!
A precious woman from a local church made this beautiful afghan for me and had it delivered to my job.  
She even had her pastor bless it and pray over it in my name.  It is so meaningful.  Unfortunately, the card got lost in our move and I haven't even been able to reach her.  If you happen to be reading this and know who it is - please let me know!  I want to hug her precious neck.  She also made Caleb a matching pillow. I will rely on this blanket now, more than ever, for multiple reasons. I will cherish it at hospital visits for my son and dad and many times in between! 
I'm also wearing my "Courage" lion necklace for added strength.  Thanks, Laurie!
 For now, I'll keep telling my heart to beat again.  Words fall short in times like these, when the world draws you to your knees.  I want the shadows to fall away, and I want to step into the light of grace.  As the song states, all of our stories are far from over.  Why a child is diagnosed with cancer in Kindergarten or why a Godly man, who has earned many more years on this Earth, is diagnosed with an incurable disease is impossible for me to understand.  I know I can't question God.  I know it's in His plan.  I know we will all be together for eternity. 

1 Peter 5:7 
He is always thinking about you and watching everything that concerns you.  

Sunday, April 3, 2016

He is Risen

Caleb enjoyed an amazing Easter!  Celebrating Christ's comeback seemed to be a turning point for Caleb.  It feels like Caleb is beginning to rise again.

It was a beautiful & unseasonably warm winter in Houston, but it has honestly felt cold & dreary for Caleb.  It's hard to describe, so I've remained silent on his blog, because I haven't known what to say.  I'll keep that part brief.  After three years of daily chemotherapy, it was like Cal hit a brick wall.  He's old enough to realize that he has to struggle to keep up with his friends.  That's a tough realization for someone as competitive as Caleb.  

This is what many nights "looked like" when we brought out the chemo.  He became rebellious about taking it & struggled with his diagnosis. 
It's almost like he pushed himself so hard during the day to do well at school, that he was "just done" everyday when he got home.  

Organizations, like the Sunshine Kids Foundation, understand the reality of cancer and how tough it can be on kids.  They have worked hard to bring sunshine into Caleb's life. 

They invited him to enjoy "Dinner on the Dirt" with all of the major monster truck drivers.  He loved it!
Caleb, Zach, and their buddy Jake had a great time! 
The Sunshine Kids also invited Cal & Zach to a special Houston Texans Training Camp.  They got kicking and throwing lessons & were in awe of how much fun player Christian Covington is!
Baseball is in full swing, pun intended.  :-)  What a way to kick-off the season!  Caleb's Little League invited him to throw the first pitch, and they honored him for his courage to continue to play, even when he doesn't feel like it.  
David is his coach for the Cubs.  The games are the highlight of every week!
Caleb loves going to the Houston Livestock Show & Rodeo every year.  It's always a VERY long walk back to the car each time.  This year, we had some much needed help!  Zachary has gotten so strong, that he gave us a break & helped carry Caleb to the car.  It's quite the group effort.
Only 1/4 of a way there... but Caleb thinks it's more fun on big bro's back!
Some positive news in the advancement of medicine!  Texas Children's is now offering sedation for spinal taps under the power of "laughing gas".  We're told it doesn't work for every patient, but it was MUCH EASIER for Caleb!  He didn't get sick, as usual, and recovered much faster.  This is such a relief for our family for future procedures!!!
We've worked hard to get Caleb back on track.  Besides some alternative therapy, we took a long Spring Break and gave him undivided attention.  He helped plan the trip, and we poured every ounce of our positive energy into him, and added so much love & laughter.  It all seemed to really help.
His favorite was drilling a hole in the ice at a lake in Minnesota.  Thank goodness our fishing guides brought along this tent - b/c the wind chill was in the teens!  Thanks to my Aunt Nancy for tips about where to go - she used to live there!
Our ice fishing was prosperous!  We reached our limit in just a few minutes and had to just enjoy "catch & release" after that.  I cooked fresh fish for Caleb for days.  He loved it!
Snow tubing brought a lot of giggles, and that was magic to our ears!

We even got to go hiking.  His big bro pulled through again, when our backs got too tired to carry those little "chemo legs".

For some reason, Caleb has been obsessed with Mount Rushmore since Pre-K!  You can see how happy he was to finally see it for himself!

While we were away, my two AMAZING colleagues, Raymond Ramirez and David Canada shaved their heads AGAIN in Cal's honor.  Together, they raised about $6,000 for St. Baldrick's.  

Caleb and I got to "Facetime" and witness the action LIVE, which was very special! 
That's a lot of hair!  Thanks guys - for making a difference in others lives, through Caleb!
We all came back with renewed hope and with a spring in our step! 
Caleb had a great check-up and his "counts" are right where they need to be!
Caleb often lies on the couch at my little gym and watches Zach and I work out.  Even though he had on flip-flops last week, he kicked them off and "boxed" with Zachary.  It was an amazing sight to see!
I can't even describe how much this photo means!  Caleb - doing the carrying - this time!  WOW.  He was able to carry his little buddy, Angeli, all over the place.  Things are undoubtedly getting better. 
We just got back from a family wedding that was even more uplifting for Caleb!  He got to meet two amazing young ladies, who have been raising money in his honor for years! 

Caleb couldn't believe he could finally see some of the precious youngsters who have written so many special notes to him.  They are students of David's cousin, Rhonda, in Woodson, Tx.  Please keep Baylee in your prayers (on the left).  She is often in the fight for her life because of Type 1 Diabetes.  What a precious child to help Caleb, when she has to endure so much herself.
It was an amazing wedding at a ranch - in the wide open, beautiful outdoors, with so many fun games - who could ask for more?  It added even more sunshine to our lives.  Thanks Bri & Tommy! 
God is definitely answering our prayers and giving us so much hope.  Tomorrow is going to be a brighter day.  Thank you for your continued prayers.  Much love from our family to yours!

Sunday, December 27, 2015

Just Be Held

We hope you had a very Merry Christmas!!!  We sure wish cancer treatments & side-effects could stop during the holidays, but it just doesn't work that way.  "Just be held".  That's what Caleb has needed the past few weeks.  His family, too.  He has done his best to try to enjoy & cherish time with family throughout the holidays, even though most of the time, he wanted to be alone in a quiet room... often asking to just be held. 

It has been an interesting month for Cal, with a lot of ups and downs since Thanksgiving. He caught a virus that made his blood levels plummet.  They've been so low, he had to miss school & stay home & away from crowds the past month.

Even walking up the stairs at home caused him to be short of breath, because of low red blood cells.  Luckily, a blood transfusion helped give him a boost & some added strength.   

A friend of our darling cousin, Gerri, made this wonderful & comforting "Caleb's Courage" quilt, which has been an important reminder to him.  It helps empower him & reminds him to be courageous on the hard days.  Thanks, Lesa!
Driving home from the hospital after that transfusion & all-day hospital stay was tough.  It brought back too many memories of leaving the medical center, as the sun goes down over Houston & the Christmas lights flicker to life.  It reminded me of the rough beginnings of Caleb's treatments and how vulnerable he still is.  As I fought back tears and Caleb was in and out of consciousness, one of his favorite songs came on & he began belting out the tune.  Soon, my tears, along with Zachary's, turned into smiles.  As the band, Casting Crowns sang, "Your world's not falling apart, it's falling into place.  I'm on the throne, stop holding on, and just be held".  Driving home, I held tight to the wheel, but I stopped holding on to my own understanding about why Caleb has to endure so much.  I just sat and felt the arms of Jesus around me.  It felt safe & secure.  Zach said he felt the same way.

Because of Caleb's low levels, he had to revert back to weekly appointments & blood draws.  Luckily, Texas Children's does everything it can to distract kids during the holidays!    

We had a wonderful visitor, who really brought out the boys' creativity.  He's a local college student and writer, who helped them come up with a fascinating story.  It was amazing how he lead them in the right direction to bring about the most beautiful and funny story - with life lessons along the way!
"The Great Fishy Adventure" is about their pet turtle & leopard gecko.
The art department at the hospital also encouraged Zachary to learn a new form of art, which he really enjoyed!

Caleb also got to visit his precious friend, Arda, in the hospital.  
Arda was actually strong enough to get disconnected from his IV pole & walk to the cafeteria with us! Thank you for your continued prayers for this little cancer fighter.  We are still lifting up this beautiful family!  Since the boys often get lonely while their friends are at school, they communicate through FaceTime and play games online together.  I think that's powerful camaraderie.
Luckily, right before Cal became home-bound, he got to participate in a "Reader's Theater" at his school about the Christmas Story, and he was really excited to serve as the Narrator.   

We are so happy he got to experience that, as he was disappointed to miss his Christmas Program at school, as well as all of the Christmas parties.  It's such a magical time of year to miss out on and we can tell that his "cabin fever" is running high. 
Caleb also got to enjoy playing in snow, that we created for our Scout's Christmas party! 
He had so much fun throwing snow balls and sliding on the ice.  We miss hearing him giggle & are relieved that his laugh is starting to make a come-back!!!
Another special moment - even though he felt bad & we had to carry him to the car - he got to go to the Houston Texans game and get an "up close and personal look" at all of the Texans players again!   
Those are some fun & BIG "high-fives"!  
He even got to be there with his Oncologist from Texas Children's Hospital. It was really exciting for him!  Caleb loves football and watches intensely!  The experience is all thanks to the Candlelighters Childhood Cancer Family Alliance and Texans' player, Kareem Jackson.  His sister battled leukemia, so he reaches out to young leukemia patients.  What a great guy!
As you can imagine, being home-bound means catching up on a lot of schoolwork! 

Luckily our saving grace, Mrs. Tammy McDonald, came back to the rescue!  It makes it so much more fun for him to do a large amount of school work with her, and she really helped keep him up-to-speed, so that he will be ready to start the new year. 
Our Christmas cards were a bit different this year.  When we were getting family portraits taken, Zachary grabbed his shoes on the way out the door - not realizing they no longer fit!  As if that wasn't a big enough mess, Caleb overheats a lot because of his medications, so we had to put ice packs under his sweater. 

He also had to take a lot of "water breaks" to stay hydrated.  We didn't realize our photographer was snapping a few of those funny shots, along the way! 
When we got the pictures back - there were some we were proud of - but our favorite ones turned out to be the unexpected candid shots.
While they were meant for our humor only, we realized - they were so transparent - they were a more true picture of our everyday lives!  Balancing cancer, along with everything else going on in our lives, makes it always feel like we're a beat behind.   
This tells the "true story" of the drama we went through that day, with Zachary limping around the Arboretum, & we just burst out laughing, when we saw them.  Zach encouraged me to make "silly cards" this year, and I agreed.
It also reminded me a lot of social media, where it often looks like everyone's life is perfect.  We all put our "best foot forward", right?  

The perfect example is the front of our Christmas card. Everyone is all lined up - neatly in a row - and happily smiling. 
Then you open the card - to find old shoes that don't fit & a crazy looking family.  That's us.  That's REALLY who we are. 
Nothing ever seems "just right" when you have a sick child.  More days, than not this month, we haven't felt much better than a tired shoe.  We can either feel sorry about that or we can rely on God & our faith & make the best out of every miserable situation. That's what we strive so hard to do. 

Laugh - be silly - be so very thankful for the good in our lives - & there is a lot of good - and look forward to healthier days. 

On a super happy note - Santa & Mrs. Claus came to visit us at the house!   

They gave lots of TLC to the boys.  (Thanks so much to Cathy Pellegrino for helping bring this dream to life!)
Santa also gave happy greetings, to our dear friend & huge Caleb supporter, Christine, for her birthday. 

As we wrap-up 2015, we can't believe Caleb only has ONE MORE YEAR of treatments!  To help build his strength, doctors took Caleb off of all chemotherapy for 8 days.  Caleb called it a "Christmas miracle"!!!  He's back to daily chemo now - but half the typical dose, this week.  

 Caleb got some very special reminders for Christmas to stay courageous throughout his battle.  

Thanks to my parents for wonderful symbols of courage.
As the year comes to an end, we hope you'll remember to just stop "and be held" when you need it most.  "When you're on your knees and answers seem so far away, stop holding on and just be held.  Just be held".  Hopefully we can share something that helps us - that will also bless your life, if and when you need it.  

When you need to "loosen your tie" and could use a helping hand, please remember that God is always there.
Thank you for blessing our family by being in this long cancer fight with us.