Thursday, December 26, 2013

Merry Christmas!!!!

It's been a fun week of distractions for Caleb.  Jesus is the reason for the season, & that has brought a lot of joy to our family. You could almost call Cal's chemo experience "fun" on Monday!  Texas Children's Cancer Center really "decked the halls" with colorful Christmas decorations, inside & out.  
Seems less daunting to a child to go get "needle sticks", with such an inviting atmosphere.

Plus, Cal's sweet high-tech nurse got Christmas tunes rockin' with Pandora on her cell.  His Oncologist was dressed in green & red with a flashing Christmas tree necklace.  Other medical workers wore reindeer antlers!
"Breathing" his medications went well, to avoid swallowing more pills.
 Talk about distractions!  They encouraged us to dress up in silly costumes for a photo session.

Acting crazy before chemo.
One of Cal's nurses even got on the floor with him, when she noticed that is where he was most comfortable.
The love & dedication of these nurses is amazing.  It's incredible to witness how they treat all of the children.
Wait - WHO is at our door????     :)
Zachary & Caleb got the surprise of their lives, when Santa & Mrs. Claus rang our doorbell!  They shared fun stories of the North Pole, plus read a story & even delivered special packages.  Cal had been pretty concerned Santa might not come to our home this year, since his medical condition didn't allow him to go visit Santa, as usual. 
(A huge thanks to the Pellegrino fam for making this happen & the Greens for informing us about it.) 
It was a special occasion that will remain in our thoughts for an eternity.  They're still talking about it!  :)
We hope you & yours are enjoying every second of this magical season.  I just realized this is the first time since I was 18 years old that I didn't send Christmas cards.  We'll have to really make up for that next year!  :)  We are so ready for 2014! 

Friday, December 20, 2013

Our New Normal

Merry almost Christmas, everyone!  We sure are enjoying the holidays.  Caleb is doing pretty well.  He's in super high spirits & happy as can be.  We are doing everything on our part to help his body continue to heal.  Sometimes I feel helpless, because I truly believe "we are what we eat".  Caleb only wants to eat potato chips.  That's it.  Nothing else.  This is the little boy, who just a few short months ago, adored broccoli, edamame, asparagus, spinach, and all things green.  I hear this all the time from other cancer patients' families, so I know it's not unusual, but it doesn't make it any easier.  That being said - we're only buying organic, all-natural, low sodium chips.  :)  Still offering him lots of goodies and hoping any day - he'll accept them.

We feel it's important that he's in the ideal environment, so we're monitoring the air he breathes.  All I've asked from Santa is a new water filter that will make sure the alkalinity of his water is perfect.  Zachary's teacher from last year is helping give us ideas about all of that, as she's been in a similar situation with her daughter & has already done the research.   That includes special bedding, as well.  Anything we can do to help, we're trying!

The boys were so excited about the new bedding, they hopped up on the counter top for a fun moment with Mrs. Donna Eller.  (closely supervised, of course, ha ha)

Caleb is having night terrors.  He often cries and screams throughout the night, which means very little sleep for the rest of the family.  We're not sure if this is from his medications or just the trauma of all he's been through.  The great thing - he has no recollection of it the next day. 

As for specific prayers, we'd love for you to consider asking God to help Caleb desire healthy food and to rest peacefully at night.  We feel that Cal will stay on his "medical map" much better if he's living, eating, and breathing everything that lives up to gold standards.  God bless you all.

Friday, December 13, 2013

Lucky Friday the 13th

Our family has never been one to be superstitious, but after Caleb was diagnosed with cancer on Friday the 13th of September, we haven't been too fond of that date.  However, God spoke loud & clear today, on this Friday the 13th of December, to not be scared of a silly superstition.  Cal's blood levels not only went up, as we were hoping... they doubled!  Many ranges even fit into a healthy child's range, now!  That means he finally got his much needed chemo & his bone marrow aspiration has been cancelled.

Caleb feels a little "wiped out", but is resting comfortably at home tonight.
We can now enjoy the holidays again and are thrilled he's getting back on his medical track.  The longer we have these delays, the bigger the chance he can't start first grade on time next year. 

We truly feel that your prayers were instrumental in this fantastic news.  "Thank you" doesn't seem like enough... wish we could hug you all.  God bless you for sticking with us through the ups & downs.  Wow, it feels good to have an up, for a change!   :) 

Monday, December 9, 2013

Sweet Reprieve

A big sigh of relief for a few more days.  Caleb's blood work looks better and is promising, but still not where it needs to be to receive chemo.   He'll go back on Friday and try again. 

We want to say thank you to all of our family and friends who remain faithful and give us so much help and hope through reassuring words and prayers during this complicated journey.

We've met several children with the same diagnosis. One child's blood work has been "off" like Caleb's and she is out of remission and doing poorly, while the other is doing just fine.  We all celebrate the triumphs & hold close to each other during the down times, because there's no way to predict what will happen from day to day with this disease.

It's a learning curve for all of us, but it's made easier by those of you who care.  God bless you. We will continue to praise God during this "storm".

Sunday, December 8, 2013

Push for Prayers

Hello everyone, as you probably know, Monday, December 9th is a pivotal day for Caleb and our family.  We will find out if Caleb is still in remission.  If not, his treatment plan could drastically change, & certainly not for the better.   Please pray that Caleb is cancer-free & that his chemotherapy will not be delayed again, as it unexpectedly has been for the past month.  Thank you from the bottom of our hearts, & God bless you for reaching out for this little boy.

Monday, December 2, 2013

Surviving on Faith

Unexpected events today mean another delay in chemotherapy.  While it was great to spend less than four hours at the hospital today, Cal needs to be getting chemo!   His blood counts are still surprisingly low, too low for his body to handle any medicine.  This raises a red flag & prompts the question:  Has his cancer come back?   

We beg for your prayers for Caleb to still be in remission.  In a perfect world, his levels shoot up, & he gets chemo for the first time in a month next week.  If his numbers aren't up next week, doctors have scheduled an "emergency" bone marrow aspiration, to figure out what's going on. 

Please pray that we get to cancel that procedure next week & move on with his medical road map.  

Our hearts are heavy, but our faith is strong.  As my mom (Caleb's "Mimie") always reminds us, "When the going gets tough, the tough get going".  I'm ready more than ever to help Caleb beat this horrible thing called cancer.

Something else that really helps is a book called "Jesus is Calling".  I find so much comfort in its words.  I just opened it to a random page, and as always, found relief in the perfect counseling, based on Psalm 23 this time:  "When anxiety attempts to wedge its way into your thoughts, remind yourself that I am your Shepherd.  The bottom line is that I am taking care of you; therefore, you needn't be afraid of anything."   I'm glad "Jesus Called" Today!  I know He's taking care of Caleb.

On the upside today:
1.  Caleb is happy he'll feel good without chemo side-effects another week.
2.  Zachary is thrilled he gets another week of play with his little running buddy.
3.  As we enter the month of December, Caleb must be feeling Christmas in the air.  He finally got to finish his painting that Texas Children's will enter in the Houston Rodeo contest.
The artist, hard at work...
He told his nurse if he wins the $200 prize, he'll spend the money on his brother.  Then as usual, after his "needle sticks", he got to pick out a special gift in this magical closet at the hospital.  This time, he picked out a surprise for his brother and was much more excited about giving than getting.  (This used to be a typical Kindergartner who didn't like to share his toys.)  Now, that's the true spirit of Christmas.  It feels good to find a smile among the tears.

Thursday, November 28, 2013

So much to be thankful for!

On this special Thanksgiving day, 
as we pray for healing, prosperity, and God’s mighty hand to ease our suffering, one of our favorite songs by Laura Story comes to mind:

“Cause what if your blessings come through raindrops,
What if your healing comes through tears,
What if a thousand sleepless nights are what it takes to know You're near.
What if our greatest disappointments, or the aching of this life,
Is the revealing of a 'greater thirst' this world can't satisfy.
What if trials of this life:  the rain, the storms, the hardest nights,
Are Your mercies in disguise.”

We believe all of that.  That's why it's so easy to be thankful today. 
This was right after Caleb got out of the hospital, after being diagnosed with leukemia.  I am so thankful for this child.
Every November, our family comes up with a “What we’re thankful for” list.  Caleb’s list is obviously A LOT different than usual.  Of course, it’s usually a private list, but this year, I felt it was worthy of sharing.   

What Caleb is Thankful For:  His Top 10 List got stretched to a “baker’s dozen” this year.
1.  God and Jesus 
2.  My family and friends (he individually named EVERYONE... this took a while.)  :)
3.  My nanny Nicole
This was an adventurous outing with Nicole this week.  No chemo the past two weeks, means he felt like playing for the first time in months. 
 4.  My doctor
Very loving Oncologist Dr. ZoAnn Dreyer
          5.  My homeschool teacher, Mrs. McDonald & my teacher at school, Mrs. Elrod, who sends me cards from her and my friends 
Caleb got to be in Mrs. Elrod's class just a few weeks, before he got sick
      6.  I didn’t lose all of my hair & now Maggie looks like me.  (So far, miraculously, Cal has only lost about half of his hair & his once VERY fluffy dog is now sporting a crew cut 
Maggie's new look
      7.  Chicken (So much for turkey)
      8.  The Candlelighters (Childhood Cancer Family Alliance) for sending me to cancer camp & to the Texans Tunnel to high-five the players 
Caleb & Zach loved seeing the Houston Texans players, coaches, and owner up close & personal
        9.  Charlie Brown movies 
      10.  My ipad.
      11.  Google, so I can see what blood cells & platelets look like under a microscope  (wow)
      12.  Cards, crafts, & fun treasures from people to cheer me up
      13.  The Houston Livestock Show & Rodeo

     We're thankful Caleb got the break from chemotherapy, so that he was able to come up with his list with lots of giggles & stories about why he chose them.  We hope you find blessings in learning from this Kindergartner, who has turned into a little man overnight.