Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Faces of Cancer



Caleb has been in crisis off and on the past two weeks.  He's feeling much better at this moment, because his fever has broken, & doctors now have his red blood cell count under control.  There's nothing ANYONE can do to help bring Caleb's white blood cell count up.  His body & bone marrow have to do that all on their own.  He has zeroed-out in that department.  That means he will literally live in a bubble, until he has "safe levels", because it would be very difficult for his body to fight an infection.  We're leaning on God to help with this one.

We face so many thoughts & emotions, as we look back exactly one year ago, when our 6-year old Caleb was diagnosed with Acute Lymphocytic Leukemia.  One thing we've all counted on the past year is Caleb's extraordinary strength! 

When Caleb was a toddler, we nicknamed him "Tank" & "Bam-Bam", because he was so rough & tough.  He was unusually strong.  We never realized then how that would come into play & be so necessary, later in his little life.  We thank God everyday for his strength. 
August 2013.  Caleb's first Kindergarten event, to meet his teacher.  He looked like the picture of health, but his legs were so weak, he always wanted to sit down.  We didn't know why.

On Caleb's first day of Kindergarten, he thought it was a good idea to take his school pictures lying down.  We, nor his doctors at that point, could figure out why he didn't want to walk.  
A few weeks later, on Friday, September 13, 2013, our lives changed forever.  An Oncologist, I had known and interviewed countless times the past decade through my medical reporting, walked into Caleb’s hospital room with tears in her eyes.  I knew before she ever said a word that he had cancer.


Only a few weeks later, our Caleb was transformed through an extraordinary amount of steroids.  We considered it a blessing to be able to kiss his wonderful, soft cheeks. He is, and always will be, our Superman.

Courage the Lion & Elvis the Lion added new smiles and helped fuel even more courage on the hard days.

By November, Caleb felt so rotten, he completely lost his appetite, and we finally understood how those reserves from the steroids were so important.  
  
By spring, everything seemed to be blooming, except for Caleb's light brown locks.  "At home chemotherapy" became a way of life for us all.  It was just part of our nightly routine and eventually felt as normal as reading a bedtime story. 
Caleb handled life without hair with dignity.  He preferred to wear caps most of the time, but we loved "all natural" moments, when hair was the last thing on any of our minds. 
"Hero the Lion" often came to the rescue.  Caleb seldom got to leave our home the past year, except for hospital visits.  On most days, he accepted this without complaints, but every once in a while - "cancer" was written all over his face. 


Not for long, though!  This is the perfect example of Caleb's strength.  Even though this was a rough day at the cancer center, Cal was still able to conjure up a smile.  Courage the Lion has always been there, lending a comfortable, silent message of Deuteronomy 31:6 to remain strong and courageous.
Sept. 2014.  One year later, the first day of First grade for Caleb brought renewed hope and was one of the happiest days of our lives.  He felt great.  We loved the surprise of his new platinum blonde, curly hair.

Last week, we faced the second scare of our lives with him, when doctors had to search Caleb's blood for "blasts" or leukemia cells, because of his abnormal results. We feared a recurrence, which would be devastating.  God prevailed.  His cancer has NOT made a comeback.  His chemo is keeping it suppressed. 



We got the next big scare a few days later (this week), with Caleb's first hospitalization (admission), since his diagnosis.  A high fever prompted it all, along with bone marrow suppression.  Another blood transfusion and now we watch & wait for hopeful results that his levels will soon rise.
Caleb has already missed several weeks of school, but his wonderful teacher is working hard to send all of his homework home to us, plus a bonus - his loving home school teacher from last year is helping keep him up-to-date.

We just shared a special weekend with Caleb, before this last setback, celebrating all he has overcome the past year.  We were surprised to hear him say that he doesn't feel one ounce better today than he did one year ago, before his diagnosis.  The faces of cancer have certainly changed month-by-month this past year, but not the way he feels.  That's disappointing to us, but expected.  We hope that changes soon though, and we look forward to three years from now when treatment is over.  On his 10th birthday, we KNOW he'll say he finally feels better. We're thankful for our prayer warriors & brilliant doctors & nurses at Texas Children's.

Finally, a special song to share with you that one of our neighbor's wrote for Caleb.  Her grandson is singing & our Zachary is one of the back-up singers.  Enjoy & God bless. (You can copy & paste the link in your browser.)

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=I29zQCZvLHU&feature=youtu.be

27 comments:

  1. Sending all the good and positive energy to Caleb, he will get well soon

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  2. Praying for your Caleb. ����

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  3. Aww! Made me teary eyed to reflect with you. Sending all of you positive vibes, prayers, and well wishes. Cynthia. Deer Park

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  4. Nothing is too hard for our Lord. We pray Caleb's white blood counts will rise & his strength will be restored. We also pray for strength & peace for your family, especially for Zach. I'm sure it is difficult to adjust to this abrupt change.

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  5. Remember when I told you what the Biblical meaning of Caleb is? He has certainly lived up to "Bold and Strong". We are praying for yawl sweetie! Terri Guiles

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  6. We are praying for Caleb and your family. We love you!

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  7. Thanks for the update Melissa. Prayers continue from here!

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  8. Thank you again and again and again for the updates. The pictures are amazing and most of the time I don't know what to say other then "WE ARE HERE FOR YOU ALL"! We pray every night for strength and healing!!! XXXOOO The Green's

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  9. God is in control!! I keep telling myself, this too shall pass! Love Auntie Donna

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  10. As tears stream down my face from the sadness of what he is going through and the cheerfulness for how far he has come, please know that you, your precious family, and Caleb's doctors remain in our prayers. Much love, the Kaminskys

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  11. you are a Strong mother and a model to children with cancer, Caleb is a very brave boy, he has a smile that makes you want to smile. He has to be a Joy to God to have and show such a happy attitude with what he small body is going thru, He is truly a model for Children, you have to be proud parents with such a proud and happy child. God bless him and may all the ANGELS in heaven continue to watch over him. Good night Caleb and bless you so much for the special and brave child you are.

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  12. Auntie Beth and the CrookiesSeptember 18, 2014 at 1:45 AM

    We love you and him soo much. He is constantly in our thoughts. The kids and I stop throughout the day to say a prayer for him. Last night, Heather added her own prayer to bedtime routine, "Dear God, please make Caleb strong and feel better. Amen." Perfect words from a child. They keep asking when they can hug him. Maybe it's better that we aren't there right now so I don't have to fight them for that honour.
    All of the ladies that you met when you visited are thinking about and asking about you and Cal. Just know that you have impacted lives beyond what you know and Caleb's strength stretches across oceans. Kiss our boys (all 3 of them) and know that you are all loved.
    "You are precious, honoured and I love you." - Isaiah 43:4

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  13. Thinking of you all Malissa and sending thoughts of love and healing to sweet Caleb from Tania and my boys in Scotland Xxxx

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  14. Thank you for the update and know that so many of your prayer warriors are out here praying constantly for Caleb and the entire family. We love you all so much! I am thankful for modern medicine and the incredible care that you are getting there in Houston. What a blessing! Caleb is getting stronger all the time and i'm astounded at his resilience.

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  15. We are so very moved by Caleb's brave fight. He is one remarkable little guy, and there is no more loving family than yours. We're praying, and I'm sharing this, both on FB and in person, asking for more and more prayers to help Caleb to win this tough fight, to be happy and well, and to feel GOOD again. You're in our hearts and in our prayers. Love you! ---Carolyn Canville

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  16. Caleb is an incredibly strong little boy. He's got an incredibly strong mommy. An incredibly strong family. Praying for Caleb. Always thinking of Caleb. May he get to feeling better real soon. God bless him and God bless you Melissa and the family. Thank you for the updates.

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  17. I wish him all the best with all my heart.... His case means a lot for me. I feel with him in all the steps. I feel with you (the parents and family) with every shock of bad news, with every joy of hope caused by slight recovery of good news... I am typing now with tears in my eyes. I wish I can do something more than praying... My brother was 33 years old when he was diagnosed with Acute M3 Leukemia. He is a father of 5 wonderful children and a very successful doctor. He had a long time flu symptoms (almost 4 months) that later developed into nose bleeding and weakness. He was diagnosed with the M3 Leukemia on March 2014, few days after his birthday... After that his health went into a long roller coaster. The doctor tried their best, we were devastated by any down he was going through and we had all the hope that one day he will get over it. The chemo was really painful but he was patient and tried to look at the good part of it. He kept a very good altitude until the day came when the illness got over him. The Chemo therapy have a 3 weeks time period until the bone marrows start generating white cells and platelets. The end of the last week the doctors saw a slight chance of improvement and they had the hope growing up again. The hope that we always had... But on Friday morning he just left without saying good bye. He was just there, peaceful and smiling as he always used to be. No more suffering at least for him. No more worrying about tomorrow and how long the roller coaster is going to be... Just a nice smile on his face and a big pain in our hearts... I am following Caleb news and always thinking about him and his family. Praying for him that God will give him the strength and that he will get over it for good. With all my best wishes. Good luck as you really need a lot of it!

    Yours!

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  18. We will continue to pray for precious Caleb. We know that God is hearing our prayers. May you find comfort in knowing that so many are lifting your family up in prayer. Many hugs to you ...
    The Pellegrinos

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  19. Praying for you all.

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  20. Gods perfect peace and healing for this precious little boy and his wonderful family. May His hand of mercy be on each one of you.

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  21. My name is linda srader Shelton. I graduated high school with david. This little boy has touched so many hearts.He is in my prayers every day. Thank you so much for sharing his story.

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  22. I am not sure how I came upon this blog, but I look each week for updates. I pray for your family and the Caleb will stay strong.

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  23. May today be filled with good things! Still praying!!!
    You are loved!

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