Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Thank you for the Blessings

Thank You for the Blessings

I will start by saying that words will never express my awe and amazement of how truly good people are.  At any given time, we can jump online, or flip on the television, grab a newspaper, whatever and hear a ton of depressing stories of this fallen world.  I simply avoid most of it because of that very reason.  It comes as no surprise that Jesus hasn't come back to this earth yet.  All of you are still winning souls for His Kingdom and there is more hope for this world than I ever thought.  God bless you all for your constant love, support, thoughtfulness, prayers, tears, sharing of stories, two words, your blessings.

Those of you that know me well know that my character is to take on everything that comes my way, without complaining, and give everything I have to handle business.  It is hard for me to ask for help and not because I am prideful, but I simply react to what comes my way and never shy away from a challenge.  Challenges motivate me.  When Bri was going through tough times with pain before the diagnosis, I asked for people to pray.  I prayed. HARD, more so than ever in my life.  Praying for healing and wisdom.  At times, I felt like I was placing a burden on others simply asking for prayer.  I started to realize that was not the case.  So many people were praying for my wife, laying hands on her, sending her words of encouragement, scriptures, and so on.  Then came her diagnosis and inside I kind of fell apart, but for a short time.  I didn't know what to do, other than take it as it came and pray, and pray and pray more.  Our church family showed our family a level of support that was really an example of Jesus.  I love you guys!  Suddenly, we had to rely on others to help us through things that were beyond my capability of taking on.  For example, for our 11th anniversary, the Poveda's took care of our girls for an hour and a half while we went to dinner.  We were in a hurry to get our girls!  We talked about them and even sent a text to ask how they were!  Our girls were never away from the presence of a parent.  There were times during Bri's first week in the hospital that we had no choice but to allow those close to us to help.  God gives strength!  As time passed, we developed a routine where our girls were able to spend time with grandma, or Nama, and great-grandma, Nanny, while I spent weekends with Bri in the hospital.  During the first 4 weeks of Bri being hospitalized, the elementary school our daughters go to made meals for our family.  I was amazed and humbled by the love and support from a group of teachers who hadn't known us long, but felt the desire to help.  Thank you! Then came the part where I had to go back to work and Anzley had to be take care of.  A wonderful family from church offered their assistance and she has kind of become part of their family.  Smiths, we love you!

Brooke, who is simply put, one of the most awesome people on this earth, worked with a friend to put this blog site together.  Almost immediately, many of you were donating to help with medical bills.  Bri started receiving what I called, "fan mail!"  No kidding when I say the packages and cards started to arrive in large quantities.  I would store them up and deliver them on the weekends.  You all put a huge smile on her face everytime.  Some brought tears of joy.  Others brought laughter, while others kept her focus on God and helped to pass the time.  Pretty sure she developed my sweet-tooth, as well!  Thank you all for loving on Bri and keeping her encouraged!

None of this has been easy for our family, but you all have stepped up and delivered blessings that will continue to bless us and generations to come.  I am a visionary and I have made a vow to share this experience at every opportunity.  Whether you prayed, donated financially, sent gifts, thought about us, told someone about our family, any which way, I promise you this: you will be a blessing to more and more people as the years pass.  I have big dreams for using this experience to further the Kingdom of God.  

There have been auctions, races put together, a car wash, a benefit dinner.  I can't even begin to understand the power of God and how He brings all of this together through all of you and many of you whom I have never met.  Some are strangers who heard about Bri through friends and relatives.  Tammy added up the financial proceeds that have come from the donation link on the blogsite, including the auction.  Over $10,000.  That is hard for me to wrap my mind around!  I want you all to know these funds have been a blessing beyond measure.  Not only have they covered medical expenses.  They have covered travel expenses for family members to spend time with Bri.  They have covered lost wages for family members who have had to miss work to be with Bri, which, in turn, helps make ends meet for other family members.  Once all the dust settles and we evaluate everything as a whole, I imagine there will be proceeds remaining.  My visionary side has the desire to start a foundation in Bri's name.  It may be small at the beginning, but God willing, it will grow.  I have no idea how to begin or where to go to start, but that won't get in the way.  

Again, nothing I can say or type can truly express the gratitude I feel for all of you.  I appreciate everything all of you have done, are doing, your prayers, thoughts, well-wishes, outpouring of love, your goodness, your blessings.  I have never experienced anything quite like this and I am forever grateful.  On behalf of myself, our precious daughters and our Angel in Heaven, Bri, thank you all so very much!  God bless you all, abundantly!

We give thanks to God always for you all, making mention of you in our prayers, remembering without ceasing your work of faith, labor of love, and patience of hope in our Lord Jesus Christ in the sight of our God and Father, (I Thessalonians 1:2, 3 NKJV)

Monday, June 10, 2013

Brianne Elise

I'm sure you all know that Bri passed away on Friday, June 7th.  We weren't expecting it or anywhere near prepared for it.  We all felt sure that she would receive treatment, be cured and we'd all go on.  I guess God had other plans for her.

As her mother, I had the honor of knowing her the longest.  She was my first born so while I was pregnant with her each thing I experienced during that pregnancy was thrilling!  I can still remember when I felt her kick for the first time.  She was a real kicker too, once she was born I already knew she was going to be a go-getter because she was so active in utero.  I can't put into words what I felt like at the age of 19 to be handed my brand, new baby girl.  The feelings that swept over me were so intense.  I looked at that little stranger and I knew that I would die for her, I would kill for her if I had to.  I would do everything in my power to protect and love her.

She had a fun personality from day one.  Never fussy or whiney but always giggling, joking and running around doing somersaults.  She was a skinny little girl with crazy blonde curls that I could not contain.  She loved to wrestle with her Uncle Lance, they were two of a kind.  When her baby sister Brooke came along she was an instant super star!  Baby Brooke though her big sister was the most hilarious person EVER!  Brianne could really make Brooke giggle and it was so much fun to watch those two.  When Spencer was born Brianne was 9 years old and her maternal instincts kicked in immediately.  She was such a good little mama to him.  She was so good with him, a natural.  She loved her Nanny and Papo and I'm sure Papo was the once to welcome her Home.

I enjoyed every stage of Bri's life.  Well except for the sneaking out of the house when she was in high school part.  :-)  She had wonderful friends and I love you all and thank you for loving Bri and our family.  I remember when she went to her first Prom or Spree in high school I was so excited to go out shopping together and find the perfect dress.  She shot me down though and said she was just going to borrow one of her friends.  She was thrifty even back then!  Brianne was always a social butterfly and on the go.  Everyone seemed to enjoy being around her.  She had a lot of fun playing sports in school and I love cheering her on from the stands.  I did get in trouble after a basketball game because she heard me say, "way to go honey!" Apparently I shouldn't have called her honey in front of the whole school during a high school basketball game.  :-)

When Bri had Kambrya, watching her was like watching a mother of 5 kids.  She was such a natural, so calm, never frazzled.  She was so good with her babies.  She enjoyed her babies too!  They were like a little wart attached to her hip until they were each about 18 months old or so.  They didn't want anyone but mommy.  Bri always put Ted and the girls first.  She was a wonderful wife, mother and homemaker.  And she loved to cook!

I'm sad that the little girls won't have her around to teach them about being women.  I can't get over the fact that they do not have a mommy anymore.  I don't know how they will do it but knowing Ted and how well he's done these last months when he's been Mister Mom, he'll make it work.  He's been putting hair in ponytails and polishing little fingernails and toenails.  He has been amazing.

Brianne Elise, I know you've heard me say this for as long as you can remember but I am now and have always been so glad that God picked me to be your mom.  I don't know how I'll get through this so you will have to help me, okay?  I've loved you since before you were born and I'll always love you.  I will be so glad to see your sparkling blue eyes, your crazy blonde curls and your beautiful laugh.  I know you're joining the choir up there because you've loved to sing before you could even talk.  (Hopefully you'll get the lyrics right, remember if you all sing "Stop In The Name of Love" it is LOVE, not "Stop In The Neighborhood".)

I promise that I will love your daughters and I'll be there for them and I'll tell them stories about their mom and keep your memory alive in them.  No one will ever take your place in their hearts.  I wish you didn't have to go.  How could it have been "your time?"

I can't wait to see you again...


Tuesday, June 4, 2013

Everything is bigger in Texas

..... and judging by the size of this friggin hospital... they ain't kiddin!
     So... here's the first update from Houston, TX. What an adventure we've already been on! Bri was flown by air ambulance here to MD Anderson Cancer Center and I drove from Long Beach. (Major shout out to Hilary for letting me crash at her place all late and making breakfast for me... and Joyce and Tim McNeely for letting me crash for two nights at their house here in Houston while I waited for Bri to get here and treating a complete stranger like family!) Bri had been in a ton of pain when she left Denver, so they had given her not only strong pain meds, but also anti-anxiety meds to help relax her since she was flying, leaving her family, etc. So, needless to say, she was pretty loopy and out of it by the time she got here. This medical center campus is HUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUGE!!! Like... whatever you're imagining when I say that... it's even bigger than that! It's seriously like a city in itself. So, when I was leaving to come meet her at the hospital, I went to two of the wrong MD Anderson hospitals before getting to the right one where she was. Their process is just to take them into Emergency and check her out and everything... and then we wait for a bed to become available.
By the time I got to Bri, it was about 8:00PM on Thursday and when I walked around the curtain in her room in Emergency, her eyes got huge and she yelled, "OH I FOUND YOU!!!!" hahaha I went to give her a hug and she told me that she had been looking all over for me... I told her I'D been looking all over for HER and she said.. "We must have just missed each other!" hahaha Then she yelled out to the nurses standing in the hall "I FOUND MY SISTER!" hahaha. She was so loopy. She said/did some pretty funny things. At one point she started praying out loud and was thanking God that we could all be here and she prayed that we'd "all" have a really good time. Then she said, "And I pray for Mike..." and I said.. who's Mike? And she pointed to the corner of her room where nobody was standing and said, "Isn't that guy's name Mike?" I just said... oh, that guy.. yeah... that's definitely Mike. Didn't see him standing there. hahaha She had also told mom that "Brooke and I are gonna have fun in Houston. Probably TOO MUCH fun!" and then said that she missed flag football. She's silly.
     Anyway, so we had a really long 24 hours. They did test after test after test on the poor thing. Blood draws, ct scans, xrays, blood transfusions, platelet transfusions, on and on and on. All while we waited and waited and waited in the tiny room in Emergency to get a room. Nobody was telling us what was going on, so we weren't sleeping. We were thinking it would just be a matter of a couple hours, but finally at about 7AM and we hadn't really slept and they FINALLY told us that it wouldn't be until someone discharges which could be early afternoon, we decided to try to sleep. But anyone who has stayed in a hospital, especially in an ER, knows that it's way too noisy and busy for any of that. We finally got into a room around 8PM Friday evening. And just like everything else.. the room is HUUUUGE!!! It's like a studio apartment and the bathroom is massive! We have a pretty sweet view of the Houston skyline!
     In the past few days Bri has been in a ton of pain. The leukemia cells in her marrow grow so big and get all bunched up in there and cause a lot of bone pain. Her left knee was really hurting, but the doctors believed it was just referred pain and it was coming from her pelvis. They did all kinds of scans and xrays to check it out. She could barely move her leg when she had to get out of bed to go to the bathroom or anything. It took a really long time because she had to move SUPER slowly because it hurt so bad. It's so crazy because when I was in Denver to visit her just a couple weeks ago, she was up and around doing whatever, walking everywhere and doing everything on her own. Now I had to sit and watch her in so much pain and it was a completely different person. It was also over the weekend and they weren't going to be able to start anything until the week started, so the weekend was just waiting and trying to control her pain. She also got a bone marrow biopsy done on Saturday.
     So while in the Emergency Center, a nurse had mentioned something about being outpatient for her treatment. I told him, no.. we were going to be inpatient. He said that hardly anyone is inpatient and they do their treatments as outpatient. Bri has been inpatient for about 14 weeks altogether now. So, we just assumed this would be the same and nobody had warned us or told us differently. So, I talked to Ted and mom and Ted immediately got on the phone and started making calls. Not too long after that, we got a visit from the Nurse Practitioner who confirmed that the only reason she'd be inpatient is if there were complications. A chemo cycle is 28 days and she'll be inpatient for the first week while they're giving her chemo, and then she'll be discharged and just come in a few times a week for blood draws and chemo. So, we were completely blindsided with that because... WHERE THE CRAP DO WE STAY!?! We weren't prepared mentally, let alone financially for this. A social worker came and gave me a list of accommodations and I started looking into things and there are wait lists 3 months long for most places, or they're like $60/day or more! Not only that, but then we have to buy food, pay for gas to and from here and parking is expensive. So, needless to say, that's added a little stress to the situation. But, we know God is in control and he will supply all our need.
     So Monday, the doctors came in and said that we would be starting chemo the next day. (I like how I say "we" as if I'm getting it too! haha) I guess Bri had been a part of a study in Denver for this past round and the doctor here said that patients either received chemo and antibodies, or they received just chemo. Bri was one that received just chemo... so this time, they're giving her chemo and antibodies. (It's a good thing). The doctor said they've had really great success with this drug they're giving her, so that's good. When they came in this morning, the doctor sort of tried to explain what antibodies were and in my small, half asleep brain... this is what I understood... and it's probably completely off.... but here goes....  The antibody is injected and they attach themselves to the Leukemia cells and pretend like they're just chillin and sayin what's up, getting all friendly and stuff... The leukemia cells end up drawing them in... like all.. hey, wanna come inside and have some coffee or something? But little do they know... the antibodies aren't friendly little visitors there for tea and crumpets. Once they've been drawn into the leukemia cell... they KILL em! muhahaha suckas!!! (That's how it all played out in my tiny, yet imaginative brain anyway). So, yeah. Apparently with that and the chemo, the chances are better that they'll get rid of all of them and we can go back to Denver and she can get her transplant and we can all get back to our somewhat normal lives. The doctor said she would like to do two cycles of this to make sure they get everything and she doesn't come out of remission again, but we'll see at the end of this cycle how things are looking and all of that. So, as of right now... we're kinda just planning on being here for a couple months. That way, if it's just a month... WOOHOO!! Rather than planning on a month and then getting discouraged if we stay. Her doctor also said that they definitely want to avoid what happened last time which was letting too much time pass while she's untreated. They were waiting for her liver counts to come back to normal levels, but in that time she came out of remission. So, the doctor said, if something was happening like that again, she would immediately start her on another cycle just so she's not left untreated before getting the transplant. Soooo.. that's the update so far. She started her first doses of chemo tonight. They're actually going in right now while my beautiful, tired sister sleeps. :o)
      Yesterday they gave her a steroid for the pain. We didn't even know she had gotten it, but in the early evening, she woke up from a nap. Without even thinking, she moved her leg. She looked at me with big eyes and was like.. I can move my leg!! She then swung her legs over out of the bed and just kinda stood up! I was like.. what the heck!? She hadn't been able to walk to the bathroom, but she walked right over there! It was crazy!!! She wasn't in pain and she could walk without help! So, today she's barely had pain medicine. I think just in the morning and then tonight! It's insane! So, we went on an adventure and I took her on a tour of the giant hospital. We went to the indoor park they have, the aquarium inside, the gift shop, we went and did laundry, went to the cafeteria and they have Chick-fil-a and we got some of that for dinner. Then we went up to the 24th floor to the observatory where it's all windows and you can look out over all of Houston... it's really cool! We had dinner up there and laughed and joked and had a great time! We had a blast! She was being so goofy and acting like a total dork. It was so awesome to see her happy and doing well! She's such a rockstar. I can't say it enough! She's amazeballs. We were gone for about 2 hours and we figured the nurse was probably thinkin we'd blown this popsicle stand... so I took her back to her room. Joyce and Tim came to visit again and Bri has been sleeping since. So praise God for such a good day! I know there are gonna be some tougher days ahead, so I cherish the good days we have for sure!
     I was thinking the other day... there is NO WAY she could have come out here alone! NO WAY! I am so incredibly grateful and happy that I can be out here with her. I sometimes just look at her while she's sleeping (like a total creeper) and think... I friggin love my sister SOOOOO much!!!! I can't even handle it!!!! I just want to squeeze her til her little bald head pops off!!! And then at the same time, it breaks my heart because I hate watching her go through this and it's still so crazy to think.... my sister has cancer.... SERIOUSLY!? Is this real!? I know everything happens for a reason and God is in control, but I still wonder... why?! Giving up is not an option though. She has way too much to live for and too many people could benefit from her testimony! Plus, those little girls need her. Shoot, we all need her! She's a fighter, and stronger than I ever imagined. She's just been rolling with the punches and trying her best to keep a smile on her face. She is such an inspiration, not only to me, but I know to many others. I'm really proud that God chose me to be her little sister!
     Anyway.. I'll try to keep this updated more often so they don't end up being really long like this... although I know you all thoroughly enjoy reading my posts. hahaha jk. It's just been kinda crazy lately, but I'll try to be better at updating more often. :o) I'll elaborate on this more another time, but I was asked to be on an online radio show to tell Bri's story and to help raise some funds for all of these unexpected expenses... and while talking to Dr. Kurt on the phone before the show, he was like... Go into detail and talk about what's going on and say as much as possible about it and I was like.. shoot! No problem!!! Have ya met me?! I can talk! Then when it was time to be on the show, they had gone too long and he had to do it really quickly so he was like... really quickly tell us a little about what's going on... I was stumped cause I was like.. I don't tell ANY story quickly! Shoot!!! hahahaha but I'll be back on next week to talk about it, but I'll keep y'all updated on that. 

This is the verse I keep reminding myself of at this point in time while I'm frantically looking for a place to stay and the financial aspect...

Philippians 4:19 - But my God shall supply all your need according to his riches in glory by Christ Jesus.
Simple as that!

I'm off to bed. I love you fabulous people and thanks for loving us! You guys are awesome!

Monday, May 27, 2013

Now it's mom's turn...

Oh where to begin.  This has been a difficult weekend for us.  I'm so grateful that we all have one another though.  We've all come together as a team and we're working together for the good of Bri and the little girlies.

I can't imagine what Ted goes through when he goes to bed at night after the girls are asleep and he finally has time to take a breath.  My heart breaks for him.  I worry about him but he's been such a rock.  I  know he's had his moments, just like I have, where we give in to the fear and despair, but he pulls himself up and gets on with it.  I'm so proud of him and so grateful that my daughter and granddaughters have him as their rock.  I love you Ted.

When I think about Brooke and her amazing love for her sister, well I just can't because I'd be a blubbering mess.  :-)  She has been completely and totally selfless in giving herself, her time and everything to her sister.  I'm so proud of you Brooke for the love and strength you show not that the family sees but that all the hospital staff witnesses as well.  You are a good sister, you are a wonderful Auntie and you are an amazing daughter.  I love you Brooke.

And last but not least is Brianne.  You've always placed your little family first in your life.  You've been patient, loving, selfless and fun!  I know every event that passes by on the calendar is difficult for you to miss.  You had never even spent one night away from your daughters much less all these weeks.  You've been brave with every scary new test, drug, set-back - you've been an inspiration.  There is a reason why you are all the nurses favorite at University Hospital - you are a wonderful spirit.  You shine, you are beautiful, you're funny, you've gone through so much and you're ready to keep going and so are we.  We will never give up on you Bri, we'll fight for you when you aren't strong enough to fight for yourself.  We will be there for your husband and daughters while you can't.  I love you Brianne.

Bri will most likely be flown out by a chartered jet to MD Anderson Hospital in Houston, TX on Wednesday.  I don't have to tell any of you how expensive medical bills are even if you do have insurance.  Please find a way to help out, please pass it on to your friends and ask them to do the same.  We are having an online auction at:

If you don't have anything to donate or if you can't bid on an item please, please just pass the info along to your friends list so that we can get this information to people who can help this young family.  There is also the donate button on this blog for people who would rather contribute cash.  Please pass this ink on to your friends list as well.  If you use Twitter please tweet this info and let's help this family through the worst nightmare most of us could ever imagine.

Thank you,


Sunday, May 26, 2013

Another step!

Hello, everyone!  I had every intention of jumping on here tonight to share the latest happenings in Bri's battle and victory over this nasty disease.  Brooke posted the latest, so I will keep my post short as to not be redundant! :)  Please, read Brooke's post, though!

I just want to say that this latest step with Bri going to Houston for further treatment is not the easiest thing any of us has had to deal with.  We have our moments of fear, discouragement, doubt and negativity.  While these feelings are normal, we also serve a God who does not operate on the principles we experience in the natural mindset.  You have all read, heard of someone, know someone, or maybe are the person who was given no hope but was restored and redeemed in a miraculous fashion.  We will continue to put our faith and trust in The Lord Almighty to line up everything for His Glory.  I pray that Bri's strength is an encouragement to all of you, because she is a fighter and just takes this with an attitude of victory.  I feel like the stage is set for something powerful that will bring people to know and experience Jesus in a mighty way!

A couple things come to mind and are a blessing to our family.  The Word of God tells us that Jesus is the same yesterday, today and forever in Hebrews chapter 13 verse 8.  Jesus also gave us the authority and the power over sickness and disease, as can be read in various scriptures.  Ephesians chapter 6 details the full armor of God.  The Book of Luke, chapter 9 verses 1 and 2 (thank you Pastor David Kibben for sharing) also discusses this fact.

I ask that you please stand with us in declaring that Bri is healed and set free from this disease.  Thank you all and God Bless you!

Surprise! and SURPRISE!!!!

Hello beautiful and wonderful people!
It's been a while since I've blogged! So here I am... And warning.. it's gonna be a long one! :)

So, as most of you know, I moved to California in the end of March. It was a super hard decision to make with everything going on with Bri. Back in around August, our brother Bill was diagnosed with Multiple Myeloma (cancer of the blood plasma), and at THAT point, I said... I'm moving to California. So it had been the plan that once I was done with school in December, I would migrate out to California. Then Bri was diagnosed in January. So, I'm sure a lot of people are wondering... "Why the heck did you just up and move to another state while your sister is going through this?!" but I didn't plan on Bri having Leukemia. haha None of us did. BUT... it worked out that I wasn't working when Bri was diagnosed because I could stay with her and stuff. Then I got a temporary job and the timing worked for the job to be over around the time my lease was up, so I went with it. I've been out here in Long Beach for a couple months now and I LOVE it here, but it's been really hard not being with my sister after we had basically been glued to the hip. So, when we got the news that she was out of remission, Brudder Bill decided that I should go back and see her, so he sent me back to Denver to see Bri for the weekend (He's amazing).So, last weekend, I surprised Bri with a visit. I was so excited!
I text her when I was outside the hospital, to make sure she was gonna be in her room and stuff. I saw that she had started texting (love iPhone iMessage), but then it went away.. so at least I knew she was awake. So I made my way up to her room. I knocked on the door and slowly peeked my head in and walked in and she looked at me kinda strange and said, "What the HECK?" hahaha She was kinda out of it cause she'd just had some meds and was probably thinking she was seeing things.
So we got to hang out and it was so good to see her. She was in good spirits and handling everything so well. They had done a chest xray because she had a cough and they wanted to see if the blood clot was gone. Turned out, the blood clot was gone, but she had pneumonia. So they had her on a bunch of different antibiotics so she was hooked up to her IV pump pretty much at all times. She has a bacteria infection in her blood, so they took her PICC line (central line) out just to be safe. So, because they did that and that was the main source for giving her antibiotics and everything else, they had to put an IV in. Her veins are small and it's hard to get IVs in them, but after a few tries, got one in. But it caused a lot of problems with the IV pump because if she bent her arm or anything, it would make the thing beep constantly and drive her insane. Me too. Sometimes she'd be out of it or asleep and it wouldn't bother her, but I'd be like.. BRI! CALL YOUR NURSE! haha Those things are annoying. But anyway, they ended up putting in an additional IV so they could do two things at once. They needed to give her a bolus of fluid and still keep the antibiotics going. So, poor thing had two IVs. But she managed.
We had a few visitors come and hang out for a while. and then I had to leave on Monday evening to come back to Cali because I'm still looking for a job and was waiting to hear about a nanny job I'd interviewed for. It was hard to leave her again, especially knowing she has pneumonia, but she was doing so well and I know she's in good hands. I told her next time Bill and I will come visit over the summer. It was a good visit. :)

So, here we are almost a week after I've been home. They did a bone marrow biopsy on Bri to see if she was headed toward remission. Waiting is the hardest thing in the world! It's hard for us as her family, but I can't imagine how much harder it is for her. Especially when you're just sitting in a hospital day after day. We all have lives and things to do. I am constantly amazed at how strong and amazing my big sister is. She's handled this past round like a total champ. She's had a good attitude, smile on her face, and such a strong faith in God. She rocks my world.
Anyway.. the past 24 hours has been a tornado of craziness and a rollercoaster of emotions that has rolled through our lives. Yesterday the doctors came in to give Bri the results of the biopsy, and I'm not sure it was anything any of us were prepared to hear. The doctors said she's still not in remission, the cancer is still there, and that they're running out of options. They gave her a few options, but one of them was to send all of her stuff to MD Anderson Hospital in Houston, TX to take a look at and see if they have some clinical trials that could work for her. I got the news from my mom and got on the phone with Ted to get the details and stuff. I've heard good things about that hospital and I have a couple friends in the medical field that both suggested that hospital, without me even telling them it was an option. So mom, Ted, and I started communicating back and forth and we all really felt like this was what we should do, and I offered to go to Houston to stay with Bri as long as it takes. There's obviously a reason why it's been so hard for me to find a job here after 2 months. I don't know how my monthly bills are going to be paid, but I have a huge God and know that it'll be taken care of somehow. I offered to just declare bankruptcy and go that route, but mom and Ted said not to and we'll figure it out. haha I just get in "Let's do this!" mode and want to just bulldoze through haha.

So when I woke up this morning I had two missed calls from Bri and one from mom, so I knew something was up, so I called Bri back. They made the decision to send Bri to Houston and she should be leaving Tuesday or Wednesday. She'll be flying a chartered plane with a nurse on board I guess. She'll probably be there a month or two and once they get her into remission, we'll go back to Denver and she'll get her transplant there. I've taken a break from packing my stuff up to write this, but I'm driving to Houston starting today. I'll stay in Phoenix with a good friend, and then see how far I can get tomorrow. It's 22 hours altogether... but if we're gonna be there for a month or two, I'd like to have my car out there.  When she gets the transplant, she won't have to be in the hospital the entire time, but she'll need to stay in Denver so she can be close to the hospital for appointments or if something happens and she needs to go to the hospital. So, I'll stay in Denver with her for that. Mom will be there, but she'll be working during the day, so she'll need someone to be available to her 24/7.
I know this is kinda all over the place, I'm sure, but my thoughts are all over the place. hahaha I am trying to get packed and get on the road and needed a break to write this all out. So much going on in all of our minds, I'm sure. I'm trying not to think about finances, I'm sure Ted feels the same. I know God will supply all our needs. I am just so grateful that God has allowed me, AGAIN, to be able to be with my sister during this.
Mom is going to be setting up an online auction to raise money for medical bills and whatnot because this is not going to be cheap. We're not really sure how it works, but she's going to figure it out. That's her project. haha So, if anyone knows how to start something like that, get in touch with my momma. Also, if anyone has anything they're willing to donate to be auctioned off, let my mom know. Whether it's art work you've done or something that you're willing to part with to be auctioned off to benefit this, whatever. Or if you don't have anything, but want to just donate, there's always the donate button on this blog. :) I hate asking for money, but this is sort of a time where we need to put our pride to the side and ask for help.

You guys are all so amazing and we are continually grateful for each and every one of you. We may never be able to tell you enough, but we feel all of your love and support and we appreciate it so much!!!!!
And while you guys are all amazing, incredible people... I just need to say... I have BY FAR THE BEST family in the entire world!!! I am continually amazed at how God put such an amazing group of people together :) He really outdid Himself! haha But seriously... the love and support and teamwork is amazing. When something comes up, everybody works together, there's no fighting, we're able to put our differences aside and just love. That is something I'm EXTREMELY grateful.
So, Ted, mom, the girlies, Bill, Nan, Spencer, Becky & Ciara, Ted's mom and family, our dad, the "Nudder Grammas", extended family.. cousins, etc. I want to say thank you, thank you, thank you for being so amazing. I feel so incredibly blessed to be a part of this family!!!! I love you guys.

Sooooooo..... HEEEEEEEERE WE GO!!! Bri and Brooke, off to Houston, onto our next big adventure! I'll be keeping ya informed.

Sunday, May 5, 2013

Lifted in Prayer

Good evening, everyone.  Thanks for reading.  A lot has taken place since the last post on April 7th.  As many of you probably know, Bri is back in the hospital as of April 26th.  She was going through all the testing to prepare for a stem cell transplant and encountered several small roadblocks.  Originally, she was supposed to be home for two to three weeks and then back in for the transplant.  As I have said from the beginning, this is all on God's timing!  We got to keep her home for just shy of six weeks!  During week five of her being home, we went to Denver for a bone marrow biopsy, as the doctors like to have a sample just before the transplant.  The results came back and showed the Leukemia was back and Bri was out of remission.  During weeks four and five, Bri started to experience some pain in her left leg and there was a bit of wonder in our minds if this could be the disease trying to sneak back in.  Not what we expected.  Nonetheless, we really loved having her home longer than expected and she was able to spend some quality time with us, which I know we all needed.  Again, God has His own timeline and we trust whatever the purpose was for this!

This weekend, we resumed our routine of going to Denver on Friday night and spending the weekend.  Our girls were able to spend some time with great grandma, who is moving back to Montana in six days.  It might be a while before they get so much time with her, so it was a win!  Friday marked a week that Bri has been back in the hospital.  You would think our daughter are celebrities in that place!  When we arrived, nurses were scrambling to see them and tell them how cute they are.  They really have a way of making us feel welcome in a place where there could be nothing but negativity.  

Today, Bri finished up her current chemotherapy regiment, which consisted of six days of high dose chemo drugs to achieve a remission.  Once in remission, the plan is to roll right into the stem cell transplant.  I am so proud of her ability to withstand all the drugs and effects that it has on her body.  I tend to believe anyone who goes through this has moments of doubt.  Some of our conversations over the weekend were not the kind of conversations that I ever thought we would have, nor are they the type of conversations that are pleasing, frankly.  They hurt and they are scary but I suppose they are a reality.  Without Jesus, we would be hopeless.  I am not sure I have experienced the type of feelings that I felt when Bri told me that she sometimes fees like it would be better if she didn't have to go through this anymore.  In the flesh, I know this has to be a normal thought process.  I simply ask for all of you to lift her in prayer and ask God to continue to give her strength and perseverance.  We will get through this.  My girls and I need her to be home as soon as possible so we can share this story with everyone who will listen.  God has already shown us victory and these are steps in the process for a powerful testimony.  Satan has picked on the wrong group of people!

God has an amazing way of showing His presence and giving us encouragement.  Prior to this difficult conversation, I was sitting on the sofa while Bri was asleep reading  The scripture in Hebrews that discusses Jesus being the same yesterday, today and forever, popped into my mind and just kept repeating itself.  I love that still small voice of God.  Hebrews 13:8, to be specific.  Jesus healed all kinds of ailments and even raised Lazarus from death.  His word also tells us that we have access to all His power just by believing in Him and accepting Him as our Lord and Savior.  All the miracles we read about and everything we see in the present can be expected to continue!  What a blessing and thank God for giving me this as a way to encourage my beautiful wife during a moment of uncertainty.

As you all can imagine, every second of my day is highly valuable these days!  I will do my best to keep you all updated in the weeks to come as we navigate through this process.  God Bless you all and thank you for the love and support of our family.

Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and forever. (Hebrews 13:8 NKJV)

And not only that, but we also glory in tribulations, knowing that tribulation produces perseverance; and perseverance, character; and character, hope. (Romans 5:3, 4 NKJV)

And the prayer of faith will save the sick, and the Lord will raise him up. And if he has committed sins, he will be forgiven. Confess your trespasses to one another, and pray for one another, that you may be healed. The effective, fervent prayer of a righteous man avails much. (James 5:15, 16 NKJV)

Sunday, April 7, 2013

We are blessed!

It has been a few weeks since I have posted anything here!  As Tam said on the last update, we have been pretty busy!  Monday will be 3 weeks that Bri has been home.  I cannot put into words how happy our family is to wake up to her every morning and pray with her every night before bed.  After Bri being away for 72 days, I believe it is safe to say God has taught all of us how to love each other more, respect each other greater and appreciate every moment we have together.

When all of this started to take shape, Bri would experience strong pains in her back and hip a few time per week.  It grew to being a daily occurrence, eventually becoming excruciating pain multiple times each day.  This span was from about Mid-August to her diagnosis on January 5th.  She has been so much better since being home.  While there are still lingering effects of the high doses of chemotherapy, it is clear she is on the incline.  Just in the few weeks she has been home, I have watched her go from taking a few seconds to get out of a chair, to her popping up and jogging around the house!  Today, she opened the front door and said, "I am breaking out of here," and took off jogging down our sidewalk!  Of course, I panicked and said she shouldn't be running (Tam will appreciate the humor in this)!

As far as treatment goes, we are prepping for Bri to have a stem cell transplant.  She has had multiple tests, all of which she passed very easily.  The current hang-up lies in her liver counts.  Her levels started to bounce around over the past week and a half and the doctor wants to be sure everything is perfect to prepare an appropriate plan for the transplant to take place.  This week should bring more details and a more clear picture of how the next few months will go for our family.  The expectation is that Bri will undergo the transplant and remain hospitalized for about a month.  The transplant itself requires more chemotherapy and radiation to ensure Bri's immune system will not kick out the stem cells.  She then needs to remain in Denver for about 80-100 days after for testing and monitoring.  Due to the amount of time Bri needs to be in Denver and the distance from Cheyenne to Denver, I have decided to apply for job in Denver with my employer and have recently gone through my third interview.  More details to come this week!

As Bri and I were talking last night, we agreed that everything we perceive as a setback, in the natural sense, and every piece of what is perceived as poor news has been character building for us.  God has continued to show His presence every step of the way.  This experience has been one that has broadened our family's sense of our place in God's kingdom.  All the love and support from friends, family and people we have never met is overwhelming.  We appreciate it all more than any words can ever say.  The beauty of this is we may have to wait until we get to Heaven to meet some of these people.  How cool will that be?!  We look forward to getting through this phase of our lives and being able to share this entire experience with any who will listen.  Bri has been so strong through all of this and I know she has already been a blessing to so many.  I love how God takes a situation that appears to be dark and dismal and uses it for His good!  It reminds me of this scripture:

And He said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for My strength is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore most gladly I will rather boast in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me. (II Corinthians 12:9 NKJV)

I want to share the scripture below with all of you, as well.  This has shown up about 5 times in the past couple of weeks in various devotionals and times of prayer.  Our church had a guest pastor visit us last fall.  He said for us to fully understand and receive all that Jesus intended for us to receive, we must see ourselves on the cross with Jesus.  During this experience, we have found that we have to stay focused on the cross.  No matter what happens, what news we get, what discouraging feelings, anything, we have the authority to remove all negativity and rely on the power of the cross.  Satan and his demons, sickness and disease, negative thoughts, etc., are all powerless when we see ourselves on the cross with Jesus.  What a blessing and display of love from our Father!  All that being said, we trust our Lord Jesus to continue to get us through this better than ever, in His timeline. God Bless you all.  Thank you for your continued support, love and prayers for our family!

For the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God. (I Corinthians 1:18 NKJV)

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Brianne is home!

I suppose someone should update this blog huh?  I think Ted is a little busy taking such good care of his family, and Brooke is busy trying to not get murdered at her job and getting ready to move.  Myself, I am resting up and recharging for the second phase of Bri's treatment.

Getting the news that Brianne had gone into remission was such a tremendous relief.  The bone marrow biopsy was done last Monday and it usually comes back in a couple of days, we thought for sure on Thursday we'd get the news but finally on Friday the Dr. said she was in remission.  I took the call at work while I was walking down a hall.  I nearly collapsed from relief.  It was like being on high alert for days and then finally getting the amazing news we'd hoped for.  I pretty much cried the rest of the day.

Bri was discharged from the hospital on Monday, March 18th.  Mom went home with them so she could help Brianne and take care of Anzley Pumpkin.  I guess the girls were so excited and hyper the evening she got home, it was hard to get them settled down for bed.

The plan is while Bri is home enjoying her family and getting stronger every day, the transplant team is fine tuning the donor possibilities.  They can either give her the 4 units of cord blood they have reserved for her or use a donor that matches 9 of 10 markers, which is really good.  So we're not sure when she'll be summoned back to the hospital.  Until then she's getting her blood drawn every other day and her counts are climbing.  She should also be walking and eating more to gain strength.  I know that at the end of the day she is wiped out because she's been used to being in bed most of the day at the hospital and now let's just say there's a lot more activity at her house.

Once she goes back into the hospital for the transplant they will give her high doses of chemo again.  They need to completely wipe out her own bone marrow before they give her the donor marrow.  Then she'll be in the hospital anywhere from 2 to 4 weeks.  After that she'll have to stay at my house.  Her Dr's. don't want her any further than 30 minutes away from the hospital.  If all is well by day 80 she is good to go home.

This whole cancer thing is not for cowards or wimps.  It takes a lot of strength, courage and most of all faith.  We have faith that Brianne will be completely healed and she will have an amazing testimony to share.

Words cannot express our gratitude to each and every one of you for your prayers, love and unending support for Bri and our family.  Thank you so much.  I'd like to ask you to please keep it up!  She's not finished yet and will still need your comforting words, prayers and love.

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Week #8 - ugh!

Hi everyone,

I keep getting asked how it's going so I thought I'd better post an update.  Last week was week #8 of Brianne being in the hospital.  I'd be lying if I said it didn't kick all our butts!  It was a rough week for Bri and the whole family. 

As most of you know from my facebook posts Brianne came down with a fever and infection and was moved into the ICU for a couple of days.  She virtually has no immune system at this point so this was very stressful for all of us.  It started out with her passing out in her bathroom and being pretty incoherent for about 40 minutes.  She wasn't responding to verbal commands and her room was filled with medical personnel.  She had a fever of 102.2 and her blood pressure was very low.  They decided to move her into the ICU so that she could get more one-on-one care. 

The move to the ICU was scary for us but for Bri it was really difficult to leave her floor and the nursing staff that she's gotten attached to.  I mean, for the last 8 weeks the 11th floor oncology has been her home and the staff has been her family.  So for that reason alone I was so glad to get her back where she felt more comfortable.  Bri is in a room now where the girls can actually come into her room instead of them all meeting in the Solarium.  This means Bri can be more comfortable in bed and the girls can stay longer.  Anzley was laying in bed with her mom and told her that she wanted her to "come home right now."  That breaks my heart.  :-(

The fever went away and her blood pressure came up but she's still considered a fall risk so has to ring for a nurse any time she wants to get out of bed.  She's experiencing more pain, I guess due to the leukemia cells dying?  It's hard to see her in pain.  She just wants to be free from the pain!  We all want her pain to go away!!

The little girls have started showing some signs of stress.  While Ted does his very best to keep things at home as normal as possible, things aren't normal.  Mama isn't home.  They are a little weepy and maybe tired of their new routine.  They are angels when they are at my house from Friday until Sunday.  They are so good and so brave and so loving to each other. 

I had a weepy week last week as well.  Being tired, worried and stressed about my daughter, son-in-law and granddaughters had taken its toll.  But this new week, week #9 is going better. 

We have all stuck in there as a family, each of us trying to do all we can to help whomever needs it at the time.  I know that when this is all said and done we will all definitely have a much greater appreciation for one another.  I can't begin to tell you how this has changed my feelings for Ted.  He is a strong man, one to be admired, and I do.  I'm so grateful that Bri and my granddaughters have him in their lives.  I can't imagine the amount of pressure he feels on a daily basis and my heart breaks for him.

Bri's dad flew down to see her last Friday so I'm sure that was good for both of them.  He was able to spend a little time with his granddaughters and hang out with his daughters.  He's not very well, health-wise so he shouldn't have been traveling in the first place but he made the effort and I'm sure that meant a lot to Bri.

So now, we wait.  We wait for her white blood count to go up.  It certainly can't go down!  Once that starts happening I know we will all be rejoicing.  We just take it one day at a time. 

As we've all said before, we appreciate you remembering Bri and her family in your prayers and thoughts.  We appreciate the kindness that has been shown to us all.  Thank you for hanging in there with us.  You are appreciated.

Sunday, February 24, 2013

Day 40

Hello everyone.  It has been a while since my last entry.  It has been a bit of a whirlwind since the last post I put up here.  We thought Bri was going to come home.  Everyone was excited and ready to celebrate only to have that change in a moment's notice.  As much of a letdown as this was, we have been able to work through it with a lot of prayer, tears, anger, frustration and then more prayer.  It sure is wonderful to encounter God during all this.  I want to share some really awesome God moments that have taken place since we learned that Bri has another round of chemotherapy.  First I will share with you all how my wife is doing.

I think most have seen picture and know Bri has shaven her hair off.  She looks pretty awesome.  I have done this many times and only wish my head looked as good as hers!  She is looking forward to the different hair styles she can try as she starts to grow it out again.  The first round of chemotherapy included a heavy dose of steroids, which caused swelling and water retention.  Her cheeks got pretty swollen and she said she looked like a Cabbage Patch Kid.  One of her nurses asked, "well who doesn't love a Cabbage Patch Kid?  They are all super cute!"

Round 2 of chemotherapy is quite a bit more aggressive and much different than round one.  I will say that Dr. Pollyea, who is the main doctor in Bri's unit is very positive.  He keeps reassuring us that this will be put into remission and then cured.  Once remission occurs, which we believe and trust God for this to happen with the current round of chemo, Bri will then have to undergo a bone marrow transplant.  This is the step that brings the cure, according to the doctors.  We, of course, believe that God is our Healer and gives the doctors and nurses the wisdom and guides them through the treatment plan.   We have a bit of a road ahead of us yet.  God is faithful to His Word and I just know that we will have our family back under one roof in the near future, praising God in even great ways.  She has experienced some more side effects with this round, but they seem to run away within 24 hours of us uniting in prayer and standing firm in our faith.

I think it is safe to say that the past 7-9 days have probably been the hardest for Bri, simply due to the impact of being told she can discharge, and then being told otherwise.  I was literally packing her stuff in her room when we got the news.  I think it is also safe to say that she has rebounded is back on the saddle (can't believe I just typed that...been in Montana and Wyoming for a decade) and in a good place.  Make no mistake, it is not easy, but God!  We received some interesting and somewhat disappointing news on Wednesday of this past week.  ALL has a possibility of entering the Central Nervous System through the spinal fluid.  There have been at least three tests prior to one conducted on the same date as her bone marrow biopsy, day 29.  This particular test indicated that there could be some cancerous cells present.  On day 35 a preventative lumbar chemo treatment took place and another test to verify the results of the previous test.  One of the nurse practitioners came to visit with Bri on Wednesday and told her that there were cells in the spinal fluid and this would require more lumbar punctures for treatment.  Not a comfortable feeling.  Everything I have read seems favorable when this occurs, from a treatment standpoint, yet it is risky, uncomfortable and kind of gives that scary shock factor feeling.  BUT GOD!  I can honestly say Wednesday was probably one of the most difficult days for both of us.  I shed some tears, as did Bri.  I remember going lying down to go to sleep and just praying to God for His healing to activate in Bri's body, in her bones, in her spinal fluid, in her blood and to protect our family from fear and disappointment.  As I was lying in bed, I experienced this burning sensation through my body and fell asleep.  I woke up the next day refreshed and encouraged ready to keep fighting.  Well Bri calls me on Thursday afternoon and says that the other nurse practitioner stopped by to visit with her and nonchalantly tells her she called for the results of the CNS test and there were no cancerous cells!!!  AMEN!  Bri was confused and explained what the other person told her and she said, "yeah he was looking at the test from day 29, but some of the blood must have mixed with fluid, which happens sometimes."  I told Bri I wanted to go to Mt. Everest and shout at the top of my lungs just how great our God is!  I cannot begin to tell you how amazing I feel just knowing how God flipped that situation!

Another amazing God moment happened on day 32 as I was driving back to the hospital after getting Bri some breakfast at Atlanta Bread in Aurora.  As you know, we were feeling let down after the previous day's events.  I was praying for strength and peace for our family, listening to some Jesus Culture, some tears in my eyes.  I happened to glance to the right and see this sign that says "Happy To Be Home."  10 feet further, same sign and so on about 6 times and then a huge banner reading the same message.  Frankly, I didn't care that the signs were in front of an apartment complex as advertisements, I just know that was a revelation from God to comfort my feelings and reassure us that Bri will be coming home.  We know, as the Gospel of Mark tells us, that we as believers and followers of Jesus "will lay hands on the sick, and they shall recover."  This doesn't tell us when, but it does tell us we have this authority.  About a quarter-mile down the road, the song, "Healer," by Jesus Culture started to play.  My iPod was on a rotation of Christian music on a playlist of 50+ songs.  Further confirmation!!  The first few lines of the song go like this:

Hold my every moment, calm my raging sea.  Walk with me through fire, you heal all my disease.  I trust in you, I trust in you.  I believe that you're my healer and I believe that you are all I need.  I believe you're my fortress, I believe you're more than enough for me.  Jesus you're all I need.

My tears turned to tears of joy.  I know Bri is healed and we thank God for His faithfulness to His Word.  I know the cancer is dead and she is set free.  I now know what people talk about when they say to cry out to Jesus.  I challenge anyone to shout the name of Jesus repeatedly and not find tears of joy streaming down their face.  I don't believe it can be done!  There is power in His name!  God Bless you all and thank you for your love and support of my beautiful and victorious wife!

Psalm 34:15-18

15The eyes of the Lord are on the righteous,
And His ears are open to their cry.
16The face of the Lord is against those who do evil,
To cut off the remembrance of them from the earth.
17The righteous cry out, and the Lord hears,
And delivers them out of all their troubles.
18The Lord is near to those who have a broken heart,
And saves such as have a contrite spirit.

Saturday, February 16, 2013

A Blog From Kambrya!

This year has started off to a twisted start. I have been praying and praying over and over again for my mom in this time. I wrote a report on all different types of Leukemia and that really helped me understand what was going on. This has not been easy for our family but since we know the lord, it gives us strength and courage. I am so glad that the lord put us where he did because i thought  going to school would be hard. But my teacher is a great christian woman that gives me encouraging words when I need them. The school that we are in now is really great because it is just a  group of people that really cares about our family!

This past weekend really took me by surprise! But I still am trying to keep a positive thought no matter what happens! I really hope that my mom is doing the same! As well as everyone else! Thank you all for your support in our family!!!!!

To my mom: Mom I love you so much and please remember that no matter what happens, we will all stand with you and give you strength. The enemy will push us down but we will get right back up and fight! And please don't be worried about us, we will be just fine. It isn't easy for us but it isn't hard either. We have God to help us through it!!! I hope you know that we really miss you and can't wait for you to come home. Please don't ever feel like we don't miss you because that isn't true, and it never will be! The enemy is just trying to make you feel that way. We need you to be here for us as much as you want us to be there for you, and we will, we will always be there for you no matter what! Love, your Kamy :)

The Cancer Rollercoaster

We were all so ecstatic about Bri getting to go home and then within a few hours everything changed.  I'm not going to write much since most of you know that Bri will have to stay in the hospital and have more chemo.  This will be an even more aggressive round.  We were told the first round was going to be the most aggressive.  So, we know we can count on you all to keep her, Ted and the girlies lifted in prayer.

Friday, February 15, 2013

Round 1 Chemo - 0, Bri - 1!

Hello lovely people!

I'm a couple days late on this, but my internet is down at home and I haven't really had a chance to update, but I wanted to fill y'all in on Day 29.

Ginny hung out with Bri most of the day and Nan was planning on going, but she's been sick, so she had to stay away. When they found out her Lumbar Puncture and Bone Marrow Biopsy would be at 3:00, I decided to go because Ginny had an appointment at 2:00 and I didn't want Bri to be alone. At around 2:00, I got a text from Bri saying they had to move it up because they needed to be able to get the bone marrow samples in by a certain time and they were getting ready to do it. Sooooo... I left work and rushed down Colfax (always an interesting drive) to the hospital. I got there just in time and there was a new Dr and a Nurse Practictioner there that I'd never met. Our future BFF, Dr. Green, was no longer there (sad faces all around), so we had to accept the new ones. Dr. Green was really gentle with the procedures before and made her feel really comfortable. This new Dr. was smacking her gum and when I tried to make jokes, she didn't seem impressed (the nerve! Does she not know who I think I am?! I am HILARIOUS!) But, Bri was a trooper and SHE laughed at my jokes.

They did the Bone Marrow Biopsy first. This is the one where they literally use a drill to get core samples of her bone and try to get "juice" out. I mean, it's not like a Black & Decker that you'd use to hang pictures or put together an entertainment center, it was sterile and much smaller, but it was a drill nonetheless. So, they numb her up, and this doctor stuck a needle in and was tapping on her bone and scraping it, and it completely grossed Bri out because you could just hear her tapping and scraping bone. I, on the other hand, found it kinda cool. Then she grabs this thing that literally looks like a box cutter that you push the blade up and she just poked it into Bri's hip and then jabbed the big needle with the drill bit (it wasn't really a drill bit, but close enough) in it and started poking around with that until she could find a good solid place to anchor it in there. She definitely wasn't as gentle as Dr. Green was and my protective little sister instincts were kicking in and I wanted to be like "TAKE IT EASY JERK!", but Bri didn't seem to be in pain or anything, so I figured I'd just let her do her thang. So, once they get it anchored in, they snap the drill on and start drilling for oil. Similar to fracking, except for the chemicals and rocks and all that. Maybe it's not like fracking at all, but anyway... Once they get it into a spot they try to get her juice. She's always been pretty stingy with her aspirite (or gravy as Bri called it), so they've never been able to get any, so they have to take more core samples from her bone. This time, something went into the syringe and I was like.. whoa! It worked, but they didn't seem satisfied and when she pulled the syringe off and looked at it, it turned out to be a blood clot and it jiggled around like jelly. I didn't think that was as cool. I was kinda grossed out, and then she squirt it onto the sterile pad thing and I almost gagged. and then I sang "I don't think they're ready for Bri's jelly, I don't think they're ready for Bri's jelly" (like the Beyonce song) and we giggled. And again, the Dr. continued smacking her gum, unimpressed. Whatevs.
They ended up having to go in 4 different times to get what they needed. The last time, this dude Glen (the nurse practitioner) gave it a shot and he was even less gentle than the doctor. Then he basically left. Rude.

After they let her rest for a few minutes, they went ahead and went for the Lumbar Puncture and inject her chemo into her spine. This went much smoother and she was able to get it right into the spinal fluid and it came out quickly again. The first time she had this done it came dripping out like a faucet and mom got all queasy and had to go sit down and put her head between her knees. hahaha Then the second time, she must have been dehydrated and it was barely coming out and it took like a half an hour. So, luckily this time she got right into the spinal fluid and was able to get her 4 vials of spinal fluid and then the chemo took 5 minutes to go in and we just all kinda chatted while it was going in. Then she was done and had to lay flat for about an hour.

I had to run and get my tire changed, so I left and on my way back, picked up some Chinese food that Bri wanted and some Chocoflan from this Mexican place down the street. When I came back we started eating dinner, but after a little bit, she started feeling really nauseous. She started having a hard time and was having hot flashes and stuff so we called for the nurse to get her some medicine. Then her back started really hurting where they did the biopsy. She hadn't really had pain after the biopsies before, but I know it's cause that gum smackin lady was so rough and then let GLEN get all aggressive all up in her hip. Rude. So she was in a lot of pain. They're trying to not give her things intravenously because they want her to be taking oral medication since she's going to be going home soon and she won't be able to have pain meds through her line. So, they gave her oral meds for the time being and nausea medication. She ended up getting sleepy and fell asleep for a little bit. Round 1 of chemo... DUNZO!!! WOOHOO!!

It was getting late and she had said she wanted to shave her head, so I woke her up and told her if we were gonna do it, we'd better get to it! So, we called the nurse and she got us some clippers. I've never used clippers before in my life, but I was excited! haha We went into the bathroom, took a before shot, and I got the scissors and I just started chopping.. I was like a little girl with a barbie. Bri was a good sport. Then I got the clippers out and didn't even know where to start.. I wanted to cut a really sweet mullet or something, but we just got down to it. She has a great shaped head! hahaha You know that's always what people worry about when it comes to shaving their head. But she had a perfect little head. I knew it was going to be an emotional thing for her. I can't even imagine being a 33 year old woman having to deal with this. She's so brave though. When she looked in the mirror she just started crying. I'll admit, I did too. We just hugged and cried like big crybabies for a little while. Then she was still in a lot of pain from the biopsy, so we called for her nurse and she laid down. I know it had to be hard and she probably had a lot going through her mind, worrying about what the girls will think, thinking about what people in public would think. Her face is puffy from the Prednisone (or The 'sone as our brother and I call it.. he just experienced what The 'sone is capable of recently while he was taking it because of HIS cancer), and I wanted to take an after picture, but she's not quite ready. She said, "I look like a boy" and cried a little more. I sat next to her and loved on her a bit and told her that she's still beautiful. It was a tough night. I HATE leaving her, especially on nights like that. I cried pretty much the whole way home because my heart just breaks for her. It's so unfair and I hate that she has to go through this. I wish I could take it, but I know that God is still in control and has a plan for all of this. I'm confident in that.

The GREAT news is... she gets to go home today!!!! YAYYYY!!!! Ted and the girls are headed up here and she's waiting to hear the results from the biopsy and what the next step is! I know she's looking forward to being home with her family. I'm so excited for her! I know it will help a lot to be in her own home, with her family, and get their lives back to somewhat normal.

As I was getting ready to leave last night, I was sitting on the bed and telling her I had to leave and we kinda sat there in silence for a minute and she quietly said, "What am I gonna do without you?" and I said... "Oh please! You'll have your husband and girls now and all of your church family!" It's been a crazy past 6 weeks for all of us, with ups and downs.. good news and not so good news. But we've all been amazed at the amount of love and support from all over the place! She is loved big time and I appreciate everyone letting her know it. So, in that moment of silence before she asked what she's gonna do without me, and while I was reassuring her that she's gonna be fine without me, in all reality, I was sitting there wondering to myself what I was going to do without her.


Yes, that is the title of an old Simon and Garfunkel song, but it also Bri as of about 2 p.m. today!

It has been one busy week for everyone!  Last weekend, we knew that Bri would have an intrathecal chemotherapy treatment, a bone marrow biopsy, preparing to come home.  I was busy trying to sterilize the house, help the girls with Valentines for school, Valentine's Day as a whole, and study for two tests without having been to a single class in six weeks! We knew this day would come!

So here we are, day 31 of Bri's chemotherapy.  She has been hospitalized since January 5th, so she gets to come home one day shy of 6 full weeks.  It is hard to believe she has been away from home for so long.  We thank God everyday for making the time pass.  Even though it has been this long, I know God has made this process as smooth as possible.  We will continue to lean on Him to clear the path ahead of us as we continue this journey!

We are still awaiting the results of the biopsy, which should be available today.  This will determine the next steps.

During the week, Bri and Brooke decided to move forward with shaving Bri's hair.  I cannot wait to touch it (and clean it up, because it isn't quite even-love you, Brooke)!  We did Facetime with Bri on Thursday and Anzley, our two-year old, paused for half a second and said, "I love it!"

As we prepare for the next phase of this whole process, I really want to stress how thankful our family is for all the love, support and thoughtfulness everyone has displayed.  It is truly humbling and encouraging to know the world we live in is not just filled with sin, evil and selfish people.  God has placed all of you in our lives and for that I am grateful. :)

We still have work to do and know God will continue to give us strength. God Bless you all!

Isaiah 40:29-31

29He giveth power to the faint; and to them that have no might he increaseth strength.
30Even the youths shall faint and be weary, and the young men shall utterly fall:
31But they that wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles; they shall run, and not be weary; and they shall walk, and not faint.

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Please pray for the Holy Spirit to comfort Bri.

Today is the big day!  Day 29!  This is her last day of chemo for this round. She has to have a bone marrow biopsy & would rather one of us be there but we can't so I'm praying the peace that passes all understanding will encompass her today. Her blood work is great and the plan is for her to go home on Friday. The days are long for her now as she can't wait to get out of the hospital and get back home to her family. Six weeks in the hospital will do that to you though.

Thank you for loving my girl and her family and especially your prayers and friendship.


Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Day 22

Bri had a rough day today.  She's usually upbeat and positive but today she was blue.  Everyone is entitled to a blue day, especially when you're fighting a disease called cancer and away from your family.  I called her to check up on her around 11:30am and she said she wasn't feeling well, nauseous, and then she started crying.  Being the mama bear I am, I asked my boss if I could take the afternoon off and left right away.  When I came into her room she was sleeping.  Her nurse said she was glad I came to be with Bri because she was not feeling herself.

When she woke up I asked her what was going on - what was she feeling?  She never cries much, just a few tears but she just wants this to be over with.  I know she'll feel better tomorrow and more like her old self.  Much of it had to do with her not being with the family for Ted's birthday.  It hurts to see her sad and struggling.

Bri was able to wear a hospital mask and we went down to the cafeteria where she got some coffee and then we went and sat outside.  We noticed some hyacinth was coming up in the gardens.  It was great to see a little patch of green amongst the grey twigs of the bushes in that area.  The temperature was in the high 40's but the sun wasn't out, nevertheless she enjoyed getting out and getting some fresh air.

At 4:30pm she got two different chemo drugs.  Hopefully she'll have a good night.

I am so proud of my daughter.  She's been brave, she's been strong and she's coming through this day by day.  I know she is relying on the strength of all of us to get her through this as well as her faith in the Lord.

I made a couple of posters with encouraging Bible verses on them and taped them to her wall.  I wish I could take this cup from her.