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.

HOMEWARD BOUND!

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.

Tammy

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.

Tammy

Recliner

Feel free to click the DONATE button!  We are saving up to buy Bri a comfy recliner for when she gets home. Thanks to those who have donated!!

Monday, February 4, 2013

Day 20!

Good evening!  The girls and I spent the weekend in Denver again.  It has become somewhat of a routine for us over the past few weeks.  It seems like every weekend goes faster and faster. 

Bri has been experiencing more nausea during the past week.  This is to be expected given the amount of chemotherapy she is going through.  The good news is that the nausea medication has been able to control it.  Also, during the past week, Bri has been experiencing some symptoms of "Chemo Brain."  This is something that happens during chemotherapy and can impact the ability to focus, memory, and it makes for some interesting conversation, at times!  Bri takes all of this in stride and is very positive about it, at times even making jokes about it.  The one instance that really impacted her was forgetting a conversation with her "bestie," Katie Jackson, about the gender of the Jackson's unborn child.  It really made her feel bad.  Her nurses told her she has the right to blame anything on the chemo.  These side effects have been rather mild, considering the possiblity of how severe they could be and we praise God for this!

Bri has also been able to maintain her appetite.  Her grandmother made some taco soup, beef barley soup and mac and cheese with hotdogs to take to her.  She loved it so much, she had two dinners on Saturday night!  The food had all the nurses asking where it came from because it looked and smelled so good.  She has also taken a liking to Chipotle burrito bowls, minus the veggies and salsa due to the possibilty of acquiring bacteria.  Rice, pinto beans, chicken, cheese and sour cream.  I believe she had this dish four times in a seven day span!

Bri continues to receive love packages and cards from her friends, family and friends of the family.  Thank you all for the encouraging words and display of love.  It really brightens Bri's mood.  Bri said that she has been a stay at home mother for so long that she didn't realize how many people care for her.  She thought she kind of slipped into anonymity.  She said, "it is nice to know that I matter to so many people, other than just you and the girls." I explained that she does matter and God will use this experience for an even bigger impact on people.  The stage is set for a powerful testimony!

On Saturday, Tammy, Gloria and Brooke planned a surprise birthday party for me so Bri could enjoy the celebration with the family.  Details are in Tammy's earlier blog.  Very thankful! :)

Bri and I watched a couple movies during the evening and she was cleared to go for a walk outside!  This was the first time Bri has been able to go outside since being admitted on January 5th!  She said that we take for granted the ability to wake up and go outdoors because it is so routine.  What a perspective. 

The more difficult part of last week was the doctor telling Bri that she would remain in the hospital through day 29 for her bone marrow biopsy, and then await the results, which can take two days.  One of the doctors thought she might be able to leave sooner, but there seemed to be some miscommunication around these dates.  Nonetheless, this would put her home around the 15th of February.  The disease has to be in remission for this to happen, otherwise more treatment will be needed.  Early on, the doctor explained to us that the initial tests indicate that she should be in remission and not require bone marrow transplants.  We are going to put this in God's hands and trust that He will send her home on the 15th!  Every step of the way, God has shown us His presence and we know He will continue to do so. 

Sunday morning, I decided to try and organize Bri's collection of items in her room.  She has limited space and no closet space, so we placed snacks in one spot, books in another, etc. to try and make it easier for her to find what she is looking for.  The 15th cannot come fast enough!  Anzley, our two-year old, keeps telling us she wants mommy to come home and "daddy go work."  It brings a smile to our faces and it reminds Bri that she is truly missed.  Everyone knows she works harder than I do anyway, so I am happy for her to resume her duties once she is ready! :)  I will say I have mastered the pony-tail!  I think Bri is impressed. 

I may have shared this before, but I will share it again because it is what I feel God has placed on my heart and it has been a source of comfort for Bri and I.  Mightier is He that takes it away, than he who put it there.  "It" being the leukemia.  Thanks for reading and God Bless you all. 

Psalms 34:1-7

1I WILL bless the Lord at all times;
His praise shall continually be in my mouth.
2My soul shall make its boast in the Lord;
The humble shall hear ofit and be glad.
3Oh, magnify the Lord with me,
And let us exalt His name together.
4I sought the Lord, and He heard me,
And delivered me from all my fears.
5They looked to Him and were radiant,
And their faces were not ashamed.
6This poor man cried out, and the Lord heard him,
And saved him out of all his troubles.
7The angel of the Lordencamps all around those who fear Him,
And delivers them.
8Oh, taste and see that the Lordis good;
Blessed is the man who trusts in Him!



Saturday, February 2, 2013

Ted's Birthday Surprise

Today was a fun day for the girls.  We planned a surprise birthday party for Ted so that Bri could celebrate with her family.  The girls and I bought presents and a cake and made plans to meet Brooke at the hospital and surprise them.  Mom sent Ted a text and told him and Bri to wait for us in the conference room where Bri always meets the kids when they visit, since they can't come into her room.

As we were getting all gathering in the hospital lobby Ted's mom and her boyfriend showed up so that made things even more fun!  We all came into the the room singing Happy Birthday, ate cake and visited for over an hour.  Bri looked like she was getting tired so we let Ted take her back to her room and we all went home.

Ted said he got to take Brianne outside this evening and I'm sure it was great for her to feel the air on her face, even though it was a little brisk.  She's been in the hospital for 4 weeks today.

Here's a snippet of video and a couple of pics.

Tammy

video