Tuesday, December 30, 2008

The doctor's appointment yesterday showed relatively good blood results - well within normal range for chemo patients. My next chemo treatment remains scheduled for January 8. The most uncomfortable side effect so far has been my sore mouth. Since I haven't had the common side effects, I had to develop one of the less common ones. It's a little difficult to eat, but the oncologist said that should be getting better, not worse, until my next treatment. I have found some ways to minimize the discomfort.

Jon's family arrived safely and we're having a good time. The boys had the time of their life last night wrestling with Uncle Ben and Uncle Josh. At the moment, the house is quiet because Grandpa decided I needed a nap and took everyone on a walk.

More updates later ... I'm going to go take my nap.

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Christmas Eve

The last couple of days have been very good. My appetite isn't great, but at least I don't feel sick. The doctor said my hair is likely to turn loose this week, so I finally bought a hat that covers my whole head. I found out that I have a big head.

Jon's family will be arriving from South Carolina today, and we're looking forward to seeing them. We never thought we'd all get together twice in one year. (The other occasion was Ben's and Beka's wedding in May.) The only family members who won't be here are Kevin, Jessica, and their children. They live in Siberia and don't need to come to Colorado to experience Christmas weather. That is why they aren't coming, of course. (Kevin and Jess - we'll miss you all.)

Many of you have made this Christmas the most eventful our children have ever had. They received so many gifts, that we let them begin opening one each night since Sunday. They have loved it and are enjoying their gifts so much. Eliana (the five-year-old) noticed that Cara (11 years old) didn't get quite as many gifts as she did, so she chose her largest unwrapped gift and gave it to Cara. It turned out to be an 18" doll that Cara has wanted for quite a while, and one that Eliana would have loved to have too. I could see the disappointment on Eliana's face. She was seriously reconsidering her generosity. I pulled her into my lap and whispered encouraging words in her ear. She can be very sweet natured when she's in the mood, and at that moment she was in the mood. The next present Eliana opened was a doll very similar to the one she had just given Cara. What a sweet reward and lesson.

Merry Christmas to all of you. We hope you have very pleasant days with your family and friends. And may you be very aware of the love of our God.

Sunday, December 21, 2008

First Book Review - A Winter's Tale

I love reading too much to keep all my good literature experiences to myself. This first book isn't quite a literary masterpiece, but the art work is spectacular. Those of you with kids or in elementary education have probably heard of Robert Sabuda and the pop-up books he designs. I fell in love with his work the first time I saw it, and now I have three of his books: A Cookie Count, America the Beautiful, and Winter's Tale. These books are not for my children. I would never trust them with the incredible, delicate, pop-up work. I do read them with the kids and let them enjoy the fun but with tight supervision.

Winter's Tale has become one of our Christmas traditions. The book only has six pages, but each page folds out with an additional pop-up illustration. The text is very simple, but has the element of a riddle as you try to figure out who is doing the talking. The pop-ups are all of wild life, and often a page will combine a figure of an animal along with the animals who would normally be its prey but without violence. There is lots of glitter and sparkle in the papers used, but at the same time the art gives a peaceful feeling. The last page is the most elaborate with a nice little surprise - and you will solve the riddle if you're paying close attention.

I bought this book several years ago for about $25.00. Now, for someone who almost never buys books new, and almost never for more than $1.00, that is a fortune. (I even bought one of my other Robert Sabuda books, A Cookie Count, for $0.50 at a thrift store.) But the price I paid has been much worth it. It has appeal for all of us, and to keep it from getting to be old-hat or dog-eared we pack it away with the Christmas decorations each year.

Even if you only walk into a book store to take a look at one of Robert Sabuda's books, you will thoroughly enjoy it. You'll probably get hooked and have to eventually buy one to satisfy your new found hunger for pop-up art. I hope you have as much luck at thrift stores as I have.
My pictures are awful. I hope you really will take a look at the book itself and not let my photos be your only impression of this fun book.
Still feeling pretty good ...

Saturday, December 20, 2008

After Chemo

It's been almost 48 hours since the first treatment. Jon said I looked yellow-green at the end of the 4 hours, but I felt reasonably well. The nurses were kind. One of the nuns served us delicious sandwiches, and I was surprised I felt well enough to eat it. I had minor side effects during the treatment, but nothing big. I didn't feel very well at home that evening, but was up and about enough to do a clay project with the kids. The nurse warned me that nausea would set in on Friday and sent me home with 3 different medications to take if necessary. I held my breath all day yesterday, waiting. I was very tired and slept most of the day, but no nausea! This morning I still feel fine. The second chemo drug I received (Cytoxan) is supposed to kick in tomorrow or Monday, so I'm not out of the woods yet. Thanks to all of you who are praying.

A specific prayer request is for our health. Typically chemo patients receive a treatment to boost the production of white blood cells the day after each chemo treatment. White blood cells are killed in droves by the chemo. I can't receive that treatment because of the baby. My immune system will be very, very low over the next couple of weeks. I won't be going anywhere to speak of, and I'll have to go to a friend's house temporarily if the kids get sick.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

It's been a week since I posted anything. Those of you who check everyday must be wondering what happened to me.

Chemo starts tomorrow morning. We appreciate everyone's prayers so much. The last few days have been full of little things that need to be done before treatment starts. I needed to get some maternity clothes, we had run out of family pictures for Christmas cards, and there were a few final Christmas details to take care of. I think things are taken care of now. Wonderful, beautiful, gracious, kind, efficient ladies from church are cleaning the house tomorrow while we're at the hospital. More beautiful, talented people are fixing meals for us over the next week. I am so grateful for all the help. Jon's family will be arriving on Christmas Eve and will stay for a couple of weeks. The kids will be well cared for if I'm not up and about soon after the treatment.

I had my blood checked again yesterday. Maintaining good iron levels has always been a problem for me and is a concern with pregnancy and chemo combined. Yesterday's test showed higher iron levels than I have ever had - a good way to start treatments. The lettuce juice must be working. I know lots of people have been praying too. Thank you all so much.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

First Chemo Treatment

The oncologist outlined more specifics of treatment yesterday. My first treatment will be given on December 18. I'll receive both drugs (Adriomycin and Cytoxan) in one treatment that will last for about 3 hours. The treatment will be repeated about every 21 days if my blood counts are high enough.

To help keep my blood counts high, I am drinking a concoction of juices - one head of romaine lettuce, carrots, and one apple. All this makes about one 18-ounce glass of juice. It looks unappetizing, unless you're already used to Barley Green or something like that. But it actually tastes good. The apple helps a lot.

Baby is doing well. We had another check-up and ultrasound on Wednesday. Please pray that this little one will be protected from the bad effects of the chemo.

Many people we have never met have reached out to us in such sweet ways. One un-met friend, who recently finished chemo treatments for breast cancer, sent me her wig, shampoo, spray, books, hints, ideas, encouragement, and other things that are such a help. My aunt's church friends have been so kind with their cards, gifts, and care in different forms. You all are helping us see what a blessing we can be to God's children anywhere. You have been a wonderful expression of God's love.

Monday, December 8, 2008

Passing Time

About a month has passed since my surgery. My arm movement is almost back to normal, although completely straightening it out is still hard. My energy has been flagging very quickly, but that’s improving too. I felt a little guilty for having so much help with laundry, but we’ve realized how necessary it was. Everyone who has helped has been such a blessing.

Thanks to lots of help from my family, we finished the Christmas decorating right after Thanksgiving. The kids hung everything on the tree after my sister carefully strung all the lights on it. It was beautiful. The next morning, it fell over. We cleaned up the broken ornaments and set it back up. It fell again. We cleaned up more broken ornaments, then Jon screwed the stand right down to the floor. I think we’ll be enjoying this tree until February.

I’ve had lots of time to read. Reading has been my absolutely favorite pastime since I was about ten years old reading the Bobsey Twins, Hardy Boys, and Nancy Drew. I’ve been tempted to pick up some of those mysteries again. I always seem to be working on several books at once. (That’s because we have several bathrooms.) I recently finished The Valley Is Bright by Dr. Nell Collins, a melanoma survivor; Eleanor of Aquataine, a children’s biography; and Eats, Shoots, and Leaves; the Zero Tolerance Approach to Punctuation. I bet that last title raised some eyebrows. It’s actually a very fun book. You might enjoy it even if you aren’t a fan of English grammar. I’ve begun to get my feet wet in The World is Flat (don’t raise your eyebrows again – it’s about global economics) by Thomas Friedman and also a children’s book by a Newbery winning author. I won’t mention the title of that one yet – it could turn out to be a stinker. Two of my high school teachers, Mrs. Wynn and Mr. Hallberg, are partly responsible for my reading choices recently. How many of you had teachers who made English and Economics interesting subjects? I’m considering turning this blog into a book review spot. I’m tired of talking about cancer.

We participated in Desi Christmas last Saturday. This is an annual activity our church hosts for the Asian-Indian community in Denver. Desi is the name by which the Asian-Indians refer to themselves. We had a wonderful time. Our Indian friends surrounded us with love and caring. We were able to meet some “blog friends” whom we didn’t know before. Each member of our family had been given traditional clothing from India just for this occasion. The food was delicious, and our friends - Hindu, Christian, and Buddhist - were all a pure pleasure to be with. Jon has been the Indian pastor in our church for about two years now. Everyone there has made us feel very loved.

Thanks, Mike, for taking so many pictures of us lately.

Friday, December 5, 2008


Good morning! Not too bad huh? (Aside from the grainy upload...)

Amy spoke at the ladies' Christmas get together last night - her assignment was to speak on the subject of Peace (an assignment given before folks knew what was going on with us.) What an opportunity to witness to the wonderful comfort of the garrison of God's peace around our hearts and minds - Phil 4:7

Check out these others - and don't forget to take our appt today to the Prince of Peace. Thanks, Jon

Thursday, December 4, 2008

High Risk OB

Hi friends,
Yesterday was our first visit with the High Risk OB. We got some great pictures (as you can see) of a very active, healthy baby. Dr Farkouh got all kinds of ultrasound measurements and pictures and some blood work. Everything looks great! She wants to continue monthly ultrasounds and checkups as we go through the chemo even though we will also be seeing the regular OB. Pray that the team can come to a wise decision about a delivery date. The HR OB wants to wait until 34 weeks – she says baby will stay about 2 weeks in the hospital and go home normal. The Medical Oncologist (Dr Cook) wants to take the baby around 30 weeks so that she can switch to a stronger chemo. Dr Farkouh says that would greatly increase the risk of a complication (like cerebral palsy) and will take more time and treatment in neonatal care. Tomorrow we meet with the radiation oncologist and see what she (Dr Clem) says about all this.
The visit went well though, we like the HR OB (all of our team has been great).
Today’s adventure – getting Amy’s hair cut. Not my favorite part of this at all, but I have to admit Jen did a great job, she does look cute and younger – she looks great for a cancer patient. Maybe I will get a picture in tomorrow.
Pray for our morning visit – thanks


First picture!

Monday, December 1, 2008

From Jon...

As we wrap up this “thankful week” I can’t help but be renewed in my commitment to give thanks in everything – all year long. Our hearts are overwhelmed with gratitude – wish I had time to list all the wonderful ways we have experienced our Father’s love. When we count the ways, one of the things for which we are tremendously thankful is you. God’s love for us has become very evident through you. Many of you are more faithful in dropping by the blog than we have been in updating – some of you check several times daily! Many of you I don’t even know, and it is impossible to express the joy, comfort and blessing your faithful expressions of love and prayer on our behalf have been.

We are in a little lull right now – but as you can see by our schedule the check-ups and visits start again soon, and then before we know it chemo will start.

One the realities that has been impressed on our hearts is that this experience is not just about us – it is about all who surround us and observe, with whatever degree of curiosity or care, what God is doing. Amy and I have been filled with a passion to reflect what God has been doing for us. For those who know Him, our prayer has been that somehow through our experience you might see that God is everything that He claims to be – it may be impossible to experience outside of the fire – but if we can somehow serve as surrogates and share with you even a small taste of the greatness of God, that would thrill our hearts. For some of you, we pray obsessively that our experience would bring to the surface of your conscience those pesky questions about life, death, God and His love that will refuse to go away until they are squared with and answered to the satisfaction of your soul.

We love all of you – and want to communicate that if there is something worse than facing death – it is facing death without the one true God.

Thanksgiving was wonderful – we have already set up our Christmas decorations as well – that is Amy’s favorite time of year.

I have one more prayer for you as I close – I pray that each of you will have the opportunity to celebrate this season as if it might be your last one – that is an amazing experience.

Love Jon