Day +12 With Some Good News!

Jogging in place
I told Anna I was going to take a picture of her jogging in place and post it! So she made sure to smile pretty for you all!! Today we got some great news! Anna's blood work sheet revealed to us that her neutrophils are showing up at 94!!!! What does that mean? It means that Anna's cells are starting to graft....TWO days ahead of schedule!!!! Day +14 is usually the EARLIEST that they start seeing signs of grafting!!! We are praising the Lord! The doctors were very pleased and excited! Anna won't be considered "grafted" until her numbers reach 500 for two days in a row but at least we are seeing life!! This news seemed to boost Anna's spirit even more! Also, the pain meds have finally reached the place that her pain is minimal so she is feeling a tad better! She even ate some treats today....which made her nauseous but it was good while she ate it! To date Anna has had two platelet transfusions and zero blood transfusions.  Her red cell count seems to be hanging in there for now. All of the terms are a bit difficult to understand so I'll just leave it at that for now. But we praise the Lord for such a great day today!

Day +11, Time For a New Update

Such a gorgeous smile!

Today is day +11. We are in the double digits of days since transplant! Anna is doing what would be expected for how far in she is. A lot of people are asking me how Anna is doing/feeling. Anna is in a lot of pain. The mucositis is spreading down her digestive tract. I praise the Lord for the small comfort of a mouth with almost no sores at all, but her throat hurts a lot and it is spreading downward. The pain meds have changed to a stronger drug and the dosage changes moment by moment depending on how well she is able to keep it at bay. She has a continual drip, a button she can push every six minutes, and the ability to have the nurse give her a bigger one-time dose. These meds do make her a bit sleepy but it's better for her to be as pain free as possible right now. How long will this last you may be asking? We expect this to last at least another couple of weeks as the stem cells still need to start grafting before there will be any cells to attack the sores in her body. Even once the cells start grafting, the pain could get worse while they do their job. Swelling will also be a factor in which we must watch closely to make sure her airway doesn't close off.

Tired out
Anna is staying in great shape even while being isolated in her room. Instead of being able to walk laps in the 8th floor wing, she chooses to...yes you are reading correctly....JOG in place and do jumping jacks! She is also making sure her lungs stay open and clear by faithfully doing her incentive spirometry~ a tool she must suck in as much air as possible a total of ten times each. Another thing that she must do to keep her mouth moist is to swish and gargle with a special water with baking soda mix, and she has a band to work her arm muscles and therapy putty for strength in her fingers and hands. The more Anna does, the better time she will have recovering. It also gives her goals each day as we mark off each time she does any of these things.

Another question we have been asked is how much longer will Anna have to be in the hospital? Tomorrow she will have been in the hospital for 3 weeks already, and the average stay post transplant is about 30+ days. So being day +11 means we have at least 3 more weeks ahead. Some are able to go home around day +26 and yet others stay longer as their body needs more healing time. Friday or Saturday we should find out if Anna still needs to be in isolation. Being in isolation just means that she can't go out of her room unless she has a test that can't be done in her room, we as her parents/caretakers can't go into any of the community lounge spaces, and all nurses, doctors, and other staff must gown up and wear gloves. (This is because they go into each patient room and don't want to risk spreading any virus to others) We also can not have small children in to visit her as this virus is highly contagious.

This is a long painful road. There are no shortcuts. Anna's spirit remains positive and trusting in God's strength to get her through. We do have our moments. Tears do come. Tears that God allows and will hold in His hands. He cares. He comforts. He is giving us opportunity to give glory and honor to Him.

**Grandpa is doing considerably well. Today he had appointments at S.C.C.A. and we will find out more this evening after he meets with the doctor just what the plan of care will be. AML is a very aggressive form of leukemia and, left untreated, can give you only weeks to live. While he is in our home, we are taking his temperature multiple times a day to assure us there is no fever. We are also making sure he takes his medicines and stays comfortable. We feel so blessed to be able to "Honor our father" as God's Word encourages us to do by being able to take care of him! The hospital he will be at is about a mile from Children's. The post hospital care is what we were the most concerned about as it entails a commitment to daily (sometimes multiple times a day) outpatient appointments and special food care and preparation as well as bleaching down everything in the bathroom and kitchen after every use. We will already be doing these things for Anna and thought it logical for us to take this on for Grandpa too! There are so many restrictions that you really don't think about but you learn in classes that you must take if you are to be a caretaker. Things such as no fresh flowers, no potted plants, and no animals in the home. While I am a firm believer in building our immune systems with dirt, it is/will be dangerous for both Anna and Grandpa. Many life changes have already taken place such as hand sanitizer as a staple in our home and anywhere we go, and making sure we "isolate" anyone who feels like they are getting sick. We must be on the paranoid side and patrol our home to keep sickness away. Having the frame of mind that even a slight tummy ache, a stuffy nose, or even a bad headache could potentially be something that could be passed on to immune suppressed patients and make them deathly ill is the new way of thinking in the Houston home and has been since Anna's diagnosis back in October.

Thank you all again for your prayers for us and for those we have met at Children's. It is the best anyone can do! A special prayer for a 3 year old girl, Allistair Anderson, would be greatly appreciated! Allistair is directly under Anna and over one at the hospital. This is her second bout with cancer and it seems that the cancer is spreading very quickly. This precious little girl is in much pain and her treatment plan can be very hard for her to go through. Please pray for her parents to have the comfort and peace that only God can give. I have met her mama and she is a sweet Christian lady who brought a "bit of sunshine" to Anna by bringing her a fake potted plant. It sits in Anna's window as a reminder to pray for little Allistair and her family. We are so thankful for every opportunity!

***I will post pictures of Anna's birthday celebration soon!!! It's been a bit busy this past week so I thank you for your patience!***

Timing Is Everything

Matthew 11:28-30 says, "Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light."

These verses were sent to me via text by a sweet friend who didn't even know how our day had gone.

*Naomi spent the night with Anna to give Craig a night in his own bed. We wanted to be there this morning in time for rounds to make sure we heard anything that might be new. Upon arriving at the hospital, we found that Anna was receiving a bag of platelets as her count was low. Anna also shared with us, a bit tearfully, that her hair has officially started falling out. When the doctors came for rounds, we noticed them all putting isolation gowns and gloves on. Anna is now in isolation as she has contracted Rotavirus which is a stomach virus that is most common in small children and immune suppressed people. This can be scary news to someone who has been told from the beginning that any kind of virus could be life threatening once you have zero immune system. It's been a weighty day. Full of tears. And then........

Remember, I asked everyone to please pray for my Father-in-law, Larry? Well, it turns out that he has been diagnosed with AML...Acute Myeloid Leukemia. Another heavy blow today. He is being admitted to OHSU to start chemo immediately. We are seeking to have him transferred as soon as possible to SCCA so that we can help take care of him. SCCA didn't have any openings until next week, so he was headed to Portland, OR. I asked our nurse if it was at all possible for patients to be transferred in the midst of treatment, to which she said it was very common. Pray that this can happen. As we have learned, treatment of leukemia isn't just a week in the hospital and then you're done. There will probably be a longer hospital stay and then daily appointments for quite a while. We are thankful that he knows the Lord as his personal Saviour!

Today has been heavy. But a friend listened to the prompting of the Holy Spirit and sent me a verse. A verse that reminded me that my sweet Comforter is there to take my heavy burdens from me and give me rest. It was what I needed, and what Anna needed...she wept as I read the verses to her knowing this friend had had no idea what the day had been like. Timing was everything! Thank you, Lord for loving me so much to use your people and your Word to be a comfort in times that weigh us down.

Happy Birthday, Anna-Renee!!!

A sweet baby girl!

One year old!

Asleep in Daddy's arms

Anna's 3rd birthday
 Today is Anna's 17th birthday! My how time flies! I remember the tiny baby being placed in my arms. I remember the ornery little grin as this fun loving toddler would grab her big sister's toy and run for it! I remember when she wanted skates sooo bad and was excited to get them for her birthday. There were the chicken pox, the style of sandals she just HAD to have, and the love of life this girl has had all along. She has always loved to sing, and I remember when she received a new song in her heart! What a beautiful change took place in this girl the day she accepted Christ as her Savior! Anna has been a joy to this family from the beginning! It's been three years exactly since the day she landed in Uganda, Africa for a life changing experience. Anna's love for missions has never been the same since. One year ago, we celebrated a milestone....sweet 16, with make-up, pierced ears, a special dinner, and a hope chest. Wow, it's been a whole year since that day! And since her last birthday, much has happened, much has changed, but not her winsome spirit or her love for her Savior! As I look at my precious daughter lying in her hospital bed this 23rd day of May, 2013, her 17th birthday, I still see that sweet, fun loving girl who is more in love with Christ than ever before. She loves to share that love with anyone, everyone. She still loves to sing, smile, and hope for the future. Today is a birthday we will never forget. Our family will gather for a birthday celebration on the 8th floor at Seattle Children's Hospital. She will enjoy being with those she especially loves, she will enjoy the cards and gifts that we will give her. The special surprises will be fun. Anna's smile will be bright. This is day +5 for her. Five days have passed since her 3rd "birthday"...another celebration we recently enjoyed. We are grateful to get this time to be together. We are grateful to get the chance to love on our favorite Anna in the whole world! We are excited to wish Anna-Renee a very HAPPY BIRTHDAY!!!!!!!!!!!!
A birthday past...

The girls being silly

A lovely young lady

Loving on Lydia

Always a bright smile for the camera!

Such a beautiful girl

Growing up

A first for make-up (though not needed!)

One year ago today! 16!

Another awesome photo shoot with Jenny!

Sporting a new look

Enjoying the love

A new journey

Day +3

Today is day +3. Naomi came to spend some time with Anna while I stayed home with the little ones, and Craig took the older four boys over to Bremerton. He had a couple of appointments today, several errands to run, and the boys had Boy Scouts this evening. One of the meds Anna was scheduled to take today we knew made her really sick the last time she took it so Anna knew that if she needed me, I would come in an instant.

On the home front, school went on for Julia and Lydia as normal. Okay, as normal as possible right now. Abby and Zeke drew pictures for Anna and enjoyed "helping" mama fold clothes. Selah was ready for a nap, so I put her into the playpen and shut the door. Next thing I know, I am hearing the turning of the door nob and a precious but naughty little girl is standing there with her THREE special blankies in her arms and a huge grin on her face! Too cute, but, being the good mommy I know I need to be, instead of smiling at her and telling her how adorable and clever she is, I scooped her up and let her know that in no uncertain terms, she MUST take her nap...thus she must stay in her bed! Again, after the door was closed, I heard that familiar sound..the turning of the door nob, the three blankies in tow, the huge grin on her pudgy face. Scoop number two, you MUST take your nap! Sigh...The third time I heard it I was in the dining room and didn't get up right away. I instead quietly got up and peeked around the corner. She was laying on her tummy in the hall by the kitchen with her 3 blankies and huge grin. When she saw me with my phone taking a picture, she sat up and grinned even bigger...uh oh, I was caught! So this time, I scooped the little munchkin up and hauled her to my bed, where we BOTH took a little nap...and she stayed put.

As I woke up from my little nap, Naomi was calling me to come for Anna. She was feeling pretty lousy and needed her mommy. So, we all piled in the car and headed to Children's. I went up after saying good bye to all of the little ones who were very sad they didn't get to come say hi, and traded with Naomi.

It is sometimes hard to keep that smile when you feel lousy, you want to be home, and well, you just feel lousy! I held her precious hand and stroked her fingers, telling her how much I wished that I could take this from her! After a bit of time, the smile was back, tears were gone, and we were laughing together remembering the night doctor's corny jokes. Laughter really does do good like a medicine! As well as having mommy there to comfort you! Anna was able to stay awake for quite some time and she actually asked for a bite of FOOD! She ate 3 bites to be exact! And so far, she has not vomited! Yay for small victories! She was able to get freshened up with a shower and then tucked back in a freshly made bed. Then we Face Timed with the family at home. This was medicine for her soul! She enjoyed watching the little ones clamor in front of the computer, taking turns to express their love for her and how much they missed her! Zeke was so excited he almost spilled the beans about a special birthday surprise waiting for her! They were all quickly gathered and admonished to not tell the secret so Anna could have a surprise! Then it was loves, and kisses, and "hi's" all over again! When Anna got off of the Face Time, she was all smiles and a few yawns. She was all tucked in, her sleepy anti-nausea meds kicking in, and ready for much needed sleep. "Mom," she said, "I love you. Thank you for being here. Now go get yourself a bite to eat at Starbucks." "I love you too, it is my privilege to be here with you, my love! I'll get food when you have gone to sleep, until then, I'll be right here by your side. Good night sweet heart." As she nodded off, I slipped out of the room to get my dinner. Since then, I've been here, using her computer to catch up on some blog reading of my own, and post a quick update for everyone out there.

Thank you all for your love and prayers! God is truly giving us the strength we need on a day to day/moment by moment basis! I have a wonderful husband who has the support of a wonderful church to be able to stay here and take a huge portion of the hospital stay upon his shoulders. He affords me the luxury of sleeping in my own bed at night and he is always making sure that I don't over due it. He also makes sure the other children get lots of mommy time while then getting over to give them daddy time as well! I am truly thankful. We are also very blessed by every opportunity to minister to others that God is giving us! We have a very long prayer list that grows daily as we meet more people. Our hearts are breaking for the souls here who are hurting beyond measure! It is a love only our loving Saviour could instill in us. Thank you, Lord for this trial in our lives, that gives us true understanding of what other's suffering means to them! Thank you for breaking my heart, keeping me dependent on you! As in the words of the famous poem, "Footprints", it is when we are in the biggest trials that you are carrying us...unlike the author, I KNOW I am being carried, Lord, as I feel your arms around me all of the way!

An Over-due Update..Day +2

 Friday was the big day! Day 0/transplant day. It was a day full of emotions, preparing our boy/man for surgery and excitement over the cells that would then be placed into Anna's body. We were so proud of Daniel! He was never nervous, just excited over what he was getting to do!!! We met up in Anna's room for a time of Bible reading and prayer before taking him down for surgery. One last hug from Anna before he left to give her the gift of a lifetime. Daniel went back into surgery a little after 2 p.m. and came out around 4:30. While he was in surgery, Craig and I went to the gift shop and got balloons for the entire crew. It was fun carrying so many balloons through the hospital halls! Then we decorated Anna's room with them. This made for a very festive atmosphere for a very special day!! The children came for the big event as well as a couple others. Then it came.....the cooler with Daniel's cells. As everything was being prepared, the nurses from all over came in to sing, "Happy transplant day to you!" (to the tune of Happy Birthday") Day 0 is a highly celebrated day for bone marrow transplant patients! The cells took just over 7 hours to be administered, so Anna actually became one of a few double 0 patients! This means, that since it went into Saturday, that Saturday was also day 0. Sunday was day +1, today is day +2.

Saturday, we received the disturbing news that an error had been made concerning the first 2 bags of cells. The wrong tubing had been used. The tubing that the nurse hooked up had filters and the Dr. was unsure if the stem cells had been filtered out. This was devastating! Though the good thing was that the last bag was the fullest and the amount that most transplant patients receive. Daniel had produced 3x more cells than most donors are able! Well, this didn't seem to help much in the way of encouragement to a very sick young lady who is depending on those cells! Tears were spilled and questions were asked. We know that human error is a part of life and we must be accepting of that. We all make mistakes, and God is still ultimately in control! He has a plan! Well, a couple of hours later, Dr. Woolfrey came back with some VERY good news! She had just gotten off of the phone with the head of bone marrow transplants at UW, and he said not to worry! That they actually use the filtered tubing on patients with allergies and have always seen good results. (in other words, the stem cells got through the filter and grafted into the patients) He said to go ahead and count all 3 bags as good!!  What a relief!

At this point in the transplant process, we are looking at rough days ahead. Anna will continue to get sicker. She already has mouth sores forming that go throughout her digestive tract. The nausea is increasing, but they are trying to keep it at bay with around the clock anti-nausea medication. She also has pain meds at the push of a button to keep her feeling as good as possible. I am so proud of Anna! She is doing quite well! She pushes herself to be as physically active as possible. Everyone here is pleased with how well she is doing. Keeping active will really help her recover better later. She is also being a witness at every opportunity. Today we were able to talk about her mission's trip to Uganda with her nurse and CNA. They asked what Anna and Craig had done while there, so we were able to share just what they did! They then asked if any of the younger ones had gotten to go on their trip yet, so we then shared about the situation that took place when it was Samuel's turn to go. How perfect each part was in keeping them home when we would be faced with the diagnoses of Anna's CML. The nurse was amazed at how it all worked, to which Anna replied, "It just shows the Sovereignty of God! He worked it all out!" Little things like that can plant seeds in the hearts of those we share it with. We pray those seeds will be watered, and that God will get the increase one day!!!

The longer we are here, the more families we are meeting. The other day we met a man who's wife had a baby girl named Isabella, born on the ninth of May. Their baby girl needed to have open heart surgery and was scheduled for Thursday the 16. We told him we'd be praying for his baby girl. I was really burdened all day Thursday and told Craig I truly hoped God had answered our prayers for that family! Who knew if we'd ever see them again? Craig shared with me today that he ran into the dad yesterday and so he asked how everything went. I am so blessed to say that she made it through with flying colors! She may even be going home this week!!! While we were both in Anna's room today, A code blue went over the intercom. Craig immediately stopped and prayed, "Dear God please help that child be okay!" and would you know that literally seconds later the code blue was cancelled!! To which Craig said, "Thank you God for answering our prayer so quickly!" It is so awesome to see God working in so many ways!!! I mentioned a young lady in the room next to Anna's named Lynsie. I have had the privilege of getting to meet her and chat with her on a couple of occasions. Please Pray her transplant will be successful and that she will be able to live a long and full life! Pray we can share the love of Jesus with her and her family!!! Also, please pray for a 19 year old young lady who is also on her 3rd relapse. It is very sobering to meet patients who have been down this road a number of times. We have such a burden to see them get better and we are praying for them! It is wonderful to know that the love as well as the healing hand of Jesus has no limits!!! It isn't all bad news here, though. Today we heard of a young man who is on day +21 and was getting a two hour break from the hospital! We enjoy hearing good news on occasion! Our mission field is all around us, please pray that we will take the opportunity God affords us! May we be a beacon of light to all who we meet! May they all see Christ in us no matter the situation!

Thank you all for your love, support, and esp. your prayers! It was so good to be in the House of God yesterday and to get to see many loved ones and be encouraged by them! And to those we don't get to see, we know you all are praying for us and we are encouraged by that!

Please enjoy the spattering of pictures from the special day!

The look is him watching the t.v. above him

A prayer from his Pastor/Daddy

Headed back for surgery

Balloons for the crew!

A festive room for a special day!

Little siblings who LOVE their Anna

All the nurses singing, "Happy Transplant Day!"

Daniel's cells

All hooked up and ready to go!

The cells getting started

Another prayer over Anna and the cells

Anna showing off her line

Overwhelmed with thankfulness toward her brother

A proud little girl who is touching the light on Anna's finger!

Daniel getting to come up and see Anna

"Health to thy naval, marrow to thy bones"

Daniel made it through the bone marrow harvest like a champ! He is at this very moment in recovery and the cells have been delivered. We are just waiting for the orders to put them in! The coolers are literally sitting outside her room in the nurses station. Her siblings are all here waiting to watch the initial hook up. Thank you all for your prayers!

Day 0/ Transplant Day!

Dr. Woolfrey
 Yesterday Daniel had his appointments at Seattle Cancer Care Alliance to make sure he was physically ready for the bone marrow harvesting. He was cleared! (That's the reason for the thumbs up with Dr. Ruiz-Gutierrez) Dr. Woolfrey will be the one doing the harvest today, and Dr. Ruiz-Gutierrez will be assisting her. Dr. Burroughs is the one who had originally checked Daniel in at Children's, and Christa is a precious Christian lady who works in the child life area of S.C.C.A.. After his appointments, Craig took Daniel for a special Dad and son lunch. Daniel ordered bleu cheese top sirloin steak, you know to get that iron up! The wait staff gave them free appetizers when they found out that he was donating his bone marrow to his sister! He is indeed our hero! His willingness, yea, his eagerness has been a great testimony to so many!

Daniel's surgery will take place this afternoon and then Anna will receive the fresh marrow soon after. Daniel's recovery time will be about a month as he will be restricted from rough housing and wrestling around to protect his pelvis. The pelvis will be fragile as it will have between 200-300 holes in it that could shatter the bone if he were to take a blow to it. He will also be very sore for a couple of weeks. However, his hospital stay will only be a few hours.
Dr. Ruiz-Gutierrez
Dr. Lauri Burroughs

Christa Peterson

 We are very proud of Daniel as well as all of our children for being willing to make this sacrifice for their sister. We pray that all will go well with the transplant process. The process takes several weeks to complete. The easiest part will be getting the bone marrow put in. This will be administered through Anna's Hickman line. The hard part, as well as the most life threatening part, is the grafting process. Daniel's stem cells will have the journey of accepting Anna's body as it's own, and Anna's body will have the task of receiving Daniel's stem cells as it's own. This will be a long and drawn out time. The risk of liver failure or lung failure is very real during this process through a problem called graft versus host disease. We pray this will not be an issue for Anna. A little gvh is expected and even good as Daniel's immune system will become Anna's.

Anna still has a long road ahead of her. It will be some time before she feels like her old self again. I am encouraged though. Yesterday, as I walked down the hall, I saw many of the sick teens walking around with a bit of a bounce to their step. It's encouraging to see that Anna will start to feel better. Even if it takes a little bit more time and a lot more prayers. Which is where you all have been a help to us and a blessing! We know you are praying! We feel God's presence. His comfort has been surrounding us from the beginning. His faithfulness has abounded. The joy of the Lord is our strength. He has used His people to uphold us and to encourage us through every aspect of this journey! We have not had to walk this path alone! Nor will we have to continue on this path alone. Thank you all! And........

HAPPY TRANSPLANT DAY!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Free! appetizers for the HERO!!

Dad And Daniel having a special lunch

Happy Transplant Day!!

A Quick Review of the Week

 Tuesday was a rough day. It was Anna's first day on the Cyclophosophamide and she reacted to it in a bad way. Anna's face had extreme raised, red splotches all over and her lips were swollen. She got really sick and this caused her Daddy and Mommy to be quite concerned. She was already on Benadryl for nausea and we thought it should also take care of any allergic reactions. The splotches gradually decreased and the Dr. was able to put us at ease. She assured us that if her reactions got worse than we would have alarms going off all over the place, and people running in to help her.

 Yesterday was a better day. Though Anna remains feeling pretty awful, she did not react to the drug the same as Tuesday! She actually was able to get up and walk two laps around the 8th floor wing!!! She also asked for some saltine crackers and Sprite, then asked for string cheese...and she ate it all! That's the most she has eaten in days! As you all know, today is Anna's day off. Not that she will get to be left alone from meds and vitals, but that she will not have any chemo drugs put in her.
Anna's neighbor is a young lady named Lyndsey. She must be about Anna's age and is on her third relapse of cancer. Please pray that she can conquer cancer once and for all! Lyndsey sent over this huge balloon for Anna! It was so sweet! She wanted to deliver it herself, but wasn't allowed at this point. So it was delivered by a nurse. She also gave Anna a black wristband that says, "stupid cancer!"  What a sweet gesture, one young lady with cancer to another. I hope we can in turn, minister to her and her family.

Tomorrow is the big day! Daniel goes in at 12:45 p.m. for surgery to harvest his bone marrow. The surgery will last about 2 hours and 45 minutes. Then he will have a 45 minute recovery time before being released. The hospital staff has said that if everyone is healthy, they encourage the family to all be there with Anna as she gets the bone marrow. They celebrate transplant day as a big 2nd birthday, as she receives new life into her body. Craig has already gotten to explain to some that this won't be her second birthday but her THIRD!!! She was born physically (17 years ago next week!), then born again through the blood of Jesus, and tomorrow, given another life from her brother's bone marrow. We are so blessed to be given the gift of life, both physical and spiritual! And to be given the opportunity to share it with everyone we come in contact with! We are thankful for all of the prayers being offered up on Anna's and our behalf! We feel the presence of God in every circumstance!!!!

Unexplainable?! We Know Better!

Getting her chemo started 

Still able to smile!
 This morning at 2:00 a.m., Anna received her last two hour dose of Busulfan, which has been administered four times a day for four days. Today she will begin her two days of Cyclophosphamide, a more extreme chemo drug that is given only once a day. After tomorrow, Anna will be done with "conditioning". Conditioning is the term used for the six days of intense, high dose chemo therapy that prepares or conditions the body to be able to accept the bone marrow which will be given on Friday.
After a few days, not feeling so well..but still smiling!

Thursday will be Anna's "day of rest"; however, Daniel will be busy with appointments at S.C.C.A. all day. Daniel will get the last minute check-ups and blood draws to make sure he is ready for the marrow harvest. He is so excited! People keep asking if he is nervous, and I honestly have to say that he isn't!

Anna has kept a positive attitude throughout this process though she has been feeling worse as the days go by. Her vision has been blurred making it difficult to be up walking around as well as to read. This has been a source of frustration for her.  Also, her nausea has been pretty bad, making it difficult to eat food. Some of the anti-nausea meds make her really sleepy.

Yesterday I stopped in to deliver a couple of books to Craig and give Anna a kiss and hug. Emotions ran a bit high, so I stayed longer than I had expected. I held my baby girl for as long as she needed. I was able to help her get freshened up and then we sat on her bed together and watched as a storm passed over us. It was beautiful to watch. From the strike of lightening to the down pour, to the sun breaking through once again. I told her how beautiful a picture that was for us. That through the storms of life, God is always there shining His light.

Anna was excited to get gummy bears from Irv (at church), delivered by Michael. She eagerly opened them and had a few~ an amazing feat since food is not very appetizing right now. Thank you Irv!!  We sat and enjoyed each other's company for a little while until she got sleepy. Again tears, I laid down next to her in her bed and held her in my arms, promising to stay by her side for as long as she needed me. Sometimes a mommy's arms is the best place to fall asleep. I am thankful for that time. Right now we live life moment by moment. A "quick trip" to the hospital can easily turn into a couple of hours or more. But that's okay. This is just for a season, and though it's difficult for the younger children to understand, they do know that their sissy is very sick and has extra needs right now. I hear it in their prayers as they ask God to "help Anna not have cancer anymore".

~"The effectual fervant prayer of a righteous man availeth much." James 5:16
I must share about the doctor's rounds yesterday..... Dr. Woolfrey and the P.A. come in the mornings for rounds. They read off Anna's numbers from the blood work that has been done and Craig asked about Anna's liver numbers. The Dr. said that Anna's numbers were amazingly perfect! She said it was completely UNEXPLAINABLE! (you see, we know that her enzymes had been bad back in January due to the TKI's, or cancer drugs, but her bilirubin remained elevated and actually climbed a bit while her liver was supposed to be "cooling off". Well, this made them think she may have something called "Gilbert's (pronounced jheel-bahyers) syndrome" which is actually common and just means her liver has issues processing the red blood cells. This was not a concern regarding the transplant so we had gotten the green light to move forward.) Well, Craig responded to Dr. Woolfrey's comment of the "unexplainable" perfect liver numbers with, "This is totally explainable Doctor, we literally have people from around the world praying specifically for Anna's liver! God has answered those prayers!"

What a great testimony of God's handiwork through the prayers of righteous people from all over the world! Thank you all for your diligence in praying for Anna! This brings great joy to my heart knowing we can share such things with the doctors and nurses whom we hope to spread the light of Christ with at every opportunity!

My exhortation to each of you today is to seize the moment! Take each opportunity to vocalize God's goodness to all you come in contact with! Share the light of Christ, pray for lost souls to come to the saving knowledge of Jesus! Especially in the storms of life, the darkest clouds can cover that light, but you don't have to let that can allow His light to shine through you and spread that hope to everyone!

Enjoying her gummy bears!
**Please pray for my father-in-law, Larry, he is currently in the hospital in Astoria, OR. We are unsure what is wrong with him, but know that he received 3 units of blood last night. Pray for wisdom from the doctors and for Craig in knowing when he may need to head down there to see him! Thank you all!**
Asleep in her mommy's arms.