Celebrating 100 Days!!!

Today is day +100! A day to celebrate, a day of much excitement, a day much anticipated! Today I took Anna to her last appointment at SCCA until next spring for her one year check. We were given our final packet of information and I scheduled her first appointment with Dr. Irwin in Tacoma. We said our goodbyes and were off.

We had anticipated a great family celebration today, however, that was not to be. Sadly, Craig, Michael, and Lydia have all come down with nasty coughs. Zeke and Selah both have stuffy noses. Thankfully, we had "Aunt April" and "Uncle John" on call for a germ free place for Anna in the case that our house was not fully ready this week for Anna to safely return to. I made the call and then brought Anna over to their home to be cared for while Daddy and siblings work on getting better. It would be awful if Anna got sick now.......after being "released" from the care of SCCA!!!

The work must go on however so the sick and all will get up in the morning and get busy with packing, loading, and heading over to the Bremerton house to at least get a couple of rooms set back up. There will be one more coat to put on the floors upstairs and then we will be able to set up those rooms in a few days.

We are almost there! The minutes are ticking and there is still much work to be done. It should go pretty fast, though. Once everything is moved out of the Seattle house, we will scrub this place until it shines! It almost feels like yesterday that we were being handed the keys to move in and now we will be handing them back. Ever grateful for the blessing of being able to rent this place for so short a time. We know we have much to be thankful for.....our daughter has made it through with flying colors! Though while bringing her over to the peninsula my heart felt the same tug of fear that was there when we brought her home from the hospital......the feeling of being "on our own", will we take the best care of her? Will we be protective enough to get her through the next year without her getting sick? What if we miss something? I know we are not to fear for perfect love casteth out fear, but I am a human and I am a mom. I do know that she is entirely in God's hands, this has been proven time and again!

We are thankful for all of the care Anna has received. We are thankful for all of the prayers that have gone up and are still going up on our behalf. We are both thankful and extremely blessed to have gone through this incredible journey! Would I have ever asked for such a trial? NO WAY!!! But I can see that it has been for our good and for His glory!! We give Him all the praise and honor for every aspect of this path that He has guided through.....He is still guiding us.

We have crossed paths with many amazing people, both believers and non-believers and we hope we have been a light and testimony to all. We have met many going through the same journey and have felt the joys and heartbreaks those families have experienced and are still experiencing. We have had our eyes opened to the sufferings of others in a way we never would have understood before. I am thankful that I can now feel what they feel so that I may minister unto them in a way no others can. I can pray for them like no other could. This has been a gift to me personally. I need to love and care for my brothers and sisters and I feel that, through the last several years, I had started to lose that. God has used this time in my life to heal wounds in my heart. He has shown me grace and mercy and my eyes have beheld that grace and mercy like no other time in my life. The bitterness of this cup has brought me to taste of the true sweetness of the love of my Savior once again.

I can't say how I would have responded had this story ended differently. I see others whose story hasn't gone as they would have wanted and they seem to be strong in the Lord. Sure they are shaken, they have their moments of sorrow and weakness, but they still stand and give God the praise. Would I be like that? I can not answer that. You just don't know until you are there. I would like to think that I would be like Job when he said, "the Lord gave, and the Lord hath taken away; blessed be the name of the Lord." But I just don't know.

That day when we were given the "bad news" that two bags of cells may have not been effective due to human error, I felt a peace wash over me. When the doctors left, I turned to Craig and Anna and said, "God has a great and mighty plan in this." And He truly had! Anna's been a bit of an anomaly in all of this! God has shown how mighty He is! Everything from her numbers coming in so quickly, to those numbers being at such good levels that she NEVER needed a red cell transfusion! When so many patients are released from the hospital to daily appointments at SCCA due to being transfusion dependent, Anna was released to a two days a week care. Very quickly it turned to one day a week with the doctors and two days for labs. Anna's GVHD was just the right amount to allow her new cells to fight the remaining cancer but not to the point to make her really sick.

Anna's spirit through it all has been one of positive Christ honoring glory! She truly has shown the light of Christ to all she has come in contact with.....even when she felt miserable! Her focus was on pleasing the Lord no matter what. God has used her in ways we may never know.

This season has almost come to an end, however we know that this journey is far from being over! This path will not end yet, and we will continue on it with the light of God's Word lighting the way for us. May we never forget the lessons learned and may we continue to grow in grace through it all.

While I am sad to be apart for her day 100 celebration, I am thankful she is alive and well... in a safe place, being cared for by loved ones.

Here's to 100 days, Anna!!!!!! And to many many more!!!!!!!!!!! I love you with all of my heart! The meaning of your name(s) truly represents who you are:

Anna: Full of Grace
Renee: Born Again
Ruth: Faithful Friend

Continue to lean on Christ no matter what! Continue to love others and share the love of Christ with them! Thank you for being such an amazing testimony to me!!!! I have learned much by watching you, my precious daughter!

I'm Not Racist....I Have CANCER!!!

 I promised you all our adventure story, so here it is! On Monday the 12th, after an extremely exhausting day of appointments, I looked over at Anna and said, "I don't feel like making dinner!" Anna responded with, "yeah, let's go get dinner somewhere!" I'm still not super familiar with places around here and had a bit of a time trying to think of someplace to go. Then, for some reason, I thought of the mall! Huh?! You all may think that sounds a bit weird...and I'd be the first to agree! Anna agreed to it so we loaded Selah up and headed out. As we approached the doors, a lovely black lady and her three adorable children came up to us and asked if we knew the area well. It seems she was in need of help and the people from a women's shelter hadn't bothered to show up and show her where to go, and no one else would stop to talk to her. I offered them all food to which they reluctantly accepted. Anna and I both agreed that this was why the mall was what popped into my head for dinner....if only to be a blessing to this woman and her precious children. Well, as we got them settled, complete with phone numbers of our church and one down the road from our church, we headed over to get our own food...........
With food in hand, we scanned the eating area. There were many tables with nobody sitting at them so we chose the middle table that was away from people. (Please remember that Anna still has almost no immune system) We began eating and enjoying a bit of chatter. The lady and her children waved good-bye to us as they left...we waved back with big smiles in hopes that we had at least helped a little. I truly wish I knew the area better as I could have at least given her a name and number of a local church that could potentially help. Well, as we continued with our meal, a man and lady approached a table directly behind Anna.....with a cat carrying case that had straw hanging out of it. The man, who held the case started to sit in the chair closest to Anna. I got up and walked around the table and asked him, "Excuse me sir, but is there an animal in that case?" He replied, "Yes!" So I continued with the explanation that my daughter (pointing at her) is a bone marrow transplant patient who has a very low immune system and can NOT be around animals, so would he be so kind as to move to another table? His response?!!!! "Are you sure it's not my race???" I admit I was shocked at his hostility! I don't even know what his race is! I then quickly assured him that it was most definitely NOT why I was asking him to move, I even told him that my daughter had a wig on that she could remove to prove it! (way to think on your toes, Emily! LOL!) Anna stood and took off her wig.....the man refused to look at her, but the woman saw. They did move several tables away and then we heard him in a loud and angry voice say, "That's okay, we HATE white people, too!" He then turned to the lady and said (again in a loud & angry voice), "That's how you talk to those kind of people!" Yikes! Anna and I immediately felt sick in the pit of our stomachs! Unable to finish eating, I prayed silently for God's protection over us. "Anna," I said, "I'm ready to go home!" I know this kind of thing can happen anywhere, but I think it may be a bit less scary when you are in a familiar environment! So, this was our adventure on Monday, August 12!

The pictures of Anna are from this past Tuesday, Hickman removal day! What an exciting day it was! With a check in time of 6:15 a.m., we were a bit sleepy eyed as we entered the hospital. The registration and work up to prepare her for the procedure was long.......the actual procedure itself lasted a whole FIVE minutes! I was a bit amazed at how quick it was! Any number of things could have made it longer, but it all came out smoothly! Anna was ready to go in just a short amount of time and now, she is Hickman free!!!! Not having the line means one less opportunity for infection and one more step toward getting home! Our last appointment is this coming Monday, the 26th.......day +100!!!!! Wednesday she has a podiatrist appointment to check on her toes, and then we will be all set to head back to Bremerton! The house is very close to being ready. Craig, the boys, Naomi, and many very generous people have worked very hard at getting everything prepped and painted. Everything will be fresh for Anna's arrival! We are anxious to be a whole family again!!!

Tonight, we had another adventure! We (Naomi, Anna, Sarah S., and I) headed over to drop off a library book then to stop at Safeway for a few things. As we got to the library, Naomi jumped out to put the book in the drop box. She headed back to the car with a strange look on her face. "Mom, did you know we have a very flat tire?" She asked. Ugh! I did not! I quickly thought of a family nearby to which I could call......no answer, bummer! Then I called Craig, deep in oil base floor paint. He suggested sending one of our boys over to our neighbor's to see if they were home and willing to help us out! PRAISE THE LORD for Steve Gosset!!!!! He was our knight in shining armor! He changed our tire to the spare and we were on our way. I know, shameful that I didn't know how to do this, but then again, it would have been a bit awkward with a big ol' pregnant belly in the way! We picked up some apples so as to bake a fresh apple pie as a thank you to Steve and Judy for their time.....they have been awesome neighbors, very welcoming, and we will miss them very much!

Please pray for Allistaire Anderson! She is a sweet little girl whose Mom we met while at Children's. She is three years old and has Acute Myelogenous Leukemia. She recently went through treatment and we were hoping for good news. Sad to say she has relapsed! My momma's heart is grieving and yet the prayers are more fervent than ever! You will find their blog and journey to the side in my list of blogs I follow, conglomerationofjoy.com.....please read it, but most of all, please pray for this family!!

Thank you all!

The Long Awaited Test Results......

 Traffic! It's difficult to get used to Seattle traffic! On one day of appointments, we got stuck in Seattle traffic for 2 1/2 hours!!!!!!!! You feel as though you will never get out! You move maybe a foot or two every five (or more) minutes with nowhere to go to get out of it. On a good day, when traffic is at a low, it only takes about 15 minutes to get from SCCA to home.....but we made the huge error to head over to Costco for some much needed fuel plus a few grocery items which, in essence, would only tack on another 15 minutes...... with no major traffic...ahem. We felt terrible as Anna had promised Zeke a "date" to the little coffee shop down the road. Well, that shop was closed so I took them to Starbucks for their special treat. They enjoyed their time together even with mommy!

 Anna's tests were many. She had fourteen appointments in one week! Here is the update on Anna's health.....

Anna's bone density scan was amazingly normal! This is very abnormal for someone who has undergone a bone marrow transplant. The doctors said they all jumped for joy at seeing these results. Her lung capacity is actually a tad bit better than before her transplant. I felt sorry for her undergoing the respiratory tests! Wow! As I watched, I would suddenly realize I was taking the breaths or exhaling as she was doing!

The bone marrow aspiration went well, leaving Anna very sore for several days. The results of the test reveals that Anna has 0.01% cancer left. Last time she was at 0.03%. This means that out of 1000 cells, there was 1 cell that had the BCR-ABL (or Philedelphia) chromosome. At 0.03, there were 3 cells in a thousand. The doctors are still very optimistic as there has been a decline. There is no need of worry at this point. It is at the six month aspirate that will determine whether Anna is at risk of getting CML again and if further treatment is needed.

We were given a call from the nurse on the green team at SCCA to tell us that Anna can stop taking three medicines! Yay! Also, we have gotten to decrease the insulin intake as Anna's blood sugar numbers have gotten a lot better. She is now completely off of the prednisone which can cause a drug induced diabetes as well as possibly cause type 1 diabetes that stays with her forever. We are thinking it has just been the drug induced kind.

 This year, the family headed off to family camp, without Anna, Selah, and me! Anna still can't be in large crowds or in the midst of grass, dirt, and trees, or eat food that is exposed to others, we also had several appointments at SCCA and the podiatrist's to go to. Please pray for Anna's toes to lose the infection that seems to want to stick around from her ingrown toenails. They can only do so much for them until it's been a year from transplant, then they can do more invasive procedures.

I think Selah enjoyed getting to go with us to the appointments for once. She definitely had fun being the center of attention for the time, though she thoroughly missed the family. The first morning, she woke up with, "Where's my Daddy?!" The days to follow, she would ask where her (insert sibling's name) is.

We missed getting to go to our annual family camp. We missed the family. But we enjoyed time together. We didn't do anything spectacular, we just hung out. We kept the house clean, went to appointments, and rested when we could. We even had an interesting adventure of sorts.....but I'll post on that later!

Selah watching for daddy and the kids

The Big Day +80!!!!

Today is the big day! It's day +80. Anna had seven appointments yesterday and today had her bone marrow aspirate. This is where they take a sample of her bone marrow as well as a skin biopsy. We will find out in the days to come if there is any remaining cancer cells. Tomorrow she will have three appointments and then two more on Thursday. On the 19th, we will have the post day 80 conference with the green team to discuss the findings from this week as well as having her Hickman line removed.  We then have a "departure clinic" scheduled for the 22. As it stands, it looks as if she will be "released" from SCCA care on the 24th. Please pray all goes well and that all tests come back clear! I was very excited this morning at Anna's blood sugar numbers! When needing to fast for procedures, she is not to take the long acting dose of insulin at night and her number was 109!! The target number is 80-120. This gives me hope that her blood sugar is stabilizing with the prednisone taper.