Monthly Archives: September 2009

Happy Cake

Last Friday, Ben and I headed over to a “Big Truck” birthday party for Isaac who turned two.  (Isaac’s first birthday party was the very first party Ben ever attended when he was only six months old.)   When we received the invitation I held Ben on my lap while we read it together.  After that and for the next two weeks leading up to the party Ben’s favorite things to say were, “Isaac” and “Big Truck.”  From the moment we walked in the door to Isaac’s house, Ben immediately went to the playroom and began pulling all of the trucks off the shelves.  He drove them all out of the playroom, lined them up in the hallway (yes, he is still very much into lining things up), pushed them down the hall and back again and then lined them all back up in the playroom and repeated this little game several more times.  It was so much fun to watch his excitement and LOVE for these precious trucks!  Here are some cute shots Carissa took of Ben at the party.

Ben in a sea of trucks

 

 

 

 

 

 

Ben with the Big Truck

 

 

 

 

 

 

Carissa made these super cute cupcakes with chocolate icing topped with a truck that the kids later got to take home as their party favors.

Happy Cake

 

 

 

 

 

 

The cupcake eating that ensued was hysterical!  Here’s Isaac, Ben B., Olivia and Ben F. getting ready to dig in.  They would dip the wheels of their trucks in the icing and then lick it off!!  Occasionally, they would stop to drive their trucks around the table all the while saying, “vroom, vroom.” 

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This pic takes the cake…Olivia diggin’ in face first and Ben with his little chocolate goatee (that we all thought made him look even MORE like Jake!!!).

Olivia and Ben Diggin in

 

 

 

 

 

 

Thankfully we took them all outside to eat and then we literally hosed them off with the water hose when they were done.  When we got home that afternoon Ben kept repeating the words, “outside,” “eat cake,” “Isaac,” and “big truck.”  Oh, and one last thing…the next morning when Ben woke up and walked into the kitchen he immediately spotted the cornbread muffins sitting on the counter that I had made with our seafood gumbo the night before.  They must have reminded him of the cupcakes he had eaten the day before because he immediately went up to them and started pointing and saying, “Happy Cake, Happy Cake.”  He now refers to anything that halfway resembles a cupcake as “Happy Cake.”  This little guy cracks me up!!!

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Ooo, Ooo, Ooo, Ooo, Ahh, Ahh, Ahh!

Two weekends ago on a Saturday morning we packed up our lunches, some snacks and lots of water and headed to the Central Florida Zoo.  One of the nice things about this zoo…it is only ten minutes from our house!!  It was also perfect weather for such an outing…overcast…since our highs here in Florida are still in the 90’s!!

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First stop…the toocans and the two-toed “lazy” sloth.  Can you find the sloth in the second picture?  Look to the left of the toocan on the bottom right…that’s his furry gray toe holding on to the branch.  Every time we go to the zoo he is ALWAYS in this same spot, no joke.  Hence, the name “lazy” sloth.    

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On this particular day they also had some animals out for the kids to pet.  Ben wasn’t so sure about the hedgehog (who could blame him especially after the lady said, “Make sure he only brushes his hand THAT way.”)  But the bunny…he liked the bunny that he called “Bobby” in reference to one of his appropriately titled books “Bobby the Bunny”.  We continued our journey around to see the monkeys and as soon as he saw them Ben started saying, “ooo, ooo, ooo, ooo, ahh, ahh, ahh”!  We toured around to see the birds as Ben began saying, “tweet, tweet, tweet.”  Next up, the gigantic turtle (Ben wasn’t all that interested).  He knew what was coming up next…the cheetas!!  Unfortunately, we had to look at them from a distance (a long distance) because they were all napping at the very far back of their living quarters.

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Finally we had arrived at the petting zoo area.  This is something Ben REALLY looks forward to!  He had lots of fun feeding the goats, zebu (similar looking to a cow) and sheep with a couple of exceptions…one of the goats nibbled just a little too hard on one of his fingers and it made him cry, then after he had recovered from that incident we went to feed the zebu, the extremely slobbery zebu…Ben was happy to let Jake feed them!!  

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After the feeding frenzy it was about lunch time.  We made our way toward the splash park and stopped off to have a little feeding frenzy of our own.  Afterwards, Ben and Jake enjoyed playing in the water.  I should point out that Jake didn’t entirely plan to “splash” and get as wet as he did.  It always takes Ben a little while to get warmed up at the splash park before he is interested in going at it alone, by the time he was comfortable with the whole thing…Jake was soaked!  It was so much fun to watch them play together…I think they were both having a ball!!

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Home Sweet Home

Mom and Bill arrived home safely last night.  Here is Bill’s most recent update.

E-mail update dated Sept. 22:

Dear Family and Friends,

     A great deal has happened since the last update, so I’ll try to recall the most significant happenings since then.  After having stopped all treatments two weeks ago, Judy has continued to lose weight, energy, and fluids.  Since she already had an implantable port placed for chemo treatments, we are now accessing that same port for TPN (total parenteral nutrition).  TPN is a means of feeding via the vascular system. It gives a break to the already distressed GI system.  Our goal wasn’t to have Judy stop eating, but rather to insure that she had adequate nutrition and weight control as she ate.  Three days after starting the TPN therapy, however, she started experiencing chills, fever, and vomiting.  She was admitted to the hospital and given a broad-spectrum antibiotic after blood cultures, etc. were drawn.  She responded well (overnight) to the antibiotic and has had no fever or emesis since then.  At first, the oncologists thought she was experiencing radiation toxicity or a port infection or even a reaction to the TPN.  But, final lab results showed evidence of a urinary tract infection. 

    Judy was released from the hospital last Friday, and has been taking Levaquin (an oral antibiotic) for 5 days.  She has remained on TPN and is now holding her weight…maybe even gaining a little. 🙂  She both looks and feels much better.  An increase in the dosage of her anti-diarrheal medicine has now resolved, or nearly resolved, the GI issues …which allows her more freedom.  And, that’s great, since “getting out” helps immensely with her overall outlook.  Her hyper-alimentation (TPN) runs through the night.  I usually mix the additives and begin infusing Judy around bedtime and she is finished by early morning.  Coram, a company out of Little Rock, will be supplying us with TPN when we get back to AR.  They will do a blood draw each Monday, fax the results to our nutrition group at CTCA, and they will tweak the formula as needed. 

    While in the hospital both a specific prognostic tumor marker and CT scan were done.  The CT showed no appreciable tumor growth in the pancreas; however, the scan did reveal metastatic disease…multiple nodules were found in both the right and left lobes of the liver.  Because of the metastasis and increasingly higher tumor marker values, even in the midst of aggressive treatment, we have prayerfully decided to come home at this point-in-time to be with our kids, grandchildren, and dear friends.  Judy had an endoscopy yesterday to remove her temporary biliary stent and replace it with a permanent one.  Depending on how she feels in the morning, we will be heading for Fayetteville in the early a.m..  I’m not sure yet, but it looks like we’ll need a trash compacter to get everything in the car.  For those who can remember back that far, this may end up looking like a “Ma and Pa Kettle” adventure.  🙂      

     Whether serious, funny, good, bad, or indifferent, we choose to thank God each day for His abundant grace.  We rejoice in knowing there is nothing that can separate us from His love! (Romans 8:38-39)  Once again we thank each of you so much for your continued prayers and support.  We bless you and look forward to seeing you soon.

 B&J

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Encouraging News

I wanted to write a quick update regarding mom’s health today.  She called me this afternoon and sounded so good!!  What a difference a day can make (and a good night’s sleep…she reported that she slept “great” last night).  Here’s what we’ve learned today.  The culture results showed no infection in her port!!  She’ll be discharged from the hospital this evening.  On Monday of next week she will have surgery to have a permanent stent put in place to help prevent jaundice.  She’ll spend Tuesday recovering from the procedure and if all goes well they will begin their journey home to Fayetteville on Wednesday!!  They have already scheduled hospice and TPN to be set up for when they arrive home.  Thank you all so much for your prayers!  It is so evident that God is continuing to work in this situation by answering our prayers and taking extra special care of my mom (and our family).  We are so thankful!

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Mom’s Treatment/Condition Update

With the events that have occurred with Mom’s treatment and condition this week I felt the need to update you all so that you know how you can be praying for her.  I am definitely not technically savy when it comes to explaining everything that’s going on with Mom from a medical standpoint, but I feel like it is urgent that I update you all on what is going on.  I usually try to reserve all of the specific medical updates for Bill through his e-mail updates, but I’ll try to explain it the way he and Mom have explained it to me through the scribbled notes I’ve jotted down during our conversations over the past several days.

Mom told us (the kids) on Saturday that the cancer marker test results had gone from 33,000 since beginning treatment to 36,000.  The typical range is 0-35.  As you can imagine it was pretty discouraging to see the number grow larger considering the extensive treatment Mom has endured over the past several weeks.  With those test results in mind (and considering Mom’s weight loss to 105 pounds), Mom and Bill decided they wanted to forgo any further treatment and make preparations to return home.  Mom also began her total parenteral nutrition (TPN) that weekend which she now receives for eight hours during the night while she sleeps/rests.  

On Monday of this week Mom woke up with severe shaking, nausea and a fever.  She already had a scheduled appointment with the medical oncologist that morning at 9:00 am so she and Bill made their way to the hospital.  By the time she arrived her fever was up to 103 and she was vomiting.  The physician immediately admitted her to the hospital at that time.  Their intial thought was that maybe she had some radiation toxicity and/or cholangitis from the radiation.  The results of an x-ray that same day indicated that it was most likely a small bowel obstruction but the results were not conclusive.  Antibotics were administered at that time just in case of a port infection.  They took blood samples from her arm and port as well (as of today we are still waiting on these results…they should be back tomorrow).  That evening her nausea was diminished and her vomiting gone.  They were also able to continue her TPN that evening.

Today we received the CT Scan results back (she had the test run yesterday).  The results showed that there is no bowel obstruction and that the tumor in the pancreas has not grown significantly.  However, the results did show that the cancer has metastasized to the liver.  We are all pretty shocked by this latest news.  It just doesn’t seem to make since that a person can go through such aggressive treatment only for the cancer to spread.  Frustrating indeed.  What is also frustrating is that it seems that once Mom and Bill made their decision to go home all of these little complications started to occur preventing them from being in the one place they REALLY want to be surrounded by their friends and family and the comforts of their own home.  Those additional complications include:  Mom’s heart rate is low at 40 BPM and they aren’t sure what is causing it to remain low; she is also experiencing trouble breathing and the CT results showed fluid in the outside lining of her lungs; and one of her doctors strongly believes that she might have an infection in her port (again we should know those results tomorrow).  I’ll try to end here on an encouraging note…mom’s weight has increased from 105 to 110 pounds!!

Here are our specific prayer requests at this time:

  1. Encouragement as we deal with the latest news of the cancer spreading to the liver.
  2. That Mom would be stable enough to have a stent procedure done on Friday (this is something else that must be done before they can return home) and for a successful and safe procedure.
  3. That the culture results (that we should receive tomorrow) show no sign of an infection in her port.
  4. That the nausea, vomitting and diarrhea would stop completely.
  5. That Mom’s heart rate would improve.
  6. That the fluid around her lungs will go away and that no procedure will be needed to remove the fluid.
  7. That they can go home as soon as possible.  Not only are they ready to be home but we are so ready to see them!!!

Matt. 11:28-30 – Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.

Phil. 4:6-7 – Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.

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Ben’s BIG News

Big Brother

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Ben’s going to be a BIG brother on (or around) April 12, 2010!! 

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Filed under Baby #2, Ben, Orlando

An Update on Mom’s Chemo/Radiation Treatment

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My Mom recently completed her first month of chemo and radiation treatment at CTCA.  Way to go, Mom!!  Since it’s been a little while I wanted to update you all on how things are going.  Mom and I spoke this evening and, while she was in good spirits, she told me about a setback in her treatment.  After her radiation treatment this morning she had her regularly scheduled appointment with her radiation oncologist.  She was told that due to their concerns regarding her weight loss (she is down to 105 pounds) they were canceling her treatment (both chemo and radiation) for the rest of the week so that she can focus on her nutrition with the goal of putting some weight back on.  She said she is looking forward to some much needed rest without the worry of any appointments, but is disappointed that delaying her treatment this week will prolong her time in Chicago by an additional week.  They are surely ready to be back home!!  We ended our conversation ever so sweetly by Mom sharing a verse that had really touched her and encouraged her this week!!  Thank you, Mom, for encouraging me!!  I love you!

Psalm 128:5-6…May the Lord bless you from Zion all the days of your life; may you see the prosperity of Jerusalem, and may you live to see your children’s children.

Thank you all so much for your continued prayers and support.  Here are a few specific prayer requests:

  1. That my Mom would be able to find some foods that she enjoys that will also allow her to put weight back on and that her weight loss would stop.
  2. That the medical staff can find the perfect remedy to stop her lower GI distress.
  3. That she would be able to find good rest this week and that her treatment can resume again next week without any further delays.
  4. For continued encouragement for both Mom and Bill as they continue with treatment and continue to be away from home for the next month.
  5. That God would perform a miracle and heal Mom’s body completely.

Here are the two most recent updates from Bill (the first is the most recent).

E-mail update dated Sept. 4th:

Dear Family and Friends,

    Well, we continue to mark days off the calendar…just one chemo treatment and 13 scheduled radiation treatments to go.  Needless to say, we are ready to be back in good ‘ole Fayetteville. 

    As the radiation oncologist forewarned, rad treatments are now starting to take their toll with regard to fatigue, nausea, and increased GI symptoms.  Chemo has amplified those Sx and even added some moderate intermittent muscle cramping in the past couple of weeks.  Together they are tugging on Judy’s emotions.  We anticipated that, of course, and are taking the necessary meds/therapy/diversions to stay a step ahead of the challenges. Judy continues to have a reasonably good appetite, but usually fills up before getting very many calories down.  I’m sure she tires of me saying, “Food is medicine, darling”.  But, at this time, her weight has become an issue.  In the midst of all this, however, just holding hands or embracing for a moment seems to help her regain some stamina and determination.  And, just one of Judy’s smiles continues to brighten my day… that’s my daily treat!

    As mentioned in earlier updates, Lake Michigan affords us some soothing and restful moments.  Illinois Beach State Park is only five minutes away, so we have enjoyed a few afternoons/evenings sitting at water’s edge taking in all the sights, sounds, and smell of the beach.

    Last week we had an awesome treat, too.  Our dearest friends (and biker buddies) came to encourage and support us in literally every way they could.  They have been such a blessing to us over the years…standing with us as Aaron and Hur.  They have been the epitome of Proverbs 17:17 in our lives.  Fortunately, Judy felt well enough while they were here to be up-and-about most of the time.  They did their best to “fatten her up” and promote some good belly laughs, too.  Great medicine!!!  We guys even took a few hours, with the girls blessings, to go salmon fishing one morning.  For anyone interested, the fishing was great! 

    As we begin this three day holiday weekend Judy is especially looking forward to having that “one extra day” away from the hospital environment… allowing a little more time to regroup after chemo/radiation.  The city of Zion is having a big parade on Monday, supposedly the largest in the state. So, if the weather cooperates, we’ll be there trying to catch candy with the rest of the kids. 🙂  

    In closing, Judy and I pray to the Father that your Labor Day weekend will be fun, safe, and refreshing, also.  We continue to be humbled by your many acts of love.  Please know that each and every thing you have done for us is appreciated.  Thank you so much for your continued earnest prayers.  In confidence, we trust the Lord’s response to each of those prayers.  He is faithful… and, we are His!

Sending our love, 

B&J

E-mail update dated August 18th: 

Dear Family & Friends,

    Well, Judy is beginning week three of eight today.  Two more rounds of chemo and twenty-nine radiation treatments to go.  We have adjusted fairly well to motel life, but will definitely welcome our home in F’ville with big smiles when the time comes. The MD’s, homeopathic doctors, nutritionists, and all the rest of the staff have done a great job of combining their skills to help Judy.  Side effects, for the most part, have been few and mild.  However, her lower GI problems and fatigue are increasing with the daily radiation.  Those were somewhat predictable though, since radiation has a cumulative effect.  Judy has experienced some hair loss recently, but not really a large amount yet.  To help make lemonade out of lemons, she and I joke about me wearing the wig since my hair is still shorter than hers.  (Trust me, I won’t be going public!)  

    The good news is… Judy is able to enjoy some outside diversions after she completes her routine at the hospital each day.  Combined activities each Monday pretty well eat up the day and wear her out.  But, the rest of the week there is only radiation scheduled in the a.m., so that allows us to get away for a few hours to “scout the area” before her daily nap time.  She has enjoyed having Lake Michigan so close, also.  Visiting the nearby marinas and walking the shoreline, as I’ve mentioned before, have really seemed to help her relax and regroup.  This weekend was especially good.  We were able to spend part of Friday and all day Saturday with some dear friends in northern Indiana.  The change of scenery and visiting with some very special folks made it a near-perfect getaway.  

    For those who have been such great prayer warriors on our behalf, we bless you and thank you again and again.  An ongoing concern for us is Judy’s continuing weight loss…nearly 45 pounds now…about 7 or 8 since we’ve gotten here.  Her appetite is relatively good, but here absorption isn’t.  Please pray for a turn-around there.

    In closing, I find it necessary once again to say that God’s amazing grace has been sufficient to meet Judy’s and my daily needs.  In His faithful expression of love He has used YOU to encourage and support us…sometimes through visible and tangible means, and at other times in ways that only He knows and can acknowledge.  I am hesitant to mention specific acts of kindness for fear of leaving someone out.  But, no matter how you have encouraged us, Judy and I thank you for your love and prayerfully ask that the Giver of all good and perfect gifts repay you as Jesus spoke of in Luke 6:38.

We send our love,

B&J

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