Monday, December 21, 2009

Continuing on our Journey-Both Joys and Difficulties

It has been some time since I have posted a blog. For so many reasons I have not sat down to write this blog, but felt pulled so many times about sharing both our pain and joys since my last post. However, time has slipped by and here I am finally posting a blog update about our journey.

Mike and I have many moments of both happiness, appreciation of our blessings, but also much pain and sadness. This journey is one that is unpredictable. There are moments when you feel that the journey has become routine and we are coping well, but then a slight negative change causes us to have quick sense of hopelessness. I am soon reminded of God's love and protection that He has provided for our family since our journey began on February 11th. There have been many occasions throughout this journey where many of our family members have become ill, and our son never received any of these illnesses that would have caused him to be hospitalized. In particular, I became ill with the swine flu just after having my daughter. I became overly concerned for both my son and new daughter as they are both extremely high risk. The week I just gave birth to our daughter we were all separated as a family. My daughter Simone was with her daddy at his parents, Gabriel was with my parents at our house, and I was by myself with my new daughter. The week for me became a test of faith that I will never forget. I just shared with my husband that for many weeks prior to this difficult week I remember feeling/hearing the Holy Spirit tell me this exact phrase over and over for weeks "get into the word for there will be more to come." I did not want to believe I would have to go through more tests and pain. I ignored this calling and often times found myself too busy with my kids, feeling tired with hospital visits and being pregnant to read my bible and pray consistently. It was that week when I was sitting at the table alone at my parents I realized that this was the event that I was warned about. I was in constant emotional anxiety and pain that I could not focus enough to read my bible. Satan tempted me and caused much fear that week. I remember going to the basement at my parents house to play on the internet to distract myself, and the first thing that pops up on the computer was the two month old baby that died of swine flu. The very illness that both Mike and I feared for our son and new daughter. Satan's ability to stir fear happens in many ways and that week I was subjected to much fear that it prevented me from focusing on what is the truth only found in God's Word. God does not want us to fear. Fear is of Satan and of this world. God has shown us through this journey his protection over Gabriel and now our new daughter. Every time Gabriel's immune system has bottomed out our case manager has told us that she is close to 100% sure that Gabriel will be admitted to hospital with a fever. This is often the pattern they see at the hospital when children's immune system is suppressed. Every time I was told that by our case manager I prayed. Gabriel has never had a fever throughout this entire journey as a result of a low immune system. This occurrence is only a result of God's protection and answering of all our prayers and your prayers for our family. That week it reinforced the importance of gaining strength, trust and peace through constant devotion to reading the Word and prayer. It is when we let aspects of this world become more prominent that we open a hole for Satan to gain access to our mind. Satan infiltrates our mind so quickly with negative thoughts and fears we begin to lose focus on God's promises that are received when we have our salvation through Jesus Christ.

Prayers went out to God for continued protection during that week. God answered our prayers. "Have faith in God. For verily I say unto you, that whosoever shall say unto this mountain, Be thou removed and be thou cast into the sea; and shall not double in his heart, but shall believe that those things which he saith shall come to pass; he shall have whatsoever he saith. Therefore I say unto you, what things soever ye desire, when ye pray, believe that ye receive them, and ye shall have them (Mark 11:22-24)." The only people in our family who did not get sick were the two people we were concerned about the most-Yasmine and Gabriel. Thank you God for your continued protection. Mike also did not get sick as the antibodies were working from the vaccination for him. Thank goodness as Mike and I know God's healing and protection can come in the form of medication. I became sick a day before I had my daughter with a cough and the symptoms increased after I gave birth. I remembering starting to feel ill with a fever and chills after my daughter was born. My weakened immune system during my pregnancy caused me to get this flu while out in the community.

I wish Gabriel was never diagnosed with leukemia, but one day I know Gabriel will be healed and will have a glorious testimony to share. We continue to see God's hands over our family and we thank Him everyday. We also want to thank you all for your continued devotion to praying for our family. My words cannot express how much we appreciate your prayers and words of encouragement.

Update on Treatment for Gabriel

Gabriel is close to being finished intensive chemo. If you remember from the beginning when I posted one of my first blogs I explained that Gabriel was diagnosed with a trans located leukemic chromosome, which resulted in Gabriel being on high-risk chemo protocol. This intensive chemo treatment is one year compared to children diagnosed with standard risk of only six months of chemo. Gabriel is completing the final phase, which is an intensive phase of chemo. He has had to undergo this particular phase twice during the year. Gabriel is coping very well in spite of all the he has undergone in 2009. His life is very different than most little boys, but we continue to remind him this is not forever. In addition, there are some medications that cause disruption in his personality, which is hard for his mommy and daddy to watch. He become sad and angers quickly. Once this medication is completed I soon see my sensitive, loving and smart little boy once again. It is difficult to see such changes in your children, but we continue to remind ourselves that this process is what kills the cancer cells. We have one more month left until we begin maintenance. The process for maintenance involves chemo everyday at home and visits to the hospital once a month. This phase will last two years, which is a long time. However, we are only at the hospital once a month and Gabriel's immune system during maintenance will not as compromised. Gabriel will be able to go to school and begin to enjoy life as much as he can. His life right now will always have hospital visits and more concerns for us than other parents would have for their children. We have become accustomed to this "new normal." We cope through God's strength and remembering that this to shall last only for a season and God will be gloried when all is said and done. We are looking forward to what the new year will bring for our family.

Most Important Blessing of 2009-Our Baby Girl

We were overjoyed with the birth of our new baby girl Yasmine Mia on November 1st-her daddy's birthday. She was one week late, which was rather surprising after many nights of trying to figure out whether my false labour was going to turn to real labour. We also took a trip to the hospital at 36 weeks as I was contracting every 5 minutes and my contractions lasting about 48 seconds, but soon found these contractions teetering off. Oh, the frustration! I experienced much of these false contractions for weeks, until I was soon annoyed and took things in to my own hands. I heard of stimulating oxytocin by using a breast pump to get contractions started. I decided I was going to try this measure. It took two pumps and my water broke. The contractions were tough, but I had a great support team to help me through so that I could meet my goal of natural childbirth. It was exactly 3.5 hours later that Yasmine was born. This was an adventure that will always be remembered. We are so excited about Yasmine as she has made 2009 a joyful year to remember, rather than a year of only focusing on our son's diagnosis.

We wish everyone a Merry Christmas and a wonderful New Year in 2010. Thank you once again for checking in to see how we are doing at the Smith household. We look forward to being able to see everyone that we have not seen just prior to Gabriel's diagnosis.