Thursday, December 22, 2011

I Keep Trying to Look Up



I never thought that as 2012 approaches that I would have to re-experience the pain and fear that coincides with this journey.  This past year we felt blessed as Gabriel was beginning to live the “normal” life of a little boy.  He was playing soccer, swimming, playing with friends, and school. He was full of life.  He smiled.  He played. He was living.  Now…  life feels unfair, as my son’s life is ripped apart.  He no longer gets to be a little boy.  He has to understand this complex journey with a mind of a child, but with the strength that most adults cannot conceive.  I cannot conceive this strength and bravery that one must have to conquer cancer.  How do I help my son be happy and feel normal during this adversity? How do I be a mom to all three of my children providing a balanced amount of time to each child so they all can grow with greatness, love, and a beautiful spirit during a journey with cancer?

I am reminded that my answers can only come from the one above-our Father in Heaven.  My greatest strength has been my faith in God.  This journey tests my faith everyday, and some days I fail.  I am reminded during this time when fear and worry overtake me that I must trust the one whom carves my footpath.  Romans 8:6 states, “For to set the mind on the flesh is death, but to set the mind on the Spirit is life and peace.” I need peace at this time so that I can be a mom that encourages, listens, and teaches what is honorable and glorifies our Heavenly Father.  I want to dream great things for my children.  This life causes one to live in the moment.  I don’t want to always live in the moment.  I want to dream big dreams again for my children. My dreams sometimes feel like nightmares. 

I need to keep looking up.  It is up that reminds me there is life when we pray, read the word, and look for the blessings amongst the pain.  I believe there are blessings.  I just feel tired of this pain.  I want this pain to end.  I want to know that I will be able to hold my son in my arms until I go to be with our Heavenly Father.  I don’t want to fear the reverse.  I need to have Faith amongst the unknown.  The greatest tool that overcomes all is faith in God. 

Dear Jesus,

I pray for the strength that only comes from you.  I pray that I exemplify you and your humble spirit.  I pray that I can hold my son close for years to come until I am old and come to live with you.  I pray that the doctors are wrong when they tell me that he will never have children of his own.  In spite of all the pain that goes with this journey I would never change the gift that you have given me in Gabriel, Simone, and Yasmine.  I pray, Dear Jesus, that Gabriel is given this same gift of the greatest gift in life of all-children.  I pray that he is given freedom to live his life to the fullest without long-term harm to his body, mind or spirit.  I pray that this journey will be used to glorify you and bring people to know you.  I pray for healing.

                                                                                    Amen (Let is be So).

First Week of Relapse

This journey has been a difficult time as I never fathomed I would hear the words “relapse.”  However, I have and I need to regain my composure to begin treatment in a different and renewed way than previous years.  I am not sure what this will look like, but I know it has to be different.

A summary thus far during our first week of relapse Gabriel has undergone two LP’s to decrease the leukemia blasts in his central nervous system (CNS).  This treatment has worked, and has reduced the blasts.  He also received a second round of a triple dose of chemotherapy where three different types of chemotherapy were injected into his CNS.  He had his bone marrow tested to determine whether the cancer spread.  It has not, which is great news.  However, our treatment course is based upon two possible paths because he does have cancer in his CNS.  One path is chemotherapy for two years based upon a German protocol that is new to our Outpatient clinic, but known for better results for a CNS relapse so close to completion.  The second path is for a bone marrow transplant if Simone and Yasmine match Gabriel.  The treatment path will be based upon Mike and I deciding upon the best for our son, which will take much research, questions to the transplant team and lots of prayer.  We are advised that bone marrow transplant would be a more curable prognosis, but there is much risk.  Please pray for Mike and I to have clarity, wisdom and to make the right decision.

I will continue to post so that I can share our journey with you.  I do appreciate that you all take some time to read my posts.  It helps me, and I hope it helps you understand our journey too.

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Waiting...



I wait, and wait, and wait.  This experience tends to be the very essence of this journey. Waiting for the blood results and bone marrow from the first test that identified leukemia, waiting to find out whether Gabriel was standard risk or high risk to discover he was considered high risk based upon cyber genetics testing, waiting to know whether he is in remission, waiting to know whether chemo is working, waiting for June 2nd, 2012 for the final day of treatment, waiting for five years to know that he is cured….but, now I wait…again… I wait in fear, I wait in sadness, I wait in anger, I wait in frustration, I wait to know whether cancer has spread to his bone marrow, I wait wondering if my girls are a match in case a transplant will occur, I wait as I also have to endure my girls being tested, I wait for FEAR of that word that is apart of this journey with cancer. I don’t want to fear losing my son.  I did not carry Gabriel for nine months to give birth to him to see him in pain, to be reduced to what cancer does to a person, to not be a child living and enjoying life.  My child suffers and I suffer having to watch without being able to carry him through this pain.  When will you return Jesus so that you can take all this pain away?  I wait…in pain, sadness, frustration, but I wait knowing this is not my home.  However, it does not change the fact that this wait is hard when you have a child that suffers.  I want to be reminded of your blessings upon my life, but I am filled with sadness and loneliness, as you feel so distant.   So, I continue to wait for answers from doctors and I will continue to wait upon you Lord…

I never intended for my post to be one of such difficulty.  I had intended writing a post just after I uploaded an article from David.  My blog was going to be one where I rejoiced in all the blessings that have been a part of our life over this past year.  It was going to be a blog of great happiness from our Make a Wish trip, Camp Trillium and our 2nd annual Christmas cabin trip.  I felt very thankful to our Heavenly Father for blessing us.   However, all has completely changed in literally a matter of minutes.  I am thankful for this past year, but as I sit here writing this post it feels like a distant memory of long ago.  We went to Gabriel’s scheduled three month LP procedure that we have done with Gabriel many times before, and assumed all would be fine. 

We received a call on Wednesday from our Oncologist, which is rare.  Your gut sinks as you know when you receive a call from the Oncologist something is not right.  I was in session with a client and my husband banged on my door.  I knew instantly something was wrong.  I went in the hallway away from my office. My husband stated in tears “Gabriel has cancer in his central nervous system.”  I was instantly in shock.  All I could say was “what, are you kidding.”  I was in such a state of shock and disbelief that for a moment my mind wanted to believe this was a bad joke.  I quickly realized that I had to end my session with my client, as we needed to see our Oncologist. 

 We were advised that his treatment protocol could not be determined at this time until a bone marrow test is completed.  There are two options at this time for my son.  The first option if the cancer has not spread to the bone marrow is back on intensive chemo and radiation to his head.  The second option would be a bone marrow transplant if the cancer has been found in his marrow.  I don’t like either option.  When you are given options in best, better and ok, even though you don’t want any.  We want the best, which is where the cancer has not spread to his bone marrow.  Gabriel would require chemo and radiation, but no transplant.  A bone marrow transplant is very risky and life threatening. Our lives are transferred to Toronto with Gabriel having no contact with anyone except for myself and his dad for almost three months or until his numbers increase.

So, again I wait… I wait for Tuesday to have his bone marrow tested, and Mike, myself, and my girls to have our blood drawn to determine whether we are a bone marrow match, I wait for Thursday to learn of the results.  I wish I could end with the word “finally,” but I cannot.  I will still have to endure, as the wait is not over…  


Saturday, December 10, 2011

Article by David Haas about Physical Fitness Alleviating Cancer Symptoms


Exercising has the potential to alleviate the some symptoms of cancer. Studies have shown that physical fitness can help patients that are undergoing treatments as well as assist those that are in remission. People battling all forms of cancer have shown some improvements with moderate exercise, whether it is breast cancer, mesothelioma, or prostate cancer.

Exercise is one of the most beneficial activities that cancer patients can do as long as it does not interfere with the doctor's recommended course of treatment. There is no certain type of exercise that cancer patients must do, so the basic premise to find some way to get active whether it is swimming, walking, jogging, or even Yoga. Exercises can be done for just 20-30 minutes sessions that occur 2-3 times per week to see results.

Here are some of the benefits of exercise for cancer patients

- Reduces the incidence of cancer

It has been reported that exercise can help reduce the likelihood of getting certain forms of cancer like breast cancer and colon cancer.

- Promotes muscle development

Exercise helps stabilize the body weight and promote muscle development, which is especially beneficial for those with cancer. Cancer treatments can make it difficult to maintain a healthy weight and muscle loss is quite common. Moderate exercise can help the body build muscle and stabilize throughout the treatments.

- Alleviates some symptoms

Exercise has been known to alleviate some symptoms of cancer as well as reduce some of the side effects of chemotherapy and radiation treatments. Many cancer patients struggle with pain, fatigue, depression, and nausea, but many of these symptoms can improve just by doing moderate exercise a few times a week.

- Increases energy and vitality

Exercise has been proven to increase feelings of self-esteem and self-confidence because it releases endorphins into the brain. These endorphins make the body feel more energetic as well. Given that cancer patients generally feel lots fatigue, stress, and depression, exercise will provide lots of mental benefits that will help them cope.

Generally, most doctors approve of exercise being used in conjunction with the other prescribed cancer treatments as long as they do not interfere with anything. Exercise has a lot of mental and physical benefits that help people across the board, whether they have cancer or not.