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Saturday, September 28, 2013

Gotcha Day

In the craziness of the last 2 weeks we totally forgot Eyob's Gotcha Day. That, in the adoption world, is the day you pick up your child and get to be together forever. It was on Sept 21st. We've had this little treasure for 2 years. Now I can say, WOW the time has gone fast. I can't even hardly express in words how amazing this guy is. Just walking into a room he has the ability to bring smiles to everyone. We've had some serious illnesses in our family in the last 2 years and he has always been able to make that sick person smile. He is a welcome distraction. God really knew what he was doing when he gave us Eyob. He will eagerly tell me dozens of times a day how much he loves me and how I am the best mom. Boy do I need to hear those things right now.
I remember hearing a sermon once on "missing out on God's blessings". If we do not listen to Him when he is telling you something you could miss out on an amazing blessing. God had been telling me since I was 16 that adoption was something that He wanted me to do. When we got to the point of adopting there were so many roadblocks in the way. But deep down I knew we needed to persevere. If we had taken the easy way out we would be totally missing out on this amazing blessing.
Adoption is something I am so passionate about. If you are at all thinking about it please look into it. If it seems to much work just take it one step at a time. I read somewhere once that there are millions of orphaned kids out there. Can you imagine? Growing up without a mom and dad to love you, to shape and mold you, to just be there for you. I know it can be overwhelming but God did not call us to an easy life. Here in North America we are so used to a comfortable life that the idea of adding another child to our lives is unthinkable. To me leaving millions of children orphaned is unthinkable. In hindsight I wish we would have started when we were younger but then we would not have Eyob. We were in the process of adopting another child but with Rachel's cancer we can't even wrap our brains around it. We are so absolutely blessed to have our 5 children.


Friday, September 27, 2013

1 WEEK

Some of you might be thinking wow one week already. I wish I could say this week went fast but that's not the case.  I remember last time when we were about 3 months into treatment. Someone commented on how fast it is going. I had to take a few calming breaths before I replied appropriately. When you are faced with watching your precious daughter lie in a bed day after day struggling with vomiting and infections and boredom, time really does go excruciatingly slow. At home I used to wish there were more hours in the day but not so here. I get to pass on the baton today to Barry. I will go home and be a mom to the others and he will try and be a cheerleader for Rachel. Rachel loves it when her dad comes. She has a special relationship with him. But then, who doesn't love Barry ( I have yet to meet that person).
Who knows, maybe eventually I can say "Boy that went fast". Today is not that day.

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Service

There were 2 young ladies in the Ronald Mcdonald House kitchen today baking a whole mess of cookies. I had seen these same girls last time we were in so I had to talk to them. Amazing. These girls are on some sort of a mission trip through their church. They are from an old order Mennonite church. One is from Alberta and one is from Kansas. They must be in their late teens. They have been posted in London helping out in various places doing simple things like baking. This is their way of serving God and serving others. While other girls their age are worrying about boys and clothes and partying, these girls are content to serve. I truly felt blessed to think of what these girls gave up to serve me. I have never felt comfortable being served. Being served in such a capacity means there is something wrong in my life. I would much rather be the person to give than to be in need. But life is not always like that. No matter how blessed we are there will always be a time in our lives that we will be in need of others serving us (something as simple as baked cookies). And it also was a good reminder that no matter where I am I can serve God and others. I don't need to go across the ocean (although if that's where God leads you that's great), there are so many great opportunities right here.
The sun is setting over London. It really is a pretty sight. Another day is coming to an end. I am looking forward to a visit from my brother from B.C. He will be here any minute now. It will be a quick visit. He leaves early Friday morning. But it will be good to see him and spend some time with him. I will be home tomorrow and will leave Rachel alone. At first I was worried and wondered if I should find someone to sit with her. Then our absolute favorite nurse came in today and said she would also be her nurse tomorrow and would take really good care of her. God took care of that concern. I love it when things like that happen.

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Ronald Mcdonald House

If you are like most people (and me before cancer) you probably have seen the commercials about the Ronald Mcdonald House. A home away from home. You probably thought that it was a neat idea and didn't think about it again until the next commercial. Well it is more than a neat idea. It is an amazing idea. I can't imagine what I would do without this service. I have a wonderful room where I can go into any time of day or night. I will be spending most nights (or part of the nights) here unless Rachel is having a bad day. The rooms are nicer than most hotel rooms I've been in. Plus I get free meals. Suppers are provided by volunteers almost every night. These can be any group of people. Church, school, sports or families. Plus there are items for a simple breakfast. There are almost always fresh cookies and baskets of fruit on the counter. Today there was a middle aged man baking cookies - note to the men. There is almost always leftovers for lunch. There is free long distance in North America. There is a library of books. There is a workout room (which I am going to find soon because shopping therapy is not always a good thing).
What an amazing way to support people through their tough times. So I encourage anyone reading this to grab some friends or family members and make a meal. You won't regret it. I know once Rachel is better we will be doing this.
Rachel has had an ok day. If she's not eating she isn't throwing up.

Monday, September 23, 2013

Emma

When you spend this much time in a hospital you are bound to make new friends. These are different than your friends at home. With these friends you are bound by very life changing experiences. You share heartache and grief but also hope and dreams that are so different than anything you will ever experience. My friend Jen calls it "joining a club no one wants to be part of". But yet we have no choice. We are blessed to at least have each other. We  rejoice with each other over the smallest victories. And we cry with each other when we receive heart breaking news.
The first time in the hospital we met a wonderful family with 3 beautiful girls. Their baby Emma has a brain tumour. The sweetest little thing. She has spent 1/2 her life in the hospital. The day we found out that Rachel's cancer had returned they found out that nothing more could be done for their Emma. She is going home to be with Jesus. Today we grieved together. Please pray for her family as they prepare to say goodbye. Every minute to them is precious. Every minute is spent holding and comforting Emma.  I am so blessed to have met them.
Rachel is doing ok. Very quiet as she always is during chemo. Sleeping a lot.

Sunday, September 22, 2013

Fear Not

When Rachel was first diagnosed with leukemia in January we had shirts made up for her. They were to encourage her and to raise support for the Ronald Mcdonald house. These shirts had her favorite
verse on them.  It was a shortened version of the verse but the message is still there. Our wonderful Jenna Boss designed them. The verse is Isaiah 41:10:                     

"Do not fear, for I am with you;
  Do not anxiously look about you, for I am your God
  I will strengthen you, surely I will help you,
  Surely I will uphold you with MY righteous right hand.

People are once again pulling these shirts out of their closets and encouraging her and us with them. When we came in on Friday we started out in the day unit.  As we were heading upstairs the 2 nurses that were wheeling her were checking out theses shirts Barry and I were wearing. Both of them all of a sudden were quoting other encouraging verses and were going on their IPhones to find some more. It was a real encouragement to us on this very hard day to have these nurses bold enough to do this. In this day and age everyone is in fear of getting in trouble if they share encouragement from God's word. If these nurses every read this "THANK YOU".
This morning in my quiet time with God I asked him for this strengthening that He promises. I asked him to strengthen my mind because I feel like Satan is trying to discourage me every chance he gets. I asked him to strengthen my body because it is exhausted. It has not recovered from the first hospital stay. I don't know how but grief and anxiety have a way of taking all the strength out of you. I asked Him to strengthen my heart because right now it feels shattered. I know in time it will heal and get better. And I asked Him to strengthen my soul because it is weary.

Friday, September 20, 2013

Day 1

Well, we are settled into her room. A room we have been in before. It still has our old picture hooks on the wall. Met some of our favorite nurses. Boy do the good ones make a huge difference in the day. It has been a long day of waiting for her lumbar puncture (LP) and waiting to be admitted on B6. She even had some visitors her first night - thanks girls, she loved it. It looks like she will be doing 2 rounds of chemo possibly 3 here in London. She will then head to Toronto when they find a bone marrow match. We are looking at at least 3 months in London and at least 3 in Toronto. WOW. One day down with many more stretching ahead of us. It's too hard to look ahead that far so I will once again focus on a few days at a time.
Some of you have been asking about becoming bone marrow donors and i will post that info soon. The way they do it is you will all go into one bank that they can draw from around the world. So we can't specifically donate for Rachel but it could be helping her out and it would likely help someone else out. Yes it is somewhat painful but only for a couple of days. There is absolutely no risk to the donor (other than discomfort). So Rachel's donor could come from anywhere in the world.
It's been a long day so I will sign out now.

Thursday, September 19, 2013

Last Day Home

Today is our last day in the house as a family ( for a while ). Actually we haven't been complete since the beginning of Sept when Kyle went off to college. But college is a happy thing. Yesterday Rachel went to school. She and her friends skipped everyone of her classes (good for her). Today she went at lunch time to hang with friends and found out she got put on the detention list. HA!!!! What a hoot. I really don't know if the person responsible had any idea of her circumstances but it doesn't matter. She was excited to see her name on there. Love the spunk. Yesterday she also went to youth bible study in the evening. She managed to play piano for the worship team and together as a group they worshiped and cried out to God. I really don't know how people get through the tough times without God and a solid group of people. My other daughter Kelsey said "Mom, Rachel is so strong. While everyone at youth was crying, she was smiling". Please God continue to strengthen her spirit and let her shine gloriously. My respect for Rachel grows daily.
Tomorrow we find out what the next few months looks like. I have had people ask me about being a bone marrow donor and I will ask about that.
We are all a little contemplative today trying to figure out how to get through the next number of months. I know it will be one day at a time. Right now it feels like one minute at a time. The kids at home will be busy with school and I am so grateful for that. Grateful that this did not happen during the summer. The church and friends will start once again making a couple of meals a week. I have some chores divided between the kids at home with a housekeeper coming in once a week. That takes a load off. I have drivers for some of the kids after school activities. I just wish there were two of me (I think that would scare Barry :) ) One to be with Rachel and one to be at home. It's not that I don't trust Barry and others to take of everything. It's that I want to be the one to do it.
I will leave you with a couple of verses:

Psalm 37; 5-6
Commit your way to the Lord;
trust in Him and He will do this:
He will make your righteousness
shine like the dawn,
the justice of your cause
like the noon day sun

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Welcome

Welcome to my blog. This will more than likely be a rambling journal of a mother who is in a state of disbelief and heartache. Please bare with me. I will try and be honest and open. I am not a literary genius. I am a high school graduate who very much disliked English. I am writing to possibly help myself or to possibly help someone else. In other words I felt strongly today that I can not keep this all to myself. If in any way it helps me get through this or helps someone else get through a similar situation than my job is done. My honesty might bother some and that's OK. You do not have to read this. My feelings will not be hurt. I am also writing to keep family and friends updated in a more in depth and personal way.
As you can see from my profile, I am a mother of 5 children. One of my beautiful kids was diagnosed last January with AML. Acute Myleod Leukemia. ( I'm not even sure I spelled that right). That started us all on an unimaginable journey that we never ever thought we would have to face. AML is a very aggressive cancer of the blood. It's treatment is strong chemotherapy and a 5 month hospital stay. Rachel's type of AML had a very favorable outcome. 85% of patients are cured and go on to lead a very normal life. Our family lives just over an hour away from the hospital she would be staying in. This meant a fractured family for almost 1/2 a year. After the shock wore off we buckled down and did what we needed to do. We were in survival mode. Just the basics. Barry's work (self-employed farmer), our kids and church. Most of all we made sure that Rachel was never alone too long. She spent one night alone in the hospital ( I was across the road at Ronald Mcdonald house). We had to try and it didn't work well. I would leave her alone for a few hours on her good days as I scurried home to be with my other kids. Barry tried his hardest to spend some days there while I could be home. While that was a nice break it meant we were rarely in the same place at the same time. We marched onward counting the weeks. Soon we made the half way point. Then we were on the home stretch. The last month was the longest. SOOOO HARD. I tried to mentally hurry time but it didn't work. The end of June came and with it the good news that Rachel could go home.
The summer months were spent in building her strength and her immunity. We went once a week to get her blood tested. Her counts went up very slowly. They assured us that this was fairly normal. Every patient was different. Mid-August we went for our weekly appointment and her blood showed that her counts dropped. No worries, this happens sometimes. They did a bone marrow test and it came back inconclusive which can also be normal. I breathed a sigh of relief. School started. Rachel was enjoying getting back into the rhythm of life. She had her blood tested again on the 11th of Sept. Her numbers (counts) plunged. With it my heart also plunged. In my heart I knew this could not be good. Another bone marrow test on the 13th (Friday the 13th). An agonizing weekend of waiting and wondering. My dear husband is always the positive one. I can be quite the Negative Nancy (even though I try and fight it). No news Monday. Tuesday morning the phone rang and with it the words "the news is not good". Her cancer is back. Rachel was one of the 15% in the world that this treatment did not work. She is a rare and special girl. I wish she wasn't so special.
Our world once again came crashing down around us. It doesn't take a genius to figure out that their methods the first time around will definitely not work the second time around. She goes in in 2 days for 2 rounds of chemo in London. From there she goes to Toronto for a bone marrow transplant. I wish it were a simple thing but I do not think so. I believe we are entering for the fight for her life.
I do not know much more now. They just told me the basics on the phone. I will be updating this blog regularly.
I ask that you join us in petitioning our heavenly Father for Rachel. He keeps putting the verse " Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding". I have no real understanding as to why she is supposed to go through this. Why our whole family is being thrown into turmoil. But I believe that God in his infinite wisdom ( I do not have a speck of his wisdom) knows why. I may not like it at all and to be honest I feel like yelling at God and saying some not-so-nice things. But I am left with TRUST.