Friday, October 31, 2008
Wednesday, October 29, 2008
Sunday, October 26, 2008
Thursday, October 23, 2008
Tuesday, October 21, 2008
Monday, October 20, 2008
Saturday, October 18, 2008
Friday, October 17, 2008
It is hard to believe that it has been two weeks since Abbey was diagnosed with Acute Lymphocytic Leukemia (A.L.L.). It has been a whirlwind for us and we know for many of you too. We have learned so much over these couple weeks. We have learned so much about this disease that we are fighting. We have seen how quickly it can invade a body and the long process to get it out. We have learned how a sweet little girl can go through so much pain and uncertainty and still love, trust and smile at simple things. We have been reminded of what's really important in life. How precious each day is. We have seen strength in each other that we never knew was there. We have watched our boys adjust in ways that we thought was impossible. We have seen our family, friends and complete strangers do extraordinary things for us ordinary people. We have experienced our God in a whole new way..... on a whole new level. We have been forever changed.
Wednesday, October 15, 2008
Tuesday, October 14, 2008
Sunday, October 12, 2008
We got home today (Sunday) at around 1 o'clock. It was so wonderful to leave the hospital with our Abbey, and walking into our home was heavenly. We came home to a very clean, organized home with new carpet throughout and best of all, Abbey has a beautiful, new bedroom! Very dear friends of ours came in the other day, painted her room pink, rearranged it and had a painter come in and turn her bedroom into a room fit for a princess (thanks so much Samua). It is amazing! We felt like we came home to 'bedroom extreme makeover' and words cannot express our appreciation for helping make Abbey feel so special and loved. Abbey loves her new room and it will be so nice to have such a special place for her as we will be spending a lot of time at home these days. We also came home to many packages with wonderful goodies. Abbey has a lot to do to keep her busy. You are all so thoughtful and creative! We got some beautiful hand knit hats and soft silk scarves for Abbey to wear once she looses her hair. We have been bathed with love and support and we are thankful to you all.
Saturday, October 11, 2008
Friday, October 10, 2008
What a week it has been. In a way it seems like we have been going through this forever, but it also seems like the words "it's leukemia" are still ringing in our heads. Thinking about our first night here brings us back to the worst night of our lives, but also reminds us of how far we have already come. The doctors are telling us that we may be able to go home tomorrow. That brings many emotions. We of course are so ready to be in our comfy, clean home, but we also are scared to take our little Abbey home without the 24/7 care of doctors & nurses. Abbey had a good day today (even with two doses of chemo and two procedures), which is helping our confidence in feeling like she will be o.k. out of the hospital. She will start her treatment on an out patient basis starting next Wednesday and we will be here again next Friday also. She will still be on several medications everyday which we will give her at home and she will have her blood tests (to see if she needs blood transfusions/platelet transfusions) on Wednesday and then her chemo treatments on Fridays. A fever or sickness would put us back in the hospital so we will be diligent in keeping her healthy. We are one week into our new "normal" and although we have a long road ahead of us, we know she/we are going to beat this. With our support system (you), our God and our love for our sweet Abigail, there is no other option. Thank you for all you guys have done for us. We cannot begin to express our appreciation and love for you all. Just a side note... we have had over 400 hits on our blog today. What an encouragement to us that that many people are following her story and praying for her. God is working miracles and the body of Christ has come together to support us like we've never seen before. Keep praying and we'll keep recording the miracles here for you all to see. All for His glory!!
Thursday, October 9, 2008
From Jim: October 8 @ 11:05 PM
We're gonna change things up a little and I (Jim) am going to write today's post. I'm not as great of a writer as Shelley is, so bear with me if this is choppy.
We had a few visitors today as well. Shelley's mom and step-dad who also brought Micah with them, my parents (who are in from Philly), Jacob stopped by with Samua Cherry and her son Isaac. Samua has told us that Isaac has had Abbey on his mind lately and is praying for her and he has said that he loves her. Abbey really enjoyed her time with Jacob and Isaac. We got to see some of Abbey's usual antics and her beautiful smile. She brings joy to my heart just thinking about her!
We also wanted to praise God for protecting our friends, Todd and Hilary Gorrell. They were involved in an accident last night on their way to see us at the hospital. God protected them and allowed them to walk away from what could have been a devastating crash. Satan is trying to attack us one by one yet our faith is unshaken. We serve a limitless God!
We know that He is using our daughter to do His work and to bring glory to Himself. We told Abbey this and we hope that somehow in that little mind of her's that she understands this. She knows that her Savior loves her and we know that if He can conquer death, then He can conquer leukemia in my little girl's body!
Wednesday, October 8, 2008
This afternoon Abbey had another dose of chemo. It was two shots in her thighs and although she was very upset before and right after the shots, she settled down really quickly and was in good spirits soon after. I sometimes think she can feel our anxiety b/c all morning I was dreading this and she was just upset and crabby, but right after we all felt much better. One thing that we need prayer for is her taking her oral medications. She has always been a really good medicine taker, but it is starting to get hard because of how often she has to take something. The doctors warned us about this. They said that often time kids around her age feel like everything is out of their control except for the oral medications. They still feel like they can refuse to take them. Up to this point we have gotten her to take each dose, but it ends up taking so much time to actually get her to willingly open her mouth and swallow it. We have about 2 1/2 years of lots of medicine so please just pray for her to start taking them easier. We had a huge praise today... The nurses access her port often to take blood and administer medication in it. Up until this story I'm about to tell, she had always had to be sitting on my lap and has said ouey (ouch) the whole time they are doing it. Well, today I was on the phone in our room and a nurse walked in to get Abbey's vital signs (she is fine with this). Well, next thing I know I look over and Abbey is sitting on the couch with her arms in the air (the blood flows easier when her arms are above her head), allowing the nurse to access her port!! She was smiling and just allowing the nurse to get what she needed. Praise God for her bravery!!
I also was blessed today by a visitor of a girl that I met many years ago. She has a disabled little girl and has been in and out of Rainbow Babies and Childrens Hospital for years. We talked for a while about the pain of watching a child suffer. We also talked about God's great love for us through these times and were just able to relate to each other in many ways. I was grateful to have that time with her. Tonight Kendra came (thanks Kendra) to give Abbey her last haircut before she looses her hair. Her hair had gotten so long and I knew it would be easier once it does start to fall out if it was a little shorter. She looks beautiful (our camera battery died so I have none of the actual haircut, but I'll post some of her short hair tomorrow). God truly is carrying us through each day. We are exhausted at times, but feel overall that things are going well. Abbey is handling all of this better then we could have imagined and we are so thankful that up to this point everything has gone beautifully in her treatment. She has a two day break now and the next thing that she will be having is her bone marrow test and spinal fluid test on Friday. Pray for two days of rest for her so her body can be ready for surgery on Friday.
Thank you all for your amazing e-mails, posters, cards, and letters of love, support and encouragement. We have not had time to respond to each one, but we do read everyone and feel blessed by all of you. Also, thank you for your generous gifts to us and our kids. They have all been so thoughtful. You are all carrying this burden with us and it truly has been amazing to watch the body of Christ help us through this difficult time. We are forever grateful to you all! Please keep the e-mails coming about how God is working in your lives. We have felt so encouraged each night as we unwind and read your words. God's hand in all of this and we love hearing the stories. We love you guys.
Tuesday, October 7, 2008
I am struggling right now as I write this. We just downloaded the pictures that we have taken so far and it is hard to look at them for me. It has been a roller coaster of emotions and I do see God at work, but it is just plain hard and horrible to know what is happening in her little body. I really hate that it's happening. Please pray hard today (Tues.) as she is having a new chemo shot into her legs. I'm nervous for it and just want it to all be over.
DAY 4Today started off good. Abbey woke up smiling, which was a huge blessing to us. She isn't a morning person so for her to wake up with a smile on her face after all she's been through was such an encouragement to us. She is such a trooper that just thinking about it makes me cry. I wish I had her strength and bravery. She is seriously the most amazing person I've ever met (and she's mine :) There is an organization called "Flashes of Hope" and it's a photographer that comes and takes pictures of children with cancer and their families and then gives the family a beautiful album with the pictures in it at no cost. Not only do they do all that for you, but they had professional hair and makeup people to do Abbey's hair (she even got lip gloss) and my hair and makeup. When they were doing her hair I cried the whole time. She has such beautiful blond hair and I know it will start to come out soon and I know that is going to be so hard.
The day was overall a good one. We got moved to a bigger room, which is nice since we were quickly growing out of our old room. We have a pack n play set up now in our room for Micah when he's here during nap time and that worked out great today. Abbey took a good three hour nap, which her body desperately needed. She was in good spirits and her and Jacob had a lot of moments together where it was just "normal".There are so many amazing supports systems here on the floor and today a family life person helped us some in talking to the kids a little more in depth about what is going on in Abbey's body. There were little people, a doctor and a bone with white and red blood cells, platelets and also leukemia cells. I was able to explain that to them using the pictures and they seemed to understand a little more of what is going on. There is also a book about a little girl with leaukemia that we will read to them tomorrow. A little at a time.
Tonight we got a great meal from the Cherrys (thanks guys) and Abbey ate like a champ. She had seconds. Jacob is doing great with my in laws, but I know he is missing us at home so tonight I asked him if he wanted to stay for the night and he was all for it! We had a slumber party with a movie and snacks and I think we all needed it. Tomorrow Abbey will be getting another dose of chemo. This is one she hasn't had yet so please pray really hard for no bad side effects and that she would settle down quickly when they are done (it's 2 shots in her thighs). Also, Friday we will be having the time of prayer in the hospital while she is in surgery to see where her bone marrow is at this point so it will be a big day for us. We should know by tomorrow or Wednesday what time it will be. Please join us as we cry out to the Lord and cover Abbey, the doctors and this whole situation in prayer. It would be such an encouragement to us to join with you in prayer during these hard couple hours for us. Thank you and keep praying...
Monday, October 6, 2008
DAY 1 (Friday)
She had to be put under for three procedures... she had a port put in to do all her blood work and iv chemo treatments through. It will be great once it heals b/c they won't have to keep taking blood with a needle in her arm, but for now she is very sore there where they put it. It's like a small disk under the skin where there is a needle in there that can access blood draws and a way to give her medicine. The needle will stay there for a while and the port will be in there until she beats this completely. They are giving us a time frame of 2 years to 2 1/2 years for her to be cancer free so we have a long road ahead of us, but we are taking it a day at a time (sometimes hourly). She also had some bone marrow taken out and spinal fluid taken out and her first chemo given. After she woke after the procedures she was very sick vomiting... very sad and hard to see. Once she got over that, she was a new person. She had 2 more doses of chemo (they are all different meds... you'll get the picture as time goes on) and seemed to do well with those. We didn't notice too many side effects to those today. God has been at work in amazing ways though... I will share a story on day 2 and we are counting it as a miracle!!
DAY 2 (Saturday)
This morning was a hard morning for us. For some reason the mornings are hard and we think it's becasue when you're sleeping eveything just kind of goes away and when you wake up you realize your still fighting cancer... anyways, we heard pretty early this morning that her test results were back from the bone marrow and spinal fluid. It was hard and encouraging at the same time. The spinal fluid had no sign on cancer so we praised God for that. The doctor said the bone marrow was "full of cancer cells" so that was very hard to hear, but the doctor told us several times that that's exactly what they expected to find. They will repeat the exact same two tests (bone marrow and spinal fluid) next Friday (which will be one week after the first) to compare the two to see who the treatment is working. So, next Friday we will be having a time of prayer at the hospital while she is in surgery... Hilary and Todd or Samua will give you the details (or contact them if you're interested). Please come pray with us... we want to lift her little body up in prayer and pray that bone marrow looks much better and pray for the doctors and pray that she doesn't get sick after, etc... and also be a testimony in this hospital. She had a blood transfusion today, but did great with it and had no reaction when the blood entered her body. She perked up after that and had more energy. The other main thing that happened today was that she had a routine blood draw this evening and after the nurse takes the blood out she always has to flush the line. Well right after the draw when she went to flush the line she could not get the saline through and she was pushing hard and was very concerned about it. She then looked at the blood and saw that it had completely clotted in the containers to send to the lab so she was concerned that there may be something off on the platelets so she immediately sent the blood off to the lab for tests. She came in again after talking to the doctors and used a medication to break up the clot in the line... it worked! We cried out to God (literally) and asked her blood to be normal. They came back after an hour and said they couldn't test it b/c it had clotted too much so she needed to get more blood from the line. To make a long story short, the blood came back completely normal (or normal for what her blood should look like at this point) and they had no idea why it clotted in her line and in the collection tubes, but came back completely normal... we're counting it as a miracle!! Praise God.....
DAY 3 (Sunday)
Today was a pretty uneventful day. We had our family and many friends here and were encouraged by all. Abbey has so many new toys and activities to keep her going so that has been a wonderful distraction to her (thank you everyone... we are overwhelmed by your love). She loves reading books, coloring, playing with her little animals and princesses and just spending time one on one with us (mostly mommy ;) . She is pretty easy to distract so that has been helpful since there are often nurses and doctors in here either taking blood, giving her meds or prodding at her. I don't know if I've mentioned, but the doctors and nurses are AMAZING here! We actually feel like some of them are our family already and we can honestly say that we love them b/c they are helping get our Abbey better. They talk to us and explain things to us 50 + times if needed. We are overwhelmed with info and they know that and are constantly telling us to ask questions and to ask the same question over and over again if needed. It is comforting. The other thing I want to mention in this one is that she will have several side effects to the different kinds of chemo that she is having. Of course we all know the most outwardly visible one which is loosing her hair. The doctor told us to expect that to start happening in about a week to 12 days. Another common one with the one medication is mood swings and cranky, crabby behavior. We have experienced a little of that, but how in the world can we blame her? She can be as crabby and cranky as she wants for the next 2 years. We are going to love her through ever second of it. There are others that I will mention as we go on. Overall today was good though. Jim's parents brought up Jacob and Micah for much of the day so that was wonderful. Jacob and I (mommy) got to take off for a little while this afternoon to the gift shop and lunch. He got to get two new toys and then he picked one for Abbey. We had some good talks about all that is going on and he seems to be doing well. It is helping that he is staying at home with Grandmom and Grandpop. He would be really struggling if he wasn't at home, and although he told me today "I've been thinking about you a lot latley mommy" I think he's hanging in there pretty good. We talked about Abbey's hair loss to him tonight and we are going to shave his head and Micah's head too. They will all match :) He seemed to understand and to him he kind of acted like is wasn't too big of a deal... it's still going to be Abbey. My sister came up today with several picture collages to decorate the room (our room is seriously beautiful with posters and decorations from everyone... thank you guys) and although they are awesome, they also were hard b/c she is smiling and jumping around and just being a normal kid in the pictures and now that will be on hold for a while. Our hearts are aching at times and we see her lay fragile and sore in her hospital bed, but we can honestly say that our hearts too are thankful how God is carrying us though this and we are seeing His hand throughout the day. We have a peace that we can't explain and I seriously don't think I've ever been so close to my Savior in my life. He is sustaining us and giving us the strength that we need. Abbey has been a trooper. She's hanging in there and we feel that she is doing exceptionally well! She is sound asleep now and looks peaceful. Please keep praying for our baby...
Sunday, October 5, 2008
Yesterday was day 1 so today is day 2 of her treatment... yesterday was a rough, day with many low points, but there were some high points as well so we are thankful for those. We started the day with several blood draws (where they are drawing the blood from her arm bend, forearm or hand.) Those got more and more difficult with each stick since she started to understand the pain more and more each time. Before each blood draw we felt overwhelmed and just sick and sad for her, but after it was over we would be back up the roller coaster and start to feel better. That's one way we have been able to explain this is it has just been a roller coaster ride. There's times where we want to take all these tubes out of her and just forget it all and take her home, but then 5 minutes later we feel encouraged that we got past something hard and we say "we can do this". God has been carrying us (that's the only way to describe it) through this. If I would have put myself in this situation before it was actually happening I would think that we would be like fish with no water flopping on the ground weeping hysterically, but although we have had many low points, we have had times of laughter, smiles and enjoying just loving her and being with her and together. Jacob was able to come here for the first time last night and that was refreshing for all of us. We explained everything to him (we have had help in how to talk to him about this from some people here) and it went good.
When I talked to Shelley she said that this first round of Chemo would take 9 days. Then the rest would be able to be done on an out-patient basis. They were excited about that because they thought that would mean that they could go home in the next week. It will be a long process from there though. She said that it would probably be 2-2 1/2 years before they could say that Abbey has "beaten" this.
Since then, a lot has happened. Our precious baby girl has leukemia. We are on the hemeotology/oncology floor of the hospital with a lot of children that have cancer. Tomorrow they will be running more tests and starting chemo. They are going to look at her bone marrow to see what is going on there and also look at the fluid in her spine to see if it has gone there yet. The doctors and nurses have been amazing already and we feel confident that they know what they are doing. There is a lot that we don' t know and we have been overwhelmed with a lot of information today, but the best way that I know right now how to explain this to you is by saying that she has the best form of leukemia possible. It is more treatable than others. We know without a shadow of a doubt that God is in control of ALL things and that He loves Abbey even more than we do. We know this didn't accidentally slip through His fingers and He has made Himself very real to us already as we have gone through this difficult day. He has a plan and purpose for Abbey and our family and we are so thankful that we know Him. He has given us bits and pieces of what is happening and we can only praise Him for not giving us more than we can handle today. Please pray with us as we have a long road ahead of us.
Pray please for Abbey, that she will not have a lot of pain. Pray that she would sleep good at night and not get too homesick (she kept asking us to take her home today). Pray that they would find no cancer in her bone marrow (they already said that they have never seen it not spread there with what her numbers are looking like), but we know God can make there be no cancer there. Pray that it would not be in her spine. Pray that we could be creative in keeping her happy, comfortable and occupied. Pray for lots of good talks with her about God and His care for us. Pray that she would be able to really experience God's love for her. Pray that her little body would handle all of these medications o.k. and that she would be able to bounce back quickly. Pray for strenght for Jim and I ... that Satan would not be attacking our thoughts. Pray for our relationship, that it would be strengthened. Pray for sleep for us at night. Please pray for Jacob and Micah as they will be away from Jim, myself and Abbey a lot. Pray that Micah would switch to formula easily. Pray that we would be a light on this hospital floor. That people would see Jesus through our family. Pray for my mom and step-dad as they are traveling through the night to get home from their vacation. Pray for Jim's parents as they come into town tomorrow. Pray for strengh for our parents as they care for our boys. Please pray for her to completely beat this.
We will need your prayers and support and are thankful that we have an amazing support system. I would really like to decorate Abbey's room with colorful pictures and scripture verses that we can learn as a family. If you live close, could you please pick a verse and write it on poster board in bright colors to decorate her room... Thank you those of you who have already been amazing to us. We so love our Jesus and all of you too. Please feel free to send this to anyone who will join us in praying. I will be sending out e-mails as things change and will try to start posting updates on our blog too. Thank you guys... we love you.