Friday, January 30, 2009

So Far, So Good



Yesterday was our clinic day and everything went smoothly.  Abbey woke up happy and was in a pretty good mood the whole day.  She isn't much of a morning person so clinic days can start off rough when we have to wake her really early.  I have to put emla cream on her port two hours before we get to the clinic so when we have early appointments (sometimes we have to be there as early as 8a.m.) then I am waking her two hours before that.  Emla cream is a cream (we call it 'magic cream') that numbs the skin over her port so when they access her, it doesn't hurt her. Her port is in her chest and she has gotten very used to them accessing it.  She holds her shirt up when they put the needle in and take it out and even helps with flushing her tubes with saline.  A lot is done through her port.  They always draw her blood through it to check her numbers and administer much of her chemo through it.  It is a very scary thing at first, but we have all gotten used to it.  I usually read her a book while her nurse is putting the needle in and have gotten very good at distracting her. Since her port is completely under her skin, when she doesn't have a needle in she is able to get baths and do everything like normal so it doesn't interfere with everyday life.  

So back to yesterday, we didn't have to be there until 10:30 so it was an easy morning and we were able to take our time getting out the door.  Her numbers looked great so she got her 2 chemos like planned.  We ate snacks, read lots of books and watched Dora to make the time go by.  They increased her methotrexate (so we are currently giving her anti-nausea medicine every 6 hours to try to prevent nausea and vomiting) and also gave her the vincristine.  We will be watching her mouth for sores and hopefully are on top of her stomach getting sick, but so far she has been feeling pretty good and acting normal.  If we can get through these next couple days with no fever, upset stomach or sores, we will be very relieved and thankful!  We'll keep you posted on our little patient :)
    
 

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Smiles, School & Snow




Abbey has been feeling pretty good.  She is eating like a champ, sleeping great at night and pooping everyday!  All things that could be affected by her chemo.  We are thankful for how well she has been doing this phase and feel blessed so far that her side effects have been minimal up to this point. Tomorrow we are heading back to the clinic for her treatment.  They will increase her methotrexate so the possibility of sores, nausea, vomiting and the other side effects increase.  This is a 41 day cycle and tomorrow is day 21.  Please continue to pray for her body to handle the medications well and for her to have a good week.      

  
video

Homeschooling has been going really good.  We are finally getting into a groove and figuring out what works and what doesn't.  My biggest challenge so far has been getting a schedule in place that works with getting all the lessons in for the day and taking care of Micah.  Abbey has been doing almost all of the school day with us, which is great to be able to spend that time with both her and Jacob and not have to worry about keeping her 'busy' while I'm teaching Jacob.  It is such a joy to watch them learn each day and to spend this time with them.  Our days have been more structured, which is a welcomed change since we almost never leave the house.    

The video is of Jacob reciting his Bible verse from last week - Romans 3:23.  They will learn one every week.  This week the verse starts with the letter 'A' and every week following will start with the next letter of the alphabet.  Isn't it great hearing little ones hide God's word in their hearts!  (pause the blog music before pressing play)


Snow, snow, snow!!  We have gotten about 10 inches of snow since yesterday.  Soon after Jim got home from work, he was outside 'cleaning up' our driveway and sidewalks.  I am so thankful for a hard working husband who takes care of us in so many ways.  

And, speaking of Jim... He has been amazing as we've gone through this huge trial in our lives and is the calm when I feel like the storm is too hard to weather.  He is very even keeled, which helps so much as my emotions can go from being o.k. to a deep low.  We will never know why God chose us to bear this burden, but I do know that He gave Jim and I each other to lean on.  We believe that God is going to heal our daughter and as we continue on in this journey, He is teaching us what it means to fully trust Him, love each other and cherish our children. 


Friday, January 23, 2009

Abbey's Back



We had a few rough days, but Abbey is feeling much better.  We had to go back to the clinic on Thursday, but they decided not to give her the second dose of antibiotics because her fever came down quickly and she started feeling better.  As of yesterday, the doctors were pretty confident that it wasn't a bacterial infection in her blood and as of today nothing has grown in the culture.  She has been eating a little better (not great, but that's to be expected from her chemo), but some at each meal.  She spent about an hour "reading" her Curious George books on the couch today and snuggling with her pink blanket.  She is definitely our book lover and snuggler! 

Wednesday night on our  way home from the hospital Jim and I were talking about how one of the hardest things for us with Abbey's sickness is how things can change so quickly from second to second.  We have been sailing along pretty good lately with everything being 'normal' (except for the bone marrow scare) and then all of a sudden, she gets sick with a fever and we are rushing back to the hospital.  Those are the times when fears and uncertainty rush into our heads and we need to continually (every second) keep giving her back to God.  It is hard for a fever not to turn into a life and death situation in my mind and I just have to keep focusing on what I know to be true about my God.  He is not caught off guard by these things and He is in control. Wednesday night while holding Abbey tight in that hospital room, I had to guard my mind and focus on Him and not on her sickness.  We are thanking Him tonight that she is home and feeling much better and thanking Him for this precious gift that He has given us :)  

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

I only have a minute, but I just wanted to put up a quick post to ask you to pray.  Abbey started feeling sick around dinner time last night (Tuesday night) and was complaining that her belly was hurting most of the night.  She wouldn't eat and hardly wanted to pick her head off her pillow.  This afternoon she came down with a fever.  We had to take her to the hospital for them to check her blood and examine her.  She got a dose of antibiotics and we have to go back again tomorrow for her to get a second dose.  They are treating it like it's a bacterial infection in her blood, but we won't know for sure if it is that or a virus for a few days as they are watching her blood in a culture.  They were possibly going to keep us overnight, but the doctor felt o.k. with sending us home by what they saw in her blood tonight.  Please pray that it ends up not being a bacterial infection and that her fever would clear up quickly.  Also, she has eaten next to nothing for over 24 hours, so please pray that her belly would start to feel normal and that she would get her appetite back and start to feel like herself again quickly. Thank you and we'll let you know how she's doing tomorrow. 

Monday, January 19, 2009

Basement Bouncing (& oh yeah.... more chemo)




You'd never know by looking at the pictures that Abbey had two doses of chemo today.  
The methotrexate was increased from her last treatment and we were to expect nausea and her feeling pretty lousy for the rest of the day.  Loss of appetite and constipation are also to be expected in this phase (along with the possible sores that I told you about earlier).  She got through today like a champ. Her numbers again looked great (they were down some from her last treatment, but that was to be expected and normal) and she had a lot of energy this afternoon.  When we got home, she ate a good lunch and pooped right after!!!!..... (doesn't take much to excite us these days :) and was ready to play!  Her and Jacob had this great idea for the basement, which I'll tell you about in a minute.

This past weekend we had some special visitors.  Jim's sister Andrea and her husband Jeff came from Indiana to visit for a couple days.  It was a nice treat for all of us and the kids had a blast spending time with them (we enjoyed it very much too!).  Thanks so much for coming!  Hope we can do it more often :)  

So, back to today.... When we have visitors our basement becomes our 'guest room' since all our bedrooms are full of us.  We had the air mattress set up downstairs for them and still hadn't taken it down today.  Soon after lunch we went in the basement to play and the kids started jumping on it, then had this idea to prop one end on the couch to make it like a slide.  They laughed, jumped and slid for a long time (until dinner) and we more than enjoyed watching them have fun.  Chemo days can be so draining, so it filled our hearts with so much joy to see her like this... especially after sitting in a hospital all morning watching chemo drip through a line in her little chest.  Kids are amazingly resilient and God is amazingly awesome!  We are thanking Him for these blessings today.

I also wanted to say thank you to so many who made comments about homeschooling and have been an encouragement to us as we embark on this new adventure.  I have spent a lot of time this week familiarizing myself with the curriculum and am starting tomorrow.  I am very excited to see all that God has in store for us in this area.  So, thank you for your comments. 

Another thing that has been on my heart so much lately is all the others that we have "met" through our blog who are in similar situation with having a sick child.  Our eyes have been opened to a whole new world since Abbey was diagnosed and we have gone to many of your blogs who also have a child with cancer or other life threatening illnesses.  Our hearts break with yours as we read your stories and our hearts also connect with you.  I have cried over your pictures and stories of your children and have also prayed for each one of you.  If any of you would like your blog, facebook group, caring bridge page, etc.. put on our blog, please leave a comment and we will be sure to add it under 'please pray for our friends'.  I know I often feel helpless in Abbey's situation, but one thing I can do is to tell and show others how good our God is and how He is carrying us through this and also ask others to pray for our baby.  I know I have some amazing prayer warriors on here and some truly wonderful people who are following.  Also, it's a great way to connect to others in similar situations, so if you'd like your story to be added in that section, please let us know.  I truly believe that God is at work through many little ones around the country through their illnesses and these situations are ALL in His hands.  

Friday, January 16, 2009








Monday we will head back to the clinic for Abbey's second treatment in interim maintenance.  She seems to be handling the chemo that she got last Friday pretty well and we've only noticed a couple side effects.  As long as her neutraphils are above 750, they will increase her methotrexate and she will get another dose of vincristine.  

The last few days she has been complaining of some leg pain.  Bone pain and joint pain are normal side effects.  She told me this morning that her medicine is making her legs  hurt. It is so sad how she can connect the medicine to making her feel yucky and having pain and it is so hard for a three year old to understand that she has to get sick to feel better.  In the past, there have been times when I feel sick about giving her medication when I know it is just going to make her feel horrible.  Next phase she will be back on the steroids and those of you who have been following our story know that those we're the worst part of her treatment so far.  She had more side effects then I can remember when she was on those and my heart breaks for the time that we have to give her them again.  

For now, we will focus on getting through this phase and enjoying her good days where she is playful and happy.  The other night when she was brushing her teeth, her mouth was bleeding, but I haven't seen any sores.  We are praying that she doesn't get the sores this early in the phase because as the phase goes on she will get more and more of the medication and the side effects will get worse.  Since her numbers had such a hard time recovering from the last phase, I am concerned that her body is extra sensitive to some of the chemos.  We will see Monday when they look at her blood how her body is handling what she got last week and if her bone marrow is able to recover from being knocked down.  

On an exciting note, we have decided to start homeschooling Jacob.  He was in preschool this year, but we decided a couple weeks ago to take him out and start doing a kindergarten curriculum with him for the rest of this year.  We then will decide if we will send him to kindergarten next year, or if I will continue to homeschool.  It was something that's always been in the back of our minds, but since Abbey was diagnosed so many things have changed and God is using this situation to change our hearts and minds about many things.  There were many reasons why this decision just 'made sense' and since we've finalized our decision on it, we have such a peace.  Isn't that the best feeling ever when you have a hard decision to make and when you finally decide on something, you know it was the right choice because God gives you that peace in your heart?!  I started the reading with both him and Abbey a week ago and it has been great.  Since we are always home and rarely leave the house (unless we're at the hospital) it is giving us some structure to our days and has been good for all of us.  I am going to continue to let Abbey do as much as she wants for now... we know it can't hurt and at this point she is very eager to learn and do whatever Jacob is doing :)  I am still in the process of getting all the other subjects organized and figuring it all out and we will start the rest next week.  Do any of you homeschool?  I'd love to hear some of your personal experiences with it.  My sister-in-law Alicia homeschools her kids.  They have 5 kids, and she is currently homeschooling the oldest three.  She was very helpful to me in picking the curriculum (thanks Alicia!) and she has been very happy with the program that she uses so we feel good about what we've picked.  She is a great mom and they have great kids so we are excited to see what the future holds in 'Colbert Elementary School'.  

Thank you guys for following our story and for continuing to pray for our Abbey and family.  We are so thankful to know that people are praying all over the country.  I love looking at the site meter on our page and to see so many states represented that are a part of this with us.  Thank you also for praying for all these others that we know that are fighting cancer.  God is using each one and we know each situation is a perfect part of His plan.    

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Praying Continually....

*****Update at bottom*****


I Thessalonians 5:16 - 18

Be joyful always; pray continually; give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God's will for you in Christ Jesus.

I don't think I've ever in my life, until these last few months (since Abbey was diagnosed) prayed continually throughout my days.  My thoughts are a continual conversation with God.  From the time I wake up to the time I lay my weary head on my pillow, I am continually praying over so many things.  You probably noticed the new "button" on the side of our page that says 'Praying for Abby.'  A couple days ago, a dear friend of mine e-mailed me this sweet family's blog.  After the kids were in bed that evening, Jim and I spent hours reading their story and praying for their Abby and our Abbey. Abby Riggs just turned 4 years old and also has leukemia.  They are at a very critical time in her treatment right now and their story will most definitely encourage your heart and bring you closer to the one who made these two sweet girls.  Here is their blog so you can read up on their story  www.riggsfamilyblog.com and pray for them (you can also just click on the button on the side of our page).  Michelle Riggs put a link to our blog under 'pray for our friends' and we know many new readers have come from their site to follow our journey.  Thank you so much for taking the time to read and for praying for our girl too.  It truly is amazing how God is using these Abb(e)y's to touch many lives.  I could never have imagined, when we started this blog a couple years ago just to update our out of town family and friends on what goes on in our lives here in Ohio, how He would use it to bind us to so many people around the country.  He has a plan in all things and uses the least expected things for His glory.... even blogs. 

In this post, I wanted to mention a couple other people that God has put in our lives in different ways that are also fighting cancer.  Please pray for Bella, a little girl who also has leukemia.  She was diagnosed a couple weeks after Abbey.  Ava and Leah are two little girls, right around the same ages as our Abbey.  They both also have cancer and undergo their treatments often right next door to us each week in the clinic.  Josh is a two year old boy that is also fighting cancer right now.  I went to school with his mom and was connected with them soon after Abbey's diagnosis.  Also, please pray for Divine.  She has a rare form of breast cancer and she is an amazing girl.  Lastly, Dan who is a very dear friend of ours from college is currently fighting lymphoma.  His wife, Laura is one of my very best friends so please pray for their journey and that God would continue to heal his body.  I have to get permission to put links to their blogs on our page, so be looking for them soon... Until then, as you pray for our Abbey, please pray for these others that are being affected by cancer.  It is amazing the whole new world that God has opened up to us these last three months.  I truly couldn't tell you one person that I knew battling cancer, and now I know many.  I am so amazed though and thankful to see how people come together in times like these to pray, help, encourage, love and support each other.  Let's encourage these others (be looking for the links hopefully today).

Also, if you know how to make a button for your blog, can you let me know in the comment section....  I would love to make one for our blog so others can put it on their sites.  Thanks :)

***Update***
Thank you so much MckMama for referring me to Jennisa to make a button for our blog :)  Jennisa has a great website that you can visit if you need help with anything on your blog.   She is 'for hire' and is very reasonable.  Her website is www.onceuponablog.org  if you'd like to take a look.  Isn't the button beautiful that she made for us?!  Please feel free (we would be honored and very grateful) to put our button on your blog.  That way your friends and family could click on our "Praying For Abbey" button and be directly linked to our blog so they can follow her progress and pray for our baby girl too.  Copy the code below the button and paste it on your blog.  If you need any help with it, let us know in the comment section and we will walk you through it.  Also, look on the right side down a little bit at the websites that I added under "please pray for our friends".  They are some of the families links that I mentioned above.

Friday, January 9, 2009

Her Numbers Are....



Up!  Way up!!!  Her neutraphils needed to be at 750 or higher by yesterday to continue treatment and start the next phase.  They had been well below 750 for the last five weeks.  Last Friday (the day of her bone marrow biopsy) she was at around 300 so there was really no way to know how long it would take her body to get those numbers up. Well, yesterday her neutraphils were over 3,000!  Her bone marrow was working like crazy this past week to sky rocket those numbers and we had been praying so specifically this week that her numbers would make a huge comeback by yesterday so we could get this phase going.  We were amazed when the doctor came in smiling and doing a drum roll and said that they were over 3,000!  

So, yesterday she started this phase which is called Interim Maintenance.  She got two doses of chemo.  The one is vincristine which I had talked about in a post a while back. Some of the side effects are joint and bone pain and this is the one that causes her to loose her hair.  She had this several times the first month and seemed to tolerate it well.  The other chemo is methotrexate and yesterday was the first time she has gotten this one by IV (this is the same chemo that she gets during her spinal taps). The side effects that are most common with this medication are nausea/vomiting, loss of appetite and mouth sores or sores all along her digestive tract :(.  They gave her an anti nausea medication before giving her the methotrexate and told us that we could give her a dose at home last night if needed.   She seems to be handling what she get yesterday very well.  She has been playful and not complaining of anything so we are so relieved that she is doing so well with the first treatment of this new phase.  Every 10 days we will go back for the next 40 days and each time, as long as her numbers are up enough they will increase the amount of methotrexate that she is given.  The more she gets, they said the more common the side effects are so they told us that they usually don't see any of the sores until they get further in the phase.  Some kids don't get them at all so of course that is our prayer for her.  I can't imagine how horrible that would be to go through with her, so we are praying for her body to handle this phase with none of these yucky side effects.  Today has been a good day.  We feel good to be back on track and are so thankful that she is smiling, playing and acting normal.  Here is a picture that I snapped of her today.  Our little trooper :)     

Sunday, January 4, 2009

Happy 1st Birthday Micah




















A year ago today we welcomed you into this world and into our lives.  You have brought us so much joy and we can't imagine life without you.  Your smile brightens up a room and you have a special sparkle in your eyes.  We love being your mommy and daddy and we are so thankful that God gave us you.  Happy birthday our sweet little love.  We love you!  

Friday, January 2, 2009

Great News

We are so thankful to let you all know that the doctors found no leukemia cells in Abbey's bone marrow today!!  She has a lot of healthy immature cells that will soon mature and start spilling out into her blood, which will in turn bring her numbers up.  The doctors were very pleased with what they saw and said it is just taking her body a little longer to come back up after the last phase, but there is no need to intercede in any way.  We just will continue to wait for her numbers to come up on their own and we will go back next Thursday to see if she's ready to start the next phase.  In the meantime we can relax and know that there is nothing else going on in her marrow. We are soooo thankful (that's an understatement) that today is over and that these are the words that I am typing tonight.  Thank you, thank you, thank you for praying! We are forever grateful for you guys!!!  Below are two short videos of Abbey (and me) showing our excitement and thankfulness that everything looked so good today.  Be sure to pause the music before playing the videos :)

   
video video

Thursday, January 1, 2009



Find rest, O my soul, in God alone; my hope comes from him.
He alone is my rock and my salvation;
He is my fortress, I will not be shaken.
My salvation and my honor depend on God;
He is my mighty rock, my refuge.
Trust in Him at all times, O people;
pour out your hearts to Him, for God is our refuge.
Psalm 62:5-8

So do not fear, for I am with you;
do not be dismayed, for I am your God.
I will strengthen you and help you;
I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.
Isaiah 41:10

And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him,
who have been called according to his purpose.
Romans 8:28

God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble.
Therefore we will not fear, 
though the earth give way and the mountains fall into the heart of the sea, 
though its waters roar and foam and the mountains quake with their surging.
Psalm 46:1-3

Have I not commanded you?
Be strong and courageous.  Do not be terrified;
do not be discouraged, 
for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go.
Joshua 1:9

There is a kids worship song that we play often in our home and the car called 'Strong and Courageous' that is the words of this verse.  It is one of Abbey's favorites and she sings it loud and does motions to the words.  We love this girl so much and are trying to stay strong and courageous as we go through our day tomorrow. 

I wanted to say thank you tonight to Amy & Steve for the beautiful picture and for continually praying for our Abbey... even in beautiful Hawaii!  Thank you also Alison for the journal that you sent us soon after we got home from the hospital with amazing encouragement for us and these great verses to meditate on.  Jim and I have been reading them all night.  

We wanted to share some of the verses with you as they have brought us so much comfort tonight as we wait for tomorrow to be here and be over.  Please keep flooding Heaven with Abbey's name and we will let you know tomorrow at some point.  Thank you...