January 31, 2006

Birthday Week

All is well at our house this week. Everyone is staying healthy, yeah! We are in the midst of Birthday Week. Jack and Sophie turn 7 on Thursday 2/2. The way our family does birthdays means generally that the celebration can carry through the whole week. On Sunday we celebrated with our family who live in town. We always have fun with them. The kids will celebrate with treats in the classroom on Thursday, and then Jack has chemo on his birthday so we will also celebrate with everyone there. I have ordered a cake and will get some balloons to take to Dr. Hirsch's office. Jack suggested that just for this year we change the date of his birthday, because he didn't really think he should have to do chemo on his birthday. I explained to him that because we celebrate more than once I thought it would be o.k. He thought about it and agreed.
We might be in the midst of birthday week, but I haven't decided what to get the kids for their birthday's yet. Because their birthdays fall so close to Christmas I always struggle with conflicted feelings about more...toys. I think I will get them things to do, like for Sophie clay classes, going to a local pottery store who also gives lessons in pottery-ing. Jack, I have no clue. I still have 2 more days to decide.
Blessings to all! I will post again after chemo on Thursday.
Love, Tammy

January 26, 2006

Counts are strong!

Hello friends. Just returned from the chemo office and Jack's counts are 2307. Risen a bit over last week. Grateful that he is staying healthy. From what I hear kids are dropping like flies over the flu in school, it is going around. I am glad that we all got our flu shot at the beginning of the season.
Jack's hair continues to fill out nicely.
My kids asked me to tell them about the trial I sat in on this week as part of the jury. This was my first experience ever with jury duty. It started out showing up in a room with 194 other people. The judge who presided over the selection came in and spoke to us about the importance of a jury in the process of our democratic system. There were 5 juries that needed to be set, which meant that they needed a pool of 150 people to choose from. At one point the judge stood at a podium in the front of the room and allowed potential jurors to come forward and tell him about any schedule conflicts which would prevent them from serving on a jury this week. The judge dismissed a certain amount of people who would not be able to stay. The rest of us sat and waited while our names were put into a computer then randomly chosen for the trial we would be assigned to. My group, 40 people, were sent upstairs to a trial room where we sat and listened to 2 lawyers tell us what our responsabilities would be and then we could at that time raise our hand and say why we thought we would not be able to fulfill the responsibilities, this is where your religious convictions, or personal prejudices would come in. After that was over the lawyers picked 12 jurors out of the group to serve as jurors in the trial.
The trial began immediately after the large unpicked group was dismissed. We were sworn in....
The defendant was a 27 year old male who was charged with aggravated assault. I first assumed (you know what they say about that word) that it might have been a bar brawl...then I found out the defendant assaulted his father, (further assumptions), then more of the story developed when the father took the stand, without having to go into all the details, father and step mom say that the defendant showed up at 1:30 am banging on their trailer door. Step mom says defendant was drunk, cussing, angry, in fear for their lives they escaped the back door and went to use a phone in the house next to them. Father and son meet up and as close as we could figure out father "chested" son, son riled up more and punched his dad, dad fell, sliced his head on something on the truck he fell by. Step mom calls the cops, then she comes out with a loaded shotgun under her arm and is screaming at everyone. Son is arrested for aggravated assault. Cousin of the defendant (who drove with him to defendant's father's house that night), that night states to the police he saw nothing.
Now the defendant takes the stand, his lawyer asks about his view of all these events. Defendant says the day this happened he had been out drinking, came home to his aunts house where he lives at 12 Midnight. She tells him that earlier this day his dad had come by the house wanting to claim some money he felt his other son owed him for moving out of his house without notice. Dad got heated, pushed his 22 year old son around in front of other family members trying to bully his son into paying up, this is where my heart breaks, the 22 year old son is retarded. So dad comes over to his sisters house where his own children are living, pushes around his retarded son, screams, berates, and disturbs everyone there. His older son finds out later that night what happens and is so outraged he heads over to dad's to set things straight.
I learned so much this week about myself. One that no matter how much I don't want to assume anything about anyone, I do it. I want to keep an open mind, we were asked by the lawyers to do just that. I know that once all the facts were revealed about the case I could make a judgement on guilt or innocence, but as the facts took about 8 hours to be revealed my mind jumped back from one side to the other. What looked so clear in the beginning became very unclear towards the end.
Another obvious observation was that we felt that the truth was twisted by many of the people on the stand. Remember the cousin who told the police officer the night of the accident that he saw nothing, well he gave a full account under oath of the entire events of the night. His story didn't match up at certain points with the defendants and that is who he was trying to defend.
This week was eye opening to me. First, from just being involved in a jury of peers and working to a compromise so we could enter a unanimous verdict. Second, truth under oath doesn't always sound very truthful. Third, things can get way out of hand quick, especially when beer, anger, and shotguns are involved.
One thing is for sure, I have added another family to my prayer list. May God bless this family with unity and open their hearts to following His path.
-----------
The defendant was found guilty on assault, not aggravated assault which is a felony. Then was given a 90 day jail sentence and a $500 fine, both which were probated. That means that he was put on probation and as long as he stayed out of trouble he would do no jail time, nor pay any fine. From beginning to end it was a 3 day process. He chose to have the jury decide punishment as well as guilt or innocence, so it was actually 2 different trials back to back.

January 24, 2006

Blogger gone crazy

FYI I have no clue why the blog looks a bit discombobulated (that's a John Risse term), I republished even with a new template and didn't help. I think it is a blogger thing because all the other blogs I check look the same on blogger, so it might just take some time for them to get it worked out. Until then, I think all the posts are still legible.
Jack has a blood draw on Thursday and he is having a good week. Rob has been playing Mr. Mom this week after school because I was selected for jury duty. The trial should be over tomorrow, but I am glad that Rob was happy to help out after school. Some people who don't have kids might think that is not such a big deal, those of us who do know that means, homework, and much more. Thanks honey.
I will post after Jack gets his counts this week. Have a blessed day.
Tammy

January 21, 2006

The Ronald McDonald House




When we go to Children's Medical Center in Dallas, we are blessed to stay at the Ronald McDonald House which is about 1 minute away from the hospital. Every day groups who have volunteered fix the meals, they are always crowd pleasers. When we are there we always meet new people who are in the middle of health issues for their child who is either in the hospital or in town for follow up like we generally are now. It is fun to see the interaction of the children who have health struggles, they really have a bond. These pictures of my kids are in the side patio right off the kitchen and dining area. It is their favorite place to be. The picture of Jack and Sophie is in our room and they are settling down for the night watching a movie on our dvd player. They don't put TV's in the rooms everything is communal even the bathrooms. I am thankful for this ministry, if you are ever asked to donate time or money to Ronald McDonald House, know that it goes to a cause that helps families in the midst of crisis.

January 19, 2006

Jack and the hair on his head

Jack had his blood draw today and his counts are 2060. Glad that his counts are staying strong. Jack has started growing his hair back out, it is looking good. Remember when I posted that I missed his hair when he had it all cut off? Well now I miss his bald head. His hair is growing in a bit darker, and a bit more texture to it. He likes having his head covered with hair again, makes him feel more normal. It is not as thick as before, but I think once chemo is over it will thicken up again. I can already tell that he feels more confidance with his hair back.

We are blessed each day by Jack and his spirit.
Love, Tammy

January 18, 2006

abilenefamilies.com

Wednesday afternoon and Jack is feeling great this week. He has had plenty of energy and is looking forward to just blood counts this week. He will be able to go to school all day tomorrow then I will pick him up and take him to the chemo office to get blood drawn. I will post after we get his counts for this week.
Candy Reagan from the Abilene Families Newspaper which is an insert in the Wednesday Abilene Reporter News did a story on Jack. You can get to the story by clicking on abilenefamilies.com. It is hard to believe that we have come this far since April.
Have a super day.
Tammy

January 13, 2006

Mighty Gifts

Jack is in school, I was able to cancel his doctor's appt. yesterday, so 2 full days of school in a row! This weekend is a 3 day weekend, Martin Luther King is recognized by the school on Monday with a day off. So a 3 day weekend to look forward to. We have started getting info from the Make A Wish organization on Jack's wish trip to Disneyworld, and it looks like the first part of June of this year will be the date. Fun, Fun, Fun.
I had a wonderful coffee time with my friend Jana Beck this morning. We talked about many things that were fun and exciting, she is one of those friends who you might not have hugged their neck in a month but when you see each other face to face, it is like you just left them moments ago. I am truly blessed to have Jana as a friend. One of the very exciting things we talked about was her husband, Dr. Richard Beck, who is the head of the psychology dept. at ACU is going to be part of a discussion group at Lectureship this year in February at ACU. I can't wait to go, it sounds very challenging. I love ACU Lectures, whenever I go I always feel like I am learning so much.
Jana also loaned me a book on parenting that was taken from "Ancient Chinese Secret's" (wasn't that the line in a cartoon or a sitcom in the 70's or 80's?) The real name of the book is Ancient Advice for Modern Parents by William Martin. Anyway this ancient advice has been given a bit of a twist and turned into some poetry for parents to read. I along with Jana would say that we would pick and choose what we would apply to our own families, not everything in the book is in line with our parenting strategies or beliefs but some of it is diamonds in the rough.

Fear of Failure

Beware of teaching your children
to climb the ladder of success.

Ladders lead down
as well as up.

If you overly protect your children
they will fear failure
and avoid pain.
But failure and pain
are twin teachers
of important lessons.
Unless your children fully experience both
how will they know
they have nothing to fear?

________________________________________
River of Change

The child you see today
will not be here tomorrow.
The child arriving home from school,
is different from the one
who left from home this morning.
Every moment is a death
of all that has gone before,
and a birth
of all that is to come.
You must jump into the river
and let it carry you on its journey.
If you try to stop it
you will drown.

That last poem the River of Change really hits home for me. My kids all seem like they are growing up so quickly. This year as we have faced Jack's health issues I felt like the times that I dug my heels in and protested inwardly about it all I felt like I was drowning. It was only when I trusted God and lived in His will that I felt like I was being carried on the river as a child feels when they are in a swimming pool with their mom or dad holding them under their back and floating on the water. When the burden seems overwhelming, you actually can feel weightless because God's hand is supporting it all. I have had to remind myself that God will gladly receive my burdens that I give to Him, but he will never take them forcefully, that would infringe on the free will He gave me. Miracles have happened in my life this year, the miracle of mothering Jack without constant fear of the future is for me a miracle. I don't know if it is just me or if other parents do this, but since I have had my kids on occassion I have let fear creep up inside my brain and had thoughts like,...what if my child get's cancer? Most of the time when I get thoughts like that I try to close them out and leave them behind, I don't think it is healthy to think about things that can breed fear in your heart, we don't need to be fearful, Jesus tells us that so many times in the Bible. But once or twice I had thought the cancer scenario through with regards to one of my kids, and it never turned out very pretty. I was paralyzed with fear, grief, anger...I can remember saying out loud to God in prayer before Jack was ever diagnosed," I will serve You, use me as You see fit, use my life ... but don't even think about touching my kids." I actually don't think I said out loud the last phrase, but I remember thinking it very clearly, and as God knows what is in my mind, I might as well have said it out loud, because He heard it just the same. I truly didn't think that I could bear any one of my children having cancer, I didn't think I had it in me to function properly, that is where the miracle comes in. With God's grace and mercy, with His love to guide me, with His diligence to bring me closer to Him, He has given me strength, He has given me peace, He has given me joy and smiles, when left to my own accord I don't think I would have one. Almighty Father thank you for your mighty gifts.

January 11, 2006

Party at Chemo Today




















Here is the sweetest picture of the kids that were getting their chemo today.
From the left, Derrick, Alejandro, Grace, Jordan and Jack.
Jack had chemo today, and I could not believe my eyes when I got the copy of all of the counts for his blood work. His ANC was 4273. I think I literally blinked my eyes and shook my head from side to side thinking that I needed to refocus my eyes. I am not a doctor ofcourse, but to have his counts go from a meager 11, 2 weeks ago tomorrow, to 4273 today, is very bizarre. It is amazing how our body works and how quickly things can go from good to bad, then right back to good again. I am very excited about how high his counts are right now. Nurse Sara told me that today was the midpoint of chemo, half over.
It has been so fun to tell about Jack's good news from Dr. Bowers yesterday in Dallas. We are so blessed to have so many wonderful friends who rejoice with us when we rejoice and also have cried with us when we cry.
Today at chemo we started out with just Derrick, Jack's friend in the treatment room, before long the other kids joined in to watch some Scooby Doo! These kids are so much fun to watch, they are such a blessing to be around.
One more doctors appointment this week, tomorrow with Dr. Bowman the oncologist from Cook's. I am supposed to call Nurse Sara tomorrow to see if Jack can skip his appointment as he has been examined this week at Children's and last week at Cook's, might be a bit of overkill to examine him one more time in the same week, but we go with the flow, so if that is what we have to do, that is what we do. Although it would be nice to have Jack attend a full day of school tomorrow!
I am glad also to report that Jack now is in the two weeks off chemo part of his rotation. We will have blood draws each Thursday, but no chemo for 2 weeks, aaaahhhh, that feels good.
Tremendous thanks again for keeping up with Jack and our family, we are humbled to be a part of Jack's journey and so grateful for the blessings along the way. The journey is full of long strait roads, rocks, mountains that seem impossible to climb, it is those times we hop on board those Eagles wings that soar right over the mountain without even looking down. Each thrill and every tear has brought us closer to the Master. What a wild ride.

January 10, 2006

Big Smiles

The visit with Dr. Bowers, Jack's oncologist, went great! He said the tumors have shrunk even more and now they are not even a mass of bulk, but considered more of a plaque, a thin layer of tumor. Dr. Bowers said Jack looks great physically, results look great, we keep on with what we are doing. I asked him with the type of results that he is seeing is there a chance that the chemo will completely take care of the tumors, and no radiation would be necessary, he said he thinks at this time that would be correct. So where we are now, continue chemo until late September, and at that point no radiation needed, but Jack would continue to be followed for many years to make sure nothing grows back. We are still in the best case scenario category! Thank you for your diligence in prayers! God continues to bless Jack and our whole family through the unwavering love and support from you all. We will be home later today! Hip Hip Hooray. Big smile inserted here.

January 09, 2006

Today is the MRI

It is 3:30 Monday. We are at the Ronald McDonald House in Dallas. Jack and I are leaving for his MRI in about 20 minutes. Rob and the other 2 kids will hang out here. We walked around Grapevine Mills Mall today, I think Jack will be officially worn out for the MRI, please specifically pray for him to be still for the MRI. He has always done well not being sedated, but was a little more twitchy the last time from the chemo. We will meet with the Oncologist in the morning to find out the results, hoping to be able to post them tomorrow before we get back on the road to come home.
I am not scared, but when it gets this close to such important news, I am anxious to get it over with and find out what the results will be. Looking forward to being home soon.
Love, Tammy

January 05, 2006

Counts back up!

Jack's counts - 1170 ANC. So glad to report that Jack is back in a safe zone. He had chemo today. He will go to school tomorrow, then we will head to Dallas this weekend for his MRI on Monday at 5pm and his Dr. Visit on Tuesday morning at 8:30 am. Then back home.
We are looking forward to visiting the mall where the kids are planning on spending their hard saved dollars, then to the Medievel Dinner and Show. We have alot planned this weekend, all of it fun! I am praying for Jack's counts to stay up, I am concerned with them just rising, then chemo today that they will be working their way back down. I wish that his blood test was like the blood test for diabetes, where he puts some blood on a stick then it would give me a reading as to what it is. But unfortunately that is not how it works, so while we are visiting all these fun and very populated places he could have low counts again. I know that might sound glass is half empty but I also know how low his counts were just 3 days ago. So the fact that he had all that chemo pumped into his veins has got to affect his counts either a little or alot over the next couple of days.
I am planning on putting him back in his mask for the mall and the show, whenever we are around large groups of people, atleast until I feel like his counts are back up and a little more stable.
Please pray for Jack to stay strong and healthy....
This week we went to the zoo on one of his days at home. It was the day that was 89 degrees, he wore his mask and then I pushed him around in a wheelchair. He loved it, although the first third of the zoo was tough on my back as I was pushing him in a faulty wheelchair, o.k. the wheelchair wasn't faulty I just forgot to take off both brakes! After the brakes were released it was even quite fun for me, and no more back strain.
Jack is looking forward to going back to school tomorrow. Have a great day.
Tammy

January 02, 2006

Coming Home Today

Jack's counts are at 368 ANC, he is drinking better and eating a little, so we are headed home today. 368 is still considered critically low, so Jack will be staying home and away from people probably for the rest of this week. He wont go back to school tomorrow, but we are just glad to be coming home.
He will have a blood draw on Thursday, probably no chemo this week again, and then before we know it, we will be back on the road to Dallas next Saturday to spend the next couple of days in Dallas for Jack's MRI at Children's Hospital in Dallas on Monday, then consult with his Oncologist there Tuesday.
I am so hoping that his counts get to a safe level by Sunday because I bought tickets for us to the Medeivel Theatre and Dinner show in Dallas. That will be Sunday if he is up to it.
We will be home later today.
Tammy

yea, we are home. thanks for all your prayers.
Tammy

January 01, 2006

New Years Day

We are in Cook's it is almost 1pm on Sunday. We rang the New Year in last night walking from the ER and put in our room. Jack is doing fine, the iv antibiotics are helping him. That sore on his tongue is probably what spiked his fever. Because his body doesn't have the ability to heal itself right now, it is causing some trouble. He most likely bit his tongue in the night, and then woke up with fever because of it. We could be coming home today or tomorrow, wait and see is where we are at right now. Jack is not really eating or drinking anything much, so I am glad that we are here so he can be getting fluids. I am sure he was close to dehydration last night. Until his tongue feels better, it will be a struggle to keep him hydrated when we go home. His counts are at 200 ANC as of today. Slowly creeping back up. They are still in a dangerous zone, but atleast they are growing. Thanks for your prayers for Jack and we will post from home or here tomorrow. Jack and Rob say hello.
Tammy
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4:50 pm As of right now I think we are going to stay another night. I think it is a good choice. Glad to be here where he is getting better. Rob and I are getting plenty of reading done, and Jack is a master at the Scooby Doo game on gamecube in his room. Ah the life of a sick kid.
There is this very cute 3 or 4 year old boy, no hair, totally bald, with a Bob the Builder carpenters apron on, he is riding a 3 wheel scooter thing around the halls screaming at the top of his lungs. His dad and a couple of nurses have encouraged him to lower the volume a little, but no go. I think he is hilarious. Where else can you ride around on slick shiny floors, hooting and hollering, living with Leukemia, and have people let you have the run of the place. A children's hospital is about it, or grandma or grandpa's house too I guess. I find him very cute and amusing and he can scream as loud as he wants as far as I am concerned. Blessings to you.
Tammy