Saturday, November 19, 2011

Mr. Routine

Brian loves his routine and having things done just so. One of his current nighttime routines is popcorn for "dessert" and watching Cars 2. He has even taken to watching it in Spanish.
Here are our sweet boys with their popcorn watching the bonus features on the Cars 2 DVD. They could watch Toy Story Hawaiian Vacation and Tow Mater Car Toons all night long, over and over even though they are just five minutes each.  

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Chemo 11-17-11

This week was a chemo week. Wednesday is bloodwork and Thursday is chemo.
Yesterday (Wednesday) was the first time we went to the lab and had to wait an hour to be seen. It was chaotic. The four kids that went before Brian SCREAMED their heads off! So, the little boy that went right before Brian was told by his mother that he may have a toy if he didn't scream. That prompted Brian to turn to me and say, "May I have a toy if I don't scream and cry?"
:) We've learned to stop buying the entire lego sets because really our boys just love the mini figs and creating their own house, car, castle, etc. So Brian's reward for being brave now adays is one of the mini fig packages for $2.50. He doesn't get them every time we go to a doctors appointment but whenever we have surgery, X-rays, etc. It's always exciting to see who the mini fig will be.

Thursday was chemo. It was quick, in and out. Brian is doing well. Here is a picture of the kids infront of Nemours.

Friday, November 4, 2011

Update with Pictures

Fred is back to work after six weeks at home on short term disability. Of the past eleven years and I think he has called in sick once maybe twice so I wasn't too sure how he would do being out for six weeks. I was mighty proud of him because while he did answer the phone and field some work from the house, he did a great job following doctors orders for recuperating.
Here are some images of Fred's back now, after his spinal fusion.
                                  Pretty nifty, eh! (Quite pricey too!)

Brian had another IVIG this week. His counts were so low he needed the immunity boost.
He asked me who was going to watch the kids while we were in the hospital and I told him Ms. Shelley. MAKE ME CRY MY EYES OUT...Brian looked at me sadly and said, "you mean they get to play at Griffin's?! I wish I wasn't the one that always had to go to chemo!"
Yes, rip my heart out and make me sad for him. So, that would be why we purchased Cars 2 secretly the night before and surprised him when he got to the hospital. Wouldn't you know it the oncology wing was full so we were in the regular peds unit and what a disappointment. It's like the difference between staying at the Motel 8 verses the Plaza. Obviously the Pediatric Oncology wing is the much nicer one. So, when we got to our room we discovered the DVD player was broken. Brian ended up watching Cars 2 on Fred's laptop.

Brian is still afraid of the bed so here was his set up for the day.

Fred still had to work so after we got in and settled he left and went back to work. Brian was absolutely silent and when I tried to talk to him he would just say "I don't want to talk right now."
In between his Cars 2 viewings he played with the iPad and made some videos. I over heard him saying "Hi, this is Brian. Here's my Cars 2 movie. I am at Chemo. My Daddy left me. He went in his car. I am all alone."
  Again, rip my heart out. I called Fred who flew up to the hospital in flash and stayed with us the rest of the day. Brian was so happy to see Daddy he even got in the bed with Daddy.
We of course talked to Brian about all the above, but quite honestly we were just thrilled because if you remember Brian used to get so angry at Fred that he wouldn't talk to him. Brian wouldn't even acknowledge Fred talking to him. If Fred said, "I love you Brian." Brian would look away and say, "I love you Mommy." We are way past those days, HALLELUJAH, and Brian is a total Daddy's boy.

(The bear Fred is holding was a gift from the UWF Rugby team. They came around saying hello and giving gifts. They wanted a picture with Brian but B said "NO! That makes me scared.")

Our newest drama is poor Miss Olivia Eden. She and Brian were fighting yesterday and he pulled a scarf she was standing on which caused her to fall on her mouth. She tore the frenulum labii superioris and somehow managed to pull a tooth down and push the gums up. She might have permanently altered her gum line and we are still watching the tooth to see if it is going to die. And oh my goodness the amount of blood!! Drama, Drama, Drama. We should write a book about living with the Schreibers. Never a dull  moment. All this happened after we returned our late library books. They were due the day before but we were unexpectly at the hospital all day. As I am asking the lady how much we owe I see my boys scaling a statue. Yes, the Schreibers are always full of entertainment.

Here is Miss Olivia at the dentist. She was quite fussy and demanded to have my phone to play with and take pictures.

As you see from my picture of Olivia it wasn't worth the scene we would have made so here are Olivia's pictures from the dentist.

The joy at the end of this day was the left over cookie cake that Shelley had made for us the day of Brian's IVIG. Oh my goodness was it wonderful!!! I might have eaten about six pieces...

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Update 10-6-11

Alrighty, I have some revisions to make from my last post. I have clearly misunderstood what is going on with Brian and his scans. (Even though I asked a million questions and got a copy of the report to read myself, apparently, I still didn't understand how everything fell down.) I was going to delete my entire last post but sometimes I like to go back and read what we have been through and see how God has carried us through some pretty tough stuff. The emotional parts of thinking one thing and finding out something different from week to week are all a part of the chemo process for us. There are lots of ups, downs and all over the place moments for us. Our pastor has recently preached about how just like the Israelites were told to remember what God has done, we should look back in our lives and see how God has worked. He called us to remember and not forget. Every so often I read our blog because I do tend to forget. 

  Here's what we learned today: Brian had scans done in April of 2010 and those scans gave us the green light to have his port removed and be considered "completed" with treatment. In September 2010 Brian started round two of treatment because of a recurrence. In November of 2010 he had a set of scans (he is suppose to get them every three months) and then a few weeks ago he had some on Sept. 14, 2011. The Sept 2011 set of images are the ones that revealed a lesion on Brian's left femur. Apparently the Radiologist went back and compared them to the April of 2010 images. Those set of images did not reveal anything because that specific angle or rotation (whatever he said) was not included in the April of 2010 images. The November 2010 images were the ones that when the Sept 2011 images were compared they could see that the lesion was there only we didn't see it in Nov. 2010 b/c it was not clear. It is entirely possible that the lesion was there in April 2010, we just don't have an image of that area. However, the Oncologist is saying that we do not know 100% that the lesion is LCH. It's just the assumption that all things point to and it probably is. But, we are not doing a biopsy because the knowledge that the lesion is or is not LCH doesn't change anything in Brian's treatment. The current level of treatment that Brian is receiving is "more" than chemo round one because of his immediate recurrence. So, if Brian were to walk in with a new diagnosis, presenting with LCH Multi System Involvement (what he has) the treatment that he is currently on is what they would do. Being that the lesion was probably there in April of 2010 (and definitely in Nov 2010) Brian's almost immediate recurrence is because he was treated as a single system involvement and was only on chemo for six months rather than a full year. (Six months would be the road map for round one of chemo. Brian was actually at seven months because of missing some treatments b/c of being neutropenic.) Again, I have so many thoughts...probably I should keep a lot of them to myself since I tend to reveal some of my sins and I should work on my patience, etc. but...while the initial thought might be frustration that the doctors "missed it" and we wasted some time, I can totally see God taking care of Brian (and us) from the beginning.
As our doctor reminded us today, some doctors don't even treat for single system. So, even though Brian probably had multi system from the beginning, he was diagnosed and treated for single system and he did respond well. What if we had a doctor that didn't treat single system and we waited several more months before we found out it was actually multi system and all the while LCH is destroying his body?! We didn't have to deal with that. Praise God that Brian was treated immediately and responded well, he probably just needed a year and not six months. Secondly, we were so emotional and upset about chemo round one as it was. I cannot imagine the blow it would have been to hear ONE YEAR from the beginning. I might have jumped off the roof of the hospital. (Not really, that was for Mrs. Julie W., our dear friend. She will "get it".) But seriously, six months seemed long, but I could swallow that. A year would have been paralyzing and depressing to hear. We were still accepting Brian's diagnosis. Remember we went from several "common" ailments to sitting in a Pediatric Oncology office being handed a large binder that says Your Child has Cancer. I wanted to throw the binder back at the doctor and nurse and scream "we don't need this!!" scoop up Brian and run out of the building. I see how God has lovingly guided us through our journey. HE continues to do so. I am also thankful that we have a doctor that doesn't see the need to put Brian through a biopsy just because. He acknowledged the results will not change the process, so why put Brian through it. We appreciate that.  
Please continue to pray for Brian and our family as we continue with treatment. We have chemo every three weeks followed by five days of steroids through March 2012.

Here we are at chemo today.

Waiting in the waiting room.

                                                        Checking his height.

                                                          His weight.

                                        His blood pressure.

                                         His temperature.

Getting the Lidocaine wiped off his port before being accessed.
                                      The tray of meds.

Brian did great today. I forgot to go by Chick Fil A and get  him a lemonade so he had to deal with the taste of the meds without his drink. :-( I will remember next time!!

Cute boy!!

We are home and Brian is napping. He's such a trooper.

Things that make me smile...
   I came around the corner into the boys room to be greeted by all these guys. It made me smile.

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Update 9-27

Thank you all for your prayers during the last couple of weeks. Your calls and e-mails letting us know you love us and are praying for us are such an encouragement. Fred is doing well. His surgery was suppose to be two hours but it ended up being close to four. As the doctor told me "everything was  mess in there." Because of all the scar tissue and herniated disc that was "all over" the doctor said that there ended up being a tear in the dura, but he stitched up the dural tear real tight before there was any leaking cerebral spinal fluid. Because of the tear Fred had to either lay flat or stand up straight, no sitting for the first couple of days. Even so, it was a huge praise that there were no complications and no leakage of fluid b/c of the tear. It could have been a real set back.
  Fred is continuing to do well, he has a back brace that he wears when he gets up for more than a trip to the bathroom and he stays in bed most of the rest of the day getting up only to walk around the house for his exercise. Yesterday we took a quick outing to the christian book store and Barnes and Noble to look for Fred an audio book. But the 30 min excursion was too much and we realized he isn't quite up to all that yet.
  And on to Brian... His scan results from last week revealed that he has a lesion on his left femur. That changes his diagnosis from single system to multisystem. We do not know what this means as far as treatment as we have not met with the oncologist and don't until next week. What we did find out was that the lesion was there in April of 2010. The radiologist went back and looked at Brian's old scans from April of 2010 and saw why he missed the lesion. Apparently the image was not clear because Brian didn't sit still. Now, having the new images from last week, Sept 14 2011, and going back to compare to the April 2010 he was able to recognize and make out the lesion and determined that it is not new, it has been there and it has not changed in size. So many thoughts go through my mind when I hear that. Number one, honestly, a bit of frustration that they didn't get a good image in April of '10. If you remember those are the scans that helped make the determination that Brian was "good to go" and cleared to have his port removed after completing his first round of chemo. If you didn't get a good image, do it a second time!!!! Anyway, thought number two is "well, that explains why the almost immediate reccurrence. We never dealt with the disease complelety. It didn't 'come back' it was never gone." Thought number three would be that praise the Lord the lesion has not grown or spread in the last year and a half. That's a good sign.
  We will keep you updated as we learn more and move forward with Brian's treatment. Thank you for your continued prayers and love for our family.
 On a totally random side note, I have always like medical shows and the like. A month ago or so I was watching some of my episodes of Mystery Diagnosis that were recorded on my DVR. There is an episode titled The Lady that Saw Pink (Season 7 episode 8 originally aired Aug 17, 2009). One of the story's from that episode highlights a case of a little girl with LCH. I cannot even begin to describe to you what I was thinking and feeling as I watched a TV show called MYSTERY DIAGNOSIS that featured my child's illness. If you look it up and find it airing soon you should watch it. It really explains Brian's illness well.

Friday, September 16, 2011

More Surgery (not for Brian)

Brian had a complete skeletal survey or scan on Wednesday along with his bloodwork for chemo the next day (The scan/survey are different and I always forget which one is which. I'm not sure which one he had.). The next day (Thursday, yesterday) at chemo we got the results of the skeletal survey/scan and received his chemo. As always after chemo, he is now on steroids for the next five days. While the appointment was not bad, it wasn't all that reassuring. There were some findings from the scan, but we are still letting all of that sit with us for a few days. I'll blog about that later, but today we are up early and headed to the hospital for Fred a spinal fusion. Fred will be having his third back surgery this AM and he is thrilled to be getting a fusion. On Wednesday, his birthday, he had his pre op appointment and he has been trying to finish up some loose ends at work before being out for a while.Throw in a school day for me and the kids, ballet and guitar lessons, me getting sick and you can see it's been a busy week. We are very grateful that God in His good providence, love and mercy had already laid the plans for this week. Fred's mom is here to celebrate Fred's birthday. Fred's surgery, not scheduled for another week, got moved up on Tuesday to this week. With her here we have not had to worry about our children (or me making meals.)  It's been wonderful!!

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Pray for Brian

Our little Brian is really thinking about chemo and all he goes through. We've recently had a dear friend diagnosed with Cancer. We've had lots of conversations and prayers about cancer, chemo, doctors visits and death in our house lately. Brian's sweet little heart is sad that our dear friend would possibly have to go through chemo. He says things like, "Let's pray that Ms. ******* doesn't have to do chemo. I don't like it. I don't want her to do it and I don't want to do it either." Every single night he prays that when he is six he will not have to have chemo. It is really sad, because he used to pray for "when I am five" and now that he is five he knows he still has chemo every three weeks through next March. So, every evening for his prayer request he will say "I know I will probably have to always have my port and a butterfly, but I want to pray that maybe when I am six I don't have to to do chemo anymore."

Please pray for our Brian Robert and that he would be through with all of this in March. Here's how it works: We complete his roadmap for treatment and then watch Brian for a year. (still frequently having scans and his port flushed during that year, but no chemo) If Brian does not have a recurrence of symptoms then he is considered in remission and treated. If he has a recurrence then we start a new round of drugs to try and find the combination of drugs that work of him.
       That is what we are doing right now.As you remember Brian started chemo in Sept 09 and finished in April of 10. Unfortunately he started showing symptoms in July/Aug '10 and had a biopsy in Sept '10 that confirmed LCH and that we "hadn't gotten it." That is when we started chemo round two and mixed up the meds to try a new combination. After his induction period of the first six weeks (which includes weekly chemo and daily steroids) we switched to to new drugs in Dec 10. However, before we were able to start the new drugs Brian had three weeks of nothing because his counts were too low for chemo. During this time he started presenting symptoms again. From Dec'10- March'11 his symptoms didn't go away and we felt the new drugs he was on were not sufficient. The doctor said that the drugs Brian was taking weren't working b/c they are for Leukemia patients in remission, Brian started taking them while he had symptoms. So, we went back to our original chemo drugs/steroid combo with a modified induction period (4 weeks of weekly instead of six) and changed the steroid back to his original one that has less negative side effects. We know this combination of drugs works for Brian's symptoms, but idea is that we would give him a year on the drugs rather than six months. Maybe this will "get it". So, we go to the hospital every three weeks, on Tuesday for bloodwork and Wednesday for chemo through March '12. Then we wait and see how Brian's body is doing. If he has clear scans and is not presenting symptoms for one year (from March '12-March '13) than we are done!!! Please pray that this would be it and we are finished with treatment in March. We know that God is faithful and HE will sustain us and give us the grace to walk through anything, but the cry of our hearts is that we be finished with chemo. Please pray with us for little Brian Robert.

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Aug 25 Update

We had chemo today and got to see Dr. Schwartz, our doctor that we've seen the most of since our original doctor moved to Texas. Dr. Schwartz was the one that mentioned he wanted to keep an eye on some suspicious lesions on Brian's skin. Then we didn't get to see him for about four or five visits. Since our visits are three weeks apart it has been a very long time since we've seen Dr. Schwartz. Anyway, today he said the lesions look the same as he remembers and that is a good sign. For right now we are thinking that everything is going well with Brian's treatment. Brian is super brave on treatment days and takes his medicine with minimal resistance. We are very proud of our big boy. We got an order to get a skeletal survey or bone scan. I can't remember which. We will update after we do that and get results. Thank you for continuing to pray for our family.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011


Brain turned FIVE years old today. He is such a sweet boy. We had a great time celebrating Brian in our home with some "boy" friends.

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

chemo 8-3-11

We are at chemo today. The entire gang came along. Brian is doing well other than he is getting a little cold and sniffles.

Thursday, July 14, 2011


There is never a dull moment with our relationship with Nemours. :) This week we will have been there three days in a row! On Tuesday William had an appointment with Cardiology for an Echo. He has a heart murmur and our current pediatrician (we've been with her for nearly three years) had never heard it before. I assured her what we were told when William was an infant that it was an innocent murmur. We even had his heart looked at and all four chambers were present and functioning properly. Since she had never heard the murmur and his heart has not been looked at other than in utero she wanted to make sure for herself and scheduled an echo. We were not worried at all. In fact I didn't even tell most of my family because I didn't want anyone to make a big deal of it. (My mother is going to kill me when she reads this! Love you, Mom. :)) When I say that we didn't make a big deal of it, I didn't even tell William he had to do it until the day before and I didn't hire a babysitter. Brian had to go to the hospital on Tuesday anyway for bloodwork. As predicted William's Echo was super fast and easy. The kids watched Diego while the tech performed the ultrasound. When we were finished with Cardiology we went down to the lab and had Brian's blood drawn for his counts/labs for chemo the next day. We got to Nemours at 8:45 and we were walking to our van ready to leave at 9:55. Easy, peasy. The only drama of the day was William needing Daddy to overly reassure him about how brave he was at his appointment. Again, he is just looking to make sure we give him the same level of attention that we give Brian. Fred's boss has been in town this week and we knew that Fred would not be able to go to both appointments, so he didn't go to William's. We didn't tell William that Daddy chose chemo over an uneventful 25 min. Echo. William would not understand. We just told William that Daddy's boss wouldn't let him come, but Daddy wanted to be there. We try to accommodate and reassure knowing that Brian being on chemo affects all the kids. But, I drew the line at William acting like it hurt and he was still in pain later that evening when recounting the days events to Daddy. When I told William that he was telling a story, that it didn't hurt and in fact he had already told me the worst part was he didn't like the gel, he got a sheepish grin and admitted that he was exaggerating for some attention. We smothered him with hugs and tickles and all was OK. I just like to keep a record for our family of how there is a ripple effect, it's not just Brian.
   So, Wednesday we get to chemo at 10:30 only to find out that our appointment was actually at 10:00. That has not happened, at all, in our almost two year relationship with Nemours. And we have FREQUENT appointments. You would think that they would let that miscommunication on appointment time slide because there have been plenty of times we have had to wait upwards of an hour on them. Plus, it wasn't like we were running late to an appointment and didn't call. We thought our appointment was at 10:30. You would think it would be no be deal. NOPE. The lady at the desk in the lobby said that the oncology floor instructed us to come back at 1:00 because we missed our appointment and the doctor said he wouldn't see us now. You can imagine that our blood pressure increased rapidly. Remember that Fred's boss was in town. He couldn't come back at one, and our helper for the other three kids was available in the morning, as scheduled, and not later at one. Also, Brian already had his numbing cream on his port. That in itself is a big deal. The poor boy HATES getting it put on. We grease him up with Lidocaine then put Glad Press'n Seal over the cream. When he has press'n seal on he will not use his right arm. He acts paralyzed. Brian will probably always hate press n seal and will probably not allow his future wife to have it in their house. Anyway, I digress. It was a big deal that they were turning us away. Fred called up to the fifth floor and talked to the receptionist (instead of relaying messages through the lobby receptionist like we had been doing). The explanation she gave was that there would not be a nurse there to take care of Brian. That didn't add up because we were suppose to be there during that time anyway. Was he not going to have someone looking after him today anyway?! Brian's infusion takes a little over an hour. We were thirty minutes late.
    She told us to come up to the fifth floor and we could talk to the doctor, but that they would not give Brian his chemo. When we got to the fifth floor we had calmed down and bit and we were praying that Fred would be able to communicate effectively without loosing his cool. Our regular nurse checked Brian in doing his height, weight, blood pressure, temperature, etc and Fred struck up a conversation about us being told we couldn't have chemo until one because we missed our appointment. She very calmly stated that the nursing staff had a mandatory off site meeting at noon and had to have the floor cleared by 11:30 so they could leave and make it to the meeting on time. Both Fred and I looked at each other and said, "Why on earth weren't we told that in the first place!! That makes total sense and is different than being "punished" for missing an appointment because of a mix up over time." Even the nurse was a bit disturbed by the unnecessary drama.
    All that to say that we were back at Nemours this AM for chemo. The entire family went and Brian did great. Three days in a row at Nemours...

Here are the kids in front of Nemours on Tuesday before William's Echo and Brian's bloodwork.

Brian playing in the train in the cardiology waiting area. He used to ask to play on the train, but they do not have one in the oncology waiting area.

Saturday, July 2, 2011

Some Pics

BEWARE. LOTS OF PICTURES. Grandmas and Aunts will love it.  :-)

Last week was a chemo week. It was also William's sixth birthday which includes a well child check up at the pediatrician. I didn't do a good job scheduling these two doctor visits on the same day as I only had enough time to make it from one appointment to the other. Since I wanted to ask our Pediatrician a question about Olivia's eyes, Livi had to come along too. That meant I would be getting a baby sitter for just Ansley, the seven year old. I wasn't going to do that, so all four kids went to chemo this week. It was quite an adventure. (Typically they discourage siblings coming to chemo. For obvious reasons like germs, crowd control and noise.)

 Since we were at the clinic during lunch time the floor was empty and quiet, except for our gang and a couple nurses. After Brian was accessed (Which was a lot more difficult than normal. We had to restrain him and he screamed and cried.) we went out to the play room and attempted to turn the play station on for the boys.

We couldn't figure it out and there was no one around to help.

The kids were loosing patience.

We moved on to checking out the book shelf.

We ended up watching a VHS of Air Bud in the small examination room. The kids couldn't have cared less about the movie. After the initial "Hey, that looks like Eva!" no one cared about the movie. We are thankful for iPads, Blackberry's and Droid cell phones. I am not sure Brian would be able to make it through a chemo appointment without Angry Birds. Notice his Angry Birds stuffed animal a couple of pictures up. William got a blue one from Aunt Jess and Uncle Matt for his birthday and Brian got a yellow one just because. I also made a trip to Walgreens before William's appointment and let each child pick out candy of their choice. IF they obeyed for W's appointment they got their candy. Some call it bribery, I call it incentive. :) I believe Olivia is on her second or third sucker of the day in this picture.
 Please pray for Brian. He is starting to put together that his 5th birthday is right around the corner and chemo will NOT be ending anytime soon. He's been praying for months that he would have "no more chemo when I am five".
  Brian also has some bumps on his skin that look suspicious. They look very similar to the ones on his scalp that he has had at diagnosis and recurrence. We haven't been able to see Brian's regular doctor the last two visits and will not get to see him in a couple of weeks. SO, in five weeks we are hoping to see his regular oncologist and discuss the possibility of a biopsy to figure out if they are LCH or not. If he is getting these growths while on treatment it is a bad sign. We would have to mix his treatment plan up a bit. Please just be in prayer for little Brian and that the bumps will go away!

Grandma Schreiber sent the boys their birthday presents. Since mommy suspected what they would be there was no way we were going to let William open his and then tell Brian he had to wait six weeks and *smile* maybe you'll get some too. I know some parents would say that kids need to learn that their sibling's birthday is not about them, but that is not what this was about. If you don't have a kid on chemo you can try to imagine, but you can't just understand the emotional ups and downs he goes through. He's not like a regular four year old. The things he thinks about, that he's afraid of, and what he can do are just not the same. In fact, we had William's birthday party at a swim park. We had a three hour session with slides, fountains of water shooting up and three different pools. Our three other kids were loving every fun filled minute and did not want to leave. Brian spent the last hour sitting at the picnic table with Daddy because he was tired and ready to go home. There are some things that we just don't put our sweet Brian through. Making him wait six weeks for sheets that he wanted while watching his brother snuggle up in them was NOT something we were going to do.

William and Brian were SUPER excited about their Star Wars sheets. Thank you, Grandpa and Grandma.

This picture is for Pastor Clif. Brian is listening to your sermons. We went to Panama City last weekend and Brian found a stack of bricks in Bigdaddy's back yard. He started picking them up and moving them over by the fence, stacking them up. When I asked him what he was doing he replied, "rebuilding the wall. Like Nehemiah." I was super proud and ran in to get my phone to take a picture. Brian might be the cutest almost five year old in the world!!!

Thursday, June 16, 2011

A Peek Into Fred's Heart

A Dad's View

The last couple of years have been a whirlwind in our lives and I feel like I can finally discuss some of the feelings and thoughts I have had over the past two years.  Brian is an awesome trooper that taught me a tremendous amount through this test. God has used this time to make my life radically different than it was.
So, we go in to the Dr.and he gives us the run down of what is going on inside little Brians body and what the "roadmap" of treatment was.  We had so many questions unanswered as we were whisked away to the oncology wing of Sacred Heart.  Is this Cancer?  Is this multi system and if it is, what will his treatment be?  What is chemotherapy like and what is life going to be like?  We had no idea so I naturally went to tough guy trooper that has to be strong and power through this.  Now inside I was as scared as Brian and Carrie and extremely uncertain of what to do.  On brief occasions I would share with Carrie how I felt but it was few and far between. 

So by Friday of the first week we were ready for the first treatment.  The nurse walks in wearing a hazmat suit because if the Vinblastine gets on her skin it will burn her.  HE IS THREE!!! What are we doing to him??  Can you think of the apprehension and destress this causes?  Tough.  So we do it and he responds well. We get to go home but not before the nurse said "maybe this can be his room when he has to come back?"   Huh?  We'll be back for sure?  How often and why?  Remember we have been seen by a slew of Dr's and nurses and performed 20 different tests.  We finally got home and searched online and talked it out and this is what we had to do.  So I attempted to show no weakness and just be strong becuase we have no choice.  The first time we go to treatment I have to physically restrain him as he yells through tears of fear and anger "daddy let me go, don't hold me down!"  Choking back tears I just say "Brian we have to do this Daddy loves you but we have to do this."  Wow!  God must not have understood how hard this was to watch your son go through this.  At this point in treatment I was angry and failed to realize that He knew exactly what it was like but infinitely worse.  I hated that God was sovereign because His sovereignty was my son, my wife and my family's pain.  Brian did eventually fight less as he became more accustomed to the process and his body got a little weaker, so there was no real joy in that.   

I reacted like any rational person would I escaped through every means possible to the detriment of my family and my body.  I did not have a good coping mechanism and it was killing me that Brian would not speak with me after treatments. He always told Carrie "I love you Mommy" and would make sure I heard and that it was obvious he was not saying it to me.  Then bills I couldn't pay started coming in, bosses that wanted to fire me came in to being and the economy is awful.  It all added up to a disaster waiting to happen.  While I am here I will say a few things that are important to remember.  As with most childhood cancer LCH has a great prognosis and is rarely fatal.  Good news, but the process is brutal with 3-4 different dr visits a week.  It was difficult and we did it, but I could not handle it and I proved that at least once a week by blowing off steam in innappropriate ways.

We got to the end of the first round of treatment. We thought it was gone and that we were on the path to freedom.  Yes, there were multiple tests to be run every so often and numerous Dr. visits but we could manage that.  God was not done with us. Brian developed symptoms again inside of 3 months.  Now we had to explain to a now 4 year old he had to go get another port, he had to have more chemo and he had a bunch more dr visits.  I remember going into his room and him just very honestly telling me how angry he was at me that I had to hold him down and just how scared that made him.  It was like a knife ripping into my chest cavity and ripping out my heart.  I had responded to his anger with anger and we were now at odds but I loved him so very much and was dying inside. 

All of this brought up some painful memories of my childhood that had not been dealt with.  I ran further and faster from God because He was and is sovereign over all these situations.  His ways are higher than ours and His thoughts are higher than our thoughts.  We would never chose to hold down our son and watch them put a needle in him and see his cries for release and having the ability to provide the release but not offer it, would we?  Thankfully God did, but I was not there yet.  So it finally came to a head one night and some amazing people like my wife, our pastor and my in-laws came alongside me and I finally admitted I could not handle this.  It was WAY too much. 

I turned towards God, softened my approach towards Brian and just prayed.  God's sovereignty brought me to this point were I acknowledge my need for Him in every matter of my life.  The goal of God's sovereignty is not my happiness here on this earth but rather an eternal life with Him. It is painful every 3rd Wednesday to take Brian to Chemo. Just two nights ago I wept as I prayed for Brian only after he mentioned how his treatment was impacting him.  He is 4 and has prayed for months that he will be off chemo by the time he is five.  He won't be, in fact he will be on treatment for 8-9 more months. (By the way if you know me just write that down. Don't ask me if he is still on treatment or almost done.  It seems like you don't care if you can't remember that.)  All that being said I am right were I need to be...on my knees in front of God begging for Brian to understand what is going on and still love God and his daddy.  

Saying Goodbye

Brian's very special friend, Ellie, is moving to "Tucky" today. We are sad. We got to spend their last night here all together at a church picnic at a park on the water. It was very nice. When it was time to say good bye there were quite a few tears. There may have been some promises made to each child in an attempt to cheer them up (and maybe even a slushy from the gas station).   
 These two sweet friends will be Skyping each other next week!

After our friends left we walked down by the water and looked at some crabs. The kids looked so cute that I had to snap a few pictures with my phone. They are adorable.

Chemo next Wednesday. Please keep praying for our Brian.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Keeping On

No new from us lately because PRAISE THE LORD nothing to report. Brian is doing well. He had five weeks of weekly chemo (remember that meant we were at the hospital two days a week) and now has moved to a every three week schedule. He has settled nicely in the routine of going to chemo every three weeks. That doesn't mean that he is "settled" with having to go to chemo. Every single time we drive by the hospital Brian tenses up and you can hear the tension and worry in his voice when he says, "Why are we going this way, Mommy? I don't have to go to the doctor today, do I, Mommy?"
   It makes me sad for him. Other things that are kinda sad...

getting this letter in the mail. Notice it says Childhood Cancer Research Network Participant. Yes, thanks for reminding me.
During our "off" weeks of chemo we almost feel normal. I guess chemo is our normal, but you know what I mean. Getting mail about childhood cancer research is really depressing. It's a reminder that we have a child with a serious illness. He is not like a "normal" four year old. In February I took Olivia to the pediatrician for some bumps on her skin. I was concerned that she had LCH because, at that time, she was the exact same age as Brian was when he was initially diagnosed. Our pediatrician reassured me that Olivia just had some dry skin and needed lotion daily, but she totally understood my worries because of what we have experienced with Brian. Some of struggles that come along with what we are dealing with is not seen or understood by those that just see us from a distance. Sometimes we can't even explain with words what we are going through. You kinda have to live it to know. That is what we found so encouraging about meeting the other families back in December at the Wings of Hope Christmas party. We didn't have to try to explain what we are going through, they knew. Of course at that same party we had someone ask if Brian had picked out his Make a Wish dream. I instantly thought, "oh, we don't qualify for that." (But he does.) It's crazy, we go from identifying to denial.
We have gotten mighty comfortable with our role and relationship with the hospital. A few weeks ago I took Brian in for his bloodwork the day before chemo. There was a new tech in lab (it had been a couple of weeks since we had been there because we had just moved to our new three week schedule) and since I am experienced I started to notice she wasn't doing things the way we always do.When the receptionist says "Hi, Carrie, how's Brian doing, we didn't see you the last two weeks, is everything OK?" I think I can say we come here often enough that I know the drill. So of course I say something to the tech. I let her know that we use the "butterfly" (I am not a medical professional, just the mommy so I know the terms as they are relayed to a four year old) and fill two separate tubes of blood. The tech assured me that the needle was the same size and she knew what she was doing. She then drew one syringe of blood and said done. Feeling like that just couldn't be it, I again questioned. Annoyed with me being "that woman" the tech looked at me and said, "YES, that is all I need, you're done."
Wouldn't you know not three hours later the lab calls and tells me I have to bring Brian back in because they didn't get enough blood to do all the tests. I asked if they had run the test to check his ANC levels. I know that this is what they check to see if Brian's counts are OK to receive chemo the next day. She said yes so I knew that we had what we needed for the next day and that we were going to be back in the lab three weeks later for all the other bloodwork. I then told her that we would not be coming back in. She then said we would have to come first thing in the morning. I informed her we would be at chemo, and that  we would not be coming back in until three weeks from then. 
Other news, Brian's best buddy, Ellie, is moving away and that is kinda sad. B and Ellie had a great play day together last week and we are going to squeeze in as many as we can during the next few weeks.  

 Please keep praying for Brian as he has chemo followed by five days of steriods every three weeks through next March. We will do our best to keep you all updated as much as possible. Sorry for the extended absence this past month.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Getting Creative

Brian, Ansley and William created a "Rain Forest Cafe" in Brian's bed. They are wild and crazy!

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Chemo 4-6-11

Today while we were at chemo I heard another little boy out in the play area so I wanted Brian to go out see him. It's been important to Brian to see that he is not he only little boy that has to go through all this. While in the play area Brian colored an Easter egg on a paper plate to hang up on the window decorating the room.  
 The social worker was giving out gifts today and she gave Brian a bear from the American Cancer Society. Its name is Will Hugyou. Brian really liked his bear and told us that Will Hugyou will be good friends with Doctor Bear.