Saturday, June 30, 2007

Not Without Hope

For a small time today Anya was happy; she really enjoyed her visit from Grandma Sheryl & Isaiah. It was beautiful to see the way she smiled at him and the way he returned her smiles. She loved having him sit on her bed and holding his hand. It made me wish he could stay all night! And Anya loved having Grandma Sheryl read a Dr. Suess book or two.

As they were leaving, Dr. Kitchen and her assistants came to the room. Dr. Kitchen was pleased with Anya's progress. The plan is still on to have the bone marrow aspirate on Monday and to release her afterward, if everything goes okay. She was also alright with Anya's enormous appetite; she just wanted Anya to limit the sugar and salt intake for obvious reasons.

This morning I saw several strands of Anya's hair on the pillow. We had thought this wouldn't start yet but after speaking with the doctor we are now prepared for her hair to start coming out more at any time. It may sound trite but as I sit here and try to think about what to say, I realize I can't really describe the way the hair loss makes me feel or how Anya will feel once she experiences it. But again I just choose to trust God that He will sustain us through this part of the consequences of leukemia.

And I would like to thank Cara, Anya's friend from Virginia, for donating her hair to Locks of Love in honor of Anya. Cara was not able to dontate it for Anya specifically but I am so thankful that another little girl or boy will be able to have a wig because of Cara's unselfishness and compassion. The world would be a better place if there were more little Cara's out there.

On another note, I just got off the phone with an old, dear friend of mine. And through the course of our conversation she said something to the effect of, "It sounds like you are doing good...unless you're just covering something." And with this I was reminded again that I still have joy because I am not without hope! While I am exhausted and sorrowful for Anya...I am not without hope! I believe God is answering your prayers!

God has brought us through the miscarriage of our precious baby, Naum, and brought Israel through the loss of his father and brother many years ago. And I've had the privledge of watching God uphold another dear friend who lost her baby, Evan. And through these things God has been faithful; and though I do not fear that Anya will die I am confident that He will be faithful again through this long journey of treatment. I know that He is holding me and my daughter in His hand. He will be faithful to bring us all through this stronger and Anya will be more beautiful, more refined. Like my friend said, "It is not God's way" to do otherwise. From the depth of my heart I cry, "I trust you Lord...I trust you to uphold me, my daugther, my husband, and my family. I trust you to take care of us, to provide for our needs, and to use this for your glory."

In closing I wanted to share an old hymn, "Come Thou Fount of Every Blessing":

Come thou fount of every blessing
Tune my heart to sing thy grace
Streams of mercy never ceasing
Call for songs of loudest praise

Teach me some melodious sonnet
Sung by flaming tongues above
Praise His name, I'm fixed upon it
Name of God's redeeming love

Hither to thy love has blessed me
Thou has brought me to this place
And I know thy hand will bring me
Safely home by thy good grace

Jesus sought me when a stranger
Wandering from the throne of God
He to rescue me from danger
Bought me with His precious blood

Oh to grace how great a debtor
Daily I'm constrained to be
Let thy goodness like a fetter
Bind my wandering heart to thee

Prone to wander, Lord I feel it
Prone to leave the God I love
Here's my heart oh take and seal it
Seal it for thy courts above

Smiles Make My Day

Anya had a very good day yesterday. She woke up smiling and even played with some toys and colored in bed! I can't explain what this does for me - it made my whole day! The rash is clearing and the doctor was pleased with her progress. However because the rash is not more cleared the doctor has asked that she stay in the hospital until Monday, after the bone marrow aspirate. This gives us more time to get the house cleaned & organized but I am sorry for Anya who is ready to be home with her family and for all of us who would like to be with her at the house.

Last night Isaiah was feeling better so I brought him to Anya's room for a few minutes. She was so happy to see him; she couldn't quit smiling. But when it was time for him to leave she was heartbroken. By that time she was exhausted and very ready for bed. But the nurse still needed to do a few things (including bringing her medicine) so it was a difficult couple of hours.

Anya was awakened this morning to a nurse coming in to get her blood. She was very upset and has been upset ever since. She has an incessant appetite because of the steroids and doesn't have the patience for food to arrive. And she can't stop crying because she is worried about the nurses who are going to come in soon. I am hoping that she will be able to get back to sleep shortly so she can get the rest she needs to feel better.

Please pray for the bone marrow aspirate test on Monday - it is important that we find the leukemia cells have responded to treatment. We are hoping with Dr. Kitchen, Anya's oncologist, to find less than 5% leukemia cells. We are also asking God to give Anya peace, joy, and comfort in the midst of her discomfort and fear. And we are praying that Anya will be able to come home on Monday, instead of the date being pushed back again.

Thursday, June 28, 2007

Bread of Life & Living Water

We had really hoped that Anya would be able to come home today or tomorrow but the doctor is now saying perhaps Saturday. She was pleased to see that Anya's rashes are clearing but we must see them get more under control before our "beany" can go home.

Anya has been in a cheery mood more often; praise the Lord! She had another blood transfusion yesterday and her body responded very well; praise the Lord! Her blood sugar was high but the doctors discovered that everything was okay and have made the necessary changes; praise the Lord! Her rash is clearing so the dermatologist didn't have to do a biopsy, as expected; praise the Lord! We are now able to start preparing Anya's room for her return home (to my parents' house); praise the Lord!

Reflecting on my day I realize that I got many things accomplished but I neglected to have time solely devoted to being with God, reading His Word. So I am thankful that tomorrow is another day; another day to cherish my children and my husband and to devote time to feasting on the true Bread of Life and the Living Water.

"Jesus answered, 'Everyone who drinks this water (from the well) will be thirsty again, but whoever drinks the water I give him will never thirst. Indeed, the water I give him will become in him a spring of water welling up to eternal life.'" (John 4:13, 14)

"Then Jesus declared, 'I am the Bread of Life. He who comes to me will never go hungry, and he who believes in Me will never be thirsty...I am the living bread that came down from heaven. If anyone eats of this bread, he will live forever. This bread is my flesh, which I will give for the life of the world.'" (John 6:35, 51)

Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Another Pic

Everyone liked the other picture that I posted so I thought I'd include another of Anya with her sister, Esther. Anya sure loves little Esther; I'm excited for when she gets to go home and see her again.

Also people have asked for specific ways to help and so I'll go ahead and list another need here. When Israel brought us up to visit my family the plan was that he was going to drop us off and then we would fly home after a week. So we decided to borrow car seats from my brother so that we wouldn't have to take the extra seats on the plane. However now that our stay is extended we really need our own car seats for the kids - especially since my brother's family has moved into their own place. Of course, we will get the car seats from KC eventually but even then it will be nice to have two seats for Anya & Esther since the childcare will be distributed between my parents and Israel & I and for late night or last minute trips to the hospital we won't want to worry about car seats.

So I've looked online for affordable seats for the kids and this is what I've found:

Babies R Us - both styles are on sale right now
Anya: Evenflo Chase Booster Dylan ($29.90)
Esther: Graco Comfort Sport Convertible Carseat ($69.99)

We love and appreciate you all!

Rashes, please pray

Anya awoke in the night and woke up this morning complaining of the "burning" sensation from the rash on her right upper thigh. We are trying to keep up with it with Benadryl but she is still VERY uncomfortable. She also has a rash all over her belly and lower back and perhaps another kind of rash on her hands and down her arm. The rash on her belly doesn't seem to bother her but the rash on her hands itches. The oncologist is going to ask dermatology to come look at the rashes to diagnose.

Please pray for relief from the burning, itching and for healing for the rashes. On top of the pain and discomfort it is hard for her when all the doctors come in to touch and look at her to treat the rashes. And she is not able to get home until they get the rashes under control.

Anya is also extremely emotional and sensitive as a result of the pain and the steroid drugs. She gets really upset easily and is hard to console. Please pray for peace and strength for both of us.

And thank you to those of you who mailed DVDs; they are really helping to distract her from everything here at the hospital.

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Angelina, our pet pig

Today was a good day for Anya - she was awake most of the day, was able to walk about 10 feet with assistance, reduced swelling, had a normal temp, and didn't have any new procedures or "pokes". It was encouraging for me to see her feed herself pizza and smile a few times. She even let me in on the running joke she has with Israel - that there is a pig, named Angelina, who likes to roll in the mud and is currently staying in the hospital's shower...nice to see her being an imaginative, playful kid again if only for a few minutes.

This evening brought more difficulty as it was nearing bedtime. The rash on her hip began to bother her very badly. She couldn't get comfortable and she spent at least an hour and a half trying to fall asleep. And she kept repeating, "All I can think about is the creme (the medicene they use for her rash) and Esther" while crying. I thought maybe a picture of Esther would help but when I showed it to her she only cried more and said that it made her miss Esther more.

I spoke with the doctor this afternoon and she confirmed that Anya still had leukemia blasts in her marrow as of the test yesterday and so she would have another bone marrow aspirate on Monday to check for more progress. The doctors are hoping that she will be in remission (in the technical sense) by the end of the month but they will continue chemo and other treatment for the next few years (or the leukemia would return).

The doctor also said that she hoped Anya could go home to my parents' house on Thursday or Friday so she could be more comfortable. Of course Anya would have to return on Monday for the test but if all goes well she could return home after that as well.

Thank you all again for your prayers, cards, gifts, and meals...they are very much appreciated! And for those of you who have offered support but we have not taken you up on your offers yet: please keep offering and know that we appreciate you and fully intend to accept your help in the future. We just realize that this is going to be a very long road and we are trying to conserve resources. The doctors expect things to be very intense for at least the next month or so and then to be semi intense for the next 6-9 months so we will need you for the long haul.

Monday, June 25, 2007

Be thou my vision

This has been an eventful and exhausting weekend here at the hospital where I have been since Friday morning. Anna got you up to speed on Saturday. I had hoped to make a post Saturday night but the wireless access in the room wasn't working. Anya began developing a rash on Sunday on her buttocks and right hip. Initially the doctors thought it was a heat rash from laying on that spot too much but as it has spread over her belly, back, groin and thighs they now believe that it is possibly a reaction to one of the antibiotics they are giving her. Please pray that she would be relieved of the itching and burning sensation from the rash and that they would determine its cause. Anya slept well last night; much better than me. I was unable to sleep past 3:00am so I've had about eight hours of sleep since Friday morning. Attempts at napping during Anya's naps today have been unsuccesful. Please pray that I would be able to sleep well tonight and wake up tomorrow refreshed.

As Anna mentioned today Anya had a spinal tap, bone marrow aspirate, and "permanent" port placed in her chest. The port placement was successful and now Anya will recieve IV's and have blood drawn from a single central line with only one "poke" per hospital visit. This central line remains in her, under the skin on the center of her chest, throughout the course of her treatment. Initial test results on the bone marrow aspirate indicate that there are still leukemia blasts in the bone marrow. Best case scenario would have been that there were no visible blasts today, but the doctor is not surprised at Anya's test results because the amount of swelling in Anya's liver and spleen last week indicated a large number of leukemia blasts. Due to these bone marrow test results Anya will need another bone marrow aspirate next Monday, which means she will not be released that day. I have not been told when they expect to release her. Anya's moods continue to swing severely. One moment she will be joking with me and the next she will be crying out about missing Esther or her rash. The "emotional roller-coaster" is wearing me down and I need God's strength to stand strong through this. I am able to provide Anya with gentle care but I am becoming irritable with the nurses, certain situations that arise, and any noise from outside the room that interferes with Anya or I sleeping. I need patience, and I need it right now! The doctor's main hopes for Anya right now are that she will have a bowel movement, get rest, and move around in the room a little bit.

In the midst of all this God continues to speak gently to me through my pain and exhaustion. There is one CD that I play frequently for Anya to fall asleep and one of the songs is the hymn Be Thou My Vision. God has spoken powerfully to me through the words of this song. May they be an encouragement to you as we seek to keep our eyes focused on Jesus regardless of our circumstances. May He be our vision, no matter what we see.

Be thou my vision, O Lord of my heart
Naught be all else to me save that thou art
Thou my best thought by day or by night
Waking or sleeping thy presence my light.

Be thou my wisdom, thou my true word
I ever with thee, thou with me, Lord
Thou my great Father, I thy true Son
Thou in me dwelling, and I with thee one.

Be thou my battle shield, sword for the fight
Be thou my dignity, thou my delight
Thou my soul's shelter, thou my high tower
Raise thou me heavenward, O power of my power.

Riches I heed not, nor man's empty praise
Thou mine inheritance, now and always
Thou and thou only, first in my heart
High King of heaven, my treasure thou art.

High King of heaven, after victory won
May I reach heaven's joys, O bright heaven's sun
Heart of my own heart, whatever befall
Still be my vision, O ruler of all.

Sunday, June 24, 2007

Ruler of the Waves

Israel planned to get online sometime today to give an update but he is still at the hospital with Anya and hasn't had much of a break. There are still six of us in my parents' house who are sick, including myself, so I am not able to relieve him.

Anya had a very difficult night last night. It started when the nurse changed the dressing on her pic line as it has been a constant source of pain for her. Then after a series of events, at 3am the doctor decided the pic needed to be removed and ordered a sonogram of her leg to check for a blood clot. Fortunately the sonogram revealed that there was no blood clot but as a result of the above, overall she (& Israel) got very little sleep.

Israel also reported that Anya had some good moments today - she was even able to joke with a nurse! But she was also having very dramatic mood swings - one moment joking and the next weeping. We were told this could be a side effect of the steroids.

Tomorrow is going to be a big day for Anya...she will be sedated for a spinal tap, a bone marrow aspirate, and to get a port placed in her chest. We are petitioning God for all of this to go well.

A friend encouraged me with Ps 89:8-9 "O Lord God of hosts, Who is mighty like You O Lord? Your faithfulness also surrounds You. You rule the raging of the sea; when its waves rise You still them." It is good to know that we serve the God who rules the waves and the sea for it gives me confidence that He is in control of the waves in my life and the life of my family.

Saturday, June 23, 2007

Prayers Answered & Needed

Here is an update on prayers that have been answered and some that are needed:

Answered prayers:
  • Anya's overall condition has improved dramatically this week and she was moved out of ICU back to the main pediatric wing.
  • Because of Anya's improvement two of her least favorite things have been discontinued; breathing treatments and chest x-rays.
  • Anna and I have been able to communicate in a tender and gentle way despite all of the pressure and frustration.
  • Anya's spirits are getting a little higher each day. Tonight for the first time she prayed with me about her condition.
  • The doctors continue to be encouraged by all of Anya's test results, especially the fact that the leukemia has not infiltrated the spinal chord.

Prayers needed:

  • Continued strength for Anna and I to be tender, patient and forgiving in our communication with each other.
  • Healing for Anna and the two younger kids who came down with upper respiratory infections this week. As a result I am needed at the hospital 24 hours. I came in Friday morning and cannot leave until Anna is well enough to relieve me. Because Anya is immuno-compromised Anna cannot return until she is feeling better. Please pray that God would heal them quickly and I'd have God-given endurance until Anna can return.
  • Complete healing for Anya's little body.
  • Guidance on housing situations and our upcoming move, etc.
  • That the procedure Monday will go well. They plan to place Anya under sedation in order to place a port in her chest (to be used for IV's throughout her treatment) and to obtain a bone marrow aspirate to see the progress of the treatment over the course of the first week.

We have seen the effects of your prayers in so many ways. Keep it up!

Friday, June 22, 2007

God is Able

We are rejoicing because our housing situation is finally coming together. My brother and his family, who were living with my parents, got keys to their new apartment today! The electricity isn't able to be turned on until Monday yet my brother intends to try and start getting some things moved in this weekend.

My parents are looking into the option of purchasing a bigger home about 3 miles from their current residence. It would allow them to have their own room downstairs and give us three bedrooms and a living/playroom upstairs.

With all of this change we could use some help moving, cleaning, and with meals. We are also hoping to have a garage sale to simplify the unpacking process. We don't have specific moving dates yet but I will post them once decisions are made so we can round up a crew of trucks and men to move and women to clean and perhaps help with childcare.

Another cause for prayer: Esther, Isaiah, Eliana (my brother's daughter), & I are all sick with a head cold. Israel stayed at the hospital this evening to give me the opportunity to get a full night's rest with the hope that I will be recovered tomorrow. Since Anya is immunocompromised she is not allowed to be around people who are sick. We are asking God to heal me so that I can be with her at the hospital tomorrow and to heal the kids for both their benefit and Anya's.

I wanted to echo Israel's "thanks" to everyone who is praying for us, to those who have sent gifts or cards, to those who have prepared meals, and to everyone who plans to help in the future. I am especially grateful to those who volunteered to buy Anya's bedding - she will love it! I also appreciate my dear friend who is gathering the pictures of those praying - she even framed a copy of Ps 27 to hang in Anya's new room. I could go on and on but the bottom line is that we feel God's support through our dear friends, family, & the body of Christ. I trust that He is able to uphold us through these next six or more months of intense treatment.


I'm so grateful to my wife for her inspiring and informational posts this week. But for those of you who are rushed and can't read through all of it, or are just joining us and want the edited version here it is:

History: On Friday, June 15th Anya (3.5 years old) was diagnosed with Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia (ALL), the most common form of childhood luekemia. ALL is a cancer that starts in the bone marrow where blood cells are produced and spreads rapidly throughout the body. Thankfully the doctors believe that they caught Anya at an early stage because her white blood cell count was low (below 50,000) and because she was only symptomatic for two weeks. They have since learned that the leukemia has not spread to her spinal chord, vis a vis her brain, and this is extremely good news. Chemo and steroid treatment started Monday, June 18th.

Prognosis: The doctors are very optimistic about Anya's chances for longterm survival and health. Treatment will be in several stages that become gradually less intense. We are currently in the first stage, called Induction, a 4-6 week process of intense chemo and steroid treatment aimed at destroying literally millions of leukemia cells. This process hurts the body in a variety of ways so in addition to chemo and steroids Anya recieves a number of medicines to offset the various side effects of the cancer treatment. At the end of the Induction phase (late July) the doctors will know even more about Anya's chances, although right now they give her about 75-80% chance to be "cured". With ALL a patient is considered "cured" if the leukemia can be placed and held in remission (below 5% of white blood cells being cancerous) by the end of the intensive phases of treatment (6-9 months). Treatment will last from 3-5 years, at which point, if Anya is doing well and the leukemia is still in remission there is only a tiny chance that she would ever relapse again. Rather, we could expect her to live out a relatively normal and healthly life and lifespan.

Current situation: Our family has relocated to Toledo Ohio where we will live with Anna's parents during the 9 months of intensive treatment. Although Anya will be sent home within the next two weeks we can expect to be in the hospital 1-2 days per week for the next 6 weeks, and at least one day a week for the 6-9 months following that. This is if the treatment goes well and Anya avoids infection, etc. At the end of 9 months we hope to relocate to Kansas City and resume our ministry there . At that point Anya will need to go to the hospital for at least a few days each month.
After being transferred to ICU on Friday night Anya has improved steadily the past few days. Today Anya is being transferred out of ICU to the regular Pediatric Wing. The improvements have been across the board. She went from having to wear an oxygen mask to now breathing on her own. Her stomach, swollen from an enlarged spleen and liver, has shrunk several centimeters and no longer appears stretched to the limit. Her blood counts are all holding steady or improving and all of the tests that the doctors have run have been negative, which in the medical world means good (go figure!). She is sleeping better, eating very well (partly due to an increased appetite from the steroids), and interacting with us quite a bit more. She is in constant discomfort and frequent pain that we manage with Tylenol and morphine as needed. She is being extremely brave and a good little patient despite the constant prodding, procedures, etc. I am very proud of her. The last few days she has even initiated some silly games and conversations with me.

This got much longer than I hoped, but I can't sign off without saying one more thing. THANK YOU to all those who have surrounded us with love, concern, and prayers! We have been amazed at the outpouring of support we have recieved. Each day I recieve emails and calls, often from people I do not even know, offering their prayers and help. We love you all and cannot express how much your love has meant to us.


Thursday, June 21, 2007

God Bless Your Inheritance

Anya was able to sleep for a good part of last night but probably only because of the morphine. The pic line site is still "burning" her therefore we weren't able to discontinue the morphine until this morning. The doctor guesses that the "burning" sensation is a result of damage to the bone during the procedure.

As a mom who doesn't even like to give her kids Tylenol, giving Anya so many drugs including morphine is difficult for me. I spoke with the nurse and she said that we don't have to fear her getting addicted to the pain killer but rather that she may develop a tolerance for it. Since we have a long road ahead we hope that the pain can be controlled with something else today to prevent even this lesser of the two evils.

The doctors had intended to give her the chemo drug that is injected directly into the leg muscle this morning at 11am. But her blood counts weren't good enough so they are going to give her another platelet transfusion this afternoon and hopefully give her the shots this evening.

Some good news - it seems that Anya's tummy has shrunk one centimeter or so which may mean the leukemia cells are responding to treatment. The doctors hoped this would happen within 5-7 days after the first treatment (done on Monday) so it looks like we are on schedule. On Monday they intend to sedate Anya again to do another bone marrow aspirate to get a better picture of the leukemia's response and also to put a pic line in her arm so they can take the one out of her groin.

Points of prayer:
1. The results of the bone marrow aspirate on Monday are very important. According to the doctors, if the leukemia cells have responded well to treatment at this point, Anya has a better chance for the future.
2. "There is no relationship between the severity of side effects and how well treatment is working" (Childhood Cancer, Darr). So we are asking God to prevent side effects from nausea to pain to infection to organ damage to make this as easy as possible for little Anya.

And my personal prayer for Anya for today comes from Ps 28:8,9 "The Lord is their strength, And He is the saving refuge of His anointed. Save your people, And bless Your inheritance; Shepherd them also, And bear them up forever."

I pray that God would save Anya, His inheritance, and be her strength. I ask that he would be her Shepherd to lead, guide & comfort her and to bear her up forever - both now while she is sick and throughout her future. AMEN!

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Recent Picture Of Anya

Here is a recent picture of Anya - at our home in Missouri before she was sick. She loves to pick "flowers" for me.

Anya Will Declare God's Truth

The final results from the spinal tap (LP) came in yesterday and it looks like the leukemia has not spread there!!!! This is a major victory and we are rejoicing!

Yesterday evening Anya was in a lot of pain and unable to rest. It was heartbreaking to see her eyes rolling in the back of her head and to hear her cries. But around 9pm the doctors decided to give her a dose of morphine to allow her to sleep and she slept through the night until 4am! She woke up again in pain but we gave her some Tylenol to help her get through.

My prayer for her today is from Ps 30:8-10: "I cried out to you, O Lord: And to the Lord I made supplication: What profit is there in my blood, When I go down to the pit? Will the dust praise You? Will it declare Your truth? Hear, O Lord, and have mercy on me; Lord, be my helper! and I look for the day when I will be able to say, like David the psalmist, "You have turned my mourning into dancing; You have put off my sackcloth and clothed me with gladness, To the end that my glory may sing praise to You and not be silent. O Lord my God, I will give thanks to You forever." AMEN!

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

My Heart Trusts in Him

After some minor disappointments yesterday Anya had a really good night last night...praise the Lord! She is still in ICU but her breathing has improved, her blood counts are improving, and the doctor says her chest x-rays do not show deteriation. She was released to start eating and was able to sleep for several hours last night.

Israel spoke with the doctors today and they are optimistic. Preliminary results from her spinal tap show that she does not have developed leukemia in her spinal cord - a major piece of good news! The plan is to continue with the chemo treatment for a week - including a shot in her leg on Friday - and then to take another piece of bone marrow for testing to see if the leukemia is responding. While under sedation for the bone marrow test the doctors also intend put a pic line in through her arm so that she doesn't have to have as many "pokes".

We are hopeful that little Anya can come home from this first stay at the hospital within a week and a half to two weeks. Of course she will have to return for her next bouts of chemo but it will be nice for her to recover at home (my parents' house) for a bit. It is my dream to have a girly room all prepared for her with pink or purple painted walls, pretty bedding, and cheerful decorations as a sanctuary for her to be distracted from the pain and encouraged. Fortunately my parents have two single beds that we can use - one for her and one for whomever will attend to her throughout the night. But we could use some new bedding because she cannot use the toddler bed she used in KC. I spent some time today looking online for something soft that she would like - looks like the Tiddliwinks Blossom Quilts from Target would be her favorite.

While not everything has gone perfect for Anya we are happy to report these victories - your prayers are working! I was encouraged this morning with some more scripture from the Psalms: "The Lord is my strength and my shield; My heart trusted in Him, and I am helped; Therefore my heart greatly rejoices, And with my song I will praise Him." (Ps 28:7) and "The Lord sat enthroned at the Flood, And the Lord sits as King forever. The Lord will give strength to His people; The Lord will bless His people with peace." (Ps 29:10,11).

There are so many things that we'd like to share - more details about Anya's treatment, progress, and prognosis and more of our own thoughts and feelings. But it would be impossible to capture the depth of information that surrounds us and the swirls of questions and thoughts going through our minds. But we want you to know that we appreciate all of your prayers and emails...may you be blessed by God for being such faithful friends. And keep the pictures coming!

(Some of you may want to know more about ALL childhood leukemia. If so, visit

Pictures Please

We would really love to have pictures of everyone who is praying for Anya for her to look at in an album. If you are praying for her, could you please send a picture of yourself and/or your family to My friend Erin has graciously agreed to print the pics for me. Or you are welcome to mail them to my parents' address listed below.

Various people have asked for contact information, such as our new street address. We can email you the info but do not want to post it here since this site is open to anyone on-line.

Monday, June 18, 2007

Update #2

Israel & I met with the doctors today and they began Anya's chemotherapy. Thus she is now in the first phase of treatment (Induction) which will take 4-6 weeks. We are hopeful that the leukemia cells will respond quickly and allow her spleen & liver to shrink back to normal size. She will remain in ICU until she is breathing more normally.

We have decided to stay in Ohio for the first two phases of her treatment (about 6-9 mos.) to have the support of my family and a place to live. They have volunteered to move into the finished attic so we can have space in the house and my mom intends to help with Esther & Isaiah.

Of course, this has been the toughest battle of my life. Anya is in pain, constantly prodded and poked by doctors, and terrified which rips me to the core of my being. But I am confident that God will show Himself strong. He has given me encouragement through Ps 27, the prayers and emails of friends & family, and the unending support of my parents. I know that there are hundreds of people across the nation praying for us.

My prayer is that God would give little Anya strength, life, health, and a pure heart, full of compassion and unrelentless love for Him. May God give Israel & I unity and Esther & Isaiah patience.. And may I be faithful to be a light to the doctors, nurses, and other patients & their families that God would be most glorified.

Saturday, June 16, 2007

Update #1

Anya is currently recieving antibiotics to fight off infection and an alkali substance that offsets a Ph imbalance that is caused by the high content of uric acid in the dead cancer cells. The cancer cells have created significant swelling in her spleen and liver and as a result she is on a respirator, her tummy hurts, and unable to consume much orally.

She is currently considered "immunocompromised" and thus cannot have visitors or fresh flowers. Many have asked how they can help - she would love some good, Christian DVDs or Dora DVDs to distract her from her suffering.

She is a brave little girl but is obviously miserable, scared, and very uncomfortable. Her fever spikes and nurses clap on her back and chest (4 times a day) to break up the fluid in her lungs. She is holding up as well as can be expected. This weekend Anna and I will meet with the doctor to determine a treatment plan. That plan will dictate where Anya receives care, where we live during the intensive portion of the care (4-6 weeks), and what type of schedule we keep. As you can tell everything is "up in the air" right now. Our only hope, confidence and security is in God.

Anya's battle

On Friday, June 15th Anya was diagnosed with Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia (ALL). She had struggled with a high fever and stomach aches off and on for two weeks. While Anna and the kids were visiting her parents in Ohio she took Anya to the ER. The doctors ran tests on Tuesday, June 12th and asked them to return two days later. They returned on Thursday, June 14th and Anya underwent blood tests. The doctor found several problems with her blood that indicated luekemia. On Friday, June 15th the doctors took a bone marrow sample and confirmed their suspicion: Anya has ALL, the most common form of leukemia in children.
Leukemia is a general term for four different types of blood cancer. In patients like Anya who have ALL certain cells in her bone marrow have become cancerous and cease to function properly. However, they multiply rapidly and soon crowd out the healthy bloodcells. This has a variety of effects on the body as the blood is responsible for so much of the body's activities. And so Anya has begun the greatest battle of her life to this point. It is a battle against leukemia and a battle against what the Bible calls the last enemy; death. We didn't expect Anya to start this battle this soon, but here she is fighting it and we can only look to God for help at this time.