Friday, August 31, 2007

Uneventful Week

This has been a fairly uneventful week. As scheduled, Anya visited the hospital on Tuesday for a sedated spinal tap and Wednesday, Thursday, & today we went to the clinic for chemotherapy. She has adapted very well to the clinic visits and has even picked some favorite nurses that she sees on a regular basis. She especially loves a nurse named Pam; Anya frequently says that she wants to be like her when she grows up!

Last Sunday we did have an unexpected visit the ER because Anya was having some diarrhea and a couple other problems. Fortunately everything was okay both on Sunday and on her follow-up visit on Monday.

We are so grateful to God for His mercy through the second phase of treatment thus far. Anya has complained of headaches after the AraC chemotherapy drug but she has not had the severe flu-like symptoms the doctors warned us about. She is often needy - for time and attention - but her emotions have evened out and she is back to her sweet, sensitive self. She is still able to be up and about, playing inside and out. Anya is not permitted to go to public places like church services or stores because of the possibility of infection but she enjoys frequent outdoor visits with her cousins and my friends' kids.

We again thank all of you for your love, prayers, & support. We are grateful for the letters and packages with gifts that so many friends have sent. They have encouraged our hearts and given Anya things to do to take her mind off her difficult circumstances. We are also grateful to be around my parents who are able to shower her and our other two children with love and attention.

Thursday, August 23, 2007

Hospital Visit

Anya was admitted to the hospital at 8:30am Tuesday morning. They accessed her port for blood work and found that her counts were wonderful! They had skyrocketed through last week and so she was in great condition to start the next phase of treatment.

While in the hospital, Anya had a spinal tap (under sedation) in the afternoon, an oral chemo drug before bed, IV chemo through the night, and more chemo through the IV on Wednesday afternoon. Anya was such a brave girl & happily interacted with all the nurses and doctors. Praise God! She was released around 2pm and is back home and still feeling good.

Anya had a clinic visit for a few hours this morning to get more IV chemo & will be returning there tomorrow for more of the same. The next few weeks will look very similar to this week. The doctors do expect that the chemo will bring her counts down through the next few weeks so we pray that Anya would be protected from infection. We also ask that God would keep her from feeling severe side effects from the chemo drugs.

Several people have been interested in Esther so I'll also post a little about her here. Esther seems to be doing well. Intermittently I can tell that the stress of everything affects her; she gets fussy, has trouble sleeping, and is more aggressive than usual. But we are thankful that Israel is able to be home with us so that each of the children get attention. And of course grandparents are a BIG help too! Most of the time Esther is happy, talkative & loads of fun! I can hardly believe that she will be turning 2 next month!

Friday, August 17, 2007

Treatment to Proceed Monday

I just got off the phone with the doctor who had good news for us. The final results on Tuesday's bone marrow aspirate are in and Anya is still in remission! This means that we can go ahead and continue treatment on Tuesday. Anya will have an overnight stay at the hospital Tuesday that will begin our next phase of treatment (Consolidation). She will recieve a spinal tap in the morning and then recieve chemotherapy via IV overnight before being discharged Wednesday morning. Please pray that all would go well during the hospital stay and that Anya's spirits would remain high. It has been such a joy having her home and happy with no meds or major complications. We would also appreciate your prayers that a rash she has developed would clear up. The doctors used a bandage after Anya's bone marrow aspirate that she is allergic to and now she has a raised, itching red rash on her hip. We have been able to control the itching with Benadryl and Hydrocortisone cream but the rash has not gone away yet. Please pray that it would go away soon so that we do not need to give Anya the more powerful medicine, Atarax, which has a very unpleasant flavor. Thank you again for all of your prayers!

Thursday, August 16, 2007

And a little child shall lead them...

A while back Anya said something that I intended to blog, but I got busy and didn't get around to it. Well, last night she said something else and it reminded me, so I thought I'd go ahead and tell both stories. These two stories relate moments that are hard to capture in words. I wish that all of you could see the strength and joy of this little child who brings us new hope and smiles each morning. Even now as I'm typing this she is snuggling up to me and kissing me. I cannot express what her love means to me. Okay, onto the stories!
A few weeks ago Anna and I were talking in the living room and Anya was playing a few feet away from us. We were talking about God and Anya's future, and Anna was reminded of the Hebrew children (Shadrach, Meschach, and Abednego) who made the awesome statement that they believed God could save them from the certain death of the fiery furnace, but that even if He didn't they would not bow down to the idol. In like spirit Anna said that she knew God could heal Anya, but even if He didn't she would still love and serve Him. We didn't know Anya was listening, but when Anna said this Anya looked up and said, "He will." We asked her, "He will what?" She answered simply, "He will heal me," and went back to playing.
Well, last night during our devotions I began weeping as we were singing. Anya tried to comfort me and Anna explained to her that sometimes I get overwhelmed by everything that's going on. Later Anya and I went for a walk down the street and were talking. When we were done we sat on the front step of the house and Anya asked, "Why were you crying daddy?" I said, "Well, sometimes I get sad at God for not doing the things I ask Him. Like healing you from luekemia." She said, "I don't get sad." I asked, "Why not?" She replied, "Because I know He's going to heal His soon time." I started crying again and told her honestly that I wish I had her faith.
I don't know where Anya got the firm assurance that God would heal her of this disease, but I am seeking Him for the same level of trust. If it is His intention to heal her then I certainly want to pray in full confidence that He'll bring healing in His "soon time". Such a nebulous timeframe is not what I would want, but Anya seems to be content with it. Oh that we all had the faith to wait on God to do things in His "soon time". The Bible says that out of the mouths of babes and infants God has perfected praise. I used to wonder what that meant, but lately I've heard some perfect praise from my three year old daughter. May she lead us all to greater faith!

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Initital Results

We received a phone call at 5pm from the nurse telling us that the initial results show that Anya's bone marrow is normal! Praise God! She expected that the final results would be back tomorrow and we are hoping for more good news.

We will post these results as soon as we get them.

Still Waiting

Anya's bone marrow aspirate was completed yesterday morning and she was released around lunchtime. The doctor thought we would hear some results yesterday afternoon but we never got a call so we are still waiting. Hopefully we will hear something this morning.

Israel was the one who took Anya yesterday and so he was able to talk with the doctor more. She seemed to think that there was a good chance that Anya's body was just taking longer to make the specific type of white blood cells that they are looking for because of the infection and the antibiotics. From his perspective it seemed like they are just taking the necessary precautions. Anya has been scheduled for chemo treatment next Tuesday with this hope that she is still in remission & will be ready to start next week.

We will post the results as soon as we know something.

Monday, August 13, 2007

Monday Results

We just received the results from the clinic visit today. Anya's blood counts still aren't high enough to start the second phase of chemo treatment. Therefore Anya is now scheduled for a bone marrow aspirate tomorrow morning to see if she has gone out of remission. Obviously this is very disturbing news for us. But we are fervently praying that either her blood counts are taking longer than usual to increase or that God would miraculously bring her back into remission before the test tomorrow. God, please heal our baby!

Saturday, August 11, 2007

What a Week!

What a wonderful week we've had - playing with Anya, watching the two girls run around together, and seeing Anya enjoy some time void of medications and "pokes".

And while this has been a great week we're still desperately hoping to start chemo again on Tuesday. If her counts aren't up on Monday the doctors will have to do a bone marrow aspirate to check if Anya is still in remission. We'd appreciate your prayers for a good report on Monday.

Tuesday, August 7, 2007


Here is a picture of Anya working on one of the crafts that a child from a church in Jasper, AR sent to her. The childrens' class teacher compiled presents from each of the children and wrapped them individually so that Anya would have presents to open for days & days! We are thankful to the teacher and the children who sent the presents! They have all been a hit!


Here are a couple pictures of Esther & Isaiah. Esther will be two next month & Isaiah is almost four months. As I was preparing these pictures to post I was reminded how thankful I am for those who have given gifts to Esther, written her notes, & prayed for our family during this time. I know it has been difficult for Esther to see her sister sick and crying and to be away from her while she is at the hospital. Again thank you!

Chemo Postponed

Anya's nurse called yesterday to tell us that one area of Anya's counts weren't where they need to be in order to start chemo today. So we get to take the week off - and we plan to treasure it! Anya is still considered immunocompromised but she is able to go outside & visit the local park - she just can't go inside anywhere where there are a lot of people.

Next Monday we will visit the clinic again to repeat the blood tests. We really need for Anya's counts to be high enough to start chemo. This week will be a nice break but we need to start on the next phase of her treatment soon. And if her counts are not higher by Monday she will have to have another bone marrow aspirate to check to see if the leukemia has returned.

Monday, August 6, 2007

Clinic Visit

Israel and Anya left a bit ago to visit the clinic to have blood work done. The doctors are hoping that her counts will be high enough to start chemo tomorrow. If we are able to proceed, Anya will be going back to the hospital tomorrow (Tuesday) morning and will stay the night. She will also have to return to the clinic a couple times later this week for more chemo.

We covet your prayers for Anya - that she would be able to begin chemo, that she would not get another infection, that she would continue to feel well enough during this phase of chemo to play, and that God would give her comfort & joy through it all.

Friday, August 3, 2007

Home & Happy

After a week of negative blood cultures Anya was discharged from the hospital last night (Thursday) just before bedtime. It was so wonderful to see her walk into the house on her own two feet, smiling and hugging her grandparents. She is VERY happy to be home. She is playing with Esther, laughing, opening presents that people have sent and enjoying a small stretch of time where she is not on any medication. We are cherishing these moments as well as we know that it will not last forever.
As Anna explained in a previous post we completed the first phase of treatment (Induction) but the second phase (Consolidation) was postponed because of the bacterial and viral infections that landed Anya back in the hospital for the past week and a half. Now that both infections are cleared up we are just waiting for Anya's blood levels to get up within the parameters to begin the Consolidation phase. On Monday we go to the clinic for a blood draw. If all is well we'll go back in Tuesday to spend the night for Anya to get a spinal tap and recieve chemo through the IV.
Anya will recieve heavy doses of chemo and multiple spinal taps in the next two months, however she won't recieve steroids. She will spend a lot of time at the clinic and some nights in the hospital as she recieves the chemo and will have to have her port accessed multiple times for various procedures. This is very frightening for Anya because to access the port they push a large needle into her chest and then tape a contraption onto her chest that they can draw blood and give medicine through. Anya hates having this contraption put onto her, but once it is she becomes very attached and freaks out when the time comes to remove it. Although she had become very comfortable with the nurses during this last hospital stay the removal of the exterior port access was very traumatic for her. In addition to Anya not liking the various procedures she will be less energetic and much more susceptible to sickness the next few months as the chemo does its work. We are curious to see how she will react emotionally without the steroids. Even now, while she is off the meds and happy most of the time she is still emotionally fragile, has her feelings hurt easily, lonely if not given constant attention, self-conscious about her physical appearance, and very protective of the various parts of her body that were poked and prodded during this last hospital visit.
Of course we appreciate and covet your prayers for Anya's complete healing. We also would appreciate your prayers for Anya to continue to grow in confidence and comfort with the doctors and nurses and the various procedures they perform. Most of them are not painful, but many of them frighten her and naturally she does not enjoy being couped up in a hospital bed. We also need your prayers that Anya would not get another infection. Anytime she gets a fever, cough, etc. she has to go to the hospital and the cancer treatment is put on hold until the infection is completely gone. They have told us that if she gets another infection in the port they will be forced to remove it. These delays in treatment are very difficult for all of us and prolong our time away from home (Kansas City) and the time of Anya's recovery.
Thank you again for all of the gifts, cards, and support you have sent us throughout this ordeal. While Anya was on the steroids she was so emotionally distraught that she was hardly ever interested in playing with the growing stack of toys in her room. Now that she is home and happy she is starting to open presents and get very excited to play with all of the neat stuff she has recieved. It means so much to us to see her happy and we thank you for the part you've played in bringing joy to this little girl's heart. In the next few days we'll try to post some pics of Anya playing and laughing with her siblings. We love and appreciate you all.