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Nov 28, 2008

Favorite Foto Friday - Thankful and Prayer Request For Hair :-)

I started this last night, but Abby had to go to the hospital for platelets, so this is late, but still fun. We got to go home late last night. You can see other FFF posts here.

Brent and I have gotten in the habit of not making many promises to our children and the promises that we do make are proceeded by "If Abby is not in the hospital, we will..........."

Wonderful friends from our church brought us Thanksgiving dinner and Brent's parents came to celebrate with us. The food was wonderful and Abby was out of the hospital. I am so thankful that we were able to celebrate together.
Abby has a low grade temperature today. If it goes over 101 she will be admitted to the hospital. We have been trying to get Abby's wig cut for months, but every time we get an appointment to get it cut, she gets admitted to the hospital. She has an appointment for this afternoon. Abby is so excited. Please pray that Abby will be able to make this appointment. How's that for a frivolous pray request? :-)

Thank you so much for praying for our family. We are loving every moment together.

Landis and Samrawit

Abby and Sami on Thanksgiving

Dane texting, and texting

Landis wishing that Dane would start texting again.

Abby LOVED her Thanksgiving hat with a turkey bow. Thanks Holly.

Nov 24, 2008

Guess Who is in Trouble Now?

UPDATED to add that it is 2 am and Abby and I are home. Praise God. Thank you for praying.

I always know when Abby is ready to go home from the hospital. First she starts to say, "I'll can do it myself." Then she does something truly ornery, that reminds me that first and foremost, Abby is a normal three year old girl. Then she says she misses her Daddy.

Looks like we'll get to go home late Monday night. What an answer to prayer!

Wanna hear something funny? Abby was messing with a craft project while I was talking to her doctors. We look down and the little princess is cutting her feeding tube with the scissors. We thought we caught her before we damaged it, but a few days later, when the feeding amount was increased, we got hosed with PediaSure spewing out the line where Abby cut it!

Abby's feeding tube is working great. We are still slowly increasing the amount of nutrition, and she has finally stopped losing weight! She is pain free, most of the time, no headaches, nausea is better. She is feeling great.

Thanks for praying!

Nov 21, 2008

Great News, Bad News and Request for Prayers

The surgeon's report today said that Abby's stomach is paper thin. Paper thin. She is severely malnourished because of the problems that she has had from the chemo. Abby needs desperately to rebuild, repair and gain weight. She only has two months to prepare for the toughest phase of chemo.

Yesterday they did an Upper GI, to see if Abby's stomach had healed enough, where they inserted the g-tube, to use the gastric tube. She was malnourished, went 60 hours without eating anything nutritious, and her paper-thin stomach wasn't closing around the sutures like they wanted it to DURING surgery, because the muscle was weak.

48 hours later, praise God, the G-tube worked perfectly. They are feeding her small amounts of Pediasure through it and are gradually increasing the amount. Yeah!

The bad news is that the place that they did the hernia repair is swollen and having a few problems. This is keeping her from eating anything that is not liquid. Please pray that the swelling goes down quickly.

Also, her headaches have returned. Headaches for Abby means there is too much fluid around her brain. Please pray that the fluid goes away without them needing to do surgery.

We would appreciate your prayers:
  • To thank God for the miracle of her g-tube working perfectly. Any leaks would have meant that we could not have used it until they stopped.
  • To praise God that her pain is decreasing and that she has no signs of infection.
  • The swelling to go down from her hernia repair and for other problems with it to be fixed.
  • The the headaches from excess fluid to go away without surgery.
  • Pain to continue to decrease.
  • Remain infection free.
  • That Brent would be healthy, as he is working and caring for our other kids.

Thank you so much for your prayers and encouraging comments.

Hungry Princess

Abby ate jello last night. She loved it.

Abby is supposed to have an Upper GI in a few minutes. If the g-tube is healing well, we will get to us it and she will be able to eat. If it is leaking a lot, she will go back to surgery and if it is leaking only a little, Abby will not be able to use the g-tube OR eat. Needless to say, I am praying that it is working great.

Abby is so hungry. They are not letting her eat until the test is finished.

please pray for great results.

It looks like Christmas at our house, thanks to all of you. Thank you all so much for making Abby feel special.

Hagens and Cooleys thank you so much for providing this mornings distraction. Abby LOVE the things that you picked out and I truly appreciate the distraction from the hunger pains.

Nov 19, 2008

Abby's Day

Abby had surgery yesterday morning and was very calm before the surgery. She slept most of the time. They let me gown up and carry her back to the operating room and she stayed in my arms until she was given the anesthesia and fell sound asleep. No fear, safe in Mommy's arms. Then, Brent and I were both with her when she woke up. I love it when God takes care of the "small" details.

Her surgeon expected her to be able to drink liquids 2 hours after surgery, but that was not to be. We knew that Abby has muscle loss from all the weight she was losing. What we didn't know was that the muscles that makeup her organs were getting weak and thin too including her stomach so she is not allowed to have anything through the tube before they run tests on it tomorrow morning. If everything is okay, we will be able to feed her then. They are letting her drink some small amounts of clear liquid tonight (by mouth, not the tube). She is so weak and malnourished. It is hard to be patient. Please pray for healing and wisdom, for all involved.

Some have asked if she will be able to eat anything with her mouth anymore. Of course. This tube HELPS her eat not replaces how she eats. She will be able to drink liquids normally starting tonight, then very soft foods for 2 weeks and then after that she can eat like normal. They just want the swelling to go down before she eats anything hard. In a couple of weeks, Abby will be able to eat as much or little as she wants, and then we can make up the difference with the tube. And that’s the point… the tube allows us to feed her and give her medicine even if she doesn’t feel like eating (a frequent side affect).

The dietitian says that Abby needs to get 1500 calories a day, to rebuild and fight the cancer. Good grief. Can you imagine getting a child whose very favorite foods are raw vegetables and fruit and who LOVES to drink water, to eat 1500 calories a day. At this point, if we spent every waking minute forcing her to eat, it wouldn’t be 200 calories. I am VERY, VERY thankful that she will have the g-tube.

Abby is in a lot of pain because of the chemo yesterday and today, I need to take her to the bathroom every 2 hours (so that the chemo doesn't burn her bladder). Tough when it hurts to move at all. Please pray for good pain control. Her to be free of infection, her stomach and incisions to heal; wisdom for her doctors, nurses and Brent and I.

Thank you so much for praying for Abby.

quick update

Abby is out of surgery and doing well. More soon.

Thanks for praying!!!

Nov 18, 2008

Abby... and Meet A Friend

Updated: Abby's surgery is moved to 9 am. Brent at home getting kids to school and other family is not here yet either. Please pray for peace as we adjust. I feel so much better with Brent by my side.

First of all, thank you so much for praying for us on Monday.

Brent and I each came to the decision independent of each other, that Abby needed a G-tube because she is not eating. What a blessing that we came to the decision at the same time. I was a little nervous about talking to Abby's oncologist on Monday, but she said that she strongly believed that Abby needed one before I brought it up. It is wonderful that everyone involved believes that this is the best thing for Abby. Praise God that He is directing things for us.

We have a very small window of opportunity to do the surgery. Abby has had a break from chemo, so she is stronger than she was, but we begin chemo again with her surgery scheduled for tomorrow (Wednesday) at approximately 12:30 (but it could be moved forward or backwards at the last minute.

I am not looking forward to the surgery but I am very glad that we will be able to stop focusing on her eating and spend our time on more fun things. As an added benefit, Abby will not need to swallow those yucky pills anymore either because they can be given through the tube. Abby has heard the doctors explain the surgery and she GETS a lot more of what they are saying than a normal almost 4 year old. We have already prepared her the best we can on a child's level, and I will try to shield her better tomorrow.

Abby is having dangerous side effects from the medication for the increased intracranial pressure. Her doctors have cut her dose in half. They think she may need a permanent shunt placed to drain the excess fluid. Not something that I want to think about today.
We appreciate your prayers and covet them greatly.

Would you please pray that:
  • Abby is not scared and is pain free, both during surgery and after.
  • That the surgery is successful. No infection. All procedures done that are needed.
  • For peace for Brent and I during surgery.

Thank again for your prayers, comments and emails. We are blessed to have so many people praying for Abby and us. Specifically, thank you for prayers about the financial issues. We had a hospital call us and say they were returning a big payment because our deductible had been met. That payment was due to another group of doctors, and now we won't have to pay that amount twice. Can anyone BUT GOD get insurance companies and hospitals to send you money BACK???

FROM BRENT: I have someone I want you to meet. If you will give me about 2 minutes of your time, I PROMISE you will be glad you did. Check it out here:

Nov 17, 2008

Abby, Book & Mag Monday

Abby Update:

Abby is back in the hospital. They are going to schedule surgery for a G-Tube which will allow us to feed her directly into her stomach. She lost another pound this week, and she only weighed 30lbs when all this started. She’s down to about 25 or 26 pounds I think.

She has been pretty weak and frail. She eats about an ounce of food a day, then takes her medicine and promptly throws it all up. Hopefully with a feeding tube we’ll be able to “fatten her up” because the worst is still to come. The next 60 day cycle of treatment will be difficult, but the following 60 days after that is going to be the MOST difficult of the entire process. Hard to imagine since we didn’t think she would survive the last couple rounds.

Brent’s New Book:

My husband’s newest book is now available -Life Without Debt (2nd Edition). In this time of financial uncertainty, it is even more important to know the fundamentals of getting out debt, staying out of debt, and understanding the credit industry. In his book, he teaches the basic Biblical principles of money and personal finance. It would make a great Christmas present as we get deeper into this financial crisis. Find out more here:

Magazine Monday - Serious.Life Magazine:

Serious.Life is really taking off fast and one of the most popular features is the FROM YOUR BLOG section where blog or website posts are chosen for publication in the magazine.

I know that many of you have some GREAT blog posts that are worthy of publication. Now there is a way to let us know about them... it's called Magazine Monday Nominations.

You can nominate your own content, or someone else's... as many posts or articles as you want. Each week, we'll choose an article to be published in the next issue. We'll be doing this for all of our future magazines (four currently planned).

All posts that have NOT been chosen, are still eligible for any future issue. Here's some useful links:

Don't be bashful... even if your post is not chosen for publication, you're still getting a good link on our site which a lot of people will see. If that is not enough to get you interested, then let me try the personal approach: you would be doing us a huge favor if you would take the time to nominate some good content.

Nov 16, 2008

Losing Ground

Abby is not doing so well.

She is not complaining about pain, and we are VERY thankful for that. She is being so sweet and cuddly, but has NO energy (zero), is eating almost nothing and what she is eating, she’s not keeping down.

The chemo she will receive over the next two months is going to be rough, but no harder than what she has already endured. For the two months following that, she is going to begin the HARDEST phase of her treatment. She really needs to be gaining weight now, to prepare, but is losing weight because she can’t eat. Brent and I have tried for 2 months to help her gain weight, and she just keeps losing.

You won’t understand this if you’ve never dealt with cancer, but we allow her to eat anything with high calories - no restrictions, no “balancing nutrition”. She needs calories, period. Butter, ice cream, cheese, pie… anything she wants… and we still can’t get her to eat.

Would you pray for Abby today? Would you also pray for wisdom for Brent and I, as well as her doctors.Thank you so much.

Nov 14, 2008

Favorite Foto Friday

These pictures are a month old. The FFF theme was the perfect excuse to reach back in time. The FFF theme this week is blowing kisses. These are more kissing bandit than blowing kisses, but they are still fun. Landis is our families smoocher. You have to love a kid who is 100% personality.

Don't let Abby fool you. She loves Landis's kisses.

There are days when cancer stinks. We have had a string of those kind of days. Right now Abby is weak, nauseated and has NO energy. Today, I need desperately to remind myself that she has been here twice before and she HAS rebuilt her strength. I love this picture from last month. Two weeks before this was taken she couldn't even take more than 2 steps and had to be carried up stairs. This picture is of her climbing UP a slide.

So proud of herself for climbing up the slide.

Abby has to wear a mask anytime there are other people around. No fun,
but she never complains.

Landis tells EVERY story with enthusiasm.

Landis you are so much fun. I can't imagine our family with out you.

Nov 13, 2008


Abby and I got home late last night. Yeah! Thank you so much for Praying for Abby. She is weak and tired, but so happy to be home. Much of today was spent holding Abby and rocking her.

Angel, this one is for you. Thank you so much for Abby's new hat. Abby wore her "Make a Wish" hat to her procedure. Her doctors laughed. If you don't know what Abby wished for, read about it here.

Sami tried to distract Abby when she was hurting. Sami you are the best big sister!

Abby at home.

Abby pretending to be a mermaid.

Trying to fake being asleep. It would have worked better if they could have stopped smiling.

Nov 12, 2008

Abby Goes Home... A Post from Brent...

Abby is getting to come home today but not because she is "better".

We are pretty good at taking care of her at home. We convinced the Doctors to let us give her chemo at home, and now we've convinced them to let us manage her medication and pain at home.

We think she will do much better at home with her family. She is too isolated at the hospital, and of course, Mom is too. We have spent about half our time at hospitals and clinics since Abby was diagnosed in July and it is starting to wear on us.

I (Brent) went up last night to spend some time with my wife and Abby. As I was rocking Abby, and interacting with her, it was obvious, and sad, how much her personality was being affected by the medication and pain.

It brought to mind some things we should keep in mind as we deal with other people. I wrote about it on my blog today. You can read it here:

We'll update you on Abby later tonight or tomorrow morning after she is home.

Nov 11, 2008

Candy, Kya and Coach Stoops

Today, Abby had another spinal tap. Her intracranial pressures were 3 times normal, again. They drained off excess spinal fluid (17 plus ml.). The plan is to double the medication that is supposed to decrease the pressure and then wait and watch. At this point it looks like this is going to take a while for this problem to be solved. Our choices are to stay in the hospital, where they can manage her pain, or try to go home. If we go home, we will be giving her the same type of pain medicine, but we will have to go to the ER of hospital if they aren't working. We will also need to go to the hospital every 2-3 days for a spinal tap.

Her doctors are changing her to medication that can be given at home and we are at least trying to move in that direction. If we go home, we will not be bringing home the same daughter we left with.

It's hard to accurately describe this to people. Abby is simply not the same Abby. She is in constant pain, migraine headaches and discomfort. So she comes across as grouchy and hard to please even though we are consistent parenting her (manners, treating people politely, etc). I can't imagine having that bad of a headache for a 2 weeks non-stop. Loud noises are grating and lights make the pain worse. We normally have a fun and active home but Abby just swings in and out of complete impatient and irritability. Brent has migraines sometimes, so he can relate a little bit to how she feels. Please pray that we have the wisdom we need to make adjustments and to help her learn to cope with this.

It is never easy to watch a child in pain. The last 13 days have been very hard and frankly lonely. When my children are hurting, my focus is on them. Writing is never something that is easy for me and when I am stressed it is much harder. I don't think to pick up the phone until the nurses and doctors stop parading through our room, unfortunately that is usually about midnight.

When friends have asked me about visiting, I told them that Abby was in a lot of pain, and that it wasn't easy to witness. A week ago, Brent and I filmed a few minutes of Abby crying in her sleep, but decided not to post it. Even that few minutes was more than we wanted to burden people with.

Three friends in particular politely listened to me when I described to them how hard things were for Abby and then told me that they were coming to visit us anyway. Toni, Phyllis and Candy (who blogged about her visit here ) I will always love you for coming to see us when we were hurting. And yes, Stacey we would love to see you too. But, it would be much more fun for Maggie when Abby is not hurting so much. Abby is not even close to her "normal" self.

Others stopped by to say hi and to pray with us. Old friends and new were a blessing to us.

Our Christian family and friends from Wildwood Church in Norman continue to bless us in many ways. Someone took the time to arrange for a builder to donate the wood laminate materials to replace the carpet in our house to help Abby with allergies. Another dear couple found out that our living room wood laminate floors had been water damaged from an A/C leak the first time Abby was in the hospital, and they went right down to Lowe's and bought flooring for our living room! We had a whole team of people help finish laying the floors, and clean the house top to bottom to get rid of all the sawdust and dirt, as well as put the house back together (everything had to be moved to put the flooring in). People from our church pray for us, bring us meals and groceries.

(Note from Brent: I've received some emails from people who have felt left out and lonely when in need or enduring a trial. I will have something on my blog about this late Tuesday night... Here's an exerpt:

I've received some emails from people telling me that they have experienced, or are experiencing a grievous crisis, and they are all but ignored by their Christian family. There is no intention to make us feel guilty about being helped, they just feel discouraged and let down not to receive the same. I can feel the sadness and frankly, I don't have any magic answers for them. Read the entire post: )

We continue to be overwhelmed, thankful and grateful for all the prayers, visits and practical help. It is hard to overstate how loving and kind our family at Wildwood Church has been.

Kya and Abby having a tea party.

Kya was an absolute doll. Candy you have a beautiful girl, inside and out. Thank you so much for taking hte time to visit Abby. I really enjoyed talking to you. You both were a blessing.

Abby and Kay, Abby's favorite volunteer.

Abby's coach, Bob Stoops and Samrawit. Coach Stoops makes Abby feel so special.
If you haven't seen it yet, you should read the article about Abby and Coach Stoops
in Serious.Life Magazine:

Kya and Abby painting.

Just Really Tired

By Brent

I wrote a post over on my blog tonight that I wanted to let you know about. I think everyone at some point has just reached a point where they are so tired it's just hard to think about the next step. Here's some of what I wrote:
"Have you ever just felt tired? I mean really, really tired, physically and emotionally?
I was consumed today with the feeling of being tired, and just wishing our current situation would be over with. It just seems like a never ending treadmill of hospitals, doctors, medications, insurance, bills, complications, unexpected side effects, trying to keep up with work, taking care of the other children, never seeing my wife (it seems), getting little sleep…."

Read the entire blog post here: