Patient

I’ve tried to write this entry at least a half a dozen times but my thoughts are so non-cohesive that it always turns out as hopeless ramblings of darkness. Needless to say this eleven day hospital stay has been difficult. In my mind I had prepared to write about how the doctor’s warning about this chemo round was wrong. I envisioned this entry being a testimony of God’s faithfulness to Israelle, another story that amazed modern medicine. Not so much. Not only did everything play out just as they had warned, it actually lasted longer.

Some time over the weekend the nausea hit and at one point she was dry heaving almost every hour. Her body was so weak that she would fall over onto mine afterwards, waiting for the strength to sit up. She handled it with more grace and dignity than I have ever seen, never crying, just reaching for her bucket and moving on.

There were a couple days where it seemed we were on the upward swing and then yesterday she began vomiting again. We aren’t able to leave until her stomach can keep down a certain volume of formula that she’s receiving through the feeding tube. So far we aren’t even one fourth of the way there. To say I’m discouraged would be a significant understatement considering we have to be back here in ten days for the next round of chemo.

My little Izzy is a fighter. She’s an overcomer. She is able to endure what must be endured and still do the things she longs to do. For Izzy, the thing she always longs to do is take a ride in the little pink “school bus” as she calls it. We take a ride every single day in that car. I walk behind her with her pole and all her cords and she pulls ahead with excitement. This week she has been too tired and sick to go at her normal speed. She’d go herself a few steps and then stop to lay her head on the steering wheel for a couple minutes. Then I’d push for a while. It usually takes us about twenty minutes to go to the main lobby and back. Yesterday I think it took us about an hour. The point is, she did what she set out to do. Every single day she goes on a ride downstairs no matter how sick she is. I just pack up the bucket and a towel and we go. Cancer will not stop her.

But it’s stopping me. I know the things that are in store for us in the weeks and months ahead. I can see the dates on the calendar where she won’t be able to leave the room for “school bus” rides. And I know that after the next round of chemo we’ll have a scan. Then we’ll know how the cancer is reacting to treatment. And that same week they’ll do surgery to remove the primary mass. How much of that mass they are able to remove will give them a new statistic for her chances of survival. In a month I’ll have a new number staring me in the face. Once again, I am left to wait.

It occured to me this week that it seems the Lord is calling me to a season of patience during all of this. That in and of itself seems horrendous to me. I am not, nor have I ever been, patient. But now I have two choices. I can either learn to be, or I can continue being miserable in this waiting. Initially I was stuck, not liking either of the two options at hand and then it struck me, “I am to be patient.” Then I looked over at Izzy and realized that she is “a patient.” She was the exact thing that it seemed I was being called to be, but they were different words, right? Maybe not.

Intrigued I start doing some research and I was amazed at what I found. The definition for patient as a verb, in other words what I could be during this season, means “bearing or enduring pain or difficulty with calmness.” The definiton for patient as a noun, as in what Izzy is, is “a person undergoing medical treatment.” But both words come from the same Latin verb, patior, which means “to suffer.” Is it really so hard for me to consider being the same thing that she already is? The thing she has no choice but to be?

Suddenly my perspective changed. Was I willing to let go of all control and allow myself to suffer graciously too, just as she already is? Perhaps that’s why Izzy suffers so beautifully. She isn’t fighting against her suffering, she’s fighting through it. Wow. When I grow up, I want to be just like her.

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TRUST

I was in sixth grade the first time I played the TRUST game. I remember when we were told we had to take turns standing on top of a picnic table and falling backwards into the arms of our team members. We looked at one another in terror. The level of trust you had to have in your team was unreal. You had to believe without a shadow of doubt that they would keep their arms out to catch you no matter what. And you couldn’t just believe it in your head, you had to believe it in every square inch of your heart. I can remember standing on top of the table face forward seeing their hands and arms locked together. I turned around and even though I couldn’t see that they were still prepared to catch me, I could hear their voices assuring me that they had me. That they wouldn’t let me fall to the ground. As my heals backed to the edge of the table the adrenaline rose. I quickly questioned one last time if they would really catch me and then I leaned backwards. Falling through the air I panicked for a split second and then felt the security of their arms. They had me and their arms were actually more stable than I had imagined. It was actually a rewarding experience in the end.

I thought about this experience tonight as I lay next to Izzy as she slept. She had just finished her first dose of the chemo drug they are using this round, the one I’m told is “evil.” Initially it shows no side effects and then it explodes with horrendous nausea that lingers on days after the treatment is complete. As I watched her sleeping so peaceful and innocent it broke me to know she had no idea that poison was flowing through her body. I was heart broken over the peace that she was about to lose and the lives that all of us already had when I was struck by the imagery of falling off a picnic table.

I’ll start off by saying this is nothing like falling. I feel like I just got shoved off the worlds tallest picnic table. Like I was thrown violently off the edge with no warning. It’s like I’m free falling through hell and no one has caught me yet. I didn’t know I was going to get pushed so I didn’t get to check out the scene first. I don’t even know how far the drop is or what’s waiting at the bottom if someone doesn’t show up to catch me. I’m told someone will, but I haven’t seen Him. I hear a voice along the fall that promises to catch me even though I doubt it. He promises His arms are more secure than I can imagine.

I can’t sit still in this hospital room. I walk around the halls aimlessly hoping to find something. It’s not the thing you probably think either. I’m not looking for peace or answers even. I’m looking for a way to grieve. I don’t know how to grieve the things in my life I’m in the process of losing. Normalcy. Stability. Being a mother to my son. Watching my daughter go to preschool this year instead of admitted to the hospital every other week. And I grieve seeing what my kids are losing too. They each seem to have lost their best friend. But He’s there, right? Waiting to catch me? Deep down inside I believe it, but somewhere not so deep inside I wonder. If this really is the ultimate game of TRUST so far it sucks.

Earlier today I was listening to a CD in our room for a while Izzy did puzzles with my dad. After I turned it off Izzy said she heard me listening to “Peace When You Cry.” It’s not the title of the song but it’s in the chorus of a song by Matt Hammit called “Holding You.” She asked me to play it again and began to sing the first part of the chorus to us: “Where will you find peace when you cry?” she sang it over and over again as I got the music ready. She said it was her favorite song so I think we’ll keep listening to it this week as things get grim.

See over the past four years I have taught my daughter to trust in the Lord. And now that I’m struggling desperately to do the same, she’s teaching me.

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Best Vacation Ever

There was a time in my life when vacation looked a certain way.  It usually involved a plane, some place warm and if I was lucky, the beach.  Last week I got a vacation that looked nothing like that and yet it was, by far, the best vacation I have ever had. It was a vacation to our normal life.

I drove home late Tuesday afternoon following the Stem Cell Harvest to be with Carter the night before Kindergarten.  Izzy, being the rock star that she is, got to come home Wednesday because she set a hospital record with her harvest.  They have never gotten as many stem cells in one collection as they did from Izzy that day.  And rightfully so, she had places to be.  She and daddy made it home in time for all of us to surprise Carter and pick him up from school together.

We spent five normal days home like a family.   The kids road bikes, played outside in the perfect weather and Izzy got to swing.  She didn’t have hair to blow in the wind like the little girls in my picture but I didn’t care. I soaked in each and every moment as I would the sunshine of any vacation. For a moment it was almost as if there was no cancer.

But yesterday I woke up with that feeling you get on your last day of vacation.  As I lay in bed watching the ceiling fan spin, I wanted desperately for it to slow down. I feared it would move the day too quickly.  I wanted the chain to slow down the speed of the day with the speed of the fan.  For the record, the day did feel like it went on forever, I’m just not so sure it was worth it. Like the last day of any vacation it was bittersweet from start to finish.  It went from feelings of joy from whatever was happening to feelings of sadness that it was about to end.  And that same cycle happened over and over again all day.  And then, in that not so perfect way, when everything just falls apart at the same time and the laundry is messed up and everyone is crying…it ended.   So here I sit now in a hospital room two hours away from fifty percent of our family again. I don’t know exactly how to do the math on that one, but somehow it adds up to something negative.

Izzy hated the feeding tube in her nose. She wasn’t eating or drinking and screamed when we gave her meds so I requested they remove it. Today they did a surgery to place one directly into her stomach.  We’ll wait until Wednesday to start this week’s chemo because it.  Hopefully we’ll be headed home by Sunday. This is the start of week seven.  Week seven of one hundred. As the weeks go by things will only get harder. I can only hope we get a vacation every now and then.

A Parked Boat

We’ve been in this hospital for what seems like forever. Aside from two nights at home, tomorrow will be two weeks. Her white count began to rise today and we’re hopeful it will be ready for the harvest on Tuesday. Tomorrow is the surgical placement of the line for that harvest of marrow. Her platelets haven’t been high enough for them to do the surgery safely so she received a transfusion today. She will likely receive another before surgery tomorrow.

This week I’ve begun to meet some of the other families on the hem/onc floor.  I am naturally drawn to ask them their stories and they are more than willing to share them. There are just so many children here and so much heartache. Each door along the hall represents another familiy’s painful journey. The children, the children here endure both physical and emotional pain. Btheist doesn’t end with them. The emotional pain goes way beyond their little bodies. This pain hits mothers, it hits fathers and it hits siblings. It’s found it’s way to granparents, aunts, uncles and cousins. It’s found it’s way to communities and family friends.

Pediatric cancer does not descrimate. It does not care if it’s victims are black, white or latino, girl or boy, infant, toddler or teen. It just strikes. Our floor is a melting pot of culture and even language. But we share stories with one common thread. Lives broken by a devastating new way of doing life. Lives constantly on the verge of losing hope.

Stage IV High Risk Neuroblastoma. Everytime they read her diagnosis aloud in rounds I am tempted to lose hope. Neuroblastoma is among the hardest pediatric cancers to cure and that’s why once it hits Stage IV it’s considered High Risk. It takes every type of therapy to fight it. I don’t know how I function in the day to day with that knowledge. I block it out I guess. I can’t walk with it hanging it front of my eyes, so I tuck it away in the back of my mind to a little dusty corner. I try not to look at it until the next morning when they read it on her chart like it’s part of her identity, “Israelle Mattocks, age 4, Stage IV High Risk Neuroblastoma.” But I know it’s not part of her identity so I smile kindly and hold my head up high. She is not defined by this disease.

Thursday morning I got a text from a friend who said she had been praying for our family. She said that while she was praying she saw a picture of a boat in the water, but God was holding it still. She also said she saw God touching Izzy’s heart and blessing her. I thanked her for her faithfulness in prayin for us but I have to admit my initial thought was that I was glad God was showing her pictures for our family because He certainly wasn’t showing me any.

Later that day another family friend was at the hospital with us and she asked Izzy if God had been showing her any pictures in her dreams. Izzy just looked at her rather confused and nodded that she hadn’t. Our friend told Izzy that God could show her pictures in her dreams that He could bless her while she was sleeping. Again, I’m thinking to myself, He’s not showing us any pictures here in cancerville. It wasn’t that I didn’t think God could show her a picture, I just seriously doubted he had or that she’d recognize it if He did.

A few hours later Izzy and I were down in the play room. Her favorite thing to do there is paint at the easel. I love her work. Her timeless pieces of rainbows and suns melt my heart. But this time I could tell she was making something different. I watched for a while and still unsure, I asked. “What are you making Iz?”

“A boat. A parked boat.” she replied and then continued with her work. My mind instantly went back to my friend’s picture from earlier that morning of a boat held securely in God’s hands. Chills ran through my body as it seemed that Izzy had been inspired with the same image. I could not believe my eyes. I mean, let’s just say for a minute she doesn’t always stick to rainbows and suns. Let’s pretend she was more random. Who draws a parked boat?

I don’t know if Izzy felt blessed in painting that boat. If a supernatural peace fell on her while she worked. Or if she had or will see pictures of still boats in her dreams. But I know that I was blessed beyond belief. No, God hasn’t been showing me the type of pictures I’m used to. Like a certain pictures that comes to mind while praying or worshipping. Instead He showed me a real live picture on paper. A picture that came flowing through my daughter, whose body remains His vessel no matter what the enemy is trying to do. To me this one is way better.

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When The World Stops

When you feel the world stop, like when someone tells you your child has cancer, you can almost tangibly feel your heart instantly drop into the pit of your stomach. I think it might actually stop beating for just a moment. And then there’s your lungs.  You are suddenly more aware of the air coming in and out of them than you have ever been in your entire life. Your eyes become slightly blurred, unable to see anything in their peripheral.  And you think for a moment the sky might actually be falling.

But what you realize weeks, even months later is that the sky is still up there. It’s still just as blue as ever with white dreamy clouds and sunsets.  It holds birds and butterflies and even planes taking anxious passengers on vacation.  What you learn is that not only does the sky never fall, the world never really stops either. The only thing that happens is that your world stops, or in this case mine.

This week, as I realized we’d be spending the majority of four consecutive weeks in the hospital, I finally realized that our life is on permanent hold.  Locked in a hospital room watching your child try to overcome something that’s trying to take her life isn’t living.  I spend countless hours staring at walls wondering how and why we got there.  Yesterday, finally having to to have a break, I went outside for a walk. I started walking and then couldn’t bring myself to stop.  I couldn’t bare to go back inside.  It occurred to me as I was walking that perhaps I could just keep walking forever.  Maybe if I kept walking I would never have to go back into this hospital.  If I walked long enough perhaps I would find my way back to our hospital room on June 25th and this time when we saw the scan the cancer wouldn’t be there.  Then things could go back to the way they were before.  Then she wouldn’t have more of hell before her.

I walked for what seemed like forever and then it started raining.  I guess even though physics wouldn’t have allowed it anyway, God didn’t want me trying.  As crazy as it sounds, it made me angry that He wouldn’t let me try.  I vowed to not speak to Him for the rest of the day. Which is fine, I guess. I have nothing to say. I’m too angry to be sad and too sad too be angry.

The only feeling stronger than our own pain is compassion for another. Yesterday I saw a father carrying his daughter in his arms down in the main lobby.  Her limp body lay stretched acrossed his leaning into his chest for support.  Her bald little head was the war wound of her fight.  It broke me.  It is an image I cannot forget.  I felt such strong compassion for them.  I felt broken by what she was experiencing.  I felt heaviness in my heart.  Her suffering stopped me in the midst of my self pity.  But then I remembered.  Izzy has cancer too.

It took me hours to make sense of it.  See, I don’t feel that when I see Izzy.  The pain we feel in the midst of our suffering is different because it is our own.  It isn’t wrong to feel it, but it comes from the SELF.  But the pain we feel when we see someone else’s suffering is completely altruistic, untainted and pure.  It is Christ in us.  And yes, even though I wasn’t talking to God yesterday I could appreciate that.

So here we are.  Yes, our world has stopped. But what I most learned from that image of the little girl yesterday is that Christ has stopped here with us.  He sees us the same way I saw the little girl.  He is moved by compassion.  And he is carrying both of our limp bodies in His arms and will continue to as we complete our journey to hell and back.

Two Little Girls

Sunday afternoon we made it home, for lack of a better word.  Perhaps I should just we made it back to our house.  It isn’t quite the same anymore, with medical supplies piling up, nurses stopping by, and Kendrick and I being the ones wearing a stethoscope and giving her a shot.  We get the IV fluids running every night and her tube feeds changed out every four hours while she sleeps.  We have become the hospital staff, not just the parents and it grieves me on so many levels.

I have always wanted our home to feel a certain way.  Peaceful, calming, safe.  But I can’t ignore that there’s an IV pole in the middle of the living room. It’s here and it’s interrupted the warmth that was once in the room, literally and metaphorically.  Obviously, it’s a cold metal pole too large to hide with a throw pillow but I don’t have room in my house for it either.  There’s no place in my house I could put it where it just wouldn’t completely disrupt everything.  Where I wouldn’t have to rearrange to  make it work.  But it’s here and I can’t change it. Just like the cancer.

While cleaning some stuff out of our room today I found an old picture of me when I was a little girl about Izzy’s age.  I was swinging on an old wooden swing in the backyard of my parents house, my hair blowing in the wind.  It reminded me so much of Izzy.  Not just because I looked like her, but because she loves to swing.  I began to wonder what it would have been like if Izzy and I could have been friends when I was a little girl. What if the picture panned out and she was swinging next to me.  You would see two little girls so very much alike.  Same big eyes, button noses and tiny frames giggling as they pumped themselves higher and higher in the air. What you wouldn’t be able to see is the stuff that made them so different.  On the inside you would see life in me. But in her you would see cancer cells growing and multiplying rapidly throughout her tiny body.  You would would see darkness trying to overpower light, gloom trying to smother rays of sunshine. You would see death trying to have it’s way. Two little girls looking so much alike but so very, very different.

And one of those girls will grow up never knowing what it’s like to have a tube in her nose.  Never having scars all over her belly from surgery after surgery, line after line.  Never having to stay locked inside once her white blood cells were too low.  Never having childhood cancer.  Two words that should never be in the same sentence.  But the other little girl will grow up and she will know a different pain.  She will know the pain that comes from watching her own little girl suffer. The pain that comes from listening to her moan in the night.  She will know the pain that comes from watching and listening and simply waiting.

Crisis of Faith

I can’t even remember what day it is anymore.  I think today is Saturday but I wouldn’t put money on it and someone told me August is here.  It’s been a long week to say the least.  The last two days have been a whirlwind of emotion.  It all started with visitors yesterday.

Kendrick and Carter arrived a little after noon.  There was a knock at our door a then a pair of big brown eyes popped up to see in the window.  Izzy smiled from ear to ear when she saw her big brother peering in. They sat in bed snuggling for nearly an hour as they watched cartoons together.  For just a moment all was well in the world.  Then they started laughing and Carter very dramatically threw himself on the bed hitting the lower portion of his belly on the bedrail.  Even though the impact appeared minimal he began to cry.

A half-hour later he was still crying.  I thought he was overreacting, perhaps due to all the instability in our home lately.  But after another half-hour I started to get concerned.  He wasn’t crying anymore, he was now screaming.  Nothing I did consoled him.  I tried to lay him on the couch in the corner of her room but there was only one position that seemed tolerable.  Any movement to his legs or abdomen made it worse.  Time passed and he just kept screaming that his tummy hurt.

In my book, if your child is in too much pain to walk or sit or lay down, something is wrong.  And ninety minutes is my cutoff for a real problem.  I don’ know why, but it just made sense in my head.  I got a wheel chair from the hall and took him downstairs to the Emergency Room.  As I walked from our room to the elevator listening to the screams of my son I began to lay into the Lord.

“You expect me to believe that you have my back?” I questioned.  “This is ridiculous.  I am going through the most devastating season of my life and where are you? Within one week a tree has fallen on my house, the alternator has gone out on our car, I get the devastating news about the timing of the harvest and now this? What are you doing?”

I stood staring out the windows in desperation as we waited for an elevator.  I could feel the woman next to me staring at us. “Are you mom?” she asked.  No, I worked for housekeeping, of course I was mom.

“Yes,” I said, smiling politely as I got on the elevator.  I could feel that her eyes weren’t leaving me.  With soft white hair and silver rimmed glasses I guessed her to be a grandmother.  Her husband stood by her side and kept to himself saying not a word.  He in fact, never looked at me.

“It doesn’t look like he feels very good,” she said, glancing down at Carter who was grinding his teeth through his tears.  No kidding, lady.  I seriously did not have time or energy for whatever kind of chit chat she had in mind.  I was having a nervous breakdown.  I was in the middle of a freaking crisis of faith and all she wants to do is…

“Would you mind if I prayed for you and your son?” she asked, as I stood, jaw dropped to the floor of the elevator.  What?  God had interceded my crisis of faith.  As the elevator door opened  I led her over to a quiet corner and through my tears told her how much I’d love for her to pray.

I told her our story briefly and she began.  I don’t remember everything she said but I do remember two things.  Number One: Carter stopped crying as she prayed.  Number Two: At the end of her prayer she said the words from John 10:10 “The evil one comes to steal, kill and destroy, but I have come that they might have life and have it to the full.” Remember, the same verse I said earlier that I would continue to pray over both my children until their healing came? How about that?

If I had had that encounter at any other time than that moment it wouldn’t have meant as much.  If her prayer had referenced anything but the exact verse it wouldn’t have meant as much either. But that’s the way it played out.  And that’s what I’d call a Divine Encounter.  God did what He had to to get my attention.  In the midst of my desperation he reached down from the heavens to be sure I knew He was still there. So now in answer to my original question, “You expect me to believe you have my back?” I do.

I still spent five unpleasant hours in the Emergency Room with Carter.  Nothing some Morphine and an enema couldn’t handle.  X-rays showed things were just a little ‘backed up’ and the fall caused some pretty extreme cramping or something. And once again, I will not tell you that they were awesome and that I sang praise songs the whole time.  They were hard, and I was sad.  But as I sat alone in the ER next to my son’s bed I could not forget what had just happened.

Today Izzy’s feeding tube had to be re-inserted twice.  They kept us an additional night to see how things go tonight and tomorrow.  She has a really extreme gag reflex and continues to gag while the feeds are going down.  This leads to sometimes throwing up the tube.  If it happens again we’ll look into other options.  Her counts have already starting dropping so a standard tube directly in the stomach isn’t an option now.  The surgery that tube would require has to be timed just right.  They discussed IV feedings today.  We’ll see I guess.

Well, I’m off to bed.  Tomorrow is a new day and His mercies will be new.  If only I will take them…

Cancer 101

Sometimes I forget that she has cancer.  That we have cancer.  I forget about this life and death thing we’re talking about.  There’s just so much that happens in the day to day, so much energy that goes into keeping track of the details of this treatment that most of the time I forget what it’s for.  Back in January, when I’d even hear the word ‘cancer’ it carried a weight.  It brought out such a heaviness in me, such a paralyzing fear, that I could hardly say the word without crying.  But now it’s a part of my daily vocabulary. 

I know what cancer is better than anything I could learn in a book.  What I know I’ve learned from living with it.  I don’t have it, true, but it’s sitting right next to me.  It’s inside my daughter.  Like a predator, it crept in the night and stole from us.  It took innocence and joy, peace and security all with one hit.  We didn’t ask for it to invade her body.  None of us asked for it to destroy our life, but it did.  And though I hate it with every fiber in my being, I understand why things are different now.  I get that we live in a fallen world and this is what that means.  We know that tragedy will happen, we just don’t know when.  We don’t who it’s victim will be.  This time it was a four year old blue eyed, blond haired little girl…that was mine.            

But I don’t know how you explain to a child what cancer is.  How you explain this great dark cloud that moved over our lives and continues to rain drops of fear and pain.  And maybe I don’t need to.  But I tell my kids that it’s a rock in Izzy’s belly and that now she has more rocks other places too.  I tell them it’s making the inside of her really sick even though we can’t see it.  I tell them that the medicine we have to give her to make her better is going to make the outside of her sick and we will be able to see that.  I tell them life got kind of crazy when cancer came.  And that it will be like this for a long time but we will be okay.  I tell them that God is watching us, walking through this journey with us.  That anytime we’re sad or scared or anything at all we can just ask Him for help and He’ll be there.  That He’s going to take care of us through this whole thing and that He will never ever leave us.

I wish I was a child.  I wish I didn’t know anything more about what we’re dealing with than what I told them.  But I do.  I know more about cancer than I ever wanted to have to know.  And I know less about my own life than I ever have. I’ve been on staff at a church for nine years.  There have been ups and there have been downs but these have been some of the most rewarding years of my life.  I love what I do.  It gives me life.  But I’ve never done anything half heartedly and I’m not about to start now. So what does that mean?  Cancer gets to take away that too?

I don’t know.  But I will continue to walk forward trusting the One that does.  Izzy feels much better today.  Though she hasn’t gotten out of bed, she is a little chipper this evening.  The nausea is finally under control and her kidney function has improved. Hopefully we can go back to the hotel tomorrow after chemo and just do things outpatient on Saturday.  She doesn’t mind being here nearly as much as I do.  When we come here she’s now calling it her “vacation.” Not sure if that’s adorable or heartbreaking but I’ll take it.   

Many Thanks

The feeding tube insertion went as well as expected yesterday.  It’s taken her 24 hours to get used to it being down her throat but she’s handling it fine now.  I thought it would take days, so I’m thrilled.  The problem is that the sensation of having a tube down her throat has been causing her to gag which is obviously never good for someone who’s already been throwing up.

By the time we got here this morning she was too weak to do anything but sleep.  It’s now nearly 5pm and  because she was so dehydrated the protein levels in her urine never made it low enough to start chemo today.  They’ve decided to admit us to keep her hydrated overnight.  They also put her on some new anti-nausea meds which seem to be working.  In general she feels better this evening than she did this morning and of course that makes me feel better too.

I hate it that we’re so far away from home.  I hate being away from my family, my community and my support system.  But I love this hospital.  Izzy’s team here is amazing.  She has doctors and care managers working together on every detail of treatment.  And they’re personable.  I’ve never been to a hospital where the doctors were on a first name basis with their patients.  But that’s how they do it here.  Every person this week has come in asking to see a picture of her in the wedding.  The doctors don’t just come in to do rounds.  They stop in three to four times a day to answer questions and see her in the flesh.  I can honestly say it feels like the doctors care and are taking ownership for her.   Who doesn’t want that during something like this?

The rest of the week remains to be seen.  Our tube feedings have been delayed because of how sick she’s gotten.  If tomorrow goes better we can go back to the hotel after chemo.  Otherwise we’ll stay here until we’re done on Saturday.

I can not stress enough how thankful I am for the love and support we have received.  Every single day something encouraging finds it’s way to me from one of you.  Something you’ve written, something you’ve mailed, something you’ve prayed.  Everything that you’ve done has had impact.  Your love has taken chunks out of the pain that we feel.  So at the end of days like these I can only think of saying, thank you.  For your part in loving us, in supporting us and in standing in the gap for us in prayer.  You may not feel like it’s much, but it has impact.