Monday, September 26, 2011

Healing In Heaven

Dearest Friends and Family, not the final post I ever wanted to write to this blog. My sweet sister passed away early Saturday morning, after an amazing and courageous battle with complications from the fungal infection. No more pain, no more suffering, just sweet peace is hers now as she has the ultimate dance with Jesus.

Many have said that she has left a legacy, but that is only partially true.... She LIVED her legacy first during every day of this long journey. Every setback and every victory she handled with grace. Never a complaint.

I can remember a couple years ago when my sister said she dreamed of the day of reporting that there was no cancer. At that time her chemo and allo stem cell transplant were not successful, and she SO longed for this dream. God gave her that miracle, and I witnessed her joy as she was able to share again and again of these things that God did in her life. What a miracle she will ALWAYS be!!!

Please remember her own words that she wrote on this blog a couple years ago, expressing her own peace that no matter what, everything would be fine and she would be healed...

"In our college chapel, I used to sit and look around at the beautiful and enormous stained glass windows. I like to believe that is what my life is like. While I sometimes see just one speck of it...perhaps one color that is not even that attractive by itself...Jesus knows there is so much more than that. He sees it all... the magnificent beauty and wholeness that He longs for me to experience. Friends, whether on this earth or in heaven....I know I will be healed. I would like for it to be here...but no one can take that truth away from me. I love it....I love knowing that even when I feel a rug of hope has been pulled out from under me, Jesus is still holding me."

You are so right, Sweet Sister, you did receive your healing and Jesus is holding you now. We will forever hold in our hearts our every blessed memory of you...your smile, your beauty, your grace. We are all challenged to live better lives because of you. We will carry you with us in our hearts always. Three sisters we will always be. Love you FOREVER.

Wednesday, August 31, 2011

update on melissa.....part two

please pray as melissa has been put on ventilator. her medical team thought it best to do temporarily to give her body a rest as she was breathing too hard and fast. this was a proactive step rather than a reactive one. pray this works for her and that she gains strength. also, pray that she will have great success breathing indepedently when the medical team feels she is ready to be weaned off ventilator. thanks, friends.

michelle

update on melissa.....baby step improvements

i've always loved the signs that say "you are here" and let me know where i need to go or remind me where i don't. just the other day, i helped an elderly couple who had gotten lost while leaving the simon cancer center in indianapolis. i saw one of the signs and pointed it out to them. "we are here" , i told them. immediately, i saw a look of relief on their faces. they had been lost, but now had a better sense of direction. another one of my fave signs is in chicago. i have seen it many a windy day there. "you are here" and it always lets me know which way on michigan will make me the happiest=). probably, my most favorite "you are here" sign is on nantucket. "you are here", i read one summer day. i found out just how far i was from france, new york city, martha's vineyard, and some other fun places. when i saw the sign in the hospital....."you are here" , i was reminded of melissa's situation and where we're at with it. if we could make one of those signs, i imagine it would of course, tell us first where we are presently. i think it would also show where we've been, and more than anything, i hope it would show where we want to be.


many of you have called, emailed, messaged, written for an update on melissa. i will do my best to catch you up. first of all, she has come a long way!!! and, at the same time, she is still a very sick young woman.


a week before last her blood gasses were dangerously high, doug was faced with the decision that she might need to be intubated. i say doug was faced with the decision as melissa was pretty much out of it at this point. she was not in a coma, but was not alert and was extremely confused. i didn't realize(thankfully) at the time how serious being put on a ventilator would be for her. bascially, for one in her condition, going on the vent would most likely mean never being able to come off the vent. bless doug's heart as he was faced with "living will" type decisions. i only tell you this to let you know where we've been and how far we've come.


it was during this decision making time melissa out of nowhere became very alert. she told doug and their pastor/friend that she wanted to pray. i think it was assumed that one of them would pray for melissa. but, no, doug said melissa prayed the most beautiful prayer he had ever heard in his life. she did so eloquently and with complete clarity of mind. she asked for wisdom and guidance for her and doug, along with the medical team. AMAZING!!!


the following week(just last week), we began to see less confusion and clearer thinking on her part. i was able to take off work and spent all last week with her in the hospital. while she was more alert, she was still so terribly weak. she has been basically bedridden for 5 weeks, with trips to the bedside commode completely wearing her out.


jenn and i count it our privlege and honor to spend any time with her we can. however, it is heartbreaking to see her so weak and frail. due to her limited breathing/lung volume, she is very short of breath, making it harder for her to talk. i would save my tears for the elevator or times when she was asleep. i would rub her legs and feet and just pray that there would be some way that i could draw the suffering from her into myself. being with her is always a blessing though. through it all, she has kept that same sweet, beautiful smile and i have yet to hear her complain.


so.....where she is now.....doug said that she is making baby step improvements and that is just fine with us!!! any step, however small, in the right direction is a beautiful thing. she is still battling the asprygillis. i learned long ago to NEVER google anything regarding her illness. it can be overwhelming and discouraging. however, if you were to look at asprygillis occuring within a stem cell transplant recipient, the odds are a bit daunting. but we don't go by the odds, we are standing on faith!!!


her medical team feels that the asprygillis is responding to the antifungal antibiotics, not so much that it has decreased but that it has not spread. she is able to sit up in a bedside chair for up to thirty minutes at a time. she has currently been fever free for forty-eight hours.


i asked doug ways that you can pray and he said, "perseverance to push herself, allowing her to gain strength, not to feel overwhelmed, but peace instead, and for the treatment to continue to be effective." she has struggled more recently with anxiety. i am sure some of it is due to the difficulty in her breathing. the anxiety is heavier at night and causes her to not sleep. if you ever wake in the night and think of her, say a prayer that she will rest well. please pray that her lung volume/capacity will increase and that her blood gasses will stay at the appropriate levels.


while we still have a long way to go, wow, we have come so far!!! i want to thank so many for their cards, phone calls, prepared food, messages, home visits, watching the kids, and oh, so many pastors for calling on us and being available all hours of the day and night. most importantly, we thank you for your love and prayers. it carries us through.


continue to remember doug, who deserves to be husband of the year, caleb, lauren, and little audrey. melissa longs to be home with them and cannot wait for that reunion.


you really get to know just about everybody in the bone marrow unit. it really has a sense of family. i like that. we come and go. we're recognized and we recognize others. the other morning, as i was scrubbing in before entering her room, i saw a new face. it was a precious cleaning lady. she said, "you have got be her sister." with pride, i told her that i was. she then said, " i bet you're the older sister. i can tell by the way you care for her." well, any pride i had about my age and who looks the youngest among us sisters went out the window!!! i said, "yes, i am. i am the oldest and i always will be." i could not have been more proud to be melissa's or jenn's big sister at that moment. i walked into her room with an extra pep in my step, ready to be what she needed from me that day. i love you, little miss!!! your big sister wants you home!!!


"it is through adversity that we come to know god, his promises, his faithfulness....how else can we take joy in tribulations? knowing this, he is there with us...in the midst of the fire...holding us in his dance and singing over us." i love zephaniah 3:17 !!!


michelle

Sunday, August 14, 2011

GOOD NEWS!!!

I found out good news today! The MRI results showed that the infection is NOT in her brain!!! That is WONDERFUL news!!!! More update....her condition has plateaued, so it is at least not getting worse right now. Her infection is in both lungs, so she has been given new antifungals. Please pray that those help her fight this infection off! She still has spiking fevers, but they are happening a little less often.

Thank you SO MUCH for your prayers for her! And THANK YOU, GOD, for this news!!

Friday, August 12, 2011

Time to Rally Again!!!

Looking back, I can't believe it's been over a year since we have updated Melissa's blog. I could not possibly just skip right over this past year without saying how a dream came true for my sister....During this past year, she was able to announce AMAZING news from her PET scans....again, and again, and again. Her stem cell transplanst using a cord blood donor has been successful at fighting the lymphoma.... and we have all jumped for joy, sang and shouted our thanks to God for doing this miracle in her life!

Since then, at the end of July another PET scan detected a suspicious area within her chest cavity. A biopsy confirmed that it was a fungal infection and not cancer. While we are THRILLED it is not recurrent cancer, we know that these infections in post-transplant patients who have incredibly low immunities can be just as serious. She has been in the hospital ever since and has been given antibiotics, etc...

Now HERE'S where I need you to pray--

Recently, the medical staff has been thinking that the fungal infection has spread to an area on her other lung as well as possibly her brain. She is displaying a lot of confusion. They are running some tests that will give answers to this.

PLEASE, please pray that:
1) this is not the case
2) the antibiotics and antifungal medications will be effective in kicking the infections that are there.
3)Please also pray for strength and peace for Doug and all of us while we wait this out.

Please help me rally around my sister in prayer right now about this. We have been so grateful for your support for our family in the past years, and I thank you again for all your support and prayers now.

Love to each of you...

Jenn

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Best News EVER!!!

Wow, what an honor to get to share this news with you!

As you already know, my sister had her 6 month follow-up PET scan today. Sometimes it takes a day or two for results to come back, and sometimes not...

Today, the nurse came in to tell Miss her regular blood work results, and then said, "We won't need to contact you later about the PET scan results, because we have them now."

THEN she proceded to say....

"It's good news..." Miss gasped, got a huge smile, and just waited for her to finish...

"No recurrent disease..."

The nurse immediately had tears too, as did Miss and myself. Nothing less than a MIRACLE, everyone!! We have been thanking our Heavenly Father non-stop since hearing this this AMAZING news!

To literally walk beside her, as many of you have also, and to see her go from ground zero in the worst of times to this is SUCH an awe-filled, life-changing, God-praising moment....words just cannot adequately describe...

THANK YOU, THANK YOU, THANK YOU, Lord, for being the awesome God that you are....during not only the best of times, but ALL the time. THANK YOU for nudging some awesome parents out there to donate their baby's cord blood. THANK YOU for giving my sister another chance at LIFE. THANK YOU for this wonderful news today...and for not only helping us to dance in the rain...but now for allowing us to dance in the rays of the BRILLIANT sun!!

So as you can tell, we've been doing the happy dance all day. Miss is so happy and so exhausted too right now.

THANK YOU ALL for your faithful prayers for her!! As always, words just aren't enough right now.

Love to you all!!!

Jenn

Saturday, July 24, 2010

Six Month Scan

It doesn't seem possible that is has been six months since my transplant. In some ways, the time has passed quickly, while sometimes I feel like much more than six months separates me from the day in January that has potentially saved my life. There have been several times lately that a revelation of some sort has swept over my mind and gripped at my heart, or even perhaps a song I have heard that has made me want to sit down and share with you on the blog. However, I have other little things in my life that I give priority to when I do have a good amount of energy; namely, Caleb, Lauren, and Audrey. :) After tucking them into bed at night, that is about all I want to do at that point, too! Each of these thoughts, revelations, and songs are tucked deep into my heart, so that one day soon I may share some of them with you.

For now, I would like to ask you to surround me in prayer once again as I will have my six month follow-up scan this Tuesday, July 27th. I will arrive at 9:45 and the scan will begin around 10:30. I hope to know the results within the next two to three days after that. I have been continuing to feel better. I am so thankful that the ulcers I had in my mouth have all healed, which is definitely helpful when it comes to trying to eat. Still sifting through what sounds good and what doesn't, but that is all part of this long recovery process. I am trusting God to once again show Himself in a very personal way to me and to the world around me through these days, and specifically the scan and results. His peace continues to carry me.

I want to praise Him for His amazing love, grace, and mercy. I want to be a reflection of all the mighty ways He has shown Himself to me....Iwant to be the hands and feet of Jesus to the world that so many of you have been to me. I love you!

Melissa