We are in the final countdown of the last days of Angelica’s Treatment.
It’s so exciting….not counting today, it’s 5 days left. YAHOO!
Some of you may have heard and I’m so sorry if you have not, but we are celebrating on Sunday September 30th from 2-4pm at the cafeteria at Walnut Grove Secondary School.
You can let us know if you need directions, but we’d love to have you join us as we celebrate the very last day of Geli’s Treatment and the first day of the rest of her life…..
What an amazing day. We are so looking forward to it.
We had a HUGE day at the hospital yesterday and I’m still recovering from it all. We left our house at 9am and didn’t walk back in the door until 5:30pm. It was all good news and we are so looking forward to wrapping this phase of our life up and starting to move forward in a life without daily chemo. We are looking forward to building strength and regaining that which was lost…..to just moving forward instead of feeling stuck.
We’d love to have you join us.
We’ll have coffee and cake available so if you can, stop by, we’d love to see all of you who have supported us and helped to carry us through these past 2.5 years…..it’s been quite the journey and we are so thankful that you’ve been there along the way helping us to keep moving forward.
Let me know if you need more details…..look forward to seeing you.
A couple of weekends ago, we were gifted with the opportunity to stay in a cabin down at Birch Bay.
We weren’t sure what to expect, but the thought of “just getting away” from everything was huge and so we threw 1 change of clothes, a set of pyjamas and our toiletries into bags. We threw some bedding into the van, grabbed our passports and headed over the line.
all packed in the van
We left our house later than we would have liked, and as a result arrived later than we would have liked. We also had to stop and pick up a few groceries once we hit the States. I am SO thankful that Jon had planned up a rough menu for us as my head was just not screwed on right and it took everything I had to just get us ready and even when he came home from work……I still wasn’t “ready” for us to go.
I find that aspect of all of this to be one of the more frustrating things. I just can’t keep things straight in my mind right now. I’m too exhausted. I’m missing things and other thigns are slipping in between the cracks and in a lot of ways, it ends up costing our family. the fact that I can’t organize things like I used to is costing us….it’s costs us time and money and energy and adds stress. I HATE that I feel like I’m adding to the overall burden. But, I’ve reached my max….almost 2 years in and I’ve realized that i very definitely do have a “limit”. I cannot do it all. That alone is humbling and depressing and so very VERY frustrating. It’s not that I thought I COULD do it all, but I know that I can handle a lot…..and knowing that I’ve reached my limit……*big sigh*….it’s tough!
Anyone who comes has a big family, knows that “vacation” has a very loose interpretation of the word. It’s more like a change of pace or change of scenery for the parents. There is still much to co-ordinate, and meals to make and clean up from. Meds to dispense. Kids to put to bed….and hopefully, if we are very blessed….a small bit of rest to be had.
We arrived at the cabin and unloaded everything. The kids were SO excited to be there. They immediately set off exploring the cabin and the property; and we were so warmly greeted by the neighbors. It was so nice.
We made assigned the kids rooms and made up beds and dispersed bags to the appropriate rooms and finally got the kids in their pyjamas and settled and then Jon and I headed to sleep. In spite of the busy-ness of arriving…..the place felt peaceful. I could hear the waves crashing and could smell the wet sea air. It’s a good thing that Jon and I went to sleep as soon ans we could because the boys were up bright and early.
I think Jeremy was the first up….he was the most excited out of all of us to be there. He was alomst quivering with excitement.
The kids occupied themselves while Jon and I prepared breakfast.
Judah found these Duplo blocks and spent a ton of time building “legos” with them. It was so cute to see him play like this. We actually pulled out our own Duplo blocks once we got home and he has spent many happy hours playing with the box of Duplo.
After breakfast, we headed on down to the beach…..
It was still pretty cold at 9am in the morning, but the boys were determined to be outside, at the water’s edge. Judah was thrilled to be getting dirty. He’s a true boy.
The boys walked up and down the beach front….
I think that we must have re-located half the rocks on the beach out a few yards…
It was so nice to see everyone relaxing and smiling and just forgetting about everything for a while.
We skipped rocks and found crabs and watched excitedly and with great anticipation for the tide to go out.
Siah got a bit cocky and what do you don’t see, is the next picture where he is running for the shore with his boots full of freezing cold ocean water. He waded out far enough and a wave came in strong enough that it washed right over the edge of his gumboots.
Judah was So excited to be out splashing int he water too. He was initially cautious and then his excitement and curiosity go the better of him and in the end, he ended up falling into the water despite our repeated warnings and got soaked…..
Geli found a path out to a sand bank and loved the feel of the cool sand in between her toes. My kids have always been water bugs. I think it must be in their genes….they are so attracted to the water and seem to thrive in any water environment.
By this point, we were getting chilly, between the cold water and the cold wind…BRRRRR! SO we headed back inside to get a bit warmed up. We played some games and ate some popcorn and just relaxed.
Jon even got in a short nap…
Here is Geli goofing around with a water bottle. The bottles boasted that they used 50% less plastic and well…it certainly seemed so as the bottles were so flimsy.
After a while we realized that the tide had gone WAY out and had left some amazing looking tidal pools that were just begging to be explored.
The birds were out and the sun was shining and it looked amazing.
It was so incredibly beautiful out there. There were miles and miles of beauty just begging to be photographed.
We found the coolest looking shells and weird shrimp looking things, crabs and other sea creatures, including sand dollars.
Jeremy had noticed a fire pit back up in the yard and was desperate to roast some marshmallows. We headed back up and the kids made a huge mess of themselves.
I don’t know how you get marshmallow spread out over your face from your eyebrows to your chin….it’s a skill, I tell you.
There were SO Many great photo opportunities. If you are interested in checking out my WAY TOO MANY photos….click on this link.
It was an amazing time and I was so grateful for the opportunity to get away. What an absolute blessing. It was exactly what I needed exactly when I needed it. It was a little slice of heaven in our crazy lives.
Thank you! THANK you! THANK YOU!!!! for this incredible opportunity. We are so blessed.
I had the opportunity this morning to speak with an amazing group of ladies at a church here in Langley.
This church has supported us in so many incredible ways and I was so thankful for the opportunity to “give back” and to share some of our story and some of my story.
I had 15 minutes to share on community and our walk through life with others.
I used 3 key points that I shared from.
– Shame and Fear will trap us and keep us isolated and feeling alone.
– Vulnerability and Authenticity are the keys to building relationship and community
– Knowing your True Worth is the key to allowing yourself to be vulnerable in front of others.
I shared on how in the past, my insecurities (read that as Shame and Fear) kept me from wanting to be in relationship with other people. About 7 years ago, We went to this amazing church out in Abbotsford that challenged that belief that I had about myself. They challenged me to see myself the way that God sees me, to see that I am worth being accepted and loved and supported and encouraged. Slowly I started to believe that I was worth more than I was believing about myself. I wanted to live in relationship and community with people and to not be isolated.
In my own personal journey, I had taken many steps forward away from Shame and Fear and Isolation and then, last June, Angelica was diagnosed with Cancer. My world shrunk down and for a year I was in basically a forced isolation within my house. I realized that I didn’t like the isolation. Somewhere along my journey, I had gotten some emotional healing and grown to the point that I liked being in community and it took a forced isolation to really cement it home in my life that I WANT TO LIVE IN COMMUNITY AND RELATIONSHIP and not in isolation.
During the past year, I realized that I could not handle the pressure and stress of what we were going through alone and after fighting against shame and fear…..I reached outside of myself. I was vulnerable and I asked for help.
The response was incredible and overwhelming.
We received enough help that I felt like I could finally breathe again. It was overwhelming and quite literally a life saver.
Without starting to grasp a hold of the concept that I was worth being accepted and love and supported….if I hadn’t started to realize that I was worthy of all of those things….I would have never been able to ask for help. I would have never been able to open up and say that I was less than perfect. I would never have been able to admit that couldn’t handle it all on my own. But in being vulnerable and open about myself and our situation…..I received even more than I had asked for.
In our society today, we are so busy and there are so many opportunities to hide behind our insecurities and fears and as a result, be, or at the very least “feel” alone. I also believe that we as people are craving opportunities to connect and to live within community.
Being open, transparent, vulnerable allows others into our lives and in turn, we are then a part of their lives…..building community, building relationships. I’ve found that being open encourages others to also be open which sets the stage for deeper and more meaningful relationships. Vulnerability is not always easy, but it is SO WORTH IT!
You are worth being loved.
You are worth being accepted.
You are worth being supported.
You are worth being encouraged.
You have so much value and worth.
It was amazing to actually meet this group of ladies, to see them face to face and to be able to thank them for all their support and love.
I’m not sure, but I think I was within my 15 minute time frame……I hope! The Music Team sang a fabulous song when I was finished talking and the whole morning just came together so well.
I am SO thankful to be apart of this community. The Community of Walnut Grove, the Alex Hope elementary School and North Langley Community Church…..has supported and blessed us so much and cannot thank you enough.
I’m so grateful to be apart of this amazing community!
I hate asking for help. I hate needing help. I’ve taken great pride in being able to take care of my family on my own and now……..now I am coming humbly and asking for help.
Up until now, I’ve been trying to “do” everything and honestly, we are not doing well. I am not doing well. I feel completely overwhelmed and like I am at my breaking point. I, personally, have had one too many melt downs just recently and I need to be a bit stronger to deal with the demands on my time and energy for the long haul. I’d like to say that were it not for all this cancer crap, that I’d be doing okay but…..we are dealing with cancer and 5 kids and all the craziness and chaos that surrounds us.
I’ll do a more detailed update on how we (individually) are all doing soon, but honestly, it’s not pretty. It’s pretty rough over here and we have a long road ahead of us.
There are about 32 weeks of Intensive Chemotherapy Treatment left for Angelica before she starts the maintenance stage. This (the maintenance stage) is when our Doctor has talked about things getting back to more of a normal stage of life. Until then, not counting any time for delays, we are looking at more than 6 months of treatment. That’s a long time!
Right now, we feel like we are barely hanging on and while we’ve had offers of help in the past, we just didn’t know what to do with the help. And…..I thought I’d be able to deal with everything.
And so, to anyone who has offered or is interested, I’m asking for help!
There are so many ways that someone could help. It doesn’t have to be a huge commitment. It could be a one time commitment, or weekly or even monthly. It could be 15 minutes or longer and there are many different ways that you could help. From cleaning, to meals, to helping with the kids, to sending a card or e-mail – anything that helps to lift some of the burden from us would be amazing.
The strain of dealing with the Chemotherapy Treatment is SO MUCH GREATER than just some physical discomfort for Angelica. Walking your child through the Treatment is a full time job. There are the physical issues that come as a result of the treatment like nausea, vomiting, mouth sores, weight loss, lack of appetite, muscle loss due to inactivity as a result of the physical devastation of the chemo drugs, insomnia, fatigue and pain. There is the mental anguish and fear from everything going on and not understanding 100%, to the fear of the unknown and the future. There is the schedule of treatment. It’s a brutal wicked schedule and the treatment center is an hour away from us, more if there is traffic. It is a huge thing to deal with.
Add in 4 other children each with their own specific needs and add on top of that the fear and confusion of having a sister dealing with cancer and a mom and dad who are distracted and overwhelmed and not available in the way that they have been.
Add in 2 jobs, neither of which are being done well. Add in the extra house work and meals and school work, oh and the stress of not having any time to invest in each other or the kids, individually, throw in finances and you have an unbelievable recipe for disaster. This is not even the whole picture……
I’m not trying to whine and complain. Realistically, this is just where we are at.
We are so grateful and thankful for every thing, big and small that we’ve been blessed with. We have been so SO blessed by so many.
If you have offered to help or are interested in helping, we are at the place where we are willing to accept it and we hope that we have an easy way to explain what we need.
We are not expecting anything and right now, we have nothing more than our gratefulness and thankfulness to offer in return.
But…….if you are interested in helping, please click here and see the sheet that we’ve created with some of the details.
It’s in full view on the wall right in between my kitchen and my living/dining room.
And I must look at it a million times a day…..OK, maybe not that many, but I look at it a lot.
This was given to me about a week ago by a woman that Jon went to school with. They managed to meet up at Children’s Hospital last week and she gave him a present. She had read a couple of posts of mine…one that talked about “Keeping Calm” and another that talked about “Carrying On” and then she thought of this wall hanging and had to get it for me.
I LOVE it.
It speaks so much more to me than just a gift or just a great phrase. It encourages me immensely. Shannon and her sons and their whole family have their own journey that they are walking and it’s not an easy one and in the middle of her own battle she reached out to love and encourage us. I look at this sitting on my wall and at times when I feel alone – it speaks to me that there are so many out there loving, praying, and standing with us cheering us on.
Thank you, Shannon. Thank you for reaching out and encouraging me. Thanks for your support and your love. Thank you!
I’ve been sitting here writing and deleting this first sentence over and over and over unsure of which words to write.
I don’t have the words…….
I LOVE words. I love to use words to paint pictures, to express myself, to help bring clarity out of chaos, to communicate, to share to love…..I love words and right now the combo of exhaustion, and feeling overwhelmed and completely unworthy have left me without the use of my words.
She shaved her head for me, for us….for my daughter, for my family, and I can’t find the words to express my appreciation, my love, my amazement at her strength, caring, compassion, drive…….. She is amazing.
We’ve been friends for almost our whole entire lives. We’ve been through ups and downs. We’ve been through good times and bad times. We’ve lived near and far and through it all we have loved. I honestly don’t ever remember being mad at her. I’m sure that as kids growing up, we must have had the odd squabble now and then, but I don’t remember ever being upset or angry or disappointed with her. She is my forever friend and I love her dearly.
The cheese and bake shop that she manages, heard about Angelica and decided to donate their tips to our family. Hearing this, my friend announced that when the total of donations reached $2,000 – she would shave her head.
This is not something that we asked for and to be honest, I’m not sure that I really wanted her to shave her head. It’s not an easy thing to do and I just didn’t want her to feel pressured into doing it. At the same time, there are so many things that I have learned from shaving my head, and I wouldn’t want to stop her from her own journey in life……
I really wasn’t sure that they would end up reaching the goal anyway, so I stopped thinking about it.
At the end of August, the goal was reached (and in fact it has been surpassed) and my friend set the date for the big head shave for this past Saturday September 11.
We weren’t able to be at the actual shaving, but we participated in the event through Skype.
There were tears and laughter and the emotions ran high.
We were so touched to have someone sacrifice of their time and energy and their hair in support of us. We were so touched by all who donated and took part in supporting us in any way big and small.
I’m fumbling for words and the more I try to type, the less able I seem to be able to say what I really want to say.
My friend, you are beautiful. You are amazing. You are such a support and encouragement. In your own times of trial and stress, you give and give and give and LOVE. We feel so blessed to have you in our lives.
I love you more than my words can adequately express.
For all you’ve done and given and sacrificed and loved………Thank You!
I’m sitting here in the silence of my home. The baby is squirming in his sleep and Angelica is sleeping on the couch across the room from me.
My sister, Michelle, took Xandra camping. My sister, Debbie, took Jeremy camping, and my parents took Siah camping. Yes, they are all camping together. It’s hard being here and not with them…but it is what it is and it’s not forever….again, this is just a season and we will go camping again, hopefully next year!
I should be doing laundry and cleaning the bathrooms and vacuuming the upstairs hall and bedrooms, and cleaning the boys room and tidying the kitchen, but I’m not…..I’m just sitting.
Sometimes, you just have to sit and breathe….and I need to do that right now.
Often when I do slow down long enough to think about all of this, I’m struck by how blessed we have been. I think of how much love we’ve been shown by so many. It’s truly awe inspiring.
I’m so thankful to everyone who has helped us and given to us in any measure. We are so grateful to everyone who has in someway shared this “load” with us. There are times that we feel crushed (but not destroyed) under the weight of all of this and when we shift our focus off of how difficult this all is, it’s easier to see that there are so many standing around with us carrying a piece of this or even propping us up. Every meal, every gift card, every package, every gift, every comment, every prayer, every e-mail or Facebook message, every donation, every little thing no matter how big or how small, has truly impacted us.
You are all so kind, thoughtful and generous. Your love comes from near and far and wraps around us and helps to carry us through….and in the silence of today…..I think about you all and I’m so thankful.
It was a Sunday and normally on Sunday’s we are up and moving at the crack of dawn or depending on the time of the year….even before then. But yesterday, we slept in.
It didn’t help that we stayed up too late the night before watching a movie; but, it was a nice evening for Gelica, Jon and I.
We finally did get up and moving and while Geli ate some breakfast we watched another movie. Sometimes you just gotta do something to pass the time. And then at other times….you blink and you’ve lost the past 4 hours and it felt like 15 minutes.
Here is a picture of Angelica’s Room.
It’s tiny and the cot (for me to sleep on) doesn’t help with the squishy feeling). What you can’t see from this position is that there is a sink directly to the left straight ahead of my cot and a TV/DVD player hung up on the wall above the sink.
Nana Karen brought Xandra and Siah in for Father’s Day and it was nice to see them. Siah’s been aware of the change of routine and not having Mommy, Daddy or Geli around. He was very happy to see Geli today.
Angelica was allowed to be unhooked from her IV pole for 2 hours today and actually has a standing order for 2 hours a day unhooked….WooHoo! We decided to get off our ward and head on out exploring.
Well, We made it to the Lobby of the Hospital where we found the gift shop and Siah found a tiny toy station……. So we waited for him for a bit…..
It was SOOOOOO Exciting….NOT!
But, that is life with a little brother…..they like to play and explore and RUN REALLY FAST!!!!! Even in Hospital Hallway’s when Mommy and Daddy are yelling as quietly as possible for him to SLOW DOWN!!!!!
We made it over to the Starbucks and along the travels we managed to scratch Angelica’s left foot and run over the two smallest toes on her right foot. Seeing as her platelets were so low….that scored us a free bag of platelets once we made it back to the ward.
But, before our 2 hours of free, untethered time was up we made it down to the cafeteria for some fries and a Cheeseburger…..On our way back up to the room, we met up with Aunty Sherry. She popped by for a visit before she had to be at work at the hospital down the road….
After Aunty Sherri left Mommy and Daddy watched Siah in the playroom and Gelica and Xandra stayed in the room and played on the computer…..
Geli looks so pretty doesn’t she?
Later in the Afternoon, Nana Cully came by with Geli’s Grade 7 Grad Dress. They are working on the last minute fittings…..it’s pretty cute isn’t it? Geli’s pretty excited.
She rested for about an hour before the time of the day that she had been looking forward to all day long…………Her school friends came to visit…but I think I’ll post about that adventure separately….
We’re all doing well. I’m feeling huge and although I’m okay with our little man staying inside a it longer….I’m also aware that every day we pass means that he gets a little bit bigger and if I’m being totally honest….I’m a little concerned about popping out a 10 pound baby. But……ya gotta do what ya gotta do, right?
We’re up and at ’em this morning (Monday morning) and we’ve (Me and Geli) already brushed our teeth and eaten some cereal. Fruit Loops for Geli and I had a bowl of Frosted Flakes – definitely the breakfast of champions…I might add some strawberries just to round it all out health wise, eh?
Jon stayed over night at the Easter Seals house which is about 3 blocks away. He was finding the teeny, tiny scrawny, short couch in the playroom to be a bit uncomfortable. Hopefully, he got a god sleep last night….it’s just 9am here and we haven’t heard from him yet.
Alright, gotta ditch the jammies and possibly put on some make up…..don’t wanna scare the residents away….
Thanks so much for praying for us. Geli is not feeling sick to her stomach or having any pain. So please continue to pray that her body responds to the Chemo by killing the Leukemia Cells and that there would be no negative side effects to go along with it. We believe that God can work miracles….and we believe that we are seeing those miracles every day. Thank you so much.
Also, you could pray for Jon and I that we would get good rest, be at peace always, and have wisdom and grace in dealing with every facet of this situation. And for the other kids and our family and friends that are helping us out that everyone would also be at peace and that everything would work together and that no one would feel tired or stressed or worn out or nervous or any of those other things that a situation like this could possibly carry with it….
Geli loves reading the comments from you all. It’s so nice to hear who’s praying for us and to hear how Geli’s Story has spread around around the world and is uniting so many people together in faith and hope…….
If yesterday were to be considered a terrible, horrible, no good day….then today could be considered GLORIOUS!
It started off a bit rough, but by 10 or 11am it had picked up and now we are getting ready to settle down for the night.
Geli felt quite nauseous this morning and had a fair amount of pain. She got her morning meds and while we waited for her body to settle out she sat in the rocking chair in her room. She said that it was more comfortable than feeling slouched on bed.
She read through a whole ton of comments from you all on my Blackberry……
And in the middle of that got a call from one of her closest friends at school….
She was still feeling pretty icky at this point, but chatting with a friend definitely made her day a bit better.
Her other closest friend called her not too long after and that was pretty awesome, as well.
Aunty Debbie and Jack and Nana Karen and Siah showed up right round 10:30am – 11am and it was so nice to see them.
Snuggles with Jack can make anyone feel better.
She also played some card games with Nana Karen while mommy and daddy spent a little bit of time with Siah.
Soon after, we headed down to the playroom and then her cousins showed up. We got to play some air hockey and that was so much fun. Lots of laughter and smiles and teasing….
And then Uncle Eddy showed up with presents. It was so nice to see him.
Siah found some dress up clothes and dressed up like a princess. Momma looks like a blimp.
Before everyone took off, we had some snuggles with Baby Zacharias. Baby snuggles are the best EVER! But he wasn’t really that upset….this is just a cranky looking picture.
Angelica got to take a shower today and change into her very own clothes and that was SOOOOOOOO NICE. To be able to get all nice and clean and she even got her bed changed out. There is nothing like being all clean and sliding into clean sheets….mmmmmmmm!
We’ve just been watching a movie and eating dinner in bed and relaxing after a busy but fun day. This is the best day that Angelica has had in over a week and a half. No fever! Smiles! Color in her face! An appetite! Presents! Family and Friends! Air Hockey!
It was awesome.
It was so nice to have an almost seemingly normal day in the middle of all this craziness.
She is still a little bit sore from the surgery, but it’s only been almost 48 hours since her surgery and so really a little bit of pain is not bad.
We’re feeling pretty good about things and are just taking things one day at a time. We’ve talked about good times and bad times and about how life come with good and bad times and how we don’t get to choose to only have good times, but that when a bad time comes you can just ride it out the best that you can and if you have a terrible, no good horrible bad day, then you cry and wait it out and if you have a good day, then just enjoy it for what it is…..This is life. This is our new normal! This is our reality! And we’re gonna be okay. All of us!
I might come back and post about how tomorrow sucks or about how it’s amazing too. We’re just real people with real issues and real emotions and we’re just gonna take all of this one step at a time.
If you’d like, we’d love if you could pray that Geli wouldn’t feel sick and nauseated tomorrow morning and that she’d have a great night of sleep and that the VAD site would heal up quickly. Also, that all her blood counts would do what they are supposed to do. Some need to go up and some need to go down.
Again, we feel so cared for and loved. You are an amazing community of people and we THANK YOU with everything in us.
It seems completely eaten up with the house purchase. That is how I will remember the summer of 2009. It was the summer we bought our first home.
I’m thrilled that we were able to buy and that we are getting settled in. It’s not been a fun, go-a-lot-of-places and have-a-lot-of-adventures kind of summer, but it HAS been a good summer. Tough, but good!
Friends of ours are also starting another leg of their life journey and are in the process of buying a new place. We went over to check out their place last night. We LOVE these guys and are so thrilled for them.
We had some great food and some even better conversation.
It used to seem like we lived so far away from these guys, but then we moved closer to them and now they have moved closer to us and now we are considerably closer than we were before. (Okay, that’s a completely lame sentence, but it is what it is…..and I’ll just throw it out there and slowly walk away from it.)
I managed to snap a bunch of pics of the kids while they were swimming. (yes, this new place of theirs has a pool – how wicked amazing is that?) and what’s even better…..after it got dark, we sent the kids to watch a movie and we adults headed down to the pool. Can we sigh a HUGE SIGH of HEAVENLY-NESS?!? I felt so relaxed last night.
Relaxed! Ha! There is a loaded word. Yesterday was Jon’s first day back at work and today is my first day back at work and well……I was mentioning to Jon yesterday how I was already feeling the pressure of “the Fall” starting to weigh in on me. It’s good…..Sorta! This is going to be a GREAT fall with exciting and amazing things, BUT….it’s going to require a significant amount of work and well………that work will require effort and…..well…..when I think of the sheer volume of work it’s all gonna require……then I just want to run and stick my head in the sand and head back to vacation.
Ahhh! It’ll all be good. I’m just looking at the volume of everything all at once and I know that if I just focus on what is in front of me (today) then it will all work out.
That is a very short snippet of a very big “AH HA” moment that I’ve had very recently and one that I’ll be talking more about as I think it’s HUGELY relevant to me right here and right now.