Tuesday, June 28, 2005

An Easier Road

My second chemo treatment has been a lot easier going than the first one. The post treatment meds have been much nicer to me and today I’m off the meds completely and just sleeping. With help from the weather- it’s easier to sleep on cloudy days! One of the other chemo side effects that kicked in is an “acid-reflux” type of burning that isn’t a lot of fun but better than the nausea if I had to pick one. I’m doing well and have learned to listen to my body when it says “rest”. Emrys is off perfecting the hand-washing station for the campers. He’s doing great at keeping up with me. I am blessed!

One answered prayer from 6/24 in that the chemo has been much easier this time around. Please continue to pray that my white count will bounce back and I will remain safe from any infections while it is low.
Much Love!

Friday, June 24, 2005

Cycle 1- Treatment 2

After a week of being back on my feet (but taking it easy all the same) I went in today for the second (and last) treatment of my first cycle of chemo (three to go). Emrys stayed behind at camp this time around to help pack out the Wilderness Week campers. Friends dropped me off, came to visit and drove me home after the treatment and are taking care of me tonight- God bless them! Walking in to the clinic I could feel that all the prayers and thoughts of my friends were behind me because I was totally at peace, even though I was walking in alone (armed with a good book and a crochet project) and last time I had gone through it I was sick for a week. I was peaceful and very upbeat and positive. It was great!
After chatting about the anti-nausea meds, my doctor decided to try some new stuff this time around so hopefully I will have a quicker rebound period this time. So we’re one step closer to being done with this and being cured!
Thanks to all of those praying, I believe that prayer does work and appreciate all of you lifting us up. Please pray that I will have a quick recovery from this treatment and please pray that my white blood cell count will rebound (the “magic number” has to be 1.5 for them to proceed with the full chemo treatment and today it was at 1.5). While it didn't effect today's treatment, it would be a good thing to have white blood cells around doing what they're supposed to do!
Love & Thanks!

Sunday, June 19, 2005

Quiet Sunday Morning

The hum of the refrigerator and the chirping of the birds outside are the only sounds keeping interrupting the silence this morning. Soon camp will be filled with the energy of staff and campers again, but for now the quiet is nice! Sara is back on her feet. The nausea, vertigo and other crummy side effects waned into the night on Thursday night and she’s been back among the working since then. There’s a little fatigue left but that’s very manageable after the other side effects earlier in the week. Emrys is off setting up yet another “White Rabbit Trail” for the staff: a series of bunnies that take staff on a walk around camp and out of their daily tasks when breaks are needed. We’re hoping for a “normal” week this week before we head back to Durango on Friday to finish out Sara’s first cycle of chemo. Thanks to all of you who are keeping us lifted up in thought and prayer. It’s comforting to know that we’re not facing this alone!

Saturday, June 18, 2005

Sonlight Camp

At Sonlight Camp, in Pagosa Springs, Colorado:
At seven thousand, eight hundred feet above sea level, the aspens stand tall and regal in white bunches among the thick ponderosa pines. The mornings are crisp with the thin air of the Rocky Mountains, but the June days are hot with the sun of the American Southwest. The atmosphere smells of green, and patches of larkspur and dandelion paint pointillistic galaxies in the meadows. Jagged peaks wink down from their lofty heights, poking through the branches with their mountainous grandeur. Birds chirp a waking symphony as the sun fingers its way across the landscape at dawn. A heavy coolness settles over the world in the evening.
We’re at camp. For the kids who come here during the summer weeks, it’s a retreat from the world. For the staff and counselors, it’s a time of rigorous planning, heavy labour, and great meals. There is always maintenance to be done, always another event to prepare for the kids. It’s work. But it’s work in a gorgeous place, with days punctuated by the smells of the campfire and the taste of fresh coffee. Life is rustic and basic, but the liturgy of daily tasks leaves little room for frills or extravagance. Instead, we find excitement in the little things, like consistently good food, each other’s company, and a good night’s sleep.
For all of us, camper and staffer alike, it’s a place to find God at work. Not that God evacuates the cities and towns for the sake of a dozen cabins in the wilderness, but the silence of one hundred forty acres of undeveloped land and the loving service of a young and vibrant staff seem to amplify the divine voice. Sonlight is a place where the word of God is preached daily in deed, thought, and word. It’s a place where kids can get a break from the world and, at the same time, discover what the world is really all about. We’re in the right place.
The camp pulses with the energetic natural history of a dream. The owners of the camp, a wonderful couple whose last twenty-six years have fueled Sonlight, followed the vision that God gave them for a place where kids can come to know the fullness of the life Jesus Christ has for them. It started with two backpackers in the wilderness. Then came a modest lodge built with volunteer labour. Then a meadow cleared of boulders. Then a cabin . . . and another, and another. The five buildings that make up the nucleus of Sonlight sit calmly but proudly on the edge of the meadow, a living testimony to the Lord at work in the lives of this founding couple, not to mention the thousands of youth who have come to play and learn at the camp. The pine logs, soaked with twenty-six years of oil, are dark with the summer sun of as many years, aging quietly under the shade of the majestic ponderosas.
The camp, designed to meet the needs of campers looking for adventure and fun, requires maintenance every day. It makes for a wonderful routine: cutting firewood, mowing grass, fixing machinery, repairing teams’ course obstacles, and inventing ways to make the place better. There is no end to the tasks, but these tasks demand only commitment, not urgency. They allow for a steady rhythm rather than a frenzied acceleration. So I (while Sara finds her own rhythm in the kitchen) pace the track from lodge to workshop to climbing wall to workshop to mealtime to lodge and back to the workshop again. The days are full of accomplishment. Occasionally there is a masterpiece, like cutting a set of coasters, ornate with the natural grain of the wood, from a piece of hedgeapple that was doomed for the campfire. Most tasks are mundane, but fulfilling all the same. Sonlight is a good place to be.
All the while we work with assurance that we have joined the dance of the camp’s founders, a dance choreographed to display the beauty of the gospel of Jesus Christ to the world. We do not plod through meaningless toil; rather, we lay the pieces of a puzzle that God designed, the puzzle that will one day image the faith of countless youth and those they lead. We are part of a voice that cries out in the wilderness, a wind that blows through the trees and speaks in still, small tones to the young hearts of tomorrow’s Christian leaders. Yes, it is a good place to be.

Tuesday, June 14, 2005

Chemo Sucks!

Fatigue & Nausea from the chemo have set in and I’ve been kicking back the nausea drugs, which also knock me out. Last night I got past the denial point of realizing that yes, I am sick and I have to get sicker before I can be better and that involves rest and not pushing myself. Two things I’m not very good at. It made looking forward to the coming treatments even more discouraging knowing that I feel like crap now and have to do it all over again- 7 more times.

Our accommodations at camp have been “upgraded” from our little cabin to a camper with a bathroom. Emrys did a re-model today to change the two twin beds into a “princess loft” for us. Worked great for a nap this afternoon!

Please pray that the nausea would clear up and that the portacath would settle in- it’s still uncomfortable. Please also pray that I will be able to remain positive and upbeat as this time goes on and for Emrys and others as they play the emotional support I need at this time.

Friday, June 10, 2005

Many Praises!

PRAISE GOD!! The portacath (permanent IV line under the skin of Sara’s chest) was placed via surgery this morning with no complications. This was followed by the first round of chemo, also with no complications! Best of all- the test results were in and showed that there was no cancer in the bone marrow or anywhere else in Sara’s body that we didn’t already know about (near left collarbone, and around the thymus gland in her chest).

Camp started this week and the campers were everywhere! Sara and Emrys both worked long days with cooking and maintenance respectively. It’s good to be active again! Emrys and Karla (another staffer at camp) cut Sara’s hair this week to ease the entry into baldness. It looks great! We’ll try to get pictures up soon.

Prayers at this point can be directed towards Sara’s energy levels & the nausea. Also, that the chemo would work quickly on the cancer and that the healthy cells would remain safe from the effects of the chemo. Please also continue to the lift up the Sonlight staff and Emrys as they surround and support Sara during this time.
We love you all! Keep praying-it works!!

Saturday, June 04, 2005

Tests Are Done...Now We Wait.

In a whirlwind couple of days all the tests are completed and Sara is scheduled to start chemotherapy on Friday June 10th. A surgical procedure will be done to insert a "permanent" IV port (port-cath) into a blood vein so that the pincushion syndrome will be minimal in the coming months. Then we will go over all the test results with Dr. Cathcart and see what the long term time line will be for the treatments.

All the tests went smoothly, for the most part. Short of Sara passing out in the Nuclear Medicine department when they were prepping for the heart scan (for reasons we still can't pinpoint) the rest of the time was uneventful. Although after 3 barium "milkshakes" before the PET/CT scan, Sara's thinking bananas won't be a favorite for a while!

This afternoon we will head back to Sonlight and campers will arrive on Sunday. We're looking forward to a few more days of distracting work before we come back to Durango for the last of the "big" procedures.

Please continue to pray that all the tests come back with favorable results. As chemo starts, we'd ask that you pray specifically for the following:
1. That the healthy cells would be protected from the effects of the chemo.
2. That the nausea and fatigue would be minimal and that Sara will know when she needs to stop and take a break.
3. That Emrys will know when he needs to stop and support Sara through the rough spots.

Thank you all! The prayers are felt very strongly with a resounding peace through the stressful times.