Grab a cup of coffee…got lots to talk about today! This is largely written by Michelle, with some stuff from Mark as well.
Many of you have so kindly been asking how Samantha (and our family) have been doing these past few weeks and so we thought it best to make a new post.
As some of you know, Samantha has been in and out of the Emergency Room as well as a 3 day stay in the hospital this past month. After this past year of stomach, head and other various physical problems, over Christmas Samantha was diagnosed with a Dysautonomic condition called Postural Orthostatic Tachycardia Syndrome (http://www.dysautonomiainternational.org/page.php?ID=34) (ironically, after 10 years of struggle Michelle, too, was diagnosed by Mayo Clinic with a similar condition last November). Samantha experienced a significant flare up in January resulting in increased tachycardia/blood pressure issues, a month long migraine type headache as well as chronic nausea and light headedness along with a host of other issues. This has been very debilitating at times, and we are working with 4 different doctors to try to come up with a treatment plan. This condition has many girls her age bed ridden. While Samantha has been very strong during this, she had just started up at her new school and has had to miss a great deal of days so naturally this has been very discouraging and frustrating, not to mention exhausting. Her symptoms can wax and wane depending on various factors, many of which we have no control over. We are so grateful to each of you for your prayers, visits and encouragement you have given us over this time. What an incredible blessing her school, Pusch Ridge Christian Academy, has also been and we are so grateful for her teachers and the administration for how they have supported and worked with us.
As if that weren’t enough in and of itself, I had my 3 month oncology checkup last week, and it looks like the cancer may have returned. My initial CT scan showed an area of lymph nodes that concerned the PA, and it was followed up with a PET scan that confirmed something is up in that region (near where my original cancerous nodes were located). It “appears” that two lymph nodes may be cancerous (they’re “lighting up”), but we can’t know for sure until a biopsy is done. And, because there’s no real easy way to do a biopsy of these nodes, another round of surgery is needed to remove them completely (and then check them out). I meet with my surgeon, Dr. Schluender this Wednesday to understand more about the operation and to schedule it as well. Suffice to say, my oncologist wants it done sooner than later (like real soon!), so that could happen before the end of the month. Jeesh! Successful removal of the lymph nodes…or whatever turns out needs to be removed…will likely be followed up with some sort of chemotherapy. The doctor thinks it could be a pill version of chemo, but he’s uncertain until he knows exactly what we’re dealing with this time.
This all comes at a time when our family is deep in the valley of uncertainty in so many areas. Michelle continues to struggle with her health but has been referred to a surgeon that may have a procedure which could help her chronic nausea and possibly even get her eating a bit more types of food! While we are grateful for this hopeful news, she faces another issue which came very unexpectedly. After a breast biopsy, she was diagnosed with atypical ductal hyperplasia and will be undergoing surgery in March to remove the tissue around the hyperplasia for further testing. With a significant family history of breast cancer, the doctor will closely monitor this and may perhaps treat things a bit more aggressively.
We also are seeing how these past couple of years are taking a significant toll on Alex emotionally. He is our quiet, brave warrior who puts on such a strong front, but, that front has been shattered and the true impact of all of this is now coming to full light. We are trying to deal with some very difficult issues with him that come not only with being a 13 year old boy but entrenched in a very stressful family situation on top of it. Much prayer, discernment and faith is needed for us to help him deal with all of this.
While we would love to tell you we are handling all of this with grace and poise, we are now truly feeling the full impact of these past few years on our family – emotionally, physically, spiritually and financially. It’s a mess. We’re a mess. We have days where we feel the peace, hope and mercy of our very faithful God and then there are the dark days where we beg for mercy and rest but instead feel filled with despair and exhaustion. We desperately cling to the promises of God, especially Romans 8:28…
And we know that in all things God works
for the good of those who love him,
who have been called according to his purpose.
We can’t see it a lot of the days. Many days, as it is for all you too, it’s just a struggle to get through each moment. But God, in all of His goodness and mercy, gives us strength beyond our own. He shows us some majestic glimpses into His perfect plan and allows us to be a part of helping to share with others the comfort, hope and mercy He has shown us. This world is not all there is and it certainly is not about us or what we are going through. The sufferings of today are nothing compared to the promise of the eternal life we have with Him in paradise and we want everyone we know to experience that hope too.
As we go through these next few months, we are facing many difficult decisions. The financial ramifications of this have been devastating. Emotionally, we all struggle with leaning into each other when none of us have the strength to give any more. Physically, we are completely worn out. But God in all of his goodness has given us the most amazing support network, which we continue to be so incredibly blessed to have. Our family, friends, and church are truly life giving to us and have come along side us in prayer, support and very tangible help in more ways than we can count. Samantha and Alex’s school, Pusch Ridge Christian Academy has been so incredibly supportive, kind and understanding. That in and of itself blesses us every day. Many of you have designated your state tax funds to the kids for their school (see previous blog post) and because of your support in this way, the kids are able to receive this amazing education. My employer, IBM, has been beyond amazing, giving me the time I need to recover, and continuing to provide an amazing job with great people that I absolutely love! I feel incredibly blessed to be part of the FlashSystem team.
Sorry that was so long but there was much to catch you all up on. Thanks so much for your unending support. Our family is so blessed by each one of you and we continue to hope we can, in turn, bless you the way you have blessed us. There is still so much joy that we see and so many blessings being poured out.
Though the fig tree does not bud
and there are no grapes on the vines,
though the olive crop fails
and the fields produce no food,
though there are no sheep in the pen
and no cattle in the stalls,
YET – I will rejoice in the LORD,
I will be joyful in God my Savior.
The Sovereign LORD is my strength;
he makes my feet like the feet of a deer,
he enables me to tread on the heights.
Have an amazing week!
Mark and Michelle