Tuesday, May 12, 2015

Flickers of Hope



We had a health scare with Caleb that led to a trip to the Emergency Room!
 
You can see the pain in David’s eyes, but Cal put on a brave smile, even though he felt terrible.
  

We were on a fun Camp-Out with his Pack of Cub Scouts and looking forward to sparking a fire.  Instead, Caleb spiked a fever.  It was a tough hour and a half race to the hospital.   

It turned out to be Paraflu (a virus that’s different from THE flu.) 
Luckily, Caleb’s blood levels were high enough that he got to be released and not admitted to the hospital!  He was so happy to go home.
Prayers are definitely still needed though!  Chemo patients often suffer a big drop in their levels about 4-6 weeks after they are diagnosed with Paraflu.  We pray this doesn’t happen and that he doesn’t become severely neutropenic (low levels), which would make him more susceptible to infections.  His doctors will closely monitor him, and they are not going to increase his chemo right now, as they had planned to do.

My parents will agree - there aren’t enough words to say how thankful we are for our friends at Candlelighters Childhood Cancer Family Alliance.  When the goin’ gets tough, they really get us goin’ in the right direction! 

They do an amazing job of never letting Caleb be a candle in the wind.  They help keep him uplifted and shining brightly. 

They honored him as a Light of Courage.
 
 Former New York City Mayor & cancer survivor Rudy Giuliani offered encouraging words of hope  to Caleb.
He truly felt so special that day!
While tucking Caleb in to bed later that night, I told Caleb how very proud I was of him for being brave and for handling his treatments so well that he was honored as a light of courage to others.  He quietly giggled, “The award made me feel like I’m real special, Mommy.”  Oh you are, my sweet child.  You are my hero.  It was so beautiful to hear those words coming out of his little mouth. 

The Candlelighters also honored Caleb at their golf tournament last week. 

He got to help make some big announcements!

He also REALLY enjoyed meeting former Astros’ great Brandon Backe!
 Backe was so encouraging and kind to Caleb & Zachary!  

He even gave them a stack of games he won in a raffle.  How fun!
Caleb had a BLAST at my 15th annual golf tournament yesterday, that benefits the incredible group, Children at Risk.  For the first time in 20 months, I had to miss Caleb's appointment at Texas Children's Hospital.  I was able to pull it off with the help of Nicole, Caleb's loving babysitter he's had his entire life.  That, and a conference call to his medical workers, worked out well. 

I was so happy when Nicole showed up at the course with the boys!
 
Caleb even had enough energy, after his hospital visit, to enjoy his annual tradition with my boss, the GM of FOX26, D’Artagnan Bebel, with water gun fights!

It was a fun day with family, dear friends, and successful fundraising.

We usually have the kids rake the sand traps -but just this once -  let Caleb leave his HAPPY smiley face message behind.  :) 

Caleb is wrapping up his baseball season with the Dodgers.  
He loves his team and is very excited to be heading into the play-offs next week.

His end-of-the-year party was on the field of the Minor League team, the Sugar Land Skeeters. He loved being so close to the big players!

Caleb is far right in this photo.  We were VERY proud of him for taking his hat off during the National Anthem.  When he got a similar experience last year, he just couldn't get up the nerve to do it.  Way to go, Cal!

It’s hard to believe there are only eight days of school left.  We are thrilled that Caleb excelled in the first grade!  Thanks to his loving teachers and administrators, he thrived this year.  We are praying for continued success in all he does and of course, continued good health.

A wonderful man, whom I've always looked up to, my Uncle Frank Harris, just passed away.  It was very hard to "say good-bye" last week, although I know he is another angel in Heaven watching over us.  I will always miss him.  He was a beautiful human being and such a Godly man.  

Luke 11:33-35
"No one, after lighting a lamp, puts it away in a cellar nor under a basket, but on the lampstand, so that those who enter may see the light. The eye is the lamp of your body; when your eye is clear, your whole body also is full of light; but when it is bad, your body also is full of darkness. Then watch out that the light in you is not darkness."



Monday, April 13, 2015

Spring Fever


Whew!  We had a scare with Caleb over Easter weekend.
Things started off great...
including a fun Easter egg hunt with his little cousins...

Then out of the blue, Caleb spiked a fever & we had to race home from his grandparent's home in Granbury in the middle of the night, in the pouring rain, to get him to Texas Children's Hospital.  We considered it an Easter miracle when his fever lowered & hovered around 100 degrees, which meant he didn't have to be hospitalized! 
Caleb's big monthly check-up went really well today.
His incredible and loving Oncologist, Dr. ZoAnn Dreyer, gave him a clean bill of health.  We could not live without this amazing woman.  She is remarkable!
To catch you up on Caleb, he was very touched when one of my co-workers shaved his head (again) for St. Baldrick's, in his honor.  

 Caleb even got to help do the shaving! Thanks, David Canada, for making a difference!  
The timing could not be more bizarre, as a few days later, Cal's hair started falling out in handfuls.  We still haven't figured out why that hurts so much to witness, other than as a parent, we feel completely helpless, and there's nothing we can do or say to stop it.  In fact, I had to choke back tears, as dozens of hairs fell onto his dinner plate and he had to put on a hat, to keep hair out of his food.  He's been scared to take a bath, because when he washes his hair, the entire bath fills up with hair and it's hard to get off of his body.  The whole family was reduced to tears the night we found him singing in the bathtub and writing his name on the side of the tub with all of his loose hair.  Of course, we just smiled and never let him know our pain.  It felt great to see him doing his best to have a great sense of humor about it!  However, we can't help but yearn for him to draw with tub crayons versus his hair.

As usual, Caleb is sensitive about his "lost locks" when in public. One of his classmates, his teacher, & Chaplain of the school teamed-up to pull off the most brilliant plan!!! 

Hats for the entire class!!!!!  That way, Cal doesn't feel different!  We are completely overwhelmed with the loving, caring attitude of these wonderful people. They even gave one to big brother Zach to wear!  THANKS Colton, Mrs. Ashmore, and Mr. Waters!  The hat says "Caleb's Cougars", in honor of Cal & the school's mascot.

It seems Caleb may only lose half of his hair this time, but it's enough for him to feel uncomfortable without his hat.  We keep telling him - it's perfect timing to help keep him cool during the HOT Houston summertime! 
At the end of the day, we are so happy that Caleb is doing well.  It honestly doesn't matter if he has one hair on his head.  He's alive & doing fairly well & is able to be treated in the comforts of home!  We see a lot of suffering from fellow cancer fighters and realize things could always be worse. 
Caleb wanted to go to a fundraiser yesterday for a little boy named Rhett, who is struggling at TCH from high-risk leukemia. Please pray for Rhett.  It was special for us to share Caleb's story with the crowd and thank them for their support to Rhett!

Caleb enjoyed meeting Houston Texans player, Jared Crick, at the event! We met one very strong mom, who now has an "angel" because of leukemia, and it makes us hold Caleb a little tighter. 

"Let me root, root, root for the home team"... Caleb is having a blast playing Dodgers peewee baseball!  He's had a few surprise visitors...

Angeli & her precious mom, Christine, cheered-on Caleb from the dugout!
Caleb's Pre-School teacher, Mrs. Sandra, showed up to surprise him!  (Caleb's up-to-bat in this photo.)
A few other highlights...

I got to experience my very first Mother-Son dance.  How fun to get my little guys all dressed up & dance the night away! 

Caleb & Zach enjoyed every moment of modeling in a Fashion Show, benefiting the Boys & Girls Harbor.  
We all enjoyed hanging out with actor/TV Host Mario Lopez at the event that raised money for a safe haven for children in crisis.
Caleb LOVES a good dog pile - and is smart about it... always on top (his number is #1)... to protect his port-a-catheter that is implanted in his chest for chemo.
 That's where we want to continue to see him - on top of the world, even while undergoing cancer treatment.  Because of loving doctors, teachers, classmates, friends, colleagues, and of course family members, Caleb has high spirits.  Thanks for all you do!  To my unbelievable parents, who answer my calls night and day, to lift us up on the hard days and celebrate the good ones, God bless you.

1 Thessalonians 5:18. Give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.

Monday, March 16, 2015

The Joys of Taking a Hike!



Hiking over Spring Break is just what the doctor ordered, & it felt GREAT to leave the woes of cancer treatment in our rear view mirror!
   This peaceful trip to the Ozarks was wonderful for our hearts & souls!

 It was tough to come home though & have to face Caleb's all day hospital stay for his spinal tap and intravenous chemo. 
 Time for another round of steroids, too. It will be interesting to see what funny cravings he'll experience this time - that should keep us on our toes!
A few complications today meant many extra prayers over his sweet little body.
Caleb's blood levels are a little too good, so he'll be taking a stronger dose of chemo to keep those awful cancer cells away.  Spring baseball season starts this week, so it's going to be a big challenge for him to adjust to taking more chemo.  We hope it won't sap his energy too much! 

This unpredictable flu season has continued to be a challenge to protect Cal from the germs.  
 
Luckily, our darling friend & retired teacher, Mrs. McDonald, helped Caleb stay up-to-date, while he had to take more time away from school.  He loves working with her!
We are so proud of Cal.  He does his best to always remain positive and to rely on his faith on good and bad days.  I had to fight back the (happy) tears, when he received the Christian Character Award at his school.
 It was heartwarming to hear the whoops, as his name was called & to be reminded about how many wonderful children & teachers cheer him on each & every day, not just during an award ceremony.
 A big thanks to his teacher, Mrs. Ashmore, for allowing him the joy of this award.  It means so much to him!!!

 Back to that hike.  We just got back last night, and it was a glorious break on many levels.  It was yet another reminder about how important Caleb's faith is to him.   

As always, he found his inner strength & was able to push himself beyond belief.
Caleb always wanted to be in the front to lead the way & be the first to see each nook & cranny of the mountains.
Our "Cal-Boy" loved horseback riding...
& even a very dirty snowball fight brought out tons of smiles...
One of our most special moments was visiting this amazing chapel, tucked deep in the woods on a mountaintop.  Thorncrown Chapel has to be one of the most peaceful places on Earth.  Prayer always empowers our family, but we felt super-charged when we left there. 

It's intriguing that a child would be drawn to churches, but Caleb wanted to know all of the stories behind this historical church.
He also marveled at Christ of the Ozarks and loved hearing how much this almost 70-foot statue & its grounds used to mean to my grandparents, when they traveled here.
This statue couldn't be more fitting of Caleb's hero, the lion, this past year.  He braved a rainy day to pose in front of the Lion and the Lamb at the theater where we watched the fantastic production of Jonah.   His troubles seemed overwhelming in that whale's belly, a lot like we have felt at times on this cancer journey.
I truly believe that we can learn a lot from the "c" word. Cancer does have its advantages and makes you realize what is most important in life.  It's nothing money can buy.  It's not where you can travel.  It's your health.  It's your family.  It's your friends.  For us, it's certainly our belief in God. 
  
Caleb has been saddened today that his Great Aunt Nina left this Earth to be with the Lord, early this morning.  We feel at peace knowing this precious angel will be watching over our little boy.

God bless & RIP Aunt Nina.  We will always remember you so fondly and will always love you.