Wednesday, June 10, 2015

Summer Blues

Rough day at the cancer center, Monday! 
It's such a relief that Zachary is out of school to help keep our spirits up!  He is so strong and our rock when we're hurting.
David (Daddy) hugs always make things better!
Complications during Cal's spinal tap also meant a harder recovery.  It took a day for him to get over his upset stomach after the ordeal, and finally - my eyes are no longer puffy from crying.  Most days we get by just fine, but then we hit that roadblock that hurts and scares us so much. Makes us appreciate our little man more than we already do! Chemo injected into his spine and IV chemo have wiped him out.  Daily chemo by mouth compounds his weakness.  Steroids this week are building his strength though! 

We have just been heartsick all week over the loss of one of the strongest cancer fighters we've met.  This is precious little Kyssi and her AMAZING mother!  She says Kyssi won her battle against cancer this week, because she is now in Heaven and out of pain and in the arms of Jesus. 
Kyssi taught Caleb how to position his body when nurses access his port-a-cath for chemo, so that it doesn't hurt.  She helped him so much with that knowledge.  Every time he does it from now on, I know Kyssi will know how much pain she spared him by helping out.  What a precious, precious, precious angel.  It's hard to believe she's gone from this Earth.  She was truly fuller than life itself. 
 Chemotherapy has been brutal during the Texas heat for Caleb.  While he usually has a stomach of steel and can ride the craziest rides without a worry and never gets motion sickness, it has been brutal on his stomach. 
Yes, that's him, upside down!  Don't worry - he didn't let it stop him!  He pushed himself through it.  Kyssi would be proud that he refuses to let chemo slow him down. 
Caleb's baseball team sailed through the Play-offs and ended up in the Championship Game!!! Proud of those lil' Dodgers!
It was pretty scary during the final game though - the high humidity and heat were too powerful for our little slugger.  His body overheated.  He was horrified to have to lie down in the middle of the game and be iced down.  His medications come with warnings about the sun, and it caught up with him this time.  He didn't want to have to miss a moment of the game. 

On a much happier note - Caleb wrapped-up the school year with honors!  His chemo has been known to cause learning disabilities, but that just hasn't been the case for Cal, and we are so thrilled about that!!!  Definitely answered prayers!
Zach & Caleb were both honored for scoring so high on their standardized testing!  Caleb was also happy to win the 1st Grade Spelling Bee and tie for 2nd place in a Math Contest!
Caleb also graduated from being a Tiger Cub Scout and is now a BIG BEAR!  He's really excited about next year and all of the fun scouting events to come.  

Other BIG NEWS... Caleb turned 8 on May 29th!!!!   

Forget acting like a cancer patient - he wanted a "rough and tumble" birthday party!  It started it off with a wild game of flag football... (I was hoping that's a non-contact sport.  Ha! ha!  No such luck.)  :-) 
He enjoyed a competitive game of laser tag at his party too!
He wrapped it up by walking the rafters - through a tough obstacle course about 20 feet in the air.  Gotta love those safety ropes!
Caleb is enjoying a peaceful summer and lots of extra time with "the Maggers"! 

We're so proud of Caleb - on his own - he decided to stay away from his iPad as much as possible.  He asked us to enroll him in a reading contest at our local library!  WOW, be still my heart.  :-) 

He won a trophy & certificates today for reading 20 books last week!
When the going gets tough, the tough get going.  We can do that because of our amazing network of supporters!  
My wonderful cousin, Gerri, sent us a care package so amazing, it's worth sharing!
Gerri knows how much being "courageous like a lion" means to Caleb - so she made us this DVD cover & a video that has POSITIVE photos from the past two years of Caleb's treatment.  It reminds us about how many great things have happened because of Cal's diagnosis!  She put it over the soundtrack "It Takes Courage to Stand Strong".  What a powerful tune.  Here's a link to the song:

She also sent Caleb this super cool cap that says "Chemo:  All the cool kids are doing it!"  The shirt she sent Zach says, "I Stand Alongside My Brother To Win the Battle".  LOVE THAT.  It's so true, too!  

David's cousin, Joe, surprised us with this photo - of him wearing a special "Caleb's Courage" bracelet, in front of a fierce lion he found while traveling to Philadelphia.  Cal LOVES this!  :)
We are so very appreciative of our family and friends who have continued to keep us in their thoughts & prayers all this time.  We realize that most cancer treatment ends for patients within six months.  Thanks for being in it with us for the long haul.  We know four years is a LONG TIME, but YOU make a world of difference.

In honor of our little friend, Kyssi: 
2 Timothy 4:7 
"I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith."

We will keep the faith forever.

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.