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. 

Sunday, February 22, 2015

A Restful Week

Caleb spent the past week, quietly at home, because of doctor's orders.  With flu in our area, his Oncologist wanted us to be pro-active and not take any chances. 

He's very well-rested now and more than ready to get back to school!
Caleb had a positive check-up this week at Texas Children's Hospital!
 Luckily, his appointment was on President's Day, and his big bro had the holiday off from school.
That means Zachary planned plenty of funny actions & distractions, to help keep Caleb's mind off of needles & medicine. 
Caleb has now undergone seventeen months of treatment.  He doesn't like to talk about cancer or sickness, so we constantly avoid the topic.  
As you can see, he still has a great sense of humor (silly boy at the Houston Zoo).
Caleb just started practicing with his new team for spring baseball.  He's been doing great, but is very frustrated that his little legs get so tired.  He has also gotten somewhat fearful of the ball, concerned it will hit him in the upper chest and smash into the port-a-caterer that is implanted there for chemotherapy.  David is helping coach his team and trying to help him overcome it. We'll soon be cheering on the Dodgers!

Caleb is also quite the Tiger Cub Scout this year and loves every aspect of it.  
The boys were given the challenge of baking & decorating their own cake with only their dad's help.
That was a fun mess, and they rocked it with their sweet racing derbies!  They were excited to win "most colorful cake". 
Caleb recently enjoyed a fun hiking & boating outing with his grandparents, though his legs failed him.  He had a hard time keeping up and asked to be carried most of the way.
It's hard for people who don't know Caleb's situation to understand.  I often get "dirty looks" from other moms who wonder why I'm carrying my "50 pound baby" in the store or why he has to sit down in the middle of an aisle sometimes to rest.  I try to shrug it off and think, "If you only knew."  We know, and that's all that matters.  I do know they'd feel really bad if they found out he was undergoing daily chemo and how tired he gets after a long day of playing at school or after pushing himself in baseball practice.  We've come to accept this side effect of treatment (tired, sore legs), and it never keeps Cal from at least trying anything & everything.  We believe that's because of his incredible support system and prayers from you.
Caleb's love of golf continues, so we're thankful for GOLF CARTS.  :)
Cal has two exciting events coming up.  He has been asked, along with our family, to model at a luncheon for the Boys & Girl's Harbor on March 28th at Houston's Omni Hotel. 

Then on April 28th, the Candlelighters Childhood Cancer Family Alliance is honoring Caleb as a "Courage of Light" at their luncheon at River Oaks Country Club.  We hope that his appearances will bring to light the prevalence of childhood cancer and how much we can learn from these little ones who are fighting disease.  Caleb has taught us so many life's lessons.  He seems to clearly understand that we all suffer from trials and tribulations, but no matter what, we have to overcome the obstacles.  Jesus can always "walk us through it", if we just ask for help.

Romans 12:12 is the perfect example:  Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer.

God bless you all, and thank you for your continued love, prayers, and support throughout this loooong treatment process.

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

A Healing Place

Our family just got back from a peaceful visit to the Texas Hill Country.  
R&R with Big brother, Zach.
Caleb had a great start to the new year, as doctors reduced his chemo to 50%, to help avoid another hospitalization. That means he has felt GREAT!  He's back up to 75% of the original dose, which is starting to take its toll.  Cal has been way too nauseous to eat breakfast the past few weeks.  Luckily, he usually feels better by mid-day.  We got spoiled while Caleb was feeling so well, so it's been difficult for our family to adjust to the new dosage and the side-effects that come with it.

However, our trip to Fredericksburg restored our faith in Caleb's strength!  

Caleb promised us he'd be the first to make it up to the top of Enchanted Rock, and he left us in his dust! 
It was almost a mile from our car to the top of that steep, granite rock.  Soooo proud of him.  
He did it just like he fights cancer - with serious determination.  That's his little body in the blue shirt, toward the left... a little man on quite a big mission.  He was asleep before we pulled away, so we know what a serious mindset it took, to pull it off.  He looked at it as "conditioning" for the upcoming baseball season.  :)

Positive news at Caleb's appointment today! His spinal tap results show he is very much in remission, so his chemo is doing its job well!  It's hard some days to not begrudge all of these drugs that zap his energy, but they're saving his life, so we must be extremely thankful for them and the brilliant doctors, who came up with them.  Plus we praise God for unexpected surges of energy!
A big moment for Caleb kicked-off the new year!  A local radio celeb & founder of the Snowdrop Foundation presented Caleb his medal from his 120th marathon.  Kevin Kline runs to raise money for childhood cancer research.  Caleb is so proud of his medal.
Our dear friend, Christine DeLeon, just ran the Houston Marathon in Caleb's honor, as well, to raise money for the Sunshine Kids!

David & I spoke to a huge team of runners, raising money for the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society at this year's marathon.  It was special for Caleb to inspire them all and remind them why they were running 26.2 miles.  :)

Some wonderful visitors joined us at the Cancer Center, today!  You may recall one of my previous blog posts about a friend from Cal's school, who came up with the idea to combine soap & lotion (Soshen) to help our dry hands (constant washing, to avoid germs).  Ben Mize has become quite a little businessman and is selling the product now.

Even better, he's donating a portion of his proceeds to Texas Children's Hospital, in honor of Caleb.  Ben wrote his very first check of $500!
Ben & Caleb presented the check to a Representative from Texas Children's Hospital.  What a positive life's lesson.  Of course, Ben has learned from two of the best - his loving & giving parents, Mark & Heather!   :)
Our specific prayers right now are for Caleb to breeze through flu season and remain healthy!  Every time he coughs or sneezes, the fear of flu seems taller than a mountain.  It's a very dangerous, unpredictable strain this year.  Every day, we ask God to protect him from germs & command his body to reject flu germs.

With God on our side, we feel we can all conquer any mountain! 
One of our darling family members gave me a daily reminder that having the courage of a lion will get us through it all... 

This beautiful lion charm "Courage" means so much to me.  Thanks, Laurie, for your love & support!  :)

Thank you for continuing to follow Caleb's cancer journey and for your thoughts and prayers. 
Much love to you all!

Monday, December 22, 2014

I'll Be Home For Christmas!

That's the first thing Caleb said Friday, when he was released from Texas Children's Hospital!  We had a little scare with an unexpected illness, and Caleb & Zach had to miss their Christmas parties at school on Friday because of it.  The timing was tough... they were both very sad to miss such a special occasion with their friends & cherished teachers.

Caleb underwent a lumbar puncture (spinal tap) today.  His Oncologist injected chemo into his spine, plus took a sample to test.  We feel confident the results will come back & prove his cancer is still in remission!

Cal starts back on steroids today, so that will give him a great appetite for his grandmothers' special Christmas treats!

Caleb also got IV chemo today, which is more medicine than his little body is used to.  The steroids should also help him overcome that.

Caleb has had a special month, thanks to several local organizations & sports stars.   We're so thankful for the men who use their celebrity to help cheer up the lives of children fighting cancer.

Caleb & Zach got to hang out with Baseball Great Craig Biggio at the Sunshine Kid's party.
The Houston Texans/Tennessee Titans Kevin Walter & Texans Chris Myers add rays of sunshine to the event!

Then the Candlelighters Childhood Cancer Family Alliance & The Houston Rockets invited Caleb & Zach to a fun celebration.   

A nice "Welcome" from Hall of Famer Calvin Murphy & Zany "Clutch". 
Now that's quite a basketball player.  :)
The Rockets seemed to really enjoy spreading Christmas cheer to these children fighting cancer and also to their siblings, who also have a tough time because of cancer!

To wrap up the month, Zachary got baptized!   He has patiently waited a year and a half, after walking forward in our church.  He postponed it the first time when Caleb was hospitalized and had to stay home for a year.  Then, he postponed it after one of Caleb's recent emergency hospitalizations.  It was important for him to have his little brother there. 

It was a glorious day for our family.  Zach is a great role model for his little bro. 
David got to do the honors of baptizing Zach, with the assistance of a pastor.

Christmas is always magical, but we seem to take it even more seriously now.  It means so much to us to celebrate Jesus' birth.  I have no idea how we would've survived the past fifteen months without truly believing:

I can do everything through Him who gives me strength.  Phillipians 4:13

Caleb is resting comfortably tonight, and we know our Savior is watching over him.

Happy Birthday, Jesus!  Thank you for bringing us light and love and hope.  

As for our faithful friends and family, may you have a very Merry Christmas and many blessings of good health throughout the coming year.