Saturday, 31 March 2012

This Week...

Attempting to process this last week of life has been difficult, hence the lack of updates.

Mom's high point this week was Wednesday, and the last few days have been unkind to her. She's had an excruciating pain episode (the cancer is up against a major nerve center), some complications from her pain medications, and a nasty bought with nausea.

She starts chemo next Friday, and we are really hoping and praying that she is one of the 25% of people for whom chemo provides relief (also known as "clinical benefit"). She needs some respite right now. The pain and nausea have been taxing.

Next week holds a bunch of final tests and appointments necessary for her to begin chemo. We are so looking forward to completing those and hopefully getting on a more regular schedule.

Please continue to pray that Mom will find the right balance of pain medications, that the chemo would effectively provide her with relief and shrink her tumor, and that she will get good rest and be able to eat. Most of all, pray for her spirit. The pain has been grinding at her for days, and it is hard to keep your head up and fight when you always feel awful.

The boys have settled in and while they are a little confused that Jjaja is not as energetic as she used to be, they have been quite happy with the amount of TV watching they get to do with her now. Tommy has seen two whole movies this week - a major coup in Tommy world. They are (as usual) pleased as punch to have a backyard to play outside in whenever they want, and thanks to the hard work of a certain Mr. Hamilton fixing our fence, they will soon be able to do so while requiring less adult attention. Then I will have no excuse not to tackle the mounting pile of dishes and laundry - yeehaw. The boys have also been so happy to spend time with their Papa. He is teaching them how to hit the t-ball with skill. I usually just slap the ball on the tee and let them bash away at it, so this will definitely improve their game.

I'm slightly less tired than I was a few days ago. The boys have been sleeping fairly well, and this has helped tremendously. I am really trying hard to remember to eat regularly and take my iron pills. I noticed today that I no longer have a belly button. I can't wait to show the boys (they are currently napping) because they have been anticipating the end of my belly button for weeks now. Tomorrow I hit 35 weeks, so I knew it had to be coming soon. Please pray for my energy levels to stay high as I care for the kids and mom.

Wednesday, 28 March 2012

Updates on Everyone

Well, we made it to CA. The trip was exhausting, even thought it wasn't particularly eventful, but we are starting to recover and settle in. I still have some unpacking to do, but I feel like we are making good progress. The boys are a little out of sorts from all the travel, so please pray that they settle down and get into a manageable sleep routine soon (especially Nic). He has been up the last few nights at odd times, and I need more sleep. I'm actually feeling fine except for the exhaustion and occasional aches and pains, but it sure would be nice to sleep through the night.

We are still waiting for the official results from Mom's biopsy on Monday, but, we know that they got a good sample this time. The oncologist has the preliminary results and they were exactly what he expected. We met with him today and got a number of our questions answered (which was great) and mom should be accepted into the UCLA clinical trial that she was hoping to get into AND hopefully will be starting her first round of chemotherapy sometime next week. We don't have the official appointment yet. We are so thankful that she will be starting treatment soon, because we were all starting to get a little antsy.

We also had a wonderful meeting with a pain management team, and we feel confident that Mom will be having an easier time of it once she starts to consistently have less pain. For the last two days she has found a good balance with her medications and has been feeling much more herself. She has been more active (is there a choice with two rambunctious boys running around?), has been eating more, and has been able to get out of the house a bit.

Please pray for:

Official acceptance into the clinical trial

An appointment to begin chemotherapy next week

Continued ability to eat regular foods (and gain weight), and that food would start tasting better to her.

Manageable pain and discomfort (or none at all would be even better)
Strength and rest in preparation for the chemotherapy

Thank you all so much for your continued prayers! Mom and Dad want to reiterate that they are so appreciative of your cards, messages, emails, and all of the love you have been showing them.

Sunday, 25 March 2012


How "pinterest" are we?

People have been asking....and the answer is Kenneth James Asiimwe. We figured we should spill the beans since Tommy has been running around discussing the upcoming arrival of "baby Kenny" to just about anyone with ears.

Kenneth was Jeff's Dad's name, James is after Amy's Grandpa Reinhardt and one of our favorite books of the Bible, and Asiimwe means "Praise Him [the Lord]" in Tommy's native tongue.

Saturday, 24 March 2012

Quick Update

Good news on two fronts:

Someone cancelled their biopsy at the last minute, so Mom got an appointment for Monday morning! The office has been very very busy, thus we thought it might be at least a week before they fit her in, so we are so thankful that God provided this opportunity. Please pray that the doctor would be able to get better samples this time around and that they would provide the results the oncologist needs to direct her treatment.

Nic (escorted by Jeff) came home from the ER last night. All of his tests came back clear for sickle-related issues, so they have (once again) chalked his fever up to a virus. Since this is what we were hoping for, we are quite pleased. Please pray that it would clear up and that Tommy and I would stay healthy so we can get on our flight to CA Monday night.

Friday, 23 March 2012

When it Rains, It Snows

Nic woke up this morning with a slight fever. It hit 101 mid-morning, then went back down a bit. His hematologist said that because of the fever virus going around, and because Nic has been otherwise doing fine all day, that we could administer Tylenol and watch him, but we had to go straight to the ER if the fever broke 101 again. Of course his fever hovered around 100 until bedtime, when it jumped to 103 (on Tylenol). Jeff has taken him in for evaluation. Please pray that this is indeed a virus and not sickle-related so that they can come home from the hospital. Also, pray that it clears up and neither Tommy nor I get sick so we can get on our plane on Monday. I really really want to be on that plane to see my mom.

Thursday, 22 March 2012

Update on Mary: A Bit of Progress

Mom made it to both appointments today!

Unfortunately, it turns out that the biopsy she had done last week needs to be redone, and until this happens chemo/radiation can't begin. However, their main doctor is working on mapping out a plan for her (based on what he believes the results of the biopsy will be), as well as giving her better suggestions for pain and discomfort management. We are hoping that the new medication schedule he has one will decrease her current pain levels.

Here are the things that need prayer:

Scheduling of a new biopsy, as quickly as possible

Application and acceptance to a promising trial for pancreatic cancer at UCLA, pending biopsy results (obviously treatment occurring at UCLA would be far superior to any other option. GO BRUINS!)

For the tumor to stop growing, and to shrink with the onset of chemo

Wisdom for her doctor as he continues to weigh her options and map out her path for treatment

Relief from severe pain and discomfort

Proper nourishment and weight gain

Tommy, Nic, and I are scheduled to visit starting Monday, if my next OB appointment goes smoothly and everything looks good with my pregnancy. Please pray that we will all remain healthy and that we can get on that plane Monday night.

Thank you all so much for your continued prayers!

One Year

Of sweet cuddles
big smiles
silly kisses
nose rubs
koala hugs
and falling in love with one adorable little boy.

We are so thankful that this little munchkin joined our family one year ago today. It is an honor and blessing to parent him.

Happy "Family Day" Nic!

Wednesday, 21 March 2012

Cute Yearbooks...

Shutterfly is now offering photo yearbooks, and in exchange for a brief review of the product, they are offering me a free photobook. Since all of you can understand why I might want a free photobook right about now (I want to make a book for the boys of some fun times with their Jjaja), I figure you will all bear with me for this product post. And, yes, I have to post a disclaimer about there it is.

I have to admit that I am very behind the times- all of my photo albums are, well, old school albums. I have yet to get up the nerve to actually make a photobook. This is rather embarrassing, but I am looking forward to rectifying that situation soon. Not being terribly familiar with the medium, I was really impressed by the formats and templates offered by the Shutterfly for making photo yearbooks. They look just as nice (maybe nicer) than any school yearbook I ever purchased, and I like that you have the option to print small or large quantities, with a bulk discount to boot. It's been a long time since I purchased a yearbook - I won't tell you exactly how long - but the prices appear much more reasonable than what I remember. This looks like a fantastic option for motivated parents to save money for their schools while providing kids with fun memories at the end of the year. Since you can order smaller numbers it looks like an ideal way to capture memories of homeschool groups/activities or even a fun way to look back on church youth group memories from a year.

Here are the links for following shutterfly on social networks so you can be the first to hear about all their promotions and products.


Tuesday, 20 March 2012

Update on Mary: New Prayer Requests

Mom has been feeling very bad the last few days. She has been unable to keep any food down, and without food in her stomach she can't take her pain medication. Please pray that she would be able to find some foods she can tolerate, and that she would be able to hold something down so she can take the medicine and maintain her weight (gaining would be even better).

She meets with two different oncologists on Thursday. The appointments are scheduled very close together, and she really needs to make them both, so please pray that she gets in and out of the first appointment in a timely manner and that the traffic is clear so that she can easily make her second appointment. We are hoping that these appointments will provide clarity about her situation and a course of treatment.

She and Dad want to reiterate their thanks for all of your prayers, cards, notes, dinners, work around the house, and support. They are thankful to have so many friends, both near and far, holding them up in prayer and loving them through this. Praise God that you are a blessing in their lives.

Monday, 19 March 2012

All we need are a camera and an audience

Oh, you silly boys.

Friday, 16 March 2012

Update on Mary: Up...and then Down

Mom had her final diagnostic test yesterday, and the results were discouraging. Apparently, even though the cancer has not spread (for which we are still very grateful) the sheer size of Mom's tumor (which was impressive enough to cause the Doctor to mutter to himself, "It's huge!"), and the extent to which the tumor has wrapped itself around important blood vessels and nerves is leading to a categorization of the cancer as Stage Four. For context, there are only four stages, and one is the best. That said, because it has not spread, there is still a chance that chemo and radiation could shrink the tumor and make Mom's outlook better (pray, pray, pray).

Mom and Dad are heading to a meeting with (hopefully) two sets of oncologists at the end of next week to get opinions on possible courses of treatment. Currently they are having trouble getting both appointments scheduled (both oncologists want to see them at the same time), so please pray that they can get the scheduling sorted out. We want to know that Mom is getting the best treatment possible, and it never hurts to have a second set of eyes look over her results and suggest different options.

Mom's tumor may be extraordinarily large, but we know that our God is even bigger. We will continue to beseech Him to heal her, if that is His will. Whatever He chooses, we know she is in His loving hands, and there is no better place to be than that.

Summer in March, or done in by the zoo

Because the weather is so beautiful, and because I needed a distraction, I decided to take the boys to the zoo yesterday. It's been maybe a month since we did a zoo trip, and, wow, has going to the zoo gotten a lot harder now that my belly is so big. It didn't help that it was at least eighty degrees, I was pushing both kids in a stroller, and I was wearing jeans...because when you plan to give birth in the very beginning of May and you live in Chicago you really shouldn't need maternity shorts.

I got more than one sympathetic comment. It's funny, because I am used to people saying weird things to us regarding adoption, our family, the boy's appearance, etc, but I was caught off-guard by someone mentioning my pregnancy. I have received very few random comments about it (and NO strangers belly patting me, thank goodness), so it struck me as funny when I got multiple comments on the same day...all of which were nice and along the lines of how sweet it was for me to brave the zoo with the kids.

I did not realize how self-sacrificial I was until I woke up this morning and was almost unable to move. I was so tired. My legs hurt so badly. Even my compression stockings (which I wear faithfully) did not spare me from the aching pain in my calves. I feel OLD. And large. I knew that the day would come when I could hardly hoist myself from a chair, but I was really hoping that it would arrive around week 38. I can do "beached whale" for a few weeks, but two more months of this? I realize that pregnancy is a glorious miracle and such, but it feels a lot less glorious now than it did two months ago.

Whatever the aftermath, we had a great time at the zoo. I finally took the kids to the Dolphin show. It was a hit with Tommy, and Nic fell asleep. The boys had a blast hanging on the fences and watching the Kangaroos, and visited most of their favorite animals. Of course, we couldn't leave before they had painted their faces and doctored a stuffed animal in the vet clinic. Check out these cute fellows:

Wednesday, 14 March 2012

Update on Mary (some good news)

The results from yesterday's PET scan came back...and the cancer has NOT spread. It is large and on the pancreas, but it is only on the pancreas. Whatever the spots are on her lungs...they are not cancer. We are rejoicing.

Tomorrow mom has another test scheduled to examine the tumor more carefully and confirm her cancer type, and next week they meet with the oncologist to discern what her treatment options might be (radiation, chemo, etc). Thank you for your continued prayers.

We are so grateful for everyone who is praying for Mom and us, and reaching out to assist our whole family during this time. We are so thankful that God has placed each of you in our lives.

Tuesday, 13 March 2012

32 Weeks!

I had my 32 week appointment today. I change weeks on Sunday but I've always scheduled my appointments for Tuesdays because I know I will have a car then. I brought the boys along, as is my new routine, and they were on their best behavior. Strapping them into a stroller helps a lot on that count. Being complimented incessantly by all the nurses also seems to inspire them.

My measurement is right on target, my blood pressure is perfect (a miracle in itself considering the events of the past week), and my doctor fully supports me flying home to see my mom this month, so I am heading home for Palm Sunday and Easter along with the (little) boys. I am so glad to have the "all clear" on the trip. I will go and see the doctor again the day I leave to make sure that everything looks good before we board the plane. It is so nice not to be high-risk anymore!

After the appointment we had a little time left to play outside. We are enjoying beautiful, summer-like weather right now (very odd for this time of year), so we needed to take advantage of the sunshine.

Monday, 12 March 2012

A Sunday Afternoon At The Park, Or Nic Naps Outside

We had some great weather on Sunday so after lunch we packed up the stroller and took a walk to the park. I must have given the boys a bit too smooth of a ride because Nic was out by the time we got there. So Amy had a nice time reading in the warmth of the sun, and Tommy and I got to spend a good two hours having fun just the two of us. Here are some photos, bookended by shots of Nic asleep in the stroller:

By the time we got back home, Nic woke up and was ready to play (alright, let's do this - wait, what did I miss?).

Tommy lasted about 15 minutes before he crashed - upright on the couch while looking at pictures from the park.

Oh, how I love my boys.