Monthly Archives: August 2012

Quick Update


Phoebe Update:
Phoebe spiked a high fever at 2am this morning and we had to take her in to get intravenous antibiotics. When we got to the ER we learned that Phoebe’s hemoglobin and platelets were very low and her ANC (immune system) was almost at zero.

She received a platelet infusion in the ER, and then they transferred her up to the Hematology/Oncology floor where she received a unit of blood (Thanks to all who have donated in Phoebe’s name). After she received her blood, she started to perk up and even had enough energy for a PT session.

Phoebe will remain in the hospital until her immune system comes back in four to five days.

Boys Update:
Deacon is starting to get over his virus, while Ben is in the throes of it and Averic has just started the beginning stages of the virus. It’s not a particularly nasty virus but enough to necessitate separating them from Phoebe. We are hoping by the time Phoebe is discharged next week, everyone will be well enough and we will be reunited at last.

As always thank you from the bottom of our hearts for your prayers, comments and support. I can’t tell you what it means to know that we are not in this alone.


Phoebe snuggling with daddy as she recovers from a rough 12 hours

Phoebe snuggling with daddy as she recovers from a rough 12 hours

A House Divided


Don’t worry, it’s not what you think. I’m not quite the writer Amey is, so I have to rely on flashy titles to get your attention.

Phoebe finished a round of chemo last weekend, and at the same time Deacon and Benjamin started getting sick. An old family friend gave us a few days at a time share in East Texas that we planned on using together as a family. But Phoebe’s counts were too low (basically no immune system and low hemoglobin) and her brothers are too sick. So we decided Amey would take the boys to the time share and I would stay home with Phoebe.

Phoebe is doing well and in high spirits even though she doesn’t really seem to feel good, probably because of the low hemoglobin. If she continues to be sluggish or get headaches, I will take her in for a blood transfusion.

This is the dangerous time when she is most susceptible to sickness and infection. Please be praying that Phoebe’s counts will come back up soon so Amey and the boys will be able to come back home.


Phoebe adapting and using her feet as hands

Daring To Dream


She’s eating spaghetti and dipping the dinner roll in butter and the sun has settled just so on the side of her face. Angelic. The last of the tumor-killing poison is dripping into her line and tomorrow morning will find us packing up and heading home.

And “home” is on my mind.

“Home” has been a 15 passenger van with 13 other people our first year of marriage. “Home” has been a tiny apartment in a suburb of Mexico. “Home” has been an 80 year old log cabin with snakes in the closet, where I brought my first baby home. “Home” has been an upstairs apartment at language school, a duplex in town, a friend’s rental house, a mobile home on our missions base, and lovely rent house in Chapala Mexico where Phoebe came home just hours after she was born.

And I was born for this. Made for all this moving. I had always wanted to “go”. And in my going God has taken me to China, Mongolia, Denmark, Sweden, France, Guatemala, Honduras and Mexico. I have lugged babies and cumbersome pregnant bellies onto cross-country busses and airplanes and into mountain villages with thin air. It hasn’t been glamorous, but it has been an adventure. The adventure He invited me to when I was 21.

There has been a lot of laughter. Much awe. Fear so thick I could cut it with a knife. A ridiculous amount of grace. A sense of wonder at His plan. And a dream of Mexico. And of my children growing up there. A dream of being useful there, and being challenged beyond what I think I am capable of. And seeing the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living.

And of course this is not Mexico, and I am not “going” much these days. And the year at the farm and the prayers for direction and God closing doors one by one was surreal. And then diagnosis and surgery and chemo and life in Dallas and all this trying to rearrange the plan. Wakeful nights spent trying to re-imagine where God was really going with all that….and what do you want us to do now Lord?

And home.

Where do we make our home?

She’s asleep now in this dark hospital room, flourescent green lights casting a glow on her sweet profile. City lights spread out beneath my window and I can see the hospital corridors across the street, the hallways that are so familiar to me now. She has sat on that bench, there is our clinic room, and across the street, the Marriott where we recovered from 48 hours of sleeplessness after brain surgery. Familiar. But not home.

For months I have felt a longing for a life more ordinary. He has too, he feels walled in and ready to expand. Our backyard is quickly turning into a tilapia sanctuary and this is not our dirt to dig in. But how to make a new start when cancer is a part time job and unpredictable too? And the boys are needing roots and a place to fit. So we went out on a limb, spent the day in East Texas where we met and fell in love and had our first two babies and gew up in the Lord. And we looked at land and houses and dreamed again out loud. Of agriculture training for third world application and family camps and we dreamed of boys in the woods and of owning something for the first time. We dreamed of roots and wings and trusting God for things we seem incapable of.

It felt good. And hope is powerful. And He is still making a path for our feet…

Phoebe has done well so far with this round. Deacon however, has a virus and we are trying to decide how to keep them separated for now.

Thank you all for being with us each step of the way,


Next Round Of Chemo In-Patient


Phoebe continues to make strides (no pun intended) with her physical therapy. She is able to take steps now with less and less help. She also received orthotics that should help the process along. Every time I see her try to walk, I just imagine the day when she will be running around the house and playing outside with her brothers.


We started the day out today in cardiology where Phoebe received an echocardiogram to make sure her heart is standing up well to the chemo and strong enough to start again tonight. The test was administered by a sweet family friend, Phoebe has connections everywhere! We will let you know the results of the test when we get them.

As I write this, Phoebe and I are sitting at the hospital clinic waiting to be admitted to the oncology floor where she will undergo the next round of chemo treatment. This one is a little sad because she will lose the hair she has re-grown over the past two months of a more relaxed chemo regiment. Last week she received spinal tap chemo and today she will start on some of the more nasty drugs, which can make her sick and cause her hair to fall out.

Phoebe napping before chemo treatments

Please pray for Phoebe as she spends the week in the hospital undergoing treatment. I have been really praying a lot lately for protection for all of Phoebe’s parts that could be damaged by the chemo. So please pray for her heart, brain, liver, eyes, hearing and kidneys specifically as the chemo attacks the cancer. The list of side effects from her treatment can be terrifying, but we draw comfort from God’s word to His people in Isaiah:

 ‘Do not fear, for I am with you; Do not anxiously look about you, for I am your God. I will strengthen you, surely I will help you, surely I will uphold you with My righteous right hand.’  “Behold, all those who are angered at you will be shamed and dishonored; Those who contend with you will be as nothing and will perish. “ You will seek those who quarrel with you, but will not find them, those who war with you will be as nothing and non-existent. “For I am the Lord your God, who upholds your right hand, Who says to you, ‘ Do not fear, I will help you.’

-Isaiah 41:10-13

Thank You All!

Nathan (Phoebe’s Dad)

Phoebe's Stuff

Phoebe’s Stuff

To phoebe


Happy Birthday to my Phoebelicious!

Happy birthday to the one who taught me that life is too precious a gift to waste even a second on things that do not matter. Happy birthday to the one who helped me earn my endocrinology doctorate in 8 months. Happy birthday to the one who faces every new challenge with a brave and resolute spirit.

Happy birthday to the one who has touched more people in her short life than most people will in a life-time. Happy birthday to the one who has taught me so much about love, grace, peace, endurance and life. Happy birthday to the one who draws in everyone she meets and who never met a stranger. Happy birthday to the one who knows God on a level I may never understand. Happy birthday to the one who can put away Cheerios like nobody’s business.

Happy birthday to the one who, by the grace of God, is gonna beat this affliction.


Phoebe on her first day (2009)

Here She is…


Here’s the little sweet pea waiting for her turn in the MRI machine…

And here she is with her hard earned pizza and chicken after 18 hours without food! Oh, and her MRI was ALL CLEAR!!

We are packing it up and heading home tonight! Praising God for the good report today and cherishing being able to enjoy good news.




It’s been a busy couple of days. We ventured out of town this weekend to visit my parents in North Texas and at bedtime the first evening was when we realized we had left Phoebe’s water pump charger at home. It never fails, we end up out of town without an important medicine or in this case a battery charger that we desperately needed. We decided that we would try to make a go of it by just using the pump at night when she needs continuous water through her ng tube and we would manually push water into her tube through a syringe every fifteen minutes for her two day bolus’. Fun.

Everything was going according to plan until the 2nd night when I dropped Phoebe’s DDAVP vial on the kitchen floor when I was drawing up her bedtime dose. It smashed to pieces and I was fortunate to be able to get the last few drops out of the smashed bottle, enough for her bedtime shot dose. But DDAVP is what regulates her kidneys and urine output so she MUST have it every twelve hours. Which led to a midnight conversation with our endocrinologist in Dallas and a prescription fill at a 24 hour pharmacy 45 minutes away. Take note: if your child has cancer, living near a 24 hour pharmacy is a must. Nathan was going to leave early in the morning to fill the prescription before her next shot was due, but at 2 am her water pump battery began to beep letting us know it was dying. Phoebe can’t make it through the night without a water bolus, so we either had the option of setting our alarm for 15 minute intervals and pushing water through her tube for 6 hours straight or Nathan driving her the hour and  15 back to Dallas to plug her pump in.

So, At 2 am my husband; the best father in the world, loaded Phoebe up and drove 45 minutes to Denton to pick up her DDAVP med and then home to Dallas to hook her up to her water pump. At 7 am she spiked a fever and at 8am it hadn’t abated, so off to the ER he went with her. This man deserves a Gold Medal in being a servant hearted husband and father..Phoebe was given antibiotics as a precaution and then admitted when her sodium level came back high because they wanted to regulate her sodium for her MRI today. So, Nathan’s Dad came and got the boys and I in North Texas and I traded places with Nathan at the hospital.

Without making a long story even longer, I’ll just say that I spent my night arguing with the new resident doctor about water levels and trying to get Phoebe’s saline bolus switched from 1/2 normal to 1/4 normal and sneaking Sprite to her. At 6 am when all of their efforts failed and her sodium was going UP rather than down (which is the whole reason we were admitted in the first place) he finally let me run the show. I told him I wanted 70 mls in her ng tube water bolus and her IV saline reduced and I proceeded to give her water pushes through her syringe when no one was looking. This is such an uncomfortable  position to be in sometimes, but I have discovered that she suffers when I don’t advocate for her. Who knew we would have to be so “on our toes” in Phoebe’s care  regarding even the medical side of things? I find that most doctors will say “You obviously know your child better than we do, BUT we want to do x,y,z and see if that works” and when I already know AND TELL them that we have tried x,y and z before and it doesn’t work and they don’t listen, what do I do then? Grrrrrrrrrrr.

So, at long last, her sodium is on the down swing thanks to the help of a nurse that knows me and Phoebe well. She told the resident to hand over the reigns 🙂 Lol. I am not trying to sound prideful, but it really IS true…when it comes to managing Phoebe’s Diabetes Insipidus, we do a better job than the residents on the floor. End of rant.

Right now Phoebe is in the playroom painting with her friends who have Leukemia. I have missed being around the other cancer parents here. There is an instant, overwhelming connection with a parent who has a little one with cancer. The woman I met today has been walking through chemotherapy with her 3 year old daughter since 2010. Incredible. The other sweet family we always encounter in the halls has a 1 year old with 2 separate types of Leukemia. She is now on experimental drugs. My heart aches and swells in this place. I want to wrap those parents in a big hug and cry with them, but I rememeber my reaction when others have done the same to me. At times, the veil is so thin between maintaining composure and completely going over the edge and pity from others can shatter you into a thousand tiny little fragments. So, I maintain my composure with them so that they may maintain theirs. We both understand.

It is noon now, and soon Phoebe will be be taken down  and prepped for her MRI. She will be intubated and sedated and it will take 2 hours to complete the procedure. She will also receive her intrathecal (spinal) chemotherapy injection for this next round. We will have results shortly after the MRI. Please pray that she does well with the entire procedure and of course for No Evidence of Disease.  MRI days hold a lot of anxiety and also a lot of joy when the results are clear. But we also understand the gravity of these test results should they be bad. Thank you all for standing with us.


And other days, Joy is palpable…


Phoebe is doing great. She has handled this last round of chemo very well so far and her counts were still up at her clinic visit this morning.

One of the most exciting things going on with this sweet girl right now, is that she is fast on her way to WALKING again! Phoebe LOVES her physical therapist and has been so motivated to get back on her feet. Today she took four steps from her stool to the couch bearing her own weight which is just incredible for her, and was absolutely stunning to witness. When she finally receives her orthotics I think she will be walking in no time. She has had some trouble bending her knees in order to sit back down because her muscles are so tight from lack of use. Please pray for that as she moves forward and works hard to get back on her feet.

Here she is with her big brothers helping her during a recent session:

Nathan’s Dad has been with us for the past couple of weeks and he has been a huge help. Phoebe and her Grandad go for long drives when she is feeling emotional and that usually calms her down. He has also done his time at the roller rink with the boys, taken them to the movies and played more than his fair share of board games. This Texas summer heat is obnoxious and I am thankful to have the extra help to keep the boys from bouncing off the walls. I think we will all be glad to get back to the country one of these days so that the boys will have some useful work to put their hands to on the farm. Last year their lives were full of farm chores; collecting eggs, milking goats and cleaning the goat dairy, taking care of pigs, slaughtering chickens and turkeys, harvesting vegetables and working the farm stand drop-off sight. They are ready to get to back to work and I think we are too.

I always joke that Nathan is a frustrated farmer. He lives, eats and breathes aquaponics, ie: the simultaneous raising of fish and vegetables in a  closed system. He has a small system set up in our back yard and we are enjoying the tomatoes, peppers and cucumbers it has produced lately, but he is so ready to expand and set up a large scale system. We are itching for dirt of our own, soil to amend and prep, a garden…chickens and fresh eggs etc. We are praying about our next step and if and when God would have us move while Phoebe is in treatment. Mostly, we are realizing that this could be a very long road, and that we need roots and our kids needs roots and community and support beyond what is possible here in Dallas. Plese pray for us, that God would give us discernment. It’s always said that one should never make big decisions in the midst of crisis, but that is a luxury we do not have.

On August 13th Phoebe will have her next MRI and she will also receive her spinal chemotherapy. Three days later she will turn 3! On August 21st she will go in-patient and begin this next round of chemotherapy. She will be receiving some of the harsher medicines this round so please pray for her.

I am feeling better today than when I last poured out my heart on here. Of course that all changes depending on the day. Such is life going through cancer treatment. I am cherishing Phoebe’s good days and trying to live in the moment. I am leraning that living completely in the moment is a discipline that must be learned. I have to be very purposeful to bring my thoughts captive or else I can be carried away on a wave of grief at any moment. I can get way ahead of God and imagine a future without the grace to bear it all. I have to “cast down foolish imaginations” and be fully present. This is hard work. Some days I fail miserably and am easily overwhelmed. Other days, joy is palpable.

Thank you all for your words of encouragement, words of permission, prayers, love…