Wednesday, May 30, 2007

Wednesday, May 30, 2007: Gotta Love The Steroids!

Kristi had a great day today. She slept all night last night and slept in til 9:30! Answered prayers! Her mood was very good when I got home from work and she even visited with some friends for about an hour. She just relaxed today and even worked on her book a little bit. Her nausea is gone for now. Like I said before, the emotions in this house are like a pendulum. Yesterday was bad, today is good. That's the way we day at a time. Unfortunately, we know it's the steroids in her system from yesterday's chemo treatment and her "high" is only temporary. So we're expecting her to come down from this high tomorrow. Actually, she could already feel herself crashing tonight. She just went to bed and she was already feeling tired. This is her normal routine. She will be tired now until probably extra prayers for Kristi would be appreciated.

I also surprised Kristi with a new look. She's really diggin' the fu manchu. She even dared me to go out in public looking like I did. In my plaid shorts, white T-shirt (at least it wasn't a wife beater), and flip flops I went out sporting my new Fu. I went to Wendy's and picked us up some Frosties. This is really starting to grow on me...I think I'm going to keep it. Even the ladies in the neighborhood dig it. Kristi was so proud to show me off to her friends.

What do you think, Mom, like it?!

Kristi sent out this e-mail tonight...

Sent: Wednesday, May 30, 2007

9:33 PM

I just had to send an update to let everyone know what a wonderful day I had today. Last night wasn’t pretty but as everything else . . . this too shall pass. I was reminded of the verse where the sorrow may last for the night but joy comes in the morning. I took a sleeping pill last night and woke up at 9:30 this morning! I felt so much better and well rested. I knew the kids were taken care of until supper time and that I had nothing to do but take care of myself. Although I am still weak I am on a steroid high from yesterday’s dose. I enjoyed the beautiful weather today and got to go to the school and surprise the kids. They had field day today and were having a great time. I’m so glad the timing worked that I could see them for a little while. My mood has been so peaceful today and I’ve enjoyed every minute of it. I know that the next couple days will be rough with fatigue but instead of dwelling on that, I am enjoying the great mood, wonderful weather and the smell of the roast and potatoes in the oven (thank you Rebergs!).

I spent some time working on our book this morning. Brian and I would like to co-author a book of our experience. One side will be “her story” and the other side will be “his story”. We haven’t seen much out there like this. Mostly there are books for the cancer victims and not a lot for the spouse side. If you could keep this in your prayers it would be great. I feel like there is so much to say and if we can help anyone in the future that has to take this same walk that would be wonderful.

Wow, I started this e-mail this afternoon and now it’s 9:30 already! What a fast day. The roast not only smelled delicious but it was delicious. We had a nice lazy evening and Brian just made a frosty run to Wendy’s for us. What a guy! I’m getting sleepier by the minute and can feel the crash beginning. So, guess I will head to bed now and ride the sleepy wave. Thanks all for your prayers. Please especially keep Brian in your prayers the next few days as I know it’s hard for him to see me so sleepy and out of it not to mention the extra weight he pulls. Thank you thank you thank you!!!!


Tuesday, May 29, 2007

The Blog Gets A New Look!

What do you think of the new look? I was bored and found some new blog templates. Hey, this is the only time I get to play...everyone's in bed and the house is quiet. The Pistons just lost another close game so I'm too wound up to go to bed anyway. I showed Kristi and she liked i guess that means it stays!

Tuesday, May 29, 2007: Round 4 Is Done!

Round 4 is done!! Today for the most part was uneventful. We went in for the 3rd dose of round 4. This was by far the worst round. The fatigues have been terrible and tonight she started throwing up. Ironically, our friend Janna called tonight and I told her “she shouldn’t have any nausea with this dose.” …an hour later she started heaving. She threw up for about a half hour so I called her Doctor. She took some of her anti-nausea pills and they seemed to have helped. Trip to the hospital avoided! Hopefully the nausea doesn’t last long.

As far as the day went…her brother Kevin came out and spent a couple hours with us. That was nice…it made time pass faster. Kristi was very restless today and slept very little. That was very unusual…she normally sleeps the entire time. She also had a very restless night last night. All of her counts are in the toilet again. I have to start her shots to the stomach again tomorrow for 10 days. This should excite her white blood cells to reproduce. Her potassium level was also quite low so she had to get 2 units of potassium today. This was a new one. She will go in for blood work next Tuesday to see how her levels are doing. She’s lost all her color again so another red blood cell transfusion wouldn’t surprise me. She is pretty “wiped out”. She is also very sore...which is a side effect of the chemo. All of her joints and bones are sore...feels like you're coming down with the flu. So, all in all, she's pretty darn miserable tonight. The aches and fatigue should last through the weekend...hopefully not, but usually does.

It sure would be nice if the kids would understand what’s going on. It’s so hard to explain to them that “mommy can’t come down and play double dutch”. It’s also hard to explain to them that I can’t do everything or drop what I’m doing to run out and play. As much as I would love to play, things need to get done. They just don’t understand and that gets frustrating. I let the kids play outside with their friends until 7:00 (keeping supper warm), but then I’m the bad cop because I don’t let them play after dinner. Sigh. Oh well, kids will be kids.

Well, the Tigers and Pistons are on so that’s it for tonight!

Kristi chillin before chemo...

Me and Kristi snuggling before she gets her sleepy meds

Kristi's brother Kevin visited today (she already had her sleepy meds)...

Monday, May 28, 2007

Monday, May 28, 2007: The Fatigues, ugh!

Wow!! Kristi’s blog has been up for only 8 days and it’s had over 1,150 hits!! Her video has been viewed over 260 times…amazing! We received a posting on You-Tube from someone who has several cancer videos on their website and they now have included Kristi’s video on their site and said she is ‘an inspiration’. Our hope was to get Kristi’s story out there and hopefully spread the word of God and how one’s faith can get them through life’s most challenging times…looks like it’s working…thanks for passing on the blog site!!

I’ve really been struggling with this blog thing. I’ve been keeping a journal all along of our victories and struggles. It was my personal journal so I felt free to write whatever I wanted. But now, I feel like I need to edit/filter my/our true feelings so we don’t worry everyone. In fact, some of the early postings in this blog were just cut and pasted right from my journal…then I was reading them the other night and I realized I was probably kind of hard on myself and even Kristi mentioned something about it. I refer to myself as a “loser husband”, etc…but then I thought to myself…”my mother might be reading this!”. So, I went in and edited some of the early postings. That wasn’t really the intent of this blog. The intent of this blog was supposed to be our/my true feelings/struggles so that everyone could understand what we deal with from day to day. So you can see/experience/pray for our extreme mood swings. The mood swings/emotions can swing back and forth like a pendulum out of control some some of you have experienced first hand! So anyway, I’m going to attempt to start using this as more of a journal like I used to and try to be as honest as I can…to an extent. Just know that if one day there is an entry that isn’t so “bright”, don’t think the sky is falling. All we ask is you say a little prayer and chances are next time we see you things will be better again.

I also added a lot of Kristi’s early e-mails that I left out when I first set up the blog. So, if you thought you were all up to date…sorry! I added about 10 or so entries from March/April.

Well, now for the update…we had a great weekend with friends and family! Friday night we had ‘family night’ and had a fire and made s’mores. Suzanne and Larry stopped by long enough to enjoy a s’more with us. Saturday night we went over to the Rietman’s for a grill out. Sunday night we had the Dantuma’s over for a grill out then tonight we had Kristi’s family and my parents (and brother) over for a grill out. All in all, a good weekend. The weekend got off to kind of a rough start for Kristi though. Friday night was good (my last blog entry), but then starting Saturday evening after dinner she started getting nauseous, tired, and an upset tummy set in. Nothing to do with Denny’s cooking I’m sure! It wasn’t pretty until Sunday afternoon. The nausea and upset tummy got better but the fatigue stuck around for the remainder of the weekend. She was still able to visit with our friends and family though so that was good. Kristi mentions something in her e-mail (below) about how wonderful I’ve been over the past week…but seriously, what husband wouldn’t be doing what I’m doing. I’m doing what I can to get by. I just wonder how single parents do this though. I can hardly handle it for a week; how does anyone do this full-time?! All 3 kids yelling at the same time! I just sit down on the couch to read the paper when...Ashley wants to jump rope, Nathan's thirsty, Emily, well, she just yells to make noise - it's what she does. AHHHHHHHHHHH!! Every day.

We have the following prayer requests:

- The 3rd dose of round 4 goes in tomorrow. This will go into her stomach port. Please pray that everything goes well tomorrow.
- Pray that Kristi will rebound from the chemo quickly.
- Her fatigue is quite severe again. We’re thinking her red blood count might be too low again. Pray that her blood count isn’t too low for chemo tomorrow.
- Pray that she gets her energy back soon.
- Kristi has been having a hard time sleeping lately. For the past few nights she just tossed and turned all night. Pray that she gets good sleep...because she wakes me up too!! :)
- Pray for Kristi’s weight…she’s to a new low. Please also pray that this won’t affect the plan for tomorrow and that she will get her appetite back and gain her weight back. She hasn’t been this light since she was 14.
- Pray for Emily as she goes off to Grandma and Grandpa Rogalske’s for the week. She always does well there, but we’ll miss her. Ashley was quite upset tonight as they took her away again.
- Pray for my parents as they have Emily this week.
- Please remember Ashley and Nathan also. Mommy will be down for about another week and we all miss having her around.
- If you’re not prayed out by now, say a little one for me too as I’m tired and cranky…and I too miss having my best friend around. Many nights she struggles just to stay up and be with me to watch TV or just hang out, and that’s great, but she often is like a zombie. In other words, I could be talking or trying to get her attention and it’s like she just has this blank stare in her eyes. I love having her company but miss her sparkle.

Kristi just chillin in the tiki hut before the company arrives...

This one had to be strategically cropped...

We bought this pool for Emily, but look who's on the outside looking in...

My Dad and Grandpa Ditmar relaxing after dinner

Cousin Carlos entertaining Grandma...

Here's Kristi's e-mail she sent out tonight...

Mon 5/28/2007
5:16 PM

Hi everyone,

I hope you are all enjoying this beautiful Memorial Day. We have enjoyed a wonderful weekend with friends and our family is coming over tonight. I have been quite tired this weekend and not able to do much more than visit with friends but thankfully, as always, Brian has taken on the role of dad, nurse, chauffer, psychologist, housekeeper, chef, and much much more, and does it with a smile. I don’t know what I did to deserve him but I’m sure glad I did! Well, enough gush! I go in for day 8 of chemo treatment tomorrow. I can’t say I’m looking forward to it but at least we know last time the stomach port worked without a single complication. The only side effect I’ve had is a great deal of fatigue, which we can definitely handle.

Please continue to keep Eric & Lori in your prayers as they adjust to this new phase in their lives. They have specifically asked for prayers regarding Veterans disability (Eric served in the gulf war). They applied for this last Friday and are waiting to hear if they will be approved. This would greatly relieve some of the financial stress.

Finally, I want to say a huge thank you to everyone. I am so far behind on thank you notes I don’t think I’ll ever catch up. Please know that all the meals that are brought are so very much appreciated and we say a prayer of thanks for the family that brings it. Your gifts from books, flowers, CD’s, fundraisers and so much more have been extremely generous and we will never be able to thank you enough. Please excuse my bad etiquette in not getting thank you notes out and know that we are very grateful.

Some specifics:

*energy for me – although I’m grateful to only have fatigue as a side effect, it is very frustrating to get tired so quickly

*chemo tomorrow will go without problems

*that my appetite will increase

*Emily is going to Brian’s parents for the week – pray that she will stay healthy and be good for grandma & grandpa (is she ever naughty? J)

*the kids as school is quickly coming to an end

*continued extra patience and love for Brian as he fills in for me


Friday, May 25, 2007

Friday, May 25, 2007: Round 4 Recovery

Just thought I would pass along a quick note...Kristi is doing great. The anti-nausea pills work great - very little nausea. The downside is that they make her very sleepy. Kristi has slept most of the past 2 days. Yesterday she was able to spend from 5 - 9PM with me and visiting with my that was nice. Also, tonight she was up from about 7:30 - 11. We even got to watch the season finale of Lost tonight (recorded from Wednesday night). That was a bonus. Other than that, she has spent the entire time in bed. It's good though because she is supposed to be resting. The only downside with that is that daddy gets a short fuse with the kids. Grandma got to see that tonight as I was crabby with the kids. Oh well...they're used to it by now. We got Emily back today too so that was nice...and she was happy! We missed her little smile. We're looking forward to a quiet weekend with friends and family...hope you have one too!!

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

Wednesday, May 23, 2007: Round 4 Recovery

Today Kristi slept most of the day. Today til probably Saturday will be her hardest days. Hopefully by Sunday she’ll be getting some of her energy back. So far the nausea has been minimal. As long as she takes her pills every 6 hours the nausea should be minimized. Emily has been doing good with Grandma Kammeraad. Please pray that the nausea doesn’t get any worse for Kristi and that she bounces back in time for the holiday weekend. Also pray for the rest of the family during this time when mommy won’t be doing many of the day to day things or joining us for meals or just hanging out. We miss her and don’t like this time. Below are some pictures.

The first one is from “Shine Day” at Rose Park. All the kids wore their Courage To Shine shirts or any other shirt with a bright color to remind us to pray for those people who are sick.

The other ones are from the Critter Barn where I went with Nathan’s class today on a field trip.

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Tuesday, May 22, 2007: Round 4, Dose 2

Today’s stomach port treatment went better than expected. Again, it was pretty “business as usual”. We arrived by about 8:45AM and they were able to get her in right away. We left there by about 4:15. The pain was minimal for Kristi and she basically just slept the entire time. They just basically pumped her full of fluids and chemo all day…she left the hospital 8 pounds heavier than she came in! That was about it! Here is a picture of our chemo nurse…Greta!

We stopped at my sisters on our way home and were able to visit with them for a bit. During the week at Mayo Clinic, Eric was diagnosed with Lou Gerrig’s disease. They had some sort of an idea going in that it may be that. Right now they are learning as much as they can about the disease. Their prayer is that God will allow Eric many more years here with us and also for the miracle of a cure to this disease. So, please pray with them on these requests.

Monday, May 21, 2007

Monday, May 21, 2007: CA125 = 174

Well, this is our first setback in the CA125 race. We were expecting the new level to be under 100...but it came in at 174.

2300 - 780 - 380 - 163 - 174 - ??

Monday, May 21, 2007: Chemo Round 4, Installment 1

Today Kristi received her first of 3 doses of chemo for round 4. This is the first of 3 rounds of this triple dose chemo. These will be the roughest rounds of the 6. The next 3 cycles will work like this: Day 1, chest port, day 2, stomach port (long day), day 8 stomach port. Rest for 13 days. Start over. Do this for 3 cycles, maybe 4.

Today was pretty "business as usual". We arrived about 9:15, chemo started about 10:30, we left about 3:30. We did receive some disturbing news today, however...Kristi's CA 125 level went up. Her new level is 174. According to Dr. Downy, the number should have normalized by now (35 is normal). So, we're a little confused as to what this means. We haven't heard yet from Dr. Downy. The nurse at the chemo office gave us the number so she didn't know either...she tried to comfort us by telling us "it's just a number". That doesn't change anything as far as we know...we're still reporting to the chemo clinic tomorrow morning hopefully by 8:30AM. They said to expect to be there all day. I’ll end on these prayer requests:

- Her CA125 level drops after this round of chemo to normal
- Kristi is able to tolerate these tough rounds
- The kids are back to being shuffled around. That’s hard on everyone. Pray for patience and tolerance during this time
- Pray for safe travels for us as we commute back and forth to Grand Rapids each day
- Please also remember my brother who returned home from the hospital yesterday from breaking his leg. According to my mom it’s real bad. He will have screws and bolts and pins in his leg for the rest of his life.

Thanks for the continued prayers.

Brian & Kristi

Sunday, May 20, 2007

Finally, The Video Of Kristi's Testimony!!!!!

Or, if you want to watch it full screen, go directly to You Tube:

Sunday, May 20, 2007: Posting A Comment

We forgot to mention, if you want to post a comment to any of the entries, just click on the "Comments" link at the bottom of each entry. If you're not already a member, you have to join Blogger...but that takes like 30 seconds.

Sunday, May 20, 2007: Our Blog Is Launched!

Wow, we have our own blog now! Brian has been working on this for a few days. Fortunately, he has been keeping a journal of everything that has happened so it wasn’t too much work to copy it into a blog.

So why a blog? Well, we’ve had a number of people tell us we should start a Care Page. Brian knows a couple people from work who have a blog and this is basically the same thing. We’ll still send out periodic e-mails before major events with specific prayer requests; we just thought it would be helpful for people to understand our day to day victories, emotions, struggles, etc. We will update the blog on a more regular basis and include our e-mails, prayer requests, pictures, happy stories, and I‘m sure some struggles along the way. The blog will be more of personal look inside our 4 walls and hopefully will help everyone understand what we deal with. Brian finds it therapeutic to write his feelings down rather than talk about them…so he apologizes in advance if he is sometimes negative…as he has made it clear…cancer sucks.

So many people ask us “how are you doing?” It’s just so hard to stop and talk to everyone. There’s so much going on that unless you have an hour or 2 to listen (which most of us usually don’t), we just respond by saying “OK”. Then we usually get “are you sure?” What you need to understand is our OK is different now. It’s different than your OK. Our OK means we made it through another day, or another chemo cycle. Our OK will never be what it used to be. Our OK is forever changed. So, hopefully this blog will help everyone understand what we’re dealing with. Then, next time we see you, we can talk about the nice weather, or the kids, or how you are doing. A lot of people feel like they don’t want to burden us with their problems but we really want to know how you are doing as well and how we can pray for you.

Feel free to pass along this website to anyone. The other wish for this blog is we hope it is shared with thousands of people. I think Kristi’s testimony is such an uplifting one that maybe just one person out there reading the blog will say “give me a piece of whatever she has”. Of course we all know what she “has”….it’s the spirit of the Lord working in her. If we can make a difference in just one or two people that would be so incredible. So pass it on and let Kristi’s brightness shine like never before!!!

So that’s it…that’s the reason for the blog. We hope you enjoy reading it. Here’s how you get to it: Either click on that link, or if that doesn’t work, simply copy it to your address bar. That’s it. Then enjoy.

Finally, a few prayer requests to end on:

*We have a chemo treatment on Monday and Tuesday. Tuesday is the stomach port and a lot of unknowns.

*We seem to have a small flu bug running through the house with Emily and Brian. Please pray that it will stay small and not go to the rest of us.

*Brian’s brother, Jeff, broke his leg last Thursday. He had surgery and had to stay in the hospital a couple days because of risk of infection. It was a bad break and there will be a long road of recovery ahead.

*We have received word on my brother-in-law but want to wait for more details from them before we send an update. Please continue to keep them in your prayers.

Brian & Kristi

Friday, May 18, 2007

Friday, May 18, 2007: Ashley's First 5K

Today Ashley ran in her first 5K. It was for Girls On The Run. She did awesome! Here are some pictures of her at the race and with her friend.

Ashley & Suzanne...

Ashley & Mal...

Thursday, May 17, 2007

Thursday, May 17, 2007: Why I Cry

Why Do I Cry?

It’s about half past three
There’s no one here but God, you, and me
It's dark, it's quiet, and it's still
So I cry out to God "Oh Lord, what is your will?!"

I don't cry because I'm angry
I don't cry because I cannot cope
I don't cry because I believe we'll lose
I don't cry because I've lost hope

So why then do I cry?

Do I cry because I'm selfish?
Or do I cry for all the anguish?

Let me tell you why I cry

I cry because it's so hard watch you suffer
I cry because I cannot be your buffer

I cry because you lay there and wince
I cry because I cannot protect you,
Like your knightly prince

I cry when you say "I'm ready"
I cry because I wish my faith
was that Steady

Oh Kristi, that is why I cry

You are a blessing to me, you see
So I cry out to God
"Please Lord, have a little mercy"

Kristi, you are my shining light
And without you,
I will lose all of my might

So please forgive me my dear,
For that is why I cry with you near.

I love you so much
Brian – 3:32AM April 25, 2007

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

Wednesday, May 16, 2007: Prayer Request
05/16/2007 10:18 PM

Hello again,

I have another prayer request. This one is for Brian. Brian has been having a difficult time lately and I am asking that you cover him with your prayers. I should have seen the signs long ago. He has been hiding his feelings from me so that he wouldn’t upset me. Brian has been my rock and watched me go through so much and is always there when I fall apart to put me back together. He has been keeping his feelings bottled up and they have gotten to the point that they really need to come out. Monday night at midnight I found him crying on the couch in the dark. Yesterday he broke down at work and had to come home. I came home from running errands and found him crying in our bed so I called his friend and they talked for about an hour. That was a very good first step. I don’t think I have ever seen him this depressed. My cancer has become our entire life right now and we can’t get away from it. I have breaks when I am feeling really good as compared to being knocked down by chemo. Brian is always worried about me…from the difficult things like surgery to the little things like making sure I am eating enough. He doesn’t get away from it. I think it would be helpful for him if next time you see him, ask him what movies he has seen lately or if he saw the Tigers play recently. At work he is constantly asked "how are you doing?" or "how is Kristi doing?". It’s constant. I think he is just so overwhelmed with everything that some "normal" questions would be a nice break for him. Please pray that he will be able to break the stereotypical male perspective of being tough and not needing help. Please also pray that during this low point God will move even closer to him and that relationship will grow stronger. Finally, pray that as a couple we will always keep our communication lines open and stay close during this difficult time in our lives.


Wednesday, May 2, 2007

Wednesday, May 2, 2007: Doing Well

What a beautiful day! My energy level is up higher than it has been since before my first surgery and this weather is making my spirits soar! I hope you are all being blessed by such a wonderful day as well. I wanted to e-mail you about the fasting and praying that many of you are doing. Unfortunately because of my health I am not able to fast. In fact, I need to be doing the opposite – eating like crazy! I lose weight with every chemo and need to put those pounds back on. So, I have been doing the opposite of you and praying every time I eat. I am also praying every time my prayer pager goes off. Needless to say, many prayers are being said! I had a friend call this morning and told me she got a busy signal three times this morning for the prayer pager! Unreal. I am praying that this time of fasting will bring you closer to God and be an awesome experience for you.

Also, last night we had members of the shepherding elders care team come over as well as our small group to pray for us. What an awesome experience. Prayers were offered for complete healing and I have no doubt that I will be completely healed of this disease. It was awesome timing to have that coincide with the fasting time of prayer. (Actually, it was God’s timing!).

I have already said that if I had a chance to go back and never have this happen I wouldn’t. I can also say now that this cancer has blessed me and I am thankful for it. I don’t know why God chose to use me but I am honored. So much good has come through this cancer. So many lives have been affected. I can hardly remember the hospital stay and surgeries and painful times from all of this. God has put the blessings above all that. I have had the song Trading My Sorrows going through my head quite a bit today. Here are some of the lyrics:

I’m trading my sickness, I’m trading my pain, I’m laying them down for the joy of the Lord. I’m pressed but not crushed, persecuted but not abandoned, struck down but not destroyed. I am blessed beyond the curse for His promise will endure that his joy is going to be my strength. Though my sorrows may last for the night His joy comes with the morning!

Words of songs have had so much more meaning for us lately. The line that says “I’m laying them down for the joy of the Lord”. He is joyous that I would surrender my sorrow and sickness to Him. I don’t know anyone else that would want them! Not only does God take them but He does so joyously!

Many of you may not now that most of my life I struggled with anxiety and depression even to the point of medication and counseling. I haven’t had a single episode since the cancer! I am no longer on medication and am feeling better emotionally than I have my entire life. When I was little I always wanted to be a social worker or something that would help people. Unfortunately my low self-esteem along with my other issues didn’t allow that type of job. I have a new sense of self worth now and am looking forward to the chance to help others that are dealing with cancer or any type of illness. I have learned so much through my experience and want to share it with others. Thank you so much for being a part of this journey and shining with us!

Love & hugs,

Tuesday, May 1, 2007

Tuesday, May 1, 2007: Laying of the Hands

Wow, tonight all of the shepherding elders from our church came over along with our small group and prayed over Kristi and I. What a neat experience. We're still very humbled and not used to all of this. Like we have said a thousand times before, we're used to being on the other side. Times like tonight make us feel very confident that God will rid this cancer. Thank you all!!