Thursday, June 28, 2007

June 28, 2007: Back on top!

You all have been so wonderful! I am feeling so much better both physically and emotionally. I'm back in the game and ready to play into overtime and do whatever it takes to win! Thank you so much for your prayers and cards and e-mails. When you share with us how our story is helping others it makes me smile and feel so good. It's easy to get caught up in the pain and yuck and unknown of cancer and forget to see all the blessings that come through it. Thank you for reminding me. Although I was initially dissapointed in the CA125 number, it no longer bothers me. It's just a number. I'm excited to go back to the once every three weeks chemo schedule . . . did I just say I'm excited about chemo? Huh. Anyway, I just wanted to let you all know that I'm back on top!

Wednesday, June 27, 2007

CA125 = 102

2300 - 780 - 380 - 163 - 174 - 115 - 102 - ??

Wednesday, June 27, 2007: CA125 Results

It’s a bad news/good news sort of thing. We got Kristi’s CA125 number this afternoon and it’s 102. We were obviously hoping for much lower, but it is what it is. Kristi called her chemo doctor and they are going to change her chemo schedule back to what they were doing the first 3 rounds since that seemed to be much more effective. So that’s the good news. Kristi’s chemo schedule will be back to 1 dose every 3 weeks. It’s a little frustrating for me being a control freak that I’m trusting these “experts” with my wife’s life…literally! It seems sort of like a guessing game to me... where’s the tactical plan?! (sorry, that’s a work joke).

So I guess we just wait now until she goes in for round 6, which will be Monday. She will get just one dose in her chest port. The next time she gets her CA125 level checked will be round 7…July 23. Until then we just wait and wonder. Like I said…frustrating. But, Kristi is excited to be back to one treatment every 3 weeks, and hey, if it works better then great!

If I wrote anymore it would be a downer, so I’m going to quit at that. I can’t even begin to explain what I’m feeling right now. Last night was fun anyway and tomorrow is a new day…that’s the way we live – one day at a time.

Monday, June 25, 2007

Monday, June 25, 2007: Tastes Like...Steel?!

We keep forgetting to mention...Kristi's taste buds are all messed up. She is losing taste of most foods. She says everything tastes like metal. Yuck! This is a normal side effect of the chemo but is quite frustrating for Kristi as she no longer enjoys eating the foods she used to enjoy. Even ice cream doesn't taste good anymore - can you imagine?!!! I guess that means I have to eat all the ice cream in the house all by myself. Oh bother. Please pray that this taste goes away and that she can enjoy eating again.

And her diarrhea continues to be bad. Please pray that goes away as's way beyond old!

Emotionally she's doing a little better. She said she had a good day...yeah!!!

Sunday, June 24, 2007

Sunday, June 24, 2007: Weekend Update

Another week has passed. Physically Kristi is feeling a little better. Hopefully this week she will be able to just focus on getting stronger. Emotionally, however, she continues to struggle. Not sure what’s causing this extended funk, but we’re ready for her light to shine brighter again. She was looking back through the blog at some of the old postings trying to figure out what she’s doing differently and why she was shining so brightly before and not now. Maybe it’s just her body getting worn down from the chemo that’s causing these extended down times. I don’t know. She said yesterday she feels like her body is giving up. Not her mind, just her body. I’m afraid if her body goes, her mind won’t be far behind. So we can’t let that happen. Please pray that this week Kristi is able to get a lot of strength back.

I’m actually doing better emotionally. Not sure why my mood changes, but it does. Even with Kristi down this weekend I’ve been positive. I guess that’s my role. Keep praying that as long as she’s down I can continue to be her rock.

Hey everyone,

I just wanted to put my two cents in too. Everyone has been thanking us for our honesty. It’s not easy because I feel like I am letting everyone down. I have felt empty lately and am missing something. I know God hasn’t moved away but I have. I don’t know how or why but I do know that I want my joy and peace back. If I’m not honest and tell you about it then I lose the opportunity to be flooded with your prayers. So, here I am, spilling my guts. Please pray that I will let God fill that hole in my heart and that I can kick this depression. Here are some more specifics:

*I have my blood drawn this Tuesday for the CA125 level and probably won’t have the results until Wednesday – pray that the number is low and that we will have peace and faith while we wait for the results

*praise for good health for the entire family

*strength to get through the hot days – the heat really wears me out

*my doctor as he decides where to go from here after he gets the CA125 number

Saturday, June 23, 2007

Saturday, June 23, 2007: The Return of the Yucks

Well, as expected, the fatigues, aches and nausea returned as soon as Kristi stopped taking her new pills. Starting yesterday, Kristi started getting tired and sore again. Today the nausea kicked in as well. Also, the depressions kicked in again today. We're quite used to this routine by now, as much as it's no fun, we realize it's temporary. The down times just seem to be getting longer and longer after each treatment. Pray that this next week brings Kristi strength, energy and no pain. It would be nice to get at least one good week in before the next round. The next round begins July 2. She gets a treatment July 2,3 and 10. Fun fun.

Thursday, June 21, 2007

Thursday, June 21, 2007: Another Good Day

This is day 3 where Kristi has felt amazingly good. This is also the last day of her new we hope that tomorrow continues the good streak. This was the first time she took this new medication she talked about the other night and it has worked wonders. This was certainly due to the many people praying and we needed this BIG TIME! We had a rough stretch so it was nice to get a string of nice days. We realize that there may be some tough days ahead yet this weekend, but we've really enjoyed the good times the past few days. The Browers kept Nathan and Ashley for another night so Kristi and I had one more night just to ourselves. It was nice! We love the kids, but we sure needed that break!!! We're looking forward to a nice quiet weekend with the kids. We get them all back tomorrow and can't wait. Please pray that as Kristi will no longer be taking this new medication that the side effects don't come back. She started crashing a little bit tonight...just the 'tireds', nothing else so far. Pray that none of the other side effects come back. Thanks everyone!

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Wednesday, June 20, 2007: A Prayer

Two good days in a row. Pray with me. God, thank you! Thank you for minimizing the side effects so far with this last dose. Thank you God for great friends and family to pick us up when we’re down. Thank you Lord for all the people that love us and that are praying for us. God, please continue to wrap your arms around Kristi and hold her and comfort her. I love you God. I love the way you protect us and know our limits. God, you are in control. Forgive us for wandering outside of your pasture, Lord. Thank you so much for bringing us back. Please continue to be with Kristi and comfort her, give her strength, give her peace. Lord, be with the kids; protect them, and be with our family and friends watching them. Please bring the kids home safely tomorrow and Friday. Thank you God for everything you do. Amen.

We had a great night tonight. Kristi’s nausea has been non-existent. Her stomach pain has been minimal so far. Granted, we realize that the steroids are still in her, however, last round she was puking by now. So we are very thankful for the new medicine. All the kids are gone (Ashley and Nathan are at Brower’s cottage and Emily is at my parents) so we enjoyed dinner at Logans. We split a steak dinner and picked up some ice cream for desert tonight…too Dutch to pay $5.00 for a desert at Logans when Walgreens has a sale…buy one get one free Edy’s ice cream!!

This is a picture that a friend of mine from work e-mailed me. He was at the Relay for Life walk at West Ottawa High school Friday night and took this picture…doesn’t it give you goose bumps?! Thanks Pete!!

What a great couple of days. I still remember the anxiety on Monday night. What a difference. I have felt the prayers lifting me and again have let God take the wheel. Chemo day went fine, I slept wonderful last night and today, although I have been tired, it was a great day. I had a great time on my date with Brian. We went out in the jeep with the top down and enjoyed an awesome supper together. I feel like we are on the same page again. Tonight we read the introduction to the book of Job from The Message. It is exactly what we have been looking for. We are going to read some together every night. Please keep this in your prayers that we will keep this as a priority.

Yes, cancer does suck. But what do you do with that? Let it consume you? Eat you up? No, we move on and deal with what life has handed us. We will find the positive in this and continue to use it to glorify God. I know the devil is going to give us a run for our money, but we have our armor on now so he doesn’t stand a chance. Thank you for being a part of this journey with us. Your prayers and support are invaluable!

God bless you!

Brian & Kristi

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Tuesday, June 19, 2007: Round 5 is Done!

Round 5 is done! Today was dose number 3 of round 5. What a much better day! It started with sunshine and cooler weather. What a treat. I still had some anxiety this morning but as we started driving to Grand Rapids I could feel it lifting. It was almost like there were hands around our van both praying and supporting us. They were behind us pushing, and in front of us clearing the path. I just felt my spirit lifting and the anxiety fading.

They were quite busy at the clinic but as usual, our nurse was wonderful about it. The pre-meds knocked me out cold for a couple hours. If I did have any pain, I wasn’t aware of it! I haven’t had any nausea today. I took a new nausea pill this morning and will take it again Wednesday and Thursday morning. This is a $100 pill! This time we were fortunate that the doctor had samples so we could try them first. If it works (which it seems to be) we will see if we can get a better cost through a mail in order. We got home around 5:00 and had a delicious supper (thank you DeWitt’s!) with my parents and then Brian’s parents came around 7:00 and we visited a little bit until they left with Emily. Fortunately she went with them without a single tear. She always has a blast there.

I am feeling quite tired but can also feel the steroids kicking in too. Hooray for answered prayers! I felt bad sharing my down time in the posting yesterday but I received so many comments from you thanking me for my honesty and that makes me more real. I am definitely real. I felt I needed to be honest because that’s how you know specifically what to pray for. Thank you for all the encouragement you sent us!

Kristi and I were talking tonight about what’s changed in the past month and a half. That’s when I guestimate that our spirits started heading downward – our shine went from a 100 watt bulb down to a 25 watt bulb. Sure, we’ve had some good times, but it seems lately the bad times have outnumbered the good times. Sure, the chemo is getting tougher. But, we’ve determined that it’s more than that – it’s time to recharge! Just like a cordless drill…if the battery spends too much time working and not enough time plugged into the charger, it will go dead…slowly. That’s exactly what’s happened to us. It’s time for us to plug back in to our Power Source! With school ending and Summer fast approaching, we just fell into the busy pattern of late bedtimes for the kids and not enough time in the Word and definitely not enough time spent together communicating. Please pray that over the course of the next few weeks that we can establish a new bedtime routine and spend more time as a couple praying together and just plain old fashion communicating.

The picture of Kristi below is a picture of her resting during chemo. If you remember in the first couple of rounds I said how her body used to twitch and her face winced. It was pretty hard to watch. She no longer does that. She now literally just sleeps through her chemo treatments - very restfully. Today she slept hard…she needed that! As she sleeps, the chemo just drains into her abdominal cavity. That’s it. When she woke up today her stomach port was a little sore as well as her neck and shoulder. Pray that her pain goes away, or is at least tolerable.

I know several of you have said we don’t need to apologize for being “down”, but we truly are sorry. Our sorrow is definitely an example of what happens when we start relying on us and not on Him. We forgot, with God, all things are possible. I think I’ve heard that before! :)

Some very specific requests:

*a day by day attitude to return

*my stomach pain and nausea will be minimal

*my bowels will behave this round!

*my counts were good today other than my white count – I have to start the shots again tomorrow for 10 days. Pray that they will not sting and they will knock the white count back up

*I have had an awful taste in my mouth and it’s effecting my taste buds too. (reaction from chemo). Pray that it will go away and that I will be able to eat and gain some weight back.

*They will be drawing my CA125 level a week from today. If it doesn’t go down enough they will be discussing a new kind of chemo for my treatments.

*understanding, patience and good health for the kids

*an abundance of patience and love and joy for Brian as I will become quite limited in what I can do this week

Tuesday, June 19, 2007: So Far So Good!

Sure enough, we woke up this morning (after an awful night's sleep) and after shaking off the morning grogs, we both felt completely lifted up. Wow, it was like we both had spirit-filled air breathed back into us. We're off to a little slow start at the chemo clinic so I thought I would just give a mid-day update. :) Kristi just got her 'sleepy meds' and she is drifting off to sleep. She’s so beautiful...check out our new digs!! Now that we’re 'regulars' at the chemo clinic we get this nice room with windows and a recliner for me!! It’s so much nicer than the first rooms we had (Kristi's just sleeping from the meds!)...

About all that madness last night…well, it was a pretty bad night. It started with dropping the kids off. The look in Ashley’s eyes as I dropped her off just crushed me. Last night was the closest Kristi has come to giving up. She was talking about Hospice, quitting, and being scared. It was a scary thing to watch. Everything about her just quit. At 2:30 this morning she had another bad bout of diarrhea and nausea. The look on her face was one of complete defeat. I ran downstairs looking for her ‘bags’ and meds and I just wanted to scream. Not sure at who…just tired I guess. It's just so frustrating and I hated seeing her this way...she can't give up! We went back to bed around 3ish and it seemed like we just tossed and turned the rest of the night.

BUT…That’s all behind us!! We got a number of extremely uplifting e-mails this morning (we always check our e-mail before we leave for chemo) – and the prayer pager is going off like crazy today…even our chemo nurse (Greta) made a comment. Reading those e-mails and the constant buzz of the pager lifted our spirits almost immediately...thank you so much. I could tell in the car ride here that she was feeling better. She was talking; she had expression back in her face; the 'I quit' look was gone. They are giving her another dose of steroids today so hopefully that will help her today and tomorrow and keep her spirits high. What a difference.

They will be starting the chemo soon so we should be home by about 5.

Thanks again for the prayers. They are indeed working. God is great!!!!!!

Monday, June 18, 2007

Monday, June 18, 2007: Psalm 30 v. 5b

"weeping may remain for a night, but rejoicing comes in the morning."

Please pray with me that Kristi will be rejoicing in the morning!

Monday, June 18, 2007: From Kristi

What a week! Definitely not one of my better ones. I’m at a loss for words. I want to be honest to let you know how I’m doing but I also don’t want to depress anyone. I’ve had a lot of tear times lately. I know many of you have offered for me to call you during these times but I’m just not one to cry with other people (other than Brian). I do feel better after the tears roll though. I’ve been thinking a lot about the statistics. Sometimes I wonder if I’m in denial about my chances of beating this. Then I have guilt over not having enough faith. It’s quite a roller coaster. Some days I think I’m still in shock. I know these harder weeks where I’m beat down physically take a toll on my emotions too.

Fortunately I am feeling a bit better today. I am still quite tired and have some nausea but not near as bad as it was. Brian and I have been talking lately and feel like we are both in a down swing. Usually one of us is up when the other is down. We feel like we aren’t shining very brightly these days. We still believe God has a plan and a purpose for us but we’ve just been beat down so much recently. Please pray that we will get our shine factor back and be more aware of what God is calling us to do. The devil knows that we have a huge platform for spreading God’s word and I think he is trying harder to knock us down.

I have to admit that I am scared about tomorrow’s chemo. Other than the first round of chemo, I have never been nervous about going in. My cancer count hasn’t been going down as quickly as we had hoped for and my stomach pain and nausea has become worse and worse. I’m worried about more pain and the unknowns for tomorrow. Please pray tomorrow that I will keep looking up to the One who can give me peace.

The kids are at my parents tonight and Emily will be going to Brian’s parents tomorrow night through Friday. I miss her so much when she is gone and feel so helpless that I am not able to take care of her.

Wow, I’ve just written quite a downer. I’m sorry. I want so badly to shine for you all right now and I feel empty. Please don’t be sad for me – just pray. This will pass. There is always joy in the morning. I will not stop fighting this cancer and with God as my lead doctor, I can’t lose! Thank you for your constant prayers and love and support. I know we say this a lot but we honestly couldn’t do this alone.

Sunday, June 17, 2007

Sunday, June 17, 2007: Father's Day

Hey, I never claimed to be the shiny one here. It’s getting harder and harder to find positive things to write about. As Kristi put it today “I’m ready for something to go right for a change”. Kristi says our book should be called "Hope & Reality". Her half would be called "Hope" and my half called "Reality". Not that I'm a downer, I just tend to be more realistic. After all, it's hard to paint a very pretty picture of something so ugly. We're both getting pretty tired of the monotonous routine. Even Kristi has said she is ready for this to be done. There has to be an easier way to "shine". Maybe we can just go to the airport and pass out roses. Hmmm, interesting thought.

The days aren’t getting any easier. This was a tough weekend. Kristi has been very tired and sore again today. Her stomach is hurting her more and more each day. Each round of chemo is getting harder and harder as her body gets weaker and weaker. It's the hardest thing to watch. She was too tired to go to church this morning and barely made it out of bed to eat lunch with us. On top of her fatigues and aches and pains are the emotional struggles that come along with this package deal. Ashley had a hard night last night. She was asking Kristi some pointed questions…the hardest one being ”are you going to die mommy?” Please pray that as Ashley starts to understand the magnitude of Kristi’s cancer that she is able to come to us and ask questions and talk about her feelings.

I'm finding the tears are coming out more and more easily and it's getting harder and harder to talk about. As I sat in church this morning with Nathan, I buried my face into his shoulder to hide the tears. Not sure what set it off...I think it was Pastor Frank sharing the story of his mom's final words to him..."preach the Word, son" as she then died shortly thereafter of cancer. During the sermon as Nathan lye across my lap looking so angelic and innocent, I thought to myself that he might someday have a similar story to tell about his mother. Then during the last song the tears just started flowing down...or should I say "raining down". I thought I got away with it until a friend came up to me after the service and gave me a big hug and said "I'm not even going to pretend to know what to say to you right now." We shared a big hug and some tears and she left. That was it. Very simple but very powerful. Sometimes the words not spoken are the most powerful words to speak. As I left the sanctuary a couple people hit me up with ‘how’s Kristi?’ As I struggled to find the right words, I kept breaking up and I just had to run. I went to get Emily as fast as I could holding back the tears. Sorry if I appeared rude. It’s just so hard to talk about. ‘How’s Kristi?!’ Well, how do I answer that? I usually just answer with “she’s OK”. I know it’s not true, but what else am I going to say?!

On a good note, we did get out tonight to have a hot dog at Kristi’s parents so that was nice. The kids did great. Kristi really wanted to get out to see everyone so that was very nice that she was up for that. She is feeling a little bit better right now. It was probably the hot dog she ate…I hear hot dogs are healthy.

So as we prepare for another week, please pray that we will find peace in all this madness. Pray that Kristi’s stomach pains will subside soon. Pray that she gets her energy back real soon. Pray that Tuesday’s chemo treatment brings no new nausea. Pray that the kids learn to have better patience and understanding during these difficult weeks. Pray that tomorrow Kristi will feel better so that we can have one good day before her next treatment.

Saturday, June 16, 2007

Saturday, June 16, 2007: A Much Better Day!

What a difference a day makes! Kristi is feeling much better today. She slept in until about 11:30 this morning and has been feeling much better. She is still very fatigued, but as compared to the past few days she is much much better. She even got out to the grocery store today. Her diarrhea has also stopped for now. That is a huge relief for her.

Right after dinner Kristi sneaked off to bed. Me and the kids just hung out on the deck and roasted s'mores. We sure miss having mommy around.

Well, for now all things are much better...thanks for all the prayers!!! Love you all!!!!!!!!!

Saturday, June 16, 2007: Another Blog Makeover

Just trying to keep you guessing!! The other blog format looked too "clinical" so I thought I would make our blog look a little 'warmer'. Kristi likes it...says it reminds her of her card stamping.

Friday, June 15, 2007

Friday, June 15, 2007: Another Hospital Visit

We're getting quite used to this by now. But...about noon today Kristi went downtown GR to the hospital to get fluids, potassium and anti-nausea meds intravenously. She just wasn't shaking the nausea and the diarrhea so her nurse wanted her to come in for the transfusion. She is doing much better tonight so it was worth the inconvenience.

Please continue to pray for healing and strength throughout the weekend. She is still having stomach pains and is still very fatigued so pray that the pains go away and the fatigue gets better soon too. Her weight is also still very low and she needs to gain weight before Tuesday's treatment.

Thanks mom for driving her to the hospital and thanks Brian and Janna for watching Emily for 2 nights!!

Tonight Ashley is at the Relay for Life charity walk with the Duistemar go girls!!

Thursday, June 14, 2007

Thursday, June 14, 2007: Need Some Help!

OK fellow bloggers, we need your help!! This is by far the WORST round for Kristi. She is nauseous, fatigued, throwing up, and has a constant flow of diarrhea. She is completely miserable. It brings tears to my eyes to see her like this. I was hoping to be able to post an uplifting update tonight...but no such luck. Kristi needs our prayers BIG TIME! Please start praying BOLDLY with me...then call the prayer pager to let her know you prayed for her. Thank you for your prayers. Pray with me that tomorrow she has a much better day. Hopefully tomorrow night I will have better news.

Please pray with me this writing Paul makes to the people of Corinth (the situation was different, but the writing is like a prayer we can offer for Kristi):

"Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves have received from God."

Kristi looks forward to someday being able to offer comfort to someone who needs the same sort of comfort she needs tonight - so let's lift her up so she can get her strength back and begin shining brightly again real soon!!

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Wednesday, June 13, 2007: The Return of the Fatigues

As expected, the fatigues have set in. They seemed to have come a little earlier this round. We're thinking they skipped the steroids yesterday...not sure. Kristi started crashing last night and never really got her steroid "high" with this round that she normally enjoys. Kristi also has diarrhea real bad (and yes, she said it was OK for me to say that!). I mention that because if you remember Kristi has lost a lot of weight and continues to lose weight...this will not help that cause! She was the lightest ever at the beginning of this round...even her nurse said something about it. Please pray that her new medicine helps with the diarrhea...Kristi can't afford to lose any more weight. Please also pray that Kristi's spirit perks up as she recovers...she is obviously a little down again. This time is tough for her as she is very limited in what she can do.

I brought Emily over to our friends Brian and Janna. They are going to keep her until Friday. Ashley and Nathan can manage with minimal help from Kristi, but Emily can't so we have to bring her elsewhere during these recovering days. Ashley was quite upset when we got home because she is tired of Emily being carted around. Please pray that the kids will adjust to the routine of these recovery days.

That's all for today.

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

Tuesday, June 13, 2007: CA125 = 115!

2300 - 780 - 380 - 163 - 174 - 115 - ??

Tuesday, June 13, 2007: Day 2, Round 5

Hi everyone,

I thought I'd give Brian a night off of the blog. Today was pretty uneventful. Things went so smoothly that we were out of there 1/2 hour early! My brother stopped by this afternoon to visit with Brian while I snoozed - thanks Kevin! We did get the CA125 level back. It's a good news/bad news kind of thing. It went down to 115. We're glad it went down but were hoping it would have gone lower. Because it didn't normalize (35), I will need at least one more round of chemo added on which means I now have two more rounds to go. Until it normalizes, they will keep extending my chemo cycles. Once it normalizes, I will need to complete two more cycles. I can't say I'm excited about it but I do know the more chemo I get, the less cancer I have. If the number doesn't normalize next time they may have to consider a different kind of chemo. But we'll cross that bridge when we get there. Right now I am still pretty groggy from the medicine. I am hoping for a bit of a steroid high yet tomorrow and then Thursday and Friday are typically my rough fatigue days. Thank you so much for your prayers these past two days. We have felt them and were blessed with uneventful days with no complications. All of my blood count numbers are doing good - yea!

Here's Kristi chillin before chemo...what a princess!
"Praise the Lord. How good it is to sing praises to our God, how pleasant and fitting to praise him!" Psalm 147:1

Monday, June 11, 2007

Monday, June 11, 2007: A Good Day!

Today was a good day! Starting soon after our friends Darrin and Aim left last night our mood started to lift. Must have been the s’mores we ate…or the great company!! Well, I’m sure it was those things too, but more importantly we believe it was the prayers working because we were still feeling good today (even after a bad night’s sleep!)…we both feel very upbeat. We felt really good after leaving Dr. Downey’s office this morning. He was the most personable that he has ever been. Obviously prayers were answered today. Also, my Grandma DeMaat’s birthday was today (she passed away a couple years ago). She had cancer many years ago and kicked its butt. She was and is still an inspiration to me and she brought us good luck today.

We didn’t get the CA125 number today…we should get it tomorrow. We feel pretty good about it…just a feeling, but we both feel it will be under 100. In fact, we have a little bet going…I predict 74, Kristi predicts 88. The winner gets a 10 minute back rub!! My friend and mom have also put a bet in for the CA125 count but I don’t think they were aware of the wager! :)

Also, we found out this morning that the pains in her stomach are a side effect of the chemo. We suspected that, but you never know. Dr. Downey said it isn’t uncommon to have some pain with the I/P chemo. The kids did great today too. It was just a great day overall. Thank you mom, Kylie and Amy for watching the kids today. They had a wonderful time!

We were also very excited to find out this morning that we have a new ‘cyber friend’. She found our blog after doing an internet search for an ovarian cyst and has admitted that she is “drawn” to our story and reads the blog every night. That is so awesome. Hopefully we can spread some encouragement to our new friend. Please send me an e-mail so I can answer your question about why they didn’t catch it sooner. My e-mail address is I promise not to “preach” to you but would love to try to answer any questions you may have. We believe this cancer can serve a purpose of helping people understand and get to know God better. I do know that He has heard your prayers – doesn’t matter if you are a regular visitor with Him or an occasional visitor. He hears them all!

Tomorrow we go in for dose number 2 of round 5. Hopefully this will be an uneventful day. Pray that all goes well tomorrow and that the side effects from today will be minimal. Also pray that her CA125 level will be normal (35); if not normal, then close to 74 so I win the bet!! :) Pray for the 35 . . . I don’t care if I lose the bet! If my number goes to 35 or lower, that means that I only have one more round of chemo after this one! If it doesn’t, I will have to have an additional round. We’ll cross that bridge when we get to it. Thank you Thank you!!!

Sunday, June 10, 2007

Sunday, June 10, 2007: Prayer Request

First, a recap of the weekend. We had a very nice weekend enjoying family and friends. Friday night we went on a triple date with Lori and Eric and Kevin and Stephanie. First we had a nice dinner at Snug Harbor in Grand Haven, then we walked the board walk to a coffee shop downtown where we just hung out for quite a while telling stories. We laughed so hard that our stomachs and jaws hurt. That was a great time. We took a lot more pictures that the family would probably banish me if I published them on this blog! So, I'll be a good boy and not post them. :) But I do have them on my hard drive for future reference!!

OK, now for today. Well, back up to last night. Kristi's light started to dim last night before bed. I think it's because she really enjoyed the weekend and the VanEenenaam party at the Gehrke's last night and she realizes that the good times are ending after today. She has to look forward to another two weeks of being down. There were some tears and some time talking before bed last night. I'm sending this out early today because Kristi needs lots of prayers today (and this week). She is very down again today. I know she never wants anyone to worry about her, but she really needs our help today. Can you pray boldly with me please?

As you know, her cancer count went up after the round 3 chemo treatment. This was very shocking to us and caught us off guard. She is very anxious about tomorrow's doctor visit. Things that have her concerned are: is he going to want to extend the chemo plan from 6 cycles to more? What does this exactly mean that her count went up? What is his plan if it goes up again? She also has been having a lot of stomach pain this past week. She is obviously concerned about that too. What is causing the pain - the cancer or the chemo? Please pray with me that her anxiety subsides soon. Also pray with me that her CA125 count goes down tomorrow. We'll get the results (from round four) by the end of the day tomorrow. We're hoping that it is under 100...35 would be fantastic! Pray that her stomach pains go away. Pray this week that the kids will have patience and understanding as they will be around all the time now (this is our first round with them not in school). So I'm sure the kids will be wondering why mommy can't just get out of bed and come running every time they come calling. We're going to try this round without shuffling the kids around too much to try to keep things normal for the kids.

I too am very anxious for tomorrow. As Kristi said last night "if my count goes up, it won't be pretty". I'm praying, well, begging more like it, that the count goes down tomorrow. Please pray boldly with me. Our doctor's appointment is at 9:15 tomorrow morning. We hope to get a lot of these questions answered tomorrow. From there we leave to the chemo clinic. She will have 2 doses again this week...tomorrow and Tuesday. Please remember her in your prayers Tuesday morning as well. Tuesday is the long day again. Please smother her in prayer this's going to be a very stressful week for us. Hopefully our next update we send out (hopefully tomorrow night) will be filled with much praise. Until then, if you could just keep us in your prayers that would be appreciated. Thank you so much.

Kristi & I enjoying dinner at Snug Harbor in Grand Haven

Kevin (Kristi's brother) & Stephanie at Snug Harbor

Eric & Lori (Kristi's sister) at Snug Harbor

All of us walking the board walk in Grand Haven

Thursday, June 7, 2007

Thursday, June 7, 2007: Blog Stats

Wow, the response to the blog continues to be incredible…people have visited from all over the world! Here are some of the places that people have visited from: Bombay India, New Delphi India, Malaysia, Norway, Canada, Anchorage Alaska, Plano Texas, Richland WA, Houston TX, Waterloo Ontario, Indianapolis IN, Rome IL, Westmont IL, Chicago IL, Miller Place NY, Murrysville PA, Eglin AFB FL, Largo FL, Dunedin FL, Clermont FL, Wichita KS, West Jordon Utah, Frackville PN, Gays IL, Dorr, Hopkins, Kalamazoo, Jenison, Hudsonville, Southfield, Novi, Canton, Howell, Wayland, Zeeland, Moline, Auburn Hills, Farmington, and on and on and on…

This is very cool. Kristi’s testimonial video has been viewed 350 times…along with this website being ‘hit’ over 2,200 times! Thanks for spreading the word! Together we are spreading the message that with prayer and God leading the way, a person can persevere even in the most difficult of times. We were hoping the word would get out but never imagined people from as far away as India and Norway would be reading it! If Kristi’s story can reach just a few people and touch them in a way that makes them either want to get closer to God, or come to know Him for the first time, that would be a blessing to us. So then, what happens if this does reach someone who doesn’t know Jesus Christ, or is “on the fence”? What does this person do? We've been struggling with this lately. So, we’ll try to help…

If you’re out there reading this and you don’t have a personal relationship with Jesus Christ, someone loved you enough to send you to this blog and they wanted to share this story with you. They wanted you to see the how the power of Jesus can work in a person’s life. So you’ve read our story…now what?! Well, talk to someone. Call us or send us an e-mail. If you’re uncomfortable with that and wish to be anonymous, try coming to Calvary church (Google: Calvary CRC in Holland, MI). It’s a pretty big church (which has its good points and its bad points). My point is that you could sit in the back and get a taste of the service and sneak out pretty anonymously. I guarantee you will be moved by the message…and the praise music is pretty cool too! Just try it. The most important thing is to break out of your comfort zone and try it (if not Calvary, a church close to you). Hopefully you have read our blog and have figured out by now that Kristi and I have put our faith in God…and it’s this faith that is getting us through from day to day.

Has something happened to you and you're wondering “how can there be a God?” or “Why did God let this happen?”? We’ve all been there, believe me! Those were the first words out of my mouth when the doctor said “it looks like Kristi has ovarian cancer”…I asked “Why Kristi, why not me?!” I was pleading to God to take this away, or give it to me. Kristi is so innocent, sweet, quiet, and one of Calvary’s biggest prayer warriors for goodness sakes!!! Why her?!?!

Well, one minor detail I forgot…I don’t own the plan…He does. As I look back now, I understand why He chose Kristi for this journey. You can obviously see the number of people that she has touched. I don’t think I would have shined nearly as brightly as her. There has been so much good that has come out of this experience. If you would have asked me 5 months ago if I would have imagined all of this, I don’t think I would have said ‘yes’. It has been an incredible journey. So you see, sometimes the answer isn’t written on a piece of paper and handed to us and made easy for us to understand. But have faith; He has the plan. You can’t just skip to the end of the story. He loves us enough to make us sit and watch the entire story unfold…this is His way of teaching us. He is not only the Great Physician, but He is also the Great Teacher – we just need to be willing to learn.

Anyway, that’s our take on it. It’s an amazing feeling to have a thousand people praying for you. How would one “do” something like this without faith? Our church family has smothered us with nothing but love and prayers. There is no loneliness here. It is nothing short of incredible. Is that something that would interest you? If so, find a church near you and try it! You may need to try more than one church. All churches are different – big, small, traditional, contemporary, Baptist, Catholic, Reformed, Christian Reformed, etc., etc., etc. You need to find the right one for you. Don’t be afraid to experiment. But if you’re living without Jesus Christ, you’re not living! That’s kind of “in your face”, but it’s true. Please accept our challenge.

We’ve said it before and we’ll say it again…we really appreciate all the prayer support. We feel it working every day. Sunday I was feeling overwhelmed and after I sent out the update I almost immediately started feeling better. Thanks for the many prayers. Things are pretty good around here these days. We'll enjoy it! Tomorrow night we're going on a triple date with Kristi's brother and his wife (Kevin & Stephanie) and her sister and her husband (Lori & Eric). We're looking forward to that. Until next time...

Wednesday, June 6, 2007

Wednesday, June 6, 2007: Kristi on the Rebound.

Since Sunday Kristi has made great progress.

Physically, she's feeling much better. She's not as fatigued and she's getting out. In fact, right now she's at Logans with her friends Merry and Heidi. She's been looking forward to this for a few days now...she's been "cooped up" for 2 weeks - and it’s been a long 2 weeks…by far the toughest round. But, this morning she got up with the kids and I, had breakfast with us, then brought the kids to the bus stop! This was a special treat for the kids. She even has a little sparkle back in her eyes. That is so refreshing!! When mommy's doing better, we're all doing better. I even got out last night and went scuba diving with some friends. That was also a special treat. Well, the diving wasn't so great (10 feet visibility, 36 deg. Water - brrrrrr), but the camaraderie was good!

Kristi did have a little down time emotionally today, however. Remember when I made that pendulum analogy. Well, it swung back and forth a couple times today. This happens. It can swing quite wildly at times too. This is “normal” stuff for what we go through, so don‘t panic! Please just pray that that this passes quickly. It usually does, with your prayers.

So, for now, all is much better. Please continue to pray for heeling, good spirits, and good rest for us all. That’s all for now…I’ll see if Kristi can’t add a bit when she gets back tonight.

Hi everyone,

Wow did I need a night out! Always good to get away with friends – thanks girls! After a lot of laughing and good food at Logans we went to Target just wandering and watching for those fun red “clearance” signs! After many more laughs I’m back home again. I got a chance to talk about my down time today and also time to just have fun. I needed to do both. My down time kinda came out of nowhere. At times the odds against me beating this can overwhelm me. I just need to shed a few . . . okay, a lot of tears and I feel better again. It didn’t take too long and I’m back in the game again. Right now I’m whipped and looking forward to a good nights sleep. Until next time . . . love & hugs are being sent your way!


Sunday, June 3, 2007

Sunday, June 3, 2007: A Quiet Weekend

Well, we had a nice quiet weekend. Kristi has been resting most of the weekend. At times, her scars have been hurting her...not sure why - another question for the doctor I guess. We didn't do much of anything this weekend besides laundry, cleaning, resting, then more of that. I managed to clean a little bit of the garage. Kristi has been quite tired this weekend so she basically went from the bed to the couch back to the bed, then back to the couch. It's nice when she's on the couch so we can enjoy her. Of course the kids are usually pulling on her when she comes down so that gets quite tiring and overwhelming for her. She did manage to do some laundry and cleaning though. I tell her she doesn't have to do this but she finds it therapeutic to do this stuff. Sometimes she gets down because she doesn't feel like she's "contributing". I can understand...I would probably feel the same way. We think her blood counts are still down so that's why she's so tired. That's why she wasn't in church this morning - we didn't want to risk her catching anything. Here's a picture of Kristi with my nephew Josh and sister-in-law Barb (my brother's wife - my brother was fishing!!) - they visited on Saturday...

Josh leaves for the Marines today. He will be in boot camp for the next 13 weeks. Please send some prayers his way...and Barb's way too - her daughter Nichole (my oldest niece) was married just 6 weeks ago; so in just 6 weeks her daughter was married and now Josh leaves for the Marines.

As you can see from the picture, Kristi isn't wearing a hat or scarf. She's really becoming quite comfortable being bald. Would you have ever imagined?!?! She still wears a hat or scarf when she goes to the store, but around the house she goes "Au natural". She even walks down the street bald. I find this quite amazing; but then again, it is Kristi we're talking about! She asked me yesterday after Barb and Josh left, "what do you think people think when they come in and see me bald? Do you think it's too much for them?" My answer..."who cares?! You have cancer. You're bald. If they can't handle it, too bad for them." I call her baldness her "badge of courage". It doesn't bother me a bit. When she puts a scarf on and her green commando pants she looks like a foxy Hollywood diva! Grrrrrrrr :) Outwardly she appears fine with the whole bald thing, and for the most part I think she is. But, I know inside it bothers her a little bit. She gave me a hint of that last night. I know this whole thing is starting to wear on her a little...and the baldness is a constant reminder. So if any future references to her baldness can be avoided that would help her/us a lot.

As far as the kids...they're doing fine. They're excited for school to be done. This is their last week. They're getting a little restless and it's hard to keep them focused. I too can't wait for school to be less thing to deal with.

Here's Emily playing with her power tools...can you tell she's a Daddy's girl?! (well, as long as she's being cute!)

As far as me, I'm doing OK too I guess. Today, I've been unusually grumpy...very very short fuse. It got so bad when Emily went down for a nap Kristi let Ashley go play at a friend's (which we don't normally do on Sunday) and she took Nathan to the dollar store (which we also wouldn't normally do on a Sunday). But I think Kristi recognized I needed some "quiet time" - the kids were yelling and crying and the house was just loud and I cracked. I can't help it. This is always the hardest time - the week after chemo. By Sunday I'm usually pretty tired. This next week should be better as Kristi gets stronger. I'm sure an "expert" would probably say I'm depressed. Who wouldn't be in my shoes?! Next to losing a child, what could be more depressing than the thought of losing a spouse prematurely? It's more than just a thought for's a reality that scares the crap out of me. Sorry if you don't like for me to say that, but it's true. I have to deal with that thought every single day. I think about it all the time. It's with me 24/7. Unless you've been in my shoes you can't understand. I know Marilyn understands. I know Tim understands...all too well. Lori will come to understand in time. I'm not giving up hope. Even though the doctors and the numbers don't paint a promising picture, I honestly believe Kristi will be cured. But there are constant reminders of the opposite all the time. We had our Wills and Powers of Attorneys done last week. It's something the hospitals and doctor's office have been bugging us to do. While lying in bed the other night we started talking about everything...and "it" came up. Ready for this? ...Kristi gave me the "OK" to remarry if... Talk about a mood killer. I can't imagine. The thought just plain hurts. How does one recover? I can't imagine loving someone else. But we have 2 girls. Girls need a mother. I can't be a mother. I can't believe I'm thinking about this at my age. So you see, the reminders are constantly there. The pains in her stomach. What’s causing the pain? Is it the cancer? Why did her CA count go up? It's not hard to let your mind get the best of you. So yes, I suppose I'm a little depressed. But I deal with it. I pray often. I ask for prayers often. And I know they're working because these pits are usually short lived.

My friends have been awesome. My friends Dennis and Ryan came over Thursday night and we watched the Pistons lose. Even though the game itself was painful, it was a 4 hour distraction from "it", the cancer. Tuesday night I'm going out with some other good friends of mine. My friends have been real good at making sure I have "Brian time" (as they call it). These times provide me with a little escape…where I can get just a handful of hours where I’m distracted from the 24/7 duty of dealing with cancer. It doesn’t seem like a lot, but it means a ton to me!

Kristi and I have been blessed abundantly with many great friends and they just don't realize how much we love them. Hopefully they read this and realize that they are loved...even though we're not the best at saying those 3 little words..."I love you".

But I can't end there. Not without also saying how much our church and our friends in our subdivision have been there for us as well. They're not just our "subdivision friends". That's just how we distinguish them from our other friends. You know who you are! :) Kristi just loves getting out of the house and walking down to your houses. She loves the time out. Even if you just talk about the kids or school stuff or whatever, she enjoys the few minutes she has with you. She gets back home and I hear "that was so fun just sitting and talking". And Kristi continues to receive cards in the mail every single day from her friends at church. These cards mean so much to her. She practically knocked me over to get to the mailbox on Saturday and looked at me like the nerve I had trying to get “her” mail!! :) She enjoys each and every one of them! Thank you so much.

And of course, our families. That's just a given. But it never hurts to say it too much. We love you!

So that's all for today. A friend sent me a message about not worrying about being "too honest" in this blog. After all, it's supposed to be an honest look at our lives and what we deal with. And, it gives you something specific to pray about.

The specifics for today:
  • Kristi
  • Kristi
  • Kristi
  • OK, the kids as they finish school
  • Me.
  • My nephew Josh
  • My sister-in-law Barb (and Fred)
  • Our friends who are priceless
  • Our families as they also must deal with this
  • Kristi's sister Lori
  • Kristi's brother-in-law Eric (diagnosed with Lou Gehrig's 2 weeks ago)
  • My brother Jeff who broke his leg 2 weeks ago.
  • Kristi
  • Kristi, again