Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Tuesday, May 27, 2008: An Ordinary Family

It seems so strange to just be "ordinary" again. I have been doing things like cutting the grass, going on camping trips and on field trips with the kids. All these things that I wasn't able to do last year. It has been so wonderful not thinking about chemo!

I am so busy these days it's hard to believe that I even had time for cancer last year. I think I was so out of it because of medications and surgeries and chemo that I missed a lot that I don't even realize.

One thing that I missed last year was the Relay for Life. My neighbor walks it every year with her mom and girls as her mom is a cancer survivor. Last year they took Ashley with them and it really made an impact on her. I remember them saying "next year you will have to walk with us". I also remember thinking at that point that there was no way I would ever be able to do something like that. Well, never say never! On June 13 I will be joining them. Ashley will be coming with us as well. I am sure it will be a very emotional but wonderful time.

I will be hitting you all up for donations soon :) I am still figuring out my donation website and when I get there (actually, after Brian helps me get there) I will put the link on the blog.

Well, it is way past my bedtime and everyone else is already asleep so I should probably get to bed now. If I stay up much longer I may have to break into the bag of M&M's in the cupboard! Which is actually a prayer request. While I was on chemo I could eat anything and would still lose weight . . . well, chemo is done and so is the losing weight part. In fact, I am putting the pounds back on. I am at a good weight right now and need to stay that way. I would appreciate prayers for willpower to eat right and also for exercise. Yup, still struggling with the exercise thing. I'm trying and taking baby steps but it has been baby steps for a few weeks or more now and it's time to start taking bigger steps.

Brian has been patiently trying to motivate me while I know he would rather put my tennis shoes on me and shove me out the door for a walk. I can even feel God trying to nudge me to take better care of myself. It is so easy to slip back into old habits.

So, some prayer requests are:

*Healthy eating and exercise for me

*The kids would stay focused and end the school year on a good note (they are done next week already!)

*Brian is still tired :( He went to the doctor and they ran a great deal of tests (thyroid, food allergy, etc) and they all came back normal. So he continues to try to find an answer.

Thank you for covering this "ordinary" family in your prayers!

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Tuesday, May 20, 2008: The Blog Turns One!

Our blog turns one today! Can you believe it?! I remember sitting right here in this chair in this same spot “launching” the blog one year ago. It seems like yesterday. We’re so glad that you all have enjoyed reading the blog. It has been a tremendous help for all of us. It helps keep our friends and family updated and it allows us to talk about normal things when we get together with any of you. Thanks for all of your encouraging comments about the blog - they motivate us to keep it updated. The blog has also turned into a wonderful ministry. We have received countless e-mails from strangers who discovered our blog by doing different internet searches. Kristi has been able to minister to several strangers or simply just give advice to their struggles. She has developed some very neat “e-relationships” and some personal relationships too. Very cool!

There is something else that makes today stand out…it is also the one year anniversary of when Kristi’s parents came over and told us Eric was diagnosed with ALS. Eric was diagnosed on May 18, 2007 but we were told 2 days later. You know when some major event happens in your life and people ask you “do you remember where you were when…?” This was one of those events. I was sitting right here in this chair when they stopped over and told us the news. What a year 2007 was. Forgettable, but unforgettable.

So what’s next for us? Well, in the short term we’re going to enjoy this 3 month reprieve from doctors visits and we’re definitely celebrating being chemo-free. Kristi will still have to go in for monthly blood work to get her CA125 level checked – but that’s just at a clinic, not the doctor’s office. Dr. Downey won’t call her “in remission” until her CA125 stays level for a year. At that point he said he would be willing to call her in remission. He hesitates because of this cancer’s tendency to come back. For now, we’re just enjoying what I said above…no doctors and no chemo for the summer! Last year we lived day to day. Sometimes hour to hour. Every time the phone rang last year we held our breath. More bad news? Another trip to the hospital? To be able to go 3 months without seeing a doctor is a huge blessing for us.

We’ve had some people ask us “are you going to keep the blog up?” Yes, we are. We will still have monthly CA125 results to report (next one being the week of June 9) as well as Kristi’s overall health. It’s a great way to keep in touch with all of our out-of-state family and friends. We pray that all the entries going forward will be positive.

Kristi asked me to put a video together of the past year and a half reflecting on her battle. So, in my quest not to disappoint her, I made the video below. Hope you enjoy it. Oh yeah, there’s a little surprise at the end of it. Take a look…

Monday, May 19, 2008

Monday, May 19, 2008: Kristi's House

Many of you may not know the history here so let me give you the background. Our church recently purchased Kristi’s parent's home they built about 25 years ago...the house Kristi grew up in. The house (and its property) is attached to our church’s property. Our church purchased this property a few years ago from Kristi’s parents to accommodate future expansion plans. After Kristi’s parents moved out of the house, the church decided to convert the house into a duplex and use the house for transitional housing for people in need. So they needed a name for the house other than calling it the “old Kammeraad house” (Kristi's maiden name is Kammeraad). The thought was that this house would give people hope, inspiration and a fresh start during some transitional time in their lives. So when the church leaders thought of hope and inspiration, they thought of Kristi’s battle with cancer. So there it is…the name of the house: Kristi’s House. Kristi is really honored that they thought of her. She says it’s kind of a weird feeling having a house named after her.

Yesterday, our church had a dedication of Kristi’s House. After our church service, our entire congregation walked through the woods that separates the church from the house and surrounded the house. We prayed as a group then broke into small groups and all prayed over the house. Two families have already moved into the house. Our prayers of course are that the new families find hope and inspiration in the house and can find their new beginnings. Here are some pictures from the dedication service:

Sunday, May 18, 2008

Sunday, May 18, 2008: Life Is Good

We are all doing well and enjoying being back to "normal". I don't honestly think I will ever be normal again though. This past year has changed our family for the better. We have grown in ways I could have never imagined.

Right now though I am at a loss for words. I have been sitting at the computer for over 20 minutes and I just honestly don't know what to type. Usually the words just come flowing out. God usually puts it on my heart what He wants me to share and tonight I am just clueless.

I don't want to just "babble". I do want people to know that we are doing really well though. So, for now I will just sign off and will update again another day. Have a marvelous Monday!

Monday, May 12, 2008

May 12, 2008: The Results Are In

I am officially done with chemo and on a "maintenance" plan for doctor visits!!! My CA125 was 47 (which is exactly where it was last time) and the CT scan didn't show any concerns.

My doctor said I'm not technically "in remission" because my CA125 isn't "normal". They consider normal to be 35 or under. I think that my normal is between 40-50. Guess that means I'm "above average" :)

I will be going for blood work once a month. My next doctors appointment is in 3 months and my next CT scan is in 6 months. As time goes on these appointments will become further and further apart.

Brian should be home soon and we're going out to supper to celebrate but I wanted to quick let everyone know the wonderful news! Thank you for your prayers!!!

Sunday, May 11, 2008

Sunday, May 11, 2008: The Countown Begins

Okay, so I actually started counting down a long time ago for tomorrow's appointment. Probably even over a year ago. From day one I have been looking forward to the point where we could say "we did it, we crossed the finish line!". We are so close. Tomorrow's appointment is at 1:15. I haven't been stressing about it or dwelling on it but occasionally my mind wanders there and thinks "what if".

Realistically we need to be prepared for the possibility that it isn't gone yet. Or for the chance that it may return some day. We need to realize that this may happen.

Optimistically we believe that the cancer is gone and will never return.

So what do we do? We become optimistically realistic. We hope and pray for the best with the understanding that we need to be prepared for whatever may come our way. We have to accept and believe that God's plans are what is best for us.

So, we ask for prayers that we will have the strength and courage to handle whatever news we hear tomorrow.

Also my entire family is out of state right now. My parents and Eric & Lori are in Washington D.C. and my brother and his family are in Alabama. Please pray for safety for them and for peace of mind as they wait to hear from us after tomorrow's appointment.

Another prayer request is for Brian. He is extremely tired these days even though he is able to sleep at night. Please pray that he will be able to find out the cause of this fatigue soon.

I hope the moms out there had a wonderful mothers day. I enjoyed a long nap this peaceful rainy afternoon. There's not much better than a good nap. Okay, so maybe the words "your cancer is in remission" may beat out a nap!

Friday, May 9, 2008

Eric Fox Family Celebrating Life

Eric Fox Living With ALS

Whatchya Doing Tonight?! from 6 - 9 PM

Please read to help our brother

(Lori is Kristi's sister)

Tuesday, May 6, 2008

Tuesday, May 6, 2008: Happy Birthday Brian!

Just a reminder that this Friday is the Fundraiser for Eric & Lori. Even if you don't know them I think you would have a great time! Check out www.foxfamilyfundraiser.org. They have the items listed that they will be auctioning off. There is tons of stuff for the kids to do as well. Although this will be a very emotional evening for our family, I am so excited about how much this will help them with the future costs that this disease will bring.

On another note, today was Brian's birthday. He has been trying hard to ignore it (he's getting a little too close to "40"). I think he had a good day today and he's already sound asleep. I should be sleeping too so I guess that is it for now. Thanks for reading and checking in on us :)

Sunday, May 4, 2008

Sunday, May 4, 2008: Do you hear Him?

Last week Friday I had a ct scan. I realized Friday morning that we forgot to post this on the blog as a prayer request. Friday morning I received an e-mail from a friend saying that he felt God was nudging him to spend some extra time for me in prayer that day. He also e-mailed me to make sure I was doing okay.

First I thought even though I forgot to ask for prayers, God knew I needed some extra prayers and prompted a friend to take care of that need. Then I was thinking . . . is my mind quiet enough that I would hear God prompting me to pray for others? Sadly enough I don't think it was. It has been filled with vacation details, school stuff, doctors appointments and much much more.

This was a good reminder for me to stop and listen. I'm glad my friend did . . . . thanks Jack. :)

Next week Monday (the 12th) I have an appointment with my oncologist. I will have blood work done this Friday (the 9th) and we will get the results of the blood work and ct scan at that appointment. (If the ct scan shows any concern they will notify us sooner). I am trying not to think about that appointment because it's a "biggy"! This will be the official "all clear" with cancer. Yikes! I'm normally a reserved person but I think I may just let out a holler when I hear the words "the cancer is gone". I already believe it in my heart but to hear the words will be music to my ears. I've already started planning the party! :)

Brian is still fighting some sort of bug. He has an occasional sore throat and has a cough that just won't go away which is very frustrating to him.

Please pray for patience this week as the countdown begins to next week's appointment. Thank you!!