Thursday, April 29, 2010

Thursday, April 29, 2010: That's My Girl!

The past couple weeks have just been a blur. There are many things that I have going through my mind that I would like to write about but tonight I'm simply updating to let you know about a big step in Ashley's life.

Our kids have been through so much for the past few years and as a result of it they have had to grow up quickly. Not only have they grown physically and emotionally but they have grown spiritually as well. Ashley has been meeting with a mentor for the past couple months so that she can make profession of faith. I know we are biased but we think she is a very special girl and I know that God thinks so too.

Ashley will be making profession of faith this Sunday. She has been professing her faith through her writing for quite a while now but on Sunday she will stand up in front of church (definitely not one of her favorite places to be!) to profess her faith.

(A few people have asked me for the details - we will be at the 10:30 service and we attend Calvary CRC.)

Jesus said, "Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these."Matthew 19:14

Sunday, April 25, 2010

Sunday, April 25, 2010: Light and Momentary Troubles

I sure wish life came with a remote control. I would hit the pause button immediately. I would hit the fast forward button and skip right over the next couple of days. Or better yet ~ I would hit the rewind button and go back. But where would I go back to? Before Eric was diagnosed? Before cancer? Back to the day our children were born or to our wedding day? Maybe the day I met Brian, graduated from college or high school. So many huge milestones in life.

There was also suffering involved with these milestones. Before I was able to graduate from high school I had to survive the high school years. I know some people loved school ~ I was not one of them. I dreaded every single day. When I was given my diploma I was not celebrating all my hard work to get to that place. I was celebrating the fact that I never had to return to that school again. I was looking forward to starting a new chapter in life. I was so glad that I could go to college where nobody knew me - a chance to start fresh.

College wasn't exactly what I expected it to be though. I was still "me". Same story, next chapter. I had more life lessons to learn. I did graduate though and this time I was celebrating my accomplishments.

Our wedding day was an amazing day but we had to first travel down the road of planning for this day. There is a lot of joy in planning a wedding but there is also stress. A lot of it! The birth of each of our children was a miraculous moment where nothing else in the world mattered. The physical pain that I endured prior to them entering this world - I don't think there is a word to describe it. It was a physical pain like nothing I had ever experienced.

And then there is the cancer. That word has forever changed our lives. As much as I hate cancer I can't deny the blessings we have received because of it. During the hardest days the words "light and momentary troubles" was a very difficult concept for me to understand.

I guess it is good that I don't have a remote for life. I would skip through all the suffering which would be nice. It would take away from the joy though that we experience after the pain. It would take away the courage that we find after going through a battle. We would not know the true feeling of victory if we didn't first feel the sting of pain.

In Rob Bell's book Velvet Elvis he wrote "Ultimately our gift to the world around us is hope. Not blind hope that pretends everything is fine and refuses to acknowledge how things are. But the kind of hope that comes from staring pain and suffering right in the eyes and refusing to believe that this is all there is. It is what we all need - hope that comes not from going around suffering but from going through it."

During these next couple of days I will stare this pain in the eyes and look right through it to where I find my hope.

Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day. For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen. For what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal. 2 Corinthians 4:16-18

I'm going to end this post the same way Brian ended his last one . . . . bring it on Satan ~ bring it!

Saturday, April 24, 2010

Saturday, April 24, 2010: Dear Satan,

"Prepare for battle, and be shattered!
Devise your strategy, but it will be thwarted;
propose your plan, but it will not stand,
for God is with us."
Isaiah 8:10

bring it!

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Thursday, April 22, 2010: Eric Fox, 1970 - 2010

The following will appear in the GR Press on Friday and Sunday:

Eric J. Fox, age 40, of Grandville, formerly of Jenison, went to be with his Savior on Wednesday, April 21, 2010 after a courageous, five year battle with ALS. His genuine love of life and for people gave him the ability to make friends in minutes. Eric has fought the good fight, he has finished the race and has kept the faith. He was loved and will be dearly missed by his wife of 14 years, Lori; his children, Zach and Maddie; parents, James and Joan Fox; sister, Julie Fox; brother, Jary (Erica) Fox and their children, Emma and Katelyn; parents-in-law, Steve and Linda Kammeraad; sister-in-law, Kristi (Brian) Rogalske and their children, Ashley, Nathan and Emily; brother-in-law, Kevin (Stephanie) Kammeraad and their children, Carlos and Maria; and many extended family members and friends.

Funeral services will be held Monday at 10:00am at Kentwood Community Church, 1200 60th St. SE, Kentwood with Pastor Rob Reynolds officiating. Interment Fort Custer National Cemetery.

Those who wish may make memorial contributions to ALS Association, or Global Partners c/o Rob and DaNae Reynolds.

Relatives and friends may meet the family Saturday from 7-9 pm, Sunday from 2-4 and 7-9pm at Matthysse-Kuiper-DeGraaf Funeral Home (Grandville) 4145 Chicago Drive SW.

Condolences may be sent online at or the family’s blog at

Thursday, April 22, 2010: Life Changes . . . Ashley's Responses

And you Return....

You came back. I told you to stay away. You just won’t give up, will you? Either will my mom. She won’t give up. Not in a million years! We all see a miracle coming, no doubt about it. You can come back a million times, but you will give up eventually. I know you will. My mom will never give up fighting you though. She will not. She will fight and fight and fight (and so on) until you go away! I mean really, you have to pick on my mom, you know that she’s going to get through this. I know she will. It takes time, I know it does but, just think. REALLY? WHY? USE YOUR BRAIN IF YOU HAVE ONE! She will beat this. She will beat you! Don’t mess with her, (trust me, I’ve leaned the hard way) she will not let you take her away from her family. I won’t let you take her away from me. She’s my mom. Sometimes, we fight, we don’t always agree on things, but that doesn’t mean that I don’t love her, I’ll always love her, no matter what. I’ll love her because she’s my mom. She will stay by my side forever. I love her, please don’t take her away!

The one who thinks you stink, (literally)

He is in Heaven now with you

We loved uncle Eric God, why did you take him away from us? That’s a question that goes through our head a lot Lord, please help us to understand that there is a reason that you took him to be with you. Help us to remember that he is with you now, and that he is rejoicing with you and praising you in Heaven this very moment. It’s amazing to think that right now, a very special person in our lives, is in Heaven now, with you. That’s amazing Lord, thank you.

Saturday, April 17, 2010

Saturday, April 17, 1993: 17 Years Ago!

Saturday, April 17, 2010: A Loss for Words

I've been staring at this blank screen for a half hour now. I've started to type but can't find the words. Three days ago cancer was in the back seat and we were celebrating Emily's birthday and welcoming Brian home. It was a good day.

Yesterday was a good day too but in a different way. It was a day of hearing things we didn't want to hear and seeing things we didn't want to see. It was a day that would have knocked anyone down to their knees. We are still standing though because we started our day on our knees.

My ct scan showed a couple of lymph nodes that are at the base of my kidneys and they are three times their normal size. The lump that he felt didn't actually show up on the scan. The silver lining here is that we have something to track now. I am going to be starting a new chemo in a week or so that is a daily pill. Right now the nurse is taking care of the insurance details. If I have chemo by infusion it is covered by our medical insurance. By taking this pill it is considered a prescription so insurance doesn't cover it. They are looking into what our prescription plan would cover and if there would be a cost for us. One round (which would be daily for three weeks) is $1000.

We are really hoping that there will not be a cost for us for the pill. If there is too large of a cost then I will go with the infusion route. The downside to this is that I will need to go in three days in a row. The side effects are the same with either way - my hair will fall out but not all of it, I may have nausea and my blood counts will take a hit. It attacks white counts, red counts and platelets so I will be closely monitored.

The rest of our day was spent at Trillium Woods Hospice Home visiting with Lori & Eric. This was a very difficult decision for them and it continues to be a huge adjustment. Please pray for them as they are taking things one step at a time. One of their biggest prayer requests is for communication between Eric and the staff - that they will understand him and how to take care of his needs.

I feel like I should be curled up in a ball sobbing right now. I actually haven't even shed a tear yet. I have a peace that I can't explain. I feel sadness, disappointment, and frustration. I have questions that I may never get an answer to ~ at least not in this world. All those feelings of fear, grief, and anxiety are spinning through my mind but there is a layer of peace that is wrapped around and is holding it together. It's holding me together. It's holding my family together.

I have been reading a lot about the Holy Spirit lately. That is something that has always been out of my grasp. I can talk about God and Jesus but the Holy Spirit has always been a mystery to me. The mystery has been solved though - not only am I reading about the Holy Spirit but I am full of the Holy Spirit. That is what is giving me strength, keeping me going, and providing my peace.

Although I hate the tragedies that have struck our family I love the closeness it has brought. It's made us real, it's made us think, and it's made us understand and see first hand that this life is just a breath. This is just the beginning and the best is yet to come.

I know the weeks and months to come will be hard. My doctor said that this chemo is not going to kill the cancer but keep it from growing further. He also said that we need to accept that it is not a matter of "if" the cancer will spread more but "when". I told him that I do accept that but that he needs to accept the fact that I believe in miracles. Only God knows what our future holds.

May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit. Romans 15:13

Friday, April 16, 2010

Friday, April 16, 2010: The Hardest Part

The hardest part isn't waiting to hear what Dr. Downey has to say. We're used to that by now. The hardest part is waiting for the kids to come home from school, knowing that we'll have to tell them something again. As Nathan asked behind a face full of tears last night "when is this cancer ever going to go away?" That's just something you never get used to; that, by far, is the hardest part.

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Thursday, April 15, 2010: What is Normal?

You will definitely not find my picture in the dictionary next to the word "normal". I've never thought of myself as normal. Since my diagnosis life has been anything but normal. I've never really thought much about the word "abnormal" before but if I had to pick one of the words to describe me it would have to be abnormal.

That word never bothered me much . . . until now. This afternoon I was told that my ct scan results were "abnormal". Actually, her words were "there were abnormalities found". She asked if Brian and I could come in tomorrow which caught me off guard. The main reason for going in so soon is because Dr. Downey will be out of the country next week. Before he leaves he would like to talk to us about the results and what our options are. That should be a fun visit . . . not.

Brian is trying to adjust to the time change . . . he gained 13 hours coming home. On his ticket it actually showed him as arriving in Detroit almost two hours before he left Japan. He stayed awake a little bit yesterday but crashed after we watched Emily open her birthday presents. He has been in bed for the past 20 hours sleeping off and on. Last night he had a hard time sleeping (because his body said it was daytime) and today he slept soundly (since he thought it was nighttime). He has been awake for 6 hours now and seems to be coming around. I struggled for a week after we lost one hour during the time change - I can't even imagine how hard adjusting to 13 hours must be. Maybe it will be better for tomorrow's visit if he is still somewhat numb. I'm not really worrying about it yet because until the appointment happens it doesn't seem real to me.

I was reading The Shack this afternoon and this paragraph jumped out ~ Mack was asking God, Jesus and the Holy Spirit about priorities. The name Sarayu represents the Holy Spirit and Papa represents God.

"But don't you want us to set priorities? You know: God first, then whatever followed by whatever?"

"The trouble with living by priorities," Sarayu spoke, "is that it sees everything as a hierarchy, a pyramid, and you and I have already had that discussion. If you put God at the top, what does that really mean and how much is enough? How much time do you give me before you can go on about the rest of your day, the part that interests you so much more?"

Papa again interrupted. "You see, Mackenzie, I don't just want a piece of you and a piece of your life. Even if you were able, which you are not, to give me the biggest piece, that is not what I want. I want all of you and all of every part of you and your day."

Jesus now spoke again. "Mack, I don't want to be first among a list of values; I want to be at the center of everything. When I live in you, then together we can live through everything that happens to you. Rather than a pyramid, I want to be the center of a mobile, where everything in your life - your friends, family, occupation, thoughts, activities - is connected to me but moves with the wind, in and out and back and forth, in an incredible dance of being."

"And I," concluded Sarayu, "I am the wind." She smiled hugely and bowed.

That is exactly where I want Him to be in my life too.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Wednesday, April 14, 2010: A Special Day

Six years ago Emily made her debut into this world and into our lives. I can still remember that day as if it were yesterday. It's so hard to believe that my baby is six now! Emily has been counting down the days to her birthday since Christmas and she is soooooo excited for today! There are a lot of things that she is hoping to get for her birthday but her favorite gift will be going to the airport this afternoon to pick up Daddy!

Brian has been in Japan for the last three weeks. I didn't post anything on the blog or tell a lot of people because I really didn't want the whole world knowing I was home by myself with three children for that long. We are sooooo excited that he is finally coming home - it was a long three weeks! We were able to talk to him on Skype every couple of days which was really cool. We're ready to see him in person now though!

I have not heard anything from my doctor regarding the ct scan results yet and to be honest - I don't want to. Today is a very special day for our family and I don't want any cancer news messing with it. I haven't even been thinking about it. It will either show the lump that he felt or it won't. Whatever it says we still have to make a decision on where to go from here. Right now the ball is in their court and I'm more than happy to let them keep it there until we are ready to retaliate and hit that ball right out of the park! So for now - cancer will just have to take a back seat because I have more important things to do! (Wow, lots of metaphors in that paragraph - sorry Dad!) :)

Monday, April 5, 2010

Monday, April 5, 2010: In Christ Alone

Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour. 1 peter 5:8

Last week the enemy was running circles around me. It all started on Thursday when I managed to break the faucet off of the kitchen sink. Later that day we discovered a hundred thousand jillion billion ants crawling around in the rocks next to our house. Okay so maybe there wasn’t that many but there was a lot! I thought I would take a video of this with my phone to send to Brian. While doing this I managed to drop my cell phone in the rocks and it cracked the screen. This was my brand new cell phone that I had upgraded to just three weeks ago.

Busted sink, ant invasion and broken cell phone – three strikes – I’m out. I was mentally and physically tired at this point. We had a few busy days planned and I tried to take control of these plans and work it all out on my own – not good – you would think I would have learned that lesson by now.

I struggle with self-esteem issues and was at an all time low by this point (what kind of loser breaks the kitchen sink and cell phone in one day?!). I could feel a panic attack coming on and the verse about the devil prowling around like a lion came to my mind. Once I identified this I was able to gear my anger towards the enemy and decided I was not going to let him win this battle.

We had a busy day lined up for Easter and I was actually thinking that we shouldn’t go to church. I knew it would be very busy and I wasn’t in any frame of mind to deal with people. Thankfully my spiritual heart overcame my earthly mind and we did go to church. As we sang the song In Christ Alone these words hit me right between the eyes and brought so much comfort ~

No guilt in life ~ no fear in death ~

this is the power of Christ in me.
From life’s first cry to final breath ~

Jesus commands my destiny.

No power of hell - no scheme of man

can ever pluck me from His hand.

‘Til He returns or calls me home

here in the power of Christ I’ll stand.

This service renewed my faith, brought me comfort and helped me put my priorities back where they needed to be. Just one day prior to this I was overwhelmed with something as simple as the fact that I forgot to buy eggs. God knew I would need to deal with news that was much more difficult to grasp than the fact that we didn’t have eggs.

I had an appointment with Dr. Downey this morning. During my physical exam he felt a lump in my pelvis. He would like me to start back on Avastin again (which is a maintenance chemo – no major side effects). I have a ct scan scheduled tomorrow. He mentioned that my CA-125 was up but I reminded him that it had actually gone down a little bit. His response was that “it’s still quite high”. I was still feeling pretty confident at this point (and I still am) so I said “we’ve discussed this before – we both know that I am above average”.

The intern looked quite surprised and said “what a positive way to look at that”. Both of them had very sad looks on their faces – almost a mix of sorrow and pity. I didn’t go down that road with them though. The line “from life’s first cry to final breath ~ Jesus commands my destiny” kept going through my head.

For the past three years I have been fighting this battle determined to beat cancer. I assumed this was God’s will for me. Although it was awful hearing the words “not more than five years” a few months ago it did help me wrestle through some issues. I gave up control of my life, my plans, my family, and my children. That was no easy task but the peace I felt when I opened my tightly grasped fists was such a relief.

I don’t know what God’s will is for my life but I know He controls my destiny and am again reminded of the last line from In Christ Alone . . . ‘til He returns or calls me home here in the power of Christ I’ll stand. That is the only thing that will get us through this journey – the power of Christ.

But he said to me, "My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness." Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ's power may rest on me. That is why, for Christ's sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong. 2 Corinthians 12:9-10