31 January 2017

Third Infusion

Firstly: A huge thanks to all the people who are helping out with meals and those sending words of encouragement to Aliza. The meals, for instance, really help us to stay on track with the routine of getting Cooper and Lillian in bed at a reasonable time without having to give up time with homework or reading a story and the notes, a flower bouquet, a small gift, are all a great surprise and pleasant reminder to Aliza of all those who care and are praying for her.

A quick update following the third Chemo infusion.

Aliza's blood work showed that she has no new white blood cells being produced. Her regular white blood cell count is also very low and well below the "safe" range. So, she is at significant risk for any infection, cut, or cold and as such we have to be extremely cautious with what she is exposed to and even what she does.

The infusion itself went well and Aliza is, thus far, recovering better than either of the two prior infusions. She is still very tired and nauseous, but the immediate drop off in ability to function following the infusion has not been as drastic.

I will leave most of the other "news" to Aliza to share as she feels up to it. My main intention is really to say thanks to everyone for caring.

24 January 2017

Chemo: Racing Death

A Chemotherapy Drug
Cancer sucks. What is debatable is whether Chemo sucks more. All cancers will kill you, some faster than others, but the outcome is inevitable. Right now, the best cancer killer, the various drugs that are classified as chemotherapy, if taken long enough, will also kill you.

That's a disturbing thought.

Modern cancer "treatment" is really a race: will the Chemo kill the cancer before it kills you. Doctors place a limit on how many chemo infusions you can receive before your body is no longer able to safely recover from the treatments. Even then, Chemo can kill you before treatments end. If you finish, there are long term side effects that can be expected, provided Chemo has destroyed the cancer.

My wife has Hodgkin's Lymphoma and began a 24 week treatment program where she is given 4 different Chemotherapy drugs every other week. She's on week 3 and already the physical impacts on her health are readily apparent.

Watching the sudden deterioration of her health is painful. That's what is most difficult about this journey. We are all given an allotted period of time to live on Earth. Each day steadily ticks off one of our 26,000 days that we can expect to experience... and normally, we don't really notice it's passage until too late.

Cancer though... I'm watching my wife and the change from day 12,409 to 12,410 was tangible. That shouldn't happen... and this was before Chemo began.

She is currently living day 12,465 (roughly) and the pain she experiences, pain that I can't fix, pain that is only going to get worse, amplified with pain that comes from the emotional distress caused by the sudden physical deterioration being experienced... it's heart breaking.

Doxorubicin is one of the "Class A, Hazardous" drugs my wife receives and the one responsible for her eventual hair loss. It can only be administered by hand, with a close eye on how her body reacts. If it touches the skin, it can cause severe damage if not promptly washed away. 
This is the race she is running: will her body stay alive long enough for the cancer to be eradicated before the chemo kills her.

I will choose joy today because: we have friends and family praying for her survival and our family's ability to carry on during this journey; we are not alone; I am able to provide her some comfort; the pain caused is allowing us to grow closer; we will get to live day 12,466 together; death is not the end.

17 January 2017

Second Infusion

Hi Everyone,

This is the best method I have to let everyone know the most recent update...

Aliza had her second chemo infusion today and she has responded better than the first one. Her big goal was to be able to walk out of the hospital today which she was able to achieve.

Her plan is to provide more details tomorrow on the blog, but we wanted to provide a quick update on the progress.

10 more infusions to go!

Thanks for your support,


07 January 2017

Beyond Control

We live in a deluded world.

It is a curse that comes from the belief that we are in control of our environment, our situation, our job, our lives. That we, in some way, can successfully manipulate and thread our existence over the course of 100 years. We are then further deluded into the belief that some arbitrary definition of success will result in happiness.

Why is this, the most technologically advanced, mobile, connected, and comfortable living society in history equally the most depressed?

If you have seen some recent videos on Facebook, the reasoning for this situation is because this generation believes they are special, they have been given a silver spoon, have never been challenged, etc. While I agree all of this is part of the problem, it is not the root cause. Instead, it is our guaranteed failure in controlling our destiny.

I wrote about this before; the idea that humanity essentially believes that we are gods. It has been perverted to all sorts of areas of life from sexuality to trying to control the climate of our planet.

Inevitably something happens. Something happens that proves the fragility of this existence. That despite all of our planning, our desires, our caution, our denial of the temporal confines of our world, everything can be taken away in an instant. This can come in the form of a car accident, a violent attack, a bad day on the stock market, an attack from a foreign power, or nature itself.

What do you respond when your fragility is fully exposed?

For those who believed that life is managed only by their strength, then the result can be crushing when reality hits. For some, suicide. Others lash out and create a miniature bubble of power and control. Sometimes people who are driven can shake off this realization, and will just try again. Some live with bitter anger. Many seem to find some addiction as an escape. Ultimately, everyone will come face to face with their humanity and the illusion of control will be stripped away.

I've been asked lately if I'm doing okay following the news of my wife's cancer. The reality is, I have no choice, no control, over the outcome of her disease and I am well aware of this position. Only God knows the plan for every life on the face of this Earth and I long ago bowed to this reality. Thus, the exposure of my helplessness is not debilitating or causing me to question life. I can only choose between the options we as a family have been presented, be saddened or encouraged by the potential outcomes that may result, and carry on.

I place my faith in a man who claims to have power over life and death who also demonstrated the ultimate proof that this present existence is broken and inequitable. I take comfort in knowing this existence is not all there is to life.

The next few months are going to be hard. Life isn't going to feel good. But, I never expected it to always be filled with rainbows. More than anything, I am simply saddened at my helpless to take away the pain that my wife must endure each day of this journey.

So, I encourage each of you to stop trying to control life; to accept the world around you as it is. It is freeing to end the pursuit of "controlling" this world, or attempting to establish a little bubble of perfection. Instead focus on the little things in life - family, being warm and dry, friendship. Show others the joy that comes from helping one another. The ultimate freedom, however, comes in believing that God is in ultimate control and has a plan. When you live in that reality, the ups and downs of this world lose their significance and you can look forward to what lies beyond the horizon despite the struggles of today.

05 January 2017

How to Help

I'm slowly learning of all of the various tasks Aliza just "magically" handled as she is being forced to take a break from her routines. I don't know how practical it is to create calendar events for each item that may arise, but I will try to detail some things for people to consider. Most of these are routine activities that Aliza tracked and managed. Jan and Lee are helping with a lot of this, but if they can't or I am traveling, then extra hands would help.

- Madison is involved in a robotics club that will meet regularly after school. In most cases transportation should be handled because our neighbors are also in the same club, but there may be a day when help would be needed. Robotics is 5:30-8:00 M,T,Th,F & Sa for the next 7 weeks. The actual meetings where Madi will be required may differ.

- Madison also has youth group at Trader's Point (near Whitestown) Sunday evenings from 6:30 - 8:30.

- Our kids can use help with homework. For instance, Lillian is starting a project that is beyond her abilities on her own and Cooper is getting his first taste of homework. If you want to plan to come over one afternoon a week when they get off the bus to supervise homework, let's work something out. Wednesday's are particularly challenging as the kids also have Awana that evening.

- Packing the kid's lunches or getting a meal ready. Even freezer meals need some preparation. If there is a night when it is just Aliza and the kids at home, she could use a hand. Right now there is no immediate need, but it could become necessary as my work schedule evolves.

- Watching the kids for an afternoon or over the weekend.

- Sitting with Aliza and keeping her company during the day. This one is simple but valuable and will become more important in the coming weeks.

- Cleaning is largely sorted out as one of Aliza's previous teaching friends connected us with someone. Before Aliza started treatments, the two of them went through the house and came up with a plan for taking on the items that the kids aren't quite skilled enough to handled. The cleaning lady comes every other week for a couple hours. But as any parent knows, there is always chores that need attention.

- Pick up and unpack a click-list shopping order from Kroger.

- Books and movies that you have enjoyed and would like to share, lend, or suggest would also be helpful. Days stretch out and become boring when all you can do is sit during the recovery days after an infusion. Please, no need to buy anything as borrowing is more fun and gets the job done just as well. You could even just come and watch the movie with her.

I'll amend this list as suggestions are given.