When a shower isnt a shower….

My chores are finished, children, horses, goats, chickens, ducks and dogs have all been fed. Walking onto the rear porch I look back as our ranch lays peacefully under a dusky sky, the sun bidding a final fair well. It is perfect.

Everyone has their own end to the day, a moment when the world stops and we are able to take a deep breath. Walking into the house the kids are chatting it up after dove hunting, and a hum of laundry shaking our houses foundation rattles off from the basement. Taking a moment to converse with each child, I relish in understanding the what, where’s and how’s of each of their days. My oldest has done another fine job of making sure homework is finished for me to check, their stomachs are full from the wonderful meals arriving and they have showered, washing away the days grime.

Ahhh the shower. Hot water rushing down my body, soap, a shave, it is all I look forward to each and every night. Its cleansing properties revitalizing me, relaxing my stressed out brain and allowing me the comfort of shorts and a t-shirt. My idea of pajamas.

I never realized just how much we take for granted the prospect of having a shower. While in Haiti showers were a luxury, yet our group was allowed a cold bucket shower each and every night during our first trip. The second trip to Haiti a year later left us an even greater asset, actual bathrooms with tiled showers! So we never really lost that sense of what it is like to not shower, to be clean.

Now there is always camping but I say; Camping doesn’t count! Most camping trips it is a rite of passage to see how many days one can go without showering! Of course being the manly men we portray ourselves to be, it never matters what our mouths and egos have arranged for a final shower date! In the end our wives, girlfriends or significant others ultimately pull the “you stink” card demanding a shower now or sleep alone, outside with mosquitos the size of VW Bugs. Yes dear!!!

Yesterday morning my wife called me. Now first off I was super excited that she could see the phone well enough to locate my caller ID! But then she tossed out this very exuberant statement: I took a shower on my own today and it was heaven!

You see Jacy hasn’t been able to see or get out of bed due to lack of muscle strength and motor skills, so to hear her say that she had in fact taken a shower on her own was, well, heart stopping! After congratulating her my first question was did you need any assistance? She said no because she was bad ass that way! We laughed and while she recounted every water drop and how wonderful it made her feel as she sat there basking in its warmth I thought to myself. How long has it been?

Before I could ask, she blurted out how much she missed being able to shower for herself, to wash herself, to feel independent enough to care for herself! It had been roughly 17 days of sponge baths, bath wipes and lots of cream or powder. 17 days of having multiple people handle you, wash you, and manipulate your body for efficiency while undertaking this task. Yes the nurses there are phenomenal, yes they care for each and every person like they were family. But when you barley have enough energy to eat let alone wash yourself how quickly would having multiple people handling your hygiene get old? Not to mention leaving you feeling just a tad bit defeated?

She went on and on, it was awesome to hear her happy, her voice still cracking, sounding horse and dry, but happy. Who knew the simple act of a shower (something we take for granted) would become an extraordinary event, allowing her to regain control of her life if even for just a few moments.

Which leads me to an update: Jacy is getting stronger, her doctor told me the day before yesterday they will continue weaning her off of steroids. The experimental drug Jakafi is still holding its own which is a good sign for now. There is still a plan B drug in place should there become an issue with continued use of Jakafi. Her eyesight remains blurry with bouts of clarity. Even though she won’t recognize it out of sheer frustration, it appears to me as though she is having more moments of almost being able to see than not, another good sign! Random misspelled texts lend proof to my theory! Her sense of humor is improving with each little victory and as of this very moment she is on a phone call with a BMT, GVHD survivor who like her had stage 4 GVHD, was in the hospital for a very lengthy stay and in the end he survived. He is a teacher who is currently back at work and living his life to the fullest. More to come on what transpired during that conversation. She is a fighter, and doing so the only way she knows how, with grit. Thank you all once again for the continued support and prayer.

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Oh? One of those calls….

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Why must you ring? Why?

One of “those” calls, the phone call we all dread.

We all know the story, have heard it recounted a million times whether through a friend or family, on television or in the movies. This haunting recollection is always recounted like an old wives tale and for some strange reason it chills even more so simply through its timing. Midnight to 5am.

The phone rings, its 4am. Nothing good comes from a phone call at 4am. No one I know lives on the other side of this big round world just waiting to chat my night away, no one I know has been counting down the minutes to converse with me during what would be considered to any other normal human being, bedtime? No one. Not one, single, solitary person.

So that means when the phone rings at 4am it is without a doubt bad news, it always means at 4am that it is bad news. Right? Publishers Clearing house is not calling to inform me I just won 10 million dollars at 4am! Although they could, seriously PCH call anytime, PLEASE!!!!!

It rings, I don’t hear it. Sound asleep, weary from a long emotionally charged week my body is in deep REM sleep. Somewhere in my dream there is an apparition yelling at me to arise, screaming to wake up, something is not right! I wearily crack an eye to a very dark bedroom only to recognize the sound of a voicemail populating my electronic gadget of life.

Heart rate doubles instantly like an electric shock, as though the bell has just gone off at the fire station and I hear the words “Structure Fire”. Bam! I am awake! Searching fumbling for the phone, fear instantly grips me, thoughts, horrible thoughts of what may be; enter my brain! They keep coming as my fingers can’t quite grasp this stupid phone! Nothing is working! Squinting hard, no recognition is working and I can’t find my damn glasses to see since my fear induced jolt knocked them off the nightstand. Like Ralphy from a Christmas story I carefully search the floor praying I don’t take a misstep thus hearing the cracking of a shattering lens.

I have them! I can see, hitting voicemail a somber, I am guessing through dialect Asian gentlemen calmly explains Jacy has been moved to ICU. Her O2 saturation is poor, her breathing is labored, her red cells are down and she is in need of one on one care. If I have any questions to call.

Thank God! She is still ok!

I lay down for a moment to stare at the ceiling.

Once the emotions are out of my system, my heart rate has returned to normal and I’m done being scared, a thought crosses my mind. Why? Why does a late night call always bring the worst instantaneously from our subconscious? I know history, tales of woe and an assumed perception of the worst has everything to do with it. But I just wish there was a way I could shake that thought process from my mind. Anywhoo, this is how my week was to begin, with a single, heightened, middle of the early morning phone call.

After arriving to the hospital, doctors announce she had contracted a form of pneumonia giving her grief which explained why her breathing had been so labored. Her doctors said the GVHD was still responding well to the experimental drug Jakafi and their hopes remained positive as far as continuing to slowly wean her from all steroids which would help with her continued muscle deterioration. She has recently developed diabetes which is being treated accordingly and is also one piece of the picture in regards to her continued loss of vision. On Wednesday she participated in a bronchoscopy which did not make our girl happy at all, having a camera shoved down your throat when you have no strength to fight left her feeling a bit more helpless. By Thursday for some reason she had reverted completely and was back to feeling a failure in her recovery. She needed all our love and care to snap her back into her super woman fighting spirit!

I contracted some form of a cold and have not been able to see her which has been difficult to say the least. It is hard when the woman you love wants you with her more than anything and there is nothing you can do but stay on top of your medications and pray this stupid cold goes away quickly.

She wants to come home, it is all she thinks about! She wants to see her children, to hold them to watch them, to simply sit down and do homework, participate in their lives. On days she feels like quitting all it takes is reminding her what’s waiting for her at home and we can usually snap her out of a funk.

As of today Jacy is doing much better. This incident happened on Tuesday morning and although there have been a few bumps in the road for the most part she has held her own. The tests came back from the bronchoscopy and she has HVV6 a herpes virus we all carry to some extent, it masks itself in a few ways including pneumonia. Good news is she was already being treated with the appropriate medications so a minor adjustment and we shall see in a week. Jacy can no longer walk as her muscles have finally weakened. She still has limited use of her eyes which has been the hardest on her. She works very hard at staying mentally strong which after 67 days can be a bit daunting for a person who is used to doing everything for herself. Thanks to the help of her family she can sit in a chair for about 45 minutes without assistance, she is participating in physical therapy daily which includes the use of bands giving her muscles some resistance. She recently was placed on a special air mattress to help with her bed sores. She is seriously one tough cookie and my hero.

Our family thanks everyone who continues to pray, help, and care. She is the light of our lives, the toughest woman I know and she will come home. It just may be a while..

Hopefully I don’t get another one of “those” calls…

12:11 Sunday: Just in as I place the final touches on this latest edition!! HVV6 responding well, her lungs are clearing up! She is off oxygen and finally saturating in the high 90’s on her own. She has also been moved from liquids restrictions and will be able to consume fluids which means solid foods are not far behind!

Keep those prayers coming, she needs prayers of strength to help her mentally feel like she is improving, keeping her spirits high!

What do I say?

What do I say?

The woman I love lies in a room far away, alone. She says everything will be ok, she says she will win this fight, she says she has faith, she says…… She says she misses me.

I have often wondered; what is love? The movies would have you believe it’s a look, a moment, an encounter filled with music and rainbows, strangers meeting on a balcony with electricity shooting through their veins as they saunter off into storybook bliss. In reality love comes in all forms, at any moment. I believe love isn’t always apparent, it sneaks up on you when you least expect it or comes from a direction never envisioned. Sometimes love is seen through Gods eyes not yours. You learn this when asked to follow him, trust him like no other, no matter what anyone says, no matter who passes judgement because you know what you feel is love.

Love means seeing things through another’s eyes, not your own. Putting aside personal aspirations or needs to put someone else on a pedestal, even if just for a moment. Sometimes I don’t want to put anything aside or see through another’s eyes and I fight with my own selfishness, but love means knowing without a doubt that anger will never betray your feelings and forgiveness comes easy because you know love.

Love is having a sense of humor no matter the situation. Life is filled with funny moments experienced through both happiness and tragedy. Although there will be some who don’t envision any humor you portray, a moment remains funny none the less and it is love allowing temperance for another’s inability to embrace your vision of humor.

Love comes from holding someone’s hand. Happy, sad, or simply a comforting moment shared between two people for any number of reasons. Old, young, sick or healthy, to hold someone’s hand is a gift given that I think we take for granted. Human contact in it’s most basic form yields love.

Love means blindness. In a society that consumes hate like a Thanksgiving dinner and breeds intolerance for self centered glorification, to love regardless is a powerful statement. We are all born the same, with love in our hearts it is how we are raised that enables societies need. Love, true indomitable love conquers all roadblocks placed in our paths, thus destroying any hate others need to survive.

Jacy was brought to me through God, she taught me to believe in others again. I am sure I have said this before, but she took an broken angry man by the hand, against what all others wanted and showed me how to trust in myself and believe in love. She loves everyone and shows that love every day. She can be angry as a corned mountain lion while in the same breath forgiving as a priest. She challenges me and shows me how to be a better man every day.

I know what love is; it is my wife.

Our house is not the same. The sounds of children give it life, there is a warmth that comes from watching four of your offspring actually working together, laughing, and acting as though they enjoy each other’s company. Even with their mother absent, they are trying hard to keep some semblance of normalcy. They miss her greatly, but know I need their help so they have put aside many of their trivial arguments, moments of discontent and are working hard to keep this machine that is our life running smoothly. But even with all their efforts our house is not the same.

My bed is empty. I am the type of guy who would drive 36 hours straight, just to sleep next to my wife as opposed to alone in a hotel room somewhere. Pillows are stacked high, placed appropriately to simulate her missing silhouette. Where some may take this opportunity to stretch out, explore the generally off-limits other side of the bed I look at it as a sacred place. A place where only she sleeps, her heavy breathing absent, a constant rustle from restless leg syndrome under the covers, the glow from her ipad no longer lighting up the room at 1am, even her scent has begun to fade.

I cannot sleep.. The day keeps me busy enough. I have always believed to be a good husband you should do as much as you can as often as you can to assist your wife. I know it drives her crazy when she vents about something and I immediately try fixing the problem! It is just the way I am hardwired, I am a fixer by nature, it cannot be helped! There is nothing to fix here, I have only my problems, my harried schedule, my heartburn and stress and there is nothing I can do about it. So I just lay here looking at the ceiling; wondering if she is sad and feeling alone. I can’t sleep.

My heart aches for this time lost. I don’t understand why we are doing this? What on earth led us to this point? I just want her to be here at home! To be with us all the time! Her laughter, her smile, her goofy ass ways! I long for the moments when her goofiness drove me crazy!!! She is missing out on her children, her animals, her marriage and I want desperately to find someone to blame!! But who or what do I blame? There is no one, nothing, it is what it fucking is and that is bullshit! There is no getting back this time lost from her life, like a patient awakening from a coma to wonder what is, what was; my heart aches.

What do I say to people who ask how she is? The truth is too painful and to lie, well a lie is just a dishonorable thing to promote. I don’t mind keeping everyone abreast of Jacy’s condition, it does help others to better understand the severity of her situation along with the suffering of others traveling down this very same path. But what do I say to those whose hopes read far too much into my accounts. We all have hopes, but it’s hard to keep pacifying those with no intentions on hearing the truth. Do I keep telling it like it is or do I falsify my facts for a softer, gentler outcome during conversation? Some days it can become so intense a small bead of sweat rolls down my back and while looking for a legitimate out my eyes scan the room for the woman who would always save me in situations like this, but wait that woman is who we are talking about. She is not coming, she lays undisturbed in a hospital room 100 miles away. So what do I say..

Her kiss. When I married my wife it was her kiss which solidified our union. Your wife may have a nice kiss, but my wife, well… Today there is no kiss, tonight none as well, I long for her kiss, as it settles me when I am angry or tense. The only kiss I get now is through a mask, it is not the same and is always followed with how much she needs me. I need her too, yet it’s my heart that needs one of her kisses.

Some days I feel like I am failing.. Trying to be everything to everybody takes a toll. I have plenty of help and a routine that is working well. A community graciously at my beck and call, I am blessed. The kids are fine, the animals are doing well and the ranch is running fairly smooth, but I can’t help but feel like I am failing. My heart wants to be next to her every minute of every day. She is small and frail, no longer the strong woman who could run 24 miles then teach two spin classes in a day. She can no longer see and can barely walk to the bathroom which has left her with a fall protection device upon her bed. She longs for the ability to just stand up without running out of air, then needing to sit down just as fast as she stood. I am not there to help her, to make her walk, my schedule leaves me going every three days and it is not enough! I am her husband, her best friend, I promised to care for her in sickness and in health and yet I am not there! She should not have to cry alone, or act surprised when she sees me because it’s been to long between visits! My world is running so fast while her life is locked down, frozen, like the hour hand of a clock running in slow motion! I know this is what she wants, she tells me every few days is fine, she needs a happy routine for her children. There is no reason both of us should be absent and she is right! Sometimes I hate when she is right for I only want to be selfish and only think of her! Yet to see her sad and missing me, well, some days I feel like a failure.

So what do I say?……

Can someone please tell me what I am supposed to say? Can you? Place yourself in these shoes, stand tall because it is how you were raised to handle adversity, look into your children’s eyes daily, and hope you don’t give away too much while praying for an answer to come soon. I have become weary of sadness, tired of worry, tired of being scared, tired of being without my wife, my best friend and partner in crime. I have grown tired of being me. Wondering constantly while holding her as she worries about her life, her children, her home, her friends, the ones she loves, as she worries about my wellbeing  if she can remain strong enough. I know she can’t see me but I hold her and look into her eyes anyways because I know she can envision the look of love coming from my face ..

What do I say?………

The answer? There is nothing to say. I will keep moving forward, making life appear seamless for my family even though it is far from so. She needs to know all is well, that I am well, and her sole purpose in life is to heal then come home. She needs to know the fight is not me, the fight remains against her disease. My job as her husband, as the man who loves her more than she will ever know is to continue on, support her anyway I can while quietly, carefully caring for the life we have built together, forever.

What do I say?

I say, I love you….

I wrote this a few days ago. I have held onto to it, not wanting to post it, fueling a panic button that I may just be losing it a bit. In reality after reading it over and over again, it is the way I feel. It is the way I believe many would feel about their significant other in the same situation. Why? Because I do believe in love.

This morning  (August 19) Jacy can finally see a little better. The latest from the doctor in regards to the experimental drug is her body has accepted it and she is currently (his words) on a slight “uptick” from the median line of survival we are all hanging onto. This is great news! Although things can change for any reason at any time, the fighter that is my wife is coming through! This weekend they wean her off more of the steroids and up her drug a tad bit more.

So I kept it another couple of days. As of August 22, she had a little slide. The pain pump is back in place, she has severe edema so she is receiving Lasix again hoping to shed the fluid. A catheter has also been re-installed as her bladder refuses to quit bleeding. The plan remained the same as steroids continue to be weaned and the experimental program continues.

So please keep her in your prayers. I am fine, that is why I write. Writing allows me a freedom and ability to say what I feel, share it with others who may feel the same way, helping to cleanse my soul and recharge my emotions to handle the next moment, day or week.

Thank you for that….   Betty.

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The 80’s and fighting Leukemia? Huh?

Lately I have been on a bit of an 80’s music kick. You remember the eighties don’t you?

Mount St. Helens, Billy Idol, Princess Diana, Ronald Reagan, YUP’ies, the Challenger explosion, the Falkland war and we cannot forget Bill Gates becoming the richest man in the world in 1983.

Now I mentioned Billy Idol only for music, I loved his fighting angry style and sneering grin which always makes me think of him first! But let’s be real shall we? In reality it was a decade filled with some of the most adventurous artists ever in my humble opinion. Angry, screaming, fighting against the machine music! (anyone remember the sex pistols?) In that vein there was punk rock, hard rock, and heavy metal! There was also new wave, pop, and let’s face it country music was still COUNTRY! Not this rap, pop, cross over crap they are passing off today. Just a reminder of a phrase recently coined by yours truly. Country + Rap= CRAP!

“Country + Rap= CRAP is a trademarked statement and not to be used without the express permission of They Call Me Betty inc. along with any and all subsidiaries associated with They Call Me Betty inc..”

While traveling down memory lane with some of my favorite 80’s artists a revelation; the 80’s may in fact be the new 50’s! I mean even today the 50’s are alive and strong musically, there are oldies parties and people still love hotrods from that era! This of course set me to wondering why no one really celebrates the 60’s or 70’ the way the 50’s and 80’s are celebrated on a regular basis.

The 60’s were cool, free love, hippies, rock and roll expanding from suits and ties in the beginning to long hair and freaky clothes as the decade came to an end! Then the 70’s arrived and we had Vietnam, rock music was trippy with long hair, lots of dope and a strange sound, other music forms revolved around love, lots and lots of love. Near the end though the 70’s got weird which I blame on a desperate struggling economy. This may be why we got happy Disco music (along with copious amounts of cocaine) blaring in our ears forcing us to dance the night away in a sweaty barrage of bodies, polyester and open front shirts!

So why don’t those era’s receive the same loving reflection? Maybe they do and because I lived the eighties decade I only notice its relevance in society today? Either way.

As I was saying, I have been listening to eighties music a lot lately. Needing to find my happy place as all of this craziness swirls around me. Sometimes when I am watching Jacy sleep and it is so quiet inside her room the only noises to be heard are that of tiny IV pumps turning and a favorite Van Morrison tune cranked loudly inside my brain. It is like watching a sad music video behind my eyes where you flashback and pretend two of you are walking on a secluded beach, or laughing as rain pours over the both of you only to fast forward through the twisting of a scarf in the wind. There you are sitting alone on the very same beach staring off into the distance as the screen fades to black. (Totally sounds like and 80’s video huh?)

Spending time next to my wife is my favorite activity as of late; she cannot see me most of the time, but even when she sleeps she knows I am there. She is slowly showing signs of improvement as her sight returns, then fades away only to return in one eye the very next day. Her face has cleared up with baby fresh skin left behind from the drastic peeling and sloughing the week before. Her body remains covered in rashes and blisters which is hard to see as you know it hurts all over. Her once fit stealthy frame has been reduced to skin and bones. Her body is eating itself alive right now, our hopes remain for a complete turnaround soon. I hug her when she stands and nothing is there, I close my eyes and kiss her which feels the same, warm, familiar, wonderful. I can only kiss her through a mask but it doesn’t matter for love knows no barriers.

I ran into her doc in the hallway yesterday, she was having a particularly hard day as a multitude of drugs had run her down leaving her barely able to stay awake. Doc says status quo, which in this case is a very good thing. We won’t have true numbers on what this experimental drug is doing or not doing until late next week. Good news is she is holding her own and they began slowly weaning her off steroids which will allow this drug to work a little harder. Her breathing sounds a little better (not as much wheezing and phlegm) and her voice a bit clearer. Over all Jacy has been fighting the good fight and that is all any of us can ask for from this tough Cuban chick. righttttt????

Today’s writing was a bit of a ramble, but I suppose if I am going to write about this journey, it can’t all be a structured garden filled with sunshine and roses. My brain is fried, I am scared for my friend, but we stay strong through faith. As she reminds me on a regular basis; this sucks, I feel like shit, I couldn’t do this without you, but I have faith and I love you. I will beat this, we will be together again with our children at home.

Who could ask for more?

Think I’ll put on the earphones and crank up a little Idol?

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Buckle up Buttercup!

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Timidly pullIng down the strap, buckling in tight, yes my nerves are raw, emotions high but with a feeling of optimism coursing through my veins. I knew this was going to be a hell of a ride, after all I had done my homework, read the memo’s and calculated all risks associated with this procedure. Life is filled with the unexplained, the where’s and whys, but life can also be explained through formulas, numbers, and equations the basis of fact.

In my world I live on a combination of hard facts and grey areas derived through trial and error, or accumulated experiences. Some days bring solid steadfast results, other days bring gloom and despair but mostly we consistently work within that grey area of operations, teetering between facts and gut reactions. There is something to be said about going with your gut! While floating in the cranial membrane of greyish indecision it has always worked well for me.

So today whilst arriving at Stanford to meet with Jacy’s primary doctor, I really had no questions as through many days and nights absorbing information, regurgitating said information for consumption and pondering the wealth of answers in regards to my wife’s previous, current and future care I felt fairly certain I was right where I wanted to be mentally. Oh but how doctors love hard facts….

Buckle up buttercup this is going to be one hell of a ride!

That’s all that kept running through my head..

Sitting in a room specially designed for such occasions I actually began to feel a bit nervous. I have been here before and I never really like these meetings. It is probably the basis for my need to overload on information, know everything that is happening so as to never be caught off guard. The room was filled with Jacy’s dad, step-mom and myself seated across a table from the doc, his assistant and a social worker. Jacy’s primary nurse joined us a few moment later quietly standing over my right shoulder. For the next 20-25 minutes this room reverberated with every question a father could think of in regards to his daughters care. In return every explanation the doctor felt needed to be tossed onto the table and a few that were beyond what I expected were pitched as well. Once the percentages began flying around my nerves just went numb! 20% here, 70% there, combined with scary words like mortality, fragile state, and the ever popular response of “we just don’t know”. There were also positive words such as, fighter, strong, stubborn and holding her own. Many detailed analysis I already understood; some analysis I was vaguely aware of and had appropriately deduced an outcome, while every now and again something would be said that just blindsided me. But I suppose that was to be expected for no matter how much you prepare you cannot possibly know everything. As we concluded it felt as though we all walked away understanding a little more about the who, what, where and the why of it all. I also walked away with the utmost respect for her doctor and every ounce of care she was receiving.

Now I have long said that statistics are to a mathematician what a lamp-post is to a drunk; just something to lean on.

But driving home after weeks of feeling super positive (well except for our girls little outburst last Friday that sent me into a tailspin) and feeling as though my understanding of everything was solid; driving home I felt, well, I felt heartbroken. A feeling I had no inclination of participating in, yet there it was, like my chest was going to break open! Just plain old heart-broken. Part of me wishes I had never gone to that meeting, part of me wishes I didn’t understand all that I do, part of me wishes I was just a stupid, sheep of a husband, one who nods his head yes and no whenever questions are asked. All of me wishes I could tap in for my wife, trade places with her, send her home. I have known this was going to be a long rough road, I have known that from the start. It just got longer and rougher. I have always known my wife was a fighter, she is the toughest woman I know, but she is going to have to get tougher. We are no longer talking in weeks, we are talking in months. She misses her home, her life, her ranch, her children, heck even her husband! I miss her terribly at home and all of this is breaking my heart.

The good news is these doctors know she is a fighter, everyone loves her, and the nurses all look forward to working with her. Jacy’s spirits are soaring and she knows deep inside her soul she is going to win! GVHD is no joke it is life threatening, but her toughness, her tenacity to continually do the opposite of what is expected through statistics, that will power is what keeps her going strong.

To date; Jacy cannot see due to deteriorating optical nerves in conjunction with sloughing of inner eyelid tissue, so today they tried several experimental procedures hoping to alleviate some of her visual discomfort including placing an amniotic sac over the open eyeball. Do you think that stopped her from getting out of bed and walking with me this evening? Hell no! Her eyes burn, her skin burns, she has broken blisters and peeling over her entire body! You think she whimpered once about how uncomfortable it was or used it as an excuse to get out of physical therapy? Hell no! Her stomach is upset, she cannot eat solid food because the GVHD has extended to her intestines leaving her only induced nutrition arriving through an IV. Do you think that has kept her from downing chicken soup whenever possible? Hell no! Jacy’s all over body pain is so intense she is attached to a pump delivering morphine every 15 minutes just to get through the day. Do you think that stopped her from greeting every nurse, janitor, doctor or visitor with a beaming smile, telling them what a good job they are doing, or talking about television shows, laughing together like old friends? Hell no! She can barely talk at times due to severe dry mouth and lesions inside her throat. Do think that has stopped her from happily conversing with each and every person who crosses her path? Ok I know you know the answer to this by now!

Her enduring strength, positive attitude and indelible spirit are what’s keeping this mother of four, teacher, daughter and friend going strong. I also believe some faith is in there as well. Please keep her in your heart, she believes in all of you and says she can feel the power of prayer working every day.

We have a hill to climb, it is going to be long, sometimes really hard, bumpy and frustrating, but when you feel those helping hands of spirit and faith pushing you from behind you can’t help but make that final push over the top. Then buckled up, straps down tight we can finally let go of the bar, place our hand up high and enjoy the ride together.

stay positiive

How was your day?

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0750 my gear has been placed on the engine, I am Acting Captain today and we have a shift filled with misfits as many are out on the fire line. The day feels good, my spirits are high, and we have a great group of guys working this morning! 

This day is also an important one for many as we are selectively heading to city hall. Many have tested for an open Captains position and one by one we will head over to partake in the interview process. The interview process is the most important in this three stage testing procedure as its weight bears 50% of your overall score. I feel pretty good considering the weight upon my shoulders as of late. I enjoy the interview process more than the testing side because it gives each individual an opportunity to express themselves beyond a cut and dried, yes or no, pick A,B,or C type answer. It really does put everyone on an even playing field and with the wealth of incredible talent our small department holds it makes for an exciting 30 minutes in front of three of your peers.

0830 I am in the shower, Class A suit laid upon my bed, shoes shined, a quick shave and we will be on our way. My engine is staffed with two other awesome candidates so we are traveling together. Our second due is fully staffed and prepared to handle all calls as we work our way through the process. Of course this is a necessity for as I previously eluded 1/3 our department is currently out of county working the Rocky fire. 

The phone rings, I am mid shave, they will call back. It rings again and keeps ringing; SHIT! This must be important, there’s something wrong with the kids is what comes to mind first! I am sure someone is fighting about having to take orders from one sibling or another, or someone doesn’t want to do chores! Wet and unable to see very well without my glasses, the outline of my wife’s picture is visible through the steam as it continues to ring! My heart races….. She never repeat calls me unless it is REALLY important. I answer the phone and tentatively say: hello?

A sound of desperation rolls into my ears through gasping breaths, sobbing and fear. “I don’t want to die, they are putting me on experimental drugs, I don’t want to die here! I want to come home now, can I please, please come home now, I cannot die here James; I can’t!!! I feel too good, I am walking, we go outside, why am I getting sicker? I don’t feel sicker? You can’t let me die here! I just really want to come home now! Please, can I please come home!!!!!

(Heavy, heavy sobbing)

I don’t know what to say. That is right, the man who has something to say about anything and everything to a point you just want to tell me to shut my damn mouth! Has nothing to say.

Tears fill my eyes.

After a few still moments my brain kicks into gear. I tell her I don’t know why this is happening, that she will win this battle, and that she is the strongest woman I know. (Hell truth be told she is also stronger than most men I know.)

She retorts with; I just don’t understand James, this isn’t fair!

And she is right. It is not fair, and I will never understand why this could happen to anyone, let alone a woman who has given so much too so many. I know our lives are not tallied up in a score allowing us some form of greater peace upon leaving this earth. But as one who believes in Karma, as one who believes we are all put on this earth for a reason, it makes absolutely no sense. No sense at all..

A few moments go by and she tells me she just needed to hear my voice, she needed to hear me tell her everything would be ok. She asks how my interview went to which I somberly reply; it is in a half an hour.

In hindsight, I should have lied and just told her it went fine.

It took a few minutes of calming her down after spiraling into what a bad wife she thought she was for calling and laying all that on me before an interview. I calmly told her not to worry, it would be alright and I would be there soon. She made me promise to go through with the interview. I was ready to leave. It was the hardest thing to promise her I would stay, but she made it very clear this interview was not just about me, but about our whole family. Twenty years happily given to my career, if an advancement were to come it’s not just my advancement, it is the entire families advancement as they too have sacrificed for all that time. Once she was calm and re-energized knowing my love and commitment to her, we hung up our phones.

Walking back towards my dorm was the longest mile. Everyone seated in the day room, some talking about the upcoming interviews others mentioning fires while some were partaking in a little busting of chops. I made no eye contact, prayed no one could see my swollen, red face and quietly I slipped into my room closing the door without so much as a squeak.

Sitting on my bed, I slowly raised up my wet towel, covered my face and screamed as loud as I could. Then I cried, and cried some more until it became sobbing.

Now I am no psychology genius, although you need to have a little ability in that arena when it comes to this job and dealing with the various personalities we encounter. But I am going to guess that sob was more than just a phone call. Fighting migraines daily brought on by all this stress over the last year and a half finally came to a head and in that moment. Undignified, snot filled, blubbering moment. Trying my hardest to get it under control before I was discovered was to no avail.

One of many wonderful, caring co-workers that surround me on a daily basis walked in, not because he heard something, but because we share a dorm room and the minute he saw me, he quietly closed the door, came over and without a word sat by my side, put his arm around me and just hugged me. It brings tears to my eyes writing this because in a moment when some would try to do so much more, he knew more was not what I needed. What I needed was hug. A simple human response, showing you care enough about someone to let them go through what they are going through but with the silent strength of support in the form of a simple hug.

I pulled myself together, got dressed and went to my interview. Before walking inside I took a deep breath and tried my very hardest under the circumstances. It was all a blur as before I knew it, the boys had covered my spot on the engine and off to Stanford I went.

Jacy was never happier than the moment I walked through her hospital room door! She couldn’t see me, but once I said; Hi honey, she smiled that beautiful smile and there I stayed, by her side until late in the evening.

To understand without question the lord has a plan for you may be a hard pill to swallow at times. You are not supposed know why things are the way they are, but determine what the message is and how you can learn, grow and provide to others from what you have experienced. Good, bad or otherwise it is a journey designed for you and you alone.

I am not happy about this road we are currently on, I never will be, but I do know when this is over we will have one of hell of a story to share with others and maybe that is the point.

Jacys current status: Jacy currently has GVHD in her abdomen which is exactly where you don’t want it to take hold. What that means is as her new cells are battling to find a foot hold in her body they have a tendency to destroy things, such as tissue, muscle, linings etc.. This is why the first sign of GVHD is a rash. Jacy’s rash covers her entire body. It eventually blisters with dead skin cells, sloughs away leaving new baby like skin behind. (Stars pay thousands for a treatment to give them new baby skin) What you hope for is this is as far as it goes and that you develop chronic GVHD, where a rash or a form of shingles only re-appears every now and again. Jacy has developed acute GVHD, which is life threatening; although treatable it is fully dependent upon her body’s ability to interact with a variety of drugs to counteract the GVHD. None have worked and she has reached the limits for steriods. She weighs around 129 pounds, her legs are the size of my biceps, she can barely see as the underside of her eyelids are sloughing away leaving her eyes swollen and blurred. She still has a full body rash and of course her abdomen is now affecting leaving her with uncontrollable diarrhea. The fear with it in her abdomen is the cells are attacking her intestines which doesn’t allow for her to process food. What this mean is no matter how much she is craving a cheeseburger she must be on a liquid diet because her body cannot digest the solid food appropriately. Even on a liquid diet her body is using way more calories than it is able to obtain, leading to anorexia and possible kidney failure.

We are in a last ditch effort to turn things around by placing her on experimental drugs hoping to reverse these effects before it is too late. The experimental drug they are prescribing is Ruxolitinb or Jakafi. Look it up it is an interesting read.

This morning she feels great! The diarrhea has stalled as she didn’t need to go all night. That is a good sign! She is fighting with every fiber of her body as only she knows how and told me two weeks! Two weeks is her goal to get to her dads hell or high water! She believes the new drug will work, putting an end to all this nonsense! There is definitely something to be said about a continued positive attitude.

Many will say I am giving away too much information, that there should be more privacy when it comes to this matter. But the reason I share all of this is not just so our friends, family and extended family (which is what I consider every single person who is praying along with us to be) can be informed, but to put a realistic face on Leukemia. Not just the success stories and depressing losses but what is actually happening in between to everyone involved! It is a dreadful disease that hurts family after family and without knowledge along with sharing our experiences we will never grow to help others living through the very same hell.

To everyone who is assisting our family in some form or another. Thank you from the bottom of my heart.

To everyone who is praying for our family; may God bless you all!

Feel the warmth

sun

Today the sun shone upon her face as I witnessed how its warmth made her feel. We take for granted our daily lives and how simple everyday processes are there, waiting for us, unobtrusive. Like knowing your right leg will follow your left, or when you itch, a dominant hand will scratch without so much as a second thought. So goes our lives, the sun will rise, the sun will set, followed by the moon. Yet we never think about what if we no longer knew the sun was there?

Every day for millions that fire in the sky is too damn hot! Every day for millions it shines over and through clouds leaving them to damn cold. We take it all for granted. One thing I have noticed since this journey began is how much I miss living near the coast. The valley is a wonderful place, but driving back and forth to Palo-Alto I can see the majesty that is fog rolling in over the foothills, that cool breeze proceed its arrival letting you know the fog is almost there, never having to hear the steady drone of an air conditioning unit running for 24 hours on occasion. I grew up in a charming little town, filled with dairy’s and cattle ranches several miles inland from a tip of the bay. Sonoma was an awesome place to grow up. Every night you could watch the fog roll in over the valley walls, rolling out in the morning to leave a cool, crisp moistness for all to enjoy. As humans we complained it was too cold, or too hot during the day and man just once I wish that fog would wait until later to roll in making everything wet!

I have been away too long, I am not sure if it’s my age, the fact I recognize we complain way to much or seeing life through my wife’s eyes as of late has changed my perspective? But I appreciate everything this earth has to offer us as human beings.

So I rambled, where was I? Oh yes, What if?

Watching my wife slowly step ever so carefully down a long and busy hallway, eyes fixated on a double set of doors roughly 50 yards away. The light shining through those doors indicating they are in fact a righteous pathway towards freedom. My focus is solely on making it there without her feeling so tired she can longer fathom making an extra step, thusly cutting our journey short. Ensuring her pathway is clear as we traverse this major artery of the complex. My worries are there, but I am trying my best to not let them show. She has only completed a few loops around the quad over the last week or so; her small world of circular entrapment. Today’s journey for her has become the equivalent of walking into the next town.

Double gowned, IV stand in tow running on battery power, a hat to protect her new skin from the dreaded UV rays and of course sporting the ever so stylish Darth Vader mask, keeping any air she breaths clean of all harmful organisms. We crawl, people staring, some smiling, others with a “good job” look upon their faces and of course the trip wouldn’t be complete without those who just don’t know what to do when they see her walking towards them. To look away, make eye contact and freeze, stare mortified or the just plain look of pity. Oh well it really isn’t their fault so what can you do?

We make it to the door and as I open it, the sweetest, most perfectly timed light, warm breeze hits our faces. For me it feels great! But for her, well this is where I was going with all this rambling from the beginning, it is heaven. This woman who hasn’t felt a breeze, natural warm air, cold air, fog, or glaring heat for 44 days is slightly blinded by the brightness and in one deep breath, relaxed and happy.

I witnessed how the warmth made her feel! We didn’t make it to Stanford’s glorious, well-manicured fountain area another 25 yards away, but we did find a nice bench, under a tree and there we sat, beneath a beautiful mixture of sun, clouds with a hint of fog just off the horizon. We listened to the fountain, and all the wonderful ambient background noise. Light and movement were a neural overload for my wife but she enjoyed every minute! We talked as if we were on a date; that is if the date was near a hospital and my date was heavily sedated. (No rufie jokes please) She sat with her eyes closed for a bit, feeling the suns warmth, the light breeze, free from the beeping machines in her room, while quietly wondering when she was going home.fountain

We had a wheel chair available for the trip back, but she refused, her stubborn Cuban side firing back up! So after twenty minutes or so, Jacy said it was time and we slowly, carefully made our way back down that long busy hallway, into the BMT unit and back to her little room with a window.

Once inside the BMT unit it was heartwarming as almost every nurse cheered her onward, congratulating her for making the journey, inspiring her to be stronger, to become healthier in her recovery. I cannot say enough about these special people who work inside this wing of the hospital. We all know and I have said it before; my wife could make friends with the hardest of people. Yet everywhere we went, even in the hallway outside the BMT wing, nurses or Stanford employees were coming by to wish her well. They all know my wife by name, they all have a smile on their face and they show just how much they care. It is inspirational.

Tomorrow is a new day, no matter what has happened today, good, bad, or in-between remember this, there is always someone out there doing a little worse than you. Be their inspiration.

The sun still shines on your face, you still have the freedom to be where you want to be and when you want to be there, you have the ability to make the very most out of your day, every day.

So please take a moment and be thankful you can still feel the warmth.

hobbes

Gonna pump you up!

hanz and franz

We are going to PUMP YOU UP!!!

Fighting Leukemia is a long hard battle not for the faint of heart. These men and women struggle with more pain, both mental and physical than anyone could imagine. Their continued inner conflict seem to come from the heart because no person wants to go through something like this! Once you read all the information you then have questions, doubts and wonder why exactly someone would put themselves through endless hours of physical and mental highs and lows. But they selflessly do.

Believe me, these patients don’t do it for themselves! I have listened to a few survivors now, both in conversation and as part of this wonderful network slowly being formed through contact both on this page and other media sources. Each of them all believe saying yes to life was the right thing to do, the responsible thing to do; having treatment was a choice and they all believe they’ve made the right choice. But??

Of the four I am currently chatting with online, each one slips into a sentence these words: I am not sure I will do it again. Or the ONLY reason I went through it all was for my family.

Think about that for a moment. I have been faced with serious choices over the last 20 years in regards to others, and I always tried my hardest to make a decision based on training and what I would want someone to do for my loved one. Never in my wildest dreams did I ever think; what if it was me? What if I needed treatment and without that treatment I may perish?

These loving, kind, vibrant individuals faced with an option, treatment with a 50/50 chance or no treatment and let nature take its course eventually leaving behind loving family and friends. It boggles my mind.

I am overwhelming thankful for the choice my wife made. She was rocky for a minute, but it was only a minute and then her normal, lets kick this things ass mentality shifted into overdrive. I am grateful the people I have met who have survived not just Leukemia but all forms of cancer made that choice letting modern medicine have a shot! I am thankful for where we are in the advancement of treatments for all kinds of cancers, because 20 years ago the outcome would have been very different.

These people are my heroes, I am honored to know them, to talk with them and hear the love, kindness and respect they hold for a new found life. Some are completely different than before, nothing bothers them, and they no longer get upset over the little stuff, waiting for each and every day to greet them with the sunrise. Others hold a new respect for their surroundings, knowing if they hadn’t made that choice how much different things would be today. All of them are grateful for their families, loved ones and friends.

Each one of them is open and honest about their struggles, willing to share feelings both positive and negative, hoping I see in the end it will all be ok. Writing about Leukemia as it decimates a loved one is filled with negatives, it just cannot be helped. But there are positives and these people prove that to be so!

To each and every person battling to live, for your family, your friends, your loved ones, I love you all, I will always share your stories of inspiration to hopefully help another father, husband, friend such as myself. You all make me proud to be who I am, what I am and where I am right now with this life.

With that, I believe it is time we update the wife’s condition.

Wednesday, things were very rough! Jacy still couldn’t walk, pain everywhere throughout her lower extremities. The fevers had returned with vengeance, and vomiting appeared to be an every 30 minute abdominal workout. The doctors pulled her Hickman line for fear of infection and placed a Picc line in its place. She was still heavy on fluids, and any effort to urinate (which was a must every 10-15 minutes) was met with burning pain and small abdominal spasms. When I left her on Wednesday night because I was headed home due to a large fire near our jurisdiction, she was knocked out from pain meds.

Friday I snuck over in the afternoon and Jacy had been moved into the cardiac unit. Fevers were running high without rescinding, she was still vomiting a lot, and her lungs weren’t exchanging oxygen well so O2 saturation levels were very low. She was also diagnosed with HHV6-B

HHV-6B primary infection is the cause of the common childhood illness exanthema subitum (also known as roseola infantum or sixth disease). Additionally, HHV-6B reactivation is common in transplant recipients, which can cause several clinical manifestations such as encephalitis, bone marrow suppression and pneumonitis.[5]

Sooooo cloth gowns, masks and gloves for everyone!!! SCARYYYYYYYY!!!!!

I know you are asking yourselves; hey! Didn’t the title say “we are going to pump you up”? This has all been kind of a downer!

Well MY PEEPS! Word on the street is Jacy was slipped a little steroid cocktail and BAM! Instantly feeling better! That’s right within a day her fevers had subsided and by the end of the next day she could walk the quad without pain!!!! Whoop whoop!

roids

Jacy was moved from the cardiac unit yesterday and once again is blessed to have her very own room. (A luxury I might add). The doctors ran a bunch of tests today which included a colonoscopy and she still has plenty of sores in her throat along with a full body rash. Doctors have stated they are trying their hardest to get everything under control so she may be released to outpatient care hopefully by the weekend!! Way to go Steroids!!!!

Getting her out of there and into the redwood lined, mountainous retreat that is her father’s place will be a spirit builder for certain.

So after a very long storm the first bit of sunlight comes cracking through the clouds and hopefully we will feel the warmth of her smile once again.

When angels cry

 

angel 2

Today I felt a sound;  piercing silence with destitute angst, grasping upon fibers of resolution with no sustenance for carrying such weight. Fear, exhaustion, sadness, weariness, exasperation; the last few exhales of a frail and emotionally barren patient who feels as though one more night without resolution may become one night too many.

I felt it! I didn’t hear this sound, although my hearing is just fine as human beings we carefully and most often selectively choose what we hear and when. Yet every now and again it is more.

While on the beach we hear waves yet I feel deep in my chest their mighty power swell, withdraw and swell again crashing onto the pummeled earth we know as sand.

Riding my horse, any horse; I can hear the animal breathing hard leading me to know she is working, but what I feel is so much more. Tightening, relaxing, stride reaching or falling short, flex, give, kindness, frustration and freedom. I carefully feel deep inside what I hear leaving me satisfied or yearning for more.

My child hugs me and says I love you daddy, but what I feel inside is warmth, love, caring need, want, respect and knowledge that this being was not only the very best decision made in my life but, I will always love them exactly the same way long after I am gone.

So when my wife calls me this morning quietly whimpering, leaving me struggling to understand what she is trying to say. I feel that.  Through calm patience allowing her to gather enough breath only to break apart, crumbling into tears because its been a long night with no sleep, excruciating pain, another fever, and a new inability to adequately exchange oxygen within her lungs. I let her cry.

I don’t hear her cry, I feel it.

Phrases like: I am done, this is all I can take, I just want to go home, spew forward with no resolution.  I can’t take the pain any longer, I feel broken, I’m never getting outta here, I am scared, so very scared!  All spew unabated from her raspy, quivering vocal chords.

I feel it deeper.

My throat is tight, yet I can’t let her know, my stomach hurts so quietly away from the receiver I take calculated precise breaths to not let her know my heart is breaking.

Because I no longer hear her words but feel her pain.

Today they are doing a procedure to extract a portion of her lung for testing.  She does not have adequate oxygen flowing through her system and they are concerned as to why.  Her white cells are there, they are multiplying, they are accepting their new home. She has a fever that will not go away, vomiting has not ceased, fluid retention stays the same and with each and everyday she feels her road to normalcy slipping away.

Two days ago she felt good, we all  felt positive, but for some reason two steps forward continue to multiply into three steps back. Like climbing a mud slicked hillside or traversing through a severe rain storm. This journey was never promised to be easy, it was explained to us in very plain English it may be a rough road.  Since we have been at Stanford I have personally witnessed people walk out, ready for the next phase.

I know there is hope, I feel it without so much as a word spoken.

Yet it is not me suffering through each day, I am not staring at the same four walls, no big blue curtain surrounds me or leaves minimal privacy as my body aches to urinate every five minutes. My life is not surrounded by nurses or inundated with endless needle sticks, buzzing, chirping squealing machines. At no time do I feel like screaming from boredom just to hear something other than the television.  When I arise in the morning my legs work, I stand just fine, without assistance. There is no button to push asking for help or more IV pain meds, no pills to swallow every four hours, no reciting my name, birthday and address for security purposes every time a medication is given. I don’t need strangers helping me to shower, cleaning up after me or wiping my backside when things go sideways.  Every morning a group of attending’s with their mentor does not surround my half-naked body staring and talking as though I am not there unless a learning moment needs explanation. Oh they are nice enough, friendly smiles and all yet it is not in my wheel house.

All of this happens everyday for my wife, my feelings are positive, I know it is all going to turn out ok, I feel it.

I hear her desperation, I hear her cries for help, I hear her pains, wants and wishes.

But when my wife calls saying she’s done; I cannot hear that, I can only close my eyes and feel an angels pain.

How “we” are doing.

Unknown-2This arduous journey we are on is filled with inevitable highs and lows. People are always asking how “we” are doing and although for the most part I am fine; I cannot hide my feelings of attrition while aimlessly wondering through each and every day. Work is merely a blessed escape, a place to hide from reality as we move hour by hour towards resolve. Home leaves me running around trying to appease everyone while getting absolutely nothing done in the process. The carnage left behind I fear to be my children. Although showing no signs of weakness along with praising my personal efforts whenever we check in at night, I often ponder what their reflection of this moment will become years from now. Will their recollections be filled with bravery, honesty, and fondness for a valiant effort put forth by many loving, caring friends and family? A summer filled with day trips, adventures and playtime accompanied by freedom from parental rule? Or will they only remember a summer where no mother or father were present a majority of the time? Night after night of no one to kiss them goodnight, tell them how very proud we were of any small accomplishment casually swept under the rug through absence? I wonder, my heart hurts, and panic grips my thoughts as I have no control over any situation they may find themselves. Or maybe I am just thinking too much?

My oldest is doing a great job, the kids are constantly singing the praises of super, duper big brother Cody; it does bring me some comfort in the man he has become. But day after day I smile, I hold strong, and act like nothing is happening for the only ability I hold to express any feelings resonates within the stroke of a key. It is probably nothing, my uncontrolled daydreams of disaster happening without me present, strung together from the woven fabric of a long storied career, centered on assisting others during disaster. For my spinning, crazy mind the boogie man hides around every corner waiting to spring into action. He prays on the weak and unattended, and although my oldest is an adult with more than adequate skills to handle any trouble that may arise, through my eyes he is ten years old with a squeaky voice asking for my help and I am not there.

I miss my wife, I miss my friend, and I even miss her being terse with me for something stupid that has sprung callously from my mouth. (which if you know me is frequent)  I miss her kiss. Leukemia sucks. It has been 4 weeks since I have been allowed to kiss my wife. (Definitely been taking that for granted!) 4 weeks! Now don’t get jealous but truth be told, one kiss from my wife can erase a month’s worth of fret, anger or sorrow. I know, you’re jealous anyways, you just couldn’t help yourself huh? Its ok, but she is mine, so get your own!

That is how I am doing. That is what’s spinning around in my brain on a minute by minute basis.

The good news is how Jacy is doing? Jacy is slowly getting better!! Her white cell count is stabilizing, the constant fevers of 101-104 are now holding steady 99-101 (yes that’s a good thing)! She is still very uncomfortable from added fluids in her cells. This comes from bag after bag of fluids added to help with a bleeding bladder! So there is roughly 20-30 pounds of extra water weight on her at any given time. This added fluid is extremely uncomfortable and at times painful. Jacy is still having problems with severe nerve pain to the point a physical therapy team has begun working with her on a daily basis. Being the stubborn Cuban woman she is, nothing is keeping her from trying to walk the entire circumference of the quad. Chairs strategically placed around its outer perimeter have assisted her with this feat! She called me yesterday to announce she made her first full lap! It hurt like hell, she struggled a bit, but she made it and felt like she finished a marathon! Her lips and throat have been saturated with sores and as of yesterday most of her bottom lips inner skin had sloughed away, leaving raw exposed nerves. This is all part of recovery as the white cells are learning what is foreign, foe or friend within its new host.

Word on the street is if she loses the temperature spikes, the bladder stops bleeding and she is able to walk a little more consistently without so much pain, they will turn her loose to outpatient care. Outpatient care requires living within 30 minutes of Stanford in case of a recovery reversal such as high fever, difficulty breathing, an infection of any kind or onset of GVHD (Graft Versus Host Disease). This of course means she moves into her dad’s apartment close to Stanford where her family will assist with her recovery. It also means once school is in session our family will make the journey every weekend to spend much needed time with her.

When I spoke with her today her spirits were high! She feels as though she is finally turning the corner and is looking forward to making it out of the hospital signifying the next step in recovery.

Thank you all for the continued prayers, support and love. The Franceschi clan is very grateful for each and every one of you!

May God bless you all, as together we watch my awesome wife Kick Cancers Ass one more time!

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