Monday, December 29, 2008

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Merry Christmas

I just wanted to let all of you dear friends and family know that I am recovering well after my surgery on Friday. The procedure went as planned, and we are waiting for results. I was able to come home Sunday afternoon. I definitely had some very uncomfortable moments the first day following surgery, but praise the Lord....He saw me through as I knew He would. I am being taken care of very well, as you can imagine between my husband and sister. My brother-in-law, Mike, has been such a huge help too! I am so thankful to have yet another hurdle behind me. I am so thankful for the peace that fills my heart as we wait....yet again.
I have received some very encouraging cards notes from many of you. Please don't ever underestimate what this means! I love getting mail....I love opening Christmas cards....I love being reminded that you have my family on your hearts and in your prayers. What a blessing!
I hope each of you have a wonderful Christmas. I am surrounded by a beautiful Christmas tree full of sparkling lights, holiday decorations, homemade goodies, my beautiful children (who are sprinkling reindeer food outside our house right now), and amazing family...and best of all, the love of a Savior who came into this world to save my life. I couldn't ask for more. Thank you, God for sending your only Son into this world...for me (and for all of YOU!).
I love you,
Melissa

Friday, December 19, 2008

In Recovery

Melissa has been in recovery since her biopsy this morning. Doug and my mom are now getting to go back to see her. She's doing well, and the doctor said they were able to get a few samples through the biopsy this morning. It should take about a week to get results back from the biopsy. As far as I understand it, the purpose of this biopsy was to check again to see if it was a misdiagnosis, so we can pray for that! We can pray that we will find out that it is something totally different, and that would explain why the chemo was not effective.

Internet service at Doug and Miss's house is slightly tricky, so I'm actually at the library to post the update. I know that there are hundreds and hundreds of people praying and wondering right now, and we appreciate that beyond words! We will try to post again as soon as we hear anything else. Again, thanks for the prayers!

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Biopsy Surgery Tomorrow

I'm sorry I've failed to let you all know the exact time of the surgery. It is in fact tomorrow morning, and it is scheduled for seven-thirty. Doug and I need to be there by five-thirty. I was praying that they would not be doing a repeat of the invasive surgery I had in April. The Lord heard and answered that prayer! The surgeon will be going in through my right side, in hopes of getting good biopisies of the nodules on my lung. He will be performing a VATS (video asissted thoracoscopy surgery). This means I will be having two to three smaller incisions, rather than one large open incision. The recovery time for this is obviously much easier than my previous surgery! I will also be having a chest tube again, which was perhaps the worst part for me last time. Thankfully this will only have stay in one day (if all goes as planned). Please pray that....
--they have no issues with scar tissue that could prevent them from retrieving what they need.
--the chest tube is successful in doing what it needs to, and is able to come out soon.
--there is minimal or no post-surgery nausea, and minimal pain.

Please pray especially for my surgeon and his medical team. Pray that their hands and decisions are guided by God. And of course, let's pray and believe together that we will know definite results soon from the biopsy. Doug and I are so humbled by your love and support. Thank you to each one of you who are praying for us and taking our needs before the Lord. I, once again, have a peace in my heart. Oh dear friends, this can only come through our Heavenly Father. I am trusting, and I know He is with me.

Much love,
Melissa

Monday, December 15, 2008

"Pray For Melissa" (prayer calendar)

Please look at Melissa's new prayer calendar.

We appreciate everyone's prayers, and would love to give her a visible picture of the many friends and loved ones that are literally covering her in prayer every single day...If you would like to choose a date to pray diligently for her, reply back in the comments of that post, and I'll add your name to your chosen date on the calendar.

Thank you for allowing her to see the many prayers that surround her daily!!

Friday, December 12, 2008

I Believe

This song went through my mind over and over again yesterday. Doug and I are trying to wrap our minds around the news we learned at the appointment. The results are not what we were hoping for....we, at least I, had tried to brace myself for any possiblity, yet sitting there in the room I kept thinking "please let this be a dream...wake me up."
The cancer did not respond to the chemo. The main mass has not changed in size....no shrinking and no growing. The PET scan did show it's "activity" to have increased since the last scan. The nodules on my lungs have grown. Even in the face of receiving the two one-week-rounds of chemo....they grew.
Here is where we are. If this is in fact lymphoma...it is resistant to chemo. There is no known cure. They could try new things....attempt to venture into untread waters to treat it. The only other thing they would try is a donor bone marrow transplant. My sisters will be tested first, as siblings have a strong chance of matching. There is a SLIM chance this could be something other than lymphoma. Yes, meaning there was a mis-diagnosis. (remember...slim) In order to be sure of going forward with the bone marrow transplant, we have to rule out this slim chance of something else. This requires a biopsy. A needle guided biopsy is not the best option, as it is not one hundred percet reliable. If you would have told me even a few weeks ago that there was a chance I would be having surgery again, I would have trembled. The Lord is walking with me....no, He is carrying me. At this point, I want them to do anything they need to....I am not scared about another surgery. I will be having the appointment with the surgeon Wednesday morning at eight o'clock, and then it is looking like the surgery will be Friday morning. Any of you would kick into the fighting mode too....do whatever is necessary to give me years with my family. My children need me....I need them.
We went to the church yesterday after leaving the doctor's office. There has been weeping....but I know that deep in our hearts Doug and I know God is carrying us. Please pray with us....pray for God's strength and peace to fill our hearts and our home. Pray for wisdom with decisions. Pray for a miracle. God is bigger than this. I trust Him no matter what....we love you, and thank you for your support.


Though I can't see Your holy face
And Your throne in heaven above
It seems so far away
Though I cant touch your nail scarred hands
I have a deep and unspeakable joy
That makes my faith to stand

Lord, I believe in You
I'll always believe in You
Though I cant see you with my eyes
Deep in my heart Your presence I find
Lord, I believe in You
And I'll keep my trust in You
Let the whole world say what they may
No one can take this joy away
Lord, I believe

Born from above You are Gods only chosen one
You're the one and only true way
To the Fathers heart
You died for all sin
Then you rose and now live again
Conquering death and the grave
So that I might live

Lord, I believe in You
I'll always believe in You
Though I cant see you with my eyes
Deep in my heart Your presence I find
Lord, I believe in You
And I'll keep my trust in You
Let the whole world say what they may
No one can take this joy away
Lord, I believe

Friday, December 5, 2008

PET scan today and appt Thursday!

Please be praying for Melissa as she has her PET scan today. This will show if the past two rounds of the new chemo regimen has been working or not. Please continue to be in prayer for them as they wait out the results, which they will not find out until their next appointment with the oncologist this Thursday, December 11th. We are praying for a good report! Please join us in doing that...

Thank you!!

Monday, December 1, 2008

My Beautiful Sister

I wanted to write a little bit about my sister, Jennifer. Isn't she beautiful? She and her husband, Mike, traveled in from Pennsylvania to spend Thanksgiving with us. Needless to say, we had an incredible time with them. They are awesome individuals, and we are so blessed to have them in our lives. She began this blog for me several months ago after my diagnosis. She is such a blessing in my life, as is my other sister Michelle (who is just as beautiful as Jenn...). Both of my sisters are such gifts to me. They have walked with me every step of this uncertain journey, and I thank the Lord for giving them to me. (Actually, I am the youngest, so He gave me to them! Ha ha)
Thank you Jennifer for the creation of this blog. The Lord has used it as a bridge of information and updates to many family, friends, and churches on my progress. I am so grateful that it is a tool used to gather prayer warriors in time of need, as well as a way to express our praise to the Lord for what He is doing in our lives. Thank you....I love you so much!

Melissa

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

The Ponytail Holder

I love my children. That's an understatement. I am in love with them....Caleb James, Lauren Grace, and Audrey Jane. I am confident every mother would agree when I say that they are as important to my life as the very air I breathe. There are so many times they say something or do something that I wish I could capture in a jar and save forever. Whether it's mis-pronouncing a word (ex: poplicles, rather than popsicles), or surprsing me by understanding more than I ever imagined. I am more aware of these moments than ever before...one of the many things I've "gained" from the past several months.

Last night as I was getting ready for bed in our bathroom, I saw Caleb was playing with something in his hands in front of the vanity area. He turned around to face me and held up a simple brown ponytail holder that he had found in one of the drawers. He so sweetly and matter-of-factly said, "Mommy, but you don't wear this anymore, because you don't have your hair right now, right?" I smiled and told him that was right...and quickly reminded him that my hair would be back again one day. He smiled at me and was satisfied with that. I just wanted to hug him. They are so used to everything right now....sure, they don't want their mommy to be sick or in the hospital; but bless their hearts, they are so accepting of so many of the "little" details that are hand in hand with this diagnosis. The Lord has used that little ponytail holder as a reminder to me that although things are not quite normal right now....it's going to be okay. I'm not even remotely concerned about my hair coming back. It is so far beyond that. I just want my hair back so that life is as it should be for my children. They are God's most precious gift to us....I am so thankful for all of the capture-in-a-jar moments that we have with them!

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Thank You, Lord!

The fact that I am able to be on the computer tonight, is proof that the Lord has heard and answered prayer! I came home yesterday afternoon, after another completed week of chemo. Although my care in the cancer center is extremely detailed and wonderful, it is always so nice to return home....to my own bed, my own beautiful family, just my own haven.

During the previous treatment week, we were blessed to have Doug's parents, as well as my sister Michelle stay with the children while I was gone. Couldn't have done it without them! It is just such an encouragement to me to know our children are being loved and cared for by family and friends, even despite the unwanted circumstances of mommy being away.

This week we were once again blessed by the incredible friendship of Melissa, who stayed with our three little indians Monday and Tuesday while Doug was either with me or working. Thank you...for all you did! They loved having you and Isaiah here! Our dear friends Tony and Ann then arrived late Tuesday night, and took over the fort the rest of the week. They will be here through tomorrow morning. They have gone above and beyond the call of duty. Then on top of all of the blessings I've briefly mentioned....we have been blessed by meals every night this week! Thank you to each one of you. I am so humbled, grateful, and in awe of the family of God. Thank you, Lord, for meeting our needs!

After learning of the nauseated transition I had when I returned home from my previous week of chemo, the doctors put together a preventative line-up of anti-nausea meds available for me. I have slept the day away, but that is so much more welcomed than how I felt last time. Thank you Lord!!! What we know right now, is that my PET scan will be Friday, December 5. My follow-up with my doctor will be December 11. I'm not sure enough yet of the game plan to follow, but please be assured I will share details as we learn them. In the mean time, we keep trusting, believing, and praying together!

WE LOVE YOU! WE NEED YOU! THANK YOU!

Melissa

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Audrey's First Birthday Party (October)


Maybe no one will notice....

What? Uhh...I'm not sure where the blue bow on my head came from...

Watch out everyone...this horsey can zoom!


Audrey's cupcake and candle....she was a little confused.



And she was done....just needed a little icing!

My Sweet Love

Birthday Girl was so ready for bed!

Caleb's Pirate Party (October)

Ending the evening fishing with Daddy with his new fishing pole and tackle box

Caleb and Lauren (acually Mr. & Mrs. Incredible) formulating a game plan for the...

The treasure chest pinata....filled with gold coins (actually chocolate coins!)

Caleb's second take on blowing out the candles...Lauren beat him to it the first time!

The pirates were sinking in the quicksand!

The most handsome pirate I've ever seen!
(Hope he doesn't see this...)

Caleb loved his new fishing pole!

Pirate Lauren

The treasure map in case we got lost

We took the birthday boy out for dinner on his actual birthday...
I love that he, who has his Daddy's personality, happily wore this.



Friday, November 14, 2008

Hold Fast

I cannot believe two weeks have passed since my last chemo treatment, and the time is almost here for me to return for round two. I am praying that the week goes as smoothly as the last time, and I hope the side effects that follow are minimal. I did have a rough time when I returned home last time, but thankfully that only lasted a couple of days. I want to thank you from the bottom of my heart for all of the prayers that I know are surrounding me. God has blessed me with such wonderful friends and family. Not one day goes by that I am not reminded of the love and support that is surrounding my family.

I wanted to share with you something that blessed my heart today. As I was driving home this morning after having routine blood work done at the hospital, I decided I wanted to listen to Mercy Me. I appreciate so many of their songs....my favorite being Bring the Rain. Another song that I have grown to love is Hold Fast. As I drove in the van by myself, I turned the music up louder than usual.....I really wanted to soak it all in. I joined in and sang with Mercy Me as loud as I could. (Thankfully all windows were up!) I was just moved by the words of the song, and the message that it shares. I felt so strongly that I wanted to share this with you. I don't know exactly who is reading this right now. Whether you are a Christian who is facing a trial in your life, or someone who is lost and searching for Truth.....I want you to know this song was written for you! It brought me to tears today as I listened. My favorite words in the song are "One thing greater than my strife is His grasp..." How true this is! He has been holding me tightly, and I know He will never let me go!

Be sure and click on the song below on the playlist (scroll all the way to bottom of page), turn your volume up....and be blessed!

Trusting and Believing,
Melissa

Hold Fast

To everyone who’s hurting
To those who’ve had enough
To all the undeserving
That should cover all of us
Please do not let go
I promise there is hope

Hold fast
Help is on the way
Hold fast
He’s come to save the day
What I’ve learned in my life
One thing greater than my strife
Is His grasp
So hold fast


Will this season ever pass
Can we stop this ride
Will we see the sun at last
Or could this be our lot in life
Please do not let go
I promise you there’s hope

(Chorus)

You may think you’re all alone
And there’s no way that anyone could know
What you’re going through
But if you only hear one thing
Just understand that we are all the same
Searching for the truth

The truth of what we’re soon to face
Unless someone comes to take our place
Is there anyone
All we want is to be free
Free from our captivity Lord
Here He comes

Hold fast
Help is on the way
Hold fast
He's come to save the day
What I've learned in my life
One thing greater than my strife
Is His grasp
So hold fast

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Chemo Next Week

Melissa will be back in the hospital on Monday for another round of chemo. I'm anticipating her to be in again probably through Friday. I know she and Doug would appreciate your continued prayers for them.

Sweet sister, Miss, we're praying for your healing and believing with you that it will happen!!

Sunday, November 2, 2008

She's feeling better!

I just got off the phone with her, and it was good to hear her sweet voice. She's still sounds pretty weak, probably also related to not being able to eat much. But...she's feeling better too! And that's awesome!

And Doug is stirring up some mashed potatoes for her, as that was something that sounded appetizing to her. (Way to go, Doug! :) It makes me thankful that she has such a good hubby, who's been doing such a wonderful job taking care of her and the kids, and thankful for my other sister Michelle for being out there to help now as well!

Thank you SO much for your prayers!

Still Feeling Sick

First of all, thanks so much for your prayers for Melissa! I know she and Doug appreciate them very much! Also thanks to all friends her have been encouraging her along the way, whether in person, through phone calls, or messages via her email, blog or facebook. I know she has commented to me every day about how she heard from this person, or someone had emailed her. Thank you for that!

As of this morning, she has still been sick--pretty nauseous and dizzy. It is all expected side effects of her chemo. She is pretty much staying in bed and resting, as she is also so fatigued. This has been a good morning for her to rest as Doug took the kids to church this morning, and now they are at the park. (What a great daddy!)

In light of how she is feeling, please hold off on phone calls to her until she's no longer as nauseous. I know the peace and quiet helps somewhat. I know I've missed talking to her myself. Your messages through email, facebook or this blog would still be so appreciated as they'll be waiting for her when she's feeling up to reading them.

We appreciate all of you!!

Saturday, November 1, 2008

Please Pray!!

Michelle just called me to tell me to pray for Missy right now. She had been feeling okay, but the chemo has kicked in some full-blown nausea this evening, and it sounds like she is feeling really, really sick from it. That's about all Michelle was able to tell me right now, as she's also helping with the kids right now.

So along with praying that the chemo is effective, please pray that the nausea lessens for her!

Thanks in advance!!

Friday, October 31, 2008

Home from Hospital

Missy was discharged today (Friday), and is now home from her first week of chemo. She's taking a nap right now, so I've not talked to her yet. I'll update more sometime after I talk to her!

Thanks for your prayers for her!

Saturday am update: Just want to add that after I did talk with her last night, she said she still was not feeling sick at all from this chemo, just very tired. That's a good thing! She was very glad to be discharged a little earlier yesterday at noon too.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

carry you

hey, friends, family, loved ones, and any other supporters.....it's michelle. i'm here with melissa in her chemo room, spending the night with her. she is doing amazingly well!!! she has been asking her nurses if she should "act" more sickly as she is administered the chemo. this question has brought about some laughter with the medical staff working with her. god is so good. we so appreciate all your concern and prayers.....

melissa is amazing. i have always called her "missy" since she was a baby and still do. she is my sister. i love her. i am blessed to have jenn, too, as a sister and best friend. we come from good stock. our parents, david and martha, are incredible people. they taught us what mattered most in life. the simple things.....faith in jesus, trust, loving family and friends. i look at what melissa has been facing and her response and i'm not surprised in the least. it's the values we were taught as children and the blessing of parents who prayed for us three girls and our futures, come what may......

so, now we are in the middle of come what may. and, we are really okay. we are trusting. we are believing. we are expectant. we are even joyful!!! and, we are definitely leaning on the everlasting arms. sometimes, it seems more than leaning on jesus. there are moments when it seems he is carrying us. i know that missy has felt that way. perhaps, you need to be reminded that jesus can and will carry you through WHATEVER you are facing. we are living proof.....





Monday, October 27, 2008

The Same Jesus...Then and Now

I recently came across these verses, and they are perfect for my sister right now...

Mark 5:25-29, 34

"And a woman who was there who had been ill for twelve years. She had suffered a great deal under the care of many doctors and had spent all she had, yet instead of getting better, she grew worse.

When she heard about Jesus, she came up behind him in the crowd and touched his cloak because she thought, 'If I just touch his clothes, I will be healed.' Immediately, the illness in her blood was healed, and she felt in her body that she was freed from her suffering.

Jesus said to her--

'Daughter, your faith has healed you. Go in peace and be freed from your suffering'."

A Week At the Hospital Begins

I've actually not spoken with Miss yet, so I don't know much about the appointment. I do know that while Missy was at the doctor today, they suggested admitting her today due to scheduling. It sounds like three other chemo patients will be admitted tomorrow, and they had one discharged today so it gives her a bit of a headstart.

She's happy to have a really nice, private room. Being her normal laughing self, she said that she should have just taken Doug there for his birthday instead of to the nice hotel they went to recently for his birthday getaway! She has the best attitude ever....again, therefore the name of this blog!

It sounds like she may be discharged Saturday, so her long week is beginning now.

Oh, and she does have the laptop with her, so she will still be able to check her blog and email!

Doug's parents are home with the kids, and our older sister Michelle will arrive there tomorrow to help as well. I'm sure Miss would also appreciate your prayers for her husband and family, as it won't be easy on her or them to be apart for the week!

As always, we appreciate your prayers!

Appointment this afternoon

Missy and Doug have the appointment with the oncologist this afternoon. Please pray that the doctor will put together the best chemo treatment plan for Missy, and for continued peace and strength for both of them!

Thank you!

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Amazing Love

I am not even sure I know exactly what I want to say right now. I just felt it was important for me to tell you how much Doug and I appreciate the incredible circle of love and support that is surrounding us right now. Last night was definitely a scary time for me. As the evening went on the more at ease I felt. As today has gone on I have felt less nervous and fearful of another episode of last night's events. I know this peace that has been slowly replacing the fearful uncertainty is from the Lord and your prayers that are sustaining us. Thank you to our wonderful parents and siblings, our awesome friends, our neighbors, our church families at Indy First and Parkview. We love you, and we praise God that you have chosen to walk this journey with us.
My appointment is Monday afternoon. My oncologist would still like to keep the PET scan scheduled for Tuesday, just to get a detailed comparison with the previous PET scan. It is my understanding that I will be admitted to the hospital Tuesday, and the next level of intense chemo will begin. I will have more details after Monday.
I am resting in knowing that our God does not change. Although the circumstances of my life have changed, He is the same today as He was seven months ago when this storm began. I trust Him today with my whole heart, and I am believing that He is going to carry me through this.

All of my love and thanks,

Melissa

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Update: 10:45 pm

Missy just called, and she is on her way home. They did do testing to make sure there was nothing new causing the bleeding. Basically they ruled out issues of blood clots and pneumonia. The hospital explained that they do not believe she is in any eminent danger tonight.

They did do a CAT scan though, and it showed that her mass in her chest is increasing in size. They believe the bleeding may have just been caused by the growing mass, causing irritation on her lung. Additionally, because they did see the mass is growing, Doug and Missy believe that is confirming the need for more chemo treatment.

They will talk with their oncologist tomorrow to get the official confirmation on that.

Words on this blog can't even begin to express the thanks to everyone for their prayers! So many of you emailed or sent me a message in the past couple hours, and that was very encouraging! I know that Missy and Doug appreciate that beyond words as well!

*I apologize and need to correct myself...Missy's appointment with the oncologist will not be until next week. ~Jenn

PRAY NOW...WENT TO HOSPITAL

My mom just called me to tell me that Missy just started coughing up blood and is on her way to the hospital. I just called Miss as she is in the ambulance right now, and she is very scared. Doug is meeting her at the hospital. That is literally all I know right now.

PLEASE PRAY!!

Monday, October 20, 2008

Pray! Pray! Pray!

I wanted everyone to know that my PET scan is scheduled for next Tuesday, October 28th. My follow-up appointment with my doctor will then be Thursday morning, the 30th. LET'S KEEP PRAYING AND BELIEVING TOGETHER!!! God is so much bigger and greater than any disease...He is ABLE. Thank you!
(Please be sure and read the new post below too...)

Melissa

An Answer to Prayer

I cannot believe I allowed the entire weekend to go by without sharing some very exciting news. A few of our family and friends have known that we have been working on new health insurance, which definitely is something we wouldn't want to do without right now. When Doug completed his residency at the end of June, we were given the opportunity to purchase a continuation on the policy we've had for the past five years. We knew the continuation would only last 6 months, taking us through the end of December of this year. We have been a bit discouraged about this, as we have been told by several people in the insurance business that I most likely would be denied coverage due to my pre-existing condition. (I won't even share all of my thoughts on that craziness...the ones who need it the most may be denied?!) We have not talked about it a lot with other people, but this issue has certainly been weighing heavily on our hearts and minds. I am so pleased to tell you that God has been at work!!! We just learned this past Friday that we do indeed have a new health insurance policy! I made sure my name was listed as part of the family plan, and it was! God has given us an answer to a prayer that we have been seeking....Thank you Lord for taking care of us.

We love you our sweet family and friends!
Melissa

Monday, October 13, 2008

Summer Fun...August 2008

Caleb and Lauren's first bike rides









First time Caleb and Daddy played soccer in the new backyard







Audrey's first time eating grass

Such a Happy Girl!!











Has anyone seen Lauren??

And where is that box of Krispy Kreme donuts we just bought??


Well, after some searching of the house, Miss and I caught a glimpse of a donut box peeking from behind a chair. Then we saw a trying-to-play-it-cool ('cause I know I'm in trouble) Lauren, with some very sticky hands might I add. She had devoured 4 glazed donuts!





Friday, October 3, 2008

Doctor's Appointment

As Doug and I were sitting side by side in the waiting area of my oncologist's office I said to him, "This wasn't in my plans." I think that all of the time, but I don't often verbalize it. Then I realized that no one's life, even a Christian's, is never exactly as they planned it or thought it would be. Whether it's the diagnosis of cancer, broken relationships, financial hardships, loss of a child, or any other undesirable circumstances, we all can relate to this. I am so thankful that despite these unexpected turns in life, He is always with me and never leaves me.

"Do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand." Isaiah 41:10

As far as our appointment with the doctor, we discussed what the next plan of action is. Unfortunately there is not a clear cut answer. To explain it as simply as possible, the latest scan results showed growth in the area of the main mass. Which we can assume means the chemo was effective during the treatment time, but without lasting effects. However, it is not 100% certain that this is what is happening. There is a very small chance that this area is an infection, or even inflammation (remodeling of the necrotic area...okay, that is Doug terminology if you couldn't tell!) Obviously, the last and least wanted possibility is that it is in fact residual lymphoma. So, how do we determine what it is? We discussed the pros and cons of a CT guided needle biopsy. This does not always provide accurate results. (As we know from my first needle biospy in March.) They may not get the exact tissue they need or there is a possibility of a false negative. As far as going right into the intense chemo (during which time I would be hospitalized), the doctor does not think we should jump right into that. After much discussion and consideration, we (Doug and I with the doctor's guidance) have decided to wait four more weeks and do a repeat scan. We are praying that we will see change: preferably a decrease in size, which would indicate it is either infection or inflammation; or an increase in size, confirming residual lymphoma. A lot of info I know, but please be in fervent prayer with us that these next four weeks will allow time for change of some sort. We need a more definitive answer before we would move forward with any treatment. We are trusting in Him and praying that healing will take place. (Please be sure and see the pictures below. I hope they bring a smile to your face!)

Much love,

Melissa

Our Little Rays of Sunshine


Fighting the wild fires in our backyard

Audrey's first corn on the cob at Grandma and Grandad's

Little Sister and Big Sister

Princess Lauren Grace

Spiderman had enough of the Princess party

Always happy

So proud to wear Grandad's army coat








Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Follow-up Scan Results

Missy had another scan yesterday to check the status of her lymphoma. The results did unfortunately show that the tumor in her chest has been growing again. It is not as large as it was when it started, but it has grown almost a centimeter since treatments stopped at the end of August. During treatments, the lymphoma did in fact seem to be responding well, but if the chemo is really doing its job, the lymphoma should still be affected by the chemo now which it is not.

They will have their appointment tomorrow with the oncologist tomorrow at 11:15 to find out his analysis of the results and the present plans for further treatment. From what my sister learned today just on the phone, probable next treatment will he a stronger, higher dose of chemo. That will involve her actually staying in the hospital for five days of treatment, then going home for three weeks for repeated rounds. Again, this plan has not yet been confirmed by her doctor.

Her main concern at the moment is her kids. And still being new in town is not making that part any easier for them. Please pray for her and Doug as this journey continues for them. This was, of course, not the news they (or any of us) were expecting or hoping to hear. Please pray that they will have peace in their hearts, and that the doctor tomorrow will put together a plan that will definitely be effective for the cancer!

I'll give you the definite report from the oncologist when we hear tomorrow.

Thanks in advance for your prayers from all of us!!

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Please take a moment...

Please take a moment to watch this. My dear friend sent this to me....I stood in my kitchen crying as I watched it. It doesn't matter who you are...it will impact you in some way. Trust me....http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wdXX6lzbo78

Much love,
Melissa

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Great News Continued!

I am so happy to let you know (much of the happiness also stems from the fact that all three of my beautiful children are napping) that I will not be undergoing any more chemo! I feel the need to say "for now", because a lot still depends on what the follow-up scans show us over the next few months. My doctor is very pleased with the progress the chemo has made, and strongly believes the shrinkage will continue. My body gets a break, and I am so thrilled. It is amazing that the drugs that are used to help cure my cancer and make me well again, also take me through the valley in the process! I am so thankful the Lord is with me even in those valleys!

I will be having a PET scan next month to check on the areas of concern still visible in my recent CAT scan. We will be able to know if there is any more activity in the tumor. Oh, I am breathing a partial sigh of relief...I think I will breathe a complete sigh of relief in a few years from now! I am happy we are in this part of the journey, and I am still trusting the Lord with whatever lies ahead!

Thank you to you my friends...it is encouraging for me to know you care!

Melissa

Friday, September 12, 2008

Update on CAT scan results

For those of you who have been waiting and praying with us this week as we anticipate the results of the scan, I want to say thank you so much. This has been a very trying week, mentally and emotionally. Although we do not have the comparative results yet, we have received the results from scan done on Monday. Just to clarify, the results we really want will be determined by comparing my scan done following two treatments with the scan on Monday following six treatments.

So, I will give you the very simple version, since that is how I best understand anything in the medical world. The scan of my pelvic and abdominal regions are clear of any tumors. Praise the Lord! We were not anticipating anything to show up here, however there is always the concern in the back of my mind of the lymphoma spreading. So, that is wonderful news. Okay, now as far as the main tumor in my chest cavity, there is a considerable amount of shrinkage. Doug actually called my previous doctor in Ohio, since he knows him personally. He read him the results, and asked him his opinion. At this point, we have to determine if the spots that are still showing up are "active" or not. I am hoping after the radiologist is finished with the comparative study, that we will soon know the next step. Whether it is a PET scan to determine if we are dealing with scar tissue or active tumors (I hope I am stating all of this correctly!), or further chemo just to be sure....I am ready to move forward. I am wishing this wasn't a part of my life, but it is. I want to thank you for making this a part of your life, too.

Your prayers and concern are priceless.

Melissa

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Still waiting...

for the PET scan results. As Melissa's sister, it is a bit tiring to wait this long...I can't imagine how she is feeling herself as she is waiting to hear if the chemo has been effective.

Please pray that she will find out the results tomorrow. I really hope she can be relieved from waiting before the weekend comes.

Also, as always, if you could pray for peace for us all as we wait...

Thank you!

Monday, September 8, 2008

No news yet...

For all of you who may be anxiously waiting to hear the test results, I just needed to let you know that it may take a couple days before they know anything. The doctors are not only reading this PET scan, but they are carefully comparing it with previous PET scans, therefore taking some time.

Thank you all so much for your prayers for her!! I know your every prayer and enouraging word to her mean a ton!

Jenn

Saturday, September 6, 2008

Thoughts from Melissa...

It was nearly six months ago that my world was changed forever with the news that a mass had been found in between my heart and lung. It was nearly six months ago that my appreciation of life increased and my love of family intensified beyond understanding. I have never written yet on this blog that my sweet sister created for me. I have wanted to so many different times, but my heart and mind were so full of thoughts….I felt like I could never organize them well enough. I have really been thinking lately about how grateful I am for all of you who keep up with the updates that my sister posts. I wish I could look each one of you in the eyes and say thank you for your interest in my life, for your ongoing prayers for my family, and for your support and love which has surrounded me.

On Monday, September 8th, at noon, I will be having another CAT scan which will let us know the next step. I will learn if the six treatments of chemo were sufficient in helping my cancer to disappear, or if I will need more. Up until the last round of chemo, I have had the attitude that if I need more….bring it on now. I’m already bald…let’s just get it done. (By the way, I have a new wig, which is so cute! I’m allowed to say that, since it’s not my real hair, right?) Then, after my last chemo, I began begging the Lord to let it be done. I had never been so nauseated prior to that day with my treatments. In the middle of getting sick, I remember being so grateful it hadn’t been like this every time. The Lord has been so faithful in giving me the strength that I need. I wanted to write to you before we know the results of the scan. I wanted to tell you from the bottom of my heart how grateful I am for the prayers that have sustained me. I wanted to tell you how much I am praising the Lord for walking with me during this valley of my life…I want you to know that this thanks and praise does not rest upon hearing good news. “I will sing praise, I will lift my voice…I will sing praise, I’ve made my choice. I will sing praise in all I do…I will sing praise to You.”

I don’t know yet how the Lord is going to use this. “This” being the diagnosis of Non-Hodgkin's’s lymphoma. I know there is never a good time to be diagnosed with a disease, but I can tell you the timing of my diagnosis could not have been more surprising and crazy. Thirty one years of age….a wonderful husband who was on the verge of completing his training as a surgeon…three beautiful children four years and under….about to move to a brand new city where we had no friends, which meant we were leaving our incredible Parkview church family and close friends in Dayton……like I said, there is never a good time to learn you have cancer- but talk about the shock of your life! I’m trusting that God will use this somehow. I want Him to, in whatever way He chooses.

I will write more later. At least I have cleared a little of what has been on my heart and mind. Again, thank you for your prayers and support. Please don’t ever think for one minute that any prayer is said in vain….He is hearing each one and answering them according to His plan.

With love,
Melissa

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Cute Quotes!

During my time with Miss this summer, I tried to catch as many of the cute things that Caleb and Lauren said. To you, I'm sure they would be far cuter hearing it come straight from them, rather than reading the quotes, but here they are--

* "I want cranberry goons!" (We ordered Chinese and crab rangoon.)

* When they're mad at each other..."I'm not your friend!" Then the other replies, "Well, I'm not your NEIGHBOR friend!" (Apparantly it is far worse to not have a neighbor friend??)

* "I'm going to under-arrest you!"

And Aunt Jenn's personal favorite:
Caleb was kinda nonchalantly strolling around, and I said, "Hi, cute stuff." He replied--"Hi, Beautiful."

Caleb and Lauren were starting to race. Lauren said "Mark said go. He did...go!" (Instead of mark, set, go.)

AND the NOT-so-cute quotes:

"You're fired!"
"Umm..how about no."
And the latest.... Caleb said to Miss, "Well, Jesus is going to come right out of your heart and give you a good old-fashioned whoopin'!"

Oh, the days when I'm glad I'm just the aunt! But aunts can also put kids in time-out! ha ha Really, the not-so-cute lines were few and far between. I do miss my time with all of them incredibly!

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Good News!

My sister is feeling much better today! If she even had any nausea at all, I know it did not compare to what she experienced yesterday. She sounded really good when I talked with her.

Thank you for your prayers!

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Please pray...nausea (Updated)

I just talked with Miss. She's still in her chemo treatment, and she was feeling too sick and nauseous to talk. Please pray for her that she feels better. Thank you!

At 8:30 pm, I just called to check on Miss. Doug said that she has been vomiting and is still extremely nauseous since her chemo treatment today. I am very thankful that her friend Jocelyn is there helping with her family right now. We'd appreciate your continued prayers that the nausea lessens, and that she has peace now as she is dealing with it.

Thank you!

Sunday, August 17, 2008

Chemo...Round 6

Missy's 6th round of chemo treatment will be this Tuesday. Please pray that it will be effective in healing the lymphoma and that it won't make her sick right now.

Thank you!

Monday, August 11, 2008

Getting settled!

We're in Indy!

Sorry for the delay in updating you, but no internet yet. I went to their local library to post this.

Everything went well with the closing on Friday. Since then, we've just been trying to do all the basic stuff...clean, unpack, arrange stuff, etc...

There have been lots of firsts for the kids that I'll hopefully be able to post pics of soon, such as first time playing in their own back yard and their first bike ride.

The neighbors have been so friendly and many of them came over and introduced themselves in the first couple days. There are many kids Lauren's and Caleb's age, which has always been fun to see. Lauren and her new friend, Emma, were doing chalk body outlines on the driveway right after meeting each other. That's a sure sign you're meant to be friends if you can do that! :)

I know my sister misses all of you in Dayton!

I will soon be wrapping up my time with her this week. As painful as it was for my husband and I to be apart, my time with Miss has really flown by. It's been crazy and hectic at times, but always good. I'll miss them incredibly!

Thursday, August 7, 2008

Moving Today!

My sister has been tired through all the getting ready, but that is to be expected with someone going through chemo. All of this has been pretty exhausting for her, and she has just needed to take breaks and rest for a while. She's not been sick, and that's been really good right now. Except for a cold that she, Lauren, and Audrey have all had, Miss has been feeling pretty well.

So today's the day!

Everything is boxed up and ready to go. We'll be loading up and heading to IN in just a few hours. I can feel the bittersweetness of the move from my sister. After being here, I've seen first-hand the huge amount of support and many dear friends that she will be leaving. Thank you so much to everyone who has walked with her all this time! She's already looking forward to visits from you in IN!

I have many more pics I'd like to post and some other things to write, but it's hard to grab a minute! Hopefully I'll be able to soon though.

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Another good day!

Missy has been feeling great all day today! Thank you so much for praying for her!

We anticipate to be doing a LOT of packing in the next week. Again, please pray that their current home sells quickly!

A Day of Chemo

Wow. Today I went along with my sister for her fifth chemo treatment. Never before had I imagined what the setting would be like, but had I ever tried to imagine it, that would not have been what came to mind. I'm pretty uneducated with this whole process of cancer treatment. But let me share with you what I experienced, just as someone sitting in on that day...

Now one would think that during this time, a cancer patient might appreciate a little space and personal time while getting their treatment. Not quite! Picture a giant room filled with 30 recliners and chemo stations. Now throw in the majority of the patients being elderly. My sister and I laughed as we said it appeared as though the local nursing home took a field trip to a Lazy-Boy showroom. Seriously, with total respect for cancer patients of all ages, we find that laughing helps in all situations! So, imagine all these things, and try to maintain a positive spirit in that atmosphere? I think it would be difficult for me to do.

As time ticked by, we saw more and more people enter the room...even many that looked healthy at a glance. But as they stepped up on that scale by the entrance, I knew they were also unfortunately there for the same reason. More people trickled in, one by one. I quickly became aware that although we were one of many in that room, each person held a story. Each one faced their own unique journey. Whether they were someone's father, wife, grandmother, or daughter, each person was facing their challenge. Each one had loved ones or friends that were also hoping for the best outcome for them.

While some patients were chatting or laughing with a nurse or family member, other faces remained tired-looking. Sad and weary. And then in those moments, my eyes returned to the face of my beautiful sister as she was still smiling sweetly...inspite of her own reserved seat in that room.

And I guess that's why we call this blog "Dance In the Rain, Melissa."

I'm so proud to be your sister, Little Miss.

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

So far....

my sister is doing pretty well. She's been somewhat nauseous tonight. She describes it as a car-sick feeling. She's taking the nausea medicine, so I think that's helping a lot. I'm praying that she won't be feeling any worse tomorrow. Going to her chemo treatment today was an eye-opening experience for me! I'll post about that tomorrow.

Thanks so much for checking in on her!

Sunday, July 27, 2008

Bring the Rain

Since Melissa found out she had lymphoma, she claimed this song as her life song right now. It's an awesome song by Mercy Me entitled "Bring the Rain." The message in the song is powerful and challenging.

This morning in church, her dear friend Jenny sang it for her. It was absolutely beautiful. It was so moving, that Jenny may have had only two words out before I was pulling out tissues for us.

For my sister, it offered her encouragement. It gave a moment where everything that she's been striving for was put into words, and better yet...words sung by one of her best friends.

"Bring the Rain"
(Mercy Me)
I can count a million times
People asking me how I can praise You
with all that I've gone through.
The question just amazes me.
Can circumstances possibly
Change who I forever am in You?
Maybe since my life was changed
Long before these rainy days
It's never really ever crossed my mind.
To turn my back on you, oh Lord,
My only shelter from the storm,
But instead I draw closer through these times.
So I pray--
Bring me joy, bring me peace.
Bring the chance to be free.
Bring me anything that brings You glory.
And I know there'll be days
When this life brings me pain,
But if that's what it takes to praise You,
Jesus, bring the rain
I am Yours regardless of
The dark clouds that may loom above
Because You are much greater than my pain.
You who made a way for me
By suffering Your destiny
So tell me what's a little rain?
So I pray--
Bring me joy, bring me peace.
Bring the chance to be free.
Bring me anything that brings you glory.
And I know there'll be days
When this life brings me pain,
But if that's what it takes to praise you,
Jesus, bring the rain.

Chemo...Round 5

Melissa's next chemo treatment is this Tuesday. I'm happy that I'll get to go to this one with her! She has had a bit of a sore throat and cold this week, but fortunately it seems to be on its way out. We are thankful for that as we'd ideally like her to be in top shape as she enters a round of chemo. Of couse, we're hoping for no side effects, but most of all we are praying that the chemo continues to bring healing to her.

Also, in exactly eleven days from today, she and her family will be moving to Doug's new work location. Please pray with us that she will have the energy needed to pack and move after just having chemo. Also, I know they'd appreciate prayer that their present home sells quickly!

Thank you!

Apology!

I owe everyone a HUGE apology for not posting an update sooner! Missy had the nausea after her last chemo treatment for several days, then after that she was feeling great again. Since that last post, I've been living with my sister and her family to help out, so I've gotten out of blogging mode a little bit. I'll post updates sooner next time...promise!

Sunday, July 13, 2008

This Week

For those of you who didn't know, Doug started his new job in Indiana last week. He was home for the weekend, but returned to IN for another week of work. Please pray that Missy's strength and stamina holds up well for the next few days. Also if you could, please pray that everything continues to go well and smoothly with Doug's new position. Hopefully, I will get out there on Wednesday to be with her for the rest of the summer!

Thank you!

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Nausea

Please pray for Melissa today as she has been feeling pretty sick and nauseous since her last treatment. We know it's nothing abnormal to be affected by chemo in this way. But still, I know she would really appreciate your prayers!

I'll be coming out soon, Little Miss! Love you!!!

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

Chemo...Round 4

Today and probably still as I type this, Melissa is receiving her fourth round of chemotherapy. For those of you who want to pray for her, please pray for 2 things right now--

1) For the chemo to continue to affect the lymphoma and completely cure it
2) For her to continue to feel as great as she has

I can't thank you enough for so many things right now. Many of you who are her friends in Ohio have really stepped up to help her out. Whether you stayed with her to help out, took her meals, took her to appointments, watched her kids, gave her messages of encourgament, or simply kept her in your prayers or thoughts... it means a lot to her and all of us! I know you don't need my thanks, but I and my family truly do appreciate it!!

Monday, June 23, 2008

A Mustard Seed

That's all the amount of faith that you need...the size of a mustard seed. When I came home from the hospital in December, a friend gave me a necklace that had a pendant enclosing a mustard seed. I then bought one for my sister after she was diagnosed with lymphoma. I'm so glad that it means as much to her, as she wanted me to share this with you tonight. No, this necklace does not have magical powers; it's what it represents. It's about the power of faith in our God...that even faith so small is enough to get you through.

"And if you have faith as small as a mustard seed...nothing will be impossible for you."

Matthew 17:20

Great News!

My sister just called me and reported that the spots on her lung are also shrinking. That means that they are also responding well to the current chemo treatment. That is wonderful news!!!!! Thanks so much for your prayers and encouraging messages to her!

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

PET Scan Date

I just found out that Melissa's PET scan will be this Friday morning at 9:00. They will be able to compare results with the other recent PET scan to determine if and how these spots are growing. Please be praying about 2 things: that it will be clear about what the spots are, and that it will be nothing that interferes with her progress. We appreciate the prayers so much!

Caleb and Lauren

During my visit to see Missy and Doug last month,
I took Lauren and Caleb for a wagon ride. One of their
favorite spots to play is a little park in the neighborhood
that has a huge tree with branches that grow along the ground.
Here are a few pics from that day!


This tree has branches that actually swoop down and grow
along the ground. It makes for a great playground for them!
Caleb demonstrated his climbing technique. Cute Bro and Sis
"Okay, enough already!