Friday, January 30, 2009

Friday Update...and Her Words

Sorry I have not updated more. Miss now has the laptop with her at the hospital, so I am doing a library stop while my parents have the kids.

She made it through Day 1 of the chemo on Wednesday with the expected side effects. She was pretty sick, it sounds, most of that day. There was no chemo yesterday. Today she picks back up with the next chemo medicine. I spoke with her just for a minute today, and she's good, but not feeling the greatest... so we did not talk long.

Doug has visited with Miss a few times this week, and my parents were able to stop by to see her yesterday. While there were there, their pastor stopped by too. Somewhere in their converstation, the pastor asked Missy what she has been learning through all this. This was her response:

"I am definitely closer to the Lord now...closer than I've ever been. I can honestly say that God has been carrying me since the beginning of all this. And I trust Him, no matter what, I trust Him."

Oh, none of us can say it enough...we are SO proud of her. I know that's how each of you out there who are friends with her feels too. Sometimes people have the misconception that Christianity is the geenie in the bottle type deal. You rub the bottle, make your wish, and it's granted always. But Missy's attitude through all this is definitely living proof of true faith... a true relationship with our Heavenly Father. Even when you're riding some waves, and each answer doesn't come exactly as we wish, our God is the same God...still carrying us through it all. She has inspired me so much, and I can honestly say that my spirit and my faith has too been strengthened just from being with her. I can't thank God enough for the blessing that she is!

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Rays of Sunshine

In the midst of the challenges that Doug and Miss are facing right now, I know the kids are a huge bright spot for them. Missy has often referred to them as her "rays of sunshine." So this post will hopefully make you all smile as it did me...

Today 5-year old Caleb strutted into the room and just stared at me. First I noticed that he was still in his jammies, that make his little legs appear to be two little string beans. Then I saw him motion to a star-like badge on his shirt. Here's how the conversation went:

Me: Well, hello there, Sheriff Caleb.

Caleb: No, I'm talkin' 'bout the poh-lice. (He motioned again toward his badge.)

Me: Oh, well then...hello there Mr. Police Officer.

He grinned at his esteemed status.

Caleb: Ma'am, I'm gonna have to unduh-awest ya.

Realizing I was about to be "under-arrested," I held my hands out to him. He cuffed only one hand, thinking that would do the trick!

Lauren's Turn:
Her famous line to a lot of people right now when she's not happy is, "Okay, but you're not going to be my best friend." As if that is the worst thing that anyone could possibly imagine! I thought it was really cute the first 18 times she said it to me.

On the flip side, she can say very sweet things too, such as "YOU are my best friend." And I've heard a few select people have been invited to "Diamond Castle" by 3-year old Lauren. I know Mommy was one of those elite few.

Baby Audrey:
So cute! She gives kisses and hugs now. She is also quite on the move a LOT! It makes me wonder...why are toddlers magnetically drawn to those things that can cause harm??
A few examples of what I'm talking about--
* The steps
* Rotating fan blades
* Electric outlets and cords
* The hot oven door
* Toilet water (yes, gross...)
* Knives from the dishwasher.
Once anyone figures out how to eliminate all of the above potential dangers, please let Aunt Jenn know!

Her Contact Info

She doesn't have her laptop yet, but once we plow ourselves out of the snow, hopefully she will have it soon. Many of you may already know this, but just in case... her email is: drrexfamily@yahoo.com

Her mailing address for the next 3 weeks is:
Room 5268
Indiana University Medical Center
550 University Blvd.
Indianapolis, IN 46202

(She can't access Facebook in the hospital.)

Wed. 10 am

I spoke briefly with her a couple times this morning. Once before the chemo started. She was understandably nervous. I also spoke with her a second time a little bit ago. She was very groggy and sleepy from the benadryl that she is getting. Other than that, she sounded good. She wanted me to put Audrey on the phone, and Audrey actually said "hi" to her mommy. It was too cute.

I just wanted to post this, because I know many of you may be wondering how it is all going for her. There probably won't be much new for some time, because sometimes the side effects don't come until days later. Thanks again for your prayers for her!

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

With Great Expectations...

Today, my sister Melissa was admitted to the hospital to begin the week of high dose chemo. I've spoken with her on the phone after she was settled in. She is definitely ready to get things going, so she can beat this thing! This is what I understand of the schedule so far:

Week 1: Tuesday, Jan. 27: She's admitted to the hospital in Indy. Hydration begins this day. This is followed by 5 days of high dose chemo. This is an intensely high level that she has never had. It needs to wipe her out clean-slate.

Week 2: Bone Marrow/Stem Cell Transplant (Scheduled for day 8)

Week 3: Her immunity will pretty much bottom out, so they will keep until her count numbers are up and look good.

I believe that 28 days after the transplant, she will have a scan to find out if it was successful.

I'd like to also tell you how she is doing...she is SO awesome. Those of you who know her personally can already guess how she is doing... she is her same fun self. It's total evidence of God's strength and peace in her life. I am so lucky to be spending some time with her to help right now, and we have laughed hysterically every day about something it seems. There's a reason that we named her blog "Dance in the Rain." That's what she's been doing from the start, and she's not stopped yet. That doesn't mean there aren't downer days. There are. We just learn that there can be peace in the midst of the storm, no matter what. God never promised that life would be easy, but He promised to be with us always. And that we have felt for sure.

I have witnessed first-hand the countless ones of you that have offered her encouragement through your words, prayers, and acts of kindness. Every little thing counts and matters. I happened to be on the phone with her when I noticed a neighbor shoveling her driveway. I told her that, and she and Doug really appreciated it. That's one of many examples. Thanks so much for your willingness to continue to uphold and carry the whole family in your prayers right now.

She will hopefully have her laptop soon at the hospital, so I also wanted to tell you that she will have access to this blog and email. (For those of you on facebook, the hospital unfortunately blocks that.) I know she appreciates every single message you send her!

We'll keep you updated!

Love to you all!
Jenn

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Something Heavenly

Please allow yourself a quiet moment to really listen to the words of this song that is playing....be sure and turn your volume up on your computer. It is just beautiful. How true these words are to what my heart feels and believes...I pray it is as much of a blessing to you as it is to me! (Be sure and read the update below, also!)

Melissa

Moving Right Along

It seems that my bone marrow transplant is just around the corner, and we are moving right along with all of the pre-transplant appointments. I went in this morning to have my central line placed. The procedure itself went very quickly and smoothly. It's amazing how some of these smaller procedures seem like nothing after my major surgery in the spring. I am so thankful for each and every detail of the last several months that the Lord has worked out and brought me through.

I will be returning to the hospital in the morning for the first day of the "collection" process. I have been taking neupogen shots twice a day since Saturday, in order for my stem cells to reproduce. Tomorrow they will begin collecting my stem cells. I know that the procedure (which is non-invasive) will take several hours, and I most likely will be returning Thursday for a second day of collecting. I plan on taking several books and magazines with me to help pass the time. (And I'm sure a nice, long nap will be in order, too!)

I will be admitted early next week for the five days of high dose chemo followed by the transplant. I will be in for approximately three weeks. I am sure there will be a lot of updates during that time to keep everyone informed of my progress. I am ready to get this done...I want to be on the other side of this....I want to be able to look back with a heart full of gratitude for the healing and restoration the Lord has brought me. Thank you for supporting me, loving me, and praying for me...I need you. My family is blessed by the encouragement you give us through your cards, e-mails, calls, and prayers. I wanted to share a few pictures with you...just a glimpse of the peace we have in the midst of the storm!

Melissa




Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Parkview Church

This past weekend Doug and I visited the Dayton area for the first time since moving in August. He wanted to check on the condo and do some painting and cleaning. (Please pray with us that we will be able to sell sometime in the near future!) Because of how tired I have been lately, the kids and I spent all of Saturday in one place....the Bost home! Caleb and Lauren LOVED being reunited with their friends, Eli and Isaiah, to play the day away! I rested as much as possible while I was there, because I knew I wanted to save up energy for church Sunday morning.

We were really looking forward to visiting the church that was our family for the past five years. When we moved away, I know we felt like we would never be able to find a church like Parkview. The love and support they surrounded us with during and after the time of my diagnosis was such an amazing blessing. Isn't it interesting that sometimes we fail to remember the Lord is always working ahead of us? He wasn't going to bring us to Indiana and not provide a church for us. I want to say how thankful Doug and I are for Indy First Church, where our family now attends. Although I haven't been able to get rooted there and involved like I hope to be one day, we have been surrounded by the same love and support from our new church family. Thank you Lord for always meeting our needs!

Back to this past weekend....I wanted to share how wonderful it was to see the beautiful faces of so many friends at Parkview! We were able to be in our Sunday School class there. We walked in and sat down quietly, when all I really wanted to do was to run in and embrace everyone! (For those that know Doug, he appreciated the quiet entrance.) :) It was such an encouragement to talk to so many different ones before and after the service. I was so happy that we were blessed to hear the Target Dayton Choir sing....if seeing and hearing them doesn't encourage your heart, I don't know what does! Doug and I talked with people for a really long time after church, while the children happily laughed and played in the foyer. (And collected candy from Pi!)

My heart was so warmed and encouraged by you, our dear friends. Although we have moved, I know you are supporting us with your love and prayers more than ever. I want to say thank you for....all of your hugs, your reminders that you are lifting us up to the Father every day, your smiles, your attention to our children, your pure interest in our lives....we miss you. We love you.

One last piece of news to share, I just received word today from the transplant coordinator that I am officially approved for the bone marrow transplant. (My doctor presented my case before the transplant committee on Tuesday.) I know many of you were assuming it was for sure going to happen....but there was still relief to actually hear the words and know that I "passed" all of the work-up exams (EKG, Echo, pulmonary test, lab work, etc). Thank you Lord! I am ready to do this....I need even more prayers and encouragement during this time. I KNOW with the Lord's help and strength, WE CAN DO THIS!!!!! As soon as I know the detailed timeline of events I will share it with you.

I love you,
Melissa

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Latest Update

I apologize for not posting this sooner, but we wanted to wait until we had as much information as possible before posting an update. I'm sorry if it did cause any extra worry to anyone!

After waiting over 2 weeks for the recent biopsy results, Melissa talked to her nurse on Monday and found out that the biopsy samples were consistent with her diagnosis of lymphoma. The nurse also explained that they would be proceeding with a bone marrow transplant using her own stem cells.

The transplant coordinator called the next day to give the details and the schedule. She will begin injections the week of the 16th. These injections will help to release stem cells from her bone marrow into her blood stream so they can be collected easily. The following week collection of stem cells begins. Around the 26th, she will be hospitalized to begin the high dose chemo, a level that she has not yet had. That will continue for 5 days, followed by two days of rest. The transplant will happen then on Day 8. She will be in the hospital roughly 2 weeks after the transplant for recovery. About 30 days after the transplant, she will have a scan. That will tell us if it was successful.

SO....what can you pray about now?
1) Let's start with tomorrow. Tomorrow Miss and Doug go into the hospital for a series of physical tests and exams to check to see if she is able to take on the high dose. They will be meeting with the oncologist too, and last time they met with him it was obviously not a fun experience. Please pray that they have peace of mind, and clear thinking for their many thoughts and questions. Please pray for clear and totally open communication during their appointments.

2) Please pray for their oncologist. He is making some big decisions that will determine her route for this treatment and transplant. Please pray that God grants him the wisdom to make the best decisions.

Thanking you for your prayers on this blog just does not seem adequate enough. But it's all I can do, so I thank you from the bottom of my heart!

Her Sister,
Jenn

Friday, January 2, 2009

happy birthday, melissa!!! thirty-two reasons to celebrate you.....

thirty-two years ago, on january 3, 1977, melissa dawn prater came into my life and into the home i shared with my parents, david and martha, along with my sister jennifer. i remember where jenn and i stayed when mom and dad rushed to the hospital to have her here in richmond, ky. i remember the phone call from dad that we had a sister. and, frankly, i thought she was going to be a boy. she definitely rocked our world. the girl has got spirit and she even had it as a baby!!! i love her more than anything else in this world. there is nothing like family's love to warm you. and, nothing quite like a sister's love. so, it's your birthday, little miss. here's looking at you and thirty-two reasons we celebrate you. actually, here are thirty-two possibly little-known facts about my little sister.....

1. melissa dawn prater came into this world weighing a whopping 9lbs 10oz
2. dad wanted to change her name from melissa dawn to midnight to dawn as she had her days and nights mixed up
3. her hair had a reddish tint as a baby and our dad loved it!!!
4. there were only twenty-one months between jenn and melissa. they were like little pups, had to be together, whether playing or squabbling
5. at some point, she came to be known as missy or little miss to family and close friends
6. she loved the outdoors as a youngster
7. she was in love with the gill brothers across the street, dj and zachary. she did not keep these feelings hid and neither did jenn for that matter!!!
8. she loved her big wheel. she was not afraid of speed or oncoming traffic
9. quite often being the oldest, i was left "in charge". missy would frequently tell me with a spirit of rebellion, "you ain't my mom and you ain't my boss"
10. she knocked out 1 and a 1/2 teeth during some rough and tough play in the driveway. she wore a silver spacer until her permanent teeth came in. she seemed proud of it
11. little miss was a tomboy, but was also a beautiful little girl. sound like anyone else we know.....lauren grace??
12. she had an alter ego as a child--betty lou. "betty lou" was a frequent visitor in our home. she wore rather large sunglasses, costume jewelry, and brightly colored scarves
13. she was a sleep walker and talker at many a slumber party, often her own. this was quite often entertaining
14. another big sister/little sister moment i'll never forget.....she looked at me one time in the heat of the moment and said, "shell, i can't wait to someday i'm the older one and you the little one!!!" love it.....
15. she suffered 3rd degree burns in a restaurant while vacationing in gatlinburg, tn. not a scar today
16. our mom was an elementary teacher at the christian school where we three girls attended in pennsylvania. missy was often "sick" and wanted to go to mom's classroom to get better. think that's called mommyitis
17. missy was highly, highly decorated in our church's caravan program. still see the sash with all those badges
18. as a toddler, if missy was quiet and no longer seen, it meant you needed to run and find her fast!!!
19. believe it or not, missy had quite the temper as a child. the temper is gone, but that fighting spirit is still there!!!
20. i accidentally ran over her, yes, literally ran over her once on my bicycle. i was spanked for it and to this day, if you haven't already noticed, she does not ride a bike. shhh, don't tell her kids.....
21. at a fairly young age, she found a fresh pumpkin we had at home. and, within a couple hours, we had homemade pumpkin pie made completely from scratch. delicious!!! she is still just as talented in the kitchen today
22. she pats her foot when she is thoroughly enjoying her food. this happens alot
23. she has the most adorable toes!!!
24. she used to be obsessed with tanning. sorry, miss
25. she served on two mission trips. one to nicaragua and the other to argentina. during one of this trips, she did not remove her contacts for a couple of months.
25. she fell in love with a boy named douglas aaron rex. and, she's still in love with him today
26. she loves wildflowers. skip the roses
27. she is not crazy about driving, especially on the interstate. give her some back roads and she'll be fine
28. she is the most AMAZING mother to caleb james, lauren grace, and little audrey jane!!!
29. she had to have her toenails freshly painted before the birth of each of her three little ones
30. she prays with her children every night before bedtime
31. she is in love with jesus and wants to tell you about it!!!
32. she is simply divine. she is a wife, mother, daughter, sister, niece, and friend!!!


you are simply the best, missy. we love you and we celebrate you and what you mean to each of us today and every day!!! happy birthday!!!