Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Best News EVER!!!

Wow, what an honor to get to share this news with you!

As you already know, my sister had her 6 month follow-up PET scan today. Sometimes it takes a day or two for results to come back, and sometimes not...

Today, the nurse came in to tell Miss her regular blood work results, and then said, "We won't need to contact you later about the PET scan results, because we have them now."

THEN she proceded to say....

"It's good news..." Miss gasped, got a huge smile, and just waited for her to finish...

"No recurrent disease..."

The nurse immediately had tears too, as did Miss and myself. Nothing less than a MIRACLE, everyone!! We have been thanking our Heavenly Father non-stop since hearing this this AMAZING news!

To literally walk beside her, as many of you have also, and to see her go from ground zero in the worst of times to this is SUCH an awe-filled, life-changing, God-praising moment....words just cannot adequately describe...

THANK YOU, THANK YOU, THANK YOU, Lord, for being the awesome God that you are....during not only the best of times, but ALL the time. THANK YOU for nudging some awesome parents out there to donate their baby's cord blood. THANK YOU for giving my sister another chance at LIFE. THANK YOU for this wonderful news today...and for not only helping us to dance in the rain...but now for allowing us to dance in the rays of the BRILLIANT sun!!

So as you can tell, we've been doing the happy dance all day. Miss is so happy and so exhausted too right now.

THANK YOU ALL for your faithful prayers for her!! As always, words just aren't enough right now.

Love to you all!!!

Jenn

Saturday, July 24, 2010

Six Month Scan

It doesn't seem possible that is has been six months since my transplant. In some ways, the time has passed quickly, while sometimes I feel like much more than six months separates me from the day in January that has potentially saved my life. There have been several times lately that a revelation of some sort has swept over my mind and gripped at my heart, or even perhaps a song I have heard that has made me want to sit down and share with you on the blog. However, I have other little things in my life that I give priority to when I do have a good amount of energy; namely, Caleb, Lauren, and Audrey. :) After tucking them into bed at night, that is about all I want to do at that point, too! Each of these thoughts, revelations, and songs are tucked deep into my heart, so that one day soon I may share some of them with you.

For now, I would like to ask you to surround me in prayer once again as I will have my six month follow-up scan this Tuesday, July 27th. I will arrive at 9:45 and the scan will begin around 10:30. I hope to know the results within the next two to three days after that. I have been continuing to feel better. I am so thankful that the ulcers I had in my mouth have all healed, which is definitely helpful when it comes to trying to eat. Still sifting through what sounds good and what doesn't, but that is all part of this long recovery process. I am trusting God to once again show Himself in a very personal way to me and to the world around me through these days, and specifically the scan and results. His peace continues to carry me.

I want to praise Him for His amazing love, grace, and mercy. I want to be a reflection of all the mighty ways He has shown Himself to me....Iwant to be the hands and feet of Jesus to the world that so many of you have been to me. I love you!

Melissa

Wednesday, June 30, 2010

happy 10th anniversary, melissa and doug!!!


on july 1st, 2000, melissa dawn prater married douglas aaron rex. god definitely brought them together!!! today, they celebrate ten years of wedded bliss. happy anniversary, doug and melissa!!! we love you so very much!!!

Saturday, June 26, 2010

it's been too long!!!



it's been too long since we posted here on the blog. please forgive us. we've still just been savoring melissa's good report and enjoying time spent with family. quick update.....she is continuing to do well and is steadily regaining her strength. thank the lord!!! she will have another pet scan three months from her last one, so that will most likely be sometime in august. we so appreciate your continued prayers. wanted to share with you a fabulous picture i received tonight via text. doesn't matter who you're rooting for, you gotta love this pic of melissa(in the ball cap)with her sister in law, rachael, at the reds vs. the indians game tonight in cincinnati!!! when i think of where we were in her journey at this time last year, i am completely overjoyed and thankful to god to see that beautiful smile on her face. don't know what some of you are facing, but want to tell you.....hold on!!! the hill is worth the climb.....the view at the top is amazing!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! god is good.

p.s. the indians lost, but she texted that the dippin dots were great. :)

michelle

Monday, May 10, 2010

Sweet Peace

Knowing that my PET scan was quickly approaching, I have spent a lot of time praying to be filled again with His sweet peace. He brought it to me in the beginning of this journey, and He has sustained me with it ever since. For over two years now I have relied on that peace and His strength to carry me, and my entire family, through this time. So, once again I was begging Him for renewed peace. No matter what the scan results show us, I know that I wanted to continue trusting Him.

I was filled with a special peace today. My appointments went well, and the scan went smoothly without overwhelming butterflies. I knew He was with me...right beside me while I sat, and carrying me as I walked. My sweet friends....you rallied,and He answered! Praise the Lord!!!!! For the first time after having a PET scan, we have received wonderful news! (And we've never received them on the same day!) The results are so hopeful and encouraging. I realize that I am not totally in the clear....but I believe this to be evidence of the miracle the Lord is working. I know much of the terminology will be confusing, but I thought it would be best for me to cut and paste what the actual report stated. I really like point 3. Oh, there is power in prayer....thank you, Lord! My heart is overwhelmed with praise to Him.

My next appointment is Monday...yes, I have been "promoted" from three appointments a week to two, and now down to one! I will let you know any more details that I learn. I know I still have a long road ahead of me, but I will give Him all the glory for this moment...for this wonderful news....and for the continuing work of a miracle.

The report stated:
1. Stable size and relative metabolism of right apical nodule and right anterior mediastinal mass, which are mildly metabolic, but not more so than the blood pool. These are favored to represent
postinflammatory changes after treatment.

2. Stable size of left lower lobe nodule measuring 7 mm, without increased metabolic activity. This may also represent treated disease or an unrelated infectious or inflammatory process.

3. No convincing evidence of recurrent or metastatic disease within the neck, chest, abdomen or pelvis.



Thank you Jesus for answering prayer and for your sweet peace!

I love you,
Melissa

Thursday, May 6, 2010

Time to Rally!

This coming Monday, May 10th, a PET scan is scheduled for Miss to show the effectiveness of her stem cell transplant. We can't begin to explain how much your prayers will mean to us for the good news we are expecting from this scan.

I truly believe that greater things are yet to come for my sister and her family. There have been many times throughout this experience where I so wish and want her to feel our every prayer and encouraging word we are breathing for her right now. I have often remembered a particular scene from a movie, either Patriot or Braveheart. There is a scene in which his small, weary army is about to face a troop of giants. They are discouraged and losing hope for the fight. Mel Gibson's character speaks the encouraging words to them, and you can see their hopes again rising as they are filled with the energy to face the giants, and also filled with the knowledge that they will be victorious.

Now while my sister has never seemed to lose hope for this fight, that scene still reminds me of what OUR prayers are doing....surrounding them and lifting them up....reminding them that we are ALL rallying together in this.

That we are all praying and believing that good things are taking place in her body...

and that GREATER things are yet to come, still to be done!

So will you rally together with me now? Will you stand beside me again in prayer for her, believing that the healing is already taking place within her... and thanking God for all the many miracles we have already seen along this way...

Standing with you in prayer!

Her sister,
Jenn

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

his eye is on the sparrow

some time ago, this past summer in the month of july, i was staying with melissa and family. jennifer had just been there for awhile and i came after her. it was during this time that i feel we experienced some of the darkest hours with melissa's illness. let me be clear, at no point, did any of us, including melissa, ever cease to feel the constant presence and strength of our heavenly father. however, she was the weakest she had ever been and was experiencing tremendous pain in the area of the cancer. she was basically bedridden. it was so difficult to see her like that. it was during this time that her doctor in indianapolis was not offering too many more options. (this was before she saw the oncologist in new york city and was offered the chance for some wonderful, possibly lifesaving options.)

i remember one night in particular, the children were playing with sparklers in the backyard. they would come up to the master bedroom window and peer in so that she could see them from her bed. she was so terribly sick. it was all i could do to fight back the tears. i am not sharing this with you for pity, but to celebrate the wonders of faith and true joy. i was in her bedroom when i noticed a book on her nightstand entitled "contagious joy." she was basically battling for her life and she was reading "contagious joy". oh, the irony.....but i wasn't surprised at all. she asked for her bible different times, a paper with her handwriting on it fell out and i picked it up. it was dated june 26, 1993. i choked back the tears as i read what she had written years ago, knowing full well that she was living her words out in a way that i am sure she had never imagined.....

matthew 7:24-27
1. true faith needs no feelings to rest upon.
2. especially in matters of greatest importance, human intellect and emotions cannot be trusted.
3. it isn't the sense of god's presence, but the fact of his presence that brings peace.
4. god is not interested in so much that we're comfortable, but that we'll allow him to comfort us.

2 corinthians 1:3
".....god of all comfort....."

"the will of god will never lead you where the grace of god cannot keep you."

i needed that at that moment. i was reminded in her own writing that god was in control though our situation felt so completely out of control. melissa is amazing, but it is only through the lord working in her life and her willingness to be used by him. after reading her words, i had no doubt that he had begun preparing her years ago for what she would face later down the road. i am moved daily by her faithfulness no matter her circumstances or how she is feeling at that moment. god is good!!!

now to bring you up to speed.....as of this past tuesday, melissa was day 89 post transplant. she is doing well overall. the nausea has finally subsided and she is eating better. she has struggled some with neuropathy, a common side effect of the transplant. as a result, she recently has had severe pain in her right foot. this has caused difficulty in walking and simply wearing a shoe. please pray that this condition will improve. her numbers continue to look good. she goes back to see her oncologist on monday, may 3rd. at that time, her 100 day post transplant scan will be scheduled. this scan is critical.....this will allow the doctors to see just how much her cancer was impacted by the transplant. please pray, pray, pray, and pray some more that she will receive wonderful news!!! we appreciate it so very much. god has been so faithful to melissa and our entire family and we give him all the praise for that!!!

one more prayer request, doug and melissa are in need of a live-in nanny starting in june. kristen will be leaving then to get started back to college. we love her and she has been a tremendous help!!! melissa prefers that it be someone in their local area and perhaps, even within their home church. if you know of someone or have any ideas, let us know. it is a bit overwhelming, but we have a peace and know that god has the perfect person for this important job. we would appreciate your prayers as they begin the nanny search.

i want to close with melissa's latest facebook status update. it moved me. it just serves as a reminder to all of us that no matter what any of us may be facing, god is there. he cares. he is faithful. and, he is ever watching over you and me. melissa's words....."i sing because i'm happy. i sing because i'm FREE. for his eye is on the sparrow, and i know he watches me. LOVE THIS SONG! thank you, jesus."

blessings and love to each one of you!!!
michelle

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Stomach flu update

Well, as it turned out, Melissa did end up getting the stomach flu later Friday night. The good news is that even with her very low immunity, she was able to have a quick recovery. Her appetite has returned and she has been doing very well today.

Please pray for our cousin Kristen who has been living with them, taking care of the kids. She has been sick now. Her mother Charlene kindly offered to stay at the Rex household to help with the children while Kristen recovers now.

Hopefully everyone will be on the mend soon!

Friday, April 16, 2010

New Prayer Request

I just spoke with my sister. Her daughter Lauren had the stomach flu a day or so ago. Our Uncle Dan who has been graciously helping with the kids now has this sickness himself. I believe that Caleb also had this several days ago.

Please just pray that it passes quickly and no one else gets this. PLEASE pray especially that Miss does not get sick. Her immunity is still very low. She is planning to go to my parents house while everyone gets healthy at her home.

We appreciate prayer for that and will keep you posted!

Thursday, April 8, 2010

quick answer to prayer!!!

just got another phone call from melissa.....she was on her way home from the hospital!!! the medical team felt that she did not need to stay at the hospital after all. they felt her situation could be monitored even with her being at home. she is supposed to take in a lot of fluids this evening and then return to the hospital in the morning.

this is great news as i had just been on the phone with a weepy lauren grace who was already missing her momma. i am so happy for melissa and family!!! praise the lord that she can go back home to her family. god is good.

continue to pray that her condition will improve and that her appointment will go well in the morning. if you haven't already, check out the pictures from easter weekend that jenn posted below. it was such a blessing to share that time together as family.

blessings.....
michelle

prayer request.....

melissa just called me from the hospital. she was there for one of her blood work appointments. all of her numbers are good, meaning that she does not need blood or platelets. however, she is being admitted to the hospital. she has been passing blood clots in her urine. while it has not been too painful or bothersome for her, the medical staff wants to give her fluids and keep a watchful eye on the situation. this is most likely a result of the bk virus, which she was found to have had during her earlier hospital stay.

please keep her in your prayers. pray that she will continue to stay encouraged as she is in the hospital and away from home once again. she was taking the news very well. she told me that she realizes thst this is just a small setback and she will be home quickly. pray for doug and the kids as this was totally unexpected. caleb is on spring break this week and doug had taken off the week to be with the family. it works out really well that doug can be home at this time.

we will keep you posted.....thank you so much for your prayers. we know there is power in prayer!!!

michelle

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Our Easter: Celebrating Life


Hi everyone! I have to say that I have missed posting on this blog, but Michelle has been doing an awesome job keeping everyone updated on our sister's progress. Over Easter weekend, my husband and daughter and I were able to visit with my sister Miss and her family. We had such a WONDERFUL time!!! It just flew by way too fast!


I have seen prayer requests posted here, and have heard long-distance how they have been answered....but this past weekend, I was able to see one answered before my eyes. Melissa had been extremely weak and nauseous for days. She was feeling so sick, that food didn't sound so good to her. And she was feeling so weak, that she stayed horizontal in her room much of the time. One evening, we sent out a text requesting prayer about this. As she rested in her bed, we heard a recurring sound. It was the signal of incoming messages on her cell phone, letting her know that the encouragement was rolling in. By the next day, she was out in the living room feeding her neice (my daughter) Lexi a bottle. See the pictures below of the difference! Thanks to the prayers and our Heavenly Father who hears our most simple requests!


Also, I was able to go with my sister to the IU hospital on Monday for her routine bloodwork. They found that her hemoglobin was extremely low at 6.8. (They do not like for it to go below 8.) She received fluids and more blood, and was a new person by the time we left! I can honestly say that I had a blast with her while we were at the hospital! We always manage to have fun, and find the silliest things to laugh about.


As we were at the cancer center at the hospital, I was once again reminded how anyone can fall into this position. There were the young and the old walking nearby who also had this disease. I saw my sister interacting with a friend there, a fellow traveler on this road that I'm sure they would rather not travel. But still, there are here....and they are making the most of it.


Again during this visit, I saw so much grace and peace demonstrated in my sister. I know she would not want me to go on about this as if I am bragging about her...but it is a true testament to that unconditional peace that passes all understanding that our Lord has given her. At one point, I told her that I would trade places with her if I could. She just gave a slight smile and quickly replied, "I wouldn't let ya." That's my Sis.


So this weekend, this past Easter, was about celebrating life...


The life of a risen Savior...


The life of a young baby whose cord blood is giving my sister another chance at life...


The life and breath that we all have, and to not take a moment for granted!!


So grab each moment with those you love! Do not waste a one! We have lots of pictures to share of the many fun moments we shared this weekend. Hope you enjoy them!


Know how much each of you and your prayers are appreciated!!
Love to each of you~ Jenn


We missed you in this picture, Michelle!!!




Caleb James holding his cousin, Alexis Faith


Aunt Miss feeding Lexi early in the visit.



Aunt Miss feeding Lexi in the living room, and feeling much better!


All dressed up for the Easter service!


Little Lexi


Us? Fight? Never!


Sisters!


Never a dull moment!


Easter baskets, and Audrey not wasting time!


Grandma and Lexi watching the Easter egg hunt
with Miss from the inside, looking out.


Ready, set, GO!!!


On the run


Anything in my basket yet?


Are we getting warm yet?


They say I'm getting warmer...


Our Lauren Gracie


Movin' in for the snatch!




Do we see some half-eaten eggs in Audrey's basket? Yes, we do!




Someone discovered how that yummy yolk slips right out of the egg!


Saturday, March 27, 2010

you never let go!!!

well, i must apologize. i am way overdue with an update. melissa was going to do it herself and actually has a post partially written. however, it is difficult at times for her to be on the computer as it tends to give her headaches and cause nausea. so, she told me to go ahead and share a few things with you and she will follow up at a later time.

some good preliminary results.....let me first say that i by no means have any medical background. so, anything i attempt to explain will be in the simplest of terms both for your sake and mine :). after a bone marrow transplant, tests are done to check for seroconversion. this basically mean the process by which the recepient's old stem cells die out and are replaced by the donor's stem cells. in melissa's case, it is the stem cells from the donated cord blood. there could be a few results from this testing at this point in recovery. for instance, only melissa's stem cells could show, there could be a mix of hers and the donor's, or, ideally, only the donor's stem cells would show. well, preliminary test results show only donor cells!!! woohoo. praise the lord!!! this is just awesome news and we are thrilled to share it with you.

an amazing answer to prayer.....while i was in indy with melissa, i would take her to her weekly appointments at the hospital. bless her heart, she has to go three times a week. dependent upon the results of her blood work, it can sometimes mean staying all day receiving platelets, blood, or magnesium among other things. sometimes, and it's great when it happens, she only has to stay for an hour or two. one day, on our way back home after being at the hospital all day, she sweetly said to me, "tell me that i can do this. tell me that i can go to the hospital three times a week." it is just extremely difficult for her emotionally to go there after being there for over 50 days away from the children. of course, i reminded her what she often reminds all of us and that is that the lord will carry her through. he will not let go. i remember her then mentioning something about that one of her biggest concerns would be having to be readmitted in the event of a fever or infection. (she has to check her temperature twice a day. if she has a fever, she is to call the hospital and most likely would have to be admitted.) a short time later, after arriving back home, i went upstairs and rested for awhile. melissa did the same on the lower level of their house. i would not know until later, but at some point, she checked her temperature and she was running a fever. one of her biggest fears seemed to be happening. she immediately called doug, who was on his way home from work. as soon as he arrived home, they prayed together. they prayed specifically that the fever would disappear and that she would not have to go back into the hospital. they agreed to check her temperature again in an hour. they also felt a peace about the entire situation. an hour later, melissa took her temperature and the fever was gone!!! praise the lord!!! this was such an answer to prayer. it was literally a gift to both doug and melissa that she could remain at home that evening and ever since so far. god is so faithful!!!

ways that you can be praying.....continue to pray for her full recovery and complete healing. also, she should be having a pet scan in the next month or so. it has not been scheduled as of yet. this is a critical test, as it will show how her cancer has responded to the bone marrow transplant. we so appreciate your continued prayers!!! words cannot express how much your love and support mean to each of us.

our family has so many opportunities to share about our faith through this storm melissa has faced and for that we are so thankful. just yesterday, i told someone that despite how difficult the last couple years have been, i have never trusted the lord more than i do now. he is good. he is faithful. he never fails. he never lets go. bottom line. end of story. period. i have added a new song by matt redman titled "you never let go". i wanted to close with a few of the lyrics. remember, no matter what you may be facing, god is with you and he will never let go!!!

"even though i walk through the valley of the shadow of death
your perfect love is casting out fear
and even when i’m caught in the middle of the storms of this life
i won’t turn back
i know you are near
and i will fear no evil
for my god is with me
and if my god is with me
whom then shall i fear? whom then shall i fear?
oh no, you never let go
through the calm and through the storm
oh no, you never let go
in every high and every low
oh no, you never let go
lord, you never let go of me!!!"

blessings to each of you.....

michelle

Thursday, March 18, 2010

brief update

hey!!! it has been over a week since we've posted an update. just wanted to let you know that melissa is doing well and she will be posting on the blog sometime before the close of the weekend!!! be looking for it.....she will fill you in on some exciting preliminary results, amazing answers to prayer, and ways to continue praying regarding upcoming tests. we love and appreciate each one of you!!!

blessings.....
michelle

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

it's a beautiful day!!!


it is wonderful to have melissa back home with her precious family. the children are still basking in the glow of her presence. after we dropped caleb off at afternoon kindergarten, lauren, audrey, and i went to the neighborhood park. while pushing them on the swings, i heard such sweet laughter. i was reminded that all is right again in their world. their momma is home. thank you, heavenly father.

melissa had some blood work this morning. everything is continuing to look good. i do not know her exact count. i believe it is between 3.0 and 4.0. she is resting now and i don't want to disturb her. continue to pray for complete healing and recovery.

blessings.....

michelle

p.s. i am adding another pic from yesterday.....love the love on their faces!!!

Monday, March 8, 2010

the sweetest reunion ever!!!

coming home!!!!!

as i type this, melissa is on her way to the house!!! praise the lord for bringing her home!!! kristen (our wonderful cousin and nanny), caleb, lauren, audrey, and i are eagerly watching out all the windows for her. there will be updates and pics to follow soon.

dear family and friends, thank you is not enough for your love and prayers!!! your prayers have brought her home. thank you, thank you, and thank you again!!!

we love all of you so much!!!
michelle

Friday, March 5, 2010

the latest and greatest.....

well, she didn't get to go home today, but she still has some good news!!! her count was 1.4 on wednesday, 2.6 on thursday, and today her count was 3.1!!! is that awesome or what??!! we are so thankful for the many answered prayers.

the doctors are pleased with the way the areas on her legs are responding to an antibiotic. she is receiving vancomycin intravenously. it cannot be given orally and must be administered this way so it was impossible for her to be treated in outpatient care. she will remain in the hospital over the weekend and most likely go home on monday. i will be headed to indy to help take care of her during her first week at home. i cannot wait to spend some more time with her. what a blessing it is to be the big sister to both her and jenn!!!

she will be having an echo cardiogram done on monday morning. this is fairly standard given the high doses of chemotherapy she has received. this test is performed to ensure that all the valves within her heart are working properly. please pray that the test will go well and the results will be favorable. also, please pray that the condition on her legs will continue to subside.

thank you so much for your continued prayers!!! i feel like i've said that so much, but we truly don't know what we'd do without them. i mean that from the bottom of my heart!!! i will keep you posted on her count and her dismissal from the hospital.

love to each of you.....
michelle

"what i've learned in my life
one thing greater than my strife
is his grasp
so hold fast!!!"

Thursday, March 4, 2010

Still Celebrating and a Prayer Request

What a great text message to get from my sister this morning that her white cell count had doubled from yesterday! We are so amazed, but not surprised about what our God can do!
Thank you for your prayers about that!

I was able to speak with her just a few minutes ago, and she mentioned a new prayer request. Her legs have recently shown some red blotches, that are slightly warm and feel a little sore like a bruise. They want to keep a close eye on that to make sure it's not an infection of some type. Because of that, she will stay in the hospital over the weekend and will hopefully go home in just a couple days. Please pray that these blotches will be nothing and will go away soon!

I want to tell you how good it was to hear her voice today! She has much of her old spunk in her voice now! What a JOY to hear that!!!

Thank you for your continued prayers!

Her Sister,
Jenn

"Be confident in this, that He who began a good work in you will be faithful to complete it." Phil. 1:6

the girl can jump!!!

are you ready??!! her white count jumped from 1.4 yesterday to 2.6 this morning!!! thank you, lord!!! happy dance, happy dance, happy dance!!!

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

going home!!!

yes, that's what i just said!!! if all continues to go well, melissa will more than likely get to go home on friday!!! she is thrilled. we all are. i will know more details tomorrow and will update the blog. her count was only 1.4 today. however, she could still get to go home as she is a cord blood transplant and it takes the white blood cell count longer to rise in those cases.

i will keep you posted. thank you so much for all of your prayers!!!

god is good!!!
michelle

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

answered prayer

thank you for your prayers for melissa. she was actually able to eat today!!! praise the lord!!! she had some breakfast and a little lunch. we are so thankful!!! her nausea seems to be lessening. her count is holding between 1.3 and 1.4. she is back to walking her laps around the unit floor. woohoo!!! her doctors continue to be pleased with her progress. she wants to go home so badly. she asks that you continue to pray that her counts will rise and her strength will increase daily.

thanks to each of you.....
michelle

Sunday, February 28, 2010

pray for melissa and doug

melissa's count continues to hold steady at 1.4. she is still having issues with nausea, diarrhea, and stomach cramps. she is also still struggling with loss of appetite. continue to pray that the medical team will find a resolution to this situation and that she will begin feeling better and stronger as a result.

my heart has been especially heavy for doug today. any time, i am faced personally with a situation that i feel i cannot handle, i immediately think of melissa and doug. i am reminded of the load that they are carrying and the grace in which they do it. i then realize that there is nothing that i cannot face, especially with the lord at my side.

pray specifically for doug as you think of it throughout this week. he is a husband who dearly misses his wife and wants her at home and healthy again. he is a wonderful father to their three children!!! he loves them so much. this week, he took all three(who are ages six and under) out to eat at a local steakhouse. sounds like they had fun. doug is also in the medical field himself. he is a surgeon. he deals with patients who are ill and sometimes dying on a regular basis. he truly has a lot on his plate. pray that the lord will renew his strength, encourage his heart, and give him a fresh hope!!!

love to each of you.....
michelle

Saturday, February 27, 2010

rough day.....

the good news is that melissa's count has climbed to 1.4!!! this is wonderful and we are celebrating it with every fiber of our being. however, melissa has continued to really struggle with severe nausea. therefore, she is still npot able to eat. please, please pray that the nausea will subside!!!

also, please pray for her spirits and that she will continue to be encouraged. i have said many times that i have never once heard her complain or doubt the lord during this entire battle. her trust has remained in the lord and she has been ever hopeful and positive. however, this week will mark over 40 days in the hospital. that in itself would be difficult for the strongest of individuals. the medical staff believe that she is very near the final stretch of her recovery and closer to going home. please pray that her spirits will remain strengthened.

we cannot never thank you enough for your continued prayers for our sweet melissa!!!
michelle

"every time you cross my mind, i break out in exclamations of thanks to god. each exclamation is a trigger to prayer. i find myself praying for you with a glad heart. i am so pleased that you have continued on in this with us, believing and proclaiming god's message, from the day you heard it right up to the present. there has never been the slightest doubt in my mind that the god who started this great work in you would keep at it and bring it to a flourishing finish on the very day christ jesus appears." philippians 1:3-6(the message)

Friday, February 26, 2010

it's friday!!!

i apologize for not updating yesterday. my laptop had a virus. so, to fill you in.....wonderful family friend, tara, arrived wednesday evening to stay for a few days. we love and appreciate you. tara!!! on thursday, melissa held on to her count of 1.0. she was able to take a shower and a short walk.

today, her count is 1.1!!! we are so thankful to see this progression and her doctors continue to be pleased. as i have said before, she needs two consecutive days at 2.0, or 2,000, before going home. there are other things as well that the medical staff will want to see before releasing her. for instance, she is still struggling with nausea, loss of appetite, and headaches. these will all have to be resolved in order for her to go home. when i spoke with her last night, she asked that i share with you all two specific prayer requests. she asked that you pray her nausea will diminish and she will be able to eat. she also asked that you pray her strength and mobility will improve. as she had the bk virus and catheter for several days, she was unable to get up or walk. she is having to rebuild her endurance. of course, we know that she can and will!!! she is one determined young lady and her faith is out of this world!!!

tara will be leaving tomorrow afternoon. melissa's mother in law, carolyn, will be arriving to stay for a week with her. doug's parents, harold and carolyn, and his siblings, rachael, james, and sarah are all so wonderful!!! god has blessed melissa with such a strong support system within both her circle of friends and also within her circle of family!!!

melissa had hoped to possibly be home by now. however, her doctors feel she is right on course. i encourage you to continue to send her mail if you would. i know that it would really bring encouragement to her as she is in this final stretch of her stay. her mailing address is the following(no room number is needed):

indiana university medical center
550 university boulevard
bmt unit(5th floor)
attn: melissa rex
indianapolis, in 46202

thanks to each one of you for your love and interest in melissa's story. as i have said before, it is one of great hope. she is an inspiration, even to those of us closest to her. thank you, lord, for melissa. we thank you for the beautiful wife, mother, daughter, granddaughter, sister, niece, and friend that she is. we know that she is your child. continue to wrap your arms of love around her. fill her with a peace that passes all understanding and bring healing to her body. in the precious name of jesus, amen.

michelle

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

drum roll please.....

DRUM ROLL PLEASE.....melissa is halfway there!!! her count this morning is 1.0 which is 1,000!!! i am happy and i know it!!! woohoo. thank you, lord!!!

p.s. love these wake up calls from my sister!!!
michelle

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

tuesday

we are still thrilled with the good news we received this morning!!! her count is .6!!! thank the lord!!! .6 is equal to 600. she will need to have two consecutive days at 2,000 before going home.

more good news.....the catheter is out!!! melissa is so happy about that. she is still struggling some with effects from the virus, but feels relieved to be free of the catheter. she is taking less of the pain medication and is starting to feel more alert.

we are so thankful for her wonderful friend, susan, who has been with her these last few days!!! you are a blessing to each of us, susan!!!

things to be praying about.....she is still struggling with loss of appetite. please pray that her appetite will increase. the bk virus is possibly still present. please continue to pray that the virus will leave her body or the catheter will have to be placed again. pray that need for the pain medication will lessen. she so badly wants to be free from it and feel like herself. lastly, pray that her white count will continue to increase.

please remember doug and the children--caleb, lauren, and audrey in your prayers. they long to have melissa back home with them!!! and, she definitely wants to be there with them.

thank you for your love and support!!!
michelle

the best wake up call!!!

melissa called me early this morning. her white blood cell count is now .6!!!!! praise the lord!!!!!

"i lift my eyes unto the hills, where does my strength come from? my help comes from the lord, the maker of heaven and earth." psalms 121: 1&2

Monday, February 22, 2010

even better news!!!

mom and dad just called me.....when the nurses did some additional blood work and testing today, they learned that melissa's white blood cell count had climbed even higher than this morning!!! it is .5!!! woohoo!!! happy dance!!! thank you, lord!!!

good news!!!

oh, i am so happy and thankful!!! melissa is doing better. the bk virus appears to be running its course. her urine is clear and there have been no more blood clots in the last twenty-four hours. thank the lord!!! she is still uncomfortable at times, but the medical staff believes the discomfort is actually being caused by the catheter. if all continues to go well, her catheter will be removed in the next day or so. this means that she can be up and walking again soon!!! happy dance!!!

i actually got to talk to her a couple of times today, which was wonderful. she has been sleeping the majority of the time since friday due to the pain medication. it was so good to have a conversation with her. with the virus dissipating, she will be taking less of the pain meds and in turn, she will be more coherent and active.

she is still struggling with nausea and lack of appetite. continue to pray that the nausea will lessen and that she be able to eat. i am sure that being up and more active will help in this situation.

now, for some good news.....her count is back up to .4!!! i am so excited about this, especially considering that she has been fighting a virus. we trust that she will continue to keep progressing and her count will continue its sweet rise. we must trust and be patient.

your prayers are priceless!!!
michelle

....."but let patience have its perfect work, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking nothing." james 1:4

Sunday, February 21, 2010

sunday evening

melissa has rested just about the entire day. she is sleeping a lot due to the pain medication she is being given. with all the sleeping and the catheter, she is still not able to be up and therefore, she cannot walk those wonderful laps.

please, please pray that the bk virus will run its course quickly!!! then, she can be off the pain meds and back in her normal routine. also, please pray that her nausea will decrease. she really hasn't been eating too much and does not have much of an appetite.

her count is still holding steady at .3. thank the lord!!! we are just eager to see her beat this virus and for the nausea to dissipate. please join us in praying specifically for this!!! her friend susan arrived tonight to stay a few days with her. what a blessing.

thanks to each of you for your continued thoughts and prayers. it is what carries us through. i received a beautiful prayer from a friend tonight and i wanted to share it with you all.....

"Precious Lord, tonight I am praying for my friend Michelle and her sweet sisters Melissa and Jennifer, sweet Jesus, you know how very much these girls love each other and I do too because I love my baby sisters too, so I am asking that you give them a peace that shortens the distance they feel from one another, grace to face tomorrow and the ability to feel all the love and prayers that are offered for them daily. I claim victory for dear Melissa, cover her with the precious healing blood and allow her to be used by you to help others who suffer, along with the wonderful continued support of her sisters! In the only name we can ask ALL this in, Your Son, Jesus, Amen."

thanks, laura!!! blessings to each of you.....
michelle

Saturday, February 20, 2010

saturday update

well, i left indianapolis today and i so did not want to leave melissa. i will be back soon though. it was just difficult to leave her, but i know that she is in such good hands with the medical staff there. more than that, i know that she is in the mighty arms of a loving heavenly father. i rest in that. our entire family rests in that. melissa rests in that.

okay, now for an update. as you already know, she had a catheter placed to help to relieve her of blood clots that need to be passed. she was also in severe pain and uncomfortable. even with the aid of the catheter, she has episodes of excruciating pain related to this condition.

the medical staff is thinking that this situation is most likely being caused by the bk virus or hemorrhagic cystitis. these are possible complications associated with the bone marrow transplant. just as mouth sores were a risk, this was as well. it is just not seen as often. however, it is just a bump in the road to her recovery. she is being treated for it and like any virus, it will just have to run its course.

her white blood cell count dipped just to .3 from yesterday's .4. this is not alarming at all. in fact, it is something we were told to expect. the recovery process involved in a bone marrow transplant can be a bit of a roller coaster ride. this slight drop could have been caused by the virus she is fighting, but at the same time, it could have happened without it as well. on an extremely positive note, the quality of her count and the neutrophils are looking good!!! praise the lord!!!

with the placement of the catheter, she has not been able to walk her laps. please pray that she will stay strengthened during this time--physically, emotionally, and spiritually. pray also that she will be comfortable and the virus passes quickly. of course, continue to pray for her white blood cell count to continue to rise. she so badly wants to get home to doug and their precious children.

continue to send the mail. it is such an encouragement to her heart and soul. thank you for taking the time to drop her a note. while it may seem small, it is so very meaningful to her. mom is staying the night with her this evening. mom was so excited about it!!! melissa's wonderful friend, susan, arrives for her second stay tomorrow and will leave wednesday. great family friend, tara, arrives wednesday and stays through the weekend with melissa. thank you, lord, for these precious souls we are blessed to call friends. god is so good!!!

i will close now. i miss her so much. i miss holding her hand, laughing with her, praying with her, crying with her, watching movies, eating hospital food, and i even miss my lovely pull-out chair bed. she is simply amazing. her joy and her faith is astounding. i leave her blessed and refreshed spiritually because of her walk during this storm.

thank you beyond words for your continued love and prayers!!!

michelle

"and now, lord, what do i wait for and expect? my hope and expectation are in you." psalms 39:7

Friday, February 19, 2010

friday update

the catheter is in place. it is doing its job and allowing her to pass the blood clots that were bringing her pain. special thanks again to all the staff here for doing such a marvelous job in caring for melissa!!!

an extra special thanks goes to chanda, melissa, pamela, allison, and dr. robertson for the roles each played in getting the catheter for melissa. my own personal shout out to pamela.....love you, pamela, and your special way you cared for my precious sister while i was here!!!

thank you for your prayers. please continue to pray that melissa will be comfortable and rest well. we do not want to overlook our gratitude for her increasing .4 count!!! thank you, lord.

"in peace i will both lie down and sleep, for you, lord, alone make me dwell in safety and in confidence trust." psalms 4:8

michelle

please pray!!!

melissa's white blood cell count increased to .4!!! this is so wonderful!!! praise the lord!!! however, she is in excruciating pain related to her bladder function. the medical staff feels it is best to put in a catheter. she is extremely uncomfortable and very nervous. please pray that the lord will calm all her fears and bring comfort to her body!!!

thanks so much!!!
michelle

Thursday, February 18, 2010

much better day!!!

thank you so much for your prayers!!! today has been a wonderfully better day for melissa. thank you, lord. her headache has subsided and the nausea has lessened. the medical staff was able to find a different drug to treat her headaches. special thanks to the unit pharmacist, patrick!!! thank you!!!

the staff here at indiana university medical center and the simon cancer center are outstanding!!! the doctors, nurses, aides, housekeeping, pharmacists, food services, and anyone else i've missed.....you are each amazing. our family rests easier knowing you are part of the team caring for melissa!!! lance armstrong received his treatment here. so, you know they're definitely doing something right.

as i mentioned in the previous post, she was not able to be up much or eat yesterday. so, no laps yesterday or today, as she is gaining back her strength. that is just fine. she will make up for it later. she did, however, have a wonderful breakfast consisting of french toast, scrambled eggs, and canadian bacon. she wasn't able to eat quite all of it. this evening, she was able to take a shower and later enjoy a good dinner.

mom and dad were able to visit with her today. they each enjoyed that time together so much. dad shared scripture with her and had prayer. god blessed us with such wonderful parents!!! doug is visiting with her now as i write this in a family room area outside the unit.

her count stays steady at .3, which is wonderful!!! the doctors continue to be pleased with her progress. they are especially pleased with not only her count, but the quality and variety of the white blood cell count. those new stem cells from that precious cord blood are really doing their job. again, thank you lord!!!

i leave this weekend so i can come back when she is able to go home. i want to be able to help as much as i can at that time. however, i dread leaving. she is such a blessing to me. through all of this ordeal, i have never heard her complain once. ever!!! or, ask "why me??" she has truly changed my perspective on life and my own personal battles. she has such joy and a peace that truly passes all understanding. it is a "god thing".....no doubt about it!!!

"you keep him in perfect peace whose mind is stayed on you, because he trusts in you." isaiah 26:3

love and god's peace to each of you.....
michelle

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

special prayer request!!!

please pray for melissa. she has had severe nausea and a recurring headache since yesterday. she has not been able to be up much at all or eat. the medical staff is working diligently to find a medication that will aid in this situation. her count has held steady though at .3 which is good. i love her so much. i would just like to trade places with her right now. thank you for your love and prayers!


michelle

Monday, February 15, 2010

9 laps and a .3 white blood cell count!!!

well, it has certainly been a great day preceded by an even better weekend. i arrived here on saturday and uncle dan said his goodbyes and spent saturday evening at doug and melissa's home. he had a wonderful evening with doug and the children by the fireplace, sharing a book that had been pre recorded with melissa's voice reading the story. the children loved it!!!

as you saw in the previous post, doug brought caleb, lauren, and audrey here to the hospital on saturday to visit melissa. they all had such a wonderful visit. at one point, as the children were preparing to leave, it became impossible for melissa to hold back the tears. four-year old lauren came right over to her in the most gentle and maternal way. she reached for her momma's face and said, "it's okay, momma. don't cry, we're praying for you." wow. out of the mouths of babes!!!

melissa and doug enjoyed some time together alone on valentine's day. i returned later and the three of us watched a movie together. she walked 8 laps with doug on sunday, after having walked 7 laps with uncle dan the day before. and, guess what??!! she walked 9 laps today and let me tag along. 18 laps is the equivalent to one mile. so, today, she walked 1/2 a mile!!! woohoo!!! there is nothing like walking arm in arm with my sister or massaging her feet. we're often asked by the staff about how many siblings we have, do we have any brothers, etc. we reply that there are three of us girls, we are each very close to one another, and we can't imagine it being any other way. as jenn once said, it seems the three of us sisters have always been and the three of us sisters will always be!!! thank god for my sisters.

now, for the really good news.....her white blood cell count was .3 today. praise the lord!!! on saturday, it was .2, which is just where it is able to be measured again after bottoming out. on sunday, it dipped below .2, which is basically zero. but, today, it bounced back up to a high of .3, which means 300. we are often asked what it will have to be before she can go home. it will have to measure 2,000 for two consecutive days. that may seem a long way off, but it can be a faster and steadier climb than one might think. for instance, once she reaches .9, the next increase will be 1,000!!! of course, there will be some bumps along the way. the doctors continue to be pleased with her progress. we just thank the lord for carrying her this far through the process.

melissa is just falling asleep now as i write this, but she wanted me to share about the childrens' day. there was no school as it was presidents' day. caleb and lauren got to go to work with their daddy. the office staff just loves them and, of course, the children love being there. little audrey spent the day with our parents, where she put on a "small" concert. mom said that she reached the highest note at the ending of each song at which point mom and dad would know to applaud. she would then say, "one more." mom said there were probably about 30 songs!!! haha. oh, the love of grandparents.

i will close now and hope to give you an update tomorrow of another increase in her counts. always remember that god is faithful no matter what mountain you are facing, he will see you through!!!

love each one of you.....
michelle

Saturday, February 13, 2010

Little Visitors Bring Big Love

I wanted to share my wonderful blessing that I received today. I have three beautiful children whom I love and adore with all of my heart, mind, and soul. I have been missing them terribly. Skyping with the web cam has been so fun, but I longed to hold them, kiss them, and just look into their young and captivating eyes. If you haven't guessed, they came for a much anticipated visit today! I was like a little girl waiting to open up her Christmas gifts....only this moment almost took my breath away....the smile on my face will show you the love that filled my room. (More updates on me will be written later, but tonight, this is so much more important.)











Friday, February 12, 2010

the kids are coming!!!

great news!!! melissa gets to see the kids!!! caleb, lauren, and audrey will be coming to see melissa sometime tomorrow. happy dance!!! she is so excited and i know they are too. they will be coming to the hospital with doug. what a sweet reunion that will be.

i arrive at the hospital tomorrow for a one week stay. i cannot wait to see her!!! uncle dan will be headed back to columbus. he and melissa have enjoyed their time together so much.

thanks for your continued prayers!!! she is still enjoying the mail. i will give an update after i see her tomorrow.

michelle

p.s. in case you're wondering, yes, she did walk six laps today!!! woohoo!!! six laps!!! she laughed with me on the phone today and said that she is feeling pressure now to do better than the day before since i am posting it on the blog. haha. i told her there is no pressure whatsoever, but she'll need to start jogging when i arrive. wink, wink. seriously, it's just such an encouragement for all of us to see her strength increasing. god is so good!!!

Thursday, February 11, 2010

five laps!!!

well, things were so much better today than last night. i want to thank each you for your prayers. the severe restlessness that melissa experienced in her legs and throughout her body was replaced with god's peace and a restful night's sleep. thank you, lord!!!(it was later found to be a reaction to a drug she was given.)

she woke this morning feeling much better. yesterday she received platelets and today she received blood. i know that she felt strengthened by that. she enjoyed a visit with mom and later with her former "roomie", our cousin charlene, and her husband, greg.

today, she walked five laps. that's right.....five laps!!! woohoo, little miss, we are so proud of you!!! i know her three biggest inspirations aid her in that walk.....caleb james, lauren grace, and little audrey jane. they definitely inspire her and give her the will to push for that fifth lap, i just know.

last night, when she was feeling so restless and was literally in tears, what did she want to bring her comfort?? god's word. there is nothing better to calm and soothe a weary soul. i would've loved to have been there to share in that moment when uncle dan read selected scriptures that have been mailed to her and have meant so much during this time. the three of us girls have been so incredibly blessed to have uncle dan in our lives. i know that he was an extra special blessing last night.

a wonderful friend messaged me a portion of her beth moore bible study yesterday. it was so fitting for melissa and she wanted to share it with me. i will close with it and i hope it touches you in the way that it touched me. thanks, joanne!!!

"hebrews 4:12 tells us god's word is alive and powerful and so sharp that it divides soul and spirit, joints and marrow. the most dramatic "cure" for certain cancers is a bone marrow transplant. god's word is meant to get all the way into our bones, curing our character sicknesses with the most dramatic of all marrow transplants. christ is our donor. a perfect match for all infirmed."

blessings.....
michelle

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

wednesday.....another four laps!!!

well, she did it again!!! she walked four laps around the unit floor again today!!! we are so proud of her and so excited about her continued progress. we give all the praise to god!!! he is so good. no matter the circumstance, he is faithful to see us through.

i just called the hospital and uncle dan said she was having difficulty with what can best be described as "restless leg syndrome." it is a side effect of one of the medications used and it happened with her first transplant as well. it would be uncomfortable for anyone, but imagine being weak and pretty much bedridden and feeling that way. please pray specifically about this sensation in her legs. pray that any discomfort or anxiety will be eased and that she will have an evening of peace and rest. she asked that uncle dan read some scriptures to her that she had taped on her wall. what a blessing!!!

she and uncle dan have truly enjoyed this time together. i don't think he is looking forward to leaving on saturday. i will be taking his place. i am so excited!!! i will update again tomorrow. thank you for your continued prayers.

michelle

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

woohoo!!!

melissa just walked four laps around the transplant unit floor this morning!!! not one, not two, not three, but FOUR LAPS!!! praise the lord!!! woohoo!!! what a great start to the day.

thank you, lord. you do give power to the faint and weary, and to melissa who has no might- you increase her strength causing it to multiply and making it to abound. (taken from yesterday's verse isaiah 40:29)

Monday, February 8, 2010

monday update

i must first send out a congrats to the saints, even though we so badly wanted to see the colts win. drew brees was truly amazing!!!

speaking of amazing, melissa has had a pretty amazing day herself. she walked three laps today through the unit floor with Mom and Uncle Dan alongside her!!! woohoo!!! she was even then able to take a quick shower. after which, she was exhausted. but, we praise the lord as he is increasing her strength slowly each day. thank you, lord.

she wanted me to give a big shout out to all the nursing staff in the bone marrow transplant unit!!! you are each so wonderfully good to her. she thanks you for your love and care. our entire family thanks you!!!

continue to pray for her strength to increase. we are still waiting to see her white blood cell count begin to rise. with the type of transplant she had, it takes a bit longer to see that initial increase, but it will happen. as i mentioned before, her doctor is pleased with her progress.

"he gives power to the faint and weary, and to him who has no might he increases strength causing it to multiply and making it to abound." isaiah 40:29

Sunday, February 7, 2010

super bowl sunday!!!

as i write this, uncle dan and melissa are watching the super bowl. i would never forgive myself if i didn't say, "GO COLTS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!"

she has had a good day. she ate a good breakfast and then walked two, not just one, laps around the unit floor. doug was able to visit this afternoon. caleb and audrey are feeling better. so, hopefully, the children will get to visit her soon. woohoo!!!

she is loving the mail and is being uplifted by all of your encouraging words. thank you so much. her doctor is pleased with her progress. he told her that she was a "treasure." of course, we already knew that!!! continue to pray that her strength will increase and her white blood cell count will begin its rise.

she found a song she just loved by jj heller. however, we were unable to locate it on the playlist here on the blog. i wanted to at least share the wonderful lyrics with you. the following was her latest update on facebook: "I just heard this song. I love the words. These last few weeks have been a physical and emotional rollercoaster, but one thing remains the same...He is All I Need."

ALL I NEED

I don't need a thing
My good shepherd brings me all
You are all I need
You let me catch my breath
Even in the valley of death
You are all I need
All I need to be complete is your love
Your blood that covers me

You lift up my head
You provide the wine and bread
You are all I need
There's no need to fear
Even with my enemies here
You are all I need
All I need to be complete is your love
Your blood that covers me

Goodness and mercy are following me
You are all that I need

You make a home for me
With pastures of green as far as I see
You are all I need
All I need to be complete is your love
Your blood that covers me

we cannot thank you enough for your continued prayers, love and support!!!

michelle

Thursday, February 4, 2010

thursday evening update

i haven't been able to really talk to melissa today. she has been resting alot. when i finally did call, the nurse was in the room and she was unable to talk at that time.

her good friend, tara, has been her roomie in the hospital this week. the following was her status update on facebook and i thought i'd share it with you.....

"Nonalcoholic Pina Colada's on Bone Marrow Transplant floor- crazy but true. Better evening for Melissa, the new meds have helped that horrible headache- Praise the Lord!!! Keep praying and sending cards, it's truly amazing to see the wonderful cards and letters that encourage her."

thank the lord and thanks to each one of you for your prayers!!!

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

special prayer request

melissa has been suffering from a severe headache, something like a migraine, since last night. if you read this post, please pray for her!!! she is extremely uncomfortable and nauseated. the doctors have tried a few meds, but none have worked so far. she just was given a different one in the last hour or so to try to treat it.

pray that the headache will ease and that she will be able to rest. thanks so much!!!

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

one week post transplant.....

good day for melissa. we are ONE WEEK POST TRANSPLANT. she received platelets and blood today. she is extremely weak so hopefully this will strengthen her. she did take a walk through her unit this evening. her spirits are good and gastrointestinal issues are improving some.

melissa asks that you pray for caleb, lauren and audrey. caleb has an ear infection. audrey has an ear infection AND strep. they need to get well so they can visit their momma. she misses them so much and of course, they miss her!!! so far, lauren is not sick and we need to pray that it continues that way.

big shout out to shawna hamilton's first grade class at kirksville elementary, where i work here in kentucky!!! they each made cards for melissa. you cannot even begin to imagine how precious they are. love you, shawna!!!

keep the mail coming!!! it means so much to her and is basically, her only contact with the outside world.

indiana university medical center
550 university boulevard
bmt unit(5th floor)
attn:melissa rex
indianapolis, in 46202

keep praying. keep the faith!!!

"let us hold unswervingly to the hope we profess, for he who promised is faithful." hebrews 10:23

we love each one of you!!!
michelle

Sunday, January 31, 2010

god is good!!!

just wanted to give you all an update on melissa.....she continues to do well since the transplant. she has been resting better which is a real blessing. she slept well last night and ate a good breakfast this morning. on most days, she has been able to take a walk through the bone marrow transplant unit. she is always amazed at how exhausted she is after doing so, but this is to be expected as she rebuilds her immune system and strength.

today she said a heartfelt goodbye to our wonderful cousin, charlene, who stayed with her in the hospital this past week. they enjoyed their time together. we love you, charlene!!! this evening, melissa's good friend, tara, arrived and will be staying with her this week. what a tremendous blessing to have such support from family and loved ones. i look forward to my turn as roommate to my beautiful sister in a couple weeks.

she has enjoyed having the webcam and skyping with caleb, lauren, and audrey. i am not sure who enjoys it more--melissa or the children. caleb and lauren have been able to visit. audrey has not yet as she has been sick recently.

some answers to prayer and blessings.....she still has not experienced any of the mouth sores that can happen with a transplant. she is resting better at night as i mentioned earlier. her platelets increased today on their own!!! this is wonderful news. thank you, lord. lastly, doug, who is a surgeon and has an hour commute one way each day, will not be on call during the month of february. this will allow him to be with melissa and at home with the children much more. what a blessing. thanks to his peers for allowing this to fall into place.

things to be praying about.....please pray that the gastrointestinal discomfort that she has been experiencing will subside. pray that her white blood cell count will begin to rise as it is bottomed out now, which is to be expected. pray that the lord will continue to strengthen her daily and give her a peace that passes all understanding!!! she misses her children tremendously and simply being at home as a wife and a mother. the lord has brought her great comfort during this time. we will try to give a daily update on melissa, even if it is just a line or two.

thank you beyond words for your continued prayers, your love, and your interest in melissa's story. it is one of great hope and faith. she is such a light for the lord in the hospital. i want to close with a scripture i mailed to her before her transplant. she keeps it near her hospital bed now.

1 peter 5:7 "let him have all your worries and cares, for he is always thinking about you and watching everything that concerns you!!!"

god is good!!!
her sister,

michelle

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Specifics To Pray About...

Melissa has had a pretty rough day today for several reasons. She wanted me to share them with you, so that you could be praying specifically for these things. None of these things are alarming or surprising as we knew these could be possible side effects.

The high dose chemo brings some nasty side effects due to how acidic it is. Her stomach really starts to churn, which later turns into more gastro-intestinal type issues. This happened constantly throughout the day today. Just something that makes it that much harder to feel encouraged when you're dealing with that all day.

Also, we are praying that the really nasty mouth sores stay away. Those would also be a result of the chemo.

Lastly, and this is not related to chemo side effects. Her heart has been aching today to be at home with her children. One has been sick with a cough, so it sounds like it may be risky to see them or at least that one in person now. I know you already know this, but she is SUCH a good mother, and she just misses her little loves so much.

If you could pray specifically about these things, I know she would really appreciate it.

THANK YOU for your continued prayers!!!

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Transplant complete!

I wanted to write a quick update to let all of my sister's prayer warriors know that her transplant went well today. Some of you may remember that last year she experienced a few side effects during the actual procedure itself. This time, there was none of that which we are thankful for! All went well and smoothly.

She appreciated the fact that Pastor Morris and Pastor Jason were both there with Miss and family before the transplant. They laid hands on her and prayed for the healing that we believe will take place just moments before they gave Miss her new stem cells. As Missy described to me on the phone, there was a very happy, peaceful feeling in the room. We thank our Heavenly Father for that!

And I do have to tell you that she said she is LOVING that mail that so many of you have sent already! It sooo brightens her day to hear encouragment from all of you, so THANK YOU for that!

Please pray that those stem cells will settle exactly where they need to be to take over and overpower the bad cells. Also, please pray that the side effects from chemo will stay away from her.

We SO appreciate your prayers and appreciate YOU too!!!

Love to all,

Melissa's sister~ Jenn

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Hospital Address

Hello everyone! While I know I am surrounded by the Lord's arms right now, I will be very transparent and tell you I am shaking in my shoes! The anticipation of and preparation for the departure to the hospital is certainly not what I wish anyone to experience. I was able to have a wonderful time with all of my family being with me in church this morning. My beautiful sisters, Jennifer and Michelle were in town for the weekend, along with their husbands (my handsome brother-in-laws Mike and John...didn't want to leave you guys out :). ) I know I was surrounded by so much love. I must admit I was a bit distracted during the last half of the service, since I was able to hold my amazingly adorable niece, Lexi. She is just a bundle of sweet love! To tell you a little about the service though...at one point my sister looked at me and said "Is this service just for you?" I know there are many people carrying heavy burdens right now, but the songs that were chosen for this week were so fitting for me. Thank you Lord for that little reminder through the worship songs and specials today! (And thank you, Aaron Baker for being a great worship leader!)

So, I wanted to share the wonderful news that I will be able to see my children. We were told they are not quite as tight on the rules (keep it on the down-low) as it appears. That is an answer to many prayers! Please just pray that the visiting times would flow smoothly, and the children would be able to see me at the best times possible for all of us. My wonderful husband also bought web-cams so that we can see each other every day that way, too! I do appreciate modern day technology! Don't understand it all....but so appreciate it!

I also wanted to BEG you to send me mail! I love mail on any given day, but you don't understand the excitement of a nurse carrying cards into my room. That would make me so happy, and I am not being shy about putting that huge hint out there! The address is:

Indiana University Medical Center
550 University Boulevard
BMT Unit (5th floor)
ATTN: Melissa Rex
Indianapolis, IN 46202

If I find out a room number would expediate the delivery, I will definitely let you know!

The next time I write to you, I will be in a different surrounding awaiting a huge event in my life...please continue praying!

All my love,
Melissa

Monday, January 11, 2010

The Much Awaited Update

I realize I have left you hanging for a very long time. Several people during Christmas time, both at our church and relatives churches, stopped to ask how I was doing and mentioned they knew I hadn't posted any updates for a while. What I didn't expect was for them to remember the exact date I last posted! That, my friends, is accountability and pure love! I even had to read my previous entry to remind myself what I last shared with you. And now here we are, and I have so much to catch you up on!

First, I want to thank the Lord again that I was able to be home with my family for Christmas. I soaked in every minute of it, and loved everything about it. I already love Christmas so much...I get excited about the lights, and the music, and the church plays, and just the celebration of a precious baby that came into the world for ME and YOU! Love it, love it, love it. I loved shopping for the kids...and trying to keep them hidden. Our walk-in closet maybe was breaking some law. Anyway, I am just so thankful to have been here with my family. I also have celebrated another birhtday since I last wrote. Can you believe I'm already 28? I just can't either. (For those who don't know...I'm kidding! I am a young and maybe not always so spry thirty three year old. :)

Do you remember when I last wrote, I told you about my mother's encouraging words of wisdom? She reminded me that God was working out each step of this process. Although I didn't know all of the steps at one time, He would guide me as I needed to go. Well, thus begins the meat of the update today...

Over the last few weeks, I began to long to be able to stay here in Indianapolis for my bone marrow transplant. I couldn't believe I was feeling this way. At one point, Doug and I thought that much of the decision was final. If New York had the "upper hand" in treatment for me, then that is where I would go. I prayed for God to bring us a peace about the decision. I prayed for the strength I would need in being that far away from Caleb, Lauren, and Audrey for so long. I was missing them so much even before I was gone. The thought was beginning to leave an unbelievably empty feeling in my stomach and heart. Little did I know that this was the Lord preparing me. I knew the transplant doctor in New York was reviewing my records, including the results of the most recent PET scan. She presented my case to the transplant team, and soon after I received a call from her.

Perhaps if I was placing my hope in the doctor rather than my Lord, I would have been a bit stunned with her news. Perhaps if my heart hadn't already begun longing and pleading with the Lord to stay here with my family rather than go to New York....I may have been more shaken. But dear friends....God has a way of preparing us for what lies ahead. We do not see it most of the time, and even if we did we wouldn't understand things along they way anyway. He created me....He knows me like no one else....He knew the order of events to take place and where I would be having my transplant long before I did! Wow...I'm glad He's in charge, and I'm not. I have a feeeling I would just mess things up!

So, the transplant doctor was very kind and informed me that they did not feel it would benefit me to come to New York. Perhaps a month before this particular day I would have responded in my mind with a "WHAT?!" On this day, however, I responded in my mind and heart with a "WHOOHOOO!" As the conversation continued and she explained they did not have a suitable protocol nor felt proceeding with a transplant there would be any more beneficial to me than being here in Indy....peace flooded my heart. I had prayed for us to know for certain where I should go, and our answer had come. I did not take this news as another rug pulled out from under me, but rather a huge cozy blanket of clarity put around me. Thank you, Jesus.

After waiting a few weeks for my counts to recover, Doug and I had an appointment with my Indy doctor last Monday. We both left the appointment feeling good and peaceful about everything. I also began some of my work-up testing that day, such as lots and lots of lab work, an EKG and a chest x-ray. I returned Wednesday for an ECHO and pulminary function test. The purpose of all of these tests is to determine that my body is strong enough to endure the transplant and everything that goes with it. I have an allogenic (donor) BMT class tomorrow, and then radiation simulation on Friday. I fear the days are passing too quickly. The planned day of admission is one week from today, Monday, the 18th. I know the first week is very high dose chemo and radiation. I don't have the calendar right in front of me, but I will definitely let you know the actual date of the cord blood transplant. The process itself will be relatively quick. What will take an unknown number of days and weeks is the engraftment process. They are literally trying to replace my immune system with a new one. It is a waiting game to see how quickly these new stem cells will find their place and thrive. So, it could be as few as four weeks, or it could be more.

I want to share some specific ways that you can be praying. First, I'm scared and nervous. Please pray for the Lord to give me more peace than ever before....and strength. Pray for my husband. When he is not working or visiting me, he will be the parent they rely on for all of their mommy and daddy needs. He will be carrying so much on his shoulders. He needs God's strength to pour over him every day. Pray for my cousin Kristen who will be caring for them. This is a huge responsibility for her...pray for strength, patience, and peace for all of us. Of course, pray for my little loves, Caleb (6), Lauren (4), and Audrey (2). Their little lives will no doubt be impacted by this whole process, and not having their mommy at home for so long. PLEASE pray that their lives would be full of so much joy and happiness in spite of what is going on with me right now. Also, I will be learning tomorrow in the allogenic BMT class, if children are able to visit. I am so scared to ask that question, because I may get an answer I cannot swallow. The reason I am uncertain, is because of so many restrictions during the flu season. Pray, pray, pray that they will be allowed to visit.

Prayer requests as far as the physical aspect of the tranplant....pray the chemo and radiation work as effectively as possible. Pray that the stem cells will engraft as quickly as possible. Pray that the yucky side effects such as mouth sores will be kept away once again during the transplant time. This miracle of no mouth sores happened once, and I know it can happen again! Please pray protection from any other infections that could incur during my time there that would slow down the process of healing. I just want the Lord's presence to penetrate that hospital room from the moment I walk into that room to the moment I walk out. If I have ever needed prayer warriors my sweet friends, it is now!

I do hope to be on the computer for updates as much as possible while I'm in the hospital. If I am not feeling up to it, I am sure one of my sisters will keep you posted on everything. I am so thankful to know I have all of you praying for me. I need you right now, and I need my Jesus! This is a scary time, yet I really believe He is going to work in my life like never before....He already is at work. I just pray that His love will shine through me every day....both the really dark ones and the bright!


I love you,
Melissa