Go-time

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Ok fam it’s go time..

My blood counts started rising (a big celebration for us stem cell patients!), so can you join me in praying specifically for my WBC to shoot all the way up to 1.0 by sometime tomorrow?! That’s what is necessary for my discharge, which we’re all (us & medical team) hoping/expecting to occur tomorrow. But it all comes down to that WBC getting to 1.0!

“Thanks & I love you guys!”

I want to extend a huge, “Thanks & I love you guys!” to the men of Christ Church…

They wanted to do something to support and encourage me in my journey, and came together for a head-shaving event last Saturday, plus others doing it on their own at home. SO COOL to have the men of the church & leadership do something so honoring — you guys rock and I’m moved by your love and respect. Check out these pics I’m getting printed for my hospital room :)

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We’re Back – [Guest Post from Keith]

Well we’re back in Chicago. And it’s go-time. The last few months have felt like go-time, but this really is go-time.

After a much-needed quick trip home for Thanksgiving, Emily and I arrived back 6 days ago. 5 of them, she’s been in the hospital. She just finished her 4th (and last) day of chemo yesterday. Her last ATG treatment was overnight last night. ATG is a heavy-duty immunosuppressant. And today is the big day where the 32 million stem-cells will be reintroduced to Emily’s blood. From there, the docs will monitor her blood count, give her transfusions as needed, and wait for her nearly non-existent immune system to show some life again.

The main thing people have asked is, “How is she doing with the chemo?” I’m thrilled to report that outside of some fatigue, she hasn’t experienced many side-effects. She’s had very little nausea, which has been quickly treated by meds (and Queazy Drops from Tamara). The docs say that the chemo affects everyone differently, and no doubt God’s grace has been shown by how it’s affected, or not affected, Emily.
Two last things before I go:
1 – Emily is handling everything like a pro. There is a lot of resting and sleeping, but as you might expect, her joyful attitude and wackiness (in a good way) have brought smiles to all the nurses and patients we come in contact with. Her enthusiastic attitude has also kept her spirits positive in situations where most people’s may not be. We know this is because of God’s peace and strength, and through the prayers of our friends, family and even strangers.
2 – If you know us well, you know that Emily and I are both talkers. We like to have fun and are never short on words. But honestly, when it comes to the support and love we’ve been shown by everyone, we really don’t know what to say. We have talked many times about how amazing it has all been. From the outpouring of financial gifts…to the hourly prayer times…to the texts just saying she’s being prayed for…to simply reading this blog…we know that it’s all provision from God and because we are well loved. So thank you.
Please keep praying that Emily would respond well to the rest of the meds, transfusions, treatment, etc. She already has some ideas and plans for blogging once she feels better. Comment on her blogs and let her know that you are reading.
Thanks!
Keith

Hair PART 2: Marital Moment of Head Shaving

If you’re looking for PART 1

My hair started seriously falling out Friday. By Saturday night my head was itching so much I wasn’t able to fall asleep until 4:30. SO annoying! It drove me NUTS!!! So I asked Keith to shave my head ASAP.

I cut as much hair as I could, we went out on our deck Sunday afternoon and shaved my head #likeaboss. (Except not really, because I was kind of yipping when he would get close to my face, and we’d laugh.)

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Honestly we had fun. If our neighbors saw us I’m sure they thought we had lost our minds.
In the end we decided this was one of our favorite marital moments :)

How’s the Hair? PART 1

When we found out the transplant would become a possibility, I realized: I care about my hair. DEFinitely not as much as Will Ferrell in The Campaign (or Anchorman) :), but I do care. I had never considered this before but I guess once you know you’re going to lose something, you start to appreciate it more.

I hadn’t been appreciating it… Me + high messy bun = BFFs. What style could be better than this 30-second, über-versatile ‘do? For months I sported a top knot literally every day. Whenever I’d wear it down people would comment on my, “long, beautiful hair,” and how they “never knew!”
Yikes! Guess I really confined my hair to exist strictly above my head? But designing your own head is fun. Why don’t I do that anymore? I always enjoyed it. So I adopted a new M.O. and styled my hair/did something funky—or at least had it down/plain—basically every day. I’m glad I did that because it’s gone now.

They said I’d start losing my hair 14 days after the initial dose of chemotherapy, so it started falling out last Monday. I made an appointment with my stylist—Carolina (-leena) at The Kindest Cut Salon—for the next day. I was donating to Locks of Love and couldn’t procrastinate any longer. In order to give the longest amount possible I found a short, edgy style I wanted to try. Carolina offered to take before/after pics, and then I enjoyed the challenge of styling short hair–it’s tough until you get the hang of it! And a real pain when your hair seriously starts falling out, i.e. Friday.

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Second Half of Saturday’s Post

I was trying to write a post on Saturday, but kept running into technical hurdles—specifically with the last part. I was doing it on my phone, from the car, traveling in and out of network coverage. After spending the entire day rewriting it 3 times, I posted what I had, ate some ice cream and called it a day. Thus, the unfinished ending to my post on 11/23.
(Already know how to be successful next time. Although, I’d imagine NOT being on narcotics is a good start.)

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Since last week I’ve been continuing to process what happened during my vascular catheter procedure. Lots of you have said things about how strong I am and I do appreciate the encouragement. But I want to be honest with you—I, myself, really have no ability toundergo that kind of experience. I never would have been able to endure that nightmare. What sustained me during the procedure was the strength of our God.

None of us would have expected that to happen. But God, in his infinite wisdom, knew I would need an army of prayer warriors for what was coming that day.

Of course, God doesn’t need our help—he’s omnipotent and could have accomplished every bit of provision without anyone praying.

But a part of the vision he gave Keith and me for this season was: doing life in authentic community, junk included. So in pursuit of that vision, everyone praying was instrumental—and God made a way for that to happen through Kelsey, and all of you praying. So again, thank you for your prayer, support and for walking through this with us.

NOW, why we were in PA on Saturday [and now, home!]…

Because 1) the stem cell harvest was done after just the one day, and 2) the way the schedule lined up, we didn’t have to do anything at the hospital again until December 4. So we decided to rent a car and drive home for Thanksgiving week!

I’m still dealing with lasting side effects of the initial round of chemo from a couple weeks ago, and also the neupogen making its way out of my system. So I’m laying low, but definitely glad to be home! As soon as we go back next week, everything gets intense. Or, it’s all downhill from there. I go in-patient starting December 5  (basically for the rest of the time) starting with 4 or 5 consecutive days of chemo. So for now, we’re enjoying being home :)

Thanks for reading!
Lovemily ;)

Total Stem Cells & Why We’re in PA Right Now

2 million stem cells were needed from Thursday’s harvest. The # of my stem cells collected was 31.16 million! Crazy…
The fruit of 6 days of waking up at 6am to do 2 injections of the growth factor Neupogen—to help my stem cells grow and move from my bone marrow out to peripheral blood.

The side effect of Neupogen they warned us about was “bone pain.” That was vague and kind of creepy sounding.. Not descriptive enough to be helpful in knowing what to expect. Well, we found out what it’s like and there’s really no good way to describe it! Some people don’t get it as bad as others and apparently there’s a correlation between the amount/degree of bone pain to the # of stem cells collected. That makes sense because by the time Tuesday rolled around my pain was through the roof. In a 31 million vs. 2 million kinda way :) So that validation was nice for some reason.

Since Thursday I’ve just been continuing to process what happened and what that was like. Lots of you have said things about how strong I am and I really appreciate the encouragement because it’s made me realize it doesn’t make any sense. God has given me clarity about it. See because I never would have been able to endure that myself.

I’ve thought about that some and God gave me some clarity on that—the