Thursday, June 21, 2012

Mama Bear Update 13

Hello hello!  Time is moving and life is pressing on and mama is done with her 6th (and hopefullyhopefullyhopefully final!) chemo treatment!

- She has a PET scan on Monday and we'll have results on Thursday.  This scan is huge.  It's the big "What did the last five or so months of treatment do? Is there any cancer left?  What's the deal?" scan.  We're praying for nothin-notta-squat!

- They're coming back to Maryland next weekend!  Dad, Mama, Katie, Kevs, Dude, Shannon and Lou-Lee will be moving back into the house they left.  The truck and boys are arriving on June 30.

* If you are interested in helping un-load the truck, feel free to come!  My dad is trying to organize the troops, so you can email him at: a snyder at caci dot com.*

- My mom, myself and the rest of the girls will arrive within two days (we're bringing all the cars with us.  It's going to be an adventure.)

*If you are interested in helping my mom unpack the boxes starting July 2, you can e-mail Tracy at: t branchaw at gmail dot com*

- Mama is very worn out.  Moving is not usually one of these rejuvenating, restful activities.  Pray for her rest, energy and strength!


Monday, June 4, 2012

Mama Bear Update 12

Hello everyone!

It's been a little while - which is often good news in the medical world!  Here is the latest with sweet mama mom.

- A few weeks ago she attended "Relay for Life" with her sister Pam and a handful of kiddos (Kevin, Dude, Shannon, Lauren and family-friend Grace.)  She was the "survivor" and they were the "care-givers."   She said it was a lovely evening complete with nice dinner and a couple of laps around the Steinbrenner Field.

- Last Wednesday mom has her fifth chemotherapy (one more to go!)  Her wonderful and lively friend Sandy flew all the way from Arizona to go to chemo with here this week.  On good days they pack and work on wedding crafts! (Seriously, she's the best.)  I think the three women of the house (mom, Sandy and Pam) are going on a Segway Tour of Saint Petersburg Beach today.  That will be an absolute riot ;)  I wish I could be there!

- Five more days of school for the little kidlets! And Katie graduates highschool on Friday.  We are all so proud of her!  And I'm very excited to be able to go down and watch my first sister at her graduation and to see mom again.  But three cheers for mom and the kids getting through this school year in the middle of so much craziness!  They're just incredible.

- Mom's (hopefully!) last chemo is in about three weeks.  She is also moving back to Maryland that week.  Yes, that's right folks, the Snyder's are coming back north!  Hold onto your hats!  ;)  They will be here the last weekend in June, and will be moving back into the house they left.  Please pray that this move goes as joyfully and peacefully as possible.  Moving is always particularly tiring and hard.  But moving ten people? 18 hours away? In the middle of summer?  While on chemo?  We're all going to do our very best to get everything taken care of for mom (thank the Lord for Aunt Pam!  She's been a packing/helping hero! And for dad!  He's ever impressive and hard-working.)

- After the big move the next event is the wedding!  Just about two months away.  It's unreal how fast time flies.  Please pray for health for mom during all "this."  Pray that when she gets her pet scan in July they find NO cancer!  Pray she re-gains strength and energy!  Pray that she will sleep well and restfully when she sleeps!  We love mama so much!

Mama and her prayer warriors in Florida!  (These lady are from her bible study and have been the sweetest gift to mom.)

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Mama Bear | Update 11

"The Lord grant that you may find rest."
Ruth 1:9

- Mama had her fourth round of chemotherapy.  Two more to go! (And she is still dazzling!)
- Her incredible friend, Tracy Branchaw, came to spend a few days with her.  Tracy brought gifts and notes from many of you: THANK YOU!  Mama loved every single thing.  And she also loved eating and talking and enjoying the company of her friend.
- The whole Snyder clan is moving back to Maryland on July 1!  Just six weeks away.  My heart is glad.  So so glad. I haven't been to Florida in over two weeks.  And I miss mama and the crew so badly.

Prayer Requests
- Continue to pray that the treatment is working.  It might seem like a "no-duh" thing to pray.  But from the little we know, it truly seems like God is using this to heal her.  We've had nothing but positive reports so far.  We believe God mysteriously works through prayer, and we KNOW you've been praying.  Please keep praying.  
- Pray for their hearts of the people in our family: Alan, Sue, Kristen, Caleb (almost!), Tim, Katie, Kevin, Dude, Shannon and Lauren.  There has been some neat things God is doing in drawing us closer and knitting us together.  Pray for that to continue! Even "little" but extremely meaningful things like sweet Katie shaving all the boys heads' for mom has become treasure to us.
- Mama has had low blood counts since the beginning of this ordeal, but they continue to drop.  She will begin taking a medicine for anemia.  Pray that it works and boosts her counts!  Low counts mean low energy.
- Pray for her energy!  She has so much coming up in the next weeks.  Two more chemo treatments, a big move, and a wedding.  She's a fighter, but she will need some extra doses of might to make it through all this!

"Better is a handful of quietness than two hands full of toil and a striving after wind." "Return, O my soul, to your rest." "For the righteous man enters into peace; they rest on their beds." ""Mary, who sat at the Lord's feet and listened to his teaching. But Martha was distracted with much serving."
 “ you shall be saved; in quietness and in trust shall be your strength.”

I've recently been learning so much.  God has brought me a people and times, and He is teaching me.  I'm praying daily for my mother's health and strength.  For energy.  For rest.  She's teaching me about resting in God.  

While we were in the hospital together in February, I read to her this blog post. It encouraged our hearts and began to change me forever.  

"Rest at essence is God-entranced, God-magnifying, and God-satisfied.  Rest is a bold declaration of the over-sufficiency of the goodness and grace of God.  It is treating God's promises as rock-solid and unquestionable.  Rest is a conscious relishing of God's gushing generosity and a relinquishment of our own self-sufficiency.  

In short, rest is the only human response to God's engagement that honors and satisfies Him.  All else is both deplorable and unacceptable.

Rest is the garden, the Sabbath, the feasts, the land, the worship of God's people in the Old Testament.  Rest is the promise of the Gospel and the only path to life.  'Come unto me all you who labor and are heavy-laden,' says the Savior, 'And I will give you rest.  Take my yoke upon you and learn of me, for my yoke is easy and my burden is light."

Paul in the apostle sums up the Gospel simply, 'Rest your hope fully upon the grace that is brought to you in revelation of Jesus Christ.' 

There were two lost sons in the story of the Prodigals, one who offered to work his way back into his Father's favor, and one who reminded the Father of the favor he deserved for the work he had already done.  Both offered work as a payment for the gift of the Father's fellowship, forgiveness and feast.  And to both He said, 'No.'

'Come in!' was the only offer of the Father. 'Cease from your work and celebrate my lavish extravagance and prodigal generosity and you will have Me and everything that is mine.'

Everything good starts with rest, grows through rest, and is sweetly tasted in the feast of rest.  And then comes Heaven." Don Shorey

During busy, physically weary, emotionally heavy days may we find our hands full of quietness.  May we sit, and not be distracted by things like serving - which hardly makes sense.  May we celebrate and feast and receive God.  May God continue to use Mama's trust and therefore Mama's strength to do mighty things.  May we treat God's promises as rock-solid.  May we (especially Mama) actually rest when she lays down in bed - may her sleep be sweet and refreshing, may her mind be calmed and still.

Thank you, thank you, thank you for being people who rally around ones you love.  You are making our burden so light.   

Friday, April 20, 2012

Mama Bear Update | 10

 “The kings came, and they fought...
From heaven the stars fought...
March on, my soul, with might!" 

judges 5

On Easter I flew down to Florida for 10 days.  I had just hit moms' "good week," so we had lots of fun running errands, eating out, shopping for wedding crafts, making wedding crafts, finalizing the invitation ideas, styling mom's fancy new wig, and staying in our PJ's with Aunt Pam (who moved to Florida to help mom and the family! Incredible.).  It was so encouraging to me to see her so "herself."  It's been quite a while since she's looked and felt "that" way to me.  Mom amazes me.  While I was there she took an afternoon to take a young girl (she hardly knows) who is walking through a divorce out for lunch and to get job applications.   I think it made that girls' month.  God has proven Himself strong yet again!  I love that we have a King who comes and fights with us - even the stars from Heaven fight! - which builds up my (and my mama's) soul to "March on!"  He has given might and strength, as well as fun and play. We are grateful
- Mom is half-way through her chemo treatments.  On Wednesday she had her third one! (She still has to go back next Wednesday to administer the chemo for her bones. So she's almost half-way done!) Pray that the chemo is working!
- Despite being on the Super Hero Trio of anti-nasuea medicine, she still feels nauseous (which makes her not want to eat... and she needs the food for weight and nutrition!).  Pray that the nasty nausea goes away.
- The medical staff is trying to figure out why she's still feeling that way.  A possibility could be something to do with her brain and an imbalance of hormones.  A nurse started zeroing in on the issue, asking my mom about her memory and her balance.  That discussion led to a decision to scan her brain on Monday to see if there is cancer there, as well.  (I don't understand why they didn't check that at the beginning of this buuuut God over all forever reigns.)  We should get results from that on Wednesday.  Please pray that there is no cancer in her brain.
- Mom being sick always affects our family (duh.)  God has been clearly joining us together through little things - like flower girl dress shopping, games of foursquare and a Red Lobster birthday dinner for Kevs.  In many ways our family is getting along better than we have in years.  But there are still young hearts, unsaved children and very big issues on the table.  Please pray for much laughter, fun, care, unity and joy amongst us nine Snyders.

Last little thought to adhere the tape on this post: Mom and I had some wonderful conversations about God's goodness while I was there.  Does God plan the "bad things" and say they are good? Or does He use the "bad things" and make them good?  Is a "bad thing" like sin different than a "bad thing" like a tornado or tsunami?  Can sin and consequences of sin BE good things? Or are they REDEEMED to become good things?

The conversation, in my head, was prompted when we found out that mom's lungs were hurting (so much so that she had to sleep sitting up in a chair.)  She went to the doctor and they told her she had bronchitis.  I would typically put bronchitis on the "bad things" list.  Incredibly, however, the sickness seems to have actually helped her lungs.  Every time she coughed (with great pain) her lungs were forced up higher.  She was essentially forced to cough by bronchitis, all the while she was filling that lung up further and further.  
God works in obscure ways!  But I'll tell you what: God is good.

I've spent more time laughing, talking and just being with my mom now that she's sick than I would have otherwise.  That is so good.  Mom has time to, and is therefore reading, more books (and is especially in love with Kevin Hartnett's The Heavens book.) That is so good.  Like I mentioned earlier, my mom's sister Pam moved to Florida to help out.  After years of not living near family, we've been so blessed to have Pam (and grandma!) in our lives and home.  It's so good!  Katie has taken the kids multiple times to Disney - just for fun and a distraction.  So good.  We've eaten a chocolate cake brought by a church friend that we wouldn't have otherwise eaten. SO GOOD.  We've hugged more, sat by the pool and ocean more, met the kindest nurses, been fascinated with the human body, and watched Caine's Arcade over and over which sparked conversation about our childhood memories.

"This world is already more wonderful than we can imagine. Heaven will be better still. I do not doubt that whatever gates there may be, they will be pearly. But I know how pearls are made. Do you? 

In Heaven, the gates will be made of oyster spit. 

 Everything has its place in this frame. Everything has its position on the stage. The world is full of comfortable things. The world is full of soft beauty and gentle lapping waves. We would be fools to ignore the gentleness and get caught up in the grit, only able to tell dark stories. But a world of only gentle touches is no truer than a world gone black. Put the colors in their places. Paint the shadows and the darkness. Paint a true picture, with tension.

The movie isn’t over. The world will end happily. Sorrow goes down in a barrage of bullets, and Grief is executed after a fair trial. Do not fear the shadowy places. You will never be the first one there. Another went ahead and down until He came out the other side.

Heaven will be wonderful (understatement). It will be more wonderful than we can imagine, even if our imaginations weren’t so stunted by marshmallow visions. 

You will have a body more physical than this one. Heaven will be hard and bright, and the winds will be strong.

So do not imagine yourself elsewhere. Do not close your eyes and picture a world without thorns, without shadows, without hawks. Instead, use your body like a tool meant to be used up, discarded, and replaced. Better every life you touch.  Live now. Relish the tensions, the challenges, and laugh.

 We will reach the final chapter, 
and have eyes that can stare into the sun, 
eyes that only squint for the Shekinah, 
then we will see laughing children pulling cobras by their tails, 
and hawks and rabbits playing tag."

March on, my soul, with might!

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Mama Bear Upate | 9

Happy Early Evening on this Wednesday!

A brief update:

- Mama is home safe and sound after her big trip to Maryland
- She received her second chemotherapy treatment on Thursday (6 days ago)
- With the help of her three medicines she has barely thrown up at all! Praise God!
- She also says she is in much less pain than the first treatment.

Prayer requests right now are: 
- That she stops losing weight :(
- And that she stops feeling nauseous.  Though she isn't throwing up, she still feels very sick to her stomach and doesn't want to eat much at all.  

Today (Wednesday April 4th) she had a port put in so she doesn't have to take her chemo through an IV, which will be a much less painful process.

Thank you for loving her hard! I'll be back in Florida on Easter Sunday.  I can't wait.

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Mama Bear Upate | 8

"The lines have fallen for me in pleasant places, indeed."
psalm 16:6

I found this picture last night of mama in 2004 with her littlest girls (Man were they cute. And little!) (Oh! And the baby she is holding is our youngest cousin, "Alec-son!")

It brought back so many memories.  It was a hard year.  Mom had a miscarriage in the fall, but that miscarriage led to us discovering she had cancer.  We've reflected often how kind of God it was to let mom have that miscarriage: if she had never even been pregnant with that baby, she wouldn't have been in the doctor's office discovering a weird lump in her breast! If the baby hadn't miscarried, however, she would be facing months of no treatment, which would likely have let her cancer spread to the point where it was out of control (her cancer seems to spread fast and furious!)

"Your eyes saw his unformed substance; in your book were written, every one of them, the days that were formed for" BabyBaby Snyder.

That little Snyder child saved mama's life.  It's days were numbered, before there was yet one of them.  The little life was not wasted or unimportant and we loved that baby.  We still do.

It's a sweet reminder to us as we face this again.  It's kind of God, for many reasons, to have us walk through this at this time.  Mom's life is valuable to God and her days are numbered.  Cancer will not shorten her life, cancer will not rob her of life, cancer will not win, cancer is not more powerful than God.

"In His book are written, every one of them, the days that were formed for Mama Bear, when as yet there was none of them."

Our Father has promised her eternal life, Jesus came to secure life, the King will and has won, and nothing, nothing, absolutely nothing is more good and simultaneously powerful than our God.

As mom's hair begins to fall out again, we treasure verses like these: "Even the hairs of your head are numbered." "You who have been borne by me from before your birth, carried from the womb; even to your old age I am He, and to gray hairs I will carry you. I have made, and I will bear and I will carry."

The lines (and hairs!) have fallen for us in pleasant places. Therefore my heart is glad and my whole being rejoices!

Prayer Requests
- Mom's bones in her legs hurt her the most these days.  May God relieve her of pain! May He strengthen her bones!
- We are on the hunt for a pretty wig and awesome hats.  Pray we find some good options, so mama feels like a lovely woman and not a mannequin ;)

Praise Report
- Mom is in Maryland with me for a week and she went to see her Maryland doctor.  The doctor (who we all love and worked with mom last time she had cancer) was very optimistic.  Her conversation with mom encouraged us all and we are thrilled to be able to have Dr. Raj involved again.  What a blessing!
- Mom is as beautiful as ever.  Seriously.  If you have a chance to see her in person you'll find it hard not to stare.  She's so lovely.

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Mama Bear Upate | 7

"Pressure creates diamonds and fire refines the gold."
trip lee
For those interested in how they can pray and care for mom so well, here is a little of what has been going on:

- After her chemo treatment on Wednesday March 7th sweet Mom was very, very nauseous.  She threw up for the next ten days (she describes it as pregnancy morning sickness mixed with the ache-y "sick" feeling of having the flu.)  Yesterday her doctor was not happy at all that she felt so sick so for mom's second round of chemo they are pulling all the stops.  She'll be on three anti-nasuea medicines.  We would love your prayers that this big-gun game plan works well for mom!

- Mom's bones in her back, rib cage and legs are hurting quite badly.  (Bad enough for mom to mention it... which is pretty bad for her!)  The doctor said that sort of pain is often a side effect of chemo because the medicine is working hard on those spots.  We would much prefer that be the reason for the pain than for it to be more cancer!  But we don't want mom to hurt.  Though, I think she would look incredibly classy with a cane ;)

- She is a rash that is probably a result of her being in the sun too long after chemo ;)  But you can't keep a California girl living in Florida out of the sun for long, can you?! A prescription ointment should do the trick.
After her doctor's appointment yesterday mom and I went to a little taco hut near the hospital that Guy Fieri featured on his show!  It was delicious.  The slogan for on their menu, bumper stickers, t-shirts and signage says "God is never in a hurry. Relax."  Though it may be a surfer dude approach to life, the little sentence spoke to my heart.  Mom and I enjoyed our famous tacos in the outdoor dining room and we took our time.  We relaxed.  It was just good. While, yes, "even in laughter the heart may ache," I am ever surprised at how good it is to do normal things with my mother and family.  Our hearts ache for her, but we feel like we are wide-eyed in wonder with so much joy around us.


Every text, note, e-mail, gift, meal, and prayer is God walking among us.  Mom received a gift from the Shorey ladies and when she opened it she said "Oh! I love getting gifts that I want but would never buy for myself!"  The beautiful painted teacup and yummy tea bags made her day.  My good friend has a friend who works for John Piper and sent mama a book to enjoy.  She was so blessed. "I don't even know him!" Katie treated the little sisters to a day at Disney before their season passes expired.  They excitedly brought home a new iPhone case for mom with Cinderella's castle in all it's glory on the back.  She still sleeps with the Mickey and Minnie her little Michael boy bought for her while she was in the hospital.  Thank you everyone.  The love for her and us is nearly too much.

"when the Spirit is poured upon us from on high,
the wilderness becomes a fruitful field,
and righteousness abides in the fruitful field.

The effect of righteousness will be peace

and the result of righteousness is quietness and trust forever."
isaiah 32:15-18

I think these verses are some of the most beautiful in all of Scripture.  It's easy to think about a field becoming fruitful by us planting good fruit (and of course God waters the seed!), and what you reap you sow, and sow in the good soil, and work diligently.  These things are all true for their context.

But it's quite humbling, happy and relieving to read how God poured out turns wastelands into fruitful gardens.  How it's Him.  His Spirit transforms dead hearts, redeems the desserts of life, tills the dry and weary lands.  When He comes everything is changed.  When He arrives their is life, joy, happiness, quietness, feasting and trust.  He turns clammy hospital rooms into bubbly family rooms.  He turns doctors offices into a girly-girl afternoon.  He brings families that were drifting apart and knits them together.  This is all so good. Thank you for praying!

Friday, March 16, 2012

Mama Bear Upate | 6

"the Gospel [is].... a Father, a home, a feast and a complete freedom from our sin or our superiority
for hope and happiness.  
These wonders are drawn so beautifully."
d. shorey

A few updates followed by a few thoughts today.

- I added mom's contact information on the side bar so anyone looking to get in touch with her has a will and a way ;)

- Yesterday it was confirmed that cancer is not just in her lungs, liver and spine but also lymph nodes, chest cavity and skin (the bumps she was having biopsied turned out to be cancer, too.)  The cancer just needs to go away.  And seeing it on her skin almost makes me angry and want to punch it.  But I'd never punch mama bear ;)

- She's still throwing up everyday.  Pray that she can keep food down!  Food will obviously help her be strong with nutrients, but it's also just a simple joy to eat good food.  We all want her be hydrated, healthy, and strong to walk through the next months of treatment!

- We found a wedding dress together :D I was expecting to go to store after store for possibly even weeks.  But the last dress at the second store was "the one."  Mom loved it, my sisters loved it, and one of "our" songs came on in the store while I had it on ;) And just to brag about my mom for a second: not only did she shop with me while she was tired and weak, she was still nauseous and had to run out to throw up many time throughout the day.  I don't know how she did it.  Or how she does it.  She's so strong.  She always said she was "fine" when we asked.  I know how much she wanted to be there with me to find a gown and I want her to know how much it meant to me that she was.  I adore my mom.

Yesterday mom went have an IV drip (which helps her have enough water after all the nauseous-ness.)  We had a wonderful afternoon talking and laughing. Mama Bear even whipped out some subtle dance moves ;) She made a comment during our conversation that I'll never forget.  "It's strange how I am actually happier and have more hope now that I'm sick."  In the middle of showing mom my color-schemes for a master-bedroom, exchanging awkward stories, and thanking the "good nurse" Ginger for being so careful, my mom had so much she found wonderful.  In the Martha Stewart magazine: "Oh, these blues are beautiful. God did an amazing thing when he made color."  Getting her IV in: "I'm so glad you're my nurse, you're the best.  You put IV's in so well."  Talking about living in Florida: "On the days I can do things, I can't wait to... We won't be living here very long!" (Today we are going to the beach, aquarium and dinner at her favorite Clearwater restaurant.") On her dinner: "There is just nothing like a good tortilla chip with good salsa."  About her life: "To live is Christ, to die is gain.  I really only have good ahead of me.  It just gets better and better." On being cared for when sick: "Look at ALL these beautiful flowers I get to look at all day long! Dad got me those."  On all her texts and e-mails "One of the best parts of being sick is having people tell you that they are praying every single day. Every day! It's amazing." We feel like we are feasting these days.

She's incredible and one of these people: "How beautiful are the feet of those who publish peace, who brings good news of happiness, who say to Zion, 'Your God reigns'."

And to end this post on the perfect (literal) note, Lauren just came walking into the room to get her swimsuit singing "Blessed be the name of the Lord! Blessed be your name! You give and take away! You give and take away! Blessed be the name of the Lord!"

Monday, March 12, 2012

Mama Bear Update | 5

"With God, we shall do valiantly."
psalm 60:12

Good afternoon friends and family!  With a very hopeful, happy and full but nonetheless sad heart, I have some "official" news about mama.

Her doctor reviewed the PET scan results with her today and hear was the report:

- She has stage 4 cancer in her lungs, liver and bones of her spine.
- The chemotherapy treatment they have already begun for the cancer in her lungs is going to also treat the cancer in her liver and spine.  So treatment will carry on!
- She is taking a two new medicines: one to help her bones stay strong and not break! And another to help her nausea.
- She had also lost eight pounds since her chemo treatment and was quite dehydrated so the doctor put her on an IV this afternoon to help her be refreshed, strong and healthy.

Thank you for praying for us.  Mom is so strong and valiant.  She helps us be strong too, which is quite a "holy" experience.  We love her so much and crave your prayers!  God is good.

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Mama Bear Update | 4

Hello hello!  Spring is in the air... and sunshine just always seems happy!  

Here is the latest on mama:

- She did have her PET scan, and we were told we'd hear results on Monday (two days ago) we haven't heard anything yet.  Apparently this is par for the course in the medical world and probably frustrates "us" all more than it does mom.  She's very patient (though eager to hear the results too... pray they'll get PET scan results to us quickly!)

(as a little refresher: the PET scan was going to give us results on her liver and spine "spots" and let us know what those spots are.)

- She starts chemotherapy today.  Her prayer requests are that she has good IV (Lord, give her a nurse with skill!) and that it doesn't hurt too bad.  She knows eventually chemo will get harder and harder, but she says she'd "like to to start not too hard!"

- Later this week she is going to have a biopsy on some bumps on her arm.  No one is really sure what they are or where they came from... or even how they are going to do the biopsy.  She would prefer to just be put under so it won't hurt, but they haven't decided if they are going to do that yet.  Pray for little pain during the procedure!

- Her chest has (for the last few months) had a sharp "traveling" pain that had gone away but now seems to have returned.  A thoracic doctor said that it was either a disease (which I'm currently blanking on the name of right now) or cancer that has spread.  Mom laughed telling me how blunt he was saying it.  We appreciate the honesty ;) but there ain't nothin' wrong with a good bedside manner! Pray that it, well, goes away and is healed! But we would obviously prefer it to not be more cancer.  Please pray for that.

- I'm back in Maryland until Monday (3/12), and then I'll go back to Florida for two weeks!  Mom and I are going to hit up the wedding dress stores.  It will be so much fun :) Pray we find a dress and that we laugh a lot!

“Heaven is my throne,
and the earth is my footstool;

All these things my hand has made,
and so all these things came to be.

Rejoice with Jerusalem, and be glad for her,
all you who love her; rejoice with her in joy,
...may  you drink deeply with delight 
from her glorious abundance.Behold, I will extend peace to her like a river,
and  you shall nurse, you shall be carried upon her hip,
and bounced upon her knees.

As one whom his mother comforts,
so I will comfort you;
you shall be comforted in Jerusalem.

You shall see, and your heart shall rejoice;
your bones shall flourish like the grass."

Monday, February 27, 2012

Mama Bear Update | 3

It's been quite a whirlwind around here!  So much to update on! SO! On Friday morning mom had an x-ray to check how her lung had held up with NO chest tube for 24 hours.  If it was still up and had not collapsed, she would be released to go hooOoome!  We were expecting the x-ray tech between 7:00 and 8:00 am.  She didn't actually leave for her x-ray until after 10:00.  The waiting was painful ;)  When she came back from x-ray we were hoping to hear results fairly quick.  I started packing the room up... We called dad to make sure he could come get her... We didn't order lunch at the hospital... And 11:00 passed... 12:00 passed... 1:00 passed... 2:00 passed... With no results.  Mom wondered if they were afraid to tell her bad news.  
Around 2:30 three doctors came in.  The results weren't quite as positive as we were hoping: her lung had started filling back up again and was not looking "as good" as it had been the day before.  One doctor wanted her to wait 24 more hours in the hospital.  Another thought she could go home, but was shocked that it hadn't stayed up.  The most skeptical of the three finally said "If you PROMISE to take it easy, and you PROMISE to get an X-ray done on Monday, I'll let you go home.  You're so nice and I just feel so bad keeping you here. But know that it's against my better judgement!"  We take that statement to the bank and by 3:30 we were outta there!
We are all very much enjoying have her HERE.  It's just not the same when mama is gone.  Her chest has felt very very tight and she's worn out.  Today (Monday) she kept her promise and went back to get an X-ray.  Since she's feeling not-so-swell she had a feeling her lung may have collapsed again.  But we were thrilled to find out that the top part of her lung had greatly improved!  No collapsing at all :D  The bottom lobe does have more fluid... but that is where the tumor is and to be expected.  We are very excited!

She has an appointment on Wednesday with her oncologist who will be scheduling her PET scan (pray they can do it Thursday or Friday!)  The PET scan will give us the information we need about her spine and liver spots.  Once they have those results we can begin her treatment plan.  We are expecting to start chemo next week.

Thanks for being patient with a very happy, very tired and very engaged blog-updater ;)

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Mama Bear Update | 2

Great news today! Her X-ray this morning showed a full, raised lung!  The doctor took her chest tube OUT.  She is not hooked up to any cords, machines, monitors, draining containers or wires! She's free!
Our quiet, thoughtful, always-up-to-something Dude bought mom these mice with house own money at Disney this weekend.  They've been in bed with mom ever since!
If tomorrow morning at 10am her lung has stayed up all on it's little lonesome she will be going home - for a long, long time we pray ;) Thank you for your support and prayers!

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Mama Bear Update | 1

Hello friends and family!  I am resurrecting this old blog to give the latest news on Mama Bear's health.
In case you have just heard the news or are interested in "what happened" here is a little debrief:  Mom has had lymphedema in her left arm since July which makes her arm double to triple its normal size due to swelling.  Thanks to compression sleeves and physical therapy she it is being well treated, and the symptoms are just more annoying then anything ;) Apparently lymphedema is a possible side effect of radiation, even years down the road.  (Her breast cancer had spread to her lymph nodes back in 2004 and was treated with chemo and radiation.) In December 2011 Mom started feeling extremely fatigued and short of breath.  Assuming it was just the extra holiday busy-ness and stress, she tried to get some rest post-holidays.  When she didn't feel any better she went to the doctor who diagnosed her with the flu.  Go home, get some rest.  After a few more weeks her breathing was only worse.  Her next trip to her physical therapist (for her lymphedema) ended up being a trip to the cardiologist (people had speculated that mom was experiencing congestive heart failure, or maybe had pneumonia.)

On February 7, 2012 the cardiologist x-rayed and did an echocardiogram and found a fully collapsed lung and two spots near her heart, but she was fairly certain the spots were on her lung NOT her heart, because her heart was working perfect and it would make sense that mom was complaining of shortness of breath if her lungs had growths on them.  The cardiologist asked mom to come back the following day (February 8th) for a cat scan.  The cat scan results were passed onto the best pulmonary doctor around ;)

- On February 9th a radiologist did a thorancentesis (her first chest tube) to drain fluid out of Mama Bear's lung... all were a bit shocked to drain 1500 cc's of fluid out of her lung.  But! Mom felt great and had her first restful night of sleep in month's!
- On Monday February 13th mom got a call from her pulmonary doctor that she needed to come into the hospital immediately.  She was x-rayed again and her lung was still completely collapsed.  She left the hospital and on her way home had multiple calls from her doctor who, when he finally spoke with her (you know how moms are with hearing their cell phones ;) haha just kidding?) he essentially said "Go home, get a change of clothes, and come right back to the hospital.  You'll need to be here overnight." When she arrived at the hospital with my dad she was admitted and they gave her a second chest tube (one that stayed in longer) with the hopes that this one would drain her lungs and give them a chance to puff right back up!
- The next day, Valentines Day!, they did an x-ray to see how she was progressing.  The lung was still fully collapsed.  They made plans for a surgery to insert a fatter chest tube (her third one) and do a procedure called pleurodesis (if you would like to google it you can, but it sounds too awful for me to type here!)
- Surgery Day! And also biopsy day! And big hopes for the new chest tube to work!
- Thursday the 16 and Friday the 17th were mostly restful days, not much pain and good results on her x-rays: it seemed like the chest tube was working!  They let us know that her lung needed to stay up SANS chest tube for 24 hours before she could go home.  What was once an over-night visit had turned into at least a week long visit! We also found out on Friday that the growths on her lung were definitely cancer (which we kind of expected but it still sucks to hear.)  This was also the day I flew in!
- On February 18th mom woke up in the middle of the night (somewhere around 2 am) and felt different.  She was pretty sure her lung had collapsed again.  They did an x-ray right away and gave her the sad news: it had collapsed :-/ The doctors spent the day trying to help her cough, take big breaths, sit up and force the lung back up... but to no avail.
- Sunday the 19th they performed a bronchoscopy to see if there was any mucous blockage or reason for the collapse.  They also scraped the tubes to make sure everything was clear. X-rays that day still revealed a collapsed lung.
- Monday, February 20 to Tuesday, February 21 were the worst 24 hours yet. She had a to have a fourth chest tube put in (bed side :( they wouldn't put her under for such a "small procedure." This woman is a woman who has had seven natural child births and loved it, is a nurse, has had many surgeries and basically tough as nails: if she, in tears, asks to be put under because the process hurts her so bad, I believe her.  But they wouldn't.) She also discovered she was allergic to iodine so her back broke out in red hives and itched her the rest of the day! Come Tuesday morning a good but gruff doctor came in to remove her third chest tube.  This was the first procedure I was in the room for.  Poor mama just cried and cried.  It broke my heart and I didn't know what to do.  I hated watching how hard they were pulling and grabbing at the tape, her back and the tube.  Even the most gentle sponge baths I've given her, or simplest activity like putting on a bathrobe can cause her to flinch in pain, so I can't imagine how awful that must have felt: wide awake and not numb.) She's been in lots of pain since then: I'm sure she is bruised and her muscles are sore and she thinks this fourth tube is right on a nerve, because it's by far the worst feeling yet!
- But! Today! Wednesday the 22 is showing lots of wonderful results for all that pain!  Her lungs have stayed up!  First they removed the air suction from the chest tube for 12 hours - and it stayed.  Then they removed water suction from the chest tube for 12 - hours - and it stayed.  Right now we are in the midst 12 hours of the tube being clamped (no suction at all... so for all intents and purposes it isn't there.)  The doctor just checked her ten minutes ago and said she sounded great! If the x-ray tomorrow shows that her lung is still up (pray pray pray!) they will remove the tube all-together.  If her lung stays up for 24 hour she will be able to go home Friday, the 24th! (almost two weeks after arriving! Poor mama!)
EVERYone loves her new monster socks.  They really are the cutest things.
- Concluding remarks:  The oncologist and the pulmonary doctor informed us that the cancer on her lung is NOT lung cancer, but breast cancer that as metastasized (definitely one of my vocabulary words from Physical Science with Mrs. Ellis in ninth grade!) to her lung.  That is actually good news!  They would like to start her on chemotherapy as soon as possible, and will not be able to do radiation again.  They also seem to frown on the idea of surgery.
Her room has been called the "Oh Suzanne! Spa", like a "dewey, supple garden", the "happiest room on the floor" and "a rain forest." I've managed to trick all the hotel staff into thinking I'm neat and orderly ;)
- That that sweet ol' lung would stay up nice and high!
- That the cancer would be minimal (she actually also has spots on her liver and spine, too.  We haven't even started the process of diagnosing or treating those spots.  We're told to expect that they are cancer, but pray pray pray!  Her treatment for her lungs might be different if the spine and liver spots are different than they are expecting.)
- Pray that she would be in as little pain as possible
- Pray for rest and sleep! She hasn't been sleeping well at all.
- Pray she can get home very soon.  She misses her little people and they miss her. Pray for their hearts! This is going to be a big year for them.
- Pray for Father Snyder ;) as he is working very, very hard to run the house, get the kids to school, do his job to make money, visit and communicate with his wife and rest himself.
And now for the end of post verse, that really is the happiest and best thing we could end today with!

Psalm 21:

"For You meet him with rich blessings;
You set a crown of fine gold upon his head."
(From enjoying good food together in a beige hospital room (I like to run out and bring food in from other places haha), to laughing at re-runs of Mad About You, to listening to Clair de Lune play out of my laptop while fireless candles flicker... from new friends who stop by and really do care, to funny nurses and forgetful techs and sweet ol' food service ladies, to new colorful pajamas and socks, getting lots of phone calls and texts saying "We're praying!" and "We care!", braiding and curling hair (while we still can!), to reading Psalms together and secretly decorating her room while she is out for procedures... from the privilege of being cared for in a clean, professional hospital, to making Arnold Palmer's nearly every lunch, and giving long back-scratches and doing pedicures... we feel rich with blessing.)
"He asked life of You; You gave it to him,
length of days forever and ever."
(We are so grateful that He does indeed extend life here on earth, but that when these days come to an end, we continue on to days of life forever and ever!  It's not so much that we live and then we die, but rather, we die and then we live!)
"For You make him most blessed forever;
You make him glad with the joy of Your presence."
(Especially for me who fainted the last time I was in a hospital, I've been shocked at how joyful the last week has been.  We are glad! His presence is here and we are so well. How sweet it is to be loved be Him.)

"Be exalted, O LORD, in your strength!
We will sing and praise your power."
(Amen, amen.)