Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Highs and Lows

Similar to the past couple of weeks, the last 24 hours have been quite the roller coaster of emotion. We had a planned visit to MD Anderson (MDA) yesterday (Monday) to get James' blood count and to potentially have a transfusion of platelets and/or hemoglobin (red blood cells) if needed.

First, let me "briefly" provide a picture of what a visit to MDA entails. We awake early - 4:45 am (Nana), 5:45 am (Joy), 6:00 am (James), 6:57 (Greg) - to leave at 7:00 am for our 8:30 am appointment at MDA. When we arrive, we sign in and are "quickly" called on to get a medical ID bracelet and a restaurant-style pager. When the pager begins to vibrate, we take James to an adjacent small room where his blood is drawn. Considering that he is 13-months old, he doesn't know if he is getting poked, prodded, or is going to be forced to do some other undesirable task. Most of the time, blood is quickly drawn from his CVC (catheter just below is right collar bone) with no pain to him. Then, the waiting game occurs. We wait 1 - 2 hours for lab results before seeing his nurse, Carmen, nurse practitioner, Lisa, and Dr. Wells. Each professional takes a great deal of time to listen to our latest concerns, examine James if necessary, and provide us results from that day's labs. The reason for the visit (transfusion, chemo, check-up, bone marrow aspiration) determines the length of stay. We are finding that on a good day, we are home by 2:00 pm and on a long day, we are home by 5:00 pm. Right now, this is occurring about two days per week. It's also important to note that in the MDA Children's and Adolescent Clinic waiting room, there are children and teens at varying levels of treatment with any number of types of cancer. Some children are in wheel chairs, needing to lie down, feeling visibly nauseated, wearing masks and gloves, or having difficulty holding their head up because of weakness. There are also children that are laughing, playing in the playroom, coloring, singing, pulling at their parents to "come play with me" - all the while oblivious to the fact that they have cancer. At peak time (late morning to early afternoon), the waiting room is packed with children and their caregivers. That's it! One of our routine visits to MDA.

I thought that describing a routine visit would provide context for today's updates. James seems to have a sense as to when we will be going to MDA. On Sunday night, he woke every 45 minutes, requiring diaper check, temperature check, and being rocked back to sleep. This made for an exhausted group of people heading into Monday's visit. During our visit, blood was unable to be accessed in James' CVC. Not good! We knew that we have been diligently cleaning his CVC, keeping his site clean, and have been doing the regular flushes of his CVC. So, we are asked to wait for 30 minutes, then return for another attempt. The first try...no luck. Second try...blood was drawn. We come to later find out that it's typical for this to occur because of clotting somewhere in the CVC. An anticoagulant was injected to break up the clot and the CVC was back in operation. This is important because we don't want James be poked with a needle for a blood draw. Results of Monday's blood draw revealed that James' platelet count was in the normal range. That's right! The doctor said that this is a sign that James' marrow is starting to show signs of working correctly. His red blood cell count was relatively stable, but his white cell count was still low. Dr. Wells noted that white cells are typically the last to rebound. These results do not change any aspect of treatment. We will always be committed to three years of treatment. These results help us see that treatment will resume as planned. The doctor was pleased so we are pleased. Praise the Lord!

As we are quickly finding, just as we can experience a high of good news, we can also experience a low of not-so-good news. For much of the day today, James has not been himself. He was fussy, irritable, couldn't be easily soothed, and had a low grade fever. As a precautionary measure, Joy and Nana took to MDA for to be examined. The doctor thought that James was demonstrating enough of a fever to warrant IV antibiotics and an overnight stay. So, he is staying overnight at MDA with Joy and Nana. I was working tonight and will be tomorrow as well, so I stayed at home. We feel your prayer and know that our God is faithful! Thank you for your continued support. Here are our most recent prayer requests:

  1. James' fever would dissipate and that they would all get a good night's sleep at MDA.

  2. James' CVC would stay continuously operational so that he does not have to be poked with a needle for blood draws (which occur often!).

  3. James' white blood cell count would begin to rebound and the his neutrophils (bacteria-fighters) would also rebound.

  4. James would sleep for longer periods of time so that we can all get good rest.

  5. James' diaper rash would continue to heal.

I also wanted to share an excerpt from an email sent to us by our amazing, godly 17-year-old nephew:

"'Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance. Perseverance must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.' James 1:2-4 'Blessed is the man who perseveres under trial, because when he has stood the test, he will receive the crown of life that God has promised to those who love him.' James 1:12
These verses may at fist seem shocking or insensitive at first, especially due to the mammoth of a trial you are facing right now, but James is talking about finding joy in the results of the trials, not the actual trial, because those difficult times produce good qualities, such as perseverance. Later it on it even goes to show the result of persevering the trial, which is the crown of life.
I know that this might seem very, very unfair to happen to someone, let alone a 13 month year old, who also is your son, but I wanted to send you this verse as reassurance that God has a plan for this trial and that he'll never give you more than you can handle."

Sunday, July 29, 2007

Many Thanks

We want to start by thanking the many people that have offered their time, support, prayer, and resources to help us through this most difficult time. Joy and I are now home and attempting to establish some sense of normalcy to our lives. What is "normal" you may ask? Our lives are certainly changed from this point forward, that is for sure. Now that we have had the opportunity to digest James' diagnosis, we have been able to see the work of God in so many ways. Much of God's hand has been posted here by the world's best sis-in-law, Stephanie. We have officially dropped her in-law status to full sister! Our family, friends, and church community have gone above and beyond. We are truly blessed by this community of Believers! We will be posting frequent pictures of James and will take over the bulk of posting from this point forward.

James has been in great spirits the last two days and has flashed his brilliant, toothy smile frequently. Since we've been home, James has been waking at night every two hours. We are in constant awareness that a fever may appear, so gone are the days of letting him cry it out. The routine has been check his temperature, check his diaper, and rock him back to sleep. Your prayers have helped because he slept for 10 hours last night! Let's hope that we all have more nights like that. Considering that he is currently "neutropenic" (i.e., zero ability to fight off harmful bacteria), we are giving him high doses of protective antibiotic to stave off any potential infection. As a result of the antibiotic is the grumblies, better known as diarrhea. Thus, he now has a yeast infection on his bottom and has a very painful diaper rash. This can be a potential source of infection, so we frequently apply medicated cream. We are finding that this is an ever evolving process and there are few things that are certainties. Joy and I are know to be planners, and this young journey has taught us the true meaning of surrender. We are learning more each day about surrender of our will, our plans, and our fears to the one constant - the Lord Jesus Christ. His mercy renews us each morning and His presence is felt through your love, your prayer, and James' smile. We thank you for helping us jump this first major hurdle and know that you will be with us through each obstacle and each praise. Our current prayer requests include:
  1. Healing for James' diaper rash
  2. Sleep through the night for James
  3. No fevers or infections
  4. James would take all of his medication

We will be including some pictures very soon!

Saturday, July 28, 2007

A Great Way to Help

So many of you have been asking how you can help Greg, Joy and James in their time of need. You have been so empathetic and insightful with practical ways to actually put your love for them into action. Many of you have imagined the great financial stress that this diagnosis and treatment has brought into their lives. Those who know Greg and Joy well realize that it is in their nature to want to plan and budget for all of the expenses they will incur. Those of you who have experienced any kind of medical condition also know that it will be impossible for them to do so. One of the many life lessons they will be learning during these years is the lesson of humility. As you can imagine, it is very humbling to be in a position where you would even consider accepting financial help from loved ones. Yet, that is the position they are very unexpectedly in.

So, I have taken the liberty of adding a way for you who feel so led to donate money toward all of these unforeseen expenses that are mounting. I am adding a pay pal link to the blog. All you need to do if you are inclined is click the link and follow the instructions.

If you do not feel led to give in this way, please don't even consider it. The body of Christ has many parts. Each one has a job to do. I expect that as you walk with God, He will lead you to help in the way that is right for you. Along this journey we will need those who are prayer warriors, those who cook great meals to go, those who can mow a lawn in 30 minutes flat, as well as those who feel called to be a part of relieving some of the financial burden. Our gratitude is heartfelt for whatever role you play.

Friday, July 27, 2007

No News is Good News

Hopefully for the next few weeks, you will hear less from me on the blog as they get into a routine. If anything new to pray for arises, then of course, we will keep you in the loop. Our prayers will remain focused on

1. James' continuing to respond to the chemo well, with limited side-effects.
2. James' being able to take oral meds without gagging and throwing up.
3. James' being declared in remission at the end of the induction phase.
4. James' little body staying free from infections and fevers.
5. Rest, strength and encouragement along the way for all involved.
6. Joy and Adrianne....a healthy, full-term pregnancy.

The preliminary reports from yesterday's BMA showed only 4% blast cells, which seems great to me that it went down a percent since last Friday. We are going to have to wait to hear the word remission, however. They confirmed that they could not get enough marrow to do the analysis that would enable them to declare remission. Apparently, this is a fairly common issue with kids who are receiving chemo. They are not going to put James through the BMA again until the 28th day of treatment. (August 9) I am sure the results would not be done until the following Monday August 13th or so, just to give you a general idea. I am sure that is subject to change. Until then, we will be faithful to pray that they are able to get enough marrow to do the analysis and that upon completing it we reach the milestone in James' treatment where he is declared in remission. Then he would be able to move into the next phase of his treatment.

I Thessalonians 5:17 (NLT)
Keep on praying!

Thursday, July 26, 2007

Thursday's Clinic Visit

It is almost noon and I just heard from Joy. They are on their way home from MDA. James seems to have a sixth sense about clinic visits and decides to start protesting the night before. He was up every couple of hours last night and was quite a bear this morning. I am sure not being able to eat or drink play into that big time. It is a nice day for a nap with the rain clouds outside, so join me in praying that they can all get a good rest in this afternoon.

James received his chemo treatment, had a blood work up done, and had the bone marrow aspiration. The nurses at the clinic are also going to start changing the dressing on his CVC so that will be one less time that Joy, Greg and Paula have to do that. The blood work indicated that he will likely get a transfusion when they return to the clinic on Monday. Pray that he can get through the weekend without an emergency visit. They may hear back from the bone marrow aspiration preliminarily today, but the real results we are waiting for are on Monday. Continue to pray that they were able to get enough marrow to do the broader spectrum analysis needed to declare that he is indeed in remission.

Hebrews 4:16 (NLT)
So let us come boldly to the throne of our gracious God.
There we will receive his mercy, and we will find grace to help us when we need it.
Lord Jesus, we boldly ask for you to show your mercy and grace to Greg, Joy and
James in this situation, as we can say most certainly that this is a time when
they need it.

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

The Latest

So very sorry to have been so silent here on the blog. Greg, Joy and James returned home late Sunday night with the knowledge that it would be safe to wait on a transfusion until Monday's scheduled time. This meant getting home after 11pm on Sunday and being gone from the house before 7am Monday, making it a long day with the transfusion and the clinic appointment at MDA. They did not return home til after 4:30 on Monday. I decided not to add my phone call to their already lengthy day. It was not until Tuesday that I spoke with them and that they received a call from MDA to let them know of a tiny change in the plan of action. At James' next appointment which was moved from Friday to Thursday, he will have to have another BMA. This past Friday, they got enough marrow to tell that there was only 5% blast cells there, but not enough to do a broader spectrum analysis and actually declare that he is in "remission". The results of that BMA won't be in until Monday the 30th.

  1. So at the top of our prayer list is that on Monday we hear the word Remission.
  2. Another huge request is that they are able to get enough marrow to make the determination.

  3. In addition to those things, please pray for James as he has to fast from midnight Wednesday until the procedure is over on Thursday. Pray they get into their appointment on time with no delays. He has an early appointment time scheduled, it is just a matter of how things are moving along.
  4. And continue to pray fervently against fever or infection.

Whether or not James is able to be considered in remission will determine the course of the treatment from this point. The induction phase of treatment is currently planned to last 30 days, but if I understand clearly, could be extended if he is not found to be in remission. They have been able to identify the subtype of James A.L.L. as B cell, which is the most common subtype. (a good thing as far as treatment is concerned)

Today was a better day in their home as all of the medicine has gotten down rather uneventfully since that bad night Saturday. (thank you for praying) It is a good thing that is going better since they have added a few more oral meds to administer at home. One is an antibiotic he will remain on for the duration of his treatment, and one is for acid reflux. Joy also routinely saw her OB-GYN and everything seems to be going along fine for her and Adrianne. Pray for a continued healthy, and full term pregnancy. As always, we are indebted to you for your persistent visits with the Father on their behalf! Prayer is a very powerful thing! Praise Him for the little answers along the way, and please keep petitioning Him as well!

Sunday, July 22, 2007

Change of plans

Okay, no sooner than I posted the last entry, I heard from Greg. The resident on call would like them to pack a bag and come on down to MDA tonight. They need to rule out the possibility that his platelets or hemoglobin are getting dangerously low. If they find that they are low, they may keep them overnight to go ahead and transfuse. They will still have to get up and go to the clinic appointment in the morning, but if they stay overnight it will be an elevator ride away. So lift them up each and every time God puts them on your heart. Thanks again.

The Harsh Reality

When I blogged last night's entries, I had no idea of what was going on probably even as I sat at my computer painting what I thought was an accurate picture of how things were. Upon speaking with Greg and Joy today, I feel like I need to give you a little more detail about their struggles. Last night from about 5:30 or 6pm until 10:30 pm was miserable. Because of James' young age, he has absolutely no understanding of what is going on in his life. Many years down the road this may prove to be a blessing due to the lack of memory of the experience, but for now it is making things very difficult and frustrating to say the least.

Joy and Greg must administer meds to James at home 4 x a day. He has developed a gagging response when he sees the syringe coming his way. Of course, we as adults know that the medicine has to go down in order for it to do its job. It goes without saying that James has no concept of this. The first time he threw up mentioned in yesterday's entry was just the tip of the iceberg.

When he threw up, he soiled the dressing that covers the central venous catheter in his chest. It is imperative that this area remain dry and sterile. A dressing change involves pinning him down. It takes two people to accomplish this task and a third person to do the actual change of the bandage. One holds his upper body, careful to restrain his head from turning towards the site. The other holds his legs still. The third person has the task of unsticking the huge and very sticky bandage from around the tender site, cleaning the sticky off of the skin and removing all of the skin oils, applying iodine all around the site, and reapplying the dressing carefully. All the while he screams, becomes hoarse, and struggles to get free. This is a lengthy process anyway, but seems eternal when your child is screaming and you are sweating and trying to remember the tedious and precise steps to go through as your back aches and you pray to God for strength to do what you know has to be done.

To make matters worse, the second time they tried to give the meds, the very same thing happened no matter how hard they wished that it would not and tried to make adjustments to that end. So a second time in a matter of hours, the dressing had to be changed. All the time knowing that the meds had to be given a third time. On top of all of that, James' vomiting set Joy off and she began vomiting as well. Bless their hearts! It is a learning process for them and the doctors gave some suggestions during their three separate phone conversations with them, and they came up with some ideas of their own that may help in the future.

Today they gave meds mixed with oatmeal and put on a plastic coated bib and kept a towel handy. So far so good.

You can only imagine the total exasperation they all felt when trying to go to bed last night. Even sweet James, when Joy took him up to his room nearly leaped from her arms reaching for his crib, completely exhausted from the events of the evening.

Sorry to paint such an awful picture for you all, but you are in the trenches with them. Thank you for accepting the role of going to God on their behalf and standing side by side with them against this foe. Let this entry be just a small eye opener to the harsh reality of this cancer that is sinking in further as each day goes by. However, never forget the victory that is ours in Christ Jesus and the miracles we have seen thusfar.

Tomorrow they head back to the clinic at MDA very early in the morning. They will draw blood and a transfusion is a possibility. (they are thinking he is looking pale today, indicating a possible decline in hemoglobin and/or platelets) Pray they will still find zero blast cells in his peripheral blood. He will not get intravenous chemo again until they return to the clinic on Friday. Also pray for them to continue to find creative ways to get his meds in him at home, making that whole experience a better one. Pray that he does not lose any weight and is able to keep his appetite for healthy foods that he needs to stay strong. Lastly, pray again for a good night tonight, they need it!!

Saturday, July 21, 2007

Sign up to Help

Thank you so much to those of you who have offered to cook a meal, mow the lawn, run an errand, or help financially. We are working on organizing all of these efforts for them so they don't have to worry with calendaring details. Sandy Smith (one of the most wonderful organizers known to these parts) has volunteered to be our head organizer. If you would like to help in any way, please email Sandy and she will work with your schedule and theirs to get you plugged in.

Her email address is: sasmith1971@comcast.net

We are working on a link of some sort to be put right here on the blog site to make giving easier for those of you who have expressed interest in helping with the financial end of things. Many of you have thought of so many expenses that they will incur even with insurance. You have mentioned parking fees, deductibles, prescriptions, and tons of other incidentals. Hopefully early next week we will have that link here for you. Of course Greg and Joy, as any of you would imagine, are humbled by and extremely appreciative of being on the receiving end of such an effort.

No Place Like Home

Greg, Joy, James arrived at home around 7:30 on Friday night the 20th of July after nine nights in the hospital. Again, there are no words to describe how my heart cried out to the Lord when I saw that sweet boy walking freely around his own home with no IV fluid cart holding him back. Sorry I have no photos of that, we did not realize we'd still be there when they arrived. Janice Knott (with very little help from me) had gone before them wiping every toy and surface with the Clorox wipes, so he could really enjoy himself with all of his things. Joy's mom Paula, James' Na-Na (forgive me if I misspelled) flew in from Tennessee on Thursday and is going to be staying with them to help out indefinitely. I spoke to them Saturday morning and the night had gone very well with everyone getting some good rest.

Please continue your earnest prayers as these past few days have only marked the first of many milestones in this journey. It is more of a marathon than a sprint, unfortunately.

1. Tonight would you especially pray for peace for Greg, Joy and Na-Na as they care for James at home without the incredible team of doctors and nurses right outside the door.

2. Pray against fever or infection of any kind.

3. And say a special prayer for the side effects of the chemo to continue to be anywhere from non-existent to very mild. These are very strong drugs that are needed to get rid of the Leukemia. There are medicines they are having to administer at home....the steroid, an antibiotic and possibly something to ease nausea. Earlier this evening he did become ill after a gag reflex taking the antibiotic. Pray for that not to be the norm.

Friday, July 20, 2007

Spread the News!!!

We just got the results of the BMA and we got what we prayed for! James is a rapid early responder to the chemo treatment. I don't know all the details yet, but you can be sure I will update you as soon as I do! If I heard them correctly, the blast count in the marrow was at 5%. This morning's lab report showed 0% in the peripheral blood. Here is what I read this morning(with my own adaptation) from the New Living translation. It says it best, and honestly, for once, I am absolutely without words.

Psalms 68: 34, 35
Tell everyone about God's power.
His majesty shines down on (James.)
His strength is mighty in the Heavens.
God is awesome in His Sanctuary.
The God of Israel gives power and strength to his people.
Praise be to God!

Thursday, July 19, 2007


Just thought you may like to see how much fun James had with mommy and daddy today in the ChildLife Playroom on the Pediatric wing of MDA. He loved this puzzle and was able to take it back to his room.
He even made time to run over with a spontaneous hug for mommy....sweetest boy!
Reaching on his tippy-toes.....
Priceless, precious smiles! From underneath the lifesaving paci. Ironically enough, two weeks before, James was being coerced to only use that at sleep times. Now it serves as a great comfort and as a handy way to keep potentially germy objects from going straight to his mouth. What a blessing! Lots of love for daddy!
Today was a good day.
Pray that tomorrow is as well. James may be receiving some more platelets as his numbers are nearing the lower end again for those. That way he is ready for his BMA(bone marrow aspiration, checking to see how the chemo is destroying those blast cells) on Friday.
Pray continually!

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

HIS Faithfulness

Merciful and Faithful Lord, because of your great love, we are not consumed, for Your compassions never fail. They are new every morning; great is Your faithfulness. The Lord is our portion; therefore we will wait for Him. Lord, You are good to those whose hope is in You, to those who seek You. Thank You Lord for new mercies each day. (praying God's word from Lamentations 3:22-25)
God has been so faithful to us right from the beginning of this journey to the other side of this awful cancer. MD Anderson is one of, if not THE top hospital for the treatment of Leukemia. Not everyone gets to start their treatment there. God has paved the way for James. Those events of the first day are such a blur to all of us, but not to God. It was crystal clear. Now several days later, we are catching on and are so grateful. The name of James' wonderful doctor at MDA is Dr. Wells in case you would like to be specific in your prayers. We are blessed to be in such a cutting-edge, up to date treatment program under the care this particular doctor.
James received another blood transfusion this afternoon. It was well underway and his vitals looked great when I had to go. This was at the end of my day with them, but I suppose I should start at the beginning. Thank you for praying last night (some of you must've been up late doing so) because miraculously, they all got a fairly good night's rest. James got to get a bath before having his CVC(central venous catheter...the line in his chest) flushed and the sterile dressing changed by Joy, with some help from Greg and I keeping James still. This was a big step for everyone. James was very brave and Joy remembered how to do everything just right. She had to "test out" doing that task before they can be discharged. The earliest day they will be going home is Saturday, provided all is going well at that point. Which brings me to the big prayer focus of today.
The next two days will be fairly easy days as far as treatment goes. Just the steroids, which are a very bitter oral preparation. Then on Friday, James will undergo another bone marrow aspiration. This is when we want to hear the words , "James is a rapid early responder. The blasts in his marrow are down to less than 5%." Be specific in asking the Lord for that. We ask in faith and we believe God will do in this situation as He has all along...show HIS faithfulness. Obviously, in our finite minds we do not wish to consider the other words we may hear, but have been prepared by the nurses for the chance that he could be classified as a slow early responder, meaning that the blast cells would still be decreased, but not quite at the less than 5% mark. At which point the road map for his treatment would be adjusted a bit. Either way God is Faithful. Let us be faithful in prayer. Let us place our hope in Him and seek Him earnestly.

Monday, July 16, 2007


There is not much to update you with this evening, except to say thank you again for all of your continued prayers. James has had no immediate allergic reactions to any of the drugs he has been given. He has been administered four different chemo drugs, one more specifically a steroid that also kills cancer cells. He has also had no side effects to speak of at this point. We realize it is early in his treatment, but we take every day as it comes and praise God for what small blessings we receive along the way. There are times when we do think he is experiencing pain, but it is managed through meds, and it is hard to say for certain exactly where it comes from since he is so young. The doctors are saying he is responding well. The blast cell numbers are dropping in his peripheral blood, so we can hope the same is happening in the marrow. He did receive another platelet transfusion last night, but it went well and his platelet counts were as high as they have been this afternoon. (higher is better for platelets, lower is obviously better for blast cells) But the main thing I am emphasizing in tonight's entry is.......

Please ask the Lord to give them all REST. Many of us can imagine what it is like trying to sleep on a small cot in the hospital, a reclining chair in the corner, or even an unfamiliar hospital crib. These are their accommodations. Add to that a central venous catheter, iv fluids, periodic vital sign checking, diaper changes every two hours due to chemo drugs and fluid for James and just plain being 7 and a half months pregnant for Joy, and being way too tall to sleep in a tiny chair or cot for Greg and you have a recipe for restlessness. So prayer is the key. God can do anything, even provide rest for this weary family in less than ideal sleeping arrangements.

Thank you also for all of your encouraging comments and for signing the guestbook on the other site, as well as the emails and messages sent to the hospital. These mean so very much to Joy and Greg. Keep up the good work....especially joining with us in prayer.

Sunday, July 15, 2007

Blogging for novices

Here is a little information for those of you new to the world of blogging. The entries appear on the page from newest to oldest. So if you missed some entries, you would want to scroll down on your screen however far back you need to go to catch up and read the entries in reverse order. (you can tell this by the dates and times of the entry)

As the blog goes on day by day into this journey, there will be too many entries to display on one page. You can find old entries by looking to the right of your screen in the sidebar. By clicking on the entry title, the month, or eventually, the year, you will be able to go back and read any entry that has ever been made on our blog.

In order to leave a comment, which is an excellent way to encourage Joy and Greg, you just look to the bottom of each entry where it tells you the number of comments left for that entry. You put your cursor on that phrase "_ comments" and click it with your mouse. It will direct you to the page where you can write your message. You may have to create yourself a Google username and password to be eligible, but there is an obvious place to click to do that and it is simple and costs you nothing.

There are also links on the sidebar that you can explore. The one that is there just now is to the other site for James. I will not be posting there, but if Greg and Joy find that site easier to use when they take over the blog then they will have the option of using it. At which point you would know to go there instead.

Hope that helps! This is officially my last post for this morning. I thought it would be easier to break it into three separate entries so you can refer back to them as needed.

Just a glimpse

I wanted to do two posts today, though there is no news to update you with to speak of. Continue to pray over the requests. Really pray for James' comfort. At times he seems to grow uncomfortable with the line in his chest. His tender little skin is chafing under his arms, perhaps the result of broken capillaries associated with his low platelet count. There are definitely times when James is himself, laughing and smiling, waving and babbling, playing on his clorox wiped playmat or just enjoying time with the few visitors he is allowed. He particularly enjoyed sitting with Granny and Grandad having his hair brushed, and laughing at his Uncle Chris.

As you can see, our precious angel grows tired and is able to get some rest. Pray for many good night's of rest for the three of them. Rest is essential for James' little body as well as for Joy and Greg as it makes all the difference in the way they feel.

Also continue to pray for a good report from the spinal tap. Preliminarily, without the pathology report, the doctors are saying they found one white blood cell in the tap. The pathology report will tell more specifically what kind of cell it is. They have been informed that less than 5 cells is a good sign. Lastly, just f.y.i., they are now just working on narrowing down the subtype of A.L.L. which is the confirmed type of Leukemia that James has.

It's Sunday

Today is Sunday. The day set aside by most of the people in our circle of life to corporately worship God. I think it is fitting for us to do that together even in the blog world. The lyrics to a song that has been stuck in my head these past few days mean more to me today than they did four days ago. And then as I was reading the blog of another very young leukemia patient, I read the words yet again. I pray that these words will wash over you in comfort as they have me.

You are God alone
From before time began
You were on Your throne
You are God alone
And right now
In the good times and bad
You are on Your throne
You are God alone.

And here is a prayer today for Greg, Joy and James found in Romans 15:13
"May the God of hope fill you with joy and peace as you trust in Him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit."
Amidst all of the overwhelming emotions and all of the questions, may HOPE prevail.

Saturday, July 14, 2007

The Plan of Action

Friday, July 13, 2007 is considered to be James' Day 1 as far as his treatment is concerned. He began receiving chemotherapy on that day as well as steroids and some anti-nausea drugs. On Day 8 James will undergo another bone marrow biopsy. The goal at this point and our prayer is that he will be a fast responder. Currently the blast count in his marrow is at 98% and in his peripheral blood it is at 75%. On Day 8 we want a report of less than 5% as a result of his treatment. If that is the case, he won't undergo another bone marrow biopsy until Day 30. If the result turns out to be unsatisfactory, he would be checked again on Day 14. The doctors will monitor and adjust his treatment as they see fit. The first phase is the Induction Phase and it lasts 30 days.

James had a spinal tap on the 13th as well, and we are still awaiting the results of that. I will update you all on what they are and what they mean when we receive news.

James, Joy and Greg all seemed to be a little more rested Friday and all seemed in better spirits. Continue to pray, they are most grateful and can feel your prayers. Here are some requests to give you a little direction for your prayers.

1. That James will be a fast responder to chemo.
2. That there will be no infection.
3. That there will be zero to minimal side effects.
4. That there will be no adverse/allergic reaction to the chemo drugs.
5. For Joy and Greg to have continued strength.
6. For a healthy pregnancy with gestational diabetes kept in control.

There is so much information that Joy and Greg are receiving daily on what is going on and on how to care for James during this time, please also pray that they are able to learn fast and retain information well. I think they actually have some classes to attend today.

The earliest they will be released to go home is Tuesday or Wednesday of next week.

Please excuse any errors in our blog as we are working hard to get it all correct! (I know I made some mistakes in setting it up, my mind was in a fog and I said Thursday instead of Wednesday, and also that James was diagnosed on the 13th when it was really the 12th. I am new to blogging and will learn how to edit that soon.) I just wanted to get you all the link now and I will get the facts all perfected soon.

Friday, July 13, 2007

My Story

James Gregory Ryan II is our precious blonde haired, blue eyed, tiny little man full of love, smiles and laughter. James was diagnosed with Leukemia on July 12, 2007 at the age of 13 months. Our journey with him through this trial begins here.

Everything is happening so fast, which is probably a blessing in disquise. James is a very active toddler. He, in hindsight, had grown a little more irritable and was bruising more easily. These things were not factors until that Thursday morning he woke up acting very lethargic and was found to have a low grade fever. A trip was planned for the next week, so as most of us parents would, Joy and Greg wavered a little before deciding to take James in to see the pediatrician. Dr. Elahee was in the office and noted that James looked pale. If you are reading at this site, you probably know that being "pale" is pretty normal in their sweet little family. She still decided to do a blood test there in the office. That led to more blood work at the local Woodlands hospital to confirm that James' counts were way off. They were then transferred to the medical center in Houston where they were briefly at a children's hospital just for the evening before they got word that James preliminary diagnosis was indeed Leukemia. A midnight transfer to MD Anderson would take place. James received a blood transfusion to try and raise his platelet counts and help him begin to feel better. After a long night and day there, the diagnosis of Leukemia was confirmed.

Now we await the next steps. The beginning of chemotherapy, more bone marrow testing, and keeping a close watch on those blast cells. (the bad white blood cells) A confirmation of the type of Leukemia is also forthcoming, though it is most likely ALL.
It is a expected to be a long road, but by faith we believe that James, Joy and Greg (and soon to be little Adrianne) will become a stronger family and God will be glorified as James turns into a once again healthy young boy.