Amazing Kids

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Yesterday was a difficult day. We found out that a young friend (only 16) lost his battle with cancer. There are no adequate  words to give comfort to his grieving family. Nothing you can do to help ease them through this time. But we say the words anyway. We offered our love, prayers, and support. And still my heart is breaking. In the midst of all that sorrow, we had a meeting planned for a cancer fundraiser. There were thoughts of canceling, but in the end, pushing forward is all you can do. There isn’t a moment to lose in this fight, as we were reminded yesterday.

So with a heavy heart, I met with about 14 teenagers last night to show them how they can make a difference. Those young, fresh faces bolstered my spirits like probably nothing else could have. Having Austin and David surrounded by their friends working to find a cure was a balm to my soul. And I was overwhelmed by the parental support. There were probably about 10 parents who stayed to learn more and offer their help. The kids decided to do a membership challenge to bring in more students to help with their cause. They elected officers and talked about what jobs they wanted to do. They are eager to get started, and I’m eager to help them.

I’ll post more here and on Facebook as they work toward their fundraising goals, but I just wanted to put a little note in today.

Old friends

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This past weekend, I got to visit with one of my oldest friends, Pam. It was a very purposeful visit. We had been saying we should see each other for a long time now, but life kept throwing up road blocks. It was easy enough to say “another time” and let the window of opportunity close. But right now, with what life is throwing at us, I felt a strong need to see her.

Life has been throwing some stuff at her, too, but  recently it’s been the good kind of stuff. She’s finally settling into the life I know she’s always wanted. Always deserved. She’s got a nice home, great husband, and an adorable baby. Life is good. And because I know that to be fundamentally true, I wanted to go and see her living that good life.  I wanted to see it because I know that not that long ago it wasn’t that way.

For years, Pam searched for the right person to be her partner in life. She didn’t find him quickly, and I know that it was hard for her to find the right man. When she finally did, and they wanted to start a family, they had trouble. They decided to adopt, but that is a long, arduous process. From the little I know of it, I wonder how they managed to put up with the endless questions and forms. Somehow they did, and they were rewarded with a beautiful baby who has been a part of their lives for almost two years now. Almost two years old, and I just got the pleasure of meeting her for the first time.

I’m sorry that I didn’t make the time to meet Emmalee sooner, and that I haven’t seen my friend in so long, but I am so thankful that we had time with them this weekend. What a joy this little one is to them and the world around her. How cathartic it was for me to just be able to spend a little time in this joyous home. Truly they have been blessed and those hardships they endured were to help them appreciate the wonderful family they have now.

There are struggles right now that I wish were weren’t facing. But we are. David has cancer. He and his family and friends are struggling to keep up with the reality that his body is throwing at us. We don’t know what the future holds. We only know that this is a fight that we must win. How we will get through it remains to be seen. But God will guide us through it. And we will have joy as we journey because He has helped us see the blessings in our daily lives.

Radiation

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Today’s radiation appointment took much longer than normal. Still nothing to complain about, but we were in the waiting room for almost an hour. Part of that was because we were 25 minutes early (yes, Mom, I was EARLY). The waiting room was really crowded and we were the only ones not participating in a rather lively discussion about cancer, its treatment, and side effects. David and I were the youngest two people in the room most of the time, with the average age being closer to 55, I’d say. It was enlightening, to say the least, and I’m not sure what David’s opinion was, but it made me pretty thankful that he has handled his treatment so well so far.

We had hoped to get out of his appointment early enough to go by Gayle Middle School, but that didn’t happen. As it was, we were lucky to get him to his 3rd block class in time. He stayed after school and did his tutoring there today (as opposed to doing it at Mark’s house), and Mark picked him up after school. I picked Austin up after school and took her to the eye doctor. It’s always fun to have a few minutes alone with Austin – even if it’s just for a doctor’s appointment. She really has a great sense of humor.

I dropped her off at Mark’s and talked to Susan about the plans for the rest of the week. With teenagers, there’s always a lot of coming and going, but ours has taken on a different slant. I miss soccer practice (and all that it stands for) more than I can say! Austin is taking tennis lessons right now, and loving it, so at least we have that much “normal”.

Tonight was teacher conferences, and I decided at the last minute to make some appointments and go. I’m around the school a lot, but there are still a few teachers that I hadn’t really gotten to talk to. I only met with a handful, but it was nice to hear that the kids are on track. I know their report cards kind of tell you that, but I like to make sure we are all on the same page. Also, we’ve got some fun trips planned for the kids so I wanted to make sure they were poised to miss a few days of school. I’m happy to report that they are both doing really well and shouldn’t have any problem missing a few days and keeping up with their work.

They will be going with their dad down to Key Largo for about a week at the beginning of December, and then they will leave a little early for Christmas break to go with Richard and I to San Diego and then Kansas. I’m sure this holiday season will be one to remember!

Weekends

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I’m sorry that there haven’t been a lot of updates to the blog the last few days. My time with David always seems to be too brief, so there aren’t always a lot of interesting things to share.

David had an exciting weekend, though. Some friends from California, the Hiratas, came to visit. They spent the day with David at his dad’s house on Saturday. I was able to see them for a little while on Sunday, and that was really nice. David went to DC on Sunday to meet Chef Jose Andres. I haven’t gotten the full scoop on that yet, but it sounds like they all had a good time. Austin took some pictures, so I will try to get copies of those and post a couple.

I get to drive David to his appointment this morning, so I’m off! Only a few things are worth getting up this early for, but my family is definitely one of them!

Anything Can Happen If You Let It

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I love going to New York City. Love it, love it, love it. And so does my daughter, Austin. And my husband, Richard. But David? Not so much. He  does, however, love food and theater enough to “put up” with Manhattan’s lack of trees and nature in general.

So when the chance popped up to go to NYC to see Mary Poppins with the original “Bert”, we jumped at the chance. It was the perfect quick trip, with a comfy room at the Marriott Marquis, wonderful fresh & organic food, a quick visit with friends, and Row F center seats for Mary.

I had read a lot about the show online, and talked to several friends who had seen it, so I was pretty sure it was going to be an uplifting show. It didn’t disappoint. The cast was simply amazing, and the set was phenomenal. The energy from the whole musical was just the thing we needed, and the lyrics from one of the songs really made an impression. I’d like to share them with you:

Anything can happen if you let it
Sometimes things are difficult but you can bet it
Doesn’t have to be so
Changes can be made
You can move a mountain if you use a larger spade
Anything can happen, it’s a marvel
You can be a butterfly
Or just stay larval
Stretch your mind beyond fantastic
Dreams are made of strong elastic

Take some sound advice and don’t forget it
Anything can happen if you let it

I wonder…
Anything can happen if you let it
You won’t know a challenge until you’ve met it
No one does it for you
No one but yourself
Vacillating violets get left up on the shelf
Anything can happen, just imagine

That should be epitaph
I wear the badge in
Honour of this world’s free thinkers
Those who see beyond their blinkers

Jelly isn’t jelly
‘Til you set it
Anything can happen if you let it

Anything can happen if you let it
What good is a whistle
Unless you whet it

Broaden your horizons
Open different doors
You may find a you there that you never knew was yours

Anything can happen
Raise the curtain
Things you though impossible
Will soon seem certain
Thought at first it may sound clownish
See the world more upside-downish
Turn it on its head then pirouette it
Anything can happen if you let it

If you reach for the stars
All you get are the stars
But we’ve found a whole new spin
If you reach for the heavens
You get the stars thrown in

You get the stars thrown in

If you reach for the stars
All you get are the stars
But we’ve found a whole new spin
If you reach for the heavens
You get the stars thrown in

Anything can happen if you let it
Life is out there waiting so go and get it
Grab it by the collar, seize it by the scruff
Once you’ve started living life you just can’t get enough

Anything can happen, it’s official
You can choose the super or the superficial
Sally forth the way we’re steering
Obstacles start disappearing
Go and chase your dreams you won’t regret it
Anything can happen
(Anything can happen)
Anything can happen

Anything can happen
If you let it

One of my favorite lines is “the way we’re steering
Obstacles start disappearing”. I see that as a perfect line for this battle that we are fighting. The obstacles are there, sure, but we’re going to steer past them.

David's always game for a laugh!

We believe in magic and miracles.

Extra Attention

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The local news did a story on David, and between that and the link on Caring Bridge, he’s been getting quite a bit of extra attention. He appreciates everyone’s thoughts, but I’m not sure he quite knows what to do about being in the spotlight. In typical David fashion, he’s done a good job of shifting the attention away from himself. I was impressed with how well he handled himself in front of the camera. He’s always had a good “stage presence” and I’m sure that will serve him well later in life.

David went to youth group tonight with some of his buddies. He really really enjoys the time with just his teen peers without the pressures of school. I’m so glad that he has that outlet. They are reading a book called “Crazy Love” and it seems to have some really relevant messages for all of them, but especially David.

He’s looking forward to a day off from school tomorrow. His dad has an outing planned for their family after we get back from David’s radiation appointment.

It’s been a fairly “normal” few days, but then again, “normal” has a whole new meaning for us these days.

Students Supporting Brain Tumor Research

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There are some kids in Arizona making a big difference in the world of brain tumor research, and you can help them. Please go the the link below and vote for them to receive funding from the Pepsi Refresh program:

http://www.refresheverything.com/ssbtr

It’s a simple thing to do, and it can make a big difference!

Small World

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We found out a few weeks ago that there is another boy battling brain cancer here in Fredericksburg. He attends the same middle school that David attended. Today, they held a dance as a fundraiser for him. I was fortunate enough to be able to attend and see the outpouring of love the school and community has for Tyler.

This type of cancer is a very intangible thing. There is no open wound to heal. No broken bones in a cast. The battle is being waged deep inside the body, and we can only see the manifestation when it has gotten bad. And it is almost the same with the prayer that is going on for the benefit of these kids fighting the battle. It’s a spiritual war that is being waged, and the kids (and parents) don’t necessarily see or know who is fighting. But today was a very strong visual for Tyler of who is fighting on his behalf. I hope his parents were as encouraged as I was, because I know for every person there, there were 10 more who couldn’t make it.

I’ve prayed for people in the past, and I never let them know I was praying. I guess it never occurred to me that they needed to know. And I guess on one level, they didn’t. But now being in this position has taught me that people are so comforted by the fact that they are being prayed for. There are times when you think that surely everyone has moved on with their lives and forgotten, and then someone will send a card or post something on Facebook just to let you know they’re still praying. I know now how much that means, and I will try to be more diligent about it in the future.

As for David, I only had a few minutes with him today. I picked both kids up after school and drove them to their dad’s house. They were both excited for the weekend and had a good end to their school week. David’s hair loss is a little more substantial, but it’s cut so short that you hardly notice.

Christian Schmidt

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There is a young man from my hometown named Christian Schmidt. He fought a battle with cancer, and unfortunately, he lost that battle earlier this week. It saddens me that the world lost such a special young man, but I know he is in a better place and that he was ready to go there. In his honor, and in an attempt to help people understand how you can see anything as a blessing, I am sharing this note from Christian’s Facebook page. Christian was very public about his faith, and wrote these notes as a testament to that faith. I’m sure he would be happy to have it shared far and wide, so please feel free to share this story:

Hope isn’t around the corner…. It’s staring you in the face

by Christian Schmidt on Tuesday, November 25, 2008 at 5:11pm
“Pain. Inexplicable, unrelenting, excruciating pain. It consumes every fabric of your being from the very depths of your soul to the tips of your long fingertips. Blinding you with a chaos of darkness surely to overcome you and blot out in any shred of light that remains. You try to remember when it wasn’t there, you can’t. You try to look forward to when it will be gone, you don’t know if you will make it to then. 

Today when I went to get my second round of chemo there were some complications. I won’t go into to details for several reasons, but let’s just say it hurt. Hurt would actually be an understatement, I’m kind of sad to admit but I started to cry because it hurt so much. While it was happening I was trying to put my mind elsewhere and keep it up off of the pain. Most of the time I couldn’t, the pain would draw me in like a prison with no release. But at other times I would start to sing a song God gave me, and it always pulled me through for just a little while, to sustain me, to hold on when there was no railing to hold on to. It lasted for about 1 to 2 hours, the pain level varying, until we had the fixed the problem and almost immediately i felt 100 times better. Then about a minute later all the pain was gone. I had started to sweat and breathe hard and I felt amazing. No amazing is not a strong enough word i felt fantabulous. When in all reality I just felt normal, and if nothing went wrong I wouldn’t even notice it. But after going through the pain, the normal was incredibly. The dull, everyday feelings made we want to jump an down with excitement and praise God. And in comparison I felt bad for only 1 to 2 hours but felt great from then. So you see that because I suffered for a short amount of time I ended up loving the rest of the time and being thankful. So when the pain does come, don’t be afraid and don’t back down, for the rewards are fascinating. Be thankful for everything, we overlook how much we really have to appreciate.

Hope. Unbreakable, undeniable, unstoppable hope. It surrounds us in its loving arms and never lets go. The brightest of the stars cannot contain the amount of light hope disperses.
A single flicker of a candle can dispel an entire cave of darkness. Hope beat Pain yesterday, Hope beats Pain today, and Hope will always beat pain. Hold on to hope.”

As you pray tonight, please remember the family and friends of Christian Schmidt, and all cancer patients and their families. It’s by God’s grace alone that any of us get through these situations.

Kindness

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David had a fairly uneventful visit to the radiology department this morning. His visit went quickly, and he and I enjoyed a little quality time in the car. (We dropped Richard off at the airport to go to Wichita for a few days.) After school, I got to pick him and Austin up and take them to their dad’s house. Mark started back to work, and Susan had gone to pick up their step-sister, so they had a few minutes home alone. As teenagers, I’m sure they were happy about that.

Facing this challenge with David has made me really stop and look at him a little more each day. I’ve gotta tell you that I am so proud of who he is. Today as we walked through the hospital, I kept turning around to find him stopped somewhere behind me holding open a door for someone. As we exited an elevator, these two older ladies needed some help finding their way. We tried to help, but in the end, didn’t know where they needed to go. We pointed them in the direction for help, but didn’t really give them the answer. I was a little chagrined that we didn’t actually help them, and David said, “but Mom, we TRIED to help them. That’s what really counts.”

I know his intention there was golden, but it got me thinking. Is trying to help really enough? If we make a donation to a charity or volunteer once or twice a year, is that enough? We try to help, but I think real help might be going the distance, pushing beyond the quick fix and into the real meat of the problem. I know we aren’t all doctors or scientists, but God has given each of us a special talent (or ten). Are we using those talents to the best of our abilities to help others? Or are we just going through the motions. David and I are big Star Wars fan, and as Yoda would say, “Do or do not. There is no try.”

We need to find a cure for brain cancer. There is precious little being done to stop this deadly disease. There are some unique characteristics (like the blood/brain barrier) that make this cancer harder to treat than a lot of others. Does that mean we just “try” to fix it? Or are we going to get serious and go after a cure? I’m not trying to belittle what is being done already. There are a lot of people – researchers, doctors, volunteers – who have made it their life’s work to cure brain cancer. But they desperately need our help.

I have some ideas, and have a couple of charities that I would like to start working with. You may even see an event or a special request come through from me. Because I want to help. Not just try. Really help. I hope you will choose to do the same.