Friends

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I heard this great song yesterday, and I wanted to share the lyrics:

“You find out who your friends are
Somebody’s gonna drop everything
Run out and crank up their car
Hit the gas, get there fast
Never stop to think ‘what’s in it for me?’ or ‘it’s way too far’
They just show on up with their big old heart
You find out who your friends are”

It’s a country song, kind of a “good ‘ol boy” thing, but it made me tear up. We have so many friends (and family) who would drop everything to help us. It’s really pretty amazing, and I’m just awed and thankful every day.

It’s been a pretty busy week. Austin made the tennis team, and I was able to see her for a few minutes to congratulate her. I’m hoping to go out to celebrate with her sometime soon. David got to drive to school and to youth group this week. He’s not driving every day, but he is getting out on his own a little bit. Independence is a very good thing for a teenager.

Jennifer and I went to the school board meeting this week. The parents, teachers, and students that came were able to convince the school board to build a new Stafford High School – not remodel the current one. It still has to be passed by the County Board of Supervisors, but we’re making progress. The new school won’t be built in time to make a difference for David and Austin, but it will make a difference for a lot of kids in the future.

I also went to the Senior Karaoke Night at the high school. Almost all of the kids I’ve met from the school were there. It was a fun time for them. I love it when the school is able to engage kids in cool activities that will make memories for them for years to come. This was one of those nights, and I’m glad I was able to see it.

 

Trip to Wichita

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This past weekend we were able to take a quick trip to Wichita with David. Unfortunately, Austin had tennis tryouts and was unable to accompany us. It’s always more fun when we have the whole family together, but I guess as the kids get older that just won’t always be possible.

Anyway, we had a really fun weekend with friends. We had a cooking adventure with our “family”, Elizabeth, Mayumi, and Maddy. The girls acted as Sous Chefs while Elizabeth offered helpful tips to help Chef David get the very best results. This was the second attempt at apple fritters, and they were much easier to make with all the extra help! Lots of taste testing was needed – so much that we had to call in Richard, Everett, and Everett, Jr. to give them a try. Everyone thought that the fritters were delicious.

We got to have dinner with Kinsley and her boyfriend. We had lunch with Briston and one of his good friends. We also had some time to visit with the Wickhams and the Haralson families. We have such great neighbors in Kansas. Unfortunately, we didn’t get to see any others, but hopefully we’ll be back there soon.

We also took a crowd to see “Gnomeo and Juliet”. It was very cute, and very well received by the elementary crowd. The teenagers tried to play it cool, but I saw them laughing, too.

When we got back to Virginia, we got David a NEW PHONE! For those of you who are friends with him, you’ll know that his old phone didn’t get any signal at his dad’s house, so the new phone should make a big difference in how well he is able to communicate with his friends. Who knows, maybe he’ll even call his mom every now and then! :o)

Vaccine #3

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We met Mark and David at the hospital this morning. There’s not a lot that we really “do” at these appointments. They take David’s vitals, and we get his official weight. He has been holding pretty steady, but he actually gained a pound since his last vaccine. That is a good thing because he’s always been kind of thin, and having a little extra weight on you is a good thing when you’re being treated for cancer. (Notice I said a “little” – too much weight isn’t good for anybody!)

Anyway, they take his vitals and then take us to a patient room. A couple of different staff members stop by and do neuro checks (finger to nose, finger to finger, walk in a straight line). Then we see the doctor in charge of the study. Today she said that David’s MRI looked almost exactly the same. That is good news. At this point, there is still a lot of swelling, and they don’t expect it to look better. She has told us a few times that the brain is a terrible housekeeper, and that it will take a while for the “mess” from surgery and radiation to get cleaned up. She seemed happy with what she saw; so we are happy, too.

In the meanwhile, David is doing extremely well. He brought home straight As on his report card, and he is going to school nearly full time. His dad even let him drive to school one day recently.

We know there’s still a battle ahead, but so far, so good!

We returned to Virginia and were greeted by a stack of envelopes for SSBTRVA! Looks like supporters from a few different states. I’ll sort it out by early next week – busy weekend – but thank you all in advance!

Faith

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You should consider yourself fortunate if you have a job that you like. You are far more fortunate indeed if you love it. And if, in addition to loving your work, you work with people who round out your life and make it more complete, then there is nothing more you should seek from your professional world. I find that I am in that most fortunate of positions. Every day, there is some message or kind word from one of the many people we work with and it reminds me how much we have to be truly thankful for.

Today we were able to meet with a number of folks that we don’t get to see very often. But they are kind hearted, caring people who manage to be genuinely friendly in addition to doing their jobs. And they are human. Facing their own set of trials, even as they ask us about ours. I pray tonight for one of those kind souls. His family is also staring cancer in the face, but with a much older family member. It’s a tough battle for them, and my heart is breaking for them as they make some difficult decisions. Even in the midst of that fight, he took the time to really share his faith with us (Richard and I) today. It meant a lot to us, and I hope it gave him some comfort as well.

As for progress on our side, David had another MRI this evening. His dad drove him to Pittsburgh, and we will meet them at the hospital in the morning to hear the results from the doctor. I will post another update tomorrow night after we drive back to Virginia. Thanks for being out there for us during all of this. I can’t tell you how comforting it is to know so many people care.

School days

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I haven’t seen the kids in a few days. Over a week, actually. Everyone is encouraging me to be “normal” and so I left Virginia for a little while to go home. It’s hard not being there – even though there is little time that I can spend with them and not much I can do to make the situation better. Anyone who has ever been far from family can relate. In times of crisis, you want to be there. Cancer is just an extended period of crisis, in a way. David is doing well, but I still feel the strong need to be there in case he wants to talk. Or if Austin wants to talk. Or go for a drive. Or an ice cream. Anything really, just to feel close to them.

They are doing so well with all of this. Austin is making pretty much honor roll grades (haven’t seen the latest report card yet) and is trying out for the tennis team soon. She’s starting to show signs of the adult she could become, and I’m excited to see that maturity starting to come about.

David is also making very good grades, in spite of missing the first three weeks of school, and then another in December (that time for fun, though). He should also have all As and Bs, but he has had little time to pursue many extra curricular activities. He told me last night, though, that he is starting to get up a little earlier (i.e. not sleeping quite as long) and that he is going to try to make it to his first period class. He is already attending 3 out of 4 classes each day. So this would mean he would be on a fairly normal school schedule, and he wouldn’t have to do so much after school tutoring. A very good thing!

I appreciate all of you who have taken the time to let us know you are praying. We believe that God has a plan for all of us and that we were put in this situation for a reason. He has taught us many lessons, and continues to work with us each day. I am so encouraged by the faith you are sharing with us. Thank you all very much!