Friday, October 30, 2009

Count Update

Good Morning!

We just heard from the clinic and Elena's counts are good to go! Her ANC more than doubled from 410 to 890 and her other counts were all still above where they need to be so we are all set for the next 28 day cycle. We praise God for His healing and restoration powers and are excited that Elena's body has recovered enough to continue. This will be one of the most intense rounds of treatment for Elena, however, and we pray for her strength and stamina to continue to improve. She will have clinic visits on the first four Mondays of November and will be sedated on the first two. She will have shots in her legs three nights a week for the first two weeks and will start a new oral medication during that time as well.

It is so good to see Elena respond so quickly when her counts drop. We do notice improvement in her physical and mental health during these "rest" times and we thank all of you who pray for her healing. God is so Good!!

In Him,
The Tates

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Fall Fun

It's been a rather busy week here at the Tate house, nothing interesting, just the regular parts of life that seem to take up so much time.

Elena went to have her counts checked today. We will find out tomorrow if they are high enough to begin month two of Delayed Intensification. Please pray that her body has recovered enough to begin treatment on Monday!

We meant to send these pictures out Sunday night. Last weekend, we had a great time at our school fall festival on Saturday and more fall fun on Sunday at our neighborhood festival. The girls rode ponies at the school fall fest and had their faces painted at the neighborhood festival. Elena wanted her face painted like a cat. Liv wanted hers painted like a butterfly. At the neighborhood fall fest, Elena was one of the winners in the hula hoop contest and also the pumpkin decorating contest. Enjoy the pics!

Tomorrow, we'll let you know what we find out about Elena and treatment.

As always, thank you for checking in on us!
With much love,
The Tates

Friday, October 23, 2009

Quick Response

Good morning!

We have received the results of Elena's blood test from yesterday. All of her individual counts were good: Plateletes at 167,000 and red cells at 9.7; both much higher than the limits needed for transfusions. Her ANC however, or the combination of all counts, which needs to be at 750 to continue treatment, was only at 410. This is not a bad thing, and there is nothing that needs to be done other than letting Elena's body rest and recover from the intense treatment she has just finished. Her doctor said we will try to get her started sometime later next week like Wednesday or Thursday, instead of Monday as scheduled. Please pray for Elena's physical healing as she deals with the nagging pains in her back and hip. Please also pray for full restoration and rejuvination as we prepare to move forward.

As always, thank you for your prayers and your support. We are blessed to have such a wonderful and steadfast team of prayer warriors.

In His name,
The Tates

"Always be joyful and never stop praying. Whatever happens, keep thanking God because of Jesus Christ. This is what God wants you to do." 1 Th 5:16-18

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Time for an Update

It's been a good week at the Tate house. No chemo this week, just finger sticks for counts.

This week was a one week break for Elena, so her body could recovery from her first month of Delayed Intensification. On Monday, we went to get Elena's counts checked. Tuesday morning, we were told that the sample clotted and they couldn't do the test, so we went back again today. We should know sometime in the morning if her counts are high enough to begin the second month of Delayed Intensification on Monday the 26th
Please pray that if her body is ready, we will continue with her treatment as scheduled.

The first month of this new phase has hit Elena hard both physically and mentally. She has been experiencing pain in her left hip as well as some back pain. The mood swings from the steroids have not been as intense. Praise God! She seems to get more sad than mad. Her appetite has definitely increased while on steroids (a common side effect). She seems to eat non-stop. : ) The most severe and aggravating side effect is sleeplessness. Elena has trouble falling asleep and then when she finally does, she doesn't stay asleep. Please pray that her sleep patterns will quickly return to normal as the steroids leave her body. She took her last dose of steroids Monday night. We hope to be seeing the side effects less over this next week.

Through all of this, we are continually amazed at Elena's attitude and strength. No matter how weak or tired she feels, she still doesn't want to miss school. We know that being with friends and around fabulous teachers is a tremendous help. Speaking of attitude, strength, and fabulous's what one of Elena's PE teachers sent to me today.

"Just wanted to say Elena is absolutely amazing! I know you know that and I'm not telling you anything you don't already know! That child has every reason in the world to complain and not want to do PE but I have yet to hear one single complaint or have her not try what we are doing!!! Today we began kicking skills and were doing ball handling skills with our feet. A lot of the moves require quickness that (as you know) she doesn't have right now. Was she slack and not try everything? NO...she tried every single thing knowing already that she probably couldn't do it! Instead of just stopping she looked at me and said "I can't do that part, so I'll try this". She just automatically adjusted the activity to what worked for her but didn't choose a easy, slacker way out! She still chose something that she really had to work at. AMAZING! I just needed to share that with you."

Yes, I cried when I read it! We are so proud of Elena. We witness much more with her than anyone else has a chance to see. It is heartwarming to hear that she is handling all of this with such grace!

Now, onto an exciting event that took place before school this morning....Elena decided she was ready to cut her "whispies". Those few strands of hair that have never fallen out since her first three months of treatment. She has been pulling these back into a tiny ponytail. While her hair fell out quickly at the beginning of treatment, it actually stopped falling out about three months ago. M
inus the whisps, all of the hair you see in the pics is new growth! Yes, her hair has been growing back to only fall out again. It has already started to come out. Elena is actually ready to be bald. So, we are enjoying this sweet soft duckling fuzz and are looking forward to a sweet bare head to kiss.




We'll let you know what we hear tomorrow about Elena's counts.
Thanks for taking the time to read this LONG post!
Thank you for being such faithful prayer warriors!

With much love,
The Tates

"Be joyful always; pray continually" 1 Thessalonians 4:16-17

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

No News is Good News Part One

Because of its length and the number of pictures, this post has to come to you in two parts : )

While things have been pretty quiet around here, we definitely enjoyed some fall fun on Friday.

We went to the North Ga. mountains where we:
visited a great pumpkin patch
picnicked with friends
gathered acorns
visited Tallulah Gorge State Park
hiked some trails at the state park
climbed down (and back up!) 620 steps to a suspension bridge that crossed the gorge
cooked out with more friends who were camping at the state park
lounged by the campfire
made s'mores
cherished being with our dear friends
loved (and laughed at) the giggles and screams of four precious girls
counted our blessings all the way home late that night!!

Enjoy the pictures! Elena was the photographer of the nature shots. : )


Yes, I have gum in my mouth.

These are heavy!

Oh, happy day!



Some falls at Tallulah Gorge

At the bottom of some falls in the gorge

No News is Good News Part Two

It's hard to believe it has been over a week since we have posted any news!

Since last Monday, October 5th, it has really been rather quiet and happy around the Tate house. School, work, homework, dinner, and family time fill our days. Elena had clinic appointments on Monday the 5th and yesterday the 12th. Both were routine chemo days
. Her counts were great last Monday. Yesterday, all of her counts had dropped, some by half, but that is expected at this point in her treatment. Today, she woke up extremely pale and stayed that way all day. She was very slow moving and asleep before 9pm which is rare lately. Yesterday's round of chemo seems to have hit her much harder, much sooner. She is also back on steroids as of last night. Another 7 days on and then she's off of them for a couple of months. Please pray for the mood swings to be mild and for Elena to have nights filled with renewing sleep. Our last week on steroids was rough on all of us.

A wonderful addition to our clinic visit yesterday was Shannon! She is an incredibly special family friend, who has been with us and there for us over the years. She was in town from college this weekend. While we were happy to see her at church on Sunday, we were even more happy to spend most of the afternoon with her yesterday.

You can see she and Elena here doing homework at the clinic. Yes, Elena was in a Halloween mood with her bat headband. She says clinic visits should be fun!

Here's Shannon and the girls back in August.

Thank you for taking the time to check in on us!
With much love and gratitude,
The Tates

"The Lord your God is with you, He is mighty to save. He will take great delight in you, He will quiet you with His love, He will rejoice over you with singing." Zephaniah 3:17

Saturday, October 3, 2009

Good News

We are praising God for his grace as we end another busy week! Elena had two clinic visits with no complications and the meeting for Olivia's academic progress went very well.

Elena was back at the clinic to receive her PEG shots yesterday afternoon and did wonderful. Everything went well with no signs of a reaction and we were home by 4:30pm, before Friday traffic reached its peak! That made a big difference in Elena's attitude and the rest of the evening. She is back on the steroid for a 7 day on / 7 day off cycle for the next three weeks and they tend to make her a little moody. Mood swings are hard for all four of us! Elena's next clinic visit is on Monday.
This will be her third clinic in an 8 day period. She will receive two types of chemo in her port over about 20 minutes. Please pray that her body will be able to handle all of this chemo and that her will remains strong. Pray for patience and guidance as she continues to juggle the necessity of her treatment along with her schoolwork and the happenings of everyday life in general.

Liv's meeting at school on Wednesday went great. She has (we have) been blessed with a wonderful caring teacher! Her teacher was already doing great things in the classroom to help Liv. Our main concerns are Liv's slow processing speed and ability to shift between tasks. They are having an impact on her learning new things and her reading comprehension. Her reading fluency is also extremely slow. Please pray for Liv to be happy and do well in school and for us to have a clear picture of what the next steps are when we meet again in November. Please pray that Liv's teacher will be able to make the needed accommodations for Liv in class and document her progress without adding any stress to her own life.

We are blessed with an amazing group of people at Christy's work/the girls' school who truly love our girls (and us), pray for us, feed us three meals a week, and are there no matter the need, large or small. It makes our lives easier, more peaceful, and less stressful knowing that there are people who have contact with our girls each day who really care for them. Thankfully, God has surrounded us with many special people here on earth to help us make it through this.

Thank you for checking on us!
With much love and thankfulness,
The Tates