Monday, November 30, 2009

Ready. Set. Don't go.

Elena was all set for her clinic visit this morning and was ready to get started with her next phase of treatment. Unfortunately her body was just not ready to go yet. Her red cell counts were good and her platelets had risen from 21,000 to 94,000, but her white cell count was still well below the lower limit for starting. More time to rest and recover. We will check her counts again this coming Friday in hopes of starting next Monday. Please pray for her body to recover and for her to stay healthy during this time of low immunity.

In Him,
The Tates

"We humans make plans, but the Lord has the final word. Share your plans with the Lord, and you will succeed." Proverbs 16:1,3

Sunday, November 29, 2009

A Night Out

Last week, we were fortunate to be able to attend the premiere night of the Radio City Music Hall Christmas Spectacular featuring the Rockettes. This evening was a benefit for Children's Healthcare of Atlanta (CHOA). Elena was given the tickets during one of her clinic visits. The event was downtown at the fabulous Fox Theatre. The girls had never been to the Fox before. It was a lot of fun to get dressed up and enjoy a wonderful night out together. The show was absolutely incredible. The finale was a live nativity scene including animals, even camels. It was pretty amazing and very beautiful. It reminded us about the true meaning of Christmas and that the greatest gift is Jesus himself.

Ready for our night out

Inside the Fox Theatre

Ready for some beauty sleep on the ride home
The girls got the sleep masks at a slumber party.

They really did fall asleep on the way home!

The girls were really wiped out with a late night and then school the next day, but they had a great time. We spent the rest of the week and most of this past week taking it easy and resting up for the coming months. It will be a busy time for us with Elena's treatment protocol and the holidays competing for our attention.

Elena is scheduled to start her next phase of treatment tomorrow morning at 9:30 with sedation and a lumbar puncture provided her counts have rebounded enough to move ahead. Her ANC was at 0 last week and must be above 750 to start this phase.
Once she gets started she will go every ten days for two 28 day cycles. Please pray for God's hand to be working in our lives as we continue this uncertain journey we are on and for Elena to have peace about her treatment. We pray for continued good health for Elena and that she continue to be able to tolerate her chemo and fight this awful disease.

We are so thankful to have the love and support of our family and friends to help eradicate the feeling that we are going through this alone. We know that as long as we have God with us and our family of believers by our side, we can do anything!

In Him,
The Tates

"...but with God all things are possible." Matthew 19:26

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Happy Thanksgiving!

We come to you today happy to be giving thanks!

Elena had a clinic visit yesterday morning; one in which we were fully expecting to be an all day affair. We just knew that with her platelet counts being so low the week before that she would be needing a transfusion. To our complete surprise and gratitude, Elena's platelet and red blood counts have held steady. Praise God! She received a chemo push through her port and was good to go. It was so nice to have a fast and easy visit after such a hard week last week! This was the last treatment of the DI phase for this round and Elena's next phase is count dependent with a tentative date of Nov. 30th, provided her counts are where they need to be to start. While her counts were above transfusion levels, they were still well below the 750 ANC and 75,000 platelets needed to start Interim Maintenance. Her ANC has actually dropped to 0, the lowest it has been, which means Elena basically has no white blood cells in her body to fight off infection. With that being said, we are taking precautions to keep Elena's risk of exposure to any disease at a minimum for the immediate future. Please pray for rapid improvement in Elena's counts and for a germ free environment in the interim.

We are so thankful that this time of isolation comes at such a welcomed date with school out for the Thanksgiving holidays! We plan to use this down time to rest and recover as we reflect on all of our many blessings, of which all of you are a part! We thank you for all you do and give thanks for your presence in our lives. Our God is an Awesome God, and we give Him all of the glory and the honor and the praise for He is Good!!

In His Holy Name,
The Tates

"Thanks be to God! He gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ." 1 Corinthians 15:57

Monday, November 16, 2009

Another Monday Update

Here's the last of our marathon picture posting tonight!

A mini glimpse into "A Day at the Clinic":

Elena getting her port accessed

All accessed!

Elena's cheerleaders
Mom, Dad, and Aunt Stacee

Waiting patiently the hour and a half
after receiving two chemo shots
one in each thigh, at the same time
Sorry, no pictures of that!

Our beautiful girl on the ride home
after another long day at the clinic

Today's clinic visit was a good one. As is usually the case at the clinic, Elena tried to practice the fruits of the Spirit: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control (Galatians 5:22-23). After battling fevers and severe headaches for a week, her spirits are good, her strength is returning, and we continue on this journey.

Once again, we never tire of saying thank you. Thank you to everyone who lifts us up in prayer each day and who are traveling this road with us. We thank God for you and His provision of spiritual, physical, and emotional support He gives us through you! As always, thank you for taking the time to see how we are doing.

Please pray for Elena to continue to grow stronger, both mentally and physically, for her return to school to be a smooth one (possibly three tests this week!!), for renewed strength and deep sleep for all four of us, and for Liv to not get lost or especially feel lost in this new life of ours. We have several fun events planned for this week and weekend, please pray that we are able to enjoy them all.

In Him,
The Tates

"Because of the Lord's great love we are not consumed, for His compassions never fail. They are new every morning; great is your faithfulness." Lamentations 3:22-23

Back to Weekend Fun!

After a really rough week, it was great
to enjoy the beautiful weather Sunday!

Playing in the largest leaf pile ever! Thanks Mr. Ken!

Enjoying a dip in the leaves!

We had fun playing soccer with our friends!
Go Liv! Score!
Cool hat!
What sweet sisters!
Glad we caught that on film!

Rough Week - Last Week

Last Monday, November 9th,
about to be sedated...

Another night of getting a chemo shot at home
None of us like these!
We have to call in extra handholders!

And we thank God for those hands to hold!

Midnight in the ER 11/11- getting IV antibiotics

Friday Night Fun with Friends

Elena and Uncle Rocky with
matching haircuts
November 6th

Say cheese!

This is how we all feel at the end of the week!

Photo Update

Here are some pictures
from November 2nd and 3rd:

At the clinic two weeks ago, waiting to be sedated

Playing the bongo drums

Elena and friends rocking out at the clinic
(yes, while hooked up to her IV chemo)

Liv waiting patiently at the hair salon

A final trim by the same stylist
who gave Elena her first haircut years ago

Thanks Stephanie!

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Good News!

A quick update from the end of the week here at the Tate house:

While Elena continued to run a fever off and on for the rest of the week, she has not had one since Friday afternoon. Praise God! We thought we were headed back to the ER on Thursday night because her fever spiked, but her Oncologist happened to be the on call doctor and he explained to us that he thought the fevers and headaches were side effects from the ARaC shots and as she had taken her last one that night, that she would start to show signs of improvement late Friday and over the weekend. As we are getting further away from that last shot his diagnosis is proving to be correct. Another answered prayer as Elena is feeling better and better.

Olivia also had a doctor visit this week for a re-check of what we think was a spider bite on her left arm and it is healing nicely.

It is going to be a beautiful weekend here and we plan on taking advantage of these late Indian Summer days. We hope you enjoy this weekend where ever you may be, and we thank you for taking the time to spend with us!

In Him,
The Tates

"So then, just as you received Christ Jesus as Lord, continue to live in him, rooted and built up in him, strengthened in the faith as you were taught, and overflowing with thankfulness."
Colossians 2:6-7

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Good Morning!

We are home from the ER where we had an expedited visit. We arrived around 9:45 pm and were seen by a doctor almost immediately. Elena's temp had risen to 38.6 by then and her head was really hurting. She was given a dose of Tylenol and her port was accessed for a blood draw and to receive an IV antibiotic. While that was running she was taken to radiology for a CT scan. The scan was clear except for a little sinus congestion on her left side. Her blood work came back clear as well, and her spinal fluid from Monday's LP was good. This was all great news and Elena was released to go home at around 12:45 am to sleep in her own bed! Praise God!

Elena had a pretty good morning of rest, but is still running a fever, though it is down to 37.9, and is still having headaches. The doctors seem to think that this is all being caused by a sinus infection and have prescribed an oral antibiotic for her. Please pray for Elena's fever to subside and for her headaches to cease so that she may get the rest that she needs to continue fighting this disease. We gave her the ARaC shot at home before we left last night and she is still scheduled to have it the next two nights along with her chemo pills. Please also pray for Elena's strength and courage to sustain her and for patience and guidance for all of us during this difficult time.

In His Love,
The Tates

"Praise be to the Lord, for he has heard my cry for mercy. The Lord is my strength and my shield; my heart trusts in him,and I am helped. My heart leaps for joy and I will give thanks to him in song." Psalm 28:6-7

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Prayer Request

A quick update:

Elena stayed home today. She continued to have headaches and be nauseous overnight last night. She was very weak and tired. She went back to sleep about 6:30 this morning. We were counting our blessings that this is the first day this year that she has had to miss due to fatigue and sickness. She slept until 10 am and seemed to feel better as the day went on. She continued to have headaches and had little to no appetite. At 5 this evening, she began to run a fever. We monitored her and she continued to run a fever. At 7:45 pm we called the doctor on call and were told to go ahead and head to the ER at Scottish Rite. We are thankful that this is only our third fever visit to the ER, however the fear and anxiety are still present.

Please pray for peace of mind, a safe trip to the ER, and for Elena's counts to be strong enough that they will not admit her to the hospital

In Him,
The Tates

Monday, November 9, 2009

Time for a refill

Today was another long but productive day spent at the clinic. Elena was scheduled for a 9:30 am sedation with a lumbar puncture and an IV shot of chemo. The actual procedure usually lasts less than 10 minutes. We were planning on being done in time to enjoy lunch together before she went back to school for the afternoon. That was before she woke up with a headache and feeling nauseated. She had actually been having headaches on and off over the weekend that we attributed to her having Cytoxan, Cytarabine shots 4 days in a row and being a little stuffy. As it turns out, it was a combination of those things along with the fact that she was anemic as well. Elena's hemoglobin had dropped below the 8.0 mark to 7.2. That meant that she would be needing a blood transfusion after her sedation and chemo. The first part of the day went as scheduled and Elena did great. She was not happy to learn that we would be staying for quite a bit longer, however, and she was still feeling puny. She told me she "just wanted to go home and lay on the couch, watch a movie, eat popcorn and rest". I didn't blame her one bit, but we settled for a hospital bed in room #3 with chips and queso dip from Moe's while she watched Disney and filled her tank.

That process was delayed a little because of the fact that no one knew Elena would need a transfusion and they had to cross match her blood type and get it ordered from the bank. This gave us time to collect ourselves, get some lunch and settle in for the rest of the afternoon. By 1:30 pm Elena was hooked up and the 3 plus hour process was started. It was amazing to watch the transformation in Elena as her body slowly recovered. You could almost see the color come back into her features as the blood flowed out of the bag and into her body. By the time she was done her head felt much better, she wasn't nauseated and she was even talking about getting home in time for dance! We left the hospital at 4:45, an hour before dance practice, and I tried talking Elena into that rest she was so high on earlier in the day the whole way home. She would have none of it! We made it home in 45 minutes, which gave her plenty of time to change for dance and to have a snack before going.
Praise God! This girl is truly incredible!

It is amazing what we can do when we are running on a full tank! So often we don't even realize that we are running on empty and desperately need to be filled. We are so thankful that God is in control and knows exactly what we need and when we need it. We pray for His will in our lives and ask for His guidance and wisdom to lead us toward the right path. Today was a great example of how He cares for us in all things! We celebrate His love for us!

In Him,
The Tates

"Humble yourselves, therefore, under God's mighty hand, that he may lift you up in due time. Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you." 1 Peter 5:6-7

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

One down, less to go!

Monday was a long yet productive day! Elena was in and out of sedation by 10:45 and was in her room having grits by 11:00 am. She did really well earlier in the morning watching others eat breakfast and knowing that she had to wait. I don't think that there was even one "that's not fair." The nurses had Elena "hooked up" to her IV even before she was completely awake from the sedation and she spent the next 5 hours receiving her chemo and fluids.

Having to drag her IV stand with her wherever she went didn't seem to slow her down a bit either. Once she heard that there was a "live" band out in the main gathering area, two guys with guitars and a sound system, she wanted to go check them out. They were affiliated with a group that plays songs for children in the hospital and out at camps and they were quite good. They knew all of the "cool" songs the kids knew, and even a few of the ones us older folks grew up on. They also encouraged the kids to play instruments along with them and to grab a mike and sing along. After listening for a while, and playing some mean bongo drums, Elena did get up and sing a few songs with another little girl. They were great! They got more than one standing ovation from the nurses station. It was a lot of fun and helped us pass the time. We will post pictures soon!

Elena was finally released at around 4:15 and we were home by 5:30 with dinner waiting for us. Thank you all for everything you do to help keep things manageable for us. Elena was tired after this long day and she went to bed pretty easily that night. She did wake up around 12:30am with a headache and was up for a little while before settling. She woke up the next morning still a little tired but wanted to go to school. She is such a trooper! She stayed at school all day and was very happy at home while doing her homework. That took a brief downturn after dinner when she found out that we had to give her a shot at home, but she rebounded quickly after the shot and had a better night's rest last night. She wanted to thank her handholder for coming over and helping her get through that. :-)

We are constantly amazed by the love and support we receive from friends and family. Now I'm not saying that this is "fun" by any means, but I know for a fact that things are much better than they would be if we had to go through this alone. Thank you! Thank you! Thank you!

In Him,
The Tates

"Let every living creature praise the Lord. Shout Praises to the Lord!" Psalms 150:6

Sunday, November 1, 2009


Last night, we had a fun Halloween evening. Elena's costume was planned around her wheelchair...she decided to be a cheerleader with a broken leg. Liv wanted to be a cheerleader too. Our easiest costume year ever. A HUGE thank you to our sweet friends who loaned us the uniforms!

We enjoyed dinner with friends before the dads headed out with the children to trick-or-treat, while the moms stayed back to pass out candy. The rainy weather kept many trick-or-treaters at home or at least off our street. However, our kids came home a little wet, bags loaded with candy, and big happy grins on their faces. We are truly blessed with great neighbors!
It was a great night!

Tomorrow is Elena's first day of month two of Delayed Intensification. It will be a long day for her. First, she will be sedated to receive chemo in her spine. Then, she will be given a shot in her port as well as a hour long IV of another type of chemo called Cytoxan. This drug is harmful to your kidneys, so Elena will first receive a hour of fluids before receiving the chemo and then three hours of fluids after the chemo is given. Please pray for a great night's rest, for Elena to not be hungry in the morning, (since she is being sedated, she can't eat, but her appointment is not until 9:30!), strength to manage the day, peace that only comes from God and no bad side effects. This round also brings us back to giving chemo shots at home. She already started getting anxious about that tonight. We will have to give them to her Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday of this week and next.

Thank you for your cards, emails, posts, prayers, kind actions, and love! It helps make this road less lonely!

With much love,
The Tates

"..I will turn the darkness into light before them and make the rough places smooth. These are the things I will do; I will not forsake them." Isaiah 42:16