Wow! What a trip! The Tate Family is back home after spending a nice long break from life as we have come to know it. We are sorry for not updating while we were on the road, but some places we stayed had no Internet access and at others we were either having too much fun or were too pooped to pen.
Here is a brief synopsis of the past three weeks to catch up on things:
Elena's counts were checked the day before we left for Louisiana and we found out while riding in the car on the first leg of our trip that her ANC was still too low to continue her oral chemo pills. Her doctor said it looked like it was on the rise and just to have her counts checked while we were in Louisiana. No problem, we could do that. In the meantime, over the next three days while we were in New Orleans celebrating our 20th Wedding Anniversary, Elena and Olivia spent their time eating beignets, getting their nails done, going to the movies to see Toy Story 3, hanging out with El Whoppo, a 12-13 foot alligator they saw during a swamp tour, and lounging in the pool in Gram and Grandpa's back yard! We're still not sure who had more fun, us or them!
The next morning we continued our journey west across the state to visit the rest of our loved ones. Our first stop was in Amite to visit Grandma Pat and Grandpa Karl. We checked out the log home they are building, picked fresh blueberries, fed their horses watermelon, and saw all of the neat stuff Grandma was making in her pottery shed. We also got a chance to visit with Uncle Pat, Aunt Angie, Sy and Tori as they joined us for dinner. After dining on hamburgers and venison sausage we jumped back in the car for a 2 hour drive to see Uncle Scott, Aunt Beth and, sorry guys, everyone's favorite; Gabrielle! Gabrielle is the newest Tate at five months old and she is cute as a button. She loves to swim in the pool and she loves her Uncle Mark! Elena and Olivia couldn't get enough of her. I think they wanted to take her with us on the rest of our trip and drop her back off at home on the way out of town.
The next morning we took Elena to get her counts checked again before heading out to the pool for a day of fun in the sun. It started to rain so we headed home for more Gabrielle time. Tuesday morning we said a temporary goodbye to the Lafayette crew and headed further west for stops in Opelousas and Mamou on our way to Toledo Bend. The stop in Opelousas was to pick up Uncle David's jet ski and the stop in Mamou was to have lunch and visit with Uncle Steve, Aunt Freida, and cousins Carson and Collin. After lunch we had time for more fun in the pool and some more yummy watermelon before loading up for a 2 1/2 hour ride to see Uncle David and Aunt Lori at a cabin on the lake in Toledo Bend. It was during this leg of our trip that we received the news that Elena's counts had risen above the levels they needed to be so that we could start her back on at least one of her pills. This was good news because it meant that Elena's body was recovering.
We celebrated this news with lots of fun on the lake. We went fishing, swimming, boat riding, and both of the girls loved riding on and driving the jet ski! After three days, it was back in the car for a trip south to see Grandpa Tate and Grandma Vickie in Kaplan. The girls loved seeing all of Grandpa's hibiscus blooms and checking out all of the cool names of the different plants. We love visiting all of our relatives and seeing all of the things they love doing. There is never a dull moment while we are there. Sadly there came a time when we had to start heading East again toward home. We said our goodbye's along the way and arrived home with new memories mixed with familiar emotions. Life is truly what you make it!
On July 7th, Elena went to the clinic for her second monthly maintenance visit and received chemo in her port. Her ANC had dropped a little and the rest of her counts were OK, so we started her back on a steroid for five days and both of her chemo pills at lower doses. We will check her counts in two weeks to see how she is doing instead of waiting for her next clinic visit in a month. Please pray for her body to continue to recover and for the doctors to find a good balance between medicine and healing.
Thank you for being faithful prayer warriors for us as we continue to follow God's path for our lives.