Monday, October 25, 2010

A Day at the Clinic

Today was a clinic day for Elena. It was also a sedation day. She received chemo in her port as well as in her spinal fluid and brain via a lumbar puncture. While she was sedated, Elena also received a flu shot. When we left the clinic she felt rather like a pin cushion from all of the little sticks in her body. It always amazes me to see how well she comes out of the sedation and is then ready to get on with the rest of her day. Today was no exception, even though she was feeling a little nauseous. She had a Math test this afternoon that she was determined to get to. When I brought her to school we ran into her math teacher and Elena told him that she came back to school for the test. Mr. Boynce just smiled, shook his head and said, " I knew you would". This little girl is determined to live life as normal as possible no matter what. It is from her that I often times draw my strength to go on. It is for her, and the rest of our family, that we live for each new day. We look forward to each new morning and to finding joy in even the smallest of things. For all good things come from the Lord!

We hope you have a wonderful evening and an even brighter tomorrow.

In Him,
The Tates

"Since everything God created is good, we should not reject any of it. We may receive it gladly, with thankful hearts." 1 Timothy 4:4

Sunday, October 24, 2010

A Long Overdue Update

Sorry it has been so long since our last update. Each time we sit down to write, we don't know what to say....should we say how bad some of our days really are? Should we say sometimes we lose hope? Do we say that we can't stand our life with cancer?

Here we are 19 months into this journey and we are worn down and tired. We are often confused about the treatments and their effects. In July, after 16 months of intense treatment, Elena's counts struggled for weeks to recover. In August, we moved into the "maintenance" phase of treatment. This final phase was supposed to be "easy". It has not been.

As it has been with most of Elena's treatments, she doesn't just have the "usual" side effects, she has the more "unusual" ones too! True, Elena only has to go to the clinic once a month for chemo now rather than every seven to ten days. But, the battles we fight now pale in comparison to making multiple clinic visits.

Starting middle school is a big adjustment for many kids. Add to that trying to handle the physical, emotional, and cognitive effects of treatment and it can be an awful combination at times.
In the past month, we started seeing a great psychologist at Aflac to help with the emotional side of dealing with cancer and change. Elena also had an MRI last month. It showed that her brain has been affected by the chemo she has been receiving to her brain and spine. These changes have impacted her short term memory and her ability to process and retrieve information. This has affected her at school and at home. So, Elena has been dealing with starting middle school, not understanding her classwork or homework, and new side effects from new chemo during this new phase of treatment: weight gain, a rash on her face, peeling skin on her fingers and toes, and not being able to do things she was once able to do both mentally and physically.

All of these emotions and feelings have meant having some really bad days. The weight of it all has taken a toll on all four of us. At times, we wonder if we really will make it through the next 10 months. Though we doubt and question all of this, we still try to stop and remember the good things in our lives: a sweet kiss, the warmth of the sun, pizza nights, a laugh or a giggle, one peaceful moment. We also remind ourselves where our hearts and hope lie; in God.

Chris Tomlin's song, "Our God", says it perfectly,

Our God is greater

Our God is stronger
God you are higher than any other
Our God is Healer

Awesome in power

Our God, Our God

So, we keep on going, day by day, and our hope remains in Him,
The Tates