Sunday, September 30, 2012

Day + 67

We LOVE our weekends!

Our only complaint is that the weekends are too short! Please continue to pray for our time together and our time apart.
Pray for complete and total healing for Elena.
Pray for her clinic appointment tomorrow. Pray that her bloodwork shows the virus is dormant.
Pray for Liv to feel secure in this still uncertain time.
Pray for strength, joy, and peace to fill each of us every hour of every day.

In Him,
The Tates

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

Friday, September 28, 2012

Day +65

Happy Friday!  Today was a beautiful day!  We spent some time walking outside and taking in the beauty all around us.  Elena also worked on her school work while resting inside.  It has been a good week, and we are happy it is coming to an end.

We are so thankful that we get to spend some time together on weekends as a family.  It is nice to have something to look forward to, and the time we share is so special to us.  We will never take these moments for granted again.

Please pray for a restful, happy, healing weekend.  Pray that Elena's body continues to heal and that the virus she is fighting goes away.  Pray for peace and patience as we continue to live in two different places during the week and for special family time on the weekends.

Still praying and believing!

In Him,
The Tates

"...And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us,"  Hebrews 12:1

Thursday, September 27, 2012

Day + 64

Elena's appointment went very well today.
Her counts have dropped, but that was expected after starting the antiviral medication. Her magnesium and calcium levels were also low.  Cyclosporine, the anti-rejection drug causes this to happen. So, Elena had to have an hour long infusion of magnesium while at the clinic today and will be taking calcium and magnesium supplements now.

Her next appointment at the clinic is on Monday.

It's hard to believe that by Monday, September will be gone.  

September 1st was a Saturday - it was the 38th day after Elena's bone marrow transplant. We shared with you that our family was once again participating in CURE's Kids Conquer Cancer One Day at a Time fundraising campaign and that it was the first day of National Childhood Cancer Awareness Month. 

This week, we were reminded by a friend that when you have a child who has been diagnosed with cancer - every month is childhood cancer awareness month, every day there is a reminder. It is a reality we can't change. What we can do is continue to raise awareness and choose joy.

Regardless of the statistics that are published, there has been very little advancement when it comes to pediatric cancer. Every day, two full classrooms of kids are diagnosed with cancer. And still, only 2% of federal funding for cancer research is directed at solving cancers that impact our children. While doctors and researchers have made strides in the battle against so many other types of cancer, the lack of funding and awareness for our children has led to an insignificant improvement in survival rates for pediatric cancer over the past decade. For every five children diagnosed with cancer, one will die.

You can continue to pray and share our story with others.  Most of you know our story and know all about our family's ups and downs.  We think we have a simple story.  We think we have a story of trials and triumphs.  We still have our children to hold, to tuck in at night, and to wake up to each morning.

Others do not.

Below is a blog post from a beautiful young woman who seems to be at the end of her journey here on earth. She is another face for you to put with childhood cancer. But she is more than that. We have had the pleasure of meeting Laura more than once.  There are no simple words to describe her.  She is amazingly wise, thoughtful, and strong. She speaks the truth. We pray that when Elena and Liv are 20 years old - they will have Laura's strength and steadfast faith in God.

Six days ago:
There are not a lot of words coming to mind right now about how to say what I am about to say. It is not anything I have ever been prepared for, and not something I think anyone is ever prepared for. I hate long and suspenseful intro’s- “beating around the bush”…so here it goes. The last three weeks- the hospital stays, the feeling horrible, etc.- has accumulated to us finding out that my cancer is still spreading. The last treatment, the samarium that I was given in Texas about 6 weeks ago, did not do what we were hoping it would do. My doctor out there called me one morning about a week ago while I was faking being asleep, leaving me a message to urgently call him back- and when I spoke with him, he gave me the bad news that they no longer have any options for me. The samarium was our last shot- because of my poor kidney function, I am not eligible for any other trials (trials require that your kidneys be in good condition for liability issues and blah blah). 5 years of chemo didn’t work, radiation didn’t work (to the extent we needed it to), angiogenesis didn’t work, internal radiation didn’t work… so here we are. We are having to make the devastating decision to stop treatment. The cancer is too aggressive and science is at a loss as to what to do. My body is so, so exhausted- and I am so, so exhausted.

It has been the hardest past few weeks of my entire life- harder than the month I was on high-dose ifosomide, when I was having seizures and laying basically unconscious for weeks at a time- even harder than when I was first diagnosed. I haven’t really distinguished whether or not knowing that my life is limited is a blessing or a curse… I am thankful that I have an opportunity to be able to tell people I love them and to reflect upon my life, but at the same time, I am crippled with anguish and fear. My emotions are shot, and my body is so fragile and weak- I hardly even recognize myself anymore. The tumors in my lungs are making it really hard to breath normally and fully, so I had to be put on at-home oxygen, and am basically on bed-rest all the time. I was officially admitted into hospice care on Wednesday. Basically being on hospice means I won’t have to go to the hospital at all anymore- the company we are using (ironically but divinely called “Journey Hospice”) can do everything a hospital can do at my house- even x-rays and CT’s and things ER’s can do. The only thing they can’t do is operate. So, I will be staying at home until… well, let’s not go there right now. But anyways, I’ve been really reluctant to post anything about any of this because quite frankly, thinking about it is extremely heart-wrenching for me. Prior to this post, only a select few knew what was going on…but for the sake of all those who have loved and cared for me over the years, I wanted to let you know what was going on.

There is nothing that I need or want. I know people want to help me somehow, but honestly I do not wish to receive any presents or money or anything like that (other than flowers if you are so inclined). My deepest wish is for people to pray for my friends and family… the thing that rips my heart up the most is knowing that my friends and family are in so much pain over losing me. If there is one thing I would ask for them, it would be that they have peace and that they would find joy. Everything that surrounds me emanates with the love from the people in my life- from the pictures on my wall to the clothes in my closet, and the little gifts and knick-knacks around my room from different experiences I have had. I am so incredibly blessed, and most of my tears come from basking in that realization. I have always known of these blessings, but I have never felt them so intimately until now.

All of this being said, I still believe that God has the power to heal me- even now. But, my heart is pretty sure that His healing is not going to be in a physical form. Even though this is not my ideal circumstance by any means, I have full confidence that I will be in Heaven, fully healed, fully restored, and fully new. The cancer WILL BE GONE. It may seem like cancer won, but it hasn’t and never will. God still has the victory, and I am humbled that He has chosen me to come be with Him. I am still filled with grief and fear over what is to come- but who wouldn’t be. That’s what makes me human I suppose. Thank you to all who have been there for me and who have followed my story- it is a story I know I was supposed to tell. I am not sure if I will be writing in here again- I only write when I feel led. But just know that my heart holds deep appreciation and love for all of you, and that my journey is not and will not ever be over.

with love,

Our hearts ache, we are praying for Laura and her family. We are also praying for our other friends who are fighting cancer. We hope you will too. We hope you are grateful for each new day you are given. We are.

We are humbled and overwhelmed by your donations to CURE in honor of the girls. So far, over $4,600 has been given in honor of Elena and Liv. Thank you for caring and for continuing to support us in so many ways! Thank you for making a difference in our lives every day!  Even though September and National Childhood Awareness Month is coming to an end, we hope that like us, you will remember these children, their families, and the struggles they face everyday.

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

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Day + 63

Elena goes back to the clinic tomorrow morning for a regular post transplant visit.

Please keep praying that the virus in Elena's body goes dormant.
Pray that the virus will not infect any part of Elena's body.

Pray that the antiviral medication will not cause any serious side effects.
Pray for Elena's complete and total healing.

We are grateful for your prayers!
Still praying and believing!

In Him,
The Tates

"For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future."
Jerimiah 29:11

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Day + 62

This morning, we headed back to the clinic with a long list of questions.

The virus that was detected in Elena's blood was CMV - cytomegalovirus. It is a very common virus that most people have in their lifetime.  Once a person has had a CMV infection, the virus usually lies dormant in the body, but it can be reactivated. The virus is more likely to be reactivated in people who have weakened immune systems. This is the case with Elena.

The plan is to treat Elena with an antiviral drug to slow down the virus reproduction. It can not be cured or destroyed with drugs. It can just become dormant again.

Elena received her first dose of gangciclovir today at the clinic. It is an antiviral drug given intravenously to fight CMV infections. She will receive this drug via an IV infusion every day, twice a day for the next two weeks. Her doctors will continue to screen for the virus weekly.  If the virus numbers go down or the screening comes back negative for the virus, Elena will still receive IV infusions of the drug once a day for another two weeks.

On Monday, only minuet particles were detected. We are thankful that the virus was identified very early and that Elena can be treated outpatient rather than inpatient. That is a huge praise! Thank you Lord!

Even though this virus was detected early, it is still a serious situation.  The virus could still grow and spread. It could infect any of Elena's body organs including her eyes, lungs, GI system, nervous system, liver, etc.

We are asking that you please continue to be the amazing prayer warriors you are and pray that this antiviral drug will immediately make this virus go dormant.

Pray that the virus will not infect any part of Elena's body.
Pray that the antiviral medication will not cause any serious side effects.
Since it can cause harm to the kidneys, Elena continues to receive IV fluids 12 hours a day.

Pray for Elena's complete and total healing.

Still praying and believing!

In Him,
The Tates

"I lie down and sleep; I wake again, because the Lord sustains me. "
Psalm 3:5

Monday, September 24, 2012

Day + 61

This morning, it was back to the Aflac Cancer Center for Elena's outpatient clinic visit. Once again, it was a smooth appointment, no delays and no problems with Elena's counts. Praise God!

Another praise, Elena's potassium levels have risen.  So, she no longer has to take the potassium supplement that was causing her so much trouble.

We left the clinic thinking we would not have to return until Thursday!  Happy happy!
Then, late in the afternoon, we got a phone call from the clinic saying that a virus was detected in Elena's blood work. So....back to the clinic we go tomorrow morning for Elena to receive an IV antiviral medication. This will be about an hour long infusion. We will then give this IV antiviral drug to Elena at the RMH every 12 hours.

Please join us in praying for protection over Elena.
Pray that the virus will not become a serious problem.
Pray that the antiviral medication will not cause any serious side effects - it can cause harm to the kidneys.
Pray that we will be able to easily coordinate giving Elena the new antiviral infusion as well as her fluids for 12 hours each night.
Pray for peace of mind.
Pray for Elena's complete and total healing.

Still praying and believing!

In Him,
The Tates

"When you lie down, you will not be afraid; when you lie down, your sleep will be sweet."  Proverbs 3:24

Sunday, September 23, 2012

Day + 60

How We Spent Our
First Weekend Together

watching football
watching movies
sleeping late
going for a walk
eating apple pie
playing games

How We Would Describe
Our First Weekend Together

absolutely fabulous
like we have never been apart

Thank you Lord for this good day!

"Give thanks to the Lord, for He is good; His love endures forever."  Psalm 118:1

Saturday, September 22, 2012

Day + 59


"And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love." 1 Corinthians 13:13

Friday, September 21, 2012

Day + 58

Another amazing day! It is the greatest feeling to see Elena happy and doing so well. We are happy to report that Elena's first post transplant clinic visit went smoothly. All of our prayers were answered! Praise God! We experienced no delays at the clinic, Elena's counts are strong - not normal but continuing their steady rise, and the doctor is pleased with Elena's progress. Thank you Lord!

We still do not have the results from Elena's potassium levels. They did switch the potassium prescription from pills to a liquid.  Elena would much rather take a bad tasting liquid medicine instead of an enormous pill that makes her gag or throw up every time.

Elena is scheduled to return to the clinic next week. She will go there on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday.  Each visit will include checking Elena's counts, blood chemistry, magnesium level, cyclosporine level, fluid intake, electrolytes, IVIG, skin, and signs of GVHD. Acute GVHD may still may happen within the first 100 days after transplant. GVHD symptoms that occur 100 days or more after transplant are usually called chronic GVHD.
Please continue to pray for Elena to be protected from any possible complications, including for her to remain fever free.

We spent the rest of the day simply enjoying being together, it also included an afternoon school session with Elena's home bound teacher.

We are excited to finally be able to spend a weekend together as a family!
Please pray that during our time together Elena will be protected from any outside germs that any of us may bring with us. Pray that our time together will be multiplied and that when we have to say goodbye on Sunday it will be tear free.

Thank you for your prayers!  They mean so much to us!

In Him,
The Tates

"But let all who take refuge in you be glad; let them ever sing for joy. Spread your protection over them, that those who love your name may rejoice in you." Psalm 5:11

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Day + 57

What an amazing day!  It has been so wonderful!  We still can't believe that we are here, at the Ronald McDonald House, and not in the hospital! It is the greatest feeling!

Having nothing to do all day, no vitals, no round the clock care, and no interruptions has been great.  Today was filled with rest, reading, watching Gilligan's Island and Full House, planning meals and making a grocery list.

Here's a picture tour of our new accommodations. As wonderful as they are, we are still praying this will be a brief stop in this journey.

How Elena and Liv had to see each other before

How they were last night!!


Elena spent part of today working on a craft project.

A corner of the kitchen has become the medicine corner. Most of Elena's pills are taken at 10 am and 10 pm each day.
Here is a picture of Elena this evening
She is hooked up to her IV fluids that will run overnight for a total of 12 hours. She will have to do this every night for at least seven days. She says sporting a backpack holding IV fluids is more fun and easier than pushing around an IV pole!

Tomorrow will be Elena's first post transplant clinic visit. Please pray that the day will be a smooth one. We are scheduled to arrive at 8:30 am.  Elena's counts will be checked and she will have a physical exam.  Please pray for no delays, strong counts, and no setbacks. 

Please also pray  specifically for Elena's potassium levels to be normal.  She is having to take potassium pills right now and it is not going well at all. The pills are huge and Elena struggles to take them. Sometimes she can't take them at all.
We can't thank you enough for continuing to pray for our family. Your prayers have seen us through some long, dark days and have also joyously sung praises to the Lord. We will be forever grateful for your encouragement and prayers!

In Him,
The Tates

"From the fullness of His grace we have all received one blessing after another."  John 1:16

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Day + 56

HUGE news!  Elena is being released from the hospital today!!
We only stopped packing long enough to type this post.

The next step in our journey will be to the Ronald McDonald House. Elena will need to be less than 30 minutes away from the hospital for the next few weeks.
Her continued progress will be monitored by the BMT team. She will go to the outpatient clinic at the hospital two to three times a week during this period.

We can not tell you how thrilled we are to finally be making this transition!!!

After 66 days, Elena is leaving the hospital!!
We will be able to spend weekends together as a family!!

SO happy!
Thankful for all of you and your prayers!!

Praising Him and rejoicing!!!

In Him,
The Tates

"The Lord is our strength and our shield; our hearts trust in Him, and He helps us.  Our hearts leap for JOY and with our song we praise HIM."  Psalm 28:7

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Day +55

Now these are the kinds of days that we don't mind duplicating!  Days that provide a sense of encouragement and joy.  Days that have you looking forward to the future and better days ahead!  Not a perfect day, but a better and brighter kind of day!  Praise the Lord!

Elena is still having some ups and downs, but definitely more ups than downs.  She is focused on moving forward and getting better instead of on just trying to make it through the day.  Her body is showing positive signs of improvement with every passing day and her doctors are pleased with her progress.  As are we! 

Over the past 65 days we have focused a lot of these updates on Elena and her journey, and rightly so, but we don't want to forget about Olivia or diminish her role and importance in all of this.  She too has had her share of ups and downs in her young life, and is all too familiar with what Elena is going through.  She has been an absolute joy for the parent at home to be with and has kept us grounded in that part of our reality. We thank God every day for these wonderful children who have been through so much and have handled it so well!  We have truly been blessed by their can do attitudes and their will do dispositions, and for that we are so very thankful!

Still praying and believing!

In Him,
The Tates

"I can do all this through Him who gives me strength."  Phil 4:13

Monday, September 17, 2012

Day +54

Today has been a better and brighter day!  We may have even had more 'normal' hours than 'hospital' hours today, which hasn't happened much over the last 1,542+ hours that Elena has spent in the hospital.  It is so good to see her getting closer and closer to her normal self.  She has been able to focus more on doing fun things and less on not so fun, albeit necessary things.  Thank you Jesus!

Elena's appetite has also been getting better and better.  She has eaten three pretty good meals today with even a little bit of snacking in between.  Granted the snacking has been mostly on candy, but we'll take it.  She is enjoying food again and is even planning a menu of her favorite meals for when we get moved to the Ronald McDonald House and can cook for ourselves!  What a blessing God has given us! 

Elena looks good and feels good and is ready to move on with her healing.  Speaking of, the infectious disease doctors met with us today and are switching Elena's IV anti-fungal medication that is being used to treat her lungs to an oral one.  This is another step forward in the process of getting out of here.  Please pray for continued progress in that direction and for complete healing for Elena!

Still praying and believing!

In Him,
The Tates

Then Jesus said, "Did I not tell you that if you believe, you will see the glory of God?"  John 11:40

Sunday, September 16, 2012

Day + 53

A Picture is Worth a Thousand Words!

Praising God for another brighter day!

Please keep praying for better and brighter tomorrows and for total and complete healing for Elena.

Still praying and believing!

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

Saturday, September 15, 2012

Day + 52

Today has been very similar to Day + 51 - another fever free, feeling better for a while, off the IV pole kind of day!  We are so thankful that Elena is experiencing less and less pain and problems and more and more comfort!

Today was spent resting, playing games, and watching movies.

Please continue to pray for a definitive diagnosis and a clear plan of action regarding Elena's lungs. Her doctors still plan on meeting with the pulmonary team on Monday to review Elena's scans.

On Monday, the doctors also plan on completely stopping Elena's IV nutrition. She is slowly eating more and more. Today, she drank milk, ate a bowl of fruit loops and five graham sticks. Please pray that Elena will continue to eat and drink enough so that she will be able to completely stop her IV nutrition.  This would be another huge step toward her complete recovery.

Please keep praying for better and brighter tomorrows and for total and complete healing for Elena.

Still praying and believing!

In Him,
The Tates

"Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer." Romans 12:12

Day +51

Today has been another fever free, feeling better for a while, off the IV pole kind of day!  Though it started a little rough with a blood transfusion from 4am - 8am, and a follow-up CT scan of Elena's upper abdomen, her day got progressively better this afternoon as she had another session with her teacher and then walked her laps pole free.  Things definitely seem to be looking up!

Preliminary reports on Elena's lungs show that there is little or no change in the nodules seen on her earlier scan.  Her doctors will discuss future treatment plans with the pulmonary team on Monday.  Please pray for a definitive diagnosis and a clear plan of action.

Please also pray for continued healing, increased stamina, and many better days ahead!

Still praying and believing!

In Him,
The Tates

"Stand firm, and you will win life."  Luke 21:19

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Day +50

Today was a day of celebrating good news here in  Rm #3206.  First of all, the results from Elena's bone marrow test came back negative for any residual disease!  Praise God!  This is exactly what we were praying for!  Please continue to pray for the remaining test results to be as favorable as these.

Second, Elena has had another fever free day and was able to enjoy more fun activities this afternoon! She was even able to do her laps and take a bath while unhooked from her IV pole.  The doctors are backing off on her "food" and fluids to allow her appetite to increase, which gives her about two hours of freedom a day.  As Elena begins to eat and drink more she will need less and less through her IV until she is free of the pole for good.

Lastly, we are encouraged because Elena was able to eat more tonight than she has in almost two months.  While she still struggles in this area to find things she "likes", and has only eaten about 1/4 of her normal amounts, we know that she is willing to keep trying and do whatever it takes to get better.

Please pray for continued progress, for fever free days, and for complete and total healing for Elena!

Still praying and believing!

In Him,
The Tates

"I will sing the Lord's praise, for He has been good to me."  Psalm 13:6

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Day +49

Singing more praises for another fever free day!  We can get used to this!  Elena has felt better today than she has in a while.

It has been a long day.  Elena did well with her BMA this morning at 10:00.  It took a little longer than expected and we didn't get back to the room until around noon.  She was feeling pretty good this afternoon and spent some time doing arts and craft projects before going out to walk her laps.  Once those were done she finished up her homework in preparation for a visit from the home bound teacher at 6:00pm.  Once she was done with that she was pretty beat and just wanted to relax for a bit before night time vitals and pills.  Now that those are done she is asleep; at least until midnight when she has to do them again.

Please keep praying for complete healing!  Pray for her fevers to stay away and for her body to continue to gain the strength it needs to carry on!

Still Praying and Believing!

In Him,
The Tates

"Rejoice in the Lord always.  I will say it again: Rejoice!"  Phil 4:4

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Day +48

Praise God from whom all blessings flow!  Elena has been fever free all day!  We can't even remember the last time that has happened, and you know what, it doesn't matter because it happened today!  We are so thankful for all of the prayers that have been lifted up for a day just as this one.  It wasn't a perfect day, but it was definitely an improvement and we'll take it.  Please continue to pray for better days ahead and for Elena's fever to stay away!

Please also pray for Elena tomorrow at 10:00 am as she will be sedated for what we hope will be her last bone marrow aspirate.  Pray for 100% healthy cells and 0.0% leukemia.  Pray that the procedure goes as planned and that Elena will have peace and comfort throughout.

Still praying and believing!

Just like these lyrics from Hillsong's Healer say:

You hold my every moment
You calm my raging seas
You walk with me through fire
And heal all my disease

I trust in You

I believe You're my Healer
I believe You're all I need
I believe You're my Portion
I believe You're more than enough for me
Jesus You're all I need

Nothing is impossible for You
Nothing is impossible for You
Nothing is impossible for You
You hold my world in Your hands

In Him,
The Tates

"Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort,"  2 Cor 1:3

Monday, September 10, 2012

Day +47

Our ninth week here in Rm # 3206 started with new plans to try to treat old maladies.  Elena's doctors have decided to try a steroid to help eliminate her fevers and nausea.  Over the past several days Elena's fevers have occurred less often and have not spiked as high and the doctors feel that the steroid will help reduce them further.  We are praying that this will be the breakthrough needed to take care of them for good!

Elena has had a better afternoon after a rough start this morning.  She has had periods of time where she didn't feel as bad as she has been feeling and that makes for a better day.  It does the heart good to see her feeling a little better and to catch a glimpse of her beautiful smile again.  It has been gone for too long and we miss it!  What a joy it will be to rejoice with her when God finishes her healing! 

For now we will continue to praise Him for all he has done and continues to do in our lives!  We will continue praying, and we will continue believing!

In Him,
The Tates

"He says, "Be still, and know that I am God; I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth."  Psalm 46:10

Day +46

Going in to this period in our lives we didn't know what to expect.  We've tried to prepare ourselves for whatever might come our way, but knew we would face certain unknowns.  Here we are 8 weeks later and find ourselves in that exact scenario.  We know that it is not up to us to figure things out.  We know that God is in control and we trust Him fully.  But our flawed human side can't help but see a need and try to find an answer.  We are so tired of seeing Elena suffer.  We are weary of what new challenge we will face when it seems like we have finally broken through.  Tonight we go to bed 6 1/2 weeks after Elena's transplant pleading for the very breakthrough that will lead us to complete and total healing for Elena and peace for our family.  

Still Praying and Believing!

In Him,
The Tates 

"You are the God who performs miracles; you display your power among the peoples."   Psalm 77:14

Saturday, September 8, 2012

Day + 45

Once again we are amazed by the outpouring of love and support not only for our family, but for all families touched by the hardships of childhood cancer.  We are so thankful for the now more than $3,000.00 that has been donated to CURE in honor of Elena and Olivia.  Together we CAN find a cure!

That is what Elena is so wanting right now!  She wants something to just make her feel better.  Something to cure her fevers and nausea and to get her well so she can go home.  Eight weeks is a very long time to be living as she has here.  While we are so thankful for the healing that has taken place in her body, we are ready to move on to complete healing.  Please Lord, hear our prayers!  We give you all of the praise and the glory for it is in your name that we pray. Amen!

In Him,
The Tates

"Nevertheless, I will bring health and healing to it; I will heal my people and will let them enjoy abundant peace and security."  Jeremiah 33:6

Friday, September 7, 2012

Day + 44

We are humbled and overwhelmed by your donations to CURE in honor of the girls.

Thanks to the generosity of our family and friends, in one day, we passed our goal of raising $1000 for CURE Childhood Cancer's research initiatives! Thank you for making a difference is the lives of children as CURE works to find better treatments for childhood cancer and most importantly to find a cure! Thank you!

You can still donate to CURE's September Initiative all month. You never know....maybe CURE will have another $1,500 by the end of the week or the month.

You can click here to donate.

Today, Elena's 54th day in Room 3206, was basically the same. Still running fever on and off, still feeling nauseous, still fighting.  She even walked five extra laps tonight with another cancer buddy, Super Ty. Still no conclusive answers as to why she is running a fever.

Still praying and believing!

Thank you for making a difference in our lives!
Thank you for loving our family through the good and the bad!
Thank you for joining us in the fight!

In Him,
The Tates

"The God of all grace...will himself restore you and make you strong, firm and steadfast." 1 Peter 5:10


September is the month.
Today is the day.
Today is the girls day.
Today is our day.
Today is your day.

Today is the day to help raise awareness about childhood cancer.

Today, 46 children will be diagnosed with cancer.
Today, 7 children die from cancer.

There's more:
1 in 320 children will develop cancer by age 20
Cancer is the #1 disease killer of children - More than asthma, cystic fibrosis, diabetes, and pediatric AIDS combined.
Cancer treatments cause serious side effects that last a lifetime.
All children cancers combined receive  only 3% of the American Cancer Society's research funds.
Children normally get different cancers than adults do.
The most common childhood cancers are leukemia, brain cancer, solid tumors (like Ewing’s, osteosarcoma, or neuroblastoma), and lymphoma. The most common adult cancers are lung, breast, prostate, and colon.

Because kids get different cancers, they need funds for research for their types of cancers!

Please consider donating today. Childhood cancer is severely underfunded and will never make the progress it needs to without money for research.
If you live in the Suwanee area:
ALL DAY today Friday, September 7 at Planet Smoothie in Suwanee Town Center, they are donating a portion of the proceeds to CURE in honor of our friend Abby. They are open from 8:00 am to 9:00 pm. They’ll also have donation buckets set out and the money will go to CURE. 

Walnut Grove Elementary, where Christy teaches and Liv attends school, is having a Caps For CURE day today where all of the students and teachers can donate a dollar and wear a hat to school. All of the teachers and staff were also given the opportunity to wear jeans to work for a week for a $10 donation.

We are grateful to both Walnut Grove and Planet Smoothie for doing what they can to raise awareness and money for childhood cancer research and more.

What can you do?
Please help raise awareness and share our story and these facts about childhood cancer with others.

Please click on this link to donate directly to CURE.

We are participating in this initiative with CURE as a way to honor our girls, their fight, their perseverance and their grace.

Will you join us?

In Him,
The Tates

"Let us not become weary in doing good..."
Galatians 6:9

Thursday, September 6, 2012

Day + 43

Today we are rejoicing in the news that Elena's GI biopsies all came back negative for GVHD!  Thank you Lord!

We are so very thankful for this good news!  While this good news rules out a bad complication, it still leaves us with some unanswered questions. Why has Elena been running a fever for 14 days now? Why is she so nauseous?

At this time, the doctors do not have a clear answer for us.  They are lowering the dose of one anti-rejection drug that can cause an upset stomach. They are still awaiting the results of a couple more cultures. They are continuing to treat one known virus with an antibiotic and the known lung infection with an anti-fungal medication. So, we continue to hope, pray, wait, and believe.

Another huge praise for the day is that Elena FINALLY got some much needed rest last night.  She had three periods of sleep that lasted for a least two hours each!  That's a combined total of over six hours of sleep in 10 hour period!  We can't remember the last time she slept for over two hours straight. Praying for more and more nights filled with much needed rest and healing.

However, even with some extra sleep, Elena is still tired. One "good" night is not even going to come close to healing the extreme fatigue and weariness she feels. While there were a couple of bright spots in our day - a short joy-filled visit with two pastors from our church and a brief time of no fever or nausea - by late afternoon, Elena was in tears not feeling well. Her temperature has continued to rise all afternoon and once again she is plagued by waves of nausea.  She desperately wants to get better and go home.

Please keep praying for answers, no fevers, rest-filled sleep, and complete healing.

In Him,
The Tates

"Look to the Lord and His strength, seek His face always." Psalm 105:4

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Day + 42

Nothing like a 7:45 wake up call saying you will be headed down to the OR soon. That's how our morning began.  By 8:05 am, Elena was being wheeled in her bed down to OR.  She was nervous, but amazingly calm!  Thank you God for the peace that passes all understanding. By 8:40 am, they were taking Elena back for both procedures.  Both procedures took about two hours.  Elena then spent almost another two hours in recovery.  She didn't come back to her room until after noon.

The GI doctors said that everything went well. They did not see anything alarming and took biopsies from every area from the esophagus down. We should have results from those sometime tomorrow.  We did hear that three different tests for three different viruses came back negative.   So that was some good news for today.

Elena spent the rest of the day resting, taking her pills, and getting her jobs done. She also received platelets as a precaution from this morning's procedures and possible bleeding.  She is still battling the bad effects that come with a fever and nausea. After 13 days of this most recent setback, she is so very weary and begs for relief.  It is overwhelming to think that she has been here, inside, for 52 days and has struggled for the majority of these days.

Please continue to pray that all tests, cultures, and blood work will provide clear results which will lead to a clear diagnosis and a clear plan to get Elena well.

Please keep praying for better and brighter tomorrows and for total and complete healing for Elena.

Still praying and believing!

In Him,
The Tates

"In the same way, the Spirit helps us in our weaknesses. We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groans that words cannot express."
Romans 8:26

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Day + 41

Last night was not a great night and today hasn't been any better. Elena continued to battle fever, nausea and stomach discomfort all night and for most of the day today. However, thankfully, the doctor and nurse practitioner who came on duty today do have a plan to try to find out what is going on with Elena.

Tomorrow, Elena will have a colonoscopy and an esophagogastroduodenoscopy (EGD). Both of these procedures will provide tissue samples and pictures to help determine if Elena has an infection or ulcers anywhere in her GI tract.  This will also help diagnose or rule out if Elena has GVHD.

GVHD stands for graft-versus-host disease. It is a possible complication that happens after transplant. GVHD happens when the donor cells (the graft) attack your body's cells (the host). The donor cells see the body as a threat and attack it.  Different parts of the body that can be affected by GVHD are the liver, skin, and intestinal tract (gut). Obviously with Elena's symptoms and the two tests that have been ordered, the doctors are concerned about the gut.

In addition to ordering these two tests, Elena's doctor and NP made some other decisions as well. They are running several tests on different samples looking for a variety of infections and viruses. They added a second antibiotic to the anti-fungal and antibiotic Elena is already receiving. They also have prescribed a high blood pressure medication for Elena.  Her blood pressure has been slightly elevated since Sunday.

Please pray that all tests, cultures, and bloodwork will provide clear results which will lead to a clear diagnosis and a clear plan to get Elena well.

Please keep praying for better and brighter tomorrows and for total and complete healing for Elena.

Still praying and believing!

In Him,
The Tates

"In the same way, the Spirit helps us in our weaknesses. We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groans that words cannot express."
Romans 8:26

Monday, September 3, 2012

Day + 40

Today didn't start off too well. This morning, Elena was complaining of chest and side pain. The doctor ordered a chest xray. The xray showed no change from her scan last week.  Not better, but thankfully, not worse either. 

Elena's nurses last night and today did a fabulous job of switching up her pain and nausea meds to try and help her stay more comfortable throughout the night and day.  It seems to have worked. Elena was able to get some much needed rest, sleeping for an hour or two at a time.

As the day went on, Elena began to look more and more like herself.  By the evening, she was able to walk her laps and said she felt like a "5" on a scale of 1-10 - 1 being the worst.  Even if it was only for a little while, we'll take it.  No matter how brief it was, that's a huge improvement over yesterday's "1"!

Please join us in praying that tomorrow will bring more answers than questions and that the plan for treating Elena's fever and nausea will become more well defined.  At this point, she has had a fever for eleven days and she has been on the new anti-fungal medicine for six days now. We have a long list of questions for Elena's doctor tomorrow.

Please keep praying for better and brighter tomorrows and for total and complete healing for Elena.

In Him,
The Tates

"Be strong and take heart, all you who hope in the Lord." Psalm 31:24

Going to bed tonight - waiting, hoping, trusting, and praying!

Sunday, September 2, 2012

Day + 39

Sadly, today was not better and brighter. According to Elena, today was a bad day. Once again, fever and nausea plagued her. She has spent most of the day in bed, moaning and asking for anyone to help her feel better.  Her breathing is rapid and shallow.  She shakes from chills and then sweats with fever.  She throws up bile. Today wasn't really any different than the last nine days.

Over the past seven weeks, we have been amazed at Elena's strength and perseverance.  Today, the day before beginning her eighth week here, she has had enough.  Throughout the day, she has said she just wants to feel better.  For the first time in 49 days, Elena said she felt like she would never get better.  She said that this new medicine was never going to work.  She said every day is a bad day.  She never gets a good night's sleep or a good day's sleep for that matter.  Every nurse and doctor tells her she will get better, it will just take time.  Elena wonders how much longer.  She can't really remember the last time she felt good.

But we have to believe that better and brighter days are ahead.  We just wish they would get here a whole lot quicker.

Praying and believing!

In Him,
The Tates

"You are the God who performs miracles." 
Psalm 77:14

Saturday, September 1, 2012

Day + 38

Another day and not much change.  Elena continues to battle fever and nausea.  She just wants to feel better.  She opened a card today that said, "Wishing you brighter and better tomorrows!"  That's what we have been praying for weeks now.  We are patiently waiting and praying.  Praying that the new meds are going to knock out the infection in her lungs and waiting to see signs of improvement.

We are not the only family waiting and praying.  Elena is not the only child fighting.  For this reason, our family is once again participating in CURE's Kids Conquer Cancer One Day at a Time fundraising campaign.

This campaign begins today - September 1st - the first day of National Childhood Cancer Awareness Month. This is our fourth year to participate in CURE's campaign. We believe that this campaign is important. The funds raised will go directly toward CURE's 2012-2013 research initiative.  Thirteen specific research projects aimed at improving survival for difficult to cure pediatric cancers will receive much needed funds.

Sadly, only 2% of federal funding for cancer research is given to childhood cancers. CURE is making a difference and with your help they can continue to fund research projects. 

Our goal is to raise as much money as we can to fund research that will lead to better treatments and cures for pediatric cancers. Please consider donating.  For us, participating in this month's initiative with CURE is a way to honor our girls, their fight, their perseverance and their grace.

On September 7, both Elena and Olivia will be honored. CURE Childhood Cancer will feature their story on its' website, CURE’s blog and on
We hope you will help raise awareness and share our story with your families and friends. We will keep you posted on the initiative's progress.

Praying for better and brighter tomorrows.

In Him,
The Tates

"..Give me relief from my distress, be merciful to me and hear my prayer."
Psalm 4:1