Wednesday, January 27, 2016

Memories of Mom - the journal

Christmas 2006

It's about time we put into words for safe keeping the story that gave us such strength in a season of life with such weakness.  

This is the story of the greatest woman I have ever known.  With such strength, grace, love, and humility, she endured more in 22 months than I ever want to imagine for anyone.  This is the journal that I kept of her and the goings and comings of her disease, but it doesn't begin until almost 9 months after her diagnosis of a Glioblastoma Multiforme.  The first group of entries are taken from mom's personal journal that she had at the beginning of her sickness.  But quickly, she was unable to write complete, coherent sentences, so we have little writing and thoughts from her.  I will cherish these words from her, and this timeline of events, not because they make me dwell in the past when she was alive, but rather because they give us great HOPE - a hope of eternal LIFE.  She may have stopped living here on earth, but her legacy will forever be present in our lives.

April 11, 2007
Almost four weeks after being diagnosed with GBM I begin this journal.  I am aloe this morning.  Ronnie has gone to the dentist.  Quiet time!  I want to let everyone know that I have given this GBM to God and He is in control.  What a relief for me.  This thing is way too big for me to handle.  My precious, beautiful family - without their support - tears and laughter I don't know how I would be right now.  My wonderful husband - How did I get so blessed? My girls, both of them strong in their way.  So much to share with them.  Grace, my heart.  God has answered every prayer.  My prayer was to live long enough to see my children grown and happy.  Thank you God for this blessing!  I began radiation on Monday April 9, 2007.  I would not wish this on anyone.  How sad it is to see the rows of chairs filled with cancers that need radiation.  This is not a good time for me yet I know it is good for me.  Tuesday chemo arrived in a cool pack - 30 day supply, $6,500 they waived the $90 co-pay.  Praise the Lord!  The Zofran is going to keep me from getting sick.  I did not get sick yesterday. Yeah!  I do feel I'm walking on eggshells waiting for a reaction.

April 12, 2007
Treatment #3 went well.  Walked right in and was taken straight back.  My mask I have named Alathea which is Greek for "truth." My prayer as Alathea and I meet everyday at 3:20 p.m. that God will get rid of this cancer in my head.  I know God is in control of the radiation beams going to my brain - and guiding their path straight to this tumor.  I can feel it drying up.  This cancer is not bigger than God.  It has no hope against the power of God.  I surprise myself at the blessing of peace God has given me.

April 15, 2007
Tax day - it really sucked we had to pay.  Thank God in His provisions.  Can you say sucked in one sentence and in the next sentence refer to God?  Five radiations and 4 chemo down and I feel good.  I do posses super hero powers with my mask.  These powers fight against brain tumors.

April 16, 2007
HEADACHE!! 6 a.m. had horrible pain.  When you have a GBM any headache is scary.  Today I have 25 rads to go.  I want Amanda to play Vivaldi's "Spring" on my last rad.  She may be in Desin with the Ghents.  Which is the first time Amanda said she knew she wanted to marry Jeremy.  2005.  Boy! It took him long enough!! Treatment #6 all is well the "mask" is from God.  All of this is from God.  How can I not accept it? I am a part of His plan and will praise His name!! I do understand His will, not mine - how blessed am i?  Shrimp Boat tonight yum yum.  Amanda? At this point I have no great insight as to my role in this situation.  I want my people to know that I am happy and have such peace.  Please know that! The one thing I have always told my girls to remember is that I love them, forever and always.  I imagine Ronnie will be stalked by all these single women.  Get back! He's mine!!! How did I get so lucky? I still wanted him to get my gold teeth and make a necklace for his new girl.  One thing I treasure is my family.  Phyliss has been such an inspiration to me.  She has been a friend and mother figure.  Phyliss, I don't mean you're old, just short and squatty, all butt and no body. Taught me how to make biscuits, chocolate delight.  no dagum wonder I'm so big.  Ralph I thank you for being such a wonderful man.  Ronnie learned alot about being a good dad from your example.

April 17, 2007
Renee, Clair and Melissa came by today. Good visit!!! Renee's chocolate pound cake yum yum.  It was good to see them.  Renee is 7 months pregnant and she doesn't look it.  Melissa's little girl is beautiful of course she would be.  Claire did not bring little Debi.  Wish I could go to class.

April 18, 2007
Took Bactrim this am made me sick as a dog actually missed rads today. Scheduling last rad for May 21 which worked for all Amanda was able to play for my last treatment.  What an emotional time!!! Bactrium, YUCK! Lost 2 days to the couch.  My family is so wonderful.  Amanda held the bucket for me.  I did not want her to have to take care of me.  I'm only 53 years old! She's wonderful.  Poor Madeline combing my hair and it just coming out in clumps  "Bald headed Woman" She's great!

May 26, 2007
Bald is beautiful! I do know Ronnie is.  I haven't written in 6 weeks.  Had my check-up MRI.  The films are here, can't look.  Saw the first ones.  I do not want to see that almond shaped white tumor sitting on the right side of my brain.  Waiting for Elshihabi to tell me it's gone.  I plan on taking a Valium before I go to see him on Thursday.  Very anxious!! We all are.  At least Madeline will be here (haha Amanda).  Feeling so tired the last couple of days.  Somewhat concerned. Slept yesterday away.  Big plans today.  Cookout for Bill's Birthday.  Amanda and Jeremy came.  I'm so proud of both of them and thankful they have each other.  Jeremy has made Amanda so happy.  Which was my prayer for both of my girls.  Jeff has made Madeline so happy. I'm proud of both of my sons-in-law.

May 30, 2007
Just talked to both girls.  Madeline is coming home today.  Tomorrow is D-day.  I won't lie I'm so anxious.  Ronnie actually left me this am for work.  Jane Shillinglaw and Ann Newman just left.  Jane brought chicken salad (very good lunch).  Holly Whitley is coming for supper.  How fun?? EGW just called and he's just great!!! They have been so good to me.  He said I could work off the 90 days.

June 15, 2007
I can't believe I haven't written in 2 weeks.  Got really scared last night with a brain tumor headache.  #4.  Ronnie tried to calm me but the reality of it all hit home.  I will not be here much longer.  I have had a good life and blessings too many to count.  Ronnie, Madeline and Amanda have brought me such happiness.

July 11, 2007
Today is Wednesday and tomorrow is Ronnie's birthday.  #58.  I was there for #25!! I want #60 at least.  Am I selfish?! Yes! This is just so hard I have to run out of philosophical (sp) things to saw.  I want my family to know how they have comforted me through all of this.  I'm so proud of them.

July 17, 2007
Surgery scheduled for August 3.  Have to be at hospital @ 5:30 a.m.  No time for coffee.  Now I have 3 weeks to think about surgery.  I liked it better when I only had 3 hours to think about it.  I start chemo on Thursday.  Finish on Monday and will go to see Grace and Mad.  Could I possibly get enough hugs and kisses to last forever???


Greetings! Today is a new beginning of sharing mom's story with everyone. Unfortunately, you'll find that you've missed out on some of the greatest parts, because it's been 9 months since it all began, and we're just now starting this journal.  Mom has been diagnosed with a brain tumor, had three surgeries (partial removal in March 07, insertion of a catheter  in early August 07 for a clinical trial dosage, and removal for said catheter at the end of August 2007).  We have managed to still celebrate with our family, rejoice in the Christmas season, and carry on with a smile. 
Celebrating Mom's 54th Birthday (Aug 2007)

Scar from second surgery after inserting trial catheter 

Mom after her second surgery (Aug 2007)
Christmas 2007
Today is definitely a new journey. Mom and dad are on their way to the dentist. Mom has to get a tooth pulled this morning. They had to do a lot of tests to see what this would do to her body and blood system, but it looks like she should be alright. Not that she needs anything else to slow her down, this will help some of her pain - and it was just not a pretty thing. Pray that she'll recover well from the procedure and that no infection would ensue.
Prayer of praise !

The doctor called and we got Debi in to extract the tooth today (Tues). The
procedure went well and Debi came home
for an immediate nap. Bleeding stopped fairly easy and she was able to have
some soup broth and noodles this evening.
Later I fixed some whipped potatoes for her (my first; they were pretty
good!), and that went down very well. Debi still has some pain and swelling,
but is taking some pretty strong pain meds., so she is very groggy and
slurred in speech.

Continue to pray for Debi's quick healing of the gum and that her blood
count remains high enough for her treatment this
Thursday morning and that her body responds well with the additional
medications for the tooth issue.

We sing praises to God every day.."Amazing Love, Amazing Grace"

I got a great big 'good morning' from mom at 8:30 this morning. She was able to rest well, but is still experiencing some pain and swelling from her tooth procedure. She is a little bit more tired and slurred, so she won't be going to physical therapy today. Hopefully, she'll keep her counts up so that she can receive her treatment tomorrow.

Mom's treatment was the usual, nothing too exciting, but she was able to take it today. We found out tons of good news today - "significant improvement" from the MRI last week means the tumor has shrunk almost 20% since the last MRI. Praise God! That's probably the best news we've heard from those reports since we started this journey. The other piece of good news was that starting tomorrow, mom will be weaning off of the decadron (steroids) that she's been on since March. This will hopefully decrease some swelling/bloating, and make her feel a little better. So we're very positive and excited that the Lord continues to work in all of our lives. I'm looking forward to hanging out with her some tomorrow. Thank you for your prayers!

Debi's day for treatment started at 8:00 am and returned home by 4:30 pm.
Her white blood count was so low, but just at the minimum she could receive
the chemotherapy. But she did have some protein in the urine. She received
the chemo first while waiting for further testing of urine, and was finally
cleared for the Avastin treatment. As long as the day was, it came also with
some great reports. As we reported last Friday, the images of the MRI showed
a significant interval improvement in the right frontal lobe, which they are
contributing to response to the treatment. PRAISE GOD! All the numbers
calculate to a 19.7% reduction in the tumor size. We just cried, thanking
God! Debi was skipping around the room, in her mind, of course. She will
also begin weaning off of the steroids during the next 3 weeks. Pray that
this process goes well and that Debi's blood counts regenerate quickly. We want to make a trip to Georgia next week for Madeline's birthday, so she will need all the energy she can muster up.

Wanted to let you all know that Dad had to take mom to the hospital this morning. Mom had been super lethargic on Sunday, unable to attend church, slept most of the day, and was slurring in her speech. Her strength greatly diminished over the day, and by the evening, her heart rate and blood pressure were continuing to rise. The evening was unfortunately restless, and they were unable to sleep as dad kept watch over mom and chatted several times with the nurses. Since mom wasn't doing any better, they decided to head on up to CMC. They have been in the ER since 8 this morning, and she is still undergoing tests before she is admitted into a room (the doc gives us assurance that she'll stay a bit).
Here's what we know:
- her oxygen levels have been very low, and she has to keep a mask on, instead of just the tubes
- her white count is 'decent' - not average by any means, but ok.
- her platelet levels are still low
- her blood pressure remains very high
- her heart has some irregular beating
- there is nothing in the lungs that shows fluid or buildup of any sort
- mom has close to no strength at all - isn't able to keep herself up
Please keep them in prayer this morning - mom is sleeping too much to be really worried, but dad is exhausted for sure.
This is what the surgeon told me right when these treatments began: 'you have to get through the bad to get to the good' - he was right. Using these medications seems to make mom feel worse than she has ever felt - but to result in a 20% reduction....
I hope to update later this afternoon
Debi was finally into a room in the ICU by 6:30 tonight. After some testing, the docs found a clot right near the lungs so they have already begun some meds to help thin out her blood. Best scenario: she'll be in ICU overnight, and hopefully into a regular patient room tomorrow, then stay a few days. After that, she'll return home and begin an oral treatment of this same med.
Please keep praying for positive test results, and the comfort of mom (and dad) at this time. Dad will not be able to stay in her room this evening, but will be camping out in a lounge chair in the waiting room.

I am currently in the room with mom as dad is taking a "breather" to get out a bit. It was apparently a quite uneventful evening last night, and mom and dad both got a good amount of sleep in the ICU. Mom was moved to a regular patient room late this morning.
She's still having a lot of difficulty breathing, and it's hard to get up or move to do anything. Her strength is practically diminished to nothing, and her breaths are heavy and quick. I know she gets really frustrated because this keeps her from eating, moving around, talking, etc.
They've talked a bit to the docs, and it looks like the scans will tell the story. Hopeful hearts want to be home by Thursday - but one day at a time.
Dad is working hard at keeping his energy up and his weakness down - it's good that someone is around so he feels more freedom to take a quick walk (his last one just lasted about 5 min):)
It's just another long stay at the hospital, not much fun in that. But we are learning more about the body and how God has uniquely designed the inner most parts of us. It's like a road map inside of us, and so difficult to understand.

Mom had a good night, and was definitely able to rest. I visited for a good portion of last night, just hanging out and watching mom rest. It's good to see her more comfortable in the hospital than she's been before. She and dad are still learning to work together to accomplish some things, because of mom's strength being so little, sitting up can be a major act of movement.
Today they'll hear back from the doc and probably do some more tests/scanning. Let's pray for great results that they would be able to see what's going on with the clot, and that the docs could better regulate the blood thinning medicine.

It surely has been a long 2 days! Mom is still receiving medications that aren't quite perfect yet, meaning she's in the hospital longer, and her circumstances seem somewhat more discouraging as each day passes.
This stay at CMC has been noticeably different for us caring for her- unfortunately, it's probably the worst time for her- she seems so helpless.
The doctors say they won't do another scan of her chest, because the blood work should tell whether or not the clot is dissolving or not. There's talk of her being released tomorrow, but we're just not sure what happens after that point. There are many options to consider for the next step.
There will be some new decisions to be made in the upcoming days. Please pray for:
- Wisdom between dad (and mom) about where mom should go/who should help/where to be treated
- Energy and strength for both mom and dad: mom isn't eating much, so her energy is practically non-existent, and her strength is super minimal. I think dad has finally reached a point of exhaustion, too, that is in desperate need of refreshment.
- The clot itself, that it would be dissolved into the blood and that her levels and blood flow would be more normal.
- All of the nurses, doctors, staff, and other patients and their families on this floor - there already have been opportunities to share the gospel and it's encouraging to see more of that. Praise the Lord!
We want to offer much praise and prayer for you, our warriors helping us to be stronger at this point. I boast in this body of believers who are committed to caring for the members and their families. It has definitely been a lower point in this particular battle, and we appreciate your encouragement, and praise the Lord for giving us daily grace to sustain us.

We've had quite a weekend. With the weather being so iffy, our trips and visits to the hospital were limited somewhat.
On Friday, mom had an MRI - the docs thought it wouldn't hurt just to check and see if there was any activity near the tumor bed. I believe the results showed some fluid around the area, but just something to be watched for a while.
She had been very weak all week long, but did gain some strength on Friday and had eaten some too. However, she continued to drop in strength.
My sister came up on Saturday and hasn't left the room since. Apparently, 3 isn't too much of a crowd. :)
Mom also has a bladder infection. So, one thing after another is just slowing her down even more.
Today is a new day, and the beginning of a new week - and we know this much from the Word in I Peter 5:10- "After you have suffered a little while, the God of all grace who has called you to his eternal glory in Christ will himself restore, confirm, strengthen, and establish you" - Let's pray this week for that restoration and strengthening that we so desperately desire for mom, dad, and the rest of our family.
Blessings to you all this day -

Hospital stay with pulmonary embolism

I spoke with dad this morning. Mom had a CT scan this morning at 9 that will show how the fluid on the brain is affecting everything (tumor, clot, etc).
Unfortunately, mom will be staying yet another night at least. Her INR levels haven't reached a good level yet. They keep "yo-yo"ing back and forth - those levels are how thick/thin the blood is. The blood needs to be just right in order for her to be on a maintenance dose of the medication. They are also going to be taking her off of the IV fluids (she is getting some fluids and food in since the weekend) and put her on another medication to help with the blood and bladder infection. They have increased her decadron back up (they were weaning her off) and that has given her some "pep." For more "pep" they will be doing a blood transfusion this afternoon.
Continue to pray - it's been a super long week,and little progress has been made. We appreciate your encouragement and care.

Debi finally "moved home" today - into her new home at Health South and into a private room! After a week+ in the hospital, she was ready for a move, but still lacking a lot of strength and skill to maneuver on her own. We were so thankful that her levels remained stable today so that she could finally leave. She and dad were getting situated by 6 p.m. this evening, and were anxious to meet the staff and hear the expectations, etc.
This will be a very difficult and trying 3 weeks in rehabilitation, so pray for:
-the strength for mom during her therapy sessions
-the consistency of the levels of mom's blood (effective use of blood thinner medication)
-the staff working with mom and dad
-the energy and ability for dad to "let go" a bit and let mom gain more strength on her own
-the mind of them both - being couped up has made them both stir crazy!
-other "household issues" that are still in need of being done (bills, cleaning, etc etc)

I was able to visit mom for about 30 minutes this morning at the rehab hospital. I unfortunately was there right after an hour of therapy, so she was super exhausted. They seem to know what they're doing, and expect mom to be there 2-3 weeks.
Although her being in Rock Hill is easier to get to, the schedule she is on doesn't make it always easy to visit. Her therapy schedule is about 3 hours each day, and visitation is limited.

Continue to pray for:
-the new doctor that will be seeing mom while she's there
-dad's rest on the air mattress in the room
-dad to be able to let mom do things more on her own
-the medicines to continue working their best

Greetings! I wanted to update, even though I am not in town this weekend. My sister was able to visit with mom and dad this weekend, and they have been keeping me posted, so as to update you even better.
Mom has had a good adjustment to the rehab center very well so far. She is in treatment twice a day for almost 2 hours each session, and she is able (most days) to eat lunch and dinner in the cafeteria. The schedule has definitely been the most difficult adjustment for us all.
We very much appreciate everyone's continued prayers for mom's care in this facility and the regaining of her strength so she can come back home soon. We are grateful that you all are able to visit, but unfortunately, this schedule is rather trying on mom. We wanted to inform you of the schedule, so that you would be aware of when mom would be up for a visit. The visitation is limited (8-8) each day. Mom has a morning session from 9-11a.m., followed by lunch, then an afternoon session from 2-4ish, followed by dinner at 5 p.m. In the midst of those times, she tries to rest and recover for the next 'event'.
If you would like to visit, if you wouldn't mind, please call ahead of time so that we can assure that mom is awake and 'unbusy'. Your visit might be limited in time, as mom gets sleepy rather often. This will allow mom to receive the maximum amount of rest, recover, and soon return home.
We appreciate your thoughts and looking out for us all. We can't wait until mom is home, so that your visits can last forever!
Blessings to you all -

We've begun a new week, and mom has been doing even better. Although her therapy sessions are excruciatingly exhausting, she seems to improve day by day. Yesterday, she was able to walk about 100 feet. I think the last time I saw her walk was almost 3 weeks ago!
The doctor and nurses at the rehab hospital seem to want mom out by Wednesday, but she really needs to be doing a bit more on her own before she leaves.
Please pray for:
-the doctors and nurses making decisions for mom (that they would be the best for her and not just any patient)
-rest and recovery after therapy each afternoon and evening
-encouragement for dad as he encourages mom
-comfort from the pain mom is finally starting to experience
-the swelling to go down (her swelling decreased immensely while in the hospital, but has now returned)

I look forward to updating you with more improvement on mom's behalf. Thank you for your prayers!

Mom is still at Health South as of today (was scheduled to leave yesterday - Wednesday). She is still recovering very much and learning how to use her body to move herself. She was able to walk about 100 feet on Monday and Tuesday, but gets extremely exhausted in short periods. She will plan to stay through Monday now.
Please join with me in praying for:
-more strength to come back so mom could do more
-more complete rest (has been interrupted by nurses and coughing a lot lately)
-swelling on mom's legs and hands. This had stopped while in the hospital on the blood thinner medication through IV. Unfortunately, her blood levels have dropped again, and her swelling has returned. This could also be a sign of buildup around the clot too - so we don't need anything to make that clot bigger and dislodge into the lungs
-the doctor (only one) at Health South for something like 25 patients- he hasn't seemed to address all of the issues that concern mom and dad, so that can be frustrating at times
-the changes that will need to be made around the house to make it 'wheelchair friendly' for mom when she returns home (ramp to enter the house, widening of spaces, convenient showering situation, shorter bed, etc)
-the therapists at the rehab center - some of them have already been able to witness the Lord in the midst of mom and dad, and we pray they continue to see Christ in their lives
- the return to the Chemo treatments - the nurse wants to see mom start back with her treatments next Thursday - this all depends on mom's strength and health at that point - pray that we would know when and how to restart that process

Again, we appreciate your thoughts and prayers.
Blessings this day,

Jeremy and I were able to spend a good bit of time with Mom yesterday (Friday). We got to eat lunch together, took a short nap, and got ready for therapy at 2. Mom did a great job at therapy. She walked a total of 300 feet - that's a football field! and was able to do some other exercises while keeping her oxygen level good.
The evening was fairly uneventful, which is always nice. Today, mom worked with the occupational therapist on many coordination skills and has improved greatly over the past week - she just remains super tired.
She will have one more therapy session this afternoon, and her last (hopefully) tomorrow afternoon. The plan is still for her to leave on Monday morning.
Jeremy and my father-in-law have been diligently working this afternoon and have built a beautiful and usable ramp for mom when she comes home. We've been grocery shopping, and I will be cleaning the house for mom's arrival on Monday...

'My chains are gone, I've been set free, my God my Savior, has ransomed me' - words from Chris Tomlin's arrangement of Amazing Grace, mom's favorite hymn. That's what she was singing about 30 minutes as we were 'walking' out of Health South Rehab hospital.
Mom was finally released and sent home after a 3 week span in the hospital and rehab facilities. We are confidant that her health is at a stable condition and she will be able to continue recovering at home.
She will be receiving home health care and therapy often and that will hopefully put her back in 100% gear.
Now that mom is home, she will be more up to visitors, I'm sure. Although we aren't sure of her schedule and therapy, etc, it will probably still be best to give a call ahead of time (366-9010). That way you won't waste a trip out there to find they've gone to the doctor, or mom is sound asleep. Soon we can let you know of the best times to visit.
Some things to pray for at this exciting time:
- good transition to home - they've been away for 3 weeks, and are returning with more limitations on mobility, care, and diet - her safety around the house is big now that she is limited to her movement; plus, adjustments in the house are having to be made
- positive attitudes to continue strong with therapy - this will probably add an extra dose of sanity as well:)
- medications to be working well together - i think there is a total of 7 or so that mom will continue to take everyday
- wisdom for all of the many doctors that continue to follow mom's progress, especially the oncologist and the team of nurses that will resume the chemo treatments soon.
We give praise that the promise of Emmanuel never is failing and continues to be our song. We appreciate your prayers and deep concerns during this rough season.

Mom has made it through 2 nights at home! She's even been sleeping in their own bed. There are a lot of changes around the house to be made to make it easier to move around, etc...but she and dad are both loving being in their own house.
It's been a bit busy with health visitors bringing equipment, scheduling appointments, therapy and other tests...but she seems to be resting quite well. Now that we're calming things down a bit, we can all get some rest -

We just returned home from a trip to Charlotte this afternoon to meet with the oncologist. Although the previous treatments seemed to be working well, they pose quite a risk for mom and her health now, with the clot near her lungs. For this reason, they have chosen a new path - another chemo treatment that is more "standard". This "carboplatin" treatment will be twice a month and there are some different things that will need to be watched. Definitely her blood levels will be taken each time before the treatment, but the other risk is the kidney function. The doctors and nurses are confidant this is a good path for mom, especially right now.
Praise God! that mom was able to make it through the entire day without a nap (although she is about to take one now:)
- pray for good test results so that the treatment can begin asap - it's already been scheduled for Wednesday
- pray for good results from the treatment, and a positive experience with all of the effects
- continue to pray for sickness not to enter the Jackson home - if dad gets anything, he won't be able to care for mom as well, because her immune system will be more suppressed
- continued strength for mom - little by little she is walking more and more
Thanks for all that you do for our family, the church congregation, and this community!
Blessings to you all this weekend.

Well, it has been a day. From such excitement and anticipation as we look forward to the beginning of mom's new treatment, we were greeted with a new obstacle today. Mom just wasn't feeling "right", and since my sister was in town, we were able to check mom's blood sugar consistently throughout the morning (Madeline is Type I diabetic). Her numbers were extremely high all morning ("average" levels are somewhere around 80-120, mom's was 250+), even after not eating much of anything, so they met with a family doc at 3. Unfortunately, she was diagnosed with diabetes (probably type 2-which is controllable by diet and meds). I'm not sure exactly all of the details and what happens from here, but there is certainly enough to keep us praying until we find out. Please pray specifically with me for:
- decisions on new treatment for the brain tumor (the "new" chemo may not work if mom has the blood clot AND diabetes)
- discernment and wisdom for dad and/or a dietitian as he/they will be responsible for planning meals that will work and benefit mom with her blood thinning medication, as well as diabetes limitations
- encouragement for mom and dad as it is somewhat frustrating - they just went through the ringer over the past month, and were encouraged that mom's adjustment was so smooth. Obviously, they would have liked to avoided any diagnosis such as this so soon
- peace and rest for the entire family...we're all feeling extremely run down
- the family to testify to Psalm 16: "Lord you have assigned me my portion and my cup: you have made my lot secure. The boundary lines have fallen for me in pleasant places; surely I have a delightful inheritance"...we are fully confidant that the Lord will not give any of us more than we can handle, but there are many times when our human flesh wants to doubt that promise that He has already given....please pray that we would be living in faith every day in these experiences
I will keep you updated, as you know, as we learn more.

It's Monday - a start to a brand new week!
Dad had to figure out how to test mom's sugar all day yesterday. We borrowed a tester from my grandmother and didn't have all of the information on it, so it was quite a chore to figure it all out.

So far, those levels have remained 'decent' but nothing normal by far. She'll be seeing the regular general practitioner this afternoon, and he'll hopefully have some more detailed information from test results, etc. We're hoping he also has a great recommendation for a dietitian to help them plan their meals to work for mom on her meds, and to be enough nutrients for dad as well.
Blessings in this new week-

It's Thursday, and has been almost 3 weeks since I last posted anything. Well, no news is good news, right? Not always the case. There hasn't been miles of progression, although mom continues to work with her physical therapist twice a week, and dad has now become the new occupational therapist. Putting together puzzles, reading books, playing with puddy - those are the sorts of things he's been helping mom with.

Unfortunately, the church was swamped with three deaths in the congregation, and our pastor was out with a blood clot. So I did take on a lot of the responsibility, and wore myself out. So I spent all of last week in the bed with a virus and complete sleep deprivation. I am 'in the swing' of things now, just not 100%. And in order to keep ANYTHING AND EVERYTHING from mom, I haven't visited in over 2 weeks.
Hopefully, we'll be back to visiting, and good health next week.
Mom will have another chemo treatment in 2 weeks, so continue to pray for strength and any other opportunities to encourage her health along.
We appreciate your continued prayers in a dry season of reporting.

Hello to anticipating eyes!
I greatly apologize for the length in time that has past since the last update on mom. Unfortunately, 2 weeks ago, I was attacked by some nasty virus (not the flu) that kept me out of the "land of the living" for quite some time, and was unable to visit or see mom/dad. However, I am on the mend and almost 100% recovered, so will hopefully get back in the swing of things this week.
For those of you that have asked and often wondered "how is Debi doing?"...just understand that right now, "no news is good - or at least decent - news". Mom has been progressing and taking baby steps each day to getting more mobile. She continues to work twice a week with in-home physical therapy, and has since given up her occupational therapy time, for dad is learning all there is to know in that field now (he should have a degree in everything now! - talk about renaissance man!). From what I hear when I do get to speak with mom, she sounds great...
although she's making progress, each day still holds its share of difficulties. She is still learning to walk around more, keep focused, and do small tasks that many of us take for granted. She's also missing her children, as we haven't been able to visit lately because of illness. She's always positive when I speak with her....and dad continues to care for her basically on a 24 hour basis. She can be alone, but not for super extended periods of time. And getting out to go places is a little bit more complicated, and definitely wears her out - probably why you haven't seen her at church lately.
They greatly appreciate all of your meals, cards, cares, and prayers for them. I told them I'd be a millionaire if I had a penny for every time someone asked about her - and that's not a burden, it's definitely a way of showing how much you not only love mom and dad, but how you care for me and my sister.
Thank you for your "missing" of the updates. I pray that your families have remained well, and hopefully will continue to be well during a season of such sickness and weather change.
Please pray for:
- Mom's second treatment of this particular chemotherapy (Wednesday, Mar 6) to go well and for the reactions and responses to be as expected
- the blood clot near mom's lungs (is still there!) and the medications she has to take in order for her to keep her blood and sugar levels healthy
- possibilities of turning to a stronger treatment in the future
- an extra dose of health to dad so that he doesn't get sick (if he's sick...he can't serve as mom's sole caretaker in fear of getting her sick with anything)
- all of the families that have been introduced to deadly diseases such as brain cancer in the past year - we've all had a rough year, but we continue to seek God's will and certainly praise him for his blessings!
Praise for:
-the past year - just for an insight, mom's "year anniversary" is coming up. We found out she had the glioblastoma cancer on March 18, 2007 - it's an absolute party of rejoicing that we're able to still update a year later that her testimony remains strong!
A prayer for the new week ahead of us...

Greetings! I appreciate your patience with me, and sometimes my lack of updating to tell you what is going on with mom....
Can you believe that our specific requests began exactly a year ago?! These next few days that approach us will definitely be difficult ones as we look back at what was going on this time last year. Tuesday marks a particularly important day - the day of mom's first surgery and her actual diagnosis of her cancerous tumor. But, as we remember back, we pray that we won't dwell on those days, but look forward to the greatness that is ahead of us and the amazing possibilities,treatments, and healings that are there. In the same way, during this Holy Week our hearts are hardened from the events that took place so long ago as Jesus was crucified...but we are joyful at his Resurrection and anticipate his return to his people again.
We are definitely GRATEFUL in many ways, for the Lord has NEVER left our presence. From the first day in the hospital all the way through our tomorrow, he has definitely been our "Ebenezer" - our rock. The Lord has kept his promise and continues to draw us closer to him as a Father and our Provider. Our faith and strength as a family has been encouraged and nurtured, and our sadness and worries have been tended to - all because of our church families and the Lord's guidance. We never thought we would celebrate such an ending to a year, but we do have joy in our hearts, for we are able to celebrate mom!
Many of you have asked constantly how mom is doing and feeling, and unfortunately, the story never really changes. She continues to get weaker as the days go on, and her health isn't in tip-top condition. She has now been off of the steroids for a week, and that seems to do good and bad things - her fluid retention and swelling is getting better, but her appetite, general "feel good" attitude, and blood counts remain very low.
Two weeks ago, she went to receive her 2nd round of chemo treatment, but was unable to do to low blood counts. So instead of chemo, they gave her 2 shots to increase the blood counts.
Although her counts remained low this past week, she DID receive treatment on Wed (Mar 12) and returned back to the doctor to receive more "booster" shots. Some of the discomforts of this season include: nausea, extra sleepiness and restlessness, lack of appetite, etc etc. Many of the same, just intensified now.
For those that still wonder "What can I do to help?" ...
- continue to pray for the specifics - not just "we pray for Debi to get well" to include:
- strength for each day to do particular tasks that we take for granted
- for mom to drink more water and liquids to prevent dehydration
- for mom to be able to eat or drink something to give her enough protein for strength each day
- for mom's nausea to be more contained if not removed
- for mom to be able to increase her mobility and endurance with the help of the physical therapist to get her out of a wheelchair
- for the need for oxygen tubes to decrease or end
- for mom's treatment to continue to shrink the tumor bed
- for dad's health and patience as he cares for mom 24 hours a day
- for mom's surgeon who's wife just had a baby
Other ways to help...
- send a card or an email to her ... she doesn't stay on the phone too long, but that way you could send your thoughts to her.
- if you would like to visit - PLEASE call ahead of time. I can't even keep the appointments at the doctor, Charlotte, therapy folks straight because it seems like everyday has something...and if she isn't doing one of those, she might be sleeping. So that you can actually visit with her, just make sure to talk with Ronnie first and check on the time.
Again, thank you for your concerns and thoughts. You all continue to remind me how much you appreciate these updates, and I hope that you realize what strength your prayers have given our family throughout the past year.
Mom tried to get up and get ready for her physical therapy session at the
house today, but her nausea "overtook her". She has been so sick feeling,
that we were beginning to worry that she was suffering from dehydration. So
dad, being such a wise man, called the docs, and they headed up to
Charlotte. Upon arrival, there was IV fluids, an anti-nausea shot, and a
"booster shot" waiting for mom. After about 4 hours in the infusion lab,
they moved her over to the hospital to the 4th floor to begin the whole
process of receiving 2 units of blood. As of 6:30, they had only gotten a
sample of her blood and sent it to the lab to be tested and cross tested for

These infusions take quite a bit of time (and patience), so they will stay
up there until they are complete. The docs are hoping that it all will perk
mom up and she will be able to come back home immediately, and not be
admitted over night. When I spoke with dad last, he sounded very tired,
told me that mom wasn't feeling any better, but was bound and determined to
come home tonight.

So, let us all pray for:

- quick transfusions

- mom to "perk up" from the extra blood and meds to curb the nausea

- dad to get some rest while all of that is going on

- safety as I travel up there, and everybody comes home (soon!)

Mom and dad finally made the trip home last night around 3 a.m. Everything went fine with the transfusions, and they were able to sleep a couple of hours before the daylight waking them.
I spoke with dad about 8:30 this morning, and he says mom is still 'swimmy' and not so much 'perky' as they would expect, but he was hoping to get something in her body for nutrients before they went back to sleep.
If at all possible, please limit your phone calls today, for they might be sleeping all day to refresh themselves from the past 24 hours.
Continue to pray for them both as they rest today, and that the blood would do wonders for mom today.
Pray for the rest of the family, as last night was restless for us all - I have especially been dealing with difficulties in sleeping, and with so much going on, last night was a very sleepless night.
By the way - today marks one year - of sadness, joy, peace, worry, anxiety, laughter, having family and friends being more support than ever imaginable, being led and given discernment - of knowing Christ more through something as devastating as a brain tumor.
What a year!

What a beautiful Easter! Our family was so excited because we were able to celebrate this joyous season with everyone - including mom! Although Mom was unable to make it to church on Sunday morning, we all came to her that afternoon and fixed a feast. She was able to stay awake for almost 3 hours with everyone over! We had such a blast just enjoying one another. Even though she was exhausted and took a long and hard 3 hour nap afterwards, she was able to enjoy herself too.
Tonight she is scheduled for an MRI. Hopefully the results will be back tomorrow for when they meet with the oncology nurse. Let's pray that those results will help in guiding us all to the next step of treatment/therapy. Continue to pray for mom's mobility too, as it's still very difficult for her to do much without complete exhaustion.
We'll update after the results have come back.
Debi's Oncology Research Nurse called today with good news from the MRI,
which was performed Tuesday night. There has been NO change in the tumor
since the last MRI. This has eased any concerns of tumor growth. Debi's
weakness and inability to use her left side was mostly due to her condition
at the time, which was very poor, then. With some fluids, two units of
blood, new antibiotics, increased Potassium intake and some TLC, Debi has
fought back and gotten much stronger, now. She is still having problems
making her left arm and leg do what she is telling them. Debi has also
regained a pretty good appetite.

Easter 2008

We thank God for your faithfulness to prayer and for His mercies. God
continues to send His angels to encourage and support Debi with her battle
and gives her the will to endure all that is going on with her body.
Debi's next chemo treatment is scheduled for next Wednesday 4/2, and she'll
have to get another booster shot of Nulasta on Thursday.

Today is Wednesday - meaning chemo treatment day. Unfortunately, mom wasn't able to receive the treatment today, though. Her blood counts remain VERY low, and administering treatment with such levels is just too dangerous. she did, however, receive 2 shots of the neulasta (the white blood cell count inhibitor) while she was up there.
soo.....what's next??
Mom and dad met with the oncologist to discuss a new type of therapy (this is the 4th try since standard treatment last spring). This new treatment with a drug called 'Thalomid' is used for several medical issues - some severe, others not so severe. The use of this drug has a similar use as the Avastin (cutting off the growth of blood vessels - ultimately, and hopefully killing the tumor completely). This is a pill that she will take so many days out of the week. There are many risks involved with handling and care of this drug, so the family will have to be cautious in the administering of it with mom. We have no clue as far as side effects to what will happen. We pray that mom's body will be accepting of this medication, and will allow it to do its job,without harming other systems and bodily functions.

Today, I want to offer a prayer for those folks that work diligently on researching the effects and causes of these medications, and that they would continue learning more, getting closer and closer to a cure or functional treatment.
Thank you for your prayers.

I am so excited to announce the 1st Annual Jackson Classic - a golf tournament to benefit mom and the Brain Tumor Fund for the Carolinas! The tournament will be on Thursday, June 5 at Waterford Golf course in Rock Hill, SC (out near the Galleria) and will be open to as many people as possible! The game starts at 9:30 a.m., then lunch, then finish the last 9 holes following lunch. Cost is $75/player or $275/team of four - PLEASE let me know if you would like to be a part of this day by playing - OR if there's some other way you'd like to help out (help with registration, drink carts, preparing goodie bags, set up or clean up at the course, etc). OR, you can also make a donation to Jackson Classic to help cover the basic costs for the tournament. We want the majority of the funds to help Debi, and another portion to support the BTFC, but there will be some expenses to cover, so any donations will be greatly appreciated!!
Just email me, if you are interested in supporting in ANY way! Pray for June 5 - that it will a great time for fellowship and joy -

I just talked with Dad this morning. Mom is feeling much the same as of late - decent, but not turning cartwheels. Her physical therapist is coming later this morning. Mom typically does well for the first half of their time together, but it absolutely exhausted and has to 'rest' the rest of the day. Currently, they're waiting for more information on the new treatment, so that hasn't begun yet.
We praise God for folks who are reaching out to serve mom and dad, as well as Jeremy and me. We have so many friends and family that are offering so many things outside of prayer; comfort, home cooked meals, lawn services, etc ....from deep within, we thank you all!

Jeremy and I spent some time at mom and dad's yesterday the good ol' fashioned way - with a bucket of KFC original chicken, 2 sides and 4 biscuits...Mom was able to eat some, and then rested the most of the time we were there. Jeremy took dad outside and they hit golf balls in the yard in honor of the masters. Mom is resting quite a bit these days, and is very tired after getting from here to there to do whatever. She had physical therapy this morning, and as I understand, that's going well, but not well enough to get her back to walking.
So, we continue to live another day, the start of another week - keep praying!

Today we get some uplifting news! Mom went to Charlotte to get blood work done and get everything checked out to get prepared for the new treatment. Thankfully, all of her labs came back good and was more 'above normal' than it has been in the past. She also is walking some since her physical therapy - like 50 feet a couple of times a day. Granted, she's slower, but hey - each step is closer!
We aren't quite sure when the new treatment will begin, since it has to be cleared by insurance, etc...but be praying for that specific treatment and the effects it will have on mom (as with every treatment, there will be negative effects, as well as positive ones).
I was hoping to get her to the Women's Retreat this weekend, but not so sure that will be so feasible. Let's pray that mom would be able to experience a part of that somehow - whether it's through your personal testimonies, cards to share about the time together, or even a visit and show some pictures.
We have been humbled by God these past few days! Mom has been LITTLE BY LITTLE moving 'forward' and feeling much better. We have been able to witness the affects of elevated - but good- blood counts. Mom has been able to do more and more with her therapy this week, and is bound and determined to get back to walking more than she was able to. She now can walk about 50 steps before resting - which is way better than the 3-5 steps she was walking at a time. She still is resting a good bit, but when she's awake, she's been very alert. A couple of things to pray and give thanks for:
- the new treatment (Thalomid) was approved by the insurance company yesterday and she will begin taking it Friday (I think). I'm not quite sure of the process of that treatment, but I do know that this med is in pill form. It's also very dangerous for women - in the fact that it has severe, even deadly birth defects. For this reason, mom and dad will really be the only ones to handle that medication. Although the med is harmful, once mom takes it, it will not affect anyone (so you can still visit worry free!:)) From what we've been told, the side effects are a little less severe - only that it causes much fatigue, which we're all somewhat used to with momma.
- the in-home rehab that mom has had since January will end after Monday. She then will have to be admitted to out patient rehab 2-3 times a week. This is really great because it will make them get out occasionally, but in case of bad weather (really hot, or rainy) it might make those transitions a little more difficult
- pray for renewed encouragement. the results from the lab work last week were definitely an encouragement, which has been so good during such a season of slow and minimal progress/improvement
- dad has been able to do some of that 'honey-do' list, and has been occupied while mom rests. he loves to get his hands on things and likes to stay busy, so that's been good and healthy for him
- pray for the patients that have recently been seen at CMC for surgeries similar to mom's. pray for their families, and opportunities, if any, for us to be able to share the Gospel with them
- plans for the golf tournament to raise money for mom and the Brain Tumor Fund for the Carolinas are beginning to come together. I have brochures for those of you that are interested in participating or helping out in any other way - just contact me or ask Dad

Mom had a really nice weekend. Jeremy and I were able to spend more time with them this weekend than we have in a while. On Friday, dad actually had a bit of work to do, so Jeremy and I went to visit with mom. Jeremy cut the grass for dad before the rains came, and I kept company for momma. We were able to enjoy our time together and the beautiful weather!
On Sunday, mom wanted us to go to the Front Porch, a home-cooking restaurant in Chester, so we drove down with them and enjoyed a wonderful meal. Mom actually had a good bit of energy and was excited to get out. She got many compliments of how good she looked - and she did look good! It seems that the positive reports from recent tests have mentally given her an extra boost of feeling better - which is great!
She hopefully will begin the new treatment/meds tomorrow (Tuesday). They have to be shipped to the house, so pray they arrive today so she can begin that tomorrow. She'll also be in need of some outpatient rehab, so pray that those decisions and plans will be made soon.
Her next MRI is scheduled for May 20....
although the rains came hard today, there's been a bit more sunshine around!

Mom keeps saying 'well, I FEEEEEEL good!' so praise the Lord! She and dad have been busy bees and are trying to get out of the house once a day for something - baseball games, dinners with family, church homecomings, anything! I've been encouraging them to take a morning stroll - or push - up the neighborhood to enjoy the beautiful sunshine, but I don't think they've done that quite yet.
Mom began her treatment last Thursday night, and has seemed to take it fairly well. They will speak with the doctors soon about raising the dosage, now that we know her body can handle the medicine.
She (hopefully) will be getting back into outpatient rehab therapy soon, so continue praying for the opportunities for that to happen on a weekly basis.
Mom would love visitors, and I know dad would appreciate them as well.
So grateful to be writing such a positive update this week -
take care!
P.S. - Golf tournament plans are coming along, but we still need your entries and registrations! If you'd like to help and haven't told me already, shoot me an email asap!

'This is the day the Lord has made, let us rejoice and be glad in it.' The past few weeks have been very encouraging. Mom is beginning to 'feel much better' and is more alert, lively, and determined. She's able to stay awake for a while longer now, and is determined to get out once a day. Today is a big day...

CN2 is doing a story about mom, to air conveniently right before the golf tournament. We're thinking it will be on the night news next Monday. So, we're getting ready for that. Not to mention, exactly 3 weeks until the big day!

Also, you might not recognize mom the next time you see her....she got something, and boy is it stylish! Keep calling her, and find out for yourself how well she is doing. Continue to pray for the effectiveness of the medications too!

we had a great time visiting with my good friend and celebrating at her wedding over the weekend.  It was great that mom was able to make the trip all the way to Anderson.
At Kimberly's wedding in May 2008

Be praying for mom (and dad) as they travel to Charlotte in the morning to do an MRI - the first one since January-ish. Of course, mom can't stand the actual test and noises, so pray for calmness during the testing and safety in their travels.
So, maybe I have confused some of you....
mom actually began her new "chemo treatment" last night (Sunday night) on an empty stomach, which a wise move - she woke Monday morning real icky, and unfortunately didn't have the greatest of mornings.
This chemo is taken in a mega-dose once every 6 weeks. It is paired with the other medication (thalomid - it's a drug that stops blood vessel growth) in hopes to really zap away the tumor.
Mom is very thankful that she only has to take this chemo 1 time every 6 weeks, but she already doesn't look forward to the next dosage.
On another note, many of you may have seen us on CN2 last Thursday during the news. I wish I would have been around a computer to write to you, but was unable to tell you soon enough. i will, however, let you know that WHRI will host an "appearance" with me in the morning at 7;15-7:30ish. The more that folks know the cause, the better!

Mom seems to be feeling better these days. With the temperatures getting warmer outside, it's more difficult to stay out for long periods of time, but she's doing well with the 'desire' to get out.
We were over on Saturday to fix dinner and were able to enjoy some downtime with both she and dad.
The MRI from last week showed no progression - which is better than digression. There was essentially no change. She will continue her 'anti-growing blood vessel' pills through the month, and will take another chemo pill in about a month.

Also, keep in mind, Madeline (my older sister),and her husband Jeff and daughter Grace as they are grieving their 2nd loss in pregnancy in the past few months - it's a difficult time for them, and especially hard that we're all separated by a few hours. Pray for healing (emotionally, physically, and spiritually) for the entire family.
We praise God that he listens to us all in our deepest cries and rejoicing!

What an amazing day!! Yesterday (Thursday, June 5) was the big day of the Jackson Classic! Although it was a rather miserably sweltering day, we had every ounce of enjoyment that could be had!
On the course, we had 143 players (one shy of a maxed out course) and about 25 volunteers that helped run the show throughout the day. Beginning at 6 a.m. is hard, especially when you know you'll be going late into the night...but we had a blast! Everyone was kept safe in the heat, and hopefully had a great time.
I have already heard many many folks comment on how well organized and how smooth the tournament ran, so thanks to all who helped with that!
I still haven't completed the absolute final numbers yet, but we definitely raised over $25,000 to support mom and the Brain Tumor Fund for the Carolinas.
Thank you to everyone who supported through prayer, financially, or even came out to help or play. Without all of you, the day would not have been anywhere close to the way it was.
I'm taking a month off, but then we'll beginning planning for next year!
Thank you thank you thank you...
Mom and Holly

The Jackson Classic 2008 team

We've had to take some time to calm down after the golf tournament. It was such a busy time of preparations, but the tournament was absolutely a blast! The most accurate figures are completed - so far, After expenses were deducted from a gross $33,000 (that also included gifts donated for the raffle drawings) the net proceeds were $18,500! Unbelievable! We're still trying to comprehend everything.

Although mom was feeling well that week, she has since weakened somewhat. Her blood counts have been on a consistent and rather quick drop since last Wednesday. At this point, the doctors continue to watch her closely, but have made no decisions yet to hospitalize, give her blood, or any other procedures. If her counts continue to drop, it's possible we'll be looking at another blood transfusion soon.
When her blood counts are low, mom is very lethargic and sleepy and just doesn't feel well. She been very nauseated as well.
You can pray for strength and rest for her and that her blood count levels will be boosted naturally, or that the doctors will find the best ways to increase her counts. Also, pray for dad to have peace and comfort while mom isn't feeling so well. He's not always easily encouraged to leave her when she's feeling worse, and worry can easily set in.

It is a beautiful day out - perfect for sitting to write a few words...
Jeremy and I are grateful for your prayers as we chaperoned and attended the missions trip to Appalachia the last week with our Senior high youth students from the church. We had an amazing time - for me, it was my 9th trip back on the trip and my 3rd with the same church...but for Jeremy, it was his first time. I was once again the infamous "Snack lady" and Jeremy was leading recreation. Our groups really meshed well together by the end of the week (we were teamed up with a group from White Oak ARP in Georgia). Jeremy and I actually spent some time with "the other married couple" with the other team. It was definitely a heart breaking experience, but so wonderful to see the Lord work in so many different ways. While we were gone....
Mom, Dad, Madeline and Grace headed to the beach for a few days. Although it was a great change of scenery, the trip had it's share of obstacles to overcome. Once they learned how to get around, and how to get mom outside to enjoy the beauty of the coast, their time went well, and quick. Thank you for your prayers for their safety and enjoyment of that time.
Upon their return, mom continues to be somewhat lethargic. She has had very little desire to eat, for she seems to be nauseated for most of her time that she's awake. She has desires to "go and do" things, knowing that they will help her feel better, but her energy is severely lacking that it makes those trips a little more difficult.
From what I hear from she and dad, their rest is good, although not consistent. Their times at night seem to get disrupted a bit and they get really good sleep from 5-8 a.m. Of course, mom continues to rest most of the day in the recliner, in and out of sleep.
She had a dentist appt on Monday ( no cavities!) and then an MRI on Tuesday. We have waited to hear the results, but unfortunately only have a vague idea of what's happened since her last chemo pill.
What to pray for:
- results from the MRI - what we've been told thus far is the MRI didn't show much from the tumor area, however there's a comment that there is "increased thickness in the frontal lobe". We're not exactly sure what this means, so our minds have begun to create synopsis for those words. Pray that it's not an urgent issue, and it's solely a note for the doctors. We won't hear back until Monday at the earliest.
-energy and rest - although 2 different ideas, they go hand in hand. mom and dad both need restored energy each day, and peaceful rest at night, in order for mom to continue fighting, and dad to continuing caring.
-increased appetite for mom - the only way she's going to get more energy is to eat more foods. dad is having a hard time getting her to want something, and then eat more than a few bites (although his 2nds are starting to become 3rds now with the meals that folks are supplying:))
-more opportunities to share the gospel with others...they've been seeing the same doctors/nurses for the past 6 months...pray for new individuals that don't know Jesus to come in contact with them, that others will see God's glory through all

I just wanted to let everyone know that dad had to take mom to the er at cmc around noon today. after waking up from her morning nap, she was showing some very abnormal signs - sluggish communication, more immobility, vitals outrageous, etc.
They are in the very beginning stages of determining what may have caused all of this - there are quite a few suggestions, but nothing definite yet.
Urgent prayer is requested at this time for them, and the doctors, in this particular situation.
I will update you as soon as results have been received.

Just heard from dad - Mom has been admitted into the hospital.Her CT scan came back okay with no signs of bleeding, therefore no stroke.
However, signs point to some seizure activity. This being the case, the docs are going to switch mom's anti-seizure meds and monitor her with them. They have to be careful because these types of medications can cause severe interference with the other meds mom takes for other reasons. There's no telling how short or long her stay will be.
We continue to pray for victories, as everyday is one. Thank you for joining in our quest -

A decent uneventful evening in suite 9108....
I actually made 2 trips to the hospital last night, the first mom was somewhat awake, but not too coherent. On the second trip, she was peacefully resting.

Apparently, upon waking this morning, she showed some similar abnormalities as yesterday, that scared dad a bit - a lot of mumbo-jumbo, that wasn't understandable. He and the nurses expressed concerns, and they've decided to keep mom for another day/night. They will be momentarily taking her for another MRI and see how that compares with the one from last Tuesday.
Pray that -
-there would be absolutely NO evident signs of tumor growth
-the docs would be able to quickly determine and solve the source of these abnormalities
-the level of seizure activity would be mild
-the meds that mom is getting is enough (currently she's on 2,000 mgs of her anti-seizure med, she can take up to 4,000mgs before they have to consider another medication)
-dad would have strength
-they would continue to witness 'angels on the 9th floor'

What a long day! Jeremy and i just got in from the hospital. we can tell we're getting old when 11 p.m. feels like 3 in the morning!
Mom ended up having 2 different MRIs done today. the doctor seemed to be pleased with the first (not showing any evidence with problems in the tumor)...however there was some question with another portion, hence the 2nd MRI. They were thinking that there was just movement from the first test, and that showed up a little odd on the readings, so they just wanted to check.
so far, there's been no word on those reports, so we're assuming all passed on those as well. the docs still wanted to monitor mom on the 2,000mg dosage of the anti-seizure med, so she's spending another night.
we're praying for a restful night, and hopefully a safe trip home tomorrow!
good night!

Mom is home!
They were able to get out of the room before lunchtimish:)
The doc had come back to give some results from that 2nd mri from yesterday - apparently there is small concern of a vessel on the left side of the brain - it has some restriction in it. Now, the best way to treat these sorts of things is surgery or popping asprin on a regular basis. Unfortunately, mom is not a candidate for surgery (given her intense past 3 and past months of illness) and she is unable to take aspirin, for it interferes with many of the medications she HAS to take.
So, we just have to be on the look out. If this vessel becomes an even bigger issue, it could cause more seizure activity, a stroke, or numerous other things - so we'll continue to pray that the restrictions on the vessel wouldn't be worsened in any way (despite the lack of "treatment" mom will get for the correction of it).
Thank you for your prayers in these last few days - we're completely exhausted and ask that you pray for renewal this weekend.

Just talked with mom this morning. She was waking up from a nap, so our conversation wasn't much of anything, but it was nice to talk with her this time. She and dad had a typical weekend, but mom's strength continues to lessen and lessen daily. She seemed to fair out decently well through the weekend, and hopefully dad was able to rest some.
They did have some excitement yesterday, as they made it out to my in-laws for my nephews 1st year birthday party. Mom was bound and determined to celebrate with Will, so we were all glad to have her there.
Continue to pray for rest and renewed strength and energy for them both.
You are a blessing,

I'm at home with mom and dad right now, after just returning from the appointment with the oncologist that went fairly well. The information received from a previous MRI about "increased thickness" was discussed and determined to not be necessarily as big of an issue as we originally thought. The doctor believe that this thickness is not the direct cause of mom's weakening body each day. There also seems to be a bit of swelling (which could account for some of that thickness). So for now, the plan is as follows:
- begin taking the steroids on a low dosage to decrease any swelling and give a boost to mom. this dose will be tapered each week, to hopefully only last about a month (she has been off steroids for 6 weeks, so she's not too excited about starting them back, but they WILL help her feel better!)
- depending on how quickly and well she reacts with the steroids, and assuming she does well, the docs will determine when and how soon to give the next dose of chemo(which will probably be half of the original dose). her blood counts will need to be good in order to proceed with this as well
Her strength is still lacking more and more each day and she is sleeping more than she used to. Her wit is still's just a little delayed sometimes.
We had a fun evening last night, as Tonia Bendickson from WBTV came to do an interview for a story they will be posting soon about the Presbyterian Criterium which will raise funds for the Brain Tumor Fund. This story should air twice (once on Thurs or Fri in the 5-6:30 newscast) and then definitely on Saturday between 8-9 p.m. during their live coverage of the criterium. Although it was fun - she was absolutely tuckered out, and is still trying to recover.
For your prayer list -
- continue to pray for rest and renewal each day for both dad and mom
- pray specifically for strength in mom's left side, for she has none, and this makes it difficult for dad to lift and maneuver her to the chair, bed, etc.
- pray that mom would be eating more each day - she's eating about 1500 calories, just enough to sustain the energy she does have
-pray that the steroids will kick in quickly and restore some energy and decrease the swelling
- pray for the final preparations for the criterium bike race on Saturday. we plan to go and watch and celebrate when they honor mom for the women's race
....until next time, we're one step closer -

What an amazing weekend!
My sister and Grace came into town late Friday evening for the weekend festivities.
We met up with them on Saturday afternoon on our way up to Charlotte for the Presbyterian Criterium - the bike race that raises money for the Brain Tumor Fund.
Before the women began their race, the announcer gave a brief welcome to Mom and the family, and giving the racers the idea that they were racing in honor of Mom. IT was a great moment - 84 of some of the best women bikers in the world acknowledged mom and got so fired up. Mom was able to stay through the entire race (about an hour), then some horrible winds hit, and she was about done for, so they left.
Jeremy and I stayed through the men's race and were totally blown away (literally) every time the pack would race by us.
We had the greatest seats! VIP section right at the start/finish line, so we saw everything happen, first hand!! It was such a great event and even we felt honored to represent mom at the men's race too.
Apparently the story that WBTV did was good too, although I haven't seen it yet. They were such nice people and seemed so caring, even on Saturday evening.
Criterium Race with mom as the honorary member

Mom is feeling 'okay'. She has definitely gotten some perkiness back (maybe from being back on steroids), but she hasn't regained much strength. Asking her to move her left leg is like asking a parked car to do a donut! But dad is being patient with her (sometimes:)) and it's also helpful when Jeremy and/or I am around to help out with lifting and moving.
Keep praying for rest and renewal!
It's Tuesday - over 2 weeks since I last wrote. It's been quite the 2 weeks and we've been so busy!!

Mom took her 2nd dose of chemo last week and seems to be doing well at this point. It is a lower dosage than the previous (they have to recalculate each time with weight changes, etc). Her side-effects have seemed to be minimal, although definitely present.

Two very exciting things are approaching us - the first being a BIRTHDAY CELEBRATION!!!! Mom will be able to get her discount on McD's coffee on Saturday. August 23, 2008 will be such a blessed day, and we look forward to celebrating with mom this day. We've planned just a small gathering of family for dinner and dessert, but are just incredibly thankful to have her birthday to celebrate.

Secondly, Jeremy and I have begun the processes of purchasing a home. We close on Sept 5 and are super excited! We're very glad that we'll be close to both sets of parents - they're both only 5-7 minutes away! Of course we'll miss our current arrangements immensely! Mom has even cried being so excited about the home purchase.
Another great thing (selfishly) - Jeremy and I are going to the beach for a few days of vacation next week - yipppeeee!!!

Continue to pray for:
-the chemo to do it's damage (but to the tumor only:))
-much needed rest and relaxation
-strength, energy, and appetite for mom
-dad's health (nothing wrong, but pray it remains)

-the rest of the home-purchasing details to go well
-our adjustment to being homeowners
-much needed rest and relaxation on the Ghent vacation.

We had a fantastic weekend! All of the fun and festivities began on Friday when 3 wonderful ladies from church came to visit mom and dad, bringing subs, coconut cake, and ice cream. After lunch was over, we all got involved in a serious game of Scrabble. Mom used to always win this game, and although she doesn't always win, she definitely still holds her own:) After a great afternoon, she was absolutely exhausted, so she rested for the latter part, and waited for the safe arrival of my sister and grace for their visit.
On Saturday, mom's ladies group from church had their monthly breakfast, and since mom couldn't go, they came to her afterwards, bringing cards, smiles, and small gifts. We are soooo thankful for the women of Ebenezer that have reached out to mom (and to me) over the past 1.5 years and shown her so much love. Mom said that the day was even better that they had come to visit.
That evening, i had fixed chicken enchiladas (our usual Christmas day dinner) for the immediate family. Then, the rest of the family came over for chocolate delight (my first attempt-and it was great!) and birthday cake. It was such a busy night, but mom had a great time! She certainly had no problems sleeping:)
On Sunday, we had both sets of parents (mom and dad, Bruce and Debbie) over for pizza. This was a nice time for us especially. Jeremy and I are so blessed to have 2 sets of amazing parents that we love so much and we can all fellowship together...I don't know how else to imagine it!
Mom has been feeling okay for the most part. I've been trying to chat with her when she's awake, and when she's awake, she's lively. Of course her getting around is still very slow, and her strength is still lacking somewhat, she seems to be feeling good, and enjoying the moments that she is awake.
Continue praying for:
- the weening of the steroids (should be ending this round in the next week or so)
- continued activation of the chemo she took 2 weeks ago
- rest and renewal for mom and dad both

Just wanted to give a quick update. Jeremy and I have safely made it to the beach, and to my surprise, we actually had a full day of sunshine! But before we got off, we weren't quite sure we'd make it...
the phone rang at 1230 a.m. last night/this morning, and it was dad, saying he had called an ambulance to come and get mom - she had fallen while dad was helping her into bed. She slipped, leaned towards the left, fell against the chest of drawers, and then continued on the way down, only to hit a pointy part of the wheel chair. She had a "puncture" wound, and dad wasn't sure that she was "a-okay" so he was thinking they were going to the hospital. Thankfully, the EMTs were able to patch up the wound and check mom out at home, then help back into bed before leaving. Sleep around the Jackson/Ghent households was essentially non existent last night...
but PRAISE THE LORD, she is not suffering terribly from the fall. She does have several bruises and seems to be quite sore, but she was able to sleep and rest today.
There are still many things that are hazardous for mom to do, getting in bed being one of them. It's so important to us to keep encouraging her to do the "normal tasks" but we need to be reminded of what is good for her, and what needs to happen to make situations better. Pray that we would know how to respond to those situations.
For now, back to the waves crashing....

This update finds all to be a little more improved than the last scare of
mom's fall. Since then, she's been recovering, with an exceptional amount
of energy! She's still sleeping a good bit, but when she's awake, she's
AWAKE. I sometimes think she's got more energy than me! Her appetite hasn't
gotten any bigger, but dad continues to make sure she's getting enough
nutrients each day. The past check up with the oncologist was great - they
were so positive in the way mom was looking, and could tell she was feeling
better - especially since her last visit. She is beginning to taper down the
steroids again (we don't like being on steroids, although they do increase
her strength and energy and appetite - but the less she's on, the better).
She didn't have an MRI yet, but that should be coming up soon. One of the
greatest things over the past month is that mom has been able to visit us in
the house twice now. It does take a bit of brainstorming and patience to
figure out how to get up or down the front porch steps, but she's determined
to see everything!

In the life of the Ghents, we have officially moved into our new home and
are loving it! We do miss our apartment lifestyle and will be forever
grateful for our friends there! We're thankful that our home is in a
wonderful neighborhood with young couples and families - 8 of which attend
First ARP or Ebenezer, plus the many more we've already become friends with.
We thank you for your prayers on our behalf as we spent many months
faithfully in God's search for our home, and over the past weeks as we have
spent many hours working on making the house ours.

A few requests:
- pray that the chemo would continue to work its course on the tumor.
- pray that the next dose of chemo won't be too overwhelming for mom's body.
- pray that mom would continue to be faithful and have the capacity to
- pray that mom and dad's health would be good during this season of
- pray that we would be able to find a way to make it easier for mom to
visit our house more often

I was finally recovered enough this weekend to be around mom. Since her blood counts have continued to drop, she doesn't need any other exposure to possible viruses, my sinus infection (although treated with antibiotics) was posing a threat to her. After 2 weeks of going without seeing her, we finally were able to go out to dinner for my birthday to longhorn (the best bread in the whole wide world). Then, we were able to do our Sunday afternoon visit yesterday. Overall, she's 'good'...but you have to understand - her strength is incredibly minimal at this point, especially on the left side. It's difficult for her to move, lift, use her left arm, and moving her left leg is practically close to impossible. So that presents a series of difficulties in itself. Her strength never really 'improves'...but she has strong moments throughout the day. Tomorrow, she will go up to Charlotte for to see the oncologist and to hear the results from the MRI she had on Friday.
Pray for:
-positive results on the MRI (if no shrinkage, at least no activity)
-wisdom for the oncologist to know how to proceed with the next dosage of chemo
-dad and his strength...he has to compensate for mom a good bit
-enough gas to remain in the Camry for 'in case of' emergencies, and enough to get to Charlotte and back for the next few days
-the upcoming Brain Tumor Fund RuBiRu race on Oct 25 - if you want to join 'Team Debi', let me know!

Praise God for:
-healing my sickness so that we can be of help and visit with mom and dad
-opportunities for dad to get out and do some yard work while mom is sleeping (it's a great outlet for him)
-the work of the chemo in mom's tumor already
-the wonderful doctors and nurses that have personal (not just medical) interest in mom AND her family

Just talked with dad after their 2 hour appointment with the oncologist. Unfortunately, not the greatest of news, but again, it wasn't too surprising either. With the way mom has been feeling, acting, and moving, we knew there was a little something 'just not right.'

The MRI from Friday shows obvious growth in the lower portion of the tumor in the brain, either of the same tumor, or perhaps of a smaller, newer tumor. She's also had quite a bit of swelling, which pushes everything around in the brain, and messes with her speech, thought, movement, and coordination. (To give you an idea, for those of you who have seen the dip in her head from where the boneflap is missing....she had a headache the other day, and with all of the swelling, there was no dip in the head. Wow!)

So the outcome, and what's next...
mom will no longer take the Thalomid and chemotherapy, since it apparently wasn't doing anything to the tumor. She will, however, restart the Avastin (the drug that kills the blood vessels all throughout the body, in hopes of killing those directly associated with feeding the tumor). As you may remember earlier this year in January, she had some difficultly after taking this medicine, and had the pulmonary embolism, and spent a while in rehab. So we're praying that the coumadin she's on now will prevent any types of blood clotting, and allow the med to work it's magic on the tumor and possible new tumor.

Mom will also join a special 'coumadin clinic' that will be specific in monitoring her blood pt levels and be able to give more or less of that blood thinning medication when she needs it. This is definitely a better option for her, rather than having the local doc checking it out.

Also, tomorrow, a team of specialists in this field will take a look at mom's reports and pictures and see what else they might be able to do (more meds, surgery, etc). After her 3rd (and what we thought final) surgery, the suggestion was that mom not undergo any more surgery, for she could not withstand it. So we anticipate these possible options that are thought out tomorrow.

As you can tell, this can be a tumultuous time for us. There are so many unknowns and unexpected things for us to think about...we praise God for His provisions thus far, and know that he will continuously carry us through this journey. Sometimes we find ourselves complacent in this situation, because things have become the 'norm' and not just 'mom's sick' but because there hasn't been great and drastic change. Her body is weaker and weaker each day, but we've seen this over the past 18 months time. As I often tell folks, she's 'okay' and for all intense purposes, she is okay....but she isn't. She's severely ailing with this tumor in her brain and has little capacity of doing anything she wants. But she continues to press on, and has been quite stable for the past months.

So when we find out news like today, it comes with mixed emotion....of course, sadness because no one wants to hear things are getting worse and we need to try new meds...But then too, some part of comfort and peace fills my soul, knowing that we're about to enter into yet another chapter of this life with mom - and we know without a doubt, we have the joy of leaning on our Father to carry us through it together - just as he has done specifically since March 18, 2007.

Join with me in praising God for His faithfulness and earnestly seeking his care, wisdom, and steadfastness in these next steps for mom, and us all...

Mom seems to be doing great with her new treatment. She's also been
regaining some strength and feeling better in general. This doesn't mean by
any stretch that she's fully recovering, but she IS able to stay awake for
longer times, doesn't seem to struggle as much in standing up, and is able
to be more focused in conversation. Continue to pray for this treatment
that it will be best suitable for her and the doctors would be able to
monitor her well. She does still have a spastic pt/inr level (connected
with the thickness/thinness of the blood). Currently, her blood is a little
too thick, so they must increase her blood thinner. This is especially
important, because her blood needs to be flowing well enough so that when
the other new medication starts working (remember, it cuts off blood vessels
in hopes of killing the ones feeding the brain tumor) , her blood doesn't
stop completely and cause other complications. Another issue has risen - some type of allergic reaction of sorts on her right leg - and it's painful. so she'll be heading to the doctor some point soon. Thank you for your prayers
on her behalf.

On another note, we have 2 family relatives who currently need prayers of
healing and peace at this time.
Claude Jacobs, Madeline's father-in-law, has finally returned home from the
hospital after a stay there to recover from a bout with cellulite around an
incision on his leg from his recent bypass surgery. At one point last week,
his condition was rather critical, so we praise God for his return home, and
continue to pray for him and his wife, Patsy.

Also, this Friday, dad's sister-in-law will have carotid artery surgery.
She feels great and confidant about the procedure, however, it still makes
one nervous. Pray for guidance of the doctors and quickness of the process
of cleaning out the artery. She should be at home by Saturday afternoon,
and we'll pray for speedy recovery and renewal of strength.
Mom and Dad

Celebrating our move into the new house 

Just wanted all to know the update on MY AUNT PHYL (that's my dad's sister in law:))...
bright and early we all made it to the hospital this morning for a quite uneventful morning - all went amazing well, she was taken back, pre-oped, gone into surgery and was out before we knew it!
mom and dad were even able to make it to the hospital to visit before surgery and actually stayed through the entire surgery. of course, mom was absolutely exhausted, so she stole away for a little rest this afternoon. but she did well in her wheelchair - another answered prayer. many many thanks for all of your heart prayers throughout the morning. we definitely appreciate all that you do for us.
Jeremy and i were able to see everyone again tonight, and all is well. we even had a chance to fellowship and feed over dinner with Uncle Ralph (MY DAD'S BROTHER), Kim and Holly (MY COUSINS and Dad's nieces).
The Lord was in the midst of us once again this day - how could we ever deny his presence??
Tomorrow morning (again, bright and early), Jeremy and I, along with another friend (Ellie) will be running in the RuBiRu in support of the BTFC ( and in honor of mom. we're excited, but we've had a long day, and tomorrow will be another, but we're pumped about the cause.

Things are going well thus far into mom's treatments. She's had 3 already and seems to be doing well with them. Last Friday, she did start receiving another type of med, that has caused a few bumps here and there, but nothing to be frightened about. Dad continues to love on her and care for her, but lately, I've had some opportunities to spend time with them.

Dad and I did our traditional 'Operation Christmas Child shoebox shopping' this morning. We've been doing that for quite sometime - something just he and I do. Although it took right at 2 hours of standing and looking in Walmart, we made it out well, spending a bit less than we normally do (which isn't a bad thing), and seeing a few folks that ALL asked about mom. We were just glad that Dad was able to leave her side for a few minutes (or hours) to go and do that.

I made dinner for them last night - Pumpkin Black Bean soup. Now, don't turn your nose up. It was SUPER YUMMY!!!! Let me know if you'd like to try, and I can give you the recipe...or even invite you over the next time we have it! They loved it, and I loved fixing it for them.

Tomorrow is Thursday, our weekly lunchtime gathering. Since Jeremy and I were beginning to have super busy evenings, we decided to do lunch at least once a week - so I'll be excited to spend some time with them tomorrow.

As we continue to give thanks, I am especially grateful for marriage. Jeremy and I celebrated our 2nd anniversary at the beginning of October and I've already learned (and will continue to learn, I'm sure) about the blessing of marriage. And now to see it through in the daily lives of my parents...I'm so lucky that I have such a model to look at, and to see love in it's true expression. Join with me in celebrating with mom and dad 34 years of marriage on Sunday....many more to come!
Celebrating 34 years of marriage (Nov 9, 2008)

Just wanted to give a quick update on the Jackson/Ghent front...
Mom had her 4th treatment on Friday - but was unable to receive the chemo because of low counts. She seems to be holding well with the other medicine, and it definitely is making her stronger bit by bit. On Saturday, they came to our house and mom was able to climb the 4 steps and walk to the recliner! It was so fun to watch her, but it wore her out. I am taking my running ability for granted! I was able to rejoice with her at walking 25 feet!
She and dad both are ready for the holiday season to begin. That means more time with family, and more to look forward to.

I hear comments from them each day about the kindnesses that you all are giving to them - your meals, sweets, flowers, gifts, love, etc...I appreciate you all for everything!

The next treatment will be Dec 1, and I believe an MRI will follow sometime in the month. We are faithful that this new treatment series is attacking the tumor as hard as it can!
The biggest thing to pray for - blood. Mom's pressure has been a bit elevated since beginning the new meds...that can lead to many things, so pray that her pressure would be stabilized and her counts to rise so that she can receive the chemo next time.

good morning. I write this morning very tired and sick. Jeremy and I unfortunately both have some type of cold/flu/sinus stuff, and we're both at home today - it's pitiful, and I was starting to wonder who's going to go get the chicken noodle soup (and saltines, bc we're out) and grape juice - the ultimate foods that cure any cold/sinus junk??
I did want to share that mom has been successful on her recent treatments over the past month, and PRAISE THE LORD has not gotten any of the colds or stomach bugs going around. She's remained mostly healthy and regaining a bit of strength here and there.
She and dad are in Charlotte right now, getting an MRI - she hasn't had one in a few months (since she started the new treatment), so we should see some great results.
Pray with us that she will be able to endure the MRI (she really hates those machines) and that we would hear good results and see some massive shrinkage.
Thank you for your prayers!

Great news! Dad just called and I said 'What's up dad?' and he responded...'you mean, what's down?!' That's right, the original tumor has seen shrinkage since Sept 26, the last MRI. Then, it was 2.5x2.3 mm and now is 2.1x2.0 mm - about a 20% shrinkage! And the new tumor growth has seen a bit of shrinkage as well, but not enough to give details.
We're so happy that mom has been healthy since the start of these medications 2.5 months ago and pray that she will continue to regain strength while she remains on them. Pray also that we will continue to see the tumor go away in time!
She'll remain in Charlotte for most of the rest of the afternoon, receiving her treatments, and then they'll make their way back to Rock Hill. Thank you for your prayers this day!

Mom unfortunately has had a very rough day - possibly an attack of the stomach bug virus that's been going around. She and dad had stayed in all last week, but ventured out to be among the hustle and bustle of Christmas (mom has ALWAYS loved being a part of the busyness). She may have caught a bit of something then. Or else, something she ate just didn't settle well and has hurt her all day. After an intense morning, she has slept much of the day, unable to eat but nibbles, and barely able to get the meds down.
You may remember that the last time we got such good news (as the 22.5% shrinkage from last week).. this time last year - the 19.7% shrinkage...then along came the pulmonary embolism that made a huge setback. So, we ask your prayers - for Satan loves to attack the good news - mom really needs to remain super healthy, especially this week as Christmas approaches and time with family is a lot. With our family, we like to do a lot of gathering, so we want her to be a part as well, but she needs to be well, and we'll all have to take precautions.
Continue to pray for a healthy body to overtake any of the sickness she may have. Also pray for dad, as he had a hard day caring for mom. He wants nothing more than for her to feel comfortable, and when she isn't, he's almost sick to his stomach. You can also pray for Madeline and Jeff and Grace, as they've been sick, and Madeline still is very ill, and won't be able to come to Rock Hill as soon as they had hoped.
Blessings this week as we near the light of Christ...

Merry Christmas. Just wanted to write a quick note of excitement and joy, as we're winding down a busy day of family, food, and celebration. We've enjoyed our time with one another, and although mom's seriously exhausted, she's been able to endure most of the festivities. This afternoon, mom played "the quiet game" and slept for about 4 hours! I made chicken pot pie, brown rice, and steamed cauliflower - what a Christmas meal?!
Her blood work is still very poor, her breathing has gotten a bit heavier, and her strength is still disappearing - however, our Savior has been born and that is enough to push through any of our weaknesses!
Blessings to you this special season. We hope all of you were able to experience the birth of Christ in such a way that we could this year.
Merry Christmas!
Opening Christmas gifts, 2008

Mom was wearing an ugly sweater, Christmas 2008

Mom went for her treatment this morning, but was unable to receive the meds for a couple of reasons: For those of you who may know, my sister and I have been sick a good bit since Thanksgiving with colds, flu, bronchitis, laryngitis, sinus infections, etc. With the season of caring, also comes sharing. Unfortunately, by the time all of the holidays were over, mom went to the doc and was treated for an upper respiratory infection. She's been on antibiotics since last Saturday. Her counts have been low, and her blood pressure out of the roof! So, they decided to let the antibiotics run their course, get her back to better health, and allow her some time to regain strength. So- they will be doing the treatment NEXT Friday instead.
Then, the next step will be an MRI, a visit to the neurologist (mom hasn't seen one since her diagnosis, so this will be key in determining if anything else is happening "upstairs"), and the next treatment all during the same week in February (first week). So, That will be a busy week - but until then, she'll be nursing back to health and recovering from the past few days.
In other exciting news, since the new year has begun, the insurance company is allowing more in-home physical therapy. So, a couple of times a week for the next few months, mom will have some help in learning how to do things for gaining more strength (and dad will have a little extra help for an hour here and there).
Continue praying for her, as well as dad, that he would remain healthy in order to care for her.
My sister is doing well. Although I have yet to speak with her this week, I did receive word from her that they were able to see the baby again, and all looks well at this point. Let's continue praying beside them for the days ahead in her pregnancy.
Ideas are starting to bloom for the 2nd annual Jackson Classic. I'm hoping to get together with the other director from last year to get some things squared away - we'll let you know where YOU can help!

Good morning. I write to you this morning with rather concerning news, as the past 14+ hours have been an absolute roller coaster. Around 4 p.m. yesterday, dad was helping mom in the shower and bathroom, and notice she was becoming very unresponsive. He ultimately had to call an ambulance. Upon their arrival, her breathing was shallow and quick and she was still not responding (wasn't able to talk, couldn't follow fingers, was sleeping a lot). We agreed to let her be taken to Piedmont to get her stable and then we would go to CMC. Before the ambulance left the house, the EMTs decided her breathing was so little and light, that they needed to intubate her in order to help her breathe more. By 6 p.m. she had been admitted to the ER and was beginning to run tests. All blood work, x-ray of chest, CT of head and chest showed nothing "unusual" or nothing that isn't already there (the mass in her brain, residual from last year's blood clot, etc). When the folks at Piedmont realized they had no clue, and no history of mom, they finally agreed to let her go to CMC - via MEDVAC!!!!! So, the helicopter landing was loud, but they loaded mom up, and dad got to be co-pilot for their 10 minute flight to Charlotte. By 4:30 a.m. she was still getting settled and still running some similar tests. They were also hoping to get an MRI at some point. Jeremy and I came home to get some sleep around 5 this morning and are anxious to hear from dad.
The situation is this: at this point, there's been no determining cause of what happened and why. Of course, there were speculations of a stroke, or even another pulmonary embolism (blood clot near her lungs)...but those haven't been ruled as the diagnosis. We're still waiting to hear. We're also hoping that she can get the tubes out of her - she's incredibly uncomfortable - as i know we all would be. That means she needs to be able to breathe on her own. After that point, I don't what is the next step at this time.
Please pray:
- rest and comfort for mom, dad, my sister and I and our husbands, children, and extended family
- wisdom for the doctors as they search for a cause and treatment for mom
- that we could take the tube out as soon as possible and she would be able to keep steady breath
- that we would be able to see God's glory and good and perfect will at this time
We are truly confidant in Our Father!! Jeremy and I arrived this morning at the hospital by 10 and were able to spend a couple of hours back in mom's ICU room. She had a decently restful evening, and dad was at her side the entire night (although not so restful for him). The nurses cared for her all night and slowly weaned her off the need for the breathing tube and by 8 a.m. she was breathing solo. So, around 11 this morning, they took the tube out. PRAISE THE LORD!!
A lung doctor came in to check on her and helped confirm that this was not an issue with a blood clot or pulmonary embolism. He is more thinking that it was a, they're arranging for an MRI and an EEG to see if there's any activity with the tumor, and to review what's been going on with her brain activity.
I imagine those tests will take a portion of the afternoon to run, so we probably will just be hanging around the hospital. We're so grateful to have such an amazing bond between our family (currently 12 of us are in the waiting room together) and all of our friends (and wonderful neighbors!) I ask that you continue to unite with us in praise for what the Lord has done in these past days, and what He will do in the days to come.
We pray now for:
- mom's recovery from the tube (she's coughing a lot, struggling to swallow, only about to get liquid from a swab, etc)
- CLEAR results from the next few tests - that a diagnosis would be revealed and confirmation of treatment
-preparations for a return home (to see if we'll need to bring anything to the house to make things easier)
I just got off "nurse duty." During off-hours of ICU visitation, they're letting us sit back with mom in groups of 2, so we've been letting dad sleep and eat, and learning the ropes of caring for mom right now. For the past few hours, I've been giving her an oral swab soaked with ice water, and trying to clean out anything that happens to get coughed up. I've been learning her "code" of communication, and trying to fill all of the new nurses, doctors, therapists and other staff in on her condition. At this point, a few new things...
- the doctors have come to us with 2 or 3 more possibilities of what is going on from abnormalities they've seen through other tests. So they are waiting for another MRI of her brain, the EEG (to verify the seizure), an ultrasound of her heart, and a few other scans and x-rays of her chest/lungs. For the most part, these other "possibilities" are rather serious, but we can't take action until we know for sure.
The extended family has left for the afternoon and will return later this evening for the 9-11 visitation time. It has been such a LOOONG day, and it's barely 5 p.m.!
Keep praying for-
- more rest for dad - he did get 1.5 hrs of hard sleep, but he def. needs more
- patience for us as we just sit and wait
-for the other "possibilities" to be ruled out
- safe travels as we go back and forth to and from Charlotte
- Madeline (the oldest daughter) as she is about 17 weeks along in pregnancy, and this uneasy, anxious time makes it difficult for the mommy to get rest
PRAISE THE LORD for a body of believers. Your prayers are a blessing to us all.
Resting peacefully after her stroke/seizure that marked the beginning of the end

Good morning. Jeremy and I made it up early this morning to avoid traffic and to get here for any doctors or tests that we could be a part of.
Dad said mom had a restful night and had no seizure activity after we had left (10pm). PRAISE THE LORD - NO MORE SEIZURES!! She has switched to a different anti-seizure med and that will hopefully help calm those episodes. We also were able to watch the EEG (that reads the brain activity) which was neat, but we have no clue what all of the squiggles mean. We'll wait to hear from the doctor that reads them. We're also anticipating a visit from mom's oncologist and the infectious disease doc (to give more info on mom's shingles), as well as those other tests.
Good evening...I can't believe it's dark. Over 12 hours ago I came into the waiting room, and I'm still in the same square footage now that i was then.
You've probably been checking the site numerous times today, only to find that I haven't posted much. Well, that's because not much has happened. It was pretty "boring" but in a good way, although we were hoping some things would have been done by now. As I type this, dad has accompanied mom to get the MRI so at least that's taken care of now. Just a few more tests to run - who knows when that will.
On a positive note, the docs keep saying that mom no longer meets criteria for ICU but they have not yet transferred her to a regular room. However, she's getting great care in ICU, and there's a huge waiting area that the "Jackson Family" has claimed for waiting. It's got enough chairs for everyone, clean floors, a tv, a phone, and a desk (for those of us that have to work:() It's been rather quiet all weekend so we're able to catch some sleep every now and then.
We are extremely weary now...and heavily exhausted! Normally it takes about 5 days for the exhaustion to set in...but it hit quickly this time. Keep praying for rest for everyone.
We continue to feel God's presence and Spirit with us, through messages, mail, and your kindnesses - and we feel so free and overcome with joy that you all are willing to care for such an exhausted family. We know that anytime we're at CMC, God's angels come to us in many fact, I witnessed God's angels at work last night when Jeremy and I got home. God knows us, knows what we need, and when we need it...and are faithful that he will continue to provide.

Good morning - or good afternoon. I apologize for such a tardy update. Unfortunately, the lack of sleep hit me a little difficult this time, and I slept for 12 hours last night to try and knock a sinus infection. Although I awoke rested, I had no luck. I sit a few feet away from mom's bed, with a mask on, and should only touch her with gloves - so, that isn't as fun, but I'm just glad I can be with her.
I'm not exactly quite sure how to give the update at this time. I know this much: there is some abnormalities in mom's brain, heart, and lungs, but not much treatment that would serve to "cure" these things. We are looking forward to getting her into a regular room later this afternoon, and hopefully home before the weekend. At home she will be more comfortable, and we'll have all the necessary equipment to make that happen (hospital bed, oxygen, etc).
As I know, they haven't done any more tests other than the EEG and MRI. That's probably not going to happen now. Unfortunately, if they do find some irregularities and problems, they wouldn't be able to really give her treatment, because it would only make her weaker and her body less able to recover from these episodes.
Pray now for:
- mom to pass her "swallow test" so that she can get her feeding tube taken out
- comfort for mom
- God's peace to rule in our hearts
- health for me to get rid of the sinus infection quickly
- my sister and her husband as they travel back to GA today and return at the weekend
Praise the Lord, mom got into a normal room tonight! There, hopefully, she'll be able to rest a little more calmly, with little interruptions. She was "sleep talking" and acting out some things which brought a bit of humor to our time tonight, but she was extremely exhausted.
Praise God for:
- His traveling mercies upon Madeline and Jeff, they made it back to GA safe and sound by 9 pm tonight
- renewed energy for me from my sinus infection - although I've had a lot of drainage, I can at least breathe!
- the many angels He has placed in our lives
- YOU, our amazing prayer warriors!
Good night....

Good morning.
I write to you from my office this morning, trying to tie up some ends and get things scheduled for whatever is to come in the next few days. I spoke with Dad this morning and he said she had a very restless night, with talking in her sleep, twitching and well as heaving to cough. It is becoming incredibly uncomfortable for her.
Dad didn't seem to be overjoyed this morning, as she had a difficult night, and I'm sure he did as well.
Dad was able to see a doctor to get some news, but it wasn't necessarily too positive. At this point, we're just taking one day at a time. I don't believe she'll be taking the swallow test today, so we continue to pray for that to happen.

-Pray for God's spirit to be upon us
-pray that in our weakness and sadness, we'd see Jesus
-pray for calmed hearts
Dad and I are waiting for dinner to arrive (thanks to my amazing husband and in-laws). We've spoken with some docs, nurses, and other folks today to get things started and rolling with arranging mom's return home. We're hoping that happens tomorrow afternoon, but if not, we'll shoot for Friday.
Once she is settled, we'll probably establish some times for folks to come and visit. Please keep posted so you know when the best time to visit will be. We appreciate your understanding.
Mom continues to do much rest, but seems to be distracted by coughing and dreaming.
Continue to pray for:
- restful rest for her and for dad, as he is unwilling to leave her side.
- travels to and from the hospital for our family
- to leave the hospital in God's timing, whether that be tomorrow or Friday, and for the arrangements for equipment and setting up the house would be smooth
- specifically for my sister, who returned to GA yesterday. She had to return to her school to teach, and is having a difficult time being away, working, and not knowing what's always going on. Pray that her heart would be calmed. Pray for her safety in traveling on Friday after school. Pray for her health and the baby's health during this season of her pregnancy.
- Praise the Lord I'm feeling better, although I still have a good bit of drainage and am sneezing like crazy. i have to wear a mask in mom's room, and wear gloves if i sit with her and touch her.
Another day passes....but the Lord is our provider -

This is the day the Lord has made, we will rejoice and be glad in it....and it is surely a glorious day.
Mom grabbed hold to that scripture from the beginning of this journey that began March 16....and we continue to hold tight to it with her this day. The Lord granted rest, although little, it was rest, and the awoke us with a beautiful sunrise. I was restlessly sleeping last night and all I could do would pray scripture (thanks to the Wilsons for such an amazing book borrow).
I have failed, in my delivery of updates, to share with you Scripture, and I apologize. For His Words have upheld us through and through. While we're making arrangements for mom's return home this afternoon, we continue to pray these words from the Lord and ask that you pray them with us.
Lord, you have assigned me my portion and my cup, you have made my lot secure. The boundary lines have fallen for me in pleasant places; surely I have a delightful inheritance. - Psalm 16:5-6
May the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be pleasing in your sight, O Lord, my Rock and my Redeemer. Psalm 19:14
But I call to God, and the Lord saves me. Evening, morning and noon I cry out in distress, and he hears my voice. Psalm 55:17
The Lord your God is with (me), he is might to save. he will take great delight in (me), he will quiet (me) with his love, he will rejoice over (me) with singing. - Zeph 3:17
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. - I Peter 5:6
Be of great joy...for this is the day the Lord has made!

Here's some exciting news....
Madeline has a healthy baby GIRL growing with her! Praise God for his protection over them both during this anxious season.
We're resting well at home now, quiet and still. Dad and Jeremy are enjoying some college basketball and I am doing some house things. We are all looking forward to a night of rest at home.
If you would like, the best time to visit is in the afternoon between 1-5p.m. We simply ask that you call us first (home or Amanda's cell) so we can expect your arrival. Please use the side entrance door.
We continue to covet your prayers...

We've been hanging out around the house this morning loving on mom. She was able to take some medicine last night and this morning, and now is thirsty,so dad is fixing her up some thickened beverage of sorts.
We had a quiet night, and it was so good to rest at home and not in the hospital. Everybody seemed to have rested very well.
Mom did open her eyes and has even spoken a bit this morning, although still difficult to hear. She seems to still hear everything we say.
Be encouraged this day...

Good morning! We had a great day yesterday and a beautiful morning so far. Mom was alert enough to know who and when folks were visiting. She opened her eyes for most of the day, and even responded to questions. She also has wanted some foods (some have been funny, but others have been legit). The other day she wanted a Snickers bar (mom never liked snickers before)!) and then my Aunt Phyl fixed chicken bog - the best meal ever! - and mom was so excited to eat some. She even had a few bites of my famous Oatmeal Chocolate Chip cookies. This morning she's had a few bites of a biscuit and feeling well. Granted, she eats maybe 5 bites, but it's more than she's had all week.
Her energy comes in spurts, and it's not a lot...but when she's resting, she looks so peaceful. I think she's understanding a bit of what is going on and is just enjoying her time she has with everyone.
We have loved hearing from you, seeing you, and knowing you're praying for everything. Continue praying for peace and comfort for us all.

Good morning -
Mom had a restful night, after a fairly restful day. She didn't have many visitors, just the nurses and the pastors, and some of the 'big dogs' from her old company. She was able to rest, although she gets interrupted by her coughing. She's also been having some headaches, which makes her rest a little less restful. She has been eating bites of things and is getting some liquids into her, so she isn't dehydrating. She is off all of her medicine except for the steroid.

Since she's got the large tumor on her right side, and more tumors in her brain now, her thoughts and memory are suffering tremendously. She still knows who everyone is, but she doesn't remember much and her desires are very impulsive.

We've had an abundance of love poured out on us, and we are so grateful for you all. Continue to pray for:

-Comfort and painless rest for mom
-safe travels for Jeff & Grace (my bro-in-law and niece) on Thursday (Grace's bday)
-for us to enjoy every moment of time we have with mom

Today has not been the best of days. Mom woke up this morning around 4 coughing and unable to sleep much after that. Later on, she complained of a tight neck (has been a problem since we've been home) and a #10 headache (now, there is a scale we all use, 1 being the slightest pain, 10 being the worst has NEVER had a #10, much less gone about #5 or this was a big deal)
She wasn't very vocal yesterday, and it's gotten even less today. Her appetite is no longer there, and she's been sleeping a lot more. There has been noticeable change in her since yesterday morning and it could be a number of things.
Right now, mom's best friend from college, BT, is sitting by her side, talking with her, praying over her and loving on her. Growing up, mom used to always tell us we needed a special friend like BT - someone that's always there, no matter what, and makes BIG sacrifices to serve and love on others...I know that I've got one of those (and I'm so thankful - even though she lives in Mississippi!). Mom was so happy to see BT's face today.
We are sure that the new tumors (and lack of treatment to the old tumors) are beginning to make their presence known. Memory, mobility, alertness, thought process, and senses are becoming weaker and weaker.
Thank you for not giving up in your prayers, we all are feeling surrounded by them, and continue to need them!

We're so glad it's Friday - but the week has sped by. Jeff and Grace made it safely to Rock Hill yesterday around 5 p.m. and we were able to celebrate Grace's birthday. She turned 6 years old yesterday and we loved showering her with love and gifts. Even "Nana" was able to help sing Happy Birthday, and blew on a noise maker!
After a more difficult Tuesday and Wednesday, mom was noticeably more alert yesterday, and able to hold more of a conversation with a bit strong voice. As I sit here today, she is asleep again, not having such a wonderful day. She hasn't spoken much, and hasn't been awake a lot. She's also been complaining of more pain - which is something we didn't have to deal a lot with in the beginning of all of this. You know we all hate it when she's not comfortable and is hurting.
We don't know what's in store for the weekend, but we pray for more rest and wonderful times with family. We'll have a couple of opportunities for our ENTIRE family to be together tonight and tomorrow to celebrate birthdays. We're looking forward to those times, for they are always filled with joy.

Whew - it's been a weekend! With family parties, visits from old friends, and an abundance of food, we've managed to make it to Sunday afternoon - a true afternoon of rest. Mom has been asleep for the past hour, dad is reading the paper and chatting with Jeremy while watching basketball, and it's extremely quiet.
Mom enjoyed the day yesterday so much so that she was awake for a large portion of it. When she's awake for a while, her thoughts get really mixed up and her memory completely vanishes, so by last night, she was saying some odd things, but she got an incredible amount of sleep last night - everybody did.
She was having some difficulties, and the nurses thought she was suffering from some infections, so now she taking medicine to help with the symptoms instead of taking an antibiotic right now. We're praying that these will help her feel better and be more comfortable.
Madeline did end up returning to Georgia today and should be arriving there shortly. There were some things she needed to do (along with get back to teaching), and doctors appointments for her pregnancy. She will return to Rock Hill Friday evening and stay through the next week. Let's pray for her safety in traveling, and her fears to be subsided while she's away.
We're looking ahead towards a new week, not knowing what God has in store for each of us, but confident that he will continue to uphold us in every way. Blessings to you all -

It has been a rather quiet day so far. Mom slept from 8:30pm-9:45am and woke up in quite a daze. She wasn't able to eat much for breakfast before she realized she was tired again. She was alert for "bath time" but quickly fell back asleep after the CNA left her. We've been trying to be quiet to let her rest, but we've had "itches" to move about and get outside.
Dad was able to enjoy the weather a bit, as he got out to blow the leaves off the driveway. That was good for him to breathe a different air. Jeremy plans to compound, wash and wax the cars in the nice weather (I know I'm looking forward to that:)).
Pray for peace for Madeline while she's back in Georgia. Pray for health to be restored to dad as a small cold was coming on over the weekend. Pray for comfort for mom as she rests.
Other than new news...

Tuesday was a "good" day, that involved a lot of resting and a few nibbles of breakfast, lunch, dinner, and a dessert (or two:)). Mom has been doing some serious sleeping, which makes the day very quiet. She is always alert when the nurses come, but then back to sleep she goes.
Yesterday, she had some fun visits from a co-worker and his wife, the pastor and his wife, as well as mom's entire ladies' circle group from the church. They came and brought her a Valentines Day Card, and even sang "This Is The Day" to her - so much so that she cried some big happy/sad tears. Everyone is pouring out their love to mom, and to us, but it's good for her.
At this point, mom has a lot of fears for what will happen next. Pray for us as we offer words of comfort to her, and as we continue to love on her. Pray for opportunities to talk with mom about things that have happened that will make us laugh and cry - those are the best times for us (mom just has to be awake for that to happen:)!).
One thing I've been harping on this week is the last quarter of Genesis. At First ARP, we've begun a "read through the Bible in less than a year" (Feb-Dec 31)...and last week was nothing but Genesis. If you read from chapter 37 to the end, you'll become intrigued by the unfolding life story of Joseph, a son born to Jacob/Israel. Joseph surely had his moments of "ups and downs" (sold into slavery, temptation by Potiphar's wife, thrown into prison, interpretation of dreams, rising to be prince under Pharaoh....). But we notice in scripture that the Lord never leaves Joseph's side - scripture continuously reminds us that "the Lord was with Joseph" no matter where he was....
Even in the Jesus Storybook Bible this story unfolds and in all of Joseph's "bad" seasons, God uses whatever is going on for Joseph's good. In the end, we see a great picture of forgiveness and even a sense of the Gospel that is so beautiful....but in all of those 14 chapters, I'm reminded that the Lord is with me always, just like he was with Joseph. I can never claim anything other than that...if I did, I would be lying.
From the moment of March 18, 2007 I've seen the Lord in a bright way - and he's never left our side...So I encourage you today, as I have been encouraged - the Lord is with you, yesterday, today, and in the days to come. I pray that we would all relish in His presence together -

ZZZZZzzzzzzzz.....that's the sound we've been hearing all day! Mom has rested enough for all of us today! She was, however, awake for a bit this morning, and dad was able to swap V-day cards with her. It was a sweet and tender moment.
Dad and Jeremy went to the Winthrop basketball game this afternoon - dad's first trip out for more than 45 minutes since mom's been home!! And Winthrop pulled through - woohoo!
My sister and I have had some great quality time together - a late night trip to give some comfort and ease worries....and then a grocery store trip and Dunkin Donuts run today (dad LOVES DD coffee, so we always know that perks him up some).
We've all been working on our taxes this weekend - that can make for some quite depressing atmosphere, but we've had a good time all together, nonetheless.
Let me take a minute to share with you about the care mom has been receiving - she is under care with Interim Hospice (different organization than Hospice and Community Care, but same idea). From the moment we met the case worker, and a few of the nurses, our lives have been touched. Mom has met 4 nurses so far that have been caring for her. At this point, we see them twice a week to check vitals and address any "medical" issues. They're always available if we need ANYTHING, and they're always asking what they can do to help us. They've given us tons of great information, advice, and love - not just to mom, but to us too!!
The first nurse we met was very special to mom - she talked about her and was excited for when she was to come and visit. However, she has had a family emergency and has had to cut back - no longer able to care for mom. We were truly saddened, but I ask that you join with me in praying for her and her family - her name is Stacy. She has a beautiful heart and loved mom with all of it - even though she only knew her for about a week. We will miss her!
To our advantage, this brigade of ladies is filled with many other wonderful nurses and caretakers!! Mom gets a visit from the CNA each Mon-Fri...they have a great time bonding while she gives mom a bath, and talks about love, life, and anything else! She's been key to all of our sanity these past two weeks and everyday at noon we look forward to her arrival.
The best thing about ALL of these ladies is their faith, and their passion for the patients. Each one has not only cared for us, but they've shared with us their passion for God, and even prayed with us. We've all heard so many great things about Hospice, but we've all really grown to understand how wonderful they really are - so if you're a part of the group and reading this - know that we appreciate and love you all so much. You have made the past 2 weeks more than we could ever imagine - THANK YOU!! (and to Stacy - come see us ANYTIME, the Queen would always welcome your presence, but we have no way to contact you...)
Be at peace this night, as you prepare for the Lord's Day of worship tomorrow with these words from Psalm 121 - "He will not let your foot slip he who watches over you will not slumber; indeed, he who watches over Israel will neither slumber not sleep."

Wow - it's been a while since I last posted.
Currently, I'm at my office, getting a few things done (if you looked at my 'to-do' list for the month, you'd be quite impressed with my productivity this week!).

Since Madeline is around this week, I'm able to be away a bit from the house while mom is resting. She takes care of dad and helps him care for mom. I show up in the late afternoon and enjoy spending all the time that I can. My church folks are gracious people - understanding the situation that's in front of me and my attitude to always go full-force. Many of them have stepped in to take over and other have served as great encouragement and all have poured their love over me, Jeremy, mom and the rest of the family. THANK YOU!!

Mom has been in a bit of discomfort since the weekend because of a few things. She, however, has not had a ton of pain and needed to take any pain meds for that. Yesterday, she was experiencing difficulties with coughing, and was complaining that her chest was hurting. As for today, she continues to sleep sleep sleep sleep. They say that it's normal...but I think mom's just making up for all of us and our lack of sleep these days!

Many of you continue to ask if there is anything that we need...and I've found that even the simplest of things have proven themselves to be of such needs. And you find joy in getting them for us.
If you feel led to help in providing such things, we always need things like: plastic forks and spoons, plastic/paper plates, cups, juice, cards (not just to mom, but to dad too), your thoughts and words on this guestbook, special 'treats' (many of you who know us well could name a treat that ALWAYS puts a smile on our faces)....but most importantly, we rely on your continued prayers, love, and encouragement.

I've told many of you that mom, a while back, lost a lot of her capacity to be emotional - sadness and laughter were rare occurrences for her. And that's still the same today. Mom has cried a few times, when talking to dad, me and Madeline, and her brothers about 'what was going on.' Although it's not 'happy' I love to see those tears!! I must share a funny story that got her laughing last night.

We were watching some of the Bachelor (it's a train wreck!!!). Jeremy absolutely despises the show, so he began making fun of it. Then, he and I re-enacted what was happening - he was the guy, and I was playing the role of all 3 ladies at once. Mom was absolutely belly laughing - NO JOKE! Her smile was the cutest thing to see (I've even taken a picture of it so I can remember it later)...and she was just ashaking!

There is still joy! Thank you for reminding us to enjoy that!
Blessings this day.

In reading through some Psalms in the bitter morning...I fully unwrapped myself in reading 119. Towards the end, in the 4th section from the end these words seemed to ring truer than ever - "My eyes stay open through the watches of the night, that I may meditate on your promises" (vs 148).
I received a phone call at 12:30 early this a.m. that mom wasn't breathing well and was very nauseated and that I needed to come back to the house. I arrived and she was super short of breath, clamy, and in terrible pain. By 1:30, the nurse arrived and did some evaluations and these are the possibilities and what we've come to:
- a pulmonary embolism (remember, she had one of these this time last year that got her down real hard). this would make sense because of the blood thicking and not having any thinner agent (coumadin) to help her out. She's also been stationary for 3.5 weeks
- the tumors and masses could possibly be growing and encroaching on space where they shouldn't - causing lots of pain and a smaller cavity to receive air
There are probably a hundred possibilities but at this point it's difficult to know, and not so much the point in knowing. For now, the best we can do is make her the most comfortable for her to rest with pain medications. She is now unable to swallow well, so we're looking into getting some type of "patch" that contains the meds to comfort her. I was awake with her all night while dad and Madeline slept, and she seemed to be comfortable. But low and behold, we reached 6 a.m. (the hour of her next dosage of meds) and she began moaning in pain.
Please pray now, as we know this decline is eminent, but that doesn't make it any easier. We find ourselves asking "when" over and over, but it will all happen when it happens. We pray for her comfort and peace, and ask that you pray specifically for dad this morning who seems to struggle the most (for obvious reasons). Pray for rest, as I have had none, and last night wasn't the most restful for anyone else.
May you meditate on the promises of our God this day, as I have so fervently prayed over through the morning hours....
I write this from mom's bedside as we watch her struggle with breathing so laboriously. We have had a chance to share with her our love one more time and she has expressed her desire to be in heaven. Please pray for mercy in these moments...

2/19/09 (a.m.)
We all seemed to sleep a bit better tonight through our exhaustion. Somehow, I was comforted every time I awoke, to hear the "moan/grunt" sound mom makes with her every breath. I was so selfish last night, not wanting anything to happen until I woke up this morning....but seeing her in the condition she's in (very much the same, laboring more to breathe and a temp. of 103), I am so convicted of my selfishness.
Mom is just so unable to know what's going on now, and we're having to watch her struggle. When I've thought about death, I've heard that it's not easy to actually watch - and now I'm learning that first hand. I think knowing the end result is what makes it so hard. It's such a helpless state of being - her body is shutting down and there's nothing we can do about it. But soon, and very soon, the Lord will bring her that relief, He will take her pain all away, and He will wrap her up and soar her away.
We have been comforted by your prayers lifted up, and know that you may be exhausted from those prayers - but I ask that you continue to pray them even harder today, as we will be doing. A thought I want to share with you -
Be encouraged for our God is a merciful God. I praise Him because He has never let my foot slip during all of this. He has provided when in need, given grace at all times, and wrapped us in His care and given His Word to comfort us - He did this, He is doing this today, and I am confident that He will continue tomorrow - rest assured that our God loves us and in our moments of "WHY", and know that God doesn't always desire to give us the "why answers" but rather the "how" of His promises. You read through Psalms yourself, and find that David may ask why a good bit...but more often he rejoices in the promises of God - the fulfilled ones and the not yet but soon to be fulfilled ones. That's what I filled called to do in these days.
May we be encouraged this day, through His Word, and His Spirit.

2/19/09 (2:48 p.m.)
Our sweet Debi has made her trip home...
Please refrain from calling at this time. We thank you for all your thoughts and prayers.
The Family
Thank you all for your loving words of comfort. Often times I have been filled with words to share with you about what is happening, but only one word comes to mind - REJOICE. Mom always quoted from Psalm 118:24 "This is the day the Lord has made, let us REJOICE and be glad in it."
This truly was a new day from Him, and we shall rejoice, just as we did yesterday, we have today, and will find the strength to do so tomorrow. We, of course, are saddened, but we find peace, knowing that mom is finally at rest and dancing with Jesus.
Thank you for being such a part in our lives over these last 23 months. We can't find enough words to say "Thank You" but want you to know that you have been such an encouragement and inspiration to us - and your prayers, through the Spirit, have sustained us more than we ever thought we needed. May the Lord grace continue to rest upon you in the days to come.
Fresh snow just days after mom's service and beautiful yellow roses

Releasing butterflies at Mom's gravestone, Easter 2009

It was this time, just a month ago - only 4 weeks - that our lives began to mold to a new season. I remember the morning so vividly - we all had slept at the house together, rose rather early, and I began playing my violin for mom as she seemed to rest rather restlessly. I played through what seemed the entire hymnbook while sis, Jeff, and Jeremy sang and hummed along. Dad was cleaning bathrooms (I promise we tried to stop him and take over)! We 'kids' had a chance to just sit with mom and sing words that we had grown up singing and loving so much. At this point, mom wasn't really responsive and was there in the bed, but now her eyes were somewhat opened. When I played she began to calm her breathing somewhat, and she didn't make the grunting noise she had made all night before. That was such a serene moment for me. Just as mom had calmed us by singing lullabies when we were so young, now I was playing them for her.
I stopped playing after about more than an hour, and a good friend showed up to bring Chic-fil-a for breakfast.

I remember going home to shower and wash a load of laundry before heading back to the house for what seemed to be 'just in time'
I found myself beside mom's left side, holding her hand and rubbing her head - she always loved that, especially the way I did it. It was about 2:24 and I had just called Jeremy to let him know that mom had started aspirating, and that if I didn't call him before 3, then he just needed to come on over from work. Those next 24 minutes seemed like only seconds. I would count her respiration's, they would slow, become more deep, and fewer as the minutes when by. Then, I remember, becoming quite concern, sent for dad, and then I was the one checking her pulse when her body shut down. I remember looking at the clock, then back at her to watch her take one final breath.

Those memories for me are sweet. The devil has tried in recent days to overrun the sweetness and bring fear to mind. But the reality is that there is no fear. I remember feeling so empty, yet filled with such spirit for my mommy was no longer suffering.

I read a sermon by John Piper this morning, as I was just searching and searching for something that would bring encouragement upon this day for me. ( I was reminded that in my praying over the last 2 years, I would fervently ask the Lord to grant healing over mom. In the last months, though, I found myself asking the Lord to grant his peace, and sustaining grace, for mom's suffering was extending to ends unnecessary. I thought for a while that I was being so selfish, no longer praying for that miraculous healing - was I giving up on the miracles and possibilities of God?? That was such an inner battle for me, because the rest of the family continued to pray for healing, even after mom came home and was being cared for by Hospice. The end was inevitable by that point and I just need grace to endure it - we all did!

Praise the Lord for His power and goodness to us all, in our living and in our dying. God has been ever present in my day to day living this month, always wrapping me up in the moments that I'm fallen. God was present on the day He wrapped mom up and took her into such Paradise!

I've been dreaming a lot lately about mom. I dream that I'm always talking to her - and oddly enough, she responds. She is 100% living and knows exactly what is going on - (knows that she has been sick, knows what's happening in our lives, etc). But she's alive. She's told me repeatedly 'I'm alive, I'm alive' with such excitement in her voice. I wake up spooked just a little, but the more I dwell on these dreams, the more joy I find. MOM IS ALIVE. Geez, how I long for the day that I'm alive too!

For those that have the burning question 'How are you doing?' Well, I wish the answer was a simple - 'I'm good, and you?' and some days it actually might be. I won't lie and tell you it's been fine. Each day comes with its share of memories, lost moments, what-if moments, and sadness. But what we tend to overlook is the all-surrounding peace that we have, and the knowledge of God's provisions. I assume memories will continue to flood our minds and hearts, and there will be harder days than today. But if we've learned anything, it's that God doesn't give us too much to handle - he wants us to depend on him, trusting in him, and knowing that he does everything for our good - always.


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