Saturday, December 24, 2011

Happy Holidays - Merry Christmas and a Blessed New Year

After recently visiting the “happiest place on Earth” and now celebrating “the most wonderful time of the year”, I have been in much thought about what brings true happiness. How can it be the happiest place on Earth when the ones you love the most are nowhere in sight and how can it be the most wonderful time of the year without the warm embraces we had last season? For a while, happiness only led to guilt and then sadness for what has been lost and taken away from my family. I have been so careful to not allow things or people to fill the voids, as I think it is necessary to allow myself to feel the pain of the loss and grieve through it fully. Although, being surrounded by so many loving friends and family, I see how people do help to fill the voids, and where one steps away, God sends another to step in. Our eyes will see what we choose to focus on. We can either become bitter and angry because of the pain or we can embrace the new and unexpected adventures that await us. And although there is an empty seat at our table this season, there is no gifts under the tree for him and my children will not feel their dad’s arms around them Christmas morning, there is no emptiness in our hearts, gifts still abound and my kids have the embrace of a loving Heavenly Father that will never let them go. I figured my greatest gift to Mike this year will be to open myself up to allow myself to be truly happy again and take with me every wonderful thing he inspired me to be. I know deep down that this is what he would have wanted. In reflection of all that has happened this year and all that I have learned, I choose to celebrate this holiday season with joy and still great expectations for a coming new year. And although 2012 may bring its own ups and downs and things may not always go as planned, I know that there is a purpose and a plan beyond anything I can figure out or understand and I know that it will all work together for good. My wish for each of you this year is that you will recognize your true source of happiness. Appreciate your loved ones for all they mean to you and all that they have brought to your life. Embrace them, enjoy them and thank them for all that they are, because without them, happiness would not be real. None are promised tomorrow. I find a lot of comfort in knowing that I made the absolute most of the time I had with Mike while I could. I hope that you will do the same with your loved ones this holiday season and all throughout the year. Be blessed.

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

coming home :)

Hello everyone!

I know it has been a while since out last update, so I just wanted to take a moment to let you all know how we are doing.

Zack has started high school and played JV football on top of taking 4 honors classes & continuing his rigorous dance schedule. His football team is going to the championship game this week and if they win, they will be first place in the west side of our district (which includes every team they have played against this season). He has been extremely busy and devoted to all he has going on!

Jadeyn started cheerleading this year and has absolutely loved it. She has done one competition and has another upcoming this weekend and a cheer-off the following weekend. She has also continued with her dance schedule and has adjusted very well at school.

I have been doing well. I have my moments that I miss Mike so terribly, but I grow stronger every day. I do not completely understand why things have happened this way, but I trust that there is a plan for our lives and that it is GOOD! I look forward to what is ahead for each of us and how our experiences can influence and build up others around us. We approach each new day with a positive attitude from the perspective of remaining thankful for all of the many wonderful blessings that still surround us.

So here is the latest:

I have decided to move back to MD with the kids. It was given much consideration and we are all in agreement that this is what Mike would have wanted and it is what is best for each of us and as a family. It has been very emotional just processing all of the changes in my mind and preparing to pack up the house where Mike and I shared so many moments. After a run of certain events, we feel the best time to move will be at Christmas; yes, THIS Christmas. We have 7 weeks to sort, organize, prepare, pack and go. We will be moving in with Mike’s parents and the kids will attend HdG public schools. I will be looking for a job, hopefully in the same field that I am experienced, so if anyone knows of a company that is hiring around ~$42,000+ salary, please consider recommending me. I will also be looking for a good dance studio to enroll the kids. It will be extremely hard to find a studio to compare with our KDA family here, but I am open to suggestions. We will be driving up the week before Christmas and then I am going to fly back mid-January to move our furniture and put it in storage. This has been a HUGE decision and was not taken lightly. I have really had to take so many things into consideration, but once I made it final, I felt so peaceful. I am very confident that this is the best thing for us. It is hard to close a chapter of my life and let go of some things, but in many respects, I feel that it is time to move on. I am excited about what is ahead for me and the kids and the future that awaits us. Because of our faith in Jesus Christ, we know that we are going to see Mike again and eventually, we will rejoice with him for all eternity. For now, I am going to enjoy what is left of my time here on Earth and do my best to honor the legacy he has left behind. Mike inspired so many beautiful things in me and I will live to fulfill each one of them as he would have wanted me to; as I hope each one of you do also. Please continue to keep us in prayer as we make this transition and if there is any way you would like to help, please see our requests below. As always, THANK YOU SO MUCH for all of your continual love, support & encouragement!! I love you ALL!!!

Lots of people are asking how they can help, so here are our needs:

FL friends:
Sorting, packing, cleaning, runs to Goodwill, etc from now thru Dec
As many people as possible to help load the moving truck mid-January
Someone to check my mail after we move and forward items to me
Help running the kids to dance classes so I can pack!
LOTS of love and support!!!

MD friends:
Help finding a reputable/competition dance studio
Help finding a job (Exp. is Executive Asst)
Help look for local storage in HdG and compare pricing
A crew to help unload the moving truck and load storage mid-Jan (NO MATTER WHAT THE WEATHER IS LIKE!!) ;-)

Winter clothes and jackets/boots/accessories for the kids (Jade - size 12, Zack – mens medium)
Gas cards for our moving trip(s) – we have to bring up 2 cars and a moving truck
Restaurant gift cards to help transition (pizza is great on the run!)
Southwest airfare credits to fly back & forth during transition
If you know anyone with moving truck discounts, please forward them along. I will probably need at least a 26’ truck

Tuesday, June 7, 2011


In writing a letter to a friend trying to explain how I get through each day, this is a little piece of what came out; and I felt led to share it, just in case there is someone else out there who needs to know or needs to hear this:

When I was 12, I was led to ask Jesus into my heart to be my personal Lord and Savior. From that moment, my whole life changed. I dove into the Bible like a sponge, soaking up everything I could find that was relevant to my life and all I had been through. I remember very clearly coming across Romans 8 where it talks about the things we go through in life that are difficult, but in verse 37 it says that we are “more than conquerors through Him who loved us”. I also reflected on verses like Philipians 4:13 “I can do all things through Christ who gives me strength” and John 16:33 where Jesus says “in this world you may have trouble, but take heart, I have overcome the world”. Even as a victim of sexual abuse, God opened me up to a new approach at looking at my life. I did not have to stay a victim. I decided that I was not going to allow my circumstances to determine my attitude and who I would become. At 12 years old, I knew that Christ died for me to give me life and every good thing I could imagine. I refused to feel sorry for myself and determined to keep a positive perspective on everything that would ever come my way. I think often of David who was only a boy, yet ran full on at a giant (Goliath) and he was unafraid because, all along, he saw the giant from God’s perspective. That giant was no match for the God on David’s side and David knew that God would give him victory. I guess that is how I have walked through my life- trying to see everything from God’s perspective. My situation and circumstances may not always be what I want or what I feel is fair, but I will not allow any of it to steal my joy. In my eyes, if I allow things to get me down or depressed, I have lost. I refuse to lose. I am not saying that I never have weak moments, or that I have not screamed at God in anger – I definitely have. But God knows my heart. I can be real with Him. I can tell him everything about how I am feeling, what I am angry and upset about. And in those moments, He swoops right in to comfort me and give me peace. I tell Him that I don’t understand and I don’t see how any of this could ever work out for good – but I will still trust Him. I will not turn my back on Him, because if I do, I will lose everything that gives me peace. If I will just seek him with all of my heart, He reveals Himself to me every time. Jeremiah 29:11 says, “I know the plans I have for you", declares the LORD, "plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” I trust that God holds my life in His hands. He knows what is coming and he wants good for me. I choose to receive that. I believe that words have creative power and I speak positive things over my life. I speak scripture and I really believe in what I am saying. I am determined to be and over-comer. I may not always like how things are going in my life but I will yet praise Him and continue to believe that things are getting better every day. I know that this life is so temporary compared to eternity and I want to be everything God gave me the opportunity to be while I was here on the Earth.


Sunday, April 24, 2011

THANK YOU ALL & Easter Greeting

I hope that everyone enjoyed a very blessed Easter Sunday!

I want to take a moment and just thank EVERYONE who has helped to make things so much easier for my family throughout this difficult time. Many have contributed in so many ways, it would be impossible to name and thank each one individually. God knows who you all are and I pray one-hundred fold blessings upon you and yours. Your prayers have been such a constant for us and I know that they will continue to be. I appreciate them ALL more than you will ever know!

For everyone who attended Mike’s memorial services, you know that it was his one desire to see people grow closer to God. In fact, he had said that if his journey inspired even one person to open their heart to Christ, that all of his suffering would have been worth it. For the many who received salvation along this road, I know that Mike is rejoicing in heaven!! I have tried very hard to show that our walk with God is real and not to come off “preachy” but I would be remiss if I did not extend the invitation for salvation through these messages. I know that many who have been following Mike’s story could not attend the services and I just want to share with you, briefly, what it was REALLY all about.

Mike and I believe that God created the world and everything in it. He created man and woman and gave us free will to choose whether we want to be obedient to Him, or not. Mankind chose their freedom to sin over obedience to God. The only way to redeem mankind was to send a perfect sacrifice on our behalf. God sent Jesus to be that sacrifice for all, but it is still our own individual choice to accept it or reject it. The Bible says that if we confess Jesus as our Lord before men, that Jesus will confess us to be his before his Father at the Judgment. There is only one way to heaven and it is through accepting the sacrifice that Jesus made on your behalf to save you from hell. I want to give you the opportunity to say the prayer that will save your soul. If you want to receive Jesus as your Lord and Savior, just pray this prayer sincerely from your heart – out loud, if you are comfortable:
“Jesus, I admit that I am a sinner in need of grace. I know that I cannot get to heaven without accepting what you have done for me, so I accept it right now. I confess that you are my personal Lord and Savior and I want to live my life to honor you. Help me Lord, change my life and make me whole. Open my spiritual eyes to see things fresh and new. Thank you for forgiving me and setting me free.”

If you prayed that prayer for the first time, you are likely feeling a peace that comes from the Holy Spirit. Tell someone about your decision and consider finding a good church to connect with and get baptized! Rejoice – you will see Mike again!!!

As I mentioned, I am not trying to be preachy – but this is what Mike and I have lived for. Whether it was his memorial service, or mine, the message would be the same. There is so much more to life than we realize!!! I have so enjoyed sharing this journey with everyone. I know that it is not over – in many ways, it is JUST beginning! I am going to keep the FB group page open for anyone who would like to honor Mike’s memory or leave messages for our family. From time to time, I may send updates just to let everyone know how we are doing. I cannot thank you enough for all of the love and support we have received!! WE LOVE YOU ALL!!! God bless!!! “Before The Morning” by Josh Wilson – This song has been a tremendous encouragement to us and I just wanted to share it with you guys! <3

Monday, March 28, 2011

It is in God's hands

Just a quick update to let everyone know what is going on:

Mike was released from the hospital on Friday to come home. The doctors have done all they can do and everything is in God’s hands. He will not be returning to Moffitt. We have the option to set up hospice if we would like to.

I feel a fire building on the inside of me – more intense each day. I cannot explain it or understand it completely, I am only confident that God is about to do something really big. When I heard the doctor’s report I was torn. I know God’s Word over our lives, but I also know that sometimes His Word is misunderstood, and His plan and thoughts are not our plan and thoughts. I wanted to stand in faith in my spirit but I was physically & emotionally devastated. I cried all night. By the morning, my faith had been renewed. I know it came from all of the prayers going up for us. Each day that has gone by I have felt stronger and more convinced that this is not the end for Mike. Some people may call it denial or a coping mechanism – but I know exactly what it is; it is the faith in the unseen. These are the kinds of moments that define true faith and I refuse to fail. Mike has determined in his mind that he is going to declare the Word of God over his life everyday and not give in to sickness. I am so proud of him. I know how hard it is for me to stand and keep believing, but how much more for him whose body has been trying to convince him daily otherwise. I am so honored to stand beside him during this time. For anyone that may be worried that I am not facing “reality”, I want you to know that I have accepted that God’s plan may be different from what I am expecting. I have full confidence that God will carry me and my family, no matter what and I will continue to praise Him for all that He is. Please do not mourn for us. Stand with us, agreeing that God is the author of life – He counts every breath and nothing can come to us unless it has passed through His hands first.

We love you all and are so thankful for your prayers and support. Now, more than ever, pray for God’s will to be done and for His glory to be revealed. It takes faith – and all of us coming together in agreement. (Matthew 21:21-22 So Jesus answered and said to them, “Assuredly, I say to you, if you have faith and do not doubt, you will not only do what was done to the fig tree, but also if you say to this mountain, ‘Be removed and be cast into the sea,’ it will be done. And whatever things you ask in prayer, believing, you will receive.”)

Mike’s declaration:

I declare that I am a child of God, co-heir with Christ and I have been given all power and authority over the enemy. (Luke 10:19) I am clothed in the righteousness and the spiritual armor of God. (Eph 6) My struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. I stand firm with my mind covered with the helmet of salvation and I will receive only thoughts that honor and glorify God. I tighten the belt of truth around my waist that I will not receive lies, but God’s truth alone. I have the breastplate of righteousness fitted firmly against my chest, protecting me from the arrow that flies by day and the pestilence that stalks in the darkness, and the plague that destroys at midday. (Psalm 91) A thousand may fall at my side and ten thousand at my right hand, but it will not come near me. My feet are prepared with the peace of knowing the gospel of Jesus Christ and the readiness to share it with all who will hear and receive. I am holding up my shield of faith as the assurance of everything I am hoping for. I am not moved by what I see and feel physically. Everything that will be seen in my life will not be made from anything that is visible. My faith is stronger than my circumstances and everything that is physical, logical & tangible. (Heb 11) I take up the sword of the spirit which is the Word of God. It is life to my bones and health to all of my flesh. (Prov 4:22) The word of God is quick and powerful, and sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing even to the dividing asunder of my soul and spirit and of my joints and marrow. (Heb 4:12) I get all of my energy from His Word. I will use it to defeat the enemy, conquer him and show him powerless against the children of God. (Col 2:15) I will dwell in the shadow of the Most High and rest under the shadow of His wings, making the Most High my dwelling place. I will say of the LORD, “He is my refuge and my fortress, my God, in whom I trust.” Because I love Him, He promised He will rescue me; He will protect me, because I acknowledge His name. I will call on Him, and He will answer me; He will be with me in trouble, will deliver me and honor me. With long life He will satisfy me and show me His salvation. I will pray without ceasing, alert and persistent in my prayers for all believers everywhere. I boldly declare that I will live and not die and proclaim the works of the Lord! (Ps 118:17) So shall my word be that goes forth out of my mouth: it shall not return unto me void, but it shall accomplish that which I please, and it shall prosper in the thing whereto I sent it. (Isa 55:11) He is the LORD, the God of all flesh. There is nothing too hard for Him!! (Jer 32:27)

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

grab your tissue box...

Let me start with last week since I never updated everyone that Mike made it through brain surgery great and all of the pathology and infectious disease reports came back clear as of yesterday. (Thank God!) Getting home last week was a bit challenging. Mike was barely able to walk to the bathroom alone and did not have much of an appetite or ability to do much of anything except sleep. One morning I took him to a lab appointment and he was so sick, it just broke my heart. Watching his feeble steps, seeing his eyes sunken and yellow, his skin flaking off in sheets all over his body, his muscles reduced to skin hanging off of his bones, the 5” wound on the back of his scalp… it was all more than I could bear. The frustration and emotion had been building but that day I just broke. When we got home I sat in the car and just screamed at God – “WHERE THE HE** ARE YOU?!?!!” I had an all out venting session about how I have stood in faith and given Him all the glory for everything and it just didn’t seem like He was coming through. Of course I repented as soon as the words left my mouth but part of having a good relationship with God is knowing that He knows my heart and He understands. I can be real about my feelings – every part of me – and not hold back. You can judge me if you dare or be disappointed in my lack of faith, but I am not going to front like I am not human... I heard a tiny tap on the window next to me, but I couldn’t even look up. I felt somebody crawl into the car next to me and place a tiny hand on my shoulder, “it’s going to be ok Mommy.” I couldn’t do anything except collapse in lap of my 9 year old little girl and cry. She held me and sang one of her favorite worship songs, “so close I believe You’re holding me now in Your hands I belong, You’ll never let me go…” and she read me a story until I stopped crying. We pulled out of the driveway together to pick up Mike’s medicine and Zack called me, “Mom… are you okay? I just talked to Daddy and he is really crying. He thinks he is a burden to all of us and I tried to tell him he’s not. What can I do? (His voice was shaking and broken through his tears) I just want to help but I don’t know what to do.” I explained to both of them that we just need to trust God and really pull together as a family to enjoy the good times and love & encourage each other through the harder ones. Jadeyn spent the whole day with me, reading greeting cards at the pharmacy, encouraging me to smile and be happy. We all spent the evening talking and laughing and playing games. Sometimes God doesn’t remove the pain – he just strengthens your ability to endure it.

Over the past week Mike has appeared to be getting better. His appetite has increased a little and he has made attempts to get out of the house and do more. He had a bone marrow biopsy Friday which would tell us whether he needed to go through another round of chemo or if it would clear him for the path to transplant. I was prepared for news for either route – but not the news we received this morning… His labs were alarming. His white blood cells were at 188,000 – a normal person is between 4,000-8,000. The leukemia had completely taken over which is what happens in the final, most aggressive stage of the disease. They are going to “cleanse” his cells with a machine which will pretty much just buy him time. They have done all they can do as far as medicine is concerned. The doctor has not spoken to me directly about time, but I am getting the impression that they are thinking days…maybe weeks.

Honestly, I have been waiting for this moment. I knew it was coming…dreading it –wondering if I would have what it takes to hold it together and to keep faith… someone gave me a message several months ago that they believed was from God - the message was that God was not going to use medicine to heal Mike – but that Mike would be healed by the Spirit of God, that only God may receive the glory. I received that word. And though we continued with the protocol recommended by Moffitt, I knew deep down that medicine was not going to be the final answer for him.

We are physical, emotional and spiritual beings. People operate at different levels for each and fluctuate at different points of their life depending on the circumstances, but I personally have made it my goal to keep my spirit stronger than my flesh and my mind. I take it all in on a physical and emotional level by what is logical, tangible and by what is felt, but I weigh it heavily against what is in my spirit. My brain is calculating time, Mike’s condition and appearance, planning ahead; My heart is broken, smashed to pieces, overwhelmed by the thought of losing my love (I have never lost anyone in my life and I have no idea what that feels like); In my spirit, I am at complete peace. It is unexplainable other than in the Bible where it says that God will give us a peace that “surpasses understanding”. I know that God is totally capable of turning this around and performing a miracle in Mike. Jesus would not have raised people from the dead if we were not to hope in such things. I tell God all the time that I am not sure my faith is that big – and He speaks back to me saying, “It’s ok because it doesn’t depend on you. I got this.” :-D All I can do is speak life, pray and continue hoping that God’s will for Mike’s life includes keeping him here on Earth with me and the kids. Mike and I have always told God that when it was our time to go, we wanted to go together, when we are old and have lived a fully satisfying life, so that we would never have to spend one day without the other. I don’t know God’s plan. I don’t have some magical insight to what is ahead of us, but I do have Jeremiah 29:11 “’For I know the plans I have for you,’ declares the LORD, ‘plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future’”. I am standing on that.

As always, I appreciate everyone’s prayers and support. It is still very important to me that everyone speaks positive, good things about Mike’s health, or to follow up a negative sentence with “but God is bigger!!” We are blessed to have both of our childhood best fiends visiting with us this week. They have been a huge help to us already and I appreciate all of the running that the dance moms are doing on our behalf!! We love you all – and we are grateful for your love for us. I guess now, we just wait prayerfully and see what God is going to do! Keep your faith up!!!!!

Monday, February 28, 2011

the latest - surprise surgery tomorrow

Okay, so here’s the news….

Last Thursday I took the kids to see Mike in the afternoon so we could try to take him for a walk and get him some fresh air. Unfortunately, it had been a really rough night – his port stopped working and the nurses struggled all night to find a good vein for him to receive meds which resulted in sleepless night and a lack of proper medication, including his pain meds. He had been having a lot of pain in his right shoulder so they sent him for several tests. The final verdict was severe arthritis, but that doesn’t seem to make a whole lot of sense to anyone. I honestly don’t think anyone really knows what is causing the shoulder pain. I was hoping that bringing the kids to visit would brighten his day and turn things around a bit… but Thursday was not the day to try to do that. Just seeing how much pain he was in made me cry, which upset the kids, so we decided not to stay. Just as we were about to leave, Mike received a visit from the neurology team. They very quickly explained that the bleed in his brain had started to digress, but the last MRI showed something lighting up under the contrast. They feel strongly that it could be a cancerous tumor but would not be sure until they go in to remove as much as they can and do a biopsy. Just like that, he was scheduled for brain surgery.
All weekend the nurses have been working to get his platelets over 100 so that he would not be at risk for uncontrolled bleeding during the surgery. He has received several platelet and blood transfusions. At this point, his labs look good and he is scheduled for the operation at 1:00 tomorrow. I do not want to get into all of the risks associated with brain surgery – as I am sure you know, it can be a very complicated procedure. I am just trusting God to guide the surgeons hands and to hold Mike (and me) through the entire thing. The process is about 3 hours and then he will be in recovery for about 5 days. During that time, they will be running tests to find out what was in his brain and if it requires further treatment. Please do not bombard my inbox at 4:00 and ask me how everything went. As soon as he is in recovery and I receive an update from the doctor, I will let everyone know. I promise.

Honestly, when I heard the news on Thursday, I was crushed. I cried all the way home – even in front of Zack & Jadeyn (which I always control). But after about an hour of processing it all, praying and talking to the kids, I felt a relief that could have only come from God. I had such a peace in my heart and we spent the evening working on a puzzle and singing songs together. Since then, I have not picked up worrying again. I have been very peaceful and I’m just continuing to trust God. I know there are many people who want me to be realistic and face every “what if” with full preparation of the worst, just because they want to protect me – and I understand that. There should be balance in everything. But I honestly believe that Mike has an amazing life still yet to live and I am pushing him every day with that in mind. I fully expect good things to come from this entire process, that honestly, not one day, not one pain, not one tear will have been wasted. God is going to use it ALL; in this I am confident.

I do need prayer warriors lined up through the evening, tonight and especially tomorrow afternoon. I am not so foolish to think that we can get through this without prayer coverage and that is where I need YOU. I depend on each one of you to help us get through this if you really care – that means encouraging messages, positive words, prayer commitments, fasting, etc… whatever God lays on your heart to contribute will be greatly appreciated! We are ALL a part of Mike’s victory over cancer. I hope each one of you realizes the vital role that you play. Actually, I am collecting cards, messages, emails, etc to put in a book for him, so if you would like to send me something, I will make sure it gets added. Just email me or send it on FB; if you want to send a card to my house, just text/inbox me for the address. I want to fill it with letters from all over the world, so please include your city & state.

Please be careful about what you speak!!! I have said before and I will say it again, words have creative power! Proverbs 18:21 says that the power of life and death are in your tongue. Please speak that Mike is getting better every day and no weapon formed against him shall prosper (Isaiah 54:17). Speak only life and blessings and healing for him. Speak that he is BETTER EVERY DAY (2 Corinthians 5:7) even if we have to walk by faith and not by sight. It IS happening!!!

And in all things I will continue to give God praise, because He is still good – He is still able and He continues to carry me every day. He deserves all of the glory and honor – and when Mike comes through all of this – it will be because of His goodness, grace & mercy; so I am thanking Him in advance! I’m actually really excited about what is about to unfold!! I hope that you all can share in that faith with me or at least support our beliefs with your encouragement.

Love and blessings to you all! Please keep us lifted up – especially this week!!! <3

Thursday, February 24, 2011

count your blessings

Hello everyone,

I hope this update finds you in good health and good spirits. :)

Mike was admitted to the hospital last week due to a fever that went over 104, caused by 2 bacterial infections: e-coli & c-diff. When admitted his white blood count was .02 which means that he had only about 20 white blood cells, where a normal person has 4,000 – 10,000. They have basically set him up with an artificial immune system between 6 antibiotics, vitamins and fluids. Over the weekend I was told that he might be able to come home within a few days, but last night I was told very differently. After a full week, the infections are gone, but his wbc count has only come up to .09. Tomorrow he will have intrathecal chemotherapy which will compromise his counts again and he will need to be monitored closely for up to several weeks in the hospital. At that time, they will also check for leukemia cells in his spinal fluid. After his counts stabilize a little, (wbc need to be over 1000) they will send him for another bone marrow biopsy to see if this round of treatment has killed all of the leukemia cells in his marrow. His marrow has to stay clean for 60 days after that point to even be considered for transplant.
Mike has had a very rough week. The nurses are in and out of his room almost every hour so he is not able to get consistent sleep. He has been unable to swallow easily because of the infection that caused sores & layers of skin to peel off inside of his throat and his mouth. He has lost almost 70 pounds since the first of the year. At times his body goes into some type of shock and will begin to shake violently and he feels like he is freezing. The nurse said this happens because his body recognizes that he does not have a natural immune system and tries to fight. He had almost a full week of upset stomach and uncontrollable diarrhea. His body has been very weak, so to even turn over in his bed takes all of his energy, much more trying to stand or get a shower. He has been in and out of consciousness, talking in his sleep and not remembering much. On top of all of that he has been unable to move his right arm. No one is really sure why, but he has had an x-ray and sonogram to check his bones and make sure he did not have a clot. Last night he was sent for an MRI, but we have not gotten the results yet. This has been causing him a lot of pain. When I called to check on him this morning he told me to call his nurse because he was too weak to talk. The nurse said they had problems accessing his port last night and he has been unable to receive all of the meds that he needs – including pain medication.

I tell you all of these things so that you might thank God for your health or take a moment to count your blessings. Mike has been through Hell and every time I talk to him all he wants to know is how everyone else is doing… and if everyone else is ok… He cares so deeply for people, so much that he looks past his own situation and offers prayers for the ones he loves. I am so broken by this because I’m seeing, more and more, the man that he truly is. One day when I laid across his lap on the hospital bed crying, and even in the midst of being barely awake, he spoke very clearly to me saying, “I was just talking to Him and He said not to shake in your armor”. I know that God is with us. I know that we are in a war and I can tell you that we will continue to fight with all that is within us. I believe that God is doing something amazing through this entire thing and not one day will go to waste. Mike is going to come out of this with such a tremendous testimony – it is going to amaze and inspire everyone who hears it.

Saturday, February 19, 2011

videos of our journey on youtube

I am not sure who is on Facebook and who isnt, but I have made some videos of our journey and just wanted to share them with you. If you are on FB, make sure you join our group to get all of our updates!

Just click the link to see each one: (While I'm Waiting) (Praise You In This Storm) (Because You Loved Me)

Friday, February 18, 2011

fighting a bacteria infection - the full story

It was Thursday night…. I was looking forward to our Thursday tradition – a nice family dinner – Family Game Night & watching American Idol together. Mike started feeling ill around 4pm – by 10:00 he had spiked a 104.2 fever. We were told to call if it went over 100.4, so I was concerned, to say the least. I was advised to rush him to the closest emergency room as quickly as possible. We checked in at Community Hospital at 11pm and finished the paperwork somewhere around 1am. By 4am they determined that his WBC was 0.02 and they should start antibiotics. As stressful as the situation was, Mike and I actually enjoyed some quiet time together, talking and making fun of all of the crazies that were coming through the ER all hours of the morning. Sometimes we don’t always see the answer to our prayer in test results, but just in a more peaceful perspective, which makes ALL the difference in the world as we walk this out. They decided that he was going to be transferred to Moffitt first thing in the morning, so I drove home to get some sleep. Between my mind racing & the phone ringing every hour, it wasn’t much. The nurses were just calling to keep me updated as I requested, but every time the phone rang, my heart would race and my mind would run through all of the “what ifs” before I could even get out a groggy “hello”. He was transferred to Moffitt early this morning and has since received several platelet and blood transfusions, 2 x-rays, a sonogram of his abdomen & a CT. His blood cultures are showing bacteria in his blood stream, yet to be identified, so they are continuing to treat him with antibiotics. He is extremely weak and having a lot of pain. The doctors have done well with pain management, but it is difficult for him to make even the slightest movements. His fever has been going down slowly, then back up, and back down again. Right now he is at 100.4. His blood pressure has been very low 90s/40s so they are keeping an eye on it to determine whether he needs to be transferred to critical care overnight. I really hope that he does not have to move. I am here beside him tonight, glad to have the opportunity to help if needed and not have to be anywhere in the morning. He has been resting most of the evening and I am staying busy with work and emails. Thanks to everyone who keeps up with all of our updates and prays accordingly. We know when people are praying because we feel it all around us. Never doubt that God hears your prayer.

Fighting a bacteria infection

I'm sorry I am too exhausted to type a full update, but Mike has been battling a fever since yesterday - today was up to 105. Many tests came back fine but the blood cultures are showing a bacteria they have not identified yet. He has received several blood and platelet transfusions and they are keeping a very close eye on him. He is extremely weak and if he does not improve soon, they are going to transfer him to SCU. I am staying here with him tonight - we appreciate everyone's prayers and support!

Friday, January 21, 2011

Ya’ll READY for THIS??

Mike has been cleared by neurology AND GI and is being transferred out of ICU!!! The bleeding in his brain has started to go down so NO SURGERY IS NECESSARY!!! His platelets and blood counts are holding well. They are going to keep him for monitoring for about a week, but we are continually expecting good reports.

He is about to eat his first meal in 4 days. He looks FANTASTIC and has expressed his complete gratitude for everyone’s prayers and support. You guys have all been amazing and I am not sure that we would have had the same outcome without all of you praying in agreement with us. THANK YOU! Please continue to keep us lifted up as we walk out the rest of this journey.

:-D !!!!GOD IS SO GOOD!!!! PRAISE HIM!!! :-D

Thursday, January 20, 2011

never doubt the power of prayer

So…here’s the latest:

Last night was scary, to say the least. Even with the faith God has instilled in my spirit, I was scared. I trust that God has a good plan, but sometimes He makes decisions for our lives that are beyond our understanding; I was not sure what the night was going to bring. Mike was so pale. I went in to visit him and he did not know who I was at first. He was also having trouble seeing out of his left eye from the swelling and pressure in his brain. He could not stay awake for more than a few seconds at a time and his body was jerking violently. I stayed with him for a little while, just to hold his hand and speak into his spirit. I kept telling him that his mind & spirit is stronger than his physical body and I believe in him and the power of God in him. Although he did not acknowledge my words, I knew that he could hear me. It was a brief, fuzzy soul mate feeling I don’t think I have ever experienced to that level. I left the room with peace in my heart, believing in my husband and trusting God.
As I have checked Facebook, emails and text messages, I have been completely overwhelmed by all of the support we are receiving. I am absolutely amazed. I am not exaggerating when I say that I have literally received hundreds of messages of encouragement and prayers from all over the world over the last 24 hours. Every prayer is heard and so appreciated. It touches me so deeply to hear people say that they do not normally pray, but that they are praying for us now. It is such a beautiful thing to be witness to and a part of. We are truly honored by each and every one.
Now for the good news… Mike looks like a completely different man today. His color has returned, his body is maintaining blood counts on its own and his platelet count is up to 54 at their last check. He was entirely alert during every conversation and shows excellent neurological function. The nurse was astounded by his progress over night. She said that this NEVER happens with patients in his condition. Everyone who enters his room says there is such a peace that is not experienced often in the critical care unit. Mike seemed back to himself, joking and laughing with the staff. It was such a refreshing sight; there are not even words to describe. I stand amazed by this incredible fighter, determined to see the glory of God fulfilled in his life & I am so privileged to be by his side. He went this evening for a CT scan to check the bleeding in his brain, as he is still having trouble with his vision. He is also going to be seen by the GI medical team to investigate whether there is internal bleeding in his GI tract. We are praying for good results to these exams and for Mike’s eyesight to return 100%. He is still being held in the critical care unit, but as he continues at this pace, he will be transferred back to a normal floor. We are not in the clear yet, but I am believing that we will be very soon. Tonight his mom and I are camped out in the waiting room – expecting to hear more good news in the morning. She is falling asleep now, singing peacefully. :-)
I attribute Mike’s recovery to all of the prayers that bombarded heaven last night and today and the amazing grace of a loving God. Please do not stop praying. Your prayers are being heard and answered!! I cannot thank you enough for the outpouring of love we have received. I can’t wait to share all of your messages with Mike so that he can see how loved he is all over the world. THANK YOU SO MUCH!!! We appreciate all of you more than you know!!

still in critcal care - trying to stabilize

I am sorry I do not have much to update, other than Mike looks better today and was a little more responsive. They are trying to stabilize his platelets but the leukemia keeps eating them up and he is not stable enough for chemo to treat the ALL. Last count was 33, which is much better than 0, but he really needs to get to 50. Specific prayer requests today are that his body will stabilize and that the bleed in his brain will stop and re-absorb naturally. Pray for good test results today and good neurological responses. She said he is doing very well considering his condition - thank you for the prayers!!! Please keep them coming! I am sorry I can not respond to each of you individually - I am trying to keep up as best I can! I appreciate each and every one of you!! ♥

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

a day that went from bad to worse...

We woke up early to take Mike for early labs and doctor appointments. Within an hour of getting his labs drawn, he had bled out all down his chest from the needle prick in his port. The oncologist came in and immediately admitted him to receive platelets and blood. We moved ourselves upstairs and got settled in his room. They expected that it would take 4-5 days to bring his blood levels back to normal. When he was taken out for a CT scan, I went home to grab some items for his stay. It was the worst I had ever seen him. 45 pounds less than he was only 3 weeks ago, he had no color other than all of the petichial hemorrhaging that covered his body from head to toe. His lips were pale and dry and his eyes were dark and blurred. He has not been able to engage in too much conversation over the past few days – mostly dreaming out loud and having hallucinations. I was grateful that he was in good hands to start feeling better.
My mom had offered to run Mike’s clothes and items down to the hospital for me so I was looking forward to a night on the couch with the kids watching the American Idol season premier and then heading down to see Mike after work tomorrow. Then I got the phone call… I had to go outside to answer my cell because of the bad reception inside my house. The voice on the other end was compassionate but direct, “Mrs. Johnson… we have received the results of Michael’s CT scan and there is a subdural hematoma in his brain that is bleeding, so he is being transferred to the critical care unit. We are consulting with the neurosurgeon, but because Michael’s platelets are so low, surgery is not even an option at this point… I am sorry I have to ask you this, but have you prepared Michael’s final wishes?” …
I hung up the phone and I fell to my knees right there in my driveway. Any tears I had been holding back for sake of “being strong” up to that point did not recognize the walls I had attempted to build for them to hide behind. My dear neighbor came over to comfort me and my mom showed up shortly after. I was in a daze – trying to prepare items to take down for Mike, items for me to stay with him, making arrangements for the kids and the dog, calling my boss to make arrangements for work and contacting his family.
Upon arriving I had to wait over an hour to see him. The nurses were frantically treating him, trying to get blood and platelets going as fast as possible. When I finally did get to go back, he was incoherent. The nurse was able to get him awake for a moment because she wanted to confirm that he could identify who we were – which he did – and went back to sleep. I spoke to the doctor and she explained that they are trying to pump the platelets and blood into him enough that it will stabilize him & stop the bleeding. They will do that as long as necessary. At this point, still, surgery is not even being considered.
My mom and I are camping out in the waiting room for the night. I am allowed to go back and visit him at almost any hour with nurse approval. I don’t intend to leave this place until I have gotten a good report that he is improving. Thank you SO MUCH to everyone who has been letting me know that you all are praying. I cannot tell you how encouraging it is. I know that Mike’s life is in God’s hands and I think if we bombard heaven enough, it just might bring the miracle we are hoping and believing for. Please be careful to only speak positive things about Mike’s condition and recovery. We believe that words have creative power and we need to speak that he is going to be just fine, very soon.
Much love to all of you!!!
2 Corinthians 4:16-18
Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day. For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen. For what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

update and a song for Mike

It’s been another crazy week.

Last week Mike was admitted to the hospital with what they thought was pneumonia (still not sure at this point). He was very sick – almost like last summer, sweating profusely, coughing and fevers. They treated him with IV antibiotics, fluids and steroids. On Thursday he started a 4 day chemotherapy treatment, 24 hours each, back to back. It seemed that made him even sicker. He was not eating anything and the little he tried to eat, he would throw up. A week later, he has lost almost 20 pounds (30 since Christmas). We have been visiting him on and off but he has mostly been sleeping. I talked to him this morning and he sounded better but was still very nauseous. They are planning to do a lumbar puncture in the morning to put chemo meds into his spinal fluid and to check to see how much leukemia (if any) is still in his system. He should be released to come home shortly after that. We will meet with his doctor this week to get this rest of his regimen after they determine the results of his LP tomorrow.

Thanks to everyone for all of the support we have received (especially this past week!). Mike’s mom flew in to be here last week, so it is a huge relief to me to feel like I can balance everything; and my brother and Zack have been taking care of things around the house that Mike would normally do. So many of you have reached out to check on me & the kids or help out with picking up random items and dropping them off. It definitely makes a BIG difference for me and the kids! THANK YOU SO MUCH!!

This afternoon I actually got a few hours to myself in a quiet house, so I decided to write. Writing is such therapy for me; I wish I had more time to do it. Here’s the result…

Song for Mike

Every time I have to leave your side, a piece of my heart breaks
I know I gotta be strong, no matter what it takes
Fighting to believe, everyday, that you’re gonna get better
Balancing my happy thoughts to weigh more than fear and anger
So often I look back to the days, when we were just two kids
Dreaming dreams bigger than the sky … we never imagined this
Now our boy is learning early how to become a man
Such a strong faith, he knows, even when doctors cant – God can
And you know our baby girl, she just breaks down and cries
Every time she sees someone with your innocent blue eyes

We pray for you every single day, sometimes through our tears
But such a peace comes from knowing, we serve a God who hears
I believe He is right beside us – every step on this road
HIS footprints got deeper when we were given this load
And baby, I know you’ve been fighting to hold on a really long time
But don’t give up and you’ll see the top of this mountain was worth the climb

There’s no denying I’m missing you… your smile, your laugh, your touch
Can’t wait til you’re beside me again, I just want to feel you close so much
I want to snuggle up under your arm and lay my head on your chest
And press my ear close to listen to strength manifest
And I honestly wouldn’t trade this because I trust that God knows best
There is an awesome testimony on the other side of this test

So every time I get weary, start getting discouraged or feeling low
I just remind myself that I’ve got front row seats to see an awesome miracle
I look forward to what’s ahead, not getting caught up too much in the cost
When God’ redeems the time – you will see that none was lost

=) Love you baby. <3