Chemo is a GO today!

This is Jamie reporting from hospital, and I’m happy to share that chemo is a GO for today!  Jen’s white blood cell count is much improved (even higher than normal range), and Dr Osborne approved her chemo.  Thank you all so much for your continued prayers and encouragement throughout this crazy process.  We are definitely getting a crash course in flexibility this week!  (For example we are still waiting on chemo meds to arrive and it’s currently 3:50pm.  Thought for sure we’d be home by 4!  In the words of Martina McBride, wrong again.)

Speaking of Dr Osborne,  she was so sweet to pop by today and see how Jen was doing.  Jane and I were feeling so proud as caretakers because Jen was sound asleep in her chair,  however Dr O quickly awakened her and ushered us all outside to Baylor’s courtyard to enjoy the beautiful weather and water features while we waited for Jen’s bloodwork to come back from the lab.  (I’m still left wondering how sleeping is bad, and THRILLED she didn’t come 5 minutes later because I was about to curl up in the next chair over.  If sleeping is bad, please nobody tell me.)
We asked Dr O about the nasty cough Jen was having and thankfully she ordered a Z Pack right there on the spot.  Hopefully this cough is just residual from the bronchitis she had earlier and nothing new.  Maybe she can sleep it off.  Oh wait.  

Lastly, since I’m high jacking this post, I want to express how grateful I am to all of you who are loving my friend so well.  I’ve been completely overwhelmed by the kindness and generosity of everyone.  I truly have never seen such an outpouring of love, and even though Jen is totally worthy of ALL of it, it still amazes me and is such a beautiful picture of God’s love toward us.  

Some precious friends shared scriptures this morning before our hospital visit and I wanted to share one that touched my heart.  

“You will keep in perfect peace those whose minds are steadfast, because they trust in you.” Isaiah 26:3

As we all can attest, Jen completely trusts in our Lord and Savior despite her circumstances.   And have you EVER witnessed someone with such perfect peace as she?

Much love,

Jamie (aka B)

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No Go.

Needed 1000 neutrophils and was only 800 so getting another shot and will try again tomorrow. A little discouraged. Appreciate from Dr. Os comments on Wednesday that we need the drugs and this kicks us into a calendar scramble because these changes impact the future chemo schedule as well. Thanks for praying and trusting the Lord along with us.  Not my will but thine be done…

Out of the mouth of my babe…

3 posts in one day is a bit excessive but I can’t resist. I have had an email address for Lincoln for quite awhile but more recently I’ve been a little more diligent to write him to tell him stories and have asked friends to consider the same. I doubt his Mama will be here to tell him these funny stories so I am emailing for him to enjoy later and help him understand  his childhood years. After taking my Ambien I am breaking good sleep hygiene rules and doctor’s orders but I hadn’t checked email all day so wanted to do a quick look for anything urgent. And glad I did. This is an email that was sent to Lincoln with a cc: to me. Truly, too sweet not to share for others to enjoy. I am thanking the Lord that Lincoln is coming to know of the Lords love for him. And friends like Jenn, his Aunt JJ, who encourage the same. What a gift for this Mama!

+~+~+~

Hi sweet Lincoln- 

Today I got to go with you to meet Miss Emily – a super sweet lady who works with kids whose mamas and daddies are sick. 

You were super excited to play with her and quickly said “JJ, you can wait for me over there while I go play”

Then, on our way to get Travis from school, you said “God loves me so much”

I happily agreed, and you said “He loves me 100. And He loves you and EmmyKate and travis 100”

Then you said “I haven’t asked God to forgive all my sins yet. I’m going to ask Him in about 100 days or so”

Love you sweet boy!!
Your JJ 

No Go for Chemo. Again.

I naĂŻvely thought since it had been two weeks since my last chemo that my blood counts would have rallied and it never crossed my mind that I wouldn’t get chemo today. However, a number that is normally 1400 and can’t be below 1000 for chemo was only 100. These are the mature good blood cells in my blood. So it was a quick “no go” for chemo. We reviewed lots of numbers as Dr. Osborne is trying to understand the best course of action. My liver numbers are up (not good) and hemoglobin is down from 12-10 (anemia) and, as mentioned, the ANC was 100 (the last time I didn’t get chemo it was 400). So, instead of chemo I got a shot to stimulate my bone marrow and bone strengthener through port to help with back pain and to maintain activity levels. Now we have to wait until my blood numbers are much higher and there’s availability for chemo appointments. Apparently, they were no remaining appointments available this week but Dr. Osborne then proposed we go over to big Baylor and take chemo there on Friday. So I will do labs again midmorning on Friday and, Lord willing, if my numbers are up we will do chemo at the hospital. With her normal concern and compassion and problem-solving skills, I could tell Dr. Osborne was trying to connect the dots for the best course of action – both short-term and longer-term. We can feel enlarged lymph nodes on the left side under my arm (they have all been removed on right where the breast cancer is) and around my neck and with the elevated liver numbers I know she is concerned about the liver stability and continued spread. We are scheduling another scan for three weeks.

It is another opportunity for me to wait and rest and trust. Right now, all I really want is rest 🙂 So I sign off before, hopefully, a big fat nap! And though Dr. Osborne is slow to get medicine for sleeping she was quick to concede to Ambien for me. Maybe I will get back to my old sleepyhead ways after all.

Your notes and text and prayers and verses m were all an encouragement. The Lord uses His people to continue to set my mind on things above. Thank you.

Once Upon a Time…

… in a cancer free world of several years ago, I was a sleeper. Like a pass-out-as-soon-as-you-hit-the-pillow-and-sleep-through-alarms-and-tests-and-exams-and-miss-flights kind of sleeper. But this kind of sleep is no longer my friend (or enemy if the morning involved a test, important meeting, or flight?). Sometines, it’s nice to gain middle of the night prayer time and even middle of the night blog writing but sometimes a girl just wishes she could sleep. Other times, He prompts me to just quit fighting it and redeem the time. So I’ve sent some texts about logistics for Linc tomorrow, bought him some Crocs from Amazon, responded to some overdue email, and now will write an overdue update to our praying and caring family and friends.

Here’s the short version: I feel pretty good, the antibiotic did wonders for the infection and my boob no longer looks like it could explode, poor Lincoln has seen me throw up a couple times and now fakes throwing up (this makes me sad and laugh at the same time!), we had an amazing 5 year anniversary trip and while we were gone crazy and kind friends and my mom packed our house for storage and moved us to our friends’ backhouse (with a pool that Linc invites friends to every day and tells friends and strangers alike that ‘we moved to a backhouse and I have a pool’). We are grateful happy peeps. And start the next round of chemo (for these drugs, ’rounds’ are 2 weeks on and one week off) today.

Longer version: For those of you who are up for more details, I can’t help but share some really sweet and a few hard moments. On our trip there was a sign in a store that I admittedly thought (and still think, actually) was cheesy but it stuck with me. ‘Life is not determined by the number of breaths you take but by the number of moments that take your breath away.’ As one expected to have many fewer breaths than some of you, it reminded me how great it is to really celebrate and cherish the many moments that take my breath away – especially during this season where His hand and kindness and provisions truly overwhelm me. Yall. Jesus is spoiling me!

Some of those moments that have taken my/our breath away are:

– friends making all the arrangements for our anniversary trip. We were brainstorming places and a friend suggested we consider Omni properties so we texted, from the chemo chair, a couple/friends that are part of Omnis holding company for their input on destinations. And, before I left chemo they had booked us at La Costa Resort in Southern California and we left 9 days later (we are advanced planners like that).

– seeing Scott so full of life and having so much fun celebrating Gods design in plants, flowers, the ocean, running, ‘befriending a sea lion’, and just hanging out. He has such a personality transformation when he’s away from city life and gets outdoors in pretty places that I had to finally confess that I was having a hard time adjusting to ‘happy hyper Scott.’ Shame on me. Cute on him. And for those of you that know him well, you can appreciate that hyper is probably not in the ‘Top 100 adjectives’ (or maybe 1000?) for Scott. Vacation is good for the soul.

– while on our trip, our friends Gigi and Steph casually informed us that instead of just ‘starting the packing’ while we were gone they had coordinated a few peeps -a friend of Stephs that I didn’t even know (who does that?), my mom and the Maxwells – and completely moved our personal items to the backhouse, packed 95% of the house, and ordered a pod delivered at the end of the week. Considering my idea of hell would be to move every day, this took my breath away.

–  when we arrived back from our trip and went to the backhouse instead of our house, I found a huge, gorgeous beautifully framed picture of my family hanging on their wall ‘so that we would feel at home’ in their backhouse. Side note: we have really had fun designing our house and love our architect but the backhouse is so fabulous that Scott has joked that it may take an unexpected 24 months to finish the plans and finish construction.

– went to Whole Foods for sushi on Friday night and gave the guy a gift card to pay and he said ‘whoever gave you that really took care of you….’ and all I could think was ‘he has no idea how true that is and I have many more just like it!’ I explained that we have been well loved and taken care of during a hard season and couldn’t help but walk slowly to the car catching my breath and marveling at the Lords provision … So evident that the checker even comments on it.

– this past Saturday morning, Scott and I went out for a family ‘wog’ (we used to jog together but now, especially since bronchitis, I can’t keep up so I walk while he jogs … ‘the wog’) and as soon as Scott picked up the pace and Linc and I were alone I heard his little voice fro the stroller say ‘are you going to die? Because of the cancer?’ Bam. It’s out there and we’ve been telling him and he’s getting it. This is, as Scott perfectly describes it, a moment where you “simultaneously think ‘how sweet’ and I want to vomit’…” (first uttered by Scott on our trip while we talked about Lincoln and how others are already helping us prepare for his needs when I’m gone – like finishing the photo book and memories binder I’ve started). Lincoln then wanted to know where I got the cancer. From a frog? From a leaf? Yes, those were real questions after I explained that doctors don’t know why some people get cancer and others don’t. And, in response to his question about me dying from cancer it was another chance to be honest and trust him to the Lord as I said ‘probably so.’ I told him that we were praying for more time for me to be with him and trusting the Lord to take care of us.

– as if that wasn’t enough of a breath-taker-awayer moment, a couple hours later on our walk home from Starbucks he overheard me telling Molly, rather briefly, about how sweet my high school friend Angela has been to me (she’s a working single mom with 4 kids but comes from Prosper to join me and Jamie and Amy at doctor/chemo and even comes when I tell her not to!) and that she knows the ropes and is full of compassion and care because she lost a best friend from college to pancreatic cancer (diagnosed within weeks of my original diagnosis in Feb 2012) who has 4 kids. Lincoln overheard this and asked ‘do they have a daddy? does the daddy work? do the kids go to school? who picks them up?…’ Quite clearly Lincoln was trying to figure out who takes care of kiddos if they don’t have a Mama. Scott sweetly and perfectly picked Lincoln up and told him ‘find my eyes …if Mama dies, Daddy will take care of you. And lots of other people will help take care of you too.’ And, our not very cuddly little boy laid his head on his daddy’s shoulder and didn’t move for several minutes … Secure in his daddy’s arms. And I am likewise held and secure in my Daddys arms.

– along with these precious moments there were also the moments where chemo and meds got the best of me. These are breath-taking of another kind – because a girls got to breathe after she heaves. One morning, Scott got ahead of me on the ‘wog’ and turned around to find me throwing up at the entrance of this gorgeous resort property. And nothing kills the romance of a getaway weekend like your wife asking for your coffee cup to throw up in during your après-run coffee au lait time. And Lincoln and I went to buy breakfast tacos for the movers (that’s literally all I did for the whole day that our house was finished packing and loaded!) and I threw up out my car door while we waited. Ain’t nobody got time for that! I am hopeful now that I have finished 2 rounds of antibiotics (one for bronchitis and one for infection in breast) that my stomach will settle down. 

To wrap up my update I will include a few pictures of the aforementioned peeps and events. None of them involve throw up.

Scott and the sea lion:

 

Celebrating that we survived the first 5 years of marriage – much harder than cancer but without the meal calendar! The blood, sweat, tears and prayers have been totally worth it and wouldn’t trade it. I am so thankful for how the Lord has grown and changed us!   

My friend Angela, on far left, with Amy and Jamie at the hospital the last time I had chemo:  

And, lastly, my boo and my boy on last Saturday’s ‘wog.’  

I think and pray far more about these 2 than I do about myself. As I wrap up this entry and proceed to read Heaven (by Randy Alcorn), I am excitedly headed to be with Jesus. They, however, face a harder reality. I have the gifts of focus and clarity in this life  and great hope for the next one. More than ever, I want my days to be marked by celebrating the love of God (which He is making exceedingly clear as He spoils me with his kindness), loving God and loving others. I want to experience the fullness of every moment in the this life while anticipating the next. He is good. All the time.

You will make known to me the path of life; In Your presence is fullness of joy; In Your right hand there are pleasures forever. (‭Psalms‬ ‭16‬:‭11‬ NASB)

Driving driving. Waiting waiting…

Thelma and Louise are home from San Antonio. 

And we are ready to celebrate the book debut again tonight at Barnes&Noble in Dallas. Please come join us and meet my peeps.  [So sorry. Gave yall wrong time yesterday. It’s at 7 not 630!]

And, yall. I know not many of us will have a bestie who writes a NYT bestseller so let me tell you that it’s really really cool to see folks lineup to ask for a signed copy of book written by a dear friend of 25 years. And it’s even more cool if you are one of the characters in the book and spend the night in a lovefest being with everyone else that’s also in the book because of years of friendship. Here’s our lovefest:  

I am writing this in installments because I have long periods of waiting on doctor days. Temps been good but don’t yet know about white blood counts. Finished labs and waiting to hear if we get đź‘Ť or đź‘Ž for chemo…

Oh just as I wrote that we got the word! đź‘Ť Gotta run so this lady can start my port….

Blog Hijack!

I have been granted permission to hijack the blog tonight and, boy, Jen should be NERVOUS!  Especially considering how many pictures I have received this past week of Jen’s “girls.”  I will spare you the lovelies, but in the meantime…

I’d love to share with you that a small group of us will be getting together tonight at 7:30pm to pray for Jen, Scott, and Linc.  Please join us from your bedrooms, cars, and dinner tables as we pray for our friends.

Please pray:

– for miraculous healing.  God-enabled, Spirit-driven healing.  Immeasurably more than we can ask or imagine.  And may His Name be glorified like CRAZY by all who witness this miracle

– for Jen to be able to receive chemo tomorrow before she enjoys her trip with Scott as they celebrate their anniversary away this weekend- and specifically for the pain in her right breast to completely, miraculously dissipate so that she will be comfortable and pain-free

– for Scott and Jen to courageously pursue the Lord despite the many unknowns and uncertainties

– for Lincoln and all the people loving on him this week and next.  This little boy is KEENLY aware of more than we will ever know.  Pray for his ability to express himself in healthy ways and that he will feel loved and cared for in the midst of these trying circumstances.

Thank you, friends, family, coworkers, neighbors and loved ones who are faithfully serving these sweet friends.  I know I am among the MANY who are thankful that Jen has so many people loving, serving, and praying for them- that the burden is shared across many states, many families, among many people.

Humbly His and Gratefully Yours,

Molly

No Go for Chemo…

New experience today. Got labs and then they were even slower than usual in chemo waiting room with lots of follow up (aka, acting weird) and then the chemo nurse came out with ‘serious face’ and said that my white blood counts are too low for chemo today.  While this is expected side effect for all chemotherapy I haven’t had this problem. Then the nurse added that Gemzar is especially notorious for causing white blood cell counts to drop real low. So instead of chemo she gave me a booger of a shot in my belly to stimulate bone marrow and cell count and we will try again tomorrow. 

Dr. Osborne looked at ‘the girls’ again and thinks we should stay the course with Bactrim and chemo and doesn’t think we need to see infectious disease doctor since I don’t have fever. That was followed by a lecture about fevers and a horror story about a woman who didn’t wake up because of internal infection and she got my attention. I need to take temps a couple times a day. Thankfully I feel fine (low energy but fine…) but that doesn’t serve well to remind me to take my temperature.

While I was headed to chemo Lincoln was headed to our mom-taught preschool with his Aunt CC instead of me. On the way there, he told her she went the wrong way. Really? He has no idea where it is. However, he was right. But then he conceded that even with his help they were both lost. He’s a verbal opinionated adorable nut. Think that’s Lewis DNA or Clouses?

And then while we were waiting for the chemo nurse to confer with Dr. Osborne I got this text:  

Since I’ve been sick again our Chapel School kids and families have been so faithful to pray for me. The kids have a special prayer they pray each week for me:

Dear Lord, 

Please heal Mrs. Clouse today.

Make her strong to the finish either way.

You may say yes, you may say no …

To your throne of mercy we always go.

On the white board behind them you can see the prayer (not that any of them can read!) but, even sweeter, look at those little clasped hands praying for his Mama. So so precious. What a gift to me! I know we all talk about trusting our kids to the Lord but I feel like I am getting a crash course. And thankful that the Lord loves him even more than Scott and I ever could. And my hope and prayer is that cancer gives him the gift of an early dependence on his Savior. Though he told us out of nowhere this weekend that ‘I haven’t asked Jesus to forgive me of my sins. But I will later.’ I then we asked if he knew what sin was. And just as confidently he said ‘no.’ And that makes us laugh because though we haven’t told him needs to ‘ask Jesus to forgive him for his sins’ we have had ample opportunities to explain sin! Lots of teachable moments for that from a 3yo as well as a 43yo! Clearly I am not the best teacher. Where do they get this stuff?

Monday Musings.

Considering I made arrangements for Lincoln to be with Aunt CC and for my high school posse to take me to the doctor, it was unfortunate when I tried to check in and was told ‘we don’t see you on the schedule.’ In all my over confidence I said ‘oh, maybe the research schedule is different…? I have labs at 9:10 and Dr. Osborne at 9:40.’ Or not. 

On Saturday, I had taken a boob selfie driving down the backroads of East Texas with Lincoln and Scott (if Linc isn’t traumatized by his mom’s illness and all the talk of heaven then the boob selfie surely got him a guarantee for counseling!) to send to Dr. Osborne (with a PS of ‘I really hope you aren’t at dinner with your boyfriend right now…’ because nothing could kill a fun date night like seeing my boob appear on her screen!). I had shown Scott (probably also traumatic for Linc!) and he agreed it didn’t look right so I was becoming increasingly concerned about the never-before-problematic left boob. What the heck? Cancer isn’t supposed to be contagious but you wouldn’t know that by looking at my left one. Maybe it was just jealous of all the attention? 

Needless to say, I wanted to see Dr. Osborne this morning. She had replied to my text on Saturday saying that we had to give chemo a chance (only one last Wednesday and another this Wednesday) but also concluded with ‘…craziness.’ Yeppers. 

As it turns out, the appointment I had was canceled (I missed memo clearly!) because it was part of the research schedule. Nancy came into the lobby to break the news that I wasn’t on the schedule and Dr. O didn’t have any openings. But nothing like a posse and a shameless begging to get you past the guards. Christina, the nurse, thought maybe the red skin on left boob and growing right boob were just cancer taking its course (since inflammatory is in breast and skin and blood vessels) and moving across my chest. And that made perfect (albeit unfortunate) sense. I also have a rash on arm and shoulder on right side but that’s pretty common with chemo. Christina also mentioned ‘radiation recall’ so needless to say it is interesting and puzzling. But I wasn’t leaving without eyes on Dr. Osborne and she and Christina are pretty great to accommodate me! She came in and raised yet another level of concern – an infection. Oh my. It’s red and hot and will make you wonder if you could witness a boob explosion if you stare too long. So, now I am on antibiotics for my bronchitis but also Bactrim for infection. And if it doesn’t show signs of improvement by Wednesday then she will schedule me to see infectious disease doctor while I’m there. Again, this seems like an out of body experience … The growing boob and an infectious disease doctor? Is she talking about me?

So, among all the other ways you pray for us, you can pray that the medicine works. And it would also be great if it is an infection that is accelerating the swelling (instead of the cancer) because I am beginning to be concerned that if chemo doesn’t work the pressure and swelling could be a real mess and real painful. It can even start to come through and tear the skin. That sounds even worse than the explosion possibility!

But, in some weird way, when you face hard news and don’t have answers, one of the blessings is that you lean long and hard into the people you love and have a sweet and fun and precious sense of making every day count towards loving the Lord and loving others! So, though it will make for a crazy week, when one of your best friends and college roommates, Melanie Marino Shankle, writes her 3rd book and, hopefully, yet another NYT bestseller, you want to go! With thanks to Christina who moved my chemo appointment, I hope to have early bird labs at 730 on Wednesday and then chemo at 745 (though the 3rd floor infusion area seems to be on mountain time and always an hour wait…) and then Jamie and I will head south to San Antonio for the book release festivities! [And clearly with all of that we don’t have time for an appointment with the infectious disease doctor!] And back bright and early on Thursday because there is also a Dallas book signing  this time! Who wants to come meet my people?! I would love it! It’s 630 at Barnes&Noble across from Northpark on TH, 4.9.  

Her third book is a memoir on friendship. And it’s greatness! Yes I am biased but you’ll agree. And I am certainly one who is pretty fired up on the topic of friendship these days. I’ve learned a ton through her. And through you! She has just known me through a lot more years, boyfriends, shenanigans and bad 90s hair. Case in point: http://thebigmamablog.com/18268/bad-perms-and-good-friends/.

Thanks for prayers and love and notes and gift cards and meals and flowers and countless other ways your friendship has blessed us!đź’—

One Done. 

… And already home sweet home. Went well. No side effects so far. And I am looking forward to a nap! Sweet day with great nurse and great husband and great friend (Angela – see below) and 2 surprise visitors (Hite and CC).  

And, while I was at chemo, my friend Mary Beth had Lincoln at field day. And look at this cuteness… 

Getting instructions… 

And the 3-legged race… 

Maribeth also sent these texts about on his ‘deep thoughts’ today:

–  “Told me earlier about Aslan [he loves him some C.S. Lewis Chronicles of Narnia with his Aunt CC],  that he is just a character and like God.  Also that he hasn’t asked God to take away his sins, not yet, he will later…”

– “He asked me if I was gonna die, He said I wasn’t,  I said heaven will be wonderful… “

– “I said when we die we get to be with Jesus and see Him.  He said ‘no you go on the grass. ‘ I didn’t have a good answer…”

Because our dog, Willie, died last year in our backyard – on the grass and with some excrement, he tells people that “Willie pooped on himself and then died in the grass.” And he thinks that’s the fate of all of us. Not too long ago, he asked me where I was going to die. I told him “I would guess maybe the hospital?” I don’t think that was a good answer because now I think he fears the hospital but I was scared to tell him “at home.” And he responded with a question, “you arent going to die in the grass?” Like Maribeth, I didn’t have a good answer…

It’s so hard to understand what he does and doesn’t grasp and then it is so intriguing when we realize what little points of data and information he is putting together. Rightly or wrongly. The other day he told me that he and Emmy were playing “family.” And he explained that she he was the dad and he was the boy and then said “the mom died.” Of course, this makes me curious and a little bit sad and I responded with, “oh that makes me sad – how did the mom die?” And he said, “I don’t know – it’s just pretend.” He keeps us on our toes. And knees! We pray for his protection above all else. And all these little snippets both amuse me and encourage me. I think it’s really healthy for him to be talking about these things even if, clearly, he doesn’t get the big picture. And, those random comments provide good entertainment.

Thanks for praying with us and laughing with us. We treasure both.