Monday, June 29, 2009

We are thankful.

1. That God is good. All the time.

2. That Maren is in remission.

3. For all of you who have been thinking of us, praying for our family, checking the blog, and most importantly, praying for Maren's recovery. The love and support we have been shown has been overwhelming. I can't begin to express the excitement and joy that a package or a card brings to Elijah and Maren. Each package and card has been unique, touching, and clearly sent with love. I know they don't quite grasp what is going on, but they understand very well that there are so many people out there who love and care for them.

4. To live near family, and to have family that is willing and able to travel to help us out. We have been blessed beyond measure that our families have stepped in to make every step of this experience easier. When Maren was first diagnosed my parents were here to take care of Elijah, and when they had to leave my in-laws took him to their farm for many days of 3-year old bliss - cookies, tractors, animals, and a warm bed in a familiar setting. My mom, Sharon, and Jeremy's mom, Karen, have both been indispensable in helping us get through the day by playing with the kids, doing laundry, cleaning, and providing emotional support. My dad, George, will be out here in 2 days to help us close off our office so that we will have a guest room to house our wonderful visitors. Jeremy's dad, Larry, has stepped in to mow the lawn, plant flowers and even make a garden. Uncle Ron and Justine are coming to help out this weekend. Aunt Laura took Elijah exploring in the woods and spent lots of quality time with him, even while she wasn't feeling well herself. We have also had offers of help family members all the way across the country. Wow. And of course, a shout out to Uncle Jerry and cousin Phil for driving almost an hour to mow to do house projects. And to Chad Apaliski who just showed up with his mower and said he was going to mow the lawn. It makes me cry to even think about all the love we've been shown (and if you know me well, you would know that is a pretty dang hard thing to do).

5. For the wonderful women at my church and my MOPS group. We have had delicious meals provided to us so that we were able to sit and eat as a family for the past two months. Maren's hospital stays and medication schedule have made routine all but non-existent in our home, so knowing that we can sit down together at mealtime, no matter how crazy the day has been, is truly a lifesaver. What a sweet way to show the love of Christ.

6. For my sweet cousin Alison, and my lovely friend Molly for making this blog and keeping everyone updated. With their own busy schedules and young families, I don't think this has been easy. I know that Maren's diagnosis hit them both particularly hard as they have little ones around the same age.

7. For all of the childhood cancer patients that have gone before Maren, opted to be included in studies, and went through even harsher types of chemo-past.

8. That since the first stage of chemo (Induction), Maren has been surprisingly well. We can tell that she doesn't feel good sometimes, she still lacks some balance and strength when walking, and she did throw up for the first time on Saturday but let me just tell you - girlfriend is a trooper!. She tries so hard to keep up her happy spirits, and she is such an independent little girl. Her vocabulary is tremendous (of course I'm not biased). After two years of saying almost nothing at all she started talking in full sentences within weeks of her 2nd birthday. I am so thankful that she can communicate - I can't even imagine how difficult it would be if she couldn't tell us how she feels or what she wants. She is constantly "telling off" her doctors and nurses in not so many words - and often just with body language, but they say it's good that she is a strong-willed fighter.

9. That Maren's primary oncologist and oncology fellow are the best we could hope for. Her primary oncologist is Dr. Ritchey - Chief of the Hematology/Oncology Division at Children's, and the Principal Investigator for the National Children's Oncology Group. Her fellow is Dr. Randy (he goes by his first name) and he is just the nicest doc you could imagine. Our nurse told us she wished all the kids could have Dr. Randy.

10. That Jeremy is a resident at UPMC. That alone has made the entire experience so much more comfortable than it could have been.

11. That Maren has a beautiful new Children's hospital about 12 miles away. The place is gorgeous, and while going to the hospital is never really fun, the new surroundings make it so much more bearable for her.

12. That Maren should be finished with all of her treatment by the time she starts kindergarten.

12. For all of the research docs over the years that have developed a treatment plan for ALL that has a very good prognosis.

13. That Maren is so stinkin' cute.

14. Elijah too.

15. That we have a new appreciation for our children, for life, and for enduring hardships.

16. That God is good. All the time.

Prayer Requests for this week:
This is Maren's last week of the Consolidation phase of her treatment. It is has gone very well. We are happy to have one more phase down. Please keep her in your prayers as she undergoes another spinal tap tomorrow to have chemo put into her central nervous system. Please pray that her ANC (immunities) do not drop dangerously low -we would rather not go back to the hospital with another infection. If all goes well and her blood counts are high enough she will start Interim Maintenance the following week. While it's nice (and completely normal) to get a break from the chemo to wait for blood counts to rise, we would love to push through if her body is able. Please pray that she will have peace. Please pray that she feels well and is able to play and walk. And for the well-being of the whole family- please pray that she sleeps well. Thank you!

Monday, June 15, 2009

Prayer Request for Tuesday

Well, Maren's week went well. Thankfully, she didn't end up in the hospital and has been home with the whole family! She did get a bit feverish from the new medicines she is on, but nothing too serious. She has been enjoying her Strawberry Shortcake dvds and playing with her dolls!

Maren is on a new medicine that Emily and Jeremy have to give her every night for the next three years. She cannot eat or drink two hours before she gets it and an hour after she has it. This has been really hard for all of them. A two year old just doesn't understand not even being able to have water. It's especially hard after she has the medicine and wants something to drink to wash away the yucky taste. So right now, they are dealing with that transition. 

They have been able to administer some of the chemo in her port since the infection has healed up and that has saved a lot of grief!

Tuesday morning, Maren is going in for a lumbar puncture and more chemo. Please pray for her as she endures another painful treatment. 

Thanks so much for all of your love and continued prayers; they are really needed!

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Maren's Cute Room & Special Thanks

Here is Maren's newly arranged room...

She and her whole family are really enjoying all of the love gifts and special thoughts. Thanks to everyone who has sent them thoughts of love, prayers, and gifts of encouragement! The Wingards also want to send a special thank you to Women of the Cloth at Lambs Fellowship Lake Elsinore (CA) for sending the quilt (on her bed) specially made to show Maren she is being prayed for! Thanks for all the love and support! It is so appreciated and needed!!

Monday, June 8, 2009

Little Maren's Recent Status

This update was just sent from my aunt Sharon, Maren's grandma, who is at Maren's house, helping and playing:

Maren is getting the Vincristine again tomorrow if her blood counts are high enough. They haven't been high enough to get chemo for the last two weeks, so she is now two weeks behind schedule. Originally, the doctors planned for six months of the intensive treatment, but now that she is behind schedule, it is looking like it will be eight months - into November and maybe December. She is no longer needing the insulin because she has been taken off the Decadron (steroid). This is great. No more finger pokes or injections. She may develop the diabetes again, though, when they give her the Dacadron in greater quantities in the September/October timeframe. The wounds on her backside seem to be healing up finally. Although, the Vincristine to be given tomorrow may start that up again. It is highly toxic and as it is excreted it burns the skin. I have to wear gloves to change all of her linens so it does not get on my skin! Em has to wear gloves to change her diapers. She should be given this drug in her Port, but because she had the infection last week, it must be given by IV in her hand tomorrow. If it gets on your skin during administration, it can cause 3rd degree burns. The doctors will have to be very careful when they administer it.
She has been learning to walk all over again. But,one of the side effects of the Vincristine is foot drop. so we hope and pray that it does not effect her that way. She's been doing really well the last several days. She can't stand up on her own, though, from a sitting position. Her legs are weak and she is so much more heavy (having gained weight from the steroids). She is beginning to eat less, too (caused by the Decadron). Tomorrow, she will also begin to get a new chemotherapeutic drug called MP6. It will ge given orally here at home every night. Emily rearranged her room and she is sleeping in her big girl bed. I will try to send a picture.

To all the faithful readers, praying and supporting The Wingard Family, Sharon writes:

We would like to thank God for her increased stamina the last few days, the healing of the wounds on her backside, and the return to normal glucose levels. She has even been playing and smiling! Prayer requests for tomorrow include high blood counts so she can get her chemo, no problems with the administration of the Vincristine, no side effects from it this week. Again, prayer for Emily and Jeremy and little Elijah.

Saturday, June 6, 2009

Beautiful Girls

Maren is just beautiful! Please continue to pray for this sweet, precious girl!

Her new cousin, Rose Winter Toly, is simply beautiful too! Congrats Noah, Becky, Ben, & Joe...she is stunning!

Friday, June 5, 2009

Maren enjoying time at home again

Maren has been home for a couple days. The doctors were able to get her glucose and blood counts under control. Tuesday, she is scheduled for her chemo treatments again. Her grandma Sharon is really enjoying her time there, playing and helping. They have been really busy lately, so I don't have much else to update with. But, she is being spoiled and treated like a princess: