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!


bravenec said...

Beautiful Emily! I'm so glad you were finally able to write something and it is so well put! I love you and the whole family! Wish I was there to do more!!

TomandBecky said...

Thinking of you guys! We've been too busy for my liking the past few weeks, but hopefully we can work in a visit before too long! (Tom needs to be in Michigan mid-August) SOOOOOO glad to hear all the good news. Praying for strength and peace, for all of you.

Lynn said...

Wonderful to hear from you Emily! That means you had at least a couple of minutes to sit down :o)

You are an example for all of us to follow in your obvious thankfulness and faith.

We are thankful to hear that you have been so fully surrounded by support and love during this time and will continue to remember your family in our thoughts and prayers.

Carlos and Lisa said...

i second those emotions! not a day goes by that you and your family are not in our thoughts. lots of love and prayers...cousin lisa, carlos & jaxon

TomandBecky said...

We love you guys! Em, reading this post made me tear up, which if you ask my wife, isn't easy. Thank you, God, for carrying us through things we can't handle on our own.

Laurie B. said...

I am thankful for you Emily! You are such an amazing woman and mother. You are so strong and you are doing such a good job dealing with everything that has been sent your way. I pray for you and your family every day. You are never far from my thoughts.

Jen said...

Hi Emily - It was so neat to hear from your heart. You have made my heart so full. Following Maren's journey has also given US a fresh appreciation for children, and each breath that God gives us. We continue to hold your family up in prayer. I don't know how you have been surviving - but it sounds like the Father's arms have been tightly wrapped around Maren, Elijah, you & Jeremy and revealed to you in many ways. Rejoicing in Maren's remission with you!
Love, James, Jen & Grace

Life As It Is ... said...

Emily, your post brought tears to my eyes. It is truly a testament of your spirit that you could find 16 reasons to be thankful when enduring such an overwhelming battle to keep your dear child well. Your kids and family are very lucky.
Take care, Emily Stefaniak

Noah Toly said...

Emily, I love keeping up with the blog. And I'm glad you're thankful in the midst of this. Happy Anniversary! I love you. Tell Maren we love her.

Anonymous said...

You are amazing girl! What a beautiful page that you and your loved ones have put together. I pray for all of you daily....and say an extra one every time we zip by your house:) The pictures of Maren are just precious! She is truly a special, strong, wonderful little "baby" girl!!! Thinking of you tonight, Carly