Saturday, February 28, 2009

February "March-es" Out

Trusting Him

Yet another medication, Tobramycin, had to be added to my conglomeration of antifungals, antivirals, and antibiotics. Suspicions have increased that the organism is Pseudomonas or a "relative". Once the lab reports return, we will have black and white information, versus grey, and more medicine fine-tuning may occur early in the week. We will recheck immunoglobulin and neutrophil counts on Monday. If either is low, I can expect another IVIG treatment and Neugpogen treatment next week.

I am weary and the threats that have invaded my body are serious and concerning. Yet, I have God's peace and I know He is working in the midst of every decision and addition of medicine. Tobramycin is a difficult drug for me to take, yet the first dose went perfectly today. God gave me the following Scriptures to reflect on as we waited the two hours to be certain I was not going to have an adverse reaction. He and His peace were my steady companions. He is mighty and able to save and rescue me. I am trusting Him.

Romans 4: 3, 17, 19, 20, 21. While referencing Abraham in this passage, I have inserted my name in parenthesis to personalize the reference.

3 For what does the Scripture say? “(Stacie) believed God, and it was accounted to (her) for righteousness.

17 (Stacie) believed—God, who gives life to the dead and calls those things which do not exist as though they did;

19 And not being weak in faith, (Stacie) did not consider (her) own body, already dead ...

20 (Stacie) did not waver at the promise of God through unbelief, but was strengthened in faith, giving glory to God,

21 and being fully convinced that what He had promised He was also able to perform.

I was also led to Romans 8: 5, 6, 11, 15, 26, 28, 31, 37, 38 and 39.

5 For those who live according to the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh, but those who live according to the Spirit, the things of the Spirit.

6 For to be carnally minded is death, but to be spiritually minded is life and peace.

11 But if the Spirit of Him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in (Stacie), He who raised Christ from the dead will also give life to (Stacie's) mortal body through His Spirit who dwells in (her).

15 For (Stacie) did not receive the spirit of bondage again to fear, but you received the Spirit of adoption by whom we cry out, “Abba, Father.”

26 Likewise the Spirit also helps in (Stacie's) weaknesses. For we do not know what we should pray for as we ought, but the Spirit Himself makes intercession for (Stacie) with groanings which cannot be uttered.

28 And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose.

31 What then shall we say to these things? If God is for (Stacie), who can be against (Stacie)?

37 Yet in all these things we are more than conquerors through Him who loved us.

38 For (Stacie)is persuaded that neither death nor life, nor angels nor principalities nor powers, nor things present nor things to come, 39 nor height nor depth, nor any other created thing, shall be able to separate (her) from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.

Friday, February 27, 2009

Urgent Prayer Request: February 27, 2009

Please pray without ceasing for me. Most of you are up-to-date about the ongoing infections and lab concerns we have had. There is a possibility that the bacteria in the sinuses is Pseudomonas. It is a very dangerous organism to battle. Last month, some of you might have seen on the news, the beauty pageant contestant who died from Pseudomonas and she was a healthy person.

We are going to begin putting the antibiotic Tobramycin directly into the sinus cavities using syringes or other washing techniques. Please pray I do not have a drug reaction to this method. I cannot be desensitized to IV Tobramycin over the weekend since my oncologists' infusion center does not do desensitizations over the weekend. I required IV and Tobra washings the last time I battled Pseudomonas (also in my sinuses). We are trying to keep me out of the hospital due to the risk of being exposed to the flu and other viruses right now. Most likely, it will be morning before we can arrange this.

Once the lab reports return early in the week (we hope), we will determine what/if medicines need to be chanaged to other drugs or to IV medications.

Update: The Travels of Moldy S. Brumptii

Not much news today. Symptoms are about the same.

My doctor e-mailed this morning. She has tracked the mold specimen down -- it is at the U of Texas. I can just picture this little mold sample buckled in on a 747, earning frequent flyer miles (I know, I am on steroids and a bit goofy). "Moldy S. Brumptii" has traveled from our local hospital to Indianapolis to California and onto Texas.

The director of Infectious Disease at ARUP called my doctor to personally apologize for their errors and is working herself to obtain Moldy's sensitivities. My doctor told them they owed me a written apology.

With regard to the bacterial culture -- still no ID or sensitivities. It is a gram negative rod and is oxidase positive. We wait, asking God to use the 4 drugs I am taking to eradicate these invaders. Hopefully, answers will be forthcoming then we can determine if medication changes or additions need to transpire.

Thursday, February 26, 2009

Clinging to Words from Psalm 119

2 Blessed are those who keep His testimonies,
Who seek Him with the whole heart!

8 I will keep Your statutes;
Oh, do not forsake me utterly!

10 With my whole heart I have sought You;
Oh, let me not wander from Your commandments!

11 Your word I have hidden in my heart,
That I might not sin against You.

15 I will meditate on Your precepts,
And contemplate Your ways.

16 I will delight myself in Your statutes;
I will not forget Your word.

17 Deal bountifully with Your servant,
That I may live and keep Your word.

24 Your testimonies also are my delight
And my counselors.

25 My soul clings to the dust;
Revive me according to Your word.

28 My soul melts from heaviness;
Strengthen me according to Your word.

49 Remember the word to Your servant,
Upon which You have caused me to hope.

50 This is my comfort in my affliction,
For Your word has given me life.

55 I remember Your name in the night, O LORD,

71 It is good for me that I have been afflicted,
That I may learn Your statutes.

73 Your hands have made me and fashioned me;
Give me understanding, that I may learn Your commandments.
Because I have hoped in Your word.

76 Let, I pray, Your merciful kindness be for my comfort,
According to Your word to Your servant.
77 Let Your tender mercies come to me, that I may live;

82 My eyes fail from searching Your word,
Saying, “When will You comfort me?”

84 How many are the days of Your servant?

88 Revive me according to Your lovingkindness,
So that I may keep the testimony of Your mouth.

92 Unless Your law had been my delight,
I would then have perished in my affliction.

93 I will never forget Your precepts,
For by them You have given me life.

94 I am Yours, save me;
For I have sought Your precepts.

97 Oh, how I love Your law!
It is my meditation all the day.

105 Your word is a lamp to my feet
And a light to my path.

107 I am afflicted very much;
Revive me, O LORD, according to Your word.

114 You are my hiding place and my shield;
I hope in Your word.

116 Uphold me according to Your word, that I may live;
And do not let me be ashamed of my hope.

117 Hold me up, and I shall be safe,
And I shall observe Your statutes continually.

126 It is time for You to act, O LORD,

133 Direct my steps by Your word,
And let no iniquity have dominion over me.

135 Make Your face shine upon Your servant,

143 Trouble and anguish have overtaken me,
Yet Your commandments are my delights.

144 The righteousness of Your testimonies is everlasting;
Give me understanding, and I shall live.

145 I cry out with my whole heart;
Hear me, O LORD!
I will keep Your statutes.

146 I cry out to You;
Save me, and I will keep Your testimonies.

147 I rise before the dawning of the morning,
And cry for help;
I hope in Your word.

148 My eyes are awake through the night watches,
That I may meditate on Your word.

149 Hear my voice according to Your lovingkindness;
O LORD, revive me according to Your justice.

153 Consider my affliction and deliver me,
For I do not forget Your law.

154 Plead my cause and redeem me;
Revive me according to Your word.

155 Salvation is far from the wicked,
For they do not seek Your statutes.

156 Great are Your tender mercies, O LORD;
Revive me according to Your judgments.

157 Many are my persecutors and my enemies,
Yet I do not turn from Your testimonies.

158 I see the treacherous, and am disgusted,
Because they do not keep Your word.

159 Consider how I love Your precepts;
Revive me, O LORD, according to Your lovingkindness.

160 The entirety of Your word is truth,
And every one of Your righteous judgments endures forever.

165 Great peace have those who love Your law,
And nothing causes them to stumble.

169 Let my cry come before You, O LORD;
Give me understanding according to Your word.

170 Let my supplication come before You;
Deliver me according to Your word.

171 My lips shall utter praise,
For You teach me Your statutes.

172 My tongue shall speak of Your word,
For all Your commandments are righteousness.

173 Let Your hand become my help,
For I have chosen Your precepts.

175 Let my soul live, and it shall praise You;
And let Your judgments help me.

Prayer Request: February 26, 2009

Thank you for your unending prayers. I do need them.

The lab had promised identification of gram negative rods by this morning (from Monday's sinus culture). At 11 AM they still wouldn't offer an ID opinion. They are saying it is not pseudomonas - but I doubt everything they tell us, given their error record.

So my family doctor decided to add Cirpo - I went back to the oncologis's infusion center and was desensitized to Cipro (I remain on Itraconazole and Augmentin). I just returned back home.

My doctor called again for the mold sensitivities - still no report. I believe that the sample has been lost and no one is confessing. Neupogen was a gift from God (through insurance approval last Friday) because my ANC was up to 3100 today. There is no better time than with a gram negative infection to have an neutrophil count that high for me.

I know now that the lab will send out the sample (gram-) and it will not arrive at another lab until Saturday, so I am doubtful sensitivities will arrive before early week. We are debating if we should add a Tobramycin spray directly to the sinuses. I would have to go early in the AM and be desensitized to Tobra to go that route. The office closes at noon, so it would be a stretch to arrrange that. I should hear from my doctor tonight regarding the Tobramycin decision.

As soon as the Lord pulls me through this mess, I must find a way to get my cultures to a qualified lab. I have fought too hard with the help of too many people, to allow a lab error to kill me.

My stomach is a wreck from all of these drugs. The pharmacist checked interactions on this crazy combo and he replied, "Stacie, why in the world are you on all these medicines at one time?" Such is life in a body with a poor immune system.

I am clinging to Psalm 119.

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Request for Prayer & Update: February 25, 2009

To update .......

The lab in California has still not been able to produce the sensitivities for the mold culture. Even after my doctor called them, they would not tell her what lab has my sample.

There are gram negative rods growing out on the sinus culture obtained on Monday. I hope and pray it is not Pseudomonas. The last time I had gram negative rods, it was that dangerous organism. My doctor says that she hopes in the morning the lab will have it identified. The lab tech mentioned the possibility of neisseria. I hope and pray it will not be a life-threatening bacteria such as this or Pseudomonas.

The sinus CT showed thinning in the lateral (side) sinus wall, also. We are not certain if the thinning is from infections or medications.

The abdominal CT showed massive splenomegaly (my spleen is many times the size of a normal person's spleen) and some periaortic enlarged lymph nodes.

I am to have labs drawn tomorrow to determine my neutrophil level, used to schedule another Neupogen treatment for Friday or Saturday. If the culture identification is known in the morning, I may have to be desensitized to another drug tomorrow, as well.

Those are the reports of mortal man. They are concerning. I lift my eyes Up to where my Hope comes from and petition my Savior for yet another rescue from serious infections and life-threatening complications. Hear my prayers speedily, Lord.

A Prayer for Today: February 25, 2009

Almighty God,

We worship You, Lord, in spirit and in truth. We rejoice at the mention of Your Name. We are forever grateful for the way that You remain consistent in a world full of upheaval and turmoil. We exalt You and worship You, because You are holy. Thank You for the richness and truth of Your Word, Lord. I cannot imagine my life without Your Word. Because I know, that Your Word is not merely a compilation of letters. John 1:1 reminds us that, “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.”

If our hearts, words, and lives have dishonored You or Your Word this week, forgive us, Lord. James 4:8 is clear in its teaching – “Draw near to God and He will draw near to you. Cleanse your hands, you sinners; and purify your hearts, you double-minded.” If we approach God with requests, He will draw near to us – but, first, we must purify our hearts and minds.

Abba Father, You are our Helper and Healer. Conquer these infections that I am battling. Touch our daughter Stephanie's eye and the infection that she has. Guide the doctors tomorrow as the inject antibiotics into this area. Clear it quickly for her.

I cannot imagine life without You, God. You have never abandoned me in my darkest hours. I know and believe and trust that You are not going to abandon us now, in the midst of fiery trials and tribulations.

In Your Precious Name I pray, Amen.

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Trials and Tribulations

When the writings from the book of James challenge us to “count it as pure joy when we encounter trials”, doesn’t that confuse the human mind? It goes against the grain. It is counter intuitive to our very nature. When our physical man encounters trials and tribulations, often we want to blame God, doubt God, gripe and complain. Yet, His Word is quite clear that trials and tribulations are a part of our daily Christian walks. By claiming the name of a Child of God, we are not exempt from pain and suffering, trials and tribulations. However, as His children, we ARE promised the presence of the Holy Spirit in our lives to comfort us and encourage us as days are grim and grey.

Romans 5:3-4 exhorts us: “And not only that, but we also glory in tribulations, knowing that tribulation produces perseverance; and perseverance, character; and character, hope.” Many people ponder and question why a Loving God allows His beloved children to experience difficult times. This Scripture summarizes the reason quite well. Without the yoke of trials and tribulations sometimes hanging around our necks, traits such as perseverance, character, hope, patience, faith would be difficult to culture in our lives. If life was a piece of cake, we would not be driven to seek God. If everything was handed to us on silver platters, we would not learn to be dependent upon our Heavenly Father, as our Provider. If our hearts were never broken from life situations, we would never encounter the Comforter.

God’s Word illustrates examples too numerous to count of His chosen servants living in the midst of trials and tribulations most of us cannot fathom. Paul, an apostle with a stellar reputation, was beaten and flogged and shipwrecked, and imprisoned. Yet, he continued preaching the Gospel and living a life honoring His Lord and Savior. Stephen’s loving, forgiving spirit was strikingly brilliant as he was brutally stoned and killed for his life lived to honor Christ. Daily, as life struggles and heartaches, threaten to drown us in grief, we must, with patience and faith, continue to trust God. He is in control and willing to come to our aid. As the Rapture and Christ’s return approaches, days and lives will become more and more difficult. I doubt there is anyone who can watch the nightly news, for more than a few moments, without reflecting on the dire world events swallowing up the life we have all known and lived.

It is time for each of us to seek God more through prayer. It is time to learn more of His plan for our future and His gift of salvation. It is time to bow our knees and hearts before His throne and seek Him as we have never done before in our lives. Trials and tribulations are descending on this world as never before. We must be ready to learn and live through these difficult times, with no thought of cursing or deserting the One and Only God, Who will never leave us nor forsake us.

Monday, February 23, 2009

Trusting in Him

Trusting God through difficult days and trials is imperative to our walks as Christians. If we allow earthly, physical, monetary concerns to trip us and trap us, we are not trusting and believing fully in the promises of our Lord. Satan would like nothing any better than for us to curse God during times of tribulation.

For many years of my life, I have opted to trust God. By trusting Him, my heart is able to remain untroubled and not bound by doubt and fear. When natural fears tempt to trigger concern in my heart and mind, I trust in Him. When circumstances appear to be overwhelming and about to swallow my life in one big gulp, I turn to Him, over and over again.

I pray that when I first meet my Savior, face to face, that I will be certain I have passed the test and He will be pleased with the life I have lived by His mercy and grace. I pray that He will cup my face in His hands and say, "Child, you always trusted me."

Time and time again, I seek refuge with the Lord and trust that He will care for me when man can do no more to assist me. Man and medicine and madness cannot overwhelm me or rob me of my life, health or sanity when I am fully trusting God. While man and medicine might rescue me at times, they cannot save my life. The One and Only, the Great I Am is the "Soul" Provider of eternal life and physical life.

One of my favorite Scriptures is: "You will keep in perfect peace him whose mind is steadfast, because he trusts in You." (Isaiah 26:3)

Another version of the Bible says He will keep us in perfect peace when our "minds are stayed on Him". As with so many passages of Scriptures, the God-breathed, inspired Words of the Bible provide us with specific guidelines for almost every life event, concern, problem or decision. He only asks that we open the pages of our Bibles, read and inhale its fragrance of life, and then obey. When we trust Him, He promises us His perfect peace.

As someone who is trudging through deep valleys, I can assure you, His perfect peace is the only companion that can offer me peace of mind, comfort of heart, and healing of body.

Urgent Prayer Request: February 23, 2009

Family and Friends,

Thank you for your prayers. I have been gone for 12 hours and had a very difficult day. I ask for continued prayers.I left home at 7: 25 AM and returned home at 7:20 PM.

I met with the dentist at 8 AM due to the tooth/gum pain that developed yesterday. After two different types of x-rays, we began to discover the pain culprit. My teeth were wonderful - no abscesses or cavities. HOWEVER, we discovered something we did not anticipate.

The dentist showed me the x-rays and she said that the floor of my sinus cavity was pressing on the roots of the teeth that were hurting. She speculated that infection or inflammation could be the cause. This pain is on the side where mold grew out on culture.

She sent me to my family doctor. Being the wonderful doctor she is and her concern about protecting me from the flu, she came and sat in my car. We held x-rays up to the bright winter sun to review. My blood was drawn, etc. That might be a new concept - drive through doctoring! She called the ENT who performs the sinus punctures on me, and he wanted x-rays.

I went to a diagnostic imagining center (to avoid the germy hospital) and had sinus x-rays. I had a wonderful tech, who wiped down all the x-ray equipment, etc. with disinfectant and kept me out of public waiting rooms.

I then went onto the ENT's office. I received a report that I did not anticipate. The bones of my sinuses have thinned enough that a tooth root is growing up through it. It is possible that all of the steroids I have taken for the leukemia are causing bone thinning. Thus, the repeat sinus infections are probably due, in part, to this pathway for pathogens. The ENT said for people not in my condition, bone grafts and other surgeries could be considered but I am not a candidate. He called and spoke to my family physician and since my temp was elevated again, they concurred to perform another one of the sinus punctures.

I have shared the agony and descriptions of this horrific procedure in the past. I nearly passed out today. It took 4 punctures to get the device through the bone. I cannot explain the pain and shock that I went through. I 12+ difficult years of leukemia, this rated as the second worst day. In between attempts, I was bleeding alot due to my platelets, so he would have to suction out the blood, repeat, suction, repeat. You get the painful picture. The irrigation part did drain out a very large mass of infection. The doctor said it had a foul smell and he has never told me that. So, he sent me onto the oncologists' infusion center to be desensitized to Augmentin, to take until this new set of cultures reveal what we have discovered. That went without any reactions. I am home in bed.

I need to see God turn this situation around ASAP. Tomorrow I am going for a CT of the sinuses and they decided since it has been 19 months since my last abdominal CT, that we will just check everything out. Another desensitization will be possible, later this week, once the new culture reports are in our possession. If possible, they will perform a bone density scan to see if other bones are thinning from the steroids.

I made the mistake of taking myself today and what is scary I don't even remember the drive after the puncture procedure to the oncologists' office. Be thankful you weren't sharing the roads with me. :-) ..... or maybe you were in that red car I ran off the road. (Just Kidding!)

Will keep you posted. I know and believe He is able to do the impossible. I am asking for God to grow bone for me where it is needed. He can do more than we can ask or imagine.

Sunday, February 22, 2009

Continued Prayers Needed

I continue to wait on the mold culture sensitivities. We anticipate receiving those mid-week and will know then if I have to switch antifungals.

I had my Neupogen injection yesterday and had a drug reaction to that. I have been up since 3 AM, feeling poorly. I am nauseated, have a bad headache and deep bone pain.

This morning, an upper tooth began hurting. I am going at 8 AM to the dentist. My doctor wants me checked first thing in the morning with an x-ray (non-invasive). If there is anything that needs invasive attention, I will then have to go to the oncologists' office to be desensitized to Augmentin. Then once that is finished, I can return for the dental work.

I am praying:

Jeremiah 31:25: "I will refresh the weary and satisfy the faint."

Isaiah 40:29: "He gives strength to the weary and increases the power of the weak."

Friday, February 20, 2009


Insurance finally decided after a month of my being neutropenic (very low count of infection-fighting cells) that they would pay for Neupogen treatments. I will begin this weekly treatment tomorrow. Please pray that I do not have any drug reactions or side effects. Specifically, please pray for protection of my very enlarged spleen as Neupogen has ruptured some enlarged spleens. It causes very deep bone pain, since the Neupogen is stimulating the bone marrow to produce neutrophils.

Another Lab Error!

For all of you who have written or called to see what the mold sensitivities revealed, I cannot answer you. ARUP LAB in California has made a serious error. The lab tech there told my doctor on Monday, February 9th the identity of the mold and that she would send it on to another lab that would run the drug sensitivities. Lo and behold, ARUP called my doctor on February 17th and asked what they were to do with my sample. This type of negligence could kill me. I urge each of you who reads this to cautiously review any lab work that you have done. I cannot number the errors that have been made on my samples. There is simply no excuse for such negligence.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

A Prayer for Today: February 18, 2009

Heavenly Father,

We rejoice at the mention of Your Name. The trials of this world seem to become more and more difficult, yet I stand in confidence that You are in control. You are the Alpha and the Omega – the beginning and the end. You are never changing and ever present. Praises we offer to You, O Lord. Thank You for your patience with us – your unruly children, who mess up and fall. You are gracious and forgiving to pick each of us when we do fall, dust us off and forgive the presence of sin from our lives, and then encourage us to walk onward on the narrow path.

All too often, we think of sin as being loud and obvious. Yet, often times, it is the quiet, unseen, unspoken sins in our lives that can be most destructive. Purge our hearts, Father, of any ungodliness. Let our speech be edifying and pure. Let our thoughts be on things pleasing to You. Help us to guard our eyes and ears from the sinful music, movies, and television shows that try to creep into our homes and lives. Holy Spirit, I ask that You will empower us to stand against the temptations of this world. Help us not to doubt, to fear, to enter into strife, or to be unloving to the hurting world around us.

Prompt us throughout the day, to pray without ceasing for the many needs that exist in our lives. Today, I uplift all who are battling infection. In Jesus’ Name, I ask that You will rebuild our immune systems. You are the Creator, so I believe you can be the Repairer. Comfort those who mourn and grieve. Intervene in households where the enemy is trying to wreck havoc and destroy families. Be in the midst of the treatment that all are receiving or about to receive. Father, comfort those who must make difficult decisions. I praise You for the answers You have given to us.

No matter the depths of our trials, we will trust in the Name of the Lord. We will guard our hearts and not allow them to be troubled. When we are tempted to be afraid, we will trust in You. We commit our lives, our hearts, our works, and our needs to You, Lord. We are trusting You.

In His Mighty Name I pray. AMEN.

Monday, February 16, 2009

Beautiful Baby Contest

On Friday, Lil Man arrived to his Grammy's, with his suite, white dress shirt, pink tie, and a bouquet of roses for his Valentine's Date (aka Grammy). To say he looked adorable or cute or precious or handsome or striking or darling would be an understatement.

Since we are certain that the entire world will agree with us when we tout Lil Man as the "World's Most Beautiful Baby", his Mommy decided to enter him in Regis and Kelly's "Beautiful Baby" contest. Be watching on March 9th when the Top Ten winners will be announced.

When (not if) Lil Man is chosen for the Top Ten, we will need all of you to vote online for him!

Making Treatment Decisions

I have hit upon a plan for selecting my next treatment. I have struggled with making this decision since late summer, when symptoms became more problematic, indicators of bone marrow failure emerged, and my hemoglobin, neutrophils and platelets began declining. Never has making a treatment decision been so complicated and mentally draining for me in these 12+ years of leukemia.

I told my husband last night that since no two specialists can agree upon THE best treatment for me, I will obtain a large hat, write each treatment option on a slip of paper, deposit the slips of paper in the hat, and draw out the "lucky" winner! Is that not a plan? It will take all of the pressure off of me to continue researching, traveling to leukemia specialists, and contemplating this decision 24/7. With one slip of paper, my destiny will be determined. How much easier can it get?

(Disclaimer: While this plan has little medical merit, one must admit that in the world of leukemia, there appears to be no "right" or "wrong" answers for many patients. Everything falls in an area of grey. One treatment may help one patient, yet cause great harm to another. One therapy may bring a complete remission, but the costs to the immune system might result in death by infection. I will let you know what slip is drawn when I put my plan into action. Perhaps I will even take photos of the big event!")

Thursday, February 12, 2009

A Prayer for Today; February 12, 2009

Dear Heavenly Father,

We rejoice at the promise and power of Your Word, Lord. Where would we be without Your divine instruction manual for each of us? I praise You for imparting these words to mortal man to record for the ages. I open Your Word and it feeds my soul. It strengthens my faith and helps to defeat fear. Your Word is a lamp unto our feet, to light the way on darkened paths for each of us. Thank You, Lord, for each verse that is God-breathed. Help us to be obedient to read and study Your Word and to reflect on its message.

Thank You, for Your mercy and forgiveness, Lord. Forgive us our sins and trespasses. Forgive us when we step outside of our love walk - -when we fail to extend love to those nearest to us and to complete strangers. During this week of celebrating love, deepen our hearts’ abilities to love You more each day; to love our fellow man deeper each day; and to love ourselves as the beautiful creations You formed each of us to be. I John 4:7 reminds us: “Dear friends, let us love one another, for love comes from God. Everyone who loves has been born of God and knows God.”

There are so many needs in my family and friends. My mind cannot even begin to name them all, yet I know that You personally are aware of each aching heart and each broken body. Psalm 41:3 promises us, “The Lord will strengthen him on his bed of illness; You will sustain him on his sickbed.” Father, I ask that you do just that for those who have infection or other sickness in their bodies – restore health to speedily. Lift us up off of these sickbeds, Lord.

I come seeking You for guidance with treatment plans. Psalm 32:8 reminds us that “I will instruct you and teach you in the way you should go.” We cling to this promise, Father. These decisions are agonizing. The most brilliant minds in the world cannot agree upon treatment plans for many of us. So, we turn to You, over and over, and ask for that divine wisdom regarding treatment plans. Impart that wisdom to all debating treatment and entering into treatment this very week.

Let the leaders of our nation not be blinded to lead us down a path to socialism after all the lives that have been lost to create and defend our democratic nation. Preserve and protect all that our founding fathers planned and prayed for our nation.

You are Love, Lord. Through our great needs, let us never become disillusioned to the point that we think that you no longer love us. Your love is eternal. May we love You more and more each and every day of our lives.

In Your Precious Name I pray, Amen.

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

True Success

"In our Christian lives, success is obedience to God,
not results we can measure."
--Beth Moore

Update: February 11, 2009

I finished my IVIG infusion yesterday after 9 1/2 hours. That was a loooooong day. I am grateful that I did not have any serious reactions. I remain very nauseated from the new antifungal I am taking. Last night my doctor said it could be another week before the lab provides the drug sensitivities on the mold to us. For the time being, I will remain on this antifungal until the sensitivities become available.

Please pray for God to be clear and precise in His guidance for me as I contemplate the next chemotherapy protocol to use. This decision is too difficult for me to make on my own and I know He will not forsake me.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

A Benchmark for Modern Medicine

"The task of medicine: cure sometimes;
relieve often; care always."
--Ambrose Pare, 1517-1590

The Battle is the Lord's

Shortly after my diagnosis with leukemia in 1997, I awoke one night with the Biblical account of David and Goliath swarming in my mind. The weeks since diagnosis had not been easy for my family or me. Yet in the still and quiet of the night, the Holy Spirit had revealed and reminded me of the power, protection, and strength He had given to little David in the midst of his daunting assignment.

To think that God would send, equip, protect, and make David a victor in the midst of a seemingly impossible situation gave me great comfort and encouragement. In spite of everything, God is unchanging and is able to prepare and protect each believer. The Holy Spirit was revealing to me that leukemia would not be a daunting assignment for God. Just as He had intervened in David’s battle of epic proportions, He would do exactly the same thing for me in the battle Stacie v. Leukemia.

I scrawled on a piece of paper next to the bed:

The battle is the Lord’s. ………

The next morning when we awoke, I told my husband, “I am David!” Now, I must admit that his sleepy mind and eyes didn’t quite register what I was saying and at 6 AM, he must have thought the stress of the illness was afflicting my mind. After all, when he had last seen me at bedtime, I had been Stacie!

The next week I pondered and reviewed that 1 Samuel, Chapter 17 account of David’s God-anointed battle with Goliath. We’ve all heard the terms “David and Goliath” -- even from people who don’t know the slightest Biblical detail. The story encourages every underdog walking the face of the earth. When encountering life’s giant trials and tribulations, all of us should pray for the faith, courage, and fortitude of the young shepherd boy David. After all, he conquered a giant of a man with a polished stone, shot to the forehead of the giant with a slingshot. The weaponry was not important. The size of the giant he faced was not invincible.

The enemy always makes our foes appear to be larger than life so that we will become discouraged. Life’s challenges and battles attempt to defy the Word of God. Whether the giant of life is cancer, poverty, addiction, or other foes, the Holy Spirit dwelling within us is far greater. And just as Saul and all of Israel became “greatly afraid” when the Giant Goliath jeered and taunted them, fear often creeps into the believer’s heart and spirit.

The age, size, status or experience of the young David did not matter since he was filled with faith and fortitude, traits that only our Heavenly Father is willing and able to impart into our lives. David didn’t have a muscular body that the men possessed. He lacked the instruments of physical warfare that the Philistines and Goliath flaunted. After all, he was “only” a shepherd boy. Yet, God looked down and saw a heart chasing after Him. He honored the faith and availability of David.

David’s obedience to his natural father and to His heavenly Father is obvious. God always honors us when we honor our parents. He was willing to follow his father’s request to deliver food to his brothers and to check on their welfare.

David’s ears heard the bragging and boasting of the Philistines and Goliath. His senses were absorbing the challenges about him. He could hear them boasting of their bravery. He could see their weapons of warfare and giant size. None of that mattered to David as he questioned, “For who is this uncircumcised Philistine, that he should defy the armies of the living God?” His natural senses were overridden by his spiritual senses. And almost instantly, the jealousy of his oldest brother was ignited. The other brothers followed suit.

Such it is in this world. When we take a stand against the giants of this world, often times it is perceived as arrogance. What the world does not understand is that the Holy Spirit within us is where our boldness, bravery and courage emerge. Nothing within my human spirit can equip me with enough guts and audacity to fight leukemia. I have to return, over and over, to seek Him in prayer and to search His Living Word. Then, I become equipped for the battle at hand.

Imagine the ire and indignation of his brothers and fellow soldiers when David posed the declaration, “Let no man’s heart fail because of him; your servant will go and fight with this Philistine.” David recited the narrative of the life events that prepared him for this very moment – he had battled lions and bears and saved His lambs, as any good shepherd would do. I reflect on the life battles that preceded leukemia. Perhaps they were not as menacing or threatening as leukemia, yet each step I was taking with my Father, was preparing me for this battle. Just as David knew without doubt that the Lord would deliver him from the hands of Goliath, so we must trust and believe without doubt, that the Lord will deliver us.

The fellow warriors then assembled the physical armor for this tiny warrior. It wasn’t a good fit for him and he struggled to walk. That is precisely what happens when we try to go to battle and fight it with someone else’s weapons of warfare. That just doesn’t work. I am convinced that David knew that this battle was beyond his capabilities; however, he was prepared to clothe himself with the Armor of God. Such is how our life battles must be fought – with God’s weapons and battle plan. No weapons of this world or ones borrowed from other men will ever give us the victory. Our weapons for warfare must be orchestrated by the Holy Spirit in order to guarantee the triumph.

Imagine how foolish David must have looked when he dropped the men’s armors and weapons and picked up his staff, five smooth stones and his sling. I know that often, I have been ridiculed, mocked and scorned when I have chosen peculiar weapons to use against this giant called leukemia. Alternative treatments from around the globe, acupuncture, limited doses of chemotherapy – this is not how men of this world fight cancer. Yet, I have fought this battle with the weapons my Father has provided. His Holy Spirit dwells within me, my army commander, directing and guiding each decision. His Word empowers and encourages me to fight this enemy. Prayer is my hotline to the Commander whom I most trust.

And just as Goliath the Giant looked in disdain at the youth David, so has the giant leukemia snickered at my belief and trust in things of the spiritual realm versus the physical world to spare my life over and over.

Goliath made two big errors. He cried out to his gods (little g-gods, ones with no power or capability to save) and he underestimated his opponent. There is one true God who will hear our cries and petitions. Crying out to the workers of evil will only cause one to get a busy signal every single time. They don’t care and they don’t answer. Unlike Goliath, I never underestimate my enemy, leukemia. I know it is a significant enemy. However, no enemy of mine is bigger than my God. He, alone, gives us victory over our enemies and puts our adversaries to shame.

David’s words were faith-filled and confident as he approached his foe. He spoke his intentions to defeat Goliath, no matter how foolish the words sounded to those around him. His narrative was not wavering with doubt nor punctuated with fear. His purpose for the battle was also narrated. He didn’t plan to defeat the Giant to earn awards for valor or the respect of mortal men. He knew that by defeating his enemy, he would show the world the power and might of his God.

Just as God took David’s simple weapons of warfare – five small stones from the brook – and anointed them for victory over the giant, so God does the same for His children. The battle and the foe may appear terrifying, yet God is able to do “exceedingly, abundantly more than we ask or imagine”.

And, just as David won the victory and killed Goliath, so life victories are within our reach when we seek God and His empowerment. Nothing is impossible for those who believe. In a world filled with battles – between nations, within families, among religions, and the vital battle between God and satan for the hearts and minds of men, women, and children there remains a strong steady hand. The hand of my Father equips and guides each of us through life battles. To Him belong both strength and victory. He gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.

Monday, February 9, 2009

Mold Identification

My family doctor e-mailed me late tonight and she had just received the identification of the mold growing from my sinus cultures. The lab in California has identified the mold, however, they cannot run sensitivities (that will tell us what drug will treat this species), so my samples are being sent on to another lab.

Cultures revealed that the mold from my sinus culture is scopulariopsis brumptii.

Please continue to pray for God to allow the medicine I am taking to work against this fungus and for Him to protect me from it spreading to other organs.

Update and Prayer Request: February 9, 2009

Blood cultures have remained clear but we do not have further details on the sinus or leg cultures or biopsy. I expect it will be mid to late week before we have more information. I tolerated the powerful, new antifungal well on Saturday. Thank you for praying. Fungal infections take many leukemia patients' lives. As one specialist told me, "A fungal infection for you is the devil." I ask for your continued prayers for God's protective Hand to cover me and to protect my organs from both the infection and the medication. This medicine can cause heart and liver failure, so I will be monitored closely.

My oncologists' nurse called this morning and Anthem is going to pay for my IVIG treatment, so I will be receiving that tomorrow all day. This is the treatment that can give my own immune system a boost to help fight infection.

Keep trusting and believing with me.

5 Months Old

I can hardly believe it, but today is our Lil Man's five month birthday! Sometimes it seems that he should be a tiny baby swaddled in a blanket and only born yesterday. Yet, other days, it is difficult to recall my life without him. Knowing that he needs me to watch him each day, keeps pushing me and my body forward. Every cell in my body and every thought in my mind want to quit. Then his gummy grin and chubby cheeks appear on the window of my mind and I put one foot in front of the other, to make it through yet another day.

(Disclaimer: Now I will sound like a gushing grandma.) He is bright beyond his months. His eye-hand coordination is striking and his vocabulary is extensive (goo, ga, and multiple variations of squeals). He recognizes my face and smiles when I speak to him. When someone else holds him, his automatic Grammy-tracking device follows me around the room. He has been sitting up for nearly a month and he rolls over (although he really likes life on this back). He went sledding in his little red sled after our big January snow. Lil Man is a fan of Sesame Street each morning. My estimate is that he should know his numbers and ABC's by the age of one.

Happy Birthday, Lil Man. You steal my heart everyday. Love, Grammy

Saturday, February 7, 2009

Urgent Prayer Request: February 7, 2009

Please pray for me. My doctor just called and she has been on the phone with my infectious disease doctor. They have decided that the risks are too great to me to wait on the culture results. I am going to leave in the next little bit to go to the hospital to begin a new antifungal. Please pray that I will not have an anaphylactic reaction to it. Also, please pray that this will be the drug that cultures reveal to be effective against the mold in my sinuses. She told me that I may not be able to stop this drug and it may become one that I permanently have to take now that mold growth is present in my body.

Friday, February 6, 2009

Urgent Prayer Request: February 6, 2009

Please keep me in your prayers. I have potentially dangerous infections. I have been at the Dr. all morning and have to get ready to return for a biopsy this afternoon. Overnight, I woke up and my lower, inside calf hurt. When I checked it, there is a knot about the size of a golf ball with a pink ring around it. I called the doctor and went in.

In addition, we just learned that my sinus cultures from a couple of weeks ago have begun to grow out a mold (see note below) that has yet to be identified. So my doctor does not know if this leg problem is fungal or bacterial in nature. I am going at 3 to a dermatologist for a biopsy and cultures of it but that will take time to yield answers. My doctor wondered about erythema nodosum (spelling?) that could be the result of a deep fungal or other infection? She also mentioned sporotriosis (spelling?)

She ordered a stat CBC and also blood cultures. My CBC shows I am again neutropenic (less than 700)-they found 5 neutrophils in a 500 manual cell count. My platelets have taken a good drop, which often accompanies infection for me. We don't know which way to turn as choosing drugs is difficult with the history of anaphylaxis. The doctor said we add an antibiotic and it is fungal, that the antibiotic could make it worse. And we don't have an ID on the sinus mold yet.

This is the e-mail I just received from my doctor:

Here is the CBC result:
WBC [H] 70.7 k/cmm 4.8-10.8
RBC [L] 3.65 ml/cmm 4.20-5.40
HGB [L] 10.5 g/dL 12.0-16.0
HCT [L] 32.4 % 37.0-47.0
MCV 88.9 fl 81.0-99.0
MCH 28.8 pg 27.0-31.0
MCHC [L] 32.3 g/dL 33.0-36.5
RDW [H] 18.0 % 11.5-14.5
MPV 9.1 fl 7.4-10.4
Platelet Count [L] 79 k/cmm 130-400
Lymphocytes [H] 99 % 13-43
Neutrophils [L] 1 % 44-80

I called and yes there were only 5 neutrophils in a field of 500 so you are neutropenic. I spoke with the ARUP lab folks-it is definitely not aspergillosis in the sinus and they are running some additional tests and will call me back-she said it is a diatomatceous mold based on the first line id on culture. (will tell me more about what that means when she calls back with more info).

It's a good thing I am not graded on my lab values as I only have 3 normal values out of 11 -- that would be 27% correct.

Please pray for the doctors to have divine wisdom in deciding how to proceed. I really need to avoid the ICU with all of the flu and germs, but it is the weekend and if drugs are needed, that is where I will be headed.

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

A Prayer for Today: February 4, 2009

Almighty God,

Let everything that has breath, praise the Lord. We praise You for all that You do to keep us each and everyday. We rejoice at the privilege it is to be known as God’s children. We are nothing apart from You. Thank You for loving us so deeply that You sacrificed Your only begotten Son, so that each of us could have the opportunity to be forgiven and have the promise of eternal life.

While Your Son paid the ultimate price on the cross for each of us, we must be reminded that it is our responsibility to come to You and ask forgiveness for our sins. Holy Spirit, move in our lives and in our hearts, and prompt us to be repentant when we fail You. Nudge us daily, to seek forgiveness when we fail You, Lord.

For those who have never heard Your Word or never known the path to eternal life, let our lives shine and point each unbelieving, lost soul, directly to You. This is not about religion; it is about a personal relationship with Jesus. It is not complicated and it is not confusing, Father. We have failed and sinned and You love us so much that You have offered Your Son, Jesus Christ, so that our sins can be forgiven. Thank You, God, for loving each of us that much. May someone who reads this prayer, be prompted to turn their lives over to You.

Our country faces serious issues. Only through Your guidance and Your Word can any leader find success. Proverb 16:3 instructs us: “Commit to the LORD whatever you do, and your plans will succeed.” Draw the leaders of our cities, states, and nation to seek You and Your guidance as all decisions are made. Let our country be a supporter of Israel as we know that we will be blessed by this support. Protect our nation from terrorist threats.

As we come to you with these petitions, let us reflect on 1 John 5:14-15: “Now this is the confidence that we have in Him, that if we ask anything according to His will, He hears us. And if we know that He hears us, whatever we ask, we know that we have the petitions that we have asked of Him.”

Your Word is full of accounts of healing, restoration, divine protection, provision, and salvation. Therefore, we come asking that our petitions be granted because we know and believe that it is Your will. Thank You, Father, for being patient with each of us and for listening to our pleas. We rejoice at your goodness and mercy.

In Jesus’ Precious Name I pray, Amen.

More Snow Covered Bridges

Photo copyright Stacie