Saturday, April 26, 2003

Finally we're home!...once again.Chemotheraphy for the week went as usual, tube in chest, bag on hip, lot's of time to think, nothing on TV, and not even a good war to follow these days. I did finish a good book called "Band of Brothers" by Steven Ambrose. If you're into WWII history, then it's a great read.

I am very thankful for my helpers,...Sandy, mom, Peggy, I could not stay focused without out you!

HAPPY BIRTHDAY TO SANDY, She is 29 again, (too)

If you are willing, we have a few new prayer requests: That God would heal my GI tract so that I can tolerate the next round of Chemo with no complications;
That God would use the next round of Chemo & Transplant to put me into complete remission (June);
That God would protect our family, physically and emotionally, through this next phase.

By the way, I am officially finished with Phase 1 of my treatments. Phase 2 are the transplants, then I'll be on maintenance.

To all of you that are keeping us in your prayers, I thank you !
Praise God for your faithfulness.

Wednesday, April 23, 2003

These past two days have been full of up’s and down’s. I had come back to Little Rock for what I thought was a series of standard tests and my plan was to return to Memphis for another round of chemotherapy.

Well the first part of the plan went as scheduled, all the tests came back with positive results, cancer still being held at bay, bone marrow is normal, all vitals look good, and my bald head is still turning heads with the nursing staff. Plans are still for my 1st stem cell transplant in June.

Additionally, it appears that my last visit must have left quite an impression on the registration staff. When I first walked in one of the ladies looked up and gave me a great big smile. I asked, “Do you remember me” thinking that she remembered my charm and charisma. She replied, “Yes, yes I do, you’re that stem cell guy, the one with 40 million in one day”I always knew I would be famous one day, just never knew for what. Now I know, from now on, my name is Mister Stem Cell.

The second part of my plan did not go as I had anticipated. I had thought that I would be coming back to Memphis and starting chemo on Monday the 28th. Dr Barlogie decided that I should start immediately. I have had a slight problem with my esophagus with the last round of medications and he wanted me to get on the current chemo ASAP, and under his supervision. I tried to respectfully disagree with him, but he was very firm with his recommendation. What can one do; I marched downstairs and got plugged up to my “mini me” chemo bag.Of course the majority of the day was spent waiting on each appointment.

Since I had time to think, I started reflecting on the thought that if my plans were not coming to fruition the way I wanted them to, then did that mean God had something else in mind for me.

Guess what, God immediately placed a few things in front of me that I knew I had to do.There was an elderly couple sitting next to me in the lobby waiting their turn to see their Doc. We struck up a conversation and after a few minutes I could tell things were not going well for them. He had been trying to collect stem cells for over a week and just could not get enough. They were frightened and a bit worried so instead of just wishing them well, I asked them if they would like to pray.So we did. Right there in the lobby of the cancer waiting room in front of 25 or so sick folks, we lifted up the name of Jesus and asked for better results in treatment, for comfort no matter what, and for His peace. I did not see them after that but; I know the sincere interest in their well being warmed their hearts.Immediately after that I turned to my left where I met an elderly woman who was waiting alone. I could see in her face the same look of despair so I asked her if she would like to pray too. She said she sure would, so we broke down and prayed the same things.

It was very moving to me and as I have said from the beginning, my hope is that I will bring glory to God through this trial. Yes I want to be healed, but more importantly than that I want to stand before my maker with a smile, knowing that I was obedient to him while I’m on this earth.John 14:21 He who has my commandments and keeps them, it is he who loves me; and he who loves ME shall be loved by my Father and I will love him and will disclose myself to him.

Until next time !Frank

Monday, April 14, 2003

"Now to Him who is able to do far more abundantly beyond all that the we ask or think, according to the power that works within us, to Him be the glory in the church and in Christ Jesus to all generations forever and ever. Amen" Eph. 3:20-21

This verse has been our song of thanksgiving for several days now. We're sorry we're just now making an entry.

As you know, we were told it could take a week or more to get 20 million cells, but we knew Thursday that things looked good. The final count for Thursday was 30 million stem cells!!

Praise the Lord!! It puts us in a state that leaves us, literally, speechless. We went back the next morning and they got more, the final count is 40.9 million. We were anxious to get home and left as soon as we could. There wasn't room for a flea in the car. It looked like we were leaving for college.

We spent the rest of the weekend at the ballfield where Chase had a tournament. This one was different though, because it was a benefit tournament in honor of Frank. This event brought with it so many overwhelming emotions. We walked around on our feet all weekend but in our hearts, we were on our knees before the throne. The thankfulness and gratitude that we feel to each parent, and participant, is more than we can ever describe.

Our weekend was capped off with a birthday celebration for our daughter Chandler. She is 11 years old now. She is beautiful and wise beyond her years. The crowd pleaser was a "Dirt" Cake made from Oreo cookies.

We now have a week off before the next round of procedures. We look forward to the time off and for a chance to spend some quality time together.

Frank and Peggy

Thursday, April 10, 2003

Well, the day started in the sweetest way.
Frank's cell phone rang at 3 am with Chandler singing Happy Birthday to herself on the other end. I awoke to sound of Frank joining in. Such precious music. She was born at 3 am, and I guess her body more than mine recognized the time because I was sound asleep!

Chandler Welles Carlton, Daddy and I love you so much, and we wish you a very,very happy birthday!! We can't wait to get home and celebrate in style!

The rest of the day was just as wonderful. But you need background to really appreciate this. Frank and I played a lot of backgammon in college and in our earlier years of marriage. You know, before night feeding and crying babies! Anyway, Frank always had a nack for "calling" his roll. He'd say, "double sixes", and sure enough, he's roll them! Happened all the time.

Well today, Frank woke up and said, "I'm gonna do this today. All of them - today." Well, he did. We won't know for sure until tomorrow, but the doctor said he thinks they got 20 million! Most conservative - 15 million, at the most - 24.

Regardless of how successful today was, they always follow up with a "partial" collection. So, we return tomorrow for partial collection, see the doctor, and head home for Memphis!!

I have cried quite a bit today. Tears of joy, anticipation, gratitude, thankfulness, and tears of concern for our fellow friends that haven't collected yet. We started this process with other patients that we have seen everyday, lived next door to and grown to like very much. If you would, pray for them to have successful collections as well.

That is the big picture. Now for some details. Frank - who is on pain meds and says he'll catch up later - said the process wasn't as bad as he had anticipated. Since Tuesday, his back had been throbbing because of the growth factor shots. That was to be expected, but it didn't make it feel any better! The larger catheter went in today without difficulty, and he rested comfortably for the 4 hours it took to get the stem cells. His shoulder is very sore right now, and that's his only complaint at the moment.

Frank's parents have been here since Sunday, and left this evening. We had a sweet time together, watched a lot of TV, seen a few movies and had lots of laughs. As always, their encouragement and support of the five of us collectively and as individuals means so much.

At home, Mom has been very busy. She and Lisa and Daddy stepped in and took care of all the things I had planned to do for the Wed and Thurs. I was planning to come home. And in between all of that, Chase was nice enough to share his strep throat with Zach and Chandler. Momma, you've been mommy and daddy for about a month, and there aren't even enough words to say what you've done means to us. You have sacrificed much, and we thank you.

This process has been long and draining, but God has seen us through. He's gone before and behind us and protected every step. He has answered every prayer. He has heard every cry and bottled every tear. Frank and I both want to give God all the praise and glory for this process going like it has. We are thankful for the body of Christ that has taken such good care of us while we've been gone. For the meals and help with the kids and the prayers and encouragement - for everything - we thank you from the bottom of our hearts.

Memphis - here we come!!! Peggy and Frank

Wednesday, April 9, 2003

What a morning we've had! Our plan today was for me to go home while his parents were still here with Frank. There is a lot going on at home today and tomorrow that I was hoping to be there for. Zach has a math competition today. Chandler's 11th birthday is tomorrow, and they have a big school program in the morning. But you know what they say about the best laid plans.

Momma called this morning to tell us Chase has 101 fever and a sore throat. When we got to the hospital the nurses told us Frank was still Neutropenic, and I shouldn't go home in fear of bringing anything back, and we would still look for collection first thing next week. All the while, Chase and Mom are at the doctor - strep throat.

We are rearranging things for "plan B", feeling disappointed, but going with the flow. Frank is ready to go home. And the thought of waiting until next week for collection was also disappointing.

Then, everything changed. Frank's blood work came back. His white count has made a huge jump - from 0.3 to 7.7! They are adding the Pro-count to the blood work, and it's possible that they could begin collection this afternoon. We won't hear for another hour or two.

God knows best and has protected the timing of everything. That has been my main prayer apart from Frank's safety. He knows our hearts, and the desires we have big and small. I am in awe of his great love for each one of us - every one of us.

Monday, April 7, 2003

Gracious is the Lord, and righteous; Yes, our God is merciful. Psalm 116:5

I hope you all had a wonderful weekend. Frank and I had a whirlwind of a weekend being apart for the first time since his treatment began. Momma and I switched places on Friday, and I was home in Memphis with the children. It was an emotional homecoming for us all, and it felt good to be home. We were so busy with baseball and piano, church and other activities that we stayed on the run. The highlight for me was playing "monkey in the middle" in the kitchen. The kids told me I was good at it - a high compliment indeed! A good time was had by all.

Frank and Momma did great in Little Rock. Frank's levels dropped making him Neutropenic. This means he has to be more careful about infection, crowds and diet. His spirits have remained very "up". I am most proud of how involved he has become about his care/treatments. He is drawing up and giving himself his own shots, and flushing his lines all by himself. Go Frank!

Sunday afternoon, Frank's parents came to Little Rock and Momma went home to be with Daddy - what a trooper he has been! Thank you daddy! Frank started running fever and it was creeping up as the evening progressed, so I came back to Little Rock late Sunday to be with him. God was merciful and answered our prayer. His fever is down this morning.

Our visit to the clinic was more informative this time. They said his levels should drop even more today, to zero to be exact. As his levels start to come back up, that's when they'll be looking for the prime time to start collecting. The nurse practitioner thought this wouldn't be until next week. That was a little disappointing, because we were thinking that it would be this week.

We have prayed for God's timing for each phase of this treatment. We are trusting and believe that He knows best. Keep praying for those stem cells to grow!
Frank was able to introduce his parents and my mom to the staff and show them around the hospital. It's been neat to share this experience with them.

Thank you for praying for Jim. His PET scan and doctor appointment was today. We are so thankful to our Lord for a good report. His white count is down because of the radiation, but the PET didn't show any "hot spots" for cancer. Jim and Lisa, we are so happy for you and thrilled with the progress. Please keep them in your prayers that God would bring him into complete recovery and stronger each day. We love you.

We are half way there. We feel God's peace during this process. It is real. I am thankful for the gentleness of God in that when I begin to doubt and fear, He puts someone in my path to encourage me and bring back to the truth. The truth that we are never far from Him, and He has given all we need to live this life with victory. We are never alone. You are never alone. I am so grateful - for Him - and for you.

Love, Peggy

Thursday, April 3, 2003

God the Refuge of the Righteous

Psalm 94:18,19 If I say, "My foot slips," Your mercy, O Lord, will hold me up. In the multitude of my anxieties within me, Your comforts delight my soul.

What I am typing is very awkward, but here it goes, all the time I've spent sitting around with cancer patients has been an encouragement to me. The will of the spirit is not easily witnessed in acts of mediocrity.

I have a new myeloma friend, Mr Ables, who is a gem of a guy. He doesn't have many of the advantages someone like myself has (age & health) yet he is quite a fighter. His determination and focus are to be admired. Everyone please keep him lifted up.

Each day I get messages from various people from different avenues in life. Some of the messages tell me that in some way they are inspired by me or this "event". Well, I want to encourage you not to let the inspiration end with me. Remember, as Mr. A does, take time to comfort the souls of others.

This is, after all, the example we've been given!

Tuesday, April 1, 2003

Wow - April already? This is the day the Lord has made, and we are making the choice to be glad in it.

Pray that we will do that again tomorrow. Sometimes it comes easy, and sometimes it's just a choice. We know He is near and we feel His peace.

Frank feels pretty yucky. His stomach is upset pretty much all the time. He didn't eat much of anything yesterday, so I'm trying to encourage him to try something, but we are being careful. This is why they told him to put on weight if he could - for moments such as these.

He got the chemo bag off yesterday. Now he gets 2 shots a day until collection is over. They will check his blood levels often, and when they look right, they will start collection.

Keep praying for those little stem cells! After being on the phone all day with the insurance company, I will be able to give him his second shot here which will save us a trip to the hospital everyday. We are thankful for that.

Thank you for keeping us in your prayers. We need them, and feel them.

Jim's test was rescheduled for next Monday. We will continue to pray for great results.

Love to you all, Peggy