Enrico

God is great!

His mom Juanita sent me a message two seconds ago.  “Enrico se beenmurg is skoon.  Daar is net ‘n paar selle wat hulle nie van seker is nie maar volgens Dr Stefan is dit skoon.”  (Enrico’s bone marrow is clean.  There are a couple of cells that they aren’t sure about but according to Dr Stefan it is clean.)

Praise God for a miracle!

Winé

Winé had a MRI today.  Despite chemo and radiation the tumour continued to grow.  The doctors have decided to stop all treatment.

Personally I will pray for a healing miracle until Winé’s last breath. 

There are so many things that I want to say but right now I can’t.  Please continue to pray for this family.

URGENT PRAYER REQUEST

Many weeks ago I told you about Winé (12 years old, pronounced Vinnay) who has brain cancer.  She has been receiving chemo and radiation but is weakening fast.  She was supposed to be scanned in 2 weeks’ time but today it was moved forward to tomorrow at 10:00.  I’ve been praying for complete healing for her for a while but lately I’ve started believing the stats and was sort of praying against my better judgement.

I am getting a very strong message tonight that I shouldn’t write off God’s omnipotence that easily.  Please join me in prayer begging for Winé’s life.  Her parents and younger brother are standing so strong in the midst of this storm in their lives.  Please pray for strength for them too.

I am leaving you with this picture of her, taken earlier this year before she was diagnosed.

Wine

Miracles in pictures

I’ve been planning on doing a different post today but it seems I am meant to do one on miracles. 

Today everything has driven me towards posting about Boeta’s miraculous healing.  I’ve been meaning to scan his before & after heart sonars for weeks but I never get round to doing it.  Tonight I found the scanner cables and the sonar pictures at the same time.  And the printer worked and everything added up to me being able to do it.

As I opened the CT scan envelope that I stored the sonar pictures in I came across the scan report.  For some reason I haven’t read it until now.  That is very strange since I even read the nurses’ notes in Boeta’s file.  Back in March when Cristina phoned us to say that Woutertjie was clear of cancer I was too overwhelmed to think clearly and apparently too overwhelmed to look for the scan report.

Tonight that report hit me between the eyes.  The amazement of the radiologist is very clear.  He was witness to a miracle.

CT report page 1

CT scan report page 2

And then the sonar pictures of his heart.

On 5 January 2009 his heart looked like this:

2009-01-05 Boeta hart sonar

The “upside down T shape”  (below the label “TV”) shows the division between the top two heart chambers and the bottom chambers.  The grey spot labelled “T” and with dotted lines across it is the tumour.  At the bottom of the picture you can see that it measured 3.05cm x 3.02cm.  The area labelled “RA” is the right atrium of the heart.  “IVC” is the inferior vena cava.  It is the vein that brings blood back into the heart.  As you can see the tumour was fast on its way to completely blocking it.

And here is the after sonar.  On 19 March his heart looked like this:

2009-01-19 Boeta hart sonar 2

Now suddenly you can see the division between the right atrium (RA) and the heart chamber left of it.  And best of all, note the doctor’s note on the left:  Geen tumor (No tumour).

Here is another view of his healthy “after” heart.

2009-03-19 Boeta hart sonar

Can you believe your eyes?  The doctors couldn’t.

Now I need your help.

Yesterday I met the newest addition to Cristina’s oncology creche.  Chanté is 1y9m and is the sweetest little angel imaginable.  She looks remarkably like Carien and she really got to me.  Chante

Chanté has rhabdomyosarcoma (same as Boeta) in her chest.  She started with chemo yesterday.  I planned on doing a prayer request post for her yesterday but I was just too emotional.  So I held Carien close and cried my heart out for that little baby who looks at her mom with her big brown eyes and doesn’t understand why she is being hurt.  And yet as soon as the hurt is done and the vomiting stops she smiles again.

Please pray for this little girl and her family.  Charlotte, her mother, is so strong in her faith that God will heal her baby.  I will definitely keep you posted on Chanté’s progress.

Wonderful, fabulous, inspiring news

Remember I told you about the two boys who receive chemo with Boeta?  They both have neuroblastoma that started in the abdomen and spread to the bone marrow.  About 2 weeks ago Duran had his CT scan and bone marrow biopsy.  His bone marrow is clean!  There is still a tumour but it is a lot smaller and not in the bone marrow.  This is fabulous news.

Today Enrico was scanned and biopsied.  His bone marrow results will only be back in a couple of days’ time but … *insert drumroll here* … his scan looks very good!  His bones are clear and there is calcification indicating dead tissue – dead tumour tissue!  There is still a small tumour that needs to be addressed and they will have a meeting with the doctors to decide on the road ahead when the bone marrow results are out.  This is the child whose cancer didn’t respond to any of his previous treatment protocols.  The one that he is on now is the last in the line.  This is it.  If this didn’t work there was nothing else left to do.  I can’t tell you how grateful I am that he responded so well.  I spoke to his mom earlier and she was laughing and smiling the whole time.  You know how you can hear someone smile over the phone?  She was definitely smiling.

Would you join me in a prayer of thanks today?

No one comes to dinner now … we’d only eat them anyhow

Well, that isn’t strictly true.  Wouter’s family came for dinner last night.  And I can’t remember eating anyone.  Except if cows have names.  Then I ate Fillet.

The children are watching “Joseph and the Amazing Technicolour Dreamcoat”.  They love it.  Woutertjie can sing some of the songs from start to finish.  Carien doesn’t do badly either!  Their favourites are Joseph singing “Close every door” and the Pharaoh singing anything.  My favourite is Jacob and the brothers singing “Those Canaan days”, where they reminisce about life before the famine hit.  (Do you remember those wonderful parties? / The splendor of Canaan’s cuisine / Our extravagant, elegant soirées / the gayest the Bible has seen. / It’s funny but since we lost Joseph / we’ve gone to the other extreme / No one comes to dinner now / we’d only eat them anyhow).

I’ve been thinking a lot lately.  Too much, actually. 

Thinking about how much different our lives might’ve been if Woutertjie didn’t get sick.  I would’ve been working every day and right now I would’ve been worried about the Biochemistry pracs that are starting soon. 

Thinking about how differently things may have turned out if Woutertjie was diagnosed a week later.  His chances of survival would’ve been even slimmer.  And it was pretty anorexic to start with.

Thinking about what I’ve learned during these past months and how it has changed me forever.

And inevitably, I am thinking about the future.  Specifically my professional future.

When I’m not on extended unpaid leave, I work at UCT (University of Cape Town) as a scientific officer.  I am a biochemist by training and my main duties are preparing and presenting practical classes.  This means that when the students are there, I have to be there.  I can’t take a day’s leave in term time because I have to stand in front of 120-odd students doing my thing.  A less advertised part of the job is the extensive preparation that goes into every single day of pracs.  Everything has to be prepped, checked and set up and when you are working with living things (biochemistry after all!) like bacteria you have to factor in the probability that it might not grow as expected, not work like expected or just die.

Now I am faced with a major dilemma.

I am on unpaid leave this year.  In order for me to be ready for the first batch of students next year I have to start prepping, well, now!  🙂  Or at latest 2 January.  Boeta’s chemo is only finishing middle of February.  And after that he will be monitored frequently and he will need to go to Annalize (play therapist / occupational therapist) often to get his skills back.  I won’t be able to take any leave because of the student load at that time.  In other words, not an option.

I could request another 6 months’ unpaid leave.  But that would only be postponing the problem, since his checks and therapy will still continue.

The only other option would be to resign. 

Now that is another bag of worms.  Until now I’ve been receiving leave payouts and income insurance that covered my salary.  Unless Wouter gets a huge, major, magnificent increase we won’t be able to survive on his salary alone.  Giving up a permanent position is always a bad move and right now I have a back door open.  If I really need to go back to work ASAP, I could. 

And then, if I had to be completely honest with myself, I like being able to say that I am a biochemist on leave.  I define myself as being a scientist.  I don’t see myself as a stay-at-home-mom (house wife  / home executive / whatever).  I never aspired to being a SAHM.  My mom is a SAHM and there is no way that I could ever measure up to her and do as well as she did.  It is a lot harder being a SAHM than being a working mom.  Maybe because I am an oncomom SAHM, but I don’t think that makes that much of a difference.  It is just plain hard work.

Giving up my job would mean that I choose to be a SAHM.  Until now I didn’t have a choice and I had to do it.  I’ve never made the conscious decision to stop working and now I am faced with the decision.

Putting off resigning for months isn’t an option either.  UCT has been too good to me to keep them hanging.  And should I resign it will take months for them to replace me.  The next person will have to start preparing for pracs too…

A rock and a hard place.

What a place to be.

Today I may just buy medicine online

I have a vicious headache and the only pain medicine I have at home is Panado (paracetamol).  This is a bit more than a Panado headache.  What really grates me is that I know exactly why I have a headache and what I could’ve done to avoid it.

When I was in std 8 (about 16 years old) my one teacher told me that I had to work at relaxing – I literally never just let it all go.  I thought he was funny.  Funny strange, not funny haha.

As time went by I realised that he may have had a point. 

I am at my best when I am stressed.  Not stressed to distraction, just to efficiency.  I work doubly fast and accurate when I am pushed for time, money, whatever.  Unfortunately this means that I feel slow and numb when I’m not stressed.  I hate those first few workdays after a holiday.  Not because I have to go back to work but because I am relaxed and not sharp.  I don’t like not feeling sharp.

I made the mistake of relaxing these few days.  Things are going well.  Woutertjie’s blood results are stable and actually increased a bit from Monday to today.  Wouter’s birthday went well and I will post a picture of his train cake as soon as I can find the cable for the camera.  Carien is doing very well and is just about sleeping through the night without a “midnight snack”.  So I am getting a good night’s sleep too.  Add everything together and you find me in the middle, quite relaxed.

Unfortunately my body isn’t used to the feeling.  The result?  All my neck and shoulders muscles go into spasm.  Seriously.  Wouter is the same.  We joke that we know that we have relaxed when we are crippled by headaches.  And for Wouter, add cold sores.

So here I am, relaxed, pained and mostly unmedicated.  I think it is time to go open all those spam messages in my inbox.  Unfortunately delivery will probably take 7 – 10 working days.  Do you think they might fax the pills to me?  Like, right now?