Friday, February 22, 2008

Blessings

Early in this process Kathy and I were given two words of advice. First get into a counseling group, and second take time to count your blessings. As far as the first, I worry if I am mentally stable enough to handle counseling. Therefore I moved to the second advice. Count your blessings. Counting your blessings might sound like an odd topic immediately following the last post about “cancer sucks”, but frankly after today I do not know where else to turn.

Tyler is now asleep. Today was a difficult day on so many levels (Brett Workman). Tyler will receive a new round of scans in the morning. Hopefully round 5 of chemo will begin on Wednesday. To start round 5, Tyler’s ANC needs to be up to 1,000. It is currently at 0. White counts are also at zero. Platelets are still low, so another transfusion was given today.

Finally this long day is over. I listen to the IV pump and try to think of some blessings we have received. I wander the halls at 2 AM, and paced in front of Brett’s empty room. As I think of our blessings I realize there are quite a few. I would like to share some.

First and foremost, every scan and shown continued decrease in the cancer. There have been many battles in Tyler’s body, and Tyler is continuing to win the war.

We are also thankful for the speed of the diagnosis. Burkitt’s is very often misdiagnosed for several weeks, resulting in a far worse prognosis. Our process began when Tyler had a stomach flu that would not go away. Tests and x-rays reveled nothing. It was a GI doctor at Children’s who found the tumor and immediately sent us to radiology. The quick response of the GI and radiology doctors gave us the correct diagnosis within hours of walking onto GI floor. By that time the cancer was so extensive that any further delay would have had serious consequences.

The original tumor is deep in Tyler’s pelvis and could have gone undetected even longer. It was three additional intestinal tumors, clustered together close to the skin, that were identified by the GI doctor. Their location aided in the quick diagnosis.

The support from the community has been amazing. There is no way we could have made it this far without the help and support of this community in so many ways. Tyler’s school, our neighbors, everyone has been wonderful. We have also received letters of support from around the country and over seas. It has been both humbling and exciting.

We have great nurses on J-5.

We have made many new and wonderful friends here. We have shared experiences that will permanently change our perspective on life.

Two months before the diagnosis I left my job and went on my own through Keller Williams Realty. Although the timing added significantly to our financial issues, it has provided enormous flexibility as Kathy and I trade off at the hospital. Keller Williams has been an enormous support.
Living so close to Children’s has been a wonderful blessing. We have seen the struggles of families here that come from hours away.

Both of our families have been a lot of help. My parents have been here several times, and we have received a lot of encouragement from their friends. My brother-in-laws have helped in many ways.

It would be accurate to say our family has cancer. This disease affects all of us. Through this Brandon, Travis, and Erik never know what it happening from one day to the next, or which parent will be sleeping at home. They have been so flexible during this process, only showing concern for Tyler. They are wonderful young men who have continued to excel through these difficult times. I am so very proud of all four of our sons.

Kathy is the calm in the storm. She is always relaxed. She is the one Tyler most often turns to for comfort. During adversity, Kathy just has a faith that says it will all work out. She says I need to relax, but sometimes I feel my tension is the only thing holding me together. She is the comforter while I am the fighter. She provides stability while I provide adventure. We are opposites that are a perfect balance when working together, and a disaster when working apart.

And most of all, Tyler. He became a survivor the November 14th, the day he was diagnosed. On that first day he resolved to beat this, even before we knew what “this” was. His spirit and compassion has never faltered. It has not been easy, and there have been many difficult times. But he keeps fighting. He is am amazing young man. I love him very much. FIGHT TO WIN.

We have received many more blessings. We are thankful for them all. But please do not misunderstand. I read a story about a person who said the blessings they received were worth getting cancer. That is just stupid. We have a lot to be thankful for, and will carry these lessons for the rest of our lives. But do not get me wrong. Cancer still sucks.

FIGHT TO WIN!

8 comments:

donatelife said...

Continue to stay positive. These experiences will shape who your family will be. Many people will never understand how precious life is and how to enjoy every day with your family. I feel sorry for thise people. Your family will lead a life they can look back on with no regrets.

Stef Tarapchak said...

I don't know what to say. Cancer does suck. I have learned, just this week, that two of my high school friends are also battling various types of cancer. This is a stupid disease and it is not fair. Keep the faith and the fight going. You will win, Tyler!!

FIGHT TO WIN!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Stef

dina bornhorst said...

I am so sorry to hear about Brett, and I am so sorry that Tyler continues to suffer from horrific side effects, but Kyle, I do agree with you about the blessings. I also think it is wonderful that, after all you guys have gone through, you can still have a list a mile long like that.

I can picture the silence of the halls at 2 AM, and the steady sounds of the IV pump -- time for quiet thought, soul-searching, prayer --

You have wonderful strength and fortitude and an amazing attitude. Please continue to stay strong for your family and know that hundreds (probably thousands) of people are praying for you all daily. Try to draw your strength from that.

Anonymous said...

We are one of those thousand families praying for you...Stay strong!!! You will win!

Anonymous said...

Keep hanging in. It's tough, but you have so many prayers and thoughts coming your way. So many people are hoping for your family every day. We know Tyler can fight this!

deyerles said...

Kyle,

This morning I checked Tyler's blog as usual to see if there had been any updates. I am so sorry Tyler is having such a tough time.

I was sadden to hear about Brett. I knew in my heart the tests must have come back positive since it has been a couple of days since his mom updated his site.

After reading your blog I wanted so much to respond immediately. I could hear your distress. I didn't though, because I wanted to take the time to collect my thoughts and be able to send you a message that would comfort you, encourage you and give you the strength you need to continue your awesome support for Tyler's fight.

I prayed all morning at work that God would give me the right words to say. I hope he heared my pray.

It's human nature when dealing with an unknown to look everywhere for something familiar. You want to connect, understand and relate. We want answers, proof and guareentees. Many times we are encouraged and some times we aren't.

In reality there are no answers, proof or guareentees. Because there are no two people the same, no two situations the same and no two outcomes exactly the same.

All I know is that after the fight we are either granted the miricle of life or we are granted the miricle of being in the present of God our father, among all our loved ones who have passed before us and given the awesome job of being a guardian angel to all those waiting to join us.

We don't know when God is ready for us so hopefully we live each day to the fullest, counting every blessing and being thankful for every moment. Cancer SUCKS... it's ok to say it!
But it makes each blessing seem so much sweeter.

You have every reason to believe Tyler will kick cancer's butt! He was diagnosed early, he is in the most awesome facility, he has relentless support from family, friends and community and he has the power of pray. Lots of prayer from lots of people!!!!

Glory be to God

Fight To Win!!!

Debbie

Rhonda Hoffman said...

You forgot one of the most important blessings of all......that Tyler was given to wonderful, loving and supportive parents that are devoted to caring for him, being his advocate in times of need and loving him without limits. You both have made him into the terrific young man that he is!!

Anonymous said...

You are absolutely right, Kyle, that your entire family has cancer. However, that also means that you are all SURVIVORS. Choosing each day to find hope and to offer gratitude for even the smallest blessings, is the essence of faith. And that is what cancer can never take away from anyone. When my mother had no options for her cancer but palliative care, a spiritual friend advised me to remember, that no matter how hard a day had been, to look for one thing to be thankful for. There were days when my sister and I really had to rely on each other to find that one thing, but we always did. And today, Kyle, you found a whole page's worth! You certainly would not chosen this experience for Tyler or your family, but the choices each of you have made along the way, reflect the grace you have been given to endure and to fight back. A meditation I read recently said,

"I choose to trust in God. I choose to seek His plan and purpose in this. I choose to take the action He leads me to take."

Keep choosing gratitude and hope.
You will be given the grace you need.