Sunday, May 31, 2009


As another day comes to a close we reflect on the goodness of God as He executes His will in our lives. In the midst of the darkness surrounding us as we travel through this valley we rejoice in having God’s light along the path and confirmation of His love. We will come back to this after today’s update on Bonnie.

Bonnie’s days ebb and flow –never really knowing exactly how she is going to feel from one minute to the next. Today, for the most part, would be classified as a good day from the perspective of how she felt both from nausea and intestinal issues. Thank you for your prayers. The several doses of Imodium helped too! These little victories give her mental strength for handling the bigger picture of her overall condition.

Please continue to pray for her appetite. If you happen to think about her throughout the day and want to pray specifically about this particular issue, you can pray sometime between 11:30 a.m. and 1:00 p.m. and between 5:00 p.m. and 6:30 p.m. when she is either ordering the food or trying to eat it. Oddly this isn’t an issue at breakfast. Our normal schedule is to call room service around 11:30 for lunch and 5:00 for dinner and then it takes typically 45 minutes to one hour for the food to arrive. Selecting items off the menu when she doesn’t feel like eating is challenging,. Also keep in mind, she cannot have fresh fruit, vegetables, or salad due to her high risk of infection so that adds another variable to the difficulty of selecting something. When it finally arrives it is lukewarm and has no taste and difficult to swallow.

Combining small amounts of food actually consumed with the nausea and diarrhea Bonnie has been experiencing has elevated the loss of nutrition to the point she is now receiving a food supplement through a nutrition IV bag (TPN or Total Parenteral Nutrition) that runs 24 hours at a low dose. Her doctor made the order for this because she is “losing ground” on many key nutrients such as Calcium, Magnesium and Potassium. The doctors like to see chemo patients turn the corner and begin to increase these key nutrients on their own without an IV, so in Bonnie’s case they didn’t want her falling any further behind.

Bonnie tries to focus and dwell on the praises of the day and night. Last night we got three hours of continuous sleep without interruption from the IV pumps beeping. Her cracked lips and mouth sores have healed. Her temperature has been stable for over 24 hours. She had enough energy today to walk several laps around the floor. Bonnie enjoyed the warmth of the sun through her coverings as we sat outside on the 5th floor patio for 25 minutes. She is able to taste vanilla and orange flavors.

To conclude for the evening, I would like to revisit the first paragraph of confirmation of God’s love. In some respects it will be difficult to grasp all we are trying to communicate as we try to describe the many facets of this journey. It’s like we are driving through the Rocky Mountains and seeing the beauty firsthand while we are on the cell phone trying to describe it to you. If you did not read yesterday’s blog post, the following statement will not carry as much meaning: With God there are no coincidences.

There have been a number of occurrences that have happened since this journey began that some might classify them as coincidences, yet when God is driving the vehicle all things have a purpose; some seen and many unseen.

We would like to share with you one such occurrence, but don’t know what the intended outcome will be by sharing it. If you recall from yesterday’s (Saturday) blog post, I finished with something about having hope because of our faith in Christ who loved us by dying for us and ended by quoting 1 Corinthians 13:13. Fast forward to 5:30 a.m. this morning. This year, as I (Steve) read through the Bible in a year, I’m using Dr. Charles Stanely’s Life Priniciples Daily Bible along with two of our kids. Today’s New Testament reading was from John 11:30-57 which is the story about Lazarus who Jesus raised from the dead (feel free to read it). Periodically, maybe once a week, Dr. Stanley has small paragraph commentaries called “What The Bible Says About”. Today happened to be one of those days and the topic was God’s Forever Love. Following is the entire quote from Dr. Stanely:

I Corinthians 13 is probably the most widely quoted passage in the world on the subject of love. Verse 13 says “now abide faith, hope, love, these three; but the greatest of these is love.”

We recognize that Jesus demonstrated sacrificial love for us by dying for our sins, making possible our forgiveness and restoring us with fellowship with the Father. Yet we often fail to recognize that Christ’s love goes even beyond the cross.

Everything we do, don’t do, face, and don’t face is touched by His continuing love period. Everything about us hinges on love because God, who is love, created us in His image. Because God loves us, He gives us blessings and lets us share them. When we pray and are told to wait, it is because He loves us and knows we need time to grow. When the overwhelming choices before us make it hard to know which way is up, our Lord and Savior shows us our need to depend on His guiding love.

Jesus demonstrated this kind of amazing love to Mary and Martha upon Lazarus’ death. John 11:6 says, “When He heard that he was sick, He stayed two more days in the place where He was.” Jesus knew that Mary and Martha needed to grieve in order to grow. He allowed the sisters’ pain because He loved them.

Until we come to understand and believe at our deepest, innermost level that God is love, we will struggle with trusting Him, yielding to Him, obeying Him, and serving Him wholeheartedly. One of the keys to our spiritual growth as Christians is believing in God’s love even when we cannot see it.

While we are to live in faith and hope, our most important dwelling place is God’s love. Without making His love our ultimate dwelling, we cannot fully live in faith and hope. We should refuse to take a step or a breath without remaining keenly sensitive to “the greatest of these” – our Father’s love

Well, I found it interesting that the very next morning after posting a blog update that the exact verse I had just referenced the night before shows up again, only with added insight from Dr. Stanely. I felt compelled to share this with you for no other reason than to say “with God there are no coincidences.” Many similar things like this have occurred in the past three weeks which is fueling the confirmation that we are exactly where God wants us to be at this point in time.

Thank you for the many prayers!

Saturday, May 30, 2009


Day 18. In some respects it seems just like the other day Bonnie was admitted to Sparrow and on the other hand it feels like we have been drifting at sea with no end in sight (although we’ve never been drifting, this must be how it feels). I would be lying if I said we weren’t tired and weary, but with all the prayers of so many God gives us the strength to persevere another day.

Bonnie is just receiving the next chemo IV drip which is the fourth bag out of five which will run out Sunday night at around 10:15 and the final bag will start and finish up at around 10:30 Monday night. From that point we have yet to be told when to expect the next bone marrow biopsy. We suspect it would occur towards the end of next week.

Bonnie’s day started out okay, but as they day wore on it got more difficult for her. She was able to eat a small portion for breakfast and get her walk in, including time to enjoy her favorite spot in the atrium. She visited with her sisters from Gaylord during the late morning. From that point the day brought on some challenges for her.

This paragraph might be a little graphic and I apologize for it, but those of you who are praying need to get a more specific picture of what Bonnie is physically enduring. She does not want you to feel sorry for her, but rather have you know more specifically how to pray her through the day and night. I have mentioned previously that eating meals has been a challenge for her. First it was the cracked lips, then the sores in her mouth, followed by the loss of taste and difficulty in swallowing. Now it is timing the meal so it aligns itself with the timing of the anti-nausea medication. It takes Bonnie well over an hour to eat a ½ English muffin and a table spoon of scrambled eggs for breakfast or ½ of a grilled sandwich and chicken broth. It is a huge accomplishment to make it through a meal and of course Bonnie is so concerned about nutrition, particularly when everything they are running through her body is killing everything inside. So as she was finishing up her last bite of lunch, she threw everything up and was back at the starting point of zero nutrition and quite discouraged. In addition to this, we (Bonnie and I plus the doctors) are trying to ascertain what specifically is causing her to have severe diarrhea. It has yet to be determined whether it is the chemo, and infection of some sort, or her body rejecting particular food groups. With as little as she is eating, it’s hard to comprehend the frequency this occurs. Both of these issues are discouraging to her which does not come as a surprise. To a certain extent some of it may be brought on by anxiety as she thinks about meals and the fatigue is so pronounced that it’s numbing to sit there and try to comfort her. Please pray that the medications they are pumping into her will stop the nausea and diarrhea and that she will not feel anxious when we order her meals, while we wait for it to be delivered (usually an hour), and looking at it on the tray trying to convince herself to eat a portion.

As always pray for the elimination of the blasts in the bone marrow and for strength for me both physically and mentally as I care for Bonnie throughout the day and night….along with the incredible nursing staff.

Today was Cassandra’s openhouse which turned out spectacular with the exception of Bonnie’s absence. It was nice to see so many familiar faces as well as many surprise out of town family and friends. Although it was hard with Bonnie confined to a hospital, it was also comforting to me to hear so many times that you are praying for Bonnie. We are so grateful to be part of the body of Christ knowing that there are so many of you that we don’t even know, taking time to pour your heart out to God on behalf of our family and particularly Bonnie. We can look at this trial we are coping with through either the eyes of hope or despair. We choose hope, because we have put our faith in Jesus Christ who out of love for us gave His life for ours. This brings me back to the point of being surrounded by so many family and friends who are part of the body of Christ and the comfort it brings to Bonnie and I (and our family). Your outpouring of love can never be measured!

“So now Faith, Hope and Love abide, these three, but the greatest of these is Love.” 1 Corinthians 13:13

Friday, May 29, 2009


Another day of small blessings to count for Bonnie.

She had enough energy today to walk 11 laps around the floor, sit outside this afternoon on the patio and walk down the hall to her favorite sitting spot in the atrium.

Bonnie enjoyed reading all the cards delivered to her today, notes, and Bible verses. These are a source of encouragement to her and very uplifting. Bonnie’s spiritual nourishment came from Psalms today.

She went through the night, as well as today with a stable temperature so she didn’t have to endure the additional tests when it creeps above 100 degrees.

The biopsy of the rash on her chest appears to validate it is a reaction to one of the medicines she was given early on. Of course with her blood in the current condition, healing of the rash is a long drawn out process. Thankfully it doesn’t itch or hurt. It looks like a bad case of shingles though.

We are thankful for the nursing staff here on 5 West. It isn’t a job to them, it is part of their life and it shows in how they care for Bonnie.

We are blessed to be part of a small group Bible Study for the past 18 years. The ladies in this small group are incredible. They have taken on Cassandra’s open house with a vengeance. Tomorrow is the big day and we know it will be special for Cassandra, but bittersweet without mom there. We would like to recognize one person in particular for coordinating Cassandra’s open house, but we know that she would prefer not to be mentioned ….thank you so much TW! Thank you to the dozens of volunteers that have helped out in one way or another for the openhouse as well.

Please continue to pray for Bonnie’s food intake. She dreads meal time as nothing has flavor, it is very hard to swallow (even though the sores are getting smaller) and some nausea comes on.

Also pray that God would shield her from any bacteria or bugs as she is extremely vulnerable and at risk. She has no WBC now (down from the 100 she had at the end of the last chemo), which means she has 0% WBC that fight disease and illness. Another specific way to pray is the stabilization of her hemoglobin and platelets. Her hemoglobin remained constant today, but the platelets were extremely low so she needed another transfusion. The doctors would like to limit the number of transfusions of platelets as she will need a lot more later and they don't want Bonnie's body to start rejecting or having allergic reactions to new platelets. We are praying that her body would begin to produce platelets at a level that will be sufficient to limit the transfusions. They are important as this is what clots the blood.

The energy she is feeling right now compared to none a few days ago is primarily from some of the pre meds she is required to take before the chemo. These pre meds have steroids in them, so she really has a false energy boost and knows that once the chemo is complete she will go through the extreme fatigue.

We continue to remind ourselves that God has a purpose for this and that He isn’t going to give us anymore than we have strength to handle. We are all made in the image of God and precious in His eyes. When I think of the words precious and strength it reminds me of precious metals like silver and gold which triggers the thought of the refining process for metals, where extreme heat brings the impurities to the surface that are skimmed off leaving a more pure precious metal. Each time the heat is turned up more impurities come to the surface and thus the refining process.

Each of our lives will undoubtedly experience a refining process along the way, some more, some less, but be assured it will come. It’s how we handle the heat when it comes that is important. Do we resist and turn from God shaking our fist or do we find rest and comfort in Him knowing that He is in control of all things. Bonnie and I are choosing the latter and accept the heat of the refining process even in this difficult hour knowing that God is holy, His plan is perfect and without flaw…which I suppose is a purity unlike anything we can comprehend that surpasses all of our understanding.

Proverbs 25:4 says, “Take away the dross from the silver, and the smith has material for a vessel.” Our prayer is that God will use us as a “material” for His glory.

“And I will put this third into the fire, and refine them as one refines silver, and test them as gold is tested. They will call upon my name, and I will answer them. I will say, ‘They are my people’; and they will say, ‘The LORD is my God.” Zechariah 13:9

Thursday, May 28, 2009


Now that we are beyond the disappointing news of yesterday and have one day of the re-induction chemo under our belts, we are sitting here this evening counting the many small blessings and answers to prayer today:

We are thankful for the private quiet room that is our home away from home which is nicely decorated with the many cards we have received from so many of you.

We are grateful for the exceptional quality care Bonnie is receiving from the nurses, technicians and physicians.

Bonnie had the pleasure of being in the outdoors air today after being sequestered indoors for 15 days. I had been hopeful to have her go outdoors on Memorial Day when there was minimal public traffic on the first floor, but that was one of the days she was extremely fatigued. So today, Bonnie was the first patient ever on the 5th floor to use the 1+ year old patient patio that staff and physicians have been lobbying the hospital administration on for approval to use. The nursing staff was convinced that the patio would never be used because risk management mandated a tightly drafted protocol for use. Then, just like that, we heard late yesterday it was going to open today and all we needed was a standing physician’s order, which we were given. Even though it wasn’t a particularly warm or beautiful morning, it was to Bonnie, who was all wrapped up in a hot blanket. (just a side note, the hot blankets are pretty nice. I would like to install one of these warming machines stocked with blankets at my house!)

Bonnie’s temperature today was stable and controlled which in part contributed to her having more energy and feeling 50% better than the past couple of days.

The sores in Bonnie’s mouth are smaller (still painful, but smaller) which made it easier for her to eat more solid food. Hopefully this will help her intestinal struggles which are exhausting, irritating and draining on Bonnie.

Because of the fatigue somewhat subsiding, Bonnie was able to walk 7 laps around the floor today which was a victory both physically and mentally.

Finally it was a blessing to Bonnie to have the energy to read from God’s word herself today instead of me reading it to her. Being able to hold God’s word and read it with her own eyes is the most important nourishment to her body, mind and soul. Nourishment sustains us and gives us strength. God’s word sustains us mentally and emotionally and with these two attributes being fully nourished by God’s word nothing with what we’re dealing with can shake us. God’s word helps us understand and put Bonnie’s situation into perspective in the bigger picture of God’s plan of redemption for his people. Following is a quote from a story Bonnie read today where someone was in a difficult situation……

“Two people look out the same prison window with bars, one sees stars and the other sees mud.”

We are choosing to see stars. Today’s little blessings and answers to prayer are those stars we are grasping for the moment. God has blessed us so much in the midst of the storm. Isaiah 30:19 gives us all the comfort we need:

“He will surely be gracious to you at the sound of your cry. As soon as he hears it, he answers you.”

Wednesday, May 27, 2009


Well, today was a difficult one. The results of the bone marrow biopsy were not what we or the doctors wanted. Bonnie still has 5% blast (the leukemia cells) in her bone marrow which was detected on the flow cytometry test of the biopsy. Because the cells are formed in the marrow and then introduced into the blood, it is important to wipe out all blast from the marrow otherwise the blast will take over again, as they reproduce like fruit flies (my analogy). If these are not taken care of and left alone, we would be right back where we were when Bonnie was admitted to the hospital.

So, starting tonight (we are waiting as I type this) Bonnie will go through a “re-induction” chemo treatment, which is a medical term that basically means she is getting another round of the same chemo only instead of 7 days it will be 5 days. At the conclusion of this treatment there will be another bone marrow biopsy to see what, if any, changes have occurred.

A couple of perspectives: 1) when she was admitted and the first bone marrow biopsy was performed (prior to chemo) the blasts in her bone marrow were 88% of all the young WBC being produced. So the blasts have dropped significantly, so in some respect you might think this is a significant change, which it is, however…2) Approximately 80% to 90% of those individuals getting the same standard leukemia treatment move on to the next step of and show minimal or no trace of blasts….so Bonnie falls in that 10% to 20% range where additional chemo is needed right away.

Thinking backwards to an earlier blog post, I need to say that this is an answer to prayer…not the exact outcome from a physical perspective, but an answer nonetheless and an answer that ultimately glorifies God Himself. Because God is holy, he has every right to glorify Himself in whatever way He determines best, even when it is contrary to what our desires are. Did we pray the desire of our heart? Yes. God said “no” for now. Do we believe God has the power to heal Bonnie? Yes. He may choose to heal her now or restore her with a glorified body in heaven. We don’t know, and we can’t dwell on the “what ifs or whens”, we can only dwell on the “here and now” and look for opportunities to watch God work in our own lives and those around us. Think about the healing of the blind man in Mark 8:23-25:

“And he (Jesus) took the blind man by the hand and led him out of the village, and when he had spit on his eyes and laid his hands on him, he asked him, “Do you see anything?” And he looked up and said, “I see men, but they look like trees, walking.” Then Jesus laid his hands on his eyes again; and he opened his eyes, his sight was restored, and he saw everything clearly.

There are other accounts in the gospels when Jesus healed the blind the first time around. I’ve always wondered why, on this particular occasion, the healing was a two step process. Was it because the blind man lacked faith? Or was it to show not all healing will occur in the manner we might expect it to? We can only speculate. Maybe Bonnie’s healing will be a two step process. Whatever the outcome is, we need to continue to walk in faith knowing He has a greater purpose than we will ever comprehend.

I’m so glad that Bonnie and I have put our faith and trust in Jesus Christ, because without it we would have no hope. I have the opportunity to walk around the oncology floor throughout the day and am continually reminded how safe and secure we are no matter the situation we are dealing with. Many times each day I wonder aloud, “What do some of these people in other rooms who have no relationship with Christ hold onto for their hope while they battle their illnesses? Where is their source of security and peace?” If they could only experience God’s peace the way we are. That in and of itself is an answer to prayer. Hundreds have been praying for peace for us during this difficult time. In some respects this experience has some aspects of a dream that isn’t really real, yet enough time has lapsed that reality set in two weeks ago, so I can only attribute what we’re feeling is God’s overwhelming peace. There is no other way to describe it. Please continue to pray for peace for us.

Bonnie is very weak from lack of food and constantly battling fevers. Please pray that the dryness and sores in her mouth and throat will heal along with her severally chapped lips to make it easier for chewing food as well as taking her oral meds. She did have 3 small bottles of Ensure today which was encouraging.

I would appreciate your prayers for continued stamina to care for Bonnie throughout the day and night. Also pray for our kids that this valley we are experiencing will draw them closer to God and for them to see God’s greater purpose in His plan as opposed to being swayed by selfish thoughts that might turn them away from seeking God.

Thank you for the outpouring of love to Bonnie and I and our family.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009


Well, we are at two weeks tonight, when we first received the fateful news that changed the course of our lives onto a new path which we now find ourselves walking on and experiencing the unknown around every corner. What we have found as we have traveled this two week path is that God is the same as he was three weeks ago. He is immutable (unchanging) and we know His love for us as His people is the same today as it was three weeks ago. We know that it is God who holds our very lives in his hand which is the same today as it was three weeks ago. We know that God doesn’t give us more than we are able to handle which is the same today as it was three weeks ago. We know that God is the giver and taker of life and it is His decision on the timing and He uses it for His glory, which is the same today as it was three weeks ago. We know that God answers prayer and He tells us in His word to let our requests be known to Him, which is the same today as it was three weeks ago. So, while we are experiencing a very new path in our life, there sure are a lot of familiar things about this path compared to the last one we were on which is very comforting and the source of our peace.

This morning Bonnie was put through another bone marrow biopsy to determine whether or not the marrow (where the cell production originates) is clear of the blast (leukemia) cells. At this point we are still waiting for the initial results, so most likely we will not hear anything until tomorrow (Wednesday).
Physically, Bonnie is up and down, but her emotional strength is incredibly strong. Other than some anxiousness prior to the biopsy procedure this morning (that is until the doctors gave her the “good” stuff to help her relax), Bonnie has been a rock and I think that is most likely apparent to those of you reading her blog posts. There is only one explanation for this and that would be God’s response to the hundreds of people praying for our situation. The peace and contentment we both have and are experiencing “surpasses all comprehension” of our finite minds. Many times in the past I have made references to God’s abundant peace, but in the middle of the storm is the eye, and it is so challenging to describe what it really is like unless you have been there.

This morning (prior to the drugs) we discussed the Apostle Paul’s afflictions and suffering that Bonnie mentioned in her blog post and how God used him in multiple ways to advance the kingdom of Christ. We have already seen several ways that God might put to use our circumstances in a similar way (although I feel extremely uncomfortable putting our situation in the same paragraph as the Apostle Paul….it doesn’t even come close to his afflictions and suffering). God might use our situation to spiritually impact the nursing staff here at Sparrow, possibly someone reading this blog, or someone viewing the graduation commencement streaming video are a few examples. We have no clue on all the ways that God could use this to draw someone to a saving relationship with Christ, but we know He many times works in mysterious ways.

From a physical perspective, Bonnie has not been able to do her laps around the floor for the past four days due to fatigue. Her lips are severely chapped and she has developed a sore in her mouth under her tongue that the doctors are watching. No food tastes or sounds good to her. For breakfast she had a few graham crackers with milk and for lunch and dinner she had a half bowl of chicken broth and about four spoonfuls of cottage cheese. Please pray that she will find the energy and desire to eat more, particularly protein. She continues to spike fevers that range from the low 99s to a high of 102. It seems to be controllable by Tylenol, although each day that it spikes above 100 degrees brings additional blood cultures and chest xrays. Her hair is starting to come out at an accelerated pace. I have been washing it every other morning and this morning there was quite an amount in the sink as well as on the floor where she was sitting to blow dry it… it’s only a matter of time and we’ll most likely cut it shorter in the interim.

One positive note is that just tonight they disconnected the one main IV drip, as this one constant drip is not needed right now due to the completion of the chemo and all the other drips like calcium and antibiotics are usually only an hour or two during the day. So Bonnie can sleep tonight with a little freedom and maneuver through the room to use the bathroom in the middle of the night without having to wheel the contraption with her everywhere she goes.

So as I conclude, we look forward to the next corner we will turn tomorrow on this new journey God is taking us on. We will turn the corner boldly, no matter what is on or along the path we must face. Thank you for your interest in Bonnie’s status and in this blog. I can’t sign off without once again thanking you for all your prayers, cards, meals, help with Cassandra’s upcoming openhouse, etc.. From the bottom of our hearts, thank you.

Monday, May 25, 2009

Monday (facts)…..from Steve

Tonight you get to hear from both of us. First the updates for the day from me (Steve), followed by part 2 of Bonnie’s thoughts from the past few days…..

Bonnie has been very tired lately which is a combination of no WBC, the chemo and all the other meds she is on. Her platelets continue to drop each day requiring a transfusion of new platelets each day. Her hemoglobin has been slowly dropping since her last blood transfusion from several days ago so they gave Bonnie another unit of blood today. She has not had the energy to do her daily walk today or yesterday. Just enough energy to make it down the hall to her favorite sitting spot by the large windows.

Bonnie continues to fight a low grade fever that hovers around 99.5 degrees. On Friday night it spiked to 102.5 degrees, but Tylenol seems to help keep it manageable. Something else that Bonnie is now dealing with is a loss of appetite. This is partly due to her fatigue (she gets tired out trying to chew the food), but mostly due to unresponsive taste buds. Nothing has any taste. She asked me to buy her a can of Planters cashews and when she tried them she accused me of buying an unsalted can. The ingredients were clear that they were salted….not the light salt version either. So please pray that she will find an appetite as food intake, particularly protein is so important for her.

Today was our daughter Cassandra’s 18th birthday, so we celebrated it this evening at the hospital in the same conference where Bonnie and her mom viewed the graduation commencement on Saturday. Again we are so grateful to the hospital staff making this room available for us throughout the weekend.

Tomorrow (Tuesday) at 9:00 a.m. is the second bone marrow biopsy. Please pray for Bonnie that she doesn’t have anxiety over this procedure and obviously the other part of the prayer is that the results will come back showing the marrow is clear of blasts.

Thanks again for all the love and support from everyone.

Now part 2 of Bonnie’s thoughts……

Hi everyone,

I would like to update you on my day I had this past Friday…..

What a day of surprised and high running emotions. I had just come off my mountain and made it through another night filled with crisis. A book was given to me in 2002 from my mom, “Calm My Anxious Heart” – Dillow. I had forgotten about it until a friend reminded me that I had given her a copy. I started to reread my notes and highlights in it and I was reminded of Paul’s life. A man imprisoned in the dark, dungeons without any means of sanitation, heat or food. He was chained to a guard most of the time. He wrote this in Philippians 4:11-13. “ I am not saying this because I am in need, for I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances. I know what it is to be in need and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. I can do everything through him who gives me strength. “

Holy Cow! My 5th floor digs are like the Taj Mahal compared to the Apostle Paul’s! I have a full time personnel assistant, I have 3 meals a day, I have a whole floor to get up and walk around anytime I want. I’m not chained to my tower. It is what’s keeping me alive. I have a beautiful sunny window to praise out of – I am a blessed person. “God… is the blessed controller of all things, the king over all kings and the master over all masters.” 1 Timothy 6:15.

My contentment is accepting from God’s hand what He sends because we know that He is good and therefore it is good. Whatever happens is assigned. Every assignment is measured and controlled for my eternal good. Psalm 16:15 “Lord; you have assigned me my portion and my cup; you have made my lot secure.” These scriptures took on a whole new meaning and empowered me with strength.

It was around 10:00 and I was feeling up for a few extra laps and returned to my room with the 1st surprise of many that day. A huge wall mount (24” x 30”) of our 3 kids blown up and hanging on the wall in my room! Their eyes sparkle and their smiles are a breath of fresh air. I cried and cried.

If that wasn’t enough, we were testing out the live video feed and hospital’s projector system I would be using to watch Cassandra’s graduation. She had a dress rehearsal and we wanted to walk through the whole process so there wouldn’t be any glitches. When I walked into the conference room, the whole room had been decorated by some of the nurses and floor managers here in “Congratulations 2009 graduate” with balloons and all. As you can all imagine the emotions were high, but I was right where I was supposed to be.

I then returned to my room emotionally and physically exhausted from the day’s events when my sister, from Texas walked in my room. They drove 21 hours straight to see me. I was overwhelmed. I had no more tears!

What a day it was Friday.

On Saturday it was Graduation day! Steve left around 9:30 to get to South Church and mom and I spent the day together. We hooked up the computer and projector and logged into the special website for the live video/audio feed around 12:45 and were shocked to see that there were 12 other people watching the same graduation. That number got up to 29 by the end of the event. The ceremony couldn’t have been more perfect. We had my nurse for the day sit in with us on and off for the 2 hour ceremony and did she have a lot of questions. Needless to say, she got the full gospel message and important reasons why we advocate for educating at home.

This day was so much easier for me than it was for Steve. He had to face all of you attending the commencement alone. He was overwhelmed to hear of all your prayers and fasting on my family’s behalf. He called me several times just to hear my voice and try and keep it together so he could make it up the stage to give Cassandra her diploma. He did so well, thanks to the distractions of friends who were in line behind him, he gave a double hug to Cassandra and Cassandra had a “I Love you Mom” note she held up before she and Steve sat down. God is faithful. What smiles that brought. It ended perfectly when Cassandra came to the hospital in her cap and gown to show me her diploma and say goodnight. She was so beautiful as I reflected back on seeing the speech she gave.

So dear ones, your prayers are covering a multitude of things and they are felt all day and all night. Feel my love and thanks today.



Sunday, May 24, 2009


(From Bonnie)

My dear family and loved ones,

These last 3 days have been an emotional rollercoaster where I felt controlled by constant monitoring of the cancer more than having the constant peace in our Lord and Savior. Let me explain. Every hour on the hour, some technician checked my heart rate, temperature and blood pressure. Doctors ordered tests on urine and other bodily output, EKGs, ultrasounds, chest x-rays; all these to analyze the latest mini-crisis surrounding my illness. So if everything checks out ok then they will leave you alone for 2 hours. If even one small thing has changed, like a new rash spot, change in urine color, or temperature elevated, the nurses are instructed to contact my team of doctors. This place goes in panic mode. Not the greatest thing for me when I’m trying to marvel in our Savior’s promises. They run around asking a boat load of questions, call doctors to discuss if it’s the cancer or if it is one of the many medications I am on which ultimately leads to more blood work. Or, is it just a normal symptom that might have caused this miniscule change. I was losing my sense of peace because of the professionals’ reactions. As I began to take deep breaths and pray – I decided that God’s word is more powerful than a two edged sword and no one could stop me from claiming and holding on to the many comforting words of scripture. I didn’t want anyone to rob me of that.

Many of you have sent me scriptures on note cards which have helped to sustain me. Kelly, Jayne and, bless Colleen’s (Cassandra’s friend) heart; she sent a whole stack for me to drink in when I was feeling overwhelmed with my current crisis. So on Thursday, after the full regiment of Steve a) shampooing my hair, b) washing my feet, c) helping me change my gown (you have no idea how complicated this stuff is), d) measuring the volume of urine collected, dumping and cleaning the “hat” that catches it and recording all the information. The nurses and techs love getting my room, because Steve does everything. He’s been here 24/7 since May 12th. Thank you Wieland-Davco for allowing my husband to be here with me why you pick up all his responsibilities - the tears are streaming now!

I provided you all this background to get around to what I really wanted to share with you. I had my first “Mary” experience on Thursday. Since I am a “Martha” by nature – like most of you, I will try to explain. The Story of Mary and Martha is in Luke 10:38-42 and tells of two very different sisters who let the apostles and Jesus visit their house during Jesus’ ministry. Martha was a doer. She could get more done in a 24 hour period than most. Her sister on the other hand was so marveled at Jesus’ teachings she would find herself, not helping with the preparations and just hanging on her Savior’s every word.

In our heart of hearts we all want to be Mary and hang on Jesus’ every word, but face it, we live in a chaotic world and things need to get done and we can do it all. Well around 10:00 Thursday morning, I had a full 40 minute charge on the IV pump battery so I walked down to my giant atrium window on the 5th floor by the elevators to let the sun shine on my face. I took my MP3 player with me that the girls sent decided to start with the first song that was on it. Oh those rich hymns. It was “Before the Throne of God Above” and here are the lyrics:

Before the throne of God above
I have a strong, a perfect plea:
A great High Priest, whose name is Love,
Who ever lives and pleads for me.

My name is graven on his hands,
My name is written on his heart;
I know that while in heaven he stands
No tongue can bid me thence depart
No tongue can bid me thence depart.

When Satan tempts me to despair,
And tells me of the guilt within,
Upward I look, and see him there
Who made an end of all my sin.

Because a sinless Savior died,
My sinful soul is counted free;
For God, the Just, is satisfied
To look on Him and pardon me
To look on Him and pardon me

To think that my name is graven on his hands and his heart was so humbling, I could hardly breathe. I moved to the next song, which was Haratio Spafford’s “ It is well with my Soul”. I was taught this song as a child but never knew the story behind it until I was teaching my kids the stories of some of the great hymns and it made a life changing impression on me that has took on new meaning in my little chair facing the giant sunny atrium window on the 5th floor . Here is the story in short:

Horatio Spafford planned a trip to Europe for him and his family. He wanted a rest for his wife and four daughters, and also to assist a couple of missionaries in one of their evangelistic campaigns in Great Britain. For some reason he was not meant to travel with his family. The day in November they were due to depart, Spafford had a last minute business transaction and had to stay behind in Chicago. Nevertheless, he still sent his wife and four daughters to travel as scheduled on the S.S. Ville du Havre, expecting to follow in a few days. On November 22, the ship laden with his wife and daughters was struck by the Lockhearn, an English vessel, and sank in few minutes. After the survivors finally landed somewhere in Wales, Spafford's wife cabled her husband with two simple words, "Saved alone." Shortly after, Spafford left by ship on his way where his four daughters had drowned, he wrote the following which described his own personal grief:

"When peace, like a river, attendeth my way,
When sorrows like sea billows roll;
Whatever my lot, Thou has taught me to say,
It is well, it is well, with my soul."

What unimaginable peace I felt. Not the crisis of the hour or the blood results of the day or the cancer trying to drain every bit of energy from me, could ever touch my soul!

Now remember these songs were placed on my MP3 player last July for my birthday and I had never listened to them in order. I let the third song play. It was a contemporary Christian song and I smiled at the thought of the kids sneaking some of their favorites in. It was Nicole C. Mullens, “When I call on Jesus”. I listened to the words:

I'm so very ordinary, nothing special on my own.
Oh, I have never walked on water,
And I have never calmed a storm.
Sometimes I'm hiding away from the madness around me
Like a child who's afraid of the dark

But when I call on Jesus,
All things are possible
I can mount on wings like eagles' and soar
When I call on Jesus,
Mountains are gonna fall'
Cause He'll move heaven and earth to come rescue me when I call

I was instantly taken to the top of a mountain with my arms stretch out to heaven, just me and the Lord and I was hanging on his every word. So while so many of you are sacrificing your time and energy preparing meals, working on Cassandra’s open house, doing graduation, writing notes and scriptures for me, keeping my kids on some normal schedule, know that I am the benefactor of all your “Martha” efforts and I am blessed beyond words.

Enough for one day……I share more tomorrow.



Saturday, May 23, 2009


I’ve promised myself to be brief tonight. Bonnie had a good day today after a very long night. Bonnie spent most of the day with her mom with the pinnacle being the live feed of Cassandra’s commencement exercise they enjoyed from the privacy of a private conference room. Cassandra was one of three who had a commencement speech and she was a rock. I on the other hand was not and am emotionally spent. Now all we have to do is get through Cassandra’s open house next week. We are in good hands as it relates to the planning and execution of the event. Our small group that Bonnie and I have been involved with for the past 18 years is taking it on. Just another example of the outpouring of love we have been experiencing.

Bonnie the last two nights has spiked a fever and her hemoglobin is somewhat lower than it has over the past several days. Other than that, we are in a wait and see right now and take one day at a time. We’re hoping to get a good night’s sleep.

Because we find ourselves on the not so familiar side of receiving as opposed to giving, we continue to be amazed and at a loss for words, except thank you. Thank you for the prayers, meals, offers to help, and so on and so forth.

Tomorrow I'll turn the mouse and keyboard over to Bonnie (if she is up to it) as there are some things on her heart she would like to share.

Continue to enjoy your extended weekend.

Friday, May 22, 2009


I promised Bonnie last night that my post would be short and quick and well….it wasn’t. Tonight will be short and comprised of milestones and answered prayer.

First and foremost, the blood lab reports came back today around noon and the Blast cells (the leukemia cells) were 0% of Bonnie’s remaining WBC. Yeah! That was certainly good news and what we wanted to hear. This was the objective of the chemo treatment and the objective was accomplished. Obviously this is an answer to prayer. It’s funny (in an odd way) as I sit here and think about it, it’s so easy to say “this is an answer to prayer” when it goes the way we desire in our heart. Our prayer for Tuesday at 9:00 is that the bone marrow biopsy shows no Blast cells. What if there are Blast cells and it’s not the way we desire? Do we say this isn’t an answer to prayer? I need to remind myself that God answers prayer, but not always in my timing or even what I sometime desire, therefore I need to trust that He knows better than I. Does that mean I cease from crying out to God for complete healing for Bonnie? No, but it gives me a peace and comfort approaching Him knowing that His answer will be far greater than I will ever fully comprehend, including those answers I don’t particularly care for. It’s at this point I usually find myself quoting what I quoted a few posts earlier in the blog……Romans 11:33:

O the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God, how unsearchable are His judgments and unfathomable His ways.

Some of you who know me (you know who you are), know that I use this verse as a crutch quite frequently when I get in discussions where I can’t come close to understanding or comprehending an infinite holy God with a finite mind.

Okay, moving on. Bonnie, her mom and I sat in the oncology conference room (that the staff has reserved for us throughout the extended weekend) and watch two hours of live video/audio feed from South Church on the graduation commencement rehearsal. When we went to the room to set up the computer and hook it up to the hospital’s powerpoint projector, we found a room all decorated with “congratulations graduate”, “class of 2009”, balloons, table cloth, etc….Needless to say, that one took both Bonnie and I over the edge emotionally. So tomorrow (Saturday), Bonnie and her mom will be able to sit in this private “decorated” conference room and watch Cassandra’s commencement enlarged on the big screen. What a blessing for Bonnie.

The last bag of this initial round of chemo was finished at 3:00 this afternoon. A milestone. Bonnie did require another unit of platelets as her levels don’t stay in the range the doctors would like to see, but this is common with chemo patients. Her hemoglobin has been stable for several days now. Tonight she has a low grade fever that they are watching. Again, she has all of 12 good WBC in her body to fight off any infection, so they even keep a close eye on even small rashes and blemishes. This weekend is supposed to be boring for Bonnie, however we have been told that the lingering chemo and low cell count will cause fatigue.

I will close with this. When you are in the middle of a storm or crisis, yet able to experience God’s abundant peace, your perspective on things become three dimensional instead of two. I am amazed at how many things that have occurred that one might label as a coincidence. Being in the three dimensional state, you see God’s hand all over everything. I could type up three more pages and only scratch the surface of the number of things we have observed this past week and a half that God has orchestrated. One minor example and then I’m done, as I’ve gone to the second page (again!). Recently I (Steve) was diagnosed with arthritis in my tail bone. For the past few months I find myself ending up in our reclining rocker in the middle of the night because of the discomfort in my own bed. Well, the little couch that extends to a narrow, very firm…rather hard, bed, has yet to cause me an ounce of discomfort for the past 10 nights. We are thankful to God for all things, including the relief on my back which enables me to attend to Bonnie’s needs.

Have a great holiday weekend!

Thursday, May 21, 2009


This morning we received encouraging news from the most recent blood draw. Bonnie is now down to 100 WBC and only 1% of those are the Blast (leukemia) cells – down from 12% yesterday. The Neutrophils held firm at 12%. Bonnie started the last bag of chemo this afternoon for her initial treatment. The bag should run dry by 3:00 tomorrow afternoon. It has been such an answer to prayer that she has had no nausea or pain with the treatment. She really looks great (except for the fashionless hospital gown, the face mask and the IV tree that is her walking partner.

Her platelets continue to drop below where the physicians want them so she received another unit of platelets earlier today. It’s amazing how easily she bruises and how intense the bruise appears with a low level of platelets. The hemoglobin has remained constant over the past several days.

They will continue to do blood draws over the extended weekend and are planning the bone marrow biopsy on Tuesday. The prayer is that the marrow is clear of any of the Blast cells where they are initially produced. Assuming it’s clear, Bonnie will start the arm injections that promote the rapid growth of the good WBC. How long this treatment is depends on how well the accelerated growth of good WBC responds to the medication Neupogen, which is a protein that stimulates the growth of the WBC. I may have mentioned this in an earlier post, but the doctor estimates this process to take 10 to 20 days. Once her levels reach a certain point, she will be discharged after the surgical implant of a permanent port. Her first stay at home will be one to two weeks and then she returns for the first of three additional chemo treatments.

Bonnie’s spirit has been incredible and the result of so many prayers. The physicians have told her that she will lose her hair, eyebrows and eyelashes… guess is that she probably won’t have the nuisance of shaving her legs for a while either…..all this is suppose to start about 10 days after the commencement of the chemo….so probably early next week. Other than repeating the facts that I just mentioned to others, the only thing Bonnie has expressed about it is that we will have to have a hair cutting party and that I should go out and shop for some hats. I found some hats yesterday and she was upbeat the entire time I showed her what I found and even tried one on to ask how it looked. She has shed a lot of tears, but not on this and not on her condition or unknown outcomes.

The tears have centered on the outpouring of love from so many and on God’s faithfulness. She is sitting next to me right now listening to some praise songs on her MP3 player and the words are so encouraging and touching ….well needless to say she asked me to go get a box of tissue!

One thing I failed to mention yesterday, our doctors determined that Bonnie could have a two hour leave of absence on Saturday to attend part of Cassandra’s hear Cassandra’s speech and see her receive her diploma. Bonnie labored over whether it is wise to expose herself to possible infection, even though she would be masked. To help her make a decision, I shared with her the surprise of a possible video connection so she could view it here at Sparrow. That helped her to decide quickly to stay put. Today we tested it out and it was seamless. She was able to see the video and hear the audio simultaneously over the internet. I was on my cell phone speaking with a technician at South Church (the location of the commencement) while the video was running on my laptop. He could zoom in and the picture was very clear and when he spoke into the microphone the audio was also clear. The hospital staff have been great as well. They are letting us use their conference room on Bonnie’s floor that has a computer projector and screen with wall speakers. I hooked up my computer to it and the enhancement on the video/audio in a larger format is incredible. For Bonnie it will be the next best thing to being there. This is truly a blessing and answer to prayer.

I know we have concluded each post with similar comments, but thank you again for caring so much about our family. Please continue to pray. Being on the receiving end of so many people lifting our situation up to a holy God is not being taken lightly. We believe God has the power to heal Bonnie if He so chooses to do so, but we trust that his perfect will is what’s best for us.
Have a blessed evening (or day depending on when you view this!)

Wednesday, May 20, 2009


Just a quick update tonight to offset Bonnie’s heartfelt blog from last night. The WBC count is now down to 200. Of the 200, 12% are the “blast” cells or leukemia. Eleven percent are the Neurtrophils – the disease and infection fighting cells. I’m still in hematology training so can’t explain what the other 77% of WBC that make up the balance. All we understand is the objective is to get the count to zero WBC….eliminating all the “blast”.

I asked our physician assistant today what I thought was a common sense question…If we eliminate all the WBC in the blood, how do new cells form without having any to start with? I’m sure someone reading this knows this, but I’ll restate something we all probably learned in biology in 8th grade…the cells are formed in the bone marrow and ultimately released into the blood…or something along those lines.

When you think about how our body is designed, humanly we can wipe out all the WBC with the chemo process, but only Divinely does our body have the ability to grow and replenish new cells. In Romans 1:19-20:

For what can be known about God is plain to them, because God has shown it to them. For his invisible attributes, namely, his eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly perceived, ever since the creation of the world, in the things that have been made.

The apostle Paul points out what Bonnie and I are seeing firsthand with one small part of God’s creation, blood. I am amazed and fascinated with the composition of our blood as I read the daily lab report from the multiple vials of blood taken twice a day from Bonnie. This couldn’t have happened by chance and God has revealed himself through creation all around us. It’s something that we often take for granted and gets blurred by our busy lives….those divine attributes in the creation around us sometimes just blend in and we forget about them. A positive in this storm we are going through is the opportunity to learn a totally different perspective on how we view our life in relationship to a holy God who designed us. At the same time of having some new perspectives, it also reinforces some of my existing perspectives on the God who designed us…..Romans 11:33

O the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God, how unsearchable are His judgments and unfathomable his ways.

The more we learn, the more we understand we are just skimming the surface of who God is.
Please continue to pray for Bonnie. In addition to healing, pray that she will get the rest she needs to stay physically strong. Last night she was up every hour using the restroom. So many liquids are being dripped into her along with the multiple glasses of water, all to protect her kidneys from the chemo. Also pray that God would put a shield around her to protect her from any viruses. She is so vulnerable now, this is so critical she doesn’t get an infection.

Tuesday is suppose to be the next bone marrow biopsy and that will provide a lot of information on what will follow in the way of treatment and timing. Please pray that the marrow will be free and clear of all “blast” cells.

Bonnie’s spirits are good, she continues to amaze me always thinking about others than herself as so often our conversations turn around into someone else’s need. Please pray for our kids that they will grow spiritually from this opportunity. And for me, continued pray for mental strength of managing all various issues that arise. Thank you again to everyone who has expressed their love to our family in so many different ways. We continue to be amazed.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009


(From Bonnie)

Dear family and friends,

Now that the initial shock has wore off, I’m starting to settle into a daily routine unlike anything I could imagine. I’m continually hooked up to an IV tower with multiple bags of chemicals, drugs and blood going into my body that I never could have imagined. I wake at 5:30 a.m. to morning blood draws (usually six vials) which sets the tone for the day. If counts are good, I only have about 4 bags hanging from my tower. If the blood count (hemoglobin & platelets) is a little low, then we go to plan B which is replenishing my body with someone else’s blood while they monitor me for 15 minutes to make sure I’m not going to have any catastrophic reaction to another’s blood. It could be really scary if I let myself dwell on the current circumstances. But I have a total peace constantly! I know this wouldn’t be possible if I haven’t had all your prayers lifted up daily on my behalf.

The cards, verses and e-mails have been such an overwhelming comfort. I am truly humbled by the outpouring of God’s love through all of you. I have never been on the receiving end of something this big and I’d actually like to be the one in my own bed awakened up in the middle of the night and crawling on my knees praying for you. But that obviously is not God’s plan right now. So know my dear loved ones how blessed and at great peace I am because of you and the wonderful Savior we all serve!

I am on the 5th floor at Sparrow Hospital and it looks like this will be my residence for at least 20 more days until my body’s immune system kicks in. When I found out that I would be trapped in this room and on this floor for a minimum of 21 days my body went into immediate claustrophobic shock! I’m the girl that would rather be mowing the lawn outside, than doing the dishes. From the minute I am up in the morning the windows are open so I can constantly feel the beautiful breeze. How could God ask so much of me?! My first human reaction! Oh it took just a few moments for perspective to kick in and my panic attack to subside and I started to appreciate all this spare time that a home-schooling mother of 3 could only imagine. Granted a vacation on the ocean would have been nice, but the 5th floor it is. My room is beautiful and is germ free. So everyone who enters (hospital staff, doctors, pastors and family) must mask up and scrub up, while I sit very comfortable. But I can only sit for an hour or so before the room starts to close in, so about 8:00 a.m. I mask up, put my tennis shoes and pull my IV tower around the hall. I have found out that if I walk 11 times around the hall it is actually 1 mile! There is a beautiful window atrium with 2 seats by the elevators where the rays of sun, shine all day. I never considered myself a people watcher, just a doer, but I have learned a much slower pace and a new way to pray for all the passersby who are so busy out on the streets!

I will sit and praise the Lord for a while and head back to the room to order breakfast. The menu has a wide variety of things, but I’m not allowed fresh fruit and fresh salads, because of the potential bacteria it can bring in. Steve can peel a banana when it comes and take the peel out, but I can’t touch it. Life without a salad a day is just a little bump in the road. But I don’t have to cook a thing!

After breakfast I usually have my blood results back and Steve and I see the first set of doctors about 9:30. We talk about any changes from yesterday to today . Check vitals and answer any questions about today’s game plan. Then I read my bible, all my notes, cards and Bible verses that many of you have sent and usually have my first set of family stop by which breaks up the day. Our kids brought in a photo-frame with a memory chip that is continually playing so I can see all their smiling faces - such a small thing that brings so much joy to my heart. I usually get masked up and walk them back down to the elevators and say my morning goodbyes and walk a few more laps in the hall. The battery packs on the IV pumps are usually good for about 45 minutes before I have to plug myself back into electrical outlets - believe me, those alarms on the packs telling you low battery are very annoying coming down the hall. Everyone hears me coming! I am on continual fluid flushing so I can’t be gone too far away from the bathroom, because they monitor everything going in and coming out. It is all heavily checked.

Now it’s time to think about lunch and the next set of doctors at 1:00. These are the serious hematologist/oncologists and they call on me everyday around 1:30 to 3:00. I felt like they were analyzing a lab rat at first. Usually 4 of them come in the room with white coats and stare at me and asks tons of questions. But of course Steve and I got them loosened up after a couple of days and they come in very delightful. They’ve had to chase me down several times in the halls to check all my vitals again, discuss any changes from one day to the next and tell me to keep up the good work! Work I say, this is boredom, try being a homeschool mom!

After this group of doctors leave, I will sometime take an hour nap, but the last few days I have been feeling so great I go walking again! Your prayers are being answered for my energy and I don’t feel any nausea. The nurses shift change is about 7:00, so after dinner, the night shifts comes in and introduces themselves and we talk about all the plans they have for me all night. Checking vitals, changing fluid bags, shutting off alarms when there is air in the IV hoses! So I only sleep 2 hours at a time which was quite a challenge at first, but found out that the nurses who don’t turn on the lights at 12:00, 2:00, 4:00 and again at 5:30 make the evening a lot smoother. We have learned that it’s ok to request a very quiet night nurse which has helped me to fall right back to sleep the last two nights which has made a world of a difference in our day. Steve felt comfortable enough to leave me today that I even sent him out to lunch with a friend today and home for a meal yesterday. He put his foot down when I tried to convince him to sleep one night in his own bed at home. He was back at the hospital at 9:00 p.m. and on his temporary bed (a two seat sofa that has one arm rest that pushes out making it longer to lay on).

Usually my mom and more family will come up in the afternoon before dinner for an hour or so. Then I order dinner, take more med’s., fluid changes and listen to a sermon on my MP3 player. I get ready for bed about 8:30 and crawl in while Steve updates this blog, answers email , and tries to handle questions and concerns as best as he can. He has been so strong everyday when my mind begins to wander to my current circumstances, such as thinking about all I am going to miss with Cassandra’s graduation ceremony, her commencement speech and her openhouse. But it takes a few encouraging words from Steve to get my eyes from focusing on my current circumstances and back focusing on God’s blessed assurance and His amazing grace which is so profound right now, I am at total peace. “The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases, His mercies never come to an end. They are new every morning (also noon and night – my paraphrase) great is Your faithfulness” (Lamentations 3:22,23 – English Standard Version)

To conclude the day, I will usually call family members during this time to update them on my conditions and shut the lights out at 9:30, anticipating the first check of vitals at 11:30!

So my dear ones, as you pray throughout the day, you will know how much I feel His overwhelming peace and constant presence during this bump in the road. As shocked as I was to get the news that it was leukemia, it didn’t surprise God. I read in Isaiah 24 today; “He will not grow tired or weary and His understanding not one can fathom. He gives strength to the weary and increases the power of the weak…But those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength. They will soar on wings likes eagles, they will run and not grow weary and they will walk and not grow faint!"

Thank you to each and everyone of you for the role you are playing in our family’s life right now. You’re loved very much and tears of joy stream out as I think of you all. Be encouraged in the Lord today!

Monday, May 18, 2009

Another good day for Bonnie, although it didn’t start out that way. Her night saw intermittent sleep. The two units of platelets were not finished until 12:45 a.m. and were administered under a watchful eye by staff, so sleeping during the transfusion is somewhat challenging. The staff is very cautious with blood transfusions, from making sure the pack matches the armband as well as the certificate paper to monitoring Bonnie for any allergic reactions. At the 3:00 vitals check, Bonnie fell asleep with her head tipped and woke with a kink in her neck that quickly became an excruciating headache. The only relief she had was standing up….at 5:00 a.m. in the morning. We decided to walk the hallways to see if the distraction would give her relief. Ultimately staff gave her Tylenol and that took care of it thankfully.

Bonnie’s white blood cell count early today had dropped to 1,400, so we are seeing the desired outcome from the chemo which runs until Thursday this week.

There isn’t much more to report from today. The doctors say it is a real good thing when Bonnie becomes bored. We’re starting to see that phase coming.

Again, we can’t say it enough. Thank you for all the love and support through your prayers, meals for our family, cards, emails, notes and phone calls. It is such a joy to know how many people care about us. God knows just what we need and that’s all of you.

We understand that many of the teen Facebooks today said their status was something along the line of “I’m hungry” or “I’m starving”. We are blown away that over 40 teenagers today were fasting and praying today for Bonnie. Thank you so much… go get some pizza and ice cream! In all seriousness, it means a lot to Bonnie and I that a group of teens would take the day and sacrifice to remind them to pray for Bonnie.

The wonderful meal that was delivered to our house tonight came with a card with one of my favorite scripture verses which I will close with……Isaiah 41:10

Fear not, for I am with you;

Be not dismayed, for I am your God;
I will strengthen you,
I will help you,
I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.

That say’s it all.

Sunday, May 17, 2009

Today was another good day for Bonnie on the outside and the progress with eliminating the WBC on the inside is where the doctor wants her to be at this time. As of this morning Bonnie’s WBC count was at 2,300 and with another round of chemo today, she will be lower tomorrow. Her hemoglobin dropped again so she was given two more units of red blood cells and her platelets are still somewhat low so she is getting additional transfusion of platelet units tonight as I write this.

The chemo will continue until Wednesday or Thursday of this week, followed by waiting and monitoring for a few days. At this point the doctor projects another bone marrow biopsy to be done a week from Monday (tomorrow) to assess the true progress. Their objective is that the biopsy results will be clear – meaning no blast of young cells that grow quickly (which is the leukemia). Assuming it is clear, then they can start the next phase of treatment which introduces “growth factors” to boost the production of good cells and shorten the time to produce these cells. This process can take 10 to 20 days, but at this point it is an unknown.

Assuming everything progresses as planned, Bonnie will have a port surgically implanted prior to being discharged from the hospital for one to two weeks, upon which she will come back for the first of 3 additional cycles of treatment, which is five days of treatment followed by being at home for a month, followed by another 5 days of treatment, then home for a month, and then a final 5 day treatment. After that her progress will be reviewed. This would be the best case scenario at this point, but obviously we have a ways to go to be able to make that assessment.

As some of you already know, Bonnie will miss Cassandra’s graduation commencement as well as the open house we have been planning. We have dear friends that are doing so many things from coordinating meals, to coordinating ways to help and dissemination of information to planning the open house to possibly making a way to broadcast Cassandra’s commencement live to Bonnie’s room. THIS IS A SURPRISE FOR BONNIE AND STILL IN THE WORKS. IT HASN’T BEEN FINALIZED AS THERE ARE A LOT OF DETAILS THAT HAVE TO COME TOGETHER. YOU MAY SAY WHY PUT THIS IN THE BLOG IF IT IS A SURPRISE. SIMPLY THE FACT THAT MANY ALREADY KNOW THIS IS IN PROGRESS BUT MAY NOT REALIZE IT IS A SURPRISE SO I’M USING THIS MEDIA TO COMMUNICATE IT.

So….please pray that when the next biopsy results come in that it is “clear” and secondly please pray that our videocast comes together so Bonnie will be able to take part in the process. Bonnie worked so hard for 12 years plus kindergarten and I would like her to be able to see the closing chapter. With that I close for the evening. Thank you for your interest, support and prayers.

Saturday, May 16, 2009

Today was a great day for Bonnie from an energy perspective. She had an opportunity to spend alone time with her mom for several hours, make frequent walks around the floor and watch a parade on Michigan Avenue from the elevator lobby atrium on the 5th floor. I (Steve) finally was able to get outdoors since Tuesday evening and walked several blocks from the hospital to the Lansing Center where my girls were working at the INCH homeschool convention. Bonnie mentioned to me she had hoped to purchase a few books at the conference to give away as gifts, so I thought I could go on the journey while she spent the time with her mom. It was therapeutic for me (Steve) to see and talk to many caring friends and also see my girls outside of a hospital setting.

Although she looks great on the outside and had the energy (which is amazing with all the medicines being pumped into her body), Bonnie still has a war waging in her blood. Her platelets dropped to 18,000 today so they gave her two units of platelet transfusion which raised her back up in the 60,000 range. Normal range is 150,000 to 400,000. Platelets are what cause the blood to clot so when the count is low like Bonnie’s the concern is bleeding and bruising so she has to be very careful. Most likely she will receive another transfusion of platelets tomorrow.

Her WBC count has dropped to 4,000 this afternoon from 8,000 this morning from 40,000 yesterday when the stronger chemo started. Keep in mind the object is to eliminate most or all of the WBC because there are more bad WBC than good and unfortunately that means the good WBC that fight infections (neutrophils) are also eliminated which means Bonnie is increasingly more susceptible to infection and virus during this treatment. Once she gets to 1500 WBC she goes under what’s called neutropenic precautions, meaning tighter restrictions on anyone coming into the room….gowns, masks, sterilized hands, etc.

From my understanding the last WBC are the most difficult to eliminate and thus the reason for a total of a seven day treatment. One of our doctors said it’s like having a lawn full of weeds that you apply Roundup on and most weeds are killed off quickly….similar to Bonnie’s WBC going from 150,000 down to 4,000 in a matter of 4 days with two days of oral chemo and two days of drip chemo. It’s those last few weeds that need to be dug up and replaced with new sod – which takes much more time to do than spraying weed killer – same goes for the last few WBC.

Thank you again for all the care, concern and prayers. Some have asked how they can specifically pray, other than for total healing for Bonnie. Please pray that she will continue to handle the chemo without pain or nausea and that her attitude will remain positive through this difficult time. Also pray for Cassandra, Caleb and Callie that they remain positive and don’t become discouraged. They know the seriousness of the situation, but they need continual reinforcing that it will be okay. The key is what I mean by “okay”. “Okay” is, that no matter what happens it will be okay because God is in control and he knows best, even when the outcome isn’t in line with our own personal desires. If they (the kids) can truly grasp and accept the concept that a) God is indeed always in control, b) that He is in control even in difficult times, c) that He knows what is best for each of us (even when we might not agree) and d) willingly submit to and accept God’s perfect will without condition, then that will be an answer to prayer and everything will be “Okay”.

Friday, May 15, 2009

It’s hard to believe it’s only been three days since we arrived here at Sparrow. It was a long night for Bonnie. What started out great – we made arrangements to eliminate the 2:00 a.m. tech checking vital signs so the last visit by nurses and techs to the room would be midnight with no disturbances until 6:00 a.m. Unfortunately the IV pumps (4 of them hooked to Bonnie) periodically started beeping about every two hours due to various reasons. While I (Steve) would leave the room to hunt down our nurse, the continual beeping would wake Bonnie up. Needless to say, she was exhausted this morning and napped on and off until 11:00 and didn’t eat much. She did convince herself to go on a walk around the floor as the room is already closing in on her.

At noon, they started the first of two chemo medicines (this one is a single syringe injection for the next four days) and watched carefully to see if Bonnie had any symptoms of allergic reactions – thankfully there were none including nausea. After a half hour or so they commenced part two which runs 24 hours a day for seven days. The first chemo medicine will change her tears, sweat and other bodily fluids to an orange color.

Bonnie’s doctor stopped by this afternoon for an update on the cytogenetics study the lab was performing on the bone marrow biopsy. This is the determinate of which subcategory of the AML Bonnie’s Leukemia falls under. The synopsis was referred to as an Intermediate Group which isn’t the best case they had hoped for but also it isn’t the worst case. They like to see abnormalities in the cytogenetics (why? I’ll have to ask again…Biology was a long time ago and it wasn’t molecular biology). Bonnie’s situation has normal aspects to the leukemia. Bottom line – on a scale of 1 to 10 with 10 being a good synopsis and 1 a bad synopsis, the doctor placed Bonnie at a 5. I won’t get into all the statistical data that the cancer unit uses to assess what is considered a success. He said he is going back for further cytogenetic studies to refine the results, but it would only push it to either a 4 or a 6. Not what we hoped for, but the doctor says Bonnie is young and it pushes the percentages up.

Bonnie seemed to have more energy this afternoon and went for several walks around the floor. She is tired now and resting comfortably. Still no nausea or pain from the chemo which is good.

Again we are overwhelmed by the outpouring of support from so many people in so many places….as far as Arizona. Thank you for all your prayers and many offers to assist in this difficult time for our family.

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Day 2 ½. We still don’t know the subcategory of the AML…most likely tomorrow. They started an oral form of chemo last evening and throughout the day today. Regular drip chemo will start tomorrow and go for 7 days. Bonnie’s fatigue is more pronounce today, but her fever broke and maintained a normal temperature for several hours. The source of the fatigue is from the disease, the meds and low hemoglobin in her blood. Because of the low hemoglobin they are doing two bags of blood transfusion – red blood cells. The other piece of good news is the doctor informed Bonnie that the harsher drip chemo shouldn’t make her feel any sicker than she already does.

She continues not wanting to eat much….it would be great if she ate a little more for some energy. I (Steve) did convince her to go for a walk this afternoon so that was good.

Again we are so thankful for the many offers for help and with meals. We will more than likely take many of you up on the offer, but we’re still early in the process and trying to structure a process that works best in coordinating everything. We are fortunate that my folks only live a mile from our house and Bonnie’s mom is playing the role of house manager at our house while I’m (Steve) here at the hospital with Bonnie. I’ve mentioned to a couple of people that the real reason I’m staying here is because I have the best parking spot in the parking ramp and don’t want to lose it!

So back to the serious side, we have three extra drivers in addition to Cassandra. Priscilla Lohrmann is helping me (Steve) to put a structure in place and Mary Grace Braatz (who I owe many thanks to!) helped get the ball rolling with our church’s Manna Ministry to coordinate meals. I have a mom and a mother-in-law who like to cook, but I know there will be many opportunities for meals. As things take shape I will communicate with you who to contact for what.

As many of you know, Cassandra is graduating this year and her commencement ceremony is a week from Saturday and although God’s timing is far superior than ours, it still is hard to accept the fact that Bonnie won’t be able to be there to help hand Cassandra her diploma after all the years she poured into teaching Cassandra. Something exciting that others are working on that you can pray will pan out is the possibility of using South Church and Sparrow’s technology to somehow simulcast the graduation so Bonnie can watch it in her room. There are a few people working on this to try to make it happen and I am so appreciative of it. Of course we also have Cassandra’s openhouse on May 30th. A lot of advance planning has been done, but there are still items that need coordinating. We’re working on the best solution to accomplish this.

Just to end this blog for the day, earlier Bonnie asked me to read some scripture to her. I used my “read through the Bible” version and read the portion of Psalms for today’s date which is appropriate for our situation……..Psalms 61:1-4…”Hear my cry, O God; Attend to my prayer. From the end of the earth I will cry to You. When my heart is overwhelmed; Lead me to the rock that is higher than I. For you have been a shelter for me, A strong tower from the enemy. I will abide in Your tabernacle forever; I will trust in the shelter of Your wings.”

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Wednesday 5/13/09
Well, if you’re visiting this site you undoubtedly know that Bonnie has been diagnosed with acute leukemia. We got a call from our family physician on Tuesday evening that Bonnie needed to be checked into Sparrow ASAP because of her white blood cell (WBC) count. Bonnie had a blood draw on Monday, 5/11 due to what we thought was a lingering cold that wasn’t going away. The full results were made known to our doctor Tuesday. The WBC count was 93,000 – normal is 5,000 to 12,000. Sometime Tuesday evening (actually middle of the night) analysis of a blood draw showed the WBC count up to 113,000.

Tuesday evening and today has been a constant parade of physicians, technicians, medications, terminology all flying at us at once – it’s been a whirlwind. Today, Bonnie had a bone marrow biopsy to determine the type of Leukemia and had a triple port surgically put in to eliminate the need for a typical IV and also eliminated the need for continually poking of needles for ongoing blood draws.

This afternoon, Bonnie’s oncology doctor came back and informed us that she has acute myelogenous leukemia (AML). There are two broad categories for acute leukemia and the better category of the two is AML (which is a blessing). However, there are several subcategories of AML as there are in the other main category. These subcategories can be either a good prognosis or bad prognosis, but it appears there are more subcategories in AML that are good prognosis and easily treatable as opposed to not easily treatable.

Bonnie is very fatigued and not eating much and has a long road ahead. Thank you for all your prayers and offers for help. We are so grateful for family and friends and are thankful to God for his faithfulness, even in the storms of life. We will try to update this as often as possible.