Tuesday, June 30, 2009


Another update on our ongoing journey that commenced on May 12th. First the numbers on Bonnie. Normally the process is to draw labs on Bonnie once each day early in the morning, so the numbers I report on the blog post at night are from that morning’s lab results. Today they did a draw at both 6:00 a.m. and 1:30 p.m. The results of the 6:00 a.m. draw were WBC at 7,700 (of which the disease fighting ones -Neutrophils were 81%) and no sign of leukemia cells. Her platelet count was down to 11,000 and her hemoglobin was 8.2. The doctors ordered two platelet transfusions because of how low she was (11,000) and redid the labs at 1:30 this afternoon. Her WBC jumped to 9,400 and the platelets increased to 54,000. Her hemoglobin dropped to 7.9 so she is getting a unit of red blood as I (Steve) type. She also received a third transfusion of platelets in preparation of a colonoscopy. Bonnie actually has more WBC than I do based on my most recent lab draw Saturday where I was at 6,600 with 54% Neutrophils. My numbers are within the normal range, but find it interesting that she blew right by me.

The colonoscopy is scheduled for at 10:15 tomorrow (Wednesday) so Bonnie has started the “wonderful” prep process to clear out whatever is in her (which isn’t much because of being on a food IV bag). Please pray that she won’t have anxiety anticipating this procedure and will be able to handle the up and down this evening of the prep results.

On Thursday she will have her third bone marrow biopsy to confirm that she is in remission. The doctors are confident that is the case because there have been no signs of blast cells in her blood work. With her numbers high, they would like to see Bonnie preparing herself to go home shortly, but she needs to get off the food IV bag and get up around walking (which she did a little today).

Please pray that the colonoscopy shows she is clear of any infection or colitis, that she will find enough inner strength to get out of bed to walk so her muscles continued to be strengthened and she can go home soon.

As for me (Steve), I had my second day of radiation and will continue to do so tomorrow and Thursday. I met with my oncologist today to discuss the results of the two key tests: bone marrow biopsy and the PET Scan. I have a praise for both. The biopsy shows my bone marrow is clear! The PET Scan shows that the only location for my lymphoma is in my sacrum, so no other locations in my torso. The PET Scan did show though that the mass in my sacrum is also in the tissue, so I am classified as a Stage 1 E. My treatment will be (as previously stated) 3 cycles of chemo and 1 cycle of radiation. This is considered a very treatable disease, just in a difficult location. Please pray that the radiation will quickly shrink the mass so the pain and numbing is lessened and ultimately eliminated.

I am scheduled for a permanent port to be surgically implanted on Monday at 4:00. Interestingly, the surgeon I met with today is the very first doctor Bonnie and I met the following morning after she was admitted on May 12th. He was the surgeon who installed the triple lumen IV port in Bonnie’s chest. I will caution you to be careful what you wish for. As I watched him surgically put this IV port in Bonnie, I was so impressed with both his tactical approach to surgery as well as his bedside manner, I mentioned to several people that same day and a few days following, “If I ever had to have surgery, I would want Dr. McKenna doing it! I’m very impressed by how efficient he is!” Well, Dr. McKenna is my surgeon, and I didn’t even have to ask for him.

The statement “Be careful for what you wish for” made me think of hoping for the best outcomes of our prayers and making promises and vows. With the amount of prayers that we have poured out to God regarding our situation, I think sometimes it’s easy to fall into a trap of putting conditions on our prayers that we’ll do something different with our lives if God performs a certain way. God may be trying to get our attention and reform our lives and use our situation for a hundred different reasons, but at the same time I don’t think He is interested in a prayer from me that is conditional.

I recall reading a story a few weeks back from the Old Testament that causes me to pause every time I read it. It is from the Book of Judges 11: 29-40 and the story of a man named Jephthah and a vow he made that he didn’t think through very well when he made it. Many reading this blog may be familiar with the story of Jephthah, but others may not be aware it at all. Jephthah was a mighty warrior that God used to show Israel God’s strength in attacking neighboring countries. The Ammonites were one of those thorns in Israel’s side and Jephthah said to God, “If you will give the Ammonites into my hand, then whatever comes out from the doors of my house to meet me when I return in peace from the Ammonites shall be the LORD's, and I will offer it up for a burnt offering.” God gave Jephthah great victory and when Jephthah returned home the first thing that came out of his house was his only daughter. I can’t imagine the grief Jephthah experienced instead of the euphoria of a great victory.

This story has a sobering ending to it. I always wondered why Jephthah wouldn’t plead to God and ask for an alternative solution to the vow. I’m not a biblical/history major, but I do know that in those days vows were taken very seriously and never broken. If I put a condition on a prayer to God, what are the chances I’ll keep that vow? God doesn’t want me to put a promise or condition on my prayer no matter how strong I might feel about that promise at the time, instead He desires that I commit my whole self to Him on a daily basis and this is done through putting my faith and trust in His son Jesus, who kept the commitment of living a sinless life, who suffered and died and rose again so I didn’t have to suffer the consequences of not keeping the only promise a holy God expects from me and that is a life free of sin. I am thankful to God that He keeps His promises and never changes. As long as we have put our faith and trust in Christ, we can rest in the fact that we will have eternal life and don’t need to make any promises to God in our prayers. And that in and of itself is the overabundant peace we have been drawing from throughout this trial.

Again, Thank you for your prayers!

Monday, June 29, 2009


This is going to be a quick update post tonight as I (Steve) have a MUGA Scan test at 8:30 tonight.

Bonnie’s WBC are now 4,400, so we continue to rejoice each days as the lab results are returned. Her platelets are still low and she received another transfusion today to help provide a boost. To put the platelets into perspective (I may have done this several weeks ago), the normal body has between 100,000 and 150,000 platelets to help coagulate the blood. Today, Bonnie’s platelets were 19,000.
The team of physicians have discussed Bonnies GI tract and protruding stomach and would like Bonnie to have a colonoscopy now that her WBC count is at the level it is now. A colonoscopy will help them determine more clearly what is going on with the bowels and diarrhea, something they couldn’t do before. The GI doctor doesn’t want to do the colonoscopy until Bonnie’s platelets are above 45,000. A couple of transfusions can get Bonnie to that level, but it sure would be nice to see the platelet levels increase all on their own. So those of you who want a specific way to pray, please pray that Bonnie’s platelets will increase without a transfusion.
Please continue to pray for physical strength and mental determination for Bonnie to get up the courage to walk. Several doctors have commented that moving around will only benefit Bonnie’s GI tract.

As for me, I had my first round of radiation this morning. As far as I can tell I don’t glow in the dark, but will make sure this evening when it gets dark! I will continue radiation treatment tomorrow, Wednesday and Thursday with Friday off. I also have a meeting with my oncologist tomorrow to discuss the results of both the bone marrow biopsy as well as the PET Scan that was completed last Friday. Later tomorrow I have a consultation with the surgeon who will install the permanent port in me sometime in the next week. This will be used for the chemo treatments when they start.

Off to my MUGA Scan. I’ve spiking a fever the last few nights as a result of the lymphoma. Please pray that I can manage these with Tylenol. Thanks!

Sunday, June 28, 2009


An exciting Lord’s Day as we continue to see vast improvement in Bonnie’s WBC now at 3,000, which doubled yesterday’s level. The neutrophils are still at 80% of the total and still no blasts (leukemia cells). Her platelets are still low as is the hemoglobin, but we are rejoicing at how quickly and how well she is responding to the Neupogen injections that help promote the growth of the WBCs.

Today Bonnie was able to taste Applewood Ham on a Jimmy Johns sub sandwich, along with the tartness and juice of two apple slices (carefully peeled). She tried a small piece of chocolate, but no taste or appetite for that. But again a praise that some of her taste buds are maybe returning.

As requested yesterday, please continue to pray that Bonnie’s body will absorb the increase in protein in her food IV bag as well as any protein she may eat to help remove her bloated stomach, which is very uncomfortable every time she moves or bends.

Pray for energy for Bonnie. Some of her energy level tracks with the level of her hemoglobin, so it will slowly come back, but it will be good for Bonnie to get up and about and start walking again. This will also help her GI tract and reduce the bloating of her stomach. She is sitting up in a chair for several hours each day.
She is also retaining fluids and her ankles and legs are swelling so she has to keep them elevated. So pray that the water retention will end. She is obviously anxious to get home and once her WBC hit 10,000 that will be the next step, however she will need to shed the IV food bag and have strength to get around. So pray that the external eating will continue to improve and she regains the strength to regain her energy.

As far as my (Steve) situation, it has improved greatly from the painful day I experienced yesterday. I ended up going to the emergency room last night around 10:30 with the continued intense pain on the left side of my abdomen wrapping around my back. Because of the severe constipation and the continued pain I suspected a possible blockage in my intestines. At first the emergency physician suspected I had a kidney stone due to where the pain was located combined with small traces of blood in my urine. They injected a specific pain killer designed for organs and within minutes my pain was eliminated. The CT Scan confirmed that it was not a kidney stone but rather the mass on my sacrum pressing against ureter, which is the muscle duct that propels the urine from the kidney. The pressure against this duct would give me similar pain to a kidney stone.

With the pain eliminated and the confirmation that I did not have a blockage in my intestines enabled me to relax and allow my intestines to contract and expand more normally and helped to eliminate the constipation. I feel like a totally different person today and more like me as opposed to rolled up in a ball for the better part of the day yesterday trying to manage pain that my other pain pills were not touching. Thank you for your prayers.

I’m waiting for the official results on both my bone marrow biopsy as well as the PET scan that was completed Friday. Tomorrow I have my first day of radiation. Please pray that I can endure lying on my back on the hard radiation table for approximately 35 to 45 minutes for setting up the actual 3 minute radiation. The main pressure point for me on the table happens to be right on my sacrum so it is extremely painful. I’ve been told that the radiation should shrink the mass after the first two or three sessions. Please pray that the shrinkage will take pressure off the nerve endings which will give me overall relief and maybe eliminate the need for the pain medication.

On a few occasions I’ve had comments made to me (in a complimentary way so to speak) that it just doesn’t seem right that “Steve and Bonnie Opper of all people, should be the ones going through this”. It would be easy to say it just doesn’t to seem fair. Or with the unusual circumstance we face that it just doesn’t seem fair the both of our kids parents should be diagnosed with cancer within weeks of each other. It reminds me of the many times over the years that I have attempted to explain to my kids that “life isn’t fair”. I think it’s so easy to say “why me” or “why us”, “why not so and so”? As we have stated previously, we don’t know what God has in store and how he will use this circumstance in our lives to bring glory to Himself, but whether life is fair or not is up to God. I’ve used three biblical examples with my kids in the past years I happened to recall today.

The first one was Moses. Here God called Moses to lead His people out of Egypt. Throughout the years Moses interceded on behalf of an obstinate stubborn people who seemed to always have something to complain about. Moses on the other hand was faithful to God in following God’s instructions with the exception of one time where in the book of Numbers 20 he (Moses) was upset when the people complained about not having water and Moses struck the rock instead of telling the water to come out of the rock. Because of this one instance Moses was band from entering the Promised Land. Here he had to establish God’s law, deal with lawless people and wander in the wilderness and never enter the Promised Land, which had been the goal since day one of God calling Moses to go to Egypt to be used of God to lead the people out. Was that fair to Moses after “slipping up” one time when he had been so faithful to God? God is holy and His will is perfect. From the best I can tell in reading this section of scripture Moses never complained to God about God’s discipline and action He took banning Moses from going into the Promised Land. Moses accepted God’s will for his life.

The second example I used with my kids was from the same time frame only this time it involved Joshua and Caleb, two of the twelve spies who were commissioned to spy out the Promised Land. After spending 40 days on the spy trail, the spies returned with the wonderful fruits of the land and confirmation that it indeed was the land they had been told about, yet, ten of the spies were afraid of the nations in the land and lacked the faith that they could defeat the inhabitants so they created fear among the masses which all turned on Moses. Caleb and Joshua were the only two who had the faith and were bold enough to follow God’s instructions of subduing the land. Needless to say, Israel chose to listen to the 10 spies without the faith and God ultimately punished Israel one year for each day they spied out the land, or a total of 40 years they would have to wander in the wilderness until all from that generation had passed away, except Caleb and Joshua. Was it fair that Caleb and Joshua also had to wander for 40 more years, when they knew that God would have been with them had they gone into the Promised Land immediately? Maybe not, but God used those 40 years to prepare Joshua to take over for Moses when the time was right. Caleb was a patriarch when Israel actually entered and demonstrated to the younger Israelites how to obey God and follow His instructions.

The last example I always used was Jesus. Was it fair that He was sent to this earth from His highly esteemed place at the right hand of God as a frail human, who endured human trials, survived the devil’s temptations, healed people, taught people about who God is, lived a sinless life and yet was spit upon, arrested and crucified? Was it fair that He should be the one to suffer through this?

When I think about these three examples and the many others in scripture it helps to put into light how trivial our situation is in the bid scheme of God’s overall plan for the redemption of His people. Is it hard? Yes. Do we wake up each day with doubts, particularly after a long night? Yes. Does the timing of all this seem frustrating? Yes. Following all these answers of “yes” however is a “but”, and that is the “but” we have tried to share since the commencement of this blog. God is bigger than we are and He has a greater purpose and we can either choose to accept the burden He has laid on us knowing He loves us or we can abandon Him and go it alone. Those are our two choices. We’re glad we are not going alone, but glad God is present. His word is very clear in Matthew 18:20:

“For where two or three are gathered in my name, there am I among them”

There are two of us here in this hospital room gathered in Jesus’ name and He is a man of His word that He is among us.

Sorry for the length of this, but we appreciate your interest and going along with us on this journey.

God Bless you!

Saturday, June 27, 2009


Day 47. I (Bonnie) have indeed turned the corner for the positive in this phase of my treatment. Today my WBC registered at 1500, up from 800 yesterday. The Neutrophils are holding steady at about 80% of those WBC and there hasn’t been any sign of blasts (leukemia cells) thus far which is truly an answer to prayer. My platelets were low again so I had another transfusion of those today. Please pray for wisdom for us on the next steps as my WBC count continues to climb. Once I’m at 10.000, I will be transitioning to the bone marrow transplant phase.

Please pray that my body will absorb more protein in both the food IV as well any normal protein I may eat. The doctor has increased the amount of protein in the food IV. The lack of protein being absorb is causing my stomach to protrude and be bloated. I feel like I’m 4 months pregnant but this should subside once my body begins to absorb the protein.

I haven’t gotten back to walking laps, but do get out of the room in a wheel chair a couple of times each day. The last couple of days have been challenging for Steve to assist me because of the ongoing constipation due to the pain medication he needs to take to relieve the pressure in his sacrum. He has tried every physician regiment and is now taking the strongest medicine to counter the constipation, but nothing seems to work. The cramping is so intense it comes right through the pain medication. Pray that he will have relief and that somehow he can manage both this issue and the pain at the same time.

We have to continue to trust God that He knows best for our situation, although it is easy to become discouraged when I (Steve) want to jump up and help Bonnie yet have to fight through the pain caused by both the sacrum as well as the constipation. We know life is full of heartaches and issues. Some of them are brought on by ourselves and others things that happen are out of our control. It’s so easy to want to be in control of the situation even when we recognize God is in control; such as, I (Steve) want to continue doing everything for Bonnie as I was before and now God is saying “no”. I have to understand that I am “but a vapor”, but God knows who I am because of His love and kindness and we need to be in awe of who God is to better put into perspective the “little” things I’m trying to control here on earth. Amos 4:13 says:

For behold, He who forms mountains and creates the wind and declares to man what are His thoughts, He who makes dawn into darkness and treads on the high places of the earth, the Lord God of hosts is His name.

And Jeremiah 51:15 says:

It is He who made the earth by His power, who established the world by His wisdom, and by His understanding he stretched out the heavens.

Please pray that we find comfort in God because of His holiness and who He is and that He will be glorified in all of our actions, not just how we’re handling this situation, but that it will be sustained for years to come.

Thanks for your care!

Friday, June 26, 2009


Bonnie’s White Blood Cells doubled from 400 yesterday to 800 today, and of these new WBC, 80% are the disease fighting type that her body needs. Obviously we are thrilled and very excited to see what God has in store tomorrow. Thank you so much for your specific prayers on this extremely important part of her recovery.

Even though she now has 800 WBC, the doctors stressed that Bonnie continues to be on “neutropenic watch”. This is a fancy name for being extremely cautious in everything see does in and out of the room; from the food that can and can’t enter the room, face masking and washing of hands every time in and out of the room and no flowers (thank you to many of you who sent cards with flowers on the front – which have been taped up on the wall together as sort of a flower collage).

The Infectious Disease doctors again stopped by and said the cultures have yet to grow anything new of concern. They are slowly going to start eliminating some of the IV antibiotics which ultimately means fewer interruptions in the night. The diarrhea has slowed down considerably and now we have to work through the mental aspects as I (Steve) mentioned yesterday.

Bonnie’s overall stability continues to be the ultimate objective so we can get to the next step of the bone marrow transplant process. Please continue to pray that we would see significant improvement over the weekend.

Today I (Steve) had both a PET Scan and a radiation setup. I should know the result of the bone marrow biopsy and the PET Scan on Monday. The radiation setup process was to prepare for my first round of radiation on Monday which will continue throughout the week until the chemo process is set up.

I continue to deal with extreme pain in the sacrum area. The prayer is that the radiation will shrink the mass enough to eliminate some of the pain on the nerve endings. The doctors have changed the pain medication which has helped to minimize the discomfort, but this medicine not only makes me extremely tired (I keep falling asleep as I write this), but is like all other pain medications in that it causes constipation. Thus far we’ve been fairly transparent on this blog, so I decided why not also ask for prayer on this issue as well. The doctors have a written regiment for pain pill constipation and thus far nothing has worked. Please pray that I’ll find relief and at the same time manage the pain.

As we were getting ready to shut out the lights for the night in our room, I assisted Bonnie in the bathroom with getting ready for bed and while she was standing we hugged one another. It was such an emotional charge to each of our physical and mental batteries just to hold one another in our arms. I reminded her we are not alone in this battle. We need to praise God that we’re not alone because Christ is at the center of our marriage. We know that there have been many occasions to discuss praising God with one another, with our kids and in previous blog post. I was so encouraged the other day when our son Caleb pointed out to me something in his daily Bible reading that was titled “How Can I praise God When Life Doesn’t Go Well?” It was based on Psalm 77:11-12:

“I will remember the works of the Lord; Surely I will remember Your wonders of old. I will also meditate on all Your work, and talk of Your deeds.”

The devotional started off by saying:

“When life’s twists and turns take you down unexpected and difficult roads, it can sometimes feel strange to praise the Lord. Yet He seeks our praise in ALL things – whether they appear good to us or not. So how can you praise God when adversity finds its way into your life? First, remember that our God is good and always gives us ample reason to praise Him. Second, remember that God’s overriding purpose in your life is to glorify Him and that He will use any means necessary to accomplish that. Ask Him to change your perspective so that you will see your life circumstances as he does. Third, by exercising your will, make a conscious choice to praise Him. Despite how you may feel, praise really can flow from you like a fountain.” Dr. Charles Stanley

Tonight the embrace we had in each others’ arms along with consciously recognizing we were not alone, but surrounded by Christ’s love, IS the source of that fountain of praise we continue to draw from as we strive to preserve through this trial.

Thank you again for all your prayers!

Thursday, June 25, 2009


Bonnie’s White Blood Cells continue to climb, which now rest at 400. Approximately 9600 more to go, but we are taking it one day at a time. Not seeing any movement and staying at zero WBC for the past 15 or so days it was a great challenge to not to start doubting the timing, which in reality was doubting God’s “perfect” timing of when He wanted them to start growing and multiplying. We allowed the impatience of the moment to crowd our mind from worshipping God for who He is and the grace and mercy He has poured out on us. Please pray that our minds will be clear from the subtle distractions of doubt and impatience that periodically try to creep into our minds.

The other exciting news about the white blood cell count is, of the 400 WBC, 80% are the disease fighting kind (neutrophils). This is at the high end of the normal range for this percent and the doctors are very pleased with the results thus far. The yeast cultures also continue to be negative, her rash is softening and skin peeling. I told Bonnie when this is all done she will probably have the skin of a 25 year old. Tonight I saw the familiar sparkle in her eyes, which for me has been missing for the past couple of days.

Please pray that God will take away her fear of straying too far from the bathroom. The diarrhea has slowed down considerably, however there is still a conditioned response after almost a month of having diarrhea that any movement in bed or elsewhere will start the process. This has caused her to become anxious such that she is apprehensive to leave the bed. I encouraged her this evening to get in the wheel chair and we rode out to the atrium for a while followed by a few minutes on the outdoor patio. We then came back to the room where she was willing to do a couple of physical therapy moves. Holding a chair and bending her knees up and down 10 times followed by holding the back of the same chair and lift her left foot then right foot 10 times. That did her in, but it is a start and I reassured her that we are taking it one day at a time, as I mentioned earlier about her WBC count. Pray that she will continue to see the need to do the PT, no matter how simple it may seem to her.

As for me, my tests continue tomorrow (Friday) with the PET scan which uses a special glucose that will adhere to the areas where lymphoma is present. Please pray it is only in my sacrum and not in other areas of my body. Also pray for my use of pain management. I am apprehensive to use pain killers, however the pain continues to escalate each day so the doctors want me to use them regularly, however there is a very inconvenient side effect that is, let’s just say is the opposite of what Bonnie has been dealing with in the bathroom for the past month. We make quite a pair.

Because of the increasing pain coming from my sacrum anytime I move, whether walking, sitting or lying down, my Oncologist and Radiologist have conferenced and determine to start radiation immediately to try to shrink the mass which hopefully will take the pressure of the nerve endings on this part of my spine. One I’m ready for chemotherapy treatments, they will suspend the balance of the 4 week/5 times per week radiation and start and finish the chemo portion before resuming the radiation. Please pray that the radiation next week will reduce the size of the mass relieving the pressure on my nerve endings.

Speaking of pressure, I am often asked how I (Steve) am handling the pressure of now dealing with my own disease, caring for Bonnie’s and managing our children. I will conclude by saying that regardless of the incredible circumstances that our family is facing and the monumental path ahead of us, I can honestly say without question that I have a joy in my heart that is difficult to describe. I can say we’re joyful or happy or content about many things in life, but to say I have joy when my wife has leukemia, I have lymphoma and my children are wondering about their parents’ long term health, it may seem odd to you to hear me say I’m “joyful”. I’m joyful knowing that there is more to this life of pain and suffering and it is the love of Christ and what He did for me on the cross that has turned my sorrow into an everlasting joy. James 1:2-4 says:

“Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.”

Our faith is being tested hourly. Please pray that we continue to pass the test and that we remain steadfast and lack nothing in Christ.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009


Thank you to all you faithful participants of reading this blog. I knew this day would eventually come where I (Steve) didn't have the time to work on this update do to unforseen circumstances.

I will leave you with this, Bonnie's WBC are now 300 and the neutrophils are around 80% of those. Overall I would say Bonnie had a good day. She did get some transfusios of platelets as she continues to have some blood in her stools. Please pray this will stop.

Me on the other hand am in pretty rough shape. The bone marrow biopsy procedure was a little different than Bonnie's as it relates to what was done as well as the premedications. Little did I know that I was getting two biopsys, one on each side, and the pre-meds consisted of Ativan (something to relax you) and a localized shot in the area of the biopsy, which consisted of two shots of Lidocaine (like Novacaine at the Dentist). Bonnie had morphine with one of her procedures and Demerol with the second.

The Pathologist said I would feel pressure but no pain. I have a very high pain tolerance and I would have to say this was the most extreme pain I have ever felt. They believe the reason for it was due to the mass on my sacrum possibly pushing on nerve endings from the pressure of the procedure.

Between the pain pills and the overall exhaustion of the process, I laid down at around 5:00 p.m.and didn't wake up until 10:15. I'm still pretty uncomfortable, so coninue to pray that God will reduce the pain and that the results show that my bone marrow is normal.

Because of the nerve pain I'm experiencing, the doctors have decided to reverse the process and give me radiation first followed by the chemo....once all the tests are complete, which will be by mid-week next week. Our good friend Marty Johnson works in radiation therapy, so we have an excellent source in navigating these new waters we're in.

We had a few family stop by today and commented on how good Bonnie looks. We're hopeful that as the WBC continue to come in she will get more strength. The tastebuds won't return for a while, but she is getting nice new skin underneath that which is peeling.

I will do a better update tomorrow. Thank you for your prayers.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009


After a night of an elevated heart rate of 180 which created quite a stir amongst the nursing staff, Bonnie actually slept fairly well before and after the escapade. Today we saw our real first glimmer of progress. Bonnie’s WBC count this morning was 200 of which 150 were the good ones (neutrophils). Just for clarification, the other 50 WBC are not necessarily bad ones (not sure the purpose they serve – that comes in Hematology 201). The bad ones, blasts, are still at zero. We are encouraged by the news obviously, but also understand that right now these cells are being counted by hand, so there is room for error, such as what happened over a week ago. We had one day that showed 100 WBC followed by zero WBC for over a week. We have had two days starting on Sunday where she was at 100 and now 200 today. Please continue to pray that these will continue to multiply quickly.

Other good news is another day with no new growth in the blood cultures that were taken many days ago to determine the status of the yeast infection. The Infectious Disease physicians are keeping Bonnie on some of the added antibiotics for a few more days just to make sure she is in the clear. This is a huge answer to prayer. We are so thankful to God for His healing hand and the wisdom and discernment He gifted the doctors with to protect Bonnie from further complications.

Her diarrhea seems to be slowing down a little, but she is still somewhat apprehensive about when the next bout may hit, so please pray that God will remove her anxiousness and that Bonnie will hold onto the verse she repeats often throughout the day from Philippians 4:6-7:

“Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.”

Another area of prayer for Bonnie is her memory. From my meeting with Bonnie’s doctor (I guess I should now say our doctor) yesterday, he informed me that I also would have “chemo brain” like Bonnie once my chemo treatment starts for my Lymphoma. There are little things that I have to keep reminding her that the doctor says it is okay, such as certain foods or the use of a warm blanket. She is afraid that by having a warm blanket that it will trigger a fever. I have to reassure her over and over that if she doesn’t have a fever that she isn’t going to do anything to cause it to reoccur.

As for me, I have my bone marrow biopsy scheduled for 1:30pm tomorrow (Wednesday). The balance of the tests I need to have scheduled will be done so tomorrow. I’m beginning to experience a fair amount of shooting pain as well as constant pain that thus far is manageable with pain pills (which I don’t really like to take). Please pray that I can endure not only the pain, but mentally continue to manage Bonnie’s healthcare, my health as well as my kids and their activities.

For those of you who reading this that are either out of the local region or don’t know us as well as others, we have an incredible amount of support from family and friends standing ready to do anything we need to have done. So if you’re wondering about our children, yes they need prayer for God’s protection emotionally and spiritually, but they have ample opportunity to keep busy with family and friends. The few times I’ve been home, I have been amazed by the growth and maturity I see in each of them and am so grateful to God for answering the many prayers for their protection.

Daily I am reminded of Romans 12:10 that says:

"Love one another with brotherly affection. Outdo one another in showing honor." (English Standard Version)

I actually prefer the New American Standard Version which says:

"Be devoted to one another in brotherly love. Honor one another above yourselves."

I like the word “devotion”. We have been the recipient of countless acts of ministry from those who have devoted themselves to our family beyond comprehension. Thank you for your devotion to us!

Monday, June 22, 2009


Each day as we wait for a positive change in Bonnie’s WBC count we were told the objective was to get to the point it would be boring for Bonnie. Unfortunately as we have shared countless times it has been anything but boring for Bonnie, rather frustrating battling the diarrhea, fevers and fatigue. Last night was another long evening that included new monitoring of Bonnie due to a higher than normal heart rate. Because of this an EKG was ordered and a heart monitor was connected to Bonnie. Her fever spiked to 101.8 degrees early in the evening so Bonnie made the elective decision to try the cooling blanket early in the evening as opposed to waiting until the temp exceeded 103 degrees in the middle of the night. It worked and brought her fever back down to just under 99 degrees, however the earlier temp of 101.8, which was around 8:00 p.m. triggered a standing order for a chest xray and blood cultures, both of which came at 1:00 in the morning.

Today Bonnie’s WBC are holding at 100 with 70 of them being the good cells (neutrophils). Also another day has gone by with no growth in the yeast culture, so that appears to be under control. Bonnie’s mom spent most of the day to day with Bonnie and from the report I received, it sounded like she got out of her room a couple of times, particularly to the atrium she so much enjoys. Please continue to pray for Bonnie’s eating. She is getting nutrition through the IV food bag, but so much wants to get off that, but still struggles finding something satisfying to eat. She worked so hard on eating her breakfast this morning only to throw it up 10 minutes later, so she was quite discouraged.

I (Steve) am staying at home tonight for the first night since Bonnie was admitted on May 12th. Bonnie’s mom has taken on both the day and night shift which has given me the opportunity to spend the day and evening with my kids, which has been a pleasant break and am thankful for it.

Those of you who have been following Bonnie’s status since the initial week may recall a comment we made that God doesn’t give us more than we can handle. This may have been mentioned more than once in a couple of different ways. Well today the stakes were elevated and the challenge is on to see if we can put our words into action with more on our plate. As most of you know, I (Steve) had a biopsy completed this past Thursday for a mass that was found on my sacrum from a recent MRI. Today I got the results of that biopsy and have been diagnosed with Non-Hodgkins Diffused Large B-Cell Lymphoma. That is a mouthful so let’s stick with B-Cell Lymphoma. Part of me wants to say what more can we endure and part of me wants to try to find humor in the possibility of both Bonnie and I being bald at the same time and the irony of the whole situation.

B-Cell Lymphoma is the most common non-Hodgkins Lymphoma and very treatable with chemotherapy and radiation. I will have a few tests prior to the start of chemo to determine what stage I am currently at. The key test is the PET Scan which looks for metabolic issues with tissues or in other words cancer cells. A “labeled glucose” is injected into my blood through and IV to see where it accumulates in my torso or trunk. The glucose accumulates where the lymphoma is. The prayer request is that it is isolated only in my sacrum area which would be considered stage 1. Assuming that to be the case, I will go through 3 cycles of chemotherapy as an outpatient. That was the encouraging news I wanted to hear so as I am able, I can still care for Bonnie. From what I learned in my quick orientation today is 1 cycle equals 3 weeks. I will spend an entire day at Sparrow in the cancer center receiving the chemo, followed by 4 days of steroids and then wait two weeks and repeat that process two more times. This then will be followed by radiation with the hopes of shrinking the mass and containing it.

If the PET Scan reveals other areas where the glucose accumulates, then it is Stage 2 or 3 depending on the number of locations and will require a minimum of 6 cycles of chemo. Again, I emphasize the blessing that all this is completed as an outpatient.

I will also require a bone marrow biopsy to see what it going on within the marrow. Now I’m regretting watching both of Bonnie’s bone marrow biopsy procedures. I had an option of being put under for it, but took the same path as Bonnie of just a localized anethestic, not because I didn’t want to be labeled a “wimp”, but rather it will be quicker to get completed and will mean starting chemo sooner.

Please pray for Bonnie and our kids as this was something they obviously didn’t want to hear today when I shared the news with them. I am hopeful that this new development gives Bonnie that much more drive and determination to fight as hard as she can with her battle. I pray that this pushes my children closer to God and relying on Him and finding their security in Him and not necessarily the earthly parents that God gave them for a while. I don’t say that as a negative comment, I just strongly believe that we all should look for our security from God and rest in Him no matter the circumstance.

I’m also not fooling myself. It is a long road ahead of us and unreal to think that both Bonnie and I are going through this at the same time. Please pray that I can continue to minister and help Bonnie throughout my treatment. Our doctor (yes we are sharing the same doctor) thought it would be very feasible to help Bonnie. I may need to change to pace a little, but look for wisdom and God’s direction with that. It’s going to be a few weeks until the tests are complete and I can begin the treatment, but in the meantime the discomfort and pain have begun to escalate, so please pray that I can manage with the pain.

I can’t imagine what it would be like to be going through this without the comfort and security Bonnie and I have from knowing Christ. This unbelievable situation reminds me of the cares and burdens we used to talk about with our kids when they were little and afraid of something as they were going to bed. It brings to mind one of the songs I used to sing to Cassandra when she was little as she was falling asleep. Following are the words of the hymn “May the Mind of Christ My Savior”:

May the mind of Christ my savior
Live in me from day to day
By His love and power controlling
All I do and say

May the word of God dwell richly
In my heart from hour to hour
So that all may see I triumph
Only through His power

May the peace of God my Father
Rule my life in everything
That I may be calm to comfort
Sick and sorrowing

May the love of Jesus fill me
As the waters fill the sea
Him exalting, self abasing
This is victory

May I run the race before me
Strong and brave to face the foe
Looking only unto Jesus
As I onward go

This last verse has to be the focus of our eyes for the road that is ahead of us. We are running a race that we didn’t choose to run, but we need to be strong and brave in Christ to face the enemy – cancer and Satan who would like nothing but to see us fail in glorifying God through how we handle ourselves with these challenges. As the verse concludes, the only way for us to accomplish is “looking only unto Jesus, as (we) onward go!

Thank you for your prayers!

Sunday, June 21, 2009


Another day of fatigue and diarrhea for Bonnie. We continue to remain hopeful for signs of neutrophils (the good white blood cells) to start producing. Our doctor stopped by today and said we will be amazed in Bonnie’s improvement once those WBCs start to grow. He is encouraged that there have been no blasts (leukemia cells) showing up in her daily labs. Today her hemoglobin was high enough to stave off any red blood transfusion, but her platelets were low again so another unit of platelets were transfused today. Please pray that the good white blood cells will start growing. Today’s labs showed a minimal count of .1 which is 100. Point 1 can be human error in counting as it was .1 a week ago and went back to zero for several days, so we don’t get too excited about this count. When we start to see .4 or .5 then I think she’ll be on her way.

The last two nights have been very tiring for both of us due to the renewed frequency in diarrhea which hits about every hour and a half. Our physician has been keeping an eye on Bonnie’s abdomen due to it protruding (Bonnie calls it her “Ethiopia” belly). In some respects it is protruding because of the lack of protein in her system, even though she has the IV food bag. He (our doctor) wanted to make sure she didn’t have some sort of infection settling into her intestinal tract so he changed up some of her antibiotics on Friday and one of the side effects is increased frequency in diarrhea. He thought her abdomen looked much better today, although he is holding off changing the antibiotic as of yet. Please pray for our weariness with respect to this. With risk of being graphic again, it is a two person job and typically takes between 10 to 15 minutes factoring the clean up time, which includes washing her legs and changing her hospital issued socks and sometimes the gown. She is so afraid to move for fear of triggering another bout because every time it takes its toll on Bonnie physically just to get up out of bed and make it to the bathroom.

Please continue to pray that Bonnie’s temperature would stay below 103 degrees (preferably under 99 degrees). Her heart has also been racing a little this afternoon at a rate exceeding 150 beats per minute, so the doctor on duty is being consulted.

If my calculations are correct, we have been here 40 days and 40 nights, the running total since our journey started on May 12th. When I think of 40 days and 40 nights I can’t help but think about the number of events in scripture that covered a 40 day and 40 night period so I went back and researched the various occasions this afternoon:

1) Genesis 7 is the account of Noah’s flood. It rained for 40 days/nights and the water also covered the earth for 40 days and Noah waited 40 days before opening the window of the ark. God chose to pour out His wrath on His creation because of the sin of the people, which started years earlier with sin entering the world through Adam. The result was death, sickness, illness, wars, and the list goes on and on. Adam’s sin does not make us exempt from the result of sin such as the disease and sickness Bonnie has succumb to. In this scripture account though, God showed mercy on His people and kept a faithful remnant alive as well as the land animals to restore His creation. God is also showing his mercy on Bonnie and will restore her with a glorified body (someday) because of her relationship with Christ. We pray that He will restore her physical body now, but are willing to subject ourselves to His will.

2) Exodus 24 & 34 is the account of Moses spending 40 days and nights with God on Mount Sinai. Because of this journey Bonnie and I are on, it has been incredible how close to God we have felt over these past 40 days and nights, like Moses must have felt on the Mount.

3) Numbers 13 & 14 is the account of the 12 spies who spied out the Promised Land over 40 days and returned with a report that created fear (all except Caleb and Joshua) with the people of Israel who didn’t put their trust in God and feared the unknown. We have ventured into an unknown land for the past 40 days and are uncertain where we are headed, but we do know that God is with us and He will protect us.

4) 1 Samuel 17 is the account of Goliath the Philistine coming forth to fight Israel for 40 days. There are times since our arrival here at Sparrow we feel what we are facing is insurmountable just like Israel must have felt against Goliath. However, we also know the outcome of God’s deliverance and believe God can deliver Bonnie from this illness.

5) 1 Kings 19 is the account of God providing Elijah enough food and water prior to a 40 day and night trip to the mount of God at Horeb. We know God thus far has provided us the spiritual and mental strength to endure the treatment Bonnie is going through for the past 40 days and nights.

6) Matthew 4, Mark 1 and Luke 4 provide the account of Jesus fasting for 40 days and 40 nights which ended with His successful defeat of Satan’s temptations. God sent His Son who lived a sinless life to satisfy God’s mandate of being holy without sin. Jesus’ fasting brought Him close in prayer to God and we know that He intervenes on our behalf when we pray to God, as we are unworthy to approach God directly because we have not lived a sinless life like Jesus. We can take comfort in knowing that Jesus is interceding on our behalf for all the prayers for Bonnie’s health.

7) Acts 1 is the account of Jesus appearing to many of the disciples for a 40 day period after His resurrection showing He is alive. The number of witnesses who saw the risen Jesus during this 40 day period resulted in the expansion of the Gospel message that if we put our faith and trust in Jesus believing He lived a sinless life, died and suffered the wrath of God for our sin, that He rose from the dead and ascended to heaven and is at the right hand of God interceding on our behalf we will have eternal life. It is that hope in which we hold onto as we have sat in this hospital room for the past 40 days.

We don’t know the outcome of what this earthly journey will bring, but we know the final outcome because of where we choose to put our faith. I (Steve) think the a good scriptural summarization for where we’re at as we face a new day and night comes from the book of Titus 2:11-14:

“For the grace of God has appeared, bringing salvation for all people, training us to renounce ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright, and godly lives in the present age, waiting for our blessed hope, the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ, who gave himself for us to redeem us from all lawlessness and to purify for himself a people for his own possession who are zealous for good works.”

Please continue to pray for our endurance over the next 40 days and 40 nights. We appreciate each and every one of you.

Saturday, June 20, 2009


Today was more or less a quiet day for Bonnie. After a night that saw her fever stay below 103 degrees, we were thankful that she didn’t have to experience the cooling blanket last night. She still dealt with diarrhea and that kept her up quite a bit throughout the night. This morning she had a chance for hard sleep from 5:45 a.m. to 9:00 a.m. so that helped her to have energy to get suited up for the wheel chair ride out to her favorite spot in the atrium.

Her WBC are still zero, her platelets low (she received a transfusion today) and her hemoglobin remained steady. So she continues to be in status quo.

Last night Bonnie enjoyed the lighting and thunderstorm that moved through the Lansing area. She asked for the blinds to be opened so she could watch. Bonnie said that storms were always calming to her. It reminded her of the many times she sat in our living room when the kids were small explaining to them the power of God and how He uses lightening to put nitrogen into the earth which helps plants to grow. She would pray with the kids and thank God for his power and control in all things even the things that seemed scary He makes them useful for His good and we never need to be afraid.

We can take comfort in not being afraid of the things of God that are seen and unseen, yet we are to fear the Lord. It seems like a contradiction and somewhat difficult to explain. We can rest in what God has in store for us and trust Him, but He is a holy God who expects us to be holy. Psalm 111:10 captures this in a nutshell:

“The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom; a good understanding have all those who do his commandments; His praise endures forever.”

So if God expects us to be holy and we are incapable, where is the hope that we have talked about? This morning as I was reading from my Bible I had music playing and the first song on the list was “In Christ alone”. Following are the words of the first verse:

In Christ alone my hope is found;
He is my light, my strength, my song;
This cornerstone, this solid ground,
Firm through the fiercest drought and storm.
What heights of love, what depths of peace,
When fears are stilled, when strivings cease!
My comforter, my all in all—
Here in the love of Christ I stand.

Bonnie and I (and our family) are facing what we think to be the fiercest drought and storm of our lives, yet the love and peace of Christ stills our fears.

Friday, June 19, 2009


After another long night of a high fever and two plus hours lying on the 45 degree cooling blanket Bonnie had little opportunity for much needed sleep Thursday night. Today, each time she would start to look peaceful and begin to drift off into the sleep I was hopeful she would get, another doctor would knock on the door and wake her up to check her over.

I (Steve) work so hard to give her a quiet environment to easily sleep in and find myself getting frustrated with the timing of the doctors. Please pray that I have patience with the inconsistent schedule of the doctors as they make their rounds on the floor. Those of you who know me quite well know that I’m somewhat “routine” and would quickly add, “that’s an understatement!” Also, please continue to pray that the results of the biopsy I had done on my sacrum comes back benign.

Back to Bonnie. The WBC are still zero, the yeast infection appears more and more to be under control, the rash continues to expand and fill in, and the diarrhea frequency was once again very present this morning. Each day we look for something new to hang onto in order for Bonnie to find the “physical” strength to battle the weariness of fighting the frustrating unchanging status. It’s easy to set ourselves up for unmet expectations which then makes recalibrating our thoughts more challenging and difficult when those expectations don’t pan out. I recall when we were first admitted on May 12th that our team of doctors said “best” case scenario would be three weeks in the hospital. Bonnie erroneously latched onto the hope of three weeks which now has extended into no end in sight at the present time. Bonnie just wants to be at home (so do I).

Please pray that Bonnie will not be weary of fighting the battle. For any of us, waiting day after day for an answer to prayer and a clear direction on God’s plan for our life can be difficult in any situation. Waiting day after day for a clear direction on God’s plan for Bonnie’s life, factoring in all the fatigue and major health issues she is facing becomes wearying to her and puts her in a precarious position where she becomes most vulnerable in her spiritual strength. Thus far Bonnie has been a rock when it comes to trusting where God has her, yet as time passes by it is easy to be lulled into doubt, fear and lack of trust. Satan knows where Bonnie is vulnerable and will subtly attack that area of her life to cause her to stumble in the spiritual strength she has exhibited thus far. My prayer for Bonnie and I is found in 1 Peter 5:6-11:

“Humble yourselves, therefore, under the mighty hand of God so that at the proper time he may exalt you, casting all your anxieties on him, because he cares for you. Be sober-minded; be watchful. Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour. Resist him, firm in your faith, knowing that the same kinds of suffering are being experienced by your brotherhood throughout the world. And after you have suffered a little while, the God of all grace, who has called you to his eternal glory in Christ, will himself restore, confirm, strengthen, and establish you. To him be the dominion forever and ever. Amen.”

Please pray that: (1) we will remain humble before God, (2) continue to pour out our anxious feelings to Him, (3) that He will put a shield around us from the devil who would like nothing more than to see us fail in our trusting God, (4) that God will show us how our suffering is minimal compared to the suffering of others and (5) that God will, in His timing, pour out His endless grace upon Bonnie and our family. Thank you for your faithfulness in praying for our family.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Today we saw some glimmer of hope with Bonnie’s prognosis. Another day has gone by and no growth in the blood cultures looking for the yeast infection. It doesn’t mean Bonnie is out of harm’s way as of yet, but it certainly is major step in that direction. The physicians have seemed to find the right combination of antibiotics and antifungal medicines to protect Bonnie during this vulnerable period.

Another praise is the long intervals she is now experiencing between bouts with diarrhea. She had several four hour time segments where she was able to enjoy the peace of mind that she didn’t have to fear the quick awkward jaunt to the bathroom.

The rash continues to spread on her body. About the only area of her body not covered is her face and scalp. She says it doesn’t hurt or itch, but helping her with changing gowns and using the bathroom, I (Steve) am pretty much the only one who regularly sees a large portion of her body and it is painful for me to see it. Please pray that this will subside, not hurt nor itch.

I guess I should mention that I (Steve) had my biopsy this morning with results due next Monday or Tuesday, so please pray that the results are negative. I’m just a little sore from where they went in with the needle, but other than that it hasn’t limited my attention being focused on caring for Bonnie.

I coaxed Bonnie out of the room today in a wheelchair for about an hour so she could watch the activity on Michigan Avenue in front of Sparrow Hospital. Between this and having a couple of family members visit, she had a reprieve from the normal boredom. Even with the change in scenery and activity, she has minimal strength to keep her eyes open during conversations and I have to assist her sitting up and getting out of bed. Please pray for her to have strength and determination to force herself to get up and do some activity, even if it is minimal.

We continue to wait upon God’s timing to reintroduce white blood cells into her body, so for now we remain patient and content knowing that God’s character and nature are perfect and holy and He is incapable of making a single mistake, including the leukemia Bonnie is battling. Someone might say “How could a loving God allow something like this to happen to Bonnie?” or “Why do bad things happen to good people?” What makes us think we are entitled to a life free of adversity? Adversity builds character. The question is what kind of character does our adversity build? Is it a character that can rejoice in all circumstances or a character that creates resentment toward God and says “I don’t want anything to do with you? Character in some respects is the powertrain/engine of our lives. If you think about the powertrain of your vehicle, without it, it doesn’t run or if it is unserviced it risks failure at some point. Godly character is like a finely tuned powertrain that impacts every aspect of our life: Our obedience to God, how we treat others, what we do with the talent and resources God has blessed us with, and in our case, how much strength and power we draw from a God who has an endless supply of this as part of His character and nature. Adversity is good. It is a barometer of where we stand with God. I’m not saying we have arrived by any stretch of the imagination. We have our moments and our weaknesses each day as we wrestle with the challenges before us, but God has strengthened us beyond belief. Isaiah 40: 28-29 gives us a glimpse of God’s character:

“Have you not known? Have you not heard?
The LORD is the everlasting God,
the Creator of the ends of the earth.
He does not faint or grow weary;
his understanding is unsearchable.
He gives power to the faint,
and to him who has no might he increases strength. “

My mom (Steve) mentioned a verse to me today from Proverbs which also is a barometer of sorts to challenge each of us: Proverbs 24:10 says:

If you faint in the day of adversity,
your strength is small.

Call upon God for strength. Don’t wait for the day when adversity hits. The transition from smooth sailing to rough seas isn’t easy, but when it comes, and trust us, it will come, you will be prepared and ready to adjust and the boat might take on water and be tossed about, but it won’t capsize. Instead you will find your faith and trust in God, as it is tested, even stronger and more meaningful than you will ever imagine. That is the essence of what we experience daily – the joy of knowing God is at the helm.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009


Another day in the life of our temporary home here at Sparrow Hospital. After a somewhat nerve wracking night where Bonnie’s fever climb to over 104 degrees (the highest since we have been here) amazingly God blessed us with a fair amount of sleep. Bonnie’s sleep as it turned out was a little cooler than mine thanks to a cooling blanket that was laid on her in an attempt to reduce her fever. This evening has been more of the same as her temperature climbed to over 102 degrees.

The nurses have been trying to get two units of blood in Bonnie tonight but because of the fever there were a couple hours of delay while every attempt was made to reduce her fever. It is amazing how quickly it can change. When I ran down to the cafeteria to pick up food to go, Bonnie’s fever was in the high 98 degrees. I came back 25 minutes later and it was 101.7 and climbing. For over four hours tonight she had the cooling blanket on her with only a thin sheet between her and that blanket which was set at 45 degrees. Needless to say she was miserable and the time couldn’t go any slower for her. Fortunately her fever dropped below the threshold so the nurses were able to complete the transfusions. Now we’re waiting for platelets, but watching to see if her temperature is stabilized.

Her WBC count is still at zero which means another day of waiting and another day of being susceptible to infection. We did receive some promising news from the Infectious Disease physicians however. It appears the yeast infection is not gaining ground as the cultures they took two days ago are still negative and show no signs of positive growth. They expect there will still be some growth in the culture, but the delay means fewer yeast and a better chance that it will subside.

I (Steve) have a biopsy of my Sacrum tomorrow morning at 8:00 a.m. to determine what the mass is that showed up on both the MRI and CT Scan. I keep reminding myself that God doesn’t give us more than we can handle. It seems we are more frequently discussing this but at the same time reminding ourselves that God can use our situation in many ways. We have heard from so many that this blog has been an encouragement to others in their time of need. I find God’s timing interesting, as I have said before, God does not make mistakes. It isn’t a mistake that Bonnie is in the condition she is in and it isn’t a mistake that I may have some issues that will need to be dealt with in my sacral area. As I read every morning from Charles Stanley’s Daily Bible reading, I am amazed at the parallels of many of his commentaries to our situation. I have only shared a fraction of some of those comments and would like to share with you the following commentary Dr. Stanley had on a section of 2 Kings that I read today:

“Though there may be destruction and despair surrounding you, there is a foundation which stands as a mighty pillar that will never fall. It is God’s strength and your reliance upon God’s trustworthy character that will sustain you when everything else begins to crumble. When you trust in the faultless character of God and allow His Word to dwell in you richly, you will have a foundation established within you that will not be shaken. No matter what trial or opposition you face, the foundation of the Lord’s love and Word in your heart will endure He will help you. Make your heart tender, and humble yourself before the Lord, He will establish you, and by Him you will be mighty.”

Nothing can replace the infallible word of God for our source of strength and endurance; however God has given us timely comments from gifted people. It is no accident that he has used the knowledge of others to encourage and minister to us in this difficult time. Thank you for your continued prayers.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009


As the days and nights start to blend together (tonight will be our 36th night together here) it becomes a little fuzzy what has and hasn’t been shared in this blog. I (Steve) wished I had the energy and time to go back through and reread the daily blog posts to see what was and wasn’t shared, but for now that seems too daunting of a task to do, so I apologize if you find I’m repeating myself occasionally.

Today was a rather quiet restful day for Bonnie. At this point we are more or less in a holding pattern waiting for the white blood cells to start producing. Our physician has told us that it normally takes between 10 to 20 days after the conclusion of chemo to see the WBC start to produce in the bone marrow. It could be longer for Bonnie due to having two rounds of chemo. We are now on day 15 and still at zero WBC so Bonnie continues to be at “high risk” for infection. The yeast infection is still alive and well, but doesn’t seem to be gaining ground due to the antifungal medicine she is receiving. Once the WBC start to grow and reproduce they will fight the infection. This is the key and continued prayer request at this point. The remnants of the chemo have also caused a rash that is slowly consuming her entire body. Some areas are so intense and dense her skin is almost a maroon color. Other areas has the appearance of chicken pox. Some are raised and some smooth, yet thankfully none of them itch or are uncomfortable. The water sacks on her heels have popped (which is okay), although she needs to keep her feet protected at all times for risk of infection.

We are blessed to be surrounded by a talented team of doctors and nurses, including our lead oncologist/hematologist who came from Cleveland Clinic to Sparrow Hospital to help grow the oncology/hematology department. We are also very fortunate to have Bonnie’s brother who is a lead oncology surgeon at Mayo Clinic in Scottsdale, Arizona providing us personal insight as well as communicating with our team here at Sparrow and with Mayo’s hematology group. So we believe Bonnie is getting the best possible care and treatment, but also recognize that no matter how good these individuals are, only God heals. God gives each of us gifts and we are grateful to Him for the skill and knowledge He has given our team of doctors and nurses. Please pray for Dr. Srkalovich and his team that God will provide wisdom and insight as they continue to care for Bonnie.

In addition to Bonnie’s physical health, here is another way to pray for her. As I (Steve) have attempted to communicate, Bonnie has been very strong emotionally; however the past few days have been a bit of a challenge for her from an anxiety aspect. Surrounded by the four same walls combined with the mundane daily activities of blood draws, diarrhea, doctors staring and analyzing, laying in bed, the beeping of the IV pumps, countless oral medicines, changing of IV bags, hourly vital signs, trying to eat the cold cardboard with jelly (otherwise a toasted English muffin) for breakfast and the tasteless concoction of chicken broth, with diced chicken breast with spaghetti for lunch are beginning to challenge her contentment.

I must admit that it is easy for discontentment to creep in even with me. I think it was yesterday that I mentioned it is so helpful to recall specific sections of God’s word to remind us of His unfailing love, even in times of fatigue, turmoil and despair. I think about the story of Nehemiah in the Bible and Nehemiah’s fatigue, turmoil, and despair he must have endured returning to Jerusalem and seeing the devastation that was brought on by God’s people forsaking God and following other false gods of the day. And now God was calling Nehemiah to rebuild the wall around Jerusalem. Nehemiah’s opening line of his prayer to God acknowledging who God is, helps remind me of God’s sovereignty over everything and allows me to regain that inner strength to forge ahead each day knowing it is another day in our case of not rebuilding a wall, but the rebuilding of Bonnie’s bone marrow and blood cells. Nehemiah 9:6:

“You are the LORD, you alone. You have made heaven, the heaven of heavens, with all their host, the earth and all that is on it, the seas and all that is in them; and you preserve all of them; and the host of heaven worships you.”

Even though we are just a blip in the big picture of God’s creation, He knows us because He made each of us and we were made to worship Him, and Him alone in everything we do. So, please pray that as we continue to reside in this hospital room with the ongoing mundane activity and distractions, that our eyes will remain fixed upon worshipping God just as “the host of heaven worships Him”.

Monday, June 15, 2009


Today was pretty much status quo with Bonnie. Her platelets and hemoglobin were low so she got a unit of platelets and the first of two units of red blood cells (we’re waiting for the second). Her temperature was fairly stable today ranging from the low 98s to the high 99s, which is a blessing. She normally spikes a fever into the evening hours and thus far she has kept it at bay.

One praise and one frustration took place respectively today/tonight. I’ll start with the praise.

As we have posted previously, Bonnie had the triple lumen port removed from her chest several days ago as it had been identified as a source of the yeast infection that she has in her blood. The peripheral IVs inserted into veins in Bonnie’s arms were handling the flow of fluids (antibiotics, antifungal, food nutrients, etc.) but the ongoing concern has been how long before the vein would “blow” and not be useable. Yesterday an IV technician said a few things to Bonnie about not having any more real options and this created a great deal of anxiety that has persisted for over 30 hours. Bonnie has been fearful that one of these would become useless in the middle of the night and every doctor coming to check on her always seems to look at the condition of the IVs. We have been told by the Infectious Disease physicians that she could not have another triple lumen port due to the yeast infection, unless there were no other options. This afternoon Bonnie’s main doctor assessed everything regarding this and gave the order for a new triple lumen which was a great relief for Bonnie. She is resting peacefully now knowing that there shouldn’t be any surprises related to the IV during the middle of the night. This was a huge praise and you could see the concern lifted from Bonnie’s countenance (even under sedation!).

The frustration today was Bonnie’s inability to read the words in her Bible. She easily could read the Bible verses on all her cards, the daily devotional books and the encouraging notes she receives, however the size of the type in her Bible was too small requiring a stronger pair of reading glasses. I scoured Sparrow’s pharmacy for a stronger lens, but finally found what she needed at Rite Aide.

It is so great to have God’s word available to us. When Bonnie was discouraged about not being able to read the words in her Bible, I tried to encourage her that for the time being she had all the wonderful note cards with God’s word written on it that she could find strength, comfort and joy in the interim. I told her that we are so incredibly fortunate as a country to have God’s written word so readily available to us and know that we are not going to be persecuted, jailed or even martyred for having a copy. The shame is, even with this freedom, we don’t spend the time in it like we should. It is so easy to get wrapped up in our everyday activities we have a tendency to put it on the shelf and only pull it off when we experience times of trouble.

If we expect to have a relationship with another individual the only way it will flourish is working on that relationship and understanding one another. The same goes for our relationship with God. The only way to begin to understand God is spending time regularly in His word. Many of you have been amazed at the incredible emotional and spiritual strength Bonnie has exhibited through this extremely challenging experience that has all but wiped her out physically, but not mentally. It is her relationship with God that sustains her. I can testify that she hasn’t kept her relationship with God in a box only to pull Him out along with the comforting verses from His word during times of turmoil and trouble. Her relationship has flourished because she spends time with God in His word regularly. These verses have deep meaning because she trusts God with her life. Does she have her ups and downs? Yes, but the “downs’ are quickly neutralized by the scripture she knows and keeps close to her heart day after day, year after year. She believes (as I do) that God has a greater purpose than this issue we are facing. God is good and He is right. He doesn’t make mistakes. So there is no mistake that we are staying in this hospital room for a reason yet to be seen. One verse that I have memorized in the past is from Joshua 1:8 and a fitting way to summarize the importance of immersing ourselves in God’s word to prepare for trials that we don’t plan for:

“This book of the law shall not depart from your mouth, but you shall meditate in it day and night, that you may observe to do according to all that is written in it. For then you will make your way prosperous, and then you will have good success.”

“Good success” is glorifying God in everything we do no matter the circumstances we are facing.

Sunday, June 14, 2009


Sometimes it’s hard to comprehend where to even start with an update on Bonnie’s condition. In one hour there is a praise for us to hold onto giving a source of encouragement and energy, yet the next hour brings a new challenge you don’t expect and it is difficult not to allow doubt to creep into your might wondering what God has in store. Today was one of those days.

This morning Bonnie had the privilege to be prayed over and her fever subsided without Tylenol from 102 degrees down to 98.7 degrees. Tonight her fever is back up at 101.4 degrees which triggered another chest xray and blood culture. As long as she has a yeast infection, she is going to continue to have swings like this. The blood cultures continue to confirm that the yeast is still running havoc in Bonnie’s body. The Infectious Disease physicians are running one last antifungal medicine and then there isn’t anything else they can do until Bonnie’s White Blood Cells start to produce.

Bottom line, we have two main prayer requests: (1) Pray that the yeast infection would disappear and (2) that the White Blood Cell count would start to show progress. The doctors have doubled the amount of Neupogen injections to promote the growth, but thus far she is still at zero as of the lab reports from earlier today.
One other concern is the peripheral IVs Bonnie temporarily has as a result of the removal of the triple lumen, which they believe was the source for the yeast infection. The IV specialists are having a difficult time finding good veins to insert the peripheral IVs and the fear is that her veins can’t handle the volume of fluids being pumped through her. Please pray these will last until we can get approval from all the doctors to do another triple lumen. They normally will not do a new one until they yeast infection has been eliminated. The whole ordeal is more or less a “Catch 22”.

A few of you have asked about my (Steve) situation with my back. Supposedly I have some sort of growth on my sacrum area that both an MRI and CT Scan has revealed. I will find out more tomorrow about the biopsy and when it is scheduled. Please pray that it is nothing and benign. We thought God has really been giving us an opportunity to put our faith to the test, which He has, but obviously we needed more refining. I mentioned to a couple of people today that when we said God won’t give us more than we can handle, I (Steve) sort of thought that maybe we had a saucer size plate that He would fill, but didn’t realize He blessed us with the main platter.

God ha s truly blessed us far beyond our ability to communicate in words the emotional intimacy that has been formed in this hospital room between God and the two of us. Something I (Steve) have yet to share thus far is a pray that I prayed back in February and March of this year. As many of you know, with homeschooling, May is one of the busiest month of the year and nothing is ever planned during this month as school is wrapping up and we have two of our kids birthdays that month. To compound things this year was having a graduate and all the extra activities that coincide with this phase in the life of a graduate. Earlier this year Bonnie had volunteered to handle ticket sales for a drama production that Cassandra was involved with. When Bonnie signed up in the fall to do tickets, little did she know the huge time commitment that would be required starting in February running through the play in April.

Needless to say, we were like two ships passing in the night and not having much in the way of quality time together. I found myself praying and asking God to give Bonnie and I quality time without interruption of the cares of the day and to give us the chance to spend together alone. It didn’t hit me until we had been here at Sparrow Hospital for about two weeks that I thought to myself, God answered my prayer. Not the way I wanted it answered though. Isn’t it interesting the amount of time we now have together alone each day and night in this hospital room. The opportunity to serve and care for Bonnie through very mundane things has created a level of intimacy between us that is absolutely incredible and indescribable. God is faithful to help us recall His promise of answered prayer, even in times when it appears He is distant. He isn’t distant, He is omnipresent and that is the comfort we hold onto day and night as he takes us on this journey. This morning I (Steve) read Psalms 73:23-26 which summarizes pretty good His closeness:

“Nevertheless, I am continually with you;
you hold my right hand.
You guide me with your counsel,
and afterward you will receive me to glory.
Whom have I in heaven but you?
And there is nothing on earth that I desire besides you.
My flesh and my heart may fail,
but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever.”

Please keep up the prayers. They are what continue to sustain us. Thank you!

Saturday, June 13, 2009


This is Cassandra, writing on behalf of my dad who, for a brief time this afternoon, occupied ER room #23 here at Sparrow. The back pain that he has been experiencing recently has been caused by a possible small mass (which the doctor referred to as an “abnormal growth”) on his tailbone that an MRI identified yesterday and was confirmed by a CT Scan today. The doctors have asked him to call them on Monday because they would like to schedule a biopsy of the tailbone to figure out what this is.

As for mom, she is hanging in there. She continues to smile every time us kids come to visit her and maintains her wonderful, cheerful, encouraging disposition. Her blood tests continue to come back positive for a yeast infection. We are choosing to believe that the new antibiotics that they are trying will be successful in killing this infection that is now running through her whole body. Also, the rash, which they have determined was caused by drugs and low platelets, is also still spreading. We know that our God is a God of miracles. He is fully capable of healing both Mom and Dad.

A verse I have been thinking about for a while now is 1 Peter 4:12-13.

“Dear friends, do not be surprised at the painful trial you are suffering, as though something strange were happening to you. But rejoice that you participate in the sufferings of Christ, so that you may be overjoyed when his glory is revealed.”

So often, I have the opportunity to talk to people about mom and what our family is going through. One thing many people have said to me is, “I just don’t understand why this is happening to your mom. I don’t know why it had to be HER.” The question that always runs through my head after that is, “why do you think that?” No one is exempt from something like this happening to them. Look at what Christ suffered for us! This is nothing in comparison. This verse has been a reminder to me that we live in a fallen world. We should expect that we are going to go through tough times. But even though it may be hard, God is the one who will help us through. He will never leave us. He will never forsake us. He will always be there.

Please continue to pray:

- That the yeast infection will go away completely. Mom has spiked a fever of 102.7 degrees late this afternoon, the highest she has had since she has been in the hospital. The Infectious Disease doctor expressed a concern of the yeast accumulating around the heart and in the lungs. They are trying a different anti-fungal (and last) option that will hopefully kill the yeast infection.
- That Mom’s white blood cell count would go up quickly, on its own. We cannot proceed with the bone marrow biopsy until it reaches the normal 10,000 count.
- That the biopsy on Dad’s tailbone would go well and that the results would be good.
- That we all would continue to place our trust in our mighty God and realize He is in complete control of this situation.

I also want to just say thank you to all of you who have made our family meals, sent my mom cards, or even just said that you are praying for us. The love and support that is surrounding us is overwhelming and so encouraging. The cards are starting to overtake the hospital room, to our great delight. Each and every Bible verse, inspirational quote, or word of encouragement is something that Mom looks forward to reading every day. We eagerly anticipate reading the new cards aloud, and then adding them to the walls and see how much they are filling up with your words of love. Thank you so much.

Today my friend Colleen and I were coming to the hospital to visit mom after an open house. We were driving into the parking ramp, discussing how many times I have been here in the past month and wondering what you have to do to achieve the “most frequent visitor” status here at Sparrow. We also pondered why the money-taking attendant is always so crabby and how fast you can possibly go over the speed bumps in the ramp. As we passed through floors one and two, we decided to go up to the top for a change of scenery. Coming out into the light on the sixth floor, it was as if a whole new world was opened up. Looking over the edge of the parking garage, the view of the Capitol building was breathtaking. At that moment, we realized that little everyday pleasures are passed up so often because of the busyness of life. I encourage you today to stop and take a second to look around and appreciate the blessings that God has placed in your life; stop and look at His mighty hand that is at work in all the little things.

Friday, June 12, 2009


To use a sailing analogy, spiritual strength is like a rudder that steers the course of the Christian’s life. Certainly there are a lot of other important aspects of one’s life, such as the moral compass to provide direction and a keel or centerboard to keep it upright.

But, spiritual strength is the character quality we are praying and striving for as we endure another day of unknowns and uncertainties with Bonnie’s disease. The rudder of Christ helps us to navigate the uncharted waters and guides us into the safe harbor.

It isn’t easy and the turbulent waves on occasion cast doubt in both of our minds, but with your notes of encouragement and prayers it opens our blinded eyes to see Jesus is in control of the situation. If He can control the actual raging sea as he drifted along in the boat with the disciples, he certainly can calm the winds of anxiousness and discouragement that Satan would love see set it. The evil one is just looking for the appropriate time where we are most vulnerable because that is where he likes to deceptively attack. Genesis 4:7 says:

"If you do well, will you not be accepted? And if you do not do well, sin is crouching at the door. Its desire is for you, but you must rule over it.”

Please pray that we “do well” to recognize that sin isn’t crouching at the door as long as we have so many praying for us.

And 1 Peter 5: 6 -10 says;

Humble yourselves, therefore, under the mighty hand of God so that at the proper time he may exalt you, casting all your anxieties on him, because he cares for you. Be sober-minded; be watchful. Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour. Resist him, firm in your faith, knowing that the same kinds of suffering are being experienced by your brotherhood throughout the world. And after you have suffered a little while, the God of all grace, who has called you to his eternal glory in Christ, will himself restore, confirm, strengthen, and establish you.

This verse sums up all aspects of the situation we are enduring with Bonnie’s leukemia and pending bone marrow transplant. We are humbling ourselves to him and cast all our anxiaeties on him In our situation it would be so easy to be devoured by our adversary and it is the spiritual strength and that rudder that steers us through the dangerous and uncharted waters.

We started the blog tonight with what we are clinging to as we continue to feel as if we are floating on a raft in the pacific ocean with no land in site, shark infested waters and a storm on the horizon. It may not be as bad as we’re making it sound, but today felt more on the ledger side of discouragement.

First of all, tonight we got word that the two blood cultures they were growing came back positive still for the yeast infection, which is not what we were expecting with the encouraging words we had received earlier today from the Infectious Disease physicians. Secondly Bonnie has developed a rash pretty much all over her body (mostly torso), be we are thankful it not uncomfortable and something she can endure.

One minute we believe we have cleared the hurdle and have conquered the milestone that the diarrhea has ceased and that we can find more freedom walking the halls and moving about. Today was a set back and very discouraging to Bonnie as she had thought she had cleared the corner on the intestinal issue. In fact it appears that my calculation on the number of “Depends” we used today equaled what we used at the height of the most critical time. Please pray the doctors will effectively collaborate on this topic and come to a reasonable solution to treat it.

In order for Bonnie to maintain a confidence in that boat with the strong spiritual “rudder” we spend a great deal of time in prayer and she surrounds herself with scripture and commentary that boost her encouragement. Everyday the number goes up, but she must have over fifty encouraging words of scripture she reads more than once a day. Secondly she has a number of commentary and books she use as strength and encouragement:

She started the day with Psalms 112:7:

He is not afraid of bad news;
his heart is firm, trusting in the LORD.

All in all, she reads 50+ bible verses each day
She has been fortunate to be provided with several devotionals and reads from them each day:

31 Days of Praise, Praying the Names of God, Praying through Cancer, Safe in the Shepherds arms, Keep a Quiet Heart, Calm my anxious heart , and a Deeper Kind of Calm.

Calm in the storm is key. Please continue to pray this for us.
Thank you!

Thursday, June 11, 2009


Two steps forward one step backwards seems to be the pace for Bonnie these past few days.

One of the “steps” forward was a milestone Bonnie achieved since the commencement of the intestinal issues which started over two weeks ago. She was able to stay stationary in bed from 12:30 a.m. to 6:00 a.m. this morning without getting up to run to the bathroom. This was a huge step in aiding Bonnie with more energy today. Our night nurse still had to come in almost every hour to change an antibiotic IV drip or other drip which woke Bonnie up, but she was able to roll over and go right back to sleep. The doctor continues to approve Bonnie to add more options to her diet in addition to clear liquids. Tonight she mixed in a chicken breast and spaghetti noodles into her chicken broth and finished it off with an orange popsicle. The additions thus far don’t appear to have a negative impact on Bonnie’s GI tract, which is an answer to prayer. The continued prayer is to have Bonnie intake enough natural nutrients through regular eating that the food bag on the IV tower can be eliminated.

The other “step” forward was the update we received from the Infectious Disease physicians that the most recent blood cultures came back negative. They are watching to see if there is any positive growth in that culture tomorrow plus in any new blood draw. The feeling is that this infection has been contained based on these results.

The one “step” backward is she started to have blood again in her stools which caused the doctors to order more platelet transfusions as well as red blood cell transfusions to boost her hemoglobin. Bonnie’s White Blood Cell count is still at zero, so she continues to be very susceptible to infection and on constant watch. Please pray that we will begin to see her key blood components begin to stabilize and renew on their own.

One other recent development that has been on the watch list for Bonnie is the reaction her feet and hands have had to the chemo. For the past few weeks Bonnie’s hands have been very sore, stiff, calloused and red as have her heels and the balls of her feet. On Tuesday this week, Bonnie’s hands started to shed skin, almost in a reptile type way and now has new beautiful soft skin underneath that is not painful. Her heels though, are not at the point where her hands are and are very sore. The entire heel area has a large water sack underneath this thick dry skin that has yet to erupt. The doctors want her to try to stay off her feet as much as possible so that these sacks don’t burst which could lead to infection. This is a source of discouragement to Bonnie because now that she has regained her strength and has courage to venture away from the room to walk her laps, she is now relegated to staying off her feet and doing isometric exercises in bed as an alternative. Pray that the water will dry up and the pain will subside enabling her to do her walking in the near future, possibly with a temporary cushioned insole in her shoe.

We have been asked a few times if we know when the next biopsy will occur. It is our understanding that once her WBC count is normal, around 10,000, then the biopsy will be completed with the hope that the remaining blasts in her bone marrow are 4% or less, which is considered remission. Assuming that is the case, we will then need to select the right clinic that will do the bone marrow transplant. Please pray for wisdom in where we have this done. There are really only three options in Michigan, two in Detroit and one in Ann Arbor. Once we start down the path of a transplant, it will be a very long process, which puts our current month long stay at Sparrow in perspective.

Overall, pray Bonnie will continue to be encouraged in the midst of these mini-trials and will maintain seeing the goodness of God in everything, including the many little quirks that pop up at the most inconvenient times, such as a weird rash in the middle of the night or a fever that spikes or the liver test they will do tomorrow morning. All these little things that pop up can be unsettling and we have to constantly remind ourselves that God knows about these little issues as intimately as He does about the leukemia in general. As God’s word says, he has numbered every hair on our head, so it is a comfort to know He values everything about us, as His creation. Psalm 72:12-14 is a good place to stop for tonight:

For He delivers the needy when He calls,
the poor and him who has no helper.
He has pity on the weak and the needy,
and saves the lives of the needy.
From oppression and violence He redeems their life,
and precious is their blood in His sight.

Bonnie’s blood and the trial we are enduring because of it, is precious in God’s sight. What could be a greater comfort than knowing this!

Wednesday, June 10, 2009


After what has seemed like days of updating this blog with difficult reports on Bonnie’s physical situation and complex explanations of her medical condition, today’s post is a little more upbeat and certainly less technical. It started with one of the best night of sleep since her intestinal issues commenced. We may have mentioned previously that her favorite sleeping position is on her side and that this option has been severely hampered due to it triggering frequent trips to the bathroom throughout the night. She has been relegated to sleeping on her back to extend the duration of sleep between interruptions due to IV changes and blood draws. Lately we have been getting 45 minute to 1 hour and 30 minute intervals of sleep. Last night she had two 3 hour intervals sleeping on her side last night which recharged her energy level which was very apparent throughout the balance of today.

Starting off the day with the rest she got, Bonnie was able to get a few laps in around the floor (we’ll come back to this), a visit outdoors on the patio along with a card game of rummy. She must not be feeling that well, because this is one of the first times I (Steve) beat her at the game. Most importantly she was able to sit on the couch for over two hours getting spiritually recharged by reading her Bible verses and other daily devotionals. If you wonder where she draws her spiritual and emotional stamina from it’s that, God’s word. We have always made God’s written word a priority in our life, but sometimes it’s as if our ship of life is cruising along and we take for granted that we have the security of the big anchor of God’s word drawn up ready to use on those occasions when we need to slow down our speed or steady the course. Not that the squall has arrived, there is such peace and comfort knowing that the anchor of God’s word is what is sustaining us and keeping us from being tossed about. We have security in Christ who is our anchor and know that no one can cut that line and that he will never leave us nor forsake us as long as we have put our faith and trust in Him. What more could we want or need as we face Bonnie’s cancer and pending bone marrow transplant with Him at the helm as well as the anchor.

Here are some specific prayer requests for the faithful prayer warriors out there:

1)Because the triple lumen had to be removed from a main vein due to it being the possible source of an infection, please pray that god will protect the peripheral veins in her arm from blowing out due to the quantity of antibiotics, antifungal and antiviral, plus minor nutrition bag all being pushed through it.

2)Pray that the yeast infection will be identified and eliminated.

3)Continue to pray that the interval between diarrhea will be minimized

4)Pray for wise choices as it relates to selecting the best possible institution for a bone marrow transplant. Michigan has three locations and one of the three has the designation as a “Center for Excellence” which sounds like it would be the best.

5)Continued prayer for our children Cassandra, Caleb and Callie (18,16 & 14) that God would reveal Himself to them in His word and that this drama would draw them closer to God and each other.

6)One side effect of the chemo (at least in Bonnie’s case) was an odd reaction to both her hands and feet. For several days she experienced an awful redness on her palms and fingers, as well as the sole of her feet. Both were sore, but now her hands are shedding and incredible thickness of skin revealing soft new skin below that is not painful (just soft – with the exception of the dry portion peeling off that would give one the appearance that she has some reptile tendencies.) On the other hand her heels are very sore and have fluid underneath what appears to be large callous. They are painful to walk on and the doctors want to avoid breaking the water if at all possible. The dilemma is that this limits the amount of walking she can do, but they discussed today about providing her with a special boot to help her cope in the interim.

It is so exciting to see God’s hand in this situation and we know that he has a greater purpose that we can’t see, but we do know that we belong to Him and He will never allow us to be snatched from his hand regardless of the magnitude of the trial.
Thank you for all your support. We will need it as we have roughly sketched in what a possible calendar will look like for the long term treatment and transplant. Continue to pray for endurance and lack of discouragement, as well as financial resources. Thank you for the many of you who have sent cards and notes. The nursing staff is blown away by the number of cards with encouraging words that we have tapped up on the wall as part of the many decorations.

God Bless!