Update #21 (July 17, 2020)

Since last time…

Since our last update, we have gone from the warm days of spring to the hot days of summer.  The boys finished school (online learning) on June 26 and have been swimming just about every day since then.  They are doing lots of fun things close to home with Mum, Grandpa and Grandma, and the Styles.  They are also finishing their workbooks for the virtual Manitoulin Youth Camp, which is scheduled to happen next week, God willing.

Micah celebrated his 8th birthday on July 4th.  It was Grandma Wilton’s idea to have a birthday drive-by for Micah.  It was so cute to see his surprised face as nine decorated cars drove past, beeping their horns!!  We had made bunny cupcakes to give to everyone as they drove by.

I (Dan) also went back to work on June 15, as the boys’ school was winding down, and the threat of COVID-19 seemed to be minimal in this part of the province at the present.

New Chemo – FOLFIRI

Linda started the new chemo regime on Tuesday, June 23.  We drove to Sudbury and Linda spent an exhausting number of hours receiving the IV treatments.  She had to go into the Cancer Centre on her own as visitors are still not allowed in because of COVID-19 restrictions.

The main part of the infusion is called Folfiri and this slowly goes in over the course of 48 hours.  So Linda came home with a “baby bottle” around her neck and the drip went in slowly.  It was a little challenging for her to shower and do everyday tasks, and the chemo knocked her out for about 3 days.  Thankfully she has had a little bit of relief from the terrible pain in her neck, back and stomach, so it seems that something is working.  She is still experiencing some new pain in her neck and continued deep pain in her groin that keeps her up at night, so each new day seems to come with new challenges.

Linda went on Thursday, June 25 to the Mindemoya hospital to have the IV bottle disconnected.  We are very thankful that the disconnection and subsequent treatments can all happen in Mindemoya.  This saves us a tremendous amount of driving.

Chemo #2 Cancelled

On Tuesday, July 7, Linda’s second chemo was cancelled.  She did bloodwork at the Mindemoya hospital on Monday morning and on Monday evening, the nurse from the hospital called and said that Linda’s neutrophil levels (white blood cell count) were so low that her chemo would not be going ahead the next day.  Her levels were 0.6 and usual levels for a healthy person are between 2 and 7.  They will not proceed with chemo if a person’s level is below 1.5.   This never happened with the first chemo regime that Linda was on, so this was a bit of a surprise.  Often Linda’s white blood cell count had been just OK to proceed with chemo, but never this LOW.  The nurse told Linda that if she felt unwell at all, she should call them immediately.  With a WBC count so low, the nurse said the body might not even produce a fever.  Even a common cold could put Linda in hospital with counts like this.

Unfortunately she still went to the hospital on Tuesday morning to receive the official word from Sudbury that chemo wasn’t happening and to have her PICC line dressed.

Some Plans Still went Ahead

Although Linda’s chemo was cancelled, the boys had been told that they were going to go with the Styles family to a cottage in Manitowaning for a few days.  So on Tuesday morning, they packed things up and headed off for 2 nights and 3 days.  They had beautiful weather for swimming, kayaking, biking and just having fun!  They also did some prep for Youth Camp, which the kids enjoyed.  Thanks so much to Tim and Hadassah for taking them and to Joe and Kim for the use of the cottage.  What was meant to be a quiet few days for Mum to rest and recover from chemo turned out to be a quiet few days to work on Youth Camp projects.  It has been a blessing to have lots of things to keep Linda busy and her mind off the sadness of life right now.  As those of you who know Linda, she loves doing things that encourage others in their spiritual walk in Christ.

Chemo #2 Cancelled Again

Then on Monday of this week (July 13), Linda did bloodwork again and, although her neutrophil levels had risen to 0.9, they were still too low to proceed with chemo.  Linda’s oncologist has now ordered that Linda be given some Grastofil injections to try to boost her WBC count, so we are hopeful that they will work and that the side effects will be minimal.  The next potential chemo date is Tuesday, July 28 if her counts have improved by then.  Linda had asked to have the week of July 20 “off” so she could enjoy the virtual Youth Camp.

Ongoing Challenges

As mentioned above, Linda still has some deep pain in her neck and groin.  She has continual discomfort in her stomach from the buildup of fluid (“ascites”).  Two weeks ago, she spent the afternoon at the hospital with the hopes of having this fluid drained and in the end after several attempts, the procedure was called off.  She has also lost most of her hair in the space of 5 or 6 days, after only just one treatment of the new chemo.  Yet despite all of this, Linda soldiers on each day, facing the challenges with courage and faith.  She has almost reached the breaking point a few times (and so have I), but faith and determination have helped her carry on.  And not just get through each day, but accomplish a lot for her family, for many others and at the present for the virtual Youth Camp.

Virtual Youth Camp 2020

Next week is the first ever Virtual Youth Camp, God willing.  There is a full program planned, with morning Bible readings quizzes and classes, afternoon activities and evening programs all online.  We are hoping to camp in the backyard and make it feel like Youth Camp as much as possible.  We’re even going to follow the Youth Camp menu!   We know it won’t compare to the “real” thing, but we pray it will be an enjoyable and uplifting week for everyone involved!

The Big Shave

One of Linda’s brothers, Benny, made a promise to Linda last fall that if she lost her hair, then he would shave his head.  Well he kept the promise and shaved his head this week … and raised $1,800 for Cancer Council Australia at the same time.  That’s true love to his sister!

Thank you

We thank everyone for their continued support and prayers, which help us to hang on.  We are especially grateful for those who keep giving and help us get through each day.  It can’t be long until our Healer comes to heal this world.

“Even so, come, Lord Jesus”  Revelation 22v20

This was a late birthday present from dear friends … a sign-post with places we have visited over the years and have a special place in our heart.  And no – we haven’t been to the North Pole, but they wanted one place that pointed north!  And we are waiting for that great day when we will soon be in Jerusalem!