Monday, July 16, 2012

It's been a while but I just gotta.

 I just gotta share that 
"Life is Good"

In the Winter of 2005 my dad was diagnosed with AML or Acute Myeloid Leukemia. His treatments were horrible and he was miserable. But they worked and he went into "remission".

Remission sadly only lasted for about a year and a half. When I found out that he was sick again, I was heart broken. I didn't know if he was going to choose to undergo horrible treatments again or if he was just too tired. He was tired, really tired but he fought on. And he fought hard. 

In the Spring of 2008 my dad had a bone marrow transplant. To aid my dad in his fight with AML he had an army of people; his family, his team of brilliant doctors and nurses, and JASON.

We didn't know Jason as Jason, to us he was "the donor". Although we didn't know him, he filled our thoughts and our prayers. We prayed for him, not only for his safety but also that he would somehow know how grateful we were for his sacrifice.

Here it is Summer of 2012 and my dad is healthy. And I am ever so grateful for that.

And today my dad met Jason.

Mike my healthy dad, Dinie my beautiful step-mom,
and JASON "the donor" and life saver.

While my dad was sick e-mails were sent out to friends and family by Dinie and they always ended with
"Life is Good".

I saved every single one. I cherish those e-mails and am going to share a couple.

We had the pleasure of having Mychael-Ann with us from Sunday to Thursday this week. She and Dixie and Ben (the out-of-towners...not to mention the many in-towners) have been taking good care of us! Mike did well until Wednesday when he came down with a fever and had to return to the hospital. He's been receiving antibiotics and other medications to make him more comfortable. He's had some pain meds that make him pretty woozy and he's actually been pretty entertaining...we've been writing the funny things he says on his room bulletin board! We'll let you know IF he actually does get to help unload patients from Pegasus (the helicopter with the landing pad just outside his room). Today (Saturday) he is feeling better and was even sitting up in his chair for a bit.
We have fabulous news from MCV...he has greater than 150 potential donors from the donor bank!!! This is a great number which means they get to pick the cream of the crop! His doctor from MCV has also decided to have our kids tested so they will be receiving a kit with a cheek swab and will be tested for their donor status. There is a less than 2 % chance that they will qualify but still worth checking.
Thanks to all of you who have sent Mike (and me)'s just great to open well wishes and encouraging words and really, it means so much to our family to be sustained by our friends and family. ~life is good~

Please celebrate this fabulous news with us...MIKE IS IN REMISSION!!!
This means that the official donor search is on! We do know so far that Jay, Cori and Mychael-Ann are not matches and the other kids are still pending. We will keep you informed!
Sadly it also means that he begins chemo again :-( he started on Monday and will continue through this week. The good news is he is doing his chemo outpatient this time :-) That makes it a little more tolerable.
We also are happy to report that the bone marrow drive was a great success. We had over 30 people join the registry and we have additional kits that are already paid for (thanks to donations from friends, family, and the community) just let me know asap if you are interested.
My friends from work put on a bake sale that was the mother of all bake sales! If you weren't there to really missed out! Thanks to you guys for your great work and btw I need larger pants now :-0
We are enjoying Cori's great company right now...5 short days but loving every minute of it! She keeps us laughing and she's the best dishwasher ever PLUS she rubs my feet :-) (not to mention she has been Mikes company during chemo)!
Mychael-Ann and her family are coming late Saturday night for the week so we're hoping, praying and crossing our fingers that Mike stays well for their visit.
Hoping all is well with all of you...thanks for your emails...we love and appreciate you...and remember...~ life is good ~
We are in the middle of a wonderful miracle! Mike breezed through his week of chemo at MCV and then breezed through a week of follow ups at UVA. He has had to have platelets transfused but other than that he's doing just great! He's actually wondering if they really gave him chemo...he should be losing hair but he's actually having to trim some interesting eyebrow formations and he really has had only mild side effects!
We really enjoyed having Mychael-Ann and Dana's company and help and as usual it is SO hard to say goodbye to our kids.
We're looking forward to Dixie and Cori coming home in March.
The other miracle worth mentioning is that we heard from our insurance company and they have approved the transplant! All we're waiting for now is to hear from the donor.
I'm beginning to think this might really happen!

~ life is good ~

The plan looks something like this...
Mike travels to MCV this Sunday, Monday and Tuesday to receive a drug to help prevent complications from radiation.
Tuesday they put in an additional "line" in his chest for IV access.
Wednesday he begins full body radiation- twice daily for 3 days.
Saturday and Sunday are chemo days.
Monday is a day of rest.
Tuesday is the day the donor chose to have his bone marrow harvested which means Mike waits for the marrow to be collected and flown to the hospital. If it arrives too late on Tuesday they will wait until Wednesday to do the transplant.
This is donor # 2 and all we know is that he is a 23 year old man who weighs 160# and his blood type is A+.
We sure look forward to the day we can share our gratitude with him.
Honestly...tonight it's feeling pretty scary.
I do have something cute to share with you though...for those of you who know Mike, you know that he has this beautiful, silky, gray hair. He's lost it twice now after chemo and it was expected to fall out with this last round of chemo in January. Well, not only didn't he lose any hair but it's been steady growing in and today I realized that even though MIke is trying his hardest (even with "products") it's not just all messed up in the's actually CURLY!!!!
I am SO excited!

Well, folks... this is what we've all been hoping and praying for.
I'll sign off with a plea and a disclaimer...
the plea...even though it's already been a loooong haul...I hope you will all continue to keep us in your thoughts and prayers, I have the feeling we'll need more now than ever before.
the disclaimer...if we've learned anything through this's that things aren't always what they appear! All of the above has the potential to change!
As of today this is our plan...we hope it sticks!
~ life is good ~

Just a quick note to let you all know that Mike is doing well! The transplant was quite boring actually...nothing more exciting than receiving a blood transfusion...and at this point that's a walk in the park for Mike! He did very well and had none of the likely side effects. He did get sick on transplant day but it was related to the chemo and other drugs he was given to prepare for the transplant.
Today he feels a little less perky than yesterday but thats no surprise as we know he will get worse before he gets better.
When I asked Mike what he wanted to say on here he said every day here is a day closer to getting out...even if it is a sick day! And then in a sad voice I miss my daggone friends. =(
I'm doing fine, just hate seeing Mike get sick. Write us when you get a chance, it sure is nice to hear from you all!
Love, Mike & Dinie

~ life is good ~

During this month of special focus on Thanksgiving, Mike and I want to express our gratitude for each of you! We have experienced the miracle of counting our blessings each day as we endured through the past year. We want you to know that this simple act of recognizing and expressing our blessings has given us both the opportunity to feel happiness, encouragement, love and most of all peace. We hope these will be gifts you too will experience in the coming year as you are faced with your own challenges- our hope for you is that you will not wait until a holiday or special occasion to count the many blessings in your life.
Mike had such a wonderful experience at the hospital last Wednesday!
The visit was pretty much routine...check weight , vital signs and draw blood, then wait til results come back and meet with the doc.
The thing that was so special this time was that when the doctor told him just how fantastic he's doing Mike really heard him! He's been doing very well and we've had some great comments made recently "months ahead of the average" "fantastic progress" and "you are really doing a remarkable job of recovery". Not sure why suddenly he "got it" but it was a great moment to be with Mike when he said- "did you hear him say how good I'm doing"???
The other "fun" thing is that he has started to receive his baby shots! He has to be vaccinated with all of the shots we give our babies and so far he's had 2 sets. The first ones must have been pretty painful because he whined er, commented for days about his sore arm. It's exciting because this gives him a wider open door into life!
Other than the fact that I have a horrible cold and he woke up today thanking me for "sharing" with him he continues to feel and look stronger each day! We joined a local gym and he's enjoyed that special challenge!
Maybe he's beginning to feel that 23 year old's blood pumping through him! He also is loving being surrounded by grandchildren and the opportunity to help our children in the care of their kids. What a wonderful blessing that is... If only I didn't have to work... being a full time grandma sounds pretty good!
We love each of you and once again thank each and every one of you for the special blessing you are in our lives. I think often we never realize just how meaningful our prayer, card, call, hug or smile has meant to please know from Mike and I and our famliy that your offerings of love are much appreciated.
Happy Thanksgiving!
~ life is good ~

Dear Jason,
I don't really think "THANK YOU" is strong enough. But THANK YOU!!
I wish I could have been there today when my dad got to meet you. I would have given you a hug. And I probably would have cried. (Just typing this makes me cry.)

Because of your sacrifice my dad lives. And my children have gotten to know their grandpa'. I will forever be grateful.

You gave our family the best gift ever! Life.  

You are indeed the "cream of the crop"!

With much love and even more gratitude and on behalf of my dad's entire family, I say THANK YOU and "Life is Good".

CoRi dAwN

PS. I think it's kinda funny but you look like my Uncle Ricky. Oh and also now my dad and I have the same blood type and I think that's pretty cool. So thanks for changing that for him.
This might be half of my dad's entire family and as you can see,
he is the center of it.

Be the Match!!
And join the Bone Marrow Registry.