A Marathon, Indeed…

Wow. What an intense week we’ve had. Here are the nuts and bolts:

Rich successfully completed his second set of 5 chemo treatments on Friday. It was a LONG week, driving an hour and back from Fresno each day, and about 7 hours each day at Kaiser. He is tolerating the chemo well…it’s making him very, very tired…and he has a terrible metallic taste in his mouth that is making food unappetizing…but that’s chemo for you. It has a million and a half random side effects, and he’s experiencing quite a few of them…but it also seems to be working at fighting his cancer.

Initially, Rich’s tumor marker/blood test was around 1150…the upper normal range is 235. His bloodwork last week showed that his new tumor marker numbers are at 279…an 80% reduction. The oncologist was very happy with this, and very encouraged. She said that Rich will still most likely do four full rounds of chemo, which will take us through the end of July.

This entire journey is becoming extremely tiresome and wearying for all of us. It’s just a lot to handle in all ways…physically and emotionally. The main things we’re learning are very simple: Take one day at a time; don’t look ahead; and focus on God and His plan in all of this. When I let my mind wander too far, or dream up things we cannot do right now, it gets frustrating. When I concentrate on demands of the individual day (or minute, or hour), I do much better. It’s also astonishing how, all of the things that seem so critical or overwhelming in normal life, barely show up on my radar right now… there are much more important battles to be won.

Last week had two major highlights:

1. Asher turned 3. If you’ve known us for less than 3 years, then you may not know about Asher’s crazy beginning. He was born on June 5, 2006, with a cleft lip and palate. We didn’t know about his birth defects until the day he was born. Having a baby with clefts means challenges with feeding; and a childhood speckled with corrective surgeries, two of which are performed in the first year. Here’s our blog from that time…(yes, it’s still online!)

10 hours after he was born, Asher mysteriously turned blue. The blue spells repeated almost constantly that first night, and he was transported to a level 3 nursery in Santa Clara, California…4 hours from where we live. They assumed that, since he had the clefts, there must be some other unseen birth defect in his body…with his heart, or his lungs. A long 2.5 week hospital stay, spent in 3 different hospitals, with 4 ambulance rides, culminated in a simple diagnosis: Acid Reflux. A dose of prilosec, and he was good to go.

Asher was my biggest story of God’s presence and faithfulness…until now. There were so many moments when Asher could’ve easily died…should’ve died…but God kept him safe. He was released to go home when he was 9 days old…no monitor or oxygen. That night, he was fine. The following morning, at 9AM, as we weighed him at the doctor’s office, we again watched him turn blue. God waited until we were in a place with oxygen to show us that all was NOT well with Asher..had that happened at home, I am confident Asher would not be with us today.

So, it was a wonderful thing to celebrate Asher’s 3rd birthday. We had a really low-key party at the park, with pizza and cake. But it felt important to celebrate the amazing boy Asher is…so happy…so full of ideas and words and funny thoughts… I love that boy! And it was also a celebration of God’s faithfulness to him…seeing Asher through 3 surgeries…his apnea…overcoming other hurdles that are challenges for cleft babies…I have never been so fully convinced of God’s presence, as when I have seen Him pouring his protection over my kids.

It helps to remember (and celebrate) how much He has poured protection over our family, at times like this…

2. Allison graduated from preschool. Now, I know, it may not seem like a big deal…I never graduated from preschool. High school? Sure! College? Yes! But preschool?

Talking to Allison, you’d think that it was a grand entrance to the rest of her life. She dressed in a blue cap and gown, sang, “This Little Light of Mine” and a song about “Fingerprints” that made all of the mommies cry…it was all very sweet…especially seeing her with all of her little preschool friends. They were so preciously excited.

Those were the high points…those and the fact that friends brought us meals all week; and two other friends cleaned my house for me on Friday, so I had a restful weekend for the first time in forever. Thank you all! Wow! We are so blessed by you!

Prayer requests for this week:

Safety in traveling to Fresno and back on crazy Highway 41. Thankfully, we only have to go to Fresno once this week…on Tuesday for a quick chemo treatment.

Rest for all of us


That we keep our eyes focused on God, and all He is doing through this…and not the frustrations and challenges of our current situation.

Thank you so much for your prayers! We’ll post more as we know more!

Love, Susan

2 Responses to “A Marathon, Indeed…”

  1. Beth and Mikie Says:

    thanks for the beautiful and intimate retelling of your week. we are so happy for asher and allison, and praising god for rich’s declining tumor marker count.
    love you guys-

  2. Nettie & Tim Says:

    You two are amazing. Thanks for sharing with us. We continue to lift you up. Thought of you when I saw this prayer and wanted to pass it on:
    In this time of challenge, help me to be patient God.
    Let me not run ahead of you and your plans.
    Give me courage to do only what is before me
    And to keep my focus on You.
    I am tempted to think ahead to the future;
    However, the future is in Your hands.
    Thus may I be close to you in all my thoughts,
    Accomplish the task before me, and do it with all my heart.

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