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Saturday, January 28, 2012

What Matters After All

There has been a lot on my mind in 2012 and most of it as you know has to do with my son and the thousands of kids in our country and beyond who are fighting cancer. There is not a day that goes by that I don't say the word cancer because it is a huge part of my life now. This week however something else seemed to began to fill my thoughts and as I spoke with a few people about the matter I had to ask myself what do I truly feel about that? This hot topic can be such a sensetive subject that I don't even want to say what it is exactly but what I will say it is important because it is happening and will continue to happen. What I decided to do is read the story of the Prodigal Son in the bible as told by Jesus. Even if you don't read the bible or think it is true, this story gets to the heart of the matter for all mankind on just about every level. Please read and put yourself if his shoes and then decide whether or not you could also play the part of the son's father when you are faced with difficult people.

The Prodigal Son

And He said, "A man had two sons. The younger of them said to his father, 'Father, give me the share of the estate that falls to me.' So he divided his wealth between them. And not many days later, the younger son gathered everything together and went on a journey into a distant country, and there he squandered his estate with loose living. Now when he had spent everything, a severe famine occurred in that country, and he began to be impoverished. So he went and hired himself out to one of the citizens of that country, and he sent him into his fields to feed swine. And he would have gladly filled his stomach with the pods that the swine were eating, and no one was giving anything to him. But when he came to his senses, he said, 'How many of my father's hired men have more than enough bread, but I am dying here with hunger! I will get up and go to my father, and will say to him, "Father, I have sinned against heaven, and in your sight; I am no longer worthy to be called your son; make me as one of your hired men."' So he got up and came to his father. But while he was still a long way off, his father saw him and felt compassion for him, and ran and embraced him and kissed him. And the son said to him, 'Father, I have sinned against heaven and in your sight; I am no longer worthy to be called your son.' But the father said to his slaves, 'Quickly bring out the best robe and put it on him, and put a ring on his hand and sandals on his feet; and bring the fattened calf, kill it, and let us eat and celebrate; for this son of mine was dead and has come to life again; he was lost and has been found.' And they began to celebrate.

Jesus told this story because he wanted to show people how deep God's love was for his children. He wanted the spiritual leaders of the time to realize that the people that he surrounded himself with needed this love like a sick person needs medicine. The tax collectors and prostitutes that Jesus befriended were looked down upon by the religious authorities and Jesus wanted to open their eyes. These Pharisees and spiritual leaders who have always obeyed God's written laws were acting like the Prodigal son's brother.

"Now his older son was in the field, and when he came and approached the house, he heard music and dancing. And he summoned one of the servants and began inquiring what these things could be. And he said to him, 'Your brother has come, and your father has killed the fattened calf because he has received him back safe and sound.' But he became angry and was not willing to go in; and his father came out and began pleading with him. But he answered and said to his father, 'Look! For so many years I have been serving you and I have never neglected a command of yours; and yet you have never given me a young goat, so that I might celebrate with my friends; but when this son of yours came, who has devoured your wealth with prostitutes, you killed the fattened calf for him.' And he said to him, 'Son, you have always been with me, and all that is mine is yours. But we had to celebrate and rejoice, for this brother of yours was dead and has begun to live, and was lost and has been found.'" 

This father was so happy for his son, althought losing everything he had been given as an inheritance, was still alive. The big brother did not understand that and wanted him to have a place with the slaves, but since he was still a son, he would get everything that his Father was willing to give.
I don't know about you, but I am glad that Father did what he did because I know that whenever I have an "epic fail" in my life, God will always welcome me back as a son and not an outsider. I think we should find the truth in this story and apply it to our everyday struggles with difficult people. Just think to yourself that you have been cured, and you have the medicine to help others, but be aware that you could relapse and become sick again unless you listen to the Great Physican's story and believe you are healed.
Listen to these lyrics from a song preformed by Carrie Underwood, because Love is all that matters... after all.

Sunday, January 22, 2012

The Numbers are In

This year is already looking like its going to be a year to celebrate. With all that is going on in the world surrounding our kids with cancer, I am looking up and looking ahead. Sometimes some ugly things happen to get people more motivated than every before and the bomb that the ACS dropped on the parents of kids with cancer has lit a wildfire that cannot be contained. I am excited to announce some numbers that will get peoples attention as numbers usually do and I want to take this opportunity to let you know how important numbers can be in getting people's attention. The numbers 46 and 7 seem very small but as many people are becoming aware of kids with cancer, they realize that 46 families will receive a diagnosis of cancer today and 7 families will be devastated because cancer has taken their child's life. That's not something you hear on the news everyday but more and more people are getting the word out that these numbers are very important. Since my son was diagnosed with A.L.L. a cancer of the blood last July I started writing in my blog and saw nearly 5000 hits on my blog in the first month. Many people wanted to hear what was going on and I wanted to be the one to tell them and thanks to technology I could let my voice and our families pain be heard. Now I have 10,000 hits from almost every state in the country and in many parts of the world.

When I saw that people were concerned and wanted to know more I started a page for my son on facebook for a quick look inside his journey. Today 700 people subscribe to his updates and pray for him daily. Since people were paying so much attention to my son, I started to see other kids pages popping up and wanted to know more about them. When I saw how many people had pages for their kids I wanted to help gain attention to them and I created my first facebook page to promote awareness for them. The Red Carpet Kids for a Cure is a special page where we not only update but we Celebrate our kids and the journey they are on as they fight for their lives with unprecidented courage and faith. Their stories need to be heard above all of the worthless drama that the entertainment industry shoves down our throats every day. Our kids are our superheros and we want to see them win. This page just got to 500 as I was writing this.

I started to notice a lot of those 'copy and paste' messages that say "if you know someone with cancer....copy and paste this to your status for one hour." I felt like these people wanted to be heard and that they wanted to shout it out with their own words. I started the facebook page Speak Up to Silence Cancer and I want people to use their freedom of speech to cry out as if going into battle against this enemy. There are more than 100 people that have spoken up and hundreds more that can take advantage of this opportunity to silence this killer and theif.

Numbers draw peoples attention and I want to see numbers grow as awareness for kids with cancer goes viral this year. Take advantage and overwhelm facebook, twitter and google. LIKE every post, page and comment and people will start to take notice. My goal is to see 1000 LIKES on every kids page. We can't let our kids keep dying because the people with the resources to fund research in this country haven't heard our voices.

Friday, January 20, 2012

The Storm Rages On

This week our weather may have made national headlines. It was raining like it usually does during Oregon winters, and it didn't want to stop.
Just last month we may have broken a record for the least amount of rain in December, but 3 inches poured down in the last week. That left several feet on the mountain ranges east and west of the Willamette valley where skiing must have been great. Just about a week ago there was some more fresh snow and we saw snow on the valley floor for the first time this year, but it didn't last long. The freezing level rose back up so high that the highest ski resorts on Mt. Hood even saw rain. That's when the flood gates opened and 8 inches poured down over Salem in less than 3 days. If anyone experienced the devastation back in 1996, then 2012 brought back a lot of memories. One memory I have was when I lived in Vancouver, Wa right above Klienline lakes which were twin lakes on each side of I-5. The Salmon Creek flowed around both lakes and was small enough to cross almost anywhere on foot. In 96' the creek filled up so fast from rain and snow melt that it breached the east lake and flood the park on the west side. My house was just above the west side and a friend and I wanted to go down and see the damage. It was very wet and I knew I would find my self up past my knees, so I put on my wet suit on that I used to go boogie boarding with. We went to the park and we were standing under a covered area with concrete and tables. Just then as the water was rushing over the concrete pad, the pad gave way that my friend Nathan was standing on and he started to go into the rushing water. I reacted quickly thanks to the fact that I didn't mind getting wet and reached out to grab him. It all seems like a dream still, but I think I saved his life that day.  I use to like water a lot, but now I don't take any risks like I use to, but I did go looking around today to see some flooding.

Tonight I was thinking about how that Willamette river that goes through Salem and Portland was not at its highest level until a day after it stopped raining. The city of Salem and Turner were flooding well before the Willamette crested today but another wave of destruction was looming. This all paints a picture of what happened tonight in my home because of the way cancer has been like a storm. Lately since my son Lincoln has been on steriods he has needed every other minute of our time. Just when we think we have him comfortable and we can catch a breath, another wave of water comes over us. We have learned to fight the current and keep afloat, but tonight I feel like the river crested when my daughter felt overwhelmed by what was happening. As we were trying to help Lincoln and meet his moment to moment needs to keep him from breaking down for the next 20 minutes, Emma disappeared into her room. When Lincoln was finally distracted playing my iPod I went into her room and found her crying. I knew right then that her heart was breaking. She has had some trouble making friends at school and she felt very alone as we were trying to sustain Lincoln's needs. At that moment I felt like I had drown in the flood that started July 1st. I hate cancer with a passion and I know a lot of people that do too. We fight for our children every minute of every day and we don't want to waste a moment making memories, but sometimes we are overtaken by the storm that rages on.

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Being Aware should not be Rare

Lincoln woke up this morning and we noticed he was shivering like he was cold. He didn't sleep very well at all and we were concerned enough about him yesterday that we took him to the ER, but that was because the clinic was closed. The doctor told us today that his blood counts were very low but not too low and if he didn't have a fever he probably didn't have an infection. It was most likely the chemo. I remember how bad it was during the first month with the steriods and this is very similar. Its something you never want your child to go through, but for Lincoln his conditions seem Rare. The reason I say that they are rare is because he is doing so well. I have read countless stories of kids with cancer who are suffering beyond belief. Don't ask me how I do it because it could be so much worse. There are so many kids that are living in a hospital in isolation because of they are having a bone marrow transplant. They are hundreds of miles from home or in constant pain and on a morphine drip because of neuroblastoma. There are those with no hope at all because they have an inoperable tumor called DIPG and there are those who are dying because their chemotherapy if failing to do what doctors have to Hope will work. Pediatric cancer is so underfunded because of lower numbers. Breast cancer may have some 200,000 new cases each year and kids only 30,000 but that doesn't mean kids with cancer are RARE.

Just yesterday I read a blog that said children with cancer was exceedingly rare. This coming from someone who is an advocate for curing cancer. I admit that throughout my life I had only known of 2 children, that I can remember, who had cancer. Now that my son has a cancer diagnosis I am fully aware. I don't want this to have to happen to other people like it did to me, so I am on a mission to make people aware. I may sound like old news by now and thankfully I don't have much urgent news with my son, but there are hundreds of children that I follow now and share their stories on my facebook pages and blog. The author of this blog was so insensitive that you would think he did not even have children, but now he is aware that childhood cancer is not rare because of the outcry of parents and supporters of these dying children. People also need to realize that when there are donations made to raise funds for cancer research, there is very little that goes to actual pediatric cancer research. If you are going to donate or raise awareness and lead others to donate, you need to know where that money is going. The society that this blogger belongs too allegedly only gives 1/2 a cent of every dollar raised to research for childrens cancer research. Now there are non profits that are committed to giving 97-100% to research because some of these methods are 40 and 50 years old.

I will be researching more and adding links for a cure on my blog soon so you know where your money goes. My sons journey is not over yet and anything can happen with cancer. Remember it is the number 1 killer of kids, will you help me fight for my son and for other children?

Sunday, January 15, 2012

Cold, White and Wonderful

This weekend there was a lot of talk about snow in the forcast in the Pacific North West. Every year we hear the same thing and every year we get the same results.

Sunday, January 8, 2012

The Game Changer

2012 been an interesting year so far for my family and I. Lincoln started steriods at home and has had some expected changes in his behavior. Fortunatly he never had too much of a temperature or swelling like the first month, but he had plenty of ups and downs emotionally as his body endured this round of chemotherapy.  He has been detoxing this weekend and its been like fingernails on a chalkboard at times but he is getting through it. He has one more week back on with the same dose and then we will find out more about the treatment plan. Its so hard to see 6 months down the road when you first face something that you never thought could happen, but here we are and in 6 more months he will be able to live somewhat of a normal life again. The doctor, the hospital and all of the people praying have our thanks forever, but we will still need your help as long as there is the smallest chance that he could relapse. I read about kids all over the country who have have major things happen with the same type of leukemia that Lincoln has and I know that anything is possible. Now that we have gone through the worst part of treatment we want the best to come.

My daughter has been suffering a lot of anxiety this last month. Emma is 7 1/2 and is in the 2nd grade at the school nearby. She has been riding the bus for a couple years but has been asking for a ride since before Christmas. I don't know what has brought it all on exactly since she seemed ok for the 8 weeks before Christmas when Lincoln was going to the hospital every other week. Now she says she can't breath and thinks she is going to die, but we think most of this is just an act. She thought her throat was burning awhile back but we took her to the doctor to have her checked but the tests came back negative. She has also been sleeping in our room for a few weeks now, but I am also back in Lincolns room by request every night.

It feels like the weather last month where it didn't rain much at all, but there was a heavy constant fog that was keeping us from navigating through all of this clearly. I try to keep my focus on the fact that it is a new year and there are so many kids that I need to help capture the world's attention.

Today I saw something that seemed to lift the fog for at least awhile. I was watching the NFL playoffs and even though my favorite team wasn't playing, I was routing for my favorite players. This one player, whom I won't mention by name, was praying for a win against a team that had won the Superbowl a few times. I was routing for him because I found out he has a foundation called the Tim Tebow Foundation. This quarterback of the Denver Broncos, whose name I won't mention, has visited a couple of kids that I know who have cancer and I saw the pictures of them Tebowing while Chemoing. I was just thinking to myself how great it would be for these kids to see their favorite player win the football game and how much it would be a Game Changer in their therapy to help them fight their disease. Not many high profile players would do as much as he did with all of their fame and glory, but he did.....and now Aaron Rogers and the Green Bay Packers can win the Superbowl for me.....but until then I hope to see more of this unmentioned player and be able to say with my son IT'S TEBOW TIME!!