Thursday, December 24, 2009
I seem to be close to miserable with tons of pressure in my head, sneezing, aches, chills and even jaw pain - huh? Anyway. Pray that tomorrow is a brand new day. It's CHRISTMAS EVE! Unless a miracle happens overnight I don't think I'll be singing tomorrow. Sad. :-( I was looking forward to being with my worship team family tomorrow night.
Ultimately though, this is a praise report! As of now no other family members have come down with anything. Keep praying that coverage. THANK YOU!
Wednesday, December 23, 2009
I still have so much to do before Christmas morning and I so want it to be Forester's best Christmas ever after the year he's had. Sickness was not part of my plan! Please also pray for me, that I can keep what really matters in perspective and not get too anxious about all of this. I am really good at getting anxious...
Thank you for your prayers. May God bless you!
Thursday, December 17, 2009
The results of Forester's hearing test showed that he has lost a little bit more in the higher tones. I was told yesterday it's possible for him to lose even more as a residual effect from the chemo. What can I say. It's very disappointing and I'm sad. I'm praying the hearing loss stops. I really don't want him to have to have hearing aids on top of everything else he's endured. I'm discouraged so I would really appreciate you praying in faith on my behalf. My faith in this area feels a bit deflated.
Tuesday, December 15, 2009
Monday, December 14, 2009
There isn't a whole lot to report. Things have been going smoothly and Forester is doing well. We're still trying to adjust to this new schedule of normalcy! After so much this year, I find it a little bit difficult to transition back into our old life. Of course, it will never be our old life because that was a life without a child with cancer. I was talking with another cancer-kid mom the other day and I said something like It's hard to imagine what life will be like when this is over. And she posed the question: "Is cancer ever really over?" I wasn't sure how to answer that. Forester will have MRI scans for the rest of his life. How do I not live in fear that his cancer will come back every time he gets a scan? Will it always define him? Will it always define us? I don't know.
Right now, we're working on transitioning Forester back into school by sometime in January. He has a lot of progress to make between now and then but I think we can do it. The biggest challenges for him will be stamina and schedule. He's used to taking a 2 hour nap everyday, eating whatever he wants whenever he wants, and in general, a whole lot of flexibility. We've started to cut out the naps and as of this evening Forester will finally be sleeping in his own room - not on the floor in our room like he has the last 10 months. Kinda sounds like I'm transitioning an infant doesn't it? All 3 kids in their beds by 8pm tonight sounds like a dream! Pray that it goes well. Forester wasn't too excited about leaving our bedside. He's become quite attached to his little space in the corner.
Forester continues to go to the hospital clinic once a week for blood labs and this week he'll have another hearing test. He'll have another MRI of his brain at the end of this month. He still takes a handful of pills 3x times a day but hopefully as time goes on the amount of pills that he needs will decrease. Accutane will start back up after Christmas.
Hard to believe it's less than 2 weeks till Christmas! Remember when you were a kid and it took forever for the month of December to go by? We've really enjoyed getting ready. We have a beautiful tree, lots of other decorations up and several Advent calendars. The boys love counting down the days until Jesus' birthday and Santa's visit! Forester keeps reminding me that we really need to move all of the stuff that's in front of the fireplace because it will be in Santa's way. They've even been a little nicer to one another as the Elf on the Shelf is watching...
We have so much to be thankful for this Christmas. I hope during all the busyness of this month, you have a chance to stop, look around and truly be thankful for all the blessings in your life.
Love to all,
Monday, November 30, 2009
One year ago today, I was extremely uncomfortable and anxiously awaiting the following morning so it would finally be the day my daughter would be born. Some of you remember I was hugely pregnant and measured 6 or 7 weeks ahead for the last 12 weeks or so of my pregnancy due to extra fluid. Plus, there was a big baby in there (9.2)! I couldn't wait to meet my baby girl. I was also a little apprehensive about being a mommy to 3 kids. Could I juggle it all? Especially with Pete's travel schedule? I definitely thought that adjusting to being a mother of three would be the biggest challenge I would face this year. Who knew only a few short months later all that would change. What a year it's been! I am so thankful for my beautiful, sweet sunshine, Slade Katherine, who has been a constant source of joy in the midst of such a trying year. Thank you, Lord for blessing our lives with her!
I hope you all had a wonderful Thanksgiving holiday. We had a lovely low key Thanksgiving here in Charleston. Forester had to go to the ER for blood labs on Friday because the clinic was closed but it was a relatively short trip and he didn't need any transfusions. Right now we are getting close to the end of his Accutane cycle so he's starting his monthly peel. His head and face, hands and a few other spots peel as if he had a bad sunburn and his lips get very raw and chapped. He'll stop Accutane on the 4th and thankfully his skin recovers within days of stopping the medicine. This will be the first time we won't be in the hospital for chemo during his last Accutane dose. It feels weird. We head back to the clinic on Wednesday to check blood counts again.
We got our Christmas tree on Saturday and I've been busy decorating. Last year I was so pregnant and then had a newborn so my family did most of the decorating for me. I'm really enjoying it this year. I love Christmas!
I'm working on a picture slide show of Slade's first year and I will post it tomorrow on her 1st Birthday! Sadly, Pete has to be out of town on business so we're postponing a party until Sunday. :-(
Got to get back to decking the halls!
Thursday, November 19, 2009
Wednesday, November 18, 2009
Anyway, Forester has been doing really well the last week or so. He's had only 2 vomiting episodes and for the most part has felt pretty normal. He received a blood transfusion and his very last Vincristine dose on Friday. Woo-hoo! And, guess what? (What?) We have another reason to be thankful! We were told a while back when Forester's legs were getting so bad and thought we would have to stop the Vincristine, that we shouldn't be too concerned because no one ever gets all of the doses of Vincristine. The side effects are just too taxing and at some point everyone has to skip doses or back off of it altogether. Well, Forester got all the doses of Vincristine! And, not only that, he still has reflexes in his legs, he's walking more normally than before and even doing some dancing on a regular basis! Can I get a Woot in the name of Jesus? God is rockin and working miracles all over the place. How can we not praise Him? How can we not fall on our knees and be thankful? My God is so good!!
Forester had another long day today at the clinic. He had to receive a blood transfusion again today and also a platelet transfusion. His ANC count is really low at .030 (normal is 2,000-5,000). Hopefully the GCSF Neupogen shots will do their job and his count will pop back up by his next appointment on Friday. It's so strange that these things have become normal and in comparison to other months this one is going very smoothly. We are excited about the fact that once his counts pop back up that they shouldn't go back down again. They're going to stay up! His hair is going to start growing back! Yippee! We really are approaching the finish line.
I want to thank you so much for your prayers. I believe with my whole heart that your prayers are reason our family and Forester has stayed relatively germ free through all of this (and so many other answered prayers!). Seriously. Think about it. Think about the last 9 months and how much funk has been going around. Think about how low Forester's counts have been and how susceptible he's been to picking up any illness. God is at work! YOU are witnessing miracles! You are a part of it! PLEASE do not stop praying for us! Sickness changes everything and we need to continue to pray protection over all of us from any illness. Thank you, thank you, thank you. I wish I could hug each and every one of you right now. God has blessed me through you. You have blessed our sweet Forester! I will be praying for you, thanking God for you tonight as I always do.
**sorry to those who got a double delivery of this post in their inbox. I had to fix a typo! I always miss at least one...
Monday, November 9, 2009
We're so thankful the hospital stay is OVER but we still have the roughest part of the month ahead of us. Tomorrow we start the GCSF shots. Forester's blood counts are going to go down. He will get one more dose of Vincristine on Friday and if trends continue, also a blood transfusion. Please continue to pray for us! Pray for me as Pete is now out of town on business until Friday. Please pray for protection over all of us against any illness. Thank you!
I will upload pictures soon.
We love you,
Whitney for the Bradburn 5
Friday, November 6, 2009
Forester's ANC jumped from .730 to 1300 in 2 DAYS! Miraculous! Am I surprised? No. Cause my God does stuff like that! Am I excited? YES! Let's get this last round over with! Prayers please for the smoothest treatment yet.
I'll keep you posted - tomorrow is the big birthday!
**HUGE thank you to our family inside our church family, the St. Andrews Worship Team. Pete and I were able to go downtown for a date last night thanks to them. We had a great time and it was a much needed. Thank you Grandma, for babysitting!
Wednesday, November 4, 2009
Today we were all geared up to start the LAST in patient treatment for Forester. When his blood counts came back this morning his ANC (absolute neutraphil count - white cells) was only .730. Normal is around 5,000. It has to be at least .750 in order to be admitted to start chemo. So, no chemo today. There isn't anything we can do at this point to increase his count so we just have to wait for it to go up on it's own. The higher his blood count when he starts the better. So, we'll just pray it really goes up! We return Friday morning to check his count again and hopefully it will be high enough for him to be admitted. They only downside to this, besides all of us being ready for this to be over now, is Forester's 8th birthday is on Saturday. We had really hoped he would be able to be home on his birthday and so did he. But, as I reflect on this, maybe it will be more fun in the hospital...minus the chemo part. Maybe he'll get lots of birthday wishes and special treatment from the nurses and doctors? I think I will make giant posters to put on his hospital room door and do my best to be obnoxious and tell everyone, IT'S FORESTER'S BIRTHDAY! ;-0 Hey, there is a positive side to every situation, right? Right. Forester seems to be fine with this change in plans which is pretty miraculous! Thank you, Lord. My little fighter rolls with the punches.
A few moments ago I was looking at some pictures from Forester's birthday last year. Ugh. It made my heartache to look into that happy face. He's been through so much since then. He's lost so much innocence, had to be so brave, had to endure so much pain and sickness and change. It seems like yesterday and forever ago. It seems like forever ago that he had hair! But yet, I believe with every fiber of my being that God has a greater purpose in all of this. Forester's story is just beginning. God is just in the beginning stages of doing miraculous things through the life of Forester James Bradburn.
Monday, November 2, 2009
Tuesday, October 27, 2009
We're trying to stay indoors as much as possible but please continue to pray protection over our family against any illnesses - especially the flu! Forester is in the high risk category and as I've said before we don't want anything to prolong his treatment! Thank you so much for your prayers and encouragement.
Monday, October 19, 2009
I'm so ready for all of this to be over for Forester and our family. Though I admit I can hardly imagine it! Really. It's so hard to picture a life without the hospital, chemo and shots, pills and analyzing blood counts and worry...but we'll get there. As we continue to run this marathon, we are all so weary and tired. I have to remind myself daily, keep one foot in front of the other, just keep going......
The end is in sight. Please keep praying for us.
Praying for all of you today who pray for us!
Thursday, October 15, 2009
Micah came down with a croupy sounding cough on Monday night, so Pete took him to Muzzy & Pop's for the day to keep him away from Forester. He never ran a fever but definitely has a cold. Slade woke up with a really yucky nose and cough yesterday morning. So far, Forester hasn't caught it. Pray he doesn't!! We're trying to keep the boys separated but it's hard to do these days. They really enjoy playing together. So, all day yesterday they wore masks just so they could play "Bionicles" and watch TV together! Very sweet.
Today Forester is at the hospital with Muzzy getting Vincristine (chemo) and also a blood transfusion. His hemoglobin is 5.9. That's low! 11-16 is normal. When he woke up yesterday he was so pale I just knew he needed blood. He's also been extremely emotional, crying several times a day over small things. I'm hoping maybe the blood will help with that too. So, it will be a long hospital day but he should feel much better by the end of today. We're still waiting for his white blood cell count to bottom out before it starts to recover again. I'm guessing it will bottom out on Monday.
Guess who is on the way here RIGHT NOW? Aunt Katie (my sis) and Jack (my neph)!! We can't wait to see them!! Forester just loves Aunt Katie and adores little Jack. It will help the next week go by fast. :-) Thank you, Lord, for sisters that rock!
Please pray for safe travels for Katie, quick recovery for Micah and Slade, and no more illness in the house! We are taking every precaution to protect Forester from the flu but I confess it still scares me. BUT, God is protecting him and us... I just need to TRUST Him. Pray that I will trust God in all things concerning Forester's care.
Thanks for all of your prayers for us. More soon.
Thursday, October 8, 2009
April made it safely here on Tuesday morning, and we've had a great visit together. She was able to go to Micah's soccer game with us and see Muzzy & Pop and Grand Do Do, as well as witness Micah scoring 3 goals! Then Grandma Kathie was so kind to watch the kids so Ape and I could go out. We had a wonderful dinner downtown at SNOB (Slightly North of Broad) and relaxed on the Vendue Inn Roof Top Bar. The weather was perfect, and the company was even better! I am so thankful to have her here and sad that she has to fly back home today.
Forester's round 5 began yesterday. As always, he had a hearing test first. The results this time were not what we hoped. Forester has had significant high frequency hearing loss as a direct result of the crucial chemotherapy drug, Cisplatin. As I have mentioned in previous posts, this loss is permanent - not temporary. As you can imagine, we were devastated by this news. If we have to make a choice between returning cancer or hearing loss, of course we would choose hearing loss. But who wants to "choose" either one at all?? Who doesn't want their child to be completely whole? He's been through so much already, he's endured so much already....not this too. I think I am particularly heartbroken over this because I have prayed constantly that God would protect him from this. I have asked all of you to pray, and I constantly remind my closest friends to pray about his hearing. We had several people pray over him at church specifically asking God to protect him from this. These sad results are common, but I truly believe that God is bigger than that. I do! So, why didn't He do it? Why didn't He answer my prayer and protect him from this? My sweet boy, who feels music in his bones, who loves to sing and dance, who wants to play the piano and drums. Hearing is important to us all but especially so for this musical family and this musical boy. I know that God's ways are higher than our ways. I know we cannot understand the mind of God, but to be honest, I feel heartbroken by Him. I feel like I put myself out there, believing wholeheartedly in His protection, and He broke my heart. I truly believed this wouldn't happen. I feel the fool. Do I love my Jesus any less? No. Do I believe that God IS who He says He is? Yes. Do I still trust Him? Yes. Do I believe that God can restore Forester's hearing? Absolutely. But, am I hurting? Yes. Do I understand it all? Never.
Forester's Cisplatin dose was reduced by 25% in hopes of preventing any more damage to his hearing. We asked about the ramifications of stopping Cisplatin altogether, but we were told by his doctors it is crucial for treating Medulloblastomas and especially crucial in Forester's case since his tumor was anaplastic. I will continue to beg you for your prayers. That this 25% reduction will keep him from having any more hearing loss. Pray that the amount that he has lost will be restored. That he won't need hearing aids. Pray for my broken heart and for the strength to continue to watch my child endure this horror for the next 2 months.
Due to Forester's specific gravity in his urine (too concentrated) they had to have him on fluids all day yesterday and chemo didn't start until midnight. This means an additional 12 hours or so in the hospital. This made Forester very sad as he is always anxious to get home as soon as possible. We hope he will be discharged by Sunday night. Please pray for Forester's spirits and that the time will go by fast for him. Pray that he won't have severe vomiting like he did last month. Ugh. Just pray.
Thankful for another day in spite of my tears,
(pictures from yesterday)
Friday, October 2, 2009
But, I am so excited that April is coming for a short visit next Tuesday-Thursday!! (Forester enters treatment on Wed) Please pray that everyone in April's household will remain COMPLETELY HEALTHY. Since March, that poor family has been one giant walking germ. Seriously! 3 kids under 5 and the oldest started Kindergarten this year = illness. Plus you know about April's Spinal Meningitis! It's been a trying year for them too. We both could use some time together. I haven't seen April since Forester's brain surgery back in Feb.!! So please pray that nothing interferes and that God will continue to put a hedge of protection around us to keep us from anything that could compromise Forester's treatment.
Forester had a great day today. He has some laughing gas at the dentist while getting some preventative sealants put on his teeth. It wasn't a problem at all. Smooth and easy. Then came home and has a short school lesson with Mrs. Weston. They were unable to get to Bible today due to time so Forester stayed at the table and read and explained his Bible stories to Micah. It was a precious moment. He loves Bible time!
Hope you all have a wonderful weekend ahead. It's going to be a tough game for our Georgia Bulldogs playing LSU. GO DAWGS!
Love - Whitney
Tuesday, September 29, 2009
Sorry that it's been a few days since my last update.
Monday, September 21, 2009
First of all, thank you so much to Molly Meekins who worked so hard for MONTHS to organize an amazing fundraiser for us on Sunday. 50 or so bikers (these are Harley dudes, not cyclists) came out for the poker run and gave so generously to help us with our medical bills. THANK YOU to all who participated and volunteered for this event. Pete really wants a Harley now! :-)
Friday, September 18, 2009
Thursday, September 17, 2009
Wednesday, September 16, 2009
Tuesday, September 15, 2009
Monday, September 14, 2009
Sunday, September 13, 2009
Forester returned home with a smile and a request for steak. What a difference an ER visit can make! He's been giggling and generally in great spirits which is a huge contrast from the weepy, tired, sick, little boy he was this afternoon. We had to say no on the steak..maybe not the best choice for tonight. But, he's having some Gatorade and some crackers and watching a little TV. Thank you so much for your prayers. Please continue to pray that this will be the beginning of managing his symptoms and that tomorrow will be a good day. Pete leaves before sunrise. Forester is always sad when daddy isn't here so please also pray for his little heart and that I can be the comfort he needs while Pete is away. Oh yeah, and pray for my sanity. :-) Love to you all & goodnight!
Saturday, September 12, 2009
As you know, Forester's hospital stays are tough and to be honest, quite boring for him. One thing that really helps pass the time and is something to look forward to is the Atrium Playroom at MUSC Children's Hospital. One of Forester's favorite things to do in the Atrium is play Xbox. Unfortunately, it was broken this week. Children's Miracle Network and Microsoft are teaming up to provide an gaming upgrade to a Children's Hospital playroom but it will be determined by VOTERS. We need this upgrade! Please follow this link, and take the short little steps to vote for MUSC Children's. You can vote 10 times per day! If each of you from this blog would vote 10x each day, I'm sure that MUSC would win this upgrade. We are currently in 6th place. The top 3 win! Please take a moment and VOTE! THANK YOU!!! (more details from this week and future happenings to be posted soon!!)
The Children's Miracle Network has partnered with Microsoft to award an upgraded game room to the three CMN children's hospitals that receive the highest number of votes in a national contest among pediatric hospitals.
YOU can help us win this amazing opportunity for the children at MUSC Children’s Hospital.
People who vote also have an opportunity to win one of several Xbox 360 game systems. Each person may submit a maximum of 10 votes per day.
It only takes a few minutes to sign up (heck, it took me 47 seconds, but your results may vary). Register and vote here: http://xbox.childrensmiraclenetwork.org/default.aspx
Please vote 10 times EVERY day and pass this email along to others!
p.s. The contest runs until 16 OCTOBER.
p.s.s. MUSC Children’s Hospital is currently sixth on the list. Remember: we only need to reach the top THREE~!
Tuesday, September 8, 2009
Friday, August 28, 2009
Wednesday, August 26, 2009
- We have almost 100 people in the Friends of Forester section - woo hoo!
- Our seats are in the upper level in Section 402, Rows 17-25. This is straight back from home plate, so we should have a great view. I THINK these seats are covered (but don't hold me to that), so we might have some good shade.
- As mentioned before, Forester and immediate family will be visiting our section, but they will have some special seating that Glenn Hubbard has provided that's a little closer to the field.
- If you have paid me for your tickets and t-shirts, thank you!! I will be mailing your tickets tomorrow. If not, I'm holding them ransom until you do :) You can either pay my via PayPal (firstname.lastname@example.org) or mail a check to Katie Swaney at 4020 Andover Circle McDonough, GA 30252. Each ticket is $10 and each t-shirt is $7. One payment for everything is fine. No need for separate checks or transactions.
- The plan is to wear our t-shirts at the game, so I'll be distributing them as you get to your seats. Please don't feel like you HAVE to wear your t-shirt, though. No pressure.
- A God thing....A Christian singer, Matthew West, will be performing after the game. I've downloaded his top two songs and I really like them. Check him out.
- Email me at email@example.com if you have ANY questions. I'm happy to help.
- THIS IS GOING TO BE SO MUCH FUN!!! We're so excited. I think Forester is going to have a blast and all of you are going to be to blame for that. Hee hee. Thank you, again, for the support! See you Sept 6th.
Monday, August 17, 2009
Monday, August 10, 2009
I’m Katie, Whit’s little sister, and I’m attempting to organize all the details for the September 6th Braves game. We’re so excited that so many of you want to enjoy this day with our family and I want to make sure everyone knows the plan and has all questions answered. If you still have ANY questions after you read through this information, please contact me at FOFBraves@yahoo.com or 678-485-9950. Whit and Pete have enough on their plates this week with Forester's next round of chemo, so I'd like to help with any issues regarding this game.
Here are some of the details everyone should know:
- This game is LABOR DAY weekend (Sun, 1:35pm). We brought that up last night to some friends and they hadn't realized they were going to be out of town. Just wanted to mention that, in case anyone discovers a conflict.
- As mentioned before, this day isn't any sort of official event sponsored by the Braves. Forester will just be meeting the team, getting to see the dugout, and they will give him his own jersey and glove that's been signed by the players. This will all happen before the game and there won't be any special Forester happenings after. It's just a fun day for us all to get together in one place and let Forester know we love him.
- Though not confirmed, Forester (and probably the immediate family) may be sitting in box seats or some type of reserved seating, courtesy of Glenn Hubbard . Forester will not be sitting with the rest of us in the "Friends of Forester" section, but we’ll get him up there at some point so he can say hi to everyone and you can all get a chance to meet him.
- The tickets I will be ordering are located in the Upper Box, (most likely in the 413 section), near the top of the stadium. To improve the seating as much as possible, we've decided to go with $10 tickets. If you'd prefer seats closer to the field, please let me know so I can remove your name from the ticket list. I'll be ordering the tickets the morning of Wed, 8/12, so let me know of your decision by then. Below is a seating chart to give you a better idea of the exact location.
- Children under the age of 3 are FREE, if they are sitting on your lap.
- The T-shirt design is shown below and is available in adult sizes of XXXL, XXL, XL, L, M, S and youth sizes of L, M and S. If you have not let me know your shirt sizes, please email those to me now.
- Review the list below (double click to enlarge) and make sure I have the right number of tickets, the right number of t-shirts and the correct sizes listed. I will need to order the shirts by Friday, 8/14 and they will be $7 each. The $7 is strictly for the cost of the shirt and does not include any sort of donation to the Forester Medical Fund. If you would like to make a donation, just email me and let me know that and we can work that out separately. We just don't want to mix donations in with the cost of the shirts and the tickets b/c it will get too confusing.
- I will be paying for the tickets and t-shirts, so all payments can be sent to me. You can either mail me a check (Katie Swaney, 4020 Andover Circle, McDonough, GA 30252) or send payment through PayPal to firstname.lastname@example.org. Please indicate very clearly, either on the check or through your online transaction who you are paying for, # of tickets and # of t-shirts so I can make sure everything matches up with my master list. Please make sure I have a return address also so I can mail you the tickets.I will distribute t-shirts at the game. Ideally, I would like to receive all payments by Sun, 8/23.
See you September 6th! We'll put our shirts on when we get there and maybe we can figure out a way to get on TV - woo hoo!
It's been a long day and I am finally home which feels so wrong. It just can't be right to sleep in your own bed when your son is in a hospital getting chemo. But, I've tortured myself with these thoughts before so I won't continue to do it again.
the big roomview of Charleston from the hospital room - it helps!sad but asleep - my sweet baby.
Chemo round 3 starts today (ha! it's 1am), Monday. Please pray for Forester and those nasty side effects. He has a hearing test today too so keep praying for those eardrums! Also, the vincristine is taking it's toll on his poor little legs. They just don't work right anymore. He can't walk in a straight line and has a hard time climbing the steps...he tends to walk wide-legged and with a foot-slap motion. It's no fun to watch - breaks my heart. The solution is to back off of the vincristine. But we're dealing with cancer here. It makes it so difficult. Do we want them to back off the vincristine or hope we can take every dose to give us the best chance that the cancer doesn't come back? I don't know... So, just pray as God leads you. I'll be posting updates from the hospital the next few days and hopefully with pictures too. Thanks for walking through this with us.
Monday, August 3, 2009
Pete and I were very fortunate to be able to go out on a DATE this past weekend. We headed to the Windjammer to see CROWFIELD. It was such a great night. Great music and we got to catch up with a wonderful old friend. It felt very normal and just plain nice. I have to say.. & I know this is a shameless plug, but our dear friend, Micah (far right in the pic) plays in Crowfield and it truly was an amazing show. Micah is like a little brother to us and I'm so proud of him but I truly believe you will be seeing more of Crowfield VERY soon. Please go to iTunes and download the album. You won't regret it. Promise. You'll be saying "I knew them when..."