...you should receive a phone call late afternoon or early evening on 3/29 ...
(an excerpt from a message sent to my father from Dana Farber Cancer Institute in Boston, MA detailing instructions for his next hospital admission)
Just four short months ago on November 29, I got a life changing phone call. We'd all known for awhile that something just wasn't right, but I don't think any of us expected the diagnosis. Acute Myeloid Leukemia - AML for short. My sister called to share the details, and although we all carried on through the multilevel clinical implications, it was a stunning sound track that played over and over again until the familiarity of the words settled in.
He didn't breathe fresh air for six weeks four days. And, although chemo knocked back the cancer cells and transfusions brought new life to his bones, he still needed to undergo a further round, a 24/7 infusion of toxic chemicals, praying that setting fire to Rome would save Rome.
By the end of the third round, Praise God, a stem cell donor had been located. A global search yielded the right match, and the end of February left us making plans, (well, let's face it, I have very few plans to make since I'm so far away...), but our family began to anticipate the series of phone calls that would set the wheels in motion for a stem cell transplant.
I know I'm not the only one who notices when dates seem to take on a symbolic nature. May 11th was just a day until I gripped the edge of the hospital bed, took one more deep breath, and bore my firstborn son into the world. Now, it's his birthday and forever set apart. July 22 is the day I held my firstborn daughter for the first, last, and only time and although by grace and Holy Spirit care live with a contented heart and a grateful spirit, that day will always be sad. December 28 I became Weekend Farmer Husband's wife and on May 14 we left the city behind and began our country living farm redeeming journey.
So, March 29 is just a day - except for our family it's a day when we anticipate yet another call with what we pray is life saving information - as opposed to November 29 when we received life threatening information.
Will you join me in ongoing prayer that my father will "sail through" his transplant. It's a risky business and the list of potential complications is vast. My parents and their local caretakers have much to face in the next several months.
Will you pray for my mother who is tested on so many levels in times of extreme need?
Will you pray for my sister and her family as they've provided ongoing care in every conceivable way since this all broke? And, for my brothers, sister, and myself - far away and not capable of in the trenches service - that we would be supportive, understanding, and available as needed.
Will you pray for my son who is living with his grandparents while he interns with my dad to determine if grandpa's career is the one for him as well? Pray that he will see opportunities to serve and to maintain a cheerful attitude about the differences produced by a 50 year age gap and extreme illness.
And, will you join me in giving thanks that of the 10 blood proteins that are matched for a stem cell transplant from donor to host the match is a "perfect 10"? We've come to understand that this is not necessarily a typical scenario and we're overwhelmed with this good gift from our Great God who delights in giving good things to His children.
In case... any of you who join with me and one another in this glory dance of capturing, counting, and chronicling gifts want to encourage, uplift, check on, learn from, pray with, and get to know my dad his CaringBridge site is: