We are very relieved to say that the treatment is working! Yesterday the doctor told us that the brain fluid is still clear of the leukemia. This is very good news! She also shared that the results of the bone marrow biopsy and blood work show a barely detectable amount (“only a whiff”) of the Philadelphia Chromosome, which is the ugly culprit in Dave’s particular leukemia. When we asked the doctor if she would consider Dave in remission, she said it is more like a “major response.” For now we are happy with major response and we will continue to pray for what the doctors would consider remission. Actually, major response is really very major in these circumstances and something to truly be celebrated. Thank you, God, for giving us more time!

At this point, Dave is going to Cedars for chemo once a week. Each treatment brings with it the inevitable tension and stress. They have been tough. The day before treatment, we can feel the dread beginning; not much is said during the drive to the hospital. We listen to music that reminds us how big and amazing and loving our God is, and we resolve again to depend on Him so we can do what we must. It requires discipline, a decision of the will and of the mind, to focus on the right things and not obsess over the scary, daunting, and sad.

In the last week, Dave also switched to a new chemo pill (Ponatinib) because the leukemia figured its way around the old medication he was taking. This leukemia is tricky, persistent, and devious. But God. But our God is bigger, stronger, and smarter! We rely on Him and trust His purposes.

Please pray for:

  • new chemo pill (Ponatinib) to eradicate the Philadelphia Chromosome  
  • brain chemo to keep the brain fluid clear of leukemia
  • protection against further spinal cord damage
  • increasing physical strength for Dave, weakness is increasing
  • great wisdom for doctor’s decisions
  • patience required in many different directions
  • stamina and strength (we are very tired)
  • renewed clarity of God’s purposes in this journey

There are probably 100 more prayer needs, but we’ll leave it at that for now.

Thank you so much for your continued care, encouragement, meals, cards, and gifts; but most of all, thank you for your faithful prayers. God is listening to our nagging prayers for Dave and He is answering. We will continue to depend on Him and to submit to His plans and purposes.

Today we are grateful for Major Response!

Carol Stoecklein

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Have you ever arrived at your destination and hopped out of the car only to realize that you were missing something very important like your wallet or your keys or, better yet, you had forgotten to put your legs on?! Okay, you’ve probably never forgotten to put your legs on, but you get what I’m saying, right? Well, that’s what happened to us yesterday at Cedars.

We pulled up to the curb and I went around to the back of the car, opened the hatch… and no wheelchair!! It was the craziest feeling! Where’s the wheelchair? The back of the car was empty. So strange. In these last 18 months that Dave has been in a wheelchair, we’ve never forgotten it anywhere. It is always with us. It has become part of our life. A very necessary part, and we have made friends with it.

There are so many “details” to this new life. I’ve forgotten a lot of other things, but never the wheelchair. Thankfully we had arrived at the hospital early and we were having a good day so when we realized we had forgotten the wheelchair in the garage at home, we both started laughing. I’m afraid there are many other days where I would have burst out in tears in that moment. And fortunately we were at a hospital so a loaner chair was easy to find. Dave called it a “Corolla” in comparison to his “Lexus chair,” but nevertheless, it was wheels (or legs) for the day.

At every turn in our lives there are going to be mishaps, hurdles, and detours. It’s life. It’s reality. Some things will be simple frustrations and others will be devastations. One thing I have learned in these last few years is how important it is to resist turning the molehills into mountains, the mishaps into devastations. It’s so easy to do when you’re tired or stressed or just too busy. Learning to roll with the punches and even laugh at the storms is essential. And if you don’t? If you don’t, the storms, the punches, and sometimes even the mishaps can destroy you. They can lay you out flat on the floor, and I don’t want to live there. Not even in this.

When we pulled in the garage last night after a very long day of treatment and traffic, there sat our friend, the wheelchair. He was waiting for us right where we forgot him. We laughed and we were thankful for him.

Dave update: He has now had two-in-a-row brain fluid tests showing no leukemia, so the chemo treatments have moved to only once a week. The treatments are very difficult, but with your continued prayer support they are getting easier. The doctors have found a good recipe of premeds that are helping a lot. At home, Dave is very weak and has had a couple weeks of flu-like struggles, which is no fun at all. On most days he gets a couple hours of feeling okay and the rest is quite difficult. Please pray that with each new day the “good hours” increase. We are counting on God for that. And please pray Dave can make it to what the doctors would call “another remission.”

Thank you, again and again, for your faithful and loving prayers and words of comfort and support. They all mean so much to us.

Carol 

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We have great news! It’s working!! The leukemia is now not detectable in the blood or the brain. Wow, God, thank you. Thank you!

Dave still must have a bone marrow biopsy next week and he needs to continue doing the chemo twice a week for now, but it’s WORKING and we have more time! More time to enjoy life. More time to work on getting stronger. More time to serve God and share with others what it’s like to have a real and personal relationship with Him – in the good times and the bad. More time!!!!

Dave is such an anomaly to these doctors. So many of the things that have happened (both good and bad) have been things these doctors have never seen. Today the doctor again reiterated that she hasn’t seen, hasn’t heard of, and can’t find a person in the literature that has survived leukemia-free for 18 months after relapse in the brain. And now after this second relapse, God is giving us the gift of even more time. 

We have no idea what the future will bring, but we rejoice in the blessing of this wonderful gift. Will it be one month, one year, ten years? Don’t know! Our prayer is that in all of this, God will help us to get better at living with peace and joy and fullness in each and every day that He gives us. Even in the really terrible days. There are days where we have succeeded, and there are days where we have failed miserably at finding joy. So much to learn.

We hope you will celebrate with us today in God’s goodness, grace, and mercy. Go hug someone right now and tell them, “Every day is precious. Don’t waste it!”

God’s Got This.

God’s Still Got This. 

God will always, always, always have this.

And God’s got your stuff, too, if you will give it to Him.

The Stoeckleins 

 

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