Monday, December 24, 2012

This Christmas

All week long I have been singing, and re-singing, and belting... and whispering and thinking about one particular Christmas carol. (to the utter annoyance of Rigg... "STOP SINGING, MOMMY!!!!")

O Come, O Come Emmanuel

Probably because I really want Jesus to come back... like yesterday.
and because of this desperate desire the words of this hymn-like carol struck me anew this year.

O come o come Emmanuel
And ransom captive Israel
That mourns in lonely exile here
Until the Son of God appears

Rejoice rejoice
Emmanuel shall come to thee oh Israel
Oh come thou day-spring come and cheer
Our spirits by thine advent here
Disperse the gloomy clouds of night
And death's dark shadows put to flight
Rejoice rejoice
Emmanuel shall come to thee oh Israel
Oh come desire of nations bind
In one the hearts of all mankind
Bid thou our sad divisions cease
And be thyself our King of Peace

O come o come Emmanuel
And ransom captive Israel
That mourns in lonely exile here
Until the Son of God appear

Rejoice rejoice
Emmanuel shall come to thee oh Israel

Such truth and hope for those of us longing and waiting for His return.
I love how the song is begging for Christ to come, to come and bring cheer to our mournful spirits, to disperse the clouds and defeat the pain and sadness of death once and for all, to bring peace.
 I love the hope... the encouragement to rejoice, even now, because Christ will come.

Emmanuel, God with us, shall come to thee.

It's a promise, folks.

Are you waiting?
Are you ready?

Merry Christmas.
May the HOPE of Heaven fill you with Joy and Peace this Christmas.

Thursday, December 20, 2012

Splitin' atoms and killin' cancer

The Captain is starting treatment on January 2nd 2013.
He will be getting 30 sessions of radiation at the Proton Therapy Center in Bloomington IN.
That will be 5 days a week for 6 weeks. All the while taking his chemo like a good cancer patient.

The Proton Therapy Center is kinda awesome.
Futuristic sci-fi kinda awesome.

Here is a bit about what they do... or how they do it...

Crazy, right?

The Captain and I took a trip down to Bloomington last week. We met the Dr., toured the facility, the Captain got a CT and some molds and a mask made... you know normal stuff.

Andy LOVES IU (Indiana University) Basketball

Last week he received a wonderful gift from IU head Basket ball coach Tom Crean.
"To Andy, Keep fighting with a Hoosier Spirit. Tom Crean"
Needless to say, Andy LOVED it.

He's also super excited because he is staying just across the street from the IU's basketball stadium.
Brain Cancer or no... his love for IU basketball wins out.

The Proton Therapy Center was incredible. The people were so kind and caring. It just helped confirm the decision we made to go here.  While in the lobby waiting to be called back I scanned the room. A young dad sat watching a TV screen holding a small pink winter coat. proton Therapy is used 100% across the board in children. My heart hurt at the sight of the tiny coat. Knowing the pain and uncertainty that these parents were experiencing made me want to scream. Before I really had time to process it all, a tall man came out into the waiting area wearing what seemed to be a new hat, except that it was signed all over in varying colors of ink. He was leaving... had just had his last treatment and all the Dr.'s, nurses, and staff had signed his hat. He was receiving many hugs and well wishes not only from the staff, but from other waiting in the waiting area as well. It would seem this is not only a place of uncertainty... but one of hope and new-found friendships.

It was a good experience to have... seeing both the before and after... felling the heaviness of the present and the freedom of a hopeful future.

This is our prayer for Andy, freedom from cancer and a future... a long, long future.

They made a mold of Andy's back and neck. This ensures that every time the Captain lays down for a treatment his body is in the exact same position.

They then proceeded to make a mask for his face. (to fulfill the same purpose... keeping him in the same position for each treatment) A hard plastic web is put into a HOT water bath until it softens and becomes transparent.  It is then stretched and layed over the patients face. The technician helps to conform the plastic to the contours of the patients face while it drys... which is incredibly fast, like 3ish minutes!
They then connect the mask to the back/neck mold so your body is in alignment.

When it dries... you look creepy.

This is a pic of the monitor while they were doing Andy's scan. It was really neat to watch.
I have no idea what they were checking  for... but when it was over and reviewed by the doc he declared it beautiful.
So there you go...
a beautiful scan.

The architecture of the treatment rooms is amazing. This is where the Captain will be each day of his 30 sessions... getting protons shot into his brain at 2/3 the speed of light....INSANE!!!!

Then we went out to a late lunch and had Steak 'N Shake.

and I was delightfully miserable all the way home because of how I stuffed my face.

Thanks again for all the prayers, comments, cards and gifts.
We are literally moved to tears by the outpouring of love and generosity from God's people.
Thank you, thank you, thank you.


Monday, December 17, 2012

conversations with the Captain

The Captain and I have had many nights to talk about this new road set before us.
It has been encouraging and, in a sense, peaceful to hash out our feelings and thoughts about what we are currently going through. It also is useful in a pep-talk kinda way as we remind each other of truth and how we are, as believers, to act and chose how to respond.

We have been real, blunt, staring all the what-if's and could-be's in the face. We are not naive. We know that just because we pray and ask for what we want does not mean it is what is best for us... or what God wants. Sometimes what God wants... what He wills... what is best for us...
hurts like crazy.

But we want what He wants.

No matter what.

The other night when we were out running errands and spending some time sans Rigg and Ryder, we had a turning point conversation.
At least it was a bit of a turning point for me. I keep coming back to it again and again in my head. It has been an excellent reminder of how I am to think... my perspective in all of this.

Andy said "More than anything else I am just sad. I'm not mad, or worried, or scared, (well, I am a little bit) I'm just sad on what I might miss out on."

I thought about that for a moment. And I had a bit of fear and worry in me at that moment.
And some sadness.

Right then, I was blessedly reminded of what I know to be true.

We are told to not be afraid.
John 14:27
 Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.

We are told not to worry.
Matthew 6:34
Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own. 

So I shared these thoughts with the Captain. And we decided that we had to chose to not be afraid and not worry because that is what is asked of us. We need to choose to obey the truth.
And it is OK to be sad. But in all honesty... we have nothing to be sad about at the moment.
(I think my exact words here were "Look, you are sittin' up suckin' air and doin' great. So we are nowhere near sad right now.) Compassionate, I know. 
It's a gift.

So even though sadness is a possibility in our future... it really doesn't have a part of our life right now.

So I concluded, after my heartfelt comment above, that we really have no problems.

To which the Captain and I had a nice long belly laugh.

On another glorious occasion, when Andy and I were enjoying a date night, we chatted a bit more about how we were feeling. He responded that he was doing great. I responded by being somewhere in the  middle of great and hiding in a hole never to come out and face the day...
And even though it is still a struggle to choose to stand firmly upon the truth as opposed to how I feel, even in those moments I have a peace.

Because God has blessed me with a trial before. 
God has proven Himself faithful in my hardest time.
He has provided a Joy in the loss of Caden.
Because I know I can trust Him no matter what... because He has proven Himself in the loss of my daughter I have a Joy and peace in knowing that no matter what the future holds, good, bad, hard, sorrowful, I will be fine.
He will bring me through. And that knowledge is joyful.

I have a Hope that outshines anything that may come.

Psalm 31:24
 Be strong and take heart,
    all you who hope in the Lord.


Thursday, December 13, 2012

Chemo, Radiation and Insta's

The past few days have been busy, busy, busy.
Doctors appointments, kids, friends, paperwork, meetings, phone calls...
Stress, tears, encouragement, laughter, strength, joy... peace.

God has been, and continues to be faithful to us, our immediate requests and needs and our long term ones. He is right here every step of the way... and we draw comfort from that.

Over the past week we have slowly formed a plan of attack on this unwelcome tumor.
We have seen specialist after specialist and then... after just one more... we made a decision.

The Captain will be having radiation treatments in Bloomington with a process called proton therapy... or Gama Knife. (which sounds more awesome)

He will take six weeks of Chemo and radiation together, have a smallish break and then resume chemo treatments for  a year.  Seems like a long road.
Some days I'm ready, some days it's too much.

The other day it was too much... the tumor, the chaos, the kids. At one point both the boys and I were crying. It was a mess. I asked Andy if I could leave for awhile... and not come home til they were in bed. He graciously allowed me to leave. Then I felt guilty for leaving the man with brain cancer to deal with the whiny, needy children.
The guilt was still better then being with the boys. (only kinda kidding)
He is an amazing man.

I had a moment the other day when I was crying nasty, messy tears in the car. It was one of those defining moments where you realize "this is the time to make a decision... keep wallowing and allowing fear to take over... or CHOOSE to trust in Christ, choose to stand on what you know to be true, and no matter what the future holds, know God is already there and He will get you through."  I chose the latter... but it took a few more minutes before the tears stopped. And a few more after that for me to start feeling stronger.
But He was faithful to my obedience in the moment. I chose to obey in trusting Him... and Christ was faithful to comfort, embolden and bring peace.

The Captain and I are traveling to Bloomington today to take the first step toward treatment... a CT scan and a mold of his head will be made. I've decided to think of it as his super hero helmet.

The Captain got a new hat... new hat for a new scar because of a new brain surgery...
Kinda drastic just for a new hat...

The boys are so happy to have their daddy around. Rigg calls Andy's staples his zipper.

It was so amazing having Andy home a day and a half after his surgery. We were just hanging out watching TV like everything was normal. CRAZY!!!

These boys make life fun, challenging, hard, crazy and worth every minute. I have to plan a bit more in advance for their care when we have to be gone for Dr.'s appointments and things... but they are doing well with all the extra play dates.

Ryder is just a bit off. He is hilarious. Goggles? Check! Cape? Check! Super hero underwear on the outside of your pants? Check!
(this one is being saved for the senior book)

The Captain has been keeping up with all your comments. They are a HUGE blessing to us both.

This picture... melts my heart.
every. time.

Even on the worst days, Ryder can always make me smile. It's his gift.

I must have a lot on my mind. The other day, while having lunch with friends, I locked my keys in the van. Officer Nice-Guy helped me break back into it. In the rain. For 40 minutes.
I got to hold the umbrella.
Barb, who took this pic, got to help pry the door open and left just shy of soaked.
Thanks Barb.

 The Captain got de-stapled. He is now zipper free.
Rigg noticed immediately!

Doctors offices and waiting rooms can get a bit boring. So we try and entertain ourselves...
Just an FYI.
Brain've got nothin' on us...
Cause we are brinnin' it!!!

Sunday, December 9, 2012

A post with info... that is not really info.

I feel like I have lots to say...
and as I sit here staring at my screen my mind is a bit blank.

I was feeling the pressure to update you... and the reality is we are still in a bit of a holding pattern. We can not move forward until Andy's staples come out... which is Tuesday.
Then we have a decision to make.

A pick your poison kinda decision. 
Which kind of radiation will we blast into the Captain's brain?
Which one? Which one?

So prayers for wisdom and clarity are much appreciated.

Also...we are trying to sort out some paperwork issues... some finance issues... some very stressful and uncomfortable situations regarding money.
Real life kinda stinks.

However... stinky parts of life aside...
We are doing well.
God is covering us with care and comfort, and I know that is in large part due to all the prayers you are lifting up on our behalf.

I am overwhelmed (in such a good way) by all the love, care, meals, cards, gifts, prayers, and comments that we have received.
I read and reread all the comments from my posts.
And I am amazed at what God has done. Not just for me and my family... but through this journey we are on... God is working in your lives as well... and I am so floored by how huge His scope is sometimes.

Thank you, from the bottom of my heart for loving my family.
It is felt, by the Captain and me.


Wednesday, December 5, 2012


We went to the oncology appointment.

Against my will.

I was twitchy all morning... and the waiting room made me want to scream.
But they had Bibles laying around... points were scored for the cancer building.

We were called back alarmingly fast... such a blessing, as I was not able to sit there coming apart at the seems.

The doc was great. Such a neat man. He gave us hope... and we left encouraged.

We are scheduled to see a specialist. She specializes in malignant gliomas. Which Andy has... stage 4.

Standard treatment is radiation and Chemo.
The same chemo the Captain took last time... which I think is good because we know what to expect. There are other therapies and treatments out there, the specialist will be able to tell us what is best and most beneficial for Andy and his tumor. (maybe we should name it if it is going to be such a big part of our lives...)

Statistics show that the use of standard treatment has a success rate of 25%. That is 25% of people with the same kind of glioma as the Captain are in remission or disease free after 2 years.
That leaves 75% that we do not want to think about...

So we won't.

25% is, quite honestly, much better than I was expecting.
We'll take it.
Somebody has to fill up that 25% ... so why not Andy?

This is still the beginning of a very long, most likely, hard road. We still need your prayers. We are still praying for a miracle. I do not care how God chooses to do it.. I am just excited to see it happen.
We know NO MATTER WHAT, God loves us and will be here with us through it all.

Pray for Andy's miracle.

Or... for Jesus to return, which would be SO MUCH better!!!

Lord, come quickly.

Tuesday, December 4, 2012


Tomorrow morning we go and see the oncologist.

There we will find out the details... the particulars... 

I'm scared.
Terrified, really.

I kinda don't want to go.
In my very child-like thought process I think if I don't go and hear what they have to say... then it will never be real. 

I realize how stupid that is.
I still don't want to go.

I have been seconds away from tears all week. I keep trying to live my life normally... but nothing about my life right now fits in to normal.
I'm just hanging in there at times.

And just when I think I am going to be swallowed up ion the fear.. the worry, doubt and pain.

I remember how to focus... I remember what I am supposed to do.

You will keep in perfect peace him whose mind is steadfast on you.
Isaiah 26:3

I am supposed to focus on Christ... on who He is, and then I will have peace.
How could I not when I know who He is?
The Healer
The Comforter
The Holy One
The Provider
The One who gives rest
The Giver

How can I worry or fear when I am steadfast on WHO He is?

God understands my weakness.. he knows it is hard and scary and painful. He understands my heart.
He only asks I trust in Him and His plan.
He forgives when I hesitate. When I cry out of weariness and frustration.. out of dread. He is right there waiting to comfort and bring peace... I need only turn and focus on Him.

Please pray for my focus... for the Captain's focus. That it would be Christ.

For tomorrow I am praying for some good news... encouragement and hope from the Dr.
I am praying for a spirit of bravery and boldness.
I am praying that Jesus returns.
I am praying that God not only work a miracle in Andy's health...but in our hearts. That we would learn humility and surrender.
I am praying for a good and detailed plan... for a Dr. that is focused and determined to help and find a cure.
I am praying for peace.

Please pray with us... for us.
Let us all focus on Jesus and watch Him do amazing things.

Now to Him who is able to do far more abundantly beyond all that we ask or think, according to the power that works within us, to Him be the glory in the church and in Christ Jesus to all generations forever and ever.
Ephesians 3:20-12

Sunday, December 2, 2012

Whatever He wants

I kinda hate that we are here.
Brain surgery... again.
Only this time... it seems heavier... weightier.

We still do not know exactly what we are looking at. We do know that the tumor was cancerous and that the surgeon had to leave some in Andy's brain for fear of doing damage.

Cancer in your brain is never good.

We should know more on Wednesday morning.  Andy has an oncology appointment scheduled at 9:15. When we leave this appointment we should know more about what we are dealing with... treatment options, a plan of attack... probabilities... outcomes...

I'm all over the place emotionally.
There are times when I think... bring it... we can do this.
~7.3 seconds later~
I'm overwhelmed and a blubbering mess thinking of the worst case scenarios... scenario.


God is faithful. He knows right where I am, He knows what my heart is struggling with... He knows and understands my pain and sadness.

I've had some super serious convo's with God the past few days.
Asking, begging, pleading, for a miracle... 
always coming back to one conclusion.

In my heart of hearts... I want what God wants.
Whatever He wants.
Whatever that may look like.

And here's the kicker... I know NO MATTER WHAT, I'll be OK.
Crazy, right?!?!?!

But God has been faithful to me. He has proven Himself over and over again. So much so that I KNOW without a doubt that no matter what God chooses to do, He will be right there with me through it all... He will comfort and care for me... He will strengthen me and encourage me... He will give me peace and bring me joy...
He will pick me up and restore my soul.
No matter what.

I do not want my husband to face brain cancer... I do not want Andy to go through treatment that will make him sick and tired. I do not want to struggle with all the details that comes with this trial... I do not want to lose my husband...

But I DO want what God wants...
So I have to bow to His decision... His will... His plan.
and be OK with it.
Whatever He wants.

I am still praying... begging and pleading for a miracle. For God to show us His great power and might.
I want God to glorify Himself in this situation.

And I tell Him this... over and over and over.
I tell Him I will be grateful for what I am given... and I will praise You for who You are...
and I will be OK... because I know You and who You are...

But we could really use a win.

Be strong and take heart, all you who hope in the LORD.
Pslam 31:24

Saturday, December 1, 2012

Deleted post... resurected

These are all the Insta's I have taken since the ER on Saturday morning.
(my user name is carichastain if you wanna follow)

The Captain has been one strong dude through all of this. He is ready to take on the fight. I love how calm and steady he has been... which is a bit opposite of how I have been, so really I have been encouraged and held up by him... seems so wrong and backward, I mean, he is the one getting his head chopped open and rooted around in...

Free wifi at the hospital has kept Andy sane... and let him keep up on all of your comments.

The boys came to see him before surgery. He was allowed to move around so we took over the waiting area. They are missing their daddy. I have been overwhelmed with offers to care for my sons. I am deeply loved and cared for... and so are my boys!

Surgery day... kissing the tumor goodbye!!!

I love this man... and it does my heart good to see him smile.

WE had an abundance of family and friends sit with us in the waiting room during the surgery. My friend Julie was in town from New York for Thanksgiving. What a blessing to sit and chat with her during this time.

I praise God for the ability to belly laugh while the Captain was under the knife... only God's peace...and good friends.
Trying to keep everyone updated as best I can. Splitting my time between Andy, the boys and electronic devises is not easy. (hence the fast pace of this post)

But I know it is super important. Because this is the very beginning of a long quite possibly hard road for us and I covet the prayers.

Please do not stop.

We are STILL praying for our miracle
Andy has done SO well since surgery. Not only is he doing 4000x better than last time. But the conversations he was holding yesterday with me and friends were better than the ones he could hold last week....stupid tumor.

Now that he has more space in his head he is dong great!!!
Yesterday morning, Praising God for His faithfulness and protection... and the Captain's amazing recovery.

Please continue to pray.
I just wanted to post these because I knew you would like to see them.
Keep leaving comments for the Captain... they are so encouraging and such a blessing to us.
Thank you. And we love you!