Blue Sky

the hunts in prague


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Reentry

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Day trip to Karlovy Vary in December. Our first time out of Prague together since July. Don’t worry, E’s in there somewhere.

December was quite a month. You know how Decembers are– super busy. Parties, presents, planning. And we were zonked. Energy level always low, a couple of hospital trips for E because we still have to watch her so closely. 

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Christmas morning bliss

We had a very restful, beautiful, quiet, celebratory Christmas. Pammie and Papa were here, about which more in a separate post. Their visit was great, and we loved them being here for all our Christmas traditions.

And then, with a deep breath, we started regular life again. Boys back to school, me back to work fulltime for pretty much the first time since E’s diagnosis. Eliza getting to be a regular baby, Melissa keeping everything together. And we are honestly a little surprised at how well it’s gone.

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We were going for “mean face.” This was the best Foard could do.

Today Eliza had her second monthly check-up. She always has blood work and a physical exam, and every other month (including today) an X-ray and ultrasound. All these results have been good. Each month we get nervous the day before, have a somewhat fearful morning while M & E are at the doctor, and I hold my breath waiting for the all-clear text. Maybe that gets better over time. I hope so.

At any rate, she’s gaining weight, learning words, standing on her own, and her hair is growing. It’s amazing. We’re still watching her tummy– I’ll spare you the details but it does seem to be improving, and they’ve ruled out any connection between her digestive stuff and her previous illness. Seems to just be one of those things.

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We got our fancy pants on for Sam’s school’s annual Burns Night fundraiser. Half the proceeds went to the children’s wing at Eliza’s hospital.

We are not all back to normal. Who knows if we ever will be. Little medical things scare us more than they used to, and it’s hard to think about the future without the what-if cloud. But the life-o-meter is climbing. We can handle more busy-ness now than we could 2 months ago. By God’s grace, we’re doing more than just surviving.

We would love for you to keep praying for us.

  • Pray for Eliza’s health to continue, for no more cancer ever ever ever, and for protection from all the winter germs as her immune system is not at 100%. Pray for her stomach to adjust so that she doesn’t need to take probiotics.
  • Pray for Sam and Foard, and our parenting of them. They’re still recovering too. Pray that we’ll be patient and attentive.
  • Pray for our marriage and for our walk with Jesus. We don’t want to unlearn the lessons of last year.
  • Pray that we’ll be bold and wise in taking on work and ministry, working hard but not taking on more than our family can handle.

Look at this little girl. You prayed, and God healed her. Thank you so much.

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I love me some snow!


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This is Eliza.

She used to have cancer.

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Today we crossed the finish line. There is no sign of cancer in Eliza’s body. Her chest X-ray and MRI are clear. Her AFP level, the liver marker they’ve been testing in her blood, is down to a normal level for a child her age. Her ENT physiology is normal, and she passed her hearing test with flying colors. She’s finishing a test of her kidney function this morning, but the doctors aren’t expecting anything from that.

Now cancer is sort of the gift that keeps on giving. So we’ll have monthly outpatient checkups for the next year, then the frequency will gradually go down for the next few years. The rate of recurrence is very low after successful treatment like Eliza’s, and it’s even lower after 2 years. But we trust in the living God, not in numbers. “He delivered us from such a deadly peril, and he will deliver us” (2 Corinthians 1:10).

There will be more for us to say, more thanksgivings to offer, more stories to tell. Today, with tears, we are just so grateful. God has given Eliza to us a second time. He has preserved our family through the valley of the shadow of death. He has given us an army of pray-ers and helpers. He has humbled us by showing us how little control we have. He has reminded us over and over again that nothing, not even cancer or fear or death, can separate us from the love of Christ.

Here we raise our Ebenezer: Our daughter is well. Our God is faithful. Amen.

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Hoping for a finish line

Eliza and Melissa are in the hospital tonight, getting ready for several big tests Monday and Tuesday. These include imaging scans (MRI, CT) and blood work to confirm that there’s no sign of cancer left in her body, and several benchmark tests to check for potential side effects of her chemotherapy.

If all these tests are normal, we’ll go into a rhythm of regular outpatient scans. We haven’t heard at what interval those will be yet.

Please pray that all the news is good this week. All signs point that way, and we are eager for a formal status change: done with treatment, regular checks to make sure we stay that way. Pray for no lasting side effects from chemo: for healthy kidney function, no hearing loss, and for E’s immune system to build itself back up.

This is sort of a finish line, and it feels like we’re crawling across it. As lots of people have told us, the adrenaline carries you through an actual crisis; it’s the aftermath that can really get you. We are so tired and weak. We’re eager for normal life, but not ready for it yet. E is basically still not supposed to leave the house, so daily logistics are tough. Our awesome boys are feeling some fallout from all the stress of the last few months. We keep committing to very simple things– Yes, I can meet you for lunch on Wednesday. Yes, M can buy flowers for our church Thanksgiving dinner.– and then having to bail when something happens. Nobody’s putting any pressure on us, but we still feel useless.

So the Hunts are still a mess. A grateful mess, and sometimes a hopeful mess.  I was frustrated and depressed the other day, with several things going wrong, and while running into the store looked in the back seat and saw Foard and Eliza holding hands. The things that are going well are much more important than the things that aren’t.

Please keep praying for us. Pray especially for Eliza this week, for good and accurate test results, and for us as we wait. Pray that we will enter God’s Sabbath rest and experience his peace.

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If you’re feeling stressed, I invite you to gaze upon this picture of a baby in a pea coat.

 


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No more port!

Just a quick note to say: the port is gone! We had to wait awhile because of an operation ahead of us, but when the oncologists noticed we were still there, they made some calls and got us in. After that, things were easy. The operation took less than 30 minutes, and Eliza slept through most of the time before she could eat and drink. Then she pretty much ate all afternoon, so we think she’s good to go.

When we started going to the oncology ward, it was mid-summer, before it gets hot here. Now it’s cold. Some of the same kids are there, but a lot of new ones. It’s so sad to see the ones in mid-chemo, and the freshly-diagnosed moms and dads trying to be brave as they learn the ropes. If you would, while you thank God for Eliza’s health tonight, pray for those families. Pray that their stories will go as well as ours seems to be.

Cancer is awful. And God is good. We are grateful for this big step for E today.

And now for something completely different: Foard made his own sandwich for the first time today. He was very proud. He has no idea how thrilled his parents are.

And now for something completely different: Foard made his own sandwich for the first time today. He was very proud. He has no idea how thrilled his parents are.


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Out, @^&#ed port!

With the exception of the weeks after her surgery, Eliza has had a chemo treatment basically every other Tuesday since July. Every time, she would really hit a stride– eating well, gaining weight, generally happy– the weekend before, just in time to get knocked down again by those wonderful, terrible meds.

She hit that stride again this weekend, and today she didn’t have another round of chemo. Instead she had her regular weekly blood count, which showed continued good news. And tomorrow, she’ll have a brief surgery to remove the port that has delivered those chemo meds.

You’ll recall that our oncologist told us “I think you just have bad luck with ports.” The first one got a stubborn infection and had to be removed. The current one has flipped over repeatedly, so that it takes a surgeon coming in to make it usable. So we’ve had our share of frustrations with it, but the technology is really incredible. It has done its job, and now we are happy to say thank you, goodbye, and good riddance.

Other steps coming soon: At the end of November E will have another round of scans and tests. Some of these will be to verify that there’s no sign of any cancer left in her body. Others will be to look for any side effects of chemo: hearing loss, immune problems, etc. From what we understand, if all the news is good then, we’ll go into a pattern of regular check-ups, but be finished with treatment.

Again, all signs are good so far. The liver markers they watch in her blood are approaching normal levels, and falling each week (falling is good). She is happy, growing and getting stronger. Most days we don’t feel very fearful. I expect that if the tests in a few weeks are good, that will help us exhale. Please pray for us to trust that God will do what is best for us, whatever the circumstances are on a given day.

Pray for E tomorrow as well: for her not to be too fussy (she can’t eat before anesthesia), for the surgery to be quick and uneventful, and for them to send her home in the afternoon. Thank you as always for praying.

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Ooh-La-La!

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We have been loved very well the last few months. Our Prague friends have been amazing and have not tired of asking what we need. On top of that, we’ve had a steady stream of people coming from the States to stay with us and pitch in. We want to tell you about some of them, and the obvious place to start is Grandma Cindi, or as she’s better known around here, Ooh-La-La.

Like many people, Cindi would have been happy to jump on a plane the second E was diagnosed. She held her herself back admirably until mid-August, when we looked at the calendar and everything that had to happen and said “time to call in the big guns.” So she came over, dove in, learned how our house runs, and stayed two months, keeping us afloat.

Just a few of her accomplishments:

  • Mastered driving a foreign car in a foreign country
  • Taught Eliza to climb up the stairs
  • Learned the boys’ schedules, including varying pickup & dropoff times, which days Sam needs to take PE clothes and goggles, and what lunch items are most successful
  • Made countless loaves of sweet potato bread
  • Taught Foard to write two letters
  • Stayed with Eliza anytime we had to be 2 separate places, giving her a familiar face when she was super clingy
  • Knew that cheese rohliky differ from one grocery store to another, and which are ok for Foard to snack on
  • Accompanied Foard on two field trips with moms she barely knew
  • Finished making the lunches & packing the bags that our brains were too scattered to carry through on.
  • Didn’t bat an eye when Melissa chose a crazy complicated hat for her next knitting project
  • Continued working through all her “down” hours to keep things going at her real job with real kids who also need her love & expertise.

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We are so grateful to Cindi for stepping into our world. We’re grateful to Grampa and the rest of the family who gave her up for so long, the friends who gave her buddy passes to fly, and the understanding coworkers who freed her to be here indefinitely. And of course we’re grateful to God that all these pieces came together to help us keep our sanity during a really trying season. We love you Ooh-La-La!

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Just one more!

Eliza’s in the hospital today for her last round of chemo! We don’t know exactly what happens next– we know there will be frequent scans and tests for a while. But God willing, after tomorrow we should be in a check-up phase instead of a treatment phase. Unbelievable.

The surgeon came in and flipped her port without surgery again– we’re pretty sure our oncologist makes him do that to punish him for putting in a port that keeps flipping around. And she’s up to her highest pre-fluids weight yet– just over 9 kilos. The doctor was very happy with that.

Please pray for an uneventful rest of today, that the needle will stay still and not cause problems, and that the girls will be released tomorrow afternoon. And pray that this is the last cancer treatment Eliza will ever have to have.

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