Blue Sky

the hunts in prague


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Pray this fever down with us.

Eliza ran a low fever most of today, just below the line at which they want us to bring her in. Finally this afternoon when it didn’t respond to ibuprofen we called and they said to come in for blood work.

Thankfully the blood numbers all looked good. There’s no obvious infection, white blood cells and hemoglobin are fine. Everything they checked was normal, and the doctor was not worried. So we’re back home, and her fever has come down almost a whole degree (Celsius) since she went to bed.

But she still has a fever, and fevers are not our friend. Please pray right now that God will bring E’s temp down to normal, that she’ll wake up with no fever and not need any more meds tonight. She goes in Tuesday for her fourth round of chemo; please pray that God will keep her string and healthy for that day.

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One of those days

Yesterday, i.e. the morning after I said “no news is good news,” Melissa and Eliza headed to the hospital for E’s normal blood work. They learned that E’s port had gotten flipped around, meaning they couldn’t get meds in or blood out.

The scary thing about this was that she’s already had chemo in this new port, so it made us wonder whether the meds had gone into her bloodstream, or just into her body where they’re most certainly not supposed to be.

After an hour or so, the doctor gave M the scoop. For some reason the surgeons used a different kind of port this time, and it probably got flipped around while E was playing at home. They got it flipped back around the right way pretty quickly, and hopefully scar tissue and swelling from the incision will help hold it in the right place. Obviously they’ll double check before the next round of chemo to make sure it’s in the right position.

The volume of fluids she was getting, both regular IV and chemo, means that if they hadn’t gone into her bloodstream it would have caused obvious problems right away, like swelling and difficulty breathing. So there’s no reason to think there was any problem. And since chemo was just a couple of hours after the port was put in, it’s almost certain that it flipped since she came home.

And her blood work was fine, so they sent her home.

This was a normal morning, followed by 2 terrifying hours, and then a totally calm rest of the day. It’s hard to explain how exhausting and life-sucking that is. I was about to go for a run, then head into the office for a few hours when M called. I hung around the house until everything seemed ok, then went to work but was in a total fog the rest of the day, unable to really get anything done. Thankfully the boys and Ooh-La-La got to go have a fun adventure with the Davises, so they were none the wiser.

But that’s life right now. Things can seem great, then the rug can be completely yanked out from under us and we’re reeling. Then all’s well again. All in 3 hours.

So now, we’re all home, Eliza’s happy, and we’re grateful. She doesn’t go in again until Tuesday, so please pray that she builds up lots of strength for Round 4. And pray that that &#$* port stays in its place and doesn’t give us any more drama!

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No news is good news

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Yes, big brother is wearing tights. No, it wasn’t that cold. Part of his SuperSuit.

Two anecdotes.

Anecdote the first. Eliza has had a really good week. She’s been home since Wednesday, is gaining weight, active and learning new tricks. At any rate, she’s doing so well that yesterday Melissa said it almost made her wonder if they’re really giving her the chemo at all. To which her mom answered “Or it could be that you’ve got pretty much the whole world praying and asking God to protect her from the side effects.” Right.

Anecdote the second. My mom went to get her hair did last week, and her stylist greeted her by asking “How’s Eliza doing? She doesn’t look like she’s sick at all!” and basically recounting the last several blog posts. Her church is praying. Our future teammate Katy’s mom’s church is praying in Iowa. Seminary friends with churches all over the States, college friends in Costa Rica and DC, missionary friends all over Europe and Africa. Of course Faith Community, and other churches in Prague. People we don’t know and will never meet, all consistently and earnestly asking God to heal our little girl.

So, Team Eliza, here are your marching orders for this week.

  • We go in tomorrow for blood work, one of the appointments where we pray they’ll say all the numbers are good and send her back home. Pray for high blood counts and low liver enzymes.
  • Sam and Foard both start school next week. Please pray that the last week of their summer wouldn’t involve a hospital stay for E, and that she’ll be well and happy so we can give the boys lots of attention and have some adventures.
  • Pray for continued protection from chemo side effects. Especially pray for her immune system to be strong as the boys go back to school and bring home whatever they bring home.

Thanks as always for praying.


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A different kind of birthday

Last year, 5 minutes into 20 August at a little hospital in Neratovice, Czech Republic, a beautiful little girl (actually the largest our doctor had ever delivered) joined our family and stole all of our hearts.

Today, at a big hospital in Prague, she had surgery to replace her infected port, and started her third round of a treatment we believe will mean she gets to have many, many more birthdays.

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So today was hard. This was her fifth time going under general anesthesia, and it’s hard to watch every time. It’s hard to see her come back covered in iodine, bandaged up and drugged. It’s hard to see her tethered to the IV rack, reminding us that she’s not well. It’s really hard to look at her, today of all days, and think of how much we love her and how awful this whole thing is.

But today was also special and beautiful. The doctors allowed Sam and Foard to come to E’s room to bring her cupcakes and presents– normally only kids over 10 are allowed on the hall, and the boys have to see her for just a few minutes in the lobby. The nurses brought her a doll as a gift, and one of the other patients brought her some of his Legos. We had a sweet family party with Ooh-La-La, and FaceTime visits with Aunt Kelsey and Pammie and Papa, and a funny JibJab card from Gaffer. An ultrasound this morning confirmed that the tumor is still shrinking, and it’s not tangled up in any blood vessels (there are lots of those in the liver).

So there were tears, because this is not how little girls should celebrate their first birthdays. But we also laughed and were grateful. For overall progress, and for moments of joy in the valley.

It occurred to me yesterday that my grandmother, Eliza’s namesake, was a cancer survivor, defeating breast cancer in late middle age and living decades longer. Eliza is named for a woman who survived cancer, lived to encourage others through it, and died full of years and full of grace. We hope and pray, we believe, that the same will be true for E.

Even down to old age, all My people shall prove
My sovereign, eternal, unchangeable love;
And when hoary hairs shall their temples adorn,
Like lambs they shall still in My bosom be borne.


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Home for the weekend

Our girls are home! Eliza had one more dose of antibiotics this afternoon, and now she’s home until going back in on Monday for Round 3 of chemo. The doctor said she looks good, and though we haven’t had any more MRI’s, he also felt like the tumor was even smaller. Lots of good news!

E’s first birthday is Tuesday, and on that day she’ll be starting her third chemo treatment. (She’ll get fluids on Monday and then have the chemo Tues.) This is not how things are supposed to be. Not the story we want for our family, for our little girl. That reality is starting to wear on us.

But this is the story we’re in, and there are many beautiful elements: doctors we trust, friends in Prague falling all over themselves to care for us, friends in the US thinking creatively about how to help. Grace for every day, for our marriage, for our kids. Life is hard, and God is good. He is writing a good story for our family, and we are hopeful for a beautiful ending even for this chapter.

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Crafting for sister’s birthday. Birthdays at our house involve lots of crafts.

Please pray for an easy, happy weekend for E, a fun family birthday celebration on Sunday, and lots of strength as we go into Round 3. Thank you friends.


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New port + the day in pictures

Today Eliza had surgery to remove and replace her chemo port. It went fine, and she came off the anesthesia much easier than last time.

Parents of the Year chronicles: A friend had to stay at the hospital last night with her little boy for observation after a small injury. E’s surgery was on the next hall over from her room, so we went to say hello while we waited. They’d told us it would be about a half hour, so after that long we went back to the lobby, where we waited a few more minutes. Then a few more. Finally Melissa went upstairs to get her book out of their room… and found Eliza there. They must have come out early and wheeled her right back up. She was out cold for the whole thing, so probably not much emotional scarring. Maybe we’ll delete this post before we let her read the blog.

The other excitement today was the arrival of Ooh-La-La (aka Grandma Cindi)! Bob and Betsy took the boys to meet her at the airport, and she was ready to spring into action, as she’d been bumped up to first class on her long flight. I think God knew she needed her energy.

A sweet gift to this dad today was watching how God is knitting our boys’ hearts together through this hard season. They were fussy with each other during today’s hospital visit, as they often are. But then they played great all afternoon while Cindi was with them, and before bed they played Legos in the tub for 45 minutes, having great adventures and stories, with no strife, no parental intervention, only encouraging words. Brothers dwelling in unity. Thank you God.

Big prayer for today: that E would be able to come home for the weekend before heading back for Round 3 on Monday. Please pray too that God would protect her from any more infections in her port site.

And now permit me to close with some fun pictures from the ladies’ day.

Waiting on surgery, trying not to think about food.

Waiting on surgery, trying not to think about food.

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These boys Richard and Erik (both 8) are the new entertainment faves of the oncology ward.

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Small sample of the room decor sent by friends in USA

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End-of-day update vis-a-vis Foard’s binoculars


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Ups and downs

Up: E was released Monday with no infection, and no more checkups until Friday.

Down: Then they called today, said her port site is still infected, and she needs to come in for them to change it out. This is surgery, with anesthesia and an overnight stay and all that.

So, once again, please pray. Especially please pray that she’s able to come home Friday. We were planning to celebrate her birthday this weekend– her actual birthday is Tuesday, when she’ll be recovering from Round 3 of chemo. But we’re afraid they’ll want to just keep her in until the next round.

The ups and downs are hard. Each visit to the hospital is a little easier logistics-wise– the suitcase stays packed like when you’re expecting a baby– but a little harder emotionally, especially as M gets to know other kids and their moms. Cancer is awful.

In better news, Grandma Cindi arrives tomorrow! So we’ll have a built-in diversion for the boys and live-in help for us. She’s flying standby, so please pray that all her flights work perfectly. Thanks friends.

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