Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Gift of Life

The moment we were waiting for arrived last night in the form of a baggie filled with pink liquid...

9:45 - Cooler arrives at nurses station


9:50 - Confirmed package for Brandon - 17o ml of pure stem cells (yes - that's all)


10:00 - Begin transfusion - a VERY emotional moment

10:45 - Transfusion complete (yes, about 45 minutes start to finish)



Now it's up to these smart cells to find their way into Brandon's bones and begin developing a healthy immune system.


TRULY - A Gift of Life

Thank you donor for being our hero!

Monday, March 29, 2010

Passover - Time for a Miracle

Tonight is Passover, and we celebrate the miracle of God as he freed the Jews from the bondage and hardship of slavery in Egypt. He sent our hero Moses to confront Pharaoh to "let me people go". And after some heavy convincing (or "punishments" as Dana calls them), the Jews are free. They still have some obstacles to overcome as they travel to the promised land, but the "good" do not falter and eventually they reach their destination.

We are not religious at all, but we are traditional and we do celebrate the Jewish holidays. I can not help but parallel the story of Passover to Brandon's current journey...

He too is suffering through a horrible hardship that is tearing his body apart. But his strong spirit and will to beat this (my hero) keeps fighting our villain. And I, together with all our friends and family are there shouting with all our might "Let him go! Let him be free of this!" Tomorrow help arrives in the form of a transplant. And the road ahead is long, and we will meet obstacles in our path, but the good (and Brandon is the BEST) will reach the ultimate destination - a FULL lifetime of health with his family.

So God - As you parted the sea for the Jews to cross through and drowned the Egyptian army, open Brandon's body to the new marrow, and drown any remaining cancer in the process. As you provided hope and signs when the Jews' belief weakened, provide hope to Brandon when the tough days present themselves. As you strengthened them in the desert and brought them home, strengthen Brandon and bring him home.

And next year, when we all sit down to read about the Jewish miracle of Passover, let us look back and recount our own very personal miracle of Passover.

Amen.

The battle continues...and the punches come hard

What a tough few days for my brave prince.

On Weds he walked into this hospital with the most amazing attitude - smiling, joking with the staff, taking walks every day, spending time on the exercise bike....basically doing EVERYTHING in his power to stay strong for as long as possible.



On Thursday the chemo started - still strong, still smiling

On Friday - in hospital but out for Friday night dinner at his mom's with the family

On Saturday he started to feel the impact a bit - nausea, legs getting weaker, but still determined to push himself. So he actually got to come home for a couple of hours - to see the kids, have dinner with the family.

On Sunday we spent the evening together in the hospital - and still my amazing husband wanted to head out (in the rain) to breathe some fresh air.

Today was rough - 2 rounds of total body irradiation - basically he lies still for 45 minutes (each time) and beams of radiation travel over his body.



He is really feeling the downward slope now, and I can see it. He is exhausted and sleeping most of the day, nauseous (and vomiting), legs are weak, his body is restless, eyes are getting glossy, he is slurring his words.

And yet, he still turns to me, smiles and says "You are beautiful". What can I say?

It's really tough to see him suffer this way, and to know that it will only be getting worse before it gets any better. When he smiles now he tears up "it's not fair". That's right my love, it's not fair. Not fair at all. In fact, it F%##%%ing sucks!

"But I will beat this...keep my eyes on the goal" - still the hockey player at the end of the day :)

Tomorrow is TRANSPLANT DAY. They expect the stem cells to "arrive" in the evening and the procedure to happen tomorrow night. Then (apparently) he will feel much worse as his body (hopefully) accepts this new immune system.

He will be in isolation after tomorrow night. So tomorrow day I will bring the kids for a visit, and then we will rely on Skype for a while.

Thanks again to everyone for your continued support...please think of us tomorrow.


Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Reality Bites...HARD

Tomorrow Brandon goes back into the hospital, to get the s*** kicked out of him, for 4-6 weeks, with the hope that we will never EVER have to deal with this cancer again.



I hate it! I love it! I dread it, and I thank God that we are here.



Last time Brandon was admitted he was so sick, so weak, so desparate for relief that it was an easy trip to make. But this time it is so odd - he is feeling GREAT - playing hockey, out for a run, working, playing with the kids. Things are back to normal, and now we are heading back into "hell mode".



The thought of what he is about to go through makes me sick to my stomach - chemo, total body iradiation, steroids, immunosuppression drugs, isolation from the kids....and this is all ASIDE from the transplant itself and the myriad of complications we had to sign off on last week.



I pray and wish with everything I am that this is behind us quickly.



I hate that he will be away from home again, that he will be separated from the kids, that the bed will be empty. I love my life with my husband and I want it back.



On the weekend we took the kids to the mall - Dana wanted money to throw into the fountain. "Make a wish" we told her. "I wish daddy feels better". Of course Brandon and I started to tear up - couldn't give her enough kisses :)



Yesterday Brandon wrote 'just in case' letters for me and the kids. To be opened if... I am looking forward to the day when he reads them at their weddings. Until then I never want to lay eyes on them.



My brave prince - worried about me and the kids; cooking me a special dinner tonight; ready to battle for his life.



I love you Brandon more than anything. WE will beat this. You are the strongest person I know and we will move on after this. And in 5 years we will celebrate your cancer-free status and our 10th anniversary - looking forward to the party!

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Ouch!

Brandon had a bone marrow biopsy today....one step closer to the transplant.
The objective is to find out 100% that he is in remission.

Tough procedure!!!!
Basically, the Dr freezes his hip (deep under the skin along the bone line), then sticks a type of corkscrew into his back and twists, and pushes, and twists, and pushes....until he releases a piece of bone to pull out for testing.

Brandon was quite nervous, but with clenched teeth and a few moans he came through only slightly injured. Sore now...and probably for a few more days.

My brave prince - as always :)

Thursday, March 11, 2010

REbirthday

On Tuesday, while we were preparing to enjoy our last day in Florida, Brandon's cell phone rang. It was the transplant coordinator...
"We are calling to talk to you about something."
Heart sinks, stomach aches.
"We have identified a back-up donor for you. There is no reason to think you will need it, but just in case, we would like to have that in place."
Heart starts beating again.
"Also, we have reached the donor, and we are ready to move ahead with the transplant on March 29th or 30th."
Heart races, eyes fill with tears.

So this is it. What we have been hoping, wishing and praying for. That day has now been confirmed, the schedule of next steps at the hospital has been set.

REbirthday

For Brandon - a new immune system, potentially a new blood type, a new start, a new beginning to continue his life.

Happiness, fear, anxiety, gratitude, relief, hope, dread ---- just a few emotions that we have been feeling over the last few days.

It's hard to believe the hell that Brandon is about to enter in order to come out healthy on the other side. He is feeling so great now, so normal, that it is incomprehensible that he is willingly entering the nightmare of chemo, radiation, potential rejection, organ failure... Yet he is bravely looking forward to getting there, because the quicker he gets in, the quicker he gets out.

On March 23rd he will enter the hospital for at least a month, and we will be 'apart' again.
But the chapters in our story are moving forward, and we are getting closer and closer to 'happily ever after'.
Finally.

Fun in the Sun


Last Tuesday we got the amazing news that Brandon has a donor...


So the prince whisked his princess away to a castle in the sun...somewhere over the rainbow.


My amazing husband, in his great wisdom, decided that we needed (and deserved) a few days of relaxation - to be together, rest, and enjoy this time that he is feeling great.


Thankfully (and we are ever so grateful), Brandon's aunt and uncle (Paul and Judy) were over-generous and allowed us the luxury. They flew us to Florida, where we joined them for 4 days in South Beach.


We rested, we sunned, we walked, we people watched, we shopped, we ate, we ate, and we ate.

Most important - we were together, we rested and we were normal.


Thank you so much to Paul and Judy for this amazing gift!


Also a special thank you to 2 other people that allowed this to happen - Arlene and Joe (Brandon's parents) took on the role of nannies for the kids...who had the best time with Bubby and Papa :)


My prince is feeling wonderful! He has gained back all his weight, has a bit of a tan, and the hair is starting to fuzz. He is an amazing man with the best (most positive) attitude I have ever seen. He is my happy place (no matter where we are).

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

The Witch is on her way out! GREAT (the best) NEWS!!!

Brandon has a donor!!!

A 10/10 match!
Transplant is scheduled ASAP (as soon as the donor is ready).

We are excited, we are nervous, we are in blissful shock.....

Thank God!