Wednesday, December 31, 2008

New Year's Eve

Loved Ones,

Ray's mouth and lips are doing a little better today. We are so thankful! Thank you for your many prayers. Tonight we pray for continued relief from vomiting as Ray had some trouble this evening.

Ray's labs came back this afternoon. His liver numbers are going a little higher. We are in touch with his doctor and we may try to fuss with the formula for his IV nutrition as this can sometimes cause more difficulty with the liver. We may also move Ray's chemo up again to Monday the 5th. We are so thankful for Ray's doctor, emailing with us on New Year's Eve.

We pray earnestly that these numbers hold and don't go up anymore until Ray's body is ready for more chemo. And we pray for wisdom for Ray's doctor as she weighs all these factors.

We are thankful for our New Year's Eve party today with our cousins and our 6 pm "countdown" with daddy and the girls. We are very thankful for a new year together.

"And lo I am with you always, even unto the end of the age." Matthew 28:20

not alone and not afraid --

kristin and ray

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

A Precious Day

Loved Ones,

We had a quiet day but one with precious moments. How we cherish our times together.

We heard from one of Ray's nurses that his doctor wants to do chemo on January 7. She is not sure about the continuous chemo from home as his mouth has taken such a long time to heal. We pray for her wisdom in making these decisions. And we pray that Ray's mouth would heal!

Ray will have labs again tomorrow. We are praying so hard for good results.

We pray for trust and patience. We pray for peace and joy. We are grateful for our day.

"So then, just as you received Christ Jesus as Lord, continue to live in him, rooted and built up in him, strengthened in the faith as you were taught, and overflowing with thankfulness." Colossians 2:6-7

not alone and not afraid --

kristin and ray

Monday, December 29, 2008

Numbers Holding

Loved Ones,

We got the results from Ray's first labs since we went home. His liver numbers are holding. They are about the same as when we left the hospital. We were relieved to hear it. And his blood numbers: white blood cells, platelets, are all improving.

One of Ray's doctor's plans is to put Ray on a continuous low dose chemo pump from home. That was to begin today. Because of Ray's mouth sores however, she decided to hold chemo for today to give his mouth a bit more time to heal. We are not sure when it will begin.

Based on his numbers she will also determine the next date for his larger chemo dose. Since his blood numbers look good that may be sooner than later. But I don't even know what that means!! This may also be determined by his mouth sores.

So, for many reasons, most of all for relief (!), we pray for Ray's mouth to heal.

We are so glad Ray's numbers are holding. We pray for improvement! We pray for the IV nutrition to strengthen Ray. Most of all we pray for God to sustain Ray in every way by his very hand. And for his grace to hold up the rest of us as well.

We want to say also: thank you for your emails and for the many things that all of you have done to help us. I am still doing the best I can to respond as much as I can but we want you to know that even if you don't get a response, you are part of God's sustaining hand, your words, your calls, your gestures. Thank you for being part of that.

A friend sent a verse today about the Israelites in battle. They were afraid. But that day the Lord "thundered" in battle. And at the end of the story was this verse.

"Then Samuel took a stone and set it up between Mizpah and Shen. He named it Ebenezer, saying, "Thus far has the LORD helped us." 1 Samuel 7:12

A good verse for today.

not alone and not afraid --

kristin and ray

Sunday, December 28, 2008

Fear Not

Loved Ones,

Ray is doing ok. His mouth sores are really bothering him, bleeding and making it difficult for him to drink. We are trying new medicines just this afternoon; we pray that they assist his healing process.

Ray mostly spent the day recovering from his big day yesterday. We did however, have a little church service with the kids. When the girls were not fighting, it was lovely!

We pray tonight for relief from anxiety -- that God will be bigger than our worries and fears. We pray for patience and hope. We pray always for healing, and always for strength. We pray for wisdom in how to spend every second of the day. And, we pray that God's very real presence will be always evident to ourselves and our children.

"Fear not, for I am with you; be not dismayed, for I am your God;I will strengthen you, I will help you, I will uphold you with my righteous right hand." Isaiah 41:10

not alone and not afraid --

kristin and ray

Saturday, December 27, 2008

Another Day at Home

Loved Ones,

Another day at home. We are so grateful. Ray's family was able to come and be with us for a belated Christmas gathering. It was great to be with them.

Ray was up and down the stairs a few times today and we were so glad he was able to be with us each time. A lot of exertion when you've been in the hospital! We are hoping the IV nutrition kicks in pretty soon to strengthen him. It was a long haul without nutrition, so he is catching up.

He is plagued by mouth sores, but we are doing our best to keep on top of them and hope that there is some relief soon.

Our prayer requests are many. This is a harder time so we pray God's peace, hope and encouragement for each member of our family including our extended family. We pray greatly for strength and courage. We pray for communication to speak the words on our hearts and to battle all of this together. We pray for wisdom and guidance as to how to spend every minute. And we pray for divine wisdom as to how to meet the needs of our girls.

We give thanks for our nurses and doctors who aid us every day. We are so grateful for them.

"But he said to me, "My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness." 2 Corinthians 12:9

not alone and not afraid --

kristin and ray

Friday, December 26, 2008

Homecoming

Loved Ones,

We are so glad to be home from the hospital tonight!!

Ray's fluid procedure went well. They pulled off lots of fluid and are sending us home with medicines to try to keep it from accumulating so quickly.

Ray is feeling just ok. The nurse was here for an hour tonight teaching us about the IV nutrition. It's a pump at night so Ray won't have to drag it around during the day which is great. Hopefully that will help Ray to get stronger.

It's a little scary coming home! At the hospital everything is monitored so closely. We will have to wean ourselves from the daily labs -- that was such a nice report every morning. Some of Ray's liver numbers are still going down. His bili though is up a tiny bit, his doctor thinks this may be from the IV nutrition, so we will just monitor that closely.

We are so grateful for our families. They have worked TIRELESSLY to help us come home. Our friends too, with presents and activities for the girls, helped to make the time while we were away more fun.

We pray for strength for all of us. We pray for peace, for wisdom, for guidance. We are joyful to be reunited. Still, the girls will have to have patience with the time demands of caregiving. And, we pray for good time for all of us to be together when Ray is feeling strong.

We beseech our God for restoration and healing for Ray.

"Because he loves me, says the Lord, I will rescue him; I will protect him for he achnowledges my name. He will call upon me and I will answer him; I will be with him in trouble, I will deliver him and honor him. With long life will I satisfy him and show him my salvation." Psalm 91:14-16

not alone and not afraid --

kristin and ray

Thursday, December 25, 2008

Christmas in the Hospital

Loved Ones,

We had a lovely quiet day in the hospital. The girls woke up at 6 am for Santa, and had a great time. They were here all in all for 24 hours and it was wonderful to be with them. Nora said, “There's no place like the hospital because that's where my mom and dad are.”

Ray is pretty tired, so tonight they are giving him a unit of blood as he has low hemoglobin. It looks like plans are in order for the fluid drain tomorrow, and then we should be able to go home. Praise the Lord!

Some of Ray's liver numbers are still dropping, others seem to have stabilized. It would be so wonderful to get down to normal ranges before we leave. So that is our prayer.

We are so glad to have had this Christmas day together. We look forward to our homecoming tomorrow.

As always, we pray for Ray's healing and continued strength.

A friend sent the words to the last verse of Away in a Manger yesterday. A Christimas prayer.

"Be near me Lord Jesus, I ask thee to stay, close by me for ever and love me I pray. Bless all the dear children in thy tender care, and fit them for heaven to live with thee there."

not alone and not afraid --

kristin and ray

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Twas the Night Before Christmas

Loved Ones,

“Twas the night before Christmas
And all through the hospital
Not a creature was strirring
Not even those in PJs High School Musical

The stockings were hung
By the bedside with care
In hope that St. Nicholas Soon would be there...”

The girls are fast asleep in the hospital's “family room” waiting for Santa who has already arrived in Ray's room. How wonderful that the hospital could arrange this in a lovely private room!

Though we would love to be home, with fluid already accumulating in Ray's abdomen, the doctors anticipate the need for another fluid drain on Friday. So it is better to be here to prevent any breathing problems if the fluid accumulates quickly.

After the fluid drain procedure on Friday we should be clear to head home, provided that nothing changes.

Ray's liver numbers are still dropping a little bit. We would love if they would come down to normal before we go.

We are so thankful to be together!!! Joy, joy, joy!

We pray God's healing hand on Ray and our whole family as we celebrate this Christmas.

We are so grateful for your prayers! We pray God's blessings on you this Christmas -- that it will be a Christmas you will long remember.

"For a child has been born for us,
a son given to us;
authority rests upon his shoulders;
and he is named Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God,
Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace." Is. 9

not alone and not afraid --

kristin and ray

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

A Quiet Day in the Hospital

Loved Ones,

Ray had a quiet and stable day in the hospital. His first in awhile.

His liver numbers dropped a little more; his IV nutrition continues.

An incredible praise is that Ray went a whole day without throwing up. I can't tell you how that gladdens our hearts! Even more, he drank some juice and said it tasted good. Praise the Lord!

It looks like we will be here another couple of days while they regulate Ray's IV nutrition and he gains a little strength. Patience!

We continue to be so grateful for your prayers for Ray and our family. We pray so hard for Ray's strength and restoration.

"Hear, O Lord, and answer me, for I am poor and needy. Guard my life, for I am devoted to you. You are my God; save your servant who trusts in you.” Psalm 86:1-3


not alone and not afraid --

kristin and ray

Monday, December 22, 2008

Some Progress

Loved Ones,

Ray's liver numbers continue to improve. If they continue at this rate, they could be in the normal range by tomorrow. His doctor is amazed.

The procedures to drain fluid were sucessful. Almost four liters had accumulated so with that taken care of, Ray can now breathe on his own.

Our prayers are focused tonight on Ray's restoration. It has been a long haul!! He is very weak and tired. We pray that God would lift him up in every way -- physically, emotionally, mentally and spiritually. We ask for God's healing and gentle touch on the head of his son Ray.

And we pray continued strength and blessing on our family large and small as we walk this road.

“God is our refuge and strength, an ever present help in trouble. Therefore we will not fear, though the earth give way, and the mountains fall into the heart of the sea. Though its waters roar and foam and the mountains quake with their surging. There is a river whose streams make glad the city of God, the holy place where the Most High dwells. Be still and know that I am God: I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth.” Psalm 46:1-5, 10

not alone and not afraid --

kristin and ray

Sunday, December 21, 2008

A Better Day

Loved Ones,

Some good news today. Ray's liver counts went down instead of increasing. Praise the Lord!

I asked his doctor to what she attributed the overnight changes. She named a variety of possibilities. I told her that we believe it is the prayers and she said we may be right. To God be the glory!

We pray for continued improvement in Ray's liver tomorrow. Just processing the chemo and IV nutrition could raise the numbers so it is not a perfect measure. But we pray that his liver status will continue to improve.

Ray is fighting hard and had a tiring day. Due to all of the IV fluids he has retained a lot of fluid in his abdomen. That was making it more difficult to breathe today. We have addressed that with some medicines, and he will have another procedure to drain some fluid.

For now he has oxygen to help him breathe and we pray that this continues to do the trick.

The chemo will run for five days so Ray will be tired during that time. We are doing our best to adress Ray's symptoms to make him comfortable while he fights the fight.

Thank you, thank you, thank you for your prayers for Ray and for our family.

"But for you who revere my name, the sun of righteousness will rise with healing in its wings. And you will go out and leap like calves released from the stall" Malach 4:2

not alone and not afraid --

kristin and ray

Praying Hard

Loved Ones,

Ray's liver situation worsened overnight. We began chemo this evening with two chemo agents he has had before. They have not yet been combined together however and they will run for five days. And, we have added another non chemo drug to lessen the blood flow to Ray's tumors.

Our chemo choices were limited by Ray's liver's weakening status.

We are hopeful that the chemo will be able to arrest the development of the tumors in order to recover liver function.

We are in constant prayer for Ray's healing, his strength and his endurance. These next few days will be critical to determine the chemo's ability to reduce the tumors.

Our God however can heal at any time. And so we hold tight to this hope as well.

In addition to all these prayers, we pray for our family. That God will meet the needs of each person and that he will especially watch over our girls on this rocky road as we cannot be always at their side.

"In those days Hezekiah became sick and was at the point of death.And Isaiah the prophet the son of Amoz came to him and said to him, "Thus says the LORD, 'Set your house in order, for you shall die; you shall not recover.'" Then Hezekiah turned his face to the wall and prayed to theLORD, saying, "Now, O LORD, please remember how I have walked before you in faithfulness and with a whole heart, and have done what is good inyour sight." And Hezekiah wept bitterly. And before Isaiah had gone out of the middle court, the word of the LORD came to him: "Turn back, and say to Hezekiah the leader of my people, Thus says the LORD, the God of David your father: I have heard your prayer; I have seen your tears. Behold, I will heal you."

not alone and not afraid --

kristin and ray

Friday, December 19, 2008

In the Hospital Tonight

Loved Ones,

Well the scope today did not show a blockage in Ray's stomach. However,while we were here, they took some labs that showed that Ray's liver numbers are rapidly climbing.

They did a CT to check for a blockage in the liver but did not find one. It does appear however, that the tumors in his liver are growing.

We are back in the hospital this evening so that Ray can be closely monitored. They are going to get him chock full of fluids and potentially start IV nutrition. Then they are planning to start another round of chemoto really attack this cancer.

We are praying for many things tonight. Number one, sometimes being dehydrated impacts liver numbers. So we are praying that his liver numbers come down somewhat due to the hydration. Number two and very importantly,we pray for Ray's doctor -- for wisdom and guidance for her -- that she willknow the exact right medicines to use to beat these tumors without overlytaxing Ray's liver.

Last, and most importantly, we pray for Ray. That God will strengthen him for the battle and that he will intervene to assure a victory. We ask for God to heal our Ray.

"We must hold tightly to the HOPE that is ours in Christ." Hebrew 10:20

not alone and not afraid --

kristin and ray

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Waiting for the Scope


Loved Ones,

We eagerly anticipate Ray's scope at 11 am tomorrow to determine the source of what is robbing him of appetite! Today he hardly ate at all, just such a full feeling. No vomiting though and we are glad for that. And his IV fluids will get him through until tomorrow.

There is supposed to be 6-14 inches of snow tomorrow morning so we have an elaborate train plan to get us there without a huge traffic snarl that would make us late. And, we've been told that the GI doctor lives across the street from the hospital. So he will be there. But we pray God's hand upon us as we travel as it will be more strenuous than just hopping in the car and jaunting downtown. We are so grateful for the many hands to babysit and take us to the train and then back from the hospital.

We pray for wisdom and guidance for the doctors tomorrow that they will be able to correct any problems they encounter. And for safety in the procedure and quick restoration for Ray. Our hearts ache for his healing.

When we prayed yesterday my uncle reminded us of verses from 1 Kings where God had promised rain. The rain was a long time coming but it came. And in the meantime, the smallest of signs encouraged the prophet that what had been promised would indeed come to pass.

"Go and look toward the sea," he told his servant. And he went up and looked. "There is nothing there," he said. Seven times Elijah said, "Go back." The seventh time the servant reported, "A cloud as small as a man's hand is rising from the sea." So Elijah said, "Go and tell Ahab, 'Hitch up your chariot and go down before the rain stops you.' " Meanwhile, the sky grew black with clouds, the wind rose, a heavy rain came on." 1 Kings 18:43-45

We pray for "a cloud as small as a man's hand" tomorrow.

not alone and not afraid --

kristin and ray

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Problem Solving

Loved Ones,

Today was a little better for Ray as he did not get sick. Unfortunately that may be because he didn't eat very much!

But, we talked to his doctor about his continuing symptoms. She has scheduled him for another scope of his esophagus and stomach, suspecting that some type of blockage is causing the vomiting and fullness. If there is a blockage, they can fix it with a stent. We'll do the scope Friday at 11 am.

We are praying that the problem will be evident and fixable and that the scope will be completed safely and without any issues. Blockages can be fixed. If it is just that the stomach isn't working well, it is much harder to address. We are praying for a fixable problem!

We also talked to her about Ray's chemo schedule. It is her great hope (and ours!) that the scope will alleviate some of his symptoms and that this should make him feel better for Christmas. His liver numbers are looking great except for an outlier that is quickly rising. She things that might be due to a blockage as well.

So, we are eagerly anticipating Friday's scope and solving this problem.

We are so grateful for your prayers! Our family had time together in prayer today and it touched our hearts and lifted our spirits. Joy!

"Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day. For our light andmomentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on whatis unseen. For what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal." 2 Corinthians 4:16-18

not alone and not afraid --

kristin and ray

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Daily Bread

Loved Ones,

Well despite increasing Ray's medicines, he still had trouble keeping things down tonight, even after eating only a small amount. We've emailed his doctor to see what else we can do to help him so that he can keep enough food down, etc. She'll also make a call soon as to whether we should go forward with chemo on the 19th of this week or hold until the 26th. We pray for wisdom for her and for us.

Ray had visitors today and that was so nice for him. And I've had a visitor all week -- a dear friend who works her heart out! We are so very blessed by so many. As we put the girls in the bath tonight I heard the buzz of our neighbor snowblowing our driveway. Many hands lift our load.

Tonight we beseech our God for relief for Ray so that he can take down the daily nourishment he needs to stay strong. We praise him for all of his work in our lives and for the healing thus far and we wait in hopeful anticipation for all that is to come.

"Then the LORD said to Moses, "I will rain down bread from heaven for you. The people are to go out each day and gather enough for that day. So Moses and Aaron said to all the Israelites, "In the evening you will know that it was the LORD who brought you out of Egypt, and in the morning you will see the glory of the LORD." Exodus 16:4,6-7

not alone and not afraid --

kristin and ray

Monday, December 15, 2008

Blessed and Lucky

Loved Ones,

Ray and I were opening letters and cards last night and one in particular was very touching, a family member that really hoped to lighten our load. Ray was so touched by the card and he said to me, "We are so lucky to have such incredible family and friends." Amen to that! We are both so grateful for the love, kindness, compassion and generosity of our friends and family.

However, I mention this story because it is noteworthy to me. That at this time, with all these obstacles, Ray's first thought is gratitude. As I have always known, he is a remarkable person.

Today was a harder day. We were so excited by an uptick in Ray's eating only to be disappointed by nausea and vomiting. And, difficulties with Ray's IV line caused momentary panic that was quickly resolved, but nonetheless stressful. We adored watching Maggie's Christmas pageant, but we missed Ray who wasn't up to the trip.

However, we are thankful for our video recorder, the constant aid of our family and friends, and God's mercies new every morning. What a comforting thought for tonight.

"Yet this I call to mind and therefore I have hope: Because of the LORD's great love we are not consumed, for his compassions never fail. They are new every morning; great is your faithfulness." Lamentations 3:21-23

not alone and not afraid --

kristin and ray

Sunday, December 14, 2008

A New Hairdo

Loved Ones,

Well the day finally came for Ray's new "hair do." Nora and Maggie got to help out with the cutting and even Mommy got to finish the job. Ray's head looks nice and clean and round! And the girls are taking it well. They each know kids in their class who have crew cuts and there is always Uncle Joe!

Our day also included decorating our tree and watching ourselves as dancing elves in a "jib jab" email sent by a friend. The girls loved that!

We continue to pray for strength for Ray as he is finding it very difficult to eat enough to even stop losing weight. We supplemented today with IV fluids so he's at least not dehydrated, but we pray for appetite and endurance. We pray always for healing.

"The Spirit of the Sovereign LORD is on me, because the LORD has anointed me to preach good news to the poor. He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim freedom for the captives and release from darkness for the prisoners,
to proclaim the year of the LORD's favor and the day of vengeance of our God, to comfort all who mourn, and provide for those who grieve in Zion— to bestow on them a crown of beauty instead of ashes, the oil of gladness instead of mourning, and a garment of praise instead of a spirit of despair. They will be called oaks of righteousness, a planting of the LORD for the display of his splendor." Isaiah 61:1-3


not alone and not afraid --

kristin and ray

Saturday, December 13, 2008

Friends

Loved Ones,

We had visits from special friends today that really lifted our hearts. We adore our friends!! And, we got a Christmas tree! The girls are overjoyed, even with it still drying out in the garage!

Ray is working hard to eat. He hasn't been vomiting which is great, but he isn't quite back to normal food intake yet. And that really tires him. He also has no taste buds to speak of, so eating is a difficult chore.

Tonight we pray for strength, for rebuilding for Ray. And we pray for healing for his body, mind and soul. As we anticipate the birth of Christ in Advent, we eagerly anticipate Ray's return to health.

"My soul glorifies the Lord and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior,
...for the Mighty One has done great things for me— holy is his name. His mercy extends to those who fear him, from generation to generation." Luke 1:46-47, 49-50


not alone and not afraid --

kristin and ray

Friday, December 12, 2008

Continued Prayers

Loved Ones,

We continue to be so grateful for your prayers.

Ray is hanging in there. We felt so good about the amount he consumed yesterday, only to have him get sick right before he got in bed! Discouraging! We did a better job spacing out all his medicines tonight so hopefully the same thing won't happen again. He really needs to keep down a few of these medicines that are so important in healing from the pneumonia.

We are giving him IV fluids to assist in keeping him hydrated; he still needs to make a large improvement in what he's consuming to stabilize his weight.

So many people have made such an effort to bring us glad tidings this Christmas. We appreciate it. The girls and I visited a live nativity at our church tonight. It was a joy to be there. We fix our eyes on that perfect baby whose peace and power transform us. How glad we are that he shepherds us tonight.

"Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles, and let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us. Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. Consider him who endured such opposition from sinful men, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart." Hebrews 12:1-3

not alone and not afraid --

kristin and ray

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Another Day at Home

Loved Ones,

Ray is doing his best to eat and drink. This is his main challenge, taking in enough food to stop losing weight. He's pretty tired too from the hospital and not eating, so we continue to pray for freedom from infection and the gaining of strenght.

It was a big day, lots of events, Nora's birthday party being the main one.

Home health will come tomorrow to assess him and give fluids if needed. While we really wish Ray could take in enough fluids, we hate to waste his time drinking when he could be eating!! So we are glad they are going to come.

We thank you so much for your prayers as we resume our life and enjoy the Christmas season.

"One thing God has spoken, two things I have heard: that you, O God, are strong, and that you, O Lord, are loving." Psm 62:11-12

not alone and not afraid --

kristin and ray

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Home From the Hospital

Loved Ones,

Praise the Lord, we are home from the hospital!

We are so relieved that Ray is doing better and that we are at home.

We had a very good day. In addition to Ray's release, it was Nora's birthday! Long before this, we had planned lunch at American Girl and it really came in handy that it was only a block away from the hospital! The girls had a fantastic time and though Ray was not able to attend in person he got an animated review of all of the day's events and a fashion show with Nora's doll and clothes.

Though Ray is much better, we have a lot of prayers for him tonight so that he can stay out of the hospital for awhile! First, we pray for adequate fluid and calorie intake so that he can gain some weight -- or at least not lose any more. We pray for protection from additional infections or complications due to the antibiotics and other medicines. We pray for regulation of Ray's potassium and magnesium levels which are off from his long time with no eating.

We pray that we remember all of these medicines!

Most importantly, we pray for continued healing for Ray from cancer, and for encouragement for all of us, as we continue to fight hard against this disease.

We also pray for wisdom in the timing of Ray's next round and dosage which may be bumped to December 26 to give all of us a break and allow him some extra time to recover.

We want to say again just how much all of you mean to us. Just coming home and reviewing the emails again overwhelms us with your love and encouragement. Know that it always refreshes and strengthens us to hear from you and to be reminded of your constant prayers.

"With God is my safety and my glory, he is the rock of my strength; my refuge is in God.Trust in him at all times, O my people! Pour out your hearts before him; God is our refuge!" Psalm 62:7-8

not alone and not afraid --

kristin and ray

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Tuesday Update

Loved Ones,

Ray made more progress today. His white blood cells, hemoglobin and platelets are all rising.

His bronchoscopy confirmed the doctor's theory that Ray's pneumonia came from breathing gastric juices into his lungs. They washed his lungs out and sent the material for tests but do not expect to find anything other than bacteria which is being treated with antibiotics. He continues to eat, mostly clear liquids like broth and jello. We have some work to do here!! Ray really needs to build his strength so we want him to increase his food intake as much as he can without causing any difficulties.

We continue to pray for healing in Ray's lungs and protection from further infection. Because of the antibiotics he is at high risk for infection of his GI tract. If things contine to go well, Ray will likely be released from the hospital tomorrow! Time for a little birthday celebration for Nora at home.

We are so grateful for Ray's recovery from this first round of chemo. We pray for continued restoration for him and for wisdom for his doctors in setting the timing and dosage of his next round.

We pray for rest and recovery for our whole family from the stress and separation of this whole ordeal. And that God would give us time together to renew our hearts and spirits.

"I lift up my eyes to the hills- My help comes from the Lord, the maker of heaven and earth. He will not let your foot slip- he who watches over Israel will neither slumber nor sleep.” Psalm 121:1-4

not alone and not afraid --

kristin and ray

Monday, December 8, 2008

Monday Improvements

Loved Ones,

Ray is doing better!! He had a much better day. We started the day with the news that Ray's white blood cells had started to rise. Hooray!!

We saw another lung doctor who said he did want to scope Ray's lungs but not until the following day due to Ray's counts.

Next, the GI doctor who said he preferred not to scope Ray's stomach, hoping for improvement today.

And improvement we had!! Ray ate three meals! Just a little chicken broth and juice, but we were thrilled. And he had very little coughing and no vomiting.

Ray also got two units of blood with no reactions or other problems, which should boost his hemoglobin as well.

So. Based on all of these improvements, we did not have to do IV nutrition and assuming things go well tomorrow with the lung scope, we are looking at heading home in a few days. Hooray!

We saw our girls today. They are doing great and boy were they a sight for sore eyes. We are so looking forward to being reunited at home.

We are so grateful for your prayers and emails. Ray's doctor said he turned around much faster than she expected. To God be the glory! It reminds us of how VERY strong our God is and how nothing is impossible for him.

“You will keep in perfect peace him whose mind is steadfast, because he trusts in you.” Isaiah 26:3

not alone and not afraid --

kristin and ray

Sunday, December 7, 2008

Sunday Update

Loved Ones,

Ray is looking a little better. He had a stable night and his fever is gone. We just saw the ICU doctor who is discharging Ray back to the oncology ward.

He continues to cough up small amounts of blood but he is breathing well. They want to do a scope of Ray's lungs to look for infection tomorrow.

In the meantime, they continue to treat Ray with antibiotics and antifungals to try to clear up the problems in his lungs and throat.

It is still not clear exactly the issue with Ray's throat. His doctor says it is unlikely to heal until his white blood cell count increases. And thus Ray is still not able to eat or drink.

However, due to Ray's low counts, they do not plan to scope his stomach but are hoping the inflammation and infection are causing the trouble.

So, for now we are giving the medicine time to work and waiting to be transferred.

We pray for healing for Ray's throat and lungs and that his white blood cells respond and help him to heal. We pray for wisdom and guidance with our kids because we are likely to be here until later this week. We pray continued peace, patience and strength for all of us. We continue to be so thankful for your prayers.

"By day the Lord commands his steadfast love,
and at night his song is with me,
a prayer to the God of my life." Psalm 42:8

not alone and not afraid --

kristin and ray

Saturday, December 6, 2008

Pray for Ray

Loved Ones,

They have transferred Ray to the ICU for the night as a Chest CT showed pneumonia and bleeding in his lungs. They are giving him blood and plasma and have him on antibiotics.

They are not sure the cause of the bleeding, it could be the pneumonia, the chemo, or something they don't know.

He is breathing well on his own which is a good sign and they are hopeful that he can be returned to the oncology unit tomorrow.

We pray for healing from the infections and bleeding and that God will sustain his son Ray with his mighty power.

not alone and not afraid --

kristin and ray

Please Pray

Loved Ones,

I am writing to ask you to pray for Ray to be able to fight off infection. His blood counts all dropped today, and his white blood cells are very low. He spiked a high fever, and they are treating it with antibiotics. We appreciate your prayers so much.

not alone and not afraid


Kristin and Ray

Friday, December 5, 2008

Back in the Hospital

Loved Ones,

We are back in the hospital, this time for three to five days.They are doing their best to discover the cause of Ray's vomiting, suspecting that it is either a fungal infection down his esophagus or a stomach blockage. They will do a stomach scope and most likely some IV nutrition along with lots of medication.We are glad for Ray to have IV medicine as even the liquid forms are not staying down today.

We pray for God's wisdom and timing for the scope. We want it to be done tomorrow but have been told that it may have to wait over the weekend.

If we begin the IV nutrition, we pray for protection from infection as Ray is at risk given his low white blood cell counts.

We pray for God's hand on Ray to heal him of this disease and all these symptoms.

We pray God's hand on our girls that they will be protected from sadness and anxiety while we are gone.

We pray for rest for Ray and all of us tonight.

We pray that all of this will go smoothly and that Ray will recover quickly so that we can be home for Nora's birthday next week.

"But he said to me, 'My grace is sufficient for you. When you are weak, my power is made perfect in you.' 2 Corinthians 12:9

not alone and not afraid --

kristin and ray

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Prayers for Ray's Throat

Loved Ones,

A difficult day. The mouth rinse made a difference on Ray's mouth sores, but his throat is still so enflamed that he stopped being able to take down his medicine pills.

We had the IV fluids going all day and his doctor ordered liquid medicines.

Still, he is on the edge of needing to be hospitalized to get some IV nutrition. This is a last resort as it has higher risks of infection. Never mind being in the hospital for 2-3 days!

Ray told me that he was actually feeling better today -- he was sitting up and more alert -- but it's just that throat.

SO. Our prayers tonight are focused on Ray's throat! If that issue could be resolved, we think he'd turn the corner.

Our family had a prayer call today to pray for Ray's healing. It couldn't have been better timed. We pray so desperately for the healing of his body and the sustaining of his heart and soul.

We'll go tomorrow at 1 pm to be evaluated by the urgent care doctors at Ray's clinic. We pray for wisdom for our doctors and for us to know the right steps to help Ray recover. And, we pray for continued learning through all of this to help it not be so terrible for Ray's next round.

Last, we pray for endurance for our whole family. Today was a day that we all were impacted by the heavy burden. So tonight we pray hard for strength.

"But we have this treasure in jars of clay to show that this all-surpassing power is from God and not from us. We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed. We always carry around in our body the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be revealed in our body." 2 Corinthians 4:7-10

"But he was pierced for our transgressions, he was crushed for our iniquities;
the punishment that brought us peace was upon him, and by his wounds we are healed." Isaiah 53:5


not alone and not afraid --

kristin and ray

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Wednesday Prayers

Loved Ones,

Another hard day. This is incredibly strong stuff! It seems like between the chemo and the vomiting, Ray's whole throat and mouth is inflamed. If we thought he didn't want to eat or drink before...

But, we were able to give him two liters of fluid in the IV and some anti-nausea medicine. Unfortunately we still haven't quite fixed the vomiting problem. So we have more ideas for tomorrow. The evening from 4:30-8:30 seems to be the worst time.

We are so thankful for Ray's doctors and nurses. They are incredibly kind and compassionate. I am on the phone with at least one of them every day and they give such good ideas and assistance. We have a good mouth rinse with some numbing powers from his nurse this evening so hopefully that will help tomorrow.

Last night Ray's doctor thought it would be a few days before he turned the corner. We heard today from the nurse that the sixth day seems to be some relief. So. We have only one more day until then. Thank the Lord!

We pray tonight for Ray's endurance through this suffering, for his strength in combatting the cancer and the chemo side effects, and for peace and rest for his body, mind and spirit. We pray that God's healing hand would rest on Ray's head as he sleeps. And that he will carry this whole little family on this journey -- just as he has every single day.

“Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. Put on the full armor of God so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes. For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. Therefore, put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground." Ephesians 6:10-13

not alone and not afraid --

kristin and ray

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Tuesday Prayers

Loved Ones,

Wow! This is strong chemo! I am so proud of Ray. He is bearing it all so well. But this is hitting him much harder than his other chemo.

We started IV fluids tonight because like last night, Ray was able to keep fluids down during the day today but threw up again tonight.

He'll take a liter of fluids tonight and we have a great plan for tomorrow with fluids and meds that will hopefully make a difference.

He's running a slight fever tonight and is very achy. This chemo makes your bones ache. Good grief! We hope this passes quickly. His doctor says probably a few more days before he feels better.

And so, we pray for rest and relief for Ray, from the vomiting, from the aching, from the fullness. We pray that his appetite would soon return and that in the meantime, the fluids will help to keep him strong. We pray for relief from his fever and protection from additional germs -- Lucy looks like she might be coming down with croup. So we pray for her too! Most of all, we beseech our king for healing for our brave Ray!

A friend sent us this passage today. It is long, but I just can't cut anything out.

"The Lord is my light and my salvation; whom should I fear?
The Lord is my life's refuge; of whom should I be afraid?
Though an army encamp against me, my heart will not fear;
Though war be waged upon me, even then will I trust.
One thing I ask of the Lord; this I seek:
To dwell in the house of the Lord all the days of my life,
That I may gaze on the loveliness of the Lord and contemplate his temple.
For he will hide me in his abode in the day of trouble;
He will conceal me in the shelter of his tent,
he will set me high upon a rock.
Even now my head is held high above my enemies on every side.
And I will offer in his tent sacrifices with shouts of gladness;
I will sing and chant praise to the Lord.
Hear, O Lord, the sound of my call; have pity on me, and answer me.
Of you my heart speaks; you my glance seeks; your presence, O Lord, I seek."

Psalm 27:1,3-7

not alone and not afraid --

kristin and ray

Monday, December 1, 2008

Monday Prayers

Loved Ones,

Ray is doing ok. We are learning about his new chemo. It is more concentrated as he receives the entire dose at one time instead of over two days like before.

He is sleeping pretty much all the time, with little drinks as often as possible and a tiny bit of food.

We were so disappointed when he got sick tonight from brushing his teeth! Argh! He very much needs his fluids with this chemo because it is harder on his kidneys. And of course for hydration and nutrition. He has anti-nausea medicines to keep this in check but we are learning anew how to time them correctly.

We are so thankful for this chemo's strength however, in battling the cancer.

We pray tonight for protection for Ray from vomiting, that he will be able to keep down what he takes in. And take in more soon.

And we thank God for the healing work he is doing in Ray.

"Call to me and I will answer you, and will tell you great and hidden things that you have not known." Jeremiah 33:3


not alone and not afraid --

kristin and ray

Sunday, November 30, 2008

Home From the Hospital

Loved Ones,

Thank you so much for your constant prayers and encouragement! It is so helpful to us.

We are home from the hospital and have many good things to report.

First, Ray tolerated the chemo well, no adverse reactions, praise the Lord! He is tired but that is to be expected. This new drug has done very well in trials and we are very excited about it.

Second, Ray's labs were better than we expected -- and many of his concerning symptoms from the past few days have already been alleviated. He was very dehydrated so it made a huge difference to get lots of fluids.

We are so thankful that he was able to get treatment underway. We praise the Lord that his liver enzymes were not as high as we had anticipated and look even better today.

We continue to pray for God's healing hand on Ray, healing his body, restoring his strength, and sustaining his heart and mind.

We love you all so much.

"I cried out to the Lord, and he heard me from his Temple in Jerusalem. Then I lay down and slept in peace and woke up safely, for the Lord was watching over me." Psalm 3:4-5

not alone and not afraid --

kristin and ray

Saturday, November 29, 2008

Beginning Chemo Today in the Hospital

Loved Ones,

We are taking Ray in to the hospital now. It is clear that the cancer is progressing rapidly and his chemotherapy needs to begin as soon as possible.

We are so grateful for your prayers for God's miraculous healing hand in this new round of chemo.

"But those who suffer he delivers in their suffering; he speaks to them in their affliction. He is wooing you from the jaws of distress to a spacious place, free from restriction to the comfort of your table laden with choice food." Job 35:15-16

not alone and not afraid --

kristin and ray

Friday, November 28, 2008

Continued Prayers

Loved Ones,

We are so thankful for all of Ray's medicines which are making things a little more bearable for him. Of course they make him tired, which is a bummer, but better that than nausea and pain!

We continue to keep in touch with Ray's doctor as his symptoms continue to grow. Our hearts are burdened for Ray, as it is a heavy load he bears.

We are looking toward Monday, praying that the chemo addresses his symptoms, and praying for miraculous healing power.

Thank you so much for your continued prayers and songs, which lift our days.

"He will tend his flock like a shepherd: He will gather the lambs in his arms; He will carry them in his bosom, and gently lead those that are with young." Isaiah 40:11

not alone and not afraid --

kristin and ray

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Thanksgiving

Loved Ones,

Happy Thanksgiving! We continue to be so grateful for all of you and for your prayers. We pray that you felt God's gentle hand upon you as you celebrate with family and friends.

Ray is feeling better tonight than he was Tuesday and Wednesday. Since he was having such trouble keeping things down, a homecare nurse came today and gave IV fluids and anti-nausea medication. That has helped Ray to have a better day. And we are so thankful for that. We were all able to go this evening to Ray's sister's house for Thanksgiving with his whole family.

Of course our downtown Chicago plans had to go by the wayside. They were perhaps a little ambitious! But we watched the parade on TV from home.

We continue to focus our minds and hearts on Monday's new chemo round. We are thankful for this opportunity to battle anew. And much more thankful that we do not battle alone.

"For I am the LORD, your God, who takes hold of your right hand and says to you, Do not fear; I will help you." Isaiah 41:13

not alone and not afraid --

kristin and ray

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Prayers for Thanksgiving

Loved Ones,

This Thanksgiving we are thankful for you. We are so honored and blessed by your prayers.

Tonight we pray very hard for Ray. His symptoms continue and they make it very hard to eat, sleep or be comfortable at all. We pray that his spleen shrinks fast! That he has some relief from the pain and discomfort and that he is able to eat so that his weight loss slows.

We pray that God holds back the tumor growth until next week when Ray's new chemo begins, and we pray earnestly that by God's power this new combination of drugs will work even more powerfully in Ray.

We pray that God will carry Ray gently, sustaining his heart and spirit, while he patiently waits for the relief from these latest issues, and for the healing he needs so desperately.

We thank the Lord for so many answers to prayer, and we wait in hope for many more.

"Sing and make music in your heart to the Lord, always giving thanks to God the Father for everything, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ." Ephesians 5:20

not alone and not afraid --

kristin and ray

PS I won't send an email tomorrow. We are staying downtown with Ray's family to watch the parade on Thursday morning. So Happy Thanksgiving to all!

Monday, November 24, 2008

Good News

Loved Ones,

I am writing early to let you know the results of our day.

The good news is that Ray's doctor believes that his increased symptoms are not coming from the tumor growth in his liver, but from his spleen enlargement which she attributes to one of the drugs that she is discontinuing. Praise the Lord!

There is certainly some growth of the tumors in Ray's liver, but it is not overwhelming, nor unexpected given his tumor marker numbers.

She is optimistic about the new chemo regime and is checking out some additional medicine to give in combination with the chemo.

Because it is cram packed at the clinic, and more importantly because she does not believe there is a risk to waiting, Ray's next chemo will occur as planned on December 1. So, our Thanksgiving plans are back on track! Lots of fun and pictures, pictures, pictures, before Ray loses his hair!

We are so relieved at this news. Though there is certainly some work to do still in shrinking the tumors, we are not anywhere close to where we started and there are some good drugs ahead. And, the tumor growth was not what we had feared given Ray's symptoms.

As always, God was with us, not just in these answers to prayer with the results, but in assuring us of his constant calm presence.

And we know that you were there too. Thank you for surrounding us today. I am somewhat surprised that the scan did not reflect the cloud of angels around Ray. Then again, perhaps it did.

"O Lord, you are my God; I will exalt you and praise your name, for in perfect faithfulness you have done marvelous things, things planned long ago." Isaiah 25:1


not alone and not afraid --
kristin and ray

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Preparing for Ray's Scan on Monday

Loved Ones,

We had so much joy at our twin nephews' baptism. What precious boys! This was such a beautiful part of our day!

Ray's symptoms continue and we are so glad for the scan, labs, and appointment tomorrow to determine where things stand and figure out a plan of action.

We pray for wisdom for our doctor in evaluating Ray's scan, labs and symptoms, and in setting our course of action.

We pray for peace, wisdom and courage as we progress through our day tomorrow. We pray that we would be free of fear and anxiety. And as always, we pray for God's hand on Ray's very head -- protecting him and healing him.

We give thanks for the many hands that make it easier for us to go without worrying about our girls. And most importantly for the many prayers that surround us.

"May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit." Romans 15:13

not alone and not afraid --

kristin and ray

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Saturday Prayers

Loved Ones,

Ray continues to struggle with fullness and vomiting. Thankfully, we were able to speak with his doctor this morning. We are going to move up our timetable a little bit. We'll have the scan on Monday at 6:30 am with a "gastric protocol" that will hopefully give a real good look at Ray's stomach. That will be followed by labs, an appointment with Ray's doctor, and any other steps that are necessary at that point (chemo, etc.) We are relieved that we can get on top of anything that is going on.

The highlight of our day was listening to Christmas carols this evening while the girls played barbies around us. Those times are so very dear.

We are so thankful for your prayers today and especially for Monday which will be a big (and long!) day.

"Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall trouble or hardship or persecution or famine or nakedness or danger or sword? No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord." Romans 8:35, 37-39

not alone and not afraid --

kristin and ray

Friday, November 21, 2008

A Better Friday

Loved Ones,

It was a better day for Ray. He was able to go and visit with friends from his office this afternoon. The highlight of our day, however, was the girls and I racing Daddy home from picking up our other car at the shop. That was fun!

Ray is still fighting tiredness and fullness -- which of course makes it harder to eat. But he is doing his best.

We anticipate Ray's scan Monday, and we pray continually for God's hand upon him.

"Uphold me according to your promise, that I may live, and let me not be put to shame in my hope; Hold me up, that I may be safe and have regard for your statutes continually."
Psalm 119:116


not alone and not afraid --

kristin and ray

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Thursday Prayers

Loved Ones,

It was a harder day for Ray with nausea and tiredness. But our spirits were lifted by Ray's sister and brother in law and my mom who visited. It is always so nice to be with our precious family!

We are praying for God's hand on Ray during this time leading up to his new chemo. It is so important for his body to be rested and recovered. And we pray for God's spirit to hold back the cancer as we wait.

We pray for good results on Monday with the scan. And for a restful weekend filled with family times.

We thank God for you. That our prayers are echoed by yours. The greatest possible gift.

"Jesus looked at them and said, "With man this is impossible, but with God all things are possible." Matthew 19:26

not alone and not afraid --

kristin and ray

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

A Message from Ray

Loved ones,

This is Ray, I figured it was time to write another email.

First, I am very lucky to have friends and family like you. The cards, the emails, the calls, the visits and, most importantly, the prayers are constant signs of God working to heal me and support us during our battle. We feel very blessed to have you all on our side.

There are definitely ups and downs during this battle. Good news one day can be met with not so good news the next day. But our Faith, our Family and our Friends keep us strong to continue our fight.

I think I have mentioned this before, but one of the postives in this battle has been the precious time spent with our three little girls. I feel it especially at night when we put them to bed. Singing songs with them, reading books, listening to their prayers, listening to them tell us about their day...all so special. And just to watch them as they sleep gives me comfort. I'll pray over them and wonder what the future has in store for them. I sometimes don't even want to leave their room, just sit there and listen to their little breaths. They are so precious.

So we continue to ask for your prayers for healing, for comfort and for strength. We know these prayers are being heard because we can see, and feel, God answering them.

"Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves have received from God. For just as the sufferings of Christ flow over into our lives, so also through Christ our comfort overflows." 2 Corinthians 1:3-5

not alone and not afraid --

ray and kristin

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Tuesday

Loved Ones,

It was another good day. We visited with friends and Ray continues to eat pretty well. Hooray!

We reflected today on how much prayer changes us. Our prayers for hope and joy and freedom from anxiety are being answered. Praise the Lord.

I prayed with our neighbors this evening and we read through the scriptures from our recent emails. Those words. They are such a comfort and a light. We are so grateful for the assurance of God's word.

Thank you for your part in all of this. Your prayers are powerful.

"For God alone, O my soul, wait in silence, for my hope is from him.He only is my rock and my salvation, my fortress; I shall not be shaken."
Psalm 62:5-6


not alone and not afraid --

kristin and ray

Monday, November 17, 2008

A Better Day

Loved Ones,

It was a better day. Ray wasn't as tired and when he did lay down, he was able to sleep. And, he's eating! I was so proud of his grilled cheese for lunch and his organic tomato and turkey chili. Hooray!

Thank you for your love and prayers today. In so many, many ways, God answered our prayers for peace and hope in our day. And this is why I send the emails like I do. It helps! Sometimes our hearts are lifted simply by sharing our thoughts. More often, I believe that there is no other possibility but deliverance simply by the strength of all of your prayers.

And so, we thank you again, we renew our prayers for strength and healing for Ray, and we look toward two more weeks of growing energy and preparation for Ray's next treatments.

"Be self-controlled and alert. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour. Resist him, standing firm in the faith, because you know that your brothers throughout the world are undergoing the same kind of sufferings. And the God of all grace, who called you to his eternal glory in Christ, after you have suffered a little while, will himself restore you and make you strong, firm and steadfast." 1 Peter 5:8-10

not alone and not afraid --

kristin and ray

Sunday, November 16, 2008

A Silent Night

Loved Ones,

I just sang Lucy to sleep with Silent Night, to find my real night silent, with Ray, Nora and Maggie all snoring in the girls' room.

We had fun with friends today watching the Bears game. Thank goodness for Chicago sports. There is always something to root for, though not always the winning team!

We have got to fatten Ray up! Calling all calories! If you have a good recipe, send it to me. The holidays could not be coming at a better time!

We are learning new things. I remember reflecting when Ray was diagnosed that I saw the world with different eyes. When I went to the grocery store I wanted to say: My husband has cancer. When I drove in the parking lot I wanted to roll down my window and say: My husband has cancer. When I walked with my carefree little girls I wanted to say: We are not what we seem. And here's the new eyes part: I wondered who around me did the same. Who appeared to be the room mother or teacher or soccer coach that faced sadness, grief, or uncertainty. How unaware I had been of the invisible suffering.

When you face or in my case, when your husband faces a life-threatening illness, there is a whole world of thoughts and emotions that lie underneath the regular day. On the good days, the thoughts are fleeting. On the harder days, they are inescapable.

This week has been a more difficult week.

We are grateful for our faith which strengthens our resolve to win the battle of anxiety vs. hope. We are thankful for your prayers and God's answers which bolster our endurance. We look with gladness on the fact that this journey has opened windows of compassion for others that before now were simply unknown.

We strive to embrace the future, rejoicing in hope, made possible only by our trust in God.

A friend sent this verse, noting that the Hebrew translation speaks of the future with such certainty that it is written as if the future has already occurred. A good verse for tonight.

"But I have trusted in Your lovingkindness; My heart shall rejoice in Your salvation. I will sing to the LORD, Because He has dealt bountifully with me." Psalm 13:5-6

not alone and not afraid --

kristin and ray

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Another Good Day

Loved Ones,

It was another good day. After a quiet morning we had a "High School Musical" date with the girls, Nora's soccer game, and a special dinner with friends.

We are glad for the fact that the chemo is not as hard on Ray this round, however we pray special strength for him in the mornings as those seem to be the time he struggles the most with fatigue.

And we pray tonight that God will continue to hold Ray in his hand, sustaining him in every way, physically, mentally, emotionally and spiritually.

"Give thanks to the LORD, for he is good; his love endures forever. Cry out, "Save us, O God our Savior; gather us and deliver us from the nations, that we may give thanks to your holy name, that we may glory in your praise." Praise be to the LORD, the God of Israel, from everlasting to everlasting. Then all the people said "Amen" and "Praise the LORD."
1 Chronicles 16:34-36

not alone and not afraid --
kristin and ray

Friday, November 14, 2008

A good day



Loved Ones,

We had a good day. Precious visitors. Ray is still tired from the chemo but not as bad as usual. And he is doing his best to eat.

We continue to learn more about where we are with the progress of the treatment. Ray's scan on the 24th will be a key indicator. Apparently there can be some fluctuation in numbers sometimes, but the scan really shows.

We are praying for no new growth, no spread, no regrowth, just maintenance of our last scan (or improvement!). We are praying hard!! And especially for Ray's protection during this time before he starts the next treatment. We don't want the cancer to progress at all!!

Tonight we did an exhibit at to the Multi Cultural Fair at Nora's school. Can you guess our culture??

Thank you so much for your continued prayers.

"He who dwells in the shelter of the Most High will rest in the shadow of the Almighty. I will say of the LORD, "He is my refuge and my fortress, my God, in whom I trust." You will not fear the terror of night, nor the arrow that flies by day, nor the pestilence that stalks in the darkness, nor the plague that destroys at midday. If you make the Most High your dwelling— even the LORD, who is my refuge then no harm will befall you, no disaster will come near your tent."
Psalm 91:1,2,5,6,9,10

not alone and not afraid --

kristin and ray

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Peace in the Change

Loved Ones,

We are doing our best to adjust to the change that is in front of us. It is a time of uncertainty, but an opportunity to really trust that our God is able for the task. And that he will strengthen us.

We are so grateful for each other, helpmates in the battle.

Things we are praying about:

Wisdom for Ray's doctors in everything -- timing for new chemo, combinations of drugs, etc.
That the new chemos will quickly arrest any growth and battle anew.
For God's healing power, more powerful than any possible chemo!
For peace, trust and joy in this time before the new regimen begins.
For wisdom in preparing our girls for side effect changes, etc.

We are ever grateful for your prayers.

"I will lead the blind by ways they have not known, along unfamiliar paths I will guide them; I will turn the darkness into light before them and make the rough places smooth. These are the things I will do; I will not forsake them." Isaiah 42:16

not alone and not afraid --
kristin and ray

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Round 11 Concludes

Loved Ones,

Round 11 concluded today. Ray is certainly feeling the effects of the chemo but it isn't as bad as usual. He is a little less tired, and has a tiny bit more appetite.

Ray's doctor called this evening with the news that the allergic reaction will indeed mean a chemo change. Both chemos will change however, as his CA-19 numbers show that the cancer has adapted to these drugs. His CA-19 has only risen slightly and is a fraction of what it once was, so they caught this very quickly.

So December 1 will mean two new chemos with different side effects and a different regime.
We'll still do the scan on the 24th but we have a preview of the results with the CA-19 numbers.

We're going to do our VERY best to enjoy these next three weeks including Thanksgiving!

We are so thankful for your prayers.

"When I am afraid, I will trust in you. In God, whose word I praise, in God I trust; I will not be afraid." Psalm 56:3-4


not alone and not afraid --

kristin and ray

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Round 11 Continues

Loved Ones,

Round 11 continued today. Ray was less tired than usual and he seemed to have more of an appetite. We'll see if that changes; it will be interesting to see what side effects come from this chemo without the other.

We are doing our best not to worry about what this new development will mean! Especially since we won't know for three weeks!

In the meantime, we are maximizing Ray's eating while he has an appetite! Pumpkin is the food of choice for Ray and our neighbor brought us pumpkin bread and dip! Yum! Plus, our pumpkin soup came today so we are defrosting our first bag! We can't wait for that!

We pray and pray for healing for Ray.

"May the LORD answer you when you are in distress;

may the name of the God of Jacob protect you.
May he send you help from the sanctuary and grant you support from Zion.
May he give you the desire of your heart and make all your plans succeed.
We will shout for joy when you are victorious

and will lift up our banners in the name of our God.
May the LORD grant all your requests.
Now I know that the LORD saves his anointed;

he answers him from his holy heaven
with the saving power of his right hand.
Some trust in chariots and some in horses,

(or we could say chemo and doctors...)
but we trust in the name of the LORD our God."
Psalm 20:1,2, 4-7

not alone and not afraid --
kristin and ray

Monday, November 10, 2008

Round 11 Progress

Loved Ones,

It was a very long day at chemo today. Ray's platelets were high enough to proceed, for which we were very grateful. Due to some of the side effects, the doctor decided to reduce the dose of oxaliplatin, one of Ray's chemo medications. We are relieved that she did as when the chemo began, Ray had an allergic reaction to the medicine.

Ray is ok. We are told that allergic reactions are fairly common and that they come in the later rounds as the toxicity builds up in the body. Common they may be, but nonetheless, serious and scary! Ray did absolutely great and they were able to treat him with steroids and antihistimines and the reaction resolved.

They gave Ray some time to rest and then began the other chemo medication as planned, so Ray brought home his chemo bag today as usual.

Given the already long wait, it was one of our longest days at chemo ever. It was wonderful though, to arrive home to a hot meal from our neighbor! This was quickly devoured!

The allergic reaction is likely to mean a change in the chemo regime which the doctor will discuss with us at the 12th round on December 1.

We await the news of the tumor marker tests that were taken today. One of Ray's liver numbers has been on the rise as of late, but the others have held steady. We are not sure how to interpret those numbers as they can be due to the chemo or many other factors. Ray's scan on the 24th will offer clear guidance as to his progress. Those results will come on December 1st as well.

So December 1st will be a big day and we are praying for all those things tonight.

We were never so grateful for your prayers as today.

"O LORD my God, I called to you for help and you healed me. O LORD, you brought me up from the grave; you spared me from going down into the pit. Sing to the LORD, you saints of his; praise his holy name." Psalm 30:2-4

not alone and not afraid --
kristin and ray

Sunday, November 9, 2008

Ready for Round 11

Loved Ones,

It was another good day. The first after Round 10 where Ray just seemed totally himself. We're glad we now have some three week cycles. One day of Ray is not enough!

We look forward brightly to tomorrow for God's healing power in the chemo of Round 11.

My cousin sent me this verse last week:

"Blessed are the poor in spirit: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven."
Along with it, she sent this definition:
Poor of Spirit - This word was taken from a Greek word meaning "to crouch." It can mean lowly, afflicted, helpless, powerless to solve a problem, lacking wealth and education, or begging.

Who among us aspires to be the "poor in spirit??" Though I thanked her for her email, I put the thought aside.

This verse and its definition came back to me today. Especially this part: "powerless to solve a problem." Well yes, we are that.

So it is that Ray and I are the poor in spirit. Something we never wanted to be, something that for most of our lives, we weren't.

Here's the thing about being powerless. When we cede that power, we must rely on someone else. Someone else who has more strength and power.

Today I rocked Lucy to sleep for her nap. Lucy doesn't just want to be held, she wants to be secured. She wants her arms tucked underneath her little body snuggled tightly to me.

Somehow, I believe that in becoming powerless, we are able to be secured more tightly to God while we wait for his power to save us. That vision of God, securing us, like we secure little Lucy, makes it feel a little better to be powerless.

And so, we wait, for God's healing hand on Ray.

"Can a mother forget the baby at her breast and have no compassion on the child she has borne? Though she may forget, I will not forget you!" Isaiah 49:15

not alone and not afraid --

kristin and ray

Saturday, November 8, 2008

A Good Saturday

Loved Ones,

It was a good day. Ray helped out coaching Nora's soccer team today. She was so thrilled.
He also took the girls on a special date to a movie. Good times were had by all.

We've had a good weekend with a special out of town friend. Late night chats.

Days like today make cancer seem far away. We love these days.

We pray constantly for Ray's healing.

"Because He has inclined His ear to me, Therefore I shall call upon Him as long as I live." Psalm 116:2

not alone and not afraid --

kristin and ray

Friday, November 7, 2008

Friday

Loved Ones,

Ray was more tired today. Probably from his tour yesterday. He has recovered by now however, and we are having a fun time visiting with a friend from DC.

We look forward to a fun weekend together before Round 11 on Monday.

We loved this verse from the Old Testament. Directed to Abram but so beautiful for all.

"Do not be afraid, Abram. I am your shield, your very great reward." Genesis 15:1

not alone and not afraid --

kristin and ray

Thursday, November 6, 2008

White Sox Field



Loved Ones,

Ray had a very good day today. Some good friends arranged a tour of the White Sox Field. The picture is attached below. Ray had a great time.

It is always so amazing when Ray's energy returns. It's like a different world.

Today I got an email from Au Bon Pain. I had written them, trying to find the recipe for their pumpkin soup that we eat when we're at chemo. They're sending 4 eight pound bags!! Like I said, a good day!


We continue to focus our prayers on Round 11 and Ray's healing.

Thank you for your prayers, your compassion and your constant encouragement.

The girls and I saw a beautiful rainbow today and it reminded us of Noah.

"To me this is like the days of Noah, when I swore that the waters of Noah would never again cover the earth. So now I have sworn not to be angry with you, never to rebuke you again. Though the mountains be shaken and the hills be removed, yet my unfailing love for you will not be shaken nor my covenant of peace be removed," says the LORD, who has compassion on you. Isaiah 54:9-11

not alone and not afraid --
kristin and ray

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Prayers

Loved Ones,

Ray had a better day. It was great that he had more energy! We've noticed that on the two week cycles it is really until Wednesday or Thursday of the second week before he feels back to normal. So it's great that we have some three week cycles now. That gives us a lot more time together with Ray feeling good.

As I mentioned last night, our prayers are very focused on this next round as it will be followed by Ray's next scan on November 24. We'll get those results the Monday after Thanksgiving. Perfect timing for more answered prayer!

Ray is really working hard to eat but he is still low. So we are praying for that too.

We are so glad for this partnership in prayer with you.

"Again, I tell you that if two of you on earth agree about anything you ask for, it will be done for you by my Father in heaven. For where two or three come together in my name, there am I with them." Matthew 18:19-20

not alone and not afraid --

kristin and ray

PS Do not worry about this late hour for the email. I've been asleep since 7 when we put the kids down and woke up to turn off the lights, etc.

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Happy Election Day


Loved Ones,

We had a fun morning voting together both at our real polling place and in our home election of the Disney princesses for playgroup. Not sure who liked it more, the girls or their mother!Cinderella was our winner!

Ray was up early with us but felt pretty tired later in the morning and this evening. We hope tomorrow is a better day.

As always, we are so grateful for your prayers. We know the 11th round is coming Monday and we are praying for miraculous impact as it will be followed by Ray's next scan on November 24th.

"But as for me, I watch in hope for the Lord, I wait for God my Savior; my God will hear me." Micah 7:7

not alone and not afraid --

kristin and ray

Monday, November 3, 2008

Continued Improvement

Loved Ones,

Ray continues to improve each day. Tiredness is his main complaint now, which is generally relieved by a nap!

Someone asked us today how we feel God's presence. By continued answers to prayer each time we are in need. For strength, for lifting of anxiety, for time to reflect together; because our needs are met each day.

It is not a "supernatural" feeling, but rather the trust that what we need each day, each week, each month, will be there. Whether we know what that is or not!

Our blessings in friends and family overflowed today.

"For everything that was written in the past was written to teach us, so that through endurance and the encouragement of the Scriptures we might have hope." Romans 15:4

not alone and not afraid --

kristin and ray

Sunday, November 2, 2008

A Better Day

Loved Ones,

Today was a much better day for Ray. He is still tired, especially in the morning, but he didn't feel as sick and he was able to eat. More importantly, to go to church!

My favorite thing was watching him play tag with the girls in our church gym. Not a lot of running, but a lot of fun.

Another special friend is here visiting. A joyful treat!

We are so grateful for your prayers. It is such a relief when the weight of chemo lifts.

"Find rest, o my soul, in God alone; my hope comes from Him." Psalm 62:5

not alone and not afraid --

kristin and ray

Saturday, November 1, 2008

Visitors

Loved Ones,

Our day was brighter because of our visitors today. One of the joys of politics is that our DC friends come and visit to help in elections. We had special visitors today and look forward to more tomorrow.

Our friends always lift our spirits and we always have fun talking politics with people in the know!

It was a better day for Ray. He continues to wrestle with the chemo but he ate more tonight than he's eaten in the last few days! Which is great as his weight is at an all time low.

We pray constantly for healing, for hope, for freedom from anxiety and for peace and strength in our days.

"But we have this treasure in jars of clay to show that this all-surpassing power is from God and not from us. We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed."
2 Corinthians 4:7-10


not alone and not afraid --

kristin and ray

Friday, October 31, 2008

Happy Halloween


Loved Ones,

Happy Halloween! The girls had a great day today at school parties and trick or treating. We set a family record for the number of houses visited. Mom is tired!

Ray has had a hard week. He's been so tired and sick this time and it continues even to this evening. Besides the fatigue, some of the other chemo side effects are bothering him with numbness in his fingers and toes.

We were so glad that he was able to go trick or treating to a few houses with us. But it is just not the same when he feels so badly.

We are so grateful for your prayers and we pray tonight for continued healing for Ray, from cancer and from chemo!

"And we pray this in order that you may live a life worthy of the Lord and may please him in every way: bearing fruit in every good work, growing in the knowledge of God, being strengthened with all power according to his glorious might so that you may have great endurance and patience, and joyfully giving thanks to the Father, who has qualified you to share in the inheritance of the saints in the kingdom of light." Colossians 1:10-12

not alone and not afraid --
kristin and ray

A Tired Day

Loved Ones,

It was a harder day for Ray. He was pretty knocked out. It's always harder when you feel so bad physically to feel positive and encouraged. So it's a struggle on many fronts.

I'm telling you, God is answering our prayers though for strength and endurance because that is what it takes! High fevers, vomiting, ear infections (all from kids), Halloween parties, health policy. It is all in a day at the Fitzgerald home and we are so glad for the prayers because that gets us through!

By tonight Ray seemed a little better. Managed to eat something and was up a little bit. So we look forward to new mercies in the morning!

"I will betroth you to me forever; I will betroth you in righteousness and justice, in love and compassion. I will betroth you in faithfulness, and you will acknowledge the LORD."
Hosea 2:19-20


not alone and not afraid --
kristin and ray