The Army

Almost daily I am reminded of the impact Jasmine’s army is having in this battle. A whole army of people who care. A whole army of people who support and love and show up. It’s days like this week that we need the reminder.

Jasmine was having a hard day yesterday. She was laying in her dark hospital room, unable to do anything because of nausea and her eyes were hurting (a side effect of one of the chemo drugs this time around). She was unable to eat or drink for two days, and she was on day four out of five chemo days before recovery can begin.

It is hard on Christine to be with Jas yet unable to alleviate her suffering. It must be one of the most difficult things to endure, being powerless to help your child. Time can pass slowly in that hospital room, especially when there are no distractions from the misery.

But there is an army.

No, none of us can change this reality for them. But every little part played by someone in this army is helping to fight this battle.

When the family needs encouragement, there is an army sending messages and gifts and financial support. When the family has prayed everything they can think of, there is an army continuing to petition on their behalf. When despair sinks in and hope evaporates, there is an army to spur on the fight. When giving up seems like a good option, there is an army to remind them of God’s truth and to keep going.

Photo of Calgary taken from an airplane.

This is a photo of the city of Calgary. From the sky, it looks impressive, yet it is made of up many individual houses, roads, fields and skyscrapers. There are countless parts to this magnificent city.

This is just like Jasmine’s army – many individual people coming together to form something mighty and magnificent.

In the Bible (Exodus 17), Moses was tasked with keeping his hands raised above his head during a battle that his people were fighting against the Amalekites. When his hands were raised, Moses’ people, the Israelites, were winning the battle. When he got tired and his hands lowered, his army was losing.

So Moses’ brother Aaron and another man, Hur, put a stone under him so he could sit on it. Then each of them held one of Moses’ hands up in the air for the duration of the battle. They helped Moses’ hands remain steady until the sun went down, and the Amalekites were defeated.

Christine may not be able to take away what Jasmine is going through, but her presence with her daughter means that Jasmine is not going through this alone. Similarly, each of you is so special and your role is important. Your presence in this army means that we are in this together, and that means that this is not just Jasmine’s battle, but it is OUR battle.

It is the army’s battle, and ultimately, it is God’s battle. This battle is in God’s hands; it has been since before we got the diagnosis, and it will be in the months to come. And this army is helping to hold up Christine and Brad’s hands as they walk through this with Jasmine.

This battle is bigger than one person, but it is not too big for God and the army He has built and is continuing to grow.

“Therefore, let us approach the throne of grace with boldness, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.” Hebrews 4:16

God knows what each person needs in this very moment, so let us ask Him with boldness to help this precious girl and her family.

Wednesday’s four-hour pass included a fun outing!

What is your role in this battle? Is it to pray? Is it to give of your time or money? Is it to serve? Is it to encourage? Is it to love? Is it to support? Is it to show up? Is it to spur them on because you’ve been here before? They need you.

Since yesterday, many people in the army were praying specifically for Jasmine, and she is feeling SO much better today! In fact, she is on a four-hour pass home. Thank you God and thank you army!

Thank you for being present and continuing to fight alongside these brave warriors. God has brought you to be apart of this army and there is a reason for it. Thank you for showing up, it means more than we know how to say.

A Week of Rest

Rest can take many forms: sleep, relaxation, entertainment, activities, being with people, or even being alone.

Jasmine spent this whole last week at home enjoying rest in many ways before returning to the hospital this morning (Tuesday) to be admitted for chemo round 3. She was home for a full six days, with only one trip to the hospital yesterday for a dose of chemo into the spine (preventative measure) and a bone marrow biopsy in her hip.

Fresh air at the dog walk.

She rested this week by sleeping in her own bed and eating her own food. She rested by being out of isolation in the hospital and being with people she loves. She rested by doing some “normal” activities like rollerblading and shooting a basketball with Eli.

She rested by feeling good and laughing and eating a Mexican dinner cooked by Auntie Neen (Anita) who is visiting again. She rested by dreaming of waterpark family vacations post treatment. She rested by going to church and seeing her church family after 10 weeks of being away.

Most of all, Jasmine rested by being home. She said yesterday, “Sometimes home is the place you want to be more than anything.” We are thanking God for this blessing of time at home. And also that God has made His home in Jasmine’s heart so no matter where she is, God will be with her.

“Do not fear, for I have redeemed you; I have summoned you by name, you are mine. When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and when you pass through the rivers, they will not sweep over you. When you walk through the fire, you will not be burned; the flames will not set you ablaze. For I am the Lord your God, the Holy One of Israel, your Savior.” Isaiah 43:1-3

Whoever dwells in the shelter of the Most High will rest in the shadow of the Almighty.” Psalm 91:1

Last night we had a prayer and worship time to lift up this family we love so much. It was spiritual rest – the perfect way to end this week. Jas stayed home with Eli and Brad, while the rest of the local family and people from the army gathered together.

Our friend Stephanie facilitated the evening and encouraged us to pray boldly. She reminded us that we are invited to “ask and keep on asking and it will be given to you; seek and keep on seeking and you will find; knock and keep on knocking and the door will be opened to you.” (The Message, Matthew 7:7).

There were some bold prayers! And I want to encourage any of you reading this to continue with asking God for big and bold things. God is able, will we ask?

Beautiful, strong women.

Although Jas was admitted to the hospital today, she is allowed to go home to sleep tonight, and chemo will start tomorrow. After meeting with the oncologist today, the plan moving forward is to do three more rounds of chemo. So a total of five rounds.

Some things to pray for:

  1. Praying against any fear or dread because they know what they will face going through it for a third time.
  2. Praying for thoughts to be taken captive and made obedient to Christ, that they will dwell on His truth.
  3. Praying for lots of sleep and rest for Jasmine and Christine especially.
  4. Praying against the family getting sick so they can be with Jas and care for her.
  5. Praying for God’s presence to be tangible.
  6. Praying for the chemo side effects and no infection this time around.

Thank you for praying, friends!

Even Though

Yesterday my kids ate ice cream outside, my eldest in her bathing suit. That might sound absurd since we live in Canada and there are still technically two days of winter left before spring, but we have been longing for summer so we jumped at the opportunity to be outside.

We have had a seemingly endless winter. Since the first blizzard in early October, we’ve put up with frigid weather, though the past two months have been the worst. It had been well below zero for two months straight, with no reprieve from the harsh conditions. The air was so dry and cold that it made our noses sting and our skin flake off. Kids were going antsy from being cooped up inside for so long. People were dreary from the monotony of freezing weather and dull grey skies.  

However, it wasn’t the weather that was the hardest for me to endure – it was the wintery conditions of my own heart these past couple months. While the icy wind howled outside freezing everything in its path, the pain and emotions I faced began hardening my heart as well.

Smiling through suffering

From the moment I heard the news about Jasmine, I felt the pain. My heart didn’t just hurt for her, but for everyone who would be broken and impacted by this. After awhile, the emotions became exhausting and I just didn’t want to feel them anymore. It’s easier to ignore the emotional reality and focus on other distractions than it is to sit in the mess.

Christine put it well when she called it emotionally tired. I have felt that way, too. It’s scary to acknowledge how we are feeling because what if we feel like this forever? What if we are wrong to feel this way?

When the second round of chemo went smoothly, I started to relax and come alive again. We had hope, and things were going as well as they could. Then Jas got the bacterial infection in her central line a week ago, and I didn’t want to go there again – to the dark place of fear, sadness and feeling numb.

But to fully live, we need to fully feel. We can’t selectively numb our emotions; when we numb the bad, we numb the good too.

I’m not sure that a winter season is completely avoidable in our lives. It seems to be our human condition to want to run away from pain. But there is one thing I am certain of: though winter can be long, it doesn’t last forever.  

I am thankful for this burst of summer (as my kids are referring to it) even though it is still technically winter. And even though summer is still a long way off, God has gifted us this time of glorious sun in the midst of a hard season.

I think the harsher the winter, the more desperate we are for summer. And the colder the conditions, the warmer the sun will feel. In the shelter of a backyard, with no wind and direct sunlight, a 14 C (57 F) day can feel like the middle of summer. The deeper the pain we feel, the greater the height of life and joy we will also experience.

In psalm 23:4-5 it says, “Even though I walk through the darkest valley, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me. You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies. You anoint my head with oil; my cup overflows.”

In the midst of the dark valleys, in the midst of being surrounded, in the midst of suffering, God is still with us. And when He is with us, we can rest, we can have joy, and we can just BE without fear or worry.

Officially discharged after round 2!!!!!!!!

Unlike the permafrost of this past winter, my heart has not been permanently frozen. Thankfully, God has been gracious to meet me in the middle and offer me many opportunities to process the emotions and the new reality with Him.

He gives complete rest when we are tired, He brings encouragement when hope is hiding, and He gives security when our foundation is rocked.

Today I am thankful that Jasmine is doing SO well that they have officially discharged her after round 2! Yesterday her blood levels were fairly stable, she had colour in her cheeks, the fever and rash were gone and her cough was better. Her counts were rising.

Today, her levels improved so much that they sent her home to rest before starting round 3. This time, her bone marrow started recovering on Day 21, which is ten days earlier than it did the first round. A nurse will be coming to Jasmine’s home daily to administer IV antibiotics.

Jas will receive a bone marrow biopsy and lumbar puncture this Friday. Chemo round 3 will most likely begin next Tuesday, March 26th.

“Thanks be to God for His indescribable gift!” 2 Corinthians 9:15

When Burdens are Heavy

“Carry one another’s burdens; in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ.” Galatians 6:2

The past two days have been hard in many ways. For Jasmine, she has felt incredibly sick. Last night her fever got up to 40.3C (104.5F) so they gave her Tylenol and took more blood cultures. They have been giving her Maxeran through IV for nausea. She didn’t eat anything for two days and was only drinking small amounts.

This morning Jas was pale and her hemoglobin was low so they gave her an infusion of platelets and RBC’s. She has been continually nauseous so they’ve been giving her anti-nausea meds around the clock.

By this evening, Jasmine’s colour was better, she was eating a little bit and her fever was coming down. The oncologist also said that infection is very common and most AML kids get a serious infection every round so Jas has been a super star so far!

It has been identified that the infection is not in her blood, but in both lumens of her central line. Jasmine is getting two antibiotics for the infection and the medical staff are monitoring her well and taking care of her.

It is heartbreaking watching Jas go through this, and as a parent myself, I ache at the thought of what Christine and Brad are going through. It’s a rollercoaster of emotions that never seems to stop. It’s emotionally exhausting. When a friend asked if there was ANYTHING we could do to help ease this burden, I had to respond that there is nothing we can physically do to help.  

“Come to me all who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.” Matthew 11:28

When someone we love is in pain, overwhelmed, heartbroken, beaten down, heavy or exhausted, we long to help. We long to help ease the burden they are carrying, to lift the weight off their shoulders, to make it all okay. Sitting and watching helplessly is almost torture. And yet there are instances, like this one, where we have no way to physically help, but it doesn’t mean we are out of options: We can come to the throne of grace on our knees and pray to our God who is always present, unconditionally loving, and faithful to never abandon us.

This is a fight. It’s a fight for Jasmine to be healthy, to overcome this infection and to beat cancer. It’s a fight for Christine and Brad to show up morning after morning, present and hopeful even though they are exhausted in many ways. It’s a fight for this family to stay unified despite the toll on all of them. It’s a fight to choose faith over fear continuously.

As the army who loves and supports the Adams’, we have the opportunity to continue fighting alongside them. So let’s gear up because the battle is still raging.

If our only option to help is to pray, then let us pray with everything we’ve got because this battle is taking its toll on everyone, in many ways.

  1. Pray that the whole family would be able to process pain with an awareness of God’s presence.
  2. Pray for strength and grace in Christine and Brad’s marriage – that God would protect their unity and grow their relationship through this.
  3. Pray that Eli would recognize God’s faithfulness and provision, and that seeds of trust would be deeply planted.
  4. Pray for rest in God’s presence and a renewed spirit day after day.

“Do you not know? Have you not heard? The Lord is the everlasting God, the Creator of the ends of the earth. He will not grow tired or weary, and his understanding no one can fathom. He gives strength to the weary and increases the power of the weak. Even youths grow tired and weary, and young men stumble and fall; but those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; the will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint.” Isaiah 40:28-31

The Battle Continues

Jasmine is one week into her recovery, and so far she has been doing really well and there hasn’t been much to report. However, being in recovery also means her immune system is low, she is susceptible to infection, and her body can’t fight for her.

Yesterday evening (Tuesday), at 5:30pm, Christine sent a message from the hospital that Jas wasn’t feeling well. Her HR (heart rate) was elevated, she had a headache and her temperature was also going up. So they didn’t go on a pass home, but instead stayed at the hospital.

By 7:00pm, Jasmine had spiked a fever of 38.9C (102F), HR still elevated and she was feeling terrible so they took blood cultures. By 8:30pm her fever was coming down with Tylenol and Jasmine was able to fall asleep.

This morning Christine sent a message that Jasmine’s blood cultures came back positive. She has a bacterial infection in her blood. They started her on vancomycin until they know exactly what kind of bacterial infection she has.

She reacted to the vancomycin so now she’s getting Benadryl for that and they are infusing the vancomycin slower. Her temp is 40.1C (104F) so she just got more Tylenol. She’s been awake since 2am and her HR is still elevated.

Eli, Jas and their dog Zelda during a visit home this week.

We are asking Jasmine’s army to pray:

-Asking the Lord to send the bacterial infection out of Jasmine’s body by His power.

-Asking God to guard Christine and family with His peace, to capture every thought of fear, and to be Lord over her mind and heart as she waits.

-Asking God to renew the strength of Jasmine’s current caregivers, Christine and Brad, Connie and Gerry. Also to give them health so they can continue to be with Jas.

Here is some encouragement from Psalm 27, written by King David, who faced many trials including being hunted and chased in an attempt to take his life.

“The Lord is my light and my salvation — whom should I fear? The Lord is the stronghold of my life — whom should I dread? When evildoers came against me to devour my flesh, my foes and my enemies stumbled and fell. Though an army deploys against me, my heart will not be afraid; though a war breaks out against me, I will still be confident.

I have asked one thing from the Lord; it is what I desire: to dwell in the house of the Lord all the days of my life, gazing on the beauty of the Lord and seeking him in his temple. For he will conceal me in his shelter in the day of adversity; he will hide me under the cover of his tent; he will set me high on a rock.

Then my head will be high above my enemies around me; I will offer sacrifices in his tent with shouts of joy. I will sing and make music to the Lord. Lord, hear my voice when I call; be gracious to me and answer me. My heart says this about you: “Seek his face.” Lord, I will seek your face.

Do not hide your face from me; do not turn your servant away in anger. You have been my helper; do not leave me or abandon me, God of my salvation.

I am certain that I will see the Lord’s goodness in the land of the living. Wait for the Lord; be strong, and let your heart be courageous. Wait for the Lord.” Psalm ‭27:1-9, 13-14‬ ‭

We are also hosting a worship and prayer night for the family on Monday, March 25th. If you are local, we would love for you to join us, and if you are farther away, we invite you to still join us in prayer where you are.

Recovery Phase, Round 2

Here is the latest update from Connie, who has been spending a lot of time with Jas at the hospital:

“Now these three remain: faith, hope, and love – but the greatest of these is love.” 1 Corinthians 13:13

Today is officially the first day of the recovery phase of the second round of chemo. This means the chemo treatments for Round 2 are done! The second round was eight days instead of 10, which was a wonderful little surprise for all of us, especially Jasmine.

She tolerated the second round extremely well. The nausea was completely controlled and there was no skin rash or mouth sores at all.

In the recovery phase, she is getting blood products to build up her blood, which the chemo destroys. But she seems to be doing very very well. She has been able to do four-hour passes home most days. That means she can be at home for a little over two hours when you include the travel time, and the family can be together for awhile most days.

Jasmine and Gram enjoy doing puzzles together in the hospital.

Jasmine is even able to do some school work during the chemo phase because she feels good enough and she’s keeping up with her math and social here at the hospital with the teacher who visits twice a week.

God is beyond good!!! His presence throughout this journey has been so evident.

“Where can I go from your Spirit? Where can I flee from your presence? If I go up to the heavens, you are there; if I make my bed in the depths, you are there. If I rise on the wings of the dawn, if I settle on the far side of the sea, even there your hand will guide me, your right hand will hold me fast.” Psalm 139:7-10

Jasmine loves the pudding Gram made for her.