Saturday, March 15, 2008

"Jeff's Hope" Urgent Care Cancer Clinic

This experience is one that is teaching me so much about the needs--the very specific needs--of cancer patients. Jeff has endured many trips to the E.R. because he has not been given an alternative for urgent treatment at night or on weekends, or if the doctor is booked. As you can imagine, the E.R. is no place for cancer patients who are in pain and in need of specialized and compassionate care. The E.R. exposes a cancer patient's compromised immune system to illnesses that could complicate his/her recovery. If a trauma comes in, it is likely that the cancer patient's needs will become subordinate. Sometimes hospitalization is ordered for things like pain management because it is not something that can always be done in a doctor's office. When Jeff runs a high fever, we have to go to the E.R. and wait. When he has trouble with pain or breathing we are told to go to the E.R. These answers don't work for me.

One night, around two in the morning, when sleep was eluding me, I had a very clear thought. We provide Pediatric Urgent Care, General Urgent Care and Acute Urgent Care. But there is no Urgent Care Cancer Clinic. A place where cancer patients can be cared for in a way that is unique to what his/her needs are. The patient won't have to worry about a waiting room where there may be compromising illnesses. There won't be delays because they will be the priority. Hospitalizations for pain management and other urgent physical needs--like oxygen--won't be required. I have spoken to oncologists at M.D. Anderson, medical professionals in Springfield and in Columbia--who all agree that this need should be addressed.

So..this is my first public outcry for help. Anyone who has ever been touched by cancer knows what I am talking about. An Urgent Care Cancer Clinic needs to be a priority above all else. If you have an interest, if you can donate funds, if you have ideas or information, if you can contact those who can help, then you can be a vital part of this plan. There are many community leaders that I have made it my personal goal to communicate with about this plan. Join me--let me know how you can help make this hope and dream come true. WE CAN DO THIS! WE CAN HELP! WE CAN MAKE A DIFFERENCE IN THE LIVES OF CANCER PATIENTS YOUNG AND OLD! Let's make "Jeff's Hope" Urgent Care Cancer Clinic a reality.

Mountain Climbing and Roller Coasters

I think God knows how much Jeff and I like roller coasters, and hiking the hills and mountains when we would visit Vail. This past week has been filled with mountains to climb and coasters that make your stomach drop. Jeff never takes the easy way--he fights and fights and climbs higher each day. He keeps his sense of humor--more like his sense of being a smart alec--he takes all the loops and twists and turns and comes out ready for more. I have never loved him more than I do now. I have never been more proud. He sets the bar pretty high for all of us to follow--faith, courage, love, forgiveness, integrity, goodness. He has always expressed these qualities. It was what drew us together--we worked on sponsoring a family for Christmas in 1995. He was so determined to make that Christmas special for these two little ones who truly had nothing. Year after year that was his specialty. He would leave the house very early on his way to work to search every store for just the right toys for the kids, or just the right furniture that the family needed, or the right bikes. We would shop for the food and clothes--coats were always big--he always made sure each child and parent had coats, boots and gloves and hats. We would host a Christmas open house and people would come all night with arm loads of gifts and food for the families. It would take three big cars at least--one year it took a U-Haul truck to deliver all the gifts, furniture and clothing. He always hoped it would give the children some hope--he wanted them to know that life can be good and that people are good and deserving of good. He always chose single mothers trying to get through school or working two jobs--it was a way of honoring what he saw his own mother struggle through. Jeff still believes in helping anyone he can. We made supply buckets for Katrina victims, we made care packages for the families at the Victim's Center, he contributes to the Flight 93 fundraiser, he coaches our daughters in soccer--one day a woman with a baby was being physically abused by her boyfriend in a parking lot at the mall. Jeff intervened and kept her safe until the police could arrive. Jeff is what God wants us all to be--compassionate, thoughtful, caring, aware of others needs. He is truly my blessing.

Wednesday, March 5, 2008


I sit here this morning in gratitude--overwhelmed by all the love and kindness that envelope us. Jeff and the girls are my blessings and I see how Jeff's strength, integrity and grace continue to help me grow. I pray everyday to hear God's voice and follow his direction. My miracle has already happened in the life that is my husband. Jeff's miracle is there--waiting to be unveiled to us when we are peaceful and trusting enough to see it. Today I just want to be grateful for the constant goodness that is around us. We are strong because of the strength of those around us. We are never separated from God's constant care and love.

Saturday, March 1, 2008

Visit to MD Anderson 2/27-2/29

This is a difficult thing to write. Jeff has had a rough two weeks. We had an ER visit that resulted in a CT scan. From the scan we learned that the cancer is now in his spine and ribcage. Because of the progression, Jeff was dropped from the experimental study he was in at MD Anderson. On Wednesday, Feb 27, the girls and I joined Jeff on his journey to MD Anderson to discuss further options with his oncologist. We were blessed to be flown down and back by private jet, provided by Brian Allen's brother, Randy Allen. This was truly a gift, as Jeff was able to go literally door to door in three hours. No layovers, no canceled flights, no rude airline encounters--I can't tell you how rough the flights to Texas have been for him. We can never, never thank Brian and Randy enough.

When we arrived at MD Anderson, our first night was relaxing and we just tried to enjoy being together as a family. Jeff's pain was pretty severe--he truly is the strongest, bravest man I know. On Thursday, Kathy Carlisle--our Houston Angel--stayed with the girls so that we could attend a meeting with the Pain Management physician. Jeff was able to change meds to better endure the intolerable pain he experiences constantly. That night he ate dinner with us, sat with the girls on the couch and smiled. It was a huge relief. Friday morning, Kathy joined us again and took such loving, patient care of the girls all day. Jeff and I went to see his oncologist, where we learned of Jeff's options. It was a meeting no one ever wants to attend, but Jeff was amazing.

This week we will go over the options presented. There is one more study he may be accepted into. I am exploring options with the National Cancer Institute in Bethesda--I still believe. My mom said it's good to believe, now TRUST. So, I do trust that God is guiding us--I pray that we will be quiet enough to hear God's still small voice--to be able to hear his direction and humble enough to follow.

I am truly grateful for each day with my family. God brought us together--we are complete in God's eyes.

Love to you all...