Thursday, June 26, 2008

There's No Place Like Home.....There's No Place Like Home

These were the words that Brad & I repeatedly said to each other on the plane flight home yesterday. We were SO ready to get there (so was the rest of our group).

Kaelyn had hit near-delirium status by the time our plane touched the ground. I'm sure all the other passengers around us also heaved a sigh of relief to have the opportunity to get out of ear-shot from Kaelyn. Let's just say she was a little extra-spirited by the last 3 hours of the flight. And, only Mommy would one else. So, after our 403rd trip up & down the plane aisles, she and I were VERY ready to exit the aircraft. (I give her a hard time, but what can you expect from a one-year-old that has been traveling for 18 hours. I wanted to cry too.)

You may ask yourself...what does it take for this group of 8 Americans to return to the US on an international flight? It took us...
3 cars leaving Munich
3 drivers (who willingly got up at 4am to take us...yikes!)
10 suitcases
8 carry-on bags
3 boxes of medical supplies
1 stroller
1 wheelchair
1 set of crutches
3 luggage carts
4 Advil
6 packages of cheese crackers, 4 fruit snacks, 6 juice boxes
3 cars for pick-up, 3 friends, 1 Grammy, 1 Aunt Lisa, 2 Cousins (Cal & Jack)

That's it! Easy right?

Ok, I will write more later. It's 8:00pm here which is 3:00am in Germany so I'm ready for sleep. Before I go to bed I will share a story about Zeke. Last night when we got home, Zeke could hardly keep his eyes open. He fell asleep in Brad's arms at 6:00pm. At 3:00 this morning he came stumbling into our room, nearly in tears. Knowing there was a good chance he would be sent back to bed & with a VERY turned out lip he said, "Mommy, I have 2 things to tell you. First, we forgot to says our prayers last night. Second, we didn't read stories. And........when is my party going to be?" (We are celebrating Zeke's 4 1/2 b-day on Saturday, so he wanted to be sure that he was clear about when the cake & presents would be arriving.) And, no we didn't send him back to bed...he was just too cute.

Sunday, June 22, 2008

More Pictures

K in the water at PlayMobile,

Too much time in the water = a droopy diaper

Preparing to Return

Today we spent most of the day entertaining the kids, cleaning up the apartment and packing our luggage (to come home....yippee!) Zeke keeps telling me that he wants to go home 'right now!' He must be talking to his daddy.

As a part of the cleaning, Zeke and Gwanddad went around the house confiscating all the spiders that had made there way into the house. In the summer, with the windows open here (no screens) we have had several indoor visitors. One night, just a few days into the trip, I woke up and looked over to find a HUGE spider on the wall next to Brad! I quickly jumped up, grabbed a sneaker and proceeded to beat it a few hundred times until I felt certain it wasn't moving. Ick.

For lunch we drove to Gunzenhausen to eat at a new restaurant we found (The Gasthouse). We had a delicious German meal...I think the best we have had so far on the trip. It was an especially nice place because it had lots of entertainment for the kids: toys, games, outdoor play equiptment. It was really nice.

Tomorrow morning we are heading to Munich..then home (did I mention how excited we are about that...yippee!)

Pictures from the Park

Saturday, June 21, 2008

Visit to PlayMobile Land

Several of the new friends that we have made here in Germany have given us the suggestion of taking the kids to PlayMobile Land near Nurnburg. Because we had a 'free day', Matt, Brad & I decided to try the PlayMobile adventure yesterday. While we were out, both sets of parents took a trip to Eichstat.

We had such a great time...I think it was by far my favorite day of the entire trip so far. It was a park that we could have spent several days was incredibly big. I was amazed at the low cost (7 euros for adults and 5 for the kids) and the overwhelming size of the place. The park was as large as Astroworld and it was completely designed for young children (1-8 years or so)...that made it perfect for our group.

At one point we even had Brad (in his wheelchair), Uncle Matt and Zeke out on a log raft in the middle of the Pirate Cove part of the park. It was pretty funny watching the three of them navigate through the water with just a couple of oars. Kaelyn and I stayed on the shore to take pictures. Brad decided to 'make us feel included' by splashing us with his oar.

I have pictures that I will post later. We are using an internet cafe right now and I don't have a way to download the pics. More later....

Thursday, June 19, 2008

This is a video of Brad after he received the Coley's toxins on one of his fever days. The shaking is something that is hard to describe, so I decided to video it for a few moments.

Last Treatment for This Trip

Today was Brad's last treatment. Dr. Thaller will be out tomorrow so no therapy. Instead I think we will take a day trip somewhere if Brad feels up to it. Monday we will return to Munich to stay with Isolde again. Wednesday morning we will head back...yippee!

Treatment today was a little rocky. Brad was given his initial dosage of Coley's toxins. We fever. The nurse administered more toxins. We fever. Coley's toxins were given one last fever so Brad was moved to the hyperthermia bed. Just as we began the hyperthermia, he started to shake. He also had a issue with nausia...he threw up several times. We cut the hyperthermia a little short today and moved him back into his bed.

Matt & I helped entertain with a few hands of dominoes while we waited for Brad's fever to go down. Matt just took Brad back home to rest and now several of us are waiting here at the clinic to talk with Dr. Thaller, get a few questions answered, get our instructions for administering medicine, etc.

Sweet, Precious Chloe

In the mail yesterday Brad received a very special package from a sweet friend, Chloe Perkins. Chloe is the daughter of our friends Mike & Denise Perkins (former Aggies for Christ and AFCOers). Chloe is six-years-old and has the most tender heart and passionate love for the Lord.

Inside the package Brad found money and a very special note. (Chloe- I hope I'm not sharing more than you would like, but the gift was so sweet, I wanted others to hear about it.) The note read: To Brad. I hope you git wele. From Chloe. We all love you and we wut you to be wele. I am giving you some of my money becuse i want to help you pay for your medsin. Love Chloe Perkins.

We cried a lot over sweet Chloe's servant heart. We love you Chloe & we thank God for putting wonderful people in our life such as you. You are truly a gift from Him.

Please Pray for Hudson

Our friends Stephanie and Brian Carnes have been at Texas Children's hospital this past week with their sweet baby Hudson. Hudson is 18-months-old and had open heart surgery last week and then they found a residual murmer after the surgery. The doctors went in again last night to fix the last murmer. Please pray for this sweet family. I cannot imagine what they must be feeling at this time. Click here to read more about Hudson's story.

Coughing Cure

Brad has been struggling with a nagging cough ever since arriving in Germany. Dr. Thaller decided on Tuesday to work on that cough by using a little accupunture therapy. This therapy included using a needle jun with some kind of fluid in it to poke holes in about 70 places all over Brad's body. The needle gun made bee-sting-like whelps all over...Dr. Thaller even did it on Brad's poor face...ouch! Dr. Thaller didn't seem remorseful at all and instead enjoyed the look of agony on my face as I watched him poke holes all over Brad. Once that was finished, Nurse Christine put accupunture pins in all of the bee-sting areas. I had a hard time holding back my scepticism over this procedure...I do hope that it helps.

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Backyard Baseball

Uncle Matt brought a great bat and ball set when he came last week. To help entertain Zeke, we have had numerous backyard baseball games. Daddy pitches, Kaelyn & I are in the outfield, Gwanddad catches and Zeke & Uncle Matt are on the 'Wolf' team. They are generally all time batters, except when Zeke occasionally lets Mommy & Daddy have a 'swing at it.' It's pretty funny to watch once Daddy makes contact and tries to make it through some pretty rough terrain (grass, holes, hills) around the bases in his wheelchair. And Kaelyn clinging to my legs usually impedes my speed also. So I would say our team has a slight disadvantage. We haven't had many wins yet...the Wolves usually slaughter us.

Harder Day

Today's treatment has been much more difficult for Brad. He is becoming more resistant to the Coley's Toxins (which is to be expected). So, in order to get his fever to rise today..they had to give him a second injection of the toxins. The shaking was more intense and he just seemed to be worn down. I know he is also emotionally ready to have a break.

I have also been fighting a cold the last 5 days so I don't feel that I have been as helpful to him due to the fact that I haven't been feeling well either. To hopefully lessen the duration of the cold, I have been taking maximum dosages of Zycam. I've tried to keep my germy face away from Brad as much as possible (knowing that a cold is the last thing he needs)..but it is hard...when he feels bad, I just want to kiss all over his sweet face. The most debilitating part recently is that I also have been having sudden back pain accompanied with migrane headaches. I'm not usually a person who gets headaches but I have had a couple over the past year. So, I am also praying for my own quick recovery so that I can quickly resume my position as head nurse. (Uncle Matt has taken over my role while I have been down.)

Papa C., Uncle Matt, Nonnie, Zeke & I came to Weißenburg for a little while to use the internet. Brad stayed at home with Gwanddad and Kaelyn to get a little rest.

We will be headed back to the states in one week....yeah! I know that Brad is VERY ready.

This is a picture of Brad as he was connected to the dialysis machine (it gathered the materials from his blood that were needed to create the dendritic cells and natural killer cells.

We have been truly blessed with amazing nurses here at the clinic. This picture shows one of the nurses massaging Brad's feet during the fever therapy. It is interesting to me...the male nurse that Brad has had many time is especially sympathetic and attentive. He has given Brad many head massages to help with headaches and he is always checking on him. So kind.

More Pictures

One of the pictures is of Brad & Zeke..having a thumb wrestling tournament while we waited for dinner.

Another family portrait, per Michelle May's request.

Some other pictures of the kids from this weekend. Zeke is showing us his 'bootie dance' in one of the shots...very nice.

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Good News

Yesterday afternoon and evening went well for Brad. The fever session was shorter, Brad didn't get a secondary round of fever that night, and he seemed to feel altogether better. We reported back this morning to tell Dr. Thaller that Brad did not have a fever again last night....Thaller commented in saying that he felt it was because Brad's immune system was getting stronger (sounds great to me!)

Today was much the same. Brad started shivering just after 9am and then only had fever until about 11. That is by far the shortest stent of fever that he has had during one of these sessions. By the time we went into the other room for the hyperthermia, he was without any fever. Following the hyperthermia, we started the use of the dendritic and natural killer cell therapy.

Dr. Thaller has been taking notice of an annoying cough that Brad has been struggling with since arriving to Germany. I am fairly convinced at this point that it is aggrevated by allergies, but Dr. Thaller felt that a good round of accupunture could cure it. First thing this morning, Dr. Thaller had Brad on the table to insert about 70 needles all over his body. I don't think that Brad was very excited about this technique, but he tolerated it well. I didn't hear much coughing from Brad the rest of the day...don't know if the accupunture worked or if Brad was just afraid to cough around Dr. Thaller....afraid he might poke him a few hundred more times. Ouch! I have pictures, but I don't have time to download them today. (More later)

We received a great care package from the Jones' and Shoup's today. The funniest part was the toilet paper for Sandra and the hair care products for David. We laughed a lot!

We also received LOTS of mail today! The staff at the clinic has really taken notice to the number of cards that have come into the clinic with Brad's name on it. I am so thankful for the cards that have been sent. Brad was very emotional today during the shivering and the cards truly help him through it. Thank you again. We love you all and we will write more soon.

Monday, June 16, 2008

More Pictures from the Castle

Here are a few other pictures from the Harburg castle. In the first picture Zeke is showing off his souveniors that Nonnie & Gwanddad found for him. He is now ready for hire if anyone has a castle that needs protecting.

K Walking Down from The Harburg Castle

We took the family to Harburg Castle yesterday after lunch. We showed Zeke all the knights, swords & shields...he ate it up. On the way back to the car, I let Kaelyn walk on her own down the decline to the car...she was laughing the entire way...half walking...almost running...just about to fall the whole time. It was really funny to watch.

Daylight....A LOT!

One funny thing about Germany this time of year is that it stays light outside a whole lot! Night doesn't come until about 10pm and the morning comes at about 4am.
This adjustment has come a little easier for some than others. Here is a picture of Zeke and Gwanddad using their eye patches to block out some of that menacing light.

Week 3 Begins

Brad & I got up this morning at 7 to head over to the clinic to start this week's therapy session. Brad kept threatening to 'skip' the session today...he was even trying to bribe me to keep driving past the clinic today. Despite his many efforts to avoid the fever therapy, in the end he decided to come.

The fever session was brightened today by having my brother Matt here. Matt read Tri-Bond (boardgame) clues to Brad while everyone in the room would guess at the answer. (An example: Heaven, Microsoft, and Airport = they all have Gates) I am absolutely horrible at the game, Brad is amazing at it. I will still be thinking about what the clues even were, while Brad shouts out the answer. I'm not kidding...if there were a Tri-Bond game show...I would make sure Brad entered it. He would win....there's no contest.

Brad also received a great package from Chris, Bryan, and Erik today. A package full of Fantasy Football magazines! I know that Brad will be pouring over those as he plans out his fall fantasy football line up for this year. Thanks for the thoughtful gifts guys...he loved it.

Today's fever therapy was a little easier today...thank goodness! Brad's fever came on a little faster, but didn't raise quite as high or stay quite as long. We will see what this evening brings. Hopefully the evening fever will be lessened also...that would certainly help Brad's mental state for going into the rest of the week's sessions.

Brad & Matt just walked out the door...we are finished for today...hooray!

A Prayer of Thanks

I come before you now, feeling honored to have such a strong support group of fellow Christians who are continually lifting up our family's name in prayer to you, Lord. We feel so blessed in knowing that we are loved & cared for by so many. You have given us everything to take care of ALL of needs. We are so richly blessed. Everything good in our lives comes from you and there are SO many good things to be thankful for.

Thank you for friends & family who pray without ceasing.
Thank you for family who traveled thousands of miles to be with us during therapy.
Thank you for the many 'spirit-lifting' calls that we have received here at the clinic.
Thank you for the wonderful cards...that Brad always saves to have read to him during the shaking part of the fever therapy.
Thank you for the emails that are sent to 'check on us.'
Thank you for the many kind & generous donations that everyone has sent to help pay for Brad's treatment here. I am completely in awe by the extreme generosity.
Thank you for attentive doctors and nurses who seem to 'jump' at every need we have.
Thank you for all the kindness that has been shown to us here by the people in this country.
Thank you for watching over Brad at night and helping him get the rest he needs.
Thank you for meeting all of our needs.

Father, please lay your hands on Brad and remove the cancer from his body. We are awaiting his miraculous recovery.

We love you Father.
In Your Name We Pray,

Trip to Weissenburg

Saturday we took a day trip to a little village about 10 miles from Markt Berolzheim, called Weißenburg. Uncle Matt joined us just a couple of days ago and this was our first outing with everyone. It takes a lot to organize a group of our size. We usually spend a couple of hours just deciding where to go and what to do.

Weißenburg is a lovely village with a nice town center that is blocked off from traffic & it had very smooth sidewalks...that makes it especially nice for pushing the stroller and the wheelchair. It's a successful trip if we manage to go the entire time without hitting a large pothole and throwing Brad out into the middle of the street.

We had lunch in a great German restuarant. Zeke was able to order his favorite...snitzel. Uncle Matt tried some of the wheat beer that was listed on the menu. We kidded with him this afternoon because he kept saying that Zeke enjoyed chasing the 'penguins' around the park. I don't know what was in that drink, but it was distorting his vision....those were definately 'pigions, not penguins Uncle Matt.'

Yesterday Brad had more fever therapy, along with hypothermia, and the immunotherapy. Following the treatment at Dr. Thaller's, he was sent into Weißenburg for a CT scan. This scan will be used as a baseline to determine the success of the therapy after several months.

This upcoming week will include four rounds of fever therapy (in a row) for Brad. The fever therapy is especially taxing for him and I pray that God gives him the strength to make it through Monday-Thursday's treatments. Because he generally runs fever through the night, that will mean he will have high fever for the majority of those days, with little reprieve.

Thank you so much for all of your prayers, calls, emails and cards. They mean so much to us. We can certainly feel the presence of the Lord here in Germany with us. We love you all.

Thursday, June 12, 2008

We've All Made It

Hey, Hey...the Gang's all here! The kids & my parents arrived Tuesday evening & Uncle Matt just got off the plane in Frankfurt a few hours ago. We will all be residing in Markt Berolzheim by this evening.

The plane trip for the kids and my parents seemed to go well. Mom said that Zeke was absolutely PERFECT until the last couple of minutes as they were pulling in...he was ready to get off at that point. Who can blame him...I'm always more than ready by that point too. The kids both slept for a good portion of the trip so that went pretty well. Kaelyn decided to stay up for all but two hours the first night she was here so she and I got ample time to 'catch up.'

Brad's therapy went well today. For four hours he was put on a 'dialysis-type' machine today that seperated his blood. The doctor will use the platelets and mono-somethings to create the dendritic cell and natural killer cell therapy. Tomorrow Brad will go in to Weissenburg to have a CT scan run on his lungs so that we can use that test as a base-line to see how the treatment is effecting his cancer.

I have another funny story to share. Yesterday Brad and I were sitting with Zeke in the living room. My new German cell phone rang and I picked it up. A German telemarketer was on the other line trying to tell me something...I had no idea what he was saying, so I hung up. I told Brad who was on the line and he said, 'you know...we should start saying 'allo' (instead of Hello) like the European. A minute went by and Zeke asked, 'what are we going to say again before we pee?' I had NO idea what he was asking but Brad started cracking up. Finally..I got it...he thought we said to say 'allo when your-a-peein' (European) They just don't miss a thing...those little ears of his.

Monday, June 9, 2008

Zekel & K Arrive Today....Hooray!

We are back in the clinic bright and early this morning. Dr. Thaller has to attend a funeral this morning so we are having an abbreviated version of the treatment today which fever therapy! Yeah! I know that Brad was thrilled about that. So far, the days that Brad has received fever in the clinic, he has then followed with fever (for another 6-10 hours) from about mid-afternoon through the evening with it again. Thus leaving him feeling completely wiped out! The good news about yesterday (as compared with last week) was that his fever only lasted until about 10:30pm which allowed him a good night's rest. The last time he ran the fever it went throughout the entire night and neither he nore I slept at all (that was the night before we left for the hospital in Donaueschingen).

Today Brad is only receiving the hyperthermia, directed at that nasty pulmonary artery tumor, along with immunotherapy (Vitamin C infusion), and the new treatment: infusion of natriumhydrogencarbonate (I don't think I am completely clear yet with what that new infusion does).

Yesterday Gena called the clinic to try to talk with Brad. Brad's treatment had already finished so he & I were at home while his mother stayed to catch up on a few emails. Sandra later told me that Christine (the head nurse) came looking for me. She came up the stairs calling, 'Brad's woman....Brad's woman?' I'm not sure if it's the language barrier (you know how some things just sound hilarious when they are translated) or if Brad has been referring to me as 'his woman.' Of course the latter would not surprise me at all. :)

Well, we are starting to get very comfortable with our new surroundings. After spending part of another weekend here, I realized that there was a significantly larger amount of activity in the town on Sat & Sun. Thinking back on it, I realized that most of the town was probably vacationing the prior weekend due to the Pentacost holiday that we were arrived on. That was certainly reassuring because (before realizing that fact), I was under the impression that the town rolled up the sidewalks on Friday and didn't bring them back out again until Monday morning. That could really make for some LONG weekends. So, it doesn't feel like SUCH a small town to me now...there are some businesses opened some of the time on Sat & Sun...and there are people out...yeah!

This past Saturday, I saw our neighbors across the street outside playing in their yard. These neighbors have a trampoline....I kept wondering how long it will take Zeke to notice the trampoline and then find a way to invite himself over to their yard to play.

David and I are heading to Munich in a few hours to meet up with my parents & the kiddos. Yippee!

Have a great day and we'll write more soon!

Starting Week Two of Treatment

Brad just finished completing his first day of the second week of treatment here with Dr. Thaller. His ports are in place..praise God & we are well on our way to healing.

Dr. Thaller told us first thing this morning that he had been in a lecture this past week and heard amazing results from another doctor who was using a couple of other simple methods of treatment to include in Brad's cancer regiment. It was comforting to know that Dr. Thaller continues to think about Brad's case even after we leave the clinic.

On another very exciting note, I met a sweet man named Alexander today while Brad was receiving his fever therapy. Alexander is a 60-year-old man who has been working with Dr. Thaller for the last 24 months. He came to Dr. Thaller with an extremely advanced case of metastatic prostate cancer. Alexander could not walk, sleep, sit up, or even speak when he arrived to the clinic. He came to over to talk with me and 'to give me encouragement' today. He showed me the CT scans from 2 years ago (when he was first diagnosed) and then scans from about a month was AMAZING the difference. His orginal scans showed tumors covering the entirety of his bones and the more recent scan showed just a few tumors remaining. His medical report also showed his PSA at 154 in the beginning and now it is at 0.5. WOW! I was so excited to hear the excitement from this patient...he was so happy to share his story....probably not any more happy than I was to hear it. :) It's so encouraging to hear such a wonderful story. Alexander felt certain that Brad's miracle would take place at this clinic too. (sounds great to me!)

Today's treatment went well. Brad's fever raised to 38.7 degrees Celcius (which is 101 Farenheit). The nurses seemed pleased with the outcome. Brad definately looked worn out from the treatment but he handled the treatment well. The fever therapy was combined with hypothermia, directed at the right pulmonary tumor. He then received the new introveinus medication that Dr. Thaller suggested.

Thursday marks the day that we begin the dendritic and natural killer cell therapy.

Thanks so much for all of your prayers, calls, & cards. Brad has absolutely loved hearing from each of you and we miss you all dearly.

Friday, June 6, 2008

Pictures from Markt Berolzheim

The flowers around the city are breath-taking. I believe to be German it must be a requirement that you have a green thumb. Everything seems to bloom wonderfully here. As you walk down the sidewalk, you can smell roses from many of the yards...they are very fragrant.

I love all the flower boxes in the windows.

A picture of the clinic from the outside. It is a home that has stood for over 200 Dr. Thaller runs his clinic on the 1st and 2nd floor, while his family resides in the 3rd story. He is the father of seven children, so I don't know where he puts everyone!

I had to include this picture because this was taken from the first day we arrived at the clinic. Here Dr. Thaller is checking Brad's pulse as he puts his other hand over some homeopathic medicines that he keeps in drawers. As he puts his hands over the medicines, he feels for a 'jump' in Brad's pulse to tell him that it is the right medicine to help Brad. I can't imagine what was going through Brad's head as this was going on. I kept thinking, 'Welcome to alternative medicine. Now this is probably something I will never see again.'

Our Home Away from Home

This is our lovely home in Markt Berolzheim. It is absolutely perfect for our is humongous (5 bedrooms, 2 kitchens, 2 full baths, 3 half baths, 2 living areas and a fabulous back yard.) The five bedrooms work out the best...1 room for Brad & I, 1 for Non & Gwanddad, 1 for Papa C. & G.G., 1 for Uncle Matt, Zeke & K (shhhhhhh Uncle Matt doesn't know of this arrangement yet :) & then 1 more room for anyone who wants to stay for a visit...perfect!

This is our marvelous vehicle. Leave it to the gas-guzzling Americans to select the largest vehicle they offer on the lot. Ok, all joking aside....we needed the bigger car for the 2 strollers & the wheelchair + the 9 bottoms that will be riding in it. And, originally we had selected a small stationwagon, but our reservation mysteriously disappered once we arrived at Thrifty to pick it up. So, after a lot of convincing & Brad threatening to call Thrifty corporate, they stepped up and gave us our van for the same price. Yeah! It has actually worked out great because the van is very easy to lift the wheelchair into.

Our backyard is the comes complete with swings, a sandbox, a pond (that I hope to keep K out of) and our new pet rabbits: Flopsy, Mopsy & Cottontail (he's black and a little hard to see in the photo). Aren't they cute? There are actually about 20 of those little guys in cages in the back. They are everywhere! I know this is the area that my children will want to be ALL the time.

Ismaning with Isolde

Our first night in Germany was spent at our friend Isolde Neumann's house. She is such a wonderful us a great bed, feeding us too much and then sending us on our way with an entire cooler full of goodies. Thank you Isolde for your wonderful hospitality! We really appreciate all of your help.

Scenes from the Krankenhaus

I am so proud of myself for being able to figure out how to download pictures to this internet cafe computer....reading it in entirely German. Yeah me! (Sandra & I reek of cigarette smoke after this experience..the cafe is connected to a bar and gambeling casino. Can't wait to jump back outside so that I can take a deep breath again. :) I thought you might enjoy seeing pics of Brad in his hospital room.

Brad, right after surgery. The idodine over his neck and shoulders looks like a really cheap fake tanner..very cute.

Showing off his wounds.

Fun Stories

I have to share a few fun stories for the day.

1. Bryan Hanna told us this story through email the other day. On Sunday morning Bryan & Lisa took Zeke to church with them. As they were pulling into the parking lot, Zeke spotted Valerie Shoup a few car lengths away. As Zeke hopped out of the car he yelled over, 'Hey Mrs. mommy & daddy have moved to Germany!' I guess he thinks that Brad & I moved & he & his sister have permanently moved in with his 'brother Jack & sister Callie.' I can tell by his enthusiastic statements that he is really broken up over the idea too. HA!

2. I called my parents the other day to check on the kids and to see how everyone was getting on without us. Mom put Kaelyn on the phone to listen to me talk to her. I said, 'Hi Kaelyn..I miss you!' She replied with a 'Hi!' Yea! Another first...I've never heard her say that before! It was so cute! I miss the kids so much...Brad & I are VERY ready to see them at this point....we can't wait for Tuesday!!

3. Sandra, David, (& now me because Brad got a roommate in his hospital room) are staying in an 'apartment' next door to the hospital. I should preface this story with saying that my mother-in-law is not a 'roughing it' kind of woman. The 'apartment' (as they call it) is about 8 feet by 10 feet in length. So, it's a little small to say the least & we'll say that the amenities are not up to Sandra's expectations. No tv. No phone. 2 pillows (there are 3 of us). She seemed very shocked after the first day when the 'maid' didn't make the beds or clean the room. I told her that I didn't think the apartments had a maid. She seemed surprised when she unfolded her towel to find that it was the size of a large washcloth. 'I'm supposed to dry what with this?' By day 2 we were completely out of toilet paper. Sandra was less than amused when I told her the Germans are big on recycling and she might was to consider using her towel/washcloth. David & Sandra were also surprised to find that the apartment didn't offer any soap. My resourceful father-in-law went down the hall to a mini-kitchen and found some Palmalive which he now uses a multi-purpose soap. The Palmalive is now used by him as a dish-cleanser, a body wash, and (this is the best) a shampoo!

Because I moved into the apartment with them last night, I got the fancy bed (with an actual mattress) while David and Sandra share the fold-out couch thing. The couch is similar to the big foam kid chairs that fold out into a bed. There is about 3 inches of foam seperating Nonnie and Granddad from the floor. David said it was the 'safe bed'... no worries about anyone falling from the bed and injuring themself. Plus the mattress is about 3 feet wide so there is quite a bit of 'togetherness' on that couch. David claimed that Sandra slept diagnally across the bed last night (taking up his 15 inches of space) but I told him that I didn't think that it was possible to lay diagonally on that bed (it't not wide enough).

4. Oh, and Brad is doing well. We left him for quite a while today to go out and see the city. He didn't sleep at all last night so we were hoping that if we left him alone he would rest some. So, I guess we are now praying for a good night's rest for everyone tonight.

Thursday, June 5, 2008

Trip to Donaueschingen

First..internet access has not been as easy to come by as we had hoped, so I apologize for the infrequency of my health updates for Brad. If it helps give you an idea...sometimes when we have asked about internet access, we have heard the reply, 'what is the internet?' Oh dear.

We arrived on Wednesday morning to the south-western tip of Germany to another 'little town' called Donaueschingen. It is about 3 and a half hours from Markt Berolzheim.

To put everything in perspective, coming to these areas of Germany for treatment would be like someone traveling from Berlin to Tolar, Texas for medical care. The population of Markt Berolzheim is about 1500 people (my high school was bigger....really). The town has one restaurant, one bakery, 2 churches, houses, cows... and that is about it. For a big-city girl like's a bigger adjustment than I would have expected.

On Tuesday Dr. Thaller scheduled surgery for Brad (by a vascular surgeon in Donaueschingen) to have 2 ports put in his chest. One going into his vein on the right side and the other going into his artery on the left side.

We got up early on Wednesday & checked into the hospital at 10 that morning. We went through admitting, then spoke with the doctor about the plans for Brad's surgery...going over all possible complications (this is the part where I started to lose it emotionally).

We spent Wednesday evening in the hospital (Sandra & David in the neighboring apartments), then had the surgery first thing this morning at 7am.

The surgery was supposed to last about 1 and a half hours, but instead went for over 3 hours. You could have cut the tension in the waiting room with a knife. The very good news is that Brad is out of surgery now and is resting well. Despite my overwhelming nervousness, this surgery seems to be one of the easier ones for him. He says that he feels very sore but overall...not too bad.

On a side note...the doctor came post-surgery to check on Brad and let us know that the reason the surgery took so long was due to the fact that Brad was 'so strong.' He went on and on stressing the difficulty he had in cutting through all that muscle. Of know that Brad hated hearing that...ha! I'm certain Brad will be retelling that story over and over. :)

To be completely honest, since arriving in Donaueschingen I have been a complete mess emotionally. The lack of sleep, compiled with the extensive travel, plus the language barrier, and then facing surgery for Brad with a doctor I knew nothing about was really testing my emotions. I was SO nervous about this procedure...I cried almost the entire day before (& I'm not usually a big crier). Fortunately Brad was unwavering in his certainty that this was where he was supposed to be and what he was supposed to do. I kept retorically asking over & over why he had to keep suffering...why it seemed that his physical trials never seemed to end. Brad reassured me that his recovery would only give God more glory and bring others to be that much stronger in their own faith as a result of his trials & recovery.

I am doing much better now that the surgery is behind us and I got a good night's sleep. I am SO thankful that Brad is doing relieved.

Thank you for all of your prayers for the treatments, the successful surgery and for our safe travel. My prayer now is that Brad continues without any complications (as with anything artificial, ports can sometimes become infected.) I pray for his stamina as he undergoes these upcoming weeks of therapy. I pray that he continues to heal from surgery and that he rests well each night. I pray for Brad's complete healing from his cancer.

Thank you for all of your support. May God receive all the glory & praise for a successful surgery today. Thank you for your continued prayers.

Tuesday, June 3, 2008

Day Two of Treatment

Brad is doing well today. It is definitely an experience to say the least. The fever therapy brought on the chills for about 25 minutes...just as Nick (another Dr. Thaller patient we have come in contact with from Austin) described. Those were miserable along with the symptoms of high fever, but he made it through alright.

The nurses and attending staff have been really wonderful. Brad had a male nurse today that made him a little nervous at first...considering the way that they prefer monitoring temperature. Brad tried to ask the man if he was going to take him out for dinner and a movie after that experience but with the limited communciation...I'm certain that he didn't catch Brad's humor. Micha (his nurse) was really nice....he even massaged Brad's head for a long time to help with a headache that follow the fever.

The house that we have rented is nice & really large...that is great considering how big our group will become after the 10th of this month..nine people). Our biggest issue will be our children asking to see the rabbits who live in the backyard. I can here it now, 'Mommy...let's go back outside to see those rabbits...can we go now? about now?' There are dozens of those furry friends being kept in cages in our backyard. I kept is a large lot of pet rabbits for a town this do they find homes for all those bunnies? David keeps insisting that they use the bunnies for other things, but when he starts his explanation is when I put my hands over my ears and start humming...

Things are going well. We are going to a southern part of Germany tomorrow to visit a hospital for a few days to have the ports put in for Brad. We are glad for the timing because..hopefully Brad will be fully recovered by next week when the kids arrive and will be 'in full swing' with his treatments.

The weather is amazing. So much cooler and drier here...I love it.

Have a great week!! Brad received 2 letters today (one from Jane and one from his school) in the mail and that was meant a lot to him to hear from home. He misses everyone a lot already.

Thank you for your prayers & messages that you have sent. We are optimistic about the treatment and are waiting to witness the Lord's healing work on Brad's body. We love you all.

Sunday, June 1, 2008

My Prayer for Brad

Dear Father,

Please be with Brad this evening and help him to get a good night's sleep so that his mind will feel refreshed and his body may continue to heal. Lay your hands on him and help him to recover quickly so that he may begin to get up and move around and do all the things that he desires to do.

We realize that he is so tired and so weary from the pain of discomfort and from the lack of deep sleep. Help give him peace during this difficult time. Help restore his energy. Help him to relax and let go of any unnecessary distractions. Help him to wake in the morning and take some time to meditate and find a good mental place.

Help him to see all those around him who love him, care for him, and want complete healing. Help him to feel there love and concern for him. Ultimately, please help him to just start feeling better.

It is in all these things that we ask of you,